Archive for the ‘The Small Screen’ Category

GAME OF THRONES – FROM THE END BACK TO THE START

The second season of Game of Thrones ended this week, likely as most of us expected: with only a modicum of “closure” and placing us in melancholy consideration of how to get through the next nine months of television without it.  The sadness of this will fade, I know, as it always does: into resignation, distraction, and, come 2013, anticipation as the new season approaches.

I thought this a good opportunity to go back to where we started.  I had vague recollections of the first episode, but, unfamiliar with the books, or anything more than the basic premise, I did not know enough in April 2011 for anything much from this episode to stick.  It was only as the series moved along that it became somewhat clear who people were.  And by that time, I did not remember how they were introduced.  All I knew was that this was the best television I’d seen in a long time.

So I watched the show that started it all, titled “Winter is Coming.”  And it was bittersweet – to see the Stark family all together (all fully-mobile and fully-headed); to see the bond between Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark; to remember – as I had not – that Robert had loved Ned’s sister.  The coming of the king was obviously not a joyous occasion, but there was possibility there, possibility that would not necessarily end in bloody war.  Then-prince Joffrey displayed none of what he would become know for; in fact, the role of prissy heir to the throne was filled by ViserysTargaryen who, though self centered and arrogant, seems, in hindsight, to have possessed only a fraction of Joffrey’s demons.  Tyrion Lannister was displayed as somewhat of a bumbler with very little, save his one conversation with Jon Snow, to hint at the bravery and decency to come.  It is telling that the first significant act we see from Lord Stark is a beheading (this I remembered).  And his comment that it  is important that he who passes sentence must swing the sword stands to subtly foreshadow the distinction between his character and that of the one who passes Ned’s own sentence – as if such a thing were necessary later.

I have found this show to never let me down.  My only complaint is that, twenty episodes in, the plotlines have become so numerous that the course of a one-hour show has only minutes to give to each.  While the momentum and excitement of each episode are unquestioned, it seems as if, come 10:00 p.m. each Sunday, its individual parts have moved forward only in inches, and not in strides.

Yet, when the inches are as captivating as these, I am happy to crawl along, always wanting more.

The Common Problems of VPs and Prime Ministers

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s new HBO comedy Veep premiered last night.  I’ve been waiting for this since the first time I heard about it sometime last year.  But now that it’s come (and Episode 1 has gone), the question is: do I have anything unique to say about it?

Maybe.

But first, let me say what I’m sure many others have already stated today:

  • I like Ms. Louis-Dreyfus very much and usually like anything she does (including Watching Ellie);
  • I enjoyed the show and the supporting cast;
  • It’s great fun to hear her swear like she’s in a Kevin Smith movie.  (One has to assume that she relishes this as well.  Way back in Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Season 1 episode The Shrimp Incident, she sat with Larry David and mused wishfully over the profanity potential of an HBO show.)

Like I said, you could read these pleased-but-typical comments like those above anywhere.  But where, I ask, can you see a comparison of this breezy Sunday night comedy and 2011’s Oscar-winning The Iron Lady?  (Well, I’m hoping only here.)

During my recent hiatus from blogging (spurred on mostly, I admit, by the fact that I was really, really, tired), I went on quite a movie spree.  I watched DVDs; I went to the theater; I have any number of half-written (or at least half-contemplated) blogs about them.  For the second year in a row, I was able to see nearly all of the major 2012 Oscar contenders.  One of these was The Iron Lady.  And it was good.

After it ended, though, my wife and I concurred that we know nothing whatsoever about English politics (including America’s role in English politics).  While some background would have been helpful, the film moved us on an emotional level because of its portrayal of more common themes.  Generally, family life.  A little less generally, married life.  Specifically, the attempt of one spouse to cope with his or her own life once the other is gone.  It is a deal that we all accept (consciously or not) when we marry: that you will build a life together and, at some point, one of you will outlast the other and somebody will be left alone.  Margaret Thatcher was one of the most powerful people on the planet.  And in her last years she had issues with failing health, her family, and her end – and not necessarily the better end – of that bargain.  Just like most of us.

