Monday, April 02, 2012

Random TV Report

:: First, let me recommend those of you who haven't seen it go over to Byzantium's Shores and read Kelly's Open Letter to Castle. His analysis of what the show's weak points currently are, and what was particularly wrong with last week's episode "47 Seconds," is better and more clearly focused than mine. I think I would have felt the episode was less distasteful in the way it uses a gravely-presented tragedy as motivation for the will they/won't they plot thread if the episode had ended in a meaningful way, and not with the pouty petulance that it presented. That's my real gripe with "47 Seconds." Because they used this whole idea of a possible terrorist bombing as a backdrop for Tension-Extending-Plot-Contrivance 101, and I was left not only dissatisfied but feeling betrayed by the end--apparently these fantastic characters are now total idiots--I just couldn't stomach it. Honestly, even though I know I'll watch it, I'm not even looking forward to tonight's episode.

This is, really, a sudden development, too. Yes, there have been a couple of lame episodes this season (like the silly holodeck fantasy episode "The Blue Butterfly"), but nothing that really damaged my love for the show until now. Hell, "Kill Shot" was a great episode, and "Cops & Robbers" was not only one of my favorite episodes of the show ever, but also one of my favorite episodes of any show in the 2011-12 season. But this new development... it just grinds everything to a halt.

Anyway, read Kelly's post. He's got it nailed. (He also nails the tone of the show with some of his dialogue suggestions; he should really be writing this show.)

I do wish they'd let Castle and Beckett get together organically. It can be done, it's just TV, so writers and producers are never quite brave enough to make that choice. It's like Angel... the moment that show goes from surprisingly great to friggin' slog is in the third season when the producers can't just let Angel have a baby, but instead have to have the baby get taken away and raised in another dimension and return as an emo teenager because, I guess, feelings are too hard to write. Better to fall back on cliches and limp to a conclusion, I suppose.

You're so much better than this, Castle.

(Oh, and one thing that Becca points out: Castle is really pissed at Beckett for not coming to him with her feelings, but how is she going to feel when she discovers that Castle is now one of the people keeping information about her mother's murder from her? Seriously, which is the bigger betrayal?)

:: Some possibly spoilerish thoughts on the Game of Thrones season premiere. First, I just can't wait to see more of Liam Cunningham as Ser Davos Seaworth. A great character, and I think Cunningham really got him down. I also think either they're doing a better job at making Robb Stark sympathetic than GRRM did in the books, or I'm just more engaged in the character this time around. That little moment that Richard Madden had, when Catelyn tells Robb that Ned would be proud of him, was really good. Robb falters for a few seconds, then forces himself to swallow it down and go on. I think I'm going to be more invested in Robb than I was in the books; I tended to tune him out a little because I just don't like Catelyn at all and her simplistic attitude towards politics was immensely frustrating to read through.

This show's actually been very interesting at getting me to rethink some of the characters through the actors that have been cast. Jack Gleeson is so perfectly loathsome as Joffrey that his presence immediately puts Cersei into a perspective that I hadn't quite seen before. I think the brevity of the series is a major help, too. In the book, it only gradually dawned on me that Joffrey had no intention of taking orders from his mother or his grandfather; here we see the full picture right off, and it was nice to get a sense right away that Cersei sees just how much her position is in danger from a son that no longer has to obey her (and is a sociopath), a brother who is smarter than her and in a more secure position of authority, and a father who is disappointed in how inept she's turned out to be as a schemer. All of this, and her protector/brother is held captive miles away.

I think the scene where Littlefinger reveals his knowledge of Cersei's secret is a good addition in light of this, reminding both Littlefinger and the audience that she's not completely out of the game and that she still commands the loyalty of the Kingsguard. I also think it shows a key character flaw in Littlefinger, which is that he sometimes underestimates the way people will react. Here we see that Cersei can be every bit as reactionary, even as crazy, as Joffrey.

Overall, I think the episode did a great job of easing us back into the major plot threads and introducing us to some of the major new characters. Stannis is every bit the officious boor that I imagined him to be. And also, Craster's house looks exactly like I imagined it when I read the book. And holy shit, how did I not know Hannah Murray was going to play Gilly? What a nice surprise to suddenly see her! I fucking hated Skins, but I loved Hannah Murray on it as Cassie Ainsworth; she was a sympathetic figure on a terrible, cruel show, and to see her again was really lovely. Can't wait to see more.

