Sunday, September 12, 2010

More frozen delights

Before things get really crazy with the new TV season, I had better do another ice cream post. I finally made it to my final Turkey Hill flavor, tin roof sundae. It tastes exactly like tin roof sundae should! I don't know what else to say.

I've also tried a couple of Private Selections flavors, both of which I really enjoyed. Carrot cake was apparently something of a find for me, as I nabbed the last box and can't find anything about it online. It's a wonderful flavor that reminds me a lot of pumpkin. (It contains no actual carrots, if you're wondering, just the spices that would go into carrot cake.) It also has tiny little pecan pieces that are wonderful and occasional pockets of cream cheese icing. My one complaint? They thought they couldn't make a flavor with cake in the title without putting in cake pieces. Real carrot cake was apparently too expensive for them, however, so they used pieces of white sponge cake, which just don't go at all! I'd prefer it if they were left out.

The other Private Selection flavor is burgundy cherry. It's very good, with big pieces of chocolate flake and maraschino cherries. I'd certainly buy it again.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Summer TV report

This is the time of the summer when I traditionally do a post explaining what I've been watching on television all summer, so here goes!

I've been watching surprisingly little on actual live television, actually. Most of the new series just haven't appealed to me. I have been watching The Gates, which hasn't wowed me in any way but has kept me coming back every week. I also made sure to tune in every week for season 4 of Friday Night Lights, which has been as wonderful as I expected. I've also been thrilled beyond belief at the return of Futurama, which I'd never quite given up on but never realistically expected to see new episodes of again.

A new old show I've been watching is Curb Your Enthusiasm, which has been airing two episodes a week on TV Guide Network. (Yes, you heard correctly. TV Guide Network.) I'd never expected to like this show, since the things I'd heard about it online had made me incorrectly surmise that it was a stupid reality show in which cameras followed Larry David around being a jerk to everybody. But when someone whose opinion I respect very much said that it was his favorite show, I decided to give it a chance, and I was laughing hysterically within 5 minutes of starting the first episode. How can I describe it to people who've never seen it? Well, even though Larry David does play himself, it's not a reality show by any means. Everything else about the show is fictional, and it features the same kind of off-the-wall plots that you'd see on Seinfeld, just in a more true-to-life setting. Each episode is plotted and loosely scripted and then the actors improvise their actual dialogue, and since they're all funny people, that means the show is often a riot! We're just getting to the end of season 3, and I'm going to give up watching it to make room for the new fall shows, but I'll try to come back to it next summer.

Netflix Instant Watching made me very happy this summer by adding Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Torchwood. I'd gotten partway through season 3 before they stopped showing Buffy on FX, and now I've finished that season and plowed through seasons 4 and 5 as well. It's well known that a lot of shows lose steam when the characters go off to college, but in Buffy's case I think it made the show much better. It seems like the stakes have been raised; she can find herself in more adult situations now. As far as Torchwood goes, it's been nice to see the full unedited versions of the episodes, which are sometimes over 50 minutes long. Some of them that were very confusing to me when I watched them on TV made a lot more sense now.

On DVD, I've been having a very British summer. I led off with To the Manor Born, which I hadn't seen in years. It was wonderful to see all the episodes in the proper order, and I got a lot more out of it as an adult than I did as a kid. I find Audrey and Richard's relationship to be a very good example of how to do a "will they, won't they" pairing that works. Even when they supposedly hated each other, they always treated each other with respect and good humor, and this makes their eventual marriage seem like a good idea and not something that came out of left field.

Then I moved back into the past with Robin of Sherwood, which was called Robin Hood when it aired here in the U.S. during the summer of 1985. I found this show almost unbearably sexy and mythic when I was nine, but it didn't rekindle the same magic in me as an adult. I think there are two reasons for that. First, I must have a lot less imagination now than I did at that age. I think I was supplying a lot of things to the narrative that occurred offscreen in my mind, like Robin and Marian's romance. I remembered them as impossibly romantic, but in actuality they rarely even kissed. Second, we expect a lot more from our TV shows these days. Just as with Star Trek: The Next Generation, which premiered around the same time, the characterization was hailed as being unusually deep and the plotting quite original, but both aspects seem kind of trite by today's standards. I guess both of these shows were creating new paradigms that we now take for granted.

Even further back into the past for I, Claudius, which of course first aired back in the year of my birth, 1975, but which I saw during the Masterpiece Theater 20th anniversary retrospective season in 1991, when they reaired many classic series from their history. I would have been 15 then, and in this case I saw even more in the show than I did as a youth. I highly recommend this to everyone!

And there you have it. My summer as seen through the lens of television.