Tag Archives: Rick and Morty

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 Edition: 7-4

6 Apr

Second to last entry. We’re getting close to the top. One cartoon, one miniseries, and two familiar fixtures in the top 10 of these lists. Let’s do it.

Intro here and 43-40 here and 39-36 here and 35-32 here and 31-28 here and 27-24 here and 23-20 here and 19-16 here and one-offs/shows ineligible for the list here and 15-12 here and 11-8 here.

7. The Honourable Woman – 2013: Not Eligible

The Honourable Woman

If it’s a little hard to explain how a slow, deliberately paced character sketch like Olive Kitteridge hooks viewers, it’s incredibly easy to explain how British miniseries The Honourable Woman gets viewers on board. It’s a taut, suspenseful British spy thriller in a classic John le Carre vein. The Honourable Woman follows the ex-Israeli Jewish British brother and sister executives running a company that used to make weapons but now is attempting to install infrastructure in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Buried within their personal histories, their company’s history, and espionage agencies in the UK, US, Israel, and Palestine, are mounds of secrets and lies. Each episode slowly pulls off another layer of the onion that is the story, getting closer and closer to the truth. Every major character holds the truth close to the vest and knows more than some people but less than others. Moreover, The Hounrable Women, perhaps because of its miniseries format, has that very rare attribute: the truly satisfying ending. That is so hard to pull off but so beneficial, leaving a wonderful taste in my mouth as I think about the show months after watching.

6. Game of Thrones – 2013: 2

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is the best epic on TV, spanning dozens of characters and several far-flung locations. The sheer scope of the show in an incredible achievement that no mega-budget series can match, and the show constantly manages to smartly marry very human ideas with blockbuster spectacle. The series impressively avoids getting out of hand despite its breadth, cross-cutting and presenting coherent narratives within episodes in interesting ways, and honing themes about leadership, government, and power, among many others. While some of the fight scenes seem a tad long for a show that needs to squeeze hundreds and hundreds of pages into a ten episode season, they are never anything less than brilliantly directed and choreographed, the biggest this season being the battle at the wall. Admittedly, I’m biased by having read the books, and while I try to be self-aware of that bias, it seeps into my opinions on the show, sometimes favorably, and sometimes less so. Every episode a couple of changes bother me, and most I can put aside due to time constraints or other tv limitations, but occasionally there’s a glaring mess up. This season, the biggest was the Jaime – Cersei rape scene, which came off very differently than in the book, and the biggest problem may have been that the creators didn’t realize that what they put on screen was clearly rape. Still, there’s no show that feels like week-to-week event viewing more than Game of Thrones, no show that makes you look forward to every Sunday as if anything could happen.

5. Rick and Morty – 2013: Not Eligible

Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty debuted in 2013, but aired only three episodes. The out-of-nowhere-jump-to-the-top-ten pick of this year (the honorary Eagleheart slot), Rick and Morty is the story of the travels through time and space of Rick, a slightly behind-the-eight-ball teen and Morty, his alcoholic mad scientist grandfather. The characters are bizarro riffs on Doc and Marty from Back to the Future and the plots can get both insanely complicated and hysterically funny. Rick and Morty is hilarious but also engrossing science-fiction, rolling through tropes and homages both generic and specific, and mind-fuckingly confusing plots which reward repeated viewing and stand up as entertaining outside of the laughs. Multiple episodes heavily involve recursion, and the penultimate Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind posits an infinite number of dimensions with an infinite number of Ricks and Mortys. Rixty Minutes, on the other hand, featuring a series of interdimensional television programs was only funny, rather than plotty, but worked incredibly well anyway. Rick and Morty, for a series this off the wall, had a surprisingly high hit rate, and I can’t wait for it to come back.

4. Mad Men – 2013: 7

Mad Men

Mad Men has never had a bad season, but season 6 may have been its weakest. No more though, as the first half of season 7 sees the show back in top form, full of classic moments and episodes, that continue to pad the numbers on an already established inner circle hall of fame case. Only the annals of all-time lists await Mad Men. The season is much more dynamic than the prior season, which felt limited by its dreary Don-Sylvia romance and the didn’t-quite-deliver-on-the-amount-of-attention-paid-to-him Bob Benson. Pete, Peggy, and Don, were all in different places this year, but bonded for the Burger Chef account, which drove much of the middle of the season, with Peggy stepping in as troubled Don’s superior who, because he was still a partner, had only limited power over him, making their already complex relationship increasingly awkward. Roger gets his mojo back (remember when we all thought he was on the brink of a possible suicide attempt?) by assembling a deal to sell SC&P to McCann, overriding Jim Cutler, who eventually joins the unanimous vote to take the deal, because, well, it’s a lot of money. Don’s marriage with Meghan disintegrated, which had seemed inevitable for some time, after both made one more effort to keep something together that clearly wasn’t working any longer. The season went out in style, with an inspired tribute to the great Bert Cooper, which I really wanted to say should have felt totally out of place, but I can’t.

