Sunday, September 26, 2010

Miss Me?

Hello, ye few but faithful, and those of you who watch but don't sign in. aiat's David, and he's had a busy three weeks. I got a new job, I started expanding my social graces, and I attended my best friend's wedding (something that, to be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure would happen til it happened). All of these are earth shattering, life-changing events, but I don't want to talk about them here. I am building myself a place where I will begin writing about all this, but I intend to keep this place all about my thoughts on TV. That's what I said this blog would be about, and damn it, that's what I'm going to keep it about.

Fortunately, about a week ago, the new fall season began. Now normally this is a busy time for me, but nature intervened to stop my involvement--- a blackout hit my area after a storm powerful enough to be classified a tornado, and I had no TV from last Thursday to the following Tuesday. Considering how involved I was with Mad Men, Glee, and House, I nearly hd a small breakdown. I'm one of those people who still believes iin watching TV on TV, so it took a lot out of me. But I'm back and ready to rumble.

Normally, I like to give series a couple of episodes before I decide whether or not I like them. Also, the networks are generally so quick on the trigger, I don't know if a series will get killed. (OH, I wish I'd been prewarned about this for The Nine, Invasion, and Flashforward, but that's a story for a different blog.) So rather than talk about some of the network series, I'm going to go to cable and discuss a couple of the bigger deals.

Last Week saw the premiere of Boardwalk Empire. If you live in New York, you couldn't get away from how HBO was promoting it. Billboards,TV ads, Subway ads, and with Terence Winter and Martin Scorcese attached, it certainly has the pedigree for great promotion, especially if you call it 'the next Sopranos'. But as someone who watched, and who has expressed elsewhere that particular show wasn't as great everyone thought it was, I was inclined to take it with a grain of salt. But the cast of actors is so well known, and HBO has a pretty good history with period series, so I decided what the hell.

The material of Boardwalk Empire has the potential for greatness, I will not deny. Steve Buscemi is one of our finest actors, and we all know he's played gangsters before. The good news is that the writing is much stronger, and we do seem to be getting a lot of familiar faces, especially for those of us who know a bit about the Roaring 20's . The mood is set appropriately with music, films and stage acts from the era (I think I heard Al Jolson and Enrico Caruso on a couple of victrollas) so it seems authentic, and seeing the rough atmosphere, and meeting Al Capone, Lucky Lucianoet al, before they were the legens, that's a little unsettling.

However, what I didn't sense in the Pilot was a great deal of subtlety. Now, Matthew Weiner wrote for them, and Mad Men is nothing But an exercise in subtlety. (I'll be getting to that in another post) so it leads me to wonder if Winter was the one responsible for all the bloodshed. And while every adds up to quality, it also all seemed to spell out--- This is Emmy Bait in almost every scene. Don't ask me to explain what about it, but this show does what Damages and The Wire never did--- show you it's brilliant, and not tell you. Perhaps I'll feel different after I see a couple of more episodes, so I'll try not to judge yet. But this is a series about gangsters in Jersey, so you'll understand why I'm a little trepidatious.

The show that I've been looking forward to seeing for the past--- hell with it--- ten months, finally premiered tonight. Season 5 of Dexter. Ever since he discover Rita's corpses in the bathtub--- Trinity's last victim--- I've been waiting to see how he'd deal. And the answer is: same way he appears to deal with everything else. Looking like you're sleepwalking is Dexter Morgan's stock in trade, but what do you when the one real human element in your life is gone. Equally jarring were the flashback scenes where we saw the very first date between Rita and Dexter and learn, just like everything else in his life, it was based on a lie--- he only went on the date to track a killer.

With Kiefer Sutherland and Matthew Fox gone, Hall continues to demonstrate why he is still the best working actor in TV . (Take that, Bryan Cranston). He seemed like a shell of himself, and considering that the image he projects to the world is a shell, that's a lot harder than it looks. And because of this, Quinn, who was suspicious of Dexter before Rita died, is finally suspicious of him. The irony is rampant--- all the horrible things we've seen Dexter do on this series, and the death of the one person he'd never hurt that might finally lead to his undoing. Which does lead to problems considering that Quinn banged Debra (in self-defense, really) and that particular relationship is going to be a factor for most of this season.

