Aug 20

Gavin & Stacey: Some crackin’ Welsh slang

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been watching a lot of random British shows during the pandemic, and one of my favorites has been Gavin & Stacey (a huge hit across the pond but as a dumb American, I’ve never heard of it). I like it because while it’s sweet and heartwarming, it also has a dark and biting humor, and some awesome Welsh slang.


Cracking seems to be UK slang in general for something good or excellent, and might also be used as an intensifier (“He’s got a cracking good voice”). From fan favorite Nessa to Stacey: “You’d be a fool to let that one go. He’s cracking. Even if he is a bit short.”


Something like cool or great in response to something else, tidy is something Nessa often says.


One of Stacey’s favorite words. She’s used lush to refer to her relationship with Gavin, Nessa’s hen night, and Mick’s lamb marinade. 


“Give us a cwtch,” Stacey tells Gavin. What the hell is this word with no vowels? Referring to a cuddle or hug, cwtch comes from the Welsh term meaning a resting place. Another meaning is a cubbyhole or hiding place.

fair play

Seems to be similar to fair enough.


I love it when Nessa says “Oh!” (seems to be similar to “Hey!” or “Oi!”). Only better is when she says it a zillion times in a row.

now in a minute

Described as an oxymoron, the phrase seems to mean “Soon but not right now.” The only American English phrase (which I’m only guessing is American English) I can think of that’s in the same category is “Yeah, no” and “No, yeah.” 

where to she now

An iconic scene from the show. Instead of saying, “Where is she now?” about Smithy’s girlfriend, Ness says, “Where to she now?” I’ve also heard this construction on another show, but for the life of me I can’t remember which.

what’s occurring

Depending on the tone, what’s occurring could mean a casual, “What’s happening?” or “How’s it going?” or, like in the clip, “What’s going on here?” It’s also a phrase I plan on using when I start hanging out with people again.

Aug 20

COVID-19 Diaries: The rest of my pandemic watchlist

So I’ve been watching a lot of British TV, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been watching other stuff. In the below list, I’ve left out a few shows that I had already been following or that are not as top of mind right now (The Magicians, The Crown, Killing Eve), not because I didn’t enjoy them immensely.

Locke & Key. This wasn’t the best show but it was well done and enjoyable. Based on a graphic novel, it’s about a family who’s moved in the weird family home of their dad who has passed away. They discover these, you guessed it, magical keys that lead them into strange worlds. A little bit of tension and darkness but not too much. It’s almost like it was made for older kids. 

Never Have I Ever. THIS WAS SO FUCKING GOOD. I had heard good things but was resistant for some reason. Then my friend Yiannis raved about it and I had to watch it. It was better than I even expected. Bitingly funny and heartwarming without being sentimental. From Mindy Kaling, it’s about an Indian American teenager, her friends and family, a hot crush, and dealing with the recent death of her dad. I laughed! I cried! I loved how the cast was so diverse.

Avenue 5. From the creators of VEEP (although not as funny), it’s about a pleasure cruise space ship that’s gone off course and is stranded in space for an ever-changing amount of time (weeks to years). It was a little too close for comfort in terms of the quarantine: being stuck inside for an inderminate amount of time. In one espide (SPOILER ALERT) some people start to think they’re not actually in space and that the outside is a simulation, and against their better judgement go into the airlock and promptly die:

Sound familiar?

It stars Hugh Laurie playing a Brit pretending to be an American and also has Rebecca Front as a literal Karen character. I had no idea she was British until I saw her on Love, Lies and Records.

The Witcher. This wasn’t that great. I had high hopes because it’s a fantasy with witches and magic and fantastical creatures. But I hated it at first. I had no idea what was going on. There seemed to be three different plotlines and I didn’t get the connection. It wasn’t until about the fourth episode that it became clearer. Also, it was confusing because the show is a combination of one-off adventures but also a larger plotline that, like I said, doesn’t become evident until a few episodes in.

Yes, I’m complaining about it, but I still watched the whole thing. It was brain candy and Henry Cavill looks awesome with his shirt off.

Outlander. Although partly British produced, I don’t really think of this as a British show. More of an international sensation and the main reason I subscribed to Starz. Netflix only has up to season three so when I saw that Starz had not just one but two seasons, I said sign me up.

