We Eat What We Like

A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were patiently waiting in a long line to get something that hadn’t been readily available in that particular form in our city for a long long time. That something was a staple of the area in which we grew up, and the line itself had nearly a hundred other people willing to wait for the exact same thing. Sure, it was a boring wait, but there was excitement in the air. People discussing for hours on end which items they were most eager to get. And I’m not kidding when I say hours. We waited over 2 hours in this line. “What for” you ask? Well, we waited over 2 hours in a line for the only Dunkin Donuts location in the Los Angeles area. This was the Sunday after it opened, and throughout the week we were hearing of long, hour or two lines from our friends on social media. We still went. Because Dunkin’ hadn’t ever been in Los Angeles, at least not during the period in which we lived there.

Dunkin’ Donuts, like any other regional super-chain, has the kind of cultural following that a band may have. If you move to a new area and the don’t know about Dunkin’ – it becomes this amazing, mythical experience that one cannot simply comprehend unless they’re from there. The fact that it is something so prevalent in Boston and other east-coast or midwestern cities and so non-existent in LA made the fact that the company has finally started opening stores back in the Southern California area that much more exciting.

Now look, I know Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t realistically the best anything. Despite being in the company’s name, the donuts are average but tasty. The coffee is very sweet and has a wide variety of flavors, often expanding during the different seasons. My favorite, and most other people’s favorite product is their coffee, most likely their iced coffee – which in a country increasingly concerned about health and watching what one consumes, may be too sugary and sweet for many people’s tastes. Especially in a very heath-conscious town like Los Angeles. However, as an alternative to the perceived “high class-ness” of chains like Starbucks, Dunkin’ is an anti-everything version of the Starbucks style of coffee shop. It’s barely a coffee shop – more along the lines of a fast food place that provides great-tasting coffee and perfectly fine donuts. And also is probably the best culprit of that particular spelling of the word “doughnut.”

But Dunkin’ Donuts is just one of those things that reminds you of home, and when you move away from your home, especially 3,000 miles away, you seek out those homely comforts on a regular basis. I have been purchasing Dunkin’ ground coffee for home for 5 years, and I had literally just been back to Boston the week before and had a Dunkin coffee in Boston, and yet I still wanted to and had no problem with braving a 2+ hour line to get some in LA.

Some people can’t accept that. When we had waited 2 hours and were about to actually enter the store, when a woman stops by and asks us how long we’ve been waiting. After telling her the approximate among of time, she asks us if we’ve actually every had Dunkin’ Donuts. And before we even get a chance to answer her question, she simply walks away saying “…it’s not worth it.”

This irked me. I joked to the people behind me in line who she was also talking to, that this woman basically said, to our faces, “hey – you guys are all idiots and you’re wasting your time. I’m better than you because I’m not stupid enough to do that.” Who the hell is this woman to tell me how I should spend my time or what is “worth” my time? What is it to her how other people spend their time? Would she walk by the line to a concert or sporting event and be like “have you seen basketball? it’s not worth it.” If I were on a bike driving by her while she was walking down the street, I wouldn’t say – “you’re wasting your time, biking is much better and quicker!” Just keep walking lady, pay no attention to the hundreds of people clearly crazy enough to wait in a line for a thing. We’re not giving you any trouble or inconvenience. Why the hate?

Now, the internet has become a great place not only for long-winded personal rants like this one, but for anonymous critique and negative energy. “Outrage culture,” “trolling,” and all those other negative words that cause a simple event or concept, put a negative spin on it and make it “the worst thing in the world (today).” So it may just be more prevalent in society today for people to outwardly express their discontent on things that don’t necessarily concern them much, they just always feel the need to have an opinion on. But it’s ridiculous. Why does person B have to put down person A for liking a thing? Aren’t we all individuals with individual tastes? Sure, a single Dunkin’ Donuts glazed donut you once had may have not wowed you, and you personally can’t imagine waiting more than 5 minutes for that item. So don’t do it. It was worth it to us hundred people that day, and the thousands that waited in line for similar lengths of time that opening week, and the weeks that followed. So why make a stink about it? Does it really make you feel superior to outwardly express your belief that a large group of people on a city block were wasting their time, and you were a better person for not wasting your time?

I get this as a fan of Professional Wrestling a lot. Yes, I may not have publicly announced that on this site, but it’s all over my social media, and to my close friends and family it’s no secret. But Pro Wrestling fans get this automatic disdain all the time. “You know that stuff is fake, right?” is the common refrain. It’s not real sports, it’s pre-determined, so therefore it can’t be as exciting or entertaining as real sports, because you never know what’s going to happen. Sure, that’s a main draw of real sports – you never know the outcome. And that’s why I also love sports. There’s an excitement in witnessing something unfold before your eyes, and there can be surprises everywhere. That also applies to Pro Wrestling. Sure, SOMEONE knows the outcome, but as a fan viewing the product, I personally don’t know the outcome. So if tomorrow you found out that for the past 50 years, every single NFL game had been pre-determined and it was a huge rouse, would that take away from your prior enjoyment of football? For those fans who have been fortunate enough to see their team win a Superbowl, would that take away from the excitement and glee you felt when the final seconds of the clock wound down as your team secured victory? Of course not. Pro Wrestling at its best, can tap into that glee – when you have a favorite wrestler going through his trials and tribulations in getting to that World Championship. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of such a thing, because it’s manufactured to tap into that as a fan. The better parts of being a Pro wrestling fan is that you can also analyze the storytelling like a television show; which is also completely fabricated and a small group of people know the outcome in advance. Does that take away from your enjoyment of Breaking Bad? Of course not! That’s ridiculous. By the same token, when you get annoyed by a creative decision or direction of a favorite show, do you not talk to your friends about it and map out what you would have done? Don’t people also do that with sports? “We should have run the ball more, their defense was all over our receivers all game, that’s why we lost.” You as a fan have no control over what you’re watching and enjoying, you’re just along for the ride. Pro Wresting gives fans a chance to loudly voice their opinions about certain characters or storylines while in the arena. We don’t like a guy? “BOOOOOO!!! YOU SUCK!!” We love a guy? “DAN-IEL BRY-AN clap clap clapclapclap!” Pro Wrestling, since it is put on as live entertainment on a weekly basis, is made to cater to the audience in a way that sports can’t and television or other scripted entertainment can’t do directly. That’s the appeal. Sports-themed entertainment we can have a part in. Throughout the history of the industry, countless wrestlers have changed face (to sheepishly use some wrestling terminology) because fans have rejected the position or character being presented to them. You know Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? You know how popular and awesome he is right now? When he debuted he was this cartoonish, smiley guy with jheri curls and streamers on his outfit. People did not like it, and eventually boo’ed him so much WWE (WWF at the time) decided to turn him into a bad guy, to fit what the fans thought of him. He eventually used that to create “The Rock” character, someone who fans could boo because they loved to boo, and he was too entertaining not to like.

Yes, that’s the future lead of Hercules.

That’s a very long-winded way of saying that it is awesome being a fan of a thing. I’ve been using the vague term “a thing” because it can apply to anything. You’re a dude and you like My Little Pony? Sure. You’re a die-hard Menudo fan? Why not. You never miss a performance of Shakespeare in the Park? Have at it. Entertainment exists so that the millions (and millions!) of people can find what they like and go enjoy it. I have been working for the past 4 years in Reality Television. I like some of shows and I don’t like other shows. There are people who LOVE every single reality show in existence. There are those who don’t. That’s totally fine. If you’re in the latter category, you don’t have to tell me your disdain for what has been paying my bills and keeping me not homeless for 4 years. Clearly some people like it, which is why it is successful and exists in the first place. You can watch something you like, and don’t worry about stuff you don’t like.

