Friday, June 8, 2012

TV Sidetrack Part Two: Summer Viewing List

In just about every way, summer runs laps around the other seasons. Summer means no school, vacations, better weather (at least for a hot weather guy like myself), blockbusters, and improved dispositions for the average person. The only area in which summer lags behind is, of course, the weekly TV schedule. As we saw last week, I watch a lot of television and getting through the warmer months can be quite a challenge. With extended cable packages, there are now a few more choices than there used to be. I’ll happily invest in Burn Notice, The Newsroom, and Falling Skies but that’s about all I’ll be partaking in this year (though the pilot for Longmire wasn’t bad). To help get me through, every summer I pick out a few shows I’ve missed out or fallen behind on and use the TV downtime to play catch up. In years past, I’ve devoured every episode from shows like Mad Men and The Big Bang Theory and slogged through the last three seasons of Scrubs and this rapid-fire brand of viewing has become something I really look forward to each year. This time around, I have grand plans to work my way through a number of series’, some of which are shows I’ve watched in the past but missed this year and some of which have been on my to-watch list for years. Have a look at my list and let me know if there’s something I’m missing out on!

Friday Night Lights (Seasons 4 and 5)
I picked up bits and pieces of FNL last year and then started watching it from the beginning late last year. It was incredible but I couldn’t finish it all before the fall shows got started. I picked up my viewing this week and continue to be blown away by the overall quality of the show and the ridiculously engaging characters. Not going to lie, I’ve already shed many tears over this one and I’m planning a full recap when I finish this sucker off.

Burn Notice (Season 5)
Burn Notice was on my summer viewing list two years ago and I liked it so much that I dove right into the new episodes when it began its fourth season. This is a show that has an uncanny ability to combine smart plot points with absurd, sly action which makes it one of the more fun shows on television. I lost the second half of the season to a DVR screw-up so, with season six on the horizon, I’m in quick catch-up mode this summer.

Sons of Anarchy (Season 4)
Just like Burn Notice, SOA occupied this list two years ago and quickly became my go-to pick for Best Show on TV. FX knows how to create fantastic dramatic television and while Justified is perhaps more enjoyable and The Shield was a total game changer, I think SOA is their crowning achievement. Unfortunately my DVR betrayed me during season four and I finally got so far behind that I had to cut bait and wait for the summer.

Chuck (Seasons 4 and 5)
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Chuck is the PERFECT summer show. It is light and breezy and you can roll through numerous episodes while doing other things around the house and it’s easily digested; you don’t have to think about Chuck and I mean that in the best way possible. I think it would have been better served all along if it would have been cut to 13 episodes per season and used exclusively as a mid-season replacement.

Sherlock (Seasons 1 and 2)
This seems to be the series that everyone and their mother is talking about. All of my friends and colleagues who have partaken in the Sherlock fever speak of it with the same reverential, “you must watch this now” fervor that I once spoke with concerning Parks and Recreation when no one was watching. I will admit I was skeptical as I’ve had a hard time getting into other British shows with cult followings (see: Doctor Who) but Benedict Cumberbatch is such a boss that I believe I have no choice to buy in.

The following programs are on the docket but will depend on how quickly I get through the previous entries and whether or not they catch my interest early on.

Castle (Season 1)
At first I resisted Castle because I didn’t think there was any way it would last for an entire season. Nathan Fillion seems to be cursed in that way. After that I didn’t watch Castle because ABC has been disappointing me across the board over the last few years and I don’t trust them. But now I have enough friends who swear by this show (plus the obligatory love for Fillion) that I feel like I have to make a go of it.

The Killing (Season 1)
I intended to make The Killing part of my Summer Viewing List last year. The buzz was great, the concept was hot, and several critics that I trust were fully on board…and then all anyone talked about for literally weeks was how terrible the season finale was. So I nixed it. But now it seems to have gotten on track again and since it’s easily accessible thanks to the magic of Netflix, I may give it a go.

The West Wing (Seasons 1-7)
I know for a fact that I will thoroughly enjoy The West Wing. The cast is too strong and Sorkin is too ridiculously good at what he does for me to not enjoy it. I have continually put it off, however, because of the sheer number of episodes. Most of the shows that land on my Summer Viewing List have shorter seasons (extended cable) or I’m only a season behind. Plowing through 154 episodes is a daunting task. Nevertheless, I think the wife and I are going to delve into it this time around.

Well, that’s my plan. Looks like Breaking Bad, The Wire, and a handful of other TV shows that I’ve continually put off will have to wait for another summer when there’s not so much competition. If you’re playing TV catch-up this summer, what are some shows you’re planning on watching and what egregious error did I make on my list?


  1. Suggest trying to do all you can to squeeze The Wire in! Short seasons, 10 episodes but deserves full attention.

    I have a backlog of the first seasons of Touch and FNL and I would really like to use some of the down time to begin watching Dexter or SOA.

  2. The Wire has been on my list for years and I've tried to jump into it a couple of times. The problem for me is that it requires full attention and I have a hard time committing to that for 60 hours. Lame excuse but I guess I don't want to watch it if I'm not going to really dig in.

    I highly recommend FNL and SOA. I think SOA has been the best show on TV at times during its run and I'm not sure I've ever been more invested in characters than I am in those of FNL.

    Thanks for the comment!


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