It has not disappointed. Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan are so fucking good together (and an impossibly beautiful couple). At one point I thought, “I want Claire and Jamie to be my parents.” It’s a combination of comforting and stressful/upsetting. I like that they don’t whitewash things like slavery and the mistreatment of Native Americans (at least as far as I can tell).

Discovery of Witches. This show wants to be Outlander but lacks the chemistry between the two costars. The love scenes are stiff (not in a good way) and cringey. But again I watched the whole thing on Shudder (which is nicely offering a whole month free) because I had read all the books and enjoyed their so-bad-they’re-good-ness.

A kind of Twilight for adults, it’s about a woman, Diana Bishop, who was born into a family of witches but isn’t into being a witch until a mysterious book and a mysterious man (a doctor vampire who doesn’t twinkle) comes into her life. Although not fantastic, the show is well done and I like Teresa Palmer who plays Diana. She’s an Australian who does a decent American accent. Alex Kingston, on the other hand, who I normally love, does a super exaggerated one that’s pretty distracting. Anyway, if there’s a second season, I’ll still watch it.

Red Oaks. Set in 1980s New Jersey, this show has been on Amazon since 2015 but I’ve never heard of it. Emily and Chuck on Movie Crush talked about it as being comforting so I gave it a go. It’s delightful. I wouldn’t say I love it but it’s enjoyable. And I just learned the guy who plays David, Craig Roberts, is Welsh! I had no idea.

Derry Girls. SO FUCKING GOOD. Set in northern Ireland during the Troubles in the 1990s, it’s darkly hilarious. All the characters, especially Erin, Orla, and Claire, crack my shit up constantly. Another show for which I have to watch with subtitles. Hmm, I guess this technically counts as a British show, but it doesn’t have the same old-fashioned vibe. It’s much more hip.

GLOW. I’m late to the game on this one about professional women wrestlers set in the ‘80s. I wasn’t very interested until I went looking for half hour comedies. And I love Alison Brie. (I watched Horse Girl recently, and while I’m not sure I liked the movie, she was fantastic in it.) GLOW is even better than I expected, and I’m happy there are a few seasons of it.

Ghost Hunters. Dumb but comforting. This was a show I watched a lot after my divorce, and for some reason I found solace in it. It’s been off the air for a while but was recently brought back, with Grant Wilson only and minus Jason Hawes. I miss their dynamic as well as pairs, Steve and Tango and Amy and and Adam, but I’m enjoying the new team. I don’t think I realized that there’s something oddly soothing about ghost hunting in the dark. Maybe it’s all the whispering. Paranormal ASMR.

More shows to come I’m sure.

Aug 20

COVID-19 Diaries: Rewatches and British TV

In addition to educational art videos, I’ve been watching a lot of other stuff. Outside of movies and shows I had already been following, much of it is comfort fare — in other words, rewatches of old shows and random British TV.


Designing Women. This was funnier than I remember, especially Delta Burke as Suzanne and Jean Smart as Charlene. Of course there are a lot of problematic aspects (the word “bitch” and fat/slut shaming are thrown around quite a bit). Other surprising things: Julia (Dixie Carter) gets on her soapbox a lot more often than I remember and when Suzanne gets “fat” she’s only chubby. They make it seem like she’s obese. 

I stopped watching when Suzanne and Charlene left. I had also forgotten how utterly unlikeable Julia Duffy’s character is. At least Jan Hooks is funny.

A Different World. This holds up better than I expected. The first season is SO DIFFERENT from the rest, but still enjoyable. Also problematic aspects (fat shaming again, accepted sexual harassment from Ron, and Whitney’s racist attitude toward Kinu). But unlike Designing Women, I’ll most likely watch until the end.

British TV

For some reason I love British television shows. I think it all started with Doc Martin (which I watched after a heartbreaking breakup) and Midsomer Murders. During the shutdown, I was looking for the same kind of comfort.

