Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Greg Daniels promises a good final season for "The Office" - do I believe him?

Note: This has been a work in progress since last week, so a little bit of the wording is off re: dates. "Tuesday" refers to last Tuesday, August 21.

On Tuesday morning, I took a fun trip to the dental surgeon to have my wisdom teeth removed. Meanwhile, as I was enduring a good deal of pain, somewhere in California, Greg Daniels was relieving a great pain of mine by announcing that the upcoming ninth season of NBC's "The Office" would be the last for Scranton's paper pushers.

I fell in love with "The Office" pretty quickly back in the summer of 2007. Within no time, I suddenly found myself quoting the show constantly and anxiously awaiting the premiere of the fourth season. To my sadness, the show hit a rough patch and slowly but surely has become a pale imitation of its former brilliance. In this writer's opinion, seasons one, two, and three are near perfect; season four has a batting average of about 2/3; season five is probably about half, and has the four or five "Michael Scott Paper Company" episodes carrying it; season six is largely forgettable outside of the Jim and Pam wedding and baby episodes; season seven saw a great sendoff for Michael Scott, and was decent considering how much of the show was broken by then; and last year's eighth season was pretty much horrible.

So I would say that going into the ninth and final season, I am the least cautiously optimistic than I've ever been in the second half of this series. Greg Daniels, who helmed the show during its brightest years, is returning to help send Dunder Mifflin off into the sunset. And he's promised the following changes (courtesy of, to which I've attached my opinions.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Apparently I have opinions about Disney Channel's "ANT Farm", so this happened

     Unfrozen child stars from the 1980s (?)

When it comes to my television viewing, I can be a bit of a masochist. Last night, for no reason in particular, I decided to watch the bulk of a "Two and a Half Men" rerun, even though I find every aspect of that show to be dreadful - it's misogynistic, it's lazily written to the extent that it actually once used the very old "more chins than a Chinese phonebook" joke, it thinks crudeness and overt sexuality automatically equals comedy, the laugh track is obnoxiously loud, its stars are greatly overpaid considering what they're being asked to do, it panders to idiocy, it aspires to absolutely nothing, it's killed much better television shows that deserve good ratings, but most importantly, it's just not funny. And when I talk about how bad the show is, I don't mean that the show sucks now that Charlie Sheen is gone. The show was no better when he was around.

This sense of masochism is largely how I watch anything meant for children. See, as a product of the 1990s, I have the privilege...well, less so than in the be part of an elite group of people in their late teens and early twenties who get to bitch about how kids TV these days is significantly worse than it used to be. Go-to examples to take shots at include "Hannah Montana" and "Wizards of Waverly Place", or really anything currently airing on the Disney Channel.

In my opinion, this sentiment has become cool and not everything made for kids these days is a horrid wasteland. Could I name a kids' show right now that I enjoy? No, but that's probably only because I don't really watch these shows anymore. This is not to say, though, that there isn't ample evidence on television that children's programming has become nothing more than 21 or so minutes of fame-obsessed nihilism. Case in point: Disney Channel's "ANT Farm".

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Showtime's "Episodes" sucks: Here's how to make it better

     The greatest comedians of our lifetime, the stars of the most
     important and influential television comedy of our generation.

Showtime's "Episodes", allegedly a comedy series, has not made me laugh once in nine episodes. So I came up with some ways to make the show better, or perhaps to improve your viewing experience. Even though I suggested refocusing the show on other characters/anatomical parts, Matt LeBlanc has to get credit for starring in a TV show in 2012 and not being the worst part of it. Here are my suggestions:

- Matt LeBlanc's gigantic penis becomes the new star of the show. Also, the penis can talk and suddenly "Episodes" starts beating its timeslot competitor, a reviled American remake of a beloved British comedy, in the ratings. They could keep LeBlanc to do a funny voice for the penis if they wanted to

- The head of comedy becomes the new star of the show. She can make funny faces and talk in her pseudo-valley girl voice and everyone will LOL

- The smarmy network lady who tells lies on behalf of the network president should have to interact with Superintendent Chalmers in every scene. Even Chalmers becomes skeptical of her lies

- Showtime subscriptions will now come with a fax machine. This will allow all the hacky multi-cam sitcom jokes to be immediately identified as jokes to the home viewers

- Every time Character A beats around the bush about something, finally says what's on their mind, followed by Character B saying "There it is!" without missing a beat, Louis C.K. and Michael Schur each get twenty dollars

- When a character pauses to wait for the non-existant laugh track applause to subside, drink an entire bottle of wine

- Sean and Beverly should literally faint whenever they find out that someone in the entertainment business told them a lie

- Wouldn't this be an awesome venue for the Friends reunion which is totally happening?!?!?!?! I heard Jennifer Aniston is dropping everything to jump at this incredible opportunity!!!!!!!!!!!

- Have the fictional Matt LeBlanc finally host "Saturday Night Live" in which "Pucks!" is parodied in a sketch. Sean and Beverly complain that SNL took a beloved staple of American comedy and ruined it. Also, CBS/NBC peace summit or something.

- An entire episode where David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik fight television critics to the death, a la the fight scene in "Anchorman". Episode will be titled "Class Warfare"

If this were an actual episode of "Episodes", this would be the point where I'd clarify that everything I had just said immediately before was meant to be viewed comedically and I'm not actually suggesting that these things would improve the show. It's called sarcasm, you see. It's a pretty high form of wit, so it's understandable that you wouldn't be familiar.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

There were a lot of characters on "Friday Night Lights" I wished I would never see again

     Clockwise from top: Kat McPhee on "Smash," star of "Off
     the Map" and "The Mob Doctor," typecasted murderer, girl
     who asked the question to Miss Teen South Carolina,
     has volleyball under special skills on her resume, Canadian
     box office draw, Rob Has A Podcast fantasy football
     competitor, new Charlie's Angel number...let's say two.

Better late than never, I spent the last twelve days making my way through all five seasons of "Friday Night Lights", which I really enjoyed. Except for some key parts that I didn't. And since I'm about six years too late on getting in on this party, I really don't have anyone to bounce these thoughts off of. So I turn to you, faithful blog.

So many of the show's problems have already been written to death about - the Tyra/Landry murder plot, Santiago, everything else about season two, its complete inability to handle a story about crime with any grace - so I'll spare you. But the Tyra/Landry murder story did leave me thinking about an aspect of storytelling that to me felt so obviously wrong that I can't believe the writers went down that path.