This rant was in part sparked by wrestling fan and popular radio personality, Sam Roberts, in his recent podcast rant about Apple people vs. Not Apple People. As an Apple Person myself, I tend to agree with NotSam. I like Apple and have liked Apple products my whole life because there’s very little complications to them. Things just work and are convenient and easy. I’ve made my consumer decision, so I will stick with that ecosystem for as long as they’ll shell stuff out for me. I like their products, I like the user experience, it’s comfortable and uncomplicated. I don’t think about “the competition.” But the competition seems like all they do is think about Apple. I get that it’s business and consumer products that live or die by competition, however for a non-Apple user to perpetually hate on any and all Apple users for simply being an Apple user is the same principle of that lady telling us that waiting 2 hours in line for something we love isn’t worth it. Of course it’s worth it if you like it. Look at how many people wait for way longer than 2 hours for the launch of the new iPhones last week! Sure we’re all literally buying into a culture of die-hard fandom for products instead of entertainment like sports or wrestling, but if we as humans are inclined to geek-out over something that makes you happy, why discourage that? In the end, it’s all a luxury we’re all too complacent with. We should be thankful we have such “first-world problems” like being able to choose which awesome, amazing, incredibly advanced mini-computer we want to use on a daily basis for communication and entertainment. So let’s just high-five those people waiting in line at Apple Stores across the country, celebrate them expressing their excitement over one of their loves. Let’s flip channels, stop at Monday Night Raw, and instead of roll our eyes at how ridiculous and “fake” the product in the ring looks, and instead appreciate how happy those people in the arena are to just be there. Let’s give kudos to those sports fans who during the World Cup or Olympics, woke up at 4am just to watch their team play live from across the globe. We’re an advanced civilization and fellow humans invented or created all these incredible things we’re going crazy over. That’s something amazing. Just enjoy it.

And just try Dunkin’s iced coffee, even if you prefer Starbucks. I don’t need you to get it, I just need you to try it without judgement. Thanks.

Defending your Fan Base! A Boston Sports-Fan’s request to all Sports Fans.

As a sports fan, you live and die by your team. We all know and accept this. Your team is the best one, no one else should care about anything but your team, and every other team should just get out of the way of your team winning the championship. Your team deserves the best free agents and trades, and you can’t IMAGINE why a player would sign with that other team, just for a couple extra bucks (okay, maybe if you’re a realistic sports fan, that part you can always understand).

BUT – here’s something I’ve been forced to come to terms with since moving away from the city in which my fandom is centralized around: Your Fan Base has a national perception. And most likely it’s not great. This brings me to my question – can you defend your fan base as strongly as you defend your team? I’m leaving this open to all fan bases, as I know a ton that are members of the more prominent/loud/obnoxious/angry/passionate fan bases.

I’ll offer my two-cents about Boston fans. I know we are widely considered to be among the most obnoxious and passionate fan bases in the country. I’m not going to say “best” or “worst,” because that’s just a matter of opinion (and if you pay attention to Deadspin now, as they tear apart each NFL team before the season starts, every NFL fan base sucks and doesn’t deserve anything). Boston fans can be loud, Boston fans can be over-the-top, Boston fans can be extreme – we’re either going all the way this year or we’ll never win another game again. We’re superstitious and negative, but we’ll stand by the Patriots through “SpyGate,” defend David Ortiz and his PED allegations, cheer for Brad Marchand whenever he does anything that makes you as an opposing fan hate him. Kevin Garnett was a smack-talking bully on the court, but he was OUR smack-talking bully. (And now Brooklyn’s smack-talking bully). We’ll argue that Nomar was better than Jeter, and Pedroia is better than Cano. Williams was better than DiMaggio. Bobby Orr better than Gretsky. Bird better than Magic. Not sure how many of those arguments we win in other states.

You can call us obnoxious, you can call us homers, you can call us never-satisfied, you can call us championship-hungry, you can call us shitty fans. Most of you do anyways.  But at least we care about ALL of our teams. Boston is one of a few cities that can call themselves a Baseball town, a Hockey town, A Basketball town and a Football town without any detractors. Most cities can only claim ONE of those sports, maybe two. I live in Los Angeles currently – they’re definitely a Basketball town. No doubt about that. The LA Kings won the 2012 Stanley Cup. Not sure I’d call LA a Hockey Town. I just went to the 3-game series between the Red Sox and Dodgers. The Dodgers are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now – still not sure I’d call LA a baseball town. LA doesn’t even have a football team, so that’s out of the question.

Growing up, I just missed out on the Celtics’ era of greatness, too young to really follow the Bruins mid 80s-mid 90s unsuccessful playoff runs. The Patriots weren’t good during that stretch until they somehow made it into Superbowl XXXI in 1996, only to get crushed by Brett Favre’s Packers. I only remember being interested in the Red Sox as a child. Maybe because we’d go to Fenway once a season. Maybe because big-name players like Mo Vaughn, Roger Clemens and Jose Canseco were on the team. And Nomah! I followed the Celtics when Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker came onto the scene, then quickly lost interest in the NBA (something that seems to happen with me in waves). But as a Boston fan I always had a connection to those teams, even if they weren’t relevant or I didn’t pay attention to the league at the time. I’ve conjectured recently that depending on what era in a team’s history you grew up in, whether they are relevant for greatness or relevant for never-winning, that’s the team you’re most connected to. I grew up between the Red Sox’s 1986 World Series loss (missed it by a month, thanks Mom and Dad!) and the 2004 “Curse-Breaking” Champs. What happened in Red Sox land during that 18-year stretch? Oh just 5 playoff appearances/exits and 4 Yankees World Series wins. That puts me in familiar territory to any generation of Red Sox fan in the prior 86 years.

I grew up in the last 18 years of Red Sox franchise woes. We had the talent, we just never could put it together. But that’s the sentiment that overwhelmingly took over my young self as I grew into a Boston sports fan. That’s hard to shake. I’m not apologizing for every instance of a Boston fan complaining about a 3-game losing streak when we’re still in 1st place, or worrying about losing 1 game in the Stanley Cup playoffs because a couple years ago we lost 4 straight to lose the series after being up 3-0. But Boston fans are always VERY aware of our teams’ past history. Or recent history. No one would bring themselves to predict the 2013 Red Sox would be this good this far into the season, after the debacle that was 2012. It’s about managing expectations. Sometimes, we know we have a good shot – like the last 10 years of Patriots teams. We know when we don’t have a shot – like the upcoming Celtics season. Worrying and complaining is all part of what makes us Boston sports fans, and to a certain extent, sports fans in general. While the teams we root for may be different, we’re all sports fans at our foundation. We just want to see our teams do well and win championships. It’s something we have very little control over, but because it has such a community-bonding capacity, we let sports take over our lives and emotions. Our anxiety and stress levels shoot through the roof during playoff runs. We check standings every day as part of our morning routines. Sports are a water-cooler topic of conversation, before or after you’re done talking about the last episode of Breaking Bad. Nothing beats going to a live sporting-event; where else can you see 30,000-70,000 people from one community experiencing  the same thing? Non-sports fans like going to games for the environment. Maybe they’ll learn a thing or two from their super-fan boyfriend/girlfriend/family member/friend. Our biggest sports stars are legitimate celebrities.  We have a growing number of 24/7 sports television networks. It’s real-life drama, complete with scandals, redemption stories, “good guys” and “bad guys.” Being a fan is simply picking sides – something that you can’t really do in any other form of entertainment.

So that brings me to my request, fellow sports fans. Please comment, on here, on Facebook, on Twitter, wherever, with your thoughts on being a sports fan, and defending your particular fan base. Help me realize how similar we all are, we’re just rooting for different color jerseys.

**UPDATE – I was waiting for Deadspin to post their “Why Your Team Sucks” for the Patriots this season, and forgot they had real Pats fans write in and complain about themselves. So in the spirit of “Defending” your fan base (really the opposite), here’s some raw thoughts from real Deadspin readers/Patriots fans about why they hate other Patriot fans, and by virtue other Boston Fans.

There’s Always Comedy in the Bluths – My review of Arrested Development Season 4

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So it finally came – the long-awaited season 4 of Arrested Development, the show that FOX cancelled 7 years ago. And to a lifelong fan (well, the “lifespan” of the show – I watched the pilot when it aired and followed the show religiously during it’s FOX run) the revival season on Netflix did not disappoint. I’m not an in-depth TV reviewer that took notes during every episode I watched, so I’ll stick with my general thoughts and bullet points on things I enjoyed about the run of 15 half-hour (plus) on-demand episodes.

First off, let’s talk about the new format. As a student of television, and television writing in particular, I had a strong curiosity about this new format. How will it work? Will it be confusing as a viewer? Will it work at all? To me, focusing each episode on one character is a very novel/book-like approach. And it’s not unheard of in TV land – it is essentially what Game of Thrones does, since it is adapted from the books, although they will include a handful of character scenes/chapters to fill out each episode. I think what gets a lot of people confused, or at least what I’ve read from reviewers and from friends in social media, is that it takes a while to get used to. It took me about 3 episodes until I was starting to enjoy and look for hints and setups/jokes for other episodes. That added to my enjoyment during my first viewing of these episodes. I haven’t re-watched any of them yet, but I am sure knowing the full range of story arcs and jokes will give me an added dimension on second viewing. But that’s something that had always been the case with this show. The writing, production and editing was always so dense that each episode was filled with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it jokes and gags – references to previous episodes or hints at major plot points (think all the “hand” jokes hinting at Buster’s impending doom). The new format throws us as viewers for a loop because the narrative isn’t laid out for us on a sliver platter like we’re used to. But I think if you accepted that what you were currently watching may have jokes that won’t land until later, and trust Mitch Hurwitz and the writers’ vision, the whole character-based/pulp-fiction-esque chronology was worth it.

Okay, now let’s get into story. I guess here I can do the all-important *SPOILERS AHEAD* warning.

Looking back on the season as a whole, I was very engaged and pleased with the major story lines. A lot of them at first felt dark and depressing, seeing how far some of our favorite characters had fallen in the last 7 years, however I can appreciate some good dark humor. It’s something the show originally had a hint of, especially with the later episodes. In season 4, GOB’s and Tobias’ story lines come to mind as the more depressing ones – Tobias falling into drug issues (methadone, or should I say Method One) and GOB falling in with a Hollywood posse, never understanding his true role. I found both scenarios hilarious, especially Tobias’. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have comedic genius Maria Bamford assisting. Great to see two incredible stand-ups working together as actors in such a dysfunctional and ridiculous way. Throwing Tobias into constant health, and this time, legal peril is something the AD writers have always loved doing with the character, and the stakes get even higher in Season 4. Jailed numerous times while attempting to illegally impersonate Fantastic 4 characters out on Hollywood Blvd (a smart “in-joke” reference to struggling actors in this industry) and eventually having him arrested as a sex-offender whilst mistakingly attempting to meet with his daughter at the old model home. He’s not coloring himself blue anymore, but is still just as clueless and eager to both pursue an acting career and reconnect (or connect at all) with his daughter. I guess it was inevitable Tobias would end up as a registered sex offender. The scene at Cinco de Quatro where he repeats “I’m a registered sex offender” to passing children was great. And everything about the Fantastic 4 musical was great. One of my favorite new characters (at least in name) was Lucille Austero’s brother, Argyle Austero (whom we first meet wearing an argyle sweater, naturally). And the storyline culminating in Tobias once again getting on the wrong boat, a nod to the very first episode of the series. I loved how Tobias and Lindsay’s storylines followed each other and were interconnected. The whole conversations throughout the huge house scenes were among my favorite of the new season. And Tobias following Lindsay to India reminds us of season 2 when he was following her attempts to see other people. And ironically, in season 4 they both “successfully” find other people, only to find more trying circumstances. And more hilarity. Also, I’m trying really hard not to mention Portia de Rossi’s new “look” (commonly the only complaint I heard from friends in the past couple weeks.)

Onto GOB. First off, loved the Entourage parody of his episode, all the way through their favorite club – “And Jeremy Piven.” We got a new recurring/repeating GOB ringtone in his “Getaway Getaway” song, GOB’s bees are back, and the new motif of GOB’s slow-motion thousand-mile stares while Simon and Garfunkel play. Not to mention another epic, elaborate, failed “illusion” disguised as an ingenius way to avoid another marriage. Glad they didn’t forget about Ann (her?) although I will admit, still odd to actually see and hear her speak (felt that way as her original storyline progressed through seasons 2 and 3). His later “gay” bromance storyline with Tony Wonder was also great – both men pretending to be gay in order to get back at each other, but simultaneously struggling with feelings sparked for each other during the budding friendship. Also great to see Wonder with Sally Sitwell – obviously the two actors are married in real life (sadly unlike GOB’s original significant other both on the show and in real life, Amy Poehler and her seal-training wife character). Tony over-explaining his intentions as a cheap ploy to give backstory was also great, calling himself out on doing it. And the reveal that HE is the “sort of famous” person GOB was dating, tying in with the Michael storyline of finding out who the “other guy” in Rebel’s life is.

That brings me to Michael – one thing I think Season 4 did awell was revealing to us is that Michael, always deemed the “best” Bluth, is actually no better than the rest of them. And when you think back on the first 3 seasons, that still rings true to a point. Season 4 shows us that even he couldn’t manage to make Sudden Valley a success, (although it certainly was a perfect living situation for Tobias and the other sex offenders) he overstays his welcome with his son at college, and eventually resorts to pulling favors from the family to get a movie about them made ALL to impress a girl. Oh and the kicker – withholds the knowledge that he and George Michael are dating the same girl in an attempt to drive Rebel away from his son, so he can win her. I mean, Isla Fischer is attractive – but pulling the rug out from your son’s seemingly happy relationship so you can reap the benefits? (Her!) Shameful. But if you’ll remember, It’s a character trait we’ve seen from him before when it was brother vs. brother for the same girl – Marta. GOB and Michael always had a healthy(?) competition with the same women, and the red herring of Season 4 was that history was repeating itself. But to Michael’s surprise, it was George Michael (or should I say George Maharis) who was sharing the same woman. I found the drastic change in GM and Michael’s relationship was a very compelling part of Season 4. This was a relationship that always had a strong, wholesome core that was the emotional foundation for the show (and why we still rooted for this family). And now as their lives move in different ways, the relationship gets strained, and one party hurts the other (anonymous eviction vote that goes awry) and then the other party tries to distance himself, only to seek his emotional revenge once they begin to reconnect. I think it was brilliant storytelling, and if you watched the first 3 seasons (over and over and over and over like I did) this change in relationship affects us as viewers the most, since it had always been the moral fabric of the show. We’re left with a relationship that’s more like the one George Michael had with GOB, after stealing Ann from him (and hitting him in response to learning about it). And it sets up a potential major plotline for the upcoming movie (or more Netflix episodes? Hey, I know as little as the rest of us do about what’s really happening). If the Bluth mantra of “family first” was the glue that held the family together in seasons 1-3, 7 years of wear and tear has started to rip a hole through that philosophy. Clearly, we’re not done yet.

