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The missing piece of Community’s fourth season

Real talk for a second. I’m currently in the throes of writing a thesis so I can graduate college with a big shiny medal or something. (No, actually I’m writing it because it’s academically fulfilling and therefore I like doing it. But shiny medals are cool too.) My thesis, in extremely broad terms, is connecting the works of science fiction — literature, paintings of the night sky corresponding to actual night skies, alchemy — to that of science fact. The idea originated from my own ruminations on the scientific method. The scientific method is a pretty useful tool. But at the end of the day, it’s just a tool. It was made by humans in order to be used by humans to reach for (possibly inhuman) knowledge.

In the same vein, Dan Harmon’s famous plot circle (which is described in detail here) is a pretty useful tool for telling stories, mostly because the pieces are just different labels for the same kind of plot-related breakdowns people have been doing for years, and almost all of them are related to Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces. But that breakdown is still just a tool, a mechanism for telling stories (in this case on the quick-and-dirty, since Harmon was talking about making five-minute pilots for Channel 101) that is instinctively rooted in the human unconsciousness. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2013 in The Archives

 

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Second Thought: Revolution (NBC)

Since I happen to be sitting down at my WP dashboard preparing another So Weird review, now’s a good time to expand on a tweet I made last night with regards to Revolution. Essentially, the main problem with the end of Revolution‘s pilot is what’s wrong with the beginning of Revolution‘s pilot. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in The Archives

 

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Grimm — “Quill”

Grimm certainly kicked off its second season with a bang. Though it dispensed with the season one cliffhanger too quickly for my taste, it compensated by bringing Hank into the fold quickly and efficiently — a move that was far too long in the making, but ultimately beneficial for the show as it moves forward. And since NBC intended to use the Olympics as a way to give the show an extra early push before replacing it to its usual Friday slot, the team had to slap together four episodes that effectively kick off the season. The end result? Not bad. This was the last of the four episodes before the show moves to Fridays, but there are a couple of elements I want to highlight as worthy of discussion in the weeks to come.

First, of course, is Hank. “Bad Moon Rising” did a fair job of dropping Hank into the deep end of Nick’s second life and managed to make it work because, for Hank, knowing is better than not knowing… even if the knowledge is inches away from crazy. The problem with having to constantly balance the cool supernatural elements of the series with the “natural” life of a cop is that it makes it impossible to organically integrate Hank and Wu into the proceedings of the episode without bending over backwards for the sake of plot. Bringing Hank into the life of the Grimm opens up a whole new world for the show to explore. Hank can now be in a room with Monroe and Rosalee (still easily the best two characters on the show) without any awkwardness or secrets being kept. Whole new stories are now available to the writers.

Second: Juliette and her amnesia. At first, I was skeptical. Amnesia is one of the oldest soap-opera tricks in the book; it’s all too easy to do wrong and make the whole device feel lazily deployed. But “Quill” has brought me around to it. The fact that Juliette cannot remember Nick is actually quite meta: it’s a direct jab at one of the biggest criticisms about last season with regards to Nick and David Giuntoli’s performance. The fact that the writers couldn’t find any other way to characterize Nick beyond “studly white manly-man hero” made it difficult to get even the smallest sense of his life, outer and inner. But Juliette’s conversation with the mouse Wesen-slash-mechanic from last season opens up another possibility. It’s all too easy for Hank to accept Nick’s stories about Grimms and Wesens because a) he’s seen it and b) Nick is his partner. But Juliette now no longer remembers Nick — and with Nick wanting her to recover, he doesn’t want to interfere with the healing process. This allows Juliette to come to her own conclusions about who Nick is, a process that can only ultimately benefit both characters. I’m convinced we’re going to learn a lot more about Juliette and Nick through this amnesia phase of the story, and I hope it doesn’t drag the main plots down too much each week as it approaches whatever climax it’s going for.

Overall, I’ve found these first four episodes of Grimm‘s second season to be more confident and engaging than anything in the first season. I felt fearful for Rosalee’s life in “Quill” particularly, which is a good sign that I’m finally starting to empathize with the characters more as a whole. We’re still early days into the season yet — and “Quill” leaves off with a hanging thread, an obvious hook to bring us into the Friday schedule — but I’m sort of happy I kept with Grimm through the ups and (mostly) downs. I hope the momentum doesn’t die by September 28th.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in The Archives

 

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Pilot Watch: Ben & Kate, The Mindy Project, Go On, Revolution

The summer is nearly over, at least in TV terms, and the fall 2012 season is upon us at last. I’m still considering a variety of different ways to talk about this season in television on the blog (including what I proposed earlier in the summer, a daily post of 100-200 bursts of reflection on each show I can watch) but in the meantime some of the pilot episodes have made their way online. Today, I watched four pilots from Hulu: from FOX, the sitcoms Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project; and from NBC, the sitcom Go On and the drama Revolution. Following are my quick thoughts on each one. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in The Archives

