Bit of a shorter post this week. I generally write this over the course of a week and just have to do a little touch up on Monday to post. Well I had a Cultural Anthropology midterm to study for so my TV watching was handicapped. The upside is I did manage to get my essay on The Dark Knight v1.0 done and should be up by Wednesday at the latest.
- In what will most likely be the least shocking news of the week HBO has renewed The Newsroom and True Blood for a second and sixth season respectively. Newsroom is at a low point in the year for TV and the Sorkin brand is something HBO would like to keep.
- Psycho TV series Bates Motel is skipping the pilot process with A&E ordering a 10 episode season. The show will be a prequel to Psycho.
Sports Night - S1 Ep01-02 “Piolt” “The Apology” NETFLIX
There isn’t shit on TV for me on Monday nights. I enjoy Americas Got Talent as much as American Idol, which means once the auditions are over and the good people are discovered it no longer interests me. So I turn to Netflix to fill my need. With Newsroom I’ve been reading many references to how it’s a lot like Sports Night (or any Sorkin work really). My love for Sorkin comes more from his film works than TV. So with that I begin an odyssey through Sorkin's first TV series. It’s been interesting watching Sports Night since it aired from 1998-2000 making me between the ages of 7-10. Man technology was big and bulky back than.
It took me about 10 minutes for me to really get into Sports Night. The dialog wasn’t really snappy or all that fast. Walking and talking was replaced by standing and talking. It also had a laugh track. That last part was the oddest part of the show. Non-diegetic laughter just seems so weird to me now a days, more so on a Sorkin show. Sports Night is a comedy but most of the comedies I watch now forgo the laugh track. After the first 10 minutes passed things started feeling more Sorkin-like.
Sports Night follows the people who make a the titular show, a SportsCenter knock off of sorts. Hosted by best buds Daniel "Dan" Rydell(Josh Charles) and Casey McCall(Peter Krause).It’s kinda creepy that Peter Krause hasn’t seemed to age. McCall has been on a dry spell for a while now and the network (CSC) is seriously looking at replacing him. His coldness on screen is due to him falling out of love with sports and getting a divorce from his wife, barely seeing his son. By the end of “Piolt” his faith is restored and is back!
Felicity Huffman is automatically enjoyable as Executive Producer Dana Whitaker. That can’t be said for the character of Jeremy Goodwin(Joshua Malina) who is introduced as some sort of sports super nerd completely with quirks and nasally voice.
Structurally “Pilot” was a bit weird. There was the undercurrent of drama with the Network trying to fire Casey but other that the episode didn’t really have a big connecting arc it was just character interactions. This is until the last third where the Casey plot comes to ahead.
“The Apology” doesn't have any of these oddities, quickly introducing us to the problem of the episode: Dan gave an interview and came out for marijuana use and the network is none to happy about it and want him to Apologies. “To Who?” Dan asks. Doesn't matter just do it.
For a 22 minute show time is at a premium so the subplot of Jeremy and Casey arguing over editing down a baseball game highlight from 8 minutes to 30 seconds. Jeremey is much less annoying and kind of enjoyable. He is a guy who LOVES sports in a totally obsessive possibly unhealthy manner. Only one sport gets me going but that level of obsession is something I get.
It’s so weird that even if the editing for the apology scene is no different from any other dramatic monologue it remains effective. I guess that’s why the tricks haven’t changed. Right now the character of Dan is a bit of a mystery compared to Casey and the others and the story about his dead brother came out of nowhere but was done well.
I’m going to do 2 episodes a week but I’m not going to literally wait a week to watch these. I’ll watch 2 -> write -> repeat and throw up here.
C, C+ - With the utter lack of interesting TV out there for me this is pretty watchable. It is all up on Netflix Instant so give it a watch.
Dallas S1 Ep 05 “Truth and Consequences”
Another episode of Dallas ends and in a change I am now interested in the characters beyond J.R. and Son. The actors who portray the characters may not be the greatest but with the sale of Southfork to J.R. they are finally doing stuff.
Clearly cutting Bobby and J.R. as the two ends of the good and evil spectrum is a bit too extreme. This is a soap opera though so extremes are to be expected. Clearly defining who is and angel and devil will be a interesting way to measure where their sons end up. Christopher betrayed by his wife is ready to stoop to his uncles levels to get Southfork back. Cousin John Ross III is trying to stay above his fathers dirty ways...even though he was complicit in them.
Since the start of the show I’ve been waiting for Bobby’s wife Ann to make a big reveal about her past life. Nothing is revealed but we meet her ex Harris Ryland, played by Mitch Pileggi who does slimey very well. He brings up the soul claiming it can’t change. It will be interesting to see if he is proven correct as Christopher and John Ross III go their separate ways.
The biggest joy from this show appears to be taking a bit of a leave. With Southfork firmly in his hands J. R. gets out of town leaving his son in charge. John Ross will finally get to learn the oil buisness from his daddy, by being thrown into the deep end. For all his talk about how he dosen’t want to be J. R. son he keeps working with him.
Not all the characters have their hooks in me just yet. The sub plot with Rebecca trying to get Christophers trust back just seems kind of flat. I blame the actress. Also this could be due to a love of Game of Thrones but the her and her brother not being sexually involved just seems like a wasted opportunity.
A lot went on in this episode, a page has been turned.
C+ Character interest me now huzzah
Newsroom S1 Ep03 "The 112th Congress"
Sorkin does a clip show! Kind of. Instead of sticking to a single event to build the drama around we jaunt across 6 months until we land on November 2, 2010 the night of the midterm elections. All the while Charlie is being grilled by shadowy people in a bored room.
New Night 2.0 is up and running and in an attempt to make amends for becoming the “Jay Leno of News” Will offers an apology. From then on it’s news time all the time. Over the next 6 months News Night goes after the Tea Party for being A) sounding crazy in their lack of knowledge and B) Being quietly funded by old moneyed interests which is diametrically opposed to their grass roots billing. These corporate interests Koch Industries happen to do business with News Night home ACN and when the candidates win in the midterms now have a good deal of influence.
This is making ACN CEO Leona Lansing(Jane Fonda) uneasy, so she along with her son, that ratings guy grill Charlie for the majority of the episode. In the previews they were selling Leona Lansing as the big evil CEO wanting to rain in Will and MacKenzie fact based messaging. This isn’t as black and white. Yes she wants Will to shut up about the Tea Party but her business reasons are understandable she is a businesswoman as such money, money, money.
Having Will go after the Tