Tele-Tuesday #6 – Only on Cable…and Netflix!

 

Over the years, HBO has reigned supreme with some of the best series and mini-series available on television.  Who hasn’t watched, or at least heard buzz about, Oz (1997-2003), Sex and the City (1998-2004, plus two motion pictures in 2008 & 2010), The Sopranos (1999-2007), Six Feet Under (2001-2005), Band of Brothers (2001), and Deadwood (2004-2006)?

HBO’s programs have launched powerful and everlasting characters such as Carrie Bradshaw, Tony Soprano, and Al Swearengen.  These successful shows have also helped popular actors land hot new roles such as Christopher Meloni in Law & Order: SVU, Timothy Olyphant in Justified, and Michael Imperioli in Detroit 187.

In 2008, HBO aired its own take on the ever-growing, ever-popular supernatural drama, True Blood.

True Blood – Based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, True Blood focuses on the lives of the supernatural and the regular people in fictional Bon Temps, LA.

The series follows the love story between Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and Vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), and all of the consequences of such a love.  The show oozes sexuality with characters like Vampire Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard), and Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten), and holds nothing back with the sultry sex scenes.  True Blood isn’t for the faint of heart; the show doesn’t hide behind the sensors, ensuring blood and gore in most of the episodes.

Season 1 followed the upturned lives of Bon Temps while a serial killer murdered many, including Sookie’s beloved grandmother.  The audience also meets the local folk of Bon Temps, who tend to be just a bit odd: Sookie’s confidant, and boss, Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) shape shifts into a friendly dog; Sookie’s brother, Jason, becomes addicted to V (drinking vamp blood), and is the main suspect in the murders around town; and Sookie’s best friend, Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley), while human, is all sorts of a mess.

Season 2 introduced a maenad, who manipulates Sookie’s closest friends hoping to gain control of the small town, and sacrifices many along the way.  Season 2 also builds more in the storyline for Vampire Eric, including his maker’s demise.  The second season also follows Jason as he learns to battle vamps at the Fellowship of the Sun church, and introduces the vampire queen of Louisiana: Sophie-Anne (Evan Rachel Cook).

Season 3 added the werewolf, more specifically Alcide (Joe Manganiello), another of Sookie’s protectors.  What a lucky girl! First Shape-Shifter Sam, then Vampire Bill, and Vampire Eric, now Werewolf Alcide: four hot men protecting little ol’ Sookie.  We also meet the evil vampire king of Mississippi: Russell Edgington.  Oh yea, and Sookie is revealed as a fairy, in addition to her telepathic abilities.  What will happen in Season 4?

 

Showtime joined the party launching successful programming of its own in 2000 with Queer as Folk (2000-2005), and has held its own in the series & miniseries world since with The L Word (2004-2009), Weeds (2005-present), Dexter (2006-present), The Tudors (2007-2010), Californication (2007-present), and new hits such as Nurse Jackie, United States of Tara, and Shameless.

Let’s start with two of the best 30-minute dramadies on television: Weeds and Californication.

Weeds – Over the past six seasons, Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) has done what she needed to do in order to provide for her young sons (Silas, played by Hunter Parish; and Shane, played by Alexander Gould) after her husband, Judah (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), passes away suddenly – she sells weed.

The surprise visit of Judah’s brother, Andy (Justin Kirk), rocks Nancy’s world even more and her life spirals even further out of control.  Despite her shenanigans, Nancy truly tries to be the best mother possible to her boys.  However, Nancy has the tendency to screw things up and fall for the wrong men along the way:  Conrad, her weed-growing partner; Peter, her second husband/FBI agent; and Esteban Reyes, her third husband/Mexican drug cartel crime lord.

In Season 5, Nancy’s life is saved by the birth of her third son, Stevie Reyes; but, the lives of her family will never be the same.  So, what does the Botwin family do?  They flee, assume false identities, and return to the world of selling hash only to come face to face with Esteban, who has been diligently searching for his son, and his goons in the season finale.  Season 7 returns June 27th – what crazy antics are in store for Nancy, Andy, Silas, Shane, and Stevie?

