Monday, September 25, 2006

TV and Me

Many of you know that I am suspicious of the small screen. It is true that I don't watch much of it and far prefer heading to the multiplex. But I've been sick again. (My nurse friend thinks I have asthma! yikes. Meanwhile, my best friend thinks I have indoor allergies but he is a skin-cancer-be-damned sun worshipper so that probably plays into his "you spend too much time in your apartment" advice.) This has been like "summer of sick" for me. Never been so frequently sick in my life. So I'm super glad it's Fall. Oh but the point: Sick = TV for me. Very brief thoughts on a few things I've watched this past week:

Grey's Anatomy
Other than the undebatable talents and charm of the ex Mrs. Alexander Payne (Sandra Oh) I can't understand why anybody watches this show. I am forced to "listen" to it regularly and its writing grates on my very last nerve. Perhaps its the delivery by the extremely annoying "sad blonde girl" --that's what my friends call her (they watch it religiously). I think they mean Ellen Pompeo who is just like Renee Zellweger minus the comic gift ( can imagine my loathing). I am also sick to death of TV shows that rely on overly precious life lessons learned narration. These shows are not difficult to understand. Do they really need to tell us their obvious metaphors and lessons while showing them?

Six Degrees
I watched this out of curiousity at what they'd do with the concept but I'm not sure they even understand the concept. For instance: Jay Hernandez (me love) meets Erika Christensen (me hate) and falls instantly in love. He spends the rest of the episode trying to find her and at the end he does --they see each other on the subway. That's no degrees of separation. Both times they meet they are face to face and nobody they're connected to is serving as a connection between them. It would have been smarter to call this Six People because essentially all of the characters are connected but in different ways. But that's not what the concept of six degrees of separation is. Plus: boring and obvious. I love about half the actors but I probably wouldn't watch this again.

Desperate Housewives
So. Um. I guess they listened to all the complaints about the second season. The Housewives did slapstick, ate lunch together, had sex (not together. sorry), and seemed a lot more like the season one girls. I "get" the appeal of this show but I'm not a regular viewer and I thought what I saw of last season was almost unforgiveably shoddy in terms of writing. I love Alfre Woodard but that Emmy nomination she received had to be among the worst choices they've made recently (which is saying a lot given that the Emmys are often the most laughable of the big ticket awards shows)

Survivor and The Amazing Race
Other than Project Runway (excellent. genius. addictive) and America's Next Top Model (hilarious, carcrash fascinating) I generally have to wear crosses and cloves of garlic when approaching reality television as it always saps my will to live. I hate the constant redundancy. Scene A: we show you something Scene B: We talk about what we just showed you, Scene C:(after commercial) we talk about what we were just talking about. Scene D: we show you something (and repeat). All the while the editing is so frantic that if you are anything like a discerning viewer you realize that you should never ever ever ever view this genre as anything other than a fascinating case study in film editing as mind control. No conclusion you could ever draw is your own. You haven't seen enough. You've been shown a tiny snippet. Then you've heard several minutes of commentary on that tiny snippet.

But all that said: Yul (on Survivor) is my new imaginary boyfriend. And every single person on Amazing Race I hate because this show somehow beats Runway to the Emmy every year even though it sucks by comparison.

Design Star
An interior design contest. I watched a marathon and I only mention it because it stars my other new imaginary boyfriend (pictured right). Yum.

Brothers & Sisters
I watched this primarily for the return of Calista Flockhart, freed from both Ally McBeal and Harrison Ford apparently. I was surprised to find a whole boatload of watchable actors including double Oscar winner Sally Field and Tom Skerritt, reprising their Steel Magnolias marital act which was somewhat fitting since the other characters called theirs an "iconic romance." I was super happy to see a glimpse of the great Patricia Wettig (of thirtysomething fame) back on television. Sadly, Rachel Griffiths (Six Feet Under, Hilary & Jackie), another superb talent was saddled with the clunkiest exposition heavy subplot. B&S is basically a family drama. We haven't seen much of that genre on television lately given the ubiquity of hospitals, crime scenes, and reality programming. It's about a large wealthy and politically split family (half liberal blue / half right-wing red) and it was pretty intense. Some of it felt a bit forced but I was left with the overall feeling that this has a lot of potential as a dramatic series if it finds its groove quickly enough. I'll definitely give it a few weeks to find out.


