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Saturday, 23 of January of 2021

Negative Track – March 11-18

As we divide our time across several television-themed blogs (approximately, Noel has cofounded or runs about 29 blogs), sometimes we don’t get a chance to properly address the issues that come up in the comments sections of the shows we review. We could but no one would read five paragraphs of comments (Nick is fairly certain people only skim his reviews as it is). So here we have a place for us to address the questions left out of the reviews or new issues that commenters have brought up.

Nick’s calling this the Negative Track for now (like those interludes between tracks on a CD that counted down and could only be found once you played through song — wait, do you remember what a CD is?) but, because the title might be a little esoteric, he’s pretty sure the Monsters will conclave to give it a better title.

This week: Ezra Fitz and the “rapist” label (from Pretty Little Liars, “I’m Your Puppet”), the real serial killer on The Following (from The Following, “Welcome Home”), and “The Farm” backdoor pilot being the bridge between The Office and Parks and Recreation (from The Office, “The Farm”). Noel will likely join next week, when he’s caught up on those other blogs. And maybe this one. GOOD GRIEF, HAS HE NOT WRITTEN A GOOD WIFE REVIEW IN WEEKS? DAMN HIM. (In his defense, the episodes have been pretty just okay.)

Ezra and Aria walk the hallways of Rosewood High.

“Hey, Mr Fitz. What’re you doing for recess?”

Ezra Fitz is Not a Rapist
(Pretty Little Liars, “I’m Your Puppet”)

Ezra Fitz is a divisive character among the fans of Pretty Little Liars since (a) he’s a man on the show and they’re always suspicious but also (b) he seems to disappear at convenient times and, most importantly, (c) he continued to date a sixteen-year old after not only learning that she was sixteen but that she was also a student of hers. To me, that’s objectively and obviously terrible in any ethical perspective. Unless that perspective is NAMBLA. But their ethics are slightly fuzzy.

Because I have a million different ways to call Ezra a child toucher, I tend to lay it on thick in the reviews, hopefully just falling short of actually accusing him of any legal terms. The line was crossed by commenters on the thread this week and Ezra apologist(s) swooped in defend Ezria. Unfortunately, they’re not wrong.

According to Pennsylvania law, the age of consent is 16. Through Aria was probably just barely out of the danger zone when she and Ezra met, she was, technically, of legal age to make the decisions to have sex. Another part of the statute is that, for Ezra to be a rapist in the second degree, he has to be “four years older” than the complainant. Ezra certainly fits into that category (since he “just graduated” from Hollis when they met so he was at least 21) but there’s the last part that’s lets Ezra off scott free.

They didn’t create sacred ground until Aria was probably closer to 18 (if she wasn’t 18 already). Even the Pennsylvania code for educators only has a provision for teachers who “sexually harass or engage in sexual relationships with students” and, by the time they were having naked congresses, he was no longer her teacher.

So, in the end, all you can really accuse Ezra of is being icky. Doesn’t mean I can’t continue to accuse him of fishing for saplings, though.

Carroll looks at a victim he intends to use to teach Roderick.

Well, Carroll certainly looks like a serial killer. But it’s really “who’ve you killer in mass numbers lately” game.

So, Who’s the Real Serial Killer?
(The Following, “Welcome Home”)

Half joking, I opened the review asking about Hardy’s body count since the series began, applauding his low bar for determining when to ask questions and when to pull the trigger (it’s almost always pull the trigger). But when the a question was asked in the comments for how many bodies actually hit the floor, the number is a little disturbing.

Derpanos count is pretty accurate. He dropped the five red shirts at Fake Fight Club, Rick went down after a couple blasts. Hank was a quick decision and a surprisingly easy kill. And then, presumably, there was Marsden, the officer protecting Emma. So that brings him to 8. There are also his casualties: Jordy, David, Paul. Jordy and David committed suicide out of love for Carroll so I don’t think they can go on either count. Paul may still be alive (he was last time we saw him) so that’s probably not a kill.

Carroll, in his career, is accused of killing 14, which put him in the slammer. Roderick admitted to killing two of those girls so that takes him down to 12. Then he also killed Sarah Fuller (finishing the job) and poor, stupid Charlie in an act of seppuku. Based on the information we have so far, Carroll is up to 14.

Hardy 8. Carroll 14. You can say that Hardy had legitimate reasons for opening fire on everyone since he or someone else was in imminent danger. I feel like he’ll have a hard time convincing the grieving families that it was necessary to pump their lost family member full of lead rather than seeing what would happen if he yelled “FBI” and let them scatter but live. Maybe he has just as much faith in Parker as we do.

Sibling togetherness! Followed by people stoned and/or pooping.

Sibling togetherness! Followed by people stoned and/or pooping.

“The Farm” — An Episode of The Office or a Parks and Recreation Clone?
(The Office, “The Farm”)

A good point was made that “The Farm” felt more like it belonged in Parks and Recreation than it did in The Office (something that might have been made more apparent by the ridiculously stupid B-story). It’s an interesting accusation, especially since Parks and Recreation was so often accused of being an Office clone during the first season.

Parks and Recreation got itself together in the second season and started to differentiate itself (much in the same way The Office US did from The Office UK). It leveraged its small town community sentiment and made something twee. It also leveraged the television charisma of Amy Poehler and took her in a different direction than The Office took Michael Scott. She wasn’t going to be the bumbling savant who lucks into his branch growing sales but the calculated, intelligent, amazingly capable leader who breeds a familial society by sheer force of will. The Fall Festival episodes really set that tone for the rest of the series. It might be twee at times but its saccharine sentiment is was sets it apart from The Office and its basic camaraderie compounded by eight years of building through chemistry.

The same feelings that Parks and Recreation made their bread and butter, “The Farm” hoped to establish for the (now failed) pilot. Everything from the surrogate father to the sibling relationship to the rural jam session on a porch at dusk begs to have some sort of nostalgia or twee or something that’s very much akin to what Parks and Recreation (maybe even Parenthood) are doing.

Clearly, this didn’t work for NBC brass for whatever reason (it’s hard to pass judgement on the pilot itself without having seen the whole thing, just the reduced version they used to fold into this episode) but you have to wonder if they thought that they have that twee base covered or if they think that they don’t need another show that underperforms like those shows do (compared to the other networks).

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