Results filed under: “television”
With the holiday season starting earlier and earlier every year, the media crunch times that are the launch of the network tv season, the pre-Christmas gaming rush, Oscar awards bait, and peak musician touring times are overlapping more and more. And since I have far too much time on my hands, I'll be attempting to guide through the morass of garbage in hopes of finding the little good out there in American media. Starting with TV, since it's been a long enough time for shows to find their feet. Games and Music to come later.
This was an abysmal year for new shows on networks. Even if you liked the tired genres getting flogged, did anyone really need Outlaw or The Defenders or The Whole Truth? Networks had no new ideas, nor did they execute any of the old ideas well. That's not entirely fair, Fox had a single idea (Lonestar), but America rejected it like a failed organ transplant. Unfortunately it looks like the midseason replacements might be even worse, because NBC already gave full season orders to every single one of its terrible new shows except Undercovers, and even that they ordered more scripts for. Chase? Really? That show has sub-Jay Leno Show ratings, and is expensive to boot. In fact with the exception of Law & Order: LA, all its 9PM shows are doing worse than Leno.
The only 'hits' are CBS and William Shatner's dramatic retelling of a twitter feed and Hawaii 5-0, a rehash of an ancient property that I suspect thrives because the Alzheimer's patients that make up the CBS audience* think it's the original. Thankfully the networks have learned from the Shat and have already optioned multiple other twitter feeds for next season. This is not a joke, it is real and possible that there'll be a two hour block of comedies based on twitter feeds to compete with NBC's Thursday.
*seriously compare overall rating numbers vs 18-49 demographic numbers for CBS. Every old white person in America watches everything on it.
So what's worth watching? Let's take it night by night in a followup to Jesse and Jim's now month old but still only half posted conversation.
Jim: This is another
Elisa-suggested show... her logic? It's JJ Abrams and it's got black
people on it. We tried to come up with a network TV show that featured
protagonists, and most of them involved Bill Cosby. So I watched the
first episode. A married couple -- both former spies, both actors with
ridiculous names -- own a catering business. All is well -- money is a
bit tight, though -- until Major Dad (Gerald McRaney -- not Dabney
Coleman) shows up and tells them that a former spy colleague (and
ex-boyfriend of the wife) is missing.
So they stop doing catering for a little while and
get a-spyin'. They travel to Europe looking for him, ferret out a
Russian spy ring, jump out of a plane, break into a bank, etc etc etc.
I never watched Alias, but I have a feeling that, if I
had, Undercovers would seem like old hat -- Alias with a black married
couple. The show seemed ok, but not ok enough for me to keep watching
regularly. Sorry, JJ Abrams.
Jesse: JJ Abrams is the master of the pilot episode. From what I hear, even
Felicity had an amazing pilot. What he has proven to be less adept at is
constructing a sustainable series that will come to any kind of
satisfactory conclusion. This opinion is only partly based on my
continued bitterness over the derailed train that was shoved up my ass
and called a Lost finale. I never actually watched it, but sources tell
me that the wheels similarly flew off of Alias. You watch, it will
happen to Fringe too. Or, don't watch. That's what I'm doing.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Undercovers. Didn't watch it.
Jim: I saw a
few episodes last season, and they were funny. But I'm not really a
sitcom person at this point in my life -- and Modern Family is, without a
doubt, a sitcom. You've got situations coming out of the wazoo -- Ed
O'Neil has a hot, younger Latina wife and a precocious son. His older
son is gay, and has a boyfriend who used to be a clown. Ed's daughter is
Julie Bowen, and she has a husband and some kids.
The Emmy givers-out chose to bestow the award for
Best Comedy upon Modern Family's first season. And it seems like a funny
show -- but it just isn't my speed. I'll stick to my Sunday night HBO
comedy fix -- Eastbound & Down, Bored to Death, and (returning next
year) Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Jesse: I hate titles with puns, but this is almost horrible in the other
direction: "Modern Family" is so utilitarian in the way it tries to
communicate what an edgy show this will be. I guess "Sitcom With An
Interracial Couple and Some Homosexuals" was probably too long, but I
would be more likely to give that show a try than "Modern Family". Ugh.
