Friday, January 27, 2012

Son...people can SEE you!

I realized this morning that, after my last post, some of you may have worried that my subsequent absence from the blogosphere may have meant that I may have actually died from my massive headache. Never fear, dear readers...still alive and well, watching entirely too much television, and back ready to bend your ear for a while.

First things first...I do think I want to do a more long-form writeup of Justified episodes. I just need to figure out a schedule, and see what (if any) online resources there are for transcripts, which is what I used to do my old LOST recaps.

As for this week's episode, I thought it was good but not great. I sincerely hope that there is more Carla Gugino in the future, as she was obviously perfect in her old "Karen Sisco" role. In fact, that was probably my only issue with this episode...not enough of Raylan and Karen (although they never actually CALLED her Karen).

But, honestly, the rest of the episode was good enough that I can understand why something had to get the shaft. Some of the things I loved:

 - Art being a bada**, and possibly letting us in on why he has such a complicated relationship with Raylan. On one hand, Raylan has to be an absolute nightmare as an employee, and Art has made no bones about how fed up he is with constantly having to clean up Raylan's mess. On the other hand, Art probably sees a younger version of himself in Raylan, which is why he continues to clean up the mess no matter how fed up he gets.

 - Everything about the Boyd/Dicky scenes. Obviously, Walton Goggins is phenomenal as Boyd, but I think Jeremy Davies is a little underrated by people who talk about the acting on this show. There are so many "versions" of Dicky (each one as true and believable as another), and we got a good example of that here...look at the difference between how Dicky is acting when he thinks he's talking to a guard, vs. when he realizes that it is actually Boyd coming to visit. There is a version of Dicky that he projects when he thinks he has the upper hand, and another very different one when he knows he is in a position of weakness...both versions are at the same time very real, but also very much an affectation. I don't think he is ever as strong as he likes to pretend he is sometimes, but you better not underestimate him and think he's as weak as he projects at times either. Just great, great stuff from both guys.

 - Always fun to see Band of Brothers alumni pop up on other shows, and this is not the first time we've seen one here.

 - We didn't get any more of Neal McDonough's character (currently only known as "The Carpetbagger"), but we were introduced to another of this seasons Big Bads. Mykel T. Williamson was terrifying as Limehouse. And also a big fan of Fight Club, which automatically makes it hard for me to root against him.

It's also really disconcerting to see Bubba be such a psychopath. Forrest would be SO disappointed.

Overall, another really good episode, albeit one that I still feel like is doing a lot of foundation work. We haven't even really gotten into what the "Big" story is going to be this season, but that's not unusual for this show...they like to establish the world and its players early on, and then start moving the pieces around.

 - I also watched the pilot of Touch, the new Tim Kring joint that stars Kiefer Sutherland. I thought it was a really good concepts, Kiefer is really good, etc. I'm going to stick around, but it's hard not to compare this project with the LAST one that Tim Kring put out, which was Heroes. This pilot reminded me so much of the Heroes pilot...the global scope, the "everybody is connected" themes, even the overly pretentious voiceovers and long subtitled scenes. I loved the Heroes pilot and most of the first season, but then that show went off the rails in a HUGE way as it collapsed under the weight of its own mythology. This is obviously a different show...I'm hoping that Kring learned the right lessons from Heroes and fixes some of the issues here.

I don't think the show comes back until sometime in March, so you have plenty of time to catch the pilot between now and then...I'll be watching with cautious optimism when it makes its return.

 - Last night's Parks and Recreation was tremendous, and I would actually suggest that this could be an "Emmy submission" episode...there was so much good stuff for almost every character:

Ron - FANTASTIC Ron episode...from the snack bar in the bowling alley being his "favorite restaurant" to his horror at Tom's bowling mechanics ("Son...people can SEE you!"), to his subsequent anonymous testing of Tom's "technique" ("I was never here..").

Tom - Another great Tom list, with all of his possible bowling nicknames (forgot that in the Ron section earlier...he went with BOWLER, GIRL, and TOM). And his whining about his "fingy" was Tom at his pathetic best. All that was missing from his storyline was Jean-Ralphio.

Jerry - "Well, I don't really think you need MY social security number...but I guess it wouldn't hurt to give it out. It's 2-1-0.."

Andy - Every single thing Chris Pratt says and does cracks me up. "Why are we laughing?" "Champion really doesn't like awkward situations..."

