12/09/2016

My Favorite TV Shows (because you were dying to know)

Well this is just getting stupid right? No…. okay kind of yes but it is a blog. Believe it or not, Randomrings Channel actually has quite a lot of writing that goes into it. I ad lib things now and again, but an actual script is the foundation for my bigger videos, and even some small ones. I’m not a film or theater major or anything so the ability to write a script must have come from somewhere. Hell? Maybe. But for now let’s go with some influences. No real particular order because that would require me to put a lot of work and stress into a blog about something that is barely relevant to anything I have ever done or probably will do. They are ranked, but it’s pretty loose. Essentially these are just ten shows that I like significantly more than all of the other shows. I also just realized that most of my favorite shows were either creatively ended or completely cancelled so if this list incites you to watch one of these amazing and inspirational shows, then I encourage it even more because you can watch it at your own pace.

#10: Drawn Together (2004-2007)
                Let’s start off the list with a show where cartoon characters perform horrific sex acts on each other! Drawn Together, beyond its creative premise of being a reality show where eight cartoon characters have to live in a house together, is the king of fart and dick jokes. This is because the joke is never just “dick” or “sex” and then the joke ends. The writing is actually incredibly smart while focusing on dumb premises, such as an obese Betty Boop attending a fat camp reunion or a Disney Princess with a car crash fetish being wooed by a superhero that can cause several car crashes. One of my favorite things about Drawn Together is that it spits in the face of every other television trope ever in the course of just three seasons and then proceeds to use the show’s real-life cancellation to jab at the despair of cancelled shows. A sitcom where the joke is “these two characters want to have sex with each other” is uninspired and usually trivial and mudane. Drawn Together actually writes an A and B story into an episode about one character not being able to masturbate or something. It’s hard to explain, but once you get past the first two episodes, you may also find the hidden genius that is Drawn Together’s intricate writing, and even then, the first two episodes definitely aren’t bad. If I could sum it up in one statement, Drawn Together is the most thought-provoking way to kill all of your brain cells.

#09: Sherlock (2010-Present)
                And now humble readers, the polar opposite of Drawn Together. Sherlock may be a daunting show to try out, because unlike your typical drama, each episode lasts longer than some movies. Three seasons in I can now understand why. Each season, or “series” of Sherlock feels like a giant movie in itself, with three-act segments hidden in its own three-act narrative. This ties in every group of episodes without needless cliffhangers every twenty minutes, because an hour and a half can fit character exposition and complicated plots with jokes that can rely on timing because they don’t have to make time for a third of their show being eaten up by commercials. Also the main character is great. Sherlock I find very reminiscent of House… from House. You know. House? House is an interesting character played by a very talented actor but his emotional blockade actually sort of takes away from the show. Wait, let me explain. The character’s emotional baggage being initially unknown to the viewer is what makes the character interesting, but for the whole show to not be soulless, other characters need to develop around him in a way that constantly intrigues and captivates the viewer. With a best friend character and about 4-5 other characters interested in House’s existence, the show rarely hits the mark to a point that is incredibly poignant. Sherlock has one best friend, John Watson (Martin Freeman, also amazing), and maybe a few other close acquaintances that happen to pop up. When something happens to Watson in regards to Sherlock, you cry. Or whatever emotional response the show is trying to convey. Because they have given you more immediate reasons to care about the characters in relation to the main character because when the main character tries to avoid emotion, it’s the role of the other characters to illicit emotion to the viewer in a way that doesn’t make the main character a caricature. The mysteries in each episode are always nail-biters too. There are little subtle clues that beg the viewer to try to guess what happened before the cast does, which I can say no other show I have ever seen does that on a per-episode basis. Maybe I should move on to the next show. Jesus, this is only #9!

#08: Archer (2009-Present)
                I could rant about Archer all day too, but I won’t. Archer is a cartoon that creates its own memes and they don’t get tiresome because they are always shown in a different light where they are still funny. This is because Archer is surprisingly just as much an action show as it is an animated comedy, oh and the visuals get noticeably better with every season. The show has an ongoing narrative so you start feeling like you have a front row seat to the lives of a bunch of people that work for a secret service agency, because the characters actually grow and change with time so they aren’t just one-trick cards. That is why every season feels fresh, and you can probably see a random episode and be able to tell which season it is from because of what’s happening. There are better television shows with action, and better shows with jokes, and better shows with drama, but in my opinion there is no better mix of the three where these elements effortlessly play off of each other than they do in Archer.