Just saying it makes me want to sigh and vomit at the same time.
Jim: FX has been
trying to fill the void left by "The Shield" since it left the air a
couple of years ago. Sons of Anarchy & Justified hit the same
demographic, but they're not quite the same level of quality (Justified
has the potential to get there). Terriers, with Shield creator Shawn
Ryan on board as a producer, is another attempt.
Donald Logue (Grounded for Life) is an ex-cop, run
off the force before he was eligible for a pension, who is gumshoeing
with a partner (Michael Raymond-James -- three first names!) -- without a
license. They have a bunch of sketchy acquaintances who get them into
trouble. Logue is a recovering alcoholic with an ex-wife (with whom he
is still in love) -- she's getting ready to marry an architect and wants
to sell her house. Logue wants to by it -- but where will he get the
I really enjoy Terriers -- it's my Wednesday night
show -- but it's not The Shield. To ask it to be would be unfair; The
Shield was transcendent television. Terriers is very, very good so far
-- and I hope it can maintain that level of quality and build an
audience, because enjoy the hell out of it.
Jesse: I don't know why you tried to compare this to The Shield (other than its
on FX and the guy from the Shield is involved... okay I guess I do
understand) but, in my mind, the show it is most directly descended from
is Veronica Mars. A sassy, wise-crackin', blue collar SoCal private eye
takes on the crooked moneyed elite with nothing to rely on but their
sassy wise cracks? If Donal Logue was a sexy 25-year old playing a high
school junior, it'd basically be a remake. I loved Veronica Mars, and I
love this show. Also, I love that the title of the show has absolutely
nothing to do with what its actually about (there was an actually an exchange between the two leads where they discuss what to call their detective agency with a dog sitting in between them, and you think they are about to say, "Let's call ourselves the Terriers" or something like that, but they don't, and instead the scene mocks you for thinking that, which I loved). Yes, I'm basically judging
every show we're talking about based on its title because I haven't
watched any of them.
Another thing this show shares with Veronica Mars is its terrible, terrible ratings. Enjoy this one while it lasts.
According to Mad Men, there's more than just sand at Jones Beach.
for the record -- Elisa wanted me to DVR this for since she only has a
VCR. (My girlfriend is technologically challenged). So I watched the
first episode. From what I can tell, the premise is that white trash is
funny -- which I think was the same premise as the creators' previous
effort, My Name is Earl. Also, senile old Cloris Leachman is funny when
she takes her shirt off and french kisses her grandson. And white trash
people are incompetent with babies -- who needs car seats?
episode in and I'm out. Sorry Raising Hope. Incompetent child rearing
and white trash humor aren't keeping me glued to the TV.
Jesse: I can tell you first hand: white trash are HILARIOUS. Did you hear the
one about the teenage girl who already has two children and the daddy is
they gave Gob Bluth his own show! Except he's got a different name, and
he's rich. The humor on this one -- from the minds that brought us the
short-lived but brilliant Arrested Development -- hinges on Arnett's
character being out of touch with reality. He thinks diet sodas cost
$50, and wants to buy an extremely tiny horse because his Middle Eastern
neighbor tells him it's desirable. And -- a man who has enough money to
sleep with any woman he wants to -- is still pining for his childhood
sweetheart, who now lives in Peru with David Cross and is trying to save
the world that Arnett is destroying with all of his oil drilling.
I'd be one-and-done on this show -- but I'll give it another two
episodes before I pull the plug. Simply based on the strength of
Jesse: Here is your challenge, Jim: find me one good show with a pun for a name. If the name is a pun, I don't waste my time.
Sons of Anarchy
back! Biker Hamlet returns, and it's still pretty good. This season
opens with Jax attempting to locate his kidnapped son, and his mom
(Peggy Bundy) on the lam after having been framed for murder, and Ron
Perlman's chin occupying more space than ever. Hal Holbrook is also on
this year, and Stephen King just had a guest-starring spot.
Jesse: Motorcycles are loud. (I've never seen this show).