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Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2013 Edition: 28-25

17 Jan

Here we go – first, a drama, that like Sons of Anarchy, has been consistently good but not great and had a comeback season this year. Next a couple of comedies that aired back to back but don’t have too much else in common, and finally a show that was impossible to figure out where to place because it debuted with three episodes. Here we go.

28. Boardwalk Empire

Nuckie and Omar

I spoke about this most recent season of Boardwalk Empire at length, which you can read here and then here if so interested. Basically, I think the fourth season was a big step up from the rather one-dimensional third season. Boardwalk still sometimes struggles with figuring out what makes it stand out from the other major dramatic anti-hero shows that have dominated the TV landscape in the past decade and in bringing more of its side characters into more fully realized form, and sometimes it spreads its wings too wide in terms of including more characters and locations rather than focusing more time on fewer great ones. Still, this paragraph should be more about praise than condemnation; this was the second best season of the series, and very close to the second season, the other contender. I didn’t love the Chicago plots, but other non-Nuckie characters stepped in a big way, as the writers created situations more interesting than everyone-against-Nuckie. As always, the filming technique and direction in Boardwalk is gorgeous. Scenes are lovingly rendered and fantastic angles and shots and drama and pathos no matter the characters, plot, or dialogue.

27. Veep

Selena and Staff

Veep’s second season was a noticeable if not revolutionary improvement over the first. It went from a show I watched but was hesitant to recommend after the first season to one I proudly throw out as ideal for relatively quick viewing after the second. Everything is tighter, the characters are surer in who they are, and because of that, the actors know how to better play each of their roles. The first season was defined by one large scale joke – that life for the Vice President, the second highest office in America, was as boring, mundane, and pointless as the lives of so many other cubicle-inhabiting Americans. The second season let the show breathe and allowed that one joke to merge more fully for the show’s love of Curb Your Enthusiasm-like situational awkwardness and miscommunication. Every one of the characters gets a couple of chances to shine, along with recurring guests Gary Cole, Kevin Dunn, and Dan Bakkedahl.

26.Girls

Four Girls

Girls second season was by and large a huge improvement over its first. Toned down was the fervor, both the extremely positive and negative levels that accompanied the first season, which may have been in the show’s best interest. In its place emerged a more fully formed show, that dealt with the characters in more mature and interesting ways. All four primary characters are caricatures to some extent; but they’re not that far from real people and their battles and conflicts often feel authentic (which I complimented in my article about Treme as a place that’s surprisingly hard to reach). I didn’t like the last episode which featured a couple of sappy, forced happy endings which felt like a flash-forward from what the show dissected so powerfully in the second season’s middle episodes, but I still remain quite hopeful for the third season.

25. Rick and Morty

Morty and Rick

Many times during this list I had no idea where I wanted to place shows; this basically refers to numbers maybe 6 through 39. Still, this may have been the trickiest, primarily because it’s hard to figure out how high to rate a show that has aired only three episodes not only in the year, but ever, and not three hour and a half Sherlock episodes, but three 20 minute episodes. So here it is; I probably have liked what I’ve seen enough to have it higher, but I was hesitant on how high to put a show with three episodes. Now on to why you should watch this show if you’ve never heard of it before. Rick and Morty is an animated Adult Swim show about the science fiction adventures of grandfather Rick and grandson Morty, who have a perverse Doc Brown and Marty McFly-esque relationship. Rick is an alcoholic mad genius, and Morty is a loving kid who is a awkward and not the smartest chip on the block. Rick drags Morty throughout space time on all sorts of wacky adventures, while their family, Morty’s parents and sister, occupy often equally hilarious b stories.  It’s funny and it’s short and you don’t have to watch the episodes in order, but you might as well because there aren’t that many of them and they’re good. If you start with just one of the first three though, make it Anatomy Park which combines Jurassic Park, Fantastic Voyage, and John Oliver. Oh, on top of that it’s co-created by Community once-and-future head honcho Dan Harmon.