The Year in TV (2013)

2013 was an… interesting year in TV. American networks continued to churn out complete crap by the truckload, but networks across the world put out a variety of fresh, innovative new shows… along with a bunch of crap, too. But there’s plenty of great stuff out there if you know where to look. And this year’s TV roundup contains a few surprises: two shows from New Zealand, and the first French language show to appear on my list!

First, you’ll first find the list of my favorite new shows. As always, remember that the list is only for new shows, so old favorites like Breaking Bad and Mad Men aren’t on the list. After that, there’s a list of “worth a watch” shows, a list of shows that tried but failed, a section about miniseries, a tribute to shows that have left the air, and various odds and ends.


#12: Wonderland (Network Ten Australia) – This is my guilty pleasure of the year. It’s a light, breezy primetime soap about a group of friends who live in an oceanview building in Sydney called “Wonderland”. One of the main characters, Tom (Michael Dorman), can’t seem to commit to anything, be it a career or a woman. The only thing he seems to truly love is his 1964 Ford. In the first episode, Tom and his friend Steve bet that Tom will not sleep with a female roommate for 12 months, else Tom will have to give Steve his beloved car. But then Steve’s sister Miranda shows up needing a place to live. Tom obliges. Can Tom keep his end of the bet? And what will Miranda say when she finds out about the bet? And what happens when control freak Grace meets the handsome, easygoing Carlos from Brazil? And how will Collete and Rob survive once she admits to having a one night stand? See? It’s all soap opera, but for some reason – attractive cast members playing generally decent human beings? – I was totally sucked in to this. And I make no apologies for it!


#11: Hannibal (NBC) – I put Hannibal on the list because it fascinates me. We know “harder” swear words and casual nudity are strictly forbidden by the FCC. But Hannibal proves that while you can’t show boobies on network TV, you can certainly show boobies being chopped in to pieces… and maybe even cooked and eaten, too. I’m also a fan of Bryan Fuller (creator of Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies). While Hugh Dancy is officially the “star” of the show – as Special Agent Will Graham, an FBI academy lecturer and expert on serial killers who re-creates crime scenes in his mind – we all know that Mads Mikkelsen is really the star as Hannibal Lecter. Mads underplays Lecter; at least compared to Anthony Hopkins’ version. In fact, if all we knew of Lector was Mad’s performance, we’d be in for a bit of a shock later on. But while the writing is pretty good (especially for a show on US network TV), it really is surprisingly graphic. I mean, I’m hardly a “prude” and have seen my share of horror films over the years.. but this show even shocked me!


#10: Sleepy Hollow (Fox) – This is possibly the silliest show to come on TV in ages, yet it somehow works. In the show’s universe, Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow doesn’t exist. Instead, a man named Ichabod Crane moves to New York from England in colonial times and switches his allegiance to the American patriots. He is killed on the battlefield by a mysterious Hessian fighter, who Crane manages to behead just before collapsing. Crane rises from the grave 220 years later, and has a friend in Westchester County police lieutenant Abbie Mills: on the same night Crane awakes, Mills sees her mentor. Sheriff August Corbin, killed by the same horseman that Crane had beheaded. And so begins a series which is a delightful mix of the National Treasure movies (Founding Fathers, Freemasonry, esoteric symbols) and The X-Files (mysterious, supernatural bad guys). Hey, it ain’t deep TV, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun!


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RANDOM CUTIE: Lauren Mayberry

Lauren Mayberry is the lead singer of the Scottish synthpop band CHVRCHES. I personally don’t find her “stunning” or “sexy”, but she can be awfully cute, in a pixie sort of way:

(click to embiggen)

What’s even better than her looks is her mind. Mayberry wasn’t sure her music career would take off, so she got a bachelor of laws degree* and a masters in journalism. She even won a prestigious award from the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland in 2010 for an article she wrote about body piercing practices (read it in this PDF). More recently, Mayberry wrote this piece in The Guardian about the misogyny she has to deal with online with Twitter and Facebook (and no, she’s not being hyper-sensitive about “I think you’re pretty!” tweets; most of the example tweets she gives are pretty disgusting).

