TV Runback – New Girl

Soooo we have those days where we catch up on a show. We missed the buzz. We become busy and forget an episode. Some of us are just plain old lazy. Thanks to the wonders of DVD box sets, Netflix, and the internet, more people are watching television shows than ever. This is what I’ve been catching up on.

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Roommate life can be boring, it can be obnoxious, it can be hectic, and it can be hilarious. New Girl may feature Zoey Dechannel in the spotlight, but the show takes a look at the lives of these roommates and how they live with each other. The opening episodes paint the picture three dysfunctional 30 year olds (Schmidt, Nick, and Winston) learning to live with the new, peppy Jessica Day. The goofiness unfolds relatively fast, as the quirky personalities drive the show faster than the standalone predicaments of the day to day fiascos. The best way to understand the show is to figure out what these weirdos are about.

Jessica “Jess” Day

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Quirky, super cute, and full of heart, Jessica brightens up the loft with her energy, her desire to help others, and innate need for friendship from everyone in her life. She has a can-do attitude about everything, which works best against the roommates who are insanely set in their ways. She knits and bakes, she jumps onto impossible situations, her teaching jobs makes her compassionate with kids and everyone, and even though her phrasing is always old-school and random, Jess always means well and makes the best of every situation.anigif_enhanced-buzz-31190-1375451817-7
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Nick Miller

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An old-man living in a young body, Nick is as stubborn as it gets. Nick can’t express his emotions or admit failure, his knack for home repair reaches dangerous levels, and he would rather tend bar than be the lawyer he trained to be. Longing for a simple life, the Chicago native wants the things in life that make him happy, like good company, less complications, and a lady to take home at his imagined happiness.

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Lastly, he can’t dance to save his life and does a terrible moonwalk to escape awkward situations.

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Winston “Winnie The Bish” Bishop

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The most low key of all the roommates, Winston is an ex-pro Latvian basketball player who is simply trying to get by, find his way in life, and maybe get to know himself a little bit better. He is a maintainer of the status quo who keeps to himself until the chaos of the loft drifts into his part of the world. As the seasons go on, he becomes a bit more of a lovable oddball as he opens up, with his puzzles, his lack of prank skills, and his weird coolness are all a part of his charm, with a bizarre blend of awkwardness, swagger, and naiveté.

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Schmidt……Schmidt

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Easily one of the biggest show-stealers, Schmidt is the success story come true. Originally a nice, overweight kid in college, Schmidt gained confidence, lost weight, got a job in marketing, and the rest is history. Part playboy, part metrosexual, but most of all, incredibly goofy in everything he does.

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Schmidt as the main money maker also has a large say on what goes on at the loft and is first to attack problems among the roommates. He is always the center of attention, whether he is hitting on women, making his own parties, reinventing himself at work, or just changing a new part of his pseudo-secure lifestyle. While his bravado pushes people away, he cares deeply for his friends who have stuck by his transformations.

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Cecelia “Cece” Parekh

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Jess’s best friend, Cece is more forward, confident, and pushy friend to Jess’s softer, more loving nature. Cece is self described as not nice and her brashness gets her forward, even if it pushes others away. Cece evolves by breaking her walls very slowly, as she learns to become friends the four guys who surround Jess that are attracted to her. Cece’s job as a model may pigeon hole her in the minds of her friends, but her personality and dedication to Jess shine through on countless occassions.

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Nothing says friendship like a boob fight.

Ernie “Coach” Tagliaboo

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The first and newest member of the loft, Coach left the crew after the first episode but then came back after a terrible breakup. He, like most of the loft, is looking to rebuild his life after a major disaster and his athletic tendencies lead him to be ultra competitive. Dating, watching sports, literally timing everything, Coach brings the boys closer to their college days, while slowly showing off his sensitivity to the ladies’ in the home.

The best moments really come down from the zany personalities and how this group meshes. New Girl is hardly stressful to watch, confronts a lot of problems twenty-somethings get into, work through as many goofy parties and life crises as possible. While this latest season is switching out main girl Jess with Megan Fox’s character, Raegan, we’ll see how swapping out the main girl for a short time will impact the other tone of the show. As long as the roommates continue to play off each other, the show will remain hilariously relevant and unapologetically goofy.635596335268587231814398259_tumblr_inline_nf7rlaP0kT1rrjq29 6355330130251051351347432919_giphy-4 05e3425f84c8c3f2314a066c9dfa40bb b06e5a20-1fb5-0132-4e38-0ebc4eccb42f

Loving the shenanigans going on in apartment 4D? Leave your comments down below and let us know on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest what your favorite scenes were!

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TV Runback – Marvel’s Jessica Jones

Soooo we have those days where we catch up on a show. We missed the buzz. We become busy and forget an episode. Some of us are just plain old lazy. Thanks to the wonders of DVD box sets, Netflix, and the internet, more people are watching television shows than ever. This is what I’ve been catching up on.