#07: Farscape (1999-2003)
                Farscape is a show that solidifies that I will die alone solely by watching it because it is definitely the kind of show that you tell a girl you watch and they immediately don’t want to sleep with you anymore. But it’s on this list of shows that I absolutely adore so I say it’s worth it. It could be argued that I don’t know any better and that’s why I’m okay with this theory but I digress. Farscape is a show where a scientist from Earth is studying the theories of wormholes, and his theories unfortunately prove right as he tests it himself by launching himself into one that he has opened. Oops. His ship bumps into another which ends up killing the brother of a warlord, and his only salvation is a group of alien fugitives roaming through space on a living, biomechanical ship. Not sold? Jim Henson Productions made all of the puppets and designed some of the alien costumes in Farscape. There are some great computer generated moments in the show for sure, but the practical effects still hold up today, especially when they get a visual upgrade in Season 2. It has cheesy sci-fi tropes, but explains them in a way that makes them not so cheesy anymore. After a while, the world is so good at explaining itself without being boring that you can see an alien that can melt people with his mind and just kind of think that’s okay. Well it’s not okay, but it’s something you don’t have to rack your brain over. This opens up the main cast to have problems in alien form that are relatable to a human audience, so the old sci-fi tropes don’t apply to why you come back to the show. What I mean by that is, you don’t watch the next episode of Farscape because “I want to see what the next crazy alien race will look like” or “maybe there’s a planet where they all speak in farts”. You watch the next episode of Farscape because you want to know if Crichton will make it back home, if D’Argo will find his son, if Scorpius is going to capture Crichton and probe his brain for wormhole information and monopolize the galaxy’s war technology. Most of the episodes are like Star Trek in the sense that you can watch one episode and then the next episode is a new narrative, but at the same time characters are growing in Farscape and an overarching story is progressing in a way that keeps itself interesting beyond the already compelling mystery or dilemma that the crew of Moya (the ship) has to overcome. Watching it from episode one and moving forward is increasingly rewarding and thrilling. But I mean, again, you will never lose your virginity if you watch this show.

#06: Spongebob Squarepants (1999-Present)
                Spongebob Squarepants is the kind of show that I wish was not in my favorite shows list, but I can’t shake the feeling. It’s not that I get an overwhelming swell in my heart every time I watch Spongebob, but the first few seasons are still incredibly entertaining to look at and the jokes are actually superb. Superb even! Spongebob episodes under the thumb of Derek Drymon broadcast the end of a golden era in animated television series. This is a time where a cartoon could be truly family friendly. Spongebob has an accessible enough plot and cleanliness for the 8-year old kid, demented enough for his college student brother, and indisputably goofy enough to make the parents laugh as much as the kid, and most of the time the jokes work to all ages at the same time. Spongebob is so high on this list solely because if I see someone else watch it, it is hard for me to look away. The first few seasons of Spongebob showcase one of the last mainstream hand-drawn animated series ever, which gives way to more emotion because of how we register actual faces. We can read body language and facial expressions because the muscles in our face react gradually; they don’t shift in a few frames or immediately change. Spongebob gives time to its facial structures, no matter how ridiculous they look, to stress certain emotions with a series of exaggerated looks that give an immediate understanding of emotion to the viewer and then play off of itself as necessary. Because Spongebob is so weird and the back deck of a very different era of television, I can only really say you have to watch a few episodes of the show to understand why this is one of the most critically acclaimed cartoons of all time.

#05: Seinfeld (1989-1998)
                Yes, go ahead and make fun of me. Seinfeld is in the middle of this list. It doesn’t justify my bad taste in television, but I just want to point out that I usually hate laugh-track multi-camera sitcoms. A lot. You name a sitcom, and if I have seen it, I can probably tell you why I think it is sinful. Seinfeld has its sins, sure, but its era is not telling of the content. The jokes in Seinfeld are either so out of left field that they work because they don’t fit any situation or the jokes work because they will probably be relatable until humanity ends. Seinfeld exposes you and everyone you hold dear as the terrible people that you are, and flaunts the tragic nature of society as its own comedy show. There isn’t a whole lot of growth in characters over time, but reoccurring characters make it worth sitting through a full season or two I suppose. Honestly just watching random episodes is usually good enough for me. When I was young, for whatever reason, Seinfeld was one of the only “adult” shows that I was allowed to watch, and it still holds a special place for me. Things that I think won’t be funny to me anymore still make me laugh. Speaking of comedy, this is one of the only laugh-track sitcoms in the world that has a premise more than it does a gimmick. King of Queens: a married couple who houses the weird, grumpy father-in-law in the basement (gimmick). Big Bang Theory: a bunch of nerds who (spoilers) like boobs and comic books (gimmick). Seinfeld: a comedian who lives a normal life in New York despite being a comedian. Seinfeld shows that the idea does not make the show, there are way more factors than that. By the logic that “a show about a comedian doing nothing with his normal friends and family sounds boring”, Breaking Bad is just a show about a high school teacher trying to provide for his family by being a secret meth dealer. Portrayal can turn an AMC masterpiece into a Lifetime movie or vice versa. Seinfeld has an incredible main cast, a colorful variety of absurd yet relatable situations, and an amazing creative team making the framework for the show in the first place. Well I shouldn’t say “making”, because the show has been done for almost 20 years, but you get the picture. I understand why people are turned off to the idea of Seinfeld or why people aren’t that into it after watching it. I’m not saying it’s the best show in the world, or even the 5th best show, but it is and will probably always be one of my favorites and I will recommend it as much as I probably should not try recommending it.

