“Days Gone Bye”
October 31st, 2010
I addressed The Walking Dead generally in my piece last night, but I do want to address the premiere in particular.
As far as premieres go, this is a really strong effort aesthetically: character is largely on the backburner in an effort to define the scale of this world, which operates directly in opposition to characterization. The whole point of the series, after all, is that humanity has dwindled down to a small collection of survivors, and yet this creates an even grander sense of scale as a result of the sheer emptiness.
I want to talk about that emptiness a bit, and the role it plays in telling the story in “Days Gone Bye.”
Heating Up Leftovers: Season 7 Finale
September 15th, 2010
Technically speaking, every Top Chef finale is meant to stand alone – for the remaining chefs, it all comes down to the meal of their lives. However, for the audience sitting at home the finale is the end of a journey, and usually the end of a season of narratives; whether they be rivalries or redemptive arcs, there should be some sort of story coming to an end during each season of the show.
However, Top Chef D.C. never quite found a narrative that it knew how to work with, and the finale is a perfect example of that. Despite the fact that there were a number of potential narratives to build upon, the finale was left to stand entirely on its own without any real connection to previous outings. Sure, the surefire rivalry ended when Kenny left early, but after last season’s finale felt like the show finally getting the showdown we had all been waiting for, the showdown between Angelo, Ed and Kevin felt like leftovers, except that they were leftovers that you don’t remember having but still seem old and tired regardless.
And while the cooking itself wasn’t impacted by this particular concern, my emotional attachment to the conclusion most definitely was.
Hellmouth [versus/and/within/without] High School
April 20th, 2010
You can follow along with the Cultural Catchup Project by following me on Twitter (@Memles), by subscribing to the category’s feed, or by bookmarking the Cultural Catchup Project page where I’ll be posting a link to each installment.
For those who have waited patiently for me to get through the fairly short first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a process which has taken a week longer than it would have under normal circumstances, you’ll have to wait a little bit longer: while I’m about to get to “Prophecy Girl,” which everyone seems to be labeling as the show’s turning point, there’s a few observations I want to make about the show before I get into the finale and trying to contend with what the season is accomplishing.
Like any first season, this was obviously a learning experience for Whedon and his crew of writers – to borrow the ominous message from “Out of Mind, Out of Sight,” Whedon’s job was pretty much to “Look, Learn, Listen” to the effectiveness of these episodes. What struck me about the three stories which lead into the finale (“The Puppet Show,” “Nightmares,” and “Out of Mind…”) is that they all offer subtly different takes on the show’s central premise, each using the Hellmouth (which, yes, I’ve discussed before) as the source of a different kind of phenomenon: while the diversity speaks to the endless potential to the Hellmouth, the varying quality of the episodes indicates that even subtle differences in function can heighten the dramatic interest in a pretty substantial fashion.
And yes, you’ll have to read my thoughts on that before I get to the finale, so long as your patience hasn’t run out already.
March 25th, 2010
While 30 Rock is a show that rarely has a great deal of forward momentum, I always like it better when it seems like it’s taking me someplace in particular; Jenna’s best story was when she was dealing with her weight, Tracy’s best recent story was when he confronting the uncanny valley, and Liz and Jack are almost always at their best when it feels like they’re confronting something that could last a few episodes or have some sort of ramification for their future.
This does not mean that I don’t find episodes like “Floyd” funny just because 2/3 of the episode is pointless, but it does mean that I prefer the parts of the episode which feel like they have history and a future. I know it’s not typical for the show, and I know it’s not really going to last, but there’s something about Liz Lemon doing something which seems mildly important that just makes me like the show more.
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Right now, Emmy’s comedy landscape is at its strongest in the supporting categories, where a number of contenders are in position to break out. The problem, however, in the Supporting Actor category is that this has been the case for a number of years, and yet Jeremy Piven has been dominating the category anyways. The big question this year is whether this will change, and chances are it will be many of the usual suspects trying to start a new trend.
Piven’s getting back into the category, and chances are he will be joined by at least three of last year’s nominees: one can expect Rainn Wilson and Jon Cryer to return, alongside my personal favourite in the category Neil Patrick Harris. Realistically, Harris should have won this award two years ago, or even last year, but the fact remains that he continues to steal entire episodes on what is a fundamentally great show, crafting in Barney a character that has managed to overcome Doogie Howser as his signature role, at least for this generation. NPH is hosting the evening’s festivities, and I’ve got my fingers crossed.
The rest of the category is more than a bit up in the air, primarily because it is unclear just who has been off on the periphery in the category in past years. Kevin Dillon made it into this category the last two years, but his role on Entourage has largely been forgotten as of late so I don’t think he’s quite on the radar to the degree of someone like John Krasinski, whose work on The Office has been particularly impressive as of late (the final scene of the finale being a fine example of that).
The other real contenders here are also from an NBC sitcom, one that fascinatingly has never been nominated for any supporting statues. 30 Rock dominated every Comedy category but the supporting ones last year, as Fey and Baldwin were the only nominees. However, with the show’s status as an Emmy darling all but cemented, we might finally see one or even two of them break through. We know that Jack McBrayer has been close before (he broke into the Top 10 last year, for example), but part of me feels like Tracy Morgan is just as likely – he remains the show’s MVP when it comes to its absurdist tendencies, and you can’t overestimate the importance of his broad comedy to the show.
Predictions for Supporting Actor in a Comedy
- Jon Cryer (“Two and a Half Men”)
- John Krasinski (“The Office”)
- Tracy Morgan (“30 Rock”)
- Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”)
- Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”)
- Rainn Wilson (“The Office”)
“Isn’t it Bromantic?”
June 1st, 2009
I had planned to blog about this week’s episode of Greek on Monday when it aired, but as it turned out I had already written thoughts on both Chuck and Conan O’Brien’s first Tonight Show, and I didn’t want to create an overload of sorts. But then, as I moved into the next few days, I had no other material to blog about, but just never got back to this week’s episode.
To be honest, I kind of liked “Isn’t it Bro-mantic?” on a number of levels, primarily because it catered to my own opinion of these characters quite slavishly. By placing Casey at the depths of patheticness, the show portrayed as being the revolving third wheel of doom, which I totally see as a dominant character trait for her when she’s not coupled off with someone. I’d normally think this is annoying, but since the show so willingly paints a picture of Casey as selfish and close-minded in the face of the situation, it’s actually quite realistic and honest.
Don’t have a whole lot to say about the episode, but figured I’d drop a few thoughts after the jump.