Paul & AJ’s Top 10 New & Returning TV Series of 2013

Last week, we brought you our favorite movies of last year (finally saw Inside Llewyn Davis, by the way, and yes, it would have made the cut). This week, we change channels to focus on TV. We’re doing things a little differently this time out, with separate top 10 lists for new shows and returning favorites. Though there were a lot of new shows I enjoyed over the past year, I’ll admit I couldn’t stretch them to 10; instead, I’ve got 8, while Paul’s just crazy enough to have a full 10.

As always, there are shows we couldn’t get around to: I haven’t seen Rectify, Top of the Lake, Broadchurch, or The Wrong Mans, all of which I’d hoped to see in time for this list. Oh, and to absolve him of all guilt, I should mention that Paul has never seen Breaking Bad. Wait, I don’t think that absolves him.

NEW SERIES

PAUL: 10. HANNIBAL (NBC)

hannibal

I wasn’t particularly interested in a television adaptation of the Thomas Harris characters. But names like Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, and Bryan Fuller pulled me in. It’s one of the most visually stunning and hauntingly…haunting shows ever to make it to network television. It’s also one of the most shockingly violent and grotesque. All positives in my book. But I can’t put it any higher on my list because it’s crushingly depressing.

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Paul & AJ’s Top 10 TV Series of 2012

On this, the eve of 2013, Paul and I begin to look back at some of our favorite things of 2012. First up, our ten favorite TV series.

Also, let’s give a slow clap to Paul, who struggled through severe illness just to get these words to you, dear reader. A speedy recovery to you, sir!

- AJ

PAUL: 10. PARKS AND RECREATION (NBC)

Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, and Rashida Jones in 'Parks and Recreation'

Season 5 gets out of the office a little bit, with Ben and April in Washington D.C. (with an evil robot congressman). Ron gets a new love interest (the always lovely Lucy Lawless). Tom starts a new business. And Andy finds a new career.

AJ: 10. GAME OF THRONES (HBO)

Peter Dinklage in 'Game of Thrones'

What Game of Thrones did in its first season was nothing short of exceptional, a 10-episode narrative that goes down as one of the finest accomplishments the medium has seen thus far. And while the second season struggled at times to recapture that majesty, it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. The scope and breadth of George R.R. Martin’s world remains impressive; the cast, especially Peter Dinklage as the kind of noble imp Tyrion Lannister, continues to knock out high fantasy material that would crush lesser actors; and thrilling hours like “Blackwater” remind us that this is the closest thing we have to a Lord of the Rings on TV. And it’s a whole lot nastier and sexier, too.

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Four-Color Flashback: ‘Preacher: Vol. 9 – Alamo’

Welcome to the final week in our discussion of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. For more, read weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

Paul: It ends here.

Nine volumes. 66 issues. Five one-shot specials. A four-issue tie-in miniseries. And a tanker truck full of blood and guts. Our pissed-off preacher, gun-toting girl Friday, and blood-drinking BFF all converge, where else? Texas. The Alamo, to be precise. And things get both big and small, epic and very, very personal.

Oh, and one poorly written report gets taken out behind the woodshed and shot the fuck up.

So AJ, mi compadre, what did you think of the grand finale?

AJ: Where to begin? Perhaps it’s best to start with my one sizable complaint before moving on to everything that worked so, so well here. Last week, we talked about the watering-down of Herr Starr, of how even though he’s the series’ ostensible antagonist, his misadventures have often been treated as comic relief. Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention, but I completely failed to realize that taking revenge on Jesse had supplanted bringing about Armageddon as his goal in life. So when he announced his plans to the Elite Council, I was just as confused as they were (luckily, I didn’t get murdered right after). I feel like a discussion of Starr as the series’ Big Bad could take up its own post, so I’ll just say that though I loved the vast majority of what we ended up getting, I can’t imagine what an epic ending Armageddon could have provided.

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Listen to Episode 93, “Titanic: Episode I – The Phantom Iceberg…in 3D!”

Gobbledygeek episode 93, “Titanic – Episode I: The Phantom Iceberg…in 3D!,” is available for listening or download here.

