Spooky Season is upon us and that means time to pull out all the movies that imbody the season. Honestly, these are some of my favorite vibes throughout the year. There is such a wide spectrum of Halloween content from trick-or-treating to the paranormal to pure gore. Here is what I am watching to celebrate the season! What is your favorite Halloween viewing?
ParaNorman (2012) dir. Sam Fell and Chris Butler
A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting (2020) dir. Rachel Talalay
Labyrinth (1986) dir. Jim Henson
Scream Queen Season 2
Over the Garden Wall (2014) – miniseries also available on HBO Max
Welcome to the Arconia! This an apartment building with a stoic façade in New York where all our characters find themselves living. As three neighbors begin to connect over a love of true crime, specifically the same favorite podcast. After a suspicious death in the building they unite to investigate and live out their true crime fantasies. The jobless director (Short), the actor whose star is fading (Martin), and young renovator (Gomez) all have their own relationship to the crime and to the building.
This is such a comedic take on true crime culture. It is a quirky character study that is shows itself through a dark comedy. I really enjoy Steve Martin and Martin Short’s chemistry they have such an ease together. I was really impressed by Selena Gomez’s ability to keep up with that duo. As far as the mystery it self goes, we don’t know that there is one. The story could go so many ways, including pure paranoia especially given each individual’s motivations for solving the “case”. I would definitely recommend checking out. Three episodes of the season’s ten are out now. The rest to be released weekly.
What is a procedural? – A procedural is a show that follows typically the procedures of an occupation (typically creme, legal, or medical). These can be watched as a series but are made so that for the most part they can be watched independently (a story arc an episode). Due to this format it can get repetitive and formulaic. Below are some of my favorites of the genre. Do you like procedurals?
Rizzoli and Isles (7 Seasons)
This Boston-based show follows a homicide detective and the chief medical examiner. The show follows the crimes they work and the relationship between the two women. The crimes do tend to cover the gambit, but even when they do start to get repetitive because about a third of each episode focuses on the family and relationships of the leads it never feels boring or predictable. In general, it is just a very heartfelt show despite the genre.
Psych (8 Seasons)
This is the funniest of the shows. It follows a two best friends, one of which uses his observational skills and eidetic memory to pretend to psychic, as they start a detective agency. Gus and Shawn often are trying to figure out if there even is a case just so they can get paid. It is a super funny and fast show. The core cast is great and the relationship between all 6 (including Lassie, Henry, Jules, and the Chief) just grows over the seasons.
LA’s Finest (2 Seasons)
This Bad Boys spinoff lived up to the franchise. It was fun, brutal, and fast. All of the procedural episodes also took part in a large umbrellas case that each season revolves around. Fair warning this is a show you are going to want to binge as each episodes ends in a cliffhanger to lead into the next. However, any thing starring Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union is a must-watch. Their performance and chemistry is worth the commitment of at least the two existing seasons.
Veronica Mars (3 seasons; 1 spin-off movie and 1 spin-off season)
The mid-aughts show follows a teen P.I and her friends. Each season has an overall crime plot that is filled throughout the season with smaller mysteries. Often these are not major or violent crimes episode to episode, but the overall themes of the season can be quite brutal. This is mystery meets teen drama and it works.
Criminal Minds (tentative) – (15 Seasons)
This is tentative because there are FIFTEEN seasons and I am only partway through season 9 so I don’t feel that I can fully say 100% yes. This follows the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) from the FBI. They work on serial crimes throughout the country. This has a larger focus on psychology and sociology which is always fascinating. I do think they try really hard to balance recognition of negative police structures, mental illness, and socio-economic factors. Part of what keeps this show fresh is that we also follow the unsub or the victim for part of the episode while the team is trying to find them.
The Premise: Monsters at work takes place after Monsters Inc (2001). The series follows Monsters Inc after it reopens to transition to use Laugh Energy instead. The whole company is trying to figure out it’s new place and how to work under new leadership. The new character we follow is Tylor Tuskman who was hired as a Scarer fresh out of Monster U. In the chaos no one thought to let him know the job no longer existed. When he shows up to Monsters Inc. he gets reassigned to the quirky facilities team, MIFT.
I was really looking forward to this show as I am huge fan of the films and of the cast of this show. Unfortunately, it felt like the show knew that. I have this theory that you can figure out if a show is for you in three episodes. In my opinion, the show is rather forgettable. All the new characters are “weird” and intense, but they don’t have storylines of their own. Splitting the show with Mike, Sully, Celia, and Roz from the original series feels like it is splitting focus and doesn’t really know it’s own intentions. Mike and Sully even though it supposedly months later are figuring out for the first time how the new company should run and how to be in charge. The most heartfelt episode was episode three but it came it waves and for me too late. It feels like the show has yet to find it’s own heartbeat and direction.
Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure (formally Tangled the Series) follows Rapunzel after the events of Tangled. Rapunzel, Eugene, and their friends (Rapunzel makes friends; Eugene already has them) acclimate to life in Corona, new responsibilities, and the magic of the world. Mainly, it is a show about destiny and characters figuring out their place in the world versus what they want it to be. It does this in a really appropriate way for each character and every character is given the support and resources to better themselves when they choose. The soundtrack also slaps.
Eugene and Rapunzel’s relationship is an incredibly loving and healthy one. Any conflict in the relationship comes from there separate histories and not miscommunication.
All the friendships and family dynamics are unique! Cass and Rapunzel’s relationship is different from Eugene and Lance. Cass’s adoptive father has a different relationship to her than Rapunzel’s newly found family. It is really exciting and shows really well how there is more than one way to have relationships.
None of the relationships are built or fixed easily.
It starts small in Season One just in Corona and focusing on the mystery of the kingdom and the Sun Drop, It expands literally and figuratively in season 2 and 3. We venture to other kingdoms, gods, and magic.
I like that for the characters this is is not always positive development. It explores really well what happens when any character trait is taken too far.
It DID retain the voice cast from the movie which was amazing and they did a great job.
They got Jeremy Jordan and Eden Espinosa and did not waste them. They had frequent songs and all their talents were used.
Rapunzel had to retain her naivete and “niceness” from the movie into the series. Due to this she has to relearn many of the same lessons and often ends up not being able to differentiate between nice and good.
She lost two of her friends in the same way and kept being in fights with Max (horse) and Pascal (chameleon) for the same reasons, Some how neither Raps nor anyone else hold her accountable for this in her role as hero.
Shorty – was funny in season 1 but not necessary to join the permanent cast.
Filler Episodes – there were too many filler episodes in the later seasons as we had a clearer idea of the overarching plot. They made sense in Season 1 when this story was still coming together.
The Monkey – I really can’t explain this better
How long is it: 3 Seasons and a Movie
Best Season: Season 2. This road tripping season was focused on growth of the world and the characters. The development excelled!
Best Song: “Ready as I’ll Ever Be” or “Nothing Left to Lose”
Something I have a big problem with especially on my time off is the feeling like I am wasting my time. I feel this a lot when I spend the day watching TV, coloring, reading, etc. There is nothing to show for the day. I know there is work in the future but the time, but relaxing and pleasure is a genuinely positive way to spend the day. Honestly, in the past it is has made me feel really bad at the end of the day, even though it has genuinely made me feel at peace and rest while happening.
I feel like when my dad watches another movie towards his year goal or my partner and his squad win a new round. I can appreciate the joy and the accomplishment in what they do. I have a really hard time giving myself that same patience and permission. I think it’s really hard to because there is some much going on with work (even on vacation) and that can be done around the home.
I am really lucky that I get a pretty genuine break from work this year between Christmas and New Years. I am trying really hard to constantly remind myself that it is okay not to get anything “done”. But it is really hard to maintain that mindset day to day, especially in a time where we mostly have to stay home. so there is no full way to break up the day.
As the US General Election approaches, I know a lot of people are feeling a lot of feelings about the state of the world, including fear, frustration, hope, and exhaustion. I thought it would be fun to recommend TV Shows based on how people are currently feeling.
Side note: Early voting has started in many states please vote if you are eligible to.
“Things can and should be better”
Madam Secretary (Netflix/CBS All Access)
West Wing (Netflix)
“Things are fine”
The 100 (Netflix/CW)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Snow Piercer (TNT)
“Why is everything so political?”
The Fosters (Prime Video/Hulu/Freeform)
Brooklyn 99 (Hulu/Peacock)
“Everything is political!”
Equal (HBO/HBO Max)
Dear White People (Netflix)
“Politicians are the problem”
The Politician (Netflix)
“I want to move to Canada”
Kim’s Convenience (Netflix)
Schitt’s Creek (Netflix)
“I want to make a difference”
The Mayor (not currently on a streaming platform, but so good so keep an eye out)
West Wing is my favorite show of all time. I genuinely picked my major in college based off of this show. There are so many good episodes, in fact a majority of them are good. Here is my list of my 10 favorite episodes, because this was a hard choice I included some honorable mentions. If you’ve seen the show let me know your favorites.
“The Debate” Season 7 Episode 7
“La Palabra” Season 6 Episode 18
“In the Shadow of Two Gunmen Part 1 +2” Season 2 Episode 1 &2
“Dead Irish Writers” Season Season 3 Episode 15
“20 Hours in America Part 1 + 2” Season 4 Episode 1 & 2
The Final Countdown:
10. “Celestial Navigation” Season 1 Episode 15 — I really enjoy the formatting of the episodes where it is narrated in present and flashbacks. It has a lot of great humor with an emergency dental surgery and one of my favorite Toby moments with Mendoza.
