The Big C is a tough show. It’s always been a tough show. It is a show about a woman with cancer learning to live her life through that lens. People die on this show. Not because of something supernatural or even un-natural (such as murder), but because they get sick and they die. That is heavy, heavy stuff. That the show was able to explore all of this heavy stuff with a sense of humor (gallows humor most of the time, but still) is miraculous and beautiful. But this latest installment, The Big C: Hereafter – what Showtime is calling a “limited series event” – is something else entirely. Because it’s not about a woman living with cancer, it is about a woman actively dying of cancer. And it is sad. And it is stunning. And it is compassionate. And I believe that it is some of the most revolutionary television I’ve ever seen. Continue reading
I would like to present this music video without comment, because it’s so awesome, it does not need any superfluous words of appreciation.
Last night’s episode of Glee is pretty much the reason why I’m so ambivalent about this show. There were 10 minutes in there that were actually pretty good and moving and affecting. But it was 10 minutes that didn’t really belong to the show. It felt like 10 minutes that could have been plucked out and put into another, better show about teenagers and worked. But Glee has lost all good will with me, so instead of being affected or moved, I was just annoyed that the show was trying so hard.
If Glee weren’t made up of a bunch of caricatures who were more concerned with their racist cats than their boyfriends; If the show didn’t have an “issue of the week” mentality; If the earnestness felt earned and true rather than cloying; If the writers hadn’t worked so hard to create an admirable portrayal of a teenager with Down Syndrome only to pull the rug out from under that portrayal for no real reason except shock value; If Glee was a better, different show, they could have made this episode mean something. As it stands, they basically shoehorned a “shocking” event in the middle of more ridiculousness and the whole thing failed in my opinion. This doesn’t even take into consideration the WTF of Bieste suddenly wanting to get with Will and the stupid “catfishing” of Ryder plot.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this show should stop with the earnest, cloying, “lesson of the week” structure and just focus on being about wild, well-rounded characters who burst through stereotypes and cliches to feel real. Except that this show will never be that. That would make too much sense.
This article by Maureen Ryan has been passed around by every TV lover I know today and is a definite must read. I find the changing TV landscape to be one of the most fascinating things going on in the business world these days. If I could go back to school, I would study the television business model and how it’s changed and adapted (or not) over time. Happy Endings is definitely one of my favorite comedies on TV right now and I would be bereft if it disappeared because it’s not well suited to ABC (which is just the truth) so I’m very hopeful that if ABC decides to get rid of it, a cable network will pick it up. Its worked for Cougartown (another one of my favs that ABC threw away).
Ryan’s article makes some great points about why a show like Happy Endings is flailing – time slot changes, the way that ratings are reported, the fast-paced pop culture references – but I really think that it comes down to the whole Network vs Cable debate. There are just too many channels producing original material and so much of it is actually worth watching that shows that are even a little less than mainstream tend to just get sucked into the ether of the big 4 networks. I’ve become more and more picky about the shows that I devote my time to and this is the biggest reason why. Happy Endings would be great on cable where it can push the limits creatively a little bit and may not have to deal with the spotlight of being on a big network. When a show isn’t required to “save” a network, it tends to feel more comfortable in its own skin.
I was a bit reluctant to add Hannibal to my DVR this season. For some reason it felt like so many other failed shows that we’ve seen come and go – Supposedly prestigious, but not long for this world. The tone and look of the previews made me think a lot of Awake for some reason. I loved Awake and thought it was an amazingly inventive show for network television and was pretty disappointed when NBC didn’t follow through on that gamble by letting it grow a little bit. I am worried because here we are again with an elegant, intelligent, thoughtful, inventive show on NBC – shall we place bets on when they screw it up?
After a super long hiatus caused by my lack of technical skill and some really mean hackers, my site is back online – just in time for upfronts next month! I haven’t stopped watching TV, but I have definitely pulled back a bit which has been kind of interesting. I’ve had to really cut out the fat and I’m left with a crop of shows that are the best of the best (in my opinion). I’ll be posting more very soon!
I liked the first season of Homeland. It was a tense thriller with a strong (meaning well-defined) female character at its center starring one of my favorite actresses – what’s not to like? It definitely had moments of surprise, but for the most part, the plot seemed to sort of chug along to inevitable conclusions – No one believed Carrie about hero Brody’s involvement with a terrorist, Brody does not go through with the bombing of the Vice President et al, Brody still looks like a hero and Carrie gets locked away in the loony bin. These endings felt set up from the beginning. But all of that left me wondering where the show was going to go during its second season. I find that character based shows can often go on indefinitely because you can always put your character in new situations to react to. But Homeland, while it has great characters, wasn’t really a character based story in its first season. It was the story of a C.I.A. Agent trying to take down a spy and capture a terrorist. From the outside, it appeared to be plot driven – but don’t tell the Homeland writers that.
