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Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
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Other TV 25 - 31 October 2009

Posted by The TV Critic on 28 October 2009 | 2 Comments

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Curb Your Enthusiasm - 706 - The Bare Midriff

For those of us who enjoyed Seinfeld, there was a huge amount to enjoy just seeing Larry and Jerry interact. Just seeing them chew over the minutiae of life and both refuse to get their hands dirty was enjoyable to see. The rest of it was a bit too contrived for my taste. Larry seemed well within his rights to tell his assistant how to dress appropriately at work yet we still had to sit though a couple of those drawn out fake arguments which sometimes drag the show down. The idea that people see bald rather than race is way too silly an idea even if it is a staple Larry joke. The 1962 flashback was an interesting idea and seemed to be setting up a pretty extreme joke but then Richard Lewis survived it unharmed which seemed weird. Finally the flab grab finish was fun in a way but it didn’t come together as amusingly as some final jokes do.

Mad Men - 311 - The Gypsy and the Hobo

Roger is always an engaging character to watch. I thought him doing a favour for Joan was interesting because it was like he liked being useful for a change. I’m assuming he doesn’t really feel like Jane is the one but maybe just wanted to look like he had moved on. The main event of Don explaining himself to Betty was fascinating to watch for the shift in power between them. One of the more interesting aspects which came out of the revelations was the difference in class between them. Don feels deep down like he doesn’t deserve Betty or at least she isn’t who he is supposed to be with. He came from nothing while she came from a respectable family. And she feels similarly saying that “I see how you are with money, you don’t understand it.” It’s as if he is being exposed and suddenly she’s no longer chasing him, he is worried about hanging onto her. I thought more could have been made of Suzanne‘s threatening presence outside in the car.

Dexter - 405 - Dirty Harry

Once more Deb’s acting stole the show for me. Her numb, crying, pained performance in the parking lot where Lundy died was really impressive. I liked that Dexter admitted he would be lost without her. Even he needs that link to his childhood, someone who understands on some level where he has come from. This much more personal motivation for killing Trinity should be fun to watch. It will give Dexter yet another new personal issue to fret about in his head and Trinity’s wife and family make for a nice twist. Now Dexter will be faced with seeing a fellow married with children serial killer and how he goes about living a double life. That’s what’s so engaging about Dexter, every murder is another chapter in his personal development. It should be interesting to see how he squares all this with Rita. It’s a big test for the show and how realistic they can make Dexter’s ability to get away with murder yet again.

Parks and Recreation - 207 - Greg Pikitis

Parks is living an interesting existence in my mind at the moment. On the one hand it is slowly making me laugh and enjoy its silly plots. On the other it feels like such an Office clone at times that I am bothered by it. So here I really enjoyed the simple silliness of Leslie treating a teenage nuisance like her own nemesis. The setting of a Parks and Rec office gives scope for these more action orientated storylines as opposed to say a paper company. I particularly like what Sergeant Dave brings to the table. By taking the interview setting so seriously, understandably concerned with being on the record, he manages to drag good comedy out of it each time he is asked a question. But therein lies a particular issue of mine. What is the camera crew doing there? If they are supposed to be filming a documentary about a Parks and Recreation department then why do they go to Ann’s Halloween party? She isn’t an employee, so why would they be allowed in?

I know it doesn’t matter to the average fan but it’s something which bothers me on two levels. One is just my thirst for logic and believability. I suppose in my heart I would like The Office to end with the documentary crew coming out from behind the camera, at least metaphorically, to end their coverage of Scranton’s favourite paper company. And that leads into my second issue which is with Parks mimicking The Office. The reality seems to be that the documentary format is the new comedy format of choice for some. It works so well as a new way to make a sit com that the show has basically just imported the format but without any justification for its existence. What perhaps will resonate more with the average fan is that Ann and Mark are just Jim and Pam reincarnate. Here Ann tries to get excited about Halloween only to be disappointed and upset. She is following the model for Pam, being nice and meek and trying to get everyone to get along. Nice guy Mark then gets annoyed by Ann’s nursing friends and gives the camera “the Jim look” when they test his loyalty to Ann. Sure, every sit com has love stories. But with the format similarity I feel like I am being asked to care about a relationship formula rather than the actual characters.

Community - 107 - Introduction to Statistics

I thought this was the best episode of the season so far and it did give me renewed hope for the show. I don’t want to go into detail as I will just end up writing a review of why it worked. But it was just good sitcomedy. All the characters had clearly defined personalities, desired and goals. Jeff plays the reluctant hero\leader well and seeing him dragged back into save the day is just good sensible writing. For once I really enjoyed Senor Chang who I thought came through as more believable as a bit of a creep, rather than an insane teacher. His suggestion that Jeff beg for sex was the comedy highlight to me but his explanation that Mexican Halloween was a sexual position was pretty good too.

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  • Great comments as ever. I hadn't really thought about Deb being the one to take him down but it makes perfect sense. It pits Harry's two children against one another and if justice prevailed that would be a fitting end.

    I also agree that the show has kept up the intensity and built a solid set of supporting characters. If they went all the way with it then I think you have laid out what could be a wonderfully tragic final season. Where Dexter has to kill some of his friends to protect himself before finally being caught.

    Thanks for posting. Quality.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 06/11/2009 10:18pm (10 years ago)

  • I thought Dexter was a very good episode as well, but like you was kind of let down that Lundy was killed. He looked to be Dexter's main adversary for the future. I think, though, that this has been done to set up the finale of the series to be Deb vs. Dexter.

    They have made it a point to show she actually is a very gifted detective at times and isn't always the emotional hothead.

    Also with the way they have been subtlely and very slowly building up Deb's personal investigation into what women their father was sleeping with, I think it's build up to the fact that she will get hotter and hotter on Dexter's case.

    The great thing about Dexter is they have been able to keep the show very intense and interesting through three and a half seasons yet still have yet to have Dexter need to confront any of the major players.

    I believe I once heard that Dexter is going to have at least 2 more seasons after this one, and I feel like they've saved all of their best cards for the last few seasons. Imagine how ramped up the intensity is going to be when you have 4 seasons worth of built up characters and relationships. Will Dexter have to confront or kill Rita, La Guerta, Angel, Masuka, or even Deb in order to keep his secret life?

    I feel there's been a looming foreshadow of impending doom over Dexter during the whole series. He has admitted many times that he expects to some day be caught, slip up, or have to pay for his crimes against humanity. As such, I think the fitting way for things to end would be just as you said: the death or capture of Dexter and him paying for the murders he's committed.

    The show has a great set up. We root for Dexter in a sense and don't want him to get found out. We also root for his friends and family members, especially the people in the police department with him. In the end though, they are on opposite sides.

    I'm not sure how I would feel if Dexter had to put poor Rita or Masuka on his table. Innocent bystanders caught up in the life of the wrong man. Or when the day inevitably comes when La Guerta finds out that Dexter framed Doaks and that Sgt. Doaks was right all along about Dexter. Will she find out too late, though?

    For the future I see the potential for a lot of internal agony for not only the characters in the show, but also us viewers.

    Posted by Brando from the Cinemaphiles, 03/11/2009 5:44pm (10 years ago)

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