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Marvel’s Cinematic Universe shifted to television with the debut of Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter, but the Netflix line of shows have taken up the task at exploring the street level heroes. Starting off with Daredevil and following up with Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the Defenders team-up down the line, Jessica Jones is the second show and continues to expand the universe in an entirely new way. First off, let’s explore…

Jessica Jones: Loner Extraordinaire

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Jessica Jones is a recent invention, as famed writer Brian Michael Bendis created the creator alongside artist Michael Gaydos in 2001. Unlike Daredevil, Iron Man, Black Widow, and Spider-Man, she hasn’t had a history as extensive as her 50-year-old counterparts, but she does have plenty of character to drive her solo series. Being a woman with super strength and the ability to leap pretty far, Jessica (Krysten Ritter) has enough power to be a formidable opponent without being unbelievable. She bleeds, can get shot, cut up, and knocked out, suffering real injuries with a slightly increased healing capacity. Jessica attempted to be a superhero but things didn’t work out and she went into the private investigator business. Jessica is simply trying to take things day by day as her past has left her traumatized, jaded, and off-putting. She drinks heavily, does her best work in the dark, and simply wants to get paid and survive. Being a private investigator gives her insight into the city and how people work, but as talented as Jessica is, it still leaves her wary of people and stand-offish. Bearing stark differences from the Marvel heroes we all known and love, Jessica is just a person in the world who still wants to do good but hates the attention.

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Jessica on the verge of letting her client being unjustly convicted and facing a life sentence.

There’s more to Marvel than Superheroes

What is intensely curious about the show is that while Jessica is our protagonist, she is surrounded by people with their own problems who come to Jessica for help or avoid her to the best of their ability. There’s the best friend, Trish Walker, who Jessica has been avoiding right up until we catch up with the two in the pilot. Growing up together, the two girls share a bond, which Jessica would hate to admit, based out of love for one another. For all of Jessica’s sass and opposition to people, Trish pulls her to be more compassionate while borrowing Jessica’s strength.

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Trish is opposite Jessica, being a succesful actress, talk-show host, and a woman who is seeking out the best in others. She can also handle herself very well.

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Then there’s Jeri Horgath, a professional lawyer who is in Jessica’s corner for business purposes. She gains traction as her success comes to a helm when her divorce and her affair ravage her world. Jeri’s desire for power and her ability to keep her composure come in handy when Jessica’s brashness gets the best of her.

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Literally mixing business with pleasure.

Jessica lives in a dump of a building, and what building isn’t home without neighbors? Of all the crazies Jessica runs into, Malcolm is the one person who cares for Jessica. He’s not too well off on his own, but Malcolm’s perspective is optimistic and open-minded, as he and Jessica become invaluable to one another.

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There’s also the big hulking elephant in the room. Marvel fans couldn’t be happier that the MCU finally has a Luke Cage, and Mike Colter definitely fits the bill.

tumblr_nyr0ylL1gA1u8pzw3o7_250He’s strong and silent, sticks up for him and his own, and is always willing to listen without being too vulnerable (that and having unbreakable skin). Anytime he gets to rough someone up, Luke gets to show off why they call him Power Man.

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The World is 1% Good, 99% Evil

What is a superhero show with a villain? Dull, to say the least, but luckily, Jessica’s villain is the best since Loki. One of the biggest standouts from the show is David Tennant’s Kevin “Kilgrave” Thompson (comic fans will also know him as “The Purple Man”). A villain who has the power to mind control by simply telling someone what to do, Kilgrave lacks a conscious and plays with people because it is all he has known.

tumblr_nyqjarbTVw1sck5wdo1_500 The show opens up with Jessica suffering PTSD from being controlled by Kilgrave in the past and when Kilgrave reappears, we find victims of crimes performed against their will. Before, Jessica was controlled by Kilgrave in a kind fashion that was considered to be out of love and affection. The relationship grew sour as Jessica lost all control and became a slave to Kilgrave, doing his bidding no matter how much she protested internally. Eventually she broke free but always has her guard up. In modern day, Jessica discovers that Kilgrave is stalking Jessica, with their time together being the basis for a one-way obsession. Jessica’s knack for the P.I. business gets turned around and she discovers how disturbing it is to be hunted like a deer in the woods.

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Without revealing too much, the show takes dramatic and dark to all new lows. The show explores the depths of people doing things against their will and immediately deals with the realities that people have to live with. This is not a show for the faint of heart, as many critics have widely spoken about how intimate and dark the narrative becomes, exploring very touchy topics such as rape, abortion, and PTSD. People are murdered, scarred, deal with addiction, betrayal, and violation in the darkest ways. Even Jessica is vulnerable to the lives being ruined around her and, as audiences, we resonate with the feeling of helplessness and facing cold realities.

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Coming into the series, I had not read any of the Alias titles and only the first arc of the Pulse, but I had known of Jessica Jones for her appearances in Brian Michael Bendis’ run on New Avengers during the heroic age; seeing her jumping off point in this show and comparing it to what she becomes in the comics, it is incredibly engaging that this C-tier hero delivers one of the best crime dramas in a world of superheroes and in TV in general. There’s humor here and there, but the surprising darkness of the series really needs to be seen to be believed. While there’s only 13 episodes to this first season, I am happy she’ll be joining up with the rest of the Defenders down the line.

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Me thinking about the future of the MCU.

Did Jessica Jones leave you as wowed as I was? Leave your comments down below and let us know on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest what your favorite scenes were!

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TV Runback – Legend of Korra

Soooo we have those days where we catch up on a show. We missed the buzz. We become busy and forget an episode. Some of us are just plain old lazy. Thanks to the wonders of DVD box sets, Netflix, and the internet, more people are watching television shows than ever. This is what I’ve been catching up on.

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Legend of Korra answers the wishes of fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender who were begging for more. In 2012, we returned to the world where people have been gifted with the ability to manipulate the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Martial Arts are heavily incorporated into the armed forces in this 1850s-early 1900s inspired worlds, all animal species are hybrids, and there is a separate spiritual plane that can be tapped into. For a show on Nickelodeon, the maturity level is taken up a notch. We follow Korra, a person who becomes the Avatar, someone who can bend all four elements and serves the world as an international ambassador and peacekeeper. There is a lot going on in this show, but the essentials at the core of the show is what makes fans beg for more.

