Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Think Idol is Trying to Kill Idol

So it’s clear my DVR hates me.


Thanks to the crazed scheduling of all the channels I now have to tell my DVR what NOT to record in the event that there’s a three-way tie.


I realize I could do something like get a second DVR, or put a second TV in the house and watch that from time to time, but, eh.  Look, I don’t have THAT much time for TV.  Frankly, I’m sometimes glad there are so many commercials, because now I can watch a show in 20 minutes, which is about how long it takes me to eat, and then get other things done.


Granted, that means the commercials in question aren’t getting my full attention, like, ever, but frankly that hasn’t happened since the invention of the VCR.


At any rate, I keep telling it to skip a show that’s NOT American Idol, and the DVR swears up and down that’s it’s TOTALLY going to record Idol, and then it decides to skip Idol anyway. 


Also, it recently decided that two episodes of The Walking Dead takes up 45% of the DVR’s space, which is insane.


It’s been rebooted, and I flat-out cancelled a show, and hopefully there aren’t any more problems (just these two things suddenly made my DVR 10% full).  I don’t really care who wins Idol this year – even less than other years – but getting behind on the show renders watching it pretty useless.  After all, if you know who lost every week, why waste three hours finding out?


(Much the same can be said for the Oscars.  I missed all four hours and then read the results in about two minutes when it was all over.  To this I say, “Yay, Argo.”  And also, I don’t enjoy Ang Lee movies at all, and I don’t get the hype on that guy.)


So okay.


Now I’m caught up on Idol, and I wanna put forward a theory: I think they’re actually TRYING to kill the show this year.


Stick with me, because I think they’re being subtle about it, but follow along and you’ll see what I mean.


Watching Idol, it’s become clear to me that everyone involved just isn’t feeling it.  At first I kind of blamed Nicki, and that whole Nicki/Mariah thing, but as I sat and watched the kerfuffle build and build, I was struck by how boring it was.  So these two ladies didn’t like each other very much.  So what?  Why was this a big deal to the tabloids?  Why even bother to address it on the show?


Obviously, the big fight was being built up to because it was all over the news (because there’s not any real news to cover, of course) and I guess they had to say something about it.  But they kept acting like it was a selling point for the show, when really I think it made most people just go, “Eh,” and wander away.


I felt like the editors were trying to create some new characters this year, with Nicki as the bad girl and Mariah as the good girl, and Keith as the nicest man ever, based on the fact that he’s Australian and seems to be missing the top button on most of his shirts.


This is where it gets weird, though: It’s starting to feel like the editors are deliberately messing with us this year.


I guess you could argue that they’re trying to shake things up, but do it in the strangest way possible, but…


Okay, I’m getting confusing here.  Let’s try again.


This week, we saw ten of the top twenty ladies and ten of the top twenty guys.  And the majority of them were a nearly complete mystery to me and my wife.  We kept going, “Wait, who is that?  Why is he/she here?  Have we seen them before?”


And this goes back a ways.  Every year they toss three or four dozen people at us and give us these elaborate backstories on them, and the majority of the people who get a “story” make it through because, well, they’re a little preordained due to the fact that we had to listen to someone yap about them for five minutes.


But this year?  Who ARE these people?


Granted, I’ve always been bad with names, and I keep getting worse at faces, but almost none of these folks were memorable, and I’ve taken the time to check a couple of heavy-duty-watchers’ blogs to make sure I wasn’t crazy.


Most of the people with truly interesting stories are now gone.  The only one left from the top twenty is probably Charlie Askew, and while I guess I’m glad they like him, the kid is awkward, and getting more so the longer he’s on the show.  I mean, he seems like a nice guy and it’s clear he has an impressive range and loves performing.


But I literally cannot see anyone running out to buy his records.


And so it went.  Paul Jolley, who also got through, gave an okay performance, but the only thing I remember about him is that he looks like Wil Wheaton.  If there’s a market for a singing Wil, he’s got a lock.


