Tag Archives: The CW

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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Gossip Girl – “You’ve Got Yale!” and House – “Painless”

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“You’ve Got Yale!”

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“Painless”

January 19th, 2009

After starting the season seemingly boosted by summer buzz and showing positive growth, Gossip Girl has been on a ratings and creative slide for quite some time. It is not so much that the show was great to begin with, but rather that it was showing an odd sort of complacency: rather than trading a period of angst and contrivance (mostly surrounding young Jenny) the show rights itself by introducing a mysterious son given up for adoption and by insisting that its central relationship is worth testing even when I, as a viewer, am convinced that it was dead a long time ago. “You’ve got Yale!,” despite its usual movie title-pun charm, feels like the show just doesn’t get it: whatever fun we might get from Blair going back on the warpath can’t possibly overcome the idea we’re supposed to care as much about Dan and Serena as Gossip Girl’s readers.

The funny thing is that House is in many ways going through the same problem: for weeks, the show has been focusing on Thirteen as a central source of drama and interest in a series that has always been most interesting when focused on its eponymous doctor. While it is ostensibly an ensemble, the show is really about House, and while the show’s tendency to have patients who reflect their doctor’s problems can on occasion be frustrating I was just kind of glad to finally have a patient who is about House instead. What “Painless” does wrong, though, is feel as if it needs to pile on the drama: House’s pain is enough reason for the show to stop and consider his illness, compounding that with more drama for Thirteen and Cuddy’s complete and total breakdown seems both false and overkill.

Neither show is going off the rails enough for me to be disinterested, but I remain skeptical about whether they know what they are doing isn’t working.

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Gossip Girl – “Oh Brother, Where Bart Thou?”

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“Oh Brother, Where Bart Thou?”

December 8th, 2008

I watched some solid television on Monday: I caught up with Dexter (a solid penultimate episode, but I’ll have some thoughts on the season as a whole after the finale), enjoyed the night’s episode of Chuck (an entertaining if highly improbable outing), and caught up with a bit more of FX’s Sons of Anarchy (I’d suggest checking it out). But, admittedly, I haven’t been limiting my television to more serialized outings: I also took some time to get through the last two discs of The O.C.: Season Two. And, ultimately, this means that despite all of that high caliber television I’ve watched over the past few days, it’s Gossip Girl that sent me to my laptop at 5am.

For those who don’t remember the final episodes from the second season of Josh Schwartz’s other show about elite, rich white people, they featured the tragic (if somewhat bittersweet) death of the show’s patriarch. What followed was an emotional rollercoaster of sorts, the various individuals most affected by his death spiraling into something approximating either utter despair (Kirsten’s alcoholism) or an odd sense of freedom (Julie reconnecting with a returned Jimmy). And while I found both of these developments to be either overplayed and out of character (See: alcoholism), or idealistically portrayed to contrast the season ending gunfire (See: Julie/Jimmy), I nonetheless felt that the death of Caleb Nickel was a death that resonated.

And while some could argue that it is unfair of me to draw this comparison, I would argue quite the opposite: this episode of Gossip Girl followed this pattern to such a degree that anyone with a strong recollection of that series of events can’t help but make the same observations. The problem with the death of Bart Bass, confirmed seconds into the episode if not by last week’s cliffhanger, is twofold: that there are only two people on this show who we really care enough about to sit through their reactions, and Bart Bass was so insignificant and poorly developed that we don’t care about his death enough to make this all matter.

So while Stephanie Savage did what she could to make this seem like a pivotal moment in the show’s trajectory, it was like shining a bright light on the show’s inability to demonstrate anything beyond poor attempts to shock the audience.

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The Return of Jericho: Reruns, The CW, and the Audacity of Hope

jerichoad.jpgTonight, Jericho returns.

A year and a half ago, this was a revelation. Today, it feels quite different, an odd and unexpected consolation prize for fans who worked so hard to get the show back on the air. Tens of thousands of pounds of peanuts were enough the get the show a second season, but not enough to convince CBS that it should run consistent reruns of the series in every available setting. In other words, the renewal came with a caveat: the fans, who provided such a great grassroots campaign, were responsible for pulling their weight to grow the show’s audience.

