Friday Five: Fall 2013 TV Season or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Binge-Watching

By Peter SM RSS Fri, September 6, 2013

There's no shortage of media and entertainment vying for our attention these days. Between books, movies, television, and the Internet (which you can get all the aforementioned forms of visual and audio entertainment on), it can be pretty hard to keep up. Especially with television, which in the past 10 years has really seen a renaissance of unprecedented creativity and quality programming that rival anything at the multiplex for gripping drama, laugh out loud comedy, and overall complex characters.

Enter the idea of binge-watching:

As with anything, there are pros and cons to the practice, but as someone who has binged on TV shows to either catchup on missed seasons (Mad Men) or missed the boat when the series first aired (The Wire), it really is a great way to experience TV. For one, if the show is great and you really get into it, you can watch it all at once and don't have to anxiously wait for the next episode or season to start. And the reverse is also true: How many times have you watched a TV series week in, week out--year after year--only to have it never answer or resolve anything during it's run and turn out to be a total waste of time (we're looking at you Lost!)? This way, with binge-watching, if the show is a real stinker, you can just click it off, be done with it, and move on to something completely different.

Such critically acclaimed and popular shows like Breaking Bad, Dexter, and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia have already had their season premieres, but check out the below Friday Five of returning television series (some for their last seasons) this fall, pull up a couch cushion or comfy chair, and have a "TV Party" tonight (alright)!

Boardwalk Empire Boardwalk Empire
  • 3 seasons currently available on DVD
  • New season premieres Sunday, September 8 on HBO
This period drama series is set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition era and similar in violent tone to HBO's other mob hit The Sopranos. It stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, a crooked politician who leads a double life as a gangster. The show is an adaptation of Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City, a book by Nelson Johnson about historical criminal kingpin Enoch L. Johnson. In another mafia-related nod, the pilot episode was directed by Goodfellas director Martin Scorsese. The series has received 30 (!) Emmy Award nominations, including two for Outstanding Drama Series, and won twelve Emmys and the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama.
Castle Castle
  • 5 seasons currently available on DVD
  • New season premieres Monday, September 23 on ABC
Castle is the perfect tv show for this list, since it's about a mystery novelist who actually helps solve crimes! It also doesn't hurt that fandom favorite Nathan Fillion stars as the title character Richard Castle, who brings both dramatic and comedic acting chops to the show. Along with NYPD Detective Kate Beckett, the two solve unusual crimes in New York City on a weekly basis and continue a hot and cold romantic relationship that rivals a soap opera at times. As an added bonus of art imitating art, a whole series of tie-in books have been published under the Richard Castle pen name! The Nikki Heat novels are set in New York City and the title character is based on Castle's partner, Beckett. All of the novels in the series have charted on the New York Times bestseller list.
Eastbound and Down Eastbound and Down
  • 3 seasons currently available on DVD
  • New season premieres Sunday, September 29 on HBO
Comedian Danny McBride stars as Kenny Powers, a former professional baseball pitcher, who after an up and down career in the major leagues is forced to return to his hometown middle-school in Shelby, North Carolina, as a substitute physical education teacher. That's plot setup is the most normal thing about this show. Powers is an absurd cartoon of a human being, like an incredibly vulgar Wile E. Coyote mixed with baseball antics rivaling that of The Bad News Bears. To say that this show is irreverent and profane is an understatement, but it is also howlingly hilarious and wonderfully written. Eastbound and Down is worth watching for the guest stars and cameos alone with the likes of Don Johnson (as Kenny's father), Lily Tomlin (as Kenny's mother), or Will Ferrell as a used car salesman. This is the series final season so catch up!
Scandal Scandal
  • 2 seasons are currently available on DVD
  • New season premieres Thursday, October 3 on ABC

Scandal is a thrilling political drama starring Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, taking place in the heart of Washington, D.C. and focusing on crisis management firm, Pope & Associates, and the private lives of its staff, as well as staff at the White House. The show is full of corporate conspiracy, political paranoia, and steamy affairs, all built around such complex characters that have you rooting for them one moment and recoiling in horror at their evil deeds the next. Most tv shows take a whole season to deliver some sort of resolution or payoff but with Scandal, every episode is full of tense drama and jaw-dropping reveals! And if any show demonstrates the power of social media, it's Scandal: the show registers over 2,000 tweets a minute on Twitter during it's time slot on Thursday nites.

The Walking Dead The Walking Dead
  • 3 seasons are currently available on DVD
  • New season premieres Sunday, October 13 on AMC
Who would have thought that one of the most watched shows ever in the history of television would be based on a comic book--one about a post-apocalyptic, horrific world overrun by zombies no less?! The Walking Dead is a full blown pop-culture phenomenon at this point. The main theme that runs throughout the series is the human condition and "man's inhumanity to man". Of course, there is also no shortage of scenes depicting graphic hordes of flesh-eating, re-animated corpses, described on the show as "walkers" or "biters". Whether human or zombie, character development is the centerpiece of this show. It is a slow burn at times though, making The Walking Dead perfect for binge-watching instead of in weekly installments. No cliffhangers! Well, at least until you get to the end of the 3rd season
; )

Whew, that's entertainment! And you can get it all for free with your library card! : )

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