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2014 RANDOM TV THOUGHTS


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So intriguing that he got top billing...

 

 

Does you name being first on the list really count as top billing when the picture of Mr. T is literally 200 X as big the picture of you?

 

Max Gail was great on BARNEY MILLER. He disappeared so completely afterward that I think there was a rumor (pre internet so no one knew anything about anything) that he had joined a commune or something.  I think he just quit acting to be with his kids and be an activist.

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I think ORPHAN BLACK has finally disappeared up its own ass, which is too bad. The mythology was always the weakest part of the show, and this season, they went into mythology overload, with every episode larded with reveals and twists, to the point that they ceased to mean anything. Topside? Male clones? WHOOPDEEFUCKINGDOO.

I'd say just give me more of Maslany acting against herself, but then we might just get more stuff like the transgender clone and the EVERYTHING IS AWESOME AND NOTHING BAD IS EVER GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN dance party from the finale.

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My wife and I are in a binge-watching phase right now.  Just polished off TRUE DETECTIVE (she loved it, I am...conflicted and the more I think about it the more I think it can only really be called great is as a series of visual poems disconnected from story).

 

I gave up on PENNY DREADFUL very early on.  It was so by-the-numbers I couldn't sit through it.

 

I have a list of the most promising candidates and I was wondering if anyone can definitively dissuade me from any of them, or move any of the lesser-known ones higher up the list?  Presented here in what I think is my own preferable order, but based on wildly different amounts of info (I know way more about why DEADWOOD is worth a binge, for instance, than I know about BANSHEE or THE FALL).

 

So are any of these dreadful enough to remove from the list?  Any near the bottom that should be near the top?

 

Sherlock
Orphan Black
Fargo
Deadwood
The Americans
Hannibal - (note: I love Fuller, and the only reason this isn't up top is that I can't get season 2 yet anywhere, at least not legally and free)
The Fall
Banshee
Broadchurch
Finish Homeland (blech...left off middle of last season...blech)
Top of the Lake
Spiral

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Sherlock

Worth watching, but I'd probably knock it down the list. The quality varies a substantial amount from triptych to triptych, and even within, as evidenced by the second "season," that had the best single episode of the show, followed by maybe the worst, and then a finale that will depend largely on how you feel about the show's take on Moriarty.

Orphan Black

Immensely bingable. In fact, after binging the first season and then watching the second season live, I think binging is probably the best way to watch this show. Less time to consider how asinine most of the mythology/conspiracy elements are.

Fargo

WATCH IMMEDIATELY. Much better than the overrated TRUE DETECTIVE.

The Americans

This is a weird show in that I've liked, occassionally loved, every episode I've ever seen, but at the same time, I don't feel particularly compelled to watch EVERY episode, despite it being heavily serialized. I've probably seen 10-12 episodes total of the first two seasons. Might work better as a binge. Watch and report back.

Hannibal - (note: I love Fuller, and the only reason this isn't up top is that I can't get season 2 yet anywhere, at least not legally and free)

Whenever season 2 becomes available, DROP EVERYTHING AND WATCH IMMEDIATELY.

Top of the Lake

Excellent. And pretty short, so it's an easy one ot knock off the list.

Finish Homeland (blech...left off middle of last season...blech)

Don't waste your time.

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For some reason I have this weird temptation to start with the shortest ones first...like how people tell you to get out of debt by paying off the credit cards with the smallest amount first, to get them down to $0 and cancel them so you have fewer creditors, and then start on the ones with the huge amounts. 

 

But that is utter madness.

 

My wife is pushing for Sherlock because she's been cheating on me with every swinging-dick British crime show she can find.  I caught her with White Chapel the other night and I think she's got a regular meet-up with Inspector Lewis.

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DEADWOOD will put hair on your chest. The one caveat to binging that show, though, is that you will frequently have to rewind in order to understand all the dialogue.

 

I am still at the end of season 1/beginning of season 2. At some point, they interwove like three different storylines and the dialogue threw me the fuck off. I took a little break and now have to rewatch the season 1 finale.

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I think Orphan Black is a bad show with a great performance. At some point, Maslany isn't enough to make up for everything else.

I thought Broadchurch was fine, but I don't understand how it was a cultural phenomenon.

I think the best show on your list is probably Top of the Lake, although the ending is a bit lackluster (not unlike Broadchurch, actually). I would even go so far as to say that Peter Mullan puts in a better performance than anyone else on the list.

