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What to watch this spring

By Bert Ehrmann
April 3, 2009

As spring quietly enveloped Indiana a few weeks back – giving us slightly more day than night and (hopefully) sending Old Man Winter up north for the next seven or eight months – we quickly started down the road towards the time where most network and cable TV series begin winding down and films at the Cineplex turn almost exclusively to mindless fun. But there is still time to catch a few good series/movies before this change takes place as well as some good TV series new to DVD. 

LostFirst off, if you’re not watching Lost on ABC Wednesday nights at 9 now’s the time to start. The series has undergone a creative resurgence of late, and a lot of the problems I’ve had with the show the last few years have all but vanished. I’m not saying that Lost is perfect (or even as good as the first few seasons), but the series is once again enjoyable and fun to watch.

The Office on NBC Thursday nights at 9 is also in the midst of a little resurgence of its own. I felt like last season the series got lost somewhere between some really absurd storylines and oddly structured hour-long episodes. But now that The Office is back at it’s traditional half-hour running time it seems as if the writers are once again balancing out the humor of the show with the gut-wrenching/cringe-worthy elements we’ve come to know and love in this series.

Mad MenAMC is once again airing episodes of the second season of their award winning series Mad Men Sunday nights at midnight. If you somehow missed Mad Men the fist time around last fall, fire up your DVR and catch these episodes this time around. (Or, if you’re like me fire up the DVR and watch them again!) 

The second season of another AMC award winning series Breaking Bad is currently airing new episodes Sunday nights at 10. I don’t like Breaking Bad nearly as much as I do Mad Men, but I find the series enjoyable and the element of the lead character that is dying, and therefore a show that’s dying with him, fascinating. 

State of PlayThe film State of Play premieres in theaters April 17. Based on the BBC series of the same name, State of Play follows reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) as he chases the story of a lifetime when his best friend Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is accused of murder and Cal is the only one that can prove his innocence. I really liked the original series and have high hopes for the film version that’s written by Matthew Carnahan (Lions for Lambs) and Tony Gillroy (The Bourne movies and Michael Clayton).

The original six-episode TV mini-series version of State of Play is currently available on DVD. I’d highly recommend a viewing of that version of State of Play before seeing the film. 

Just out on DVD is the complete series Andy Richter Controls the Universe and the third season of The Venture Bros. I still find myself laughing out loud to clips of Richter that sadly went off the air almost exactly six years ago. It’s one of those series that never really got its due on Fox (imagine that) and deserved better than being unceremoniously dumped after a couple of seasons.

Venture Bros.I loved the first season of The Venture Bros, liked the second and feel that the third season of the series is the best of the bunch. While the first two seasons focused on the Venture family, Brock and a few side characters, the third does a great job of expanding the Venture universe to characters that up until now had been on the fringes. In fact, in the third season there are whole episodes that are almost solely focused on these other characters with the Ventures only appearing in fleeting glimpses.

Also already out is the first season of the Brit comedy The IT Crowd. Focusing on I.T. professionals working in the bowls of a large corporation, you don’t have to be a tech nerd to get the humor involved in a couple of guys who aren’t quite normal trying to operate in an environment filled with normalcy. Sounds a lot like my typical workday.