Thursday favorite things: A TV show, a few movies, some music.

Oh Winter! I'm gonna keep this short:

how to get your ex back advice

Modern Family
I know I'm a year late coming to this awesome show. But it's my new favorite TV series. (fyi, this recognition changes several times a year). I didn't really get into it until Thanksgiving when my sister forced me to watch a couple episodes. And damn, it's really funny. If you loved Arrested Development, you will love this. Not nearly as absurd, but still geniously-written and acted. It's bound to be compared to The Cosby Show for decades to come. For those who don't know, it's a mockumentary-style comedy about three families related by blood. The older Dad (played by the Emmy-nominated Ed O'Neill, aka Al Bundy from Married with Children) and his hot young Columbian wife (played by the Emmy-nominated Sofia Vergara) are raising her overweight 10 year old son from a previous marriage. He (Al Bundy) has a gay son Mitchell (Emmy-nominated Jessie Tyler-Ferguson) who is partnered with Cameron (Emmy-winning Eric Stonestreet) who have adopted a Vietnamese baby. And he (Al Bundy) has a daughter, Claire (Julie Bowen) who is married to Phil (Emmy-Nominated Ty Burrell). They have three children. Describing the family tree makes it sound (yawn) so tired. I'm sorry. It's really not.

We rented the first season to “catch up.” Although there's really not much plot-line to catch up on. Each episode develops the characters and reveals more of their history. So knowing early episodes sometimes makes the jokes in later episodes a lot more funny. But it doesn't matter. Just start tuning in. Wednesday nights on ABC. (Or, better yet, use a DVR and watch it later so you can fast forward through the 30% of the half hour that is annoying commercial messages). You'll be happy you did (both parts, but I'm referring to tuning in to the show).

And if you've already been watching a while and ready to kvetch, please do, cause I like hearing good criticism about stuff I love. For instance, is anyone a little fatigued by the way each episode has to wrap up with a feel-good, family-affirming statement of goodness (human nature really *is* a kind thing!). But then, isn't this the way all TV comedies have to be written. I don't know. Maybe not.

For the first time in a long time, me and Honeycups have seen just about every Oscar nomination. What?! It's been almost six years since this happened before. Hmmm, our son wouldn't happen to be six? Anyway, it's been really awesome to see so many movies. Finally saw King's Speech. Man, we were avoiding it as long as possible. But what do you know, a great movie! I still don't want it to win the best movie Oscar, but is every one else OK with Colin Firth getting the Best Actor Oscar? And Geoffrey Rush, Best Supporting? I think we are. And how about that Jennifer Lawrence for best Actress? Can I get an Amen?

And Music
Man, tough year so far. But the song (We're having) A Spectacular Time (especially) and everything else on Base & The Superstructure's new album still makes me happy. Also, I like the new album by Destroyer. You can stream Kaput here. I sure miss Dr. Waterman at times like these, what with his superhuman ability to extol the greatness of an album. And believe me, he would do it for Destroyer. It's kinda special.

Books and all the rest
Please help. Any TV shows we should be watching (I plan to catch up on Breaking Bad–thanks Jeremy. And go Albuquerque!), or movies we should watch (we did skip Rabbit Hole and Biutiful. They seem too hard to watch. Has anyone else sat through them?), or any new music we're missing? Books? Websites?

May this harsh Winter end soon!



18 responses to “Thursday favorite things: A TV show, a few movies, some music.”

  1. PB says:

    We love Modern Family and watch the episodes over and over. They tweak the heart just enough at the end without a hint of resolution or treacle. And what I love about the Oscar films this year is similar, with an exception here or there, the “best” films have a humanity that can be absent from a lot of Hollywood fare. I recognized or wanted to have lunch with several of these characters. It was a good year to come back from the parenting bubble.

  2. Rachel says:

    Hi Farrell. I miss you and your omnivorous love of pop culture.

    Book: Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad. I wish everyone would just shut up about Jonathan Franzen; THIS is the best book of 2010.

    For music, I hang my head a little bit and admit that my inner 12 year-old is making me listen obsessively to all the early Duran Duran reissues (in 3-disc sets! with B-sides and 12″ mixes! oh, the adolescent hormones!).

  3. Visit from the Goon Squad is great. Also, Super Sad True Love Story. Not as pop-culture-y, but I’ve been gushing to anyone who will listen about Ariel Dorfman’s Desert Memories, which you can read about at my blog.

  4. Base 10 says:

    Thanks for the shoutout! About three songs into the record, Super Structure and I started seeing it as a dancepop record for our own demographic, and we imagined people like you and your Lovely Lady dancing around the kitchen while whipping up some dinner. Your appreciation of our work means means quite a lot. Thanks again!

    PS: Stephen Hawking’s latest, “The Grand Design,” kicks some serious ass. . .

  5. Base 10 says:

    . . .I guess it “means” twice as much!

  6. swells says:

    I can’t stop with John Vanderslice’s new album White Wilderness. As for websites, I have only belatedly discovered McSweeney’s Open Letters section, and oh my god.

