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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...

“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...

Not Just the Obligatory Musical Episode

By on Apr 16, 2011 in Raves | 0 comments

Regardless of what you thought of the result (if you happened to see it), you have to admit that putting on a musical episode of Grey’s Anatomy—and doing so sincerely without a sense of parody or irony—indicates that Shonda Rhimes has some pretty major creator-balls. It certainly wasn’t Glee, and jazz hands were nowhere to be seen. It took a different tack to the trope of the musical episode, and it succeeded as much as it failed. I get what Shonda tried to do, and I loved the idea of commemorating the songs that Grey’s made famous. But here’s the rub: a show’s music supervisor usually chooses songs whose tone sets the right mood for a certain scene and does so without much regard for the actual lyrics. So while the refrains of the songs fit in with the storyline (e.g. “Breathe,” “Wait,” “How We Operate,” “How To...

The Amazing Allure of “The Amazing Race”

By on Nov 29, 2009 in Raves | 1 comment

Lately I’ve really gotten into The Amazing Race. Add it to the elite list of reality shows I find respectable. I have to say, I’m seduced by the globe-hopping adventure aspect. (Maybe it speaks to my love for Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?) I mean, who wouldn’t want an all-expenses-paid whirlwind tour around the globe? Sure, participants don’t exactly get a chance to sight-see. But what is sacrificed in the quality of their tour stops is compensated by the quantity. Already this season, participants have been to Tokyo, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Dubai, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Prague. And at each stop, the participants—and we, the viewers—learn a bit about the region’s culture, history, and geography. (Hey, sounds a bit like Carmen Sandiego!) What else is fulfilling about The Amazing Race is that the competition (usually) a bonding experience...

Since I Found Serenity

By on Nov 10, 2009 in Raves | 1 comment

“Firefly is about nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things.” That’s apparently how Joss Whedon—creator of Buffy, Angel, and Dollhouse—pitched the show to Fox back at the beginning of the decade. Now, as we approach the end of the decade, I’ve finally watched it on DVD. And while I didn’t love it as arduously as others, I do understand the appeal. That pitch above is apt, because the main characters—the crew and passengers of the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity—and specifically the differences between them are make the show. Granted, the concept is cool: the show is a hybrid of two genres, sci-fi and western. Aside from the aesthetic appeal of the mash-up, it also united our past and a (possible) future to comment upon our present. The show is set in the future, after the two remaining superpowers on “the Earth...