Agatha Raisin. I ended up signing up for Acorn TV because Midsomer Murders left Netflix. (I had also canceled HBO because it was no longer compatible with my Apple TV.) Agatha Raisin was promoted like crazy so I gave it a go — and LOVED IT. Agatha is in her 40s and divorced. She’s left her high-power PR job to settle in a small town she vacationed in as a child and has fond memories of. So it’s like single independent woman with quirky townsfolk. Then someone gets murdered and she gets roped into solving the case. So good. I only wish there were more episodes.

Queens of Mystery. Needing more of a murder-mystery-with-women-investigators fix, I checked this out and was not disappointed. A young woman returns to her hometown to take a job as a detective sergeant. Her aunts are all mystery writers and always try to butt into solving the murders. Again, need more episodes of this.

Dead Still. This was terrific. Set in Victorian England, the show is about a photographer who takes pictures of dead people, which was a thing back then. The photographer is a loner with a troubled yet unclear past. Things change for him when his spunky, independent-minded niece joins him and he unwillingly takes on a new assistant. Macabre yet humorous.

Pitching In. This show wasn’t as good as the others, but I still enjoyed it. Set in a beachtown in Wales, it of course has a cast of quirky characters and the plotlines aren’t too stressful. I also found the seashore environment very relaxing. 

Love, Lies and Records. This, on the other hand, was pretty stressful. I mostly watched it because Ashley Jensen from Agatha Raisin is in it, and I kept watching because it’s very much like a soap opera. The scenarios are a bit ridiculous, but I wanted to keep watching. And it’s just one season so not much of a commitment.

Gavin & Stacey. This more-than-10-year-old show co-stars and was co-created by a pre-Late-Late-Show James Corden. It’s also really good. So funny and heartwarming. It also has Mathew Horne from Agatha Raisin as Gavin. Ruth Jones who plays Nessa cracks my shit up, and the slang and accents are so crazy, I have to watch with subtitles. I’ll be dedicating an entire post to the Welsh slang of Gavin & Stacey. So bummed I’m done watching it except for the 2019 Christmas special (which for some reason is on BritBox instead of Acorn).

Mount Pleasant. Kind of dumb but still entertaining. A light and funny soap opera type with a whopping seven seasons, five of which are on Acorn. I’m only on season one now. The agro husband from Love, Lies and Records is on it as a deadbeat husband, and Nico from Killing Eve is completely unrecognizable as flirty neighbor Jack.

Lark Rise to Candleford. I just started watching this BBC production (on Hulu rather than Acorn). It’s not my favorite show but it goes down easy. Set in 19th-century Oxfordshire, it’s about a young woman who takes a job at a post office and all the lives of the people in Lark Rise (more rural) and Candleford (more citified). It’s extremely wholesome and has a post-Ab-Fab Julia Sawalha (Saffy) and pre-Downton-Abbey Brendan Coyle (Mr. Bates).

Whoa, that’s a lot more than I realized. I’ll save the other shows for another post.

Sep 15

‘Kate & Allie’ go to Paris

Kate-and-AllieMy travel buddy Yiannis and I are both TV junkies so it was pretty much imperative that we had something to watch while we were in Paris. Because we were outside the U.S., we were limited in terms of what we could watch on the interwebs. Netflix (to my joy) was available although with different content.

For some reason I mentioned Double Trouble, that ‘80s show about teenage twins. It was absolutely awful (we watched one episode; it doesn’t hold up) but we sixth grade girls were obsessed with it. A few in my class even put on a “play” that was just an abbreviated version of the dance contest episode (you know the one, don’t pretend you don’t).

Anyway, I was describing it to Yiannis, who had somehow never watched it: “It was about twins named Kate and Allison…not to be confused with Kate & Allie,” which inspired Yiannis to look for it on YouTube and set us up for several nights of binge-watching.

I loved the show when I was younger, and maybe it, along with Madeleine L’Engle’s Vicky Austin series, made me want to go to college in New York. As for how it holds up, it’s way cheesier than I remember (and soooo ‘80s) although still enjoyable.

Something we kept noticing, aside from Kate’s insane outfits, were all the pre-famous famous guest stars. Here are five of the most memorable.

  1. Kelsey Grammer

The very first episode! Kelsey Grammer plays someone Kate goes on a date with, only to find that she’s not into him. Turns out he’s not into her either and prefers former Connecticut housewife Allie.

  1. Ben Stiller

In the one with the sit-in, Stiller plays a rebellious college student.

