Thursday, April 20, 2006

Gone such a long time

Hey! A best-of-TV survey! And I'll bet you haven't even voted yet. You know what my mom says about people who don't vote. She says they're bad citizens. And you wouldn't want to be that, would you?

Anyway, I wasted my energy getting a wireless network set up tonight, so Gilead will have to wait. Until then, why don't you buy it and read it. I mean, what else do you have to do?

I thought I would talk about the TV shows I've been cleaning off of my TiVos and let you know what I think of them. Yes, it's another coast-y episode-review post. So what?

Gilmore Girls: "The Real Paul Anka" and "I Get a Sidekick Out of You" (originally aired April 11 and April 18). So. . .anyway. . .too bad about the Palladinos leaving this show, huh? Stupid idiot that I am, though, I'll probably keep watching it through next season, just because it's the last year. But this is a show that's SO dependent on its creator's voice that it's never going to be the same. Kind of like West Wing. It might be a good show, but it won't be the show we all loved. Oh well.

Still, I'm kind of glad they decided to keep this show to only one more season. I'm not sure I could have handled another TWO SEASONS of this. The sixth season has been weird and meandery, and "The Real Paul Anka" was no exception. This was one of those patented late season episodes where nothing happens (come to think of it, last season's late season nothing happens episode came right around this time too). The Paul Anka gag felt pointless because the better part of a season was spent setting it up and it. . .fizzled. And I WON'T miss ASP's bad boy fetish when she leaves the show. Why couldn't every girl on TV fall in love with a whip-smart journalist/wanna-be TV writer?

"Sidekick" was a marked improvement. ASP has always known exactly how to make her characters sing, and she did a fine job here. It was nice to see another happy Stars Hollow wedding, and it's good to see Lane happy as well. Not all of the jokes hit, but I was so happy to see an episode that largely worked that I was willing to forgive a lot.

I'm also apparently the only person in the world who wants to see Lorelai and Christopher end up together.

The Simpsons: "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bangalore" (originally aired April 9). Watching The Simpsons has become a bit of a habit more than something done out of pleasure. But for some reason, this episode really amused me. I laughed once every minute or so. It's not the laugh-a-second ratio of seasons 3-7, but it's still pretty darn good. The one thing The Simpsons still does really well is gentle satire (as opposed to the knife-wielding South Park), and this was a good example of that. Outsourcing was a great topic for the show to tackle, and it gave Mr. Burns something to do (which has been lacking). And there was a Bollywood number!

Lost: "S.O.S." (originally aired April 12). I'm glad the show is fleshing out its background characters. I actually have liked most of the flashbacks this year, but I can see where they bore people (I also think that the introduction of the Hatch made the flashbacks less structurally necessary, because now there's always somewhere to cut to). There's none of the thrill of discovery we got in season one, and if the show burns off its few remaining secrets for the main characters, we're going to run out of story fast. So it's a good move to flashback on the supporting cast. It also helps that Rose and Bernard had a genuinely affecting story. It's rare to see older people on television, rarer still to see a love story geared just toward them (and an inter-racial one to boot). While the "everybody's been healed!" motif is going to start to get old soon, it was played beautifully here. I have high hopes for Rousseau and Desmond flashbacks after this outing.

Everybody Hates Chris: "Everybody Hates Corleone" and "Everybody Hates Drew" (originally aired April 13 and April 20). The popular criticism of this show is that it's not as funny as a Chris Rock standup routine. But I don't think that idea holds water. The show doesn't WANT to be scabrously funny like a Chris Rock routine. It's FAR more interested in doing something more like The Cosby Show or The Wonder Years. That style of show might not be in fashion right now, but this is as fine an example of it as we've had in a long time. Criticizing it for not being a Chris Rock routine is criticizing it for not living up to YOUR preconceived notions of what it should be. And that's a criticism no-no.

The Sopranos: "Mr. and Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request" and "Live Free or Die" (originally aired April 9 and April 16). The wedding of Johnny Sack's daughter episode was maybe my least favorite of the season so far. There was some interesting stuff in it (and I liked the insight into his family), but it felt mainly like an episode setting up lots of other storylines. Fortunately, at least one storyline (the discovery of Vito's homosexuality) played out in the next episode, which was one of the series' best ever. "Live Free or Die" crystallized this season's main theme: What would you do to change, to live the life you really want to live? Where the show's treatment of homosexuality has been sort of jokey in the past (perhaps appropriate, due to the show's setting), this episode showed just how dangerous life would be for a gay gangster. And the actors all really rose to the top of their respective games. The episode was a quiet one, but the issues of loyalty and the hypocrisy of these murderous gangsters who find homosexuality to be grave sin were driven home perfectly.

24: "11:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m." and "12:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m." (originally aired April 10 and April 17). The President Logan twist still doesn't make sense, but Gregory Itzin is doing such a good job of making me not care that I (surprise) don't care. I find further support for my theory that 24 has tried to make the shift to a left-leaning zeitgeist show from Jack's mini-monologue about how the United States' government has no credibility. Granted, we're in full "we have to extend the plot to get to 24 episodes!" mode, but if we're going to complain about stretching things out, then. . .

Prison Break: "J-Cat" (originally aired April 10). C'mon, already. Just break out. We ALL know it's going to happen. And stop cutting to the least interesting government conspiracy storyline in the history of network television (note how I couldn't make it through the second TiVoed episode of this yet).

Big Love: "Affair" and "Roberta's Funeral" (originally aired April 9 and April 16). I've been wondering just how much I liked this show recently. I knew I liked it, but I wasn't sure if it was going to become something I grew to love. I still think this is a solid B+ show, which is trying to reach for A status, but these two episodes, plus Matt Zoller Seitz's interesting take on the show have put me firmly in its camp. "Affair" was probably the show's best episode yet, and it's juggling numerous soap opera plots as well as anything else on TV (okay, better than anything else on TV, save, maybe, Grey's Anatomy). Big Love also has something that the first few episodes of Desperate Housewives had: a sense of real consequence, that bad things could happen and destroy our characters. I don't know how long this show can keep up all of this plot spinning, but I'm enjoying the ride so far.


The scary thing is. . .we haven't even TOUCHED the TiVo in the other room!

1 comment:

David Sims said...

I LOVED The Real Paul Anka. Mostly just because Jess has become the best version of himself that I could have hoped for. But I also really liked Luke and April on the school trip.

Oh, and I read that the Lost finale is a Desmond flashback. Could be bullshit, but if not, how effing awesome is that!?