Tag Archives: JoAnna Garcia

How I Met Your Mother – “The Window”

“The Window”

December 7th, 2009

There are moments where it feels as if Robin Scherbatsky exists entirely to be ignorant to the various long-standing mythologies that exist in How I Met Your Mother’s universe. Inevitably, when something new to us is introduced, Robin is the one asking “what’s that?” And such we enter “The Window,” as we discover (through Robin) that Ted Mosby has been on a nine-year journey to bag a college pal and yet has been foiled every time.

The way the show is able to use Robin to justify its exposition, almost always told through a casual conversation at McLaren’s or in Ted and Robin’s apartment, is part of why these stories are able to move so smoothly. In just moments, the stage has been set for what is yet another potential love story waiting to happen, fate and destiny fighting against reality. And by nicely balancing some more emotional beats for Josh Radner’s Ted with some broader comedy as the rest of the gang tries to keep the window from closing, the episode manages to entertain while also providing the sort of heartwarming conclusion (albeit with a twist) that HIMYM is so great at.

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Season Premiere: Gossip Girl – “Reversals of Fortune”

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“Reversals of Fortune”

September 14th, 2009

There is no question, whatsoever, that Gossip Girl is a flawed show which only on occasion finds its true potential. That potential is most often bottled  when we get the opportunity to see Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf together, trading barbs and turning what is often a depressing melodrama that fails to capture the potential of this concept. By so isolating the show’s universe in a small collection of characters (many of whom I, you know, don’t like), the show has become less about teenagers and their wily ways and more about these individual characters repeating the same cycles over and over again. For Chuck and Blair, this has weakened their appeal: for Dan and Serena, it’s eliminated it altogether.

So why do I keep watching? I think part of me wants to be able to say that I’ve still got a less than critically fascinating series on my schedule, but at least some part of me wants to see how the show handles itself as the teen soap of its generation. There is something about Gossip Girl’s bizarre dichotomy between cultural awareness and actual ratings/quality which says something about this generation of television viewers, and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are not slouches behind the scenes.

“Reversals of Fortune” does what every Gossip Girl premiere does, playing off of the uncertainty of what happened in the past summer and the kind of mistakes and ill fortunes that the characters find themselves in as a new year begins. It’s the same formula the show has used numerous times before, but it also still works, in particular this time around as the show resists turning Dan and Serena to the forefront and lets Blair and Chuck’s relationship keep its spark by playing with expectations.

It’s not high drama, but it’s the right kind of premiere for the series.

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Season Finale: Privileged – “All About a Brand New You!”

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“All About a Brand New You!”

February 24th, 2009

Falling out of love with Privileged was something that I did not do with a light heart. When the season started, the show felt like it had something most pilots didn’t, an X factor of sorts which made it worth spending time with due to its status as a teen show with heart and, more importantly, some intelligence. And the thing is that these two things haven’t fundamentally disappeared, per se, in the time since I last wrote about the show, but something of that initial spark is missing.

“All About a Brand New You!” feels like the show’s attempt at a return to form, and in terms of some of its characters it is a very successful investigation into individualism, placing Rose and Sage as equivalent to Ibsen’s Nora from A Doll’s House. But while the episode uses a large, showy event in order to showcase these changes, and gives both sisters a sense of independence and control over their destinies that serve their characters well, our heroine Megan is more or less hung out to dry with a sadsack relationship that holds no interest and, upon its end in the episode, no real dramatic weight. When the episode ends with a cliffhanger about the state of that relationship, one comes to two conclusions: that the show is awfully presumptive to end with a cliffhanger considering its uncertain future but that, even if it gets that chance to come back (my fingers do remain crossed) I don’t particularly feel like its resolution is going to change my views on the show’s romantic center.

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Privileged – “All About Insecurities”

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“All About Insecurities”

November 11th, 2008

As far as new plot developments go, tonight’s episode of Privileged was not exactly a step forward for the series: while Megan’s college roommate Karen (Everwood’s Sarah Drew) arrives to add a new wrinkle to Megan’s position, the idea of Megan questioning how much her current position supports her talents and her future is something the show has dealt with quite often. While Rose and Sage do end up headlining at a club opening and hobnobbing with guest star Perez Hilton, we knew from last week that there were going to be some hiccups in their academic endeavours once their “careers” took off.