  1. Stephen Baldwin

The youngest Baldwin brother is a high school student in The Trouble with Jason, which introduces later soap star Ricky Paull Goldin as a guy who has a (rather stalkerish) crush on Emma only later — spoiler alert! — to date Jenny.

  1. Ricki Lake

Lake and her pal think they have a problem with Emma in Send Me No Flowers, but it’s actually a different Emma they have a problem with. I hate it when that happens.

  1. William H. Macy

What do you know, Kate has hurt her back and is in the hospital (really, the actress, Susan Saint James, was pregnant, which the show was trying to hide). Allie also checks in — in her case, to have a mole removed — gets doped up and runs away. Hilarity ensues! Trying to catch her are two orderlies, one of whom is a pre-Oscar nom William H. Macy.

And those are just the episodes I watched. Who knows how many more there are?

This concludes my 2015 series on Paris. Got time to kill? Read them all!

Jun 13

My inner monologue during the ‘Red Wedding’ of Game of Thrones

Spoilers follow. (Duh.)

Okay, something bad is supposed to happen in this episode. Someone or someones die. Which important character will it be? Those Green People? Osha maybe? That would be sad. I like her.

Everything okay so far. Is it Jon? Maybe he loses an eye from the eagle? No, he’s okay. Oh, and he’s running away. Hmm, nice.

Is that the caretaker guy from Harry Potter? I think it is. Wow, what a dick. Maybe Robb will kill him? No. So which girl will Robb’s uncle have to marry?

Oh, he hasn’t even met her yet. Well, luckily she’s pretty. God forbid she were ugly.

That sucks they’re not letting in the Hound and Arya. Oh good, Arya ran inside.

Hmm, Catelyn seems nervous they’re closing the doors. I wonder why. And the music is more somber. Hmm, is something happening? Why is she staring down at that guy’s arm? Wait, is that chainmail?

Oh no. Oh no! OH NO!!!

[Silence. Hands over mouth.]

Oh no, Arya don’t go in there. Why does this keep happening to her?

Okay, Robb is still alive. His wife and baby are dead but at least Robb is still alive, and Catelyn. Jesus, that’s that guy’s wife? Cold-hearted.

Oh no!!! Holy shit!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!



Dec 12

2012 in Retrospect: What I Watched

Another year, another 365 days of television. Let the idiot box recap begin!

Most Disappointing

Copper looked so promising. BBC America plus New York City in 1865 – how could it not be awesome? But it wasn’t. It wasn’t terrible but it was just blah. I felt nothing for most of the characters, and aside from a storyline involving a child prostitute, couldn’t get into any of the conflicts.

The If-I-Hear-That-Song-One-More-Time-I’m-Going-to-Break-the-TV Award

The show was Awake and the song was Bohemian Rhapsody, or rather one refrain of Bohemian Rhapsody sung over and over. WE GET IT. THAT’S THE TURNING POINT. OKAY. Thank goodness the show was canceled so I don’t have to hear it again.

Awake also gets the Most Unbelievable Mom of a Dead Teenaged Son Award. First of all, the actress Laura Allen, who is 38, looks about 33, and was way too smiley and chipper for someone whose son just died in a car accident.

Best Soap Opera

Let’s face it: Downton Abbey is basically a soap opera, albeit a classy one, with British accents. But that’s why people love it so. Plus the clothes! and Dame Maggie “What is a week-end?” Smith! and the British idioms! How can you go wrong?

Best Show That Only My College Roommate and I Watched

Unlike Downton Abbey, people didn’t seem to give a tweet about Call the Midwife. But I didn’t care. It was my private Sunday night, old-fashioned girly indulgence.

Set in 1950s East London, the show focuses on a group of young women trained as midwives. Every episode we meet different mothers-to-be and their ordeals. When I saw my college roommate, SB, in November, we discovered that we both loved the show. “I don’t know anyone who watches it!” she said. Call the Midwife would have totally been that show we watched religiously in college on her tiny portable TV.

Also, the Actress Best Suited to Play a Young Julia Child Award goes to Miranda Hart, who plays the delightful Chummy.

