Sunday, August 23, 2009

TV picks (entertainment)

As the summer season winds down and the fall season is about to start, there's still a lot of tv that I'm watching and catching up on. Here are a few of my current favorites not mentioned before.

Mad Men
With plenty of emmys and plenty of buzz, I finally succumbed and bought the first season for my Ipod. I loved it. I then DVRed the second season marathon that ran a couple weeks ago, and now have the DVR set for the third season. I loved the first season, which was very dark in its theme about the way people are and the secrets they keep. I found that the second season catered more to what general fans liked, which was more about shocking stories and the whole 60's thing. While I still loved it, I liked the darker nature of the first series more. Then there's the gorgeous cast, including the jaw-dropping Christina Hendricks and the absolutely gorgeous January Jones. Then again, I could just have a thing for the way they made women up in that era because I also thought Kate Bosworth was absolutely gorgeous in Beyond the Sea.

I like most of Joss Whedon's stuff, although I'm not as crazed as most of his fans are. One of the shows that's almost always mentioned on lists about tv shows that were cancelled too early is his Firefly. Finally I decided to give it a try (it's free on Hulu) and I've spent pretty much the whole weekend going through the one and only season. Firefly is more of a western than sci-fi. I think it used the space theme as a way to expand its universe, since westerns tend to revolve around the same people over and over again. The random smattering of mandarin Chinese is amusing but annoying because the actors don't speak it well enough and I always end up having to look up what they said. While there are aspects of it that remind me of Andromeda, I'd say that the best comparison to a current show would be Leverage, which in itself is another good show that I'm watching, except with less of a procedural feel and more humor. Also, there's Whedon's signature character development that gives the feeling that the show is constantly moving foward. Morena Baccarin is stunning as the high class companion/courtesan Innara, although I wonder if any of that is her acting, because she also did look crazy in the How I Met Your Mother second season episode where she played a girl with "crazy eyes".

Dragon's Den/Shark Tank
For a guy like me who loves watching how business runs, I'm surprised that it took me this long to discover Dragon's Den, which is in its 7th season and can be seen on BBC America. The American version is called Shark Tank and premiered on ABC about 2 weeks ago. I love the UK version's cast of dragons and I like that it has a much more business/serious feel to it. Most of their participants make real pitches, with real sales numbers and forecasts. The American version is typical of most American reality shows of this type. I don't care to see a profile of the participants, where they're from, etc. In the UK version there's a short description and then it's straight to business. However, I do like both shows and I think the negotiations in the US version are much more spirited and has greater range which is great.

So I would suggest getting the first season of Mad Men on DVD (or similar) as it's well worth it. Firefly is free on Hulu and I highly recommend just watching the hour and half pilot at the very least, although like most Whedon shows it gets better as it goes along. I think Shark Tank is better than any Apprentice/talent competition reality show out there, but I also suggest watching Dragon's Den, and you can find full episodes of that on youtube.

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