Devin and Elijah…  I… I don’t even know.  Devin handed out a lovely vocal of a song I didn’t care much about, and I hope that works for him.  Elijah?  I have almost no memory of this kid, and his vocal this week wasn’t good, and I’m well aware they’re putting him through because they have to put SOMEONE through.


And Curtis?  Great vocal.  But we see this guy every year.  Last time it was Joshua.  Before that it was Jacob Lusk.  I guess he has different initials, so that’s something to cling to…


Over on the girls’ side, we had Kree, who totally crushed her song.  CRUSHED it.  And Amber, who also rated as a, “Who?”  Then she gave a great performance, and I remarked to my wife, “Hey, those two matter.  The rest are just cannon fodder.”


Which is to say, ten people have gone through, and among them we’ve scraped together maybe four really great voices.


Now, maybe this was the weak week (er… sorry) but if next week plays out much the same, we’ll be stuck with perhaps eight or nine great voices in a top twelve whittled down from something like 150,000 people.


To which I say, feh.


This is where I come back to my theory.  As the bad piled up this week (and there was at least one performance that I don’t even know what was happening… it was out of time and off key for the entire performance) you can see the judges going, “We got paid something like fifty million dollars, and we put these people on TV?”


I’ve gotta ask here, what’s the deal?  They couldn’t find a few more great voices amongst the 150,000 contestants?  Do they just not care?


And what’s with the editors?  Most of these people are a complete mystery to me.  It’s clear you’re not too much into caring about them, so why am I watching your show?


Meanwhile, Idol is getting slapped around on Thursdays, not only by The Big Bang Theory, but by 2 ½ Men, a show that’s almost the same age as Idol.  It literally can’t put down a decade-old show that lost its star a couple years back.


And the judges, set up by the editors, are… man, I apologize for all the ellipses, but they tried to set up a war that didn’t lead to much of a kerfuffle at all.  Everyone seems fine now, and they’re even mostly making actual comments designed to be helpful to the people going forward.


This leaves us with a bunch of people who are largely unknown to us.  If reality TV thinks it’s important to craft a narrative, the narrative this season is, “Something could happen.  Or not.  To some people.  Some of whom you might have heard of.”


I guess you could argue it’s laziness, or maybe the editors guessed wrong up to this point who would be important and who wouldn’t.  But they have months to work these things out, and years to figure out what the judges and audiences are looking for.


Which is why I’ve developed my theory.


Am I right?  I have no idea, really.  But at this point last year, I felt like I had a decent grasp of the major players in the game.  This year, it’s a bunch of random faces, many of whom aren’t impressing me much.


Bad guesswork?  A smaller pool of applicants?  Or a deliberate choice on everyone’s part to shove some people through and get this show axed?


You got me.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What I'm Watching: Over/Under

I know I just talked TV, but things are afoot in my world that are taking time to process and deal with, and I wanna talk about this:




I love that the article basically says, “Hey, what’s getting cancelled?”  Also, I like to pair it with this:




Which is my favorite article ever about the fact that no one is watching the 90210 remake.


True story:  I was totally going to watch that show, because it features a black adoptee with white parents, and also has an actress who was on Degrassi and was awesome.


I recorded the first three or four episodes, then had to get a new DVR, and never bothered to catch up.  The show now appears to be mere moments from cancellation, but who knows?  The CW keeps a lot of stuff on the air because they sell downloads and DVDs and whatever else, and so their ratings almost don’t matter.


That said, my thoughts on the survival of the various shows I’m watching:




This one fascinates me, as it’s been off the air so long I’ve almost forgotten about it.  I see an article every once in a while that says, “Hey, we took some time off, and because of that the show is going to be EVEN BETTER when it returns!”


The question is, will anyone watch it?  I’ve got my DVR set to grab it when it shows up again, sure, but the show went off the air with no real way to go back to episode one and catch up.  In season one, Glee went off the air for two or three months, but tossed out Season 1 Part 1 on DVD during the Christmas season, and I’m quite sure that spiked their return numbers.