No Ordinary Family
Jim: Remember the movies they made about The Fantastic
Four? Where Michael Chiklis turns into The Thing due to gamma rays? The
Thing is covered in rocks and is super strong -- bullets bounce off of
him, he can clobber things, he has super strength. And the other guy was
really stretchy, and one guy set on fire, and the woman turned
Well, the producers of No Ordinary Family must have
really, really enjoyed The Fantastic Four. Because they cast Michael
Chiklis as The Thing again, minus the rocky exterior. They must have
liked The Shield, too, because they made him a police sketch artist who
wants to be a cop and they robbed Vic Mackey's leather jacket from
Oh? And instead of a failed space flight with gamma
rays giving the four fantastics powers, they crash land into a magical
lagoon in Brazil while on a sight seeing tour. The wife gets super-speed
(Julie Benz, by the by), the daughter (who will not give it up to her
boyfriend) becomes a telepath. The son, who is maligned for being dumb
and bad at school the whole episode, gets super smarts.
No Ordinary Family is pretty ridiculous, and a
blatant rip-off of The Fantastic Four. But I enjoyed the pilot -- it was
light years better than post-season 1 Heroes -- and will probably keep
watching it until it gets cancelled.
Jesse: I couldn't do it, Jim. I won't say I didn't consider it, but in the end,
I couldn't do it. I sat there, staring at the DVR guide, ready to hit
the record button, and... I just... I couldn't bring myself to watch
another network television show about regular people discovering they
have super powers. I need to stand up for ME, I can't be afraid to say
no, I have to give myself room to be myself. How many times do I have to
let them hurt me, Jim? HOW MANY TIMES?? WHERE ARE THE IPODS, JIM?!?!?!
*runs away sobbing*
may be making this claim a bit early -- I haven't yet seen Blue Bloods,
after all -- but Detroit 1-8-7 may be the best new network show this
year. The pilot showed a hell of a lot of promise -- a cinema verite cop
show, focused on the Detroit Homicide Unit, starring Michael Imperioli
(Spider from Goodfellas, Chris-ta-pha from the Sopranos), with James
McDaniel (Lt. Fancy of NYPD Blue) in a supporting role.
The show knows TV cop show history, too -- you've
got "The Board" from Homicide: Life on the Street, a gritty look, and a
pilot that features an ending that takes you back to the Hill Street
The first episode shows the detectives investigating
a few different crimes -- which we discover are connected by the end of
the episode. I hope that this isn't a recurring formula (I'd be
surprised if the show was that stupid), but it worked to help add to the
level of tension in the first episode.
Imperioli's character is a bit of a loner -- nobody
in the squad is really friends with him, or knows much about him, and
he's partnered with a rookie. Sounds a lot like Frank Pembleton (H:LotS)
to me, but the character is not a copy.
The producers originally had the show set up a faux
documentary, but reedited after a real-life police shooting was recorded
by a documentary crew in Detroit. I think this may be a blessing -- as
the faux docu style has failed on cop shows before (see: The Beat)...
however, what it leaves is a documentary style show without the
trappings of the documentary format.
I'm looking forward to this one, and hope it's able to find an audience.
Jesse: You say "cinema verite". I say if its so goddamn verite then why does a
show set in Detroit use California's police code for murder in its
title? With verite like that, they might as well have the character's
break out into Randy Newman songs. Are you getting the sense that this
year's crop of shows is making me angry and spiteful?
Jim: We have written lots, and lots, and lots
about House in the past. About how the show was played out, about how
to fix it, about how annoying '13' is, about House is, in your words, an
'A character on a B show.'
Despite all my bellyaching about House in the past, I'm still watching it.
premiere of House picks up right after last season's finale. House is
struggling with having suffered through shooting an entire episode shot
on a DSLR, and having lost a patient. Cuddy has left her fiance (wasn't
he supposed to get a spin-off?) so that she can dow the nasty with
House. And do the nasty they do. She even gives nasty oral pleasure to
Meanwhile back at the hospital, the only
neurosurgeon on staff has some sort of food poisoning and gets sent
home. Of course, this means the hospital loses its certification as a
trauma center and nobody can get ahold of Cuddy to figure out what to do
-- because she's busy boinking House. Hilarity ensues.
