Television

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August 12, 2019: TV Recommendation: Impractical Jokers (2011-)

Narrator from Impractical Jokers

Warning, this show contains scenes of graphic stupidity among four lifelong friends who compete to embarrass each other. Viewer Discretion is advised.

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Executive Producers: Charlie DeBevoise, Mark Hickman, Brian Quinn, James Murray, Joe Gatto, Sal Vulcano, Pete McPartland, and Simmy Kustanowitz

Directors: Andrew Hood, Mark W. Roden, P.J. Morrison, Dave Scarborough, Alphonse Freed, Peter Fowkes, Yesenia ‘Moony’ Perez, Sandor Bondorwky, and Jeff Celis

Writers: James Easter Bradford, Brian Greene, Erin Hurm, Razor Rocco Rizzotti, The Tenderloins, Christine Walters, and Julia Young

Major Cast: Brian Quinn, James Murray, Sal Vulcano, and Joe Gatto

Narrators: Drew Patterson, Bill St. James, and Erik Falcon

TV Rating: TV-14

Number of Seasons: Eight and renewed for a 9th season to be released in 2020

Episode Running Time: 19–21 minutes (seasons 1–5), 23–24 minutes (seasons 6–7) with longer times for specials and season finales

*******

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Since 2011 although I got hooked onto this show much later, these four friends singly or in pairs compete in challenges against each other on Impractical Jokers. By the end of each episode, there is a clear loser or sometimes losers. These losers are subjected to a punishment meted out by the winners. This usually involves something the loser is afraid to do, sometimes dangerous and other times over the top stupid. I don’t really have a favorite because they are all funny. I find Sal ridiculous in his fear of cats, but identify with his fear of germs. Joe is a natural comedian and seems to excel in most anything he does except when he loses. The gang really seem to enjoy punishing Murr as he has had some good ones. Check out the one with Danica McKellar. Q used to be firefighter with the FDNY and has a big heart. Check out the one with the red X’s on children’s drawings. This can be viewed on truTV as it plays reruns on the weekends and new episodes on Thursdays.

Pisaries Creator rates Impractical Jokers PERFECT at 100%.

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August 5, 2019: TV Recommendation: American Masters (1985-)/The Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin (2018)

As a precursor, I’ve been in my rewriting phase of one of my novel ideas. It’s been a long process. One year passed, then another, and here I am in 2019. You’d think that me working so long on it, I should have a great masterpiece. I’m telling you 100%, it will not be, but it’s an idea I needed to get on cyber paper. Trust me when I say the writing pain in real and everything that might come after it too. I’m hoping to finish this rewrite by the end of this year so I can have a few people hack it to pieces (make suggestions to the flow, wording, missing stuff, etc). Then, guess what’s next? Another rewrite but hopefully not as long and in depth. I’m also hoping all this confusion, self-doubt, fear subsides in addition to ignoring the need for perfection, which leads to my other stories written in half the time and rewritten in half the pain.

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This documentary couldn’t have come at a better time last Friday night as I was in bed, thinking about sleep but not wanting to go sleep, as I’ve picked up this nasty habit of watching TV. I was set to watch something else, but realized that was a rerun. As I was flipping the channels, I came across Ursula K. Le Guin talking about her father. I watched the rest of it, despite never being into science fiction or reading any of her books. Of course, I had to watch the 15 minutes I missed and buy a few of her books this past weekend. The part that stuck with me was how she found herself again, even in her twilight years, and how she allowed herself to change and grow as a writer. A female writer who influenced many fans (pissed off some in her later writings that she talks about) and other writers, science fiction or other genres.  She gave me hope to keep writing until I’m gone.  Le Guin’s legacy will not only be her books, but her creativity, drive, personality, and history. It’s all woven into her writing. She has an impressive amount of work: novels, volumes of short stories, essay collections, children’s books, and poetry.  You can watch this documentary by Arwen Curry on PBS American Masters, also known as 9th episode of season 33. The trailer is below.

July 24, 2019: TV Series Recommendation: NOVA (1974-)

Quote by Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Asteroids have us in our sight. The dinosaurs didn’t have a space program, so they’re not here to talk about this problem. We are, and we have the power to do something about it. I don’t want to be the embarrassment of the galaxy, to have had the power to deflect an asteroid, and then not, and end up going extinct.”

