What I Watched On My Summer Vacation: 2010 Edition

By Kelly West 2010-08-28 18:54:21 discussion comments
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Weíre on the verge of the start of another fall season and while Iíve already begun to prepare myself for the onslaught of new and returning series, itís time to take a quick look back at my Summer TV viewing list. From Mad Men to Prison Break and even a little Dr. Who, I made good use of my lazier hours this summer and enjoyed most of what I watched.

The summer isnít what it used to be when it comes to TV. With so many summer series airing, thereís plenty of new programming to watch, but even with entertaining summer series like Covert Affairs, So You Think You Can Dance and True Blood, and miniseries like Starzís The Pillars of the Earth, I still managed to find time during the hours I allot myself for TV watching, to get caught up on some shows Iíd heard good things about.

Here are a few shows I watched this summer and in traditional elementary school book report style, Iíve dedicated a portion of my opinions to determining whether or not Iíd recommend the shows to a friend.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand (Starz)

Watched: Season 1
(via Netflix Watch Instantly)

I tried to watch Spartacus when it first came out and frankly, I couldn't get past all of the blood and naked people. I had the same problem with Rome. It's not that it offends me. It's just a little distracting and with Spartacus, I wasn't sure there was much more than that, based on the pilot episode. This time around, after hearing enough buzz about the Starz series, I pushed through the first few episodes and lo and behold, behind the sex and violence was a really great story! From romance to power struggles and fights to the death, Spartacus has a little something for everyone. I got hooked on the character drama and fell in love with the series so much so that I watched some episodes more than once. Unfortunately, it's no longer available on Netflix's Watch Instantly feature but look for it on DVD and Blu-ray next month.

Would I recommend it to a friend?
Yes! WellÖ Iíd recommend it to those not offended by blood and naked people. The special effects aren't amazing but I do recommend you watch Spartacus, and give it more than a few episodes before you walk away from it because it really does take that long to find its legs but it becomes addicting after that.

Mad Men (AMC)

Watched: Seasons 1-3, AMC is currently airing Season 4
(via Netflix, iTunes, AMC's pre-Season 4 premiere marathons)

I tasted the cigarette and scotch flavored Mad Men kool-aid and found it much more appealing than I would have expected. I didn't have much of an interest in a drama series about an advertising agency in the '60's but I could only ignore the hype for so long. It wasn't easy to get caught up on this show as AMC was only airing a handful of episodes from each season before Season 4 premiered, Netflix didn't offer it streaming and I have no patience for waiting for each disc to arrive. Fortunately, iTunes had the seasons on sale before the premiere and I found myself instantly hooked. The writing is great, as is the acting and while I expected the '60's backdrop to be something of a novelty, it's actually a fantastic device to give the series a unique perspective on the usual conflicts you find in drama series these days.

Would I recommend it to a friend?
Yes, if you can borrow the DVDs from someone (or Netflix finally gets it available streaming). Mad Men's definitely worth watching, and worth giving a chance even if, like I did, you don't think the series has anything to offer you. Maybe you've heard about it and won't watch because it isn't like anything else you watch on TV. If that's the case, it might be one of the biggest reasons why you should watch it. You'd be surprised just how appealing Don Draper can be.

Prison Break (Fox)

Watched: Seasons 1-4
(via Netflix Watch Instantly)

Loved the first season. Liked the second season. After that, I only watched to see how it ended and frankly, I wished I hadn't. The show went from suspenseful and thrilling to gimmicky and without direction. I'm all for gray areas when it comes to the characters' moral compass but in PB it started to become impossible to invest any kind of emotion or support in most of the characters as so many of them floundered between good and evil with no real pattern or purpose. And I'm a firm believer that making a supposedly deceased character turn out to be not-dead should only ever happen once, if at all, unless it's a soap opera.

Would I recommend it to a friend?
Seasons 1 and 2 are worth watching but I'd suggest you stop watching after that. The show begins to slip by Season 3 and it never manages to recover.

Weeds (Showtime)

Watched: Seasons 1-5, Showtime is currently airing Season 6
(via Netflix Watch Instantly, and Showtime On Demand)

This was actually mostly a rewatch for me as I couldn't remember whether I stopped watching during Season 4 or 5 and decided since I loved the first two seasons so much, I'd just start over (thank you, Netflix!). The series has veered off course from what it once was as Nancy Botwin is no longer leading any kind of double-life, nor is she really much of a suburbanite stay-at-home-mom trying to feel her way around the weed-dealing business but I was glad to get to the end of Season 5 as the final moments of the finale were well worth drudging through the mostly dull season. Season 6 is airing now and off to a great start.

Would I recommend it to a friend?
Without a doubt! The fifth season wasn't easy to get through but it was worth getting to the end. Only a couple of episodes have aired for Season 6 but I'm already loving the direction the Botwins Newmans are headed in.

Dr. Who (BBC America)

Watched: Season 1
(via Netflix Watch Instantly)

I made it all the way through the first season and am actually planning on checking out Season 2, which I've heard is great. The fact that I stuck with the sci-fi series through Season 1 is saying something as I didn't think Dr. Who would be my thing. I expected this series to be "too sci-fi" for someone like me, who only occasionally dabbles in TV shows that fall within the genre (Firefly, Battlestar Galactica) but not only was the writing clever but I found myself easily drawn into the story of a space/time-traveling "Doctor" and a girl who finds herself sucked into his adventures.

Would I recommend it to a friend?
Sci-fi's a tough sell and I have a feeling most of the people I know who do like the genre have already heard of this series. With that said, from the first season alone, I'd definitely recommend Dr. Who to people who would like this sort of thing. As for whether I'll continue to watch it, I've heard good things about the second and third season and I'm definitely curious to see where the show goes and how it'll be adapting to a new face on the lead character.
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