*Note – Being that I’m still uploading all my old blogs, these next two might seem extremely out-of-date.  For this post, two reviews of TV shows I watched in 2010, one still holds true.  Parenthood is by far one of the best scripted shows on television.  Why?  Because it’s more real than any “reality” show.  Honestly, reality television is just a bunch of contrived situations that end up looking like Jerry Springer episodes anyway.  But Parenthood, in being true to real life, shows arguments, talking over each other, the drifting apart and coming back together of a family.  You know, like real people.  But the other show, Life Unexpected, was cancelled awhile back.  If you get a chance, Netflix it.  Or whatever it is you people back home do to watch old, now-defunct shows.

Monday, May 24, 2010

As two people who can never watch too many movies and usually try to catch a few new TV shows, Steve and I have had to put extra effort into seeking out our entertainment here.  There’s only so much Korean television I can handle, what with their use of graphics layered over graphics, and cheesy sound effects layered over dialogue and music.  Not to mention the lack of interesting camera angles and most shows possessing the video quality of a nineties home camcorder.  I obviously don’t understand enough to interpret the storylines, but I’m willing to bet shows like the one where a bunch of dudes are sitting around a sauna cracking jokes and squirting each other with spray bottles isn’t too compelling.

And I’m certainly not getting movie tickets on the cheap anymore and spending nearly every Saturday in the theatre like I did at my last job.  Even so, 95 percent of the movies I want to see never make it to Mokpo.  So Steve and I, like many other teachers, have become downloading fiends and spend most late nights after work squinting at the laptop.

Here are some brief, not-so-Roger-Ebert-like reviews of what I’ve been watching lately on the very, very small screen.  This post is television.  The next one will be movies.

Parenthood

Since we’ve been gone, I’ve been oddly drawn toward the American dream.  Yes me, the one who’s barely come close to owning a house, the person who’s lived in 6 places in 8 years, the girl who’s biological clock is on Daylight Savings Time.  But give me a show with a mom, dad, 2.3 kids, a dog, and a little dysfunction and I’m all about it lately.  Case in point, Parenthood.  It’s about a family in San Francisco made up of 4 adult children, their parents, and the next generation of kids.  It has many of my favorite actors, including Lauren Graham.  Maura Tierney was supposed to play her role but had to drop out for breast cancer treatments.  That is the most unfortunate way to have to quit a job, but each time I watch I can’t see her on this show.  Lauren Graham is grittier and more believable as a single mom who can’t get it together.  She did it once on Gilmore Girls, and now she’s great on Parenthood.  I love the romanticism of San Francisco and though I’ve never been there, this show makes me long for it on those days I’m feeling homesick.  Maybe it’s just the Korea in me talking.  Maybe it’s a good family drama in the midst of all the “reality” crap.  Either way, I dig this show.

Life Unexpected

This is another family drama of sorts that kept popping up on a website I use.  I think it runs on the CW, which I never watched at home.  It’s about a foster girl who was never adopted and seeks out her birth parents for permission to be emancipated.  She is denied and turned over to them instead for joint custody.  The parents had her when they were in high school and are not much older than me, so I tend to see this show from their point-of-view (eek) rather than as a teen drama.  The first episode was only ok, but something drew me back and now I can’t get enough of these characters.  I’ve watched all 13 episodes in less than 2 weeks.  Again, it’s got the romanticism of the west coast (Portland) and your basic love triangle, will-she-or-won’t-she-marry-him storyline between Cate, Ryan, and Baze.  Cate and Ryan are engaged but are also coworkers as popular morning show DJs, something that catches my attention due to my days working at a small time AM radio station.  Ryan immediately becomes a sympathetic character when he wholeheartedly accepts Lux, the daughter Cate never told him she had.  Baze is the father, the former high school quarterback turned eternal frat boy.  With the exception of Ryan, every character on this show including the minor ones are at times both lovable and annoying.  Which makes them real.  A sixteen-year-old foster kid isn’t going to be perfectly happy just because she finally got the family she always wanted.  She’s going to be a mess of issues.  And her parents aren’t going to know how to be parents, let alone skipping ahead to the teen years.  Of the shows that are actually scripted dramas anymore and not of the plug-and-chug crime solving format, there’s not much left.  Life Unexpected is well-written with characters that compel you to want to know what will happen to them next.