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Executive Producers: Paula Apsell, Sam Bancroft, Aidan Lavery, and Peter Wyles

Directors: Sarah Holt, Ben Lawrie, and Ross Young

Writer: Sarah Holt

TV Rating: TV-PG

Episode Running Time: 53 minutes

*******

I’m not even going to list the show’s executive producers, directors, narrators, or cast of this show. Not when the show has run since 1974, but I did list key people for this episode. Time is limited and so is mine right now, but this episode was fascinating and interesting to watch. If it weren’t for the asteroid hitting Earth millions of years ago, killing nice and mean dinosaurs as we saw in Jurassic Park, humans probably wouldn’t have existed. Do you really see dinosaurs and humans co-existing? I don’t no matter how much it would be cool to see one alive. The bulk of this episode shows various scientists removing and analyzing rock from the Chicxulub crater for greater understanding of the asteroid and its impact. The destruction of it was due its power and speed. It had the energy force of 10 billion atomic bombs and speed of 40,000 mph. The dinosaurs not killed on impact suffered a longer death by the release of sulfates and blockage of the sun, which eventually led to starvation. So what are the chances of an asteroid hitting Earth again? According to a team from Princeton, the odds are in our favor. There is a 1 in 5,000 chance of an asteroid big enough to wipe out civilization in the next 100 years (stated in 2011). If asteroids regularly hit planets including Earth every 100 million years, I’d say it’s safe to say the Earth isn’t disappearing anytime soon, but the fact human beings live for such as short amount of time still scares and fascinates me. After you watch this episode from 2017, there are 879 episodes to choose and a few are on Netflix.

I rate NOVA episodes PERFECT at 100%.

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June 18, 2019: TV Miniseries Recommendation: Manhunt: Unabomber (2017)

Quote from Manhunt: Unabomber by Ted Kaczynski

“You know, the irony is, they’re gonna show this cabin as evidence that I’m crazy. But if everyone was content to live simply like this, we’d have no more war, no poverty, no pollution.”

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Creators: Andrew Sodroski, Jim Clemente, Tony Gittelson

Executive Producers: Dana Brunetti, John Goldwyn, Troy Searer, Andrew Sodroski, Kevin Spacey, and Greg Yaitanes

Director: Greg Yaitanes

Writers: Andrew Sodroski, Nick Towne, Jim Clemente, Tony Gittelson, James R. Fitzgerald, Max Hurwitz, Steven Katz,and Nick Schenk

Major Cast: Jalen Major as Airplane Passenger, Sam Worthington as Jim Fitzgerald, Jeremy Bobb as Stan Cole, Ben Weber as Andy Genelli, Chris Noht as Don Ackerman, Paul Bettany as Ted Kaczynski, Lynn Collins as Natalie, Keisha Castle-Hughes as Tabby, Mark Duplass as David Kaczynski, Elizabeth Reaser as Ellie Fitzgerald, Jane Lynch as Janet Reno, Bonnie Johnson as Wanda Kaczynski

TV Rating: TV-14 for a disturbing violent sequence

Running Time: 60 minutes per episode

*******

Manhunt: Unabomber is a TV miniseries that aired on Discovery Channel in August and September 2017. This eight part episode explores the life of Ted Kaczynski and Jim Fitzgerald, the FBI profiler, who was one out of the 150 task force members assigned to capture the Unabomber. The effort to identify and arrest him spanned basically 18 years from 1978 to 1996. Once Kaczynski was arrested, it was the U.S. court system’s responsibility to make him accountable for killing three people and severely injuring 23 others. Despite knowing the Unabomber was caught, the series still allows you to experience the failures and successes as the manhunt continued to its end. There were a few scenes regarding Kaczynski’s childhood especially his time at Harvard that negatively influenced him, but clearly doesn’t explain all his future behavior. Rarely one thing ever does. He was sentenced to eight life sentences without the possibility of parole in 1998 and is currently housed in a Colorado prison known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” While Sam Worthington played a good adversary, Paul Bettany as Ted Kaczynski was a great portrayal of a highly intelligent, mentally and emotionally conflicted person. While Fitzgerald and Kaczynski never met during or after his capture, it led to interesting psychological jockeying between the actors portraying them. I consider this one of the strongest parts of this miniseries.

I rate Manhunt: Unabomber GREAT at 90%.

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May 10, 2019: TV Recommendation: Damnation (2017-2018)

Quote from Damnation by Creeley Turner: “Never imagined this is what I’d grow up to be.”

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Damnation is about a small town in Iowa called Davenport. It centers around a preacher, Seth Davenport, who rallies the town against those in power through calculated strikes and plans to take their farms back. There are richer and deadlier men who stand in the town’s way, and as the current Sheriff, Christopher Heyerdahl, struggles to keep his own gun and badge, the fight for power continues until the end. I’d say the strength of this series is the effortlessness of how the stories play out against the historical backdrop of the Great Depression. Family dynamics, personal motives, and clear differences among the townspeople leads to a cliffhanger in the last episode, but maybe somebody will realize the show needs more than one season for closure.

*******

Creator: Tony Tost

Executive Producers: Adam Kane, Tony Tost, Gillian Berrie, Guymon Casady, David Mackenzie, James Mangold, and Daniel Rappaport

Directors: Adam Kane, Rod Lurie, Eva Sørhaug, Alex Graves, Kate Dennis, and Katie Jacobs

Writers: Tony Tost, Nazrin Choudhury, Julia Cohen, Michael D. Fuller, Kevin Lau, Rayna McClendon

Major Cast: Logan Marshall-Green as Creeley Turner, Killian Scott as Seth Davenport, Sarah Jones as Amelia Davenport, Chasen Harmon as Bessie Louvin, Christopher Heyerdahl as Don Berryman, Joe Adler and DL Sullivan, Phillippa Domville as Martha Riley, David Haysome as Deputy Raymond Berryman, Melinda Page Hamilton as Connie Nunn, Teach Grant as Preston Riley, Rohan Mead as Sam Riley Jr. Paul Rae as Melvin Stubbs, and Gabriel Mann as Martin Eggers Hyde, Ph.D.

