2015 in Review: My Ten (Okay, Eleven) Favorite TV Shows

Leftovers

Diversity of many varieties was on the brain for many spheres of television this year. Network executives, showrunners, critics and audiences alike engaged in thoughtful discourse about what it means to make diverse television in 2015. There are more places than ever to watch TV, and more places than ever to distribute it. It makes logical sense that TV offerings this year would touch on a wider range of issues, feature a wider range of character types and demographics and explore a wider range of stories and universes than ever before.

But with great power comes great responsibility. My favorite shows in 2015 were the ones that used the expanding boundaries of what’s possible on television to their fullest advantage, crafting rich and surprising worlds, telling stories that dovetail with the themes, ideas and controversies guiding our daily lives. In relatively arbitrary order of preference (who’s to say whether a dark comedy about an animated horse is superior to one of the most beloved drama series of all time?), here are my ten favorite shows of 2015.

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The M&M Report, Episode 73: “Spotlight” and “Fargo”

Fargo

On this episode of The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I welcome Chloe Johnson for her fifth guest appearance. This time around, we review the excellent journalism movie Spotlight and reflect on the second season of FX’s anthology series Fargo. We had a lot to say, so we split the episode in two parts for your listening enjoyment.

EXCITING NEWS: You can now subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and download the feed directly into the podcast app of your choice. New episodes should show up on your feed immediately and on iTunes within a day or two of release. Subscribe away!

Listen to part one:

And part two:

Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening!

The M&M Report: “Bridge of Spies”

Brooklyn lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) meets with his client Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet agent arrested in the U.S. in DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 PIctures' dramatic thriller BRIDGE OF SPIES, directed by Steven Spielberg.

On this episode of The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I discussed Steven Spielberg’s first spy thriller Bridge of Spies with special guest Matt Dewilde. Disputes ensued!

Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening!

“Fargo”: Wonder, Chilled

Tolman

After nine increasingly brilliant episodes, the first season of Fargo concludes tonight at 10pm on FX. When this show was first announced, it was quickly derided as an ill-conceived attempt to capitalize on a cult favorite film that could not possibly be improved or enriched by a ten-hour adaptation. The first episode assuaged those concerns to an extent, with instantly arresting performances and a visual style that recalls the Coen Brothers without imitating them, but the show truly distinguished itself approximately halfway through its run, when it diverged almost entirely from the thematic arc of its source material while tying itself more overtly than ever to the film’s chronology. With just the finale to go, Fargo stands as one of my favorite television experiences of 2014. Here are five things I’ll miss after tonight’s much-hyped finale:

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The M&M Report, Episode 17: The Year’s Best Movies

12 Years a Slave


 

Welcome to The M&M Report! This week, Devin and I broke down the Oscar nominees in the major categories, offering our thoughts on the nominees, as well as some alternatives who we would have enjoyed seeing on the list. We closed by listing our five favorite movies of 2013. (For further reading, check out my thoughts on the Oscar nominations.)

Devin and I are proud to announce that The M&M Report will be moving to TheEagleOnline.com beginning next week. We’re very excited to bring a podcast presence to our student newspaper, and we hope that you’ll join us in our transition. Our shows will be very much the same, though perhaps a little shorter – we know firsthand that college students have busy schedules. We’ll start the new era of The M&M Report with a discussion of one of our favorite shows, The West Wing. Plus, the triumphant return of Devin Doesn’t Like Things.

Until then…thanks for listening!

Click through for the time breakdown.

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The M&M Report, Episode 12: Here a Cat, There a Cat

Inside Llewyn Davis

Listen to Episode 12 here.

Welcome to the M&M Report once again! This week, Devin Mitchell and I are experimenting with a new recording format in preparation for our monthlong break from the rigors of academia. I went to one room, Devin went to the next, and we recorded a nice Skype conversation. Next week, we’ll do the same – from opposite sides of the country. (No pressure.)

We started out this week summing up our thoughts on roughly the first half of the 2013-2014 TV season. Between the two of us, we’re watching Trophy Wife, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Sleepy Hollow. Most of the other new shows failed to strike our fancy.

After that, we talked about how the broadcast networks can survive in the rapidly evolving television landscape. This season’s new shows have been largely unsuccessful in the ratings, but we don’t think networks are dead just yet.

Finally, we’re unveiling a conversation we recorded a few weeks ago: an in-depth review of the Coen Brothers’ new musical drama Inside Llewyn Davis. It’s a terrific movie and we had thoughts about Oscar Isaac, folk music and cats.

Keep an eye out for discussions of the best pop culture of 2013 in future podcasts. Until then…thanks for listening!

Keep reading for the time breakdown.

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“Inside Llewyn Davis”: Folk Magic

Inside

Art is all about timing. It’s not enough to be talented or creative or passionate or hungry. As much as art is an expression of an individual, it’s produced to be appreciated by others, and others have fickle tastes. The most successful artists apply their talents to some sort of hunger for the work they’re creating. When the timing isn’t just right, though, artists struggle.

Llewyn Davis struggles. The title character in the Coen Brothers’ beautifully crafted, quietly hopeless Inside Llewyn Davis chases after cats, slums for hitmakers, treks across the country, incurs the wrath of his female companions, and sings, softly and loudly, forcefully and listlessly, energetically and exhaustedly, in the hopes that someone, anyone, will see what he sees in himself: a man with a voice that freezes time. But again and again, he runs up against one of life’s most frustrating truisms: sometimes, you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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