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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L.A., I am IN You…

As I write this, I’m staring out the 12th-story window of my hotel room on Highland Avenue at the “Hollywood” sign. There’s an energy to California that I always feel the moment my feet touch the ground. Maybe it’s the I’ve-been-deprived-for-6-months rays emanating from that orange, fiery ball in the sky (what is that sphere, anyway? A sun or something?). Maybe it’s an impending earthquake. It just feels like it heightens my already high energy. Maybe it’s the uber-creative friends I always hang with in Cali. I feel so happy here. The only thing that could top off this glorious feeling would be if I had my merry band of Kotex Mafia to share this with me–Marovich, the Sister Wives, the S.H.I.T. Club. God, we’d have a blast. In a perfect world…

We’re here in L.A. because Dave Dorman is a judge for the Writers & Illustrators of the Future Awards a prestigious award for the sci-fi and fantasy community. Last night, part of the fun was an art salon at Cliff Nielsen’s studio. He did a sci-fi retro theme for the live models (blasting 1960s James Bond soundtracks in the background as we sketched–I was in sensory heaven) so here’s my graphic-covered southpaw after a 10-minute sketch:

10-Minute Art Jam, Southpaw Style

10-Minute Art Jam, Southpaw Style

And here are the wonderful models:

Wonderful models from Cliff Nielsen's Art Salon

Wonderful models from Cliff Nielsen’s Art Salon

Today I join our X-Files actor friend Dean Haglund, who is HILARIOUS (if you’ve never seen him do stand-up comedy, do yourself a favor and be sure to find where he’s performing) for his downtown LA walking tour. It will be a total riot, I guarantee you. Between my penchant for attracting society’s oddballs and Dean’s out-of-left-field running commentary, this could get interesting…

Now, let’s talk briefly about how California fruit growers are holding out on us. I mean seriously, they do not share their highest quality level of produce with those of us outside of Cali (a California friend told me this long ago, and I didn’t believe him until I saw the berries from our $127 breakfast this a.m.–I think me adding smoked salmon to my egg white omelette was the costly tipping point.) Why, yes! That is a QUARTER next to my blueberry, black raspberry, and raspberry:

Look - these berries were radiated on Gilligan's Island!

Look – these berries were radiated on Gilligan’s Island!

And hotels–what’s with hiring Dracula as your guest rooms interior designer? The gray and silver aesthetic for our room is way too similar to the New Mexico cult compound from TV’s “The Dig,” an aesthetic co-creators Tim Kring and Gideon Raff discussed openly as making people feel cold and uncomfortable. Which it does.

Actress Lauren Ambrose amidst the cold, sterile interiors from the cult compound on USA Network's "THE DIG" TV series

Actress Lauren Ambrose amidst the cold, sterile interiors from the cult compound on USA Network’s “THE DIG” TV series

If you’re in the market for ugly curtains, er, window dressings, I know right where you can find some…

Someone Went Shopping at "Ugly Curtains R Us"...

Someone Went Shopping at “Ugly Curtains ‘R Us”…

As a final thought, my prayers go out to those who were hit by the twisters in Northern Illinois last night, way too close to our home. I was comforting our frantic-bordering-on-hysterical son on the phone from here as he was hiding in the basement during last night’s terrifying storm. (Unfortunately, I know first-hand how butt-puckeringly frightening it is to be hit by a tornado while you’re in your house after our Hurricane Ivan adventure in Florida.)

Stay tuned as my wildly fun and unpredictable weekend unfolds…