Tag Archives: Gilmore Girls

Bunheads – “Inherit the Wind [And the Fast-Talkin’ Style]”

“Inherit the Wind”

June 25th, 2012

I haven’t weighed in on Bunheads in any official capacity to this point, although I’ve been watching it and largely enjoying it. The pilot left unanswered questions, and the two episodes since then (“For Fanny” and this week’s “Inherit the Wind”) have done a pretty good job of answering them.

On some level, that covers my basic evaluation of the show, but tonight’s episode raised two points for me about the viability of the show’s future. One has to do with Sutton Foster, who is tasked with a lot of heavy-lifting as the audience’s surrogate into this small town, and the other has to do with the style of dialogue that she and the rest of the cast have to deal with. As much as I largely enjoyed “Inherit the Wind,” and liked some of its larger moves toward stability, I think there’s still something about the show that doesn’t sit right without outright sitting wrong – and, apropos of tonight’s episode title, it’s partly something the show inherited.

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Mad Men – “Chinese Wall”

“Chinese Wall”

October 3rd, 2010

“I thought in the end you wouldn’t want to throw it away.”

The balance between business and personal affairs forms one of the central tensions of Mad Men, but the show’s characters all approach the issue from different perspectives. For some, it takes the form of large-scale conflicts, such as Peggy’s pregnancy back in season; for others, it takes the form of family conflict, such as Pete’s relationship with his father-in-law; for yet more, it takes the form of the simple fact that a dinner out is interrupted by a colleague who stops by with news about the business.

For Don Draper, however, it has always been an elaborate balancing act: desperate to keep his true personal affairs out of his business, he created the ideal life for a businessman: wife, two and a half kids, house in the suburbs, etc. And yet that was never Don’s personal life, not really: if anything, Don’s lack of identity meant that he had no true personal life, and what he had was lost when Ann Draper passed away earlier this season.

The tragedy of “Chinese Wall” is not the loss of Lucky Strike hitting the fan, or the departure of the client who brought Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce its greatest honour. Instead, the greatest tragedy is that Don’s search for a personal life has become indistinguishable from his business one. While I would argue that “Chinese Wall” is almost as consistently themed as last week’s “Hands and Knees,” what sets it apart is that it is a theme that has been central from the very beginning, and in the “last days of Rome” it becomes more important than ever before.

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Television, the Aughts & I – Part One – “Beginnings”

“Beginnings”

December 13th, 2009

[This is Part One in a six-part series chronicling the television shows which most influenced my relationship with television over the past decade – for more information and an index of all currently posted items, click here.]

Memory is inherently selective, and yet we have almost no control over the selection process. We’d love to be able to, say, remember incredibly important facts or theories for the sake of writing exams as opposed to having a steel trap when it comes to song lyrics, and random details about family trips are useless if you can’t remember the names of your second cousins, but it just isn’t possible. We want to be able to control memory, to think we can choose what we remember, but in reality it’s entirely out of our hands.

So I have to wonder what it means that before 2001, I don’t remember watching television.

This is not to suggest I was entirely ambivalent towards the medium, as I weekly sat down to watch The Simpsons and surely watched an occasional episode of the big shows of the 90s (or whatever was on TBS in syndication when I got home from school each day). However, there was no sense that The Simpsons were more than an anomaly, and more importantly there was no show I followed religiously. My television tastes were devoid of plot and substance, a fact which didn’t bother me at the time but now makes me wonder what I was missing. Of course, I was 14 when this decade began, so missing out on some shows that started when I was a pre-teen isn’t exactly the world’s greatest crime. However, that this medium, which has become so important in my life, was at one point unmemorable seems like some sort of cosmic mistake. But in the end memory’s selection process captures those things which felt like they had an important influence on some part of your life, and for me that simply did not happen with television…before 2001.

However, it did happen afterwards, signalling a shift in both how my memory operates and how I watch and write about television. I want to focus on the first three shows of the decade that I have distinct memories of watching, and in particular on how well those initial memories have survived the following years (which were not, in fact, entirely kind to these particular series). And while I may have turned on these series to varying degrees as they became inconsistent or went in unsatisfying directions, no amount of criticism can wipe away the memories of watching them for the first time – memories that might not exist before 2001, but most certainly exist for the years which follow.

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Gossip Girl – “You’ve Got Yale!” and House – “Painless”

gossipgirltitle3

“You’ve Got Yale!”

and

housetitle

“Painless”

January 19th, 2009

After starting the season seemingly boosted by summer buzz and showing positive growth, Gossip Girl has been on a ratings and creative slide for quite some time. It is not so much that the show was great to begin with, but rather that it was showing an odd sort of complacency: rather than trading a period of angst and contrivance (mostly surrounding young Jenny) the show rights itself by introducing a mysterious son given up for adoption and by insisting that its central relationship is worth testing even when I, as a viewer, am convinced that it was dead a long time ago. “You’ve got Yale!,” despite its usual movie title-pun charm, feels like the show just doesn’t get it: whatever fun we might get from Blair going back on the warpath can’t possibly overcome the idea we’re supposed to care as much about Dan and Serena as Gossip Girl’s readers.

