Tuesday, May 26, 2009

TV Season Retrospective

Big Love
Man. What a great season. It dared to go places that previous seasons wouldn't, but not in gimmicky or attention-grabbing ways. It's kind of sad that it seems like they're running out of things to do with Sarah, as witnessed by her engagement to Scott, but I love the way Sarah's pregnancy/miscarriage was handled. Usually miscarriages for television characters who shouldn't be having children feel like copouts, but there were some hardfelt consequences and issues that arose as a result. Also, Nicki continues to both reveal and conceal more of her hand as Bill struggles between trying to hold on to her with all of her faults, or letting her go with dignity. Chloe Sevigny deserves an Emmy nod for how she handled such a complex character. She kept track of so many different things--Nicki's devotion to her family, which is genuine I believe. The lies, the selfishness and the lies to cover up more lies. Also, the revelation of her daughter. Is she earnestly trying to atone? Or is it a clever ploy to worm her way back into the sympathies of her husband and sister wives? Isn't it funny that season 2 dealt with how Barb was slipping away from him. Season 3 dealt with Nicki finally putting her resentments toward Bill on the table. And with Margene's new business ventures rearing their head, I think we'll see her slipping further away as well. I can't wait and I'll be back for Season 4. I just hope that Roman is dead for good this time.
Season Grade: A

Brothers and Sisters

I'm mostly pleased with season three of this show, which continues to be watchable, even in its more ridiculous moments (most of which involve Sally Field in some way). I was interested to see how they would handle the possible shark-jumper that was Rebecca not being a Walker and her romance with Justin, but they did about as well as expected. For the most part, the lack of chemistry between Dave Annable and Emily Van Camp isn't too distracting. My major criticism of season 3 was the ponderous way in which they handled Tommy's exit. I get that Balthazar Getty was causing shit on the set, and with his recent affair, they wanted him gone (which is fucked up, I think. I don't condone cheating on your wife, but it shouldn't get you fired). But both the setup (his embezzlement) and the result (Tommy working on some compound in Mexico to "find himself") feel contextually ridiculous and unsupportable. But I'll be back for season 4. Tommy's exit not only got rid of the least interesting character, it got rid of the second least interesting character (his wife. What's her tits? It doesn't matter).
Season Grade: B

Grey's Anatomy
Yes, I still watch this show. Shut up. This season was a mixed bag that had trouble finding its footing from the get go. Everything felt ponderous. Callie's lesbianism, Cristina's sexual frustration, Meredith and Derek dancing around the commitment issue. And of course, there was the whole "Izzie fornicates with a ghost" storyline that was...pardon my french, fucking ridiculous. But there was some good here too. Meredith has really come into her own as a doctor and a person, and is really a more likable character because of it. I loved the way she stood up to the chief this season on several occasions. Dr. Weber is my least favorite character on the show and his self-righteousness and pushiness (particularly where issues with Meredith and her mother are concerned) make him impossible to root for. I'm glad Lexie and George didn't hook up. I'll say that even though the writers would have us think differently, George is one of the bigger assholes on this show and I wouldn't be terribly upset if he's as dead as the last episode suggested. The Izzie/cancer storyline was also compelling, though I hate that people call Katherine Heigl a bitch for wanting to abandon "Grey's Anatomy." Yes, she's a bitch. Obviously (have you read any interviews with the woman?) But wanting to abandon a show that's probably on its downslope doesn't make her a bitch. Why should anyone participate in anything that they don't want to? It's like the people who want to drag Michael Cera kicking and screaming back to "Arrested Development" for a movie that may not even be necessary. I love that show, but a movie? Do we really need it? The show ended on such a perfect note. I rarely defend actors, but this ownership that fanboys/girls declare over stars is a little strange. Like any other profession, hell like anything in life, you shouldn't pursue endeavors that you aren't fully invested in. I don't know that I'll be back for all of season 6.
Season Grade: C+

Parks and Recreation
I initially had a lot of misgivings about this show, but like "30 Rock" it improved exponentially from its first episode. Amy Poehler is very funny here. I think some of the very early problems in the show's timing, etc. stemmed from the writers not sure what to do with Leslie Knope as a character. The comparisons to "The Office's" Michael Scott are obvious, but they managed to make her inept in a way that's totally unique and not just a Michael Scott retread. The supporting cast here is pitch-perfect, although maybe I'm just giddy because I get to see Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones AND Paul Schneider in the same place at the same time. Chris Pratt is also hilarious. Of the supporting players, Aubrey Plaza is a standout as bored college-aged intern
April. The restaurant where I work is right near the Emory University campus and I'm telling you that Plaza has purposely captured the unique mix of stupidity, apathy and entitlement that many college-aged girls exhibit. I'm very glad this show has been renewed for a second season and I will be watching.
Season Grade: B+

30 Rock
The most consistently funny and watchable show on television, even if I don't consistently watch it. I have no excuses, other than I work most Thursday nights. Plus, I love letting them build up, then watching them in a big hilarious laugh-my-ass-off block on my days off. Jane Krakowski is a comedic genius, not to undermine Tina Fey of course. But it needs to be said. Very loudly, and preferably in front of Emmy voters. Even Salma Hayek, who isn't funny or even a particuarly good actress IMO (yes, I saw Frida. It was a hot mess) didn't bog down the show's whip smart writing and great pacing. Of course I will be back for season 4.
Season Grade: A-

The Office
Man, this season was kind of uneven. There were high points and low points. A lot of interesting stuff, sure, but man it all made for a serious lack of connectivity overall. The show is still funny, of course (that's never been the problem). But it feels like it's on its downslope. I think the problem is that ever since Jim and Pam got together, the writers are struggling with what to do with these characters, since so much of the drama involved them not being together and the awkwardness therein. I was really annoyed that after Pam failed out of art school, that was the last we heard of it. One would think that her having to return to Dunder Mifflin after getting a taste of art school would stir up restlessness and more resentment of the paper business, Scranton and Jim (by extension). It may seem like a predictable direction to go, but based on everything we've seen thus far, I don't buy Pam NOT being restless. And now with the implied pregnancy at the end of the season...oy. I'll be back for season 6, of course. But I'm a little curious/pessimistic to see how long they can keep the show interesting.
Grade: B-

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