Saturday, August 4, 2012

Summer Television: Part 1

I've been watching a bit more TV than usual this summer, especially since I have signed up for streaming on Netflix.  It's been an enjoyable escape activity (that is more treadmill-compatible than other standbys, like reading, though I've been doing more of that as well).  I still don't have TV reception but the backlog of shows on Netflix will keep me going for quite a long time.  Here are some shows I've watched/been watching this summer.

The Wire:  About a month ago, I read an online review of another TV series that started out something like, "Most people think The Wire is the best television show ever.  Well, that's true, but [This Show] is also really good."  (Sorry, I don't recall the source.)  Seriously, The Wire is the best TV show ever.  If you have even a passing interest in cop/crime dramas and have not seen this yet, I envy you.  And aside from how totally awesome it is from the first episode to the last, it also introduces you to a host of actors you will see show up again on other programs (esp. other HBO ones).

Glee:  My mom got me into watching this.  In some ways, it's a natural fit - I have liked other teen shows (like Buffy, Friday Night Lights) and it's a musical.  The cheerleading coach character totally steals the show.  And it addresses important social issues in an amusing way - you know, like to what extent are hot Jews required to hook up with other hot Jews and how can we stop people from exposing others to the musical travesty that is the oeuvre* of Journey.  I've caught up with the first two seasons now and basically enjoyed it, though I was disappointed with the ending of season 2.  It seems silly to say that I had an issue with how contrived (and desperate seeming) the rationale for the outcome of their last performance was, given that being ridiculously, ludicrously contrived is a central aspect of the show, but still.  We'll see if they can get it back a bit in season 3.

*I was utterly shocked to spell this word correctly on my first attempt.  Robert and I have been playing a ton of Boggle this week; I am now looking forward to these letters showing up in a future game. 

The Killing:  I had trouble getting into this program at first, but then it hit its stride and got super-interesting.  But it suffers from the same problem as Twin Peaks: it's really hard to make solving a single murder take longer than a full season.  One reviewer nailed it by noting that what started as a novel idea for a crime drama turned into a 13-hour long episode of Law & Order.  (Why can't I relocate any of these reviews?)  There's the use of shocking, unexpected twists to keep things lively, and then there's just fucking with the viewer, and last episode definitely veered into viewer-fucking mode for me.

I watched Twin Peaks for the first time this past year, and the entirety of the uneven (especially season 2) show was justified for me by the completely unexpected revelation of Albert's path (Albert Rosenfield, the sarcastic, mocking genius/asshole forensic scientist whom is brought in by Dale Cooper to occasionally assist with the case and who constantly insults the local police to their face).  I don't think anything on TV has ever stunned then awed me into wide-eyed laughter the way this scene did.  I had to watch it about three times before I started to come out of my daze/hysteria.  (If you haven't seen the show, this clip will not have the right impact at all.)  Dale Cooper's observation that "Albert's path is a strange and difficult one" sums up how I feel about my life in graduate school some days. 

The Muppets:  OK, this was a movie, not a TV show, but I have to go on record saying that Tam's prediction that I would really like the "Man or Muppet" song (written by Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie) was correct.  "If I'm a muppet, I'm a very manly muppet" -- I love.  And the choice of actor to play the "man" version of the muppet Walter was brilliant.  At times, the movie was kind of boring and slow-paced but not in an unenjoyable way.  I don't see myself watching the entire thing again, but that "Man or Muppet" scene is an awesome 3 minutes.

1 comment:

Tam said...

I super adore that "Man or Muppet" song and the scene in the movie. I love how he sings "muppet of a man" especially.

I've seen a couple of episodes of Glee but none of the rest of those shows, despite having TV.

I saw the quote you're referencing about the Wire - it was in an article about Breaking Bad, probably in either Slate or Salon. I tried watching Breaking Bad (on Netflix streaming) and wasn't able to get into it. It would probably take a few more episodes (I watched like 1.5 episodes, which isn't enough for most TV shows to get good), but I wasn't motivated enough to continue. Watching serial dramas by myself isn't that great anyway.