Discussing the Fall Premieres at Antenna
September 22nd, 2010
While I will be reviewing a number of new series here at the blog, admittedly I will not be offering my comments on some of the pilots I watch which I feel that those critics with screeners have already done justice ahead of time: if there’s no further substance for me to add, offering my opinion in the form of a lengthy critical review just isn’t a valuable use of my time.
However, many of those pilots lend themselves to short bursts of academic analysis, which is the purpose of the project which starts today at Antenna (the media and culture blog based in the Communication Arts department here at University of Wisconsin-Madison, which I discussed last week). A collection of scholars will offer their individual perspectives on a number of pilots, resulting in a wide range of responses to every new series debuting on network television (cable will likely be dealt with separately once the network madness concludes). The responses range from the snarky to the philosophical, which is a nice balance for addressing the combination of potential and horror which usually defines pilot season.
I’ll likely be offering thoughts on a number of shows (I’ve volunteered to fill in the gaps, more or less) as the week progresses, but I’m most looking forward to reading what so many others have to say (especially when many of them, unlike myself, do not write publicly that often).
So, check out the links below – each post will be updating throughout the week as new shows premiere, so keep checking back for updates (I’ll be tweeting them regularly, especially if I am in some way involved).
Antenna does the Fall Premieres
CBS [Featuring my thoughts on Hawaii Five-0, Mike & Molly]
NBC [Featuring a few more of my thoughts on Chase]
FOX & The CW [Featuring some thoughts on Lone Star’s struggles]
ABC [Coming Soon]
“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.
April 6th, 2009
There’s really no point in discussing this without spoilers, so read on below for some quick analysis of what is perhaps the most blatantly “shocking” episode of House in a long time – there’s also spoilers in the tags, so don’t read those either.
November 18th, 2008
A week after throwing the show’s structure for a loop by reintroducing Chase and Cameron to the central narrative, House is at the kind of place where the show never really was last season. It’s a sort of unstable normalcy, where everything on the surface is the same but underneath there is clearly unrest amongst the team. There’s drama building everywhere, and it’s the kind of drama that will eventually explode in some fashion.
It’s a lot of moving parts, so I wonder how long they can make it last. “Emancipation” largely only works because of Omar Epps giving Foreman a very real sense of tarnished pride, a character who tried making it on his own last season only to find that he’s too much like House for his own good but now finds himself unable to get himself out from his shadow. While the fragmented nature of the episode was problematic in a few ways, the dual cases gave Foreman his biggest showcase of the season to date, more Chase and Cameron than we’ve received on average, some Wilson and House interaction, and even some new ripples appearing in the world of the three newer cast members.
No individual part of the episode really got to stand out beyond Foreman, but it all felt like positive momentum at this stage in the game.
November 11th, 2008
When David Shore and Co. decided to make the rather odd decision to “fire” the three fellows who worked for Dr. Gregory House at the end of the show’s third season while still employing them as cast regulars, I think we all asked ourselves a question: how, precisely, do they plan on balancing new fellows with the old ones who are off in various corners of the hospital.
And while they pushed Foreman back into the diagnosis group fairly quickly, this has remained a problem, especially as it relates to developing the characters of Chase and Cameron, and the new fellows for that matter. There have been some rumblings about House beginning to fall into the medical procedural trap, designing cases which are “on the nose” for individual cast members as a shorthand version of character development. And for Chase and Cameron, who have had almost zero “showcases” since leaving House’s team, this episode has been a long time coming.
“The Itch,” at the end of the day, is an episode that walked a fine line between organic investigation into the lives of these characters and a convenient episode that dealt with how we scratch that itch, whether through imaginary mosquitoes, coveting every single drawer in your apartment, or giving in to your agoraphobia. What we learn most of all is that some things never change: House will always be manipulative but emotionally stunted, Cameron will always be woefully incapable of self-rationalizing, and Chase will always be a character without, well, a character.
But even if it wasn’t a life-changing return to our former cottages, I’d say it was enjoyable enough.