Anonymous said...

I wonder how it is that anything decent rises to the top with all the crap at the beginning of the television season. So far there's been nothing to care about new or returning. Everything is a Lost-wannabe or CSI-esque or the be-dazzled-by-our-fast-talking offspring of Aaron Sorkin. Pleh.

Andy Scott said...

Oh God. I hate Grey's Anatomy, especially Ellen "Fake Renee" Pompeo. It sucks there's absolutely no way to kill Meredith off without disrupting the dynamic of the show (but perhaps that'd be a good thing? ;) )

I'm glad you liked Brothers & Sisters, though. I wasn't too impressed with the pilot, but I love Calista Flockhart and still hope she'll one day win the Emmy that was stolen from her a few years back. Stupid Helen Hunt.

Poli said...

You hate The Amazing Race, Nathaniel? That physically hurts me.

I'm not so much for Yul as I am for Brad. And I felt that way before I found out that Brad was the gay one.

I'm sorry you've been sick so much, lately. Maybe you should start taking vitamins? That helped me whenever I was sick all the time.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, but right now, I'm revelling in The Wire, which is deeper and richer than anything I've seen in theatres this season. A fantastic show.

adam k. said...

Being sick sucks, I'm sorry. At least you're not your sun-worshipping best friend who, in addition to getting skin cancer, is going to just ruin his skin in general and turn it to blotchy leather (sorry, bitter Miami child here).

I don't get Grey's Anatomy either. Some episodes are kind of addictively entertaining (my friends ALL watch it, and I've passively seen the episode where Christina Ricci's hand was inside that guy with the bomb like 4 times now), but generally the narration and constant pop-music-over-hospital mood annoys me. Lots of pretty people, though.

I have however recently been converted into one of the Project Runway faithful. I still say it has some of what's wrong with all reality TV (people creating unnecessary personal drama and bitching each other out), but I love the fashions and the challenges and the hilarious zingers by the judges, especially pregnant Heidi - "There is a fine line between innovation... and insanity." (hee)

Anonymous said...

Greys Anatomy is one of the best shows on TV right now. Ellen Pompeo is amazing in it as well as Sandra Oh and Katherine Heigl.

The pilot to Brothes & Sisters was amazing! That confrontation between Sally Field and Calista Flockhart was powerful and the ending was a shocker.

Survivor has to be the best reality tv show on the network right now.

I wanted to check out Six Degrees, but didn't get the chance to.

Javier Aldabalde said...

Wowza, "Volver" has been rejected by the Spanish Academy. Exciting development for Foreign Film (otherwise a lock) and Volver's BP chances.

Glenn Dunks said...

1. Grey's Anatomy is a show i LOVE! Whenever an episode finishes and we see the "next week on Grey's Anatomy bit I just wanna watch it right there and then. I'm not entirely sure what it is about that show. Yes, the narration is annoying and Ellen Pompeo is the weakest part, but... I dunno. It's like ER (a show I can't watch. Too squeemish) mixed with some show about nymphomaniacs.

2. The Amazing Race is another fantastic show. You get so much on that show. Not only do you get to see all these exotic places, but there are so many funny, annoying, stupid contestants.

3. Project Runway is aired on PayTV down here so I don't get to watch it. I should start downloading it?

4. I also love this Australian comedy show called Thank God You're Here!, which is essentially Prime Time Theatresports! An Aussie comedian/actor/singer/whatever gets put into a costume and enters a room into a situation where they have no idea what is happening and must improvise their way through a 10minute scene. All the other people involved in the scene know what's happening and have a script though. It's incredibly funny and sometimes they crash and burn and it's usually people I don't like so that's good too. I believe it's been sold to the US. It's like Who's Line Is It Anyway in the whole improv thing.

5. I stopped watching Survivor years ago.

Emma said...

Desperate Housewives used to be so fantastic. What happened to it? :(

Anonymous said...

