Sunday, September 13, 2015


More and more people these days are choosing to take in their entertainment the same way bulimics take in food, devouring shows in great, gulping binges that leave them bleary-eyed, stiff-jointed, mentally foggy and utterly spent. 
Yer old pal Jerky is no different. In fact, after years of being inexcusably lax in my attempt to stay on top of the whole "television renaissance" thing that everyone says we're experiencing, I have taken to watching not just seasons, but entire SERIES in long, marathon viewing sessions. With some of these shows stretching into five seasons, that is no easy feat, let me tell you. 
Anyhoo, my pain in this case is your gain, because today, I'm going to clue you in as to which of these "must watch" TV shows really are "must watch" TV shows, which are just a waste of everyone's time, and all points in between. I hope you enjoy these short reviews at least as much as I hated watching some of these shows. - YOPJ

ROME (HBO), Seasons 1 and 2

This lavish American/British/Italian co-production launched that infamous homosexual catch-phrase: "You can Pullo my Verenus all day long!" Okay, so that's not technically true, but the testosterone runs thick through this series' veins. Maybe that's because of the intensity of Rome's central bromance between the aforementioned lead characters, Legionaries Verenus and Pullo, portrayed so winningly by Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson. Or maybe it's because the show was co-created by legendary Hollywood fascist John Milius, upon whom the Coen brothers based the character of Walter in The Big Lebowski. Rome served up heaping helpings of period detail with buckets of blood (and sex) to help wash down those history lessons. Sadly, despite being scheduled to run for 5 seasons, producers pulled the plug after only 2 because of how damned expensive it was to shoot. This is doubly tragic, because the decision to pull the plug came literally weeks before the first season DVD broke all previous sales records, and ratings for the last half of the second season exploded beyond anyone's wildest dreams. 

Flow Factor: Excellent episodic flow. Must be watched in sequence.

Superfluity Levels: Negligible. Virtually no repetition, constant narrative novelty.

Binge-ability Index: Dangerously binge-able. Schedule breaks ahead of time so you don't caught in a 24-hour video vortex.

Bottom line: It's like Game of Thrones, only real.


GAME OF THRONES (HBO), Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

It's like Rome, only totally made up. Everybody's favorite historical drama about shit that never happened, Game of Thrones is an absolute phenomenon, so I doubt I have to describe it to you except to say that the setting seems like a mix of Medieval Europe and Ancient Rome, while the behavior of the characters seems positively Ancient Greek, or even (gulp) Babylonian. Rape and brutality abound. And it's pretty fucking glorious, if you ask me.

Flow Factor: Decent, but the last season started to drag.

Superfluity Levels: Negligible. Not a whole lot of repeated beats, here. More like constant one-upping itself.

Binge-ability Index: Maximum. Dangerously binge-able.

Bottom line: Probably the most must-see TV show currently on air.


THE WIRE (HBO), Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

The Greatest Show in the History of Television by some lights. It's definitely the finest police procedural show ever produced, and it's also definitely one of the most relevant socially conscious dramas ever produced. Depending on your personal politics, your mileage may vary, but as far as I'm concerned, The Wire's reputation is well deserved. Even the "worst" episode is better than the best of most network - and even a lot of premium cable - offerings.

Flow Factor: Perfect. Multi-episodic arcs flow seamlessly into season-spanning arcs. 10/10.

Superfluity Levels: Zilch. This is a show that is constantly evolving and changing.

Binge-ability Index: Nigh unto Game of Thrones levels.

Bottom line: The most "must see" of all the must see TV shows of the last decade and a half. Easily out-Sopranos The Sopranos.


AMERICAN HORROR STORY, (FX), Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4

Freaky-deaky goings on in a beautiful old house that has seen more than its fair share of diabolical and dastardly doings. A bit uneven, but the novelty works in its favor, so make this the first season you watch.

Excellent swirl of horror movie tropes, as escaped Nazi scientists breeding monstrosities while aliens and super-genius serial killers do their thang. I was hopelessly addicted to this, what I consider to be the best, of the four seasons so far.

Barring a few fine performances and a few good ideas, the inclusion of a Franken-Fratboy and Stevie Nicks dooms this season as undeniably the goofiest, fail-iest season of this popular franchise. I recommend skipping.

An excellent return to form, with one of the creepiest show openers in TV history, ranking up their with the original Twilight Zone montage. If clowns freak you out, you're gonna love this one. Also, freaks!

Flow Factor: Each season throws so many ideas at you that you never have time to be bored, and things never feel like they're getting stale or samey.