Selina Meyer, the main character of Veep, is also troubled by issues common to us all.  Yes, the running joke seems to be that she is a particularly powerless powerful person, but she is still the (fictional) Vice-President of the United States.  Even so, her office, and she in particular, is subject to the incompetency and nonsense that plagues your workplace and mine.  A “Making-Of” feature claims that the physical set of the show is a faithful replica of the VP’s chambers.  I’ll have to take their word for it.  But in real life, is there really such comic drama over greeting cards and coffee makers in Washington D.C.?  You know what?  I bet there is.

I can’t imagine that those involved with either of these projects were particularly threatened by the production of the other (although it is amusing to picture Julia Louis-Dreyfus in pre-production of Veep colorfully cursing Meryl Streep’s Oscar campaign), but even on the surface, there is a big similarity: both contain main characters who are female politicians and who have attained positions at the summit (or near summit) of their governments.

The common ground on which both projects succeed, however, is not that; it is their universality: the sense that its powerful characters experience many of the same issues that we commoners do; it is the ability of each to touch its audience with situations – loss or humor (or, in at least one case, both) – that they can relate to, regardless of whether that audience knows anything about the Falklands War or what Joe Biden’s office looks like.

When Butthead Met Snooki

I was in my late teens when Beavis and Butthead began its first run on MTV.  My friends and I watched it whenever we could; it was one of the few shows on the channel in those days, played in between the music videos that its titular characters alternately mocked, worshipped, or, with confused chuckles and grunts, watched blankly.

My mother and parents in general were aghast (as parents tend to be).  Who were these teenage idiots?  Our elders had seen the de-evolution of buddy pairings from Bing and Bob, and Richie and Potsie to Bill and Ted, and Wayne and Garth.  But they could not comprehend why these two were on our living room TV every day.  How could we possibly find this funny?

 I couldn’t convince my own mom at the time (I’m not sure how other teenagers fared – I imagine they were not successful), but that didn’t change the fact that the show was funny.  Very.  Yes, Beavis and Butthead were idiots; they did stupid and dangerous things; they were crude.  And we loved them.

 Mike Judge, on the other hand, was far from stupid.  In creating them, he knew that B&B’s humor (an example: Butthead: His name’s “Rod.”  Beavis: Yeah, um, heh, heh.  Rod.) would draw kids (both adolescent and post-adolescent) by the thousands.  But he also knew his characters were idiots.  That was pretty much the point of the whole thing.

 The thoughtful Beavis viewer watched and realized that the joke was on B&B more often than it was not.  (The most common exception to this was when it was on their middle-aged neighbor, Mr. Anderson)  All the while, that viewer could also laugh at the funny, raunchy, and (yes!) witty observations on suburban life and, most of all, music videos.  While Beavis and Butthead definitely had their favored genre (evidenced by their perpetual attire branded AC/DC and Metallica), they surprised us sometimes.  Who knew that the Bee Gees’ “Jive Talkin’” rocked? 

 I admit that I left the show before the show itself left the air.  I don’t remember making a conscious decision to stop watching; there just came a point when I realized that they were gone.

 Now they’re back.

 I have to say that I was not overly excited when I first heard about their return to MTV’s fall schedule; I reacted to the news with a nostalgic smile.  When I saw the commercials, however, I began to laugh.  As I heard people talking about it, I realized that I was looking forward to this.

 Last night, I finally got around to watching an episode.  It was like they never left: there they were in a garage playing with power tools and trading the least subtle double-entendres you’ve ever heard.  The episode brought back Mr. Anderson, the hapless Stewart, and the Great Cornholio.  My wife begged me to turn it off, but it was funny.  We watched it through to the end.

 The main difference of this reincarnation is that in addition to watching and commenting on music videos (which, thankfully, they still do and, just as thankfully, they still – when they get the urge – get up and dance to), they watch clips and comment on current MTV shows.  On this episode, they watched Jersey Shore and Teen Mom.

 And here’s the point . . .

 In 1993, Beavis and Butthead were the dumbest characters on TV.  The only other series I remember MTV playing at the time was The Real World.  This was back before bacchanalia and hook-ups ruled the show and people were still (semi-) real.  Shortly thereafter, though, (and this might be important) came the season of Puck, who was possibly the first reality show cast member who realized the draw of utter obnoxiousness and bad behavior.  I couldn’t stand him, but that, I’m sure, was the reason he was there.  And so people watched.