That said, this was a pretty solid episode of House
-- a definite B+ -- and I'm still watching the show. George Wyner, who
played the food-poisoned/drugged out/funny neurosurgeon is a great
character actor who has been in *everything*, and made the B story
pretty enjoyable. Oh, and 13 is leaving, I hope. We'll see. She's left
before and reared her pretty head and lifeless eyes again before.
It takes a hell of a lot for me to drop a show
mid-run (*cough* Heroes *cough*), and I'm not ready to drop House -- I
can enjoy a "B" show as much as a "B" movie, as long as it's got some
charm. Procedural, formulaic, repetitive -- House may be all of these
things. But I still like it.
Jesse: I'm done. I'm out. I can't do it anymore. House isn't even an A
character on a B show anymore, he's a C character on an F-minus show.
He's crazy, he's not crazy. He's on drugs, he's off drugs, he's back on
drugs but nobody cares anymore. We've got new doctors, no we have the
old ones back, we had an interesting new doctor but killed her in a bus
crash because we were desperate for ideas, and that was two whole
goddamn seasons ago. I told Suzi she can press on without me.
Jim: Harsh words. I still view House as 45 minutes of solid entertainment. On
the other hand, you probably aren't missing much by not watching it.
This is season 7 -- do you think they'll do another?
Jesse: This show will stagger on, zombie-like, until bad ratings and bloated production costs finally shoot it in the fucking head. It's not there yet.
Jim: Lone Star
is being touted as one of the best new shows of the season by many. It
may be, but that just means that the new shows this season aren't really
spectacular. I guess we shouldn't expect transcendent television on any
night but Sunday, and certainly not on a major network. Lone Star
involves two conmen -- a father and a son -- who are working together to
bilk people out of money. The son is the face, he's got a couple things
going -- getting people in a small Texas town to give him money for a
new energy source that doesn't exist -- and marrying into the family of a
rich oilman (Jon Voight, not the periodontist).
The pilot episode shows us that con-man-man is
pretty good at conning, but he has a fatal flaw -- he falls in love
pretty easily. He's got a girlfriend (in the town where he's bilked all
the people), and a wife (Jon Voight's daughter, not played by Angelina
Jolie) -- and the pilot shows him using his new-found position in
Voight's company to help repay the people he stole from, so he can keep
both relationships going.
Lone Star is interesting, and I may continue to
watch it, but I'm not in love with it. It's worth checking out, and it
may turn out to be a pretty decent show, but I don't see it being a
Jesse: Don't bother getting attached, this show got crushed by The Event and
Dancing With The Stars. The scuttlebutt is that this will be the first
cancellation of the fall season. Fox has said they are giving it one
more week, but its nothing more than a stay of execution. [ed. note: it's totes canceled already]
Jim: Ok, from
what I can tell, "The Event" is when a space alien (or super-powered
psychic) makes an airplane disappear. The airplane is about to crash
into the private residence of our Cuban-American President (Blair
Underwood). There's a conspiracy behind it, a super-secret prison, which
President Martinez is about to reveal to the American people. Clearly,
someone doesn't want him to do that.
Blair Underwood is, next to Wayne Brady, the least
Cuban black man I can think of. My theory? The producers wanted to get
Jimmy Smitts, but Smitts said "No way, this script is too confusing! I'm
going to do Outlaw." So they decided to get someone else who was on LA
Law to star. Why does he have to be Cuban? Can't he just be black? Elisa
tells me that there are black Cuban people. There may be, but Blair
Underwood is not one of them.
Casting rant aside, The Event is intentionally
confusing. There are a lot of flashbacks, and it's often unclear as to
what's happening when -- even when they take the time to tell you "eight
days earlier" or the like.
I do not like The Event so far. I may give it
another episode or two, but I have a lot to watch on Monday nights. I
really think this one is going to fall apart before the end of the
season and folks will be going "REALLY?!? Really The Event?!?
REALLY?!!!!!!?" So, if you're asking me if I'm in or out on The Event,
I'm saying that I'm out. On The Event.
