Tag Archives: Anne Dudek

How I Met Your Mother – “Say Cheese”

“Say Cheese”

March 22nd, 2010

I often write in my reviews of the Big Bang Theory that I feel the show needs to spend more time showing me why its central characters are still friends: Sheldon has done enough mean things, and been the recipient of enough poor treatment, that the dynamics of their friendship have more or less been reduced to “because they make a good sitcom cast on good days.”

By comparison, I rarely question the dynamics of the central five characters on How I Met Your Mother, but “Say Cheese” wants me to interrogate why these people are still friends. In the process, the episode takes both Lily and Ted to some unfortunate places, showing sides of their characters which make them seem quite unpleasant.

However, while the Big Bang Theory doesn’t have to resolve its tensions since it will simply ignore the events of one week’s episode in the next, How I Met Your Mother is all about continuity, and by the end of “Say Cheese” they find a way to turn Ted and Lily acting like jerks into a healthy investigation of what it means to be friends. That doesn’t mean it’s a particularly strong or enjoyable episode of the show, but it’s another sign that even some unfortunate premises can be improved when the core values of a show and its cast dynamics are there to keep you watching.

Continue reading

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under How I Met Your Mother

Mad Men – “Souvenir”

madmen2

“Souvenir”

October 4th, 2009

“But I already did it…it’s over!”

As far as Mad Men episodes go, “Souvenir” was almost obnoxiously low impact. This isn’t to say that the episode was bad, or even uninteresting: rather, instead of seeming like an episode where things are languishing at a slow pace, there are some pretty substantial events (an affair, a trip to Rome) that happen so quickly and naturally in the episode that you almost miss the moment when they go from an innocent fantasy to something entirely different.

There’s a little throwaway line in the episode when we meet up with Joan, when we learn that Greg is searching for a new discipline, psychiatry in particular. The entire episode is essentially one giant lesson in the effects of loneliness, as our our resident emotional (Betty) and emotionless (Pete) protagonists take a leap of faith or two in an effort to find themselves. The result is an intriguing investigation of the summer vacation, albeit from a perspective that doesn’t precisely play to the show’s strengths.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Mad Men

Season Finale: House – “Both Sides Now”

housetitle

“Both Sides Now”

May 11th, 2009

You will notice that this is only one of a handful of times that I’ve blogged about House all season. The reasons for that are really quite simple: the show has done very little to compel me to watch it, yet alone write about it, and the longer the season wears on the more weary I become of some of its formula. I wrote about the biggest moment of the season, Kutner’s suicide, but even then it was in an admittedly negative tone: the show is so averse to change, House always being House and the formula always being the same, that any chance to fundamentally change the series always feels like a missed opportunity once you’re a few episodes out.

But the show loves doing season finales, as demonstrated in “Both Sides Now” where we make a ‘shocking’ discovery about the events in last week’s penultimate episode, which featured the long-anticipated (by some) House/Cuddy hookup and more of the return of Anne Dudek as Amber. I love Anne Dudek, and I enjoy the tension between House and Cuddy, but the episode didn’t really do much for me in the end, outside of providing Hugh Laurie with his Emmy reel.

Hopefully, the Emmy voters don’t see the finale which, although containing perhaps the most interesting “case” of the season, felt like more manipulation for the sake of manipulation.

Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under House

The 2008 Television Time Capsule: House – “Wilson’s Heart”

timecapsulehouse

“Wilson’s Heart”

Season Four, Episode Sixteen

Airdate: May 18th, 2008

House’s fourth season was a needed shakeup of its formula, and presented some of its strongest comedy ever in its opening reality show-esque hunt for a set of new fellows to play sounding board for House’s eccentricities. But the emerging fellows also brought the introduction of Amber, also known as Cutthroat Bitch and, by season’s end, the emotional lynchpin for one of the most powerful episodes in the series.

While some may prefer the loud and dangerous “House’s Head,” focused more on the doctor’s internal struggle to remember the events of the bus crash through dangerous drugs and procedures, “Wilson’s Heart” is where the storyline truly comes together. Learning that it was Amber on that bus raised the stakes considerably, and while the first part of the finale (“Head”) gains greater meaning with this revelation I nonetheless cared less about House (who was tragically partly responsible) than I did about Wilson, who had to bear the brunt of the consequences of his friend’s actions.

While Season Five’s attempts at pairing House and Cuddy have felt similarly broad as something meaningful to the show’s emotional core, like House’s flashback to his injury in “Three Stories,” this episode felt the most tapped into something bigger than the show’s procedural construct. Robert Sean Leonard is often given too little to do on this show, with the focus being divided as it is, but he is fantastic here as a grieving boyfriend and, eventually, a friend who blames House for her death.

