Tag Archives: Maggie

Return to Rubicon: A Cultural Catchup Project

Return to Rubicon

October 16th, 2010

As some of you may know, I’m in the midst of starting a PhD program, which means that there have been certain televisual casualties this fall.

Some of them have been pretty insignificant: I don’t think that giving up on Undercovers after the pilot, for example, is a huge loss considering the series’ imminent demise. However, others have been more substantial, or more accurately have become more substantial with time.

Back at the end of August, I didn’t think that falling behind on AMC’s Rubicon was going to be a problem. While I liked the show, and thought it had potential, the first five episodes were not must-see television, and so the episodes started piling up on the DVR.

And yet, over time this became more problematic: critical and fan responses indicated that the show was starting to live up to is potential, and so it became a sort of social stigma to not be caught up with the series. Thankfully, the show seems to be fairly spoiler-proof, more interested in atmosphere than “plot” movement, but I was still anxious about being behind. I can see only so many “Arliss Howard better get nominated for an Emmy” tweets before I become uncontrollably curious, and so I knew that I would need to catch up before the finale.

As a result, I set aside all of yesterday to watch the last seven episodes of the AMC series ahead of the season finale – tonight at 9/8c – and I brought (some of) you along for the ride; over a 12-hour period, I watched all seven episodes, and returned here to offer some commentary, some links to other reviews, and a record of my growing appreciation for the AMC drama.

It’s not as substantial as it would have been if I had kept up throughout the season, but I’m just excited to finally enter into this conversation that will hopefully be enough to get the series a second season.

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Rubicon – “The First Day of School”

“The First Day of School”

August 1st, 2010

Back in June, I wrote my initial response to AMC’s Rubicon, which wasn’t particularly positive. In fact, let’s quote my review for the sake of posterity:

If a show’s pilot is supposed to be a teaser trailer, an aesthetic exercise designed to build hype, then I would consider this to be moderately successful: there was absolutely nothing here which would keep me from tuning into the series in August. However, a pilot needs to be something more than a teaser trailer, and the series’ shortcuts in establishing both its central character and its central conspiracy show a lack of elegance which does little to convince me that this belongs in the same breath as AMC’s other original series.

This is, very clearly, not quite a ringing endorsement of the series, and so I went into “The First Day of School” with a bit of apprehension, apprehension which remains despite the fact that I think the series’ second episode is a vast improvement on its first. Not all of the problems have been wrinkled out, and there’s a big gaping hole where the series’ plot should be, but this episode captured some of the types of ideas which the series is interested in and which I find quite interesting as well. While the premiere relied heavily on mystery, “The First Day of School” shifts its focus from confusing the audience to confusing its characters, capturing how they respond to the puzzles placed before them.

The result is a successful glimpse into how paranoia takes hold of those in delicate situations or particularly challenging workplaces – sure, there isn’t quite a series for it to really relate to yet, but I think there might finally be a television show here if they can build on this momentum of sorts.

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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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