Favorite 35 TV Shows of 2016

The Golden Age of Television lives on, even after Walter White and Don Draper. Storytellers and innovators are finding new and exciting ways to keep us at the edge of our seats, wanting more after the closing credits of every episode. Sometimes we have to wait a week. Sometimes we just hit “next episode” until we’re met with the disappointment of the season being over.

I listed out every TV show I watched in the last year and it came out to being upwards of 50 (yes I watch a lot of television). It wasn’t easy cutting the list to only 35. I also say “Favorite” instead of “Top” because I’m just not that full of myself…I

t also may come as a surprise, but I haven’t watched EVERY TV show that aired this past year. So recommendations are more than welcome on the Facebooks or Twitters.

35. The OA

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Netflix – Brit Marling, Emory Cohen and Jason Isaacs

The OA is a very weird show. It’s complicated, hard to follow, strange, and sometimes fights you when you want to keep spending time on it. Somehow, someway though, every episode gives you a reason to continue binge-watching. The last 5 minutes of the first season make it all worth it, on an emotional level. Emory Cohen also gives a performance that makes you wonder why he wasn’t chosen to be “Young Han Solo”, with an excellent follow up to his part in Brooklyn.

34. Banshee

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Cinemax – Antony Starr, Ivana Milicevic and Ulrich Thomsen

I have to admit, I was pretty late to Banshee but I did binge watch the entire series in nearly a month’s time. I wouldn’t call it a “good show” but it’s so absurd that you can’t look away. Banshee is like a lovechild of True Blood and Into The Badlands, and it’s supremely more fun than both.

33. Orange is the New Black

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Netflix – Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew and Taylor Schilling

So far I’ve felt that OITNB’s best season was their 2nd, but their latest certainly knew how to throw the haymakers to your emotions. Some of your favorite characters became easy to turn on. Others became more important than the original stars, including Piper. And then there was the one that completely tore your heart out…

32. Ash vs. Evil Dead

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STARZ – Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago

This show is gross, cheesy, and kinda REALLY dumb…but that’s also why it’s so much fun. It’s hard to deny that when Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi team up on either big or small screen. Warning: There is blood…LOTS OF BLOOD (That’s for the kids who didn’t like how gory The Walking Dead premiere was).

31. Supergirl

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The CW – Melissa Benoist, David Harewood and Mehcad Brooks

If there was a Most Improved Player category for TV shows, Supergirl could be at the top of the list. The move from CBS to CW was more than necessary for its tone and overall quality.  The show hasn’t held back on it’s commentary of topical social issues and it did something that the DC films have failed to as of late…make Superman likable.

30. Vice Principals

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HBO – Danny McBride, Walton Goggins and Kimberly Hebert Gregory

It should be noted that our two stars play absolutely terrible people on this show. Danny McBride is an expert at making bad guys almost worth rooting for (i.e. Kenny Powers) and Walton Goggins is simply one of the best actors in television today (watch Justified, if you don’t believe me). The under-the-radar sweetness of Shea Whigham, which is a complete opposite of McBride’s character, is reason enough alone to watch this show.

29. House of Cards

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Netflix – Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Michael Kelly

House of Cards lost a bit of mojo once Frank Underwood made it to the oval office. Once he became president, he was no longer hunter but rather playing survivor instead. Robin Wright carries the 4th season much more than her male counterpart and Joel Kinnaman makes for an awesome heel as the adversary candidate in their race for reelection. What makes me hopeful for the 5th season is how scary both Francis and Claire are by the end of 4th.

28. Preacher

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AMC – Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga and Jackie Earle Haley

Preacher had of the best pilots of the year, written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. It matched the crazy and action that’s packed in the comic series, and set the tone for what should be a wild ride of a series. The season itself had its ups and downs, sometimes standing in place and other times with the pedal to metal. It never lacked suspense or humor though, due to the unpredictable nature and writing of the characters.

27. The Crown

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Netflix – Claire Foy, Matt Smith and John Lithgow

The Crown is absolutely stunning. The cinematography, the costumes, the pageantry, and the acting are all top notch. The real life story of Queen Elizabeth and her royal family are fascinating too but there was a disconnect for me…It’s hard to be emotionally invested and sympathetic in the problems of British Hierarchy. But Lithgow as Winston Churchill is inspiring.

26. Black Mirror

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Netflix – Bryce Dallas Howard and Michael Kelly

This British anthology series is the modern Twilight Zone, with technology, and it’s terrifying. Excellent and recognizable actors in each story/episode and themes that make you question your own behavior when it comes to, well, everything…

25. The Flash

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The CW – Grant Gustin, Candice Patton and Tom Cavanaugh

Everyday I wonder why Warner Bros. doesn’t just let the TV DC universe carry over to their film universe…Grant Gustin belongs there and they are making a big mistake by not capitalizing on the charm, fun and popularity he has brought with Barry Allen.

24. Insecure

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HBO – Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji and Jay Ellis

Issa Rae is awesome. The show is comfortable and honest. It doesn’t try hard to speak on behalf of its audience yet is still relatable. It was also refreshing after every half hour following Westworld episode trying to blow your mind.

