The Procedural

Besides going bald and getting excited about Home Depot, there’s one other way that I figured out that I’m adult: I’m now into procedurals.

For those of you who are physically and socially active, a procedural is a type of television show in which some sort of case is solved each week. There’s also generally some kind of overarching…arch…each season. Common subgenres include procedurals are law enforcement shows, medical shows, and legal shows.

“Wow,” you are saying, “That is a diverse genre of shows.” You are right and you are also so dreadfully, sadly wrong. Oh, you!

All procedurals involve the following elements (broken down, lawyer style):

  • Attractive professionals,
  • Who are good at their jobs,
  • And live in loft apartments with exposed brick,
  • Trying to find/keep romance alive,
  • While meeting their professional goals,
  • Getting shot/car wrecked/earthquaked once per season, AND
  • Working with bit-part actors who will have their own shows in 3-6 years.

There are some other common but not omnipresent staples of the genre. These include:

COMMON CHARACTER ELEMENTS
You may have noticed that I immediately mentioned that the characters are attractive.  What happens when you put attractive people together? They start to get hot and bothered. Will there be love triangles? Will they/won’t they situations? Poor timing because someone is dating a third party even though everyone knows the third party will only be on for four to eight episodes? YES!

Another common element is the odd couple matching of partners/lawyers/doctors.  One plays by the book, one is a cowboy. (Sometimes one is ACTUALLY a cowboy.) Even though they’re an odd couple, the partners learn from each other and meet in the middle sometimes. Also, at the end of the episode, one partner will usually quote something that the other partner said in the first few minutes of the episode.  Then everyone has a good, cathartic laugh.

COMMON PROCEDURAL STORYLINES

  • A character’s secret family member is into crime/drugs/shadiness.
  • Parent sleeps with teacher.
  • Student sleeps with teacher.
  • Principal sleeps with student.
  • Principal sleeps with parent.
  • Principal sleeps with teacher.  (What are these PTA meetings like?)
  • One partner thinks the other partner committed a crime/malpractice.
  • A celebrity randomly shows up at the station/hospital/firm/casino.
  • Sarcasm.
  • Someone stole a baby because they’re jealous.
  • Someone thinks their spouse is having an affair but really they’re doing something else in secret. (AA/double life/out of work)
  • Someone is married to someone in another state.
  • No one is unattractive.
  • A politician who everyone likes is actually corrupt.
  • Someone frequently plays in high-stakes poker games.
  • Girl A accuses Guy of committing a crime, but really Girl B was the victim and Girl A is just sticking up for Girl B.

PERSONAL FAVORITES
I’m generally into procedurals that are a little weird, meaning the shows are dark, the characters are self-destructive, and no one watched them. Two of my favorites are Lie to Me and Life. If Veronica Mars counts as a procedural, it’s in there, too.  The only procedural that I like that didn’t crash and burn in the ratings is Castle. I’ve also watched a couple of episodes of Chicago Fire and I’m cautiously optimistic.

FINAL NOTE
If you do a Google image search for procedural, an image of Taylor Swift comes up.  What does that mean?

TV Recommendation

Do you know what you should be watching? Doctor Who, that’s what.

The wife and I have been power-streaming through the most recent set of seasons in the Doctor Who universe. This show is well worth your time. It’s great sci-fi at it’s most fun. With so much travel across time and the universe, it would be easy for a show to get bogged down, convoluted, and downright incomprehensible (I’m looking at you, Heroes!). But Doctor Who is just so dang fun throughout. It balances a diversity of moods and tones that drift off into genres such as melodrama, horror, suspense, and epic action. The stories and characters have real depth, but the show never takes itself too seriously. Every episode feels like it’s own mini-movie and I’m constantly surprised that so much great story and character development gets packed into a single 40ish minute episode.

You may be a bit confused depending on what you’ve heard about the cast changes throughout the series, but just start watching and it will all make sense. The doctors’ regenerations form plot fodder for overarching story arcs, but the true brilliance is that it allows the show to itself turnover the cast multiple times while retaining the same general spirit of sci-fi fun and adventure. It’s a self-sustaining universe in that way, and I think many shows could benefit from this approach.

That’s my mini-review of one of the greatest TV series of all time. You owe it to yourself to check it out. It’s streaming on Netflix so I will hear no excuses.

Bro-caves

Continuing the bromance theme this week, I’d like to talk about man-caves. Every good bromance deserves a fitting locale. The first example that comes to mind is the apartment of Joey and Chandler on Friends. Their apartment with it’s various iterations represents the peak of bachelorhood and bromancedom. A good bro-cave should incorporate comfort…

…and random whimsy…

Everything in this picture makes sense.

A more recent example is the bromance depicted in This Means War. Now, the two dudes lived in separate apartments, but they both represent the essentials of what a bro-cave includes. First we have Tuck’s apartment:

Is it a garage? Is it a loft? The overlap of the two is where testosterone comes from.

And then we have Foster’s apartment which is no less impressive. I couldn’t find a decent picture of it, but suffice to say it has a pool……in the ceiling.

If you put those two places together you’d have a concentration of manliness so dense that it would spontaneously produce Chuck Norris clones.

