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Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
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Other TV 8 - 14 November

Posted by The TV Critic on 16 November 2009 | 0 Comments

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Mad Men - 313 - Shut the Door, Have a Seat

I really enjoyed this episode more than any Mad Men episode I can remember. But that in itself feels like a criticism. The reason I liked it was because it became like any other TV show. Almost all the main characters teamed up together to fight the big money grubbing corporation. Don finally gave Peggy some respect, Joan waltzed back in to save the day, Bert was full of good comedy lines. Suddenly you had a reason to cheer on this band of adulterous, treacherous, cradle robbing, incompetent, sniveling, cowardly group of people. But should we have? As I wrote last week I have always respected the show’s refusal to look like other shows and continue to present people as deeply flawed and unlikeable. The reality of life is seemed closer to Mad Men than to anything else. So while I enjoyed the band being put back together, I couldn’t help but feel that the show was making one of those dramatic upheavals which undermines the sense that this is a simulation of real life. That would matter less in any other show I cover. But in Mad Men it felt, dare I say it, a little cheap.

From the point of view of Season Four I think it will make for a pretty entertaining story. And as for Betty, is she really going to marry a man she has met about five times? It certainly seems like she is jumping from one life into another without much thought.

Dexter - 407 - Slack Tide

Dexter apparently killed an innocent man. Shouldn’t he now kill himself? I know he accidentally killed Miguel Prado’s brother, but this was more directly his fault. The show has walked a fine line for a long time. They need to keep Dexter’s behavior in some kind of moral\legal\plausible context. Otherwise the show would become a parody. His reaction to this will be important for how Dexter is remembered. Will this be a major turning point in his life or swiftly forgotten by the end of the season?

Curb Your Enthusiasm - 708 - Office Krupke

Now this was the good side of the Curb coin. For me the show works when it locks Larry into a particular tone rather than have him jump between different arguments. Here they played his paranoia over Cheryl really well. Larry is always full of ridiculous theories about people’s behavior but the one area where I totally buy into his delusions is sexual behavior. It’s an area I know a lot of men develop strange theories about. The whole “there’s only two ways to hurt your neck” idea is so ridiculous but he was so smug about being right that it generates easy laughs. It reminded me of his “massive v*gina” theory (508). His alliance with Jeff is always fun as they egg each other on in their madness.

I love West Side Story by the way which helped a little. Oh and I never found Jerry Seinfeld a convincing laugher and he still can’t do it.

The Cleveland Show - 105 - Cleveland Jr. Cherry Bomb

That’s it for me and Cleveland. I do like that Cleveland Jr is a lovably moral character and that in general Cleveland is nicer to watch than Peter Griffin. Sadly though he isn’t funnier. The show isn’t doing anything which Family Guy isn’t and so I’m going to save myself some time and stop watching. If only I had more time…

Community - 109 - Debate 109

I really enjoyed this episode and hope that the show is gathering momentum. Despite all the silliness, the debate was taken seriously. Too many shows, yes I’m looking at you 30 Rock and Arrested Development (with one eye on Curb Your Enthusiasm) manage to make every single human being in their shows a parody, joke, moron or crazy person. It crushes any sense of consequence or reality. Here the characters took the debate seriously and one side won and one lost. Community has such a simple structure, all of our main characters are admirable and likeable in their own ways and are trying to help one another get through College. It’s a winning formula when they add good jokes and character moments to the mix. Here they had both, Pierce crashing around for laughs and unexpected romance springing up. Fun stuff. I think Britta is the weak link as a character\actress at this point. She needs further definition.

Parks and Recreation - 209 - The Camel

Another fun episode, nothing special but just a show coming into its own as a pleasant ensemble comedy. The show makes much better use of its smaller characters than The Office is right now. I particularly enjoyed Tom discovering his love for an abstract piece of art. He played it with real gentle emotion which was a great way to make him seem like a real person and generate laughs.

 


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