23. Grace and Frankie

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Netflix – Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterson and Martin Sheen

I love Grace and Frankie. Ever since Sam Waterson and Martin Sheen chose to come out to their wives (Fonda and Tomlin) in the show’s first episode, it’s been an absolute delight. Can’t wait for the third season.

22. Veep

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HBO – Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale and Anna Chlumsky

It shouldn’t be news to anyone at this point that Veep is really good, and will probably be especially relevant in the next couple years. When you have Gary Cole, Kevin Dunn, Diedrich Bader and HUGH LAURIE as recurring supporting characters, what’s not to love?

21. BoJack Horseman

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Netflix – Will Arnett, Alison Brie and Aaron Paul

BoJack is Netflix’s best comedy and that’s really saying a lot. All I have to do is point to the episode that was set in 2007 (WOW, TEN YEARS AGO NOW) and how effective every episode specific to that year was.

20. Last Chance U

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Netflix

It’s the one docu-series that I have listed here but it’s a great one. Following a junior college school of student athletes trying to overcome their personal and academic issues and catch the eye of D1 programs (while also dealing with their egotistical head coach) is some of the most compelling television you’ll find in the last year.

19. Bosch

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Amazon – Titus Welliver, Jamie Hector and Lance Reddick

Related to the Lincoln Lawyer universe of novels, Bosch is an adapted Michael Connelly detective series that plays like a modern noir. Titus Welliver has always been “that guy” on TV shows, usually a supporting or guest villain, but shines when given the spotlight as the title character. If you were a fan of The Wire, then you are going to LOVE all the alums who star and appear on the show.

18. Mozart in the Jungle

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Amazon – Gael Garcia Bernal, Malcolm McDowell and Lola Kirke

How this series hasn’t received love from the Emmys is beyond me (at least on thing the Golden Globes gets right). One of the easiest binge watches you could ask for, with great writing and soul-searching music. Bernal is also one of the best actors you’ll find on television today and makes you feel as romantic the maestro he portrays.

17. Ray Donovan

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Showtime – Liev Schreiber, John Voight and Steven Bauer

Now that we’re moved on from Bryan Cranston’s Walter White and Jon Hamm’s Don Draper, it’s time to start recognizing Liev Schreiber’s Ray Donovan as one of the most complex and well-acted characters on current running series. It took a few years, but the show is now hitting its stride in writing, acting, and casting…while the soundtrack to Season 4 could be pound-for-pound as good as any.

16. Billions

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Showtime – Damian Lewis, Paul Giamati and Maggie Siff

Maggie Siff is the x-factor to a show that already features two heavyweight lead actors. Don’t get me wrong, Lewis and Giamati definitely fit the bill. But Siff goes well beyond what we remember from her character, Tara, on Sons of Anarchy, and deserves as many nominations as she can get. The show itself is like if The Big Short didn’t treat its audience like a bunch of idiots and faster paced. Great Metallica appearance too.

15. The Americans

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FX – Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich

I’ll be honest, I’m still catching up on The Americans. It’s well-regarded as being one of the best shows today, if not THEE BEST, but it took me a while to get interested enough to check it out. I’m sure by next year it will be significantly higher on the list.

14. Silicon Valley

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HBO – Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller and Kumail Nanjiani

I don’t know if there is a show that has a better sense of humor than Silicon Valley. Every episode oozes with Mike Judge’s cynicism, nature and experience in the industry and it’s fantastic. Is it a little exhausting that guys of Pied Piper continue to get crapped on after they find success? Yes…but that’s the heart of its story: overcoming the continuous struggle.

13. The People vs. OJ Simpson

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FX – Cuba Gooding Jr., John Travolta and Courtney B. Vance 

The very first episode of American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson reminded us how great Ryan Murphy can be as a director and storyteller. You knew what was going to happen, but the suspense was absolutely killer and he let the evidence tell the story. The acting was superb by a great cast, but then Murphy couldn’t get out of his own way. Yes, Robert Kardashian’s friendship was significant to Simpson, but did they have to be so gratuitous with the attention to his ex wife and daughters? And why was every extra or background actor more annoying and awful than the next? Courtney B. Vance, Sterling K. Brown and John Travolta made the miniseries every bit as compelling as it was though.

12. Daredevil

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Netflix – Charlie Cox, Jon Bernthal and Deborah Ann Woll

Season 1 of Daredevil was an absolute adrenaline rush that was capable of doing what the Marvel Cinematic Universe hadn’t accomplished yet: like give us a memorable and even sympathetic villain (Vincent D’onofrio). This time, it was an antihero that took The Defenders series to the next level…Jon Bernthal’s variation of The Punisher is dark, brooding, heartbreaking, badass, and even more interesting than the title character.

11. This Is Us

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NBC – Sterling K. Brown, Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia

One of the best new shows on television, This Is Us has this uncanny ability to make you laugh, cry and repeat over and over every episode. It’s honest, it’s smart, and it’s one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. The show also never ceases to keep you on your toes.

