By The Chicksters
It’s going to be a long, hot summer. The Texas sun takes care of the hot part, and for TV fans, those weeks of repeats and empty reality programming can make the summer months seem very, very long. To fill that void, we thought we’d devote our Netflix Instant Pick of the Week posts for June to each of our top picks for beating heat one of the best ways we know how – with a nice long TV show marathon. Here’s our first round.
Round One, June 7, 2011
Sure, it’s a web series and not technically a TV show, but it comes from the mind of one of our favorite TV writers, Joss Whedon. Plus it’s a sing-along, reminiscent of the famous musical episode of Buffy, which several thought was a bad idea until every show airing during that time broke down and copied it hoping for equal success (That ’70s Show, Xena). It stars Dr. Horrible, better known as Neil Patrick Harris, who’s successfully pulled off an acting comeback, probably spurred by his good sense of humor in playing himself in both Harold and Kumar films as a Neil Patrick Harris who steals cars, drops X, snorts coke off a naked girl’s ass while standing in the sunroof of a fast-moving car with no one driving, does shrooms and brands prostitutes. And don’t forget his guest star stint on Glee, on which he hit the most amazing high note during “Dream On” that we didn’t know he could hit. And don’t forget Dr. Horrible also stars Nathan Fillion (Firefly), who plays Captain Hammer with some true ham. He doesn’t remotely disappoint. So you should take a look, especially since it won an Emmy. Buffy episodes “Hush” and “The Body” didn’t even win an Emmy (which is a crime) even though they were nominated. Now what about the long-rumored sequel that’s supposed to have a theatrical release? Still in the works, but there’s definitely a draft going. We’ll keep you posted.
Shelby: My So-Called Life
Because nothing else captures the teen girl experience quite like it. Because of all the flannel. Because of ’90s nostalgia. Because of the way it will make you want to dye your own hair Crimson Glow. In my book, Angela Chase is the most realistic teenager ever to grace the television. For 19 episodes before its untimely cancellation, My So-Called Life mined teenagerdom for some of the most compelling and identifiable drama ever, and even now, it remains one of my all-time favorite shows. I should say that I know it’s sacrilege, but when I rewatch this show now, I find myself rooting for Brian Krakow. Yes, Jordan Catalano is really great at leaning, but eventually, you want to be able to, like, talk about things. I tried to find a YouTube clip of one of my favorite Angela/Jordan exchanges (“Why are you like this?” “Like what?” “Like how you are.” Oh, teenagers.), but I kept coming back to this clip from an early episode called “The Zit,” which perfectly chronicles how during your teen years it feels like one pimple really can ruin your entire life. They say voiceover narration is a crutch in movies and television, but Angela’s is always spot on, especially here. Plus, Claire Danes is the best crier ever. Her crumple-face gets me every time.
Round Two, June 14, 2011
Last week, we launched our month-long series on our favorite options for some summer TV marathons courtesy of the beautiful invention that is Netflix Instant. Here’s our second round of picks:
Another Netflix Instant steal by Joss Whedon is Firefly and its follow-up movie, Serenity, which concludes the prematurely canceled series. (That’s right—another bad decision by Fox, who has canceled Family Guy twice.) If you haven’t seen Firefly yet, you must. It has a very strong cult following for a reason. Some people call it Joss Whedon’s best show. Though that’s just silly—Buffy is Joss Whedon’s best show—it isn’t too far off the mark since it is certainly his second best show, with Angel following closely behind. Dollhouse is obviously last, though I do still really like that one as well. Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) is the lead here as a Han Solo-type bounty hunter 500 years in the future (just think Cowboy Bebop in the flesh) who just wants to keep his clunky ship together, money in his pocket and food in his stomach. These three things seldom happen all at once or at all, even with the support of his resourceful crew, which is comprised of some very entertaining characters and the actors who portray them to round out this ensemble cast. Just check out this trailer for Serenity and try not to be intrigued.
Shelby: Veronica Mars
So last week, I picked a show that featured the teen girl I most identified with. Now I’m picking the show featuring the teen girl I’d most like to be like. Veronica Mars is a pint-sized, pop culture-spewing private investigator who packs a punch—and an oh-so-handy taser. First seasons of television shows only very, very, very rarely come as deftly plotted, suspenseful, funny, unflinchingly honest, swoon-inducing and addicting as the first season of Veronica Mars. Rob Thomas, who used to live in Austin(!!!), created an amazingly detailed mystery show that revolves around a badass teen girl but has an appeal to reach all demographics. After the show’s cancellation at the end of the third season, Rob Thomas and several Veronica Mars cast members went over to Starz for Party Down, a two-season delight (also on Netflix Instant!) that delves into the unglamorous behind-the-scenes lives of LA cater-waiters played by Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Ken Marino, Martin Starr (Bill Haverchuck from Freaks and Geeks), Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars‘ Dick Casablancas) and Jane Lynch. When it comes to Veronica, I could have opted for one of her many, many clever retorts and one-liners for a clip, but I kept coming back to this scene between Veronica and sad little rich boy Logan Echolls, a pairing the provides much of the show’s swoon appeal.
