Feelin’ TV: September 25-October 1

I don’t really care about the Emmy’s. Every year the Oscar’s give me a few movies to add to my watchlist, but the Emmy’s very rarely move the needle for me as far as my viewing habits. I could be wrong, but it always seems to me like once a show or an actor gets honored with the award, they’re continuously honored in perpetuity until the show ends its run while other deserving shows are ignored. And if I’m being honest, I’m a little bitter that Parks & Recreation went 0-16 at the Emmys during its seven seasons. But this year, as I was hearing all of the buzz after the ceremony for Big Little Lies, I looked at the dynamite cast and the well-regarded show runner and decided to give it a try. In doing so, I may have started to care about the Emmy’s.

Big Little Lies, the adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s 2014 novel of the same name, tells the story about a death at an elementary school fundraiser in Monterey, California. The story is presented on two fronts. The primary way is through the main narrative that follows Madeline, Jane, Celeste and Renata (Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern, respectively) from student orientation day at Pirriwee Public School all the way up to the fateful night of the murder. The secondary narrative is what we hear from ancillary characters describing the escalating tension between our four main characters over the time periods in their statements to the police. What makes Big Little Lies stand out from other murder mysteries is that not only is the audience unaware who the killer is, we’re also kept in the dark as to who the victim is. It’s great storytelling technique pulled off with near perfection by one of the most impressive casts I’ve seen in a television series. The four leads are fantastic. They’re confident, catty and delightfully willing to speak their minds to each other. The drama between the women always feels like the kind of actual real-world problems that mothers deal with every day. Make no mistake, these are women who are well-off living in paradise, but their issues are abuse, bullying and work life balance. As a parent, this helped me buy in immediately because I’ve dealt with the pain of a child being hurt in a manner that leaves those in charge of keeping him/her safe without any clue as to who caused the harm. I’ve gone the wrong way in the drop-off line and felt the condemning stares. I’ve seen little issues between parents become big issues because of the wrong thing said at the wrong time. Now no one is getting murdered at the fundraisers I attend, but I get the stakes. This isn’t your average network TV drama where every conflict could be solved if the characters involved took the time to have a 2-minute conversation.

The main cast, as you’d expect with names like Witherspoon, Kidman and Dern, is spectacular. Witherspoon’s Madeline stands out and reminds me of a grown-up Tracy Flick. She’s smart, dedicated, and she’ll play dirty if you cross her. Dern shines as Renata who is put in the unenviable position of being the villain of the story, at least where the interpersonal relationships are concerned. The men in the cast are great as well with stand-out performances by Adam Scott and Alexander Skarsgard. It’s also important to point out how solid Zoe Kravitz performs in a small but vital role as Bonnie, the young wife to Madeline’s ex-husband.

I don’t want to get into too many spoilers in this space because I’d rather you just watch the show. But my favorite thing about the series is the way shines a light on the strength of women. From little hiccups to giant problems, these are women who are more than capable to handle what life puts in their way. When the men in their lives attempt to fix these delicate issues like a man does, they serve to escalate things further. The men suffer from the classic dilemma of treating every problem like a nail because their only tool is a hammer. This show celebrates strong women and their ability to protect each other and get stuff done. It’s a phenomenal series that deserves every bit of praise it has received. Big Little Lies is currently streaming on the HBO GO and HBO NOW apps.

Channel Surfing:

