Friday, 23 September 2011

Terrific Television

Throughout my life different things have offered me comfort and distraction. Music is a constant but it varies in importance and it isn’t a dominant thing in my life right now. I go through phases of being able to watch film after film but this summer that hasn’t been the case,I've still been more of a film geek than most people probably are/have time to be, but by my standards I've not been too addicted. The same goes for reading and to an extent writing, but neither of them have been particularly prevalent in the last year or so. No this summer it has been TV that I have retreated to on a regular basis and more specifically American shows.

I’m going to devote an entire blog post to my newest discovery, “Community”, but I’m going to do a roundup of the other shows, new and old, which have been keeping me going throughout this summer.

This week the 7th season of “How I Met Your Mother” started airing; I’ve explained before the reasons that I love that show so much and I’m excited to see where they go in what seems likely to be the penultimate season of the show. I don’t want to talk too much in terms of actual plot developments for those who are not yet up to date with the show and intend to catch up, but I think that within this season we will finally see Ted meet the fabled mother.

On that note I feel a slightly odd sensation of pity for the actress who has that role, both through the hints at her character and the strength of several of Ted's love interests over the course of the show, it's going to be a tough ask for her to live up to the role. Plus considering the romantic gestures and stories those previous women have been involved in, the writers are really going to have to write a pretty intense and epic romance for it to feel justified that she is who Ted and the show's audience have been waiting for. Over the summer I watched all 6 seasons again and it's remarkable how well the show stands up to repeat viewings, a compliment that is rightly always paid to "Friends" and therefore high praise in my view.

Also this week has seen “The Big Bang Theory” return for a 5th season; it’s not my favourite show in the world, at times feeling a little one dimensional in terms of real character development/depth but it does however have one of the best characters in any current sit-com, Sheldon Cooper, the pinnacle of the incredibly intelligent but socially awkward character type. He carries the show in a lot of episodes, giving it momentum and the majority of the laugh out loud lines. Having watched the last season again over the past few weeks I'm definitely looking forward to the coming season, though not with the same intensity that I anticipate "How I Met Your Mother".

In terms of dramas there have been three which have particularly stood out over the course of this summer. Firstly there is “The Pacific”, the Spielberg produced WW2 drama about the battles for the islands of the Pacific ocean. Incredibly intense and exhilarating, the show manages to be entertaining and action packed while also looking at the psychological impact the brutality of warfare has on the young men that fight and survive. If Joseph Mazzello, who plays the youngest of the central protagonists, Alabama born Eugene Sledge, doesn't end up making it big as a Hollywood actor it's a damn shame because even amongst a strong cast he stands out.

Though not quite on the same level as that, the other two shows have also kept me entertained throughout these months. “Game of Thrones”, the swords and fantasy tale of warring families and supernatural threats which stars Sean Bean, is not ground-breaking but it has a great sense of scale and manages to convey complex political manoeuvring alongside some exciting sword fights and pitched battles.

Moving from fantasy to sci-fi, the final drama I want to mention is “Falling Skies”. Set 6 months after a successful invasion of Earth by an alien race the show details the efforts of a resistance cell in America fighting to protect a group of civilians and strike back against the invaders whenever possible. It made a nice change to watch something about an alien invasion where it was clear that the humans have been defeated rather than just as all seemed lost discovering a surprise weakness in the aliens. By also investigating what the alien race would be like as an occupying force it gives more depth to the species; they have motivations and emotions that go beyond the normal ‘kill everyone’ fare of the alien invasion genre. It’s far from perfect with some frustratingly generic characters and uninspired acting, but the concept and a few strong central performances saw me consume the 10 episodes of season 1 in just over a week.

I can't guarantee whether TV will remain as my first choice escape from reality over the next few months, but it has definitely helped pass a comparatively uneventful summer with a minimum of boredom.

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