March 22nd, 2010
Last week, Kelli Marshall noted that I had never reviewed a single episode of United States of Tara, Showtime’s comedy series which debuted last year and which won Toni Colette a much-deserved Emmy award in September. This seemed surprising to me, considering that I had quite enjoyed the series upon its debut and had found its first season pretty uniformly solid. I am still not entirely sure why I never took the time to review any individual episodes of the show, but I can at least confirm that it had nothing to do with the quality of the series.
What I’ve always liked about the show is that it isn’t afraid to take its protagonist to some dark and disturbing places: while the show is ostensibly labeled as a comedy, it knows that the same premise (Tara’s multiple personalities) which begets that comedy is just as capable of swinging to the side of dramatic, and so T’s promiscuity goes from humorous to tragic, and Buck can conversely swing from embarrassing to oddly comforting. The show does not have separate spheres of comedy and drama, but rather different circumstances wherein its premise shifts to meet the needs of the story.
Based on the season premiere, it’s clear that that Diablo Cody and company are very aware of the delicate balance the show requires, and so you have what is effectively a dramatic premiere where comedy and drama (mostly) come from the same place of uncertainty and insecurity, setting the show up for an intriguing sophomore season that will, hopefully, find more space in the blog rotation.
A while back, I noted how the Writers Strike finally showed one of its benefits when CTV picked up Mad Men for Canadian broadcast: it was a move that probably wouldn’t have happened if not for a lack of new programming, and it was vindicated by the series’ Golden Globes victory. Now, however, an entirely different sort of benefit has popped up that has big ramifications for the little series that could.
Sci-Fi Network announced today that they have picked up the rights to air the first two seasons of Jericho, starting with a four-hour marathon on February 11th, the day before the series’ new episodes air on CBS. When the series was first canceled, many fans threw out Sci-Fi as a potential alternate home for the series, and now this will become at least partially true. More importantly, however, it also sets an important precedent.
While I don’t want to create rumors with really nothing but speculation to fuel them, this provides a parachute of sorts should Jericho fail to get the ratings CBS is looking for. I don’t want to presume its failure, but it’s always nice to acknowledge a contingency plan – by already establishing this relationship with the Sci-Fi network, there is a greater likelihood that they could pick up the show for a third season.
Since I’ve got these put together, I figure I’d keep the content coming for the new year – It sets a nice precedent, after all. This is a piece that is really part of a series of larger rants I have regarding the second season of the show in question, but I’ll forget my concerns for a moment and focus more on the series’ intriguing future. Check back for #3 tomorrow, and the Top Two will follow over the weekend.
There has been a lot of talk about Dexter’s second season, and due to time constraints and an unfortunate inability to be able to watch the series live I wasn’t able to review it as often as I would have liked. Oddly, I remain somewhat ambivalent towards the series, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I love Michael C. Hall’s performance, the concept of the series is as strong as ever, and there was a great deal of potential realized this season with a blistering series of episodes in the latter half of the season that were amongst the best on television this year.
And yet, every week I would watch Dexter on a strange schedule: I didn’t desperately watch it the second I had time, but would really only do so when I became bored. It sat unwatched for quite some time, and only when the action truly ratcheted up did I begin to actually anticipated what would happen next. I never stopped liking the series, but I can firmly say that I wasn’t loving what I was watching.
Despite these reservations, however, Dexter is most certainly on Cultural Learnings’ list of Series to (Hopefully) watch in 2008. Not only is it a potential strike replacement strategy for CBS, who plans to repurpose episodes by editing them for network audiences, but it is also at a creative crossroads heading into a third season with something to prove.