And in the end, that's the only thing that really bugged me about the premiere: I immediately wanted the next episode.

:: I really dug the season finale of House of Lies; turned out to really be a great season of television. I like the implications it ended on, and I hope it doesn't fuck things up in the next season, but that the writers really ride with it. Also, if I didn't mention this in any previous TV Reports, I really love Glynn Turman. So damn nice to see him on this show. Or anywhere, really. I think in one episode he gave the single best performance on the first season of In Treatment a couple of years back.

:: On the advice of a couple of different people, I checked out ABC's Revenge and was immediately hooked in. I haven't finished catching up with the episodes--I have about four more left--but mainly because I'm watching this with Becca, who actually likes a show I like for a change. (It's about a 1 in 10 success rate.) I've seen people (including Becca) compare this to Dynasty, but I've never seen Dynasty, actually. I really should check that out sometime, if only for a relic of my favored 80s. Revenge is, in my opinion, the real "new Lost," if only for the way it's so involving. Less mythology-heavy than Lost, which is nice, but incredibly involving. Madeline Stowe is wonderfully dramatic. Also, surprised I don't hear many people comparing it to The Count of Monte Cristo, which it basically is. Or Batman, if you're so inclined.

Either way, it's marvelously fun.

:: I also just started watching Suburgatory, which is much funnier than I expected. I'm watching a surprisingly high number of ABC shows. Actually, I'd be watching the entire ABC Wednesday night line-up if I didn't hate Patricia Heaton so goddamn much.

Speaking of, the ads for Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23 are horrible, but I watched the pilot episode on Hulu, and it was surprisingly funny. Really enjoyed it. It's silly, but James Van Der Beek is absolutely hilarious as himself, and I'm glad to see a vehicle for Krysten Ritter come up. A better one than that awful Gravity, at any rate.

:: I saw the previews last night for Aaron Sorkin's new HBO series The Newsroom. Looks interesting despite my natural instincts to stay away from Aaron Sorkin. I also might check out Veep with Julia Louis-Dreyfus for no earthly reason I can think of.

:: Nice to see a new episode of Hell's Kitchen on. What are we up to these days, Fox? One new episode every six weeks, or something?

I do plan on checking out Gordon Ramsay's new Fox series Hotel Hell. I like the guy. I'm much more interested in this than in another round of Hell's Kitchen. After the too-obvious manipulation of the last one, I need a long break from that. (And I know, all reality TV is manipulated, I don't really care; there's a way to do it and a way that poisons the well and takes the viewer out of it.) Also, I still think they should do an all-stars version.

UPDATE 12:02 PM: Couple of things I forgot to mention.

:: I watched the first season of Breaking Bad, and damn, that's some good show. It's all on Netflix, so I'm going to keep going with it. Really digging it, and honestly, I'll watch practically anything with Bryan Cranston in it. He was the reason I got so into Malcolm in the Middle.

:: The more I read about the second season of American Horror Story, the less into it I am. I loved the over-the-top sexy cheesiness of the first season, but I'm still not sure I want to see actors who played such distinctive characters in the first one stumbling through a whole new (but probably very much the same) series of events. AHS was like a little love letter to horror cinema. Do we need more? I guess I'll check it out and see, but I'm not dripping with enthusiasm.

:: I haven't abandoned Star Trek: Enterprise, but I think it's been a solid 3, maybe 4 weeks since I watched an episode. Three episodes into the third season and I already kind of want to quit. I'm not going to. But I'm close...


Tallulah Morehead said...

Glad you're enjoying Revenge. I thought sure you would. Should you check out Dynasty be warned, it's not anyway near as good, and you should skip season one, as Joan Collins's Alexesis doesn't join the cast until episode one of season 2, and THAT is when Dynasty became DYNASTY! But even at its best, Dynasty was never more than fun junk food.

Regarding The Count of Monte Cristo: Did you not notice the reference to it in the show itself? In the epside where Emily has the lady shrink's session tapes run at the party, when she is in her own session with the Doc, she spots the tiny camera lens lying on top of a clearly legable copy of The Count of Monte Cristo on the the shrink's bookshelf.