The episode is also a goodbye for Anne Dudek’s “CTB,” who may have been too much a female version of House to be his fellow but was too delightful a character to abandon entirely. While the winning fellows may have “won,” added as series regulars and all, Dudek got the most material by far: she was robbed of an Emmy nomination for some great work in this episode (and others), but her emotional farewell was nonetheless one of the show’s highlights through four seasons.

“Wilson’s Heart” is somewhat tainted by the fact that the show has more or less abandoned its ramifications halfway into its fifth season, but let its inclusion in the Time Capsule serve as a reminder for the writers: this is how you craft a storyline where we care about the characters and their consequences, not through giving a boring bisexual doctor a terminal illness and having her flaunt it for everyone to see. That’s not tragic, it’s just surprisingly boring for such destructive behaviour, and at the end of the day the show needs to tap into what they had with Amber before Thirteen can feel like something we should care about.

Let’s hope they listen.

Related Posts at Cultural Learnings

[For more details on the Cultural Learnings 2008 Television Time Capsule, click here!]

Leave a comment

Filed under 2008 Television Time Capsule

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Dissecting the 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Nominations

Emmy nomination morning is kind of like Christmas morning – you’re all excited about it as it approaches, wary of the potential surprises and the like, etc. But, unlike Christmas that ends in the complete elimination of suspense, the Emmy Awards are the start of a whole new game. In this case, not only do we react to what just happened (The good, the bad and the ugly of it) but also to what will happen in September when somebody in each of these categories has to win one of the darn things.

For now, it’s time to take a look at the big stories out of this morning’s nominations (You can check out the fill list here).

30 Rock Domination

The Good: With a ridiculous 17 nominations, 30 Rock is the most nominated series at the awards. This includes nods for the series itself, Alec Baldwin, and Tina Fey, along with two writing and one directing nomination for the series, along with well deserved guest acting noms for Elaine Stritch, Edie Falco, Carrie Fisher, Will Arnett and Rip Torn.

The Bad: The rather unfortunate snubs of Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer sting a little bit, but they had tough races and this isn’t too much of a surpise.

The Ugly: Steve Buscemi and Tim Conway do not deserve guest acting nominations for this show – Buscemi was great, but he was barely in the episode, while Conway coasted on his past success with a role that never fit into the episode. Matthew Broderick, Dean Winters and David Schwimmer all did considerably better work on the series, and that they are not represented here is extremely unfortunate.

Lost is Back in the Race

The Good: In perhaps my favourite news of the ceremony, a bump to six nominees in the Drama Series category sees Lost make it into the fray ahead of Grey’s Anatomy, securing its first nomination in the category since its first season. Michael Emerson also grabbed a Supporting Actor nomination, as expected, while I’m extremely pleased to see Michael Giacchino pick up a nod for his great composing for “The Constant.”

The Bad: Still a bit annoyed that so few other supporting players were eligible for the major awards, so it’s a bit disheartening to see most of the show’s nominations coming from sound editing, mixing, editing, etc. when the cast is so deserving.

The Ugly: Despite getting the show nominated for an Emmy, no room is found for “The Constant” in writing or directing categories; the latter isn’t too disappointing, but the former is a bit more surprising and disheartens me as to Lost’s chances in the major categories.

Pushing Daisies Blooms…and Busts

The Good: Announcing the nominees was good luck for the ever charming Kristin Chenoweth, who along with co-star Lee Pace picked up an acting nomination to go with the series numerous technical, writing and directing awards resulting in the third highest total with 12 nominations.

The Bad: Unfortunately, they weren’t joined by their co-star Chi McBride, who really should have made the Supporting Acting Top 10.

The Ugly: And yet, despite all of this, the show failed to net a nomination for Best Comedy Series, an omission that just doesn’t make any sense. I will rant about who I think should have gotten the boot in a moment, but this is an oversight that will haunt the Emmys for a long time in my books, and is surprising considering both Pace and Chenoweth making their respective races.

Damages Gets it Right

The Good: So much, mainly the fantastic inclusion of Zejlko Ivanek in the Supporting Actor race, is right with this picture. Along with Ted Danson, they are a strong force in that category, and they’re joined by Glenn Close in the Best Actress race, and writing/directing/series nominations for the fantastic pilot.

The Bad: While it’s not quite what I’d call a bad thing, it’s a big surprise to see Rose Byrne snubbed in Supporting Actress Drama. Mind you, I was never a fan of her performance so I would personally not put her into the category, but that Emmy voters didn’t is surprising.

