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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.”

 

Enjoy!

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:

Don Draper, Advertising, and Free Will

January 3, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s a little surprising that Mad Men hasn’t touched on one of the more famous campaigns in popular advertising: the Cola Wars. While most people over the age of 20 remember the Pepsi/Coca Cola rivalry as a phenomenon of the 1980s and ’90s, the two companies were battling it out for marketplace supremacy long before the Pepsi Challenge. Pepsi’s “For Those Who Think Young” campaign began in the early ’60s as a way of tapping into the appeal of a burgeoning counterculture that held youthfulness as its most valuable asset. Thomas Frank writes in The Conquest of Cool, “this new species of marketing is concerned with nothing other than the construction of consumer subjectivity, as manufacturers and advertisers attempt to call group identities into existence where before there had been nothing but inchoate feelings and common responses to pollsters’ questions.” The Cola Wars of the 1960s represented a new era of marketing aimed at the symbolism of a product as opposed to the product itself. As business historian Richard S. Tedlow notes, “There was no such thing as the Pepsi Generation until Pepsi created it.”

Tedlow may not exist in the world of Mad Men, but his ideas echo throughout the series. In the pilot episode, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” Don’s new client, Rachel, admits she’s never been in love. “What you call love,” he shoots back, “was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.” This line tells us two things about Don: he is profoundly cynical about love and he believes that advertising has the power to not only evoke but create the feelings that most people associate with love.  Read more…

Friday Night Lights S05E05: Texas Forever. Forever

December 3, 2010 Leave a comment

For the first time all season, I was really happy with Friday Night Lights this week. I think many factors contributed to my state of contentment. Firstly, Coach Taylor offered his team some pretty powerful speeches this week. “Success is not a goal, it’s a byproduct,” he tells the Lions who are hard at practice. That’s golden, right? While it’s nothing like his speech at the end of the pilot episode, I feel confident that coach is back. Not only is he back, but he is in it to win it.

This week saw the East Dillon Lions facing South King High, a team which they had forfeited a game to last season. Coach T wants to play fair, but the refs are making it difficult. The Lions get aggressive and they come out with a win thanks to the efforts of Vince and Luke who are both looking to go to TMU. Vince is being pressured by TMU recruits, but both he and his dad promise to let Coach take the reigns on Vince’s football and college future. However, after the win, Vince’s father seems to be getting caught up in his pride and I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a verbal agreement without his son’s consent. This wouldn’t be cool, but hey, at least he’s off the drugs.

Not only is Coach back in top form as a team leader, but he and Tami also seemed to connect- from a distance- for a brief moment. Both of them were drunk, but if alcohol is what it takes to get these guys to realize how lucky they are to have one another, so be it. I miss the days when they would sit on their sofa, each with a glass of wine in hand as they discussed the mundane events of their respective days. Now we have to watch Tami whining to another teacher about how much she misses Julie. Yawn. At least this week we weren’t forced to watch Tami trying to save a student (been there done that). There was also no Becky! Even though I’m warming up to her, her absence was noted and appreciated.

Read more…

My Tuesday Night Dilemma

November 23, 2010 Leave a comment

The Good Wife vs. Law and Order SVU. What’s a girl to do? Each Tuesday, the hours leading up to 10pm are spent sorting out my internal struggle over which show to watch on air, and which show to stream online later.

Some Tuesdays, the decision is easier than others. When it’s been a rough day, I like to watch Law and Order SVU. I make this decision not just to be reminded that my life’s woes pale in comparison to those of the victims in each episode, but also so that I can be comforted by my two favourite detectives, Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson. Now in its 11th season, the show is so formulaic that it can’t go wrong. Sure some episodes are better than others, and at times the show can feel like it’s becoming repetitive, but more often than not, I feel satisfied by 11pm. The other reason I used to opt to watch SVU over The Good Wife, was because the commercial breaks during SVU offer the audience some time to ponder and predict possible outcomes.

However, this season, The Good Wife has stepped up and become more intriguing and suspenseful, making the usually dreaded commercial breaks almost necessary. With each passing week, we are slowly and subtly finding out more about the characters. There have also been some great additions to the cast and some phenomenal guest appearances. Scott Porter of Friday Night Lights, has joined the show as a corrupt investigator working for the law firm, which has created great tension for the owners of the firm and the other investigator, Kalinda. My favourite guest appearance on any TV show this season has to be Michael J. Fox’s portrayal of a conniving lawyer who attempted to use his disability to win over the jury. Fox’s decision to take on this role says something about the greatness of the show since he rarely takes on acting gigs any more. And word is that he’ll be back later on in the season to stick it to Alicia since she won their last court room battle. Read more…