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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Griping About Glee

I just read this over at The A.V. Club and while I don't agree with everything it says, I think the comparisons between Community and Glee raise some really interesting points, mostly on the Glee side.

Let's face it: Glee has become the Justin Bieber of television, long before they made the tragic mistake of doing an actual Justin Bieber episode. What this means is they know they have the ratings, so they've just been doing whatever they can to appeal to their fan base, incorrectly assuming that their fan base is all gay men and teenage girls. What they've lost among their plebian popularity is actual awesomeness and style. More and more each song every week is close enough to the original to be the original (see "Tik Tok" in this week's episode for just one of many, many examples). I'm not sure why this is - I know I'm much more inclined to buy a song if it doesn't sound like the version I already have, or if there's enough of a character's emotion invested in it to make it meaningful. My favorite song from this season is hands-down Kurt and Rachel's rendition of "Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy" because it fulfills both of those criteria. The problem is that Glee is pandering to the lowest common denominator, and when the LCD is 8th graders, quality suffers.

The other real problem that finally became clear for me this week is the unevenness of every episode. "Blame It On The Alcohol" has some parts that I loved (all of the party scene; Schue and Bieste at the bar where I really wanted him to sing "Honky Tonk Women") and some parts I thought were irredeemably awful and offensive. With such glaring inconsistencies it's difficult to judge even just one episode on its own. Critics loved the Valentine's episode, whereas I thought it was weak with some bright spots (namely Santana) and that the whole thing was ruined by stupid Blaine and his terrible rendition of "Silly Love Songs". Random side-note: wouldn't it be funny if they were to do a Moulin Rouge episode with covers of covers? I mean, it'd be hella meta, but could be done well if they really tried.

Speaking of Blaine, let's go back to "Blame It On The Alcohol" and the blatant biphobia therein. To sum up: Blaine and Rachel drunkenly kiss during spin the bottle, and there's a spark there for both of them. They sing a Human League song and I think, "Hmm, maybe I don't hate Blaine after all!" Kurt is depressed and horrified, even more so when Rachel asks Blaine out and he says yes. Blaine admits that he's still questioning and figuring himself out and that it's possible he could be bi. Kurt flippantly says something so offensive I'm reluctant to put it here: "Bisexual is a term that gay guys in high school use when they want to hold hands with girls and feel normal." After that I was ready to head over to Twitter, all up in arms about it, but Blaine's response of telling Kurt that he shouldn't judge him for being who he is was a good one. However, Kurt's characterization of being bi equating a return to the closet was one that I think a lot of gay guys fall back on - that to be bi is to abandon your identity for one that is somehow safer or more normal.

"I know you guys love some A. Wang!"

I don't usually write about reality TV. The truth is I don't watch that much of it (Top Chef, RuPaul's Drag Race, ANTM, The Fashion Show) on a regular basis - I like the competitive shows way more than faux-life shows like The Real Housewives. Those shows would be much more interesting to watch if I could actually hear most of what they're saying, but all the most interesting, crucial parts get bleeped and that is just boring. But really, if I was going to write about anything right now, it should probably be RPDR, the best reality show of all time. But I'd like to save my gushing over amazing, fabulous drag queens (and Sutan, whose Tyra impersonation looked a whole lot like the above picture) for once we get closer to the Drag Race finale.

Now, normally I leave all ANTM blogging to Rich at fourfour. But I just found out (literally, just now when I went there to get the link) that he is not doing his famed recaps anymore. I am heartbroken. It's almost the entire reason I read his blog at all, I mean...I like some of his other posts but when he gets into music reviewing I'm just like zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. And the gifs! Oh, how the gifs will be missed. But really I think that someone needs to call Tyra on her megalomanaical shit, so, for at least this first episode, that's what I'm gonna do.

From the beginning, Tyra is clear that the theme of this season is making girls cry. Not that that hasn't been the theme of every season, but this year it's explicit - because the fashion industry is mean, panel is allowed to be as cruel and hope-crushing as possible. This starts at casting, where the 14 finalists are tricked into thinking that they've been eliminated. I could see how that would suck until they find out they're in the house, but HOW MUCH WORSE is it for the girls who were told that they were continuing and allowed themselves to be happy about it and then walked of with the Jays and were told it was all a trick and Tyra didn't love them? So much worse. Everything on this show is about Tyra, in case you've forgotten in the few months since Ann won.

