Country Feedback

I’m not a TV guy, I swear.  At least, I’m not in the “normal” sense – or the traditional sense – if that makes se… well, you know what word goes there.  But I just can’t bring myself to do it three times in one sentence.

However, current technology and my Amazon Fire Stick have changed me.  Some might call it a problem.  Especially since the vast majority of my binge watching has occurred in these first three four plus months of 2017 and always after 9pm.  (Yeah, I started writing this a month ago.)

This flower is scorched
This film is on
On a maddening loop
These clothes
These clothes don’t fit us right
I’m to blame
It’s all the same
It’s all the same

And now I realize I need to keep some sort of a log about shows I’ve watched (or are in the middle of watching), so that is the entire motivation behind this entry.  But I’m also going to add a blurb about each show, so maybe if you’re looking for something to watch (or avoid) this will be helpful.  Also, I am going to group these by stream provider while totally ignoring the order in which they were watched.

Let’s start with the channel I clustered a bunch of my recent binging with:  HBO

  • True Detective (Seasons 1 & 2):  Season 2 was pretty, pretty good.  I know a lot of people felt it was a letdown from the first season, but I looked at them through different lenses and found the second story line quite interesting.  Of course, the first season was pretty damn remarkable.  Especially one moment in episode two.  (Guys reading this are now nodding knowingly)
  • The Leftovers (Seasons 1 & 2, first 3 episodes of season 3):  This is one of my most recent binges, and I hated for it to end.  I’m ready for season 3, for sure.  (That should let you know how long I’ve been working on this entry.  The final season has now started.)  This show is weird, creepy, and damn near believable.  Strong endorse.  In fact, I have watched seasons 1 and 2 twice.
  • The Night Of:  A long time ago, I had an idea for a novel.  It was going to be about a guy who gets absolutely plastered one night and then wakes up the next morning next to a dead woman with no recollection about what happened.  It was going to be called “Blind Drunk”.  Obviously I never wrote that book, and if I had, it would not have approached the brilliance of this nail biter show.
  • Big Little Lies:  This one-season show changed my viewing habits in that I could pretty much not stomach two episodes in a row.  Not because it was bad – no, this show was quite excellent – but because every episode was so tense.  And not in a Larry David/Michael Scott uncomfortable way, but in a punch to the gut way.  The domestic violence scenes were especially cringe-worthy.  Emotionally, it was too difficult for me to watch two in a row even though I wanted to know what happened next.
  • On My Watchlist But Not Yet Started:  Game of Thrones (I’ve gotten 5 minutes into the first episode 3 times, so yeah), Westworld, and Veep.  I might get around to these eventually.

This next provider is one I purchased a subscription to for two shows only – South Park and Fargo.  So basically any show named after a town, real or fictional.  Of course, it also came with Seinfeld and a few other things I found interesting.  So let’s talk about HULU.

  • Fargo (Seasons 1 & 2):  Billy Bob Thornton’s acting in season 1 led me watching another show that will make this list below.  But that shouldn’t detract from season 2.  I found both of these seasons to be enjoyable in a cringe-worthy way.  Many years ago I read a book by a guy named Scott Smith (generic?) concerning several normal men who stumble onto a ton of cash.  Things spin wildly out of control from there, with every negative action spawning others exponentially.  And that is both Fargo seasons in a nutshell.  Coincidentally, a movie was made based on that Scott Smith novel and one of the stars was Billy Bob Thornton.
  • Shut Eye (incomplete):  My friend Nathan suggested this one to me knowing that I was a sucker for the campy demeanor of USA Network’s “Burn Notice” and that this show stars Jeffrey Donovan – the star of the aforementioned USA show as well as a main player in Fargo season 2.  But this show just didn’t grab me.  I might pick it back up when I run out of internet, but for now it goes in the reject pile.
  • 11.22.63:  This was a one season adaptation of Stephen King’s novel by the same name.  I’d previously read the book and loved it, but was a bit wary about the show because I’d been warned by my UK brother that major changes were made from the novel.  However, I felt that the changes didn’t really detract from the story as a whole but they were significant enough to make me feel like I was watching a totally different, yet still enjoyable, tale.  It might not be for everyone who read the book, but I loved it.
  • Homeland (incomplete):  I’ve heard a lot of great things about this series, but I only started it this week.  Way too early to state a definitive.  (UPDATE:  I’ve already forgotten about it.)
  • Seinfeld:  This is something I’ll watch just as background noise.  I’ve seen every episode multiple times, and I own the entire catalog on DVD, but it is still my siren song.  Hell, I wrote my own damn episode.
  • On My Watchlist But Not Yet Started:  South Park (yes, one of the shows I purchased the subscription for has gone neglected), Top of the Lake, and The Path (on there just because of Breaking Bad’s Jesse).