And yet, I actually thought a lot was done within these individual plot elements to give the stories some depth. Privileged is operating on a feather-light structure, one that is dangerously close to being overtapped by my personal estimation, but if the show is able to subtlely move the story along as “All About Insecurities” did I believe that it can do very good things with the rest of this season and beyond.

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Privileged – “All About Defining Yourself”

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“All About Defining Yourself”

November 4th, 2008

I always hate to be too literal with titles that have some meaning within my review, but checking back in with The CW’s Privileged on this particular episode title is quite fortunate. This is a show that, from its pilot, defined itself very carefully, establishing some fairly standard forms of drama that would play out in the episodes that followed. You had your plucky heroine who’s in over her head with a strict boss, two out of control teenagers, a best friend who is in love with her, a sexy neighbour who flirts with her, a sister she hates, a drunk father she resents, and a runaway mother who she has written out of her life. Let the melodramatic hijinx commence!

In the hands of Rita Mimoun, I think that those of us who have been watching Privileged have seen many of these things play out in ways that are more charming than cliched, a fact that has elevated the series in our eyes. It’s considered to be, at this point, the one freshman show that critics and discerning viewers are really getting behind (Pushing Daisies being the sophomore series getting the same treatment), and that is very much about its strongly defined sense of identity that has been formed over its opening episodes.

But, as of late it feels as if the show is burning through its storylines a bit too quickly: we’ve met Megan’s troublesome sister, introduced her reformed father, had her clash with the two teenagers, and pitted her neuroses against her boss on numerous occasions (plus, Sharon Lawrence has recently been cast in an extended guest arc as, you guessed it, Megan’s mother). With a lot of the show’s built-in drama being expended so quickly, one feels like the show is going to fall into a trap of either repetition or, similar to shows like Gilmore Girls and The O.C., having to keep introducing new characters and stimuli while repeating the same patterns.

So, I entered “All About Defining Yourself” with this concerned pointof view, and I left it with two general sentiments: that I still don’t know if the show has enough of a foundation to head down that path, and that I think we owe it some more time to get there.

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Privileged – “All That You Really, Really Want”

“All That You Really, Really Want”

September 23rd, 2008

If there is a single show that I would like to exist in a bubble this season, it is Privileged. For most new shows, I feel like there needs to be an online dialogue, a chance for viewers and critics alike to offer their opinions, and for ratings to demonstrate the show’s staying power and relative performance to other new shows. It’s one of the highlights of a new season, watching as shows either grow or fail to grow an audience as time goes on.

But I don’t want to know what people are thinking about Privileged, or how much its ratings fell this week as it faced increased competition, or how much of a non-impact it has been in internet circles and amongst CW viewers. All I know is that the show is smart, funny, charming, and is on its own accord and without much supervision quickly coming into its own identity week by week.

And I’d like to live in that bubble for forty minutes every week, if that’s okay with The CW.

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Privileged – “All About Honesty”

“All About Honesty”

September 16th, 2008

Since it’s the theme of the episode, I guess I should open with a little bit of honesty: I really quite like this show.

There’s nothing special about Privileged’s various parts: JoAnna Garcia is strong but not perfect in the lead role, the two daughters are total (well-played) stereotypes and the conflict between them and Megan quite simplistic, the love triangle between Megan and her two suitors is about as much of a cliche as you could imagine, and the family drama is like every other family drama you could imagine.

But the sum of these parts is what makes the show stand out: none of the elements feel like traditional exploitative soap opera storylines, but rather actual investigations into family, sisterhood, friendship, and the idea of attempting to confront all of them while deciding what to do with your future. It has a lead character who isn’t just a slightly less narcissistic member of the elite, but an outsider with a unique connection to this universe. This episode’s issues of trust and honesty don’t just feel like a frame narrative out of any sort of playbook, but actual important topics for someone in her position.

And this type of connection means that Privileged is doing something its lead-in (90210) isn’t: it’s trying to be something new. And, you know, good.

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