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Posted on Jun 1, 2012 in Dear Diary, Reviews | 44 comments

6 Things You Should be Watching on Netflix

It’s over.

TV season is pretty much over. And now that the stampede of shocking (Vampire Diaries), joyous (How I Met Your Mother), hilarious (Community), and tearful (Glee) season finales that have been washing over me for the past couple of weeks has finally begun to subside, only one question really remains: WTF am I going to watch all summer?

Oh sure, there are a few summer season shows that are worth a gander, but why wait in boredom from week to week when there is a whole world of streamable entertainment right at your fingertips? I long since gave up bothering with the physical main-in DVD service that Netflix once made its name on. Streaming is what it’s all about, and I’m here to share a few of my favorite finds with you all. I consider these gems that, without Netflix or some other sort of video-streaming service (I hear Amazon’s is getting pretty good these days!), I would probably never have uncovered. The following selection is pretty varied in terms of target demographic and genre, so hopefully there’s a little something new for everyone.

I feel it’s apt to note here that I’m not like, a Netflix ambassador or anything. I just thought this would be a fun post to do. Hokay! Here we go!


The Vampire Diaries

I know, I know. I just had to get it out of the way first. Vampire Diaries isn’t REALLY part of this list, since it’s still fairly new, you guys have all probably heard of it, and there’s a ton of hype surrounding it (deservedly so!). Only, it IS on the list, in that it’s part of every list of anything I ever recommend to anyone, ever. The first two seasons of the show are available on Netflix, and now that Season 3 is over (OMGAHHHHH), I’m sure it won’t be long ’til it’s added to the queue as well.

General early plot goes like this: Welcome to Mystic Falls, VA, a tiny and historic southern town that has more than its fair share of garden parties, cotillions, and “animal attacks”. Follow abnormally gorgeous human Elena Gilbert as she struggles through her love for not one, but two panty-droppingly gorgeous vampire brothers. Of course, after about four episodes, you start to realize that there is so, so much more to it than that.

I know I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again: this show is NOTHING like Twilight. It’s barely even like the books that it’s based off of (thank goodness, haha). Just watch it, okay? You can thank me later.


Doctor Who

Sean and I started watching this show together after we started dating, and we’ve already flown through the first four seasons. This 2005 version is a straight continuation of the original series that began back in the early 60s. I’d heard a lot about how good it is, but was skeptical and had it sitting in my Instant Queue for a long time. Finally, Sean expressed interest in starting it up so I bit the bullet. I’ve never looked back. It is truly engrossing stuff: funny but surprisingly dark, full of intellect and glorious British wit.

I don’t think I really need to describe the premise but the basic one is this: The Doctor is a time traveling alien adventurer (say that 10 times fast!) who, along with his various companions, frequently saves Earth and the universe from general mayhem and destruction. You’ll have to look past the terrible production value of the first season (when their budget was obviously rather thin), but if you can make it through that, you’ll get to see what the Doctor and his “blue box” really have in store.


Archer

How do I even begin to describe Archer? It is rip-roaringly hilarious, totally inappropriate, borderline offensive, and absolutely genius. It’s an animated show set in an ambiguous time frame (clothes and setting seem to place it sometime in the 60s, but they often make modern-day pop culture reference and utilize current technology) about an independent spy agency called ISIS. It stars Sterling Archer as the titular character, a womanizing boozehound who is somehow incompetently the best spy in the world. ISIS is run by his alcoholic, smothering mother Mallory, and employs his kickass ex-girlfriend Lana, amongst other hilarious supporting characters.

The voice cast is really pretty amazing. H. Jon Benjamin (you’d recognize his voice) plays Archer, Jessica Walters (Lucille from Arrested Development) plays his mother, Aisha Tyler plays Lana, and Chris Parnell and Judy Greer play fellow ISIS employees. If you’re at all a fan of shows like Arrested Development, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, or the like, in which the main characters are all thoroughly terrible people but still somehow sidesplittingly hilarious, you’ll like Archer.