That said, NBC has almost no bench.  The majority of their shows are either ending this year or have been huge flops, and I’m not hearing amazing things about pilot season.


So Revolution will almost certainly return.  I suspect, however, that’s it’s going to bleed some of its audience. 


Warehouse 13:


This one also feels like it’s been gone forever, but the ratings are the best that the SciFi channel has to offer.  Unless the show gets too expensive (which wouldn’t take much, granted) I’m sure the next season is a given.


American Idol:


Man this is an interesting one.  It used to be the highest-rated show on TV, but it’s getting beaten in the ratings now on a semi-regular basis.  That said, it’s still sitting around in the top ten, ratings-wise, while most other Fox shows are either getting long in the tooth (Bones) or slowly flat-lining (Glee).


I can see this going for one more year in a desperate attempt to cling to one of the few real winners they have left.  Of course, the cost keeps going up while the rewards keep going down… so maybe not.  (Hint: Yes, it’ll be back for another year. I am sure of this.)


Modern Family:


Not the biggest hit in the world anymore, but still a huge hit.  This one will go at least seven seasons, maybe longer.




Already renewed for Season Nine, with a fresh, fun premise to carry it another year or three.  I can easily see this one making it ten seasons, if not more.  How many shows go UP in the ratings in season eight?


The Big Bang Theory:


I’m amazed they don’t just auto-renew the show at this point, since it’s quite possibly the highest-rated show on TV.  You don’t hear too often about shows getting multiple-season renewals these days, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they did it with Big Bang.


The Vampire Diaries:


Already renewed for next year, with a possible spin-off in the works.  This one has a few years left in it.




Interestingly, it did huge numbers opening week, and then dropped like a stone the next week, when the episode was a significant improvement.


I keep telling my buddy that this one is going to become the next Scrubs, wherein it keeps getting renewed to take the places of the failures that occur at the start of each year.


He’s dubious, but I’m willing to stick my neck out.  If the ratings hold week by week against the biggest show on two channels and the second-biggest on a third, it’ll be around next year.




This one is… tricky.


The last episode aired last week, and sweeps end… this week.  That just seems like a strange and possibly damaging choice.  Though perhaps Idol is running two hours this week.  (Okay, I looked it up and they are.  This can’t bode well for Glee.)


The fact is, Glee is obviously overstuffed.  Stars of the show are now guest stars.  Last week they had to throw out an Asian Bird Flu joke in a desperate attempt to explain why a huge chunk of the cast didn’t show up in the episode.


There are ways to make this show work, but it’s increasingly clear that the writers don’t know what those ways are.


And so it goes.


Ironically, I think one more season might serve the show well if they chose to cut the budget.  By finally cutting all the deadwood and old cast members who continue to have less and less relevance as current cast members, they might actually be able to focus on plot and character again, which is what made the show so much fun to begin with.




Sadly, it’s already cancelled.  There’s talk of a Julius Caesar spinoff, but I’ll be surprised if it happens, and I’m only marginally interested anyway.


The Walking Dead:


Another show whose ratings keep going up.  I continue to be amazed that it hasn’t gotten a multi-season renewal.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Michael Penn: Free-for-All

Album releases slipped over the years.


Back in the days of The Beatles, groups were putting out albums constantly.  In fact, the Beatles were putting out just about two records per year.  Granted, they were shorter, 30 minutes or so, versus the 45 or 50 or 60 or 75-minute albums that people release today.


Eventually, that slipped to one release a year.  And then… I’m not sure what happened, really.  Today record labels and/or artists try to drag every last little hit out of each release.  I suppose I get it.  Hootie and the Blowfish got two full years out of the 43 minutes of Cracked Rear View, and sold sixteen million copies.


Work smarter, not harder, one could say.


Of course, the thing about Hootie is that they just kept having hit after hit get on the charts, and then stick around.  Michael Penn really only had one.  Here was a dude who really needed to get something else out, to build his legacy and his back catalogue.