Apart from the George Michael conflict, Michael’s episodes brought some great comedy involving his attempt to “produce” the movie about his family. We got the “B Team,” consisting of Andy Richter, Warden Gentles (James Lipton and his iPad) and of course Carl Weathers. Great cameo by Conan in that episode, with the dig on Andy’s failed TV career and the joke about how he treats his women “writers.” Also the season-long recurring joke of the returning Richter “quintuplets,” all being mistaken for each other and all having important roles in various points in the season. One of the better ones being Andy’s brother Rocky(?) getting “Andy’s biggest laugh of his career” while impersonating Andy on Conan’s show. We got the recurring jokes about Ron Howard and Imagine – Ron’s moon-lander prop from the fake moon landing, the rivalry with cross-the-street Bruckheimer productions, the various Opie/Andy Griffith references, how Ron never recognized Michael whenever he ran into him. Then of course, we are left with the scene of Ron and Brian Glazer watching the news report of Lucille 2’s murder and Buster being the prime suspect – excited by the fact that Buster was the only remaining Bluth family member who’s contract Michael hadn’t ripped up (“you’re OUT OF THE MOVIE!”) Another jumping off point for the next chapter(s) of this revival.

All in all, I was very please with my first viewing of Season 4. While at time it felt odd or out-of-place watching these familiar characters in unfamiliar situations (one scene in particular – when Tobias goes with Michael to Ron Howard’s office, screamed “Funny or Die” video to me. Not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing.) I enjoyed the watching experience and look forward to re-watching these episodes to find the easter eggs and additional setups/punchlines I missed on first viewing. And at the end, I am very eager to see where they go next – be it a movie, another Netflix season, or the combination of both. I’m just glad we get to see more of this crazy family, and I’m glad they didn’t “ruin” the franchise I’ve always considered my favorite comedy of all time.

Some additional thoughts/favorite bits during the season (to steal a formatting choice made by EVERY OTHER TV REVIEWER ON THE INTERNET) :

  • Michael’s Google “Something” street-view car “The Ostrich”
  • TV news anchor John Beard’s career arc – he was the news anchor during the first 3 seasons on FOX, as he was (still is?) the actual local FOX news anchor for Orange County. This season, since they were making an effort (all shrouded in jokes) to distance themselves from FOX – his TV career takes him to different venues up until the newly-minted “Imagine News,” a great way to get him on a production company-named entity again. That’s one thing I’ll be looking closely at when I rewatch – if he is in fact on a different network every time we see him on TV.
  • George Michael and Michael’s voicemail phone-tag bit – pretending they were in the same traffic jam, but both coming up with reasons why they couldn’t prove to the other that they were in fact, in traffic. It eventually becomes a veiled allegory for their strained relationship.
  • Michael’s trouble with technology, specifically his iPhone calendar being stuck in 2006. (When the show went off the air! Get it??!?!?)
  • Buster dancing on the security cameras. More Buster dancing, please.
  • Jeff Garlin getting stuck through a window with the “Curb your Enthusiasm” music playing.
  • All those cameos – John Slattery! John Krasinski! Mary Lynn Rajskub! Lennon Parham! Ben Schwartz! Zach Woods! (UCB ftw!) And great casting for young Barry Zuckerkorn by getting Henry Winkler’s actual son, Max! “Take to the sea!”
  • Maritime Law being a real thing, and Lucille’s trial being held in a clam shack before happy hour.
  • The eventual reveal that NONE of the Bluth’s made it to the trial, except for too-late-arriving Buster, who gets one last earful of motherly love from Lucille.
  • I did remember enjoying the George episode, but aside from the Slattery/Rajskub cameos, can’t pick out any good bullet point from it. But after the 1-episode new format baptism of the first episode, George’s provided some much-needed laughs for me, helping me realize that everything was going to be okay. I just needed some lemonade.

I’m sure there’s stuff I missed. I’ll maybe add more tidbits on my second viewing. Let me know what you thought, if you so choose, in the comments! That’s still a thing!

If this post inspired you to watch some Arrested Development, be it the new ones or old, and you’re too lazy to make the extra effort yourself – here’s a quick Netflix link.

Thoughts on Boston, Terror, and the Bigger Picture

An entry by my girlfriend, Anneliese Waddington, expressing her view on this week’s events:Image

This week has left me uneasy. I have felt worry, and I have felt anger. These feelings surface each time we experience a national tragedy at the hands of someone who intended to take innocent lives, and leave behind emotional and physical scars. Our nation as a whole has many scars. A flash of fear, of anxiety, when you board an airplane, or when you sit in a classroom, or when you settle into a seat at the movie theater, or when you pray in your place of worship. And now, when you gather as a community. That’s what hits hard about Monday’s bombings. This was not a routine flight, a routine day at school, a routine trip to the movies. This instills a fear of gathering together as a community in celebration. A day where we celebrate accomplishment, push ourselves to achieve something great, or simply cheer on thousands of people we will never meet, but who for that one day become our friends, our family. That is where my anger comes from. That the underlying intention was to destroy the safety of a community, to shatter at the most basic level, togetherness. In the aftermath, I have seen and witnessed an overwhelming sense of community, of the good people. And this gives me some peace. Our nation’s tragedies have shown us that there is more good than bad, and that no one is ever alone in their darkest moments. I am grateful to be a part of a country where we have this certainty. But then I think about nations where Monday’s horror is a daily occurrence. Where the victims become a number, not a face. Not a name to be remembered by 300,000,000 people, not a life to be celebrated. Simply a casualty. And as I see the enormous outpouring of support for those victims of Boston, of Newtown, of Aurora, I can’t help but think of humanity as a community. What makes the people of Boston any different from the people of Iraq, of Sudan, of Venezuela? A headline from the Huffington Post on Monday, April 15th, reads “Iraq Attacks Kill Dozens, Wound Over 100 In Several Cities.” And the headline goes by unnoticed by most, as we have become indifferent to headlines like these, because we see them daily, and we have adapted the ability to detach from it.  And when I think about it, that is a problem. I have no answer. I don’t know where the responsibility lies, where being part of a nation ends and being part of humanity begins. Millions of Americans spring to action when it’s one of our own, on our own soil. But I think it’s important, in times like these, to step back and take a look around. We are all human. We are all someone’s son, someone’s daughter, someone’s friend. For me, the Boston tragedy hits close to home, because I have been there, and been in those shoes. It could’ve been me. But the feelings surrounding it are no different than how I felt when I heard about the Aurora shootings, September 11th, the Newtown shootings. Because what I felt was for a fellow human being. For someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, friend.

To see so many people come together, to hear the stories of heroism, help to restore my faith in humanity after a tragedy. But I find myself wondering about the potential in this, why it’s brought out only when we are faced with a tragedy that touches something personal in us. Think of what we, as a nation, as humans, could accomplish if we applied this multitude of support for all of our fellow humans facing terror at the hands of others. It is easy to block it out, to ignore it, to distance yourself from what is happening beyond our borders. But is it right? Or does the burden simply become too great? I choose to have faith in the potential that someday the good can be spread equally. That our sense of community is defined by coming together not just as Bostonians, not just as Americans, but as humans. Humans who take pride in humanity. #WeAreAllHuman

We Are All Boston Patriots

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Like many other displaced Bostonians, the past 4 years Marathon Monday/Patriot’s Day has been a day I missed my hometown the most. Memories starting from when I was a little kid, driving to Wellesley or Newton to catch a glimpse of the city-wide event, cheer runners on as they trek toward their 26.2 mile goal, waiting in the heart of the city, to my college years, gathering on Beacon Street, cheering on the runners, some of whom may be friends or fellow college students, but in a much more mature, outdoor party-like atmosphere. I remember going to the 11 AM Red Sox game, peeking toward Kenmore Square as the game drew to a close, seeing the runners on their last few miles toward the end. Then going into Kenmore to cheer them on and give high fives to the tens of thousands of brave, strong-willed and no doubt tired people with numbers on their bibs.

