Tag Archives: Spoilers

Friday Night Lights – “I Can’t”

“I Can’t”

January 20th, 2010

If you’re one of the people who are holding off watching Friday Night Lights until it debuts on NBC, you received good news this week: the show returns on April 30th. And I’m going to be really interested to see how viewers respond to “I Can’t” when it airs in early July, because the episode has the show headed in some potentially controversial directions in terms of both cultural and narrative taboos.

It’s perhaps no surprise that the latter are my only real concern, as the show continues to demonstrate a deft hand when dealing with sensitive subjects. However, I don’t know if the same kind of sensitivity could possibly rescue the show from itself in its other major storyline, which is creating some compelling television now but is creating far more concerns than I would like heading towards the end of the season.

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Series Premiere: V – “Pilot”

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“Pilot”

November 3rd, 2009

“Where were you this morning?”

From an overall scheduling standpoint, V’s early November debut is problematic. It forces the show into airing only four short episodes this calendar year, and it won’t return until March with the remainder of its first season. However, in terms of its arrival, it comes perhaps at the perfect time in terms of impressive this particular critic. With disillusionment with FlashForward turning into outright disinterest, there’s room for another serialized piece of mystery/science fiction programming in my life.

And while there are some issues with V’s pilot, mostly stemming from issues symptomatic of pilots more than this particular show, it manages to do what FlashForward did not. By not only providing an adrenaline-filled opening that catches the eye with sharp rhetoric and explosive imagery but then following it up by demonstrating that it has long-term social and personal consequences (that the show intends to deal with), the show maintains an expansive scenario without reducing it to a single perspective. While the arrival of the Visitors affects some individuals more than others, that interpersonal conflict is superseded by a broader cultural impact that is as much a part of the show’s identity as is any one individual’s story.

What results is a pilot that manages to be both action-packed and ideologically-driven, and the building blocks of a show which could logically remain both of these things over its run so long as behind the scenes production issues don’t get in the way.

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Who Won So You Think You Can Dance Canada Season 2?

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Who Won SYTYCD Canada Season 2?

October 25th, 2009

Since I’ve been home this year, and since it has as a result been on every Tuesday evening, I’ve been following So You Think You Can Dance Canada where I didn’t last year. What I’ve discovered is that this is a show that can be really engaging for the reasons that any dancing competition show is, but that it constantly claims to be something “different.” It’s a weird cultural superiority scenario, wherein the mosaic we like to consider ourselves part of is somehow reflected by the decision to classify genres of dance more distinctly or how what the American show is claiming as progress (Tap Dancers! Krumpers!) was already achieved this season in Canada. The judges, as I ranted about early on during the competitive rounds, are also far too nice, often failing to critique routines that deserve some sort of constructive feedback.

It’s all part of the reason why I found tonight’s finale anti-climactic, as its celebratory tone was not that different from the self-congratulation that defines the show. I don’t think the show is misplaced in thinking itself to be entertaining or valuable to the development of Canadian dance, but there’s a point where that becomes the “point” of the show. And the result is that I actually don’t think we’ve spent enough time with these contestants for me to really suggest I am invested in them, or for that matter that the show is invested in them. The finale only further cements this fact, with some strange (if not entirely unjustified) approaches that indicate once and for all that this is not a show about dance so much as it is about how Canada is so uniquely situated to host a show about dance.

And tonight, Canada picked their ambassador.

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Lost – “Follow the Leader”

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“Follow the Leader”

May 6th, 2009

There is something very jarring about “Follow the Leader,” which isn’t really that surprising. As, essentially, the season’s penultimate episode before next week’s two-hour finale, it was bound to be a transition episode, but in the second half of this season it felt like a more substantial transition than we’re used to. The show has been doing a lot more traditional episodes in the back end: Sayid, Ben, Miles and to a certain extent Faraday all had quite simple episodes that relied on the show’s old flashback structure to deliver character pieces for their individual focuses.

This week’s episode didn’t do anything even close to this, in many ways proving one of the least connective episodes in quite some time. The episode was almost entirely without a key theme, and ended with a cliffhanger that was less a huge shock than it was a subtle ramping up of tension. Episodes that only move pieces around are not that uncommon in this series or any other serial drama, but this one in particular felt really vague and distant: this isn’t to say that it was a bad episode, but rather that the big picture never really became any more focused as time went on.

If I had to draw attention to one element of the episode that perhaps explains this, I’ll point to Richard Alpert, who was the source of almost every cut between past and present. It’s no coincidence that this character unaffected by the flow of time would be the one constant in these two stories, and the one man who has always remained an unsolvable enigma that, even with a few clues dropped here and there, has never become more focused in his own right. He also sits in a unique position as it relates to the episode’s title: he’s never actually been the leader, always remaining nothing but the advisor, and it raises important questions about his role in this legacy.

And yet it doesn’t answer any of them, or really any of the questions we have: rather, it puts all the pieces into place for a finale that might get around to some of those pesky questions.

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The McNuttCast: Episode Two – The Juno Awards

mcnuttcastlogoIn this week’s first “normal” edition of The McNuttCast, we can’t entirely get away from talking Battlestar Galactica – while I had the privilege of collaborating with Devindra Hardawar and Meredith Woerner on the epic /Filmcast Series Finale discussion [LINK], the Elder McNutt didn’t get the same chance, so there’s a few minutes of BSG spoilers in here that are clearly marked.

The rest of the show, meanwhile, diversifies beyond television to the world of film, music and video games, as my readers get to see whether I actually know anything about these subjects. We discuss the genius of the Where the Wild Things Are trailer, delve into the latest release from local Canadian artist Joel Plaskett, and discuss the dominance and continued evolution of Nintendo’s current position in the video game market. And, of course, I still find time to discuss the state of NBC bubble shows, the Parks and Recreation testing “controversy” and the ratings for Dollhouse’s “Man on the Street.”

In our feature discussion, coincidentally only a day after 30 Rock made a joke about the Canadian Grammys, we discuss the biggest music-based awards show in Canada, the Juno Awards. Don’t worry, our international listeners: we contextualize our anger, and try to make sure that you don’t view the winners and nominees as representative of the best Canada has to offer.

We’re still working on getting onto iTunes (it’s our weekend project), but in the meantime you can listen and download below – full show notes are after the fold! If you have any comments or questions or suggestions of what you might want us to cover, send us an email: you can reach us through either of our sites, or by emailing us (for me, cultural.learnings @ gmail.com).

The McNuttCast: Episode Two – The Juno Awards

Download the MP3 [41m10s - 19mb]

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BSG: The Long Goodbye – Live Series Finale Discussion

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Live Series Finale Discussion

March 24th, 2009

[I figure I've done plenty of writing in regards to the Series Finale, but there's always a place for some diversification: as we continue The Long Goodbye, we have a special edition of the best darn movie podcast on the internet devoted to the subject at hand.]

While the first episode of the McNuttCast took on the series as a whole in a shortened time period, there’s always been room for a more detailed and lengthy discussion of the epic finale itself. As a result, I’m as always honoured to be joining the /Filmcast for another discussion about Battlestar Galactica – I always love being on the show, but discussing BSG is often my favourite part, primarily because it gives me a chance to pick on Dave and Adam for not having yet caught up with Devindra Hardawar and the rest of the self-respecting viewing public in watching the show. I’m always glad to be able to help facilitate these discussions with Devindra, and now with Dave and Adam banished until they finish the series we’ve got plenty of time to dig into what was an epic two-hour finale without worrying about spoiling them.

We’re going to be joined by Meredith Woerner from io9.com, and I will warn you now: I’m not sure on Meredith’s thoughts, but Devindra and I loved the finale to death, so this could well be a lovefest. The joy of live streams, though, is that some of the contrarians can come out in the chat room, so perhaps we’ll be able to get some devil’s advocates after all.

I’ll post the link to the entire show once it’s posted, or you can subcribe to the /Filmcast on iTunes, but tonight at 9 EDT you’ll be able to hear the discussion live at /Film’s Live page. And, just in case you didn’t figure this out, there will be MASSIVE spoilers for the finale and everything that came before it.

Live BSG Finale Discussion Tonight @ 9pm!

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Catharsis: Thoughts and Ruminations on HBO’s The Wire

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Thoughts and Ruminations on HBO’s The Wire

December 8th, 2008

I doubt that anyone has ever really thought about it, but I’ve been living in a state of shame since, earlier this summer, I reviewed the first two episodes of The Wire, Season One, and made the follow proclamation:

“I figured that the more people talk about what is (thus far, and by all accounts) a fantastic series the better for my readers, readers everywhere, and maybe even the show’s long-shot Emmy chances.”

That post, and a post comparing the show to The Dark Knight, were the only two times I’ve talked about The Wire on this blog. Now, this isn’t that uncommon in terms of other shows I’ve caught up on: I got through four and a half seasons of Six Feet Under without talking about it (no, I haven’t finished it yet. Maybe next summer), and until the third season started I didn’t fill you all in last summer when I caught up on How I Met Your Mother. Due to both the speed at which I burn through these episodes, and the relative age of the material, it doesn’t seem like something that is entirely necessary.

But the difference with The Wire is that it wasn’t a normal catchup session – stretched out over a number of months, experiencing The Wire for the first time was something that still hasn’t left me. While I’ve almost forgotten I’ve seen most of Six Feet Under, I can’t help but wax philosophical about The Wire at every opportunity. Those of us who have seen the series, admittedly, must sound like a broken record, but there’s a certain creed of sorts: in any discussion raising the question about television shows to recommend, or television shows that have made an impact, or television shows that deserved more awards attention, or sometimes even just television in general, The Wire is going to be our go-to suggestion.

Tonight at 9pm EST, I will be joining Dave, Devindra and Adam of the /Filmcast for a live indepth discussion of The Wire, which will be the first time that I have truly entered into a dialogue about this amazing series. [To listen in to the live podcast, click here at 9pm] Considering this I felt like, even if I don’t have the substantial back catalogue I wish I had and that could have pulled you as readers into this universe sooner, I could at least offer some brief thoughts as I (if not through watching it) revisit the Shakespearean journey that is David Simon and Ed Burns’ The Wire.

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Chuck – “Chuck vs. The Fat Lady”

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“Chuck vs. The Fat Lady”

November 17th, 2008

One of the things that Chuck has done so well in its second season is the integration of all three parts of Chuck’s life, specifically how the Buy More and Friends/Family storylines have integrated (mostly) seamlessly into the cases that dominate the rest of Chuck’s time. “Chuck vs. The Fat Lady,” in many ways, is the toughest test of this yet: reintroducing Fulcrum in a big way, the show is given the task of personalizing a group that has remained very vague and poorly defined since the show’s first episode.

But, proving once again that it’s absolutely on the right path this season, the show demonstrates with a deft hand how it is able to personalize that which could seem impersonal, and familiarize storylines which could have felt even more diversionary. Capture under the theme of surveillance, the episode provides ample pleasures on every level: charactertization, eye candy, plot development and John Casey demonstrating his ability to hit a High C with only his pristine voice.

And that’s just fantastic stuff, there.

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Project Runway Season Five – “Episode Ten”

“Welcome to the Real World”

September 17th, 2008

There’s something very scary about the transition between university and the real world – and while I am perhaps not convinced that a total fashion makeover will really alter this difficult period, it’s a start for these young, independent women. Although, considering that their mothers are still dictating what they should look like, I’ll perhaps challenge the “independent” element of that classification.

What we end up with is designers who need to learn some serious lessons about a lot of things, primarily dealing with the question of where to take this challenge: are you making them over for their career? Giving them a high fashion version of their existing style? Or trying to convince them that they REALLY want what you are looking for?

The end result is the usual things which happen when parents and clients who have opinions get involved: some people please their clients and the judges, but most please the clients and leave the judges questioning what, precisely, they were thinking. Of course, the one person who manages to do neither is the one who finds themselves heading home.

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Cultural Reflections on Comic Con 2008

While I’m genuinely addicted to Twitter most of the time, being away over the weekend and thus mostly away from my Twitter account was a good thing. Many of the people I follow, most of which I’ve met through some great times at the /Filmcast, were lucky enough to be out in San Diego, California for the biggest event in geekdom: Comic Con. My jealousy knows no bounds, as it sounds like an extremely exciting event that covers the gamut of entertainment.

Once mostly a haven for comic book adaptations and the like, the convention has taken on new life as pretty much “Any show that has fans on the internet or any kind of fantastical elements” when it comes to television presence. So this includes a show like The Big Bang Theory, which embraces its geek sensibilities on a regular basis, and a show like Prison Break that is really just there treating it as a fan convention in general terms. I won’t attempt to make an argument for the exclusion of such shows, though, because for the most part the convention has taken on a life of its own…and that life has brought a lot of new TV news to our attention.

Heroes

NBC’s highest rated drama series came to Comic Con with a devoted fan base to satisfy and a lot to prove to critical people like me who thought the second season was almost completely garbage. Perhaps realizing this task, they decided to placate both crowds and actually show the entire Season Three premiere. Now, some have commented that a show like Lost didn’t do anything similar (I’ll get to them in a minute), but Heroes has the added bonus of having started filming Season Three extremely early after NBC cut the second season short, so they’re in a unique position.

While I’m not reading the detailed recaps like Adam Quigley’s over at /Film or Dave3′s over at GeeksofDoom to avoid spoilers, there’s been positive word of mouth that this is, at least, better than last season’s entry (And perhaps better than the show’s pilot, which was kind of weak). I remain skeptical of Kring as a showrunner, though, and what I read of Adam’s review tends to indicate that the annoying dialogue and the tendency to delve into pointless subplots have not disappeared even as the quality elsewhere ramps up. Still, it’s a smart move to please both fans and critics alike, and once the pilot hits in September I’ll judge for myself whether they’ve got the quality to back it up.

Lost

While the lack of real Season Five footage (It doesn’t premiere for another 7 months, realistically) is certainly a bit of a downer, what Lost brings to the table is its usual blend of intrigue and mystery. While they weren’t there with new footage, they did have a new Orientation style video that seems a bit different. Although the YouTube link below is off a screen, it still seems to be higher quality than what we’ve used to. After the jump, I’ll go into some discussion on why this video has a LOT of ramifications (And is infinitely more interesting than an episode of Heroes).

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