Last night, Homeland basically blew up its main plot! After finally being proven right about Brody’s nefarious intentions, Carrie and Saul set up a new surveillance (welcome back Virgil & Max!) to see if they could ferret out his handler and build a case against Nazir. However, after “bumping into” Brody and then having one drink with him, Carrie brazenly called him out as being a spy and took him into custody. WHAT!?!? I don’t think I was ever necessarily bored with Homeland, but I certainly had become complacent to its awesomeness and the end of last night’s episode ripped me right out of my comfort zone. Homeland just threw the rule book out of the window. It proved that taking risks and subverting an audiences expectations just draws them in even more. I cannot wait to see how the writers get themselves out of the corner they’ve painted themselves into. For the first time in a long time, I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see what’s going to happen next.
P.S. What’s going on with Brody’s daughter Dana and the Vice President’s son, Finn? I mean, I know what’s going on – they’re being totally adorable and teenagery and awesome – but in the grand scheme of things, how will it fit in? One of my absolute favorite relationships on this show is the one between Brody and Dana. They have a great connection and a great honesty between them that is really refreshing. But she trusts her dad a little too much and is bound for some great big hurt and that makes me really sad. It also makes me think that her relationship with Finn is more than just a cute aside. Am I being too conspiracy theorist?
I know, I know. It’s weird that I still watch CSI:NY. I mean out of all of CBS’ procedurals, it’s probably the most routine, the most bland and the least fun. But, it’s Friday, I needed something to have on in the background and this is what was available to me. I knew that the episode was going to be different and highlight songs from Green Day’s latest album(s) but the first 30 minutes were completely without dialogue and completely lame. Sure they played 3 GreenDay songs, but the sound effects of people running or crowd noises were too loud and distracting and the songs didn’t really connect at all to the plot. On top of that, they didn’t only use Green Day music during the “silences”, there was background Muzak during those songs. The lack of dialogue was just stupid and pointless. I’m all for different methods of storytelling – Buffy the Vampire Slayer did a brilliant dialogue-less episode – and I get that after so many stale seasons a show like CSI:NY would want to change things up, but it needs to make sense. What they did was just a gimmick and it did not work at all.
How good was last night’s episode of The Vampire Diaries? I know some people aren’t fans of the fact that Elena is now a vampire, but let’s be honest, it was bound to happen sometime. I really appreciate the fact that the writers took the chance and made her a vampire this early in the series. (Especially if it means we’ll eventually see a Katherine/Elena show down – I know, Katherine is older therefore technically stronger, but Elena has love on her side. . . oh who am I kidding, Katherine would kick her ass. I still want to see the fight though.) Last night’s episode proved that this was a really great decision. Making Elena a vampire has made it necessary to put the love triangle on hold for the moment, has given Damon and Stefan a new way to have the same philosophical disagreement about what it means to be a vampire (Stefan wants to get Elena started on an all-animal diet immediately, Damon thinks she needs vampire food AKA human blood from the vein in order to survive), Caroline is no longer the baby vampire on the block so it gives her a chance to take the lead instead of always being in Elena’s shadow, and it has given Bonnie and Jeremy a chance to make googly eyes at each other again which makes me very happy. Continue reading
Today NBC officially cancelled Animal Practice, but I cut it out of my DVR schedule two weeks ago. Not only was it painfully not funny, but it was making me start to dislike two actors whom I normally like very much: JoAnna Garcia Swisher and Justin Kirk. They deserve better. Over the years I’ve learned the difference between giving new shows a chance and watching them despite the fact that I hate them. So, after one episode Made in Jersey got the boot (both on my personal DVR and the CBS schedule) because it was just atrocious. I tried to stick with Mob Doctor (another show that I was watching mostly due to the likability of Jordana Spiro and Zach Gilford) but after three episodes of crappy mob stories combined with even crappier cases of the week, I just couldn’t anymore. Other shows that were swings and misses for me: 666 Park Avenue (which I found SO boring and slow), Emily Owens M.D. (which makes me so sad because Mamie Gummer is so great whenever she guests on The Good Wife but this show is no good), Revolution (which may have suffered for not having ANY actors that I wanted to watch and definitely suffered under the weight of Tracy Spiridakos’ bad acting) and (though I’m still watching because I’m pretty convinced it’s going to be canceled sooner rather than later and I want to get all the man-candy in while I can) Chicago Fire is just a glorified rip off of Third Watch which wasn’t great to begin with. Continue reading