That’s what Patriot’s Day in Boston is supposed to be about. That’s what it always has been about. And in the wake of yesterday’s horrible tragedies at that same finish line that for over 4 hours after the start of the race this year, and every previous year of the Boston Marathon, meant the final goal of those runners from all across the globe, I have been having a lot of trouble collecting my thoughts. Since moving to Los Angeles, Marathon Monday is a day every year as it approaches, I wish my schedule allowed for a quick extended weekend trip home, just to enjoy in the culture and festivities of the day with my fellow Bostonians, as if I never left. This year, despite the tragedy, I feel no different. I wish I could be there in Boston this week to support those affected by this tragedy by donating blood at the hospital, going to candlelight vigils and walking from BC to the Finish Line. I wish I could go to tomorrow night’s Bruins game and show the country and the world our unified Resilience, as President Obama so rightly characterized our city. I find myself struggling to focus at work, feeling so disconnected to the city I still consider my home. Hours staring at news coverage yesterday, and hours reading stories of the aftermath, hearing our sports radio hosts drop all coverage of sports and discuss how close this city is. Hearing personal accounts, including that of The Sports Hub/Toucher and Rich’s Rich Shertenlieb, who’s voice trembled on the radio as he explained how he doesn’t know what to do with the anger he feels after having to rush his family, including two young boys and a wife undergoing chemotherapy, out of his apartment building right where the second bomb exploded.

In a city where all you hear about is Sports, especially living in a city that holds one of it’s teams biggest basketball rivals, it’s hard to explain to people who aren’t from Boston, WHY Boston is such an incredible place. You hear people chide and berate the city and it’s sports fans for being ourselves – loud, obnoxious and passionate. And that’s all people know about Bostonians. But a tragic event like yesterday’s explosions really shows how tight-knit a community Boston is. Strange for such a large metropolitan area to seem so small and close, but living in the Boston area throughout all my pre-college life, and living in the city for 3+ years during college, I really felt the sense of community. I saw it most prominently after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 – a community of people coming together for a joyous occasion, a shared elation sparked from 86 years of disappointment and agony. You could see it in every subsequent Championship Parade during our decade of winning. A city where you may not always smile or high five the stranger you walk by, suddenly is all smiles and high-fives when a unifying event brings us together. Yesterday’s attacks wasn’t about sports, but it was centered around one of the Nation’s and certainly the city’s biggest sporting events. Sports brings people together – to cheer for a common team, or to cheer on runners going after a common goal like crossing the finish line after 26.2 grueling miles on city streets. And in a city where sports bears such a strong importance, it is no surprise to me how strong and resilient our citizens can be in the face of adversity.

Patriot’s Day is supposed to celebrate everything that Boston is about, and by extension, America is about (for those uninitiated, Patriot’s Day is celebrating those who fought in the first battle of the Revolutionary War, in Lexington and Concord.) We wouldn’t call ourselves Americans if that first battle never happened. And that’s what’s so hard to grasp about this attack – they didn’t just attack the Boston Marathon, they didn’t just attack The City of Boston. They attacked the IDEA of celebration Freedom and Patriotism. It makes me sad to realize that going forward, of course we will continue to host the Marathon every year, on Patriot’s Day. But now, there will be this tragedy looming over everyone’s associations of this day, a day that is supposed to be the best day the city has to offer. Sure, future Marathon’s will still have a sense of celebration and accomplishment, but the institution of Patriot’s Day will now forever be scarred. And I hate that such a happy and joyous event has to be associated with such sadness.

Boston, you’re my home.

*I would like to send out my condolences and thoughts to the 3 families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy; The Cambell Family, The Richard Family, and the Lu family in China.

Hi! Remember Me?

Nothing real to post, just wanted to say Hi again, because I haven’t touched this blog in awhile.

Every now and then I check my stats to see how little people come to the site when I don’t post anything, and every now and then there’s some weird anomalies of search terms that bring a significant (by my standards) amount of people to the site.

Tuesday I see it was the term “Lubbock, TX” home of Texas Tech (and not much else). So welcome Lubbock’ers. Hope you enjoyed my retrospective post on visiting your town a few years ago when I drove cross-country. Your movie theater was nice, and I had a good BBQ sandwich I recall. The Buddy Holly museum was closed, that was a bummer though.

Till next time,

Josh

Thinking Different: My Thoughts on Steve Jobs

Yes, those are all my Apple devices, in one big family

It’s not often that a huge news story affects so many people. And it’s not often when that news story is about one person’s passing. AND it’s definitely not often when that person is a CEO of one of the most successful companies of the past 25 years. Today, a very rare occurrence happened, when we all learned that Steve Jobs had passed away at the age of 56.

A friend asked earlier, “when was the last time such a phenomenal CEO passed away?” I took it further – when was the last time such an influential CEO passed away? When was the last time ANY CEO’s passing made front page headlines? When was the last time a CEO’s passing deeply affected this many people, this quickly?

Regardless of your stance on the company itself, everyone I know has been affected by Steve Jobs’ vision in some way. Be it as little as using iTunes to listen to your music, or as big as standing in line outside an Apple Retail Store a week before the new iPhone comes out. Whether or not you were actively thinking about Mr. Jobs when doing these tasks, his influence was there.

I personally have been using Apple products my whole life – my dad has a Macintosh Classic that I used to play an early disk-based RPG program called “Spelunx” on. It was on this computer where I first was exposed to the Mac OS, back in version 6 or 7. We then upgraded to a bigger desktop, the Performa. Being part of the generation that essentially grew up with the first “modern” desktops, this computer took a huge part in my formative years. I learned how to type on it, wrote early school papers on it, and it provided me with my first glimpse of this new-spangled thing called the “INTERNET.” In fact, we were one of the few families that tried out Apple’s failed online service, “E-World.” Some of these names and programs may be foreign to you reading this, and I totally understand. This was all pre-iMac, when Apple first began its ascent into uber-success.

We had a Bondi Green iMac, and it was amazing. I remember being wowed by the concept of getting to see INSIDE the computer. Not to mention the first “why?” moment in realizing this computer did away with the floppy drives. Apple has always been a company who SETS the trends, rather then waiting for them to pop up. Floppy disks are a memory now, a punchline. Back in 1998, people were outraged by this “oversight” on Apple’s part. All programs were installed via floppy. People’s backups and storage were on floppys. How dare a computer company that was near-floundering in the industry make such a bold move? Obviously this was the first of many similar decisions that at first were umpopular, but in retrospect turned out to be genius moves, headed by the genius at the head of the company.

The iMac was a success for Apple fans and helped put the company back on the map, but the upward spike in popularity really came with the introduction of the first real consumer MP3 player, the iPod. This started Apple’s trend of creating a new device or technology that everyone would want. With the easy of use of iTunes already becoming a success on the Mac OS, the iPod followed suit with a portable version of your entire music library. I remember the day when I first got my iPod – I sat eagerly waiting for it to charge so I could sync it up to my ever-growing library of songs. No longer would i have to choose what CD I wanted to bring to school to listen to in study hall on a particular day. I could have ALL my CDs with me in one, card-deck-shaped device. It was brilliant. Steve’s vision was brilliant.

During these days, when Apple was finally gaining some ground in the Mac vs. PC wars, Apple pride was rampant with Mac users. In fact, if you scoured the internet during those days, you might commonly find an image saying “Made on a Mac,” kind of a “See what I can do?” fist in the face to PC users who commonly shrugged off Macs as viable computing machines. I certainly represented my Apple Pride on my old personal website. Apple users would defend their hearts out on their beloved machines, I remember trying to convince my PC-using cousin of the merits of the iMac.  Apple later mirrored this sentiment when they came out with the “Switch to Mac” ads. In fact, all of their modern ads to date, especially the Justin Long vs. John Hodgman “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” ads, showcased Apple’s intent on appearing “cooler,” and easier to use when compared to their rival PCs. With their new slew of sleek-looking, high-functioning computers and iPods, the success started coming.