Best Show to Re-watch from the Beginning with Your Boyfriend Who Has Never Seen It Before

Unbelievably, MB had never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it had been a few years since I last saw the show, so we thought we’d watch it from the start. It was a lot fun to relive the show and to bite my tongue when MB would ask questions, as well as to see how bad the special effects and makeup were in the beginning (“He’s more like a were-monkey,” MB said of Oz).

To avoid Buffy withdrawal, we’ve started watching Angel. I couldn’t get into it when it was on the air, but now I’m really enjoying it.

Best Show to Watch Before Going to Bed

I realized this year, also unbelievably, that I had never seen an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. I’ve seen almost every episode of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, but not TOS. I’m not going to critique it here except to say it’s totally fun and hokey, especially the overly dramatic, drawn out reaction shots. First this guy reacts! then this guy! then this guy! then this guy! And the men wear so much eyeliner and eyeshadow, and the women’s wigs are hilariously ridiculous.

But the reason I like to watch it before bed is because it’s very soothing. I don’t know what it is. Maybe the calm, leisurely pace, or the way everyone talks.

Another Show I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Watched Until Now

Last year I became a fan of Torchwood, but had somehow never watched Doctor Who. I tried watching an episode when I was in high school, mostly because my good friend SG was so into it, but I didn’t see the appeal. Now I’m a total fan. What I like best is how excited the Doctor and his various companions get whenever they travel. I would totally be the Doctor’s companion.

Most Reliable

I’ve been a fan of Fringe from the beginning. The show has been consistently good the whole time, never tying itself into gordian X-Files knots. And while I’m sad that this is its last season, I’m glad it’s going out on a high note.

Best Closing Scene

SPOILER ALERT! If I had to pick one word to describe this latest season of Breaking Bad, it would be inevitable. Everything that happened was bound to sooner or later. But inevitable isn’t the same as predictable. We didn’t want that bad shit to happen, but it did and in unexpected ways.

Which brings us to the last scene of the mid-season finale: Hank on the toilet, looking for something to read, finding the Walt Whitman book and the inscription from Gale, and all the pieces coming together in his head. Tingles! Reminds of that scene in Godfather 2 when Michael realizes (ANOTHER SPOILER for the two of you who haven’t seen the film) that Fredo was the one betrayed him.

Breaking Bad had some great words too.

Best Comeback

MORE SPOILERS. The first season of The Walking Dead gave me nightmares (a good thing). The second season nearly bored me to walking death. I was wary about this season. Would they spend the whole time talking? What they be safe (read: boring)? They are fairly safe from the zombies, but not from those who aren’t supposed to be a danger: other people.

Plus, the Governor is one fucked up motherfucker, and I love Michonne.

Want more TV stuff? I wrote about the best in TV words too.

Sep 12

Anachronism Watch: ‘Copper’

When I watch TV, I like to keep my ears peeled for interesting words. What do I listen for? Idioms, lingo, slang, technical words and jargon. Hell on Wheels does an excellent job, as far as I can tell, of having accurate language for its time. For instance, last night Bohannon called Reverand Cole “mad as a hatter,” and I wondered if the term would have been used at that time. The answer is yes: the show takes place in 1865 and the term originated around 1829. (I had always assumed mad as a hatter came from Alice in Wonderland, which by the way came out the same year that Hell on Wheels takes place, but there’s not even a character called the Mad Hatter. He’s just the Hatter and it’s a “mad tea party.”)

Copper is another period drama I thought might be good source for period idiom and slang. But five episodes into the series, I haven’t heard anything interesting yet. True, I’ve been watching sort of lazily (ie, playing Words with Friends at the same time) so last night I watched and listened actively. Still nothing – except for two anachronisms.


Eva: “You’re looking steamy, Corky.”

“La Tempete,” September 16, 2012

I think this is what she says. I’ll have to watch it again. But if Eva did say steamy meaning “erotic,” she has apparently traveled back in time from 1952.


Corcoran: “My leg’s been bugging me.”

“La Tempete,” September 16, 2012

Another time travel moment! Bug as a verb meaning “to annoy, irritate” didn’t come about until about 1949.

Of course I’ve got nothing on Ben Schmidt, anachronism king, but I’ll keep watching Copper, and if I happen to notice words that are out of place, I’ll be posting them here.