MC said...

In GoT, I was impressed with how they handled the banquet scene with Melisandre and Cressen. Changing the order up and having her look him in the eyes the whole time said a whole lot about her character, about the kind of woman she is.

MC said...

Oh, and the New York Times is dropping trou and taking a shit on Game of Thrones again... what a surprise (doing a slightly different combo of it is for D&D players and that the people reading the article are too stupid to be able to follow it).

SamuraiFrog said...

Tallulah: Well, you know I like my fun junk food. I'll have to check around for it; it was on Netflix for a while, but I think I've missed it...

And I did miss the Monte Cristo reference. And I watched that episode twice!

MC: Ugh, I saw that NYT review. What do they have against the entire genre, exactly?

MC said...

I'm reading both reviews and both critics use Dungeons and Dragons as the base response for Game of Thrones... like to them, that is the end-all, be-all of fantasy.

Sam G said...

You're gonna love the second season of Breaking Bad which features Krysten Ritter.

abc said...

Still looking forward to your Enterprise reviews...!

Mr. Mike D. said...


I have been on revenge from the get go, but it was because it was CONCEIVED as a modern day retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo. The showrunners and writers set out to make a complete retelling of the classic novel (which is my favorite book by the way), but in this era of remakes/retakes/retellings and prequel/sequels they wanted to stay away from that connection. So since the majority of the viewers are too stupid to make the connection to the original book, they just don't mention it much. Great show.... I love the cast, especially Stowe & Emily...

Oh, and fuck the NY Times. Game of Thrones is being embraced by everybody, not just geeks like me who know what a 20 sided die is.... lol

Tallulah Morehead said...

Bear in mind as I call it "fun junk food" that I saw every episode of Dynasty. It's Aaron Spelling at his Aaron Spellingest.

I had a close, close friend, now more than 20 years dead, and if we couldn't watch Dynasty together, we were on the phone with each other all through the broadcast, so we could mock it to each other and laugh and laugh and laugh. The series ended up outliving him, as he died of AIDS before Dynasty ended.

I eventually audtitioned for a small role in a Dynasty TV movie that wrapped up all the cliffhangers. (The show was cancelled after its last episode aired, so it ended on multiple cliffhangers.) Unfortunately, I didn't get the role, so I missed my chance to be part of Dynasty.

I actually preferred the way it originally ended, and wish they hadn't done the TV movie that wrapped everything up, as then I was free to assume the worst, which involved getting to assume that about 5 main characters had all died horribly, when in the TV movie, they ruined it by saving all of them but Dex. (His name was "Dex Dexter"; somehow, that name says it all about Dynasty.)

But for we gay viewers in the mid-1980s, Dynasty was the only game in town, the only show with a regular, non-villainous, gay character, even if he wasn't gay very often.

Kelly Sedinger said...

Dex died?! Son of a bitch!

GarrettCRW said...

Castle's biggest problem right now is ABC. The network is so scared to death of a repeat of Moonlighting that they're impeding the show's growth. Plus, there's that little issue of how BIG THINGS can only happen in episodes that air during November, February, and/or May.

Kelly Sedinger said...

Thanks for the link, btw. That post got some attention on some forums and Castle fan sites, and the reaction was pretty interesting to board seems to be home to people who are still 100% on board with whatever the show does, so for them, my post was utter person said "This blogger is too wrapped up in their own idealism to see these characters for the real people they are!" That was hilarious. Another board, though, seems to take my position and go twice as far with it; those are the folks who are pissed as hell at the show and some of whom are hoping it gets canceled before it gets worse. I guess I'm somewhere in between the extremes!

SamuraiFrog said...

Those seem to be the two extreme fan reactions to just about everything, don't they? For me, it's because the characters are so real that I resent seeing them at the service of idiotic plot developments. Most of the character turns had been pretty organic before this.

neroden@gmail said...

Third season Enterprise is an unbelievable slog. There's some clever ideas buried in it, but they get discussed in giant infodump dialogue, while the actual scenes on camera are boring as hell.

However, keep going. Fourth season Enterprise is *brilliant* -- demonstrating why it's fun to write in a universe with piles of continuity to play with.