May 10, 2019 · 8:57 pm
Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO
“The Last Of The Starks”
May 5, 2019
[As you hopefully noticed, I’m still writing about Game Of Thrones at The A.V. Club for its final season, but I was out of town this past week (Caitlyn PenzeyMoog filled in), and so here are some belated thoughts on the antepenultimate episode of the series.]
For much of the back half of its run, Game Of Thrones has derived its tension from the Night King, and the question of whether the seven Kingdoms of Westeros could come together in order to stop this monumental threat. And so when the first half of the show’s final season ended with the Night King and his army completely erased, it raised the question of where the tension would come from for the rest of the story.
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August 8, 2011 · 8:00 am
Cultural Checkup: Season Eight
August 8th, 2011
[This week, I’m going to be checking in on a number of shows that I’ve been watching but not writing about this summer. Tomorrow, I’ll be looking back at an uneven season of USA’s White Collar.]
I didn’t hate the seventh season of Entourage.
After six years of wishing the show would stop trying to be a bawdy comedy and start embracing its dramatic potential, the show finally listened to me at the point where it had run out of goodwill. The show had driven itself into the ground, to the point where there was no hope of it truly evolving into a more interesting series, and yet it was finally telling the kind of stories it should have been telling from the beginning. It took Vince down a self-destructive path, it explored his relationship with Eric (to the point of almost ending it), and it seemed to find a more comfortable balance between Vince’s career and his entourage’s own lives.
Now, the show stopped being funny along the way, but I never found it all that funny to begin with, so to see the show trying something new excited me. And so I’m equally excited to see that the show isn’t screwing around in its eighth season, taking some “risks” based on its own precedent and exploring the challenges of new beginnings instead of exploring the thrills of excess.
It’s still not funny, but I’m surprisingly invested in where they intend to take the show in its final season.
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Filed under Entourage
Tagged as Analysis, Andrew Dice Clay, Ari, Dana Gordon, Eric, Final Season, HBO, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Dillon, Review, Season 8, Suicide, Turtle, Vince
February 10, 2011 · 12:22 am
February 9th, 2011
I actually have no idea if I’ve blogged about Top Chef All Stars yet, but it’s been pretty great, no? The show has bounced back from its weakest season to return to being incredibly enjoyable, introducing interesting challenges and avoiding mediocrity at nearly every turn. Even moments that I thought would negatively impact the series (like Jennifer being sent home so early) proved to be mere bumps in the road, as other contestants emerged to play their part in bringing the season together. The food has been pretty uniformly impressive, and when it hasn’t been those people have faced the music in the bottom. Outside of the lengthy period where Jamie remained in the competition despite her failures of execution, the show has just been about great chefs cooking in great challenges, which is what the show is all about.
Generally, I’ve been content to just enjoy the season on its own merits, but I want to focus on tonight’s episode because I have a nicely balanced pair of points I want to make about it. The first is an intellectual question about spoiler culture and Jimmy Fallon’s presence in the episode; the other, meanwhile, is just outright giddiness at one of the contestants in particular.
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Filed under Top Chef
Tagged as All-Stars, Analysis, Bravo, Carla Hall, Episode 9, Fabio Viviani, Feeding Fallon, Fondue, Jimmy Fallon, Late Night, Quickfire, Review, Season 8, Spoilers, Television, TV, Tweets, Twitter
July 31, 2010 · 3:48 pm
Walking in Designers’ Shoes: Project Runway Season 8
July 31st, 2010
It’s fitting that Project Runway’s eighth season began with the contestants “auditioning” for a position on the series proper, as I considered this premiere to be the series’ audition for my time.
After an incredibly rough sixth season in L.A., and a completely unmemorable return to New York in its seventh year, Project Runway is on its way out of my television schedule, and this season was designed to test my attachment to the series: stretching each episode out to 90 minutes makes it an even larger commitment (at least for those of us who ignore Models of the Runway, as we all should), and the series’ fundamental lack of cultural cache – I hadn’t even realized it was premiering – means that giving up on it is unlikely to really impact me in the future.
