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Endings, As It Is Known, Are Where We Begin

By on Oct 10, 2009 in Raves | 0 comments

Rarely do shows get to end on the creators’ own terms, especially those that are cancelled. And even though Bryan Fuller surely would have preferred a more robust ending to his much-beloved fantasy noir Pushing Daisies, the show didn’t exit on a cliffhanger or, worse, with the whimper of a total non-ending, as some do. No, he was able to whip together an epilogue to tack on to the cliffhanger ending of “Kerplunk,” the last episode to air. But, as he says in an interview with TheTorchOnline.com, he couldn’t even shoot new footage. So he instead devised this CGI tour of the town of Coeur d’Coeurs and its environs—and of many of the settings used for the show, including the windmills, the convent, the Aquacade, the cemetery, the lighthouse, and, of course, the Pie Hole itself. This impressive work of digital wizardry would have cost him in the...

Nothing but the Blood

By on Oct 4, 2009 in Raves | 1 comment

Note: The following review first appeared as an article entitled “True Blood: HBO’s newest (and most misunderstood) hit” in The Climax, Hampshire College’s newspaper. Enough vampires, you say. And you’re entitled: pop culture is oversaturated with blood-sucking stories these days. True Blood might have been white noise amongst other fang-bearing works. But Twilight it ain’t. Part pulpy horror flick, part gothic love story, and with pervasive social commentary, HBO’s first post-Sopranos hit series defies categorization. And—forgive me for this—it’s bloody good. Based on the book series The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, True Blood revolves around the character of Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress at a watering hole in the sleepy town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. In the first episode, she falls in love with Bill Compton, a 150-year-old vampire,...

Alan! Alan! Alan! Alan! Alan! Al! Alan!

By on Sep 13, 2009 in Raves | 1 comment

Thanks to a link Christina Applegate posted to Twitter, I’ve been exposed to some of the funniest comedic anthropomorphism on TV since the claymation stylings of Creature Comforts. It’s a show called Walk on the Wild Side, in which up-and-coming British comedians (and, on occasion, established talent like Stephen Fry and Sir Tom Jones) give voices to animals captured in nature footage. There’s just one problem. It’s only available on BBC, and it doesn’t seem to be coming Stateside any time soon (unless, of course, we try to import it). But for now, we can relish YouTube clips of the show like the two below. (The monkey dentist in the second clip gets me every...

To Be Seen, Not Tasted

By on Sep 7, 2009 in Raves | 0 comments

Why do we enjoy Top Chef so much? Aside from the fact that it’s one of the few respectable, legitimate competition shows, and aside from the fact that we are all gluttons for culinary-inferiority punishment, why do we watch a show in which we cannot participate? With So You Think You Can Dance, you can see the dances. With Project Runway, you can see the designs. But with Top Chef, you cannot taste the food. You must watch the judges reactions and rely on their appraisals. It reminds me of my chief complaint about food shows: there are only so many responses TV chefs can give when tasting their own concoctions. The head tilts up toward the heavens, the eyes roll back, the eyelids flutter. “Oh, oh. That is so good.” Or “Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.” Or “Yumm-o!” Or the old standby: “Mmmm.” (Really, Rachael Ray, could you vary it up a little?)  I...

“Kings”: A Momentary, Glorious Reign

By on Aug 6, 2009 in Raves | 0 comments

Start with The West Wing. Now make the democracy an autocracy. Place that autocracy in a fictional country. Throw in marital strife, filial betrayal, oppressive corporations, hostile nations, wearisome wars, a young hero, and a tyrannical ruler. Pepper in some biblical references and glaze with poetic words structured in antiquated syntax. Do all this, and perhaps you’d have Kings, one of the most promising shows to have been cancelled this year. I watched the first episode when it premiered in March, knowing little more about it than the premise: a modern-day retelling of the story of David and Goliath. The “high-concept”-ness of that pilot episode intrigued me, but it was the second episode, “Prosperity,” that really impressed me—with its elegance of narrative and of style and with the quality of acting from Ian McShane, Christopher Egan, and the rest of...

The Future of Classic

By on Aug 1, 2009 in Raves | 0 comments

The following post was originally published on my old blog on July 7, 2009. After watching the second-season finale of Breaking Bad, the dramatic series about a chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-dealer desperate to not let his cancer treatment bankrupt his family, I had one thought: thank God this show is on AMC. With the premiere of Mad Men two years ago, AMC went from musty movie channel to leading cable destination overnight. And now with the network’s second dramatic series Breaking Bad attracting its fair share of critical acclaim (and even a leading-actor Emmy win for Bryan Cranston), AMC is establishing itself as a network that values quality over quantity. Unlike the broadcast networks, it has no reason to fill its primetime schedule with series each fall and hope that at least a few are commercial successes (let alone critical success). It has the freedom to develop series...