Speaking of Ann, how tragic is it that we have to look at that god-awful Cover Girl photo of hers every week? I'm still pissed they didn't give it to Kayla.

Friday, February 18, 2011

"More fish for Kunta!"

Oh my gosh there is just so much to talk about! WARNING: if you haven't watched last night's comedies, be aware that there are spoilers ahead. Now, onwards!


Can I start by saying LEVAR MOTHERFUCKING BURTON was in the Community house last night?! What up! It was awesome. And I loved Troy's reaction ("You can't disappoint a picture!") because I often feel the same way about my cinematic idols. I would much rather simply believe that they would think I'm awesome and we would get along fabulously and become best friends than be faced with the reality of having to tell, say, Donald Glover just how amazing and hilarious (not to mention sexy) I think he is. But I would definitely sing the Reading Rainbow song with Levar if faced with the opportunity.

Even the parts without Levar were super-great. I loved the Abed take on the documentary/sitcom format, an especially ballsy move seeing that there are two other mockumentary shows that come on right after Community. But they're totally right that it is really easy to advance plot when you can just explain what's going on, and Community should get props for turning out a hilarious, inventive, often plot-driven episode each week without the crutch of talking-heads. Not that I mind talking-head sitcoms...

But what they also did well is one of the hallmarks of a great Community episode: laugh-out-loud comedy combined with real-life, often heartbreaking/warming/wrenching moments. Pierce is in the hospital because he overdosed on pills, after all. Jeff absolutely has daddy-issues, that's for sure. It showed how well Pierce knows all of them while at the same time addressing everybody's insecurities. Annie finds something to learn even when there's no lesson. I thought it was great to have Abed behind the camera for this one because that's where his character belongs - Abed knows himself well enough that Pierce wouldn't be able to manipulate him the way he did the others. And I loved that they followed through with the beating that was neither mad-cap nor wacky - it was real. For all of the crazy, imaginative stuff Community does, their characters are ultimately grounded in reality, and that's what makes them so lovable, relatable, and hilarious. It's funny 'cause it's true, after all.

Notes & Quotes

"My third wish would be a million wishes...but I would just use them all on a million signed photos of actor Levar Burton."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Oh, that's cool...really hurtful and cool"

I have high hopes for Mr. Sunshine. What I didn't realize the last time I wrote about it is that the show was created and produced and at least partly written by Matthew Perry. No wonder the show is so perfect for him! It was literally created by and for him and plays precisely to his dry sense of humor and wry delivery that I've loved so much in Matthew Perry for years.

And the work really shows! Ben already has all of my sympathy, Crystal is a miracle, and the pace of the show makes me feel like I've been watching it forever. I want to watch all the episodes right in a row! But I'll be content to wait and watch at a normal pace, I suppose. There are classic sitcom mishaps, but somehow it feels fresh and new - several opportunities for lazy, traditional punchlines were passed over in favor of new, much funnier jokes.

Besides the fact that the show is great, the writing is inventive, and the cast doesn't have a bad note in the bunch (more Kathy Najimy please!), Mr. Sunshine is gonna be around for a while for two other simple reasons. One is that it is lucky enough to have Modern Family as a lead-in and I know that the show will appeal to a similar audience. The second is what I realized with tonight's (surprisingly hilarious) guest appearance by Nick Jonas - because of the setting at a giant stadium it provides countless opportunities for rating-drawing guest stars that can effortlessly show up for an episode and then leave. In so many other shows those guest appearances can feel kind of forced (Jack Black on Community, I'm looking at you), but this show is tailor-made for some great guest stars. And guest stars mean ratings, which means money, which means longevity for the show. Hurrah!

Seriously though, you really should watch it. Quite, quite hilarious and totally demonstrative of the awesome rebirth of network comedy on channels other than CBS.

Notes & Quotes

"In the same spirit that drove America to defeat all those lazy countries and win the Statue of Liberty...we're having a contest!"

"She lights people on fire and then they burn up."

"A giant Churro cake? Mama says wow!"

You know YOU want a giant Churro cake.