10. The Night Manager

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AMC – Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Elizabeth Debicki

Sexy, suspenseful and super unpredictable, The Night Manager was unbelievably good, even by AMC’s standards. If it was an audition for Tom Hiddleston to play James Bond, he passed. If Hugh Laurie was trying out to be a Bond villain, he’d be way better than most…Rather than go with the obvious Bond girl comp, I’ll just say Elizabeth Debicki is my new TV crush and I feared for her life the entire miniseries.

9. Narcos

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Netflix – Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal

The best way I can describe how good Narcos S2 was, I literally couldn’t close my laptop while streaming it…I actually let it play on top of my washer while I did my laundry because I couldn’t hit pause on the action that was cranked to 11, compared to season 1. Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar is more than award worthy as well.

8. Atlanta

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FX – Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry and Keith Stanfield

Donald Glover is making a really strong case for coolest dude on the planet. Even cooler might be Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12, Straight Outta Compton) and everything his character does on Atlanta. Every episode is different in its own way but they are all consistently real and also surreal at the same time.

7. Better Call Saul

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AMC – Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks and Michael McKean

Better Call Saul is proof of 2 things: Vince Gilligan is a genius and comedic actors are brilliant in dramatic settings. It’s incredible to see how enthralling the stories can be of Breaking Bad’s supporting characters. The shows are very different in tone, but the suspense, cinematography and classic Gilligan wit are all there…sometimes better. Oh, and it look’s like Gus is coming next season.

6. Luke Cage

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Netflix – Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson and Theo Rossi

While watching Luke Cage, I couldn’t help but think it was my favorite of The Defenders  series. Mike Colter’s Luke Cage isn’t afraid to be the hero, nor does he hide behind an alias and that avoids the unnecessary drama that you find in Daredevil. The show doesn’t hold back on facing social issues and the women on the show are all complete badasses in their own way. Also love the music and how Harlem is treated like a character itself.

5. Westworld

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HBO – Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins

The mystery of Westworld’s end game throughout the first season was so enthralling that you couldn’t help but keep watching until it came to fruition. Every twist kept you on your toes, the setting was gorgeous, and the music was haunting. Almost every character was dynamic, man or machine, and whom you were rooting for was entirely up to you.

4. Stranger Things

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Netflix – David Harbour, Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown

Stranger Things was the new show that many of us geeks needed over the summer. Sci-fi, horror, 80’s references, adventure, action and all the wonderment through the eyes of kids of that era made this show worth binge watching over an entire weekend.

3. Game of Thrones

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HBO – Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke and Lena Headey

Television’s most talked about show gave us its biggest payoff of a season. Every episode gave fans a win, whether it was characters being reunited, the advancement of a few others, or the death of a few hated ones…Don’t forget, I had Power Rankings for the entire season too.

2. The Night Of

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HBO – Riz Ahmed, John Turturro and Bill Camp

After every episode, week to week, I couldn’t help but say that The Night Of was the best show of the summer. It was. From the premiere, which made you scream “NO NO NO NO NO!” with everything Riz Ahmed did, to John Turturro’s amazing performance, to the back-and-forth “Serial Podcast” style guessing of who-done-it…every episode was worth the wait. Would have loved to see what the first one would have been like with James Gandolfini in Turturro’s role.

1. Goliath

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Amazon – Billy Bob Thornton, William Hurt and Maria Bello

I haven’t seen it on many year-end lists, but here I have it as my #1. Why? If you’re a Billy Bob Thornton fan, everything you like about him is on display in Goliath. He’s funny, commanding, and unbelievably easy to root for. The battle between a giant corporation and the “little guy” victims was too good to pause during a weekend to myself. It was also the most fulfilling of any series I have listed above. It’s the first thing I suggest to anyone who asks for a recommendation too.

 

If you have any thoughts or recommendations for next year’s list, let me know on Twitter or Facebook. Stay tuned for the Favorites of 2016 Movie List. 

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Netflix Takes Mixtapes to a Whole New Level with ‘Flixtape’

While you’re taking trips down memory lane watching Netflix’s new original, Stranger Things, you make mixtapes again as well…of movies and TV shows.

Say hello to Flixtape, a feature that allows users to create quick and easily accessible playlists of their favorites on the streaming service that can also be shared with friends via Facebook, Twitter, email and text.

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Netflix can either recommend selections for you or you can simply let it know what you’re in the mood for. Just type in a genre, title or keyword of any sort and you can add it to your list of up to 6 moves, shows, standup specials or documentaries.

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Once you’ve created your Flixtape, you can share it with that friend who keeps asking for recommendations in your Facebook newsfeed. Or you can show your crush what you’re into, and see if they dig it too…If not, I’m sorry. I’m sure someone out there likes that thing that you like too.

What does your Flixtape list look like? Share with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Predicting the 2016 Emmy Nominees (Part II) – Comedy

The comedy landscape for television has changed immensely in the last year. While longtime running favorites like The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family are still on-air, there was a void left by the NBC triumvirate of Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock and The Office. 