Rich History and Legacy

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In this world, there are four separate nations that are divided by the elements they control; they are the Fire Nation, The Earth Kingdom, the Water Tribe, and the Air Nomads. In the preceding series, Aang and his team explore the world as Aang learns to bend new elements, bring peace wherever he goes, and escape his enemies. As we are introduced to Legend of Korra, Aang has served his time as Avatar, passed away, and handed down the mantle to Korra. The role of birthplace is essential to these two characters; while Aang struggled with losing his whole culture and era, Korra struggles growing into the role of Avatar and trying to live up to Aang (who has a statue in her new adopted home of Republic City). Some of the characters got to live through two Avatars, both heroes and villains, and the friendships Aang made during his lifetime differ from the drastic changes Korra makes to the world through her adventures and tough decisions. While the first series dealt with the struggles of having a child usher in peace into the world, this series deals more directly with the politics, military, public opinion, the segregation of benders and non benders, and plenty of mature themes that bring in all audiences into the show.

There’s Plenty Of Characters and Growth

While the show is titled after a single character, what makes the show so accessible is its wide range of characters. Korra is accompanied by her airbending mentor, Tenzin (who is also the son of Aang), Mako and Bolin, fire and earth bending competitors, and Asumi, a young woman who specializes in industrial innovation and engineering. Korra is prone to have a lot of screen time, but each character is given plenty of growth, as they all get to expand their family lives, their roles in assisting the Avatar, and expanding their relationships with friends and foes. Some character return from Avatar: The Last Airbender and fill out the gap in time, while there are some characters who have lived through two Avatars to see how the world has changed. A big part of the show is bringing people together through their unique talents, and seeing the growth of “Team Avatar” through hardships and world-changing events is inspiring and heart warming.

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Crisp, Clean, and Inventive Animation

tumblr_nub7l8S7D21tf4873o7_500Just wow, right? Given that this was in one season finale, you’d say that the show pulled all of the stops for the end. However, there’s incredible moments like this in every single episode.

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There’s no questioning the work and talent that goes behind every scene, as both the major action and the subtle quirks of the animators are a testament to the love and creativity that is put into the show.

While I would recommend watching the whole Avatar: The Last Airbender series beforehand, the Legend of Korra is a fantastic show that incorporates a rich lore with intense confrontations, an effort for unity among disparate people, and a sense of humor that helps brings these characters from different generations together.

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TV Runback – Green Lantern Animated Series

Soooo we have those days where we catch up on a show. We missed the buzz. We become busy and forget an episode. Some of us are just plain old lazy. Thanks to the wonders of DVD box sets, Netflix, and the internet, more people are watching television shows than ever. This is what I’ve been catching up on.

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The show debuted in 2011 alongside Young Justice and unfortunately, I was wary of this series for a few reasons. One of the reasons was Cartoon Network’s notorious history with ending DC shows abruptly (Young JusticeBeware the Batman, Teen Titans) and getting attached to doomed shows is the worst. Secondly, although I love The Incredibles style and direction, I enjoy traditional two-dimensional animation (Avatar, Batman, Dragon Ball, Full Metal Alchemist) over heavy CGI (Star Wars Rebels, Cubix, Donkey Kong CountryIron Man: Armored Adventures). So when I decided to give the show a chance, I went in with high hopes for one of my favorite characters. By the grace of Oa, the show is incredible and every episode makes an impact in this 26 episodes series.

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The Lanterns Aren’t Just Green

The show opens up by introducing test-pilot Hal Jordan, who at this point is an established Green Lantern. If you don’t know Green Lantern, he is one of many that is equipped with a ring that is powered by will and can create any construct the user imagines. It is considered the most powerful weapon in the universe and each Green Lantern is given a sector in the universe to patrol (akin to cops and precincts). Hal meets up with fellow Green Lantern Kilowog to answer a distress signal and the two board a secret spaceship to investigate the murders of Green Lanterns in outer sectors. Turns out these murders are caused by an opposing faction of Red Lanterns, whose rings work by tapping into the rage in their hearts and letting anger run rampant. From there, each episode slowly builds to an overall arc, while developing each character on even grounds. Red Lantern Razer, ship A.I. and honorary Lantern, Aya, and the Guardians of the Universe all become major parts of the story. After the first few episodes of the season, it is discovered that there are more emotions in the spectrum that are synced up to corresponding Lantern powers, introducing a whole new world of the galaxy that allows characters of all archetypes to find a place in the overall narrative.

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The Orange Lantern taps into one of the darker powers in the Green Lantern lore and this image does a fantastic homage to Green Lantern Volume 3 #50.

