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Wednesday, 22 of September of 2021

Tag » Season Premiere

Mad Men – “The Doorway (Parts 1 and 2)”

“Sometimes you have to do things that aren’t your bag.”

Megan and Don toast the new year.

And cent’anni to you, you Italian slut.

Returning to the kind of pacing to this show is always a little different. After watching a year of shows paced like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and Bunheads makes watching Mad Men a little interesting.

I feel like I say that every year with the first episode. It’s the slow burn of that show combined with the major plot twists masquerading as trivialities, that Downton Abbey syndrome for a show. Trying explaining Mad Men to your parents and dare to make it sound interesting. Do you talk about a man’s slow decline hidden by genius? Ad agencies in the 1960s? Or do you focus on the soapier aspects of the show, even though those are really symptoms of the show’s true premise?

This isn’t to distract from how good the show is. I wouldn’t say it’s a plodding show like The Killing felt to me in the first few episodes. It just takes some time to get back in the saddle.

But then it didn’t take long for me to get on that horse and ride when you start the season with a Dante quote. Oh, Matt Weiner, you devil. I’m going to apologize to you upfront, reader, for the inevitable focus of this review on that quote. I’ll try tell you my thoughts on this, if not all the words in my head, at least their meaning.

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Psych – “Santabarbaratown 2”

“How about a raccoon with a discarded malaria sample?”

Shawn hitches a ride with Lassie to go after the man who shot his father.

Who loves you, baby?

How far we’ve come. In anticipation for the return of Psych for Season 7, I watched the pilot in all it’s low-grade glory.

Oh, it looked terrible and James Roday: so very, very thin. But the comedy, the timing, everything that makes the show great was there and all the jokes that about this being a one day thing makes you chuckle with the rich history of cases in the show. Yeah, Gus. You’ll be back at your pharmaceutical sales job in no time.

I watched it with a friend of mine who’d never seen the show before (!!!) and got to see it with new eyes. It’s amazing how consistent the show has been over the years, even with its different theme-episodes, dalliances with serious material, and contending with keeping Shawn’s arrested development fresh for six seasons. The show is never exhausting (except maybe that pilot — at a true hour instead of forty-two minutes, it feels like a TV movie with ten endings) and the characters are endearing from the start. Even Lassie. Maybe especially Lassie.

I ellipsed time to watch “Santabarbaratown 2” and so much was familiar but there are some stark contrasts we’ve gotten used to over the years. And I’m not just talking about James Roday’s habit of covering his gut with a pillow whenever he sits down.

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The Walking Dead – “Seed”

“After all we been through, we can handle it. I know it.”

Lori confessing her fears to Hershel.

“I’m sorry to tell you this but — you’re having a weather balloon.”

This is a post-Zelda world and we’re just living in it.

I’m never sure if it’s because my adolescence was filled with level-grinding in video games or if our shows are written by the men and women who shared my hobbies, but, our heroes have seemingly assembled into a party complete with their own individual stats, abilities, and weapon upgrades. They fight enemies of increasing difficulties and, now, find themselves traveling into a labyrinth.

This first episode feels different than any of the entire last season, which I look back on a rebuilding year. It was that awkward period where the first season was pretty lame, kind of cheesy, and involved the worst looking explosion this side of a Ringer green screen. The second season was about fixing those mistakes, finding nuance and pathos, while trying to find the right balance of character development and walker killin’. While they worked out some things (Shane’s escalating instability was one of the highlights) and laid to waste others (Lori is the worst and her death would only make Rick seem more sympathetic), they constructed a show closer to the one that the pilot promised: a horror movie with more time to dedicate to building the storyworld and the population within it.

But now we find ourselves in a video game.

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The Good Wife – “I Fought the Law”

“This isn’t about the ’50s, and it’s not about women. It’s about me.”

The Good Wife Title Card s3I don’t know that many dramas do better season premieres than The Good Wife.

It’s not that “I Fought the Law” is necessarily a crazy episode but that it is, now in its fourth season, can effortlessly do these sorts of establishing episodes with not only aplomb but with enough little touches that it didn’t miss a step over the break.

But there’s also a lot of promise in this premiere. It’s par for the course for the series, one that likes to juggle lots of different elements. These elements don’t always pay off (Remember how excited I was about Lisa Edelstein last year?!), but it’s a sign of the show’s ever-increasing ambition that it actively pursues these elements. And I think the plots points presented here, the law firm troubles, Peter’s campaign, Kristen Chenoweth’s reporter, and another new Kalinda subplot, all show promise. Read more »

Doctor Who – “Asylum of the Daleks”

“Well this is new!”

Rory and Amy behind bars on the Dalek spaceship

Mummy and Daddy are fighting.

There’s an interesting discussion to be had with regard to Doctor Who‘s seventh season opener about the relevance of external stories to the main narrative of a show. So many shows today are utilizing the Internet as a tool to draw in new viewers and keep old viewers interested. From behind-the-scenes videos to website-exclusive mini-stories, shows use the Internet to create an extension of the worlds their audience loves, extensions that promise to fill in the gaps that 45-minute-long stories always leave behind.

Yesterday, I happened across BBC America’s Doctor Who marathon and was able to refresh my memory of season six in preparation for the seventh season opener. I also watched “Pond Life”, a five-part series of short webisodes focused on the life of the Ponds while away from the Doctor.

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Breaking Bad – “Live Free or Die”

“Yeah, bitch! Magnets!”

Walt and Jesse cook up a plan to destroy Gus's laptop at the junkyard.

“You’re disturbing my oboe practice.”

Oh. That’s what breathless anticipation for next week feels like.

The finale last year left me a little disappointed. There wasn’t a cliffhanger in the traditional sense since Walt took care of the immediate danger looming over him. The threat was gone. There, seemingly, was nothing left for him to react against.

It turns out there are a lot of loose ends. Without an adversary to occupy his time, he’s left to deal with the repercussions of his lifestyle on his family, what’s left of his work, and his overall freedom. Last year’s “well, what now?” has turned into “Oh. Right. All that.”

After a depressing season of Mad Men that replaced any semblance of a cliffhanger with characters tumbling further down the hole of personal atrophy and irrelevance and a general apathy for the characters on The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones (except for Arya and Tyrion), it’s nice to get this show back to remind us what it feels like to painfully wait a whole week for another episode.

And it looks like Walt’s setting up a pretty breathless season for us.

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White Collar – “Wanted”

“The Suit’s here with Island Suit. It’s a double-barreled suit!”

Maya and Neal gaze at a model of the New York City skyline.

“Wait until you see my Mothra suit.”

On the carpet of his office in his penultimate season, Gregory House stared at the ceiling and considered a decision that would be snap or less than snap just a few months prior.

The issue was that House could either lie to his girlfriend or let a person die. Even to a person with romantic principles, he would seem ethically-justified to betray Cuddy’s trust. But the heart of “Office Politics” is that he is put on a decision and that he’s not really mulling these options as much as he is debating whether his relationship with Cuddy is making him a lesser doctor. It was. House was being a punk.

I bring this to your attention only because White Collar has its own romance, if a little less mushy than Huddy, that raises a question of whether the participants are better or worse for their coupling. The events of last season’s finale raises the stakes but also unabashedly pushes Peter and Neal over the edge from being merely affected by each other to being changed men.

But is it for the better? And when are these crazy kids just going to do it already?

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Pretty Little Liars – “It Happened That Night”

“Last night never happened.”

Hanna, Spencer, Emily, and Aria talk about what Emily remembers from 'that' night.

What this show is all about: schemes, remembering, sleuthing, modesty.

You know, maybe people would stop calling you liars if you stopped doing shady crap.

It’s been five months since these attractive diminutive fibbers unmAsked and committed their bully to Rosewood’s Arkham Asylum but none of them have really learned anything from their trials. Nothing’s really changed for them, other than attempting to convince each other of safety. But not one of them has been able to let go of the trauma and detective work that dominated the last year (it’s only been a story world year?) of their lives.

Well, maybe Aria. But we’ll get to her grossness.

The season premiere is all about the difference between what people say to each other and what they actual think and do. The girls present with the illusion of safety while constantly investigating everything that undermines that illusion. Sadly, their investigations are about the modern-day equivalent of a Scooby-Doo operation.

And something tells me that the new attacks aren’t coming from a person that will blow up in a self-righteous, self-important rage that reveals all the secrets. The girls will actually have to do something this time.

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Food Network Star – “Impossible Beginnings”

“Did I really just say my mom looks like a cookie?”

Food Network StarI didn’t tune in for much of last year’s season of The Next Food Network Star (now named Food Network Star and hereafter referred to as FNS because that’s still a lot to type) because…well…I haven’t the slightest idea. I think it was because something else was on (was I watching The Killing…I don’t know), but I do think one reason was that I felt like, after writing about it during the season before it, I had a pretty solid grasp on the show.

But thanks to promos while watch Chopped All-Stars (I hope Chris Santos has learned a little something about how hard it is on the other side of that chopping block), I was drawn back to check in, at least just for the premiere, Food Network Star. Bouncing off the success of The Voice (and, I guess, The X Factor (or vice versa)), the show has placed each of their contestants under the tutelage of Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, and Alton Brown as they vie for the Food Network contract.

This is a rather interesting decision on their parts. De Laurentiis was originally added to the show to provide something of a mentorship role for the contestants, but she never really seemed to do much mentoring as the contestants struggled to improve their on-camera presence and develop their culinary point of view (CPOV) with not much in the way of assistance. My hope is, with dedicated mentors, that the caliber and growth of the contestants is less frustrating than it was two seasons ago. Read more »

Young Justice – “Happy New Year”

“Soft gig, huh?”

YJInvasionTitleCardI was out of town this weekend, so I missed all my Saturday morning shows. I was fully content, when I arrived home very tired after 6ish hours in a car to get around to these shows after I watched and wrote about The Good Wife finale (which I missed as well). But I received a Twitter DM from someone else who watches Young Justice with the following: “And with one episode, any excitement and interest I had in Young Justice evaporated completely…” (he followed up with “Furious” today).

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am no longer interested (I am less excited) in Young Justice; I am interested in so far as they explain some things, but “Happy New Year” is a decidedly frustrating episode, and I can’t help but feel that it is in part motivated by a desire to sell some new toys. Read more »