Tag Archives: Catastrophe

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2015 Edition: 26-23

16 May

Yet another foursome that I changed the order of several times before actually deciding. Here they are.

Intro here and 58-55 here and 54-51 here and 50-47 here and 46-43 here and 42-39 here and 38-35 here and 34-31 here and 30-27 here.

30. Catastrophe – 2014: Not Eligible


Rom coms on TV are in again, and no one is doing it better than this British-American combo piece starring Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney. The premise may be trite; it’s essentially the same as Knocked Up, as an American businessman gets a British woman pregnant during a business trip. But it’s so much better than that. With clever dialogue and two appealing leads with real chemistry, Catastrophe is occasionally laugh out loud funny but still very much enjoyable when it’s not. And in six hyper-quick episodes, which make it faster than watching some movies, there’s no reason not to watch.

29. w/Bob and David – 2014: Not Eligible

w/ Bob and David

As a super duper short four episode sketch show, w/ Bob and David doesn’t have the impact of the four-season long possibly-best-sketch-show-of-all-time Mr. Show, and because sketch shows all, even the best, have a healthy share of misses, there aren’t the number of all time hits you’d like from the rare Bob Odenkirk-David Cross collaboration. But these two are simply pros at making sketch comedy and there’s more than enough in this short run for fans of the two and of the genre to love and hope for more.

28. Jane the Virgin – 2014: 31

Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin does something that’s surprisingly difficult and rare in the world of television. It’s a show about family, tight close-knit family, and has built several extremely well-developed characters that are generally good people, who more often than not like each other. These characters manage to fight and get into realistic arguments, arguments where there isn’t always necessarily an obviously right or wrong side, but arguments where you never doubt that they’ll come back together and get along again. That’s not easy. The show stumbled a bit figuring out how to handle a second season after the baby was born, taking time to find its footing after the first season’s arc largely wrapped up. The show still doesn’t always know what tone it’s going for, sometimes silly, sometimes serious, and it struggles with smaller characters. But when it focuses on the family and the interaction between major characters, it’s on solid ground and worth watching for that alone.

27. iZombie – 2014: Not Eligible

I’m a sucker for Rob Thomas, it is well known, as Party Down and Veronica Mars are two of my favorite shows of all time While this one isn’t quite up to their level, it’s compulsively watchable and a lot better than any show with its description should be. iZombie is, breathe in, a police procedural with slowly building serial arcs about a protagonist who becomes a zombie and works as a medical examiner, and when eating brains of recent murder victims, absorbs bits of their personality and sees visions from their lives that help her, working with her cop partner, solve the crimes. The show can absolutely be gimmicky, and that and its overly predictable procedural nature are its biggest faults. Fortunately it brings great Rob Thomas senses of character and writing along with a mostly pretty good, if not always consistent tonally long-term arc. There are some real issues with this show, but it’s definitely up there on the list of shows people aren’t buzzing about that they should be talking about more.

Summer 2015 Review: Catastrophe

29 Jun


Catastrophe is that frequent film, but rare TV beast, the romantic comedy. It’s common on film but rare on TV, because by the nature of their respective lengths, film and tv rom coms are very different creatures. Film rom coms have an obvious arc, and a sense of finality. The couple generally has an unlikely meet cute, goes through a couple of trials, including a big one towards the end, and then gets together to finish the movie after some grand gesture, or occasionally in artier rom coms falls apart. TV rom coms more usually consist of unlikely couples getting together, and largely staying together, with plenty of trials and tribulations along the way but without the big dramatic sweeps of a movie.

Catastrophe is also a British series. Surprisingly, for a series and a theme that is replete with people embarrassing themselves constantly, it’s not that awkward to watch, relatively  (a British show featuring a Brit dating American Andy Samberg a couple of years ago called Cuckoo was awkward to the extreme). What really makes Catastrophe work, more than the jokes or the laughs or the story, is the tone. Catastrophe finds the perfect spot between earnest and cynical, awkward and mawkish, sentimental and restrained. This tone makes the show enjoyable and excessively watchable.

Here’s the pitch for Catastrophe: Rob is an American visiting London for a week for business. He meets Sharon at a bar, they hit it off, and have sex in his room. They both seem to actually like one another, and hang out and have lots of sex for the rest of the week until Rob has to go home. A couple months later, they’ve more or less moved on with their lives, having great memories of their time together and no hard feelings, until Sharon calls Rob and lets him know that she’s pregnant. It’s pretty much the premise of Knocked Up (and I’m sure many properties before that) but with a more mature, both emotionally and age-wise couple. Rob, unsure what to do, doubles down, and proposes to her, believing staying the together for the kid and making a real go of it as a couple is the right move. Countless hilarious mishaps happen between point A and B, as both parties examine their decision to try to make it together even though they barely know one another and try to figure out if this is the right move, while they seem to actually like, and maybe one day love, each other.

The chemistry between leads Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan is casual and natural, and an essential part of what makes Catastrophe go. Everything is centered on the two of them and their relationship; if we don’t both believe deeply that they could be together and want to keep watching them interact, there’s no way the show can be salvaged. Luckily for Catastrophe, it works.

Catastrophe isn’t the funniest show, it isn’t a particularly unique show, and there’s nothing that makes it obviously stand out plot wise, or dialogue wise, or aesthetically. However, it successfully navigates the spaces within its genre to create an enjoyable viewing experience where you’re generally rooting for both of them; hardly a necessity for a show, but sometimes a welcome respite from more serious fare. I love big drama as much as anyone, but there’s nothing greater after watching an episode of Hannibal or Rectify, or whatever else, than watching a light half hour that can leave you smiling.

Will I watch it again? Yes. It’s British. There are six half hour episodes; it’s shorter than a Hobbit installment. I’ll probably be done by the time you’re reading this.