This next provider is the one that got me into this mess to begin with because of the first show I’ll list.  It’s a little can-do company called NETFLIX.

  • Breaking Bad (all the seasons):  I started watching “Better Call Saul” with my girlfriend at the time, and thus was talked into watching the series that spawned it.  I was hooked and really enjoyed it, but I thought two other series were a tad better.  These three shows are what I call the Triumvirate and finishing third is nothing to shit on. The other two will be mentioned below.  Eventually.
  • Better Call Saul (in progress):  It would not surprise me if, at the end of this series, I end up liking it more than “Breaking Bad”.  I mean, Saul is so much cooler and interesting than Walt.  I recently described him as “an evil George Costanza”.
  • Narcos (Seasons 1 & 2):  Enlightening, scary, great acting, etc.  Some found season 2 to be too drawn out, but I didn’t really get that vibe.  I’m ready for the next chapter.
  • Mad Men (all the seasons):  I’ve never been much of a “follow the crowd” type, but I have to admit that the only reason I even started this show was because of all the hype it got from radio shows I listen to.  I expected to bail after a few episodes, but instead I cruised through the entire series in what I’m assuming to be record time.  I now remember why I always found advertising to be fascinating. I missed my calling.
  • Black Mirror (most of season 1):  Each episode of this show is a new story, so it is hard to judge this series on a whole.  I mean, some episodes I found amazing (the first one and the one about recorded memories) while others I found totally uninspiring (the treadmill one being the biggest culprit).  I’ll give this one a thumb sideways.
  • The Fall (I’m somewhere in season 3):  This one had great promise.  It started out quite strong, but season 2 began a steady decline that has forced me to move on to other, better things.  (Metaphor alert.)  It became a weekday soap opera on steroids with melodrama overload.  Meh.
  • Paranoid (very incomplete):  This is not a bad show, but with so many choices, it was easy to drop this one.  And I was kind of disappointed that it wasn’t just a Black Sabbath song on a loop.
  • Weeds:  I’m on season 3, episode 4.  The same place I’ve been on this show for over a month.  Don’t get me wrong – it is highly entertaining (get it?), but similar to Seinfeld above, it is one that I don’t really have to dedicate my full attention to in order to maximize its value.  And, dear creator, I have always loved Mary-Louise Parker.  From West Wing to The Client to Weeds.  There is a metaphor in there somewhere…
  • Broadchurch:  My Alabama girlfriend suggested this one.  (I think?)  It has great promise, but I forgot all about it after being distracted by the lifted skirt and perfumed inner thigh of other shows.  But I will continue it.
  • Twin Peaks:  I need to start this one over.  I started watching it late one night, squiffed, and was immediately distracted by the fact that both of Susan’s parents (from Seinfeld, yo) are in the series.  Incomplete grade.
  • Nothing on my watchlist that I have not at least started.  So I’ve got that going for me.