Consider that void filled by HBO and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Netflix has produced binge-worthy hit-after-hit with original programming like Master of None, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Grace & Frankie while Amazon has made their mark with their award winning shows, Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle. Meanwhile, ABC has stuck to the “comedy about a family” formula with some success, churning out shows like Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, and The Goldbergs. 

Predicting comedy categories is tough because comedy is so subjective, but there shouldn’t be too many supporting actor/actress categories filled with players from the same show. There’s plenty of talent out there deserving recognition, and I hope my guesses pan out to show it.

<< Part I – Drama

Outstanding Comedy Series

 

Veep (HBO)

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Coming off 5 big Emmy wins a year ago, Veep is in full stride. It’s a show, while best watched episode by episode, that you can tune in and and enjoy at any point. In a year where politics and the presidential election is topping our headlines, Veep‘s excellent writing and acting has provided much needed relief and satire for it.

Silicon Valley (HBO)

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I personally feel this is the best comedy on television right now. Every episode exudes the genius of Mike Judge (and I’m not one for hyperbole), and every character offers killer punchline after punchline. As good and popular as Veep is, Silicon Valley is as deserving, if not more worthy of a “Best Comedy” win.

Transparent (Amazon)

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Amazon has proved recently to be an excellent source for original comedy. Their tentpole, or at least the starting flag, is definitely Transparent. Where Veep hits the topical political satire, Transparent is at the forefront of representing the LGBT+ community and does so better than anyone else.

Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon)

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I’ll admit, I hadn’t checked out Mozart in the Jungle until after its Golden Globe success this past season. I’m so glad I did though…One of the easiest binge-watches ever with such charming characters and great music. I actually accidentally watched the 2nd season first, because I was new to the Amazon Prime platform, and it was the best mistake I ever made.

Master of None (Netflix)

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Netflix has been producing excellent programming for years now, but Aziz Ansari’s Master of None may have been it’s best true comedy. As funny and well-written as Orange is the New Black is, it’s really a drama. Master of None used an episodic formula that was similar to Louie, but eliminated the standup and awkwardness. Ansari’s storytelling and delivery was very natural and felt real, as were his relationships with characters on the show.

Broad City (Comedy Central)

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Broad City has made waves on Comedy Central for a few years now and the creator/star combo of Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson deserve their recognition now. The Writers Guild gave it a “Best Comedy Series” nomination this year which leads me to believe the Emmys aren’t far from doing the same.

Modern Family (ABC)

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Before last year, this category BELONGED to Modern Family. They won “Best Comedy Series” 5 years in a row and the only show to ever pull that off was Frasier, from 1994-98. I believe new programming and other powerhouses have certainly caught up, in terms of content and creativity, but Modern Family is still good for the multiple belly-laughs each episode.

Also Consider:

 

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 

It’s a favorite for many and definitely picks up from the middle to end, but I don’t believe the 2nd season grabbed you like the first. 

Black-ish

Black-ish became more than a half-hour family comedy this year, unafraid to tackle difficult issues in “special” episodes that haven’t been pulled off in years. 

Grace and Frankie

Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson’s second season of relationship breaking and building was even better than the first. Sam Elliott as a love interest doesn’t hurt either. 

Outstanding Lead Actress

 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, ‘Veep’ (HBO)

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There’s not much you can say when JLD has won this category four years in a row.

Gina Rodriguez, ‘Jane the Virgin’ (CW)

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Gina Rodriguez wasn’t nominated last year, after winning the Golden Globe for her role in the same same season. Her work on Jane The Virgin brought some serious legitimacy to the CW, and a nomination would right the wrong that was made a year ago for not recognizing it.

Rachel Bloom, ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ (CW)

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Also giving the CW more credibility is Rachel Bloom, who won the Golden Globe this in the same category. The comedy/musical-hybrid series is much more of a delight than the title suggests and it’s carried by Bloom, whose character is as dynamic as any in the field.

Amy Schumer, ‘Inside Amy Schumer’ (Comedy Central)

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If have no problem saying that Amy Schumer’s brand of sketch comedy is doing laps around Saturday Night Live, and her show continues to do so its 4th season.

Ellie Kemper, ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ (Netflix)

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All you need:

Constance Wu, ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ (ABC)

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While I’m still not very keen on the title of this show, Constance Wu is the anchor of this 90’s based comedy from ABC. The sooner she gets the recognition for it, the better.

Also Consider:

 

Lily Tomlin, ‘Grace and Frankie’

It’s very likely Lily Tomlin will taking a spot from anyone above. 

 

Ilana Glazer, ‘Broad City’

Yas…

Abbi Jacobson, ‘Broad City’

…Queen.

Outstanding Lead Actor

 

Jeffery Tambor, ‘Transparent’ (Amazon)

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After winning a year ago, it’s easy to assume Jeffrey Tambor will be nominated again for his lead role in one of the most brilliantly titled programs on Television.

Gael Garcia Bernal, ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ (Amazon)

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Gael Garcia Bernal’s character, Rodrigo, is one of the most fascinating and lovable ones on television. He oozes with a passion and love for his craft and orchestra that almost inspires the viewer…or at least makes you continue binge-watching his show.

