Tag Archives: Workaholics

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2015 Edition: 50-47

28 Mar

Two comedies, one action, and one drama/thriller. Moving forward…

Intro here and 58-55 here and 54-51 here.

50. Workaholics – 2014: 36


I will always have much affection for Anders, Blake, and Adam, but it badly feels like the boys of Rancho Cucamonga are running out of ideas, no matter what occasional breaks between seasons they take. This is particularly obvious since the show Workaholics is paired up with in its time slot, Broad City, has risen as Workaholics has fallen, and on the whole I love Broad City more than I’ve ever liked Workaholics, which is more a compliment to Broad City than an insult to Workaholics. Workaholics still has the funny joke here and there, and again, I still love the three of them, but it’s not the buzzy, quotable show of the first couple of seasons, and I almost feel like I want to spend more time in this review going to pay tribute to some of the great episodes (“Real Time,” “To Friend a Predator” for example) than talking about this past season which was largely unmemorable. Alas. Nothing gold can stay.

49. The Affair – 2014: 33

The Affair

Oh, to be a Showtime show. A mildly ambitious premise, generally a little less glassy or bold than an HBO show (generally; HBO made Ballers). They’re often just good enough to be intriguing and keep me watching for a few episodes or a couple seasons, only to eventually let me down, quickly, or slowly. The Affair drew me in with a fascinating premise; a modern day Rashomon – a story slowly drawn out, told in two perspectives, both of which contained shades of the truth. The first season left more or less how it started; still maintaining that same level of intrigue and possibility for more without having actually accomplished that much. The second delivered a little bit less than the first, even while including some worthwhile moments and adding two more perspectives to the melange. Dominic West’s Noah became increasingly despicable over the course of the season which made it difficult to watch and times, and the show continued to feel like it didn’t exactly know where it was going or what it was doing. I’m about at a coin flip over whether I’ll give the third season a shot.

48. Archer – 2014: 39


Archer is long-veteran show at this point, and like Workaholics, just above, it often feels at this point like it’s running out of ideas. However, unlike with Workaholics, this past season was a step up over the previous season, the ambitious but ultimately lacking Archer Vice. It certainly wasn’t golden era Archer (seasons 2 and 3) but it was clearly, if not way past the solid enough to keep watching point. At this point it often feels like the veteran that it is; it’s not exciting or flashy but it comes to work and does the job at least well enough to earn its paycheck. Archer marks the first clear tier break on this list so far. Everything Archer and above I plan on coming back to for sure in their next seasons; everything below is a big question mark.

47. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – 2014: 32

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I doubt Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is ever going to rise too high in these rankings. It’s probably never going to be a great show; it’s been on long enough that I feel pretty comfortable I know what it is and it’s unlikely to take a leap. That said, it’s settled into a comfortable place in my viewing lineup, never much higher than the cut off, but safely above. After a really rough first 15 episodes that had me ready to give up the show, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has improved to a level of competence putting together enough smart dialogue and occasionally unpredictable plotting to take advantage of my natural inclination to like things comic book and superhero. Like Flash and Arrow, this show isn’t for everyone, and those who have zero interest in superheroes have absolutely no reason to give it a look. But it is a step up above those DC shows, slightly better written, one level deeper, which is not saying a lot, that stay just a little bit farther away from obvious and cringeworthy tropes enough of the time to make it worth watching.

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 Edition: 39-36

2 Feb

Two well-loved comedies coming off down years after running a little low on ideas a few seasons into their run, one prestige drama which ended, and one decidedly non-prestige drama which just came back. Let’s go.

Intro here and 43-40 here.

39: Archer – 2013: 18

Archer: Vice

We’re now firmly onto shows that I generally enjoy, but which suffered through flawed seasons. Archer sadly seems to be slipping firmly into the decline phase that nearly all shows that last as long as it has slip into. There are all the telltale signs – the writers are out of ideas, situations repeat, the characters tell the same jokes, and the same tropes reappear again and agian. What’s makes Archer’s repetitiveness this season particularly noteworthy is that the season, known as Archer: Vice, started out with the idea of switching up the show’s entire premise. After the big shakeup however, where the gang became drug dealers instead of an intelligence agency, while the show was cosmetically different, the inner workings were the same.  Archer is a fairly breezy half hour, to its credit, by this point, I can’t think of what it would have to take for me to stop watching before the show is over, and I’ll always think of Archer overall in a positive light. Still, Archer has gone from a show I really looked forward to every week to one I knock down as part of my routine.

