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The Amazing Race: An amazingly nice finish

By on Dec 13, 2012 in Recaps | 0 comments

The season finale of The Amazing Race aired Sunday night, and Alex and I were riveted. We were rooting for Josh and Brent — partners, goat farmers, and subjects of the lifestyle show The Fabulous Beekman Boys — not just because they’re gay (though that’s a plus) but because they’re kind, moral people. That said, there wasn’t anyone in the final four teams whom we disliked: Chippendales James and Jaymes were charming and, bleach job aside, good-looking; twins Natalie and Nadiya were always good for a laugh; and Troy and Lexi were milquetoast and innocuous. But that changed in the first hour of the two-part finale. The latter three teams formed “the Dream Team” — an alliance against Josh and Brent. That alliance was mean, first of all — because the Beekman Boys had never done anything cutthroat or unsportsmanlike — and also fairly foolish — because, as...

TVs improbable seventh-inning stretches

By on Oct 13, 2012 in Raves | 0 comments

Seven seasons is an awfully long run for any TV drama, particularly a serialized one. Procedural shows like CSI and Law & Order shows have the privilege of a different storyline every episode, and even semi-procedural shows like Fringe aren’t required to serve an overarching narrative with every episode. The TV graveyard is littered with the corpses of series that exhausted their creativity before their episode order. One recent example of such a show on the comedy front is The Office: the producers and NBC announced that Season 9 would be the final season, but that decision came after we slogged through disappointing Seasons 6, 7, and 8. Some showrunners do the dignified thing and set a definite and unyielding end date for their series, like the masterminds behind Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Breaking Bad, and even the British Office. I can’t speak highly enough of this practice:...

Revenge: A series best served cold

By on Aug 5, 2012 in Raves | 0 comments

I shouldn’t have found Revenge enjoyable. It’s clichéd, it’s soapy, and its characters are not exactly diverse. And Revenge shouldn’t have been successful. It’s a complicated, heavily-serialized drama; and there are hardly any cops, doctors, or lawyers in sight. But if there’s one thing television has taught me, it’s that expectations and preconceptions mean squat. The story tracks the vengeance taken by Emily Thorne, (née Amanda Clark), whose father, David, was scapegoated for a terrorist-related money-laundering act by the wealthy Grayson family and later killed in prison. Years later, during her teen delinquent years, Emily learns of the framing and the coverup and enlists a Japanese sensei to show her the ways of revenge and uses the resources of a wealthy billionaire named Nolan (a former cohort of her father). After years of plotting, she...

The Shows of Summer

By on Jun 14, 2012 in Previews | 0 comments

Feeling a certain malaise now that the traditional broadcast TV season is dormant until September? Feeling reluctant to crack that copy of Infinite Jest on your bookshelf? Unenthused about taking in the sunshine and warm weather outside? Have no fear: summer TV is here! And here’s your handy breakdown of the estival new shows (“estival: appearing or belonging to summer”—thanks, Merriam-Webster!), each listing complete with the official description and with my pithy remarks. Never mind the fact that some of these shows are already on the air. Just keep thinking that my blog is the timeliest of all blogs. May 11: Common Law (USA) This series is “about two cops with a problem—each other. Despite their differences, they are incredible detectives. When things come to a head during their ‘seven-year itch’ as partners, their captain forces them into...

“Newsroom” Preview Suggests Sorkin Masterpiece

By on Apr 5, 2012 in Previews | 0 comments

Aaron Sorkin is an idol of mine—a true wordsmith whose whip-smart writing has exalted Sports Night, The West Wing, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on television and A Few Good Men, The American President, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, and Moneyball on film. (And now he’s even getting in the Broadway game, teaming up with Hugh Jackman and Wicked songster Stephen Schwartz for a musical about Houdini.) So imagine my unbridled glee when I heard that he was coming back to television. (I wasn’t sure he would after the untimely demise of Studio 60). And I was even more psyched when I found out that he’d be berthed at HBO, where he’d presumably have more creative freedom and less pressure to deliver instant ratings. Add to that an interesting cast including Jeff Daniels, Jane Fonda, Allison Pill, Dev Patel, Sam Waterston, Olivia Munn, and Emily...

“Glee” gets better, and “It Gets Better”

By on Mar 7, 2012 in Raves | 1 comment

It should be no surprise that Glee has fallen in the ranks of my favorite shows. What used to be appointment TV is now Hulu-days-later TV. I feel like it doesn’t have the same pizazz, the same bite, the same freshness. So imagine my surprise when I found the most recent episode, “On My Way,” to be one of the most important hours of television of this season… or maybe of any season. In the story, Karofsky—whose bullying of Kurt stemmed from his own closetedness—becomes the target of physical and cyber bullying himself, and he tries to take his own life. The students and faculty at McKinley then grapple to empathize and to process their guilt. Finally, Kurt visits Karofsky and helps him imagine a happy future—one worth living to experience. The episode aired with public service announcements from The Trevor Project, an organization whose mission is “to end...