 Nearly eighteen years later, Puck has helped spawn countless shows full of people doing stupid things, displaying a near-unfathomable self-centeredness, craving attention, and showing a willingness to do anything to get it.

 One of the best places to find this is MTV.  Turn on the channel and, chances are, whatever show is on will give you an unhealthy dose of any or all of the above.

 Now that Beavis and Butthead are back, there is some serious irony going on here (thank you, Mike Judge).  In the pairing of their show with current MTV staples such as Jersey Shore, cartoon characters are commenting on the real world (no capitals required).  Everyone on the screen is ridiculous, but only the cartoon characters were created specifically to be so; besides they’re funny.  Time has passed Beavis and Butthead by and they are no longer the pinnacles of crass, immature behavior.  Compared to real people doing real things (and televising them), our beloved teenage idiots are, in a way, both wiser and more innocent.

 I wonder if my mother would agree.

Sons of Anarchy – Is Kurt Sutter Available for Conflict Resolution!!

I have made no secret about the fact that I believe that “Sons of Anarchy” is the best show on television right now and has been for a few years now. I feel comfortable saying that this past week’s episode,”Hands” was one of the best to date. When this episode was over all I wanted was more. I was so ecstatic when I realized that there are still three more episodes left in this fourth season. I was even more thrilled to read on Deadline Hollywood that FX has decided to add a 14th episode, at Kurt Sutter’s urging, to this season in order to properly finish off the story arc. This is not a huge surprise as SOA is basic cable’s #1 rated drama series, and this season is the highest rated in the shows 4 seasons run.

Once again Katey Sagal was captivating as the SAMCRO matriarch and head “Old Lady”. This week Ms. Sagal’s ability to captivate while on screen was tested as Maggie Siff gave a powerful performance. Ms. Siff has always been strong as Dr. Tara Knowles, but this was her best SOA work to date. You could see the utter hopelessness that Dr. Knowles felt as she realized that she was so close to getting out of this life, so close to escaping, but once again her chance was pulled out from under her. She knows the outlaw biker lifestyle is not healthy, not safe, not something that will have a positive outcome, but she cannot seem to escape it, not without having to leave behind the thing she covets the most, Jax Teller. Dr. Knowles has sacrificed so much in an attempt to make a life with Jax and her boys away from SAMCRO, but for the first time you felt she knew this was not going to happen. She was defeated, beaten by this life that has taken so much from her. The one thing that Tara has always been able to fall back on is that she is a doctor and a good one. This has always been her security blanket, it has always given her the ability, in her mind, to relocate anywhere, to get away from the “club” and still be OK. Now she faces the ugly truth that her days as a surgeon, as a doctor, are most likely over, you could see the breakdown, the culmination of years of hope slipping away, as all of a sudden it hit her that she is now stuck in Charming, stuck in this life, stuck with these people forever. You could see the despair come over her as she realized she is now even closer to becoming the one thing that terrifies her the most – Gemma!

As my DVR began to replay this piece of television gold, I began to think about SOA as a whole, the full journey, and I could not help but wonder where this all would end, what does Kurt Sutter have in store for us. I need to know his vision, what he sees as the outcome for not only this season but for the series as a whole. I need to know the outcome for each character, the path they take to that outcome. I cannot wait, I cannot put in the time it will take to watch every episode, that will take way too long. I have to know now! This is my problem, there is my conflict! I cannot imagine this show coming to an end, I want more!!! I savor each and every episode and never want them to end. As soon as I see the closing credits I immediately look forward to the next week. I love to speculate what will happen on the next episode and enjoy it so much more when something happens that I never imagined, which is usually the case.

How can this be? How can I need so badly to know what happens but at the same time not want to know so I can enjoy the journey each and every week? How can this type of conflict exist? That is a testament to Kurt Sutter’s vision, his writing. SOA is a rare television experience. It encapsulates you, is sucks you in, it makes you yearn for those elusive answers, it makes you need those answers but at the same time it makes getting those answer at the storytellers pace so enjoyable that you never want it to end. SOA keeps you coming back again and again, for more and more!!

