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Binge Worthy TV: What a Travel Writer Does When They Can’t Travel

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We Binge Watch Our Favorite TV!

Binge Worthy TV

Binge Worthy TV

Travel has always been a huge part of what I do. Since March, 2020 – travel has been almost non-existent. The limited amount of travel that I have done is different to say the least. Media travel, due to severe budget cutbacks, has been extremely limited.

binge worthy TV

So what does a person, who for years traveled at least 2 weeks per month, do when they can’t travel?

First, we spend weeks getting our house in order. Organize closets. Organize drawers. Get rid of stuff laying around the garage. Then – We binge watch TV and movies for days, for weeks, and now – for months!

On the recommendation of a friend, I started watching one of her favorites:

Yellowstone

The series follows the conflicts along the shared borders of a large cattle ranch, an Indian reservation, and land developers and the first national park.

Yellowstone follows the Dutton family who controls the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. The ranch is under constant attack by those it borders. It is an intense study of a violent world far from media scrutiny, where land grabs earn developers billions, and politicians are bought and sold by the world’s largest oil, natural gas, and lumber corporations. Where unsolved murders are not news, they are a consequence of living in the new frontier.

It is the best and worst of the United States as seen through the eyes of a family that represents both.

Photo via Kevin Lynch

The show premiered on June 20, 2018 and stars Kevin Costner. Costner is one of those handsome, heart throb actors who has gotten even better looking with age. So if you’re a Kevin Costner fan, this series is definitely for you.

The main place to watch episodes of Yellowstone is on the Paramount Network itself. The cable channel’s website and app have a live stream that you can use to watch the episodes as they air. The network also makes episodes available on-demand the morning after they first air. You can also watch episodes from earlier seasons on Peacock, the NBC streaming service or purchase earlier seasons on Amazon Prime video.

Favorite Actor in the series: Kevin Costner, since I am a viewer who appreciates a handsome man that just gets better with age!

Favorite Episode: The season three finale of Yellowstone was filled with cliffhangers, leaving fans wondering which of their favorite ranchers will survive to carry on next season. 

One Chicago

During my time at home I became obsessed with the One Chicago franchise. I had already watched the shows when I was at home because I have followed the career of one of the actors of Chicago PD for years. I watched Fire and Med on and off once they started to air (2018) in the two hours before PD.

So now that I had unlimited time I thought – why not – let me start at the beginning! The three One Chicago shows are brought to life by Wolf Entertainment (Dick Wolf) – also responsible for the Law & Order franchise. Law & Order has been around for 20+ years so evidently Wolf Entertainment knows what they are doing when it comes to series dramas.

The One Chicago franchise has a huge following and a very dedicated fandom. It’s extremely convenient for die-hard One Chicago fans to have all three shows on the same night. It also makes crossovers, something that happens on occasion, really convenient.

Also, the cast from each of the shows often show their appreciation for the fans by interacting with fans on social media.

The franchise focuses on the professional and private lives of the firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical personnel who serve the city of Chicago.

Chicago Fire was the first show of what would become the Chicago franchise.

Chicago Fire originally aired in 2012. On March 27, 2013, NBC announced plans for a proposed spin-off of Chicago Fire, the police procedural drama Chicago P.D. that would involve the Chicago Police Department. The spin-off series premiered on January 8, 2014.

The show follows the Intelligence Unit of the police department and is filmed entirely in Chicago.

In February 2015, NBC announced plans to make another spin-off, the medical drama Chicago Med. A special backdoor pilot episode of the show aired during Chicago Fire‘s third season. It premiered on November 17, 2015.

(Photo by: NBCUniversal)

Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire follows the firefighters, paramedics, and rescue squad members of Chicago Fire Department Firehouse 51.

(Photo by: NBCUniversal)

The series premiered on NBC on October 10, 2012. In February, 2020, NBC renewed the series for a ninth, tenth and eleventh season. The ninth season premiered on November 11, 2020 and went on winter hiatus along with PD and MED and will return in January, 2021.

From the relentless pressure of saving lives, an extended family is forged between the characters. If you are new to watching Chicago Fire, I recommend starting from the very beginning to be able to get a good understanding of the characters and how they each interact with each other.

Between all the different streaming services you can find almost all of the seasons/episodes for free. This show is definitely worth starting from the beginning.

(Photo by: NBCUniversal)

Some characters have changed over the years, but the main characters have stayed in place. Following their journey through the different seasons is definitely interesting. Just as the characters have forged a strong bond over the years, fans of the show seem to have also forged a bond with certain members of Chicago Fire.

The building used in the show for the firehouse exteriors is a working Chicago Fire Department firehouse, and is the headquarters of Engine 18. The interiors of Firehouse 51 are filmed at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios.

Favorite Actor in the series: I would say I probably have two. Taylor Kinney who plays Kelly Severide and Joe Minoso who plays Joe Cruz.

Favorite Episode: I think I probably have a favorite episode in every season so choosing one is difficult. My favorites have to be any of the crossover episodes with PD.

Chicago PD

Chicago PD follows the uniformed patrol officers and detectives of the Chicago Police Department’s 21st District. The Chicago Fire episode “Let Her Go” serves as the backdoor pilot.

(Photo by: NBCUniversal)

Chicago PD premiered on NBC on January 8, 2014 as a mid-season replacement. In February, 2020, NBC renewed the series for an eighth, ninth and tenth season. The eighth season premiered on November 11, 2020. After only two new episodes, the franchise went into winter hiatus and new shows will start again in January, 2021.