Rating: TV-MA

Episodes: 10

Running Time: 60 minutes

I rate Damnation Four Fingers and One Thumb at 100%

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April 19, 2019: Documentary Recommendation: The Untold History of the United States

Quote from The Untold History of the United State by Oliver Stone: “Americans, like people everywhere, are in thrall to their visions of the past, rarely realizing the extent to which their understanding of history shapes behavior in the here and now. Historical understanding defines people’s very sense of what is thinkable and achievable. As a result, many have lost the ability to imagine a world that is substantially different from and better than what exists today.”

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Executive Producers: Carlos Guillermo, Chris Hanley, Oliver Stone, Tara Tremaine, Robert S. Wilson, Serge Lobo, and Rob Wilson

Director: Oliver Stone

Writers: Matt Graham, Peter Kuznick, and Oliver Stone

Major Cast: Oliver Stone, Alan Shearman, Jm Ward, André Sogliuzzo, Chris Cox, Chris Edgerly, Alex Veadov, Daniel Hagen, Greg Berg, Mark Jeffrey Miller, Tim Russel, Mark Ivanir, Jeff Bergman, Jack Blessing, Michelle Bruce, Bill Farmer, and Eidan Hanzel

Rating: Not Rated but would say TV-MA

Episodes: 12

Running Time: 58 minutes per episode

*******

Whether you like or hate or somewhere in between Oliver Stone for whatever reasons, he will continue to be interested in history and how the U.S. influenced the world. This 12 part documentary covers elections, wars, ideas, competition, and domination that you probably won’t find in high school history books. It starts with World War II and Franklin Roosevelt’s relationship with Joseph Stalin. It progresses into the time after the war when Democrats were scared of Henry Wallace and Britain’s desire to maintain their colonies. The third episode focuses on the atomic bomb and Harry Truman’s entry into politics. The Cold War and Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist tirades dominate the late 1940s into the early 1950s. It continues with Dwight Eisenhower and his fight against Communist influence. We head into John F. Kennedy and the CIA’s failure in Cuba regarding Bay of Pigs. When JFK dies, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon are all guns blazing into the Vietnam War. The eighth episode blazes past Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan and his strained relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev. There is a shift when George Bush and Bill Clinton are sworn in regarding how America is viewed by the world. The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars lead us into a state of heightened security especially after 9/11. Barack Obama is the last episode where security and economy are the two most important issues during his presidency. There were two prologue episodes during the early 1900s including World War I, Russian Revolution, Woodrow Wilson, and Smedley Butler. If Oliver Stone is correct that invasions often turn into long, unnecessary wars, started from greed, superiority, and narcissism, then many suffer directly and indirectly including demonstrators and revolutionaries if that occurs. I found most interesting his question of how much one country should try to influence another whether it be for dominance or altruistic reasons. It appears when it comes to U.S political elections and results, the jockeying for influence and power is still with us, and more so than ever with twitter debates and news coverage. Does it really matter who is ahead and who is doing what when it comes to space exploration, technological advancement, economic power, and social influence? To a degree, yes, because cyber attacks should be taken seriously. And yes because we live in a time of nuclear weapons. And even more of a yes because I’d rather not have any country invade another one for reasons not substantiated. And yes the concept of warfare and political dominance have been around for so long that it’s become a part of our social makeup, but remaining static is not good either. I watched this because I like history, but these were some of the questions Stone offered. In case your wondering, I’m undecided on who I would like to see elected as the next President of the United States. Yet, I’m looking forward to seeing how it all materializes.

I rate The Untold History of the United States GREAT at 90%

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April 15, 2019: TV Show Recommendation: Whiskey Cavalier (2019)

Quote from Whiskey Cavalier by Will Chase: “I have my feelings. My feelings don’t have me.”

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Creator: David Hemingson

Directors: Peter Atencio, Jon East, Romeo Tirone, Rob Bailey, Matthew A. Cherry, Amanda Marsalis, Michael Spiller, and Daisy von Scherler Mayer

Writers: David Hemingson, Jameel Saleem, Erica Batty, Helen Berger, Seth Cohen, Sheri Elwood, Adam Higgs, Dean Lopata, Rich Muirragui, Kelsey Murray, Amy Pocha, and Adam Sztykiel

Major Cast: Scott Foley as Will Chase, Lauren Cohan as Frankie Trowbridge, Ana Ortiz as Susan Sampson, Tyler James Williams as Edgar Standish, Vir Das as Jai Datta, and Ray Prince as Josh Hopkins

Rating: TV-14

Episodes: 13

Running Time: 60 minutes per episode

*******

What were viewers going to do after Jake Ballard got his at the end of Scandal? Scott Foley went from being part of B613 to being an FBI agent in Whiskey Cavalier, and everyone who watched Scandal sighed a big relief. In his new show, Foley plays Will Chase, a FBI agent. Will is made to work alongside his new partner, CIA operative, Frankie Trowbridge after they finished their first assignment. The team is now complete with Will, Frankie, Jai Datta (Frankie’s co-worker), Susan Sampson (FBI profiler), and Ray Prince (FBI agent). This is a lighthearted show with some action and humor, mainly focusing on the connections and lack of among this new team as they conduct missions. You can watch it on ABC although I wait until it comes on Hulu so it doesn’t have commercials. Part of the appeal is the work tension between Will and Frankie, but the cast together is well rounded. Time will tell if ABC will cancel it due to lower ratings than other shows, but hopefully it will get picked up for a second season. Maybe, I shouldn’t wait to watch it after all so it boosts the ratings.

I rate Whiskey Cavalier GREAT at 87%.

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February 25, 2019: TV Show Recommendation: The Good Place (2016-)

Quote from The Good Place by Chidi Anagonye: “Principles aren’t principles when you pick and choose when you’re gonna follow them.”

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Creator: Michael Schur

Producers: Michael Schur, David Miner, Morgan Sackett, Drew Goddard, David Hyman, Joe Mande, and Megan Amram

Directors and Writers: Many

Major Cast: Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop, William Jackson Harper as Chidi Anagonye, Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al-Jamil, Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza, Ted Danson as Michael, and D’Arcy Carden as Janet

Rating: TV-PG

Episodes: 13 in Season 1 and 12 in Season 2 and 3

Episode Length: 22 minutes

*******

Created by Michael Schur and produced by Fremulon, 3 Arts Entertainment, and Universal Television, The Good Place first aired in 2016 on NBC. I recently watched all three seasons and while I wasn’t sure of it in the beginning, I now 100% recommend this show to anyone who likes Ted Danson and comedy. The premise is about four people who have died and live together in an after world with way too many frozen yogurt establishments unless you love frozen yogurt. The main cast who have died are Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto). In addition to the foursome, there is Michael (Ted Danson) who created this Good Place and his loyal sidekick Janet (D’Arcy Carden). They are never far away and give their expertise and knowledge. There’s a lot of laughs throughout the seasons as everyone in the first tries to deal with the fact they are first dead and how to cope with it. They each have soul mates and continue to “live” as normal as possible for dead people in season two despite major revelations. I didn’t think they could top the first two seasons, but season three manages to do that by going deeper yet. It takes something engaging to keep my attention when it comes to comedy, and this definitely did in all respects of story, characters, concept, and production design. The show has been renewed for a fourth season.

I rate The Good Place with Four Fingers and One Thumb at 100%

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February 15, 2019: TV Show Recommendation: The Blacklist (2013-)

Quote from Blacklist by Raymond Reddington: “Every cause has more than one effect.

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Creator: Jon Bokenkamp

Directors: Many

Writers: Many

Major Cast: James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington, Megan Boone as Elizabeth “Liz” Keen, Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler, Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen, Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper, Amir Arison as Aram Mojtabai, Mozhan Marnò as Samar Navabi, and Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe Zuma, and Susan Blommaert as Mr. Kaplan

Rating: TV-14

Completed Seasons: 5

Episodes in each Season: 22

Running Time of Each Episode: 43 minutes

*******

When Blacklist came onto the airwaves, I was hooked. Here was a show about the FBI about a newly minted agent to become quite powerful in her own way and the opposition she faced regarding a fugitive. Throughout the five completed seasons and now the sixth already progressing with new faces and cases, the relationship between Raymond Reddington and Elizabeth Keen remains in the forefront.

So who is Raymond Reddington? He used to be a former U.S. Naval Intelligence officer who left his position and absorbed himself in areas of the world one can only dream of visiting world, which landed him a spot on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. He makes a deal with the FBI where he will help them capture criminals that pose a danger to the country. This fulfills two other goals: getting closer to Elizabeth Keen and eradicating the individuals who risk his lifestyle in some way. In other words, Reddington uses his charming personality to persuade others to get what he wants and if that doesn’t work, he doesn’t think twice with using a deadlier option.

This leads to who is Elizabeth Keen and why Reddington has such a fascination with her. Keen is a FBI profiler who is married to a teacher, Tom Keen. As she gets more involved with Reddington and deeper into the cases he provides for the team, her initial loathing for him decreases. He may actually have a redeeming bone or two in his body. She’s the type of person to keep work and personal separate, but over time this proves to be difficult. People aren’t what they seem that leads to more questions with unsuitable answers. The deeper part of her wants to know who she is and the secrets Red seems willing to keep that way at all costs.

My favorite season so far has been the fourth because of the back story of Mr. Kaplan and further insight into her relationship with Reddington. The last season started slower than usual, but it picked up after the first few episodes. Through all the twists and turns, lives saved and lost, and still not knowing all the details about Reddington, Blacklist still keeps my attention. I’m patiently waiting for the next episode to air tonight because the character of Jennifer played by Fiona Dourif (yes, the daughter of Brad Dourif who is known for the voice of Chucky) hopefully proves to be more of a force for Reddington than the normal course of action usually taken. The other supporting actors and actresses are excellent as well with the characters of Mojtabi and Navabi being two of my favorites.

