What I’ve Been Watching: Edition IV

Having departed an office job since Edition III, I guessed I might start watching a whole lot more television. And, although I don’t shave quite as often as I once did, and a bit more time stretches between doing the laundry, my TV viewing time has actually remained pretty steady.

So let’s get caught up, shall we? If you don’t see a show listed here, it may have been covered in Edition I , Edition II, or the aforementioned Edition III: Revenge of the Sith. Or, quite possibly, I don’t watch it. Because I’m too busy not doing laundry.

LIKED A LOT

The Life & Times of Tim (HBO) There was more than a year between the end of the first season and the beginning of the second. Then we heard it was cancelled. But then the show returned for a third season. And now it’s cancelled again. It’s a shame, because this animated series, like Better Off Ted, was a much smarter look at office life than The Office has been in a long time. The voice talent was hilarious, and I really connected to the offbeat humor. I’ll miss this show… if it’s really gone this time.

HEY, HOW COME I DIDN’T COVER THIS IN EDITION III?

NTSF:SD:SUV:: (Adult Swim) Meet the elite crime-fighting squad known as the National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle::. The first season aired between July and October last year, which would’ve made it perfect for my November TV wrap-up. I forgot to include it, OK? Get off my back; I had a lot on my mind. We got a teaser for this series on Funny Or Die Presents. It took me a couple of episodes to warm to this show’s comedic vibe but I’m glad I stuck with it. Great cast, great guest stars—a very fun show.

LIKED

Veep (HBO) You know what TV shows I have really enjoyed? The couple of Alan Partridge series starring Steve Coogan that have been made available in the U.S. So when I saw that regular Partridge writer Armando Iannucci was the creator of Veep, I knew it would be worth a look. I was impressed right away. The writing is sharp, the content somewhat edgy, and the cast is pretty great. This is my first time watching Julia Louis-Dreyfus post-Elaine, and she’s a very strong comic presence. While the entire series didn’t match up to the quality of the first few episodes, I did consistently enjoy this show.

Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule (Adult Swim) I first discovered repeats of this 11-minute show airing during Adult Swim’s 4 a.m. “DVR Theater” slot (which I mentioned in Edition III). It was a spinoff from one of those Tim and Eric shows which I don’t really watch because although they’re kind of funny, eventually they annoy me. But this one starred John C. Reilly as an ultra-low-budget TV host who is a bit on the slow side. It was fun watching Reilly act like a sloppy idiot. And then, like all DVR Theater offerings, it vanished. So I was surprised when my DVR started recording more episodes. Sure enough and out of nowhere, a new season had been produced. Same sloppy fun.

KIND OF LIKED

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (IFC) The first season of this show, starring David Cross as An American Moron in London, was pretty entertaining. At first, the second season raised the bar, adding an unexpected conspiracy and witty Jon Hamm cameos. Will Arnett was very funny in a supporting role. But the final episode was terrible—ridiculously convoluted—and left a really bad taste in my mouth.

Angry Boys (HBO) I loved Chris Lilley’s previous series, Summer Heights High, so I was very much looking forward to this. Once again, Lilley portrayed several characters. This time it was an African-American teen rapper, sullen teen twin brothers, one of whom is nearly deaf, a tough but loving matron at a boys detention center, a surfing champ who refuses to grow up, and the domineering Japanese mother of a teen skateboarding prodigy. I generally enjoyed it, though none of the characters were as memorable as the Summer Heights High gang, and the series began to drag a little. However, this had a very strong final episode—actually pretty poignant—so I still have faith in Lilley.

DIDN’T LIKE

Life’s Too Short (HBO) It has been the law of diminishing returns with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The Office was brilliant; Extras less so but still a lot of laughs. And this was a piece of garbage. The first episode was promising, with a hilarious Liam Neeson appearance. But very quickly it became clear that there were no fun or likable characters, and Gervais and Merchant appearing as themselves, along with the requisite celebrity cameos, just seemed like the height of laziness.

Girls (HBO) Oh, so much buzz! And then backlash! I didn’t pay attention to any of it; I figured I would just watch and make up my own mind. First episode, I kind of liked, kind of didn’t. Same for the second episode. Partway through the third episode, I pressed the remote button and told the DVR not to record the series anymore. Maybe it’s a gender thing, maybe it’s an age thing, but this show is not for me. Though I did finally understand women complaining about how they’re portrayed on-screen: The men in this show were incredibly unrealistic, bearing no resemblance to any man I’ve ever met in real life. It was like some pre-teen girls sat a slumber party and said, “Oooh, we’ll make one boyfriend like this and another like….”

JURY CAME BACK IN

Enlightened (HBO) I officially like it, and am glad it’s returning for a second season.

WHY AM I STILL WATCHING?

I find myself struggling through The Simpsons and Modern Family each week. Simpsons is entirely loyalty-based; I wish they’d cancel it so I could stop watching. With Modern Family, I must be a glutton for punishment or something. I kind of hope The Killing gets cancelled too, because it really nose-dived in its second season.

NEVER WATCHED

Luck (HBO) I recorded the first episode, and fully intended to watch it. Dustin Hoffman’s bloated appearance wasn’t exactly rushing me to hit ‘play,’ though. And then I heard a radio interview with the show’s creator, and I couldn’t make heads or tails of all the horse-racing talk. I erased the episode and never looked back.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

The Newsroom on HBO looks pretty promising. I’ll watch at least the first episode of Charlie Sheen in Anger Management. Or, you know, the beginning of the first episode.

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