Readers Poll 2012- Favorite TV Series –

We asked you what your favorite TV series was, and the results are in—and thankfully, no mention whatsoever of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. God is real after all. Let’s get started:
 
1. Breaking Bad (AMC)

This doesn’t come as a surprise: watching Malcolm’s father on his way to becoming one of the most evil characters in TV history is your favorite leisure-time activity. That’s quite amazing given the fact that Breaking Bad isn’t something you just watch –  it’s something you feel. The tension is constantly palpable, and shit gets worse with every episode. But certain branches of television (American cable networks but also ARTE, if you remember Im Angesicht des Verbrechens) have been heading in this direction since Twin Peaks. A much more recent development concerns the mental state of modern day TV (anti-)heroes and their intentions. Walter White is just the spearhead of the league of extraordinary villains that consists of drug lords, real but thoroughly scheming lords (2nd place), psychopaths (3rd place) and terrorists (4th place).
 
2. Game of Thrones (HBO) 

Forget Lord of the Rings. When it comes to fantasy, George R. R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire is the real deal. Set on the fictitious continents of Westeros and Essos, it’s an epic story about power, honor, and betrayal. HBO bought the rights, spent a huge amount of money on production and cast and turned Game of Thrones into the most spectacular fantasy TV show on earth. Surprisingly for an HBO show (though for the most part they stay true to the books) there is no meta-text, but it’s still one hell of an entertaining show.
 
3. Dexter (Showtime)

When Dexter premiered on Showtime on October 1, 2006 it was groundbreaking. Never before had the main character of a show been a serial killer with a nearly unquenchable thirst to kill. Add an extraordinary visual concept using excessively bright colors and an excellent actor who literary kills it (Michael C. Hall from Alan Ball’s Six Feet Under) to the equation and you have a modern day TV success with years of staying power.
 
4. Homeland (Showtime) 

It’s Obama’s favorite show. It deals with terrorism. It has Claire Danes in it. The first season about an U.S. marine who was captured by Al-Qaeda and came back home after 9 years as a war hero was by far the most important TV show of 2011. You could argue that season two was full of flaws, but compared to most of what’s on TV today,  it’s still pretty good. A statement made by Alex Gansa during a NYT Q&A sums up why:

“Our motto is, give up the secret before the audience expects it. Because you guys know it’s coming. The only way we can surprise you is to deliver it ahead of schedule. And sometimes letting a secret die with a character is the better twist.”
 
5. Girls (HBO)

When Girls aired for the first time on HBO, a lot of people were complaining that it was just a show about white people problems and really, it’s quite hard to argue against that. But once you accept it, Lena Dunham gives you the most funny, quirky and likeable TV show of 2012.
 
 
The eighth prize—one year subscription to EB Magazine and Slices—goes to Gemma G., Melbourne, Australia.

Your favorite venue of 2012 will be following on Tuesday, December 25th. Find all poll results in here.

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How to read about TV

If my last column didn’t tip you off, I like to write about TV shows. Obviously I love sitting in front of the computer or TV for hours or sometimes even for days, while characters evolve, stories gain momentum and I get sucked deeper and deeper into a fictional world. But hey (and this may come as a surprise) I also like reading books. For this reason, I’d like to dedicate this post to the common ground between the written word and TV shows. Not so much television which is based on books, such as Dexter, Gossip Girl, The Walking Dead and last weeks topic: Game of Thrones. Rather, I wanna focus on programs that have nothing to do with actual literature, but become something close to it… or at least try to.

My first encounter with extraterrestrial bad literature was based on Fox Mulder and Dana Scully’s X-Files. Back in the days it was much easier for me to get my hands on the books than to watch the actual TV show. All I can remember is one story about – no joke – cows and sheep that were mysteriously killed in a small rural county. I also had this ‘non fiction’ book which was called something like ‘The Truth Behind the Truth is Out There’ and pretended to contain scientific proof of alien life on earth.

Throughout the following years the X-Files books worked like a vaccine against producers’ aims to squeeze another buck out of me, the loyal customer. I didn’t even notice written offshoots of TV shows – with two exceptions: the book The Bro Code is written by a the fictitious character called Barney from How I Met Your Mother and it’ss some kind of guidebook on how to get women, but alas, I’ve neither watched the TV show nor read the book. I have to admit though I was tempted to buy a book that, similar to The Bro Code, was written by another character from one of my favorite shows from back in the day: God Hates Us All by Hank Moody. In the Showtime series Californication, David Duchovny plays an author who suffers from writer’s block after the success of his first book (the above mentioned). But then the show turned into shit after the second season and, expecting the same from the book, I chose to forget about it.

So it took approximately eighteen years until I bought a book from a TV show and I promise you, it’s worth every dime. It’s called How To Archer, and it’s based on the FX show Archer about a secret agency called ISOS in New York – and it’s just as funny as the TV show. So the conclusion could be: creators that are responsible for great pieces of TV probably come up with good books. Who would have thunk it?

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Bogner’s TV Guide No. 2

Bogner's TV Guide No. 2 Maybe you already got the idea last week: my column is going be about TV shows. Obviously I love sitting in front of the computer or TV for hours or sometimes even for days, while characters evolve, stories gain momentum and I get sucked deeper and deeper into a fictional world. But hey (and this may come as a surprise) I also like reading books. For this reason, I’d like to dedicate this post to the common ground between the written word and TV shows. Not so much television which is based on books, such as Dexter, Gossip Girl or, most famously, The Walking Dead and last weeks topic: Game of Thrones. Rather, I wanna focus on programs that have nothing to do with actual literature, but become something close to it… or at least try to.

