Tuesday, July 11, 2006

TV Tues - Cheer Up You Melancholy Dane

The summer wasteland is slowly filling up, as Monk and the Stargate franchise return to the air, but the 4th of July weekend still left plenty of time for tons o' TV on DVD.

Last Comic Standing: Was very disappointed to see Joey Gay go, although I have to admit it was one of his weaker sets. I do wonder if he would have done better if it had just been one on one against Michelle; I like to think that most of the people who voted for Chris Porter would have voted for Joey if Chris hadn't been there.

Felicity Season 1: One of the fun things about watching older shows is seeing all of the familiar faces who weren't familiar at the time; for example Donal Logue as the O.C.D. student at the library and Jane Kaczmarek as Julie's birth-mom, not to mention an uncredited (and lineless) Bradley Whitford as her birth-dad. It's also fun rewatching the episodes and seeing some of the entertaining plotlines that I'd totally forgotten about, such as Sensa the Russian student and her over-the-top family. Of course, the flipside is having to sit through the painful storylines again, like Julie's search for her mom or the "Todd Mulcahy gets hit by a bus" thing.

And can I just take a moment to say how depressing it is to me that the "person steps into the street and gets blindsided by a bus/semi/whatever" trope has actually become a horribly predictable cliché at this point? Okay then, moving on.

Something else which came flooding back to me as I was watching the DVDs was just how much I dislike the character of Ben; shallow, self-absorbed and self-destructive, there's really not much in his character that I find appealing. His last minute decision in the season finale that he really was in love with Felicity ticked me off the first time, and ticked me off just as much this time around; character wise it feels like a symptom of the "only wants what he can't have" syndrome, and writing wise it feels like "oh, we need a good season cliffhanger, what can we do to make that happen?" Either way, it put likeable characters through a lot of pain for no good reason, and was a big contributor to why I never wanted Felicity and Ben to wind up together.

Felicity Season 2: Yes, that's right, I got Season 2 from Cap'n Cluck as well. I'm 8 episodes in, and while there are some things which are still highly enjoyable (anything with Elena, Richard, Sean, Javier, Meghan, and Noel (well, as long as Ruby's not around)), the lightning speed at which Ben and Felicity's relationship implodes still frustrates me. Cluckity and I were actually talking about that not too long ago, how TV shows will tease you with a couple, finally get them together, and then have them split up within an ep or two. It seem quick when there's a week between episode, and even quicker when you're watching on DVD. That complaint aside, the show does once again capture a seminal college experience: the video game addiction.

Newsradio Season 4: While I don't think this was the strongest season of the show (think that honor belongs to Season 3), this season does contain some of my favorite episodes. Highlights include Jimmy's twice translated biography; Lisa's catalog of crimes which were all somehow academically related; Bill's political songwriting; Bill's day as the boss; Dave and Lisa fighting over who has to be the boss; and Lauren Graham as the unstable efficiency expert. I'm still torn over whether to purchase the Phil Hartman-less Season 5 if and when it comes out; maybe it will look better to me now than when it first aired.

Slings and Arrows Season 1: Hilarious Canadian TV show about a highly dysfunctional theater company struggling to put on a production of Hamlet in the face of the death of a director, a replacement director who hates the theater, scheming from an opportunistic corporate sponsor, a Hollywood action star trying his hand at Shakespeare, and a new artistic director who once had a nervous breakdown in the middle of the same play and whose sanity is now hanging by a thread. The show stars Paul Gross of Due South who is once again playing a character plagued by a ghost from his past, only this time instead of a straight-laced mountie haunted by his father, he's playing the mentally unstable artistic director whose visions of the recently deceased director may or may not be hallucinations. Also co-stars Rachel McAdams as a fresh-faced new addition to the company and former Kid in the Hall Mark McKinney (who was also one of the show's writers) as the theater manager whose idea of high art is Mama Mia! Great, great show, I can't wait for season 2 to make its way to DVD. Now if I could only get the theme song "Cheer Up Hamlet" out of my head.

Monk: I haven't watched Monk regularly for quite a while now, but the prospect of seeing Stanly Tucci doing his best Monk impression was too good to pass up. The scene where Monk tries to distract the unbalanced Tucci and instead winds up distracting himself as well was probably the high point of the episode for me.

Psych: I really enjoyed this latest addition to the comedy/mystery genre. I liked the two main characters, and thought Corbin Bernsen's role as the disapproving dad adds a nice dynamic, but at first blush the supporting cast of police officers came across as either pretty bland or pretty annoying; the skeptical cop was already grating on my nerves. Here's hoping they can infuse some entertaining personalities into the characters soon.

Venture Bros.: How can I not love a show which has its main villain reciting the cheesy "Can you read my mind?" poem from the first Superman movie to his unconscious ex-girlfriend as he flies over a shopping mall? Answer: I can't not love it.

The Closer: Although I had to stretch my disbelief nigh unto the breaking point to accept that Flynn and Provenza would leave a dead body in Provenza's garage just for a baseball game, it was worth it just to see Brenda Lee Johnson on the warpath.

Saved: While watching last night's ep, The Anti-Cap'n remarked "Why is it the Mormon kid gets all the morally questionable patients?" I hadn't thought about it before, but it's true; all of Wyatt's cases seem to be there for pure drama or pure comedy, but the other crew's cases mostly contribute to the fish out of water syndrome; now that I'm aware of that, it's probably going to bug me.


Cap'n Cluck said...

Speaking of familiar faces in Felicity, did you notice who does the voice-over of Sally? It is Janine Garafalo(sp?). You may never see her face, but I always found it interesting that she played Sally.

Ahh, the video game addiction. One of my favorite Felicity scenes is centered around that. Ben telling Noel to punch him in the face! It's classic!

Have a Cluckity Cluck Cluck Day and a bunch of mohoohoo!

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Yeah, I had remembered before starting that Janene was the voice of Sally from back in the day, so that wasn't as big of a surprise as the others were.

The Ben/Noel fight ranks as one of my favorite things ever on the series; was that season 3 or 4?

Cap'n Cluck said...

I thought it was season 2. It is in Noel and Elana's apartment. Maybe you haven't gotten to it yet.

Have a Cluckity Cluck Cluck Day!