38: 24: Live Another Day – 2013: Not Eligible

24: Live Another Day

24 has a distinct formula which it’s continued to stick to in its rebirth, a formula which provides reliably fairly enjoyable programming and at the same time limits any chance of greatness. 24 provides a superior version of the House of Cards principle I explained in that entry; it’s enjoyable when watching, especially one after another, but tends to be far less enjoyable when ruminated on afterwards. 24’s magic is particularly strong this way. I never look forward to an episode, only to be pleasantly surprised while I’m watching, only to again forget everything about the episode soon after. It’s superior to House of Cards because it self-consciously knows what it is; it doesn’t have pretentions of being anything other than a non-stop action drama full of twists and turns which may or may not make sense. There’s no weird subplots that go nowhere, no strange episodes that feel entirely out of place. It’s all action, all of the time. Some seasons are better or worse, but that mostly has to do with the relative repetition of the plot, the likeability of the seasonal characters, and the coolness of the action scenes. Live Another Day was about average 24, and while I can’t get as excited about it as I wish I could, it definitely has a place on television that nothing else has truly occupied in its absence.

37: Boardwalk Empire – 2013: 28

Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire wanted to be The Sopranos from the start, and never quite got there, though it had fits and starts where it seemed like it might come close. The final season, unfortunately, was not one of those times. Shoehorned into eight episodes, the season lacked focus, bouncing around in an effort to end the many plots Boardwalk had started over the years. This was admirable but really missed an opportunity to simply spend more time with the characters and plots we really cared about the most, which were few. The Al Capone sideshow was subpar, and it felt as if the fact it was real history was that main reason it featured, rather than because it actually made for good TV. Capone was more a caricature than character, whether or not it was an accurate portrayal and while he was enjoyable in doses, he was overtaxed in the final season. The flashbacks while occasionally illuminating took time that could have been used to work out the many threads which Boardwalk had to deal with. As it was, many plots felt rushed, as if valuable transition scenes which would have sewn the episodes together ended up on the cutting room floor. I do think with a full 12 episodes, this season could have been a lot better, but as it was, it left a lot to be desired. Beautiful, with brilliant acting and genius cinematography, but missing humor, passion, and enough solid side characters, the final season was emblematic of the what-could-have-been nature of Boardwalk Empire on the whole.

36: Workaholics – 2013: 32


Most contemporary television comedies create characters we become invested in and storylines that take us through their lives over the course of several seasons. Still, shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Workaholics, push on under a different model, centered around incredibly stupid characters who never grow and change. The only goal of these shows is to make you laugh. These shows can be great but they pose a challenge. Parks and Recreation generates appeal in two ways; you can like an episode because it was funny, because it made you feel, or both. Workaholics has got to be funny. Shows like Workaholics often feature a problematic running-out-of-ideas over the course of a few seasons, and Workaholics is no exception. Five seasons and going is a run to be proud of, but with so many episodes, it’s hard to keep pumping out new classics. Because of the difficulty of coming up with new ideas every episode, these shows tend to be consistently inconsistent; a hilarious episode is followed by a relative dud. All of this is true for the solid but not spectacular fourth season of Workaholics, which had its share of winners and was definitely worth watching for fans of the show, but which stopped short of classic status.

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2012 edition: 12-10

18 Feb

Moving on through the rankings of shows I watched regularly in 2012 – this intro will explain what qualifies one for the list – 12, 11, and 10 follow.

12.  Workaholics

Anders, Adam, and Blake

Much to my shock but not dismay (what’s the exact opposite of dismay?) it seems like Workaholics is catching on for real, moving into its fourth season, which is incredibly impressive for a scripted Comedy Central show not called South Park.  Making it past a dreaded Comedy Central first season is already an achievement in and of itself, but four is a true rarity.  Unlike Bob’s Burgers, I’ve been along for the entire ride this time, though it’s as much luck that I have been watching since the beginning as anything else; one humorous commercial convinced my friend and I to watch, and we were as surprised as anyone that it was actually pretty good.  The show picked up from there, and it’s the type of show where repeated interactions with the characters improves your appreciation as you get into the chemistry between their three personalities.  When Adam does something that’s so Adam, it’s funnier the more episodes you’ve seen.  Adam is clearly the star of the show and provides many of the funniest scenes, but Blake and Anders are hardly just along for the ride.  Perhaps the best episode of the most recent season involved a contrived plot in which the three characters had to stay drunk for the entire episode, to prevent becoming hungover.  Played like Speed, but less like a parody than a loose plot to work around, the episode was hilarious throughout and contains a combination of physical comedy, pop culture references, silliness, and absurdism.

11.  Justified


I’ve said it before, but Raylan Givens, the main character in Justified, is the role Timothy Olyphant was born to play.  It’s his vehicle, and everyone else is somewhat secondary, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have chances to shine.  Still, he’s a strong enough character to carry the show largely on his own.  Justified is what a USA show could be if it didn’t have the shackles imposed on it simply by being a USA show.  Justified is limited in scope; it could never be The Wire or The Sopranos, in terms of the sheer breadth, but it does what it does very well and there’s something to be said for knowing what you’re good at and sticking to your strengths. The third season came off of the second season high with a weaker overall serial plot, particularly the primary antagonist, Robert Quarles, who was terrifying but less interesting than Mags Bennett and her largely incompetent clan.  Still it may actually say more about the resilience of the show that it was able to chug right along with an overall weaker villain and feature a season that was damn near almost as good.  The show has struggled at times to find a role for Walten Goggins, who plays sometimes villain, sometimes anti-hero Boyd Fowler, especially when he’s not working with or against Raylan, and while I’ve sometimes thought they should just not feel inclined to include Goggins in every episode, they’ve done a fairly good job of keeping his plots interesting and relevant considering.  I like the secondary characters that work with Givens at the Marshals Office, and I like that they don’t shy away from pointing out Givens’ ridiculous behavior. I expected solid but not spectacular from Justified, and while the show may not reach the breathtaking heights of Mad Man, Breaking Bad, or Game of Thrones, it certainly exceeded my initial expectations.

