Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summertime


Seeing as though this is the first week of summer, I thought a summer post would be apropos. 

It has been crazy hot this week in Germany, and summer is in full-swing. The days are filled with 17 hours of daylight, and the nights are filled with the sounds of crickets. People are having BBQs and drinking ice cold drinks. The lake shores are full of people, and the trees are full of their rich green leaves. 

The world is one big party in the summertime, it seems! 

Though summer is my least favorite of the seasons (weird, I know), is it not without things that I enjoy:

The romanticism of baseball being played on a warm summer night

The sounds of crickets and katydids in the nighttime air while driving through the country

Summer cookouts 

The wonderful electricity in the air right before a glorious thunderstorm 

Ice cream on hot days (or if I am being truthful, on any day really)

The admiration one feels when seeing the hard-working farmers tending to their fields 

A glass of ice cold lemonade on a scorching hot day

Summer blockbuster movies

The sound of frogs coming from the ponds surrounding the countryside

Going to the beach and playing in the ocean

Summer most definitely has its perks, even though I will always be an autumn and winter person (as of today, only 6 more months until Christmas!)

What is your favorite thing about summer? 

Monday, June 6, 2016

My Top 10 Current Television Shows

In the past 5-7 years, the quality of television has increased drastically. So drastically in fact, that one could argue it has surpassed movies as far as entertainment is concerned. The sheer level of acting and writing talent in the television world is a sight to behold. 

Another important change, talent aside, is the recently new development of television shows being written in a serialized format (one story told over an entire season or seasons), as opposed to an episodic "story of the week" format. 

When you combine these two changes, it is no wonder that people are now preferring television to movies. After all, you can only get so attached to a character or story in a two-hour movie. In a serialized television show, however, you follow the story over the course of years (literally). It is like a series of novels unfolding in front of your eyes. 

I developed my own personal top 10 list of current television shows. If you have not seen these, I highly recommend checking them out :)

#10 The Blacklist

James Spader's role as Raymond Reddington is one of the greatest performances on television today. Reddington, an international fugitive and the most-wanted man in the world, willfully turns himself in to the FBI in the very first episode. While explaining the motives behind Reddington's mysterious motives and background, the show takes the viewer on an amazing journey, spanning several countries and continents. 

                             #9 Daredevil

I just recently binge-watched two seasons of this show on Netflix in about two days whilst eating large quantities of ice cream. What a wild ride it was. Marvel stories, while entertaining, are not generally known for deep acting performances. Daredevil, however, is a wonderful exception. Additionally, Vincent D'Onofrio (who has always been among my favorite actors), plays one of the most well-written, and non-cliched, villains in TV history. 

#8 House of Cards

As a person who has always had a deep love for politics, I find House Of Cards to be a fascinating show. The show centers on Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey), a ruthless (and in many ways, sociopathic) Member of the United States House of Representatives, and his unhealthy quest for power. There is also an amazing side-story involving his complicated relationship with his wife.

#7 Walking Dead

I will admit that I have never been a big fan of the zombie genre, so I watched the first episode of this show a few years ago with some skepticism. I was wrong. Wow. This show is about so much more than "zombies". In fact, zombies probably only compromise 5-10 minutes of each episode. It is a story about the search for self, and the struggle to hold on to who we are, in a post-apocalyptic world. 

#6 True Detective

If I had to proclaim one acting performance as the best I have ever seen on television, it would be Matthew McConaughey's performance as internally-turmoiled FBI agent Rustin Cole. The story involves the search for a serial killer in 1995, and is told in haunting flashbacks by Agent Cole and his partner (played by Woody Harrelson). 


#5 Homeland

Homeland is a superbly executed and complex story involving a CIA agent played deftly by Claire Danes. Danes suspects that a recently freed Marine prisoner of war is actually a terrorist who has been indoctrinated during captivity. The tension reaches a fever pitch as the truth is slowly revealed. 

#4 Hannibal

Hannibal is a "prequel" of sorts, as it centers on Silence of the Lamb's legendary villain Hannibal Lecter during his days as a psychotherapist. The acting is among the best I have ever seen in the history of television. And the writing is pure poetry. Witnessing Dr. Lecter in sessions with patients, knowing all the while that he has a deep-seeded psychopathy, is simply captivating. An interesting development occurs when one of Dr. Lecter's patients begins to suspect that there is more to him than meets the eye. That patient? An FBI agent and criminal profiler. The battle of wits becomes more tense with each and every episode. 

#3 The Americans

As espionage shows go, this one tops Homeland by a slim margin. The Americans is a story about a seemingly typical American couple, who are in fact Russian spies that have integrated themselves into American society. Their goal: to conduct deep undercover operations and transmit sensitive and highly-classified information back to Moscow. The story takes place in 1981, during the Cold Ward. Complicating matters, the couple's next door neighbor is an FBI agent who is working on a classified investigation involving two unknown Russian spies...unaware that he is living right next door to them. 

#2 Game of Thrones

It is quite simply the most complex, vast, and elaborate story ever produced in the history of television. It revolves around seven royal families/kingdoms as they vie for the claim to the Iron Throne of the mythical land of Westoros. Characters that you love will die, while characters that you loathe will not. This is the most non-clich├ęd show I've ever seen, and I absolutely love that. Nothing is black-and-white - all the character's morality (or lack thereof) is relative. It's not about good guys versus bad guys, it's about the struggle for survival.


#1 Fargo


It would have taken a show of epic proportions to supplant Game of Thrones as the #1 show on my list. And the murder mystery Fargo is just that. Fargo is an anthology series (each season with a separate story line and characters), a rarity on television. Both seasons take place, as the title alludes, in the city of Fargo, North Dakota. The acting and writing is, quite simply, the best that I have ever seen. And it is not even close. From Billy Bob Thorton's role as villain, To Colin Hank's (Son of Tom Hanks) role as conflicted police officer, the acting is simply an art form. 

What is your current favorite TV show?