The Source Material does Geoff Johns Proud

Famed DC writer and a man of the people, Geoff Johns is a key architect in reviving great DC characters and reinventing them for the modern era. He’s taken Justice Society, Hawkman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern to the forefront by bringing their rich universe to the forefront. His run on Green Lantern introduced many new key elements, including the introduction of the elemental spectrum and connecting every element into the Green Lantern mythos. Episodes dig into his characterization of Hal Jordan and his post-Spectre days (Green Lantern: Rebirth), but we also see some spotlights on other planets and Lanterns, such as Iolande, Guy Gardner, Solaak and more from the Green Lantern Corps comics. There are plenty of deviations from the comics (such as introducing Red Lanterns before Yellow), but the right inspirations and tones are taken with the overall handling of the universe, leading to another point…

There’s more to the show than the Main Man

I enjoy Hal’s character and story arc, but luckily, we’re also treated to spotlights on many of the characters in the Lantern Corps. Learning about Aya’s struggle to humanize herself, Razer’s struggle with Anger and his past, Kilowog’s dedication to duty over family, and Hal’s leadership role often leading him headstrong into trouble, the teams bounces off each other well and it feels natural that the teams works off each others strengths and shortcomings. The plot of the villains, the Guardians of the Universe, and of the non-Lantern characters create a much larger universe that stands on its own. You never wonder what Superman could do in this situation, because the problems call for the work of the Lanterns and the threats are conquered by teams, not necessarily heroes. Serious problems such as soldiers sacrificing themselves for their families, mind controlled attacks, and cover-ups that lead to rebellions and war are heavy in the store and the show delves into these risks with incredibly emotional payoffs. Planets are revisited, supporting characters stay relevant, and every detail seems to come full circle by the big finale. The saddest thing about the show is that it was cancelled due to its coincidence with the live-action film, but for one season, Green Lantern proves itself worthy in every episode.

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While the series has been taken off Netflix, the Blu-ray release has the full season on 2 discs, and it definitely worth it if you’re a fan of the DC Comics Universe.

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TV Runback – The Simpsons

Soooo we have those days where we catch up on a show. We missed the buzz. We become busy and forget an episode. Some of us are just plain old lazy. Thanks to the wonders of DVD box sets, Netflix, and the internet, more people are watching television shows than ever. This is what I’ve been catching up on.

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How can we have avoided for so long one of the greatest shows in the world??? Beats me. The Simpsons is an interesting staple in television. For over 26 seasons, it has remained both popular, relevant, and fresh. Following the adventures of middle-class family Simpsons, we find Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie in various predicaments all over the town Springfield. What’s so interesting in this town that could exist anywhere in the United States? Well, here’s a few things.

The Cast

Take a look at the photo below and feel free to click and enlarge.

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Click for Large Version

If you’ve never seen an episode of The Simpsons, you gotta think, “Wow, it was awful nice of the artist to include all the extras!” Fans of the show, however, will be scouring the picture, finding a few character that they have never seen or don’t remember. Odds are, fans of the show can name at least 50%-75% of the characters, or at least pin point their importance. While some characters in normal sitcoms strive for their 5 minutes of fame, basically every character drawn has an episode or two dedicated to them or is incredibly important to the progression of the plot in any given episode.

Take, for instance, the chef on the left (next to the alien), who is the manager of an asian seafood restaurant. In an early episode, one of his employees serves Homer Simpson the poison puffer fish, basically sentencing Homer to death. What follows in the episode is a heartbreaking and crazy episode where Homer lives out his last day on Earth. I remembered this whole description from just seeing this one bit character. He shows up through many later seasons where appropriate, but you can get the sense that the crazy looking characters have a joke tied to them, while normal looking characters may seem out-of-place and probably have a history on the show.

The Jokes/ Pop Culture

What’s an american sitcom without a bevy of jokes? The Simpsons manages to quote and mesh pop culture references in just about every facet of the show. Often, many viewers will hear a joke on The Simpsons before ever realizing it was taken from a famous movie. The opening, the couch gag, many of the signs, and even names of episodes are all poking fun at basically everything in american culture.

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The many different ways the family opens the show.

The show maintains a steady stream of laughs, with a few laugh out loud moments that make the show open to all audiences. Below is an assorted clip from various seasons featuring the quick nature of the jokes. You will definitely understand how dumb and funny Homer Simpson is.

The Heart

How can I show stay on the air for this long? Well, the cast is one thing. While many characters have their standard joke (Comic Book Guy being alone due to his interests, Professor Frink freaking out over the nature of science, Groundskeeper Willie being out of touch with American culture and also being angry all the time), every character on the poster above has had their own shining moment, often more than once. The show has kept the lively cast of characters interesting, making us care about every single one of them. The main Simpsons family started in earlier seasons with some episodes that pack an emotional punch. For example, in season 1,  Mr. Burns, Homer’s boss, cuts holiday bonuses and Homer decides to be a mall Santa to make holiday ends meet. In the end of his first Santa shift, Homer doesn’t make over $20 and goes with Barney to bet on dog racing to increase his budget. Homer’s dog loses the race, and a disheartened Homer leaves, going out side to find a winning ticket. Outside, he sees the losing dog’s owner kicking his dog and setting him free. Homer welcomes him with an open arm and brings him home, with the family happy for the christmas miracle. The dog is named Santa’s little helper.

It was an early episode that started off with a seemingly random plot and ended up bringing the family close together.

Now that FX is showing the Simpsons regularly, sit down, relax, and enjoy the zany world that has kept us laughing for almost three decades!

And it wouldn’t be Nerdswole if we didn’t show you this 8-Bit rendition of the opening!

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TV Runback – Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Soooo we have those days where we catch up on a show. We missed the buzz. We become busy and forget an episode. Some of us are just plain old lazy. Thanks to the wonders of DVD box sets, Netflix, and the internet, more people are watching television shows than ever. This is what I’ve been catching up on.

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Brooklyn 99 is another comedy hot on the heels of success of Parks and Recreation and The Office. With its documentary style, quick paced jokes, and quirky cast, it’s easy to write this one-off as another knock off. However, Brooklyn Nine-Nine works in the realm of police work, detective cases, and an ongoing job that doesn’t start at 9 and end at 5.. Let’s break down the precinct and see what makes the team so great.