April - I really think Aubrey Plaza was the MVP of this episode. Her annoyance with Chris leading to her wanting to win the contest in order to make his happiness "go away", that tremendous scene of her affecting different accents and personas in order to wring donations out of people, and of course her heart growing three sizes after she realizes Chris is heartbroken (and it may be her fault: "I might be a wizard"). April showing actual human feelings always gets me.

Obviously, that list could keep going...the only problem I had with this episode was that it wasn't a great one for Leslie. I thought her reaction to that one guy in the focus group saying he couldn't see himself going bowling with her was too over the top, even for her. But A) the show acknowledged it (through Ben's reactions), and B) she got to redeem herself at the end with her refusal to apologize for the fact that her boyfriend stood up for her to this repulsive jerk, and in fact she found it pretty hot.

So, yeah...this is still the best comedy on TV.

 - Archer. usual, there are a lot of jokes that I can't re-create here, either in order to keep the blog family friendly or because they don't translate as well in writing. But even though Parks and Rec is the best comedy on TV, I didn't laugh harder at anything last night than I did at "Did you hear we met a TIGER? But...then, he was....murdered", with the possibility of "I'm gonna die in a toilet stall! Just like the gypsy said!". Or Ray Gillette as a Decepticon.

As usual, Blutarsky says what I want to say, just much better...great post from him today on the dangers of a college football playoff, specifically my biggest problem with a tournament-style system. And extra points for using a reference from The Wire in the title of the post.

 - Chuck has its series finale tonight. If you haven't been watching so far, I guess it's a little late to jump in now...but for those of us who have been along from the beginning, what a ride. And I'm still shocked and happy that we got five seasons of this show, and that they are being allowed to go out pretty much on their own terms. Hooray for NBC suckiness! If they actually had done a better job of developing shows over the last four years, there is no way we would have made it to this point...Chuck kept getting renewed because NBC had absolutely nothing with which to replace it.

Alan Sepinwall has been one of the biggest online Chuck supporters since season one, so of course he is going to have some excellent finale-related material. HERE is part five of his week-long interview with showrunners Josh Schwarz and Chris Fedak, and HERE is a fantastic post listing all of his favorite moments from the series.

As for me, I'm really going to miss this show...but I think I will miss Sarah most of all.

 - Also this weekend is the "beginning" of HBO's Luck. I put "beginning" in quotation marks because HBO actually ran the pilot a while back. I watched it then and thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I had to watch it in standard def vs. hi-def (the HORROR!!!).

I'm a HUGE fan of Deadwood, which is also from creator David Milch. That one was set in a "western" type setting, but it was so much more than just a "western". It was a story about community, the greater good, how the truly awful things in life can sometimes open our eyes to the beautiful things....all with some of the most beautifully profane dialogue ever written. So I'm sure this one won't be for some of you...if you're easily offended by certain words, don't bother tuning in.

But I admire Milch's vision and style, and this one has the added bonus of a visionary director (Michael Mann) and a ridiculously talented cast (Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina, Jason Gedric, Richard Kind, just to name a few). So I'm in, 100%.

Oh, and by the way, speaking of Deadwood...AV club has a great piece today about the first season that is co-written by a first-time viewer and a long time fan. Good stuff from them, as usual.

Have a great weekend!

EDITED TO ADD: Didn't want to make a whole post out of this, but Grantland agrees with me with regards to what Jericho is doing since his return (the part in bold is my favorite part):
The shtick was nothing short of brilliant. To play with the crowd's instincts — turning their welcome-back applause against them — was the most effective way for a star like Jericho to "turn heel" in short order. In fact, he was turning heel in perhaps the most meta way possible: Average fans were largely left perplexed by Jericho's act, but the "smart" fans on the Internet felt most strongly aggrieved. Many of them knew what Jericho was doing, yet they were still disgusted by the inanity of it. When CM Punk went off-script, those fans swooned; when Jericho deliberately undermined the whole edifice, that was a step too far. Punk assaulted the fourth wall over the summer; Jericho went out and found a fifth wall to address. Jericho and Punk are expected to clash, and when that happens "reality" may take the biggest beating.

The most obvious precedent for Jericho's audience-taunting is Andy Kaufman's "I'm from Hollywood" routine in the early 1980s, but what Jericho did in those few silent appearances actually has more in common with another Kaufman stunt: reading The Great Gatsby in its entirety to stupefied audiences. It was performance art under the guise of a blunt assault on fans' expectations, or vice versa.

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