Superfluity Levels: Coven suffers a bit from "we've already been down this road" syndrome, but the other series keep the freshness levels elevated at all times.

Binge-ability Index: Totally binge-worthy. Sticks in your head, too, so you don't have to watch them all in one big gulp.

Bottom line: Two excellent seasons, one good season, and one shitty one. Bring on AHS: HOTEL!


DAREDEVIL (Netflix), Season 1

Marvel's blind avenger Matt Murdock gets his first TV outing since a guest appearance on The Incredible Hulk in the early 80's. Also, Gomer Pyle plays a way too emo and somewhat under-weight Kingpin in a performance that makes him seem more like a PG-13 version of Richie Rich's dad than the Wilson Fisk of comic book lore.

Flow Factor: So-so. The jumping back and forth in time that the first few episodes indulge in make them a bit of a slog, as we're constantly taking a break to learn what we already knew about what was going to happen to Matt's doomed, boxing loser of a dad. Punch-punch, kick-kick, flashback.

Superfluity Levels: A great many of these episodes feel like repeats of previous episodes. Way too many fight scenes that look exactly like the previous half-dozen fight scenes. How much punishment are we supposed to believe one man can take before he requires hospitalization and a few months off to recuperate?!

Binge-ability Index: Moderate. The sameness gets to you after a while.

Bottom line: Meh.


ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, Seasons 1 and 2

Criminal Lesbians on Parade! What's not to like?

Flow Factor: Good.

Superfluity Levels: I never got bored, and loved learning the backstories behind all these lovely ladies (and the one lady with a little something extra). It really kept me coming back for more.

Binge-ability Index: High to Extreme. I never thought I'd become addicted to a show like this. But I did.

Bottom line: Maybe the ultimate couples' binge series.


THE JINX, (HBO), Season 1

A six-part documentary series with all the surprises and high drama of good fiction. Hard to believe it's true, but apparently, it is.

Flow Factor: It's short, so, quite excellent.

Superfluity Levels: Zero. It doesn't have time to become superfluous.

Binge-ability Index: Maximal.

Bottom line: If you like true crime documentaries, this is for you.



The cosmic horror and dread of H.P. Lovecraft, the nihilistic anti-human philosophies of Thomas Ligotti, the frills and chills of Robert Chambers' The King in Yellow, Southern Gothic inbred serial killing Christian fundamentalist legacy families... and two of the finest performances of the last decade in ANY medium, in a somewhat over-written and ultimately disappointing must-see masterpiece of wasted opportunities.

Flow Factor: Starts slow, but mesmerizing if you're attentive and invested. Eventually picks up steam.

Superfluity Levels: Low.

Binge-ability Index: Yeah... quite good.

Bottom line: Again, your mileage will vary depending on how well read you are in the sources from which Pizzacollatamundo (or whatever his name is) has so liberally and shamelessly plagiarized.


HAPPYISH, (HBO), Season 1

Steve "Alan Partridge" Coogan steps in for a suicided Philip Seymour Hoffman in this edgy, sophisticated, but still raunchy and occasionally ridiculous dramedy.

Flow Factor: You could easily watch these episodes out of sequence (bar the final one) and not lose any story value.

Superfluity Levels: Medium. A running gag with the Kiebler Elves starts to lose its sting towards the end.

Binge-ability Index: Medium.

Bottom line: This one was cancelled before the final episode aired, I believe. There's a reason for that. Anyway, I enjoyed it.


OTHER SPACE, (Yahoo!), Season 1

The creator of Freaks and Geeks (among others) launches this Yahoo!-funded sci-fi parody web-series with a little help from some familiar faces, including two Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumni (Joel and Trace). 

Flow Factor: Pretty good.

Superfluity Levels: Negligible.

Binge-ability Index: This was like the purest crack rock for yer old pal Jerky's sensibilities.

Bottom line: The least likely series you're ever likely to find yourself in love with. It certainly helps that three of the cutest gals in the galaxy are along for the ride. Yowza!


  1. Hey Jerky how's it going? Just testing out the comments here, but Deadwood's a good binge show. It can make your brain hurt though -- the language is something you have to really focus on. Cheers!

  2. Oh awesome it worked! Blogger's comments, tie-in with Gmail, and general hasseldom kinda drove me away. I guess if you're logged in already there aren't any problems.

  3. Hey brother! Glad to see someone commenting! I think in my four years of active blogging, I've only had a dozen or so comments... thanks in large part to Blogger's idiotic set-up forcing people to activate an account just to chime in. I have yet to see Deadwood but everybody's telling me I have to watch it, so I will!

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