Thursday Night TV Club – February 22nd, 2007

 

The Office

I gasped. When Pam told Roy that she had kissed Jim a month before their wedding date, I gasped. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the episode was one built almost entirely around drama, really quite simple drama at that. Much like Joss Whedon worked for last week’s action/vampire oriented episode, Abrams worked well for this episode that was all about the drama caused by two budding relationships (Jan/Michael, Pam/Roy). At episode’s end, Roy went batshit crazy (Which was a bit sudden considering his recent character change, but his sobering down at the end at least put his moment of anger into perspective), and Michael and Jan find themselves at a crossroads where their secret relationship doesn’t work so well going public. It was a good episode, though, even though it focused almost entirely on the dramatic aspects. 

Scrubs

Scrubs continues to settle in around the good but not great area. There is still some solid comedy here, but it just seems like it isn’t going anywhere. J.D. is lacking a purpose, Turk and Carla are lacking drama, Eliot is lacking any real spark with Keith, and even Dr. Cox has lost any sort of drive. It’s really not much more than any multi-camera sitcom at this point; heck, I’d say it has even less of an overarching plot than a show like How I Met My Mother. Still, it has some fairly good jokes here and there, and it’s certainly still enjoyable to see these characters interact. I like recurring patients on the show, and Brian works well, but it just isn’t giving us anything new. 

30 Rock

“I would like to be Michelle Pfeiffer to your angry black kid,” “I want to take this cornbread behind the middle school and get it pregnant,” and Kenneth and Tracy harmonizing to Annie: all in the cold open to tonight’s 30 Rock. The fact that the episode’s writer, Matt Hubbard, came from Joey of all places shocks me, because it was very sharply written. Kenneth as the awkward Entourage member who stirs up the shit, Liz and Jack v. Josh and Agent, Jenna and her unfortunate political knowledge (The ol’ Osama/Obama slip. If it can happen to CNN, it can happen to everyone)…it was all pretty much amazing. Oh so much drama, oh so many cultural references…the fact that this show is in danger of being cancelled hurts me. It hurts me deep. “Television on. PORNOGRAPHY!” The entire thing was an incredibly well orchestrated piece of comedy, right down to the Bodyguard moment to end the episode.

 

The O.C.

In a show that was often about relationships, about the connections between two people, it was somewhat refreshing to see a finale that was more about individual characters than it was about Seth/Summer, Ryan/Taylor or Julie/Frank or Bullit. It wasn’t about these pairings, but rather the individuals at their centre. In the end, Ryan is happy, Seth is happy, Summer is happy, Julie is happy. Sandy and Kirsten are happy, connected as a unit, with a new daughter in tow.

Flashing forward six months skips what would have been unnecessary drama. While I thought that they turned Taylor into a bit too much of a spazz compared to the past few weeks, the fact of the matter is that it all makes sense. In the wake of the Earthquake, everyone looked to settle for what seemed easiest. Taylor and Ryan abandoned their relationship, Seth and Summer gave up on their passions, Kirsten settled on Newport as their home, Sandy settled his dreams, Julie settled on Bullit.

The episode, more than about creating happy endings, was about creating happiness for each individual character. It was about fixing the problems that caused as the earth, and the characters, settled after the Earthquake, not about fixing all of their problems in one fell swoop. Sure, there were the occasional contrivances designed to make everything sugary, but they were plot-based only; the characters reached natural, relevant conclusions.

I didn’t say much in my obituary piece about how I really felt about the show’s quality. The fact is that I didn’t pay much attention to the 3rd season, I stopped watching during the whole Johnny saga. And yet, I tuned into Season Four, and continued watching. I liked the addition of Taylor, and the character of Kaitlin was a pleasant surprise. Bullit was grating at first, but he grew ever so charming in the end. Season Four saw Ryan become more emotional (and funnier), and gave Summer a purpose she hadn’t had before.

