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TV

30 Dec 2018
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Barack Obama was sworn in as president. King of Pop Michael Jackson passed away. The second-greatest film in cinematic history, Crank 2: High Voltage, was released. Now-decade-old 2009 was an auspicious AF year. TV had a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good 2009 as well. Here are nine iconic-to-obscure shows that debuted 10 years ago to stream while pondering what in the hell you’ve done with your life. Parks and Recreation (Seasons 1-7 on Prime Video and Hulu): Community—which also premiered on NBC in 2009—may carry more cred with smug culture nerds, but Parks and Recreation is as warm and timeless as a Li’l Sebastian snuggie. Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson and the rest of Pawnee, Indiana’s finest created a bottomless pit of quotable memes over 125 perfect episodes, which are best enjoyed with a chilled tumbler of Snake Juice. Archer (Seasons 1-8 on Hulu): There’s no tighter animation voice cast than…
06 Nov 2018
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Admit it: You’re dreading the same old home-for-the-holidays family Thanksgiving dinner with the same old question, “How’s your job going?” To which you’ll have to mumble the same old answer between bites of turkey and slugs of Wild Turkey discretely hidden in a Coke Zero can: “You mean my soul-sucking 9-to-eternity corporate Power-Pointed hellscape? Fan-damn-tastic, you MAGA-hatted motherfuckers!” Now … imagine how cool it would be if you could reply with, “Actually, I’ve embarked upon an exciting new career path as a contract assassin—as you can clearly tell by my white tuxedo and Bentley parked out front. Pass the cranberry sauce?” Movies tend to paint the life of a hitman as glamorous; TV … not so much. Here are seven killer-for-hire series to stream over turkey sandwiches and 101-proof sodas: Barry (Season 1 on HBO Now): Ex-Saturday Night Live square peg Bill Hader struck dramedy gold in the 2018 debut…
30 Aug 2018
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The back-to-school time of year is special to people—not me, but, you know, other people: the kind of people who still have high-school graduation tassels hanging from their rearview mirrors, or still refer to their college ball teams as “we” and “us,” or whine incessantly about still-not-paid-off student loans. Essentially, the kind of people who cause me to ponder the potential real-life benefits of The Purge. However, just because school and those who love school suck doesn’t mean there’s no value in school-based TV shows. Here are nine series—well, eight plus one dishonorable mention—to watch in the spirit of back to school: Daria (Seasons 1-5 on Hulu): Everything from the dissonant opening chords of theme song “You’re Standing on My Neck” to news-show-within-the-show Sick, Sad World still feels fresh-ish, as perpetually unimpressed high-schooler Daria Morgendorffer sighed for our myriad D-U-M-B sins. With smart social observations and sharp execution (if not…
02 Aug 2018
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We all have friends—mostly on Facebook, the whiniest of all social-media platforms—who have been threatening to “move to Canada!” for almost two years now. They haven’t; they won’t; and they’re certainly not going to shut up aboot it. Too bad, because Canada has far more to offer than brutal hockey, legal weed and free health care: There is also some damned fine TV in the Great White North. Some of it can even be viewed down here in the Formerly Great and Still Mostly White South—in fact, you may already be watching some Canuck shows and not be aware of it. The moose’s nose in the tent, eh. Crack a Molson, and stream these eight Canadian TV series while you’re filling out your passport application: Letterkenny (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): Neckless redneck Wayne (series creator Jared Keeso), his buds and a cavalcade of characters fight, drink and generally laze about…
27 Jun 2018
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Are we living in the end times? Yeah, probably—what are you going to do about it? Rage against the dying of the light and/or the Machine? Sorry, neither Dylan Thomas nor Zack de la Rocha are going to save your ass from annihilation. Instead, binge some apocalypse-centric TV shows while waiting for the end of civilization—and there are plenty from which to choose. While the genre is currently dominated by The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Talking Dead Careers With Chris Hardwick and the like, there are other end-of-days series out there in the streamverse that are more fun, or think-ier, or at least somewhat sanitary. (Take a moment to imagine what Rick Grimes’ facial hair smells like—organic beard oil, it ain’t.) Here are nine apocalyptic TV series to binge while standing by for sweet oblivion. Blood Drive (Season 1 on Syfy.com and Syfy app): What makes 2017 Syfy…
