Keeping Up with TV

I shouldn’t even be thinking about keeping up with TV.  I have writer friends who’ve sworn off the Box completely, and I’m sure they get a lot more writing done than I do.  I have other friends who insist that they are studying story structure and characterization when they watch.  Both approaches are valid, I’m sure.

I tend to be a loyal viewer myself.  If the promos and trailers for a new show interest me enough, I’ll watch the pilot, and if I like that, the show will probably keep me.  Not always.  I realized last year that I had more episodes of Smash on my DVR than I had actually watched, and I didn’t care about losing them when the DVR died.  I abandoned The Mentalist when I got really, really, REALLY tired of both Red John and Patrick Jane’s behavior.  There have been others.  But usually, once I start watching, I’ll stay around.  Heck, I’m still watching Glee, if only for the music.

I would tell you that I don’t care for violent shows, but I’m a history geek, big fan of Hell on Wheels, and I haven’t missed an episode of the History Channel’s Vikings, an even more violent series, but beautifully filmed and full of interesting characters (especially Lagertha, the kick-butt Shield Maiden wife of the protagonist).

I’m cautious about what I do start watching.  There are any number of light mystery shows on the air (or on the cable) that I have avoided simply because I don’t want to tie up yet another weekly hour. (I do watch Bones, Castle, White Collar and Rizzoli & Isles.).  The same goes for many of the series on SyFy, although I’ve been a science fiction fan forever, loved all the Star Trek and Stargate series (well, some more than others, but still . . .).  I watch Grimm and Once Upon a Time, both of them more fantasy than science fiction, but very entertaining.

Somehow the promos for the new SyFy series Defiance stayed under my radar until a couple of weeks before its premiere, when I noticed an ad on line.  The show promised several elements I enjoy, but I wasn’t sure.  I still feel a bit burned over Terra Nova (time travel! dinosaurs! Jason O’Meara!)–I hate falling for a show that doesn’t make it to a second season.  And I missed the initial showing of the Defiance premiere.  Couldn’t record it because I still haven’t gotten around to replacing my failed DVR.  Missed a convenient showing in favor of a really lovely dinner, and found myself tackling the two hour show at midnight on Friday.  Well, I figured, if this could keep me awake until 2 AM, it was worth a commitment.

Defiance is worth it and then some.  It is, truth be told, in large part a repositioned Western, set thirty years or so in the future of an Earth changed forever by the arrival of no less than seven alien races and their out-of-control “terraforming” (inaccurate use of the term, but we’ll overlook that for the moment).  The protagonist is the loner (although he’s accompanied by his adopted alien teen-age daughter) who wanders into the frontierish town of Defiance (formerly St. Louis, see the Arch over there?) just in time to see the old sheriff die in action.  Yep, pardner, Nolan is drafted/trapped into becoming the new “Lawkeeper.”

The show is full of Western and SF tropes, CGI effects, more or less humanoid aliens, gritty and sometimes spectacular scenery.  There’s the inexperienced (female) mayor, her sister the brothel owner, the patriarch of the mining family (played by Graham Greene, long a favorite of mine), the alien mob boss and his wife (played by Jaime Murray, formerly H. G. Wells on Warehouse 13), who spend an inordinate amount of time in their hot tub, a Romeo and Juliet sub-plot, an acerbic and funny alien female doctor, and lots of disintegrating ships tumbling out of orbit and causing ever weirder changes.

I love it, and the second episode was just as good.  Oh, dear, another commitment.

What shows keep you watching, even when you should be doing something else?

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patricia O'Dea Rosen
    Apr 25, 2013 @ 11:20:31

    Hi, Kay,
    I’m hooked on Call the Midwife on PBS, a look at midwives at work in London’s East End in the 1950’s. It’s based on a nurse’s memoir and is now in its second season.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Apr 25, 2013 @ 12:07:07

      Hi, Pat! I’ve heard good things about Call the Midwife too (I think Vicky Dreiling is a fan), but I haven’t seen it. But then I haven’t seen Downton Abbey yet, either. And all those DVDs on the shelf! I never seem to have time for a good marathon, but I definitely have the material.

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  2. gerrybartlett
    Apr 25, 2013 @ 11:59:16

    Love Defiance. I see all the old tropes there but don’t mind them. They are timeless for a reason. I knew I recognized that alien in the hot tub. Warehouse 13 will be starting again in a week or so too. Another clever show. You’re right about Red John and Patrick Jane. Catch him or kill him and at this point I don’t care which one they knock off. I do love The Good Wife, but I’ve always been a sucker for legal dramas. Just picked up Blockbuster movies for five bucks a month on Dish. It’s a slippery slope. Of course I’m using it to study characterization and plotting.
    I blame my parents. The TV was always on growing up. And that was back in the dark ages when we only had a few channels and The Ed Sullivan Show was the highlight of our week. I do have a rule for myself though. No TV now until after six. I DVR the 5:30 news. Then all bets are off.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Apr 25, 2013 @ 12:11:58

      I agree, Gerry, nothng wrong with tropes done well. My parents actually were not big TV watchers, and my viewing was limited as a child. We all read, all the time, for which I am thankful. But now I live alone, and I always have the TV or the radio or music on. And I’ve looking forward to the return of Warehouse 13–paranormal artifacts! Borderline Steampunk! Saul Rubinek! A fun show. And dammit, on Monday night.

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  3. Oberon Wonch
    Apr 26, 2013 @ 17:05:07

    We gave up pay TV a couple of years ago, so I’m restricted to what’s on antenna channels. I watch Grimm, the Thursday night comedies, Downton Abbey and The Voice. The last one only because my husband enjoys it. But someone recently tipped me off to my new narcotic, Vikings. I catch the latest episode on hulu.com and watch it on my computer at my leisure. Love that show! Moody and tense and, at least in my mind, realistic. Loved how they envisioned Uppsala on a recent episode.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Apr 26, 2013 @ 23:37:00

      Hi, Oberon! I was pleased to hear the other day that there will be a second season of Vikings. I think the opening episode had me hooked when Lagertha calmly skewered the would-be rapists. And Uppsala was fascinating. I shake my head when I write the check to Comcast every month, but I do enjoy TV. Really must get the DVR replaced, though. I miss pause and rewind even more than I miss the recorder. (BTW, Grimm’s just been renewed, too.)

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