10.  Eagleheart


All three of the Adult Swim 11 minute shows on this list are absurd live action shows of a type found nowhere else on TV, but none are as truly absurdist as the least known and talked about, Eagleheart, which stars Chris Elliot as a Marshal, along with his sidekicks, Maria Thayer and Brett Gelman.  Episodes sometimes change plots twice an episode, invent things as they go along, and, in one episode, the entire plot turns out to have been an amusement park ride.  It’s ridiculous, and how ridiculous it is makes it wonderful; there is no non-aminated show more out there on television.  The best episode of the season may have been the opener in which it’s postulated that the chief, played by Mad Men’s Michael Gladis, inspired Chris Elliot’s character to become a US Marshal by impregnating his wife, and then having his son, which he made seem like Chris’s son, hiring the son to fake his death 10 years later, which caused Chris to become a marshal.  The son also pretended to be various important characters in Chris’ deputies’ lives, then faked dying, to persuade them to become marshals (Thayer’s old college boyfriend, and Gelman’s favorite restaurant waiter).  Later in the same 11 minute episode, it’s revealed that there’s a baker who makes a cake to celebrate every bloodbath caused by Chris, but all the cakes have already been made, thus predicting the future bloodbaths.  If this sounds convoluted and insane, that’s because it is, but it’s a lot funnier when watched than when explained, and if you actually expect it to make any sense, you’re watching the wrong show.  I would guess this is by far the least watched show on this list (though it may have competition with one of the next few) and I don’t know why more people haven’t found out about it, but if anyone likes absurdism, this is the place to go, and it takes just a couple of hours to watch all the 11 minute episodes of the entire series.

Ranking the Shows I Watch – 22: Workaholics

15 Sep

Comedy Central runs through shows faster than well, choose your own analogy. Fast is the point.  If you’re not the Daily Show, Colbert Report or South Park, and you’re on Comedy Central, you probably won’t be next year.  I’ve tuned in here and there, but I try not to get too attached, because I know whatever show I’m watching won’t be around.  It’s usually not difficult because most of them are terrible or at least forgettably mediocre.  Dog Bites Man?  Remember that one?  Halfway Home, the prison-meets-real-world premise with Oscar from The Office.  Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire?  The only point of that show was that I had a new nickname for Frankie Rodriguez.  For this reason, it was hard to get too excited about Workaholics as the season progressed, marching towards its probable inevitable Comedy Central doom.  It was a sign though, that it wasn’t just me, when some executives there deemed Workaholics worthy of receiving the coveted second season.

I feel like this is true for about third of this list, but I started watching the show at least partially ironically.  Not ironically in the sense that I thought it would be horrible, more in a way that was several layers of anti-humor away ironically in that, upon the appearance of Workaholics commercials it was pretty much decided I was watching whether it ended up being good or not.  One such commercial featured a character asks one of the main characters, named Anders, if his name is Finnish, to which he replies, “No, sir – I’m just getting started.”  Not brilliant stuff, I know.  But it’s kind of funny.

Luckily, it actually ended up being pretty good, or at least there were funny parts in the first few episodes, enough so to keep me watching.  It’s not a sketch show, but it has some of a sketch show feel (think Michael and Michael Have Issues if you actually remember that Comedy Central show). There are three main characters and they work in a call center and do a bunch of stupid and/or ridiculous things in every episode.  Even better, as the season went forward, the episodes actually got significantly stronger – the consistency rate of laughs was higher.  The characters got themselves into sticky situations, such as ending up at a meeting of the Juggalos, and, to their advantage, unlike what happens in some sketch shows where the emphasis is on wacky plots and not characterization (as it should be, for the most part), the characters feel at least a little bit different.   You couldn’t simply switch their plots around in every episode.

Why it’s this high:  When it hits, it captures dumb funny as good as any show on TV – best moment perhaps – one character threatening a larger guy invading a party –  he says, “If we do this there’ll be two hits… me punching you in the face. and Kid Rock’s Bawitdaba playing in the background”

Why it’s not higher:  It’s tough on sketch-type shows – you get your hit and your occasional miss.

Best episode of most recent season:  “To Friend a Predator”  – just the premise alone is darkly funny and the episode delivers on it – the guys take it upon themselves to bait and take down a local child molester, only to find out he’s a really cool guy to hang out with.