Sunday Serenade Respite: Bingin’ Bitchin’ TV!

May 9, 2021

Another break in the tedious horror of the nowadays with a view of my personal list of great TV shows to binge, not only once but dozens of times — I watch TV to kick-back and relax, all with at least a sprinkle of humor. As you will see, most of these shows are comedies, or have a good deal of comedy enbedded within the storylines.

Due to streaming, the very concept of episodic TV has way-changed. How in the shit could we sit and wait a week before a new chapter to arrive — although the concept is still viable, for instance, as I viewed the recent “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” in weekly bursts, so it can be done. And in the last couple of years, too, “The Mandalorian.”
Rare, but still a shitty way to watch TV shows.

Anyway, definition of binge: From the olden days — indulge in an activity, especially eating, drinking, or taking drugs, to excess; and in the now — watch multiple episodes of a television program over a short period of time.
Here we’ll concern ourselves with the latter, as I’m way-too old for the former.

Although Rolling Stone published a Top 100 TV Shows last week, their list truly sucked, as they have “The Simpsons” at number one, and “Parks and Recreation” at number nine, with “30 Rock” at 18 — shit! Now, ‘Parks and Rec‘ was undoubtedly good, howver, ‘30 Rock‘ was/is a ground-breaker and just incredible, so you have to look at shit like that with a shitload of a grain of televised salt.
If you’re into lists, Vulture went TV last month with their index of the top 100 shows on Netflex, but they were unranked so it was docile on the rant meter.

So, we’ll start first with what I’m currently binge-streaming, “Bones,” a long-running series (2005-2017) crafted around the way-old drama stand-by, the police procedural with a twist, as the action centers around a forensic anthropologist, who’s way-clever and brilliant, but a social idiot.
A shitload of neat scenarios, a good contrast/rapport between the two main characters and the whole cast, plus it’s well designed and staged — money was spent on sets and narrative details.
However, although I’m now in the 10th season of the 12, I don’t think it’s a keeper, or most-likely won’t be re-watching it a way-shitload of times like I’ve done with the other shows here. Too grisly for one — a lot of carving up humans.
Good once through so far, nonetheless:

And now for my most-favorite TV show of all time — and we’re covering a lot of ground here, maybe back to “Father Knows Best,” “My Three Sons,” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show ” (I fell in love with MTM in eighth grade while she was still married to Rob Petrie) — however, in real time seemingly my top preference is “Psych” (2006-2014), a show not found on many ‘best-of’ lists, but it’s great.
This young guy, taught by a cop daddy from an early age to be way-super observant, spins the lie he’s a psychic for the Santa Barbara Police Department, with a buddy (the cool Dulé Hill, late of the ‘West Wing‘), and the show is intelligent, witty and full of all kinds of cultural references that give the stories a nifty touch. And it’s all good-hearted and easy to watch, a great escape.
I shamefully admit having seen the series’ complete eight seasons a couple dozen times (if not more) — not weird:

And in this personal ‘best-of,’ only in the past year, is “Schitt’s Creek” (2015-2020), which seemingly came onto its own during the pandemic.  Plus it’s another good-spirited show without an ounce of nasty, racial under/overtones. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara are national treasures.
Although it does take a season or two to get really moving, it’s way-well-worth the wait as the Rose family grows into a kind of maturity rarely seen in modern TV:

Another series I’ve binged unmercifully is “30 Rock” (2006-2013), Tina Fey’s ensemble show on TV show busness built aroud the pitfalls/pratfalls and hazards faced by one Liz Lemon as she puts together a ‘SNL‘-type program against all odds most of the time. Alec Baldwin will never again be as sensational.
And the writing is way-top-notch — Fey may never again reach this zenith, though, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” did come close (which I’ve also binged) — and ‘30 Rock‘ is a game-changer, one-of-a-kind:

One more great ensemble show is “Community” (2009-2015), a crazy look at local colleges seen through via a really nutsie study group — the series had problems after about the fourth season, but it’s still a great binge, and over and over, too.
And a great cast, including Donald Glover, Alison Brie and Ken Jeong, who went onto to other great things:

I caught this next pne by accident, looking for some other show (can’t remember which) and stayed to really get into it — “Monk” (2002-2009), is way-better than it appears. The show’s about this guy, Adrian Monk, who has this way-serious case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, along with a shitload of other mental maladies which would render a normal person insane. Monk’s pretty close.
Yet another police procedural, but different, and a great sense of humor among the crime fighting:

Now for something completely different — the only drama in the bunch, and it’s great. “Madam Secretary” (2014-2019) is a really good look at the Secretary of State’s job as seen through the human eyes of a former CIA analyst, who is tapped by POTUS to the position because he knows she’s really smart and truthful, and smart (did I say smart already?).
I’ve really, really appreciated Téa Leoni ever since “Deep Impact” (1998), and all her roles since. This series runs with her and she does an incredible job, and I love when she always (“always“) out-thinks/acts/performs the male assholes around her. She gives the president of the Philippines (a stand-in for Rodrigo Duterte) a hard pop to the face, breaking his nose, after he grabs her ass. Take that you T-Rump-like shithead!
Although really good and creative, ‘Secretary‘ had continous low ratings and only lasted four years and a way-small fifth one, where she becomes POTUS herself — worth the binge:

And finally, another great comedy, told in a different way than most, but still an ahead-of-its-time masterwork, “Scrubs” (2001-2010), was originally viewed in that old-fashioned form of once a week, and in this case pretty-much worth the wait.
However, the series overstayed its welcome — the last two/three seasons suck. Yet there’s at least six years and 100-plus episodes, so binge away:

And there’s more,of course, other bingeable TV series that I’ve seen the last few years of so, and plenty to come most-likely, like “Arrested Development” (2003-2019), or “Boston Legal” (2004-2008),or “Broadchurch” (2013-2017 ), or “Dead to Me” (2019- ), or “New Girl” (2011-2018 ), or “Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001), or ..maybe you get the point…

And cut…

(Illustration: ‘Art Critic’ by Norman Rockwell, found here)

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