Californication – Hank Moody (David Duchovny) has never met a drug or a woman that he doesn’t love.  Pair that with his recurring writer’s block, and Hank’s life is a disaster just waiting to happen.

The show starts after Hank, and his baby’s momma, Karen (Natascha McElhone) move with their daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin) from New York to Los Angeles.  Joining the Moody clan, is Hanks’ agent/BFF, Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler), and his wife, Marcy (Pamela Adlon), a waxing professional to the stars.

Hank’s successful novel was adapted into a screenplay much to his dismay, and feeling down-n-out, he picks up a hot Mia (Madeline Zima) in a local LA bookstore and beds her.  That is, after all, what Hank Moody does – he beds beautiful women with his alluring charm.  During sex, Mia punches Hank; not long after “the punch”, Hank discovers that Mia is the 16 year old daughter of Karen’s new fiancé. And, there you have the setting for all five seasons thus far.

Californication is pure brilliance, but raunchy.  In Season 2, Hank is hired to write the biography of a rock star – just want Hank needs, an invitation to party like a rock star! In Season 3, Hank is hired as a college professor – that’s definitely a disaster waiting to happen! One of my favorite laugh-out-loud, tears-streaming-down-face, scenes aired in Season 4 with the entire cast of characters sitting around Stu’s (Stephen Tobolowsky) dinner table.  Another unforgettable scene was early in Season 1…let’s just say it involved Hank and Charlie in bed, with a “shooter”.  Watch with caution….but be prepared to laugh and cry!

Dexter – Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) = member of the Miami Police Department by day (specializing in blood spatter), and vigilante/serial killer by night.  Dexter only murders other killers; that’s ok, right?

Dexter’s ties to his family (foster-sister, Debra; wife, Rita; stepchildren, Astor and Cody; and son, Harrison) force him to doubt his secret life, but he continues to kill, wrap the bodies tightly, and dispose of them at sea from his boat, “Slice of Life”.   Each season, Dexter faces a nemesis: “The Ice Truck Killer” (S1); “The Bay Harbor Butcher” (S2) — Oh wait, that’s Dexter! – so, let’s say his rival in Season 2 is Sergeant James Doakes; “The Skinner” (S3); “Trinity Killer” played by the fabulous John Lithgow (S4); and the “Santa Muerte Killer” (S5).

What demon will Dexter battle next? And what horrific murderer will Dexter permanently remove from Miami?  Will anyone catch Dexter?  Rumor mills report that Season 6 will be air sometime in 2011…

What’s your favorite movie-channel series of all time? Least favorite?  Which is better: HBO of old, or Showtime of new? Who’s your favorite HBO/Showtime series character?  Least favorite? I’d love to hear from you!

Tiffany’s Tele-Tuesday #3 A Pick Per Night

A Pick Per Night

Have time for just one television program a night?  Let me help with that! 

MONDAY – Hawaii Five-0 – a rewarding remake.

The original characters, Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) and Danny Williams (James MacArthur), should smile at the 2010 studs – Alex O’Laughlin as Steve and Scott Caan as Danny.  The scenery of Hawaii undoubtedly is a character within itself; the music & the original 1968 introduction was mirrored perfectly using the new cast; and the “Book ‘em Danno” catchphrase lives once again.  The governor’s appointment of the Five-O special task force provides the team with the ability to do whatever they deem necessary to close the case – perfect for McGarrett’s way of acting & thinking.  McGarrett, a former Navy Seal, battles the evils of his day job while searching for the evidence to bring down Wo Fat, who he believes is responsible for his mother’s death, and is also related to his father’s murder.  McGarrett’s partner, Danny, moved to Hawaii to be closer to his daughter, and misses the mainland desperately.  Danny disagrees with McGarrett’s way of doing things, and the banter between the two partners adds a humorous element to the show.  The third and fourth members of the team, Chin-Ho and Grace, are native Hawaiians with a history of their own – Chin-Ho was excused from the HPD for stealing money, and his cousin Grace is the only family member who hasn’t disowned him.  The creators & CBS have brought back a classic in style.  

TUESDAY – NCIS: LA – spinoff success. 

