2014 Media in Review: I watch way too much TV

So, I didn’t see many movies at the theater last year, I read even fewer books, and my movies on DVD/Instant have taken a massive hit from their 2011 high of 74. And it’s probably because over the course of 12 months I watched 26 seasons worth of old TV. Granted, some of those were really short seasons, but still. That’s a lot of TV. Let’s take a look in the last official Media in Review post before next year.

Technically, a couple of these I finished off in 2015, but when I start my list of things I watched this year, I don’t want to say I watched a whole season of something because I watched three episodes. Now, here we go:

Chuck, seasons 3-5 (COMPLETE)
Finally. I cut the cord on cable (the first time) after season four, only to find that season five wasn’t streaming on Hulu or anywhere else, so three years later, I still hadn’t seen it. Granted, I could have bought the DVDs, but my relationship with Chuck is complicated. When it was new, I quit watching after a few episodes, convinced I didn’t like it. The promise of Scott Bakula pulled me back in near the end of season two (feeling like I hadn’t really missed a thing), and I loved every second of it, even as other people started to bemoan what they saw as a loss of quality. So when season five finally became available, I decided it was time not only to watch it, but to give season one a second chance (an endeavor that began in 2013, obviously). And this time around, I loved it. You can see some of my thoughts here.

Supernatural season 2-9 (CURRENT)

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki
Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki

Supernatural is currently airing its 10th season. And curiosity finally got the better of me. I stopped watching the show live in season six. I just got really bored with it, and then I heard a ton of people say they didn’t like seasons seven and eight, so I didn’t really see the point in coming back. But I finally did — and I love season seven — and the whole thing culminated in spying season nine at the used media shop and watching it in a matter of weeks, as I desperately tried to be caught up in time for season 10. Which I’m now about three episodes behind on. But regardless, I really love this show about two brothers crisscrossing the country, even as their journey went from fighting urban-legend type monsters to having direct roles in battles of biblical proportion between factions of heaven and hell.

Smallville season 4
This show, man. I seem to watch about a season a year, and I need to pick up the pace. There are six seasons to go, and while I’ve managed to stay relatively spoiler-free for the final season, I feel like I’m pushing the bounds for how long I can reasonably maintain that. It’s been very nearly five years since the story of young Clark Kent, which eventually expanded to cover a glut of Justice League characters came to an end. I don’t think I should take 11 years before I see it. It’s just so cheesy, so often.

Arrow season 1-2 (CURRENT)
I think I’ve decided that I love DC TV. But I always come slow to it. I tried to watch Arrow when it first started, got a few episodes in and then gave up. Watching the cops try to chase down “The Vigilante/Guy in the Hood/The Hood/Hood Guy” wasn’t terribly exciting, and I was still a little burned out on secrets and lies. Because even though I like Smallville, Watching Clark cling to his moral high ground when he doesn’t have a leg to stand on regarding that got old and fast. I just wasn’t keen to watch Oliver Queen do the same thing while trying to clean up his city, and I didn’t care about the mystery surrounding his mother. But as I was winding down on Chuck, I got tired of seeing Netflix recommend it, plus I heard that Colton Haynes (for me, of Teen Wolf fame) was going to be on it. So I gave it a shot, and it was so amazing. I wrote a little about the unlikely similarities between Haynes’ Arrow and Teen Wolf characters here.

Ink Master season 1
This was the year I finally had to stop watching Ink Master. It was in season four, and while I always liked the tattoos and the challenges, I was just so tired of the toxic environment the producers/judges put contestants in, and when they showed absolutely zero regard for the well-being of a contestant and in fact egged on and antagonized him until he reached his breaking point, I lost all respect not just for judge Chris Nunez, but for the show as a whole.

