Christmas is Coming

I know that for most people, Christmas is about family, and giving and receiving presents, and kids, and traditions, but for me, it’s primarily about two things: food and television. OK, that’s overstating things slightly – I do all the other stuff too. But 2016 has been a long hard year of work, as well as nerve-shredding current affairs, and I’m really looking forward to a few days off, a box of Quality Street, and the television remote to hand!

All things being perfect, I might be watching Casablanca, Singing in the Rain, and the festive episode of EastEnders on a Panasonic Ultra HD 4K TV, with a box of Hotel Chocolat or Fortnum and Mason chocolates on the go. But I’m happy enough with the simple things in life, and a good film and a chocolate treat are good enough for me!

radio

As always (Timehop confirms that I’ve been going on about this on social media for years), I’ve been highlighting my trusty Christmas Radio Times to make sure I don’t miss a thing. If we’re being completely honest, there’s not an awful lot on – there’s a few classic films that appear only at Christmas time, as previously mentioned, and there’s an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Witness for the Defence that I’ll be watching (I’d watch Toby Jones read the phonebook). Everything else is the pretty much the same old stuff you’ll see every year, but nothing will ever dull my enthusiasm for the Christmas television guide. I even got half of my colleagues on the case this year, even one who said she didn’t get it!

So while I will be enjoying a carol service on Christmas Eve, and dinner, board games, presents and fun on Christmas Day, I’m very much looking forward to a few days to myself with my trusty Radio Times!

*Sponsored Post*

BEDN ~ World Television Day

So apparently today is World Television Day. Who even knew that such a day existed? I certainly didn’t, and as someone who watches a lot of television, you would have thought I might.

I’ve written about television an awful lot on this here blog. I’ve written about my penchant for rewatching my favourite shows; every year I write about the American shows that are kicking off the new season, and I even devoted a week to Strictly in 2011.

I recently read this article on the Guardian website about why today’s television is better than movies. I don’t necessarily feel that there is any need to pit the two against each other; they are two different mediums and each have their positives and negatives. But the article does make some interesting points, especially the second point: ‘TV is (currently) less franchise-fixated.’

Now I love superhero films as much as the next person (probably more, depending on who I am standing next to), but franchises truly have taken over the film world. A quick look at the upcoming releases for 2014 shows the following: a new Paranormal Activity film, a 300 sequel, the next film in the Avengers series (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), the next Spider-Man film, X-Men: Days of Future Past (OK, so I’m excited about that one), and the fourth Transformers film. Not to mention 2015 bringing new instalments in the Mission Impossible, Avengers, Star Wars, Batman, Fantastic Four, The Hunger Games, and James Bond series. And, because the world needs nothing like it needs a new Smurfs film, The Smurfs 3 is arriving.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited for a number of those films (not Paranormal Activity. Never Paranormal Activity), but it all starts to feel a bit tired, doesn’t it? While television is guilty of a spin off or two (How I Met Your Dad, CBS? Really?), for the most part, television is avoiding these traps, and getting on with showing good quality shows that are well made, and superbly acted.

Of course, for every Doctor Who and Breaking Bad, you have to sift through the dross of… well, I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about terrible television. Who am I to say that Made in Chelsea is awful because all the people in it make me want to rip my face off? I watch Strictly, and while I don’t think it is technically a reality show, I know a lot of people hate it in the same way that I hate ‘scripted reality’.

So what do you think? Do you watch as much television as I do? (Probably not) Would you rather marathon a series on Netflix than go to the cinema?

Guest Post ~ Law & Order – Why you need it in your life

Today I have a friend of mine, Daniela, guest posting for me. This is the second year in a row that she has done it, and I hope it’s a regular occurrence because I love reading what she has to say! She’s not a blogger but you should definitely follow her on Twitter, because she often tweets photos of sea otters.

Law & Order – Why you need it in your life

*dunn dunn*

For the uninitiated, this is the sound of a Law & Order scene change. A new witness to interview perhaps, or a court bail appearance? Yes my friends, today I am going to introduce you to the wonderful world of Law & Order and tell you why it is ESSENTIAL viewing.

*dunn dunn*

1. It teaches you you should never trust ANYONE. Your loving boyfriend? (Cheating on you, murders you). Your parents? (Sick of looking after you, murders you). Your librarian? (Fed up of overdue books. Murders you). You get the picture. Statistically* at least two people you encounter during the day will probably try and decapitate or burn you. You have been warned.

*dunn dunn*

2. Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to the eye candy of Law & Order, District Attorney Jack McCoy. No further explanation needed. He drives the lady assistant DAs wild.

*dunn dunn*

3. You will be able to represent yourself in any future American court cases. For all you legal buffs out there, you will surely be aware that American courts work in case law. After watching at least 2 series you will be fully clued up on when to use People vs Douglas.

*dunn dunn*

4. The comedy guest appearances. The guy who murdered his boss in series 2? He’s back in series 5 as a lawyer representing a big pharmaceutical company. Law & Order like to recycle the talent. So don’t worry if you get killed off at the beginning of the episode, chances are you’ll be back.
And finally…

*dunn dunn*

5. Because there are 456 episodes you will never have to leave the house again. Not including all the various spin offs, there are 20 seasons to enjoy which comes in handy on these cold dark nights. There will always be a channel on Sky showing an episode EVERY SINGLE DAY. If you find that this isn’t enough and you have a hole in your day between 3am and 5am there is a Law & Order game where you can flourish with your newly acquired knowledge.