Detective Jake Peralta

Lead Andy Samberg takes charge of most cases as a go-getter detective who’s intelligence, unorthodox thinking, and almost whimsical sense of curiosity leads him to success. As a young but successful detective, he follows in the footsteps of career-minded newbies such as Scrubs’s Dr. John Dorian (J.D.) and Men At Work’s Milo Foster. While success means everything to Jake, he’s slowly learning to let people in on his cases and work in a team in a professional manner, not simply doing anything he wants to solve a case.

Maybe one day he'll grow up.
Maybe one day he’ll grow up.

Detective Amy Santiago

The straight shooting, high achieving, good girl in the group, Amy is always striving to prove herself. Often times, she over-works herself and ends up embarrassed due to excess “foot-in-mouth” scenarios. She works just as hard as Jake, but is more career minded, looking for opportunities to put her on good terms with the captain.

She'll do just about anything to be the best.
She’ll do just about anything to be the best.

Detective Charles Boyle

The best friend to Jake, Charlie Boyle is a food connoisseur, upbeat optimist, injury prone detective who always plays second fiddle to most of his peers. While most find his fixation on trends, absurd fashions, and TMI stories annoying, Boyle makes a great detective and friend because of his attention to detail. He is also willing to take the bullet for the precinct and is known as the hardest working detective in the precinct.

He's also knows his way around a high five.
He’s also knows his way around a high five.

Detective Rosa Diaz

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Like every dark and gritty character in every cop film, Detective Diaz keeps an aura of mystery and violence at her fingertips. No one dares ask about her personal life, for she is a fortress of death stares and pure blunt force. Every cool guy you’ve seen in a movie (Snake Pliskin, Rambo, Han Solo) is all Rosa embodies and then some. Behind her cold demeanor is a heart of gold that cares about friends and more importantly, trust and honor above everything else. However, like Hulk, she just wants to be left alone.

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Gina Linetti

Gina works in the precinct but is one of the few main characters that simply does clerical work as the captain’s personal assistant. She’s goofy, has a (terrible) sense of the world and herself, and seems to be the most out of the loop even when she basically has nothing to worry about.

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Scully & Hitchcock

These two have been around longer than the Die Hard movies and their incompetence can be summed up better with pictures than words.

Here’s Hitchcock.

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Here’s Scully.

 

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Sargeant Terry Jeffords

First of all, what’s not to love about Terry Crews?

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Well, we see the Sergeant is a desk dweller who helps guide his detectives to success. While Terry seems a bit rash sometimes, he also is the biggest family man, with a wife and kids to think about every time he’s on the job. Temper flares, excessive muscles, and above all, caring for his team like a mother hen, Terry is a standout character that shows compassion amidst his goofiness.

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Captain Ray Holt

The straight man, the captain is a fantastic cop who rose up through the ranks, even when being black and openly gay hurts his hopes of success early in his career. So, in now running his own precinct, Captain Holt is a no-nonsense man who does whatever needs to be done, even if he pushes his detectives a bit far. From making Jake wear a tie to teaming up unconventional pairs. He also may be a numbers man, seeing his love for Moneyball is a bit much.tumblr_n0e7hefYZE1sikfv8o2_250

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Why is this show great?

Have I not mentioned team enough? While the humor,mockumentary style, and life lesson are all classic sitcom faire, the group ensemble is used to its fullest. While it’s easy to write off Jake as the easy lead in, everyone develops slowly but surely, with many story arcs being addressed in a natural fashion. The cutaway flashbacks are short enough to develop the character without dwelling on jokes too long. It’s a continually fresh show that continues to be over the top while keeping cases closed and letting the characters open up.

Luckily the show is very early, so what’s the last thing to do now? Go watch the series!

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TV Runback: Friends – Season Two

Alas, I’ve made my run through Season Two of Friends.  Incidentally, I came across an episode that I’ve not seen previously.  It’s episode 5 and it’s called The One with Five Steaks and An Eggplant.  Basically, the group likes to celebrate birthdays and promotions by going out to fancy and expensive dinners.  However, not every friend is on the same level of income and it becomes an issue for Joey, Rachel and Phoebe.

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I think this issue is something that can happen in any group of friends, regardless of age.  I’ve certainly experienced it firsthand, especially when asking  others to pitch in for an expensive gift or making travel plans.  It can be embarrassing or scary to admit to others that you’re not made of money.  On the other hand, you can be bold and tell others not to count on you for high and pricey outings.  In the end, money shouldn’t be an issue that makes or breaks friendships.

Ross and Rachel become a thing, twice.  However, the failure of the first relationship is a blessing in disguise that sets up the beauty of the second relationship. Meanwhile, Ross is also adjusting to being a part time dad.  I applaud how Ross’ character stays determined in making things right with the woman he’s had a crush on for many years as well as being there for his infant son, Ben.

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1st Big Kiss

 

Rachel continues to work at the coffee shop and there is no real progress on her mission to be independent and making a decent living.  On the other hand, we see her go through the honey moon phase in her relationship with Ross but not before Ross chases after her, twice!

2nd Big Kiss
2nd Big Kiss

Joey’s struggles finally turn into good fortune when he lands a lead role.  However, his new found fame and wealth is a bit overwhelming so it does not last long.  His close friendship with Chandler is tested a few times throughout this season but each time, they realize just how valuable their bond is, especially above material items.

