I am watching other shows I swear
As you have probably gathered, with the Buffy Rewatch, Breaking Bad Rewatch and the History of Byzantium all rolling on each week my time to cover shows I’m not passionate about is limited. However I can’t stay away so here are some very brief thoughts on what I’ve been watching.
YOU WILL BE SPOILED if you haven’t seen these yet:
Boardwalk Empire - 301 - Resolutions
I thought Alan Sepinwall was dead-on when he said (on his latest podcast) that Boardwalk manages to be less than the sum of its parts. My constant critique has been that there is no character to cheer on. There are no characters who aren’t involved in corruption in some way and so everyone seems equally loathsome at various points.
I still enjoy watching the show as it looks amazing and the acting is usually very good. However the season three premiere opened with a scene which just summed up why I don’t rate it as highly as some do.
New arrival Gyp Rosetti has car trouble on the road outside Atlantic City. A fellow driver helps him out but slightly offends him. So Gyp beats him to death. Anyone whose seen a Tarantino movie (or No Country for Old Men) knows how gripping scenes like this should be. The tension, the discomfort, the horrible dawning realisation of what is about to happen. Not only did the scene play out in dull fashion but there was no emotional resonance to it whatsoever. It was just another brutal act of gangsterism on a show which is full of them but doesn’t know how to make us care.
Go On - 102 - He Got Game, She Got Cats
I could still see this being a middling success for Matthew Perry but this episode confirmed that the show won’t be one I cover regularly. I was annoyed that George’s story (where his basketball was stolen) was played for laughs instead of the tragedy it was. These single camera comedies seem so desperate to not take anything seriously that they destroy the good stories they have. The episode ended with a pleasant scene where George demonstrated that he could still enjoy basketball even without being able to see it. And yet the writers immediately crushed that moment with the silliness of having George tell Ryan to steal a basketball for him. It was goofiness for its own sake. Ryan is a sports radio host, he could have got ten signed basketballs in a week.
Animal Practice - 101 - Pilot
I thought about writing a full review of this but just couldn’t spare the time. As with “Go On” I can see vague promise in the idea of “Dr Cox runs an Animal Hospital” if you follow the “Scrubs” reference. However the show seems so geared toward a romantic storyline of whether Dr Coleman and his ex Dorothy will get back together and the usual array of ridiculous side characters that I don’t think there’s much hope here. I also don’t think Justin Kirk is the right choice as the leading man. He seems to angry and anal to pull off the “bachelor” lines he was given here. Tyler Labine (playing another doctor) could have done it more convincingly.
The New Normal - 101 - Pilot
One half of the creative force behind this is Ryan Murphy. He of “Glee” and “American Horror Story” fame. In both those shows (even though I’ve seen only five of one and one of the other) I’ve noticed his tendency toward shock value over realism. I’d go further and say that I feel in danger of being offended by his use of language which at times seems to use hate as a means of conveying either humour or drama which I really don’t like. I sensed that in “The New Normal.” On the surface it’s just another “Modern Family” with lovable but idiosyncratic families. However under the surface there is a writer using his characters to try and make racial and sexual jokes that are intended to get a reaction. I like my TV manipulation just a little subtler than that.
Wilfred Season 2
I know it hasn’t finished yet but I may not get a chance to comment again. I’ve been continually disappointed by “Wilfred” because it seems to have so much potential. Yet it’s actually a formula show. The producers just want Wilfred to play Stewie and Brian Griffin and do silly things and reference pop culture while Ryan stands around being frustrating. The mystery of who or what Wilfred is has become like the mother on “How I Met Your Mother.” I’m waiting around to find out and am annoyed by all the feet dragging.
I’m sorry these thoughts are so glib. One day, one day when I have more time...
p.s. I will write more about “Louie” season three which I have enjoyed a lot.