And now to the final provider – the Sears for the millennials: AMAZON

  • The Wire (all the seasons):  The greatest show of all time (in my opinion).  Gritty and crude, but also very realistic feeling.  Fight through season 2.  It is necessary for character and plot development.  Trust me – you will be rewarded.  (This is show #1 in the Triumvirate I mentioned earlier.  And I just finished watching all 5 seasons again.  It will most likely not be the only time I do that.)
  • The Sopranos (all the seasons):  #2 in the Triumvirate. But also the one most likely to drop out when something better comes along.  In other words, I think Breaking Bad has more staying power than The Sopranos.
  • Mad Dogs (season 1):  My only explanation for this is that I must have been drunk when I started watching and that my personality was stubborn enough to make me finish this stupid season.  I should be better than this.
  • Treme (all the seasons):  Stellar cast, great story about New Orleans rebuilding after Katrina.  Its main focus is on the service industry of the city – music, bars, and restaurants.  This was the first show I watched after my Breaking Bad/Sopranos/The Wire binge and the paucity of dead bodies was refreshing.  I loved this show and will most likely revisit it.  Created by the guys who created The Wire, it seems to nail the pulse of the target city.  Again.
  • Sneaky Pete (season 1):  When I asked Facebook friends for a binge suggestion, this show was the overwhelming favorite.  Yes, it beat out stalwarts like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.  And damn, my friends are good.  I’ve always been a sucker for a good conman or grifter story, and this one is excellent so far.  No idea when season 2 comes around, but I’m ready.
  • The Man in the High Castle:  Alternate history, based on the Philip K. Dick book of the same name.  What if the Allies had lost WWII?  What would the United States look like?  I loved this show, though opinions seem to be split on it.  I will most likely re-watch it, too.
  • The Americans (seasons 1-4):  I didn’t even realize season 5 was available for streaming until writing this.  I loved the first 3 seasons, but I started feeling lukewarm during season 4.  The weird thing is that when the show started, it was a throwback to the Cold War era of the 1980s.  And it still is, but with recent events it seems kind of prescient.  Please do not let season 5 be a letdown…
  • Patriot:  Only one season to date, but I have watched it twice.  So far.  It is funny in a subtle way, and the Beastie Boy references are genius.  I posted on Facebook about this show once.  Something about it being akin to an Elmore Leonard novel mixed with Napoleon Dynamite humor written by someone who was squiffed out of his mind.  In other words, right up my alley.  There had better be a season 2.
  • Goliath:  I’m not really a Billy Bob Thornton fan, but damn.  He was great in Fargo’s first season and phenomenal in Sling Blade.  So what do I know?  This show was entertaining, and thoroughly unbelievable, but it still worked for me.  We need mindless entertainment from time to time.  Only one season so far, so we’ll see how this holds up.
  • Bosch (seasons 1-3):  I’ve read several of the Michael Connelly novels chronicling the life and work of the title character of this series, but it is just another cop series, right?  Wrong.  Bosch is the hero of the anti-heroes.  And the procedural details in this show are top notch.  This is a smart cop show done right.  The acting is great, including two veterans of The Wire (wait – Milo is a good guy?), and the storyline of the (unsolved) murder of Bosch’s prostitute mother permeates throughout.  One of the best “true” cop shows I’ve seen.
  • Fortitude:  My latest “find”.  Two seasons available, but I’ve only watched the first so far.  Great acting and casting – Stanley Tucci is amazing in the first season.  (Season 2 features Dennis Quaid.  What a coup.)  Many of you are probably familiar with Michael Chricton (Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, Congo, and Disclosure).  But most of you are probably not familiar with Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  The latter two have written many entertaining books about science gone awry with tinges of horror, the occult, and general greed.  (If you’ve seen the movie The Relic, that was a Preston/Child creation.) Anyway, this show is like a combination of the three of them – lots of science (dumbed down for us lowlies) and suspense.  Totally hooked.  And let me add this – the town of Fortitude has an inordinate amount of good looking women.  Who knew they were attracted to glaciers?
  • On My Watchlist But Not Yet Started:  Only one show  – The Missing.  I’ve run out of things to say.

The link to this blog goes automatically to both Facebook and Twitter for those who would like to contribute their thoughts and/or show suggestions.  There is also the comments section here, though that goes almost wholly unused.

But for now?  I’m just glad I finally finished this SOB.

A paper weight, junk garage
Winter rain, a honey pot
Crazy, all the lovers have been tagged
A hotline, a wanted add
It’s crazy what you could’ve had
– R.E.M., “Country Feedback”




3 thoughts on “Country Feedback

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