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BEST TV OF 2014 RECAP!

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There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
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In recounting the Best TV of 2014, we…

counted down the top ten best TV shows. This year will be remembered as a year of comedy!

provided alternatives for those who are so sick of hearing the rest of us gush about our No. 1 pic.

…noted that Comedy Central has really been living up to its name lately.

lamented that no one else was watching Peaky Blinders (well, at least one of us complained about that).

did a podcast about The Newsroom. How that show smarmed its way into a best-TV round-up is anyone’s guess.

BEST TV OF 2014: Comedy Central is Living Up to Its Name

SportsAlcohol.com cofounder Nathaniel moved to Brooklyn, as you do. His hobbies include cutting up rhubarb and laying down. His favorite things are the band Moon Hooch and custard from Shake Shack. Old ladies love his hair.
Nathaniel

An observation about the SportsAlcohol.com Top Television of 2014 list: only one network comedy made the list. We’re a pretty comedy loving bunch, but I’ll admit to being a little surprised, not because there’s only one network show on our list, but that there are any at all. I like the show on our list a lot, and I can think of other worthy contenders (my darling, my Bob’s Burgers), but network comedy is in fairly dire straits at the moment. NBC’s once hallowed (and then hallowed by comedy nerds, if not general audiences) Thursday night comedy block is no more, and the other broadcast networks seem to have similar trouble developing and keeping interesting comedies. And while the age of the incredible cable drama has provided more quality hour-long television than anybody can reasonably keep up with, the comedy offerings on cable haven’t entirely kept pace (not that you’d know it from the great comedies that made our list). But allow me, for a moment, to join in the growing chorus of people trying to draw your comedy-seeking attention back to Comedy Central. Perhaps you think (like I did!) that Comedy Central had given over to a schedule made up entirely of stand-up specials, MadTV reruns, the occasional new episode of South Park, and waves of Tosh-esque smirky misanthropy. But it turns out that in 2014 the network had maybe its strongest collection of original programming ever. In addition to the vital-as-ever Daily Show and Colbert Report, over the last two or three years Comedy Central has amassed a handful of shows with distinctive, well developed comic personality. Sara makes a great case for Broad City (I haven’t seen it! I’m hoping the first season goes back up on Hulu in advance of the second season’s January 14th premiere). But here’s a quick look at five other terrific shows: Continue reading BEST TV OF 2014: Comedy Central is Living Up to Its Name

Best TV of 2014: Alternatives to True Detective

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.
Sara

Let me begin by saying that I didn’t start out disliking True Detective. For the first couple episodes I found it mysterious and compelling, and obviously I was curious enough about the outcome to finish the whole series. But the longer it sat in my memory, the lower it sank, until the least mention of it in conversation would set me off on a rant about its inescapable overratedness.
Continue reading Best TV of 2014: Alternatives to True Detective

BEST TV OF 2014: OUR TOP TEN

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

There is a lot of stuff on TV; as diverse as our music and movie and book tastes might be here at SportsAlcohol.com, probably no end-of-year voting offered as many different hours as our collective list of the best TV of 2014. Nearly fifty different shows were mentioned across our ballots, which is something like 500 hours of television, give or take. Yet a clear consensus did emerge, and that was that we pretty much all watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine but don’t quite love it the best. Here, below, is what we do love the best (maybe next year, Samberg).

Continue reading BEST TV OF 2014: OUR TOP TEN

Counterpoint: Why ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ Is More Than a Business Case

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There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

When Halt and Catch Fire debuted, I watched the premiere three times in two days. (I also gave it a good review in PopMatters.)  When I think about why I was so immediately drawn to it, I think of this pillow, which I helpfully circled in red in the below screengrab.

Screengrab of 'Halt and Catch Fire'. Mind the pillow in the corner.
Screengrab of ‘Halt and Catch Fire’. Mind the pillow in the corner.

It’s a dark object in a dark image, to be sure. But, even though it was hard to see, I recognized it. My family had the same thing, in blanket form.

My sister holding me as a baby. I made that same face in every photo for at least the next four years.
My sister holding me as a baby. I made that same face in every photo for at least the next four years.

As should be obvious from the baby photo above, I am a child of the ’80s. But, when you ask me what I remember about the ’80s, I’ll tell you about Cabbage Patch Kids and Alf, but I would never say weird, brown-and-white crocheted blankets and pillows.

Continue reading Counterpoint: Why ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ Is More Than a Business Case

What about Veronica Mars, though?!

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

It happened: the Veronica Mars movie came out. A large percentage of SportsAlcohol.com staff and contributors saw it together in Manhattan on Friday night. We were not able to record and transcribe the many conversations that followed. But we thought it might be nice to open a discussion thread on here for virtual reactions, however belated. I’ll kick in a few of my major comments below, and I hope others will respond and/or throw in their own.

Obviously, this thread will have spoilers.

#TEAMVERONICA

SportsAlcohol.com cofounder Nathaniel moved to Brooklyn, as you do. His hobbies include cutting up rhubarb and laying down. His favorite things are the band Moon Hooch and custard from Shake Shack. Old ladies love his hair.
Nathaniel

We’ve had fun this week discussing Veronica Mars through the prism of her potential suitors.  We’ve heard from Team Duncan, Team Piz, Team Weevil, and Team Everyone Else (in the parlance of our times).  For Team Logan, I’ll direct you here.   But, with all due respect to Team members everywhere, the obvious correct choice is TEAM VERONICA.

