The 29 Shows I Binge-Watched in 2017

Dear Friends,

If you’re looking for shows to binge-watch this winter, do I ever have the list for you! Full disclosure — we are premium cable, Amazon Prime and Netflix subscribers, so some of these shows may not be accessible to everyone. Okay, pull up a chair and let’s get started!

29 Shows?!? Seriously? What were you thinking?!?

  1. Mind Hunter — While the anachronisms of the years and the music choices drive me a little crazy, this deep dive into the genesis of forensic science has been really fun to watch.
  2. Hap and Leonard — Not since True Detective paired Harrelson and McConaughey have I seen such brilliant casting as partners James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Williams. These two are perfect together. It was fun to see Christina Hendricks again, too. I’ve missed MAD MEN so! This series is based on the books by author Joe R. Lansdale, all of which I binge-read — he has a new one out I cannot wait to get my hands on!
  3. The Patriot — Quirky, clever, and captivating. Also, this has probably one of the most haunting pieces of opening music of all the shows I’ve heard this year, second, maybe, to the opening music in Season 1 of The Affair. Here’s a link to The Patriot’s opening theme song (I’ll forewarn you, it’s a haunting ear worm. I’m hounding Jack’s guitar teacher to teach it so I can sing along, much to Jack’s chagrin). “The Train Song” by Vashti Bunyan: https://youtu.be/0AGD78mWcss
  4. Fortitude — This series, set on an uber-bleak isle off of Norway, is the site of murder and sci-fi mayhem. You’ll recognize two actors from Game of Thrones and in Season 2, Dennis Quaid plays a lead role brilliantly.
  5. Stranger Things — I talked about that previously, here. It gave me an ’80s-gasm from which I have yet to recover.
  6. Orphan Black — I have such a show hangover from this one. I sorely miss the believably different characters Kosima, Allison, Sarah — all played by actress Tatiana Maslany, who has given Streep a run for her money. And then there’s Felix…I miss Felix’s amazing flat. This series was so much fun!
  7. The OA — This series was super quirky and haunting. It made me yearn for more.
  8. Fargo — Regardless of the season, I love, love, love this quirky murder mystery series set in the Coen Brothers’ world. Watch them all.
  9. Channel Zero: Candy Cove — This was super creepy and probably fairly inexpensively made. It had a really interesting concept.
  10. The Missing — Season 1 is eerily reminiscent of the tragic Madeline McCann case, and this has your heart breaking for the parents of a missing boy and the long-term effect it has on them. I had to binge-watch Season 2 right away, as enamored as I was of the wonderful French “cold case” detective, Julien Baptiste.
  11. Catastrophe — This romantic dramedy is such smart writing, and I loved Carrie Fisher’s role in it. (I’m still so sad she is gone–watch her last documentary with Debbie Reynolds–haunting.)
  12. Sneaky Pete — This has that “Wait! I HAVE to see what happens in the next episode!” quality to it of Breaking Bad, and it was created by Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston in one of the lead roles. It’s wonderful.
  13. Better Call Saul — I’ve had many friends tell me they didn’t like this as much as Breaking Bad. To me, it’s just as good, but you have to be more patient with letting the story evolve than you may have been in Breaking Bad.
  14. Preacher — Okay, I must admit, I wasn’t keen on seeing the Christ — the religious figure on whom I base my entire religion — having sex, but outside of that, this quirky story and cast of characters was a blast to watch. Tulip is the best, and oddly enough, you’ll feel empathy for Hitler. I know, that news is hard to swallow, but trust me.
  15. Taboo — Tom Hardy had probably one of the greatest sex scenes of all the shows I’ve seen in the past year. I can’t wait to see what happens in Season 2. Oona Chaplin is wonderful, too. I hope she is back.
  16. Mr. Robot — I’ll admit, I’ve only seen Season 1. After the “big reveal” at the end of Season 1, I’m truly unsure if I can move forward, but I’ll probably give it a go for a couple of episodes.
  17. Tin Star — I was happy to see Christina Hendricks in another great role, but sadly, her character wasn’t likable, nor were any of the characters. After the last episode, I sat and thought about it, and realized I genuinely disliked every. single. character — even Tim Roth, who played the lead.
  18. Longmire — There’s a comfort to watching this series — that slower-paced, unpretentious western vibe, and the Indian reservation and the customs they discuss are fascinating to me. If you loved Battlestar Galactica, you’ll recognize the wonderful Katee Sackhoff.
  19. Black Mirror — This is the Twilight Zone for the modern era. I love it. But frankly, if I had never seen the episode with the Prime Minister having sex with a pig, I’d be a little less traumatized. I’m told that episode was loosely based on some true story, which sickens me even more.
  20. Ray Donovan — I binge-watched Season 1 and I found the storyline of a dysfunctional Boston family transplanted in L.A. fairly enthralling, but somehow, I lost steam on this one. I’ll give it another go.
  21. The Americans — I am a couple of seasons behind, but I really enjoy this one. It’s not the level of Breaking Bad (can anything ever be?) but it’s engaging.
  22. Homeland — Now that they’ve gone PC and started foregoing the route of mentioning radical Islam in any storylines, I’m losing interest and finding this fairly dull.
  23. Westworld — This show taps into the zeitgeist of sexbot and artificial intelligence anxiety in such a smart way. The opening music and imagery is beautifully rendered and let’s face it — anything with Anthony Hopkins and Peter Weller…how can it lose?
  24. Big Little Lies — While it was hard to see Alexander Skaarsgard, my favorite True Blood vampire, playing the role of an abusive husband, the storyline and its stellar cast kept me hooked and let’s face it — anything set in a California backdrop…sigh…
  25. The Affair — I binge-watched Season 1 and have Season 2 waiting for me, but I’m sort of losing steam on this one, as much as I love Maura Tierney.
  26. Broadchurch — This is my current binge-watch show. I finished Season 3 last night. I adore the pairing of actors David Tennant and Olivia Colman. I also like how they wove the characters & tropes from Season 1 into Seasons 2 and 3. I wish for more, but alas, it’s a trilogy.
  27. The Walking Dead — Once they killed Glenn so brutally in Episode 1 this past season, I could never go back. It was torture porn to my mind. Now my friends just tell me what’s happening, and that’s enough for me. I don’t need to see it.
  28. Fear the Walking Dead — The Walking Dead set in California and Mexico made for some interesting scenes, but to be honest, most of the characters in this season aren’t terribly likable, aside from Colman Domingo. It doesn’t help that the lead actress is a Katie Couric look-alike, since she irritates the shit out of me.
  29. The X-Files — I was beyond thrilled to see new episodes, but I need to know what happened to Scully & Mulder’s child! Keep filming!