Dec 11

2011 in Retrospect: TV I’ve Loved

It’s time again for my year-end retrospects! Last year I wrote about all the TV that I loved. This year I still love TV, even more so, if that’s possible.

There are the old standbys that I still enjoy, like Dexter (which isn’t as good as it used to be but I still like it), Breaking Bad, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and all the shows on my 2010 list. There are shows I used to like but can’t stomach anymore, like Sanctuary, which while incredibly silly was at least entertaining. Now it’s unwatchable. (Unless you’re Buffy, Community, or even Scrubs, please don’t attempt a singing episode.)

There are shows I want to like but am on the fence about. I was into Hell on Wheels at first, but now I find it boring, and I can’t decide if Allan Gregory is really funny or just cruel. And there are shows I had just about given up on but seem to be reviving, like The Simpsons and The Office, resuscitated by the king of smarm, James “Robert California” (best name ever) Spader.

Then there are the shows I just plain loved. Last year I limited myself to 10, but this year I’m listing them all. Enjoy!

Bob’s Burgers. Bob’s Burgers made an appearance in my mid-year update, and I can’t wait for it to come back, which it looks like won’t be till March. GAAAAH!!! Till then I guess I’ll have to made do with clips like this:

Game of Thrones. Another mid-year mention. Since the first season ended, I’ve read the first book of the series and am more than halfway through the second, A Clash of Kings. The show did a really good show translating the books to the small screen, and in some cases, filled in character development a bit more, especially with Daenerys. We’ll have to wait till April for the second season. Here’s the trailer to tease the shit out of us:

Winter is coming.

Parks and Recreation. Yet another mid-year mention. I first tried watching this show a couple of seasons ago, and I didn’t find it funny at all. Now I think it’s freakin’ hilarious. Ron Swanson cookies, anyone?

The Killing. Dreary and disturbing, the show follows a detective as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding a teenager’s death. People liken it to Twin Peaks, but it has none of Lynch’s surrealism and camp. Instead it’s gritty reality (or rather, damp and chilly, set in wintery Seattle) as people struggle to keep their lives together.

Being Human. Because it’s on SyFy, I thought Being Human would be dumb, but it’s not. Smart, funny, and sexy, it’s about three roommates – a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost – trying to have normal lives. I remember seeing an episode of the original British version a while back, and till the American version came on, for the life of me couldn’t remember what the show was, and actually thought I had dreamed the whole thing. Weird!

Misfits. Speaking of British shows, Misfits is an awesome one. Imagine Heroes but not sucky, and with sometimes hard to understand British slang and accents. And nudity.

Torchwood. Another British SF show! I watched one episode a few years ago and enjoyed it, but didn’t watch it again. This year we watched the whole series, and really liked it. What’s not to love about an immortal gay time traveler and Welsh accents?

New Girl. I didn’t want to like New Girl. Everyone kept talking about how overly cute Zooey Deschanel was, and I really hate the whole manic pixie dream girl thing. But the show is really funny. Sure Deschanel is super cute but she’s also hilarious. Her delivery, her timing, her expressions. The secondary characters are funny as well, especially Schmidt, king of the douchebags.

Boardwalk Empire. This is a show that pulls no punches. Set during Prohibition times in Atlantic City, it centers on bootlegging gangsters of every type. In every episode something important happens, and these last few of the season have been FUCKED UP (in a good way), reminding me, very bloodily, that Martin Scorcese is an executive producer. Plus it has Steve Buscemi, Michael Kenneth “Omar” Williams, and this guy, who plays a very weird and repressed character but whom I’m starting to think is hot.

The League. This show is fucked up in other ways. Let’s just say there’s a lot of talk about male genitalia and the ripping open of bodily orifices. And it’s a comedy!

American Horror Story. Fucked up yet again! What’s scarier than deformed baby zombies, dissonant scratchy intro music, and a guy in a rubber suit? Not much, let me tell ya.

Revenge. My friend YP turned me onto Revenge during my NYC visit in October. A young woman returns to the chi-chi Hamptons to enact revenge on all the people who had a hand in wrongly convicting her father of a crime he didn’t commit. Revenge is a quality version of one of those 10 PM soap operas from the ’80s. The only thing I hate is that it’s on at the same time as American Horror Story so I have to wait till it comes on Hulu to watch it (the FX shows, like AHS, seem to take much longer to come to Hulu).