Lost in Austen

Any girl who loves herself some Jane Austen, period romances, or romances in general, will LOVE this show. Well, actually, this isn’t really a show, per se. It was a miniseries that broadcast on BBC, and on Netflix it’s all compounded together into one 3-hour long block. I devoured it in a single sitting the first time, and have re-watched it at least three times since. It’s just so romantic, so clever, and so much FUN.

The story follows modern-day Londoner Amanda Price, an avid Jane Austen fan who is obviously unsatisfied with her life. She magically gets transported into the world of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice right at the beginning of the book, essentially swapping places with Elizabeth Bennett. You do have to be at least slightly well-versed with the story of P&P to fully understand everything that happens, but the premise really works and the music, staging, and costuming is all very well-done for a TV miniseries. It draws of parallels to the Keira Knightley P&P film (which was mentioned back on my Favorite Movies post, if you remember).


Battlestar Galactica

The summer after my Freshman year of college, my brother and I sat down to watch the first episode of Battlestar Galactica, a remake of the campy 1980s sci-fi show. We had heard good things about it, but hadn’t had a chance to see it yet. Well, within two weeks we had blown through the first two seasons. It. Is. Fantastic.

Back when it was still on the air, it drew nonstop praise from critics that, despite it airing on SciFi, it held up to Lost, 24, and all the other mainstream hit dramas on TV. There are only four seasons in total, and while I think it’s fair to say that the first two seasons are really where it struck gold, the show as a whole is just fantastic. For a television show, it brought to light a lot of really deep concepts, tackling things like war, religion, survival, and the basic tenant of what it means to be human. It’s not only a spectacularly done show, but it’s… moving, you know?

I really don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who might watch it, so I’ll just recommend that you all watch the miniseries, which introduces most of the major characters and general plot, before you watch the very first episode of the actual show (which is entitled “33 Minutes”). The miniseries is much more slow-moving than the show itself, so don’t be discouraged by it. It just sets everything up really perfectly, IMO.


My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

As if I would end with anything else. It’s official, you guys. I’m a total, full-fledged Brony. Or, you know, whatever the girl-version is. I was a fan of the 90s version of My Little Pony (you know, back when it was age-appropriate for me, haha), but you can blame my boyfriend for even introducing me to the current concept of MLP: FIM. He didn’t ask me to watch the show, he didn’t watch it himself, all he did was mention that this subculture of twenty-something guys and gals who were totally obsessed with it. And with that knowledge alone, I knew I had to check it out.

You guys. It is so fracking adorable. I can’t even. Yes, it is a show that was originally targeted at five- to eight-year-old girls. But there are so many references, characters, and animation elements that are clearly meant for those of us who are just slightly older than the show’s target demographic. (There’s a character named Doctor Whooves, for crying out loud!) The animation is flippin’ cute, but it’s more than that. The show is just so sincere, it’s not super weird like most kids shows are today. It’s refreshing! And the songs that are included in occasional episodes are damn catchy, too. It took me like, one week to catch up on both seasons that have aired so far. Perhaps I’ve lost credibility with 80% of you after posting about My Little Pony with such fervant adoration, but I don’t even curr. It’s glorious. GLORIOUS I SAY!


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So there we are. Six vastly different, but equally enjoyable streaming-ready things for you to enjoy… or not! Have a fantastic weekend, everyponybody!

Do any of you have recommendations for TV shows/movies/miniseries that I should catch on the ‘Flix?

PS: Episode 2 of the RTB video is up, and it feature a ton of me and my super attractive tomato-red face! For your viewing pleasure:

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Posted on Mar 16, 2012 in Dear Diary | 21 comments

Favorites: Part II

With the epic return of not one, but two of my favorite TV shows to the little screen last night, I thought that today would be a fitting day for a second one of my narcissistic “favorites” posts! (Click here for the first: movies.)

Now, I should preface this by saying that I watch a LOT of TV. We actually got rid of cable and regular TV a while ago, and while that has forced me to consolidate, somehow I’ve still managed to cram in most of my favorites (and then some!) with this handy dandy little thing called the internet. (Plus, now that I’m dating Sean I have access to cable again, gwahaha!) You can probably imagine that it was rather difficult for me to narrow down my mental TV guide to this list. Oh, and keep in mind that this is only a list of my favorite TV shows that are currently on the air, hahaha. Away we go…!