As for Mad Men---- Don Draper's false identity has always hurt him in the past, and now it seems that his secret is going to come back to bite Sterling-Cooper-Draper et al in the ass. Don's come close to exposure, but this time he seemed on the verge of collapse in a scene that makes you wonder why Jon Hamm is also Emmy-less.

But then the whole firm, never stable, may be on the verge of complete collapse. With Lucky STrike finally about to jump ship, we finally found out what it took for Roger STerling to lose his cool--- and get censored even on basic cable. Add to this, the mess that's going on with Joan (there's another child she'll never have) and Roger's probably going to break down by the time the season ends--- which is just three weeks away.

But by far the most shocking thing involved the stiff upper lip of Lane. We knew his relationship with his father was tense, but watching him beat the crap out of him--- well, I was floored. I hope he makes the right choice cause this firm can't take much more.

So ends this nights epistle. Stay tuned for further updates, including whether Glee still has what it takes for sophomore season, the return of Good Wife, Fringe, and Parenthood, and whether or J.J. Abrams still has the magic touch. Good night

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I Should Know Better By Now

Every year I say I'm not going to be frustrated when they announce the winners for the Emmys and every year I practically have conniption fits on Emmy Night. Why, why, why do I get my hopes up that they'll acknowledge the shows I like when they seem to fall into old habits.

Okay, that's not fair. Especially when it came to the Best Comedy awards. All of the winners there pretty much deserved to win. Maybe I'm being a little cross because I don't pay as much attention to Modern Family as I did to Glee and Nurse Jackie. And Jim Parsons' victory was pleasant because it was another triumph of geekdom over quirkiness. Who am I kidding? I just love Sheldon. And technically speaking, Glee and Nurse Jackie are not as traditionaly comedy in the same way Modern Family is, but I have a feeling that both shows will be in the arena for quite awhile to come. Huzzah Jane Lynch!

No, it's the dramas that kind of wear me dow. Now, don't get me wrong, Mad Men is a brilliant show--- arguably the best show to come up anywhere in the last decade. But I can't help but feel--- particularly this year--- that they seem to be honoring it more out of habit then anything else. I saw all the nominated shows this year--- and, honestly, I really think that Dexter and The Good Wife were at least as good, and Lost was even better if possible.

And seriously, even Bryan Cranston doesn't really believe that he's the best Actor in TV. I know that everybody with the exception of Fox will probably get another bite at the apple but come on! Who do Michael C. Hall have to kill to get some Emmy love? Why can't Jon Hamm sell anything else? As for best Actress--- it's not that Kyra Sedgwick hasn't deserved to win at least once in the last three years, I just thought that her moment had passed and that Juliana Marguiles had arrived.

Oh well. Here are some random thoughts I had about the show itself.

They need to decide an order of presenting the awards and fracking stick with it. I myself didn't have a problem with the way they used to do it before--- at least then you had a reason to pay attention all three hours. Come on, after the first ninety minutes were over, I didn't have any reason to keep watching. And it is kind of ridiculous to put all those movies in one place. We all know HBO's gonna sweep, so it's kind of hard to care.

Give John Hodgman a permament job. I 've been watching this guy on the Daily show for six seasons, so I know he's brilliant, but he he has just the right tenor to deflate all of the pompousity of those walkup to the awards shows. And you might want to consider giving Ricky Gervais a chance to host. The last three years he's generating more laughter in his presentations than the hosts ever have. And considering how good Harris and Fallon are generally, that's saying something.

HBO is bordering on irrelevance. It'll self promote saying they won more Emmys than any other network, but all of their wins for TV movies. In the meantime, Showtime and AMC each picked up six awards and are clearly a better representation of where the real talent is gathering. To mae an appropriate pun, Boardwalk Empire better come in like gangbusters, cause they're barely hanging in there. God Knows there never going to recognize David Simon's work.

Well, the new fall season is fast approaching which means the networks will be turning out their "best and brightest" But soon Glee and Dexter will be beginning their new seasons, and that's enough to bring joy into this bloggers clogged heart. Keep watching this spot.