Grimm. Grimm is one of my new favorite shows. Set in modern-day Portland, a police detective discovers that he’s a Grimm, someone who can see fairy tale-like creatures for what they are, even in human form. Traditionally, Grimms hunt down such creatures, but instead this detective enlists the help of creatures like Monroe, a Blutbad, the big bad wolf in human form, to solve mysteries. Grimm also has excellent word play. Blutbad is German for “blood bath.” A mellifer – with meli meaning “honey” in Greek – is a bee-like creature; the queen bee is Melissa, which means “sweet like honey.” Roddy Geiger is a talented violinist, and Geiger in German means, you guessed it, “fiddler, violinist.” The only downside, it’s up against Fringe. Nooooooo!

The Layover. A new show from Anthony Bourdain. Where No Reservations is like a travel essay, giving you the whole experience of traveling, The Layover is the quick and dirty – You have 24 hours in Miami, where do you eat? – as well as hilarious and hunger-inducing. A bowl of assam laksa, stat!

Homeland. MB mentioned this show several times, but I thought it sounded boring. Boy was I wrong. Claire Danes plays a brilliant CIA agent hiding a mental illness, and Damian Lewis (Life) is a returning American POW who may or may not be a terrorist. Throughout the series, you’re never really sure who the enemy is.

Special shout-outs. Because all of this TV isn’t enough, right?

Somehow I was slow on jumping on the bandwagon that is Mad Men. It doesn’t fall into my usual favorite categories. It’s not a sitcom, animated, science fiction, fantasy, or a crime drama. Then MB and I thought we’d try an episode, and we were hooked. For a while we were watching an episode or even two a night (even more when we were hanging out at my parents’ in September) but recently we fell out of the habit. For me, the show became, “Well-dressed people doing bad things.” Not that I’m a prude, but I like to have some contrast. Anyway, I still think it’s a good show and will probably start watching it again.

Finally, when I heard that Community might be canceled, I was really bummed out and pissed. Sure, let’s keep dumb ass shows like Whitney and I Hate My Teenage Daughter, but throw out one of the funniest shows out there. Not just funny, some of its episodes are plain brilliant (the Dungeons & Dragons one especially, and the recent Christmas Glee send-up). Turns out it might not be canceled. I really hope not.

In case you think I haven’t written about TV enough, check out my bi-weekly series for Wordnik, Word Soup, which brings you strange, obscure, unbelievable (and sometimes NSFW) words from talk shows, sitcoms, dramas, and just about anything else on TV.

Next up in my 2011 retrospect series, What I Read.

May 11

What I’ve Been Watching: TV

Since I last posted about my television shows I love, I’ve found several more.  Yay, TV!

River Monsters. I’m not sure when or how I started to watch this show.  It must have been a night when there was nothing on, and MB and I were just flipping through the channels.  We both love most animal shows, though I’m not usually a fan of the “hyper guy who communes with wild animals” variety because, well, the guy is all hyper and annoying.

But Jeremy Wade isn’t hyper.  He’s very calm – as a fisherman, he has to be – and knowledgeable.  A biologist, he’s an expert angler who actually speaks some of the languages of the places he visits.  Plus most of the river “monsters” are the craziest ass fish I’ve ever seen.  They seem to either have deadly teeth, deadly scales, deadly random body parts that stick up every which way, and sometimes are GINORMOUS.

Parks and Recreation. Last year, I tried watching a couple of episodes but couldn’t get into it.  It was okay, but I didn’t think it was that funny, and simply didn’t understand the appeal.

Then I saw the episode about Li’l Sebastian.  I saw the episode about Li’l Sebastian’s funeral.  I saw Ron Swanson sitting in the donut hole of a ridiculous round desk, slowly turning away from people talking to him.  I was hooked.

Raising Hope. This was another show I thought was dumb at first, despite that fact that it has Martha Plimptom, who I’ve loved since The Goonies, Garrett Dillahunt, who I also love despite the fact that he totally confused me by playing two different characters on Deadwood, Cloris Leachman (who doesn’t love Cloris Leachman?), and not to mention that adorable baby.

