Wednesday, December 01, 2010

TV Report: Such and Such Else

Not much new television lately, what with the holidays. I do like to get caught up in complete seasons on DVD, so I've been streaming Friday Night Lights through Netflix. A lot of people have told me they like it, so I thought I'd give it a chance.

I'm actually a little disappointed. The first season was fantastic; just an excellent season of television. The disappointment stems from the third season. With the second season truncated by the writer's strike, the third season--which I've nearly finished--feels like it dropped nearly every storyline from the second, then rolled back a lot of the changes to the characters without even addressing them. Suddenly, Lylah's not a born again Christian anymore? Suddenly Smash is recovering from an injury? And what happened to the girl he was dating? Suddenly Tami is the high school principal? And what happened to the volleyball team she was coaching?

The third season feels like we're coming in from an entire season that's taken place offstage, and then we're just sort of catching up. It's trying--and failing, I think--to start new storylines while capping off characters like Smash and Street that it's just sort of getting rid of. They make some comment on this in the first episode when Coach Eric Taylor says that this season isn't a rebuilding season, but maybe that's the problem. Maybe the show needed to rebuild itself instead of trying to go on after developments that have just popped up out of nowhere.

Too bad, because it was really shaping up to be one of my favorite shows of the decade. That first season is just excellent.

(One thing I like in season 3: Jeremy Sumpter is a great addition to the show.)

A couple of other thoughts on TV:

:: I don't know if anyone else here watches 16 and Pregnant, but what is with the parade of unsympathetic families on the last couple of episodes? Jesus; is getting pregnant as a teenager now so blase for parents and grandparents that they don't even bother trying to help anymore? It's hard to watch these unsupported girls just get abandoned to watch their lives crumble by parents who just don't care anymore.

:: Modern Family has been terrific this season, building on a strong first season and getting better and better. It's probably my favorite sitcom airing right now. But last week's episode, with Cam's mother being too handsy, was awful. Probably the worst episode ever. That was disappointing. Just a blip, probably--they can't all be winners--but I'm looking forward to better.

:: Oh, I still love you, Hellcats, but watching Marti and Dan Patch (why is he named after a champion racehorse, damn it?) make out made me lose all of my respect for Marti. Gone. You've got work to do to earn it back, Hellcats. And then keeping it a secret from Savannah after you nearly destroyed your friendship with her because of secrets? Classy.

:: Loved Keith Carradine on The Big Bang Theory, but I still don't want Leonard and Penny back together. And more Bernadette, please! (It's never enough.)

:: I wonder if it's even possible that The Office could make Jim likable again. I'm only watching it now because it's Steve Carell's last season. I want to see how they mature Michael. After that, I'm done. I'm sick of this cartoon version of what was, at one point, my favorite show on TV.

:: Bring back Parks and Recreation, damn it. I don't care what you have to cancel, just bring it back.

:: I'm really wrapped up in Boardwalk Empire. The show took me a few weeks to really get into, but once it started really rolling, I was just swept up (and so was Becca, to my surprise). This is Steve Buscemi's great role, and Michael Shannon has been incredible. Knowing it's coming back next year is going to get me through what will probably be an excruciating final season of Big Love...

:: I'm looking forward to A Game of Thrones, but I'm not as excited as I thought I'd be, even with Sean Bean and Peter Dinklage in the roles I always knew they'd be perfect for. Maybe it's because my enthusiasm has waned so much on the books in the five years since George RR Martin has had any of them out. Even if the series is a hit--which I kind of doubt, based on past HBO excursions with fantasy--they're still going into adapting a series which will probably never be finished. I wonder how much they're adding into it as far as characters and storylines...

:: Batman: The Brave and the Bold has been EXQUISITE.

:: Saturday Night Live... jeez, what can you say? Not even Anne Hathaway, who was hilarious the first time out, could salvage an episode. Jon Hamm, one of the best hosts they have, just barely managed to. Really, it's just time to cull the writer's room and the cast. I'm thinking Fred Armisen is the first to go.


RJ said...

I'm still really into Friday Night Lights, and the Season 3 thing didn't bother me as much just b/c I think a lot of the story lines from Season 2 were pretty bad miscalculations.

And Jason Street has always been my favorite so his send off episode really got to me. Loved it.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Parks and Rec IS coming back. Be patient. In January I believe, but maybe sooner, NBC will go to three hours of comedies on Thursday. Sadly, this means Outsourced is staying for now.

Drake said...

Parks is coming back in Jan.
I don't watch SNL so i still haven't seen anything that Anne Hathaway has been in!

Kal said...

Maybe SNL needs to stop having Kristen Wig be in every second skit. From what I have seen of the new cast members, their stuff has been golden. I am yet to get tired of the black guy who does an awesome Denzel Washington and should have that character appear in more bizarre stuff. I loved the Miley Cyrus Show stuff but that is because I have a huge crush new castmate Vanessa B

SamuraiFrog said...

RJ: Some of the season 2 plotlines were... odd. The whole Landry murder thing, for example, seemed overly sensational. I started season 4 today, and I'm enjoying it much more than the previous 2 seasons. It feels more like there's a point to the show.

Tallulah: I know it's coming back, I'm just annoyed that they pushed it to midseason for a real piece of shit like Outsourced. With The Office as awful as it is now, it'd be nice to have Parks and Rec to balance out 30 Rock as the last good Thursday night comedy. (I despise Community.)

Drake: She's a wonderful actress when she's trying. I wish she didn't coast so much in movies like Bride Wars. She's better than that.

Kal: I wish someone would shoot Kristen Wiig out of a cannon and land her as far away from SNL as possible. I am sick to death of her.

I like Vanessa Bayer's Miley impression, but I don't think the sketch itself has ever been funny. It never goes beyond "Miley is a teenager, so she must not know anything." I just don't find any humor in that. What's the point?

Same goes for Jay Pharaoh. His impressions are good, but the show doesn't know how to use them other than just have him stand there and do them. Being a gifted impressionist today is like being the best tumbler in vaudeville today: who cares? The sketch they did making fun of the Denzel Washington train movie (already forgot what it's called) was a step in the right direction. I just don't care how good someone's impressions are if they're not in the service of a funny sketch.

The show really needs to let the new kids do more and dial back some of the people who have been there too damn long, like Armisen and Wiig.

GarrettCRW said...

Lorne Michaels should pop in the tapes from Season 6 sometime to see just how bad SNL can be when the showrunner tries to ram the wrong actor down the audience's throat.

Also, Batman: B&tB has been awesome from the start. The staff of that show has been excellent in realizing that making another "serious" Batman cartoon isn't necessary since it'd just pale in comparison to BTAS.