Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens in "Justified" demands your attention.
After shelling out big bucks to see well over a couple dozen movies this past year, it finally struck me–– the big screen is getting trumped by the little one.
The creative output on broadcast television far exceeds the re-hashed plotlines, remakes, kiddie pablum, cookie cutter sequels, artsy-fartsy borefests and special effects-driven mindless fare Hollywood keeps churning out.
Here are 23 great shows you can see on air. Some are subscription based, but many are free, and almost all are available on Netflix or on demand. It’s a feast of storytelling and rich, complex character development.
Get a load of these:
Justified, Falling Skies, Mad Men, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Luther, Downton Abbey, Weeds, Hell on Wheels, Boardwalk Empire, The Daily Show, Game of Thrones, Louie, Portlandia, Dexter, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Homeland, The Colbert Report, Modern Family, Breaking Bad, The Middle, Treme, Californication and The Walking Dead.
That’s 23 terrific shows, everything from period pieces to fantasy to gritty drama to sharp political satire and commentary to gripping psychological character studies to absurdist humor to family friendly comedy to rich explorations into the human condition.
It’s no wonder some of the sharpest talent in entertainment has gone from the big screen to the smaller one. There is more freedom to create, to develop, to take risks, to tell truly interesting stories and to succeed.
In short, contrary to what our parents always told us, we should all be watching more TV.
Vampire, werewolf, boring girl, oh my!
I saw two movies this weekend, Hot Tub Time Machine
on the big screen, and New Moon
(part of The Twilight Saga
) on the small screen.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking– Scullin’s Mensa meeting must have been cancelled and he needed some intellectually-stimulating entertainment. Well, joke’s on you– I’m not even in Mensa!
Let start with New Moon. This is part two in the tale of Bella (Kristin Stewart), a high school senior who is gaga for a 109-year old vampire, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson– he’s so dreamy, and he carries 109 very well!). Edward moves away so he won’t be tempted to suck Bella’s blood and make her one of the undead– but Bella is also kind of into hunky, pumped-up Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) who becomes a werewolf and well, werewolves don’t like ‘bloodsuckers’ but see, they have a peace pact of sorts and… screw it. This movie is two hours and ten minutes of feeling like the undead.
It’s slow, it’s plodding, it’s a test of patience and perseverance. The character of Bella may be the single most uninteresting character ever brought to the silver screen. She is forlorn, she is pouty, she is withdrawn, she is longing, she is in the forbidden love zone. Bella is barely a one-dimensional character, and Kristin Stewart musters all her acting abilities to deliver this yawn of a human. Why would anyone, alive or undead, be attracted to someone this boring? Beats me.
Then again, I’m sure the fans of the book loved this film and love the characters. Hey, we all have to face choices like vampires or werewolves, and this movie plays out our dilemma. I just wish the characters had some life in them. Now let’s talk about something worth seeing.
Hot Tub Time Machine
Come on in, the water's fine. Suit optional.
may not be one of the great comedies of all time, but it’s better than most of what passes for comedy these days. This is a film that has an inventive plot and a superb cast (although I could have done without Chevy Chase). Yes, it could have more production values, but this wasn’t a big budget affair. It’s just a good old fashioned raunchy comedic romp (note: don’t bring the kiddies unless they’re fans of f-bombs and plenty of compromising adult situations).
It’s a smart film with plenty of laughs and moves at a nice clip. The faces on screen are fresh: Rob Corddry (ex-Daily Show with Jon Stewart funnyman), Craig Robinson (from The Office) Clark Duke (you’ve seen him, you just don’t know where) and John Cusack, (who co-produced and always delivers on screen). The story by Josh Heald, screenplay by Josh Heald, Sean Anders & John Morris, is consistently engaging, entertaining and fun. Come re-live a lot of the awfulness that was the 80′s with a band of characters who are very alive, with nary a werewolf or vampire in sight.
Bottom line: Hot Tub Time Machine is worth immersion, New Moon could put an insomniac down for the count.