Will Forte, ‘The Last Man on Earth’ (FOX)

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Will Forte took a concept that nobody knew could make it past the first pilot, and turned it into an a creative world that nobody expected. Post SNL/MacGruber life has been very good to him.

Aziz Ansari, ‘Master of None’ (Netflix)

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As mentioned before, Aziz’s delivery in Masters of None is incredibly natural and previous Parks and Recreation fans a much chiller side than Tom Haverford ever had.

Thomas Middleditch, ‘Silicon Valley’ (HBO)

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What Rami Malek does for Mr. Robot, Thomas Middleditch sort of does for Silicon Valley. While not needing to carry the show of a great supporting cast, he still nails the introverted mad genius thing. He also handles most social situations like many of us would probably like to admit.

Jim Parsons, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ (CBS)

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Jim Parsons didn’t receive a nomination last year, but won 4 out of the 6 years before. For as long as Big Bang Theory continues to run, Sheldon Cooper remains to be the most interesting part of the show. In this past season, we saw him develop well beyond the way he had before and that should bode well for Parsons come nomination time.

Also Consider:

 

Andy Daly, ‘Review’

Awesome and underrated concept show on Comedy Central, where Andy Daly plays a sweet and lovable character…forced to do horrible things.

Bruce Campbell, ‘Ash vs. Evil’

Fans of the cult classic franchise were not disappointed by the sequel series. Not one bit. 

Billy Eichner, ‘Difficult People’

Because we all want to see Billy Eichner with a chance to win. He’s America’s sweetheart.

Outstanding Supporting Actress

 

Anna Chlumsky, ‘Veep’ (HBO)

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Like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, castmate Ann Chlumsky is regular nominee. Unlike JLD, she hasn’t won yet. It’s a ridiculously tough category, but her performances consistently warrant a win.

Allison Janney, ‘Mom’ (CBS)

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Alison Janney is a TV Powerhouse. She has 6 Emmy wins from 3 different roles (The West Wing, Masters of Sex, and Mom). She’s the reigning champ for now and it will be interesting to see if she can repeat.  

Julie Bowen, ‘Modern Family’ (ABC)

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Julie Bowen has come a long way since Happy Gilmore…Her 2 Emmy wins and nominations for each of the past 6 years is a serious testament to her work and role on Modern Family. 

Sofia Vergara, ‘Modern Family’ (ABC)

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Sofia Vergara hasn’t been nominated since 2013, but she still delivers the biggest punchlines on Modern Family.

Judith Light, ‘Transparent’ (Amazon)

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Tambor and Bradley Whitford won Emmys a year ago and it’s time for Judith Light to join her castmates in nominations, at the very least.

Chelsea Peretti, ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ (FOX)

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Chelsea Peretti is considered more of a darkhorse contender, but she’s a huge reason I tune into Brooklyn Nine-Nine as often as I can. I would also be most interested in hearing an acceptance speech from her than anyone else.

Also Consider:

Kate MicKinnon, ‘Saturday Night Live’

I imagine she’ll be nominated over at least 2 of the above hopefuls, because she’s the best thing Saturday Night Live has going. 

Mayim Bialik, ‘The Big Bang Theory’

Like Sheldon Cooper, you can never count out Amy Farafaler.

Amanda Peete, ‘Togetherness’

Although Togetherness is no longer on the air, Amanda Peete was great on it and needs something better to talk about Late Night talk shows than her husband’s work on Game of Thrones. 

Outstanding Supporting Actor

Tony Hale, ‘Veep’ (HBO)

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Despite never being nominated for his awesome work as Buster Bluth on Arrested Development, Tony Hale has done very well for himself on Veep with 2 wins in the last 3 years. His character, Gary Walsh, is the ultimate kiss-ass and has been key for years of awesome punchlines.

T.J. Miller, ‘Silicon Valley’ (HBO)

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TJ Miller is having a very awesome run of late, scoring big in Deadpool and being casted in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming adaptation of ‘Ready Player One’. As Silicon Valley continues to rack up critical acclaim, it wouldn’t be a shock to hear his name called when nominees are announced. His Erlich Bachman character continues to evolve and surprise audiences, episode to episode.

Louie Anderson, ‘Baskets’ (FX)

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As a former producer who was flaked out on by Louie Anderson for a radio interview, it takes a lot for me to say he was brilliant on Baskets as Zach Galifianakis’ mother…He really was. It would be a great story to recognize the veteran comedian’s comeback too.

Ty Burrell, ‘Modern Family’ (ABC) 

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Ty Burrell has become an institution when it comes to Emmys and Modern Family. From the pilot thru 7 seasons of the ABC comedy, his energy and performance has lasted like the Energizer Bunny. The category would feel a little empty without him.

