Tuesday, September 04, 2012

TV Report: The End of Summer and Returning Shows

Yesterday I caught the marathon of the entire second season of Boardwalk Empire on HBO Signature. I didn't get to watch it last year because I was saving it up on my TiVo, and then the TiVo started breaking down and I lost it all. It was fantastic, especially just watching it all in one day. William Forsythe was a great addition this season, especially. Can't wait for season 3.

:: Not really enthusiastic about the coming season of Saturday Night Live. I see Abby Elliott's left now, too, which just means more screen time for Disturbing Unfunny Crazy-Eyes. And the premiere will be hosted by Seth MacFarlane. I assume that means he'll do his monologue standing perfectly still and without changing expression at all, since it's cheaper to animate. Then he can talk about a TV show he watched once in the 80s, do those three voices he can do, and then make jokes at the expense of Asian people.

:: Garry Marshall's scene on last week's episode of Louie was worth the entire season. And this has been an incredible season of television.

:: Was that the midseason break on Breaking Bad this weekend? If so, that is a magnificent cliffhanger. What an amazing, rewarding show this has been. It's so nice when, after years of avoiding something because of the hype, you take a chance and it actually lives up to what people tell you.

I've been doing a thing on Tumblr called the 365 Film Challenge, where you're supposed to see 365 films in the calendar year. As many films as I see, I'm currently at 282. I have a friend, meanwhile, who is at something like 312. But I've seen so many films in my life and too much of what I see now is a Winter's Bone or a Five-Year Engagement that just makes me wish no one bothered to make movies anymore. So I'm not really worried about even getting to 365 because with rare exceptions like The Avengers and Prometheus, I am so much more rewarded by television series like Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire and Louie. Breaking Bad is better than any movie coming out right now, and just a much more enjoyable way to spend my time.

:: I also finally caught up on the final two seasons of Desperate Housewives, a show which is silly but which I enjoyed getting into. Vanessa Williams was a fantastic addition to the cast. I think Kathryn Joosten outdid herself in the final season, though knowing she died over the summer added a layer of fatalism to the role. They also added Marco Pennette to the production team, and he was one of the producers I liked on Ugly Betty. The last two seasons of DH were better than the previous two.

I was a little annoyed with that weird final moment they did of Susan Delfino driving down Wisteria Lane while the ghosts of all the people who've ever died watched her go. It wasn't the moment itself, it was just that it didn't include Edie, who died right there in the freaking street. As a realist, I understand why she wasn't there, given the legal goings-on between Marc Cherry and Nicolette Sheridan, but as a fan it's unsatisfying.

Oh, and Scott Bakula was on the last few episodes. That was cool. I fucking love Scott Bakula.

:: Anyone excited for returning shows? I'm not so much. I was thinking about this last week, and I realized that except for Revenge, I might not really be bothered if the other shows I watch didn't return. Oh, also Homeland, I can't wait for more of that.

:: Shows I'll watch and hope are good but are fun time-wasters and not stuff to be excited about, really: Suburgatory, 2 Broke Girls, Happy Endings, Don't Trust the B-- in Apt. 23, and Modern Family, maybe. I hope they aren't going to rely on Gloria flailing about and screeching in a Colombian accent but pregnant too much this season. That's going to be too much for me.

:: Parks and Recreation I am looking a bit forward to. The show is at its peak in quality right now, and I like that this is the final season. A lot of people are sad it's ending, but won't it be nice if it goes out on a high note instead of just perpetuating the brand after it runs out of story, like The Office did? There was a time when The Office was my favorite show on TV; it got so bad that I can't even watch the episodes I liked anymore. I'm going to need years away. That Michael Scott Paper Company arc was really the last great story on the show; they should've ended it that season. Michael could've realized when he came back that it wasn't fulfilling, grown up then, and gotten back together with Holly at the company picnic and it would've been really satisfying. Instead it just kept going because money. And it was fucking painful.

:: How I Met Your Mother is coasting on my affection for the characters, but it needs to wrap up. The character dynamic is so stale that what had once been a show that was really creative with its format is now becoming dry and predictable. Look, I don't care who the mother is. I really don't. For some bizarre reason, the creators decided their gimmick was to have Bob Saget telling his kids the story of all the sex he had with their beloved Aunt Robin and a dozen beautiful-but-crazy women before he met their mom, and it's created a lot of audience expectation that's weighing the show down. As long as the show focused on its characters, it didn't matter to me. But when it just falls back on its gimmick, it is interminable. It's not dramatically interesting to have Ted get hung up on Robin again when he told us in the first episode that they don't end up together. Quit going back to that well. I understand why you'd want to because all of Ted's girlfriends (except Robin) are horrible and he's a whiny, unrealistic idiot, but can we just wrap this up now? Anyway, my understanding is that contracts are up at the end of this season, so the creators have written two plotlines just in case this is really the final season. God, I hope it is.

:: Ugh, Castle. You're on the bubble, Castle!

:: The Big Bang Theory is adding Stuart as a series regular this season, which I'm not happy about. He's not funny. He's just a bigger, sadder loser every time we see him and that's the whole joke. Maybe he and Raj can get together as a couple. That would save it. Why does he even need to be there? At least it's not Kripke and his comedy lisp, that would be unbearable.

:: I have trepidations about the second volume of American Horror Story. The first series was fun, often stupid-fun, but not great television. A lot of it was a mash-up of literally everything you've ever seen in a haunted house movie, right down to the musical cues. And I respect that. I enjoyed it. But having the second series take place in an asylum just doesn't seem like a challenge or remotely original, and is it just going to be more of the same but in an asylum? Have I already seen what these people have to offer and this is season one with a different setting? I don't know. I'm planning on watching it, but I'm not really excited about it.

:: New shows I'm definitely go to check out: The Mindy Project, Nashville, and Malibu Country. Yes, I know Malibu Country isn't going to be any good, I just like Reba McEntire.

:: New shows that are a maybe: Vegas (looks like it would be great on HBO, not CBS), 666 Park Avenue (which will probably be bad and canceled, but Vanessa Williams!).

Give me what you've got, autumn.

:: Seriously, Castle. Bubble. Seriously.


Kal said...

I am totally with you about Boardwalk Empire. Just when I thought I had seen every great character actor in television history in one place and then in comes Willianm Forsyth. Wow. I can't wait to see what happens next. So many big changes at the end of season two. I know the real life Nucky held a huge summit that united all the gangs at Atlantic City so I hope season three is working towards that moment.

Castle is too painful for me.

Walking Dead will be welcome back this fall. I miss The Closer but don't hate Major Crimes. I am glad many of the same actors got to keep working.

Reba never lets me down for down home comfortable humor. Add Lilly Tomlin and Sara Rue (the skinny version - not the deliciously plump Sara Rue that I prefer) and that one can't fail.

Sleestak said...

I wondered how many comedians started self-destructing via drugs/booze or just offed themselves after that Gary Marshall bit

Kelly Sedinger said...

Castle has a lot farther to fall for me before I put it on my bubble. I'm heartened by some things said by the showrunners of late, such as Beckett's mom's killer being unmasked this season. And aside from the last few episodes, I didn't hate last season and I liked the finale a lot more than I expected to.