Round Three, June 21, 2011
This week, we bring you our third round of summer TV picks that can be found on Netflix Instant. Two of our picks take us across the pond while the other includes destinations that are even a bit further abroad.
Roswell is a highly addictive show, from the first scene where Max Evans (Jason Behr) does “something” to Liz Parker after she gets shot (Shiri Appleby) that involves a secret they have to protect the entire series. It sounds dirty, but it isn’t, though it is certainly sexy and strangely there is a bra showing. The secret has something to do with code word “Czechoslovakians,” even though as Alex (Colin Hanks) so astutely points out, “Czechoslovakia is a country that hasn’t existed for 10 years.” This show is also where the gorgeous Katherine Heigl got her start as the amazingly sympathetic Rosalie-like character, Isabel, who somehow pulls at your heart strings despite her charmed life and supermodel good looks. Maria, played by singer-songwriter Majandra Delfino, is probably my favorite character, though in the first season she has some seriously laughable hair. Michael (Brendan Fehr) is the real leading man of the show, because you just can’t take your eyes off the hotheaded Czechoslovakian, though Liz and Max do have a better romance, which is akin to Twilight. (Yes, I think Stephenie Meyer watched Roswell. There are way too many similarities, including the same actress playing Maria’s mom that plays Bella’s mom and the fact that Fehr’s hair also defies gravity.) Sheriff Valenti (William Sadler) is also a joy to watch as the Sheriff that constantly makes you wonder whose side he’s on. Jason Katims’ Roswell is based on the young adult book series Roswell High by Melinda Metz that I have yet to read, but since both she and the editor of the books were among the staff writers of the show, I suspect I’d like it.
Shelby: Gavin and Stacey
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m enough of an Anglophile that I’m predisposed to like a show more if it’s British. But no matter which side of the Atlantic Gavin and Stacey was produced on, it would still be one of the sweetest and funniest shows I’ve ever set eyes on. Spanning three insanely popular and award-winning seasons and a Christmas special on the BBC, season one is currently streaming stateside on Netflix Instant. Gavin Shipman (from Essex) and Stacey West (from Barry Island, Wales) work for different branches of the same company and fell in love over the course of daily phone chats in their jobs. In the pilot, they meet in person for the first time, and from there, the show follows the course of their whirlwind relationship. Their love story is adorable, but what truly elevates this show is the ensemble of Gavin’s and Stacey’s absurd family and friends (as you’ll see in the clip below), particularly the uber-Welsh Uncle Bryn (played by Rob Brydon, who I can’t wait to see play a version of himself alongside Steve Coogan in the upcoming flick The Trip) and Gavin’s BFF Smithy and Stacey’s BFF Nessa (who I long to be friends with). The actors who play the latter two characters, James Corden and Ruth Jones, actually created and wrote the series, and their oil-and-water interactions as Smithy and Nessa are side-splitting. An added bonus of tuning in, you get to learn awesome Welsh slang like “lush,” “crackin’” and “What’s occurring?”
Round Four, June 29, 2011
This week, we decided to turn the reins over to the men in our lives and find out which TV series they recommend streaming on Netflix.
Seth: For those anime fans who might not be aware of the extensive anime collection on Netflix Instant, you might be surprised to find that it has all 167 episodes of InuYasha and practically all of Bleach, among many others anime series including Last Exile. It appears that Netflix will keep up with animes as they’re dubbed in English and released, by companies like Funimation in Dallas. It even has most of the new version of the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood series, which is definitely worth a watch. So if you’re looking to catch-up on some anime, Netflix Instant is the thing to check out first, before buying discs off Amazon and eBay.
O’Husband: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992–1993) explored the childhood and youth of everyone’s favorite archeologist, Indiana Jones. Some episodes involve a 9- or 10-year-old Indy learning about other countries and getting into trouble, and others feature his later teenage years when, during World War I, he becomes a soldier, a spy and a pilot! And most were actually shot on location all over the world. For example, the first episode on Netflix (which features the re-edited versions released on DVD a few years ago) contains two stories, one where a 9-year-old Indy helps T.E. Lawrence solve a murder in Egypt and another where Indy himself gets sold into slavery in Morocco. Most episodes feature Indy involved in some famous world event, complete with the relevant cast of characters like T.E. Lawrence, Teddy Roosevelt, Pancho Villa, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and more. So whether you were a fan of the series back in the ’90s (as I definitely was) or just love Harrison Ford’s version of the character and want to know more, hop on Netflix and check it out.