#04: Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
                Breaking Bad is a timeless tale that blew my damn mind. If you couldn’t tell by this blog or my YouTube channel or both, I scrutinize everything. Every single thing. After watching Breaking Bad all the way through, I found maybe two nitpicks… in the entire 5-season arc. Breaking Bad makes each season feel like a concise movie experience, which is why it is so trendy to “binge” the whole thing. I admit, I went pretty hard on Breaking Bad. The actors are incredible, the script is a trip (seriously, go find the actual screenplay on Google somewhere because even the script is entertaining), and human emotion is placated in a way that you are familiar with but deployed in timing that stunts your breathing. Breaking Bad shows heartfelt values, introspective, and a moral of survival driven from purpose by digging your nose into a situation that you are simultaneously entertained by and terrified of. You feel the dirty rush that Walter White feels by watching the show, and because of the way it is written, you feel the ways it affects other aspects of his life and the suspense given in his life and those around him through near-flawless pacing. Not on average, throughout the entire show. I know it’s trendy to say that Breaking Bad is one of the best television shows ever made, but take it from a guy who hates television shows: Breaking Bad is objectively one of the most well-made television series ever made. The only reason it isn’t so high on the list is because watching it is an investment. Not a chore, but an investment. You have to be ready to give this show the attention that it rightfully demands to truly enjoy all of the wonder it has to offer. The next three shows you see on this list are shows that I can (and have) watched time and time again and it is very hard to be bored of them. I’m not saying I get bored of Breaking Bad, I’m just saying that if I’m looking for an emotional pick-me-up or something to play in the background while I work on something else, these shows are more applicable than Breaking Bad. Don’t let that undermine Breaking Bad’s prowess. The show is a masterpiece.

#03: The Whitest Kids U’ Know (2007-2011)
                Drawn Together is the animated king of fart and dick jokes, but if you are looking for something more in the sketch comedy department that (at times) is a bit more tasteful, then I would recommend The Whitest Kids U’ Know. The Whitest Kids U’ Know or WKUK is a sketch comedy show by a titular troupe of five very talented men. Now that I’m at this point of the list, I find it kind of hard to explain why a sketch comedy show is good. With no storyline in the show by default, all you can really expect from a sketch show is that it will be funny. So um… it is. Some sketch shows draw out a giant awkward scenario in most of their sketches, others make twenty minutes of incredibly tiny sketches that center on one silly joke. WKUK in this sense is much more of a mixed bag. One sketch is a man on a stage putting his face in a pail of boogers and urine, one sketch is a man pitching a sexually suggestive ad about juice marketed to kids, and another sketch is a self-aware sketch adaption of a letter they got from John Cleese of Monty Python. They are all very different ideas and in turn very different sketches, but the thing they all have in common is that they are all absurd. The thing that separates WKUK from other sketch comedy shows, and the reasons why it has such a large following, is because every sketch is teetering on the edge of reality in one way or another. There are no stupid forgettable sketches about a man in a grocery store getting upset about a coupon or two men hitting on a girl to find out that her boyfriend is way bigger than they are. None of the sketches are predictable, and even after watching each sketch a million times like I have, they are still funny in part because of this, because at the very least you will remember how much a twist in a sketch caught you off guard. Most of the time WKUK is just so objectively silly that you can’t help but laugh though, and again, I don’t know how else to sell a series that has no story arc because it isn’t supposed to, so take into that what you will. Just know that the point of this list is just to talk about my favorite shows and why I think they are incredible, so mission complete. Don’t watch it if you don’t want to then… but seriously watch it.