I rate Blacklist NEAR PERFECT at 96%

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December 10 2018: TV Recommendation Watched on Hulu

Quote from Killing Eve by Villanelle: “Letting yourself into my apartment and drinking from a tiny cup doesn’t make you intimidating, by the way. It’s just rude.”
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Creator: Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Writers: Luke Jennings, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emerald Fennell, George Kay, Vicky Jones, and Rob Williams

Directors: Damon Thomas, Jon East, Harry Bradbeer, and Lisa Brühlmann

Cast: Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, Jodie Comer as Villanelle, Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens, Darren Boyd as Frank Haleton, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Elena Felton, Owen McDonnell as Niko Polastri, Sean Delaney as Kenny Stowton, David Haig as Bill Pargrave, and Kim Bodnia as Konstantin Vasiliev

Rating: TV-14 for Sex & Nudity, Violence & Gore, and Profanity

Episode Number: Eight

Episode Length: 42 minutes

Killing Eve is an BBC America adaptation from Luke Jennings novella series called Codename Villanelle. This show is about a cat and mouse game played out beautifully between Eve Polastri (Oh) and Villanelle (Comer). It begins with Eve and her superior, Bill, being recruited by Carolyn Martens to find the assassin going by the name of Villanelle. As more bodies pile up, Eve and Bill feels the pressure but more desire to get closer to this assassin in order to stop her. Villanelle seems to be a few paces ahead of Eve whether in a spacious apartment, sprawling grassy fields, or Russian prison grounds. While things may seem to come a little too easily for Villanelle, it is the way Comer portrays her that makes it believable. She is the type of character where it is a fool to call her “crazy” or “psycho.” She is methodical and her tenacity is what drives Eve on her quest to destroy Villanelle. Oh’s performance as Eve is the other strong point of this show. Their need to play mind games with each other is the dysfunctional relationship they crave. The necessary questions are answered by the final episode to bring you back for season 2 (coming out in Spring of 2019), but whether the puddle of blood on the floor will lead to something Eve can’t even predict remains to be seen.

Pisaries Creator rates Killing Eve at 97%

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November 15: TV Show Recommendation

Nurse Jackie (2009-2015)

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Showtime

Creators: Liz Brixius, Evan Dunsky, and Linda Wallem

Major Cast: Edie Falco, Merritt Weaver, Paul Schulze, Dominic Fumusa, Ruby Jerins, Stephen Wallem, Anna Deavere Smith, Peter Facinelli, Mackenzie Aladjem, Eve Best, Arjun Gupta, Betty Gilpin, and Lenny Jacobsen.
As with many shows, there are many producers, directors, and writers.
Rating: TV-MA
Number of Seasons: 7
Running Time: 60 minutes

Edie Falco is most known for her role in The Sopranos as Carmela Soprano and recently as Leslie Abramson in the Law & Order True Crime mini series covering the Menendez brothers’ trial, but she also shined as Jackie Peyton in Nurse Jackie. This drama/comedy centers around a New York hospital with functional staff trying to keep control over the semi functional staff including Peyton, a nurse with an opiate addiction. She’s the classic work hard, don’t tell type of person. She likes order and routine. She doesn’t like chatty co-workers. She keeps secrets. She minimizes pain. She loves her patients. What makes this show so good is the writing and acting, but the interaction among the cast members is what takes the show to the next level. They couldn’t have put together a better cast selection. Merritt Weaver (Zoey), Stephen Wallem (Thor), and Anna Deavere Smith (Akalitus) are my favorites besides Edie Falco. The relationships between the doctors and nurses is about as real as they come in portrayal (okay, in some respects): the failures, demands, successes, and opportunities. Because Peyton is a highly functioning addict, much of what she views as reality can only be seen through her eyes, but she’s a damn good nurse. She’s also a stubborn nurse with definite wants that she views as needs to keep her going. There’s a good mixture of humor spread throughout each episode, and as the series progresses, you find yourself wondering in what ways her wall will crumble around her because no one can be that lucky.

Pisaries Creator’s Rating

I rate Nurse Jackie GREAT at 100%.

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September 30, 2018: Cheers versus Frasier

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When I made the decision to watch all the Cheers episodes despite not having any interest in bars or baseball, I was completely hooked in the first season. I loved the back and forth between Diane and Sam. They were very strong-willed characters, each trying to capture the essence of what they once were as children, and faced with the reality they were now older and facing adult pressures and expectations. The show’s success wasn’t only due to the cast and it had an amazing cast, and the story lines were realistic. The writers were not shy about discussing taboo topics as they sometimes could be in the 1980s. I would say my favorite characters after Diane and Sam were Cliff, Carla, Coach, and Norm. After Diane left and Coach died, Rebecca and Woody replaced them along with Frasier, Lilith, and Paul taking on more central roles. Cheers ran from 1982 through 1993 for 11 seasons. My top picks from each season are the following.

