I have another blog about Once Upon A Time and Grimm in the backlog, but I wanted to take a second and talk about the former in a little more detail, especially in the wake of the first part of the season two finale. It’s hard for me to pin down why I keep watching the show, despite no longer liking it as much as I like Grimm (which, despite a few stumbles, has grown very confident in its second season), but the beginning of the show’s introduction to Neverland points to some positive changes on the horizon. Read the rest of this entry »
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Last week’s Scandal was certainly a thriller. Starting with Huck in the elevator with Hollis Doyle and Charlie, Cyrus’s hitman, the episode seemed only to get more intense with each passing commercial break, culminating in an excellent cross-cutting section with Verna and Fitz as the latter finally learns the truth about how he gained his prestigious status as the President of the United States. It was a night in which one lover would turn to the other and say, “I love you,” and the response was invariably, “is that enough?” Read the rest of this entry »
Or, The Benefits and Detriments of Theme in Television
Theme is one of Aristotle’s Six Key Elements of Drama, and it’s an important one too: knowing why you’re writing something is as important as who’s in it (character) and what they’re doing (plot). But on television, theme can often be a detriment to crafting good drama. Just ask anyone who was disappointed with Battlestar Galactica‘s second half or LOST‘s final season and it seems self-evident that established themes can hinder a television show as much as it can help it. Read the rest of this entry »
Because of my appreciation of Scandal, over Thanksgiving break I decided to give Grey’s Anatomy a second shot, given that my first impression of the show wasn’t so great. Over the course of the first two seasons, I’ve come to appreciate the show quite a bit. It has an intense focus on character, to such a degree that most episodes often feel plotless, simply because the characters are the ones driving the action. That’s how it should feel, but it’s not until you watch a master at work that you realize how many other shows rely on plot to drive a show. It only works because the characters are undeniably selfish at all times; they’re surgeons, sure, but they want things beyond the scope of their jobs, which is obviously where the show mines its drama. Read the rest of this entry »
Two weeks ago, the Scandal season two episode “Beltway Unbuckled” ended with a bombshell cliffhanger: Olivia Pope, Mellie Grant, Cyrus Beene, Hollis Doyle (recently introduced as an oil magnate), and Verna Thornton (the fixer who taught Olivia everything she know) gathered in a room together to discuss the “David Rosen problem.” That problem being David Rosen, then-former Attorney for the United States, chasing down a conspiracy theory involving Olivia’s newest team member, Quinn Perkins. It was, quite frankly, a bizarre way to end an episode. But here we are two episodes later, and suddenly it makes the most logical kind of sense. Read the rest of this entry »
I guess now is as good a time as any to drop an opinion about The CW’s Arrow into the mix. A lot of people (too many to cross-reference, but you know who you are) have been comparing it both favorably and unfavorably to Christopher Nolan’s Batman film trilogy. My fellow This Was TV contributor Noel Kirkpatrick offered a side-by-side comparison of the show to ABC’s hit soap-drama Revenge. Both comparisons are apt to make, but not necessarily for the reasons being given. Read the rest of this entry »
First thing’s first: the second season premiere of Once Upon A Time was excellent, smoothly picking up the pieces from the finale while simultaneously setting up the new season’s story arc. It was ripe with twists and heartbreaking scenes that showcased some of the very best of what the show was capable of in glimpses throughout season one. Most of all, Once Upon A Time continues to show that trademark confidence that made me choose the show over its similarly zeitgeist-y NBC counterpart Grimm most weeks. So here’s something to consider that’s been on my mind since the show revealed it would be adding Mulan, Aurora (of Sleeping Beauty, silly) and Captain Hook to the mix: can Once Upon A Time‘s Disney-plucked characters escape the cultural criticism of the animated films from which they sprang? Read the rest of this entry »
Apartment 23 follows up a solid pilot with an equally solid second episode, one that shades in Chloe as a character without really changing her character. On the other hand, “Daddy’s Girl” also highlights some of the problems the show will have as it progresses, problems it will have to address in order to become another must-see ABC comedy. Read the rest of this entry »
Comedy pilots tend to be judged unfairly. People will watch the first episode, cast judgment, and toss it aside without second thought. It’s unfair to do this because comedies, more-so than dramas, tend to evolve with time, exploring what works and rejecting what doesn’t work. Witness the way Cougar Town abandoned its initial premise — Courteney Cox as a 40-something recently out of divorce and looking to date younger men — in favor of what actually made the show worth watching: a funny cast of characters who like to hang out together (and drink copious amounts of wine in the process). Cougar Town is now one of the best comedies on television, but the title still turns people away, despite all assurances that the show is a different beast now.
I extend this worry now to Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23, ABC’s newest comedy premiering tonight. While the title is egregious (especially since it’s also used as dialogue in the pilot), the show is pretty fun to watch. To put it one way, Apartment 23 is a mash-up of various elements from this year’s crop of pilots. It’s mainly 2 Broke Girls by way of Shameless, with smatterings of New Girl and Smash for good measure. Read the rest of this entry »
Hey. It’s been a while. Let’s talk about fairy tales on television.
Just as Pan Am and The Playboy Club popped out of the same general notion of doing Mad Men for network broadcast, two new shows have premiered this fall born out of the idea of adding a modern twist to classic, public-domain-accessible fairy tales. I figured I’d group my general opinions on the shows so far into one post for easy access. Note that I don’t really think the two shows are comparable the way that Pan Am and Playboy Club were. Fairy tales are fairy tales, and anyone who wants to watch these shows is going to need a willing suspension of disbelief.
I would also like to stress that I don’t think these shows are incompatible. They can co-exist on television without complaint, because both shows are trying different things and going in different directions with the fairy tales on which they’re riffing. That was not the case with the 60s shows, primarily because they were both set in the 60s, but also because both shows deal with institutions that were fairly major at the time. Loaded guns, those. Fairy tales are comparably easier to execute on TV. Read the rest of this entry »