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TV 2016

My TV list comes with two caveats. One is that I haven't had as much time to devote to watching TV this year, thanks to my TTT courses (and is a main cause my being always behind on pop culture). The second is that this is the second year in a row that we didn't have cable, which means I'm watching mainly on Hulu, Netflix, and the CW app. So, I didn't see Game of Thrones, Atlanta, or many of the other highly-acclaimed shows from the year. That's okay, they are still there. Likewise, my list includes some TV that aired in 2015, but that I just got around to this summer or fall. That's fine too. Only TV critics are up on everything and even they can't really be up on everything. So, here's what I enjoyed this year...

1. DC TV (The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow) - No surprise here, right? The Flash is still my favorite super-hero and while the second season of the show wasn't as strong as the first, it was still good. The current third season has shown flashes of being the show I feel in love with, at least. Arrow is having a really strong year. I missed out on Supergirl when it started last year, but was able to catch up on Netflix; it's not a perfect show, but it can be really charming. Legends of Tomorrow is more inconsistent, but always gives me something to like...and that JSA episode was pretty cool. Speaking of cool, the recent crossover between the shows was a ton of fun and made my inner fanboy very happy.

2. iZombie - I loved the show in its first season, but the second season was even better, burning through story at a rapid rate and delivering big changes to the dynamics between its main characters. As a bonus, it's also really really funny. I've been waiting for the third season to get going, but apparently that's not happening until April now. Both seasons are currently on Netflix and I highly recommend you checking out those 32 so you can be as ready for the new stuff.

3. Bob's Burgers - I adore this show. Sure, it's always funny, but I just love the Belchers so much. Even though it's a cartoon, the characters have been allowed to grow and evolve, and that means they can keep using them in different combinations and come up with new things to say that go beyond the plots. That's cool. Plus, it makes me laugh a lot.

4. Stranger Things - This is the only Netflix show I watched all of this year (still 9 episodes to go on Daredevil Season 2 and all of Luke Cage and so on). It helped that it was only 8 episodes (yes to making only as many eps as you need!) and also that it was fantastic. I loved it from the theme song to the way the opening graphics pushed in on a scene to the intensity of Winona Ryder's performance and David Harbour's as well to the interaction of the kids to the 80s science fiction/horror mash-up that it was. Also, Dustin. I didn't care for him at first, but he quickly became my favorite. I hope they can retain the magic for the new season...

5. Fargo Season 2 - This is one of the shows from 2015 that I finally got around to (and just convinced my wife to watch as well). As good as the first season was, this season was even better. I loved the ample use of split screen, the ambiguous elements, the performances (Ted Danson and Kristen Dunst were standouts), and the plot. Can't wait to see what they do with the third season.

6. Doctor Who Series 9 - Yup, finally got around to this one in the summer too and wow, was it a step up from Peter Capaldi's first season. A big part of that was the inclusion of Maisie Williams; her character brought a new dimension and energy to the proceedings. I also liked the way the show handled The Doctor and Clara's relationship. Everything just felt richer and smarter in this season.

7. Brooklyn Nine-Nine - This is still my favorite classic sitcom on TV. It makes me laugh. The actors are great and inhabit their characters so well. It makes me laugh. The show isn't afraid to take risks and shake up the status quo. Oh, and it makes me laugh.

8. The Grinder - I knew this show was too good to last. The show was so smart and meta that it probably turned people off. While those aspects appealed to me, it was also very funny. Rob Lowe and Fred Savage played off each other brilliantly and the supporting cast was all great. The whole show is still on Hulu and I urge you all to give it a try.

9. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - I resisted this show at first, because a TV musical was not something that interested me. I kept hearing such good things that I decided to give it a try and quickly discovered that I was interested in it and very much so. The songs are really funny and smart and give so much depth to not only Rachel Bloom's Rebecca Bunch, but the entire cast. Rebecca is a deeply flawed person, but her humanity is very compelling. I'm a couple episodes behind, but will be caught up soon.

10. The Good Place - This is my favorite new show from the fall and it's from the same people as Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) dies and finds herself in the titular "Good Place"; however, she soon learns that was a mistake. The show is very inventive, filled with great actors (hello, Ted Danson!), and packs a lot of laughs into each episode. If you haven't seen the show, catching up is easy for two reasons - it's on Hulu and only 9 episodes have aired so far. I urge you to do so.

Bonus: Top Chef Season 13 - I spent most of this week ignoring the shows I needed to catch up on and finally got to this, which hit Hulu a couple months ago. I love Top Chef and this season fully delivered.

Bonus: Cheers, Seinfeld, Happy Endings - I dove back into my years-long rewatch of Cheers (just starting Season 5) and started rewatches of the other two shows. I need to get back to Adventure Time at some point too. And Bojack Horseman. And and and...


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Here's today's ten...

1. I 4 U & U 4 Me (Home Demo)/The Decemberists (15) - last played on 8/19/15
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7. Mountain/Lucero (7) - last played on 4/29/12
8. Evergreen/Matthew Sweet (1) - played countless times on CD
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Sunday Shuffle #448

I'm going to do a bit of a "spring forward" edition this morning, which means I'm going to skip over the first song that pops up and start with the second. I think I'll keep doing that throughout, so you get all the even numbered songs, #2 - #20. Why not?

2. Bechamel/Pernice Brothers (16) - last played on 5/15/15
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6. Late-Century Dream/Superchunk (18) - last played on 11/18/15
8. Your Weather/Dinosaur Jr. (19) - last played on 8/3/16
10. Centre For Holy Wars/The New Pornographers (2) - last played on 1/27/15
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14. Hard To Find/The National (25) - last played on 2/12/17
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5 X 10

I've recently found myself listening to albums that came out 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years ago. Here are some thoughts...

The Broken West/I Can't Go On I'll Go On (2007) - "Down in the Valley" hooked me the first time I heard it streaming on KEXP. At the time, the band was still called The Brokedown, but that would soon change to due copyright issues; that's okay, I like The Broken West as a name better anyway. To get back to "Down in the Valley," what grabbed me were the ringing guitars, layered harmonies, and the organ that weaved in and out. And the lyrics, of course - "I had my feelings like the Dutchman has his gold/Deep in the canyon by the river that runs cold." Speaking of The Dutchman's Gold, that was the name of the EP that I learned had already been out and used my eMusic credits to grab it. "Down in the Valley" was the lead-off track, but there were six other great power pop songs and I was both in love and even mor…