Jesse: Everything that's wrong with this show is right there in the title: "The
Event". It's so grossly, obnoxiously portentious and empty at the same
time. They might as well have named it "The MacGuffin." I haven't seen
the show, but I can already write half the dialogue. "There's going to
be an event." "Why wasn't I informed about the event?" "The event was on
a need to know basis." "I'm the president, I need to know!" "Okay, Mr.
President, I'll tell you: the event is -" and then the guy speaking gets
shot by a sniper. It's everything I hated about Lost, distilled.
first five minutes of Hawaii Five-0 really set the tone for the show.
Steve McGarret is transporting an arms dealer who sells weapons to
terrorists (McGarret is in the army). His phone rings. It's his dad. He
answer it. His dad is being held at gunpoint by the arms dealer's older
brother (also an arms dealer) -- James Marsters. Yes, Spike from Buffy.
So convoy transporting the younger brother is
ambushed, Spike's younger brother is killed, and BANG BANG BANG, Spike
kills McGarret's father. CUE THEME MUSIC.
Steve flies back to Hawaii, and the governor (Designing Woman, Jean
Smart) taps him to lead a new, elite police unit. He refuses, of course,
until he goes through the motions, discovers that his father knew of
some police corruption, and realizes that joining the force is the only
way to get justice for his dad. So he teams up with Scott Caan (Danno),
Jin from Lost, and Michelle Park -- and bam, you have a show.
Oh, and he kills James Marsters. OR DOES HE?!?!? I
bet not -- they didn't find the body after it fell into the water. I bet
Spike is smart enough to own a kevlar vest.
Five-0 is campy, fun, absurd, and ridiculous -- not necessarily in that
order. I really, really enjoyed it, and will continue to watch the
Jesse: I'm glad to hear this show was successful, for a second there I was
afraid that somebody would actually have to come up with an original
Jim: For a show like this, original is not what I want. I want the old theme
song, I want 'book 'em Danno' to be said every episode, and I want it to
be ridiculous. So far, it looks like it's going to deliver.
The Big C
Jim: Two funny things about "The Big C" -- I keep calling
it "The C Word," and when Elisa told me about the show, my brain
interpreted its premise as "Everyone on the show has cancer!"
Well, not everyone has cancer -- just Laura Linney. I
did think that Gibourey Sidibe was a bit young for cancer. She's in the
show. And Oliver Platt, also no cancer.
it's a family drama (Linney is the mom, Platt her estranged husband --
she also has a son and a crazy eco-homeless brother; Precious based on
the Novel Push by Sapphire is one of her students -- Linney is a
teacher) about a lady who gets cancer and then starts going crazy
realizing she never lived her life. I've never watched Weeds, but I look
at it as "Weeds with Cancer." Or I guess it could be "The United States
of Tara with Cancer." Because it's probably a lot like the other
Showtime shows. Still, enjoyable, but not great.
Jesse: I fucking hate Showtime. Everything I see on Showtime is horrible. Nurse
Jackie? Horrible. Weeds? Fucking horrible. The United States of Tara?
Hamburger telephone horrible. I'm pretty sure I refused to watch last
season of Dexter because, deep down, I was furious at Showtime for
producing all these horrible fucking shows. I've actually seen more than
one episode of Weeds, and I want to kneecap every fucking character on
that show, so they can't run away and are forced to watch as I beat them
to death, one by one, with an aluminum bat. And even then I'd have a
sore back the next day. I can't win.
turned on the TV this morning and I saw the Pawn Stars on Rachel Ray's
talk show. They were appraising a ring that Jamie Lee Curtis got from
her mom (Janet Leigh). I guess that means they've hit critical mass, pop
of Pawn Stars as "The Antiques Road Show at a Pawn Shop" -- it's
absurdly staged and scripted. Rick Harrison owns a pawn shop on the
strip in Vegas. He runs it with his father (the Old Man), his son (Big
Hoss -- although nobody has ever called him this on the show, this is
just how he's identified in the credits), and Chum Lee (the village
idiot, essentially). People bring stuff in and try to sell it -- a lot
of antiques, military history stuff, cars, and old coke machines -- and
then they bring in an expert to appraise it, and may or may not buy the
take things to get fixed up a lot -- Rick Dale, who is getting his own
show on History, does restoration work on soda machines, pinball
machines, barber chairs, and the like. They take guns out to the desert
and shoot them. They buy ridiculous things (a hot air balloon). And they
have a lot of fun. It's a very enjoyable reality show that does not
make me feel dumb for watching it. I highly recommend it.