However, since things are slower now than they will be in three weeks, I figured I would tune into the premiere to see how the show is using its 90 minutes, and to see how they’re trying to shake things up to engage new viewers. And while there’s not enough here to convince me that there aren’t better uses of my Thursday nights once fall programming and life kicks in, there is enough here worth discussing in terms of how the show is looking to shift their point of interest from the competition to the contestants – it may not be enough to keep me watching, but it’s enough to show that they’re starting to understand some of the series’ problems.
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Filed under Project Runway
Tagged as Analysis, And Sew it Begins, Casanova, Designers, Episode 1, Fashion, Heidi Klum, Ivy, Lifetime, McKell, New York, Reality TV, Review, Season 8, Selma Blair, Television, Tim Gunn, TV
May 27, 2010 · 12:09 am
Season 9 Finale: In Defence of Kris Allen
May 26th, 2010
I’ve got a lot to say about this season of American Idol and the future of the franchise without Simon Cowell, but I’m going to be saving those for a Jive TV column in the coming days. However, since that piece will be more wide-reaching than tonight’s results, I want to comment briefly on two things.
The first is that, in case you didn’t notice it, Idol got a rare insurrection from quality music when Sufjan Stevens’ “Chicago” was used to soundtrack the package of Lee and Crystal’s auditions in Chicago and their Idol journey. I would highly suggest you look up Sufjan if you have not been privy to his music in the past, as “Illinois” (the album on which the song is featured) was truly a revelation for me.
The second is that I think people are falling prey to an easy but ultimately false analogy when it comes to tonight’s results. Kris Allen was, in fact, the eighth American Idol, and there are plenty of arguments to be made that Adam Lambert deserved to win that season, but I think we need to make a distinction between “relatively” undeserving winners and undeserving winners.
[That’s more or less a spoiler, but I figure that if you read this blog and have been watching enough to understand that it’s a spoiler, you probably found out already, so come back after the break and I can defend Kris Allen some more.]
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Filed under American Idol
Tagged as Adam Lambert, Alanis Morissette, Analogy, Beautiful Day, Chicago, Christina Aguilera, Crystal Bowersox, Dane Cook, Finale, Hall & Oates, Idol, Janet Jackson, Joe Cocker, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Michael McDonald, Paula Abdul, Ricky Gervais, Ryan Seacrest, Season 8, Season 9, Simon Cowell, Sufjan Stevens, Television, The Bee Gees, TV, Winner
May 21, 2009 · 12:30 am
“Your” American Idol & the Season 8 Finale
May 20th, 2009
I didn’t even bother watching tonight’s finale of American Idol – this is the least attentive I’ve been of the show all season, having only watched Tuesday’s performance show in its entirety and relying on EW’s great Idolatry for the remainder of my Idol-related coverage and analysis. I realized at a certain point that as a) a Canadian and b) someone who will not buy the album of pretty well any contestant coming out of the show, there really isn’t anything in the show for me other than snarky commentary and critical analysis of the entire process. And, realistically, all you need for the latter is to know who won, and to be able to follow the demographics.
What always fascinates me about Idol, however, is this idea of possession, which has grown more and more complicated as we’ve gone from season to season. Is Kelly Clarkson still “your” American Idol, or has she been usurpsed from her throne by every subsequent Idol? If she wasn’t, does this mean that Taylor Hicks is just as much “your” American Idol as Clarkson or Carrie Underwood or David Cook? And, where does Chris Daughtry sit within this paradigm: is he some sort of demi-Idol, or is he cut out of Idol worship altogether despite his success and his association with the show? Do all of these people belong to the Idol machine, and thus to the viewers at home who voted for them, or are they actually individuals capable of expressing themselves? And, if people didn’t vote, do they own them the same as someone who voted? Similarly, if someone voted for the person who didn’t win, do they still get to claim a piece of the winner like in elections where everyone’s stuck with the guy with the most votes whether they want them or not? Or, rather, are they capable of claiming that this isn’t “their” Idol, refusing possession in favour of sullen indifference or complete devotion to the false Idol who finished second, or fourth (I refuse to acknowledge anyone who idolizes the third place finisher), or didn’t even make it into the finals (that’d be the case for Idolatry’s producer, at the very least)?