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Season 1 = “Friends, Romans, Accountants” is the 7th episode where Norm throws an office toga party at the bar.

Season 2 = “Manager Coach” is the 8th episode where Coach becomes a ruthless baseball coach to a young baseball team.

Season 3 = “The Mail Goes to Jail” is the 17th episode where Cliff doesn’t rescue Norm when he is arrested for helping him on his mail route.

Season 4 = “Woody Goes Belly Up” is the 2nd episode where Woody overeats when his high school sweetheart visits.

Season 5 = “The Proposal” is the 1st episode where Sam proposes to Diane on his boat after her insistence he do it properly.

Season 6 = “My Fair Clavin” is the 11th episode where Cliff and his date, Sally, go to the bar so his friends can meet her.

Season 7 = “The Cranemakers” is the 16th episode where the Frasier and Lilith go camping to be one with nature.

Season 8 = “Death Takes a Holiday on Ice” is the 7th episode where Carla learns her husband is dead and has kept a secret from her.

Season 9 = “Rat Girl” is the 1st episode where Lilith finds out her beloved lab rat has been thrown into the garbage.

Season 10 = “An Old-Fashioned Wedding” is the 25th and 26th episode where Woody and Kelly marry at her family’s estate.

Season 11 = “Is There a Doctor in the Howe?” is the 16th episode where Frasier is upset that Lilith has left him for another man.

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Then, I made the decision to watch all the Frasier episodes because how could you not like his character? I did and was completely hooked in the first season. Frasier had a pompous attitude, but he was charming as well. He offered good and bad advice on his radio talk show. He was the quintessential Freudian therapist complete with the dead mommy and son issues, but also with glaring father and son issues. The character of Lilith was supposed to be an integral part of the series, but Bebe Neuwirth did agree to come back for a handful of episodes. I can’t put one cast member ahead of another. They were all equally great. The relationships between Frasier and Niles, Niles and Daphne, Daphne and Martin, Martin and Eddie couldn’t have been any better. It was weird to see people who were just breaking into Hollywood as talking extras or had a role for a few episodes. Frasier ran from 1993 through 2004 for 11 seasons. My top picks from each season are the following.

Season 1 = “Give Him the Chair!” is the 19th episode where Frasier gets rid of Martin’s chair and replaces it with a new one.

Season 2 = “Breaking the Ice” is the 20th episode where Frasier and Niles compete for Martin’s affection on an ice fishing trip.

Season 3 = “The Adventures of Bad Boy and Dirty Girl” is the 7th episode where Frasier and Kate try to ignore their attraction for each other.

Season 4 = “Ham Radio” is the 18th episode where Frasier stages a radio murder mystery with the help from the whole gang including Niles.

Season 5 = “The Ski Lodge” is the 14th episode where Frasier, Niles, Daphne, Martin, Annie, and Guy go to the ski lodge for a getaway and a love polygon ensues.

Season 6 = “The Seal Who Came to Dinner” is the 8th episode where Niles holds the Gold Apron Award at the clubhouse he once shared with Maris.

Season 7 = “The Cranemakers” is the 16th episode where the Frasier and Lilith go camping to be one with nature.

Season 8 = “Motor Skills” is the 11th episode where Frasier and Niles goes to evening class to learn more about cars and where Martin overextends himself with Roz’s new dog.

Season 9 = “Bla-Z-Boy” is the 7th episode where Martin accidentally spills oil on the carpet, which sends Frasier into a frenzy of revenge.

Season 10 = “Proxy Prexy” is the 3rd episode where Frasier tells Martin to run for President of the Condo Board.

Season 11 = “The Doctor is Out” is the 3rd episode where Frasier follows Roz’s new boyfriend into a gay bar and realizes everyone thinks he is now gay.

*******

After watching Cheers and Frasier, I would say they are pretty neck and neck in terms of story lines and content within each character. I saw more of the issues play out in person between and among people in Frasier. Yet, there was more variation in characters with Cheers and I laughed more overall. When push comes to shove, I conclude that Frasier edges out Cheers by a dog’s hair.

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November 25, 2017: TV Recommendations

Police, Detectives, and Agents! Oh my!

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Outstanding police departments can make you feel safe in your community. I would venture to say they are cities not heavily populated, which are basically small town U.S.A. Corrupt police departments can dampen a whole city’s image. Los Angeles comes to mind, which The Shield is loosely based from, and in particular the Rampart Division. The rest who carry a gun and badge are in between the two. When you talk about the FBI and CIA, there appears to be more gray areas when it comes to procedural affairs. It might be because these institutions are so large compared to police departments. Nevertheless, these are the shows that have stuck with me over the years, and the ones I want to watch, but not finding the time.

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The ones I have watched!!!