  7. A White Bear says:

    I highly recommend, TV-wise, Community, which has been straight killing it. It’s especially rewarding to me, I guess, to see a show about the kind of people I work with. But it’s also fucking hilarious. Every season they try to do several experimental or epically filmic episodes, like last week’s “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.” I think because they have so many great characters and an amazing ensemble cast, they can really let the storyline drift from person to person. There is always something subtle happening in the background of shots, sometimes adding up to a whole other plot, and even the ancillary characters are hilarious. (The Dean, who isn’t in the show all the time, is obsessed with “humanizing” the community college experience, so he changes the school mascot to “The Human Beings,” represented by a terrifying faceless creature in a white body stocking. Brilliant.)

  8. k-sky says:

    Watch Terriers, a one-hour show that ran 13 episodes and wasn’t renewed, tragically, by FX. Raymond Chandler SoCal noir set in contemporary San Diego. Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James are wonderful as the the P.I.s who work themselves in over their heads and they are surrounded by a great and tragic supporting cast.

    Ted Griffin who wrote the Soderbergh Ocean’s 11 is one of the creators and the relationship between the two leads has a great flowing banter, masculine but not macho. It was a perfect little show and I still wake up needing Donal Logue to hold me.

    Not currently available by any licit means of which I know. Waiting list here, though I don’t know how well that works.

  9. k-sky says:

    OK, if I had scrolled down the page in that “waiting list link” I would have noticed that you can watch the whole thing on Amazon VOD, which sounds like a supervillain.

  10. A White Bear says:

    I think it’s also available on the totally illicit, where one can watch pretty much everything.

  11. Andrew says:

    I completely agree with AWB on Community. It’s really one of the funniest and smartest shows on television. I’ve been tuning into Parks & Recreation, which gets better with every episode, and this show on FX called Archer, which is absolutely crazy but often hysterical…

    I like Modern Family, but I’m SO glad they dropped the annoying end of the episode voiceover thing, which was trying to bring all the story lines together and always started with “sometimes family is just bla bla bla”. Wow was that annoying. Way better now.

  12. Tim says:

    For those who dig the new Destroyer, I recommend this song. The whole record is really good, too. I am not even kidding.

    After watching True Grit, I jumped on the bandwagon and read the novel. It’s very fun, only slightly different from the movie in places. The Coens got the tone just right, it seems to me.

    I also just read Bryan Charles’s There’s a Road to Everywhere Except Where You Came From (sic). I usually hate memoirs and can’t make it through them, but this one is well written and well done, about the author’s move to NY in the late 90s to “become a writer”. He ends up working as a copy writer for Morgan Stanley in the World Trade Center. Dot dot dot.

  13. Jeremy says:

    I had a similar initial reaction to Modern Family as you did, Farrell. Initially, I watched a few episodes and liked it OK but wasn’t crazy about it. Then The Girl forced me to watch more of it, and now I’m completely hooked.

    We watch a ton of TV. (One of the nice things about dating someone who works in TV–watching TV and not feeling guilty about it because a.) it’s for her work!, and b.) I’m supporting my girlfriend by totally working with her!) We recently watched the entire first season of The Big C (Showtime) in about two days, but we’ve also been into Episodes (Showtime again) and The Walking Dead (AMC, zombies!) and House (Fox) and Bored to Death (HBO). We watch random stuff, too, stuff that’s not even very good. The Cape, Off the Map, Perfect Couples, Shameless, Hellcats, Nikita. Oh, we watched the first episode of Lights Out last night, which seems pretty awesome, even though it’s about boxing…

    (Oh, TV, I love you so!)

    Books? I’m reading a novel called The Room (by Emma Donaghue) right now that’s quite good–told from the POV of a 5-year-old kid whose entire life has been spent in one room. (His mother, who had been abducted and imprisoned by some mysterious dude, has tried to fashion a “normal” life for him there in the room.). So far, I recommend it. Maybe if I weren’t watching so much TV, I’d be done with it by now and able to give it a more official, complete recommendation.

    Anyway, that’s all I’ve got right now.

  14. Farrell Fawcett says:

    Thank you everyone! Those were some great recommendations. I’m so excited to have these new possibilities of joy and entertainment. Yes, JZ, I feel you–“TV I love you so!” thanks for saying it. And damn you Steph with the website, I already wasted time there today. Damn, that’s a lot of reading. Any favorites there? Y’all really know how to help a fellow get through the winter.

  15. Farrell Fawcett says:


  16. Farrell Fawcett says:

    Annette Bening?

  17. Farrell Fawcett says:

    sorry, watching Nightline interview. Do four nominations really make it more deserved? I suppose. Ugh.

  18. KS says:

    “Haha, I weeen Valentinz Day! ”

    I love Modern Family! Just got turned onto it recently myself, and by my students, no less. I guess when you teach courses on the history of marriage you can expect recs for shows like this and Big Love…anything outside the box; anything that doesn’t reinforce cultural myths about love, marriage, and families.

    Fwiw, have heard very negative reviews of “The Kids Are Alright” from some lesbian academics so I’ve not seen it. Regardless, I’m rooting for the huge underdog, Jennifer Lawrence.