I went to a communications school in college, meaning there were a lot of what we like to call “creative types.” Typically, at least for the bulk of my generation, that meant Macs had an extremely strong presence in the hallways and classrooms of Boston University’s School of Communications building. Walk through a dorm hallway and count how many iBooks/ Powerbooks  and later MacBooks you see in each room. Even if someone didn’t have a Mac laptop, I BET you they had some form of iPod. I know freshman year we all took advantage of the dorm-network sharing options provided by BU in being able to view and listen to our floormates’ iTunes libraries. This was around the time when social networks like Facebook were really starting to blossom into the lives of students my age.

Even now, as a working 20-something in the entertainment industry, Apple provides a huge influence over my day-to-day life. Not only do I work on a MacPro using Final Cut Pro and Apple’s XSAN Servers, but half of the company I work at has iPhones. Occasionally we’ll get requests to compress a video so it can be watched on an iPad. Sometimes, more often recently, we have some fun complaining about and making fun of the shortcomings of Final Cut X. I come home from work and jump on my MacBook Pro, as I am doing right now, sitting in bed. I might also have Final Cut open on my own MacPro, with an Apple Magic Mouse wirelessly linked to either computer. I’m sitting here preparing to pre-order the new iPhone on Friday. I may not think about Steve Jobs every time I open up Final Cut or turn on my computer, but I certainly know I’ve been on board with his vision for 15 years.

In thinking about Steve Jobs’ death today, and in collecting my thoughts for this post, I couldn’t help but be surprised at my own emotional reaction to the news. I was legitimately sad about this. I almost teared up when I saw the CNN headlines when I was at the gym earlier – just seeing the words on television was still unbelievable. It’s such a strange thing, trying to justify why I’m so upset about someone I’ve never met passing. I think the best explanation is that Steve Jobs is one of those rare examples of a CEO truly putting his heart and soul into his company. Steve Jobs IS synonymous with Apple. That’s why you don’t have to consciously think of him when you use an Apple product. That Apple product IS him. Everything the company does IS his vision, like it or not.

The questions arose a couple months ago when he stepped down as CEO – will Apple be the same without him at the top? CAN Apple be the same without Steve Jobs? I personally feel that if anyone could impose his vision on an entire company, it would be Steve Jobs. That’s why I am not worried as an Apple user, stock-holder and straight-out fan, about the company’s future. Steve’s vision will still be seen in future products, the people he left in charge have been a part of the “Think Different” machine for a long time. But despite this, losing someone at this level, there has to be some drop off. Something will always feel different about Apple without Steve and his black turtleneck explaining how simple their new product is – “it just works,” sounds different coming out of Tim Cook’s mouth, despite seeing how something “just works” still looks the same.

I’ll sign off with a popular quote from Steve, from his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech, that many are quoting today, explaining Steve’s thoughts and advice on facing death:

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”

For a man who’s life was his company and his company was his life, I think he could look at himself in the mirror every day and answer “Yes.”

Made on a Mac

Best (Stats) of 2010: Josh Glass Online in review

Image representing WordPress.com as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

The number-crunchers over at WordPress compiled some interesting stats for the year on my site. Check it out (and thanks to everyone for visiting) *all that follows is from WordPress*

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 38 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 53 posts. There were 16 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 11mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 6th with 96 views. The most popular post that day was 30 Seconds to Mars – Kings and Queens Video “The Ride”.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, linkedin.com, largeheartedboy.com, and iconfactory.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for josh glass, “personal writing” and glass and the new republic, hoover dam, “josh glass”, and hoover dam bridge.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

30 Seconds to Mars – Kings and Queens Video “The Ride” November 2009
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2

Bio August 2009


3

Resume August 2009


4

Reel/Videos August 2009


5

Anniversary Season: Road Trip Day Four – Lubbock, Texas January 2010
8 comments

Best of 2010: TV Episodes

This one is  tough one, there was a lot of great TV this year, and since I’m including episodes from two seasons of TV, it was tough to limit myself to just one episode per show. Here goes.

Mad Men “The Suitcase”

In an ensemble show, it’s tough to take a full episode to just focus on two characters. Mad Men nailed it with “The Suitcase,” written by the show’s creator and runner, Matthew Weiner, the majority of the action takes place on a late night in Don Draper’s office, as he and Peggy Olsen work all night on a campaign for suitcase-maker Samsonite (get the title now?) What I loved so much about this episode, was that it played like a two-character play. Don and Peggy are the real leads of the show, as they both showcase strong desires to do succeed without worrying about how it affects their personal lives. Peggy, being the protegé, looks up to Don, and takes pride in the fact that she quickly became a copy-writer as a woman, under Don’s guidance, and strives to be seen as one of the guys, or at least wants her work to speak for herself and not her gender. Don understands this and appreciates Peggy’s determination, and the two garner an unspoken respect for one another. In season 4, not much had been touched on with this relationship until this episode, and that’s why the episode was so great – both characters had kind of coasted on their own without much personal interaction throughout the season, and it was about time they put the two together again. Through their night-long work session, they get into each other’s personal lives, something that neither character really allows any other character in the office to do. Peggy, in a relationship for the first time in a while, manages to still put her work before her personal life, even on her birthday. Don on the other hand, is dealing with the impending news of his friend Anna’s death from cancer. He is too scared to call her niece and hear the news out loud, so he’s surrounding himself in work to get his mind off it. After the episode’s events take place, Don finally makes the call, and the two characters fall asleep on his couch after emotionally draining nights. Not only was this a great episode for these two characters, and of course extremely well-written in that sense, but the performances by Jon Hamm and Elizabeth Moss was also incredible, and perhaps Hamm may find himself with an Emmy for it at the end of the year. For a show that continually puts out incredible episodes, this one in particular really shows how great the Mad Men crew is.

CommunityModern Warfare

Stepping into comedy, Community hit one out of the park with this episode, affectionately known as the “Paintball Episode.” Greendale is overtaken by a school-wide paintball fight, as students pine for first dibs on creating their schedule for the next semester. In the madness that ensues, we see our main characters turning on each other, even in the form of Jeff and Britta having sex finally, after a season’s worth of sexual tension between the two. The episode was my favorite from season 1, and was as action-packed as the movies they were paying homage to (with enough laughs to match it).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Community (again) “Epidemiology”

From Season 2, another homage to a film-genre, this time in the form of a zombie-apocalypse (not unlike The Walking Dead, see my notes on one of my favorite new shows of 2010 here). Using an actually well-believable premise that the punch at the school’s Halloween party is spiked, but not with alcohol. The semi-poisonous concoction turns students into feverish, zombie-like beings, who infect those that they bite (you know the deal with zombies). Our main characters are quarantined into the study room to survive the apocalypse until help can arrive. As they figure out the problem, they determine that if they lower the temperature in the building, maybe the fevers will be broken. After the study room is compromised and some characters attacked, the remaining survivors attempt to get to the thermostat and lower the temperature. The entire episode was great, and like “Modern Warfare,” took a genre and paid homage to it without making fun of it, in the vain of Sean of the Dead. Despite this, the best moment was when Troy, Abed and Jeff find themselves in the basement, and a flying, attack cat screeches across the screen. Not having to do with anything zombie-related, Jeff aims to find out what is making that cat fly the way it is “Is someone throwing it?” Moments like that show how well the show can achieve comedic moments even outside of their episodic homages.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Community (one more) “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”

The Christmas episode, shot in stop-motion, a-la Frosty the Snowman, the episode follows Abed’s imaginary journey to find the meaning of Christmas. The other characters, sympathetic to his emotional duress, play along, some more enthusiastic about it than others. What we find out is that Abed is upset about not being able to spend Christmas with his mother, a tradition that has never been broken. Stop-motion animation aside, the episode was great because it told an emotional story without sacrificing any comedy, which is something the show is good at when it wants to be. Bonus points for the “Lost” season one lack of payoff joke, and the remote-controlled Christmas pterodactyl. Not one who has any strong emotional ties to Christmas, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode and understood Abed’s emotional journey. I also commonly wish my life were animated in some sort of cartoon-ish state, instead of this boring live action world.