Except it took him three years to get his next release out.


While March got all the way to 31 on the charts, Free-for-All managed to struggle only up to 160.  That’s still a solid achievement, when you think about it.  How many records come out every year and never get onto the chart at all?


But it was to be Penn’s last real hurrah, record-wise.  He’s put out three more albums and a semi-best-of since then, and none of them have even given the charts a passing tap.


In the days before the Internet, when you could look up any group, fan it on Facebook, and get constant reports of what was coming out and when, my primary source for “What’s Coming Up” was the wall of my local music store.  They used to post each week and what we could look forward to on that wall, and since I visited once a month, I usually had a pretty good idea of when things were going to arrive.


Three years is a long time to wait for new music from a guy who you like so much, so I’m sure I was salivating as I waited for Free-for-All to hit stores.


Interestingly, I don’t remember buying the CD.  I do, however, remember my reaction to hearing it for the first time.


March started with the mid-tempo drum-crash of No Myth a song I already knew and loved, and from there moved onto a series of other songs that I loved.


Free-for-All started a little different.


The opening song was (and is, I suppose) Long Way Down (Look What the Cat Drug In), a slow, sad-sack acoustic ballad that slowly slips in strings and a few other instruments, but which mostly slides around in its own melancholy over a lost love. 


It’s arguably the best song on the album, but it’s vicious in its coldness, with lines like, “I’ve got a feeling she’s been sleeping with the whole wide world.”  It is a song sung by a man who is bitter and angry.


This was not really my headspace, at the time.  I was a junior in high school, had a steady girlfriend, and while life was imperfect (high school is not a time you love, it is a time you tolerate… and if you do love high school, I’ve learned that your life is often a downhill tumble afterwards) it was not altogether bad.


Even listening to the album today, I am struck that while I am older and wiser now, I have never been as angry or full of bile as the characters that populate these songs.  Are they the voice of Michael himself?  A series of pleasant (or unpleasant) rhymes and catchy melodies to which he is just the voice?


I’m not sure, really. 


My memory of it at the time is that I loved it, and hearing it again now, I still do.  Mostly, I’m impressed with how, after the lovely melodies of March, this record improves on those lines, throwing in surprising twists of notes you never quite see coming. 


This musical sharpness is equally applied to the arrangements and chord progressions presented on the record.  The arrangements don’t have thousands of instruments on them, but they marvelously fiddly.  If you have a keen ear, you can puzzle out the way a guitar drops out and lets a bass take a note or three, or how in the song Seen the Doctor, a half-verse vanishes into the sonic spectrum as through it’s being performed by an old West band as recorded through a paper tube.


The thing of it is, having heard different arrangements of several of these songs, I can’t fault Penn for polishing them so completely.  To bring The Beatles back up, my dad once listened to the “lost” work of the Beatles and declared that they’d squeezed a lot of great material out of some really terrible demo versions.


And the thing is, Michael did much the same.  A lot of these songs are good – even very good – but the time he took to say, “And I need a mandolin here.  For maybe four bars,” makes the record, pardon the pun, sing.


As for the lyrics, well, as I said, this is the Lennon album, if the last one was the McCartney one.  The lyrics on this one range from angry to obtuse, and even on the uptempo bright happy-sounding songs make almost zero sense.  “Used to be a man could make his way/With a barrel full of this black coal, half certain you’d say/But in my reach it hangs on.”


Later, there’s a line, “Run your fingers down my back, you make such a cool distraction.”  Is he talking about a relationship?  About a one night stand that distracts from the hard work of everyday labor?  If there’s a context to the song, I’m not aware of what it is.


It’s totally singable though.


And I guess that’s the thing, really.  I Am the Walrus doesn’t really mean anything, and much of Free-for-All, if not totally obtuse, is at least open to many, many interpretations.


