The TV Round-Up

So, it’s coming to the close of 2010 and subsequently, the end of the a bunch of tv show runs. So, here’s what I think about a couple of them. Spoilers ahead (this isn’t the Sixth Sense, what’s there to spoil? By the way, Bruce Willis was dead all along)

Boardwalk Empire – Season 1

I stayed away from this show for a couple of episodes because period dramas aren’t really my thing. I didn’t want to get into some Scorcese “Gangs of New York” indulgence, but I finally got round to it and my god, what a brilliant series. Steve Buscemi holds the show together almost single-handledly with his consistently note-perfect performance throughout the entire season. He is officially Enoch Thompson to me. He commits completely to a thoroughly diverse and complex character of quiet depravity and sociable cruelty. Season 1 has barely scratched the surface of his evilness and Boardwalk Empire has created the perfect antihero. Always seemingly in control of his emotions, he lets this break free (the torching of his father’s home) occasionally to let the audience glimpse some semblance of a soul, which I admit to holding on to through his next cruel act. I constantly question his motives and intentions. The writing for this show is truly amazing and on form for almost all characters.

Its one letdown (for me) would have to be Michael Pitt. I found it difficult to stomach his acting throughout the entire show – and he does have a pretty big role to play. He looked uncomfortable in every scenario (he looked awkward playing the lover, the fighter and the Judas). I constantly wished that someone else was cast in his role because it’s truly an interesting and complex role (war past, young father, budding criminal) and his deadpan style and glassy eyes does absolutely nothing for me. He seemed like a poor man’s Ryan Gosling to me and as much as I hate shows that do this, I would be more than happy if they did a complete body swap for the second season.

Two supporting cast members that stick out for excellent contributions to the show would have to be Paz de la Huerta as Lucy Danziger (Nucky’s once-paramour) and Jack Huston as Richard Harrow, the marksman turned gangster. Their performances are so spot-on, emotional and believable. They added great value to the show. This show really has it all for me: quick pace, complex storylines, lots of cursing and sex. If you like boobies, this show is for you. It makes me remember HBO, in all it’s glory.

Sons of Anarchy – Season 3

It’s no secret how amazing I think this show is. Beyond its completely stellar and comfortable cast, it’s got plot aplenty and it makes one hour feel like 10 minutes. I’ve described this show as a “mind-fuck” and it was a constant ride from the first to the last episode. There is a serious level of commitment to each and every episode, down to Celtic-ising the theme song, when a bunch of episodes took the team to Ireland. I loved how the show took me uncomfortably close to Jax sleeping with his sister (unknown to either of them) and it got me thinking, “Oh, god, are they going to make us watch this?! What if he’s actually Clay’s son, which is why this is happening?”.

But here’s what I love most about this show. For something so modern and kick-ass, most of its mystery and appeal lies in its past and not always in the future. With Sons of Anarchy, you get a feeling of a deep-rooted and twisted past, which occasionally bubbles to the surface. And while the storyline careens forward, it keeps you looking in the rearview mirror to see what’s happening behind. To support this brilliance, was the iPhone app released a couple of months ago that delves into this dark past and sheds a lot of light into the founder(s) of the MC and is a total accessory to understanding the show. I always appreciate that the characters are true to form and life – and are never flat or one dimensional. They personify both good and evil in one being. Take the matriach, Gemma – a brilliant mother to all but she is one cold bitch, and as the final episode left off, apparently a lot more capable of darkness than imagined. And every character has this duality that draws them further away from being typical “bikers” – even Tig has a soft spot for his little puppy. 🙂 What a sweetheart. I love Tig. If you haven’t started on Sons of Anarchy, stay in on a weekend and trust me, you will go through 3 seasons in 2 days.

Weeds – Season 6

I have no idea why I’ve continued to watch this show, past season 3. Or whichever season it was that weed stopped actually being involved. This show should now be called “Self-Indulgent Woman with a little hash on the side”. Whatever saving grace and magic the character “Nancy Botwin” had is long gone. This show is officially over for me. Doug is obviously a crowd pleaser but his character is tired and should have been retired, along with Celia. Andy is over-used to compensate for Nancy’s whininess and the dwindling humour in the show. Shane is the bad guy? Are you serious? The little kid that totes the Tex-Mex baby around and steals a pram? Silas, to me, is the last bastion of hope for the show and he was completely way sided for the introduction of Richard Dreyfuss, whom was a mildly distracting element but nothing can hold this show together anymore. It has ripped at the seams like an old dimebag. The best episode of this season was the last. I’m sick of the whole lot of them.

The Big C – Season 1

I thought I’d give this one a try – things were a little slow and honestly, it’s not that bad but it’s not that great either. Laura Linney is a great actress but I don’t think this was the role for her. Basically, this role is Nancy Botwin with cancer, instead of weed. Mary-Louise Parker, however, is a truckload hotter than Laura Linney, which makes it believable that every man wants to fuck her. I have no clue why her oncologist is in love with her – or why Idris Elba is nuts over her. Her character is so fraught with insipid complexity that it feels fake. There is no depth or personality given to anything – not the environment, the town, the neighbour, the son, the brother or her family life or past. Basically, it’s a woman who has been diagnosed with cancer and then plays skip-rope with it (Do I want to be mean? A good mother? A mother with no boundaries? A whore? A good wife? Spend money? Save money? Die? Live?). Frankly, the show gave me no reason to care to begin with. Oliver Platt is the only bright spark throughout but let’s move him to another, more enjoyable show. His talent is wasted here.