"'Dance, Dance, Dance...Dance' - that actually made me want to dance!"
"Oh good, 'cause that was the intention."

"Well, Benjamin, I'm off to the mysterious life I lead outside this place."

I love the running gag with the mascot. I loved it last week, I love it now.

And I won't ruin the Larry King joke for you. Just go watch the show.

"Mis-ter Sun-shine, yay."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An Open and Honest Love Letter to Louis C.K.

Dear Louis,

This is just to say I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox that you were probably saving...ha ha, just kidding, I'd never send you that bitchy William Carlos Williams poem, although it would most likely make you laugh. No, instead I'm going to tell you just how impossible it is for a girl like me to not fall a little in love when a man like you makes a mostly fictional television show about his life.

To begin with, let me just say that I don't do red-haired men (or "ginger fucks", as Ricky Gervais might call them). This is probably due to a combination of having a platonic redheaded male best friend and having seen that scene in She's All That where the dude puts his ginger pubes on the pizza and then eats them too many times, but whatever the reasons are, pale dudes with red hair never, ever did it for me. Until you, Louis. Until you.

This is not to say that you're an especially "conventionally" attractive guy, but you're unique and funny and those two things combined are enough to get my loins a-warming. I am attracted to unconventionality. Being self-deprecating and, for the most part, shameless in no way hurt your chances with me. And then you had to go and make an awesome TV show and any hope of saving myself from this ginger-hued path I'm heading down disappeared.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"It rubbed off...from friction."

Ok, I just watched an insane amount of TV in like, two days. As a result, I have a lot I want to say but the organization of my brain isn't working too well, so I'm just going to start wherever it wants and will probably end up with a super long and slightly discombobulated post. Stick with me, kids.

Mr. Sunshine

How often is it that a pilot episode surprises you by being miles better than you thought it was when you already thought it was going to be awesome? Not very. Mr. Sunshine brought it SO UTTERLY AND COMPLETELY to the table that I cannot wait for the next episode. Allison Janney is a comedy goddess and a dream come true; she should honestly share top billing on the show. Matthew Perry is a master of acerbic wit and Mr. Sunshine was tailor-made to cater to his strengths - even the theme song reminds me of him. And somebody must have known that I'd be watching to include the brilliant and fabulous Jorge Garcia cameo, even if he is only around for one episode. I would highly recommend this show to anyone who has ever enjoyed Friends, Studio 60, Allison Janney in 10 Things I Hate About You, or has ever been to San Diego. You can find plenty of links here at my new favorite TV streaming site, Project Free TV.


I was planning on writing a long Archer post the morning my computer died, but it probably boils down to "Archer is hilarious. If you like Arrested Development or South Park or Adult Swim, you will love Archer." So watch it - it's a much better way to get your Jessica Walter fix than that painful guest role she had on The Big Bang Theory this week, and sometimes Jeffrey Tambor shows up as well! You can even watch them out of order, it doesn't really matter, although starting from the beginning will give you a better idea of why they treat Pam like crap or why Cyril is such a douche. Oh, and H. Jon Benjamin gives me a susan. If you're as enchanted by his mellifluous voice as I am and want to see what he looks like in person, you can watch the episode of Parks And Recreation where Leslie fills in the pit and Andy ends up in the hospital; Benjamin is the city lawyer.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We're Back!

Matthew Perry and me, that is. Sorry for the insanely long absence - I was on vacation and my hard drive started malfunctioning so my only means of watching and then writing about TV has been in the shop. But now my laptop and I are happily reunited and I can get back into the swing of things.

Starting tonight! I've got so much TV to catch up on, but am supremely excited for tonight's premiere of Mr. Sunshine. Sure, it's an ABC comedy which means that it'll have some flaws, but it looks hilarious. Not only because of Matthew Perry and that incredibly handsome black man who's going to be giving Perry a run for his money in the joke-delivery department, but also because of Allison Janney who is so fucking funny when she's being funny that the role seems like it might have been written for her. Here's the preview, check it out tonight, and then tune in again next week because, let's face it, pilots are always kind of mediocre, unless they're from Arrested Development or Glee.

And check back soon for more! I've had a lot of potential ideas to think about during my internet blackout so there should be lots coming.