So let’s talk about The View.
What? You didn’t think I was going to write about How I Met Your Mother just because the title of this piece clearly implied that, did you? No, no. Titles are contrivances, mere fluffery. They don’t constitute a contract between author and audience.
Just because the show seems to be framed as the first-person narrative of how its nominal protagonist met his children’s mother doesn’t belie the authors’ true intent. And since deconstruction is a passing fad, we’ve got to pay attention to all that stuff external to the text. If Carter Bays and Craig Thomas say HIMYM is a show about five friends on the cusp of delayed-onset adulthood that only tangentially concerns the romantic journey of one of them, then clearly that’s the way it is. You’re wrong. Each and every single one of you.
I’ve been resistant about this, but I do love Noah Wyle. Of course it means keeping fingers crossed that
Good Blood Moon er, Blood MoonGood Moon Bloodgood doesn’t stink up the joint like she did in her Burn Notice arc. We’ll see.
This past Saturday, I attended a reunion panel for The Middleman, a wonderful show that ran for twelve episodes on ABC Family. TV critics passionately stumped for the show, but the audience never showed up, and the show was canceled before its first season was through. (I blather on a bit about it here.)
Now it was two and a half years later, and C2E2 had brought some folks from the show in for an hourlong Q&A. Read the rest of this entry »
Tonight rings the bell on the era of innovation and risk at ABC Family as the slight but witty Greek ends its four-year run. There was a time, not so long ago, when the cable netlet didn’t know what it wanted to be. Before it had settled on a schedule rich in teen angst, teen intrigue, teen melodrama, and the regurgitated moralizing of Brenda Hampton, ABC Family threw seeds every which way looking for an identity.
One of those seeds blossomed into the brilliant and criminally under-appreciated Middleman. Another produced the short-lived Huge. And then there was Greek.
I don’t want to write a paean to the show; I did mention it was slight, right?
Welcome back, Coach!
I have very little and very much to say about this beautiful season four premiere. Let’s see whether my talky or taciturn side wins, shall we?
When we left Dillon, Coach had been screwed out of his position by Joe McCoy’s machinations,1 banished to the newly reopened East Dillon High as both consolation and punishment. Despite promises of large state grants to both schools, the best talent and lion’s share of the money have been diverted to Dillon.
- I’m sure in his eyes, Coach hoisted himself on his own petard by ignoring precious, perfect JD. [↩]
In what I feel is a welcome sign of artistic growth, Psych has taken to ending its half seasons with episodes that raise the stakes for Shawn and Gus, giving Dulé Hill and James Roday opportunities to stretch their acting legs out a bit. This started with the mid-season finale of season three but the creators really set a high bar with last season’s finale, “An Evening With Mr. Yang.” Going back to that rich vein, tonight’s finale gives us the return of Mr. Yang (Ally Sheedy, pictured above) and her unseen partner in crime, Mr. Yin. This time it’s Mr. Yin’s turn to put Shawn and friends to the test.
Roday does triple duty for this episode, starring and helming from a screenplay he co-wrote. Filled with subtle and not-so subtle homages to Hitchcock, this is the prettiest and most ambitious episode of Psych to date. It also has one of the most touching and peculiar scenes I expect to see on TV this year, something that would feel at home in a Wes Anderson film. And yet it retains its sense of fun throughout.
While I find White Collar to be a decent diversion and continue to watch it each week, it’s failed to make the leap narratively. I’m sticking around because I think Matt Bomer’s got a lot of charm, I love Willy Garson, and I’m a long-time fan of Tim DeKay’s.1 Story-wise, they aren’t treading ground that I haven’t seen on dozens of other shows over the years.
I just don’t care if Neal ever gets back with Kate.2 I’m not sure how much I care about Project Mentor and Fowler and I haven’t found him threatening in the least. Noah Emmerich is a fine actor who can certainly be an intimidating presence and he’s doing what he can with what he’s been given, but there’s just no heat there.
And of course I’m still stinging from the cheap feint over the mid-season cliffhanger.
Over the last three years, Michael Westen has faced his demons, ghosts from his past, and – in Victor – a cautionary tale of his own future. In tonight’s season finale he meets something far worse: himself.
The monster whose crimes fill Michael’s burn notice has been locked in a dark hole, stripped of his freedom and the credit for his evil acts while Michael has roamed Miami. Simon’s life’s work is Michael’s burden. And Simon wants it all back. To that end he spent millions, double-crossed Gilroy, and broke into the bright light of South Florida to force Michael’s hand.
Guest star Garret Dillahunt brings his usual creepiness to Simon, and by moving with dancer’s grace and standing straight as a statue of Lenin, he imbues Simon with a definite Michael Westen-ness. This monster, more than Victor or Dead Larry or Brennan, is what much of the world sees when it sees Michael.
If season two of Mad Men was about long-term bonds and understandings coming to an end, this season looks to be the chaotic aftermath of that. Under conditions of extreme pressure and energy, novel forms blink into and out of existence, quantum states superimpose, and out of the soup new structures crystallize. This is true of societies and communities in the macro world as much as it is true of particles in the subatomic world. Don is doting husband and father/seducer. Joan is counting down the days till she’s gone/manipulating the office with her usual aplomb. The Brits are in charge/are hopelessly out of their league.
First, let’s get the big mystery out of the way…based on the way Betty’s belly looks I’d say we’ve jumped forward about eight months from the end of season two. Enough time for Don and Betty to have come to yet another in their long string of accommodations, for things at Sterling-Cooper to still be in flux, for Harry1 to be much more important, and for Bert to have acquired a lovely piece of tentacle porn to keep his Rothko company. But just little enough time that we can watch as the new world order begins to emerge.
- ! [↩]
This episode was all kinds of wonderful. From Hardison’s wig to Parker’s awkward interactions with people to the tongue-in-cheek homages to the great thrillers of the ’70s, from start to finish: fun. By switching up roles in an effort to allow Sophie to seek some comfort and excitement after her breakup, everyone got a chance to use some of the skills they’ve been developing in their ongoing effort to become more well rounded thieves and grifters. We’ve seen more of this, extending back to the latter episodes of the first season, and each time the writers have found a way to make it interesting. Sophie isn’t a master planner and never will be; it would be far more boring if she slipped into Nate’s role without some trouble. Likewise Parker scamming and Eliot playing computer geek.
If I were to complain about anything it would be that Eliot didn’t struggle enough finding information on Hardison’s interrogator and that Nate seems too comfortable in the midst of a grift. The weight rests on Beth Riesgraf’s shoulders to be the awkward, uncomfortable one when playing a role; I’d like to see a little more of that from everyone but Sophie.
That small grumble aside, this was good.
Edit: I wrote my review off the screener. I should have waited. During the episode, TNT had cross-promotion of Raising the Bar with *Nancy Grace*. An hour in which Leverage bashes her loosely fictionalized stand-in and they put her smug face right there in the middle of it!