Making the world a better place, one show at a time.

My photo
Washington, DC, United States
I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Weekend Fling: Parks and Recreation, Seasons 1 and 2

I watched the pilot of Parks and Recreation when it aired; I wasn't impressed.  Jennie advised me to give it another shot, and reviews I read said it had improved immensely, so I gathered up all my love for Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones (I still maintain that Karen was awesome!) and queued up my Watch Instantly.

So glad I did, because this shite is funny.  The racist Town Hall murals sight gags are completely worth watching the show for.

Those, and the rest of the writing.  Like when Leslie marries the two male penguins.  Or when the whole office goes on a hunting trip.  Or Jerry's mugging.  Or my personal favorite Duke Silver.  I could go on.

From what I can tell, the conceit of this show is "the road to hell is paved with good intentions," because no one's intentions are as good as Leslie Knope's and no one ends up in as many hell-ish situations.  I mean come on, the premise of the show is turning an actual pit into a park, Dante would be all over this.  Or maybe he wouldn't be interested in the bumblings of a small-town's bureaucracy ridden government through the perspective of their Park's Department.  Leslie is unfailingly optimistic in the face of tax-payer antagonism, co-worker apathy, and continual personal embarrassment, but her determination, hard-work, and occasional bouts of drunken-ness prevent her from coming across as either cloying or sanctimonious.

The gem of Parks and Recreation is Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman).  Ron is the head of the P&R department, a breakfast-obsessed loud and proud Libertarian who wants nothing more than to do as little as possible.  He's not just lazy, he is lazy out of principle.  And that is the element that separates Parks and Recreation from The Office: self-awareness.  The characters have their flaws, they make mistakes, and often end up with a mess on their hands, but for the most part, they know their flaws are flaws, that their mistakes are their responsibility, and that they have to clean up their messes.  At this point, particular personality aspects have not devolved into caricature; for example, Tom Haverford's (Aziz Ansari) attempts to pick up women are still viewed and commented upon as creepy and desperate, not jovially dismissed as a fixed and worn affectation.

The only character who is really clueless is Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt, in yet another wonderful dumb-but-lovable-guy role that he does so very very well).  Andy is essentially a kind person, just a little dim. The slow evolution of his relationship with surly and disconnected April (Aubrey Plaza) demonstrates a possibility for development, giving me hope that Andy won't degenerate into a one tick pony whose buffoonish behavior pushes the line of cruelty.

The weak link in this show is Mark Brandnawitz (Paul Schneider), but since he won't be a regular in S3, I don't really feel a great need to spend much time here talking about how Mark was boring.  Boring, boring, boring. Okay, I'm done.

But can I get an amen for Adam Scott's recurring role as Ben Wyatt?  I am in love with this guy, am terribly disappointed that Party Down got cancel, and his character is perfect for Leslie!

So really, is it January yet?

The TV Girl

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Walking Dead: A Show With Bite

Haha, I feel so punny this afternoon.

Okay, I'll stop.  Sorry, I'm sick and I think all my over the counter meds are making me loopy.  If this ends up making no sense, then I'll amend it when I'm not, ya know, on the verge of zombie-ism.

I had a professor who told my American Lit. class that he could write an entire book of analysis on the first sentence of Moby Dick.  This professor has since passed away, so out of respect for the dead, I won't repeat what I actually said about his claim, but I was rather dismissive.  Watching AMC's The Walking Dead last night, I realized that he might have been onto something, because the opening scene of the pilot seemed to be the whole show. (BSG was kind of like this too.)  In near silence, we watch a sheriff make his way through a fly-filled shanty town in search of gasoline, and coming upon a small girl zombie, he shoots her in the head.  In the most unimaginably changed circumstances we will adapt due to the innate human desire to survive, but how well we adapt, who we become in those circumstances, will depend on what core values we retain for the time we considered normal.

But, as they say, the devil is in the details.

The general details of the first three episodes are: the sheriff is Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who awakens after a shooting to find out that a virus has ravaged the population and created a race of zombies ("walkers").  A nice man and son give him a run down of the situation, point him towards Atlanta, where survivors are gathering in safety and numbers under the benevolent care of the CDC.  Rick makes his way south, radio-ing out to anyone who can hear, which happens to be a camp that tries to warn him not to go to Atlanta, but they get cut off.  The camp is where his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), son Carl, and his partner Shane (Jon Bernthal) are, playing family, because Shane has stepped into Rick's role as husband and father.  Trapped in the zombie over-run Atlanta, Rick is rescued by a group of survivors in the city for supplies (on a mission from the camp) and when they all get trapped, he organizes an escape.  Too bad they leave a truly horrible redneck handcuffed to a pipe on the roof of the building, because no sooner is Rick reunited with his family at the happy camp in the woods, he decides to go back to the city to retrieve roof dude, who it tuns out has cut off his own hand to escape being eaten by zombies.  Lori puts an end to her fling with Shane, who, um, doesn't take it well, much to the detriment of asshole-Ed's face.

