Goodbye, Friday Night Lights

July 20, 2011 Leave a comment

This blog probably wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for Friday Night Lights, our favourite show to recap and obsess over these past couple years. I’m ashamed to admit this but I haven’t seen the final episode of the series yet (I hate it when real life gets in the way of TV life, which is a far more fulfilling experience anyway so GET OFF MY BACK, MOM). But the end of a critically acclaimed—if under-watched—series means the inevitable torrent of essays, analyses and tributes to the characters that occupied so much space in our minds and hearts. On that note, I thought I’d link to a couple great FNL articles on the new Bill Simmons/Chuck Klosterman blog Grantland: “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Couldn’t Lose: An Oral History of Friday Night Lights” and “HIPSTER RUNOFF’s Carles on the lessons of Friday Night Lights.” Here’s a taste of the first article, a quote from series creator Peter Berg:

I remember I went to NBC, and there were about 10 people in the room. [Kevin Reilly] and I looked at each other, and he said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “I want to build up this all-American quarterback, this hero. This wonderful, beautiful kid with his entire future ahead of him. His biggest decision in life was whether he was going to take a full ride to UT or Notre Dame. He’s got the hot girlfriend. He’s got the loving parents. And he’s going to break his neck in the first game. We’re going to create this iconic American hero, and we’re going to demolish him.”



Louie S02E01: Let’s Make Friends

June 28, 2011 Leave a comment

In the first shot of the season premiere of Louie, we see Louis C.K.’s thinly veiled alter-ego brushing his daughter’s teeth. When she lets out an “ow,” he apologizes: right away, we’re in the realm of his overwhelming preoccupation with his parenting skills. That’s what makes it heartbreaking for us, too, when his daughter breaks the news: “I like mama’s better because she makes good food and I love her more.” On her way out of the bathroom, her dad flips her the finger.

The second season of Louie promises more backbreaking anxiety and dilapidating alienation, with lots of stand-up routine footage sprinkled in the mix. Basically, Seinfeld without the laugh track. Thanks to Go the Fuck to Sleep, the “honest parenting” bit is gaining in popularity (just waiting for one more to call it a trend), but nobody does it better than C.K. In the first stand-up clip of the episode, Louie tackles the issue with his usual grace, explaining limiting it can be to plan activities when his kids are at different stages. “We have to be dragged down to her shitty skill level,” he says of his youngest daughter. It’s refreshing to see a comedian do a bit about single parenting that doesn’t end up as a screed against his ex-wife. Instead, Louie is grappling with his inability to communicate his frustration to his kids, which makes the bulk of his comedy routines sound as if they’re directed at them: “I know how to look after you! I’m good at it! You’re not dead yet!” Read more…

Michael’s Last Dundies

April 22, 2011 Leave a comment

I haven’t written about NBC’s Thursday night line-up this year, but only out of laziness. I think it goes without saying that 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and, of course, The Office have been a consistent string of shows for the past few months, even the past year. Last night’s episodes of 30 Rock and The Office stood out to me in that they both tried to do the same thing – use a behind-the-scenes, real life event as a plot device – but only one show succeeded.

30 Rock‘s big milestone was their 100th episode, a day I’m sure many executives at NBC never saw coming. They celebrated with a one-hour special written by Tina Fey. Rather than choose between airing a clip show or writing new material, Fey did both, and the result was a disappointment. Ryan McGee at The A.V. Club admits he “was fairly burned out on meta-nostalgia by the end of 30 Rock’s hour-long episode,” and I have to agree. Flashbacks are one thing, but you can’t expect your audience to tag along for an hour’s worth of fairly lengthly clip sequences for every major character.

The episode centres on the 100th episode of TGS, which would have made for an eventful enough episode, and would have provided more than enough “meta-nostalgia” without all the tiresome clips. An awkward plot involving a gas leak does reach a reasonable conclusion, but it just feels like too much work. It’s kind of like watching kids put on a play: I’m sure they had a lot of fun making it, but don’t they realize how tedious it is for the adults? (Ed. note: I am not an adult. Just to be clear.) Read more…

Last Chance for Friday Nights Lights

April 19, 2011 Leave a comment

In case you missed it when it aired on DirecTV in the fall, the fifth and final season of Friday Night Lights premiered on NBC on Friday (April 15). Just a quick post to remind y’all to GET OFF YER ASSES AND WATCH IT! I AIN’T KIDDIN’ AROUND, SON! Just getting into the spirit of the show here. So watch! Friday nights at 8pm on NBC! Since it is the end of this wonderful if under-watched series,  and I’m getting a bit nostalgic, I leave you with the opening scene from the very first episode of the show. Enjoy:

Sports Show with Norm MacDonald

April 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Back in September I went to see Norm MacDonald perform stand-up at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. It was funny in the way most things that come out of his mouth are funny, but the show was a bit of a shapeless mess. It had that vaguely depressing Spinal-Tap-reunion-tour feeling of deflated expectations. So imagine my excitement (it looks something like this) when I finally got around to watching the premiere of Sports Show with Norm MacDonald, Norm’s news parody show on Comedy Central.

Norm (we’re on a first-name basis, sorry ladies) sets the tone with his signature deadpan sarcasm in the show’s cold open, starting off with a joke about Cameron Diaz wanting boyfriend Alex Rodriguez to star in her new movie: “You can read my review for the flim in “Norm MacDonald’s Suicide Notes.” Wild applause! Roll credits! Next he moved into a Weekend Update-style segment, taking shots at Barry Bonds and Masters Tournament winner Charles Schwartzel. “After the win, Charles Schwartzel said, ‘Charles Schwartzel? Who the hell is Charles Schwartzel?'” It’s the perfect example of a joke that would fall flat on its face if anyone else tried to deliver it.  Read more…

Seriously Weird Show

March 14, 2011 Leave a comment

When I heard about Heidi Klum’s new Kids Say the Darndest Things-rip-off Seriously Funny Kids, I made a note to watch the premiere. Eight o’clock on Tuesday, February 15, however, found me in my neutral position: on the couch watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on my laptop despite the Rogers cable box staring at me from on top of the TV promising hundreds of channels to suit any mood. At around 9:30 I realized I had missed the show. (Maybe I should come up with a better system than writing things down on scraps of paper and shoving them in my bag. I guess that system’s called an iPhone but I’m fiercely and irrationally loyal to my red-and-black Samsung flip phone; we’re about to celebrate our third anniversary together.) ANYWAY, last night I caught a few minutes of the show during a Sunday evening lull and I was surprisingly repelled. I didn’t expect to particularly like the show; I think it’s safe to say I’m not exactly the its target audience. But I also didn’t expect to react with such visceral disgust.

I saw four segments before I reached my threshold. First, I watched a close-up of a boy, maybe four years old (although I”ll be the first to admit my estimates re: age may be wildly off the mark) with a huge booger hanging off his right nostril. I think the booger eventually popped but I can’t be sure exactly how this transpired because my roommate and I instantly shielded our eyes the moment the child’s mucous overtook about two-thirds of the TV screen. This went on for an agonizing period of time (probably only about a minute but it seemed like hours) before the poor kid was put out of his misery. Read more…