Special Agent G. Callen (Callen himself doesn’t know what the G. stands for having lost many of his childhood memories) and his partner, Special Agent Hanna, a former Navy Seal, join forces with LAPD Liaison Officer Deeks, who shot his own father after years of abuse, and Deeks’ partner, Field Agent Blye, a strong female character, coming from a marine family, and who was engaged to a marine.  Together, the four solve military crimes most often times threatening national security.  This Secret Naval Intelligence Unit, hidden inside a condemned building in Los Angeles, reports to the ever-mysterious Ops Manager Hetty, and showcase their ability to adapt, and go undercover in any situation.  Despite the frightening story premises, NCIS: LA promises humor in every episode.  Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J (Ladies do Love Cool James), Eric Christen Olsen, and Daniela Ruah possess fabulous on-screen chemistry and that alone is worth a visit. 

WEDNESDAY – Criminal Minds – inside the mind of the deranged. 

Criminal Minds follows the FBI’s Behavior Analysis Unit led by Agent Hotchner, who rarely smiles (not surprising, considering the “unsubs,” or Unidentified Subjects of the Investigations that his team chases).  Agent Morgan, Agent Rossi, Dr. Reid, and the recent addition, Agent Seaver, await invitations from local law enforcement and assist the local authorities in capturing unsubs, utilizing their behavior training and the computer expertise of their technical analyst, Penelope Garcia.   Criminal Minds also finds time to focus on the personal lives of each of the characters – Agent Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) raises his young son alone due to the murder of his wife last season; Agent Morgan (Shemar Moore) was abused as a child; Agent Rossi (Joe Mantegna) returned to the BAU after writing and lecturing about criminal analysis; Dr. Reid (Matthew Grey Gubler) has an eidetic memory, and battles internal demons because of his institutionalized, schizophrenic mother; Agent Seaver’s (Rachel Nichols) father was a serial killer; Garcia (Kristen Vangsness) has been shot, loves Agent Morgan, and fights to see the beauty in everything.  The show has had problems keeping female agents, but reports claim recent deportee Agent Jennifer Jareau (AJ Cook) will return at the end of this season.  The cases are believable and dark, and the characters pull you in.

THURSDAY – Archer – animated brilliance. 

Not offended by South Park? Love to watch Family Guy? FX has introduced Archer – pure animation brilliance.  Meet ISIS (International Secret Intelligence Service):

Sterling Archer = an alcoholic, sex crazed secret agent, who also happens to be a breast cancer survivor (Team Rampage!).  Think James Bond…

Malory Archer = Archer’s alcoholic, nymphomaniac mother/boss, whose apparent affair with the leader of the KGB resulted in Archer’s birth (although we’re still awaiting confirmation).   Think Miss Moneypenny…

Lana Kane = Archer’s sexy bombshell ex-girlfriend/partner who wants to be #1, and always wears her machine gun around her shoulder like a purse .   Think Lara Croft…

Cheryl = ISIS’ billionaire secretary with an S&M fetish. 

Pam = The Human Resource director and head-gossip, who is as sex crazed as the rest of the team. 

Archer’s 30-minutes of raunchy humor are an absolute must see!  I mentioned raunchy, right?

FRIDAY – Blue Bloods – NYC Crime Fighting Family.

 The Reagan family loves each other, and their city.  Each member of the Reagan family serves, or has served, their city in one way or another: Henry (Len Cariou), also known as “Grandpa”, is the retired Police Commissioner; Frank (Tom Selleck), also known as “Pop” or “Dad”, is the current Police Commissioner; Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is one of the top detectives on the NYPD squad; Jamie (Will Estes) is the newest of the Reagan family to join the force currently working the streets as a rookie cop; and Erin (Bridget Moynahan), the only daughter of Frank and his late wife, is an up & coming Assistant District Attorney.  Every episode features at least one family gathering around the dinner table at Frank’s house, an aspect of television today that is often times overlooked.  The show also has a stellar supporting cast: Jennifer Esposito, Amy Carlson, Nicholas Turturro, and Bobby Cannavale, Blue Bloods fights crime every Friday night in New York City, but the family dynamic is the real hero. 

What do you like to watch on Saturday and Sunday?  I’d love to hear from you!

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