The album as a whole, though, is like a perfectly cut diamond that’s too large to do anything but look at.  No one wants to wear it, and while it’s pretty, there are only a small number of people who just want to sit and stare at a diamond for an extended period of time.  “It’s perfect,” they might say, “but what do you DO with it?”


That pretty much nails it.



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Michael Penn: March

A handful of years ago, Rickrolling became a thing.  The trick was, you’d send a blind link to someone, or post it on a web page, saying it was very cool and deserved a click.


And that would take you to a YouTube page, where a Rick Astley song would play. 


This is apparently what we accomplish with unlimited technology.


At any rate, rather than being cranky about it, I took it was a chance to revisit Rick Astley a bit, reviewing for pretty much no one his four US releases.  I also learned that he had apparently retired.  Because he was so rich he could afford to.


There’s a little envy there, I must admit.  It’s the rare job you can work for fifteen years and then retire rich.  Nice work if you can get it.


More recently, I found myself singing a Michael Penn song, and kind of wondering what happened to the guy.  I follow him on Facebook, and the last I’d heard of him he was sitting in a bedroom recording a one-take video with a couple of other people.  It was a new song, and I enjoyed it, and I was looking forward to seeing it released.


Only it hasn’t happened, and it’s been a couple of years now.


So I did what I always do when I’m wondering what’s up with Michael, which is to hit up his web site and see if he has anything new coming out.  Answer: No.


Still, now my brain stem had been tickled, so the next time I was headed out to my car, I grabbed my copy of his “Best Of” - Palms and Runes, Tarot and Tea: A Michael Penn Collection. 


A Collection is what best describes it, I suppose.  The man had exactly one top forty hit, back in 1989.  Everything else on the collection is… something else again. 


Oh, granted, he had a couple of hits on the Modern Rock chart, but I’m not sure who follows or pays attention to those.  Certainly not 13-year-olds.


But let me back up a year.


In 1988, I turned 12, and my parents gave me a certain amount to money to buy whatever I wanted.  The thing of it is, I remember very well not really wanting anything.  I loved to read, but wasting money on books I could read once at the library seemed like a waste.


There were larger ticket items I thought were kind of cool – kid video cameras, robots, that kind of thing, but those were in the $200 range and my parents weren’t offering me that much.  As kid needs go, they covered the cost of my clothing and food, and I had plenty of toys, many of which I was outgrowing at puberty began and the idea of “playing” with friends was slowly vanishing to the idea of “hanging out” with friends.


We visited a couple of stores.  I remember being in Toys R Us, looking at various expensive Lego sets, which were still sort of cool because there was a building component.


And then came the suggestion from my dad that I buy a stereo receiver.


My mom correctly noted at the time that this was wholly my dad’s idea.  We had a radio in my room, and for what little my brother and I listened to the radio, it was more than adequate.  And the problems of buying a receiver were many.  It meant that you also needed speakers (my dad had an old set sitting around) and something to play music that wasn’t from the radio (my dad had an extra cassette deck). 


And so, still not sure if I wanted to do it, I bought the receiver.


Of course, now that I had one, I felt compelled to use it.


As a kid, I had been mocked on occasion for not being knowledgeable in pop culture.  I didn’t have a radio in my room for most of my childhood, and my parents listened to tapes in their car.  So I rarely had my finger on the pulse of what music was new and/or cool.


In other words, music had to reach Michael Jackson or Madonna levels before I became aware of it.


Even now, I can sing all the hits from 1988.  But if I go back to 87 and 86 and 85, there are still gaps in my song knowledge.  These are number one hits I’m talking about. 


(As a side note, movies were often the same way.  If I went to an all-boy gathering, they’d frequently talk about the latest Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street movie, while I sat in silence.)


At any rate, I now had an expensive radio and nice speakers to hear music on, so I turned on the radio and started listening.


The big hitmakers that summer, and that year, were largely keyboard-y pop.  Whitney Houston.  Debbie Gibson.  Michael Jackson was putting out singles from the Bad album.  And in taking a peak at the number one songs that year, well, there’s Rick Astley again.