The Ugly: Not much, to be honest – while I felt the series fell apart at the end, the nominated performers and the Pilot were both great, so I’m content with this performance.

The Rise and Fall of The Office

The Good: Rainn Wilson and Steve Carell return to the nominations circle along with their series this year, including a number of directing and writing nominations for the uneven but very solid fourth season.

The Bad: Amy Ryan, fantastic in the finale “Goodbye, Toby” gets snubbed for her great turn in the episode, joining Sarah Chalke as examples of Emmy voters ignoring great performances from younger female competitors in favour of older ones (With Sarah Silverman being the only youth candidate, and a kind of annoying one).

The Ugly: Jenna Fischer, deserving of a win last year, doesn’t even break into Supporting Actress Comedy this year, and John Krasinski literally has his spot stolen away in Supporting Actor. Apparently the love for Jam at the Academy is limited, which is unfortunate as they both do great work.

Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Emmy Awards

60th Primetime Emmy Awards Preview: Nominations Predictions for The “Other” Awards

When people predict the Emmy Awards, they predict the big awards: the ones with names we recognize, the ones that we’ll see on TV, and the ones that we’ll remember when the show is over. However, there are dozens of Emmy Awards given out each year, and when the nominees are announced Emmy fantatics like me will be poring over the epic list looking not just for the usual suspects but rather some of the trends that emerge elsewhere.

And it’s really a question of trends more than individual categories – I can’t possibly predict a category like Best Direction in a Comedy Series, but I can tell you who is likely to be kicking around and what kind of shows will perform well in the category. It’s one last bit of Emmy coverage before we head into tomorrow, where I’ll have live coverage of the nominations themselves followed by the full list of nominees and full analysis of how things went down. In the meantime, let’s discuss the “Other” awards, ranging from writing to directing, guest acting to individual performance, and everything in between.

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series

Trend: The category is usually used to represent the best in episodic television along with the year’s standout pilots. It’s considered one of the best categories, mainly because of said high quality.

Changes: Unlike last year, there’s no show that is going to dominate with a large number of episodes in the tradition of The Sopranos – only Mad Men has a chance at that.

Watch for: Lost’s “The Constant” seems like a lock unless something goes hideously wrong (Even last year, with the show snubbed, they won a nomination for “Through the Looking Glass,” while the Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Damages pilots might represent new series on the list.

Repeat Offenders: Ronald D. Moore was a surprise nominee for Battlestar Galactica last year, so he could be back. Meanwhile, since three Sopranos episodes made the cut last year, there’s room for some returns – David Simon is likely back in the race for the finale of The Wire, for example.

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series

Trend: A huge, expansive category representing quality drama pilots and standout segments of established series.

Changes: We don’t know if we’ll see yet another seven nomination kudos list, but if we do it means more of the same from the Academy.

Watch for: In terms of the year’s pilots, it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll see cinematic Damages and intoxicating Mad Men on this list (Alan Taylor, who directed the Mad Men pilot, won for The Sopranos last year). As far as other series go, expect Lost’s Jack Bender to pop up again.

Repeat Offenders: Battlestar Galactica could see another nomination here, but Heroes and Friday Night Lights are likely both going to miss the cut. There could be other series, however, that would be more than willing to step in and fill the gap (The Wire and Dexter, in particular).

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Emmy Awards

Season Finale – House – “Wilson’s Heart”

“Wilson’s Heart”

May 19th, 2008

Last week, I thought House was style over substance for 55 minutes before, in the final moments, it transcended into something more interesting – suddenly, a rather pointless and indulgent episode took an intensely personal turn, and “Wilson’s Heart” had a lot more dramatic resonance by default. Placing Amber in danger is actually an incredibly smart move, mainly because we really don’t know what will happen.

Anne Dudek has been enough of a revelation as Cutthroat Bitch that keeping her in the cast could be a theoretical option, or at least keeping her alive long enough for her to appear as a recurring character. At the same time, this episode in particular did a great job of escalating tension to the point where Amber’s death could fundamentally change these characters enough to justify the whole selection process that resulted in three new cast members in the first place.

The result is a finale far less interesting or eventful as last week’s finale, but a hell of a lot more tension-filled, and with a lot more dramatic interest – I didn’t really care about House’s head games last week, but this is the most that I’ve cared about a patient on the show in forever. And in a procedural show that is too often self-centered on House, it was great to see a final hour that barely even dealt with his head in favour of Wilson, 13, and more people who really needed their time in the sun.

Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under House