She’s also quite smart about the music business. For one thing, the band liked the name “Churches”, but thought it would be difficult to Google for, so Mayberry proposed the alternative spelling. And it took them forever and a day to get a record contract because the band held out for a label that would give them considerable creative freedom. Mayberry says:

“You see so many bands regress and become like children, getting told what to do. I’m not in the business of telling people ‘DIY or die’ but I do think it’s important to be as hands-on with what you’re doing as possible. Sometimes if you don’t take the easy option it’ll pay dividends in the long run…. One guy came to a show, and was like: ‘You’re going to be huge. I can see it in my mind’s eye, we could make you the next Pixie Lott.’ I did an internal scream and ran away…. I guess at the end of the day I want to be viewed as a musician. Maybe I am super-paranoid about it. But after this is all done, I want to be able to say that we did it in the way we wanted to do it.”

But perhaps the BEST thing of all is that, despite being one of the tiniest singers I’ve ever seen, Mayberry is NOT a vegetarian. She even posted her recipe for beef and chorizo chili on a website after being asked for it. Sweet!

More pictures after the jump!

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SimonHey, y’all! Well, it looks like the Footbal Feline righted the ship last week, going 11-5, or 119-72 for the season. Let’s see if I can do EVEN BETTER this week. ‘Cos The Simon has a good feelin’ about Sunday’s games! Enjoy the picks, y’all!




Houston at Jacksonville: Well, Simon knows where he’s NOT going to be this Thursday night! What a STINKER this game will be! BLECH! This game smells like my little sisters’ ass! I’m gonna go against the crowd and go with J-Ville, here. I think that Houston still hasn’t hit rock bottom yet, and the Jaguars, as I’m tired of saying, are better than people think they are!

Indianapolis at Cincinnati – Man, a three-way would be SO GOOD right now… What? No, ya damn perverts… I’m talking about a chili three-way, like this. Get your minds out of the gutter, girls! Anyway, The Simon is pretty sure the Bengals take this game. The Colts are just 3-2 over their last 5 games, while the Kitties are keepin’ in rollin’!

Atlanta at Green Bay – BWHAHAHAHAHA!! Really? The Durty Burds are at Lambeau this week? The Packers could put ME in at quarterback and we’d still win by two scores! Take the Packers, fool!

New England at Cleveland – BWHAHAHAHAHA!! Really? Two in a row? I wonder what the line on this game is… 35? 42? Take the Patriots!

Oakland at New York Jets – Which is the higher number: the number of Dark and Stormies Simon will drink at da club on Saturday night, or Geno Smith’s QB rating? If you chose the number of drinks I’ll have.. you’re right! Take the Raiders to steal one from the Jets, and they’ll make it look easy, too!

Detroit at Philadelphia – Speaking of Geno Smith… if Philly’s QB sensation (and TOTAL HOTTIE) Nick Foles were to throw 50 consecutive interceptions, he’d still have a higher QB rating than Geno Smith! For real, y’all! And I don’t see that handsome man cooling off this week, either. Take the Eagles to win at home and make it 5 in a row!

Continue reading “SIMON’S PICKS – Week 14”

Tip of the Day

This might sound completely obvious to some, but if you’re upgrading a perfectly functional electronic device, put all the electric adapters and cables in a gallon size Ziploc bag immediately after taking it apart.

For example, you might have a perfectly good 802.11n router that you’ve decided to replace with a brand-new 802.11ac router. Maybe you want faster wireless speeds from 802.11ac, or maybe 802.11ac will provide better range and speed with your home’s construction. Whatever the reason, you still have a router that works, you just want something better. So when you set up the new router, put the old router in a large Ziploc bag along with its power brick and any cable(s).

The reason I mention this is because I’m often amazed by how many people have a big box of adapters and cables, and in most cases have no idea which adapter goes with which device. I suppose they’re used to the “old days”, when companies actually went to the trouble to put their logos on things like power bricks. Nowadays, this is somewhat rare. Of the last two routers I owned, one had the name of the adapter’s manufacturer on it, while the other one had no manufacturer name at all, just the legally-required electrical info. And the power brick for my Dell netbook is actually branded by LiteOn.

There’s another benefit to doing this if you are your family’s “IT Guy”. Having a router or switch ready to go in a plastic bag means you can just “grab it and go” if there’s some kind of IT emergency that needs your help. More than once I’ve had to reach in my closet and get my trusty old Linksys WRT54GL to help a neighbor or family member diagnose a connectivity issue!