What I’m Watching These Days (Part 1 of 3)

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While I don’t have a ton of time to watch TV these days, I somehow manage to keep up with the things I like thanks to a DVR, cable on-demand, a Netflix account, and the fact that shows run at all different times of the year these days. It’s not like when I was a kid, and would have to make hard choices between whether to watch The Incredible Hulk or The Six Million Dollar Man on Friday nights. (I’m not sure that was ever an actual contest, but I do remember agonizing as I’d read the “Fall Preview” issue of TV Guide every year.)

I’ve broken my list of ten shows into three parts, alphabetically …

12 Monkeys (Syfy): Two words: time travel. One thing you should know right now is that there’s almost nothing I won’t watch or read, no matter how bad it is, if time travel is involved. Fortunately, this show is actually good. Really good. I’m a huge fan of Terry Gilliam’s 1995 movie. It was the first time I ever took Brad Pitt seriously as an actor. So to be honest, I didn’t believe that a TV show based on the same material could do it any justice. But they proved me wrong. I’ve found it to be clever and intelligent, and I enjoy the way it regularly plays around with time travel tropes while embracing some of the quirky darkness (dark quirkiness?) of the movie. I was glad to hear it got renewed for a second season, and can’t wait for it to come back next month.

Arrow (CW): I was actually a bit of a latecomer to this one. To be honest, I’m more of a Marvel guy than a DC guy, and even when I do take an interest in DC, the Green Arrow isn’t anywhere near the top of my list of favorite superheroes. But I was a fan of Smallville, and Arrow seems to follow that recipe … which in turn basically follows a recipe that Whedon created for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But that’s a post for another time. What Arrow does that the other DC shows you’ll find on this list (spoiler alert) don’t do is the whole flashback-per-episode thing (borrowed heavily from Lost). But it all comes together rather nicely, and week after week, I find myself being interested in characters whose comic books I’ve never read.

Castle (ABC): Technically, this show doesn’t belong on this website. Technically, it’s a cop procedural with firm roots in reality. But come on — it’s Nathan Fillion, AKA Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly, AKA Caleb from Buffy, AKA Captain Hammer from Dr. Horrible. Firefly alumni Adam Baldwin and Gina Torres have both guest-starred. And thanks to the perpetual man-child writer Rick Castle and his closet-geek detective partner Kate Beckett, the show makes regular nods to all things sci-fi, horror, superhero, and fantasy. The writers of the series are clearly geeks themselves, and it bleeds through in just about every episode. Normally, I wouldn’t have much to do with a cop show. But this one doesn’t take itself too seriously, actually surprises me with the whodunits most of the time and, as cheesy as it gets, is a show I’ve just never been able to quit.

Coming up tomorrow: More time travel, more superheroes …