Think Happy Thoughts by Alan Decker

I tend to be an optimistic guy.  I can find the bright side in just about anything, and I’m always looking for the good in people.  I’ve found, though, that I can slide into harping on the negative far too quickly when I’m writing about entertainment topics.  In the last week on this site, I’ve gone after “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” (This week’s episode, “F.Z.Z.T.,” was a big improvement in the area of character development, by the way), and our beloved site mistress and I took great glee in eviscerating the film, “Immortals.”

In all honestly, writing negativity can be easier.  Negative feelings are often strong, provoking passionate responses.  Additionally, ripping up something that’s just plain bad (as much of “Immortals” was) is a lot more fun that trying to put into words why something is good.

Today, though, I’m focusing on the positive.  In that vein, I bring to you a list of the things that are making me happy currently in the world of entertainment:

Alyson Hannigan

I’ve loved Alyson Hannigan since I saw her as Willow on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”  She was adorably awkward in the show’s early years and grew in strength and confidence as the show progressed, becoming downright scary in the show’s 6th season.  I know Xander was supposed to be the heart of the Scoobies, but for me it was always Willow.  Her presences even got me to watch the “American Pie” films, and normally I hate teen sex comedies.  Now as “How I Met Your Mother” continues through its final season (MUST…RESIST…URGE…TO…CRITICIZE), Alyson Hannigan remains one of my favorite parts of the show.  Her performance as Lily is funny and endearing, yet she’s able to be the one person in that group of friends who can smack the others around (sometimes literally) when they need a friend to set them straight.  I don’t know where she’ll end up once HIMYM ends, but I’ll be watching.

 

Top Gear US

When the US version of “Top Gear” began on the History Channel four seasons ago, it was a pale imitation of the wonderful UK original and tried way too hard to shove the US hosts into segments done on the original show.  Four seasons later, “Top Gear US” has jettisoned most of the standard UK bits, such as celebrity lap times and interviews, and established its own style and identity.  More importantly, the three hosts, Tanner Foust, Rutledge Wood, and Adam Ferrara, have really gotten to know each other and developed much needed chemistry and comraderie.  While I still am clueless about the more technical aspects of their car reviews (the extent of my knowledge in this area is…well, there isn’t any.  I know how to change the wiper blades.  For everything else, I call my mechanic), I look forward to seeing what the guys will be doing each week.

 

Benedict Cumberbatch

The man with the best British name ever is also an amazing actor.  While there were disagreements about the quality of “Star Trek Into Darkness” (An issue I previously discussed – PART 1 and PART 2), Cumberbatch’s performance as the film’s villain was highly praised.  Watch the film.  He’s mesmerizing.  I am looking forward to getting my hands on the recent radio play of Neil Gaiman’s, “Neverwhere,” in which he plays the angel Islington.  It’s a part just made for his voice.  And, of course, he is quite possibly the best Sherlock Holmes ever put to screen.  He is able to show more of Holmes’ intelligence, energy, and impatience with the idiots around him in one glance than Robert Downey, Jr. has managed in two entire films.  His Sherlock is a joy to watch, which brings me to…

 

Sherlock

After a two year gap, “Sherlock” is coming back in January!  I’ve already praised Benedict Cumberbatch, but this is a show that doesn’t just rely on its lead to keep audiences watching.  Martin Freeman is wonderful as a John Watson who both cares deeply about his friend, Holmes, but won’t put up with his often obnoxious behavior.  And Andrew Scott has created a Moriarty far different and more threatening than any we’ve seen before.  None of this would matter if the writing wasn’t up to the skill of the actors, but it’s been fantastic.  Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, and Stephen Thompson have given us six incredible episodes.  The problem is that THERE HAVE ONLY BEEN SIX!  Three more are on the way in January, though.  Only two more months to wait.  And since we’re on a British theme…

 

David Tennant

David Tennant will always be my Doctor.  He was perfect as the Tenth Doctor on “Doctor Who” and able to switch quickly from manic joy at the wonders the universe held, to grim determination when those under his protection were threatened, to sorrow for those he couldn’t save.  “The Girl in the Fireplace” is my favorite episode for showing off his range as the Doctor, and I’m very excited that he’s coming back for the 50th Anniversary Special, “The Day of the Doctor,” later this month.  Earlier this year, he played a very different sort of character on the series, “Broadchurch.”  His Detective Inspector Alex Hardy was damaged, more damaged than we even realized when the series began, but still driven to solve the murder of a young boy in a British seaside town.  While certainly not as “fun” of a role as the Doctor, Hardy was portrayed fantastically by Tennant, and I’m thrilled that he’s going to be in US adaptation of the series.

 

Felicia Day and Chris Hardwick

I grouped these two together because they are both helping to shape online entertainment.  Day founded the “Geek and Sundry” channel on Youtube.com, while Hardwick created The Nerdist, which started as a podcast and now extends to both a Youtube channel and a series on BBC America.  “Geek and Sundry” was home to Day’s series, “The Guild,” which she both wrote and starred in, as well as other projects including the very fun, “Written By A Kid,” “Space Janitors”, and my favorite, “Tabletop,” hosted by Wil Wheaton.  “The Nerdist” podcast has drawn several big names (Harrison Ford was recently a guest), and the Youtube channel has the incredibly entertaining “All-Star Celebrity Bowling.”  If you’re a Doctor Who fan, I highly recommend tracking down the episode with Team Nerdist versus Team Doctor Who.  You will thank me.  While Hardwick and Day both continue to be busy in more traditional entertainment venues (Hardwick hosts “Talking Dead” on AMC and “@midnight” on Comedy Central, and Day has a recurring role on “Supernatural"), I believe that their efforts online are far more interesting.  They have created spaces for shows that would never been seen on a traditional TV network, and I’m grateful for that…even if “Tabletop” has ended up costing me a fortune in board game purchases.

There’s a lot more for me to be happy about.  “Mythbusters” is still going strong!  Joss Whedon is hard at work on “Avengers 2!”  “Psych” will be back soon!  The new Star Wars films might not suck!  

I am once again filled with joy and optimism!  Now nobody ruin it.  That means you, J.J. Abrams!

 - Alan Decker

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