Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tim's TV Talk Drunkcast, Episode 1: Under the Drunkcast

This week I'm launching a spinoff of Tim's TV Talk Podcast entitled Tim's TV Talk Drunkcast. It's much like the original program, except with one added element that should be immediately obvious, but, in case it yet eludes you, is explained mere minutes into our inaugural episode, in which booze, podcasting and the mediocre CBS genre serial Under the Dome all combine to form a rambling, giggling, semi-coherent two-hour monstrosity.

In addition to Under the Dome, this drunkcast contains spoilers for the TV shows Hannibal, Friday Night Lights, The Walking Dead (through season 2), Lost, Sherlock, The White Queen, Spartacus and Game of Thrones (and its source novels A Song of Ice and Fire) and the movies World War Z, The Spectacular Now, Carrie, Spring Breakers, Pacific Rim, Skyfall, Star Trek Into Darkness, Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Lord of the Rings films and books.

So, in other words, things go a liiittle off topic. If you're just here for Dome talk, feel free to hop out around the one hour mark, but strap yourself in for the pop culture whirlwind in hour two if you yet dare. Intoxication isn't required for listening, but honestly couldn't hurt.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Tim's TV Talk Podcast, Episode 8: Korracast

Earth... Fire... Air... Water. Only the Avatar can master all four elements, and bring balance to the world. But in lieu of balance in the world, feel free to listen to this quick podcast on The Legend of Korra, which covers the entirety of Book One and the first two episodes of Book Two, "Rebel Spirit" and "The Southern Lights." Be warned, this podcast is a master spoilerbender, so if you haven't seen the show yet then by all means catch the hell up then listen.

Tim's TV Talk Podcast, Episode 8: Korracast

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Best TV Episodes, August 2013

10. Longmire, Season 2 Episode 13 – "Bad Medicine"

Good news, everyone! As the summer TV hiatus ends in but a few shorts weeks, August should officially be the last month of "every halfway decent show gets a chance to play on the Best TV Episodes lists" season. One of the final recipients of this season's generosity, following in the footsteps of Defiance and Teen Wolf, is A&E's Wyoming sheriff procedural Longmire (which, despite my protestations in my best of 2012 list, I actually did pick back up and continue with, and it might even be a little higher on my 2013 list). The show's second season finale wasn't mind-blowing or anything, but it had a couple nice twists and some beautiful scenery, which is pretty much all you can ask for from Longmire.

9. Gravity Falls, Season 1 Episode 20 – "Gideon Rises"

Unlike Longmire, Disney's Simpsons-meets-X-Files-for-kids cartoon Gravity Falls is probably going to be lower on my best of 2013 list than where it stood last year. Not that it's been unenjoyable – it's just that my four or five favorite episodes of last year are still my four or five favorite episodes of the series. It's been entertaining this year, but not blowing my hair back. Nevertheless, its first season finale – which parodied mechs and giant monsters in a way that frankly might have been more entertaining than the overrated Pacific Rim – brought the show's first act to a reasonably funny and epic conclusion.

8. Longmire, Season 2 Episode 11 – "Natural Order"

Another Longmire? What gives, Tim?! Well, I'll tell you what gives: Jim Beaver guest spot! That's automatic bonus points right there.

7. Switched at Birth, Season 2 Episode 21 – "Departure of Summer"

I wasn't always in love with this summer-set and summer-airing half-season of Switched at Birth. This show, like pretty much all teen dramas, is stronger with the natural structure of the school year keeping the narrative cohesive. But still, Switched's second season finale (and yes, this makes three season finales in four entries) did a respectable and somewhat moving job of clearing the deck for next year, having characters split apart, confess to wrongdoings and start making amends.

6. The Newsroom, Season 2 Episode 7 – "Red Team III"

One of the more bizarre and pleasant surprises this month was seeing Aaron Sorkin's often preachy and formerly bordering on unwatchable behind-the-scenes-of-TV drama The Newsroom rise to the level of being, well, pretty watchable. A lot of that has to do with Sorkin finally letting his often unpleasantly perfect characters make more mistakes, and as the show's second season nears its end they made a truly massive one, doing a live special news bulletin on a war crime it turned out never occurred. The fallout has made for, if not quite The West Wing or Sports Night or The Social Network, pretty decent television.

5. The Fosters, Season 1 Episode 10 – "I Do"

In what is surely one of TV's better lesbian wedding episodes, the midseason finale of ABC Family's surprisingly moving new drama brought some of the titular Foster family closer than ever while other things fell apart. The show isn't quite Parenthood as far as family dramas go, but I've actually been pretty impressed at how deft it's been in its storytelling, character development and emotions. I can't quite forgive ABC Family for canceling Bunheads, but The Fosters is at least a band-aid on the wound.

4. The Newsroom, Season 2 Episode 5 – "News Night with Will McAvoy"

"News Night with Will McAvoy" is to The Newsroom as the pilot of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is to that show: Almost certainly the best hour it will ever put out, fleeting proof that buried somewhere inside is still the Sorkin who gave us Sports Night and The West Wing. In fact, this episode, which depicts one fast-paced, hectic, sometimes funny but ultimately tragic hour in Will McAvoy and MacKenzie McHale's newsroom, even calls to mind some similarly real-time episodes of those two classic shows, such as the "Draft Day" two-parter from the former and "17 People" from the latter. It's the one time I've finished a Newsroom episode and felt that it actually matched Sorkin's ambitions.

3. Breaking Bad, Season 5 Episode 10 – "Buried"

And now we reach the 500-pound blue meth elephant in the room. I'm not bothering with weekly Breaking Bad reviews on this blog, because quite frankly the entire rest of the internet will already have discussed, debated, broken down, analyzed, gif-ized, and then looped back around for reanalysis for every single episode before I could possibly get around to even typing my first sentence on the matter. There'd be no point; I'd be spitting into a tsunami. But still, one of TV's towering achievements will certainly have its day in the sun on these lists, as it should. The chaotic aftermath of Walt and Hank's confrontation and Jesse's slip into full-on depressive psychosis were both gripping as hell. Bloody meth empire coups are just the crimson icing on the crystal blue cake.

2. Breaking Bad, Season 5 Episode 11 – "Confessions"

Refusing authentic New Mexican tableside guacamole?! Walt's humanity is truly lost.

1. Breaking Bad, Season 5 Episode 9 – "Blood Money"

Confession: About two-thirds of the way through Breaking Bad's fifth-and-a-half-season premiere, I was thinking, "Well, this is good – Breaking Bad is always good – but it's not really blowing my mind like I'd hoped. They must be setting up the good stuff for next week." And then, blamo, like clear, climactic, revelatory thunder, the final garage scene between Hank and Walt. One of the most intense, gripping, powerful, brilliantly written and amazingly acted scenes I've seen on television all year long, and one of the best scenes of this entire stellar series.

Not gonna lie, I rewatched the scene on YouTube, like, ten to fifteen times the same night "Blood Money" aired, then probably another ten times over the course of the week. How brilliant it is to see five-plus years of television culminate in a moment like that. How rare. How awesome. I will not tread lightly when it comes to ranking this the best TV episode of August 2013.