Pawn is truTV's answer to Pawn Stars. It's not a copy -- although it's
certainly meant to cash in on the success of the other show. Instead,
Hardcore Pawn is a documentary series (definitely not a reality show --
there's a huge difference) about a pawn shop on 8 Mile Road in Detroit.
It's an ugly show -- you see poor people struggling to survive, selling
their possessions just to get by. Not an episode seems to go by without a
poor black person getting into an altercation with security, because
they have lost their pawn ticket, are unable to pay enough to get their
item out of pawn, or are simply trying to run a scam on the shop.
nice to get a non-candy coated look at Pawn Shops -- I really enjoy it,
but the audience is certainly narrower than that of Pawn Stars. If Pawn
Stars is too reality for you, or if you just can't get enough pawn shop
drama in your life, give it a watch.
Jesse: Here's a couple more ideas for pawn shop shows:
A pawn shop owner dies, leaving the family business to be run by his 11 year old son: Child Pawn
Two women open rival pawn shops across the street from each other: Girl on Girl Pawn
A chinese woman runs a pawn shop by day, a sex dungeon by night: Asian Fetish Pawn
And, of course, a San Fransisco pawn shop: Gay Pawn.
Jim: You forgot Midget Pawn -- a pawn shop run by midgets.
Yes, I know the punny titles are stupid, but that won't make me stop watching Pawn Stars.Chuck
Jesse: Jim you are watching so much Monday night TV, and none of it
includes the best show of the night, Chuck. At the end of last season,
Chuck found itself at something of a turning point: it had essentially
resolved all the conflicts that had been raised from the first three
seasons. Season Four started with a throat clearing episode, as it moved
the new pieces into place to propel the next set of dramas going.
Chuck's strength as a serialized story has always been its willingness
to propel forward where other shows (Lost and Heroes spring to mind as
recent examples, although there are dozens more) have ground to a halt
as the writer's scramble to figure out where the hell they were going
with all this bullshit in the first place. To give an example from
Season 2 (when the show really took off), an episode halfway through the
season reveals that the Intersect (the admittedly ridiculous computer
that was implanted in Chuck's brain which is the whole driving force
behind the series) was created by a mysterious figured named Orion.
Chuck resolved to track down Orion so he could help him get the
Intersect out of his brain. I expected, based on my abusive history with
other shows, that we would spend the next half of a season waiting to
find out who Orion was and move that part of the show forward. Nope. We
found out the next episode. AND not only did we find out, but the answer
was interesting and kept propelling the show to greater and greater
Jim, once Lonestar is canceled, you realize how stupid
the Event is, and you finally wake up and put House out to pasture like I
have, I hope you finally have time to give Chuck a chance.
Jim: I've watched Chuck. I've seen more episodes of Chuck than I have
of Veronica Mars. I don't enjoy it. I'm aware of The Event's stupidity
-- I declared I was out in my capsule review, and Lone Star is not going
to be missed by me. If I don't have stuff to watch on Monday nights,
I'll be happy -- I still have 10 and a half seasons of NYPD Blue to
watch, after all. And Breaking Bad. And Damages. And Deadwood -- I've
got a bunch on my Netflix queue that will fill the void of a TVless
[I would have called this a "preview", or even a "review", if it had been posted in anything like a timely manner. But it wasn't, so it isn't. Part One covers Sunday and Monday.]Sunday NightMad Men
Jim: In the midst of preparing for
our annual TV bonanza, you posed the question this question to me: "Is
this the best season of Mad Men yet?"
answer, a couple weeks ago -- was yes. Now? An unequivocal yes. The
fourth season showed us a new agency, with some new faces and some
familiar ones, and has dealt pretty bluntly with Don's handling of his
divorce. Let's just say, it hasn't been pretty. Mr. Draper has been
taken to new lows (although, perhaps he is pulling himself out of them,
as we have seen in recent episodes?) -- drunken blackouts, poor choices
in sexual partners, the death of his only true confidant.
