Categotry Archives: TV Shows


Fall 2014 TV roundup


We’re old enough to be vaguely nostalgic for the old network fall preview shows, when B-list celebs would tout whatever was coming up in September and October. These days, the cable bigs just drop shows whenever they feel like it, but there’s still a decent crop of new shows that just started or are dropping soon. Here’s what we’ll be watching this time around:

Already running

  • Doctor Who: Mary: “I’m not overly stoked (I lost almost all interest with the arrival of manic-pixie Clara in the post-Ponds era), but people have told me the new season is solid. And I hear there’s dinosaurs, sooo.” Rob: “I’m late to the party and still catching up with this one, so I won’t get to see Peter Capaldi work it as the new Doctor for a while yet. I am super-excited to see him take on the role, as I really enjoyed him in The Thick of It and In the Loop.”
  • Gotham: Rob: “I’m encouraged by the little I’ve read about this Batman prequel series, and I love the hell out of Donal Logue, but I’m still a wee bit skeptical. I’m hoping to get to it shortly.”
  • Sleepy Hollow: Rob: “I had somewhat mixed feelings about the first season of this apocalyptic fish-out-of-water thriller, but the premiere killed it, especially when naked Ben Franklin (Timothy Busfield!) exhorted Ichabod Crane to open his mind, maaaan. And where would genre TV be without John Noble?” Mary: “I love this legend in all its iterations (I have a soft spot for New England horror stories) and that certainly helped get me on board. But I wouldn’t have stayed if it weren’t any fun to watch, and its winking humor is never exhausting.”
  • Haven: Mary: “Speaking of New England horror, this SyFy show based on a Stephen King story has spun in to five seasons of mystery. A small town is haunted by centuries-old ‘troubles,’ supernatural afflictions that often reflect some personality trait or trauma of those who suffer them. I’m not even sure I recommend it, but if you like King or dark New England eccentricity or just need something running in the background while you clean house you could do worse.”
  • Agents of SHIELD: Rob: “Yup, it’s better than it was at first. Yup, it’s still not what I would call a strong show. But the little bits keep getting better, notably in the scripting, and most of the over- and under-acting has regressed to the mean. I’m in.” Mary: “At first I felt about SHIELD the way I felt about Caprica: I love the universe in general so I’ll watch to keep the buzz going. But SHIELD is getting its legs under it better than Caprica ever did, and I like much of what it’s added to the current Marvel film canon. I’m still not buying the Skye/Coulson relationship, but at least Skye has gotten tolerable. Plus: Patton Oswalt.”


  • The Flash: Rob: “We’re suckers for Arrow (see below), and this expansion of that dark corner of the DC Universe looks promising. I liked Grant Gustin enough to keep watching Glee past its expiration date, and he captures a smart, optimistic vibe that could be a great counterbalance to the brooding sadfest we see every week on Arrow. We’ll see.” Mary: “What Rob said.”
  • Supernatural: Mary: “Entering its 10th season, and I’m watching the FUCK out of it because [spoiler] you guys Dean totally became a DEMON at the end of last season! Also: Mark Sheppard, the king of genre television.”


  • American Horror Story: Rob: “Each new season seems to get more and more comfortable with its bigger-than-too-big aesthetic, and I’m looking forward to Jessica Lange trying on a German accent. Here’s hoping it’s as thick and nourishing as her glorious New England accent from a few seasons ago! Oh and plus there are ‘freaks,’ so it’ll be fun to watch the PR shenanigans as people inevitably (and legitimately) protest.” Mary: “Outside of Orphan Black (which destroys any competition in this department), I maintain that AHS is one of the most feminist genre shows on right now. Why? This piece sums it up better than I can in a line, but essentially the women are strong (not ‘strong’). Plus: spooky circus!”
  • Arrow: Rob: “I can’t feel guilty about this pleasure anymore. Green Arrow was never this sad and haunted in the comics (expect maybe when Speedy was shooting up), but it’s still a good time for all. The fight choreography is as good as we see in most big-budget films, the fan service is surprisingly subtle at times, and the drama is cheesy enough to go perfectly with all the wine I drink while watching.” Mary: “It may be the handsome man workout hour (ladies…) but it’s also solid superhero fun. There’s danger! Romance! Evil! Justice! John Barrowman! Just watch it.”


  • The Walking Dead: Mary: “I’m like a season and a half behind, but I still toy with picking it back up. I dunno, I love to hate it. And it’s still the best SFX on tv. Plus: Darryl.” Rob: “I’m all caught up and looking forward to seeing where they go after the dark turn that ended the last season. I never read the comics, but that sounds as if it may be a plus for viewers. There may be a time when I stop caring, but it hasn’t happened yet.”

Revisiting the X-Files with Kumail Nanjiani


Kumail Nanjiani's The X-Files FilesAs you wait for all your genre shows to return from break in this late-summer lull, why not stop searching Tumblr for #cosima and #superwholock and watch The X-Files, which is streaming for free on Netflix and Amazon Prime? And if nostalgia isn’t a good enough reason, you have an ambassador to guide you through the very best and most important episodes: Kumail Nanjiani.

You may know him from Portlandia; or Silicon Valley; or his video game podcast, The Indoor Kids, which he co-hosts with his wife Emily V. Gordon; or his hilarious, nerd-tinged stand-up (which you should REALLY check out if you haven’t yet). Now he’s hosting a new podcast called The X-Files Files where he and a guest discuss select episodes of The X-Files.

Nanjiani, an enthusiastic fan of the show, has curated a list of must-see episodes and he explains why on the second installment of the podcast: “This show is for two kinds of people: one, people who have never watched The X-Files and for them I’m guiding them through the good episodes of The X-Files… for them I’m helping them skip the ones that aren’t that well done.” He goes on, “The second group is people who have already watched The X-Files and are re-discovering it, well then you don’t need me to talk about the episodes I don’t like because you’ve already watched them and you have your own opinion of them anyway.” He’s gotten some grief from his growing fanbase about this decision, but I think his reasoning is solid.

One of the most interesting parts of the podcast is that he delves into ancient X-Files message boards, revealing the beginning of the internet as we know it today: a place where some people obsess and argue and speculate about their favorite shows and other people troll them. Also fascinating is that The X-Files was one of the first shows to have the kind of direct contact with fans that we take for granted today. On one episode of the podcast, guest Dean Haglund (aka Lone Gunman Richard Langly) revealed that the show’s creators visited these boards often, interacting with the fans and taking note of the discussions.

I’m a huge Kumail Najiani fan (and I love The X-Files) so I was already on the hook before I even heard one episode. But whether you’re a long-time fan of The X-Files, or watching for the first time (or not watching it at all), the podcast is delightful. The commentary from Nanjiani and his guest, the behind-the-scenes trivia, and the archeology of the early internet all make for a rich experience. I give it 5 out of 5 Erlenmeyer flasks.

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