All the TV is back this week! And good news from the TCA

I had a really weird day at work today; I was bitten by jumping jacks and had to get to the doctor, and then it took two hours to get home instead of the usual 45 minutes. Consequently I haven’t had much time to watch or read anything for a review. So I’m going to go through some of the television shows I’m excited to see that have just returned or are returning soon, and I’ll highlight some of my favourite panels that were held at the Television Critics’ Association Press Tour throughout the month.

As I hinted yesterday, there’s a large amount of television shows returning to Australia this week. Justified’s final season begins Wednesday January 21 on FX Australia, and the second season of Broad City is slightly delayed and begins on the same day. In addition, Olive Kitteridge, Girls and Looking all began on showcase. I have no idea how I’m going to watch all of these shows now that Jane the Virgin is also back on, given that they all seem to be on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s going to be an interesting time – I have begun to prefer the shorter seasons: Girls, Looking and Broad City are all half-hour shows with ten episodes each, Olive Kitteridge is a four part miniseries, and Justified is an hour long (plus whatever FX gives Graham Yost) thirteen episode season. Jane the Virgin has been given a full 22 episode season and a renewal for a second season, which means there’s slightly more commitment involved, but I’m getting used to it.

In other news, one of my favourite twice-yearly events is the Television Critics Association Press Tour, with one held in January and another held in July. All of the American television networks are invited and hold press conferences about the state of their network as well as panels for individual shows. There are some arguments that this particular form of promotion is outdated, but with the rise of cable television at the end of the 20th and original scripted programming on streaming services since 2013, the press tour has been a useful promotional platform for emerging networks and streaming services. One of the big things that happened during Press Tour is that SO MANY RELEASE DATES were announced. Here’s the schedule for April in the United States (I’ll find Australian release dates where they’re available).

April

  • Saturday 4th: Outlander Season 1 Part 2
  • Sunday 5th: Mad Men Season 7 Part 2 (last 7 episodes ever!); Wolf Hall
  • Friday 10th: Daredevil (Netflix)
  • Sunday 12th: Game of Thrones Season 5, Veep Season 4, Silicon Valley Season 2
  • Saturday 18th: Orphan Black Season 3
  • Sunday 26th: Penny Dreadful Season 2

That’s going to be a busy month, even if I don’t watch Penny Dreadful and I’m not particularly excited for Daredevil (I’m not a big fan of comic book shows).

I’m also quite lazy tonight, so here are some links to some of my favourite panels that were held during the tour (Thanks to Alan Sepinwall and Dan Fienberg over at Hitfix for live-blogging the panels).

Programming Note: I’m trying to figure out how to have a job, write job applications because I’m halfway through a six month contract, and review pop culture at the same time. I have a long weekend coming up, so I hope that I’ll be able to write a few drafts in that time.

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Looking, Season One

Because it’s been quite hot for the past two days, and I’ve been looking after my cousin’s tropical fish, I spent some time in his air conditioned house to make sure the water temperature doesn’t get too high. Looking is a show I’d meant to watch last year, but I never got around to it for reasons I’m not entirely sure of. So I spent two days in air conditioned bliss (a cool change has finally come through but my house still hasn’t cooled down) watching this show that’s just lovely. This is going to be a short series of thoughts rather than a review because it’s late and I don’t have much time to write something more structured.

As a white, straight woman living in suburban Melbourne, I have no idea what it’s like to be a gay man living in San Francisco, but the characters on this show are incredibly relatable. During the fourth episode, when Patrick spotted Richie at a nightclub and started a conversation with him even though he was nervous, I tweeted: “Patrick is all of us, and we are all Patrick”. I know what it’s like to approach someone that you really like and try to have a conversation but you’re so nervous that you have no idea what you’re saying but you know like you sound like an idiot. That kind of nervousness happens when you have a crush on someone. I also liked that his friend (and the show) pointed out his flaws – Patrick was pretty self-aware, which is something more television characters should be.

The best episode of the season is the fifth episode, “Looking for the Future”, in which Patrick and Richie get to know each other. It captures the simple magic of what it’s like to get to know the person you’re dating, but it also touches upon serious issues, like Richie’s past relationship with an HIV positive man, and what it was like coming out to their parents, which is something I know I’ll never have to do. Some of the best episodes of television just involve conversations between two people (if you’re really into this kind of thing, check out the show In Treatment, it’s great), and “Looking for the Future” is one of the best examples of that.

As for the other characters: I don’t know how I feel about Agustin, he acted like a jerk for most of the season, but I love Dom and Doris. Richie is probably my favourite character on the show, he’s just so funny. I don’t like the storyline with Russel Tovey’s character; we’ll see how the second season goes. On the other hand, I really liked Lynn who was played by Scott Bakula, who has moved onto a permanent job with NCIS: New Orleans, but at least he’s in the second season premiere. I’m really looking forward to watching the second season when it starts in just over a week.