it hasn't all been deep, dark, heavy drama. Quite the opposite -- the
show balances everything out with comedy that ranges from light (the
fake motorcycle commercial) to downright black (the demise of Miss
Blankenship -- certainly the writers had seen Hitchcock's 'The Trouble
with Harry' at some point). Mad Men is appointment television, a show
that has matured quite a bit over the years -- and one that I fully
expect to maintain an extremely high level of quality throughout its
look forward to Sunday nights. This has been the best season of the
best show on television. It is perhaps the one show on TV that the Suze
and I love equally. She'll stew while I watch 30 Rock, and I'll consider
performing the Brown Hand Procedure while I have to sit through Jersey
Shore and Teen Mom (JESUS FUCKING CHRIST STOP WATCHING TEEN MOM SUZI
WHAT THE FUCK), but on Sunday nights, all is right while we watch the
latest antics of incorrigible scamp Don Draper and his band of 60s
What a bold step to leave Sterling Cooper behind for
the new agency this season, and it has paid off in so many ways. I
mean, forget the great dramatic storylines, the fun new characters, and
the fact that I have barely had to tolerate January Jones at all this
season. Would you look at that office? What a gorgeous show. Jim, for my
birthday this year, all I want is the skinniest (non-bolo) ties you can
find. Suzi would like a crystal decanter set for her office.Boardwalk Empire
Jim: HBO has certainly gone all-in on this one, no? A giant set
constructed in Brooklyn, a cast led by Steve Buscemi, and a pilot
directed by none other than Marty Scorsese. But... to what end?
Created by Sopranos alum Terrence Winter (who wrote
'The Pine Barrens' episode, among others), the premiere was promising,
but it didn't blow me away. That said, I don't know if it was supposed
to blow me away. There is no singular over-the-top moment, but rather
many small moments and attention careful attention to detail -- it gives
you the sense that, with some patience, great things are coming with
the show. And I do think that it's going to deliver -- but it's a show
that will require patience for the viewer to watch things develop over
There's a lot to like about the show -- Buscemi has
always looked like he should exist in the 1920s, now he gets to do so on
screen. Michael Shannon looks like downright frightening as the IRS
prohibition agent. And Kelly Macdonald's character looks like she might
bring some interesting balance with Buscemi -- the corrupt government
official falling for the abused temperance union member? Sounds good to
If that's not enough reason to watch, I've got two more: Dabney Coleman and Omar are in it.
Jesse: I'm not watching much new TV this season. So far its been this and
Terriers. Part of that is because I'm spending most of my free time
studying, but part of it is... meh. Nothing really grabbed me. But
Boardwalk Empire has it all: the high production values, the HBO style
violence and nudity, and the period trappings. Would it be a stretch to
imagine that this show was pitched as The Sopranos crossed with Mad Men?
All the gangster intrigue of the former with the attention to detail in
recreating another period of American history in the latter.
biggest question I walked away from this show was: what happened to
Atlantic City? Jim, I've been to AC a bunch of times, yet I have never
seen, or even heard about, a midget boxing match. I have never seen
premature baby incubators for sale on the boardwalk. I've never seen a
jazz funeral for a giant bottle of liquor. All I've seen are a bunch of
feral homeless cats and guys with orange stains in their laps left there
by a strippers' spray-on tan.
Jim: I don't know about incubators and midgets, but at least you can still get Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy.Dexter
Oh, Dexter, you are back. Picking up where left off last season
(Rita being killed so that she could go co-star with Michael Chiklis in a
Fantastic Four rip-off), Dexter has hit the ground running this year --
and running fast.
The FBI picks up the investigation of Rita's death,
Dexter starts acting very, very suspicious, decides to run, kills a
hillbilly in anger, and then returns to give a eulogy at Rita's funeral.
Oh, he also breaks the news to the kids while wearing Mickey Mouse
ears, and Deb and Quinn did the nasty after completing a nasty clean-up
All that doesn't matter. We are in agreement that
Dexter is an awesome show -- and that last year was the show's
high-water mark, with John Lithgow and all. You know what has me
excited? PETER WELLER! Peter Weller is going to be on Dexter this
season. I hope he puts on the Robocop suit.
