The summer has come to a close, and with it, I’ve wrapped up several shows I was watching and started several others. Also: is it just me, or has the standard fall/winter/no summer TV schedule ceased to mean anything at all? Here it is late september, and Mad Men is just heating up, 30 Rock doesn’t start for a month, Lost and Chuck aren’t around until 2010, and So You Think You Can Dance is on. Again. Where am I? What time is it? Where are my pants? Anyway.
True Blood: Admiral Cain vs. Frank Sobotka = Everybody Wins
I thought that season 2 of True Blood was flippin’ great, though I was a bit disappointed by some of the later episodes. Mainly the resolution of the Fellowship of the Sun plotline, which felt like it wrapped it up too quickly in order to have a few episodes left to deal with Maryann. I think that perhaps it’s because the show feels forced to revolve around Sookie at all times, so they needed her to be present for both story resolutions?
But check it: the fact of the matter was that, love it or hate it, Maryann’s storyline was really Tara and Sam’s storyline – they were the reason for the season, were the ones caught up in it, and it would have made sense if they had been the ones to resolve it. Having Sookie wander in at the last minute to sit around and be mad about Gran’s house and then sort of weakly push over an idol with some electricity powers seemed weird. And forced.
Don’t get me wrong, it was cool to bring everyone together, and Jason and Andy’s unlikely alliance was great, but it didn’t seem as though the writers were wrapping up the season with a desire to really make the resolution interesting, from a character standpoint. I’m picturing a way better finale with Sam finding a way to rescue Tara from Maryann’s influence and the the two of them leading a scrappy insurrection against her, with Tara being forced to kill Eggs, and Sam almost dying in order to save the day… and all of that playing out at the same time as the resolution in Dallas, so that everything felt bigger and more epic. Maybe even if they found a way to weave the two stories together somehow? I bet there are some interesting drafts on the writers’ room floor, is what I’m saying.
But still, season two was still really good times, and I looked forward to the show every week. Just a bunch of dumb hicks getting wasted and screwing, with lots of blood and Alex Skaarsgard rocking the shit – hard to fault the show too much, you know? Also, damn – I’ve always been a fan, but Anna Paquin just might be the sexiest chick on TV the moment. Good lord.
Nurse Jackie: Is That All There Is?
Hmm. Not so sold on this one. Nurse Jackie seemed like it was gonna be really great, and, as a friend of mine put it, I could watch Edie Falco do her laundry and it’d be pretty cool, but still. Is that really all there is? I think this show fell victim to the half-hour-dramedy syndrome. It’s enough time to get some laughs, if you’re focusing on the “medy,” but it’s not enough time to truly develop any “Dram.”
After a while, it just started to feel as though every episode started with a possible conflict, teased around the conflict, had some funny bits, and then ended with Jackie standing outside of the hospital, giving a mirthful shrug off into the heavens, putting her hands in her pockets and walking on down that lonely ol’ road. And then the next episode would rinse and repeat, and nothing would ever actually go anywhere.
Also, as Sepinwall pointed out, the show did a great disservice to Anna Deavere Smith’s character – she was never really developed beyond being an inconsistent foil, and anytime she walked on camera, that Super-Irritating Plinky Music Of Wackiness started playing. God, do I hate the SIPMOW. It’s such laziness, writer’s shorthand to cue the audience when on-screen events aren’t making things clear.
Anyhow, I thought this show could’ve been good, and the supporting cast is great, but there just wasn’t enough there there for me to want to come back. It was a lot like Weeds, actually, though the premise is stronger, the supporting cast far less irritating, and the leading lady a better actor. Even with all that going for it, it still felt a bit pointless. This about sums it up: I watched the finale and didn’t realize it was the finale, and for weeks was looking for the finale to download, until I finally realized that I’d watched the finale, so I had to go read a recap to remember what had happened. Not a good sign.
In Treatment Season 2: Oh My God, With The Acting Already
JFC. This show stands as, like, a testiment to old-school acting, to everything that the thespianic among us strive for. For character, for consistency, for showing and not telling, for the mystery of the human face. The writers and directors work so, so tirelessly to make it happen, and the camera just unflinchingly shows what these people are going through, and the whole thing is so unbelievably well-done and compulsively enjoyable and engaging… it’s like, the opposite of what people who complain about television’s shallowness describe. The whole thing feels like a grand experiment in programming that is working, and even as I’m watching it, I still can’t believe it exists.
Actors must get their agents to kill people to get them on this show, huh? I thought that everything about season two was even better than season one – the sessions were cleaner, the characters a bit more appealing, the season-long plot (the lawsuit, etc) more engaging. And considering that I effing loved season one, that’s no small thing.
The way in which Paul’s own persona drama (with his dying father) tied into the problems of his patients was more elegantly executed than his failing marriage in season one, and far less painful to watch. And the cast! Holy hell, the cast! To a one, they were perfect, and Gabriel Byrne must be the best dad in the world in real life, because the chemistry he has with kids… gosh. His scenes with Aaron Shaw (who played Oliver) were just heartbreaking, man. The little turtle! Who carried his house on his back!
And do I even need to point out the ridiculous awesomeness of Allison Pill? Woah. After Mia Wasikowska rocked it so hard in season one, it was hard to imagine anyone one-upping her, but I really think that Pill did. And everyone else, too… it was an incredible season, and even though it is longer than an average TV season, it seemed to just fly by. I highly recommend it.
Onward To The Future: You’re Gonna Need A Bigger DVR
And so those three seasons are over, and we have several more to take their places. I think that Mad Men is off to a great start, unsurprisingly, and am really stoked to get to watch the show on my sister’s amazing new LCD HDTV. There’s some sort of irony in the fact that the amazing technology they use to shoot the show serves to make their old-school period details look so incredible, but I don’t want to get sidetracked. Love it. The Office and Dollhouse start up again soon, and given how hard I thought the Dollhouse “Epitaph One” bonus episode rocked, as well as the just-announced fact that frickin’ Ray Wise is also joining the cast (in addition to what appears to be the entire former cast of every Joss show ever, as well as most of Battlestar Galactica), I am pumped for the new season. A lot. Glee continues to worm its way into my heart, if only because I like to talk about the problems I had with a given episode as much as I like to talk about the parts I liked, so the whole thing is a pretty enjoyable experience.
I’m also getting mentally prepared to bust through the two existing seasons of Breaking Bad, which I know is the best show since sliced bread, and that I’ll love it, but have gotten enough “don’t watch this show before you go to bed, it will wreck you” warnings that I’m feeling scared of it. But, time to bunker down and watch, I guess.
And I guess that’s it! Wait, no, there’s also Always Sunny, 30 Rock, and David Simon’s upcoming HBO series about Jazz Musicians in New Orleans, (Yes, you read that right) called “Treme.” Wow, that’s plenty of TV – no worries to Chuck and Lost, or any of the other shows that are delaying their start. You guys go ahead and take your time. There are so many of you, and you’re all so good!