21 Jump Street

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This show catapulted Johnny Depp as a heart-throb centerfold for teenyboppers. I was not one of those teenyboppers even though I was ripe for the age. I swear on my own hands, I was not, but, oh, Tommy Hanson and all the characters of 21 Jump Street. It ran from 1987 to 1991. It had a total of five seasons. Its creators are Stephen J. Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh. It even had a spin-off show, Booker, with Richard Grieco that lasted one season. I can hear the theme song, Hot in the City, to Booker now. 21 Jump Street involves an undercover police unit whose focus was on solving crimes committed by primarily young people in high school. I remember the ex-hippie Captain Jenko that was in the first season’s episodes before Captain Fuller came and stayed. The topics ranged from alcoholism to racism to child abuse to promiscuity. It had an overall seriousness with sporadic goofiness to make it realistic, primarily done by Peter DeLuise’s character.

Homeland

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This show has gotten criticism for how they portray certain Middle Eastern people, but it goes to show you can’t please every living person. This heavy laden topic is important, not the purpose of this blog. I’ve watched up to season three. Remember the shows collecting dust on my shelf. This is one of them. I have yet to watch the other three seasons. It premiered in 2011 and the seventh season starts in 2018. Its creators are Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon. Homeland is about a CIA operative, Carrie Mathison, whose personal complications with her bipolar disorder often get in the way of being taken seriously by her co-workers. The end of the third season brought full circle the story of character Nicholas Brody. I look forward to what happens in season four because another personal complication arises for Carrie and her prevailing is what she does best.

Quantico

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I watched Quantico twice so far, both two seasons, because it was that good. I’m a sucker for learning about different characters and what makes them tick, question, scream, and punch their way through life. It premiered in 2015 and the third season starts in 2018. Its creator is Joshua Safran. The show is about a group of FBI recruits who train at Quantico. The mystery unravels to find out who is the terrorist or if one even exists. The main focus is on the characters of Alex Parrish and Ryan Booth. The ending of season two leaves it at a nice spot to leap into a new story line, sort of, but whether it goes there remains to be seen. There are some borderline knocking on 90210 door moments, but not enough to turn me away.

The X-Files

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This is another show I watched partly in high school. It ran from 1993 to 2001. It had a total of nine seasons. The X-Files picked up again in 2016, but have not watched them. Its creator is Chris Carter. The episodes involve unsolved cases with questionable and often un-explainable phenomenon. Its main characters include two FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who eventually come to the same conclusion about the government agency they work for and their personal and work related discoveries. If you are fascinated with the extra-terrestrial as I am, then this show is definitely up your alley. Yes, I saw the movie too.

The Shield

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This show I could watch a million times and never get sick of it. Okay, maybe I’m stretching it a little too much, but DAMN is this a good show. Someone recommended this to me before I moved to Los Angeles. Thank you E.H. Then when I moved here, I saw the taping of The Shield by accident on one of my runs (when I actually ran instead of now jogging). In addition to seeing Michael Chiklis smiling in a doorway not very far away, I’ve seen a fair number of cast more than once: Walton Goggins (many times with family), Jay Karnes (airport), Benito Martinez (what a nice guy), and Kenny Johnson (many times with family). I’m still waiting to see CCH Pounder, Catherine Dent, and David Rees Snell. Michael Jace will die in prison for a killing his wife in 2014, which is a shame, because he played his character so well. It ran from 2002 to 2008. It had a total of seven seasons. Its creator is Shawn Ryan. The episodes involve the lives of a dirty cop and those that serve with him on his anti-gang task force. The notable guest stars of Forest Whitaker, Glenn Close, Anthony Anderson, and Laurie Holden, to name a few, made it all the better. The final episode is hands down one of the best I’ve seen.

The Fall

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Forget about Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey. He blows his character, Paul Spector, out of the water in terms of creepiness. Then again, how many teenage girls are turned on by serial killers. Well, maybe some, but not to the level of C.G. This is a slower show, but once you get past that, you are able to see it for what it really is: a masterpiece showcasing a serial killer from Belfast going head to foot with law enforcement. It becomes a cat and mouse game between a methodical killer, Paul Spector, and driven police officer, Stella Gibson. It premiered in 2013, and has three seasons so far. Its creator is Allan Cubitt. I have yet to watch the last season, but it was the last for Dornan, so I’m sure it will blast the pressure to maximum force.

Criminal Minds

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The ever revolving door of actors and actresses for this show, but I’ll still take it. I’m still a little upset I’ll never know how Hotchner really was supposed to finish. This is a long running show. It premiered in 2005 and the thirteenth season is going on now. Its creator is Jeff Davis. Criminal Minds is about FBI agents, part of the Behavorial Analysis Unit (BAU), who are profilers hunting serial killers and those committing heinous crimes. It is led by Emily Prentiss. Her team uses the ever catchy term: unsub or unknown subject. I’ve seen all except the current season. This is the reason Netflix exists. I do a dive bomb when it is released, and don’t leave until I’ve watched them all.

