“The Floating Anniversary”
October 14th, 2009
I could take a gander at Cougar Town tonight, considering that I remain really perplexed at people who can’t seem to get beyond the show’s premise and Cox’s overacting to see a show that has a really strong emotional core, but since I didn’t get to cover The Middle’s pilot I figure I should discuss the show’s third episode. The show is not as inventive as Modern Family, or as diverse as Cougar Town (which I find more cohesive), but it is a solid family comedy that’s a bit reductive of Malcolm in the Middle but could have had a much worse fate.
What makes the show work is that it features good performances and has a surefire sitcom premise that is inarguably charming. I think the kids are decently engaging, Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn make believable parents, and perhaps more importantly the show has something to say about families dealing with an economic crisis. Where the show loses points in how it tends to stick to the same jokes, and how it relies too heavily on Patricia Heaton’s performance without letting the other parts of the show get their due.
“The Floating Anniversary” is perhaps the weakest episode yet, if only because it feels the least like an ensemble piece: while the pilot logically placed the emphasis on the biggest star who is at the heart of the show, I think the show needs to branch out beyond its stereotypes in order to really grab my attention.
June 26th, 2009
After watching the two-hour event that is the Virtuality pilot, I think I can understand why FOX was resistent to picking the show up to series.
It isn’t that FOX is allergic to science fiction: it goes into next season with the genre’s two biggest television properties, Fringe and Dollhouse, in its lineup. Rather, there’s a particular way that it likes its science fiction, a preference that both Dollhouse and Fringe fit into comfortable. Both shows, although expanding heavily on their serialized elements and genre transmorgifications later in their freshman seasons, started out as genrified takes on the procedural mystery model, combining a high concept with what is arguably a more accesible and thus lower form of weekly episodic television. For FOX executives worried about selling the show to advertisers and viewers alike, it was the ace up their sleeve, the caveat that allowed them to both give the appearance of openness to genre programming and satisfy their desire to eat away at CBS’ dominance in the field.
The reason Virtuality wasn’t ordered to series is because it is one giant, enormous middle finger to such ludicrous practices of watering down science fiction upon its arrival so as to pretend as if the people who don’t like science fiction are going to stick around once things get weird. What makes good science fiction is the balls out willingness to question reality, and to break away from any and all conventions, all qualities that both Fringe and Dollhouse are capable of and yet never got to reach until FOX was satisfied that the show was really just CSI with insane science or The Unit with personality implants. Virtuality, however, wastes no time in crafting a world where nothing where we question everything, and is thus a world that any science fiction fan in their right mind wants to explore further.
All but dead in the water despite the strange lead-up to this airing, Virtuality is a fascinating pilot, a god awful standalone television movie considering how it ends, and, should it truly find itself on the wrong end of FOX’s idiocy, another sign that high science fiction may be a thing of the past on network television.
But, for now, excuse me if I spend a bit of time talking about how awesome it was.