Catching up on other TV
Things are still hectic but here are some very quick thoughts on the TV shows I don’t review…
The Cleveland Show has been ok but for me it’s the Parks and Recreation to Family Guy’s, The Office. If you can follow that analogy. As in it’s too similar to Family Guy to make me want to review it or never miss an episode. I do think it could be a more family orientated show because Cleveland is a nicer character than Peter. Cleveland has carried the comedy for me and I did laugh out loud when he sits on his own nuts (in 103 The One About Friends). I guess that tells you all you need to know about my sophistication levels.
Parks and Recreation too functions at way too similar a level to The Office. It really says something about popularity breeding mediocrity that we have so many shows which are essentially copying another more successful show in an attempt to make money. Having said that I think Leslie is a fun central character, she plays the role very convincingly and is actually much easier to like than Michael Scott. I also think Tom (Aziz Ansari) plays the traditional sleazy character with a unique charisma. By the way if you are from Venezuela or have any interest or association with it I strongly recommend you watch episode five (Sister City) and I would love to hear from you. The writers go really hard at Venezuela and it shocked me how far they take it really.
Mad Men has been pretty enjoyable lately. I have never watched an episode twice and so I have never really given the show the time it would need to be analysed properly. I admit I lean heavily on Alan Sepinwal http://sepinwall.blogspot.com/ to remind me of details I have missed. However I though episode nine (Wee Small Hours) was pretty stunning. It explored so beautifully and so horribly how money controls our destiny and what it can and can’t get you. Like so many great TV shows, the hierarchy exposes who people really are. By finally having someone who really can control Don (Conrad Hilton) we see his weaknesses and coping mechanisms on full display. Set against the backdrop of civil rights it was a very impressive episode but if you think the power of rich men is any different fifty years later you are sadly mistaken.
The firing of Sal Romano was probably the best television I have seen all season. It was brutal and tragic and really pulled the emotions out of you. What a horrible, horrible position he was put in and his conspicuous presentation as a nice guy made it so sad. “You people” Don says, that’s the hero of our story speaking, just before he heads off to cheat on his wife again.
Curb Your Enthusiasm continues to go back and forth between quality and calamity. I like the simplicity of Larry's thinking in organising a Seinfeld reunion. Everything flows consistently from his own selfish desires and he wants Cheryl back so that's all that matters. The rest of the stories just annoy me more or less depending on how reasonable Larry is behaving. I thought Christian Slater was a better guest star than most, he seemed very natural and genuine which many actors don't in the "unscripted" environment of Curb.
Community had a pretty decent effort in episode three (Introduction to Film). The story kept you guessing throughout as to what Abed was up to and in the end it showed how all these characters are going to grow and change while at college. But otherwise I still think the characters are too silly and much of the humour doesn’t land. I particularly don’t enjoy the two professors (Senor Chang and Professor Duncan) who compete to be more obnoxious and obvious than one another.
Dexter remains my favourite show to watch at the moment. I would be interested to hear from female fans on the subject but as a solitary male myself I have always found it easy to relate to Dexter’s struggles. Not the murder obviously but just the desire to be alone. I suppose after four seasons I should be seriously questioning the credibility of this show but unlike say, a Jack Bauer, we do really get a sense of character development with Dexter which keeps things interesting. I always enjoy seeing him encountering new social and work problems and overcoming them with stoic facial expressions. I think the self narration really helps the show, it keeps the viewer in constant contact with Dexter’s emotional state. That sense of tension and pressure he is always under from his need to kill adds to that sense that what you are watching actually matters.
Also I am a huge fan of Dexter’s sister Deborah, both actress and character. She seems so convincingly on the edge of crying or yelling at any moment, both fearless and fragile. I particularly enjoy Special Agent Lundy’s return as I always enjoyed the sheer obviousness of her Freudian attraction to him. Her father was a detective who paid her less attention than her brother and here is an older detective giving her that attention and fulfillment.
I will get around to turning this into a weekly podcast as soon as I can. Thanks for your patience and your comments. Keep them coming…
Robin (The TV Critic)