24

24

I’ve watched this show about three times, and each time the ticking of the clock bothered whoever was around me. 24 ran from 2001 to 2010. It had a total of eight seasons. Its creators are Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow. The episodes involve Jack Bauer, director of a counter-terrorist unit in Los Angeles, and his team. I prefer to think of him as a bad ass who walks the thinnest of lines between sanctioned protocol and what’s on the other side of it. It’s hard to think so much action could happen in one day, and how the people involved are still functioning by the end. Yet, it does happen so it makes the show all the more impressive. There was a mini-series 24: Live Another Day that aired in 2014. There was a spin-off, 24: Legacy, that aired in 2016. It had one season.

The Blacklist

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This show has basically replaced The Shield, for me, in terms of caliber. The level of corruption is astounding where it grabbed me from the start. The well-developed characters was a pleasant surprise. The character arc of Mr. Kaplan at the end of season four was one of the best I’ve seen. The Blacklist premiered in 2013 and season five resumes in 2018. Its creator is Jon Bokenkamp. The show involves primarily two characters: Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington. Keen is a newly married FBI profiler. She comes face to face with Reddington, and throughout the show questions his motives and behaviors at every corner. It will be interesting to see how the second half of season five progresses since a major bomb was dropped on Keen.

The Killing

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This show was slow to start, and admit I had to give it another try. I’m glad I did because it is well worth the watching. Stay invested in it because I eventually didn’t want to turn it off, but had to because I needed sleep. The Killing ran from 2011 to 2014. It has four seasons. Its creator is Veena Sud. Its main characters, Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder, work as a team in a police investigation. As they uncover pieces to the story of what happened to Rosie Larsen, things get unhinged on personal and political levels. It is a great whodunnit and whydunnit show.

NYPD Blue

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This show had the ever revolving door of the main actor that would bring a sex appeal factor to the television screen. David Caruso left the set, never to glance back, and actors kept replacing the last. This never detracted from the show because the writing was superb, but I wish actresses were given more credence to their profession. I think of A.D.A Sylvia Costas and Detective Connie McDowell. NYPD Blue is about the professional lives of detectives in their precinct, and how it often bleeds into their private lives. It ran from 1993 to 2005. There were twelve seasons. Its creators are Steven Bochco and David Milch. It is led by Lt. Fancy and later Lt. Rodriquez. The mainstays throughout most of the seasons were Detective Sipowicz, Greg Medavoy, Bobby Simone, and Connie McDowell. NYPD Blue was a groundbreaking show for a reason.

Mindhunter

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This show surprisingly I had to give another try as well because my eyes weren’t cooperating at the first round. But the second time, I was all in and ready to go. Mindhunter has one season so far, and can’t wait for the next one in unknown. Its creator is Joe Penhall. It involves the formative years of FBI research into the mind of killers by the hands of two agents: Holden Ford and Bill Tench. Both actors are excellent in their roles, but Holt McCallany knocks the ball out of the park. They forgo the old method of looking at crimes and delve deeper into a criminal’s modus operandi. This show is based from actual research and events. I’m willing to watch anything psychologically and/or criminally related. It’s one of the few things that can keep me up at night when I’m bone tired. Enough said.

The Assets

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This mini-series was discovered as I was surfing Netflix. I’m not sure if it is still on there, but it’s worth the watch. It keeps you invested. The Assets is about the ultimate capture of a CIA mole by other CIA officers. This is a cat and mouse game between Aldrich Ames and Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille. This is based on actual events where Ames fed classified information to the Soviet Union. It aired in 2014.

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There you have it: the shows I’ve seen that stuck with me. I’ve purposely left out other notable shows for a time factor. On that note, let’s move to the ones I have yet to see.

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The ones I still need to watch!!!

Graceland

Graceland is a show about a rookie FBI agent trained by a FBI legend in a beachfront residence. Its creator is Jeff Eastin. It had three seasons.

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The Wire

The Wire is a show about the Baltimore inner-city drug scene from the view of the criminals and police department. Its creator is David Simon. It had five seasons.

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True Detective

True Detective is a show about police investigations. It follows different cases in each season. Its creator is Nic Pizzolatto. It has two seasons so far.

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Justified

Justified is a show about a U.S. Marshal going back to his poor, rural hometown in Kentucky. Its creator is Graham Yost. It had six seasons.

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Luther

Luther is a show about a genius detective who is dedicated, obsessed, and consumed by his work in the Serious Crime Unit. Its creator is Neil Cross. It has four seasons so far.

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Top of the Lake

Top of the Lake is a show about a detective attempting to solve crimes while keeping herself in check. It has a gap in between the seasons. Its creators are Jane Campion and Gerard Lee. It has two seasons so far.

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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is a show about forensic evidence team in Las Vegas. It had sixteen seasons. Its creator is Anthony E. Zuiker. (I haven’t watched enough episodes to say I truly know about it.)

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Southland

Southland is a show about the LAPD. It had five seasons. Its creator is Ann Biderman.

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The Americans

The Americans is a show about Soviet spies in America. It has five seasons so far. Its creator is Joseph Weisberg.

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There you have it: the shows where people wear badges and/or affiliated with crime in some way. I could say so much more about this topic, but given the lack of time, I won’t. On that note, happy television watching because there’s a lot out there.

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