Adam Dietz is a regular contributor to Filmophilia.
In early January I made my mind up. I was going to make a concerted effort to follow the Kevin Bacon driven vehicle The Following. This decision was made partly out of devotion to Bacon for his excellent work in the (highly underrated) film “The Air Up There” (arguably the seventh best basketball film ever made) and partly because I wanted to make a genuine effort to add a bit of suspenseful programming to my life. I guess I am the type of person who considers watching hour long thrillers to be a legitimate and worthy goal, as opposed to getting myself in better shape or learning a new language. All three are, indeed, worthy of setting my sights on, but The Following was going to be first.
I oft myself often seeking refuge in the serialized 21 minute situation comedy and, I mean, why wouldn’t I? The plots are easy to digest and the characters are all attractive, funny, and smart. Situation Comedy stars are capable of coming up with more one liners in a two minute conversation than I could in an entire year and are intelligent/talented enough to land high paying jobs that afford the luxury of living in hip lofts, yet allow them plenty of time for their trivial escapades.
Adam Dietz is a regular contributor to Filmophilia. He’s graciously agreed to chronicle his The Wire-watching experiences here on Gentlemen, Behold!!
I don’t feel well, blogosphere. Things are not right in the world of your (noble, handsome, humble) narrator.
My current state of dissatisfaction has two contributing factors that have brought me to where I currently am. The first involves a weekend of debauchery in the windiest of cities. CHI-town (as the locals call it) has me in a state of zombie like benevolence. The establishments I frequented last evening ate me alive, and I was all too happy to supply the required utensils. It’s been the kind of day where you realize that you’ve put your shirt on inside out, but the prospect of turning it the right seems too exhausting to consider.
The second, and far more relevant, cause of my grief is not an ailment, per se, but is an experience that I have deprived myself from. As a (self-proclaimed) television aficionado, I take pride in my knowledge of current and past television shows and genuinely enjoy the experience of watching episodes, seasons, and entire series of shows. With all of this said, I am missing an important piece to the popular culture puzzle. It seems that through inexplicable circumstances, I have not tasted the sweet dish that is/was HBO’s The Wire. How is it possible that a man with such love for television and popular culture hasn’t seen a show of such high acclaim? I have decided to right this wrong and cure this injustice. Tonight and for many days and nights to follow, I will be watching this former premium cable darling and writing posts that will detail my journey.
Joe Stando is the writer and proprietor of Gentlemen, Behold!! (He’s writing this sentence, actually.) Adam Dietz is a writer for Filmophilia. Parks and Recreation is a long-running, critically-acclaimed comedy series on NBC. They (we) sat down together over the weekend to talk about last week’s episodes, in what will hopefully become a regular column. Here goes!
This post is part of the Animation Wednesday series, a regular column which looks at animated TV series and movies of the past, present and future.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are older than I am. Conceived in 1984 as a parody of current comic trends (particularly those of Frank Miller), the resulting movies and TV series launched its heroes to international stardom. The adventures of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo were the biggest thing in the world for children in the early 1990s, rivaling Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny in name recognition. Since then, there have been numerous reboots and remakes, from an early 2000s cartoon to a CGI feature film. With the threat of a Michael Bay movie looming on the horizon, you might think that all of the juice has been squeezed out of this admittedly flimsy premise. But as Nickelodeon’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles take proves, there’s still some new tricks in this old dog.
We are living in a golden age of television, specifically of drama television series. The rise of cable and premium channels has allowed creators to present their visions for series with less oversight from networks and advertisers. These shows are made with fewer strictures; rules like ease of entry and stable status quo that make things easy to sell in syndication don’t matter as much. But now Netflix has taken things a step further, with original programming produced by them, for them, a TV show that never airs on TV. They have new Arrested Development episodes in the pipeline and a couple more prospects after that, but they opened with House of Cards, a gripping, visually stunning adaptation of the U.K. series of the same name.
Revolution, NBC’s dystopian adventure drama, premieres tonight at ten. It’s the latest in a long line of attempts to capitalize on the post-Lost market for genre TV. The path is fraught with peril; the past few years are littered with high concept sci-fi mystery stuff (The Event, Flash Forward, and Terra Nova being examples which spring to mind). Revolution has an impressive pedigree, with J.J. Abrams serving as an executive producer and Jon Favreau directing the pilot. But does Revolution have what it takes to become the next Lost? (Or at least the next Fringe?)
Readers, you may have noticed that I haven’t recapped an episode of Grimm in a long time. I could give a number of reasons for that. I could tell you that I’m writing for the Kalamazoo Gazette, and that they keep me pretty busy over there. I could tell you that a feature film my friends produced, The Day Job, premiered and that setting all that up took a significant amount of my energies. I could tell you that I competed in, and won, a stand up comedy competition. These are all elements. But the truth is that I stopped recapping Grimm because it’s just not a very good show. It’s not a very good show, no one’s paying me to recap it, and the time I spend taking notes on episodes and writing about them is better spent doing a number of other things.