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I think Orphan Black is a bad show with a great performance. At some point, Maslany isn't enough to make up for everything else.

 

 

I was going to say this in the actor/actress replacement thread, but this seems like the right place after only seeing a couple episodes. I can say that the producers should either put her resume at the end credits every show or the show itself is some convoluted, high budget audition tape for Maslany to get mainstream roles. It's one or the other. I am still gonna try to binge watch in the coming weeks, but I have a firm idea what I'm in for.

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Fargo is okay but it's definitely not better than True Detective. C'mon.

 

My impression on having just finished TD, is that what was great about it was mostly what Cary Fukunaga could salvage out of the mash served up by Nic Pizzolatto.

 

There was so much wrong with the writing that kept getting worse as the show went on.  But I still loved watching because of the direction and acting.  It was absolute visual poetry.  Word-wise?  It was soup.

 

I was wondering if I should look for a TD thread to read through, and it occurred to me one of the biggest problems with Pizzolatto's writing exactly what would take the fun out of such a thread...is how he can't just let people's actions be the evidence of their (or his) beliefs.  Like, how we could endlessly debate what was going on in Walter White's mind in BREAKING BAD, or how Tony Soprano's actions add up to David Chase making a statement about people.

 

But, in like practically every single scene Pozzilatto was so proud of his prose that he couldn't let us have that fun.  His characters had to scream in our faces "This is what I believe about the world, and here is why I believe it...and oh, by the way, this is what a therapist might say about why I believe this and here is how I would react to that!!!!"

 

Jesus, give us some room to think about stuff too, man.  It's like he wanted to take the auteur idea all the way into my living room and replace me, the viewer too by having his own characters provide a running analysis of what they were doing. 

Every character was thus waaaay too smart and analytical.  I was willing to follow Rust being like that...and at first I was willing to go along with Marty being coincidentally a pretty emotionally astute guy.  But then when Marty's wife would break out these fantastic takes on who he was and what he was doing...and then some random biker would start doing the same thing.  and then his wife's mother would just totally nail what was going on in someone's head...and everyone would do this with the same voice.  Nic Polizzatto's voice and with these beautiful perfect turns of phrase he just couldn't bear to leave in his journal.

You can't write every character to be you, Nic.  Pick one!

I would remember how on THE SOPRANOS, when Tony and Carmela would fight, they would be bad at it...like real people.  And we would be left to figure them out on our own by reading their actions and recognizing the patterns of how they would miscommunicate their feelings.  Likewise, we could find deep symbolic meaning in the character of Walter White because of what he did and how he carried himself.  But we had to work to get to it, to think about his reactions.  Vince Gilligan didn't just provide us a running philosophical treatise on who every character is.

 

 That's just the start.  Don't get me started on just how many important scenes were literally ripped off of other recent, really well-known shows or how cliche the overall thing ended up being.  

But my God was it beautiful and haunting and thought-provoking to watch and listen to. Fukunaga and McConaughey/Harrelson were just soaring above the material.

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Fargo is okay but it's definitely not better than True Detective. C'mon.

 

Every character was thus waaaay too smart and analytical.  I was willing to follow Rust being like that...and at first I was willing to go along with Marty being coincidentally a pretty emotionally astute guy.  But then when Marty's wife would break out these fantastic takes on who he was and what he was doing...and then some random biker would start doing the same thing.  and then his wife's mother would just totally nail what was going on in someone's head...and everyone would do this with the same voice.  Nic Polizzatto's voice and with these beautiful perfect turns of phrase he just couldn't bear to leave in his journal.

 

 

"I can see your soul at the edges of your eyes. It's corrosive, like acid" is when the show became what everyone not watching thought it was.

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Fargo is okay but it's definitely not better than True Detective. C'mon.

 

My impression on having just finished TD, is that what was great about it was mostly what Cary Fukunaga could salvage out of the mash served up by Nic Pizzolatto.

 

There was so much wrong with the writing that kept getting worse as the show went on.  But I still loved watching because of the direction and acting.  It was absolute visual poetry.  Word-wise?  It was soup.

 ...

Fukunaga and McConaughey/Harrelson were just soaring above the material.

This was pretty much my take on it throughout the TD thread: Phenomenal directing, phenomenal lead acting...and writing that just got worse and worse as the series went on.

I don't want to get too much into it outside the thread, though.

FARGO is a lot better.

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