24 May 2018
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Adult Swim, the overnight alter-ego of the Cartoon Network, has been derided as an outlet of stupid and borderline satanic TV content for stoners and insomniacs since it launched in 2001 … nine days before Sept. 11 at around 11 p.m., conspiracy theorists. And … so what? Here are 11 Adult Swim series you’ve probably never heard of—or totally forgot about, thanks to herbal erasure. Moral Orel (Seasons 1-3 on Hulu): Young Orel of Moralton, Statesota, is determined to live by Good Christian Values, even if no one else seems to know the diff between “righteousness and wrongteousness.” Running from 2005 to 2008, Moral Orel was a darker-than-dark stop-motion-animation … tribute? … to Davey and Goliath, and a white-hot rebuke of holier-than-thou Jesus Crispies. South Park wishes it were this blasphemous. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (Season 1 on DailyMotion): A British import from 2004 that aired unnoticed on Adult Swim, Garth…
04 May 2018
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Beware the Ides of May! (Suck it, Shakespeare—I can fabricate ominous phrases, too.) For those of you not hip to the inner workings of the TV biz, May marks the end of the traditional television season, when networks start cancelling underperforming series. In other words, they’re gonna kill your favorite show! It’s personal vendetta against you and your impeccable TV taste! I know; I’ve been there. No amount of critical buzz, and especially no “Save Our Show!” online petition, can stay the execution of a barely watched gem. Many great series have been put down after only a single season, most infamously Firefly and Freaks and Geeks. Neither will be discussed here, because … infamy. Instead, this month’s Content Shifter will turn you onto 13 under-the-radar shows that met their untimely demise after Season 1: Terriers (Season 1 on Amazon and iTunes): This confusingly titled show was cancelled by FX…
05 Apr 2018
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There will never be another Friends. Not just in the sense that the 1994-2004 series was a one-of-a-kind comedy that defined a generation, but also in that there will literally never be another Friends—as in, there will be no money-grabbing, nostalgia-drunk reboot. The show’s stars could not be any more disinterested. Which is commendable, considering the megabucks being thrown around to dig lesser ’90s series out of the grave. The recent Will and Grace revival isn’t all that loathsome, but who knows how the upcoming recycled takes of Charmed, Roswell, Party of Five and Murphy Brown are going to fare? And then there’s Roseanne … hard pass. Back to Friends: All six stars—Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox and David Schwimmer—have collectively and individually said “no way, no how, no thanks” to a reunion. Millions of Netflix viewers are apparently just fine with the 10 seasons…
28 Feb 2018
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Even though it premiered 21 years ago in March on The WB—it was The CW of ancient days, kids—the ongoing influence of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TV is nearly inescapable. Buffy Summers (as played by the future-unemployable Sarah Michelle Gellar) was a tough, vulnerable, snarky and tenacious young woman the likes of which hasn’t been seen since BTVS left the air in 2003 after seven seasons. The same goes for the writing (a seamless balance of scary and quippy, scripted by a team of now-major Hollywood players, and led by series creator Joss Whedon), and the crack ensemble cast (most of whom, like Gellar, can’t get arrested today). Behold, there are eight newer shows carrying the Buffy the Vampire Slayer torch … or stake: Crazyhead (Season 1 on Netflix): Few Buffy the Vampire Slayer descendants have gotten the series’ classic blend of horror and humor as effortlessly right as…
31 Jan 2018
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Love is in the air—unless that’s something else slowly choking the life out of you. February is the month of Valentine’s Day, so what else is there to recommend but romantic(ish) comedies? There aren’t a hell of a lot of streaming series to connect with World Cancer Day or Chinese New Year, and we all know how damned touchy Presidents Day is anymore. (It’s also my birthday month, so feel free to send presents and cash c/o this newspaper.) TV rom-coms have been around as long as Westerns, cop shows and a certain Sunday-night news program that runs for 60 minutes. (What’s it called again?) Consequently, there’s as much shit as there are spoils, but television has noticeably stepped up its game in the 2000s, producing more quality love-adjacent shows than all previous centuries combined. Just try and find a decent TV series from the 1800s; I’ll wait right here.…