 

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Grimm & Once Upon A Time: Fairy tales on TV

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 »

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in The Archives

 

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Up All Night – 1.05 “Mr. Bob’s Toddler Kaleidoscope”

I don’t know if anyone has noticed this at all, but Up All Night‘s main character is really Reagan. While Will Arnett is inescapably important to the show’s dynamics (his chemistry with Christina Applegate is undeniable, and a large part of why the show now has a full season pickup), it’s been harder for people to justify Maya Rudolph’s existence in the show, since her material tends to be separate from the parenting stories altogether. But if we view the show as simply “The Story of Reagan”, with the other main characters (Jennifer Hall’s Missy gets added to the main cast from tonight’s episode) as extensions of Reagan’s life, everything slots together nicely. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2011 in The Archives

 

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Free Agents canceled

Sad day for John Enbom, another of his shows is canceled! Free Agents, the U.S. remake of a recent show by the same name on Channel 4 in the U.K., was canned by NBC today. The rest of October will see Whitney reruns in its place, then Up All Night reruns will start on November 2nd.

Fear not, though! The Channel 4 series is looking optimistic for a second season, and meanwhile the first season will be running on BBC America starting this Saturday, October 8th (spoilers — it’s an episode guide from the BBCA website). It’s a shame we won’t be seeing Natasha Leggero deliver her own brand of snark to Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn each week, though. I didn’t like the pilot as much, but the second episode was fantastic and I was enthusiastic about watching this show each week.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in About The Blog, The Archives

 

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Up All Night – 1.04 “New Car”

The fundamental drive behind Up All Night is this: when you become a parent, you don’t have to change who you are, but you do have to make compromises. What I admired most about tonight’s episode “New Car” is how it makes change reflect upon the characters, instead of simply saying, “we were here, now we’re there, aren’t we real puppets all?” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2011 in The Archives

 

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Up All Night – 1.03 “Working Late and Working It”

This week’s episode of Up All Night is really more about the many faces of Regan. “Working Late and Working It” is perhaps the best argument so far for keeping Maya Rudolph in the show, though she now comes with a Robin Sparkles-esque origin story. It’s also a fantastic episode for Will Arnett, who continues to prove why he should be on a comedy television show for longer than three seasons.

The two plots unfold thusly: at home, Regan is so beat after every work day that she literally slips into more comfortable clothing (meaning, not in the sexy way), which prompts Chris to talk to his buddy Reed (WE MEET AGAIN, WILL FORTE) about re-injecting sexy into the household post-pregnancy. The plot is stock sitcom material, but credit goes to the writing and to the actors for putting their own spin on things. Chris attempts to sell Regan his version of sexy, which is his new underwear (provided by an 80s tennis player from Sweden) and the fact that lifting Amy all day makes his biceps bulge. Regan sees right through this, of course, and responds by dressing fancy and asking, “Are we taking breakfast in the kitchen this morning?” The two come to terms in the end, with a sweet little bit of Photoshop and a reminder that they did the craziest possible thing imaginable to their characters: have a baby together.

Meanwhile, at work… Ava’s ex-boyfriend (and co-pop-star-in-crime) Brad “B-Ro” is getting married, which awakens Ava’s old feelings for him. Regan, again, sees right through this, as she did years ago when B-Ro made off with all of Ava’s money. Ultimately, it turns out that he still has some “opinions” on how Ava should handle her money. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or at least, that’s what SHOULD have come from that story. Instead, what I felt worked with the Ava story this week is that her friendship with Regan is one that can be mined for plenty more stories like this one (albeit hopefully much better and with greater purpose). This makes Ava’s job much more flexible in terms of how they use it each week, and keeping the focus on how Ava relates to the married couple will keep her from feeling like too much of a third wheel in the show’s structure.

So, overall, an imperfect but solid episode of Up All Night this week. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a strong, independent woman that I wanna ****** *** ** ****** and ***** *******. (It’s just not as catchy as “Let’s Go To The Mall”, though…)

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in The Archives

 

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Where CAN you find the hat Maria Bello wears in Prime Suspect?

I love the searches I get on my blog sometimes.

Anyways, I’m officially declaring myself the “Mad Hatter” blogger for Prime Suspect. And the hat Maria Bello wears in the show is, in fact, a fedora. You can buy those at most basic supermarkets (Wal-Mart, Target… you know the type) or you can get them online at specialty stores like here and here, and I’m sure a quick Google search will pull up more results.

I fully endorse this mad hat search. Go forth, my children!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in About The Blog, The Archives

 

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