Joey as Dr. Drake Ramoray on Days of Our Lives
Joey as Dr. Drake Ramoray on Days of Our Lives

Phoebe struggles with connecting with someone from her past, mostly out of fear.  The other friends are very supportive and advise her to only act when she feels that the time is right.  This season also explores more of her family members and some love interests.

Phoebe playing her most well known song, Smelly Cat
Phoebe playing her most well known song, “Smelly Cat”

Speaking of love interests, Monica is finally in a long term relationship.  Through out the course of the season, she begins to realize that there are more differences than similarities which is a huge letdown for her because she initially fought hard to get others to approve of her boyfriend.

Tom Selleck guest stars in several episodes as Richard Burke, Monica's love interest
Tom Selleck guest stars in several episodes as Richard Burke, Monica’s love interest

Chandler’s sexuality is a huge comic relief during this season.  While he’s certainly straight, his tendencies and personality are often teased as if he batted for the other team, thus making it hard for him to score a date.  His repeated love misfortunes lead back to an old flair by the end of season Two.

Janice, Chandler's on and off love interest
Janice, Chandler’s on and off love interest

As I begin Season Three, I have high hopes that I come across episodes that I’ve not seen previously.  For me, it’s like filling in the gaps on a timeline or finding that missing piece to a puzzle.  I still find Chandler’s sarcasm and wit to be the best parts of the show.  In a close second, I’d rank Joey’s dimwittedness followed by Ross’ awkwardness.

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TV Runback – Sherlock

Soooo we have those days where we catch up on a show. We missed the buzz. We become busy and forget an episode. Some of us are just plain old lazy. Thanks to the wonders of DVD box sets, Netflix, and the internet, more people are watching television shows than ever. This is what I’ve been catching up on.

sherlockAnd while I’m not your normal TV Runback writer, Alex has yet to watch this show, so I’m going to give this a go. I’ve long heard that this show is the best adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, and I’d be hard-pressed to disagree. Sherlock follows Sherlock Holmes in modern time, he is the first of a kind and the one and only “Consulting Detective” in the world (a job he made up). I will do my absolute best to avoid spoilers, but if they do come out, they will be minor at best.

The show begins by following John Watson and him trying to deal with his injury from war. He’s trying to make ends meet and trying to figure out his place in the world. Essentially, by a collision of events he happens to meet Sherlock Holmes who is every bit the lovable jerk he’s been in every other iteration, but somehow more so.

And yet, he perfectly articulates your thoughts sometimes.

The show visibly shows things going on in Sherlock’s brain and what happens in text messages with onscreen text. This really adds a very cool visual element to what is going on. It’s kind of an incredible imagining of understanding how a brain like Sherlock Holmes would work. This sort of think happens pretty regularly, whether it is revealing what a text message is saying from someone else or if it is Sherlock is reading context clues off of someone. In a lot of ways it is very similar to how a Batman comic reads, because of what you see visually in drawings and what Batman processes in monologues is perfectly brought to life with Sherlock. You get to see him visually break down clues and absorb necessary knowledge to better assess a situation.

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I’d imagine something similar for his upcoming role as Dr. Strange

In terms of of breaking down genre and flow of the series, at its core it is about the characters still, but anyone who is a fan of dramas/crime fiction/comedy/thrillers/action can find a reason to fall in love with this show. The show has a varying range of jokes going from incredibly subtle and recurring jokes to some rare slapstick moment making for many laugh-out-loud moments (or some “daaang, did he just say that”).

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Does this really need a caption?

But there are just as many thrilling and dark moments. I can’t really post those without spoilers, but take my word this show ramps up fast and things get pretty real pretty fast.

I’ve never read a Sherlock Holmes novel, but I can easily say I can’t imagine these characters being played by anyone else anymore. As much as I love Robert Downey Jr, I have to say his Sherlock is trumped by Benedict Cumberbatch, he has the incredibly cold but lovable genius down pat and Martin Freeman plays Watson perfectly as a the sidekick that has the humanity and street smarts while repeatedly being the butt of the joke.

Honestly, I have no qualms with any of the casting in this show, as it feels like each character is a little different than we’re used to seeing (just enough to feel fresh though), but somehow have enough familiarity to make it work. I thoroughly enjoy seeing supporting characters come in and out of the show because they are so well played and used throughout the show.

The one thing some might consider a drawback is this show is a big investment. Each episode is roughly 90 minutes and there are 3 episodes a season, and breaks between seasons are very long. If anything it is more similar to waiting for movies and sequels to come out than anything else on TV. I don’t mind this so much because anyone can tell that the production value of each episode is quite impressive.

With that being said, I’d highly recommend a binge diet on this show for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. Sherlock is on Netflix, and is easily one of the best things on television today. Plus, there’s a bunch of fun troll memes you’ll get after watching the show.

Let us know your thoughts! Please check out our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

Please like us on Facebook! And follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest! Contact me at twentytwo.le@gmail.com if you’re interested in writing for Nerd Swole.

And here is our NerdSwole Mailbag where you can ask questions anonymously and we’ll answer them in a video!

TV Runback – Breaking Bad

Soooo we have those days where we catch up on a show. We missed the buzz. We become busy and forget an episode. Some of us are just plain old lazy. Thanks to the wonders of DVD box sets, Netflix, and the internet, more people are watching television shows than ever. This is what I’ve been catching up on.

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Now I may be as oblivious as the next guy, but I wasn’t sure what the show’s title meant. While it was uttered in the pilot, here’s creator Vince Gilligan with the explanation.