Granted, that’s also the year that Sweet Child O’ Mine hit the radio.  But that was more of an anomaly.


And then there was Poison, a rock group and their singular acoustic ballad, Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.


That was what qualified as “different” on the radio then.  At least to my memory.


Not much changed in 1989.  Michael Jackson gave way to Janet.  Milli Vanilli logged a couple of hits. 


And a little further down the chart was Michael Penn.


To this day, I’m not sure how he got a record deal, and I’m even less sure how he had a hit.  But I’m glad he did.


I wish I could remember how I first heard his first single, No Myth, which came out of nowhere.  It had a jangly acoustic guitar part, and lyrics that were actually somewhat poetic instead of schmaltz or straightforward “You are a bad person for not liking/loving me” call outs.


Listening to it today, it doesn’t sound like 1989.  I would have thought that maybe sounds like it belongs in 1979, or maybe 1969, but no.  The songs don’t date because they don’t seem to wander in from any particular era.


Granted, I suppose he has his influences, but his lyrics are less obtuse than, say, Bob Dylan, and his love songs (of which No Myth is one) lack the straightforwardness “I love you baby/I lost you baby” of a Dan Fogelberg story-song.


For example, what to make of “I’m between the poles and the equator/don’t send no private investigator/to find me please, ‘less he speaks Chinese/and can dance like Astaire overseas?”


To be honest, I didn’t know what to make of it then, and perhaps I know only a little more now.


But what Michael captured for me was a sense of longing.  As I said, I was leaving childhood behind.  The album came out in September of 1989, as I was finishing my middle school years and heading towards high school, which is when those first bizarre emotional stirrings start, context-free.  You know that girls are interesting, but you have only the vaguest sense of why.  You kind of want to go trick-or-treating one last time, but you know you’re too old.


You are experiencing nostalgia for a time that is still going on.


And that’s what Michael tapped into for me.  Songs like No Myth, and Innocent One, and Invisible made me feel, for a moment or two, that someone got it.  These were songs that showed me that at some point I would not be in these moments, but looking back at them.


And that bittersweet feeling would still be there, albeit in a slightly less painful way.


What else is great about the album?  Well, outside of the ballads that still slowly squeeze my chest as I listen to them, Michael seemed to go out of his way to create uptempo songs about oddball scenarios.  There’s Brave New World, which seems detail a series of post-apocalyptic interactions between confused and/or drugged and/or depressed people, with perhaps a little glimmer of hope for the future.


Then there’s Big House, which sounds like a sci-fi soundtrack ode to… knocking on a door of a house that kind of creeps you out.


As a kind, I sat and listened to it on repeat, and even today I can recite most of the words as the songs roll by.  There are no surprises.  It’s still wonderful, pretty, a little dark, and it reminds me not just of the me that was at the time, but of me at the time, thinking about me now. 


There’s a loop there.


I did leave off one probable influence in The Beatles, which I’m sure I’m right about because I’ve heard Penn cover them before.  I mention it now because I always thought of his second album as the Lennon album, with this one as the McCartney release.  Down and sad, but with happy glimmers of hope.


There’s a lot less hope on his second album.  But we’ll get to that.


March was released, then went out of print, then came back into print a few years later with most of the songs from his second album tacked on as bonus tracks.  I’m okay with that if it exposes the album to more people, but I liked the way the album ended originally.


Great then, and great now.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What I'm Watching: 2013... and... GO.

It’s strange to look up from one’s desk and realize that an old year has come and gone and then January is here and suddenly, BOOM, February.


I keep saying I’m gonna slow down on the TV write-ups, but they’re fun and easy and my life, in general, is very stress and so I go with fun and easy.


I’d apologize if I had more readers.  But I don’t, and those who do read me find this kind of thing at least somewhat interesting.