Andre Braugher, ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ (FOX)

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Nobody does straight-face/deadpan better than Andre Braugher on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Malcolm McDowell, ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ (Amazon)

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Whether it’s a Rob Zombie film, a TNT bro comedy (Franklin & Bash) or series about the New York symphony orchestra, Malcom McDowell brings such a fun fascination and elegance to whatever he’s working on. Playing the old maestro trying to finish his masterpiece in Mozart in the Jungle, McDowell is a big reason I couldn’t turn this show off for an entire weekend.

Also Consider:

Titus Burgess, ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’

Voters love Titus Burgess and with good reason. I have no doubt he’ll replace one of my favorites above.

 

Tim Robbins, ‘The Brink’ 

One of the most underrated performances in the last year. Tim Robbins made The Brink appointment television for me last summer.

Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele, ‘Key and Peele’

These are the funniest people on TV and should great as much credit as possible for the great work they did on their now former sketch show.

Stay Tuned for “Part III – Limited Series” coming soon. Checkout Part I (Drama) here.

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Predicting the 2016 Emmy Nominees (Part I) – Drama

I’ve joked in the past that this is the post-Breaking Bad era, though it doesn’t totally feel like it thanks to Better Call Saul. You could say it’s more of the post-Mad Men era, after Jon Hamm rode off into the sunset with as many Best Actor awards as he could grab. Come July 14th, we’ll see which of our favorite shows, actors and actresses are getting the credit that we know their due.

Emmy voting will begin June 13th, as the networks and streaming services had from March 28th until May 2nd to make submissions. To qualify for this year’s Emmys, a show had to air from June 1st of 2015 to May 31st, 2016. This is why it feels weird when shows from last summer (forever ago) are nominated or may feel looked over from this past year. That’s why Mr. Robot Season 1 will be considered as well as HBO’s Show Me A Hero miniseries.

To prepare for the announcements coming in the middle of July, let’s speculate on which titles and whose names will be called as 2016 Emmy Nominees. Since there are 18 different categories, we’ll break the predictions up into 3 different “Parts” – Drama, Comedy, and Limited Series/TV Movies/Variety Shows. We’ll also determine the number of nominees based on last year’s total per category.

Beginning with the Drama Categories…

Outstanding Drama Series 

Game of Thrones (HBO)

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Last year’s winner has put together a very good follow up season. It’s filled with the twists and heartache that you’ve come to know Game of Thrones by, but also many more “wins” that viewers don’t normally get. HBO’s most popular show is just a few more years from wrapping up, there are more answers than questions and that’s been very satisfying.

Better Call Saul (AMC)

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The sophomore season of the Breaking Bad spinoff has established itself as something completely different from its predecessor, and it’s even better than the first. Whereas Breaking Bad was a suspenseful crime thriller, Better Call Saul is a slower paced Law Dramedy with some elements of the original series. Who knew such a hit show could be developed around a smaller supporting character like Saul, carried by comedic actors (Bob Odenkirk and Michael McKean)?

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The fourth season of House of Cards felt like a much needed rebound from the third. Part of the suspense of this show is that you always fear the worst for anyone who gets in Frank Underwood’s way. The tearing down and rebuilding of his relationship with Claire, plus the relevance of an election campaign were especially compelling.

Mr. Robot (USA)

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Mr. Robot’s pilot episode was one of the best in recent years. It was an honest look into the world of hacking, not the superficial “CW spin” or goth look with a strand of hair dyed a different color. The show remained suspenseful and worth watching thanks to the performance of Rami Malek as the ultimate introvert protagonist, which cut through many of the pretentious themes and the blatantly “Fight Club” ripoff. It was still very refreshing and helped legitimize a network that really needed a hit.

Narcos (Netflix)

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Narcos was one of the big surprises of 2015 and had similar storytelling that you’d find in a Scorsese film. Even if most of the dialogue was in subtitles, you could argue that the action and acting helped make this take on the life of Pablo Escobar one of the most suspenseful show’s of the year.

The Americans (FX)

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For years, The Americans has been one of the most critically acclaimed shows on television but has only received two Emmy nominations, one for writing and a win for Margo Martindale’s guest appearance. With Mad Men finally ineligible and Homeland having a weak season (in my opinion), it seems to be now or never for the Russian Spy/Cold War thriller.

Downton Abbey (PBS)

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It was the farewell season. Has to be nominated, right?

Also Consider: 

Billions

 A personal favorite with some of the best writing this year. 

Horace and Pete

Louis C.K.’s web-drama. He didn’t feel he needed to promote it until he noticed nobody was watching it. You’ll be glad if you do.

Homeland

If so, it’ll be by reputation and not merit. Last year was not a good followup to a great 4th season. 

 

Outstanding Lead Actress

Robin Wright, ‘House of Cards’ (Netflix)

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Every year I try to predict this category, I go with Robin Wright (and usually lose). You could make an argument that her character shined even more than the iconic Frank Underwood this season.

Julianna Margulies, ‘The Good Wife’ (CBS)

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One of network television’s biggest hits in recent years also said farewell, The Good Wife, and their leading lady literally got slapped in the face (on the show). Hopefully the 12-time nominee will get some love from the Emmys make that feel better.