Finally, we have one of the classic bromances. One that traveled halfway across the country and thrived in a variety of wacky situations…

This is perhaps the most stylish of bromances.

They came from humble beginnings and had to make the best bro-cave they could as they took their adventure on the road…

As far as bromances go, this is practically cuddling. But manlier.

It wasn’t always comfortable or convenient, but they adapted to their circumstances. When living conditions prevent few options, a healthy bromance knows no boundaries…

Truth.

And now I bring to you a personal request.

I thought that the whole idea of a man-cave was kinda dumb and very cliche. Then I bought a house with a two-car garage and suddenly the idea of a man-cave doesn’t sound so bad. HOWEVER, I still think it’s cliche to call it “The Man Cave”, and this is where you come in. As I have been setting things up, I have been trying to come up with a clever name for my garage that is less obvious than “man cave.” Below are some options that I have so far:

Rohan, Bag-End, or Weathertop (from Lord of the Rings)

McLaren’s (bar from How I Met Your Mother)

Tardis, Gallifrey (from Doctor Who)

Winterfell, King’s Landing (from Game of Thrones)

Mos Eisley (from Star Wars)

Batcave, Fortress of Solitude, Oa (from the DC Universe)

Aperture Labs, Black Mesa (from the Half-Life Universe)

The hatch, The Lamp Post (from LOST)

Those are just what comes to mind immediately, but feel free to use your creativity and draw from other cool franchises. I’m going for a casual, fun vibe, so bar-type name makes sense, but I’m also a huge nerd so I’m open to nearly anything. I would appreciate any suggestions or heated debates in the comments below.

While you’re at it, I also want to hear fun anecdotes of when you’ve named a special object or place.

 

Greatest TV Bromances

In honor of the upcoming new TV season, I want to take stroll through the halls of television history to examine some of my favorite television bromances of all time.

5. Ryan and Esposito (Castle)

Ryan and Espo, repping their favorite Sting project. Just kidding, they’re cops!

While Castle’s love story is supposedly between Castle and Beckett, those of us in the know pay attention to Detectives Ryan and Esposito. They’ve got the classic odd couple pairing. Example: One guy is a military vet that loves to say “Yo!”, one guy likes three piece suits and hair product.

These two guys get along well in real life. I think that friendship shows up on screen during the show’s lighter moments. If ABC ever decides to make a spinoff show with these two, my DVR is ready. My spinoff pitch: shoot a web series where they make it on the same season of an Amazing Race type show.

4. Turk and J.D. (Scrubs)

Bill Lawrence, the producer of Scrubs, once said that despite all of the relationship drama on this show, the real love story of the series is between J.D. and Turk. The show openly embraces the bromance – these two guys actually sang about their “guy-love” in an award-winning episode of Scrubs.

3. Neal Caffery and Peter Burke (White Collar)

Just two dudes in suits. Classy.

(Spoiler alert: White Collar is the apex of television.)
This is another odd couple pairing. One guy is a by-the-book federal agent, the other guy is thief who fully embraces la dolce vita. For a light show, these two certainly have some great moments. While Tim DeKay and Matt Bomer are funny together, I think the best scenes between the two happen when Burke’s goodness comes out as a family man. He really wants Neal to turn his life around, and he’s so darn earnest. There’s also a big brother/little dynamic that’s fun to watch.

2. Richie Cunningham & The Fonz (Happy Days) | Seth Cohen and Ryan Atwood (The OC)

Cool guys wear leather jackets.

See?

After literally minutes of deliberation, I decided to place these two in a tie for first place. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite because Happy Days and The OC have the exact same bromance setup: A dork and his family accept a good-hearted kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Family and hilarity ensue.

In both shows, the cool guy makes the nerd cooler, and the nerd allows the cool guy to have the one thing he never had before – a real family. Both shows are at their best when they nail the family dynamic.

The only bad thing about The OC is that Seth never punched a jukebox to make it work. He did, thankfully, punch everything else.

1. Bret & Jermaine (Flight of the Conchords)

Not only are these guys best friends and roommates, they also started a band together. They also moved to another continent together. They fight over budgets, their apartment, friendship time, etc. They’re young Kiwis, but also an old married couple. That’s why they’re the number one bromance.

Here they are fighting over a girl (Kristin Wiig cameo):

Here they are agreeing about girls in general:

Celebrity Reality TV Decathalon

I’m of the opinion that if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all. The caveat is that if you do bring up a problem, you should have a solution ready.

So, I know economic times are hard, I know NBC is struggling, I’m here to help, NBC. Let’s right this ship. For America. Instead of having reality shows with manufactured drama and D-list stars, let’s think big. Allow me to present NBC’s Celebrity Reality Decathlon.

Here’s the quick pitch: Big stars from tv, movies, stage, music, and athletics compete in a series of interdisciplinary events to determine The Best. (The Best is the winners’ title.)

