What I’m currently watching and reading I

Not having a tv, what we end up watching tends to take odd, random paths. One of us hears or reads about something and we start from the beginning, watching it streaming over the internet. This can end up with us watching a couple of seasons worth of something over the course of a couple weeks or a month. We certainly will watch multiple episodes in an evening.

I was thinking about this, because it has the benefit of weeding out some of the worst shows (which just don’t hold up to that kind of compressed watching), whether new or old. Because we’ve done this with shows we both watched years, decades, ago, as well as current shows. (For what it’s worth, M*A*S*H is just as good now as it was thirty years ago. It does not feel dated at all and holds up to the ‘watch four episodes at a time’ test.)

Recently, we began watching (and completely caught up on) two sitcoms on Showcase that take very different approaches to the form.

Nurse Jackie begins its third season at the end of March. The story of a nurse working in an urban (New York City), Catholic hospital emergency room. It deals with her coworkers, friends and family. The hook is that she is addicted to prescription drugs (and she keeps her family — a husband and two daughters — a secret from most of her coworkers, including the pharmacist that she is having an affair with).

For a show that is produced in a half-hour long sitcom format, I’m not sure I would call it ‘funny’, although there is definitely humour. The characters, though, are very vivid. Much of what happens is incredibly uncomfortable and the characters all have their own problems (sometimes very serious ones). I’m looking forward to the new season starting, as the second season ended with a crisis point for Jackie.

Episodes just completed its first season in February (and has apparently been picked up for a second). A married couple from Britain, writers of a successful television show, are offered the opportunity to make an American version of their show. The first season (which follows the British convention and is only 7 episodes long — the show is simultaneously on BBC2 and Showtime) follows the making of the American pilot.

Episodes is more obviously funny than Nurse Jackie, but in a dark (and British) way. A central aspect of the show is the forced casting of Matt LeBlanc as the star of the American version of the show as a result of pressure from the studio. LeBlanc was my least favourite actor/character on Friends, but he is amazingly good here, playing himself as someone an awful lot like Joey. (Who knows, maybe he was just playing himself on Friends?) The characters overall are both amusing and awful. The show is cynical, but in a making fun of things kind of way, rather than in a dreary way. It works very well. Unfortunately, it will be a while until the next season comes. Fortunately, the first season ended at a great place, dramatically, which bodes well for the future.

(Now, if only a new season of Outnumbered would start. Wiki is saying not until September!)

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