And so we begin:


The Walking Dead:


I was kind of amazed last week when my wife and I finally got completely caught up on our DVR, finishing off everything except for one episode of a short series that went off the air over a year ago.  The last thing we had to wipe off was The Walking Dead, a show that piles up on our DVR week in and week out because this season has gotten SO much more violent and involves a lot more of my wife cowering behind pillows while people get eaten.


Thus, this week’s episode remains unseen by us.


On the bright side, we’re caught up to that point, and overall I’m pretty pleased with this season.  The show has been working harder to keep the speed up, keep the zombies coming, and keep the twists and revelations zipping along each and every week.


Still, the show has one fatal flaw, and I don’t know what, if anything can be done about it.  It has no endpoint.


These people are looking for a safe place, but week by week we mostly just learn that there ISN’T one.  This should raise the tension, as anyone can die, but it’s hard to get attached to people when you know that everyone is marked for death.


Ultimately, I don’t wonder if the show would be better if Daryl, the clear fan favorite, didn’t take over the group.  In fact, I wonder if that’d be the thing that takes it to the next level.  Rick is the one character who can’t die in the comics (so sayeth the creator) so killing him in the TV show would come as a genuine shock.


Either way, the show continues to be well-made, and it runs through its paces nicely.  But I wonder if the show will ever be more than a B for me.


American Idol:


I did a whole piece about the show already, but I suppose I should mention it again.  After the big blow-up, Nicki and Mariah seem to have settled down, though Nicki still hasn’t quite worked out when she’s being critical in a helpful way and when she’s just being mean.


Beyond that, well, we’ve wandered through and most of the guys have been picked, and while I think a lot of them are talented people, I’m not all that in love with any of them.  And Matheus, the dude who was on The Glee Project… I dunno, man.  I’m a little sorry he was cut, but it was strange to see him coming on the show and being all, “I didn’t know I could really sing!” and “Wow, you love me even though I’m short!” and “I’ve never sung with a band before!”  Except, of course, he did on The Glee Project. 


So weird.


In conclusion, if a dude wins, I hope it’s the guy with the turban.  He just seems so nice.


Modern Family


It was funny.  It remains funny.  The ratings are down, but then again, it’s up against Idol.  Ty Burrell is an American treasure.  That about covers it.




Meanwhile, Supernatural just got picked up for a ninth season, and remains the only show to survive when moved from the WB to the CW.  The ratings are actually up this year, and it hovers in third place on the CW channel.


It’s spent the last two episodes rebooting a bit of the mythology, and adding some backstory in the form of the mysterious Men of Letters group.


What was going on there?  I theorize that it’s actually a semi-pilot for what comes next.  A chance to tell the CW, “Here is where we go next season.  We’ve got a new office, and we’re happy to become a version of The X-Files.  Or spin off another show.  Or, like, whatever, man.”


Honestly, even if Supernatural is cancelled, I’d totally watch a Men of Letters show starring Garth, Kevin, Felicia Day, Cas, and the Golem as they fight evil.


The Big Bang Theory:


‘S funny, really.  The cast gets bigger, the “what a bunch of geeks” jokes remain, and yet the writing and performances mean we get a few good laughs every episode.


Much like Modern Family, good enough for me.




Ah, Community.  The creator got kicked out, and the new guys are in, and… they’re trying.  I’ll give them an A for effort, and a B- on their first episode.


Really, the big issue is that they get that there’s a meta aspect to the show, and a “tropes” aspect to the show, and that’s good.


What they don’t get is that they do ONE trope an episode. In this one, we got The Hunger Games, Sitcoms, and Muppet Babies.  Any one of those would have been fine, and maybe good and maybe great.  All three was a bit too much.


I will say that if they sub out Fred Willard for Chevy Chase in season 5 (if there is one) I would totally be down for that.


The Vampire Diaries:


Due to DVR issues (many of them) I’m now TWO episodes behind.  Given that it’s sweeps, one would think all the cool stuff was happening.