My first encounter with extraterrestrial bad literature was based on Fox Mulder and Dana Scully’s. Back in the days it was much easier for me to get my hands on the books than to watch the actual TV show. All I can remember is one story about – no joke – cows and sheep that were mysteriously killed in a small rural county. I also had this “non fiction” book which was called something like ‘The Truth Behind the Truth is Out There’ and pretended to contain scientific proof of alien life on earth.

Throughout the following years the X-Files books worked like a vaccine against producers’ aims to squeeze another buck out of me, the loyal customer. I didn’t even notice written offshoots of TV shows – with two exceptions: the book The Bro Code is written by a the fictitious character called Barney from How I Met Your Mother and it’ss some kind of guidebook on how to get women, but alas, I’ve neither watched the TV show nor read the book. I have to admit though I was tempted to buy a book that, similar to The Bro Code, was written by another character from one of my favorite shows from back in the day: ‘God Hates Us All’ by Hank Moody. In the Showtime series Californication, David Duchovny plays an author who suffers from writer’s block after the success of his first book (the above mentioned). But then the show turned into shit after the second season and, expecting the same from the book, I chose to forget about it.

So it took approximately 18 years until I bought a book from a TV show and I promise you, it’s worth every dime. It’s called ‘How To Archer’, and it’s based on the FX show Archer about a secret agency called ISOS in New York – and it’s just as funny as the TV show. So the conclusion could be: creators that are responsible for great pieces of TV probably come up with good books. Who would have thunk it?

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Bogner’s TV Guide No. 1

Bogner's TV Guide No. 1 Game of Thrones is the newest HBO epic, based on the fantasy saga by George R.R. Martin. After a very successful (and enormously expensive) first season in 2011, the second season started airing on April 1st in the United States.

Like most successful books with a big fanbase that gets turned into a television show, this one has gained a lot of interest too, especially on the Internet. Basically there are two reasons for this:

1: Like every major production nowadays, Game of Thrones has a PR budget that equals the Gross National Product of a small country. And since we live in a digital world, most of the money is spent online with the result of creating an even bigger hype than there already is.

2: It’s common knowledge that the fantasy genre is basically crack for nerds; with the World Wide Web being first and foremost a gigantic nerd-playground, lots of websites hope to get shitloads of clicks just by having anything Game of Thrones-related in the headline.
And this is what sucks: Every media outlet blogs or writes about the TV show in order to get a piece of the cake or in fear of missing out on the next big thing.

But the problem is, aside from the extraordinarily compelling story and some facts regarding the production (an estimated fifty-million dollars just for the first episode, a great cast of well-known actors, an extravagant setting – all that has already been covered during the first season) there isn’t much to talk about when it comes to Game of Thrones. Unlike most other HBO shows, there is no meta-level to the story, which is set in a medieval universe with castles, swordsmen, big battles, and yeah, dragons. This may come as a surprise to all the critics who enjoyed other epic TV shows like The Wire (highly acclaimed for it’s realism and critical social commentary), Six Feet Under (highly acclaimed for it’s seemingly real life focus and it’s circling around the question “What is the meaning of life?”), Battlestar Galactica and many others. Game of Thrones is nothing like that.

The only connection to other modern series is the TV show’s explicitness, and the way it gets rid of a romanticized image of a certain fantasy age. What Deadwood did to our idea of the Wild West, what Rome meant for the ancient world and Blade Runner for science fiction, Game of Thrones has done for the medieval fantasy world. There are no hobbits, no benevolent sorcerer, and certainly no elves in Westeros, but lots of elaborate characters with personalities and allegiances beyond the black-and-white, good-and-evil molds that characterize so much of the genre.

So please, media outlets: stop covering Game of Thrones by just rehashing the episodes. The show itself is always much better than your boring recap.

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2011 Editor’s Picks: David

2011 Editor's Picks: David Over the last decade everyone has been making a fuss about how TV-series are becoming more important and innovative than big screen movies. This is totally wrong. Even though both use moving pictures, they are two quite different forms. It’s like comparing a 7 verse poem to a 500 pages epos or a one page comic in a newspaper to a graphic novel.

That said I hereby present you my top five TV shows this year.

5. Beavis and Butthead Season 9

Forget about any fuckin reunion of any given band on earth. Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead is the comeback of the year. What I’ve seen so far, was more than great, which is why Charlie and the Gang haven’t been in my year’s end list for seven years now.

4. Louie Season 2

The second season of stand up comedian Louis CK started with a big fart and made me cry in the last episode. In-between there have been more touching scenes than in all seasons of Six feet under together.

3. Game of Thrones Season 1

It’s been epic. Not only in terms of money (allegedly the pilot alone cost more than 20 million dollars) the cast (from Sean Bean as Ned Stark to any given squire, all the actors were brilliant), but regarding the story. George R.R. Martin works on a seven books long fantasy series and HBO turned book one into the first season of an epic TV show. There is much more to come!

2. Workaholics Season 2

Season 1 was so so, but season 2 turned Workaholics in the most fun TV show this year. Blake, Adam and Anders are three post graduate mid 20ies guys who work at a telemarketing company and share a house. The humor is as stupid as it sounds, but it works. Also great: guest appearances of guys like Tyler, the Creator and his gang among many others.

1. Homeland Season 1

Originally an Israeli TV show (like the great In Treatment), a team around Howard-24-Gordan developed it for the American market. And like no TV show before it turned all our fears into 10 episodes ala 50 minutes of pure thrilling entertainment. You never guess what’s coming next yet nevertheless it’s always plausible. In addition to that it features performances by Claire Danes and Damian Lewis and is one of the best in TV show’s history.

Haven’t seen more than two seasons of Breaking Bad though.

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