There’s been a disturbance in the Force…and that’s only the tip of the iceberg! Well, after that peach of a sentence, we’re about to be dragged offstage, so really quickly: AJ likes Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace; Paul likes Titanic. Paul hates Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace; AJ hates Titanic. FIGHT! Well, it’s actually a lot more civil than that, but yes, arguments are had, rants are ranted, bile is spewed. Plus, they also have a fundamental disagreement over the new HBO series Girls, so, you know, more fighting and stuff.

Next: It’s that time again…the Gobbledygeek Summer Movie Preview!

(Show notes for “Titanic: Episode I – The Phantom Iceberg…in 3D!”) 

Last Month’s Comics: ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ Swings In and DC’s New 52 Roll Out

Welcome to Last Month’s Comics, in which I discuss, uh, last month’s comics. I get my comics in bi-monthly shipments from Discount Comic Book Service, and as such, I can be a little behind. So here we are. This feature started last month.

So, September 2011, what kind of havoc did you wreak? Let’s find out…

BEST RETURN TO FORM

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9 #1
Writer: Joss Whedon
Art: Georges Jeanty (pencils), Dexter Vines (inks), Michelle Madsen (colors)
Publisher: Dark Horse

To say that I was pleased upon finishing the first issue of the new “season” of Buffy is an understatement. Season 8 started off very well, with Buffy leading an army of 500 Slayers and trying to unmask the mysterious foe Twilight. And to tell the truth, it was great for much of its run, with an occasional stumble (vampires being outed to the public wasn’t handled with much finesse). But the last story arc, with the reveal of Angel as Twilight, cosmic sex, and general batshit insanity, was so damaging that even someone who considers Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be the greatest piece of entertainment ever given us by man had come to the conclusion that it might be for the best if Ms. Summers was finally laid to rest. The final issue of Season 8, though, was a dramatic 180 from the pace and structure of the last few issues leading up to it, and the Season 9 premiere continues in that vein. With Giles gone and magic vanquished, Buffy is depressed and adrift, working as a waitress and getting blackout drunk. It’s all done with Whedon’s razor-sharp wit and keen sense of twenty-something angst. The final “shock twist” is so humdrum and everyday it’s hilarious. In many ways, the metaphorical “party” is over for our Scoobies; now what? I can’t wait to find out.

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On DVD & Blu-Ray, 6/21/11: ‘The Adjustment Bureau,’ ‘Cedar Rapids,’ More

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (DVD/Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Combo)

Taken from a short story by Philip K. Dick, The Adjustment Bureau has a great premise: there is a bureaucratic agency governing every decision you make, and if you stray from The Plan, they will step in and adjust your life. What could have been a Truman Show or an Eternal Sunshine instead becomes a mediocre time-waster, as the adjusters’ arbitrary rules and the silly chase scenes get in the way of real chemistry between forbidden lovers Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. It’s a shame to see Anthony Mackie, who was good in The Hurt Locker, turn in a stupefyingly dull performance, but it’s worse to see Richard Slattery, who unloads at least two dozen savagely memorable remarks on each episode of Mad Men, reduced to shouting things like, “Can’t I get a break in this case?!” Under the anonymous, visionless direction of George Nolfi, the film is a cosmic farce as a bunch of old white dudes attempt to cock-block Damon on an epic scale. The spark between Damon and Blunt makes things mildly entertaining. Extras include audio commentary from Nolfi, deleted and extended scenes, and three featurettes. 

(Originally reviewed by me, and much more favorably by Paul, in “Secret Origins.”)

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Let the Game Begin: Game of Thrones Review

Ironic that Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin has found himself embroiled in an intardweb feud (not really) with Lost creator Damon Lindelof, seeing as his sword-and-sorcery-and-politics (-and-politics-and-politics-and-more-politics) epic is positively brimming with an enormous cast of characters and a complex web of interconnected stories and plotlines. I’ve not yet read the series of novels from which the new HBO series is adapted, but I can already tell that there are going to be at least as many, if not more, threads that will need to be woven or cut in the tapestry of this tale than there were in Lost. So Martin’s stance on that show’s narrative failures (in his opinion), as well as those of Battlestar Galactica and even Citizen Kane, theoretically set him in an awkward position of now having to seriously bust his ass to pay off his own magnum opus or draw uncomfortable comparisons.