Favorite (Current) TV Shows


#5: How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

A couple of seasons ago, and HIMYM would have been much higher on the list. It’s struggled a little bit in the past season or two, but overall I’m still very loyal to this show. I love the premise, the characters, and the catchphrases that are legen– wait for it… DARY! It’s just that the first few seasons were so PERFECT! I think that after 7 seasons of being teased over and over again as to The Mother’s identity (that sounds very sci-fi typed out, haha!), though, I’m just ready for the big reveal already. Still, I am just so happy that the character of Barney Stinson exists.


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The first 6 seasons are all on Netflix streaming if you’ve never seen the show before (blasphemy!) and want to check it out!


#4: Parenthood (NBC)

Parenthood always airs slightly off from the main TV schedule, so the season is already over and I am sad. It is just SUCH good television. It has everything: complex characters, real life family situations, and just so much love. The acting is really superb, as you’d expect from TV vets like Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) and Peter Krause (Six Feet Under), and it has even made me fall in love with Dax Shepard (who, you may remember, got his start on Punk’d, haha) as a legitimate actor! The writing is so incredibly good, too. I cry almost every week, haha. As someone with a big, loving family that I am completely overly-involved with, I can relate so much to the dynamic. You should just, y’know, watch it.


#3: Community (NBC)

When I first heard that NBC was coming out with a comedy about a community college, I was not particularly excited. Even though I already loved Joel McHale from E!’s The Soup, I just didn’t consider it a premise that would appeal to me. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong. This show is amazing. It is laugh-out-loud funny, incredibly clever, and surprisingly poignant at times. The cast is a 100% perfect ensemble (Ken Jeong, playas!, and I almost had a heart-attack when I heard that the hiatus that it just came back from was marked “indefinite” at first. May we all stay at Greendale Community College forever!



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Oh, Britta.


#2: Parks & Recreation (NBC)

As a lover of The Office, I was really excited when I heard that they were creating a similar show with Amy Poehler at the helm. She is, and always has been, fantastic, and I love the whole mockumentary style. That said, when the first season aired, I was not all that impressed. It was funny, but it felt forced. I am so, so glad that NBC stuck with it after that first 7 episodes, though, because it is pretty much perfection at this point. I mean, it has Ron F@#$ing Swanson. It really hit its stride in Season 2, and after the additions of Rob Lowe and Adam Scott to the already amazing cast? Boom. I now wait in rapt anticipation for each week’s new episode. It’s on Netflix streaming if you need to test it out…!


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Chris Pratt: I loved you on Everwood, I love you now.


#1: The Vampire Diaries (CW)

Oh, as if you’re even surprised. I make absolutely no attempts to disguise my incredible love for this show. I know that it airs on The CW. I know that it blossomed out of Twilight-hysteria. I know that it is a supernatural teen drama. I DON’T CARE. It is so good. SO good. And despite having many, many protestations at first, anyone who actually gives it a chance (it’s on Netflix streaming!) ends up agreeing with me. Let me say it again: IT IS NOT TWILIGHT. Not only is it a solid hour of insanely beautiful people doing awesome stuff each week, but it’s legitimately fantastically written. They throw mythology and plot twists and character reveals at you from left and right. An incredibly dastardly villain that you actually… like?! WTF! The show is in its third season now, and I still end almost every episode screaming at the television in fury/excitement/confusion. It came back from a month-long hiatus last night and I almost died from the sheer wait alone. It’s back, baby!!


I love you, Ian Somerhalder’s eyebrows. (source)

So there you have it. Honorable mentions go to Modern Family (marry me, Phil Dunphy!), The Office (marry me, Andy Bernard!), New Girl (marry me, Schmidt! …Are you sensing a pattern?), Nikita, Glee (it’s so bad, but I love it so good.), Archer, and The Walking Dead. The last of which would have made my list up top except… you know… it be scurry. And not that you care, I know, but for my own edification I’ll have to create another list of my favorite no-longer-airing TV shows at some point. Guff, that will be even harder!

And I know that I’ve definitely asked this question before, but it seems only fitting that I toss it up again: What’s your favorite (current) TV show?

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