The 31 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!

31 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. They’ve avoided the anachronism issues I’ve had with “The Goldbergs.”
  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, who plays 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!
  30. Ozark — Justin Bateman (whom I believe also directs?) and Laura Linney do a great job of taking us on this incredible journey on how quickly things can get effed up when you are unwittingly involved in money laundering for a cartel, going from a simple upper middle class life in tony Chicago suburb Naperville, Illinois to running a crappy marina and strip club in The Ozarks. The last episode was breathtakingly shocking.
  31. Goliath — Billy Bob Thornton could read the phone book and I would be captivated, but he plays a down-and-out, alcoholic, underdog lawyer in this amazing series, fighting the evil corporation. (This series also gave me the blueprint for my retirement plan, which is to rent two long-term rooms in a seedy hotel, strategically positioned across the parking lot from a seedy bar/restaurant where I can get a decent burger, and within walking distance of Santa Monica Pier.)

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/studio. 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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Thanksgiving: Some Random Thoughts

For many of you, today is likely one of your favorite holidays. While I love a spirited, marathon game of Euchre with my cousins as much as the next person, I sure wish those pilgrims had kicked off this family tradition with a Chicago stockyard prime rib rather than a turkey. There’s not enough alcohol in the world to entice me to insert my hand in that turkey’s pink, slimy, gut-filled pit of hell. Cue up Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare…this is the holiday where my bird phobia is front and center. I can handle popping a boneless, skinless turkey breast into the oven, but that horrific headless bird corpse stays outside of my line of sight.

Courtesy of my horror writer friend Steve Niles, the stuff my nightmares are made of.

Courtesy of my horror writer friend Steve Niles, the stuff my nightmares are made of.

And then there’s dessert. Pumpkin pie? Meh. Not in my Top 10 List. Not even close. So here’s how I propose we eat it:

Pumpkin Pie, Denise Style.

Pumpkin Pie, My Way.

My favorite Thanksgiving memory was the year I had just returned from the greatest practical joke shop in Key West, armed with my new expandable fork. It looked like a normal fork, but it could extend to two feet in length. I patiently waited for my kindred spirit cousin Jeff, sitting across from me, to load his plate with stuffing–one of the few things I like about Thanksgiving. Jeff got distracted by an oncoming platter of turkey and I made my move–in one fell swoop, my expanding fork reached across the table, plucked that ball of stuffing right off of his plate, and made it mine. The shocked expression on Jeff’s face when he looked back on his plate and did his double-take is something I will never forget. I still get the giggles every time I think of it. I recently rediscovered that fork, and it just so happens that Jeff’s coming over today…hmmm….

Last night Jeff posted this sentiment on Facebook from one of our favorite comedy writers, Jack Handey, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I share this with you today:

More Brilliance from Jack Handey

More Brilliance from Jack Handey

Today I’m thankful for my family, our health, great comedy and laughs, my favorite new earthling Baby Gemma, my friends (from the Shenanigans, Hijinks, Immaturity and Tomfoolery Club to the Sister Wives to my vast, ever-expanding, quirky “Collection” of everyone in between), Jonesie the cat (whom I’m still trying to forgive for spilling that full cup of coffee on my computer yesterday and ruining my laser mouse), my clients who keep life interesting (especially the engrossing fiction novels of uber-talented author Mike Baron), the growing stack of unread books awaiting me, for tennis (on TV and in real life), and for what will probably be remembered as the greatest era in cable and network TV entertainment, from Downton Abbey to Gotham to Homeland, and too many more to mention.

I hope you all have a memorable, Happy Thanksgiving. As for me, I’ll be occupied with removing pickles from the White Castles (Dave forgot to buy the pickle-free kind) for the stuffing, and averting my gaze from that bumpy, pink meat puppet.