But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to talk about tonight’s premier, “Winter is Coming.”

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nos·tal·gia: Hawk the Slayer

nos·tal·gia
noun
longing for something past

ORIGIN: 1770, Modern Latin rendering of German heimweh, from Greek nostos “homecoming” + algos “pain, grief, distress.” (i.e., you can never go home again.)

In 1981, HBO had about five movies that played over and over and over again: Star Wars, Friday the 13th, Billy Jack, The Little Dragons, and…Hawk the Slayer. Now, seeing as I was eleven years old, addicted to science fiction, horror, gunslinger/martial arts, cheesy teen romance, and, of course, fantasy, and I already had an obsessive personality, I watched all of these films ad nauseum. This may go some distance towards explaining a great deal about me, but that’s for another column.

My memory of Hawk the Slayer was that it was a dumb but harmless bit of 80′s sword-and-sorcery fluff. Well…I had the dumb part right.

Voltan (the Dark One, we’re informed…many times), played by Jack Palance, confronts his apparently-twenty-years-his-junior father and demands his birthright, the “keys to the ancient power.” Since Voltan (the Dark One) speaks with the Gravelly Voice of Evil Scenery Chewing and wears the Helmet of Evil Burn-Scarred Face Concealment, naturally the wise father refuses. What’s an aspiring tyrannical overlord to do in a situation like that? What’s that you say? Stab his extremely youthful father in the heart? Precisely. Baby-Daddy winces slightly as he’s brutally murdered by his Crone-Son and the bad seed exits stage left.

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Did You Know That Jessica from ‘True Blood’ Has a Vlog?

Stumbled across this while looking up True Blood character info on Wikipedia: Jessica has a vlog! In the first few entries at Babyvamp-Jessica.com, the newbie vampire does silly teenage girl things like balancing bottles of Tru Blood, taking funny pictures, and playing with her fangs. Then, in her most recent entry, posted five days ago, she opens up about how she’s in a bad situation (presumably biter’s remorse over killing that trucker), that Bill’s never around to teach her, and that she hopes other “baby” vampires can find her and help her. Not sure if this’ll play into the main show, but that Deborah Ann Woll is a charmer and it’s worth a look.

Hey, Mr. AJ: Tame Impala, True Blood, Dum Dum Girls, Wild Nothing, Twilight, Robyn

Hey, Mr. AJ is a new column in which I plan on writing some things about the new music I hear. They’ll be brief reviews, divided into sections: MAXIMUM GOBBLING for the masterpieces; GOBBLE IT for the merely great; WORTH GOBBLING for other good releases; GOBBLE? for those albums which aren’t really good or bad, just sort of okay; DO NOT GOBBLE for the shitty; and RUN, DON’T GOBBLE! for the awful. Got it? Now, don’t ask me again.

INNERSPEAKER
by Tame Impala

I’m a Beatlemaniac, so I see the Beatles everywhere. Bear with me. On their debut album Innerspeaker, Australian psych-rock band Tame Impala manage to do what the Olivia Tremor Control did on 1996′s masterful Music from the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle; without compromising their creativity or their own unique vision, they capture the spirit of the post-Sgt. Pepper, pre-Abbey Road Beatles. Specifically, both albums remind me of the more freewheeling psychedelic cuts on Yellow Submarine, like George Harrison’s “It’s All Too Much.” Indeed, lead singer Kevin Parker’s voice reminds me of Harrison’s in that soaring, nasally way, which also makes it at times resemble John Lennon’s. But as I said, this is no rip-off, and Tame Impala sound like their own band, embracing the hazier realms of psychedelia that the Fab Four rarely did. It’s misty, delightful music that lulls you into another world with its spiraling distorted guitars, insistent drums, and far out yet pleasingly retro production techniques. Innerspeaker hasn’t made its way to the States yet, but whenever you get the chance, take a listen. You’ll be glad you did.

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