Glee – Season 2

Sorry, cast of Glee, but I’ve stopped believing. What was this season – the summer of Kurt? Look, gay people are fine, but this effeminate over the top wanker has got to go. If he stopped for a second to stop whinging, he might realise he gets all the attention – in both schools, and even at his father’s wedding. Good jeepers, how many songs does Kurt get – sitting there, can’t believe his luck that the song is for him, the annoying faux-twinkle in his eye. Any more episodes, and I would have slushied him in the face myself. After 2 seasons, absolutely nothing has changed and no character has grown. Rachel is still the Jewish hooker with the heart of gold (didn’t she get too much into Christmas?), Schuester is lost, Sue is mean, Mercedes is fat, Artie can’t walk, Tina is Asian, Santana is a slut, Brittany is stupid, Puck is a delinquent and Finn is still the singing jock. 2 whole seasons and they did nothing with it except sing into the asses of Britney, Gaga, Madonna and godknowswho else. The episode with Gwyneth Paltrow was like watching a Celine Dion Live dvd while getting a root canal. Every episode is convenient, poorly written and has no purpose or value. Go Glee, go. No seriously, just go.

The Walking Dead – Season 1

Sigh. I had high hopes for this one. I love a good zombie flick as much as the next chick but this one went as fast as the zombies could walk (which is very slowly) (oh, I’m sorry, they’re called “walkers”) and I finally shot this series in the head after episode 3. That’s right – it only made it as far as 3 episodes for me. That’s how far the initial gore rush went. This series could have used a little more strategy. Yes, we all like the gore value but shit, it’s got to tell a story and show us an endpoint. I had no idea what was going on, how they were going to survive and what the endpoint was – but here’s the flaw of the show, I didn’t care. From the first episode, all that mattered was the Sheriff getting to his family, so once episode 3 came round, and they were reunited, I really didn’t care what happened after that. I don’t like cheap plot twists (stuck in a tank… oooh, here’s a voice from the wilderness. Need to get out of the building, oh by the way, rub guts on yourself so they won’t recognise you’re alive) – they make me feel stupid for not knowing the answer the writers didn’t know themselves, 5 minutes ago. If I get really bored over the holidays, I might catch up on this one but I doubt it.

Married To Rock – Season 1

Is this when my credibility vanishes? I am loving Married To Rock – an E! reality tv show featuring the wives of Perry Farrell, Duff McKagan, Steve Stevens and Billy Duffy. Firstly, I love those guys so I appreciate any glimpse into their lives. Perry Farrell for god’s sake! It’s fun, sexy and a great way to pass half an hour. It’s also amusing to see Steve Stevens turn up at his wife’s door holding a Hello Kitty toy. Steve Stevens! BLS! This show is just 3 episodes in, so no critique just yet but you can’t really critique a reality tv show – they’re mostly guilty pleasures. I actually watch Jersey Shore and Teen Mom. Enough said.

Coming in 2011

Big returns to the tiny screen for 2011 – everyone’s favourite bad boy, Hank Moody, returns for the 4th season of Californication. The Borgias starts for everyone who asked “Now what?” at the end of The Tudors and Big Love returns in full force for a 5th season. Big Love has consistently been one of my favourite shows (multiple, complex plots – that’s where it’s at, for me).

Hope this mini-critique helped anyone trying to decide what show to catch up on/drop for the holidays!


3 Replies to “The TV Round-Up”

  1. I liked Walking Dead, shame you didn’t.

    I just finished Boardwalk Empire. I marathon-ed all the episodes over the last 2 weeks. What I find most interesting about your take is that we interpreted Buscemi’s portrayal of Nucky differently. I took him at face value. I see it as the making of a monster; where you see it as the unveiling of a monster.

    Though, I have to concede, considering he’s already in this position of power, he must have already become one. But I still maintain that fundamentally he believes he’s doing what’s right and best for everyone (and himself).

    I love the anti-hero dramas. BTW – I disagree with that too; you keep saying dramas aren’t really your thing. What’s Sons of Anarchy then? What do you feel most drawn to? Romantic stories? Romantic Comedies?

  2. Hi Smash!

    Thanks for reading! I might get back into The Walking Dead – who knows – but right now, there’s nothing really drawing me to get back into it. I didn’t find myself eagerly anticipating each new episode.

    I think the last few eps of Boardwalk Empire really revealed the “monster” within Nucky – more was revealed of his actions as Sheriff, firing/rehiring his brother, how he set up Jimmy’s mother with The Commodore (but hilarious how he let the near murder by his maid go…)

    Did I say dramas weren’t my thing? Can’t remember which post I said that (doesn’t quite sound like me) but in this one, I said, “period dramas” aren’t my thing, which is why I was pleasantly surprised that Boardwalk Empire completely bowled me over.

    And yes, SOA is definitely mad action-drama. Love action!

    In terms of movies, I love everything but in terms of tv series, I rarely continue with romantic/comedies – like Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy etc… I lose interest after a season, usually. Then again, I liked The Tudors (romantic/drama?) .

    Once again, thanks for reading!

  3. Ok, I’ll agree to your ‘period dramas aren’t your thing’. I remember I had asked you about Mad Men. Again, I think you’d love it considering your career and talents…

    I’ve finally started watching Sons of Anarchy. I hate this time of year, there’s not enough new television shows to feed my insatiable appetite to consume tv.

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