Tag Archives: Television

My favorite books, movies & TV of 2015

December is zooming like a rocket sled toward the end of the year. So how about a few Best-Of lists?

My favorite movies of 2015:

Mad Max: Fury Road
Ex Machina
Bridge of Spies
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
The Martian

Note that I still have a few movies to see this year, including Creed and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m going to add Star Wars to the list.

Favorite TV shows:

The Jinx
Better Call Saul
Game of Thrones
House of Cards

Again, I still have to catch up on Mad Men, and am just getting into some shows like Mr. Robot and The Americans.

Favorite books outside of crime/suspense/thrillers:

The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking, Brendan I. Koerner
A Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon, Tim Weiner
Underworld, Don DeLillo
Abaddon’s Gate, James S.A. Corey
Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

I read a wealth of amazing crime and suspense novels this year. So many, in fact, that I need to sort through them and post those later.

How about everybody else?

2014 favorites: Movies, books, TV

The year is winding down. How about a list of some of my favorites from 2014?

Favorite movies of 2014:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
A Most Wanted Man

Books — these are my favorite books from outside my own genre:

Command and Control, Eric Schlosser
The Southern Reach Trilogy, Jeff VanderMeer
Revival, Stephen King


True Detective
The Colbert Report

How about everybody else?

Department of Who Knew?

The Husband has been caught by Volcano Travel Chaos. So, instead of spending the weekend together doing our usual activities (Parkour, drag racing, diamond heists), he’s fighting for seats on trains, trying to cross 2,000 miles of Europe by rail, while I stick charming little pins in the globe to chart his progress. After 24 hours the pins now form a tiny trail from Bucharest across Romania, Hungary, and Austria, to Vienna. He’s still a thousand miles from home, but is headed in the right direction.

However, pin-sticking can only occupy so much time. Even if you’re also sticking pins in voodoo dolls, in vast numbers (say, the number of seats in Parliament, or Congress) eventually you’ll run out of things to jab. So last night I found myself at loose ends, mindlessly flipping television channels up into triple-digit regions I’d never explored before. Oh my God, it’s a wonderland!

There’s not only Bride TV, and the GOD Channel, and Nollywood, with its vast collection of Nigerian action movies. There is Rural TV, a satellite channel devoted to such amazing shows as:

  • Prairie Farm Report
  • Downunder Horsmanship
  • Brazil Ag Report
  • Women’s Pro Rodeo
  • The Porter Wagoner Show
  • Classic Tractor Showcase

Porter Wagoner? Is this satellite broadcast coming from to us from 1964?

I really hope the Husband gets home in the next few days.

Quote of the day: Television Without Pity

Y’all may recall how much I’ve always loved 24 and, especially, Kiefer Sutherland. And how bad I think it is that Jack Bauer has increasingly resorted to torture* while shouting, “I have no choice!”

Day 7 has now begun. I just saw episode four, in which spunky FBI agent Walker spends an hour with Jack and decides that brutalizing prisoners is cool and righteous and gets her really, really hot. Questioning a suspect who’s in critical condition and hooked to a ventilator in ICU, she asks him to confess. He declines, saying two bad, bad words: “lawyer” and “rights.” So she grabs the ventilator hose, says, “I suggest you use your last breath wisely,” and — when he still doesn’t confess — kinks the hose. He starts suffocating.

A minute later, as hospital staff rush to the room with a crash cart, Walker calmly walks out and phones her boss at the FBI. Cue the recap from Television Without Pity:

As Walker hits the parking lot, she calls Moss to let him know she got the goods. Well, of course she did, otherwise there wouldn’t be any point in doing it, would there? She’ll go far in the Justice Department, although I’m hoping that the days when a person could make Attorney General by attacking a helpless man in his hospital bed are pretty much over.

And if you don’t know why that made me hiss through my teeth, eyes wide, here’s why. Talk about hitting the mark. With a bullet.

*I’m not the only one. And to understand why the (preening, sanctimonious) senator who hauls Jack in front of his committee in the opening scene of Day 7 is named Blaine Mayer, read this article. (Hint: It’s because the producers of 24 didn’t like the conclusions drawn by the article’s author — check her byline.)

(And to the Husband, who patiently sits through my many rants about the way TV shows mangle law/policing/the Constitution: thanks for enduring my spluttering yet again.)

“Smile, you’re under arrest”

In my novel Jericho Point, Evan Delaney makes up an imaginary television show called “Mistaken Identity,” which she snarkingly refers to as an “extreme reality” show. Ever since the book was published, I can’t turn around without tripping over TV shows that make “extreme reality” sound like milk and cookies.

According to Broadcasting & Cable, “Fox has just wrapped shooting on Smile, You’re Under Arrest, the working title of a pilot for a new alternative series.”

“It is a reverse Punk’d,” says Fox President of Alternative Entertainment Mike Darnell. “Instead of the worst day of your life and then a joke at the end, this is the reverse. This is the best day of your life, and then we arrest you.”

One of three set-ups just shot in Arizona features the cops luring a criminal to a movie set with the promise of making him an extra and paying him a couple hundred dollars. An elaborate film set is staged and filming begins on a faux movie. The set-up continues as the director then gets mad at the lead actor, fires him and replaces him with the law-breaking extra.

The scene escalates with the fake director introducing the mark to a supposed studio mogul and continuing to create this dream-comes-true sequence. Finally, all the participants are revealed as officers of the law, and the criminal is apprehended (before signing waivers to let the footage be used in the show).

Yes, waivers… because the participants may be stupid criminals, but they also get to be STARS.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Magnum, I miss you

Yes, I loved Magnum, P.I. I loved Magnum and his buddies and his noble wartorn backstory. I loved Tom Selleck and the red Ferrari and the turquoise Hawaiian sea.

And The Rap Sheet has an essay about the show, complete with video of the title sequence. Happy me.