9. “Liftoff” Season 6 Episode 4 — CJ’s first day. This was an episode where I felt empowered and felt like I was in it with her. Also, the introduction of a one Congressman Santos (aka America’s favorite Jimmy Smits)
8. “Ellie” Season 2 Episode 15 — One thing that really works about West Wing is that characters and administrations are not wholly good. Ellie highlights President Bartlett and the Bartlett administration’s flaws. I love this episode it is so heartfelt and highlights wonderful political issues from decimalization of marijuana, Social Security, censorship, and a family in the spotlight.
7. “Angel Maintenance” Season 4 Episode 19 — This is one of the only Will focused episodes I liked. It’s such a tight episode and I loved the humor of episode. It’s so tight and we got to explore dynamics like CJ and Will that we don’t normally get to see.
6. “Jefferson Lives” Season 5 Episode 3 – This was the episode that I knew Elizabeth Moss was going to have a long career. All the Bartlets’ and Charlie’s performances were wonderful. It was also such an interesting transition for our West Wing with Russell’s introduction and Donna becoming unsatisfied in her job. It stands out because it mixes the lingering effects of the kidnapping with the high stress of finding a VP.
5. “Election Night” Season 4 Episode 7 — This is such a funny and charming episode. As Bartlet is elected for a second term, Donna goes on a crusade for principal. A lot of Sam’s relationships are explored as he doesn’t want to admit a promise he had made. This was before we were stuck with Will forever and was still likable.
4. “In Excelsis Deo” Season 1 Episode 10 — This episode has some many wonderful shining moments. I think it highlights the heart of each character. Toby with the homeless vets. CJ and Danny. Sam and Josh breaking the lines for Leo. It defines the moral compass for a lot of our central characters in addition to the holidays.
3. “Two Cathedrals” Season 2 Episode 22 – Bartlett has told America the truth and we work our way to one of the best finales. It is a wonderful episode with Jed becoming Jed as a teen with the help of Mrs. Landingham. As well as one of the finest speeches in series with Bartlet’s rail to heavens.
2. “Memorial Day” Season 5 Episode 22 — Donna is my favorite character. I love the panic of one timeline mixed in with Donna’s trip to Gaza as she becomes more confident and comfortable with her new position. The information of what is really going on in Gaza versus the debates after catastrophe. I think I just like dual timeline episodes. Plus, Leo and Jed’s dynamic in this episode is *chef’s kiss*.
1. “Requiem” Season 7 Episode 18 — This is probably one of the most wonderful series finale episodes of all time (even though it’s 5 episodes before the end). Due to the funeral all the characters are brought completely together one last time to reflect. It’s a start contrast to see where everyone has ended up, but a beautiful performance by the full cast full of laughter and sorrow.
So I have this theory that the perfect show length is 7 seasons. Personally, I watch a lot of TV, like potentially too much. It is one of my favorite ways to get a story. Also, it is the easiest way to have something in common with people. That is getting off the point! Seven seasons is the perfect length.
Seven seasons is long enough for each main and side character get an independent character arcs, whether silly or not. It gives time to explore different character relationships. Introduce new scenarios. Allow the show to ebb and flow. It is long enough that the world can grow beyond our little initial conflict or premise of the pilot. Whether that is the main character going to college, going to another planet, or the death of the planet.
Seven seasons gives the writers time to wrap up the story not end on a cliffhanger or midway through. I feel like when a show is seven seasons it feels like a true conclusion. Not time jumped in the last episode, it doesn’t rush but unravels. It’s long and winding. It doesn’t rush through. It is a long fun and immersive viewing experience. However, it doesn’t overwhelm in terms of amount to watch.
Seven Seasons is also the longest length a TV show can do without risking going round the bend. I will admit some shows didn’t need to pass this length to do this (Heroes & Glee). However, shows 8 seasons or longer have full off seasons or story arcs and start the conversation even in fans that the show has gone on too long. I feel that shows that are good after more than seven seasons are not the norm but a rarity.
Often after 7 seasons there are larger changes in writing staff and main cast. It does in fact affect the viewing experience when this happens. For some shows, it does happen before season 7 and it works (West Wing). But for some shows (That 70’s Show) it is detrimental at that season 7 mark. Due to the successes of a long running show there are more likely to harder negotiations between writers/actors and production.
My main point to this theory is that most of my favorite shows are 7 seasons.
Parks and Recreation
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Rizzoli and Isles
Sabrina the Teenage Witch
These are just a few of my personal favorite shows of all time and also shows that are 7 seasons. There are of course quite a few more.
What do you think? Is there a more ideal length than 7 seasons, if so what?