Somehow I’ve overlooked the entire Law and Order franchise and have only ever watched a handful of episodes of the UK version. I will have to remedy this immediately! Thanks so much to Daniela for her guest post!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

For the past couple of years, I have devoted a series of posts to the upcoming television season in America. As a huge geek about television, it’s one of my favourite times of the year, and I get super excited about all the new shows that are starting, and all my old favourites that are returning.

This year, I haven’t dedicated the same amount of time or posts to the new television season, mainly because I didn’t really have the time. But also because I have toyed with the idea of starting a new television blog, where I will share my thoughts on all manner of television things. I haven’t finalised all of that yet, but when I do, I’ll share it with anyone who is interested!

But I don’t like to let this wonderful time pass without commenting on it, and as the new television season is off and running, I thought I’d tell you about some of the shows that I am excited about.

One of the reasons that I love the new season is that it often means that there are familiar faces returning to the small screen. This year, amongst others, we have some The West Wing alumna returning. Bradley Whitford stars in Trophy Wife with Malin Akerman and Marcia Gay Harden, while Allison Janney stars in Mom with Anna Faris. Both are comedies, and neither look exactly stellar, although I think I am much more likely to give Trophy Wife a go. It’s a shame Mom doesn’t look better, because I adore Allison Janney.

~ source ~

Another comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, looks as though it probably has some staying power; I was quite impressed by the trailer. It stars Andre Braugher and Andy Samberg and has been getting some good reviews.

There are a lot of comedies starting in the US right now, and although I have learnt to be very wary of them, I have a couple on my list to check out. Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar are starring as father and daughter in The Crazy Ones, but the trailer didn’t promise too many laughs for me. Rebel Wilson is headlining Super Fun Night, and although I haven’t seen Bridesmaids or Pitch Perfect, I’m a bit of a fan.

There are some dramas heading in as well, though it seems like the schedules are rather comedy-heavy. (There are a lot more dramas debuting at midseason.) Almost Human looks very good from the trailer; starring Karl Urban it tells the story of the NYPD 35 years in the future, where police officers are paired up with life-like androids. I’m very excited about this one.

But the two shows that I have been actively counting down to are Hostages and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hostages stars Dylan McDermott, Toni Collette and Tate Donovan (pretty great cast). Dylan McDermott plays a hostage negotiator turned supposed terrorist, when he takes a family hostage. The mother of the family, played by Collette, is a surgeon planning to operate on the president, and McDermott doesn’t want him to survive the surgery. It all looks terribly exciting, and though I don’t see how it lasts more than one season, I am looking forward to it.

~ source ~

The big, big, big one, as far as I (and millions of others) are concerned, is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It follows Agent Coulson from The Avengers (he lives!) and his team as they try to find superhuman individuals. It debuts in the US next Tuesday, and luckily, Channel 4 have decided to air it in the same week, so UK viewers get to see the first episode next Friday! If that is not a good enough reason to stay in on a Friday night, I don’t know what is.

Getting Lost in The West Wing

I love television. I used to be embarrassed about how much I enjoy watching television, but as I’ve got older, I’ve realised that I don’t care what other people think of me quite so much (I still do care a lot in some respects, but that’s another post for another day). If people think it’s sad that I enjoy sitting at home, more often than not on my own, watching an episode of my favourite television show, then so be it. I’m happy!

If you are a relatively new reader of Is That You Darling, you’ll realise, in the next couple of months, how excited I get about new television. The autumn, in the US especially, and here to  lesser extent, is the time for a television nerd like me. Not only do all my old favourites return with new episodes, there’s a slew of new shows to wonder about. New television is terribly exciting.

But as much as I long for new episodes of The Mindy Project and NCIS, I am a massive re-watcher too. I honestly believe that a lot of the time, I enjoy something more if I am watching it for a second time, rather than the first. And it turns out that I am not actually alone in this; there is research that suggests that watching repeats of our favourite television shows can actually boost happiness and make us feel more in control.

Now I’m not saying that watching something for the first time isn’t exhilarating; anyone who watched that episode of Game of Thrones a few weeks back will attest to that. But I know that at some point in the future, I will watch that episode again, and I know too that I will enjoy it even more the second time, knowing what’s coming (I mean, technically I knew what was coming the first time, as I’ve read the books, but you know what I mean).

My favourite television show of all time is The West Wing, a fact that should be clear to anyone who has spoken to me for more than about half an hour. At the moment, I’m in the middle of one of my big rewatches. I am watching at least one episode an evening, before I go to sleep, and without sounding like a total loser, it’s a bit like spending 45 minutes with a group of people I know very, very well, each day. When I don’t get the chance to see the real life people I know very often, I honestly believe it’s a good thing. And if you don’t believe me, ask yourself how often you find yourself watching Friends on Comedy Central, even though you’ve seen each and every episode at least ten times! It’s like pulling on the oldest, comfiest jumper you own.

~ source ~

I’m also currently watching Lost. I finished watching it for the first time last month, and I went right back to the beginning and started again. Again, I am sure that people will honestly think that I am the world’s biggest loser, but I’m happy. I am now watching it with the eye of someone who knows how it all turns out, and I am also reading along with some of the analysis as I watch each episode. And I’m enjoying seeing all of my favourite Lost men in action.

For all this love of a re-watch, I have to say that it can be disappointing to find that the television schedules are full of repeats. I use box sets and the internet to watch my favourite shows for the second, third and fourth (and beyond) time, but when I settle down with my Christmas Radio Times, I want to see new episodes of my favourite shows, not the Christmas special from three years ago. Except for the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special. I’ll be writing a stern letter if the BBC stop repeating that one; it’s become as much a part of my Christmas routine as carols on Christmas Eve and Quality Street on Boxing Day.

What is your favourite series to re-watch?