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Cultural Catchup Project: Moving On while Moving Apart (Angel)

Moving On while Moving Apart

August 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.

When a series makes a pretty substantial change to its basic structure, we usually respond in one of two ways: either we fret over how the series will handle that change, or we shrug our shoulders and presume that things will be back to normal eventually. This is not to say that we don’t enjoy this change, but as someone who is averse to change as a general rule it makes me anxious when I see a favourite series taking a glimpse over the edge as if it plans on jumping, even if that jump ends up being a spectacular sight.

However, I honestly didn’t flinch when Angel fired his staff at the end of “Reunion.” This isn’t because I am not enjoying the series, or that I am not engaged with its characters, but rather because the series is naturally suited to these sorts of changes. Admittedly, I knew in advance that reinvention was one of the series’ strong suits, but I didn’t expect for those reinventions to feel so purposeful: when Angel fires his staff, it feels like a logical progression of his character, and the crisis it creates doesn’t feel like an effort to shake things up for the sake of ratings. Indeed, instead of feeling shocking, the range of episodes from “Blood Money” to “Reprise” feel decidedly normal, a statement that even a substantial shift in the character dynamics of the series needn’t disrupt its basic themes or structures.

They aren’t the strongest episodes of the series, but they serve an important role: while they make the argument that Angel and his former employees will not remain apart forever, they also demonstrate how their separation only broadens the series’ potential, continuing a strong second season.

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How I Met Your Mother – “Home Wreckers”

“Home Wreckers”

April 19th, 2010

Ted Mosby’s search for a nuclear family of his very own has always been at the heart of How I Met Your Mother, and the romanticism at the heart of this quest is one of the show’s distinguishing qualities. Ted isn’t just looking for a wife, let’s remember: he’s got a very clear picture of the sort of life he wants, and so “Home Wreckers” focuses less on the eponymous story and has Ted trying to rush his way to the end of the story in a way that some viewers tend to do on a regular basis.

While the episode as a whole feels a bit repetitive, struggling to get over the fact that it’s effectively a long conversation about a subject that the show has discussed a lot in the past, there is an emotional honesty to the conclusion of the episode which demonstrates the value of Ted’s romantic point of view to the show as a whole. If no one on this show followed their instincts and desires, willing to be reckless and go against what everyone expects them to do, Marshall and Lily may not be together, Robin and Barney may have never tried to make it work, and Ted may never have purchased a house.

By pitting reckless agency against the show’s usual focus on fate and circumstance, “Home Wreckers” manages to offer some intriguing commentary on the show’s future, even if the comedy was largely limited to the wonderful game that is “Drunk or Kid.”

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