I think at first I watched it just because it was after Glee, but then I saw the promo for the germ episode, and found myself waiting in anticipation to watch it again and again.  Just the promo, you understand.  I don’t think I even saw the actual episode.

What I love about this show is that the actors totally own it.  Not just the Martha, Garrett, and Cloris, but the main guy (whatever his name is), the girl who used to be on The Riches, the brown-tooth girl, and the other weirdos from the supermarket.  And Martha Plimpton’s and Garrett Dillahunt’s characters have been together since they were teenagers and still love each other.  Aww!  I’m a sucker.

Bob’s Burgers. I literally cheer whenever there’s a new Bob’s Burgers on. From the same guy who does Archer, it is so frigging hilarious, I don’t even care what the plots are.  All I want to hear is what’s gonna come out of the kids’ mouths next.  And the mom too.  Just imagining her (or his) voice makes me giggle.

And the show’s kinda wholesome!  If saving your daughter’s birthday party with tranny hookers is wholesome that is.

Game of Thrones. Oh. My. God.  I had to check this out after seeing some of my Twitter buddies tweeting about it so enthusiastically.  It has more than delivered.  It’s like a very fucked up Camelot (or Merlin, or Legend of the Seeker, or Lord of the Rings, or what have you).  How fucked up?  Like heads being only almost beheaded (think blood spurting, lots of it), and incest sex.  Correction: twin incest sex.

And it’s really fucking cool too.  Strong female characters.  Subtle touches of magic.  Great acting.

And if I’m not mistaken, there seems to be a new Bob’s Burgers AND Game of Thrones this weekend.  Sounds like a perfect Memorial Day to me.

Mar 11

My Plaid-Infested Life

When MB was away, I started watching My So-Called Life on streaming TV.

When the show first aired, I had already graduated from college, but I ate up the teen drama like I was 15 again.  High school was still close enough to feel like it had just happened, and I had more in common with the moody, awkward Angela (besides a name) than I cared to admit.

At the time, I was working as an editorial assistant in children’s publishing.  There was another assistant exactly my age, and we’d dish on MSCL every week.  Oh my God, Jordan Catalano is so hot.  Oh my God, Ricky’s such a good dancer!  Oh my God, can you believe what Rayanne did? We were both devastated when the show went off the air after just one season.

After its cancellation, MTV would occasionally rerun the whole series, and I’d watch it whenever it was on.  But it’s been at least 10 years since I’ve last seen it, and I’ve been surprised at how much I both remembered and had forgotten, and what resonates with me now.

All that plaid. I seriously don’t remember everyone wearing so much damned plaid flannel. Of couse it makes sense. It was the mid ’90s and the height of the grunge era. I had at least two plaid flannel shirts myself.

Also, I can hardly believe high-waisted, tapered jeans were the norm, and what the heck was Rayanne wearing half the time? She was like a Raggedy Ann bag lady with cornrows.

Claire Danes was amazing. Of course she still might be amazing, but I haven’t seen anything she’s been in since Romeo + Juliet. In MSCL, she’s totally believable, almost to an annoying level, as the melancholy, self-conscious Angela Chase. She’s such a good cryer, I’m a weepy mess whenever she starts up.

Now it looks like she’s in a bunch of movies I’ve never heard of, including a made-for-TV movie and a TV series. Hmmm, and her leaving to pursue filmwork was supposedly what caused MSCL’s demise.

Jordan Catalano was super-tasty. But he was also kind of a jerk, at least at first.  I think I never realized what a jerk he was.  Still, I love hearing him say “Angela!”

Now I identify more with the parents. It’s rather depressing that I am now the age of Angela’s parents – but without kids – and identify more with the stuff they were going through. Distance in marriage, a possible affair, wrinkles, aging parents.

The eerie future. In one episode, Angela says how her parents’ generation all remember where they were when JFK was shot, and how her generation doesn’t have anything like that.  I couldn’t help but think that in just a few years 9/11 will happen, and then they – or we – will have something like that.

I’ve only watched as far as episode six out of 19. Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak them even now that MB is back. Or maybe I can get MB to watch with me, although he doesn’t do angsty teen dramas too well.