The Daily Show

2013review_tvshows

According to the kind of people who are prone to make such pronouncements, the Golden Age of Television ended this year with the series finale of Breaking Bad. But with more quality television on the air today than is humanly possible to watch, I don’t see how that could possibly be true.  The one big observation about the TV landscape this year that I’d like to make is that there finally seems to be a preponderance of shows about women, a much-needed correction to the masculinity-obsessed, anti-hero shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. I love and admire all of those shows, but I’m glad to see that the new opportunities for original programming that the proliferation of cable and now Netflix and Amazon offers has resulted in more stories about women. Without further ado, my picks for the 13 best shows of 2013:

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Channel Guide - Large

Anyone who has watched Mike Judge’s Idiocracy can’t help but see some of the more moronic features of the present as signs of a Dystopic future where electrolyte enriched sports drinks flow from drinking fountains, Costco hands out law degrees, and “Beef Supreme” is a perfectly acceptable baby name. We can be thankful, though, that two new shows on FX are at least attempting to combat stupidity. Brand X with Russell Brand, which wrapped up its six-episode run earlier this month, and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, which premiered last week, synthesize what’s happening in the news in ways that are accessible to people who don’t usually seek out political comedy or care about social commentary. Like Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, both Brand X and Totally Biased offer a sometimes biting, sometimes silly spin on current events. The two FX shows, however, aren’t concerned with satire or news parody and structurally are informal to the point of almost seeming haphazardly thrown together. Russell Brand and W. Kamau Bell dress casually and spend the majority of their time standing in front of a wall—something that is fittingly and simultaneously reminiscent of a comedy club performance and an academic lecture.

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Guess what everyone, the Emmys are back in town! Aren’t you excited?! No, that’s okay, neither am I. Just another night for some of Hollywood’s biggest talents to pat themselves on the back for making pretend (really good pretend, though). But you know what, we here at FSR will treat this with the utmost respect that we do all awards ceremonies. That said, before we get to the predictions, let’s take a look at some of the top winners from the Creative Arts Awards portion of the Emmys which were awarded last week: Futurama walked away with the top honor for animated program based on the episode ‘The Late Philip J. Fry,’ beating out front runners South Park and The Simpsons who dominated the category between 2000 and 2009. This also marks the second time Futurama has won the award for Best Animated Series. Maurice LaMarche also walked away with the award for Best Voice-Over Performance for his work on the series as Lrr and Orson Welles. Gwyneth Paltrow took the award for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Holly Holiday on Glee. Game of Thrones took the award for Best Title Sequence. Boardwalk Empire took the win for Best Visual effects beating out the likes of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Deadliest Catch won the award for Best Reality Series (a win that is more than acceptable in this category). Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to […]

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Last week many questioned what the end of the South Park mid-season finale “You’re Getting Old” meant for the future of the series. Many (including myself) suspected that the ending was Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s way of saying that this was indeed the final season of South Park and the show would come to a close after the fall run at the end of the year. Last night the duo appeared on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart to discuss their win at the Tony Awards for Best Musical with their critically adored musical The Book of Mormon. During the interview with Stewart they said many of their peers approached them after the episode aired, asking “are you okay? Is the show coming back?” To which their response was “yeah, South Park‘s our thing… We had fun doing the episode.”

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Culture Warrior

Episodes and seasons and weeks after its inspiration and its humor have peaked, I still continue to watch new episodes of The Office week in and week out. I don’t know why – I never do this with dramatic shows, only with comedies – but I tend to stick with comedy shows whose legacy I appreciate even if their time has passed, either out of respect, blind hope, or simply the desire to have some noise in the room while I take a break to eat a meal or fold laundry. While The Office certainly isn’t what it used to be, even before Steve Carell left, it’s still an inoffensive and enjoyable way to pass some time. I can’t deny that the affinity I developed for the show’s characters early on in the series has carried me through a lot of its creative droughts (in other words, I hardly watch it only for its comedy) even as more recent network sitcoms like Modern Family, Community, and (especially) Parks and Recreation have made me LOL significantly more often. But in the bizarre cameos leading up to a strange and dry seventh season finale, The Office seems to have encountered much greater problems than a rudimentary lack of inspiration typical for the (possibly cyclical) lifespan of a long-running television show. The Office seems to have rejected the defining characteristics that made it unique in the first place.

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Every TV season there are a select group of people that really stand out above the rest. People that really push their shows to a place that no one expects. People that take the medium of television and spin it on its head. And that’s why sometimes they need the love that the Emmys just refuse to give. And with that, I bring you The Top 10 TV Big Shots of 2010-2011. Let’s celebrate these creative minds and their teams in no particular order.

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This article contains spoilers regarding the ending of Four Lions. You have been warned (hence, y’know, the whole “Warning” thing). Almost exactly one year ago, on December 25, 2009, 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 headed from Amsterdam to Detroit. The mission, as we all know, failed. The incident regarding the man who became known as the “underwear bomber” is one that has understandably been met with fascination in the media. The incident proved fodder material in discourse amongst comedians who mutually expressed an inability to understand why al-Qaeda would even take credit for such an embarrassing and silly failure. A mental image perpetuated across culture of a young Muslim fanatic attempting to light his underwear on fire as a show of religious devotion. The actual details of the incident are in fact far funnier. Passengers and flight attendants saw that Abdulmutallab’s leg had caught flame during flight, and used blankets and a fire extinguisher to put it out. His pants were gone, he had burns on his leg, and when he was finally asked by a flight attendant what it was he had in his pocket that caught fire, he simply stated, “an explosive device” as dryly as one would say “chapstick.” As an act intended to induce terror, Abdulmutallab’s attempted underwear bombing is as great an embarrassing failure for his associated enterprise as one could imagine.

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As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. This week, Print to Projector presents the story of a political theory, a governmental style, and the greatest nation on the planet with the bald eagle as its official bird. This Daily Show guide to everything you could ever possibly want to know about the United States of America packs in the infographics and the Judge Judy references that the people demand. It’s time someone made it into a movie.

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Conan O

I woke up this afternoon to a little bit of a shock. Famed and damned late-nite talk show host Conan O’Brien is headed back to late night television. But he’s not going to be on FOX, he’s going to be on another network — on cable, competing directly with Jon Stewart. Interesting…

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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