Well…it’s clear I need to be doing more productive things with my time than binge-watching shows. That explains some unfinished paintings in my office. I didn’t realize how insanely extensive this list was until I got to the very end! Maybe I’ll be better next year…

 

 

 

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On the 75th Anniversary of BUGS BUNNY, Remembering That Time I Met Bugs’ Creator CHUCK JONES

Happy 75th, Bugs!

Happy 75th, Bugs!

I have been blessed many times in my career to be placed in some fairly oddball situations – I’m no stranger to events where there are bizarre mash-ups of iconic personalities in the entertainment and publishing world. One such event was in the early ’90s during my first year as the writer/producer on motorsports TV series THE SUPER CHARGERS. Our production team headed down to the Houston Film Festival for the awards ceremony. My second father figure and–at that time–employer, TV personality Jan Gabriel treated us to an unforgettable dinner and performance at the exclusive Magic Island in Houston. The next night, we attended the Houston Film Festival Awards, where we won a Gold Star Award. Featured guests that year were Chuck Jones, Rod Steiger, and Ginger Rogers. I know, right? What an oddball mashup of entertainment icons!

I walked into the art museum where the event was being held, and I happened to look up at the top of the stairs. There was Jan Gabriel, talking to a tall, thin man in a tuxedo. He had a tuft of white, fluffy hair that hang down on his forehead, and these oversized, too-large-for-his-face, black plastic-framed eyeglasses. In my signature silliness, I quipped to Kenny our cameraman, “Look! Jan’s talking to Bugs Bunny!” having no idea that it was actually Bugs Bunny creator Chuck Jones, the featured guest! D’oh! Mr. Jones really did look a lot like the cartoon character he created, and I never forgot that about him.

At the same event, Ginger Rogers was in the sunset years of her life, getting around in a wheelchair. There were no separate restroom facilities for dignitaries, and while I still feel bad about it, I was full of champagne and I raced past Ms. Rogers’ wheelchair to reach the bathroom ahead of her. I just barely made it. She didn’t have to wait too long for me, but it was a very human moment. I was once again reminded that we all put on our panties one leg at a time.

Meanwhile, Behind the Scenes, Herding Cats

Star Wars Celebration 6

Star Wars Celebration 6 – For those of you with magnifying glasses, Dave is 4th from the right

So I sent a quick media pitch to CHICAGO TONIGHT yesterday on Dave’s reaction to the new museum and they liked it. Right as Dave was rushing out the door to buy groceries, I told him he would be on TV tomorrow night. Always the comic book artist introvert, Dave remains my most reluctant “client.”

Jack’s reaction: “Yay! That means we get pizza tomorrow night!” (I have no idea why he said that. And that would make the 2nd time this week we’d have pizza. I’m so over it.)

Dave’s reaction: “Really? I have to get dressed up and drive into the city?”

For dramatic impact, he added a heavy sigh and his famed eyeball rolling. Dave lives in a t-shirt and sweat pants. He creates his own reality. He cannot fathom why the rest of the world isn’t on board with his fashion code. The thought of putting on jeans just unglues him.

And then we argued about whether or not WTTW had their own makeup person. Dave says yes, I say no.  (I will be bringing makeup, just in case.)

But it’s never just as simple as Dave just driving into Chicago to be on TV. This kicked off a whole series of madcap events. We had to meet friends at the last minute who used Dave’s favorite Star Wars “Darkside Alley” bowling shirt as a pattern to make him another shirt. This meant driving to Stone Cold Creamery at 8:30 last night. Dave can’t be on TV without his lucky shirt.

Dave Dorman with Faith, Hawk and Kim Evans Worley last night, in the new shirt made by Hawk

Dave Dorman with Faith, Hawk and Kim Evans Worley last night, in the new shirt made by Hawk

And then there was the mad scramble on Facebook to find the needle in the haystack–the person who had the high-resolution version of the Star Wars Celebration group photo for the TV producer. Fortunately, the 501st cosplay group are the most organized and responsive in the world, so we had an answer almost immediately. Now we’re scrambling to find the high-res version of this image for the studio:

Dave Dorman and George Lucas

Dave Dorman and George Lucas

And oh yeah, did I mention I run a business, I have a 9-year-old interrupting me every 5 minutes, I’m still in my PJs at 11:45 a.m. setting a grand example for our son, and the doorbell keeps ringing with endless package deliveries for my aging parents living downstairs? And that I didn’t get to sleep until after 3 a.m. due to my anxiety-inducing heart palpitations? Through clenched teeth, I declare, “Today will be FUN!”