Bravo Mr. Sutter, my hats off to you. If you are reading this please give me a call and let me know how this all ends! On second thought forget that I am enjoying the current journey way too much!!!

No wait… please let me know the ultimate end here, I cannot possibly wait, please share your vision with me!!!

Scratch that, I will get it every week like everyone else!!

Where have you gone Bud Bundy?

I was watching the best show on television last night, “Sons of Anarchy”, and there was Katey Sagal lighting up the screen, completely carrying each and every scene in which she appeared and all of a sudden it popped into my head, that this actress, the 2010 Golden Globe winner for best performance by an actress in a television drama for her work on Sons of Anarchy, played Peg Bundy on Married with Children for eleven seasons. I don’t know why I never thought about this before. Perhaps the depth and conviction that exude from Ms. Sagal as she portrays the matriarch of the Sons of Anarchy biker gang made it very hard for me to see her as the ditzy, self centered Peg Bundy. I think this is a testament to Ms Sagal’s acting talent.

As I thought about Peg Bundy the rest of the Bundy clan popped into my head, I quickly remembered that Ed O’Neill, who played the down on his luck shoe salesman Al Bundy, is currently on the hit show Modern Family. The Bundy parents seem to be doing very well but what of the Bundy offspring, Kelly and Bud.Christina Applegate who played the self centered, slutty Kelly Bundy is currently on Up All Night, a new critically acclaimed sitcom with Will Arnett. That just leaves David Faustino who played the loveable, never give up, get rich quick, schemer Bud Bundy. Nothing current came to mind for David Faustino, so I checked the entertainment bible; IMDB, to see what he has been up to lately, perhaps there was something I missed. What I saw was somewhat disappointing, especially when you take into consideration the recent success of the rest of the Bundy family. There have been a few cameos on various shows; some voice work on cartoons, a failed attempt to become a rapper and that was just about it. My first thought was that portraying Bud Bundy for so long and so well might be too much of a stereotype for an actor to overcome. Maybe the parts are not coming his way because he cannot shed the “Bundy” image. Then I thought how can that be? The other three actors in the Bundy family have broken that same stereotypical mold and branched out to other projects, so why not Bud? Could it be a choice by Mr. Faustino, maybe his days as a child actor combined with his tenure on Married with Children have soured Mr. Faustino on this profession, maybe he has had enough? I would love to have the answer to this question but I guess we will never know for sure. Married with Children lives on through Al, Peggy and Kelly but why not Bud?
I have to ask

Where have you gone Bud Bundy

Poll at ew.com

I realize that most of my recent posts have been focused on scary stuff.  While a small part of this may be a predilection that I fully admit to, I blame the rest of it on the season.  Now that Halloween is over, it’s time to move on.  But before we leave this dark road completely, there’s just one more stop to make . . .

A recent poll at www.ew.com voted The Twilight Zone the third creepiest TV show ever.  It came in with a solid 18% of a close vote, behind American Horror Story (22%) and The X-Files (20%).

I saw this and couldn’t help grinning – irrationally, I realize – like a proud uncle.  Or, considering the show turned fifty recently, more like a wide-eyed younger cousin.

Though the show was (is) about far more than trying to give people the shivers (for that, see Night Gallery), I’m just happy to see it still in the public consciousness.  And, in defense of its poll ranking, it does have some episodes I’d rather watch with the lights on.

Just thought I’d say.

The Closer ? Perhaps an Opener Instead?

One of my favorite Television shows in recent years is The Closer. This show is extremely well done. The writing is superb and we all know how important great writing is to the survival and longevity of a television series. The great writing not withstanding when you talk about The Closer the discussion starts and ends with one name, Kyra Sedgwick! Ms. Sedgwick is phenomenal in the role of Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, a role that she plays so flawlessly it seems as though at times she has to be playing herself, a southern belle born and raised, just add the badge and gun. Her acting prowess becomes even more impressive when you learn that Ms Sedgwick was born and raised in New York, not in the south as the character she portrays. She is without a doubt the driving force behind the success of this show, a show that is entering its final season this winter completing a long successful journey that began in 2005.