In general, the show follows Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who has a wife (Skyler), a son(Walter Jr.), and a daughter (Holly) on the way. In the pilot, Walt is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He begins to rethink his life and explores doing more with his life, including leaving his family with enough money to support themselves. He then joins his brother-in-law/DEA Officer Hank on a drug bust. When he sees his ex-student Jesse, involved in the criminal operation (who gets away from the DEA), Walt approaches him with the idea to cook meth. With Jesse’s connections and Walt’s expertise in chemistry, the team decides to invest in an RV and cook meth. What happens after that is a one problem after another that eventually transforms a small list of issues into a mountain of endless problems that come across Walt’s path.

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Just a normal day in the desert in your underpants, eh Walt?

The thing about Breaking Bad is that the show takes its time to build up everything before things start crashing into each other. The main thing that keeps me away from some shows are length. For example, a show like Parks & Recreation runs 20-22 minutes an episode, while most of Breaking Bad episodes lasts 47-55 minutes long each episode. In addition, there is a considerable amount of buildup for future story arcs, so in getting past that, this show has taken me quite some time to get through. However, it has been worth it.

Little things count.

I hate it when shows establish story-lines that are inconsequential. Breaking Bad has a way of incorporating the small and mundane events into revealing character traits. As Walt enters the drug game, every little part of his life becomes affected by his notorious deeds and Walt feels the need to handle everything himself.

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In season 1, we see Marie Schrader steal a few items from local boutiques in hopes of maintaining a certain quality of life. This develops to later in season 4 as she steals items for homes for sale. It’s a sort of way to escape her depressing life with the then bed-ridden Hank Schrader.

Skyler White is always very vocal on what Walt should be doing with his money and how he should carry himself for the family. Especially when Walt goes “missing”, Skyler does everything to reach out to her husband. When she becomes overwhelmed by Walt’s madness and has to accept her husband’s activity, she becomes increasingly silent in hopes that the cancer will overtake Walt in the end.

Walt has an incredibly complex shift in character. Starting the series as an incredibly weak, not confident, and quiet man, we see Walt’s confidence and purpose grow as the show moves forward. He’s forced to make decisions that have grave consequences and add to his confidence level. He even takes on a persona of Heisenberg that tends to fall in and out of his normal Walt personality.

Confidence, exhibit A.
Confidence, exhibit A.

It’s little things in a mundane life that mean so much to these characters. Whether its picking up the kids from school, grabbing the laundry, or even stopping by the grocery store, almost every character has a considerable amount of growth over the series and it’s when they perform the same mundane things do you see how much has changed.

There’s a bunch of weirdos in Albuquerque.

A genius level intellect like Walt’s is hardly matched. However, he lacks certain knowledge in fields such as drug sales, security, investing under the table, among a whole myriad of other criminal activities. For these, he comes across a crack team of people you’d never imagine running into. For his legal troubles, Walt knows he….

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Saul Goodman is a gimmicky lawyer who has cheesy commercials. Advertising to the unknowing public, Saul operates as a sleazy lawyer who happens to know the ins and outs of crime. He becomes one of Walt’s confidants and go to guys when Walt needs security, money laundering tips, and even how to deal with unwanted persons. Saul is known for his wacky suits, his optimistic attitude, and overall bringing some lightheartedness that skews away from Walt’s serious demeanor.

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Mike Ehrmantraut is a character who isn’t putting up with any nonsense. Mike is an ex-cop who works security and operations for a lot of people, including a certain drug dealer named Gustavo Fring. As he crosses paths with Walt, they tend to disagree on most things, as Mike is usually “just doing his job.” The straight-man act is also amplified by the absurd amount of things Mike is known to do, whether it’s driving around the desert and picking up drops, waiting in a truck all night with a loaded gun, or take out 10 armed gunmen. If you ever need someone on your side, you’d want Mike before he’s told to kill you.

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Hank’s “Eye of the Tiger”

Hank Schrader is a weird character in general. He rises and falls, but ultimately plays the good guy in all of Breaking Bad. Working for the DEA, Hank eventually starts putting the pieces of new drug deals together. Unknowingly putting together all of Walt’s activities, Hank chases the meth and secret identity of Walt “Heisenberg.” Unfortunately, being the “good guy” lands him in front of the barrel and in danger almost every season. It’s his stubborn attitude and resilience that keeps him the constant bane of Walt’s operation, but having him as a brother-in-law complicates everything.

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Skyler is Walter’s wife and sadly, one of Walt’s opposition. She hates what her husband does and changes her whole life to make everything work. From purchasing and operating a car-wash to launder money, Skyler helps is so many ways. Frankly, she gets a lot of criticism from fans because she doesn’t support Walt directly, but she also makes a lot of efforts for her family, which is Walt’s reasoning for just about everything. She can be very business-like and also sometimes erratic, but Skyler creates an interesting family dynamic for Walt, as she maintains everything while Walt messes everything up.

Footage of Walt ruining Pizza night.
Footage of Walt ruining Pizza night.

Last but not least, we can’t talk about Walt’s genius partner-in-crime, Jesse Pinkman.

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Jesse Pinkman is Walt’s partner and completely unqualified to do anything Walt asks. He’s a junkie, an idiot, and has made a whole string of terrible decisions. However, Jesse, in all of this, has a conscious that makes him endearing, and ultimately, you want to see Jesse succeed. He’s goes from one tough loss to another, makes efforts to go to therapy and rehab, tries to be more active in Walt’s process, and even complete his own life goals.

