“The Politics of Human Sexuality”
December 3rd, 2009
There was some discussion earlier this season surrounding ABC’s Modern Family about whether its eleventh hour moralizing (where a character, usually Jay, clearly states the episode’s theme so as to wrap everything up in a neat little package) was damaging its credibility. No one was arguing that the morals were themselves issues, but rather it was a question of whether their impact on our impressions of the characters was being limited by the repetition. Every comedy in its first season is out to define its identity and where its characters sit within that identity, but to actually draw attention to that fact in such a blatant way simply turns me off. Since that point, Modern Family has done a number of nice episodes that avoided this crutch, so the dialogue has drifted off.
What keeps me from raising the same issue with tonight’s Community, which is also about morals and what characters learn about themselves in the span of the episode, is that the show has always shown a deft hand with how it handles its more sentimental material. While Modern Family feels as if it started to end on that note regardless of an episode’s content, Community loves revelling in the fact that sometimes it’s a mature female escort who teaches you to respect women, and sometimes what makes you comfortable with your sexuality is entirely ignoring that sexuality.
I think this is an episode that wouldn’t have worked early in the season, and yet here feels like a nice bit of character work and comic execution for the folks at Greendale.
Yes, I’m Still Watching…Life on Mars
February 23rd, 2009
There were many shows that I caught up on over the end of last week, finding myself recovering from one major academic deadline and then not wanting to start preparing for the next one immediately. And so I sat down and caught up on numerous shows that I’ve found myself falling behind on for this, that, or some other reason.
The one I’m choosing to write about first is the one that has perhaps been off the radar for the longest period of time. I blogged my way through the premiere of Life on Mars, but since that point I have been noticeably absent. But the show after a very strong fall finale of sorts in December, Life on Mars has returned after the break to struggling ratings (nothing ever performs well after Lost) but to a bit of a creative resurgence, picking the right kinds of stories and the right balance of 1973 reality and 1973 surreality to sustain my attention.
I still have some concerns with certain elements of the show’s storytelling, but at this point they have done more than enough in terms of creating endearing, well-acted and well-rounded characters for me to be too preoccupied with such matters, and although I am still remiss in not checking out the BBC original series I am pleased at some of the broader mythology stuff that is starting to appear.
“Out Here in the Fields”
October 9th, 2008
Over the summer, the internet was graced with what seemed like a gift: an early look at one of the fall’s most anticipated pilots, David E. Kelley’s adaptation of the British hit Life on Mars. People watched, and there was much negativity as it relates to the show’s relationship with the British original and generally what one would call a feeble opener for the series.
But then an amazing thing happened: the pilot changed. It changed producers, it changed locations, and it changed every one of its cast members but one. While I can’t speak to the British original (I know, I know, forgive me), I can say that these are, in fact, improvements across the board. It isn’t that the original cast was awful, but rather that they felt like an ensemble not quite capable enough to live up to the show’s premise. Here, we have a group of actors with some pedigree working on a show that, with some more refinement, can certainly rise to a higher level.
The biggest difference of all between these two pilots, though, is that this one has us wondering whether they can keep up this level of quality, and not whether they will be able to create any quality at all. Considering that a victory.