I began to think about what an impressive character Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson really is, true southern grace and elegance on the outside, but inside a ruthless determination to “close” every case that comes to the Major Crimes unit she heads. She goes about her business fixated on her goal, without regard for herself or her career. She will use any and all methods necessary to get her job done. I think anyone who has seen the show would agree that not only has she constantly navigated that fine line of morality, but on more then one occasion has run full speed past it, so far past it that as fans of the show are fully aware it might actually be her ultimate undoing. The more I thought about this complex morally challenged incredible character I wondered what her place in television lore would be. With this in mind I decided to take a look at this seasons full television line up to see if there was perhaps another character modeled after Brenda Lee Johnson. As I was doing this I noticed something very interesting.

I counted twenty six shows; scripted shows, including The Closer that currently have women as lead characters. I am not referring to reality shows or shows that have an ensemble cast some of whom are women. Here is a list of those shows:

2 Broke girls – Gets big ratings. Somewhat amusing. Kat Dennings carries most of the load here. Co- produced by Whitney Cummings.
Body of Proof – Murder/mystery drama that has Dana Delany as a female version of Jack Klugman’s great Quincy M.E.
Charlie’s Angels – Already Canceled. Terrible remake, how is anyone supposed to believe Minka Kelly as a car mechanic? Best part of he series was that Drew Barrymore was an executive producer.
Covert Affairs – Very nice spy drama on USA network. Piper Perabo is great an agent Annie Walker, and I love Peter Gallagher as the CIA director.
Damages – What more can there be to say other then Glen Close as Patty Hewes!
Desperate Housewives – The Women of Wisteria Lane just keep going. The only show on both lists.
Fairley Legal – Sarah Shahi as an ex lawyer turned mediator. Very light legal drama. What’s not to love about Sarah Shahi? Loved her in Life and the L Word.
Harry’s Law – Oscar winner Kathy Bates lobbied David E. Kelley for the title role of Harriet Korn. The role was originally written for a man. She has taken the role and run with it. Top notch guest stars.
Heart of Dixie – Rachel Bilson plays a New York doctor who finds herself re-located in the deep south. Love Tim Matheson (West Wing Alum) as her nemesis.
Homeland – Claire Danes is magnificent as a seemingly unstable CIA operative. One of the best shows of the season and by far the biggest surprise.
In Plain Sight – Mary McCormack as a U.S. Marshall working for the witness protection program. This USA series is coming to an end this winter and it will be missed.
Necessary Roughness – Another USA hit. Callie Thorne is great as a Long Island psychotherapist whose personal life is a mess but finds herself catering to a new high profile clientele.
New Girl – Zooey Deschanel as a down on her luck quirky girl who moves in with 3 guys. Critics love this show I do not see it.
Nikita – Great Show. Maggie Q does it all in this latest take on La Femme Nikita.
Once upon a Time – Only two episodes have aired so far, but what a fun and interesting show. I cannot wait to see more. Jennifer Morrison, who I loved in House, is the heroine here.
Pan Am – Four female leads headed by Christina Ricci. Seems like Ms Ricci’s talents are wasted. Pan Am stewardesses as cold war spies?, interesting, but not that interesting.
Playboy Club – Already Canceled. Amber Heard was great to look at but not much else was going on in this series.
Prime Suspect – A Remake of the BBC original with the same name. Helen Mirren headed the BBC version. Maria Bello is the lead here and is as good as anyone currently on TV. This is a great show and the network seems intent on giving it a chance. I really hope it catches on.
Private Practice – Kate Walsh left McDreamy to go off on her own.
Revenge – One of the best new shows and one of the best shows period. Emily VanCamp is captivating as she finds a way each week to exact a small piece of her big revenge plot. I cannot wait to see what happens next and love the flashbacks to fill in the back-story.
Ringer – Sarah Michelle Geller (or Buffy as she will always be known to me) once again carries a series. Just wish she was taking out some vamps in the process.
Rizzoli and Isles – Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander as the title characters are great. Lorraine Bracco gets as far away as possible from Dr Jennifer Melfi and adds some very nice comic relief.
The Closer – All you need to know is Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson
The Good Wife – Julianna Margulies plays the scorned lawyer who decides not to take it lying down. Loved her in ER and love her here.
Unforgettable – Poppy Montgomery plays an ex cop who is tortured by the fact she can remember every detail that has ever happened to her except the circumstances of her sisters death.
Whitney – A Whitney Cummings vehicle. If you like her standup you will love this show. I like her so this is very funny.