Tim Tebow, Lolo Jones, NPH, Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Brad Paisley, Emma Stone, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, Tom Hardy compete in the following:

The Voice
Top Chef
Two-on-two basketball
Teaching kindergarten
The Amazing Race
Top Shot
Survivor
The Glee Project/Inside the Actors Studio
Design Star
Wheel of Fortune (co-ed teams)

What American wouldn’t watch this? Why American wouldn’t spend an inappropriate portion of their work day reading updates on behind-the-scenes antics? Here’s the kicker for the network – you donate like 1.5 million dollars to the winner’ charity of choice so you can get big names. That’s the key. And it’s a positive result with a group of positive folks.

Highlights would include Tom Cruise having more energy than kindergarteners, a Tim Tebow/Emma Stone duet, Tom Hardy decorating an entertaining space, gosh the list goes on.

Someone make this happen. All I want in return for this idea is a backstage pass for the events and a Spec’s gift card.

Return of the Mack

Samantha and I have been steadily working on Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps to reaching financial peace.  This means that for the past year or so we’ve been living below our means in order to save money and pay off debts.  That’s another story for another post.  The main thing to take away is that for the past couple of years, we have not had cable tv.  It just wasn’t a good use of our resources.

But.  Now, we’ve paid off the majority of our debts.  We’re on a budget, we’ve got a plan, we’re cruising.  We’ve reached the point where we can get cable tv.  So, we have.  Three hundred channels strong.  And it’s been amazing. HD. DVR. ESPN. NFL. MLB. And yes, HGTV.

If you aren’t too familiar with HGTV, then you are probably a single guy.  Otherwise, you are statistically highly likely to be in the know.  Property Virgins.  House Hunters.  House Hunters International.  Property Brothers.  That’s off the top of my head.

Obviously, HGTV doesn’t need my help.  They’re doing pretty well for themselves.  Still, everyone can always improve, so I want to make a programming suggestion: House Hunters Time Machine.

We all know that houses now like to have wood floors, granite counter tops, tile backsplashes, entertaining space, etc.  What we don’t know is this – what would people have gotten excited about in the past?  Hence, HHTM.

Let’s say it’s 1991.  Paula Abdul and Color Me Badd are tearing up the charts.  Home Improvement and Step by Step own the airwaves.  What’s up in home design?  I’d love to have some talking heads or old footage of realtors taking potential homebuyers into a new home and hearing something along the following lines:

Realtor: As you’ll see, the builder has gone with kelly green carpet to simulate an outdoors experience for you.
Man: Yes, I like that.  It’s like I’m Tim “The Toolman” Taylor! ARH HAR HAR.
Wife: (Silent.)
Realtor: And if you’ll follow me into the living room.
Wife: Oh, I LOVE these wall to wall mirrors.
Realtor: Yes, it easily doubles the size of the room.
Husband: Does it have a trash compactor?
Realtor: Of course, follow me into the kitchen.
Wife: Oh, these white appliance are amazing.  So bright!
Realtor: And the golden faucets really add a touch of class.
Husband: Yes, it’s like Beauty and the Beast in here!
Wife: It is, you’re my beast! Growl!
Husband: ARH HAR HAR.
Realtor: And you’ll notice the kitchen and living room are thankfully separated.  Who would want to have an open space!?!

(All laugh in unison and make fun of Saddam Hussein and Dan Quayle and then quote Terminator 2.)

I would watch that so much.  I would DVR it all day long.  Other shows we’ve enjoyed:

  • The NFL Network (all of it)
  • Tanked – Yankees in Vegas make custom fish tanks. Trust me.
  • Duck Dynasty – Si for president.
  • Batman The Animated Series – Holds up well.  Even if you are 28.
  • Storage Wars – Barry, if you read this, I will gladly be your personal assistant.
  • Starz – Best movies.
  • White Collar – This actually just won the Emmy for Best Show Imaginable.  The Neal/Peter relationship is transcendent, NYC looks great, and I like the phrase “humble assault on the commonplace”. Mozzie should get an Emmy as well.
  • White Collar – The other good thing is the soundtrack.  Very David Holmes (Ocean’s 11, etc.)

Now that we’ve got cable, what should we be taping?*

*Taping is something I learned about on House Hunters Time Machine.  It’s like DVRing only way sillier.

 

 

Favorite TV Theme Songs

Perfect Strangers

This song makes me want to stand on something tall and throw my arms out in victory. On the wings of my dreams.

Veronica Mars

Season 3 was only superior to the first two seasons in one way: the new theme song. This version of “We Used To Be Friends” by the Dandy Warhols was edited, slowed down, and made to fit the feel of the show more than the original, super peppy high school version. (And let’s face it: Veronica was anything but PEPPY.)

Smallville

Lyrics a bit too on the nose? Perhaps. But man alive does this opener get you ready for a glorious hour of invisible people in locker rooms and creepy Adam Brody appearances.

Friday Night Lights

Sparkling and meaningful and wonderful. An original composition for the show, this song just captures it all.

Step By Step

Definitely not the best show on TGIF, but their theme song remains awesomely singalongable. You know you love it too.

(Although: “As long as these dreams fit under one umbrella”? WHAT?)

The OC

I’m just not aware that it gets much better than this.

Honorable Mention: Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Boy Meets World, Growing Pains, Scrubs, Fresh Prince, and the entire 1990’s Disney Afternoon line-up