A spin-off of Chicago FireChicago PD focuses on the 21st District, which houses patrol officers and the department’s elite Intelligence Unit, led by Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe).

The first three seasons and the first half of season four focused on both the patrol and Intelligence officers, and shifted to focus mostly on the Intelligence Unit from the second half of season four on.

Chicago PD is my favorite of the three because I admit to having a huge celebrity crush on Jason Beghe. I have watched every season and every episode many, many times. You could say I’m slightly obsessed. I have followed his career since 1988 in the movie Monkey Shines. He is definitely one of those handsome actors that has gotten better looking with age.

A handful of characters have changed over the seasons, including the departure of Sophia Bush as Erin Lindsay and Jon Seda as Antonio Dawson.

Over the seasons there has been a long list of recurring actors/roles that have made the show interesting.

I’m most curious to see how the writers will handle some of what the Intelligence Unit does with the climate in the world today. They will definitely have to soften Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) since he has been known for his tough exterior and take-no-prisoners approach to police work, bordering on police brutality and human rights violations. He has been known to do things his own way which I’m sure the writers will now try to “fix.”

There is a much softer side to Voight that I have the feeling we may start to see more of in Season 8. He is loyal to the cops and detectives working under him and highly dedicated to the victims of the crimes his unit investigates as well as to the city of Chicago.

One thing that annoys me a bit about Chicago PD is how easily the female characters jump between sexual partners in the district. For pete’s sake girls – make up your mind! Kim Burgess (played by Marina Squerciati) has slept with Adam, Sean, Blair (political consultant) and Matt (federal prosecutor) then back to Adam – all in seven seasons. The girl definitely gets around!

Favorite Actor in the series: Well – Jason Beghe, of course! If I was asked to list a second I would definitely have a difficult time deciding between Jesse Lee Soffer, LaRoyce Hawkins or Patrick John Flueger. I absolutely adore each of the characters they play and how well they seem to work off of each other.

I also don’t think the show would be the same without Trudy Platt, played by Amy Morton. She is a fascinating mix of wit and wisdom and the 21st District would really not be the same without her.

It’s definitely hard to choose a favorite in Chicago PD since all of the characters interact together so well.

Favorite Episode: I definitely prefer the earlier seasons and have a hard time isolating one particular episode in any season. Because the show really highlights not only the crime they are solving that week but also the interactions of the main characters with each other, the characters often deliver one line statements that stay with you, that make you laugh. The blend of drama and laughter is definitely a hit with me!

If I really have to narrow it down, I would say my favorite episode is “Now I’m God” (Chicago P.D. Season 3, Episode 10) – In this first crossover with Fire and P.D., a member of Firehouse 51 is rushed to Chicago Med for a stabbing while an attempted suicide uncovers four cases of chemo overdose, leading to an investigation that becomes personal for Voight.

This episode really shows a different side of Hank Voight. A side that you have always known was there but that was never really explored.

Chicago Med

(Photo by: NBCUniversal)

Chicago Med follows the doctors and nurses of Gaffney Chicago Medical Center. The Chicago Fire episode “I Am the Apocalypse” serves as the backdoor pilot.

For some unknown reason, Chicago Med is my least favorite of the three.

The series premiered on NBC on November 17, 2015. Chicago Med follows the emergency department doctors and nurses of the fictional Gaffney Chicago Medical Center.

The city’s most highly skilled medical team saves lives, while navigating their unique interpersonal relationships. I think this is what bothers me about the show.

There are critically ill patients laying around while characters are worrying about a date or a relationship. The two things just don’t mesh well together for me.

Favorite Actor in the series: Nick Gehlfuss who plays Dr. Will Halstead and Oliver Platt who plays Dr. Daniel Charles.

Favorite Episode: Definitely Season 2, Episode 20. An explosion at the hospital sends Chicago into chaos and the episode includes characters from all three Chicago shows working together.

Chicago Justice

Chicago Justice follows the prosecutors and investigators at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. The Chicago P.D. episode “Justice” serves as the backdoor pilot. Unfortunately Chicago Justice was cancelled.

House

House originally ran on the Fox for eight seasons, from November 16, 2004, to May 21, 2012. The series’s main character is Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), an unconventional, misanthropic medical genius who, despite his dependence on pain medication, leads a team of diagnosticians at the fictional Princeton–Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (PPTH) in New Jersey. 

House often clashes with his fellow physicians, including his own diagnostic team, because many of his hypotheses about patients’ illnesses are based on subtle or controversial insights. His flouting of hospital rules and procedures frequently leads him into conflict with his boss, hospital administrator and Dean of Medicine Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein). House’s only true friend is Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), head of the Department of Oncology.

The typical episode follows Dr. House and his team in their attempts to diagnose and treat a patient’s illness, which often fail until the patient’s condition is critical. They usually treat only patients whom other doctors have not accurately diagnosed, and House routinely rejects cases he doesn’t find interesting.

The earlier seasons are definitely the best. Towards the end some of the episodes can be called “odd” for sure.

Overview

If you are looking for some new binge watching shows, my favorite of all the shows is definitely the One Chicago shows topped by Chicago PD.

Next up I would definitely recommend Yellowstone.

Although I didn’t discuss them here, the Law & Order SVU shows are always great to binge watch. Also produced by Wolf Entertainment, SVU has been around for over 20 years and often deals with current situations in the real world.

What favorites do you have? Did you find any new shows to binge watch during 2020? Have you re-watched all of your old favorites?

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