But I’d also been watching a lot of Tattoo Nightmares, the show about a Miami team of artists who make their living fixing bad tattoos that haunt their wearers. And I had heard that Tommy Helm, its main guy, was once an Ink Master contestant. So when the series showed up on Netflix, I gave his season a try. His good-naturedness made it worthwhile, but I’m still done now and forever with Ink Master. (BTW: If you want a good tattoo competition show, check out Best Ink over on Oxygen. The art’s just as good but the atmosphere is so much better in all regards.)

Life, seasons 1-2 (COMPLETE)
I don’t remember why I decided to watch Life, but I’m glad I did. Damian Lewis plays a detective who was framed for his friends’ murder, gets out, gets his job back, solves the murder and gets revenge. Along the way, he and his partner Dani Reese solve other murders, and their relationship, which is very Mulder and Scully: The Early Years is just so refreshing. That combined with Lewis’ quirkiness really reminded me of everything I used to love about Castle. (Which I still like, but is a pale shadow of itself.)

Baby Daddy, season 1-2
I needed a sitcom for those days before work when I wanted to watch something, but didn’t have the time for a 45-minute drama. And with Raising Hope having come to a close, I landed on this show about a guy and his two roommates who find a baby on their doorstep. It sounds like Three Men and a Baby, because it’s a lot like Three Men and a Baby.  There are a few episodes that are touch-and-go, but in general, it’s mostly pretty funny. And while I normally can’t stand messy would-be love triangles, there’s something charming about best friend Riley’s lifelong crush on the baby daddy Ben that finally starts to be a thing, while Ben’s hockey player brother nurses a lifelong crush on Riley. Taj Mowry and Melissa Peterman round out the cast as Ben and Danny’s other roommate and mother. And while I’m still a little behind, what I’ve seen is just a delight.

Criminal Minds, seasons 1-2
Sometimes you just want a procedural about serial killers. And I’d never seen more than a few season one episodes. (I came in for the James Van Der Beek episodes in season two and hung around through season five-ish before getting away from it). If you like procedurals and aren’t turned off by the idea of serial killers, this show about the people who get inside their heads to catch them is pretty good and the large cast has great chemistry. It’s not really something I feel the need to binge on, burning through all its seasons in a matter of weeks or months, but it’s great for a break.

Queer Eye, season 3-4 (COMPLETE)
The latter seasons of this show took a bit of a tumble. The earlier seasons had some rough patches, but overall were strong on humor and heartwarming moments as the “Fab Five” helped guys who were stuck in ruts, personally, emotionally or professionally. Plus, with a host dedicated to interior design and another to food, there’s always something interesting to learn, even if some of the other lessons don’t apply. Not to mention some truly amazing makeovers, like Jeff. T., who had an inner David Bowie hiding under his mountain-man look. But in the latter half of its run, the novelty had started to wear off a little bit, and  it started to seem more like a cash and gift grab from the people being made over, and we got more themed episodes, like the day the guys made over members of the Boston Red Sox.

The show got back to its old self a little bit in season four. There was one where they made over a trans man who was in the process of transitioning and didn’t really know how to best dress himself, get a good haircut or care for his skin as he went through second puberty. And there’s another one where they find a kid who had a hard time growing up but managed to get a full-ride to college and kind of spoil him a little bit — handling his high school prom and getting him set to go to college. And those were nice, but it was a short six-episode season so there just wasn’t time to really get back to its glory.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 1
I’m so glad I didn’t permanently give up on this show. It wasn’t really *bad* at the start, it just failed completely to grab me, and I quit watching about four episodes in. When I finally decided to hop back in, about half the episodes I was missing had fallen off the streaming schedule, so I had to wait for this year. And it got so good within two episodes from where I had originally quit and never really came back down.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles, season 1-2 (COMPLETE)
One of the great shames of TV was this show’s cancellation. You wouldn’t think a TV series from the Terminator franchise would work as well as this does. It focuses less on the chase aspect of T1 and puts a little more focus on the hunt to stop Skynet of T2, but where it really shines is the human moments between its characters, machines included.

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