So far, this show is just plain cool.  As atmospheric as all AMC shows, but there isn't an imbalance of substance and style.  The zombies are gross, creepy, and perfectly nightmare-ish: the upper-half zombie crawling across the grass that Rick eventually shoots was super nasty.   The dialog is spare, precise, and purposeful: the fear of making too much noise and attracting the walkers puts a special emphasis on what is said and not.  The characters are determined to carry on but aware of the desperation of their situation; the discussion about the missing tools highlighted that while most recognize the necessity of co-operation to survive it doesn't make everyone into happy share-y people.  The whole thing comes together kind of like an excellent monster movie from times gone by: enough gore to make it exciting, enough intellect to make it interesting.  

While it kind of hurts to see her as a (unknowingly) cheating wife, I'm thrilled to see Sarah Wayne Callies again.  I missed her.

I have to say this though, I HATE SHANE.  I might get over this, I might be having an extreme reaction, he may turn into a great character, who knows.  Right now, I am in hate.  He obviously had feelings for Lori beforehand, and he used the aftermath of a plague to act upon them, which is so cowardly.  He told Lori Rick was dead for pete's sake, that is like premeditated creep.  (My conception of Shane's thought process: "The world is coming to an end and surviving would be a total win, but I think my number one priority should be nailing my best friend's wife.")  Now, I'm not saying that Ed didn't need to be dissuaded from abusing his wife and daughter, and that on that level there wouldn't have been a bit of vindictive joy in Shane kicking his ass, that is if Shane's actions had had anything to do with protecting Carol or the other members of the merry-band-in-the-woods!  But it didn't.  Angry at Lori's rejection Shane behaves just like Ed: physically dominating a party not responsible for his disappointment.  In fact, Shane might be worse than Ed, because Shane pretended that what he did was for the greater good, not the selfish brutality of a weak man that it was.  At least Ed is upfront that he is a piece of shit.

But doesn't every show need a character for me to hate?

The TV Girl

Monday, November 8, 2010

Supernatural: One Step Forward, A Step and Half Back

(6.06 "You Can't Handle the Truth" and 6.07 "Family Matters")

The last two episodes of Supernatural have had some good moments, some not so good moments, some pluses, some minuses.  First, the pluses.

I'll admit it, I kinda dig Robo-Sam.  As we now know (though we may have guessed) Sam's body and mind may be here on earth, but his soul is still trapped in a cage in hell with Lucifer and Michael.  And if Sam and Dean work with Gramps Campbell to round up creatures for Crowley, then the new king of hell will make Sam all whole again.  Not only is Soul-less-Sam a little bit awesome, with the willingness to kill with only minor hesitation and all, this is a chance for the show to do something really interesting.  No-Soul-Sam is a separate being from dearly departed Sam Winchester, and that opens a new field of possibility for the show, and I for one hope the writers take advantage.

While I understand and agree that is was necessary for Dean to take his father down off the pedestal, I sort of got choked up when he finally said something good about John after so many seasons.  We've all read the Aeneid, we know heroes cannot carry their fathers on their backs forever, but his desire for his father's respect and affection was his defining motivation for so many years, it seems that without finding some empathetic understanding of his father's strengths and weaknesses, that Dean will always be adrift.  (And doesn't that seem to be the big problem, that while other people have been trying to force him into a role, Dean has been purposeless.)

And I though I have SERIOUS problems with the little old overarching storyline for this season (which I'll get to in a sec) I will not argue with more Mark Sheppard.  I get a little giddy every time he shows up on screen, so fine, let the boys be Crowley's bitches for now.

But make no mistake, I think that Purgatory-is-where-supernatural-creatures-go-when-they-die-and-Crowley-wants-to-find-it is hands down, without a doubt, barring none, THE STUPIDEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED ON THIS SHOW.  Not every episode is the best ("Bugs"), some plot  developments have crossed the campy-line into the shamefully preposterous (Anna's grace is in a tree), but I actually got up and left the room (to get another beer) when Alpha Vamp dropped his knowledge on wee little Sam and Dean.  Not only is it the lamest idea ever (days later I'm still dumbfounded by this choice of storyline), but they made it so frakking obvious how weak it is.  I say the following as a decently intelligent person, a scholar, a TV junkie, and a truly disappointed viewer:
  Some of us didn't go to cut-rate state schools, we actually read "Purgatorio" and if the show wants to make up it's own definition of Purgatory they are free to do so (as much of a mistake as it is) but leave Dante out of it.

I'm so angry I could spit, and I don't think I realized it until I wrote this.

Yet Little Women taught me that I should not let the sun go down on my anger, so, I will end on a positive note.  How cool was it when that dentist murdered his pervy patient with the drill?

The TV Girl