Tatiana Maslany, ‘Orphan Black’ (SyFy)

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There’s a lot to be said for an actress who plays as many characters as you can count on your hand, and you forget that each one is the same person…and also clones. I just recently jumped on the Orphan Black bandwagon and I get the hype now.

Krysten Ritter, ‘Jessica Jones’ (Netflix)

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In a world (movie trailer guy voice) where superheroes dominate the box office, they also have begun taking over the small screen as well. Netflix expanded the Marvel universe and is doing it the best on television with Daredevil and Jessica Jones. The latter has received more acclaim and credibility because of Krysten Ritter’s performance as the whiskey drinking, super-strength wielding private eye.

Eva Green, ‘Penny Dreadful’ (Showtime)

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I am unsure if there is an actress on television right now as scary as Eva Green in Penny Dreadful. She has this unbelievable ability to be so warm and then so terrifying in a blink of an eye. It’s about time she got some love for it.

Viola Davis, ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ (ABC)

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Last year’s winner has clearly brought her Oscar nominated acting chops to TV and could be carrying the mantle for network representatives as Margulies seems to be putting it down…for now.

Also Consider:

Claire Danes, ‘Homeland’

I have no doubt she will snag one of the nominations from my predictions above, since she’s been nominated each of the last 4 years. Carrie Mathieson needs some new life, and thankfully the series is taking a year off to find it. 

Taraji P. Henson, ‘Empire’

Nobody puts Cookie in the corner.

Olivia Wilde, ‘Vinyl’

Olivia Wilde really did the best she could with a script that didn’t give her character enough credit. Hope they right that wrong in Season 2. 

Outstanding Lead Actor

Bob Odenkirk, ‘Better Call Saul’ (AMC)

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I love that Bob Odenkirk is where he is now. Comedy is one of the hardest things to do for an actor, and he’s a master of that. So it’s no surprise he’s turned the creation of Saul Goodman into something we all can’t seem to get enough of.

Kevin Spacey, ‘House of Cards’ (Netflix)

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You can imagine Spacey will be a staple in this category for as long as House of Cards is running. It’s very interesting how the character has aged in such a short span, but that may be the point the show is making with the “reality of being president”.

Rami Malek, ‘Mr. Robot’ (USA)

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Rami Malek makes Mr. Robot worth watching. He plays the role perfectly and keeps the viewer at edge with what will happen to him next.

Kyle Chandler, ‘Bloodline’ (Netflix)

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I’ll be honest, I didn’t like the newest season of Bloodline. It was too miserable for my taste, but Kyle Chandler’s acting was something worth rooting for. He presents John Rayburn’s fall from grace perfectly and it’s just so damn heartbreaking.

Liev Schreiber, ‘Ray Donovan’ (Showtime)

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Ray Donovan has one of the best casts on television, but the title character is why you watch it. Schreiber was nominated last year for the role, but his best acting was certainly executed in the most recent…I’ll reference the Season 3 finale as enough evidence to earn Schreiber a surprise win.

Damien Lewis, ‘Billions’ (Showtime)

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Both leads in Billions, including Paul Giamatti, deserve nominations. They played off each other perfectly but if one of them has to be named, it should be Lewis. In a day and age where Wall Street is the Big Bad Wolf (another Scorsese reference), Lewis portrays a hedge fund antihero of sorts…or villain you can’t help but cheer for because he is so well written.

Also Consider:

Paul Giamatti, ‘Billions’ 

For the reasons above, but as a Federal Attorney.

Bobby Cannavale, ‘Vinyl’

I didn’t really like Vinyl as a show but Cannavale’s performance alone is enough to watch all 10 episodes of the first season…so is the music.

Wagner Moura, ‘Narcos’

His performance as Pablo Escobar is so unpredictable, just the slightest movement makes you jumpy over what will happen next.

Outstanding Supporting Actress

Uzo Aduba, ‘Orange is the New Black’ (Netflix)

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Last year, Uzo Aduba shifted categories, from comedy to drama, and won again. If you ask me, she’s the best thing Orange is the New Black has going and I probably wouldn’t be looking forward to the next season if it weren’t for her. The erotic novelist arc of “Crazy Eyes” in season 3 was the most entertaining part of the most recent season.

Lena Headey, ‘Game of Thrones’ (HBO)

Cersei

Mark my my words, Lena Headey is going to get a win before Game of Thrones is over. She gives some of most powerful performances and scenes on TV’s most talked about show, and her character has gone from hatable to fan favorite in just a year’s span.

Christine Baranski, ‘The Good Wife’ (CBS)

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Christine Baranski has been nominated for each of the last six years and hasn’t come away with a win. She actually has 14 total and hasn’t won since 1995. Her character delivers the aforementioned “slap heard around the world” and is rumored to be getting a spinoff, so she must be doing something right.

Maggie Siff, ‘Billions’ (Showtime)

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Maggie Siff was an absolute scene stealer in the first season of Billions and went toe-to-toe with both of the leads. If there was a “hero” type character on the show, it’s hers and she deserves all the acclaim she gets for her performance.

