Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mary, Mary

Friday, May 17, 2013

TV Report: Endings, Beginnings, Etc.

I was going to write a post about the various season finales, but then the upfronts happened and I thought, hell, why not talk about season finales and the new shows at the same time in a loose confederation of nothing.

I'm looking at the lists of programs starting on the four major network and the CW this fall and, as usual, it's pretty hilarious stuff. The worst copywriters in the world are the ones who write the synopses for upcoming television shows. Always truly, truly so-bad-it's-funny. Also usually bad: the key art. Lots of white people standing around glowering, which generally makes shows look humorless and dull. Which is usually accurate.

Anyway, here are some thoughts on upcoming watchamahoozits.

ABC
ABC canceled Happy Endings, which I really dug, but they are bringing on Agents of SHIELD, which is really the one show I'm most looking forward to this fall. Because of course I am, come on.

I also want to catch Trophy Wife. The preview is cute and I really love Malin Akerman, so it'll be nice to see her on TV for as long as it lasts.

Nothing else really jumped out at me, but it's not like I'm short of shows to watch. ABC has Castle coming back, and Modern Family, Nashville and Shark Tank, so I'm happy with that, even without Happy Endings which, come on, we all knew had a limited shelf life.

I do have a question about Super Fun Night: where did Rebel Wilson come from? Nothing against her or anything, I'm just asking, when did this start? I feel like a year ago I'd never even heard of Rebel Wilson, and now suddenly everyone's a huge fan and she's in everything and she's everywhere. I don't have anything against her--hell, I've never even seen her in anything--but wow, from zero to ubiquitous.

I am still enjoying Modern Family but sort of in that way of just being a habit. Not that I don't genuinely enjoy it, but it isn't something that I look forward to each week. Nashville is, however. It's just so soapy and fun, and I adore Connie Britton on it. I loved her on Friday Night Lights, and I love her just as much here. Can't wait for next week's season finale, as I have my own suspicions about how the season might end. I will not be surprised if Scarlett and Avery get back together. At least it would save Avery from Juliette. I don't wish Juliette on anyone.

BTW, the funniest part of Modern Family these days? The commercials for Family Tools and How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life), "ABC's newest comedies," trying sadly to whip up enthusiasm for shows that have already been canceled. Hell, Family Tools star JK Simmons is on a new show already.

I caught a couple of episodes of The Middle in the last few weeks and enjoyed them.

Castle turned back into the show I used to love, and despite some dud episodes that really, really bugged me, it's such an improvement over season four (particularly the last third of it) that I can't really complain. It's still cute to me how every episode seems inspired by whatever movie some writer watched last week (like, say, Taken), and even if the last moments of the finale didn't really take me by surprise, it'll be interesting to see if they actually shake up the status quo at all next season. (Also: even the clip episode made it up to us by giving us the moment at the end where Captain Gates revealed she already knew about Castle and Beckett. I've been hoping for that. She is a cop for a living, guys.)

Is Scandal worth watching? I see the first season's on Netflix.

All I'll say about Revenge is that I'm hoping for a much better season next time.

CBS
Everything new coming on CBS looks bad. I was thinking for a second of giving Mom a try, but I think I've reached the end of my love for Anna Faris and the commercial I saw the other night was pretty lame. Chuck Lorre shows are usually just about characters existing and the fact that they do is apparently what makes them funny.

I see we're going back to the "oh, the poor oppressed white men who are so misunderstood, let us celebrate their privilege" well with We Are Men.

The new show that looks the funniest, though, is Intelligence, with Josh Holloway as a guy with a computer chip in his brain that connects him directly to the worldwide information grid. I envision lots of hilarious moments of Holloway standing and staring into the distance as the camera closes up on him and he thinks really hard. This sounds like it belongs in the same lineup as Manimal and Automan. I also think this is one of those occasions where someone has thought of a premise where a guy has powers that no one needs in their brain: The Amazing Human iPad.

With CBS I'll stick with 2 Broke Girls because Kat, The Big Bang Theory (I guess) and How I Met Your Mother, because I'm invested enough in these characters even if the upcoming final season--which will entirely take place at Barney and Robin's wedding--sounds like a huge, huge trial. This last season has already been a trial; often it's been downright insufferable, and I'm sick of Retconned Player All Along Ted and Throwing Out Years of Character Development to Make Me a Cartoon Barney and Barney Can Never Do Anything Manipulative and Sexist Enough for Me to Leave Him Robin. Seriously, guys, stop trying to turn Barney into Quagmire, it's gross. What a clusterfuck of annoyance this show has become. And none of it has anything to do with not meeting the mother, by the way. If you think that's what's wrong with it, I disagree. The problem has been a lack of consistency in characterization and a pacing that has only served to highlight how much this show's been spinning its wheels. Also, do I have any reason to think the mother is going to be any less boring and awful than Victoria, Stella or Zoe? (Also: totally called that the whole train station in the rain bit was going to be the actual end of the series. Now that we're getting 22 to 24 episodes at one wedding, I think I'll just call myself right.)

Shame about Vegas. I only stuck with that the first four or five weeks. Looks like more and more of America felt the same way.

NBC
I think Dracula looks truly ridiculous, but I'm much more annoyed by Crossbones, a show about the fascinating Golden Age of Piracy which cast freaking John Malkovich (??) as Blackbeard! God damn you, Crossbones.