I looked back to the 2004-2005 television season, the year before The Closer premiered and found that there were sixteen scripted shows with women leads, Alias, Charmed, Crossing Jordan, Desperate Housewives, Eve, Gilmore Girls, Girlfriends, Half and half, Hope and Faith, Joan of Arcadia, Judging Amy, Medium, Reba, Tru Calling, Veronica Mars and What I like About You. The total number of shows alone does not tell the whole story. Of the twenty six shows from this 2011-2012 television season only three, 2 Broke Girls, New Girl, and Whitney are half hour sitcoms. That leaves 23 hour long dramas with female leads in the 2011-2012 television season. When you look back to 2004-2005 season you find six half hour sitcoms, Hope and Faith, What I Like About You, Reba, Eve, Girlfriends and Half and Half, and 5 of these six were aired by the now defunct UPN and The WB networks. That leaves 10 hour long dramas with female leads in 2004-2005.

I was shocked, what a huge difference! More then double the amount of scripted dramas featuring women leads this season then the season before The Closer debuted. Can this be a coincidence? I do not think so. Now we must take into consideration what I like to call the “copy” factor. We all know that every television network loves to take a formula that has already proven successful and copy it. Since The Closer is such a successful show I am sure a few of those extra thirteen hours can just be the result of the “copy” factor, but what about the rest? I think this can be explained in one sentence. The Closer, staring Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson!!

The depth and the presence that Ms Sedgewick brings to Brenda is remarkable. Brenda is thrust into a position of power within a police department that was until her arrival an exclusive boys club. Those who now find themselves as her subordinates in rank resent her and are not at all inclined to help her unless forced to by a direct order from Police Chief Will Pope (Played wonderfully here by JK Simmons, who you might recognize as J. Jonah Jameson from the Spiderman franchise, but in my opinion did some as his best work on the HBO prison hit OZ as the sadistic white supremacy leader Vern Schillinger.) Regardless of the professional obstacles that are thrust in front of her it becomes immensely clear very quickly that Brenda will get her way, she will close her cases using whatever means necessary and that she is without a doubt in charge, in control, a force that you do not want to find yourself up against. Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson is liked by those in her major crime division; she is also respected and feared, especially by those that have tried one way or another to cross her.

I think Ms. Sedgwick’s performance is groundbreaking. I think she shows that a woman, a demanding, powerful, headstrong woman, in a dramatic role can not only flourish but can carry a series and make viewers come back again and again. She has showed you can be ruthless, demanding and relentless in the pursuit of your goal, achieve that goal and still be respected solely because of your ability to get the job done. I think the television powers that be have certainly noticed. Look at the numbers, twenty three hour long scripted drams with women leads this season, thirteen more hours of programming with a woman lead after Brenda Leigh Johnson burst onto the scene. That is an amazing number, and one I think we have Kyra Sedgwick, Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, the writers of The Closer and TNT to thank for. I think it is safe to say that The Closer is an opener, a door opener and an eye opener.

Unblinking – American Horror Story

The fourth episode of American Horror Story was on last night.

I’ve enjoyed each episode so far, but thought it was beginning a trajectory that’s common to horror.  This course (one that you can see in any number of film series) begins focused on a pure intent to scare and moves, sometimes quickly, sometimes over years, to a lighter tone.  Usually this is done with the addition of buffoonish characters, one-liners, or other types of comic relief.

This is not unwelcome; not in my opinion, anyway.  I can only take unrelenting oppression for so long.  Even over just the course of a ninety-minute movie that would be watched for no other purpose (think The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), I find myself wanting for some emotion other than terror.