#02: Rick and Morty (2013-Present)
                Rick and Morty is a lot more recent than the other shows on this list and probably a lot more popular than most of them too, so I probably don’t have to do much explaining. Rick and Morty is a sci-fi, comedy adventure kind of show where a genius scientist goes on crazy quests with his grandson who is not quite so genius… actually he is quite dumb to the potential point of being mentally disabled to some degree. Rick and Morty isn’t for everyone, but it has comedy that could make its own fresh comedy show, and sci-fi elements that could make a new sci-fi series, and the two blend together to make something that television has needed for a long time. That being something new that is actually good and original and not just an adaptation of a book or a reboot of a previously existing show. Sorry, I just hate TV. Rick and Morty and the world the characters live in put the viewer in a place where they may be jealous of the characters that live in such a world, but because of the amazing writing that explains why most things happen in its universe, the show quickly reminds you of something that makes the characters and their universe incredibly broken and flawed. Even in a world where there is a gathering of different versions of you from an infinite number of different realities, they still form a group to bring down other versions of themselves down and create law enforcement just like the rest of us. Rick and Morty isn’t just a show that takes a dump on sci-fi tropes and pop culture, although it excels at that too, but it occasionally bends some rules of what is acceptable or “sexy” to do with a TV show. The first episode in Season 2 is about a universal timeline of three of the main characters going out of sync, which by nature is theoretically impossible to show, but they portray it through line-splitting, and without spoiling the episode, it is done in a way where I stared at the screen in awe. It was one of the few times where being an overthinking asshole paid off for me, because after being so skeptical of every form of modern media I have ever seen in my entire life, every once in a while you are thrown a Breaking Bad or a Rick and Morty that do something beyond what you thought was possible, not because they crafted any new visual technology or anything, but because it was just so creative and entertaining. So by all of that, I think Rick and Morty is one of the greatest shows ever created and am incredibly excited to get a Season 3 Blu-Ray (because I don’t have cable or satellite), but I also have met a handful of people who hate the show or think it’s “just okay” so again, this is just a list of my favorite shows so you don’t have to watch it or feel like you missed out on the greatest show of the decade. PS: Fuck them, Rick and Morty secretly is one of the greatest shows of the decade, or really of ever, so watch Rick and Morty!

Honorable Mentions
                I don’t watch a lot of television series but these aren’t the only ten I watch, so in an attempt to avoid the question “Hey, what about (blank)? That was a great show!” I am just going to do this. I also liked Samurai Champloo, Afro Samurai, Daredevil, Better Call Saul, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Robot Chicken, Metalocalypse, Chappelle’s Show, 70’s-90’s Saturday Night Live, the first few seasons of The Office, the first few seasons of Modern Family, and 30 Rock. 30 Rock is pretty much the #11 in this top ten.

#01: Community (2009-2015)
                Community is my favorite show of all time. I have seen every episode at least three times, most of which probably far more than three times, and I still laugh and find new interesting things about the show. Oh yeah, sorry, I went in too fast there. Community was a sitcom on NBC whose pilot rivaled the ratings of the already dominating US version of The Office, then for whatever reason plummeted into cult-following levels. Was this because the second episode was bad? No. This was because people want easy TV that emulates something they have seen a million times. Community takes tropes of that shitty formula, throws them up their own asses, and then serves it back up with a new name and smell and makes you feel them anew. Like caviar. Community had a magical first episode for sure, but then when it started getting remotely silly, people didn’t know what it was anymore. It was cancelled a few times in fact. When it kept coming back, it kept getting weirder. I like weird things. Community has all of the things that make a great mainstream, primetime sitcom, but because it wasn’t safe and took too many shots at emotional vulnerability, it wasn’t mainstream, but those same reasons are why it has such a huge cult following today. Honestly, I am a bit biased here in saying that Community is super awesome because Community has gotten me through some really rough times in my life. Looking back, it could have been a lot of other shows, but for whatever reason I picked this one when life was too sad to face. The show is so good, that when I watch it now I don’t connect those bad times to the show mentally, I overcame them and now I can enjoy the show as it is. The show being hilarious and also strangely emotional with every episode helps too. I guess I myself like to write things and Community has a standalone narrative in every episode that could be its own movie, but has an ongoing arc that keeps you invested and rewards you for watching the whole thing. I don’t know what else to say. I like Community. I’m obviously not the best blogger.



There you have it: another glimpse into my soul since I rarely let any of that out. Let me know if you love or hate any of the shows on this list and why.

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