Constance Zimmer, ‘UnReal’ (Lifetime)

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UnReal is Lifetime’s saving grace from the victim formula movies and bad “Real Story” biopics. Constance Zimmer is a big reason for that, showing you the reality of producing reality television. She could be the breakout that the network needs to be taken seriously.

Regina King, ‘The Leftovers’ (HBO)

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Regina King is one of my favorite actresses, who will likely be nominated again for her role in the American Crime anthology miniseries. She was a great addition to The Leftovers and represents a whole bunch of actresses who could easily fill this category if needed.

Also Consider:

Joanne Froggatt, ‘Downton Abbey’

It’s Downton victory lap.

Maggie Smith, ‘Downton Abbey’

Same reason.

Sissy Spacek, ‘Bloodline’

The story is not much to write home about but there are multiple times you almost expect the Carrie hellfire to rain down on those opposite her. Great acting.

Outstanding Supporting Actor

Peter Dinklage, ‘Game of Thrones’ (HBO)

Tyrion

Dinklage’s role hasn’t been prevalent as it was in the latest season, but the performance has still been nomination worthy (6 episodes in). Actually, the scene he has taming the dragons could put him over the top again, when push comes to shove. It was everything we’ve come to love about Tyrion Lannister as a character and more.

Jonathan Banks, ‘Better Call Saul’ (AMC)

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The Mike storyline in Better Call Saul has the familiar suspense and danger that we knew and loved from Breaking Bad. Jonathan Banks may be the biggest reason some fans love the show, and I wouldn’t blame them.

Jim Carter, ‘Downton Alley’ (PBS)

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Like many of the other Downton Emmy contenders I’ve mentioned, it’s victory lap time for the show. It would just feel wrong to leave the 4-time nominee out.

Joel Kinnaman, ‘House of Cards’ (Netflix)

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The Killing alum Joel Kinnaman deserved more credit for his performance on that show, and he proved to have even more range after joining House of Cards. He should be nominated alone for making a Republican candidate seem…*gulp*…relatable. Even if it is for a short time.

Alan Alda, ‘Horace and Pete’ (LouisCKNet)

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The role may have originally been written for Joe Pesci (as Louis C.K. has admitted) but what ISN’T Alan Alda good in? It’s kinda funny seeing Hawkeye from M.A.S.H. play a character who represents almost everything he hates.

Also Consider:

Michael Kelly, ‘House of Cards’

If Kinnaman isn’t nominated, Doug Stamper totally will be. 

Christian Slater, ‘Mr. Robot’

He’s riding a lot of momentum after winning a Golden Globe for the award. 

Ben Mendelsohn, ‘Bloodline’

Mendelsohn is turning out to be one of my favorite actors as of late. He may get nominated based on reputation but his character does nowhere near enough as he had in the first season. He’s more of a symbol than a player. 

Stay Tuned for “Part II – Comedy” coming soon. 

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Piffcast: Chris Petlak and Jim Kozyra Kick Out ‘THE JAMZ’ on Netflix

The creators/writers/co-executive producers/stars of The Jamz, Chris Petlak and Jim Kozyra, join the show! We discuss how the workplace comedy came together, the New York Television Festival and Indie TV, influences for the show and characters, plus filming in and identifying with Chicago. Jim, Chris, TJ and I also hold a “Favorite Chicago-based Films and TV shows Draft”. You can let us know who won and also watch the show on Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and XBOX. (23:17 mark, if you want to jump ahead)

Meanwhile, a congratulations is in order for TJ, spoiler-less reaction to Game of Thrones, superhero show rankings, and a preview of the upcoming Summer TV that we’re looking forward to.

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‘Peaky Blinders’ Season 3 Trailer, Coming Soon To Netflix

The “tall handsome man” raises his “red right hand” again, as Cillian Murphy and company return to Netflix at the very end of May.

Peaky Blinders season 3 premiered in the UK on the BBC May 5th, but all 6 episodes will be made available for streaming on Netflix, May 31. Taking place in 1920s Birmingham, England, The Shelby family find themselves in the middle of an international arms deal that can change history. Per usual, Thomas, played by Murphy, seems to be doing all he can to keep everything above water, while shedding plenty of blood at the same time.

Oscar nominee Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road) reprises his role as Jewish crime lord Alfie Solomons and Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, Bourne Ultimatum) joins the cast as Father Hughes.

You can stream the first two seasons on Netflix now, and will likely get through them within the weekend. The show is dark, fast-paced, visually cool and the accompanying rock music takes you back to the old Guy Ritchie films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. It’s the first show on Netflix I recommend to friends when they ask for something new to watch.

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Piffcast: The Eighth One – Pizza, TV and Stuff

This week we took the show outside, and I don’t think we’re coming back in…

TJ and I played a little catchup regarding the Old Style Pizza Summit, The Walking Dead finale and then some. We also talked about the things that make us feel older, some exciting plans for the show, and TV recommendations that can carry you to the new season of Game of Thrones. Somehow The O.C. and One Tree Hill came up too, you’ll have to listen to find out why. 

We’re also in the hunt for a show grill master, so if you know anybody or want to hang…?

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