Oh & Payne split? I'm so behind the times.

Yaseen Ali said...

1. Grey's Anatomy - It took me a long time to get into this; I didn't become the typical crazy fan until about halfway through the second season. I agree with you about how idiotic Ellen Pompeo's storyline is; I like the actress okay, but she is saddled with a really annoying "I'm a victim - pity me" character. I could care less about her, McDreamy and the whining that ensues (especially if this turns out to be a Ross-Rachel saga.) I basically watch the show for Oh, Heigl, Knight and Wilson. Basically, I enjoy everything minus Meredith and McDreamy.

BTW, Sex and the City espoused life lessons learned via Carrie's regular narration. How come that didn't interfere with your love of the show?

2. Six Degrees - I felt obligated to tape this because of the hype, but after reading your thoughts, I think I'll pass. Then again, I do like Hernandez AND Christensen... Hmm.

3. Desperate Housewives is the blight of my existence. I really wish it would all end. I hate all the actresses on the show, and you're right - that Betty Applewhite thread was offensively stupid (not to mention somewhat racist.)

6. I watched Brothers & Sisters for Flockhart/Griffiths too. It's really uneven, but I think I'll stick with it till the end. But yeesh, that moment when Griffiths breaks down in the car and "I know I can't be your love" blares loudly - horrible. That's another complaint I have about Grey's Anatomy actually: the need to underscore every dramatic moment with a song that Shondra Rhimes loves at that particular moment.

Pedro said...

Well, last night I watched Heroes on NBC while working on the computer in a brief, and I have to say that it got my attention more than I should have wanted it to [specially the story about the flying boy, which for some odd reason was very appealing to me (the flying was appealing, not the actor portraying the character)].

As for tv shows, I only watch Project Runway and The Apprentice (and reruns of The Golden Girls).


Ali ---Shhhhh! don't point out my critical inconsistencies!


i guess i can take "precious life lessons learned" more seriously when they're portrayed with humor and less, well, demands to take them seriously.

Yaseen Ali said...

No, I get you. Sex and the City's lessons were at least clever and littered with puns. Grey's just clobbers you over the head with its themes.

Anonymous said...

I agree that 'Sex and the City' made those "life lessons" a little more palatable but, as much as I *heart* that show, damn those puns used to drive me to drink. (They were usually courtesy of Samantha and almost always too clever by half.) At least the Carrie Bradshaw character didn't seem to polarize viewers nearly as much as Meredith does to fans of her show. (P.S. Isn't writing such an unappealing central character eventually going to catch up with and kill the buzz on the show? It just seems so risky.)



i don't buy the argument that they're making her unappealing on purpose. which i've read in a few places. I think they just failed (writing + performance) to make her appealing. to me that's revisionist thinking to claim they meant her to be that way.

certainly Carrie Bradshaw (to cite the already mentioned) was fond of behavior that was offputting. But for the most part you just wanted to shake her because you liked her and wanted her to stop f***ing up or being such an idiot.

big difference.

Glenn Dunks said...

Yeah, but the thing is the people around her (Christina, George, Adison and Izzy in particular) are so strong and you like them so much that as the Meredith story gradually gets culled (nobody cares about her boney whiney arse) they prove to be the life support of the show.

Plus everyone is so good looking. :P

(except Ellen.she's sorta gross)

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I like Oh and all, but good looking? To me, she's more interesting than good looking. (This is not a bad thing, mind you! Enough with dime-a-dozen, bimbo blond actresses.)


Anonymous said...

This is kind of a non-sequitor, but on the subject of Ellen Pompeo, what's with her breed of dopplegangers? People keep calling her a "low-budget" Renne Zellweger, but I remember when Renee was hitting it big with 'Jerry Maguire,' and Renee was getting mixed up constantly with both Jewel and Joey Lauren Adams. This is like 'Village of the Damned.' Are there any more of them? Granted that Jewel and Joey > Renee and Ellen Pompeo, but four is more than enough, don't you think?


Glenn Dunks said...

Marco, Oh isn't "hot" in the traditional way, but when she wants to be she can sexy it up with the best of them.

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