But now, in an ironic turn of events, Jericho returns in an unexpected capacity as the lead-off for The CW’s new Sunday nights. After the Media Right Capital deal, which saw the production company program its own lineup to enormously middling results, fell through, The CW had a lot of options of what to program in the slot. Repeats of their struggling comedies could help their audience, the MGM movies are cheap and always decent counter-programming, but then came the kicker: Jericho reruns, starting from episode one of the first season, at 7/6c every Sunday into the foreseeable future.

For fans, this is a sign of hope: a sign that there is an off-chance of the fanbase growing, of the show pulling a Family Guy and making its way back onto the schedule. And while I remain skeptical that this is in the cards, and feel that The CW (And Viacom) have more subtle motives with this particular move, one cannot remain pessimistic in the presence of the fans who changed network television’s definition of cancelled with a whack of peanuts and sheer determination.

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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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Gossip Girl – “Bonfire of the Vanity”

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“Bonfire of the Vanity”

November 10th, 2009

Gossip Girl is not one for subtlety, nor one for taking their time to get into storylines. Last week, Serena was just discovering that Aaron could be a potential mate of sorts: this week, he’s leading her on romantic trips around the city and making her his muse. Just at the beginning of the season, Jenny Humphrey was a naive young girl looking for her big break, and now she’s an angst-ridden, eyeshadow wearing and hoodie sporting punk.

It feels like these two characters, in particular, are jumping around from story point to story point: Serena has gone from post-Dan sadness to new Dan closeness to post-Dan sadness to anti-Blair bitchiness to suddenly friendly towards Blair to now hunting after Aaron. Jenny, meanwhile, went from unhappy intern to unhappy student to home-schooled young assistant to unappreciated designer to unappreciative rebel to guerilla runaway fashionista to homeless, dressless child (And in between she made out with Nate – Ew.)

And we’re not too far into this the show’s second season, and there’s a long way to go: right now, what Gossip Girl is doing right is those storylines that feel natural, and don’t count those two girls amongst them. In fact, only really Chuck and Blair have maintained something approximating consistency, and the result is the episode’s only positive development. And while I’m glad the show is finding its footing in the ratings, there are points where the guilty pleasure needs to show a bit more pleasure.

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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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Gossip Girl – “Pret-a-Poor-J”

“Pret-a-Poor-J”

October 27th, 2008

It’s been a long time since I’ve commented on Gossip Girl, but the show has been on a weird trajectory as of late. The season has had a lot of false starts: I thought they were going to villify Serena in her battle with Blair over supremacy, but now they’re back to being tight friends. I thought they were going to actually give the Nate/Vanessa storyline some time to breathe, and instead Vanessa’s back to being irrelevant and Nate’s moved in with the Humphreys. I thought that they were going to let Jenny settle into her new career in order to spare us more of her storyline, and instead they thrust her back into the show’s romantic and dramatic center.

Really, we’re right where we left off last season: with Blair and Chuck as the only interesting characters on the show, and everyone else just kind of puttering between pointless storylines. Even Blair and Chuck acknowledge, of course, that it’s the game that keeps them interesting, and even that could get old with time. And, to be fair to the show, “Pret-a-Poor-J” does represent the start of a new direction for the show (now 1/3 into its season, recently upped to 24 episodes), but it’s a start that seems too quick: new characters and new worlds can have an impact, but this feels more cheap than earned.

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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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Gossip Girl – “The Ex-Files”

“The Ex-Files”

September 22nd, 2008

My, what a difference an episode or three can make: at the beginning of the month, I spent an entire blog post drawing comparisons between Gossip Girl and The O.C. as they each handled their seasons easons, but here I am saying that Josh Schwartz finally has two leading ladies capable of dramatic range and, thus, has a far more compelling turn of events to offer viewers.

What “The Ex-Files” does is successfully turn the entire show on its ear: without losing a step, we see the re-emergence of Queen Serena, the return to a damaged Blair Waldorf, and the ever-present evil that is Chuck Bass pulling every string imaginable. Combine with a healthy dose of harsh reality for the Humphrey siblings, and inoffensive plot machinations for Nate and Vanessa, and you have an episode that feels like what Gossip Girl is supposed to be: a decidedly fanged investigation of complex social behaviours within a high school setting.

Or, if you prefer, one big season-long bitch fight.

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