Terriers “Hail Mary” (Watch)

The season/series finale, I talked a bit about it in my Best New TV Shows of 2010 post, the show came to an end in a way that both concluded up the story arc that had continued to reveal more twists and turns, including one big one in the finale, and left the viewers satisfied with how the main characters play out their role as detectives, and remain optimistic about their rough personal lives. Brit, as I noted in the other post, was on his way to prison after being arrested for assaulting Katie’s classmate, whom he mistakenly thought was her lover. Hank on the other hand, had just dealt with the death of Gretchen’s new husband Jason, a situation in which Hank was indirectly responsible for, as Jason was brought in on the detectives’ theories on the land-grab conspiracy. Brit has prison to look forward to in the immediate future, but the promise of a new start with Katie after he gets out. That is, if he doesn’t decide to flee to Mexico with Hank. The season’s mystery arc was finished satisfyingly, although with a surprising new character thrown into the mix as the brains behind the land-grab. A little sudden, but not entirely unbelievable. Bad Guy Lawyer Zeitland proved not to be the main man behind the conspiracy, and of course, if you think about it, a corrupt lawyer would be likely to take orders from a more corrupt business man, and not be the brains behind the outfit himself. It was sad to see the show go, but a well-done finale that can strongly serve as a series finale.

The Walking Dead “Days Gone By” (Pilot)

The first episode of The Walking Dead was a great one, and it played out exactly like a full zombie film. Rick Grimes wakes up in the hospital to find the world is now surging with human-flesh-craving zombies. His first instinct is to go home and find his family, but instead he finds and empty house with signs of them leaving peacefully (the photo albums are missing). He runs into a father (Morgan) and son (Duane) who are hiding out in Rick’s neighbor’s house, waiting it out. Their hesitancy to move on is capped by their wife/mother’s zombie body walking the streets of the neighborhood. The emotion that is still ripe in both these characters is very prevalent when the zombie wife approaches the house’s doorsteps and attempts to open the door – Duane gets scared and hides under the covers. In another sequence, toward the end after Rick leaves the two with some well-need artillery from the police station, Morgan sets up a sniper spot upstairs to knock out the walkers outside, and when he gets his wife in his sights, he still can’t bring himself to pull the trigger. While Rick starts out on his journey toward Atlanta to find safe haven, we find out that his wife Lori and son Carl are with a group of survivors, lead by Rick’s old partner Shane, who is now sleeping with Lori. As Rick gets trapped in an abandoned tank in the streets of now zombie-infested Atlanta, the episode ends on him getting a call on the walkie inside the tank, asking if he needs help. The episode perfectly sets up the situation and characters we’ll spend the next 5 episodes observing, and turns out to be the most prominently zombie-filled episode of the season.

Lost “Ab Aeterno”

Decided not to use the finale, because while I enjoyed it when it aired, it still remains a slight disappointment as far as a culmination of the series, and while season 6 was also a disappointment and confusion-filled season, one remaining great episode that most fans can agree on is, “Ab Aeterno,” an entirely Richard Alpert-centric flashback episode, that finally explains why this mystery character has been around so long in the island, and how he got there in the first place. First off, kudos to Nestor Carbonell, who really got to show his range as an actor, as mid 19th-century Spanish man as opposed to his normal, mysterious, English-speaking island veteran. The episode gave detailed backstory on Richard and his plight that lead him to the island – a dying wife, a murderous mistake, a prison sentence and disastrous shipwreck that culminated in him being the only survivor, thanks to the smoke monster. Through a series of tricks from the Man in Black, Richard is thrown into the brotherly feud between “good” and “evil” forces on the Island, and eventually sides with Jacob, who gives him eternal life (and also kind of explains what the island is – a cork that aims to keep “evil” from getting out – still not sure about that one.) In a season where most were expecting answers to long-awaited questions, Ab Aeterno actually provided a big one – “who the hell is this Richard guy?”

24 Series Finale

Can’t believe I almost forgot to add this, it’s probably because I was mostly thinking of shows that aired during the summer and through this current season. Anyways, I covered it in a long 1,721-word review of the series and its final episode. While there were some great “oh shit!” moments on the show in the episodes leading up to the finale, which could very well had taken the cake had the finale not been the show’s last episode, (I’m thinking specifically of Body-Armored Jack single-handedly attacking Logan’s caravan, to Logan’s terrified “That’s Jack Bauer!” revelation. The episode served a season finale content-wise, because really how can a show like “24” sum up a whole series worth of television in a real-time hour of a day? It’s not an emotional montage type show. “24” was able to capture the emotion of a show ending simply within the last few minutes, as Jack and Chloe, the series’ two longest-running characters (who hadn’t ever got caught in cougar traps), speaking to each other on the phone for one last time. Jack reveals to her that at the beginning, he never thought she’d be the only one to have his back this entire time, a sentiment that echoed the audiences’ from Chloe’s early season on the show. In a sense, having Chloe be Jack’s most trusted ally throughout her seasons on the show was one of the show’s big twists, however slowly it developed. Jack’s heartfelt goodbye brought them both to tears, rare occurrences for both characters. Chloe closes out the show’s dialogue with three words “shut it down,” as she and Jack have a brief moment via video screen, Jack looking up at the drone in the sky and Chloe looking at the feed, right before he rushes off to uncertain destiny, and she walks out of CTU as the lights turn off. The countdown clock reaches 00:00:00, and 24 fans wait to see if we’ll get to witness our favorite bad-ass character in some sort of movie version.

Honorable mention – Conan’s last two weeks on “The Tonight Show” (NBC). After making what could only be one of the toughest decisions of his career, and more-than-likely life, and stepping away from a job he strove for for 15 years, Conan’s last two weeks on NBC brought back the carefree Conan we came to love after his 15 years at 12:35. He didn’t care about alienating viewers, or upsetting the network since he was in a bigger spotlight at 11:35. He openly made fun of his employers, and just let loose in general about the unfortunate situation he found himself in. Conan has always been great a self-deprecating humor, and coupled with seething nightly attacks at NBC, Jay Leno and the entire situation, he was on fire for those two weeks. Luckily, he was able to keep that momentum going through his stage tour and now his TBS show, “Conan.” Special note goes to his final episode, where he signed off with another heartfelt goodbye, as he did the year before after signing off on “Late Night.” And he ended his NBC run jamming out on guitar to “Free Bird.” Come on, who wouldn’t love to do that?

Best of 2010: New TV Shows

2010 was actually a decent year for new television shows. Unfortunately, some of my favorite ones weren’t seen by many and have been canceled, but nonetheless they’re on this list. Here we go. *Descriptions contain SPOILERS

Terriers (FX)