The funny thing is that House is in many ways going through the same problem: for weeks, the show has been focusing on Thirteen as a central source of drama and interest in a series that has always been most interesting when focused on its eponymous doctor. While it is ostensibly an ensemble, the show is really about House, and while the show’s tendency to have patients who reflect their doctor’s problems can on occasion be frustrating I was just kind of glad to finally have a patient who is about House instead. What “Painless” does wrong, though, is feel as if it needs to pile on the drama: House’s pain is enough reason for the show to stop and consider his illness, compounding that with more drama for Thirteen and Cuddy’s complete and total breakdown seems both false and overkill.

Neither show is going off the rails enough for me to be disinterested, but I remain skeptical about whether they know what they are doing isn’t working.

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Cultural Hiatus

My Faithful Readership,

So, as you may have noticed, I have yet to blog any of Monday’s plentiful options that I usually review at Cultural Learnings. The scarier thing, even, is that I haven’t even watched any of them, as I spent the entirety of last evening on the first of many major projects/events of the next week.

As a result, I’m taking a brief hiatus: not from watching TV, I’ll get to most of last night’s lineup today as a break from a busy morning, but from blogging about it. I should be back for Mad Men next Sunday, as I don’t want to get behind on the show, but in the meantime no full fledge reviews. However, you won’t be entirely devoid of my (attempts at) witty commentary.

To continue following my viewing habits, you can follow my Twitter feed. For those who don’t know, Twitter is a social networking service where, if you join, you can choose to “follow” various individuals ranging from nobodies like me to TV Critics, politicians, celebrities, and everything inbetween. They can also follow you, and this begins this really intriguing subsection of conversation, opinion, and internet society.

It’s a great way for me, this week, to keep reacting to the television I’m watching in 140 characters as opposed to 1400 words, something that happens a bit too often for the sake of my productivity levels elsewhere. As an example of my recent use of Twitter to discuss my weekend-long excursion into Gilmore Girls Season One (Where I literally had to hold myself back from bringing the rest of the seasons back to school with me):

Nothing can help me stop my GG marathon than a fresh helping of Daniel-written townie-hijinx filled mayhem. Oh, Daniel.

So, happy TV watching everyone, and if you really want to know what I was thinking about TV at 2am, Twitter is the place to be!

Myles

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The Zero Sum Game: Why The Emmys Can Never Be Perfect

In writing this editorial, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I am greatly appreciative of the great work that Tom O’Neil does at The Envelope’s Gold Derby Blog in getting inside scoops on the Emmy Top 10s and creating important discussion about these awards. He is clearly highly committed to this process, and I have great respect for him and his coverage.

But, one of my nagging issues about Gold Derby is its reliance on searching out any potential flaws in the Emmy system and exploiting them in ways that just don’t make any sense. Earlier this week, I was outright flabbergasted at the theory that the reason some favourites didn’t get nominated was because they hadn’t submitted a picture to sit beside their entry on the official list. It’s one thing to mention this off hand (And one voter did mention it to Tom, hence the article), it’s another to turn it into a potential widespread conspiracy. Heck, even his own article listed off all sorts of other competitors who didn’t have pictures but were still shortlisted.

But this is the trend, and a dangerous one. We’re always highly critical of the Emmy Awards process due to the various reformations of the past few years, and while I’m not suggesting that we ignore the negatives in favour of the positives I do think that we need to stop extrapolating grand theories from the exclusions. O’Neil’s latest editorial, continuing to paint his oft-favoured picture of the recent Emmy changes as a conspiracy to get Lost back into the main category, devolves into the usual complaint that the Emmys screwed over The Wire and other low-rated programs.

Has Emmy Wandered Off Base – GoldDerby

And I’m not defending the Emmys’ decision to exclude that great HBO series, but rather defending the system from being to “blame” for the exclusion. While the method that they’ve developed is certainly not perfect, there is no way it can be: like the traditional zero sum game, everything you add to one side will simply be taken away from the other. This journey of Emmy overhaul is likely not over, but every single snub or every single surprise cannot be taken as a pattern to be jumped on, or ironed out. And, this year in particular, the positives seem to have won the day, something that should not lead to such extensive deconstruction of the Emmy process.

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Friday Night Lights – “Who Do You Think You Are?”

“Who Do You Think You Are?”

January 18th, 2008

While I am certainly not overly antagonistic towards the most recent episode of Friday Night Lights, I can’t help but ask whether or not the titular query should be posed to the series itself rather than its character. On a night in which two guest stars evoked two similarly praised drama series featuring teenage storylines, it would have been helpful if the characters were in line with what we’ve seen in recent weeks.

However, everything was completely out of whack: Smash and Noelle’s relationship went from being dangerous due to her influence to dangerous due to her whiteness, and Riggins went from running from the law to pining after Lyla Garrity. It’s one thing to switch gears, but these two storyline were abrupt shifts to say the least. Combined with a heavy dose of thug life for Santiago and Buddy, and the tragic tale of Matt’s First Quinceañera, I can honestly only say that Eric and Tami Taylor came out as people who understood just who they are.

As for who those guest stars were, and how the episode went off the rails, read on.

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