I raise all of these points to say that anyone who is seriously outraged by the results of tonight’s American Idol finale needs to realize that even with perceived ownership, and the agency of having had a vote in a democratic process, their true vote will be with their wallet, or their credit card, as these artists make their way into the musical world. Even if they may not be “the” American Idol, something tells me that Simon Fuller has no power over the American public as to who they choose to worship.
If he does, god help us all – spoilers for tonight’s American Idol finale after the jump, be warned.
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May 6, 2009 · 11:35 pm
May 6th, 2009
ABC made a decision last year to save Scrubs, which at the time seemed like a mistake: the show was struggling mightily with its creative focus, and if you go back and read my review of the out-of-order finale NBC aired you’ll find that I was more than ready for the show to die. At the same time, there was a sense that a show seven years running deserved a better sendoff. So while I was frustrated that ABC chose to pick up the series on some level, I also hoped that it would be worth it.
It was. The show’s eighth season has not been amongst its most novel, but it’s probably the most consistent the show has been since at least Season 4, and as the series faces yet another finale with an uncertain future this time I find myself entire ready to say goodbye. The show has been on a victory lap all season, giving each character their time to reflect on the past seven years through a vacation, a new set of interns to remind them of themselves, and a new set of memorable if familiar patients that brought the show back to its emotional roots.
There are some rumblings that “My Finale” will actually be “J.D.’s Finale” more than that of the series: the first-person narrator of a majority of the series has been the series’ star, and his relationships with the various characters (his bromance with Turk, his relationship with Elliot, his mentorship with Dr. Cox) are the series’ most memorable. And it’s this reason that this doesn’t just feel like J.D.’s finale: his future is the future of all of these characters, and the idea of them continuing on while he’s off at another hospital doesn’t feel right.
For me, I want the show to be over: I want to go out on a good season, and on a great episode, one which takes some shortcuts but gives John Dorian the kind of exit that feels right for this character, and thus one that felt right for the series. It’s not that the series can’t continue beyond this point, but rather that in many ways it shouldn’t.
But, after a season of good will after seasons of struggle, I’m willing to keep an open mind should they make that decision.
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Filed under Scrubs
Tagged as ABC, Bill Lawrence, Book of Love, Cancellation, Carla, Colin Hay, Dr. Cox, Dr. Kelson, Eagle, Elliot, Entertainment, Episode 17, Finale, Glenn Matthews, Glossary, Hooch, Hugh Jackman, Huntington's, Interns, J.D., Janitor's Name, John Dorian, Jordan, Montage, Music, My Chief Concern, My Finale, Peter Gabriel, Renewal, Sarah Chalke, Season 8, Season 9, Season Finale, Series Finale, Ted, Television, Turk, Zach Braff
January 28, 2009 · 8:31 pm
“My ABCs” and “My Cookie Pants”
January 27th, 2009
I knew something was off when I was watching, especially, the first episode of last night’s Scrubs doubleheader. J.D. and Elliot didn’t seem particularly close despite getting back together last week, the interns were being introduced as if we had only first met them, and we got the genesis of J.D.’s Facts of Life name for his intern despite having already seen it pop up in the premiere episodes three weeks ago. And sure enough, my confusion was quite justified: reading Sepinwall’s review confirms that this was, in fact, a rejiggered episode likely meant to be the season premiere – you don’t go out and grab the Sesame Street muppets for just any episode, after all.
But what it created was a weird sameness to these episodes: they were never meant to run sequentially, and it shows in the fact that they have very similar structures and at times felt like we were just dealing with not only storylines repeated in previous episodes but also in the one that followed. This is already a season that is repeating past storylines in an effort to reclaim some past glory, so it’s not like this is out of place or even unwanted: I laughed quite a bit through both half-hours, so I’m not one to complain.
Just that when the show is already getting put on hiatus (until mid-March) and moving to a new timeslot (Wednesdays at 8pm), they could have used something that promoted continuity as opposed to disrupting it even in this subtle fashion.
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Filed under Scrubs
Tagged as ABC, Dr. Cox, Elliot, Elmo, Entertainment, Episode 5, Episode 6, Grover, Hiatus, J.D., Janitor, Josh Radin, Kelso, My ABCs, My Cookie Pants, Premiere, Sarah Chalke, Season 8, Sesame Street, Television, Timeslot, Zach Braff