Has to be top on my list, mostly because I’m one of under 1 million viewers that actually caught the show on a regular basis. Ted Griffin, writer of Ocean’s 11, created a buddy cop/detective show that was both somewhat a procedural but mostly a character drama that featured two scrappy, down-on-their-luck detectives with a combination of personal issues that by no means took a side note to their episodic cases. Donal Logue and Michael Raymond James brought an incredible chemistry to Hank and Brit’s relationship – a former cop in Logue and a former criminal in James, finding each other in times of strife and establishing a great partnership, solving crimes that the cops can’t always achieve. The show’s sole season also involved a season-long arc involving a corrupt lawyer and a detrimental land-grab going on in the show’s setting of Ocean Beach, California. What I enjoyed about the show was never the episodic cases themselves, but how well the show showcased the emotion and drama of these characters and their loved ones. This dynamic was solidified when Brit’s girlfriend Katie has a drunken one-night-stand with her professor, and is instructed by Hank to keep it under wraps, for fear of ruining a growingly serious and permanent relationship (Brit had been anticipating proposing to Katie in the episodes leading up to this infidelity). A few episodes later, after Brit had proposed and Katie accepted, the truth comes out as Katie reveals her secret with Brit, and to the chagrin of both characters, and the (small) audience who had been pulling for them to figure out the issue, Brit breaks off the relationship, leaving both characters in tears. Hank on the other hand had been dealing with his own issues – his ex-wife Gretchen had just remarried, and trying to hold onto their former life, started the series off by purchasing their old house from Maggie. Jealous and still in love with her, Hank had a buddy do a background check on Gretchen’s fiance, which after Gretchen finds out, gets him uninvited from the nuptials. All in all, the show did a great job of creating sympathetic characters with huge flaws, and followed them through this strong partnership as they tried and often failed to help each other out in their times of crises. The series ended on a question mark, but not one that left the few viewers guessing and upset about the show’s demise. Hank was driving Brit back to the police station after Brit had been arrested for beating up Katie’s classmate, who he mistakenly thought was her cheating lover. As the series came to an end, Hank comments to Brit as they sit at a traffic light – he can continue to go straight toward the police station, and Brit goes to prison. Or he can turn left and they can book it down to Mexico, hide out together. Which will Brit choose? The episode fades to black leaving the question unanswered. As viewers and Griffin mostly agree, Brit decided to take the prison sentence, as he had begun patching things up with Katie, and has the promise of her waiting for him after he gets out. We know that he’s in love with this girl and would wait in prison so he can have her back. We don’t need Griffin to tell us this in post-series interviews.

Louie (FX)

FX really hit it out of the park this year, and I promise the next few descriptions won’t be as long as the first one. Louis CK, a highly respected and well-disciplined genius of comedy in the past few years (although he had been doing standup for around 20 years, as if often the case), was given a six-figure-per-episode budget and carte-blanche slate to create literally whatever he wanted as his TV show. What resulted was a combination of 13 short films featuring a self-deprecating, semi-depressed, divorced father of two young girls who also happened to be a hilarious comedian. Most of the episodes focused around one particular bit of his, from his relationship with his two daughters, to his foibles and follies on the dating scene. But every few weeks there came across an episode with little-to-no comedic moments, save from the Seinfeld-ian bits of Louis doing standup at the Comedy Cellar in New York. One episode in particular that struck viewers was his episode simply titled “God,” which featured a young Louis CK in catholic school, learning about Jesus and how he died for our sins. Stepping outside of the familiar bounds of a comedy-through-awkwardness, “God” provided a fearful insight into the mind of a child learning about the graphic demise of Christianity’s Lord and Savior. This episode proved not only that Louis wasn’t afraid to take risks with this show, but show that a comedian doesn’t always have to be ha-ha funny all the time. Looking forward to the show’s second season in 2011.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

So many zombie-movies, but never an episodic show about them? Walking Dead filled that gap, and while there were only six episodes in the first season, it showed that yeah, it’s about a zombie apocalypse. But they’re not the focus of the series. Rick Grimes, a southern police officer wakes up after being in a coma caused by a gunfight to find that a disease has taken over the world and “woken up” those who have died from it, as they now walk the world, hungry for human flesh (You know the deal with zombies). Rick, like many other characters from zombie films, aims to find his family and make sure they are safe. He hears that Atlanta has a safe zone, but to his surprise when he arrives there, it has already been overturned by walkers. Saved by a young kid in a group of fellow survivors, Rick helps them get out of dodge and meet back up with their crew, hiding out safely by the side of the highway, camped out near the woods and a conveniently placed lake. The Walking Dead focused on the relationships between these survivors, most notably how Rick’s former partner Shane, was now sleeping with and caring for Rick’s wife Lori and son Carl. The show did a great job of balancing the character drama it focused on, while keeping up the excitement and horror of impending zombie attacks on the characters, as they were run out of their camp after a few episodes. Just six episodes, the show had some issues creating a strong season arc, but with a full season 2 order on the books, next season hopes to have more of a prominent storyline.

Conan (TBS)

Not exactly what you’d expect to be on this kind of list, but I can’t cut him out of a Best of Television list (and you’ll see he’ll feature on my Best Episodes list). After 9 months of being off television after a highly publicized and polarizing exit from his longtime employer NBC, Conan came back with a vengeance in a risky move, jumping onto a well-established but image-less basic cable channel. So far, the marriage has been successful, as much as they can expect, and as a viewer and longtime fan of his, I have been pleased with the content they’ve put out over the past couple months. Conan and crew seem to have back the confidence to do whatever they want, no matter how ridiculous the premise, which they often appeared to lack on his version of The Tonight Show. Whereas his move to 11:35 at NBC came with an iffy “we’re not that sure about this” sentiment from NBC, wanting to keep Jay Leno on the network and moving him to 10pm, which may have been a burden on Conan’s confidence going into the job, TBS now seems to have given him their complete confidence and support, letting him do what he does best and hoping that it puts them on the Late Night map. As a full-fledged member of Team Coco, I hope and fully expect this to be a solid success for both parties.

Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Almost forgot about this one (thank Andrew), but to be honest, I was into the show in the beginning, then thought it fell off a bit toward the middle. I believe it ended strong, and think it’s too well done and well-acted not to put it on the list. With a pilot directed by Martin Scorsese, and a concept well within his grasp, a period gangster crime drama, Boardwalk focuses on the prohibition era of Atlantic City, a town run by Treasurer Nucky Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi. While I like Buscemi, I had a tough time believing him as a bigger-than-life crime boss, considering his historically quiet demeanor and shorter stature. However, he did the best he could and was helped by a great ensemble of actors, including Kelly MacDonald as Margaret Shroeder, a young Irish mother, widowed after the first episode, and subsequently taken care of by Nucky himself (who ordered the hit on her late husband). Also filling out a strong cast is Michael Pitt, who plays James Darmandy, a thug of Nucky’s until he takes it upon himself to attack a caravan smuggling booze back to New York. He gets run out of time because of the incident, leaving his wife and kid alone with his mother. The main plot of the season followed Nucky’s crime gang as they continually get attacked by rival gangs. The small details are too much to get into here, but what I enjoyed was the look and feel of the show, plus the inter-character relationships. The season finale summed up a season’s worth of character development and strife, especially between Margaret and Nucky, but didn’t necessarily leave much in question. We’ll see how the second season picks up, I think the first season gave us a good basis for these characters and the era.

Honorable mention – Rubicon (AMC) – another short-lived show, this time a slow-moving spy drama featuring 24 alum James Badge Dale (Damnit Chase!) as a data analyst for a fictional government spy agency. The show focused on conspiracies surrounding the leader of this agency and his childhood buddies/colleagues/powerful business executives. Will Travers is promoted to department head after the unfortunate but suspicious death of his father-in-law and mentor David Hadas. Will spends the entire series trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and understand why David died and what he had learned about their boss, Truxton Spangler. At the same time, Will’s analyst team attempts to find a middle-eastern terrorist in order to prevent another attack on American soil. The season’s climax resulted in a failure to capture this terrorist before the attack, which took form of an explosion on an oil tanker in the gulf, well-timed with the rel life oil crisis over the summer (well, a couple months after that disaster, but still a relevant topic to capture). The show doesn’t make the proper list, because it was slow-moving and didn’t take off until the last few episodes, and I was a bit unsatisfied with the ending. Will confronts Spangler on the rooftop of their building, but the climax seemed to have already passed, and nothing solid is really embedded into the viewers minds. Perhaps if a second season had happened, we’d get more of a conclusion to this dramatic tension.

That was fun, coming up really soon (like, I’m going to write it after I post this) will be my list of best episodes of 2010. This will feature episodes from both the current season (fall 2010) and end of the previous (Spring 2010). So expect multiple entries from some shows.