Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Film Yap: Week One TV Contest Results

As an experiment in recommendations, Austin is watching every show that was suggested to him during one weekend. He’ll watch 2-3 episodes apiece and write about what he thinks every Saturday on The Film Yap. After he gets through his list, he’ll award TV related prizes.

Sex and the City

Previous Relationship: Yes, I’ve seen the first season of this show. It high school, I was young, crazy times. Really it was because my library had some HBO shows. I was amazed by The Sopranos and Six Feet Under that the network earned a special level of quality. I knew this was one of their hits so I tried out the first season. I didn’t like it very much. Too many boring conversations without any wit.

I watched: Season Two, Episodes 1-3: “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, “The Awful Truth”, and “The Freak Show”

And…? If there was any doubt in my mind about why I quit the show, boy did this first episode remind me. This was one of the most annoying half hours I’ve had to experience. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is recovering over her break up with Mr. Big (Chris North) so she picks up a New York Yankee. There are roughly a billion baseball metaphors in this episode’s voice-over. All of them are cheesy and one just doesn’t make any sense.

The next two were a big improvement. I even laughed during “The Awful Truth”! Once. Every once in awhile this show reveals why people are so in l

ove with these four characters. They sometimes can be fun to be around when they aren’t obsessing over clichéd topics or contrived storylines.

Will I continue watching? Nope

Grade: 2 Yaps


Previous Relationship: I already really like this show. I watched the first two seasons on Netflix Instant last year. It’s not a perfect show, but it was a smarter show than I expected. It captures a high school life rarely seen in shows because it’s more honest. Sure there is the sensationalism, but it works more than it doesn’t. I just hadn’t gotten around to the third season yet.

I watched Season Three, Episodes 1-3 “Everyone”, “Cook”, and “Thomas”

And…? I was nervous going into this season. Almost the entire cast graduated at the end of the last episode so this was the introduction to a whole new cast (sans Effy and Pandora). That introduction was a bit awkward as new groups of friends are established. It still seems like too many characters to pull this off, but by the end of the first hour I felt I understood most of them.

What I like about this show is the complexity of the teenage romance. Characters do things that are very truthful to the contradictions of the age. It almost breaks TV logic for the obvious couple to be sleeping with the wrong people. They tried something very impressive by having this really unlikable character, Cook. Aside from premieres and finales, most of the episodes of Skins are devoted to one characters. Giving Cook his own episode as the second could have been a good way to redeem this obnoxious kid, but instead they amped it up while showing just a glimpse of vulnerability. It was risky and it may have surprisingly worked on me.

The third episode introduced a new character of Thomas, an immigrant from the Congo who accidently needs to raise a lot of money. He is so insanely likable and ended up really flowing into the group well. Really curious to see where his storyline is going.

These new guys will be hard to beat the charm of the first two seasons, but they have peaked my interest more than I imagined.

Will I continue watching? Yes and soon.

Grade: 4.5 Yaps

The Tick (Animated)

Previous relationship: I really only know of The Tick as a bystander. I could identify what The Tick looks like through pop culture and having seen the live-action pilot years ago. As for this show, this was a 90s cartoon I missed as a kid.

I watched Season One, Episodes 1-3 “The Tick vs. the Idea Men”, “The Tick vs. Chairface Chippendale”, and “The Tick vs. Dinosaur Neil.”

And…? Well this was goofier than I expected. With all of the superhero movies feeling the same lately, this was nice to avoid all of the clichés. It doesn’t appear that The Tick even has an alter ego and same with Arthur who dresses in a moth costume. They all just seem to be a part of this city with ridiculous villains and plenty of people who don silly costumes and fight crime.

The humor that really works in the show is how much confidence The Tick has. It’s the grand statements of Superman with the content of Homer Simpsons. There is originality with its concepts like The Tick fighting a dinosaur’s tongue so he can throw the Asprin elixir. This is probably just because it’s early on in the show, but sometimes the pacing felt a bit weird and the jokes weren’t as strong as they could be. I only laughed a few times during the three episodes, but smiled a lot more. Most animated shows find their groove a year in so it wasn’t a big deal.

Will I continue watching? No. It’s a fun show, but it not something to search for more episodes. Perfect thing to show someone when I’m babysitting, though.

Grade: 3 Yaps

The Closer

Previous Relationship: I had known of the popularity of the show. It has crazy high cable ratings and Kyra Sedgwick has won a ton of awards. I saw one random episode when I helped my Memaw with her VCR.