  • Halt and Catch Fire had a devastating episode this week that absolutely wrecked me. No matter how much time is left in a series (H&CF has only 3 episodes left until its series finale) it takes some guts to make a move that totally changes the direction of your show and that’s what creators Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers did this week. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,  is the best show that you’re not watching. These next three weeks promise to be can’t miss TV. Past seasons of Halt and Catch Fire can be seen on Netflix and the current season can be streamed on the AMC app.
  • Speaking of shows that are unafraid to throw a wrench into the machine that totally changes the show, The Good Place did just that for the third time in its last three episodes. My favorite new show from last season is quickly becoming my favorite show on TV. If you haven’t watched it yet, I can’t express how much you’re missing out. Catch up on season one on Netflix and season two is streaming on Hulu and NBC.com.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine has occasionally ended their season by upsetting the apple cart, but typically they get everything back to the status quo by the end of the next season’s premiere. This season though, it appears that they’re willing to play with the Peralta and Diaz in prison storyline for a little while. And the show is the better for it. The season five premiere was among the best episodes the show has ever produced. Look, Jake and Rosa aren’t guilty and they’re not going to stay there forever, but with the amount of fun that Dan Goor and his writers were able to have with those scenes in particular, I hope it ends later rather than sooner. Brooklyn Nine-Nine can be seen on Hulu or at FOX.com
  • For all you Trekkies out there, we’d be remiss not to mention that Star Trek: Discovery launched last week with a two-part premiere. In the opening episodes we are introduced to Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh), First Office Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the crew of the  USS Shenzhou. Life in the Federation is pretty chill until the Klingons show back up and chaos ensues. These first two episodes serve as a great primer to the world we will be seeing in Discovery, and though I didn’t particularly love them, they made me curious enough to stick around for episode #3. In this week’s episode the show begins to reveal more of what the episodic storytelling nature may be going forward. This is an intense Star Trek, with a mysterious Captain in Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), horror-like moments reminiscent of the video game Doom 3, and an intriguing crew with vastly different personalities. It was great to finally be aboard the USS Discovery, as well, and see some of the interesting technology of this universe. I came away from the third episode fully onboard with the show and am now quite excited about where it goes from here. – Aaron  Star Trek: Discovery can be streamed through CBS All-Access

As always, if there’s anything you’d like to see covered that we’re not yet covering, let me know in the comments or on the Feelin’ Film discussion group. Thanks for reading!

Feelin’ TV: July 10-16

Parks and Recreation is the greatest sitcom of all time. That’s not scientifically provable or anything, but I believe it with all my heart. I spent the last month watching the series all the way through for the sixth time. Even if you disagree with me about it being the best ever, I doubt you’ll be able to point to a comedy that had as perfect of a two-season run as Parks and Rec did for seasons 3 and 4 of its run. Even when it wasn’t great, it was still really good. Because at Feelin’ Film, we really like making lists, I decided that I would submit my picks for the best five episodes of Parks and Recreation:

5. One Last Ride (S7E12) – The final couple of seasons might have relied a little too heavily on giving its characters everything they ever wanted, and that shortcoming is definitely on full display in the series finale. But, man, it’s so good that I just don’t even care. I get tears all around as we get to see what Leslie (Amy Poehler) and the gang are up to in the future, especially when it comes to the fate of my spirit animal, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman).

4. Practice Date (S2E4) – This is the only episode on my list from before Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Chris Traeger’s (Rob Lowe) arrival in Pawnee. The A story provides a lot of comedy as Ann (Rashida Jones) takes Leslie on a practice date to help calm the nerves she’s feeling about her first date with Dave (Louis CK). While hearing about all of Leslie’s nightmarish first dates is a lot of fun, what makes this episode so memorable for me is its B story, where all of the other members of the parks department are having a contest to see how much dirt they can dig up on their co-workers. It’s our first introduction to Duke Silver and its where we really start to get to know Jerry Gergich (Jim O’Heir) as the office punching bag. It’s a lot of fun.

3. Fancy Party (S3E9) – My favorite couple on Parks is April (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy (Chris Pratt), hands down. April’s perpetually annoyed demeanor plays off of Andy’s wide-eyed man-child to a form a relationship that managed to feel both inevitable and wildly implausible at the same time. That they would invite their friends and family to bring components of a party to their house (Ben’s items to bring: Avatar, 50 pair of 3-D glasses and a 3-D capable TV) for the purpose of having a surprise wedding is sweet and hilarious and perfectly encapsulates April and Andy.