Continue reading #TEAMVERONICA

Briefly: #TeamParker

Timothy DeLizza lives in Baltimore, MD. During daytime hours, he's an energy attorney for the government. His novella 'Jerry (from Accounting)' was published by Amazon's Day One imprint. His work can be found at timothy-delizza.com.
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When faced with the bad boy versus stable-but-kinda-boring boy trope, often overlooked is the interests of the boys themselves. In lesser series with this trope, and lesser-than-everything Twilight, very little work is put in to explaining why anyone would want to date anyone else, especially if “anyone else” is the main character of the show. The most egregious example perhaps being Sookie Stackhouse of the True Blood series who — despite displaying very little in the way of basic survival instincts, loyalty, or even intelligence — prompts each man she comes in contact with (good or evil) to want to have an exclusive committed long term relationship with her.

Now, Veronica Mars is a much more appealing person than Sookie — she’s intelligent, funny and generally loyal to her friends. I’d totally want to be friends with her. I also understand why Logan specifically would love her. I was both caught off guard by their first kiss and felt genuinely moved by it, then moments later felt foolish by not seeing it coming earlier. They undeniably have chemistry that was earned, and she has made him a better person (on the balance) by serving as a (comparatively) solid moral compass and got him down from 100% brooding and/or cynicism to about only 40% brooding and/or cynicism. She found him at a fairly low moment and took a chance.

On the other hand, it’s not clear to me that she would be good for Logan long term. Her flaws and his flaws trigger each other such that it seems like he is always going to end up hurt (and brooding). Her primary flaw is almost a necessary trait for any TV detective/officer/slayer, which is that her identity is so wrapped up in being a detective that it leaves little room for anything else. This is difficult for her relationships in a number of ways. The first is that she applies the “trust but verify” ethos that make her an excellent detective to her relationships with disastrous results. This manifests itself most directly when she plants a GPS on Logan (and nearly plants a second one in his car). It doesn’t help her trust issues that Logan is an individual prone in good times to misdemeanors and gambling, and in bad times to bum-fighting and leaving others behind in burning buildings, which means that when she looks in on him she often will find highly significant unpleasant things and she is likely to keep looking.

The second aspect of being a good detective is that Veronica is a workaholic who is constantly working in dangerous circumstances (the danger may abate when, between series and movie, she goes to law school, but she’ll almost certainly retain her work ethic).  When Logan is around this he freaks out by being overprotective and prone to throwing punches prematurely.  He seems like he would make a lousy detective, which makes him a less than valuable sidekick.  Yet when she goes off without him, he freaks out because he can’t protect her — even going so far as to hire a bodyguard to look after her.

Dating Parker, by comparison, seemed to make him (briefly) happy without the up and down drama.  She makes (or has someone else make) cutesy cakes with their faces on it. Not dangerous at all!

As to who Veronica should date: I don’t think she needs a boyfriend at all.  She could look to the example of Raylan Givens of Justified, who when given a choice between a bad girl and good girl in season 1 slowly loses both to his workaholism.  Whereas in that show the loss of each woman feels tragic as Raylan is aging and he does seem genuinely hurt when his position gets in the way of love, even a decade after the end of her show, Veronica is young and has time to take romance less seriously.  She should just enjoy herself.

[Ed. Note: This will be explored further in a #TeamVeronica post very shortly.]

True Detectives: Companion Pieces for Veronica Mars

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Much of this week’s Veronica Mars discussion has revolved around proposing various love interests for Veronica, both because the show has a rich cast of characters that are fun to defend, make fun of, or outright disparage; and as a countermeasure to the myopia of seeing Veronica Mars as a show about a girl and her on-again/off-again boyfriend who started a bum-fighting ring one time (THAT WE KNOW ABOUT).

What Veronica/Logan stuff obscures, for me, is the strength of Veronica Mars as an amateur-detective show, and now, yes yes yes, an amateur-detective movie. Admittedly, this comes from a bias as strong as any shipper: I love movies and TV shows about amateur or semi-amateur or non-traditional detectives. Maybe books, too, but I don’t have a lot of experience with reading detective fiction, unless Encyclopedia Brown counts. I never got into the Hardy Boys and I only read part of one Easy Rawlins novel, although it was pretty good; I just put it down and forgot about it and wound up moving on something else. Our book expert Cristin will favor us with more in-depth book companions to Veronica; here now is a brief recent history of a genre I didn’t know was my favorite genre until Veronica Mars was about halfway through its run.

Continue reading True Detectives: Companion Pieces for Veronica Mars

I Was #TeamPiz Before There Were Hashtags*

Gripes
There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

There is no choice. There is only Piz.

Proof, using many examples from things that aren’t Veronica Mars:

Piz Is a Nice Guy

I have to admit there is some personal bias at work here. I never really had a bad-boy phase. (I invite all the girls I know to do the same. It’s great! You get to stay on good terms with all your exes.) This often rears its head in pop-culture conversations, like the time my friend from high school said I was “obviously a Jack girl” even though we hadn’t talked since Lost premiered, or the repeated conversations about Reality Bites that have ended with “screw it, let’s agree to be #TeamVicki.” (Really, though, there’s nothing appealing about Ethan Hawke.)

Sure, Piz is a little square. Sure, it’s lame that he wanted to go work for Pitchfork. But he’s a nice guy. He’s never murdered anyone. He’s never slipped a mickey in anyone’s drink. He never provoked a fistfight. He’s never even coerced bums into fistfighting each other. If that’s square, then maybe square is good for Veronica.

Continue reading I Was #TeamPiz Before There Were Hashtags*