I watched Season 1, Episodes 1-3 “Pilot”, “About Face”, and “The Big Picture”

And…? I don’t know if it can keep this up for seven seasons, but these three episodes are really good. The characters are strong, there’s a nice style to the show and it already avoided being caught in a structure. I’m sure the rest of the series will have a murder, Sedgwick will investigate it, there will be conflict within the team, and eventually there will be an impressive cat and mouse argument which will lead to a confession.

Having that as your outline can lead lots of room to play with the genre. I’m not saying there’s going to be a musical episode, but within these three they organically changed where and how things happened. It helps that Sedgwick’s Brenda Johnson is a delightful character. She is trying to be respected in the new squad, which is often boring. Yet she’s very good at her job—which is different from the show repeatedly telling you she’s good at her job—and her battle with food is very fun. She’s at her best when she’s up against J.K. Simmons because those are two very strong actors who can make any dialog dynamic.

In episodic shows like this, it’s often the mysteries that are forgettable. In these three, the only one I could really tell you a lot about was “The Big Picture.” That was mostly because the twists were actually pretty good.

Will I continue watching? No, but I still kinda want to. I typically don’t watch episodic TV because I prefer longer stories with charcter arcs, but this does the episodic very well. I doubt I’d go past the first season, but maybe I’ll pick up the rest of the DVDs. Probably not though.

Grade: 4 Yaps


Previous relationship: I knew of the show. My mom was a big fan throughout most of the years. I knew Michael Crichton created it and George Clooney got his start on it. Yet this was one of the big TV shows that I have never seen a full episode of. I finally saw a Law and Order (although it was Law and Order UK so I cheated). This was now the biggest show I have never even seen a full scene from.

I watched Season 1, Episodes 1-3 “Pilot”, “Day One”, and “Going Home”.

And…? Immediately there’s a feel of time from the show. Dr. Greene is woken up and the look of the show and the music feels so early 90s. The sense of realism and professionalism reminded me a lot of another show from this time, Homicide: Life on the Street. They both have a clear understanding of the job and things will move without the use of a rigid structure. Patients will come and go; it’s not a case of the week. Things will carry over or be dropped.

The real constant is the setting and the characters. They have their personal problems, but those will always be secondary to the patients. That is rare for doctor shows! Luckily they are interesting characters. I liked how hard-shelled they were towards their patients because of how much they’ve seen the worst. There is the wide-eyed John Carter (Noah Wyle) who is the new guy in the pilot. (All pilots have a new guy; easiest way to introduce a new world.) He serves as a nice comparison to people like Dr. Benton.

What I really liked was the ongoing story between the episodes. Carol Hathaway (Julianna Marguilies) tries to commit suicide and the first three episodes deals with that aftermath and her return to the hospital. I really enjoyed the difficulties Dr. Ross (Clooney) felt about this and how everyone responded with humor and warmth instead of awkwardness. Does that mean this is more commonplace in a hospital or did they know what to do?

Will I continue watching? Sure. I’ll at least finish this season because people go nuts of “Love’s Labor Lost” even more than the original Shakespeare play. Beyond that is up in the air.

Grade 4.5 Yaps


Previous relationship: I have some friends who adore this show. They’ve seen every episode and bug me every few months to do the same. Sophomore year I had a guy living on my dorm insist I watch his DVDs and I enjoyed the first two seasons. Then I got Netflix and saw it was on Instant. “I’ll definitely catch up on this soon!” Then I was distracted. Until now…

I watched Season 3, Episodes 1-3 “Amazon Women in the Mood”, “Parasites Lost”, and “A Tale of Two Santas”. I decided to go with the production order instead of the TV aired order because I don’t trust FOX. Ever.

And…? I know why I never keep up with the show. I laugh several times an episode so it’s already kicking Sex and the City’s tush. There are plenty of great characters like Bender and Dr. Zoidberg. Yet it’s hard to actually believe in the world. Obviously it’s ridiculous and allows for unlimited possibilities in terms of stories. Yet it feels grounded in 2001. They’re in the 31st century and they’re making references about the 1990s. It feels like I’m nitpicking or “not getting it” but it’s distracting.

The show works best when it’s character humor. Bender interacting with anyone is fantastic, especially because he’s doing awful things. I like Fry’s complete cluelessness about everything, which makes him one of the oddest protagonists. I like how they play with Fry’s and Leela relationship, especially in “Parasites Lost” when Fry becomes a nicer guy. This is where the show was the closest to The Simpsons’s level of heart because it reversed Fry’s romanticism but it did it in a sweet way. He’s still stupid, but he is trying.

Will I continue watching? Yeah, but it’ll probably take some more pestering.

Grade: 3.5 Yaps

Next week, I’ll be venturing into Cheers, The Prisoner and whatever the hell The Doodlebops is.

No comments:

Post a Comment