But… Hmmm… what to say, what to say?  Vampire Diaries was, for a while, a great show that ran through five or six seasons of stories in about three seasons.  What that means is that, on a practical level, we’re now somewhere into season six or seven, and it shows.  The magic stuff is getting even more random.  The emotional stuff is still good, but mostly played out, and there have been versions of every emotion played out now, which makes bits of it stale.


There’s talk of a spin-off now, and I think it could be interesting.  There are some great characters here, and sending them away for a while might freshen things up a bit.


I’ll admit, I’m only semi-curious to see how this new plotline plays out.  There’s a whole “cure” thing going on here, and done well, it could really revive the show for season five (which is just got the pickup for).  Done wrong, and the show will spiral.




I finally figured out what makes me so sad about this show.


It’s never coming back after this.  And its audience will never grow.  It’s just done after these next few weeks.


A short background on this thought:


Back in the 80s, there was a great miniseries called V.  It was about aliens taking over the planet.  It was a huge hit, and the creator planned to do a new miniseries every year that would check in on the ongoing story.


A really cool premise.


Then he got kicked off the second miniseries, and it was completed without all that much of his input.  Then it was turned into a standard TV show.  Then it was cancelled.


Years later, he tried to get a new TV miniseries made that caught up with the characters about 20 years later.  When he couldn’t get it together, he instead released it as a novel.  One that ignored everything that happened after his first miniseries.


What the creator wanted to do is, more or less, what happened with Spartacus.  There were 12 episodes the first season.  Then the 6 episode prequel.  Then 10 episodes.  Then 10 more.  But each was, more-or-less, a self-contained story with some recurring characters.


38 episodes total.  Not enough to syndicate.  More problematic, they were made for cable, and they run anywhere from 52-58 minutes each.  Even if they were syndicated, things would have to be chopped out.  And it’s a pretty tight story as-is.


And then there’s the blood.  And unclothed people.  And… just a lot of those things, really.  Oh, and adult language.


In the end, the show can only really have a home on cable and DVD, and I can’t see it getting a huge following on either.  Perhaps I’m wrong.  But I’ve seen the ratings, and I have my doubts.


Ultimately, I dunno where and how the show will land in history, but it saddens me that such an amazing story is going to have to fight so hard to get in front of more eyes.


In conclusion: A great show that continues to be great. 


Being Human (UK)


Man, what to say, what to say.  I found out a few days ago that this series, number five, is gonna be the last one.


When I started series four, I think I would have been okay with that.  Series three had an amazing ending, wherein the vampire (of the vampire, werewolf, and ghost) was staked, starting a war.


Then came series four, and in the first episode, we lost our werewolves.


That left us with the ghost, who was, through no fault of her own, the least interesting character on the show.


My wife and I watched the first episode with unrestrained excitement.  Then curiosity.  Then confusion.  And finally, a kind of sadness.  Suffice to say, it wasn’t that good of an episode, and at the end of it, three-fourths of the cast we loved so much were gone from the show.


And in their place, we got one character who we weren’t big fans of: the idiot werewolf.


We stepped away from the show for months and months, not really wanting to go back and wrap up the story.  But finally, the hiatus came, and it was time to go through and clear the decks while everything was off the air.


I can see why some people couldn’t get into it, and the reason many stepped off the platform after the fourth series was done.  All eight episodes were, after all, about a bunch of people wanting to kill a baby, and now there were new characters to sort out, and a bizarre storyline that involved time travel, and…


It was a lot to take in.


And of course, by the end of the series, we were looking at a (mostly) all-new cast.


The thing is, I liked the story.  It had conviction, it carried itself to a logical, brutal end, and while it wasn’t a happy one, it was the one the show needed.


So the new series has begun, and we’ve got a pretty fresh cast, and… the series has been cancelled.  After being knocked down to six episodes.


I get it.  People fall in love with characters, and that’s a lot of changes in a short little period of time.  And yet, I’ll be sad to catch the last few ‘sodes, knowing that the show is at an end.


Here’s hoping for the best.