Jesse; I've had some time to think about why I initially bailed on Dexter last
season after one episode, and this season's premiere threw it into sharp
relief. You'll recall last season started with Dexter, happily (?)
married, new baby, still killing dudes. We get a brief introduction to
the Trinity killer, but the episode revolves around Dexter, and how Rita
is just constantly nagging him about shit, and he's tired, and at the
end of the episode he flips his car over and over on his way home from a
kill, throwing garbage bags filled with body parts everywhere. And I
sighed. My first thought: didn't we spend a whole season already on
whether or not Dexter is going to get caught (the brilliant Season 2),
are we going to have to do that again? My second thought: Dexter, the
character, used to be a fun, unpredictable monster, and now he's just a
So: Dexter smashing in that hillbilly's face with
that giant awesome boat hook was as cathartic for him as a character as
it was for me as a viewer. The dark, dangerous Dexter is back, and so am
I.Bored to Death
Jim: Bored to Death is my second favorite comedy currently airing --
right behind Community. It's smart, it's funny, it's ridiculous. It's
all kinds of awesome.
But it's a show you either love or hate -- if you
aren't a fan of the Wes Anderson school of comedy, chances are you're
going to hate BtD. Which is unfortunate, because you're going to miss
Ted Danson in the role of a lifetime. It occurred to me on Sunday that
Danson is playing a modern-day version of Roger Sterling -- he's
cracking one-liners left and right, smoking a copious amount of
marijuana, banging who he wants to bang... Danson is even better here
than he is on Curb -- and that's saying a lot.
And you have Schwartzman and Galafankis, of course
-- two men whose names I cannot spell correctly (I didn't check -- am I
even close?). The former is now teaching classes at a community college
on writing (night classes for adults), the latter has finally been
kicked to the curb by his girlfriend. The premiere episode has
Schwarzman attempting to erase the hard drive at an S&M club (with a
dominatrix played by 30 Rock's Kristin Johnston -- who is, of course,
an aspiring author), while Danson deals with new ownership of his
magazine (they're Christian, and financially responsible -- no more
Jesse: Before you go running around saying that Ted Danson is playing the role
of a lifetime, I have to ask: did you or did you not watch Season One of
Damages? I'm not watching this show.Eastbound and Down
Jim: I'm not a huge fan of E&D. I watch it, but it seems like it's
more out of habit than anything else. It's a one-joke show -- Kenny
Powers is an egotistical, obnoxious, asshole, and generally a bad
Season 2 starts with Kenny in Mexico, where he is
making money cock fighting and hanging out with a couple of sidekicks (a
large man and a midget), and continuing to write his self-help book. By
the end of the episode, he has decided to start pitching for the crappy
Mexican baseball team.
After seven total episodes, I think I'm done with this show.
Jesse: I'm going to give E&D a long leash, because my love for season one
is as wide and vast as Katy Mixon's cleavage, but season two... the
premiere got a pretty loud "meh" from me. Which was strange, because all
the elements were there. I loved the cornrows, the foul language, the
fact that he's a cock fighter (of COURSE he is), but something was
missing. In season one, Kenny Power's was a pathetic loser, but there
was some joy in the fact that he didn't know, or at least wasn't willing
to admit the truth. He would still strut around some fucking hillbilly
middle school like he was on the mound in the World Series, and it was
awesome. Season two, he's too... defeated. There were signs of life at
the end - "I'm going to prove to everyone that I'm the Christ figure
they perceive me to be" - so we'll see what happens.
According to Mad Men, little girls love the Beatles.
According to Mad Men, Mickey Mouse and balloons make quite the reception.
According to Mad Men, it's best to avoid talk of bombs and defense contracts in advertising.
According to Mad Men, chocolate bunny is a term of affection.
According to Mad Men, abortions in Morristown run for about $400.
According to Mad Men, you're never too young for your first abortion.
According to Mad Men, Southampton is preferable to Easthampton.
According to Mad Men, it is not hard to hold one's hand whilst jerking them off.