NBC’s in pretty rough shape. The former top network’s fallen to last place on network TV, and they can’t seem to stem the tide. Recent premiere Smash hasn’t turned out to be “The Show That Saves NBC” the way they’d hoped (One sentence review of Smash: Better than Glee because it’s less cloying, but musical shows just aren’t my thing). The next attempt at The Show That Saves NBC is Awake, a crime procedural with a twist. While I think that heavily pushing one show and being ax-happy with others speaks more to NBC’s continued lack of business savvy, that’s not the point.
The point is that Awake is fantastic.
So, I’ve decided to start posting weekly recaps of NBC’s Grimm. I’m kind of busy with other projects these days, but I want to do something quick and fun at least once a week. James Hibberd already has Terra Nova recaps on lock over at EW.com, so I went with Grimm, mainly because for all of its silliness, I think it’s actually a decently clever show which could get really good if enough people watch it to get it another couple seasons (hint,hint). I’m gonna plan on these going up on Mondays, but we’ll see how it goes. Oh, and spoilers, and stuff.
Happy Halloween!! In honor of this wonderful occasion, I’ve decided to post a review/recap of Grimm, NBC’s new Friday night action/drama/crime procedural/fantasy/horror thing. Basically, it’s a light crime procedural with a supernatural twist, in that the killers turn out to be monsters and stuff. My recap starts below, but I just want to throw up a SPOILER ALERT now in case anyone’s worried about that sort of thing.
TV drama audiences can be hard to predict. People had claimed for a long time that no one would watch shows that were too science-fictiony or involved continuity-wise, but then shows like LOST and Fringe blew up. “Now audiences are ready for that kind of programming,” industry analysts declared, only to watch FlashForward, The Event (a personal favorite of mine), and countless other imitators crash and burn. Everyone begrudgingly accepted that it wasn’t about the genre as much as the quality of the show that (among other things) decided which shows lived and died.
Thus, FOX wasn’t taking any chances with Terra Nova, their new sci-fi drama series. The pilot was retooled numerous times and pushed back from a spring to a fall premiere. I don’t honestly know if all the fuss was necessary, since Terra Nova is going to live or die based on the answer to one question:
“Do primetime TV viewers want to watch people shoot guns at dinosaurs?”
As usual, NBC was pretty axe-happy last spring. The once-proud peacock wasn’t taking any chances, so none of the last year’s new comedies (Outsourced, Perfect Couples, and The Paul Reiser Show) were renewed, leaving a clean slate for 2011-2012. Let’s take a look at their Wednesday and Thursday night offerings, shall we?
Up All Night
Up All Night, starring Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, follows the trials and tribulations of Reagan and Chris Brinkley, a successful married couple dealing with the trials and tribulations of an unexpected new baby. Maya Rudolph rounds out the core cast as Ava, an Oprah-style talk show host and Reagan’s best friend and boss. It’s not a particularly inspired premise, but the cast does a pretty good job with what they’re given. It’s nice to see Will Arnett in a role that’s more than just a variant on Gob Bluth from Arrested Development, and while Rudolph is a bit over-the-top in the pilot, she’s a likeable enough actress to sell an otherwise cloying character. Wednesday doesn’t seem to be after the same kind of belly laughs as NBC’s Thursday night, so the show’s less slapstick tone is a good fit. All in all, it’s no standout, but it works as an anchor for the evening.
I’m going to start this post by committing some internet blasphemy: I don’t like Zooey Deschanel. In fact, I really, really don’t like Zooey Deschanel. I think I used to like her, and I like the movies she’s been in. But her whole Manic Pixie Dream Girl act has worn thin on me, and she doesn’t do much beyond smile awkwardly and skip around. I’m also annoyed by the way most everyone fawns over her, as evidenced when during upfronts in the spring, she was given questions like “Do you know you’re adorable?,” while Sarah Michelle Gellar was being asked if she’s “too old to be on TV.”
I say this because I want you to understand where I’m coming from in regards to New Girl, Deschanel’s new show on FOX. I’ll fully admit that I’m not coming into this show from a very open place. Like anyone, I have biases, but I’ve been wrong before (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Parks and Recreation, Perfect Couples to some extent), and I’m never unhappy to find a new show I enjoy. I tried really hard to keep an open mind, but I just didn’t like this show.
Durarara!! is the latest anime addition to [adult swim]‘s Saturday night, a relic of a bygone era when anime was a powerhouse and InuYasha and Cowboy Bebop aired two or three times every night. Since those halcyon days, [adult swim] has pared down their anime offerings to proven hits like Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist and ambitious, higher production series they think they can sell.