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Sidenote, I don’t curse. However, many a favorite catchphrase from Breaking Bad involves Jesse Pinkman and his favorite word to end sentences with.

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Through all these characters, Walt grows from pushover to the famed Heisenberg. He makes some serious turns as he breaks bad, but it’s a slow change that needs to be seen to be believed.

What’s the last thing to do now? Go watch the series!

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When you finish the series, don’t forget to check out Brian’s awesome (and spoiler filled) article on Breaking Bad easter eggs in video games!

TV Runback – Parks & Recreation

Soooo we have those days where we catch up on a show. We missed the buzz. We become busy and forget an episode. Some of us are just plain old lazy. Thanks to the wonders of DVD box sets, Netflix, and the internet, more people are watching television shows than ever. This is what I’ve been catching up on.

 

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First things first:

This isn’t The Office with a female lead.

Parks and Recreation is a show that takes many traits from its channel mate The Office. Documentary style camera, office related setting, and a fearless leader in a small power position leading unmotivated workers. The similarities end there, as the whole office has a united goal, have a leader who is constantly motivated for less selfish reasons, and a series that remembers its past, using the fictional history of Pawnee as source material for the adventures the office goes on.

What’s a team without a leader?

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When you think Parks and Recreation, how can you not think of the spirited Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler). I didn’t initially think much of Poehler from her days on SNL, but she brings life, heart, and honesty to her lead and the cast loves it. Leslie wouldn’t be Leslie without her desire for helping others, her follow through, and her love of government. Leslie’s ambition stems from using her position to help others and to carry herself with dignity and respect. Her quirks show up in her work, whether it’s buying her friends gifts, taking care of the city (the park project), and speaking to her public, taking criticism in the forums. She stands up for herself, and embraces her silliness. Miss Knope also loves her city, and makes known her opinions on just about everything.

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As with most shows, the stable cast is what makes the show great. Here’s some of the great team that surrounds Leslie Knope.

Ann Perkins

ann-perkins-joggingAnn Perkins is a nurse, but also a catalyst for the department’s goal of creating a park. Ann lives in a house with a giant hole behind it. She is the one who brings this issue to the Parks and Recreation department’s attention and this sends Leslie on a mission to accomplish real change in Pawnee. Once Ann meets Leslie, they become best friends. Ann and Leslie talk everyday about their everyday troubles and Ann’s nursing life tends to tie into Leslie’s life at the right times. She becomes a mainstay as her role in the town becomes bigger and more influential.

Tom Haverford

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As Leslie’s assistant, Tom takes care of public relations, but on the real, he’s a slacker with a love for the over the top, the stylish, the swaggerific, and the cool. He’s pretty self-involved, but when things look down for him, Tom always finds a way to help Leslie in her countless troubles.

April Ludgate

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April is the lovely intern who can’t help but hate just about everything. She doesn’t like caring for things, or letting people know she cares when she happens to care. She keeps a stoic face and a sadistic sense of humor. Countering her cold demeanor is the lovable goof….

Andy Dwyer

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Initially, Andy is a helpless man who has fallen into the pit behind April’s house. As he recovers, he looks for his place in the world and finds a home in local government. He’s musical, he’s idiotic, he’s charming, he’s clumsy. He’s Andy, but he’s also Star-Lord, so what’s not to love?

Chris Traeger

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Chris Traeger is a mainstay that comes at the end of season 2, along with Ben Wyatt. Chris is a city manager who oversees multiple departments, but more importantly, is the most positive man in existence. He has a resting heart-rate of 28 beats per minute, he loves maintaining fitness and maintain positive energy flow, and he hates giving bad news. He is, literally, the most amazing person, and we love him for that.

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Ben Wyatt

In the exact opposite of Chris, Ben Wyatt is a nerd who does most of the work and number crunching. He’s a fan of Star Wars, order, productivity, and most importantly, helping when he shouldn’t have to. He also lacks a physical presence, as his past endeavours have left him tense and nervous. Ben overextends himself and shows true loyalty, even when mostly recognizing his expertise is very statistical and boring.

Pretty much says it all.
Pretty much says it all.

Last, but not least.

Ron Swanson

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Ron Swanson is the department’s director and more importantly, a budget cutting enthusiast. Ron believes in small government, a stern philosophy of a man making his own success, breakfast foods all day long, and being one with nature (by hunting whatever is in sight). Ron isn’t without his faults, as he has two ex-wives who are both named Tammy, a disdain for getting chummy with people, and a sense of pride that outweighs any physical or emotional pain. He and Leslie often debate, as their ideologies clash on countless occasions. Ron is, however, happy to have Leslie lead her team, as he determination is something he admires. To describe the greatness that is Ron Swanson, I’d have to quote a man who is impenetrable…Ron Swanson.

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tumblr_nbfjzgD2Jw1td46geo1_1280 tumblr_nbg5iafGsY1td46geo1_1280Parks and Recreation is about to enter their seventh and last season. While a premiere date is expected soon, we know that the season will consist of 13 episodes and will air on NBC. Now’s a great time to jump into the series that is thriving. Parks and Recreation has a lot of heart hidden under all the bureaucracy, the politics, the red tape, and the issues of the town. From start to finish, the show is refreshingly witty, self-aware, and ultimately fun. You’ll not be disappointed, my fellow Swansons. For more TV Runbacks, check out Nerdswole’s archive and make sure to check out the new NerdSwole store for our swolest of recommendations.