I was a little surprised, though.  The first episode of AHS was consistently scary, delivering a steady stream of disturbing images and disturbed people, beginning with its opening credit sequence.  I don’t remember laughing much.

The second episode may have been the start of the turn: in less than one hour they placed us squarely in the corner of the monsters.  Who didn’t cheer a little on the inside when the Harmons’ intruders met their demise?  (The almost comically inept intruders, as I remember.)  This was homeowners and haunts working together at their best.  We knew, of course, that this collaboration would end, but for the moment we didn’t have a thing to be afraid of.

I do see the draw of this.  Like I said, nobody wants to be freaked out all the time.  The vast majority of us watch television to be entertained.  And AHS is very entertaining and, don’t get me wrong, offers no shortage of scares.

Still, a few minutes into last night’s episode, I turned to my wife and asked her if she could see the show sliding into camp territory (a wild extrapolation at this point, even I admit).

She, under a blanket and peeking through her fingers, answered with a resounding “No.”

So we watched.  The episode was spooky and good.  It missed some opportunities (other than a lingering camera shot, they certainly did not play up the creepiness potential of Addie’s “beautiful girl” Halloween mask), but they’re doing the hard work; I’m not.  At this point, I’m happy to sit on my couch and take what they give.

And based on the trend I’d been seeing, by the last quarter (starting when Addie got hit by a passing car), I began waiting for the final wink from the series to us, something to lighten the mood.  Instead, though, it piled one dark scene on top of the next: a nurse fainting of fright – at what? we can only imagine; a hysterical Constance with her possibly dead daughter; a burned man – a murderer – fierce and distorted seen through the perspective of a teenage girl.  It was he – eccentric, though grotesque – who had previously added some moments of black humor; and it was him whom, at episode’s end, I found most frightening.

So, I stand corrected in my early accusations of the series turning away, ever so slightly, from the horror of its title.  In the end, American Horror Story did not blink.

10 Best Shows on TV Right Now

1 ) Son of Anarchy – The boys of Samcro have been holding this spot for a few seasons now. They never fail to deliver. Kurt Sutter’s writing is second to none and Katey Sagal dominates every scene she is in.
2 ) NCIS – Superb cast. Perfect mix of levity with a serious subject matter just keeps you coming back week after week. I could watch Mark Harmon in anything and always love those West Wing alums.
3 ) Nikkita – Maggie Q is great in the title role, beautiful and deadly what a combo. Hated Shane West in ER but love him here. So easy to dislike Percy and Division and that makes it so easy to get behind Nikkita and Michael, and that makes this show alot of fun.
4 ) House – I cannot wait to see what House is up to each week. Foreman as his boss is brilliant writing. Cast members come and go but House still remains as ass. I have loved this show from the beginning and will until the end.
5 ) The Big Bang Theory – Really funny show. Jim Parsons is brilliant as the uber annoying Sheldon Cooper, he never fails to get on my nerves and make me laugh at the same time. Love Blossom as his love interest.
6 ) Homeland – What a surprise. I only gave it a chance because of how much I liked Damian Lewis in Life and I love Mandy Patinkin in anything. Both are great here, but Claire Danes steals the show. I still cannot figure out where this story is headed. The minute I finish watching I cannot wait for the next episode.
7 ) Revenge – Great idea translates into a great story. Can’t wait to see how Emily sticks it to the filthy rich each week. Love the flash backs (ala Damages) to fill in just enough of the back story to make you want more.
8 ) Person of Interest – Jim Caviezel is great as the cold, stone hearted, human weapon, but Finch is without a doubt the “Person of Interest” here. He is as strange as he is quirky, but regardless I find myself wanting him on the screen more and more.
9 ) Prime Suspect – I cannot understand why this show cannot seem to find an audience. Maria Bello is as good as anyone on TV here. This is a great show I just hope it stays around for a while.
10 ) Psych – What not to love. Dule Hill (West Wing once again) and James Roday entertain every second they are on the screen. Timothy Omendson’s Lassiter is the perfect straight man for Shawn and Gus, the cast chemistry is top notch.

Just Missed the Cut – Boardwalk Empire, Modern Family and The League

Search
Archives

You are currently browsing the archives for the The Small Screen category.