Cable series outshine movies in the first half of 2013

family treeJuly 5, 2013 – We’re half way through the year, and I’ve reviewed only six theatrically released movies. There should be at least double that amount living on this blog by now. Unfortunately, it isn’t about being too busy to go to the theater. It’s movie selection. Nothing caught my eye and I stayed away.

Instead, I’ve watched several cable series, which have been far more entertaining these days. Whoever said there was a stigma for an actor working on TV must not have cable.

  1. Game of Thrones – HBO – I’m not a huge fan of fantasy, and may be the only person on the planet to despise the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, but after feeling left out of all the office chatter on Monday mornings, I decided to try it. Yes, it is bloody, but it’s also well written, so you can overlook the gore and enjoy the battle of wits. It hooked me instantly, and thanks to the power of “On Demand” and a terrible cold that kept me homebound, I was able to catch up quickly with seasons one and two by this spring’s premier of season three. Those 10 episodes flew by, and now I have to wait until next spring to welcome this smart series back into my life.
  2. The Americans – FX – This freshman series intrigued me from the start, and provided a great alternative to the void left by Showtime’s “Homeland”. Husband and wife team of Soviet spies blend so perfectly into suburbia America during the cold war Regan years that their children don’t even know they are not really American. We haven’t reached the famous “Mr. Gorbachov take down that wall” speech yet, so I know this series doesn’t have a long shelf life, but I enjoy the characters so much, it has me rooting for them. It’s brave to tackle a TV show for an American audience where the heroes are anti-American. Nevertheless, the creators succeeded and created must see TV.
  3. Family Tree – HBO – If you enjoy Christopher Guest movies and his offbeat sense of humor, you’ll love his half hour comedy about an Englishman tracing his family roots. Each character is quirkier than the next, and played brilliantly by the talented cast. There are still a few episodes left of the first season, and there is no word on whether it has been given a season 2, but the formula works for me, and my fingers are crossed.
  4. Mad Men – AMC – Just when you think the show’s best days are behind it, the creators come back and blow you out of the water. Season 5 started slowly…very slowly, but the last few episodes of the well-written series made up for it. I for one will enjoy the redemption of Don Draper since my biggest complaint in the later seasons was he never learns from his mistakes. Next spring’s season 6 will be its last, and I can’t wait to see what happens.
  5. The Newsroom – HBO – Technically, this cable series isn’t from the first half of 2013, but I put it in this list because that is when I watched it. When this series originally premiered last summer, I watched the first episode and was not impressed. However, I am glad I decided to give it another chance. Not  only does it pay homage to one of my favorite movies, “Broadcast News”, it’s clever and relevant with all of the recent news over the past few years, capturing stories about Bin Laden’s capture and the oil leak in the Gulf. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 10 episodes of season 1, and although it ended in a somewhat cheesy fashion, I still look forward to season two beginning on Sunday, July 14.
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