Friday, September 27, 2013

Week 18 of "My 25 Favourite Episodes of TV"

I have reservations about this pick. I don't know why, but it feels somewhat blasphemic to pick an episode of this show that aired in 2009. For some reason, all of the Internet trolls and the nostalgia I do not have are making me feel weird about it. But thankfully, it was only recently that the creator of said program told me that it's the episodes you watch in high school that are your favourites, because staying up late to watch them is fun and exciting when you don't have money or a driver's license. So if you take issue with this (you really won't), I have a television legend on my side. And no, I still don't know why I'm always trying to be mysterious with this.

After the break: He definitely knows his way around.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2013 Emmys roundup: W-R-O-N-G

     "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan accepts the 2013
     Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series.
     Photo Credit: Reuters, ATAS, CBS

Just as the title indicates, these Emmys were pretty much nothing but wrong, in a few senses of the word. As a piece of televised entertainment, this was an especially weak Emmy telecast, stuffed with bad, time wasting musical performances that only occasionally had some connection to television. And on the awards side, all of the trophies they gave out were either wrong in the "just plain wrong" sense (Jeff Daniels, Gail Mancuso, etc.) or were wildly pleasant, left-field choices that I imagine did an even bigger number on my yearly predictions than usual.

It was interesting to hear Grantland's Bill Simmons describe being in the theatre for the actual show. While the overly long and inconsequential Elton John performance was unbearable to those of us watching at home, the actual audience in the Nokia Theatre welcomes this sort of visual stimuli to pass the three hours they're stuck in their seats. While I felt the dance routine choreographed by the nominees in the Outstanding Choreography category to be an interesting idea that was poorly executed, I understand why that's a nice break from giving out trophies to the celebrities who actually attend the event, and especially to those who found out early in the night that they hadn't won.

Steve Levitan (and if there is one thing I am most furious about in this entire telecast, it's that we came so close to making it an entire year without having to listen to him giving ANOTHER speech upon his mediocre show being hailed as the second coming of Christ in 22 minute form) called attention to the somber, deathly tone of the show, and he wasn't wrong for doing so. I understand why people don't like the necrology because people are always left out and always will be no matter how many award shows we live to see. But paying specific tributes creates two problems: as mentioned, the repeated reminder of death casts a shadow over an event that is ultimately a celebration. There's nothing wrong with life being the thing you're celebrating, but the tribute segments meant the somber feeling was inescapable. If you pay all tributes during the "in memoriam" segment, you can fade to commercial and then come back with the wacky stars of "The Millers" and pretend that nothing happened. This made jarring tonal shifts a constant component of the telecast.

The second is that even more than the complaints of people left out of the necrology, this creates such a disgusting popularity contest out of death. Jack Klugman's son was understandably disappointed that the Academy chose not to give his father a specific tribute during the show, and Larry Hagman, arguably the biggest TV star of the 1980s, didn't get one either. For the Academy to give the thumbs up to creating a situation in which it was now a competition to see which lost icons were more worthy of attention than others is so ridiculous and dumbfounding that it could only come from the same organization that votes for the Emmy awards. And on the note of death as a popularity contest: I happened to catch Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris on "The Talk" late last week, where he specifically mentioned that he didn't like it when the audience can be heard clapping at varying levels for celebrities of varying levels during award show necrologies. He assured that any noise from the theatre would be muted during the actual telecast, and of course, come Sunday night, we got to hear about 6,000 people remember to continue clapping for agents and studio executives they didn't know while the applause escalated for talent who worked in front of the camera. Just a disaster.

Simmons also mentioned that during commercial breaks, clips were shown of past Emmy acceptance speeches. A nice tribute to television, which the Emmys seemed to be sorely lacking this year. I actually found myself missing the way the show used to separate the night by categories, if only because we didn't get the "Year In (Comedy/Variety/Miniseries/Reality/Drama)" montages of actual TV clips from the past year that we've gotten for the last few telecasts. I also understand why people didn't like that the extended tributes to James Gandolfini, Cory Monteith et al. also did not feature any clips of the actors performing (or in the case of Gary David Goldberg, clips from the shows he worked on), though if you couldn't tell, that's not my biggest gripe about how those were handled.

Neil Patrick Harris proved to be a somewhat problematic host. His reputation as a song-and-dance man who opens awards shows he doesn't even host (like that weird duet he himself to open the Oscars that one time) precedes him, and I think it was an interesting idea to say up front "I'm not doing that this time." But all of the comedic bits about him saying that weren't funny in the slightest. Even his opening monologue, which wasn't intended to be all that funny so that the past hosts could berate him for doing such a bad job, never turned a corner into anything actually entertaining.

Show highlight: Even though she's great on "Veep," I wasn't all that happy to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus repeat. I would have much rather seen Laura Dern or Amy Poehler pull off a surprising but well-earned victory. But the moment of the night was easily seeing the "Veep" cast all in-character as Louis-Dreyfus accept her award, with fellow Emmy winner Tony Hale standing right behind her, holding her purse and reminding her what to say, while nominee Anna Chlumsky sat in the audience on her phone.

Show lowlight: "Hi, I'm Elton John. Here's my latest single. It kind of reminds me of Liberace, a guy who HBO made a movie about this year but has actually been dead for 25 years. Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, please stand perfectly still for these next six minutes as I play the song in its entirety. As I play, be sure to put your ear right up to the television. You might be able to hear all the speeches that will be cut off for the rest of the night."

The results of my predictions after the break...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Weeks 16 and 17 of "My 25 Favourite Episodes of TV"

Trying something a little different today. I realized that the episode I was planning on writing about this week was very similar to another one on the list, so there doesn't seem much point in writing up two entries that are about basically the same thing. Woo hoo, I just saved myself a week! And let's be honest, I also saved you, a beloved reader, the chore of reading the exact same blog post twice in the same month. (Shut up, I know how many of these read as the same regurgitated garbage). And that's what matters most. Protecting my VAST readership. And, uh, ahem...*Rodney Dangerfield collar grab*

After the break: Would you like a full history of the professional relationship between Conan O'Brien and Jack McBrayer? I figured as much, so I anticipated your next move before you even got there. Like chess. SITCOM CHESS.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Week 15 of "My 25 Favourite Episodes of TV"

There are ten weeks left in this little project, which should take me into early November. Though I'm heading back to school and will busy with that, there shouldn't be many interruptions going forward. I might take a week off here and there if I feel particularly swamped, but my goal was to finish this project in 2013 and that's still my intention. With that being said, I decided to dick around my last week of vacation and procrastinate this final post-summer entry, to the point that I put a lot more work into the ABC comedy fall preview thing I posted yesterday late in the week not realizing that it has no set schedule, while this does. So once again, I'm late with a fairly short writeup. What you call lazy and corner-cutting, I call short and sweet.

After the break: Who knew "case of the week" could be such a gut punch?