2. Ron and Tammy: Part Two (S3E4) – I couldn’t make this list without including at least one of the episodes where we get to see Ron interact with his second ex-wife (and real-life spouse Megan Mullally) Tammy 2. I picked a second one because of the ridiculously amusing gag of seeing Ron with corn rows and a mustache with a bald spot in the middle from “friction.” What puts this version of the Ron and Tammy saga on the list over the others is the B story where we learn about Ben’s paralyzing fear of policemen as he and Leslie position themselves to get a favor from Pawnee’s chief of police. It’s this episode where Ben starts to really learn what Leslie is all about. When he asks the police chief why he says that Leslie Knope gets all the favors she wants and he responds, “Because she’s the kind of person who uses favors to help other people.”

1. Flu Season (S3E2) – I realize that three of my five picks are from season three, but you have to understand that I believe that season three of Parks and Rec is the best season of TV sitcom ever. And Flu Season is 22 tight minutes of laughs and the crew splitting off into perfect comedic parings, Tom (Aziz Ansari) and Ben, April and Ann, and my personal favorite, Ron and Andy. Oh, and it also contains what show creator Michael Schur has called, and I agree with him, the funniest one liner in all seven seasons of the show, seen here.

I’m going to restrain myself from giving honorable mentions because I might list every other episode. What say you? What did I miss? What are your favorite episodes? Parks and Recreation can be streamed on Netflix. 


In the age of digital streaming, everyone has a show they want you to watch. Depending on how many seasons you’ve already missed, this can be a daunting proposition. This is why I’m always excited when someone recommends I watch a show and it has less than 20 episodes. I was able to watch Luther in a week! It happened again this week when a friend recommended I watch ABC’s Downward Dog. Downward Dog had a lot going for it. First, it stars Allison Tolman who is probably best known for her role as Molly Solverson on the first season of FX’s Fargo. Tolman is great. I’m a big fan. The conceit is also pretty intriguing. Picture a Modern Family/The Office/Parks and Recreation style mockumentary style sit-com, but the only character that does the talking head portions and the narration is a middle-aged dog who is going through an existential crisis. It’s fun in a way that, as my friend put it, it will never last. And my friend was right. It’s already been cancelled. But the best thing about it is that there are only 8 episodes. I watched the whole thing in an afternoon. It’s the perfect show to begin and finish watching over the summer while your other shows are on hiatus. It’s light, it moves quick and it’s really, really funny. It’s been cancelled by ABC, but the producers are reportedly shopping it around to other networks. It’s unique and different and every viewer counts. Downward Dog can be streamed on Hulu.


Shall We Begin? After what seemed like a lifetime but really was only a year, HBO’s Game of Thrones is back! Once the dust settled from a bloody first few minutes, the rest of the episode was spent moving the pieces into place for the rest of season seven and next year’s climactic season eight. By the looks of it, they’re not going to spend much time messing around. Cersei wants her kingdom back and isn’t going to take no for an answer. Jon needs dragon glass to defeat the Night’s King and, thanks to Sam, he’s about to find out that there’s a whole mess of it at Dragonstone. It looks like we’ll get to see the family reunion that we’ve all been looking forward to but Jon and his Aunt Daenerys don’t yet know is a thing, as the Mother of Dragons has just landed at, you guessed it, Dragonstone. You’ve also got Arya and Bran doing their thing, Sansa paying a little too much attention to Littlefinger and whatever it is that Uncle Greyjoy has up his sleeve. There are a lot of moving pieces and only 12 episodes left until it’s all over.

So what do you think is going to happen? Are Ms. Breaker of Chains and Mr. Snow going to kill the Lannisters on their way to defeat the White Walkers? Or do they need to form a tentative truce with Cersei to survive the winter? And what side is Jamie going to be on? My plan for Game of Thrones is to give a weekly, mostly spoiler free recap on Feelin’ Film TV with the opportunity for more in depth, spoiler-filled discussion in the comments and on our Facebook page. Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights on HBO and can be found streaming on the HBO Now and HBO Go platforms.

That’s all for now! As always, we want this to just be the start of our discussion. Feel free to contribute your thoughts in the comments or our Facebook group. Leave us your thoughts on my list or your predictions for this season of Game of Thrones. See you next week!