I'll be watching Parks & Recreation, of course, and The Michael J. Fox Show. I've been hoping for Fox to come back to TV, especially after his great stint on Curb Your Enthusiasm a couple of years ago. I dig the guy; I've been watching him on TV since I was 6.

I'm of two minds on Hannibal. On the one hand, I'm really, REALLY liking this show and would like to see it keep going. On the other, I'm wondering if they can maintain the quality that's become the hallmark of the series. And how long can you keep it going until you get to Red Dragon, anyway? Still, if they wanted to spend a whole season doing Red Dragon, that might be kind of cool. You wouldn't have so much Hannibal, though. I think really what I'd love to see is just a satisfying conclusion to one great season of television and not try to drag it out.

None of the other cancellations were a surprise. Did you see 1600 Penn? Wow, that was terrible.

So glad Fred Armisen is finally leaving SNL. Sorry Bill Hader's going, though, since he's one of the people carrying it.

FOX
Everything coming on Fox looks lame. If it weren't for Bob's Burgers, I wouldn't watch Fox at all. (I only made it about three episodes into The Mindy Project.) I enjoyed the auditions for The X-Factor just because my Britney was all crazy, but that's about it. Fox is a waste, and I don't want to get involved in Fox programming because most of it will just get preempted for various sports, anyway. The only comment I have is that Almost Human sounds like a total ripoff of Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel.

THE CW
Boy, who really cares? Have you seen the clip going around from Reign? Cringe.

Otherwise: loved The Americans, loving Game of Thrones, and Veep.

Anyway, that's TV. New episodes of Dance Moms and Pretty Little Liars in June, and really I'm just waiting the long half-year for the next cycle of RuPaul's Drag Race to start, because what else is there, really?

80s Revisited: The Accused

The Accused (1988)
Directed by Jonathan Kaplan; written by Tom Topor; produced by Stanley R. Jaffe & Sherry Lansing.

I've been thinking about this one for some time. I actually re-watched this a few months ago, but I really wasn't sure what to say about it. And I know a big part of the reason is just how awful this movie makes me feel. And, really, I'm not sure what to say about this movie other than it made me feel really awful.

This was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to deal so directly with rape. It has a visceral, confrontational frankness to it that is important to getting its message across. And it has two great lead performances, Jodie Foster (who won an Oscar) as the victim who wants to tell her story, and Kelly McGillis (who was a real-life rape survivor) as the ADA who sues the rape witnesses for criminal solicitation (after agreeing to prosecute the original rapists for a lesser charge in order to cut a deal). What's very interesting about this movie is that approach: that instead of going after the rapists (because any mature human being shouldn't need 111 minutes to prove to an audience that rape is a horrible crime), it goes after the people who were complicit in the crime by cheering it on and/or doing nothing to stop it. I think Roger Ebert summed it up best in his review: "verbal sexual harassment, whether crudely in a saloon back room or subtly in an everyday situation, is a form of violence - one that leaves no visible marks but can make its victims feel unable to move freely and casually in society. It is a form of imprisonment."

I stand disappointed in my generation that this is still such a relevant message today.

It's an uncomfortable film, and honestly, it's not a great film, but it is a very necessary film. It's graphic and damn hard to watch, but I don't like what it would say about me if it weren't.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

LOOPER (2012)
Potentially interesting concept totally wasted on a long, boring slog punctuated by occasional sci-fi action bullshit. I was with it for about the first half-hour, but instead of exploring the characters or the concept, the film gets caught up in its situation, and it's just... boring. It's a really, really boring film. It doesn't help that it saddles its lead, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, with having to maintain a caricatured impression of Bruce Willis through makeup that makes him look like a Dick Tracy villain--the effect is so distracting that it held the performance back. It's just all so unnecessary. The film has no faith in its concept and how it might affect the main character. How do you live knowing that eventually you'll have to kill yourself? Having killed your future self, how does that effect the next thirty years of your life, knowing you're moving ever closer to your predetermined death? Those are interesting existential questions the movie casts aside in favor of its less interesting gimmick, which isn't even based on interesting science. You're telling me they can't just incinerate a body in 2074? It doesn't make sense, but at least I had time to ponder it while the movie wasn't bothering to do anything interesting. It's a shallow movie that thinks it's deep. Like Inception. Is this modern science fiction filmmaking? *1/2

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Birthday, Audrie

Today, my youngest sister Audrie is 18 years old.

I'm pretty confident that I haven't been a very good brother to her at all. I'm just not a very good family member, to be quite honest. I quietly keep to myself because of whatever issues I've had growing up, and it makes me seem selfish and standoffish. I'm reserved, and I have this thing where I just figure--in a default way, not in a self-pitying way--that people have preferred not to be around me. And my agoraphobia and panic disorders make it hard to be a part of what's going on.

But I do love my sister very much. I think about her every day and keep up with her Facebook, and she seems to be happy and loving life and having fun, which are three things I wasn't when I was her age. I'm very proud of her and I'm a little in awe that she's my sister. Very, very proud.

Happy Birthday, Audrie. It's an exciting month: prom, birthday, graduation. 18 years old, and I still remember very clearly holding her as a baby. Doesn't seem so long ago. How does it go by so fast?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day (Peanuts Style)


Bonus:

Song of the Week: "The Next Day"

Just enjoying the steady stream of wonderfully odd videos from David Bowie's new album.