Whether it was perfect or not, I think Season Four did a great job of leading us to a conclusion that was satisfactory. It’s tough to really complain with any of the conclusions found within the episode; we see Ryan as a successful architect, Sandy as a professor, Seth and Summer marrying, Taylor and Ryan’s relationship remaining ambiguous but friendly, Julie graduating from college (Bullit/Frank & Son/Kaitlin on Team Julie was incredibly powerful for the character’s trip from trailer park to Newport), and Ryan offering assistance to yet another hoodie-wearing youth on the streets.

Schwartz kept the nostalgia for the end, spending the rest of the episode on personal revelations in the present. That nostalgia was all through Ryan, his trip through the Cohen household for the first time intercut with his last. However, perhaps most importantly, the use of Marissa’s character was incredibly well handled. The locket with her picture was subtle, not overbearing, and her appearance in Ryan’s memory was brief, poignant. While I believe that her death was positive for the show, her importance to its narrative can’t be ignored.

So, a toast to Josh Schwartz and company for a job well done. You’ve left these characters in an existence where they seem happy, fulfilled. Yeah, Seth didn’t really get a real purpose and some things came together all too easily, but it was fulfilling. Much like Alias, which may not have ended perfectly but left its characters in the right place, so too has Ryan and the Cohens and everyone else found their happy place in TV Heaven. Things will never be the same for hoodie-wearing young offenders of future generations.

American Idol – Top 24 Results

Did anyone else find this to be one of the most awkward results shows in the show’s history? The first person is standing alone at the end of the stage and is told, point blank, that he’s going home, even before Ryan reads the judges’ comments. The second person is picked at random out of the lower line and unceremoniously told she’s going home. There is no time to collect her thoughts, no time to truly deal with the reality that her dreams are over. The second set of eliminations weren’t nearly as frustrating, and we got a video package for all of them at the end, but it still came off as more awkward than it needed to be. (Although that was quite the incestual choice of Chris Daughtry’s “Home” as the song played for the eliminated contestants (Paul, Nicole, Amy, Rudy).

The actual selections aren’t really all that surprising, as boring always loses out to crappy at this stage of the competition. Antonella and Sundance, arguably some of the worst on either side, both had substantial coverage in the earlier auditions; they might have sucked, but they were people that could build fanbases and the like.

The episode itself moved almost too quickly, which is always surprising considering its length. With four eliminations, a special performance from The Colour Purple by Fantasia (She seems well suited to the material, I’d say), the return of the Group Sing (Which wasn’t half bad) and gratuitous recaps, things moved quite briskly. I have to wonder, however, whether or not something a bit slower paced and, dare I say, respectful might be perhaps more entertaining in the end.

Grey’s Anatomy – Some Kind of Miracle

Shonda Rhimes may not be the best writer working in television right now, but she is fantastic at scripting and organizing these event episodes. The same sensibilities which made the two-episode Super Bowl arc last season work so well were in place here; it made for television which changed its characters, had great relevance to the show’s overall themes, and extending the show’s mythology that much further.

The return of Denny, Kyle Chandler’s bomb squad guy, Bonnie and Ellis’ scrub nurse was a strong use of the show’s history to increase emotional relevance. Meredith is a character who has never really been the most sympathetic, and often it seems like the show expects us to care about her in a way that we simply don’t. Here, I felt they did enough to make us care because of what it would do to Christina, to Derek, to Izzy, to George, to Bailey, to everyone. Meredith, for whatever reason, is important to them.

However good the episode was, though, I can’t help but feel that Ellis Grey’s death wasn’t as resonant as it could have been. It seems like she died only to save her daughter, and I guess perhaps she deserved somewhat more than that in my eyes. Still, it was a good time for her to go, as it holds positive consequences for both Meredith and Richard. I guess that I felt her death was more important than Denny and Meredith’s relationship; I know Shonda loves her some Denny, but I don’t know how important he is to anything but Izzy at this point. It was all well-handled, though.

1 Comment

Filed under American Idol, Grey's Anatomy, Television, The O.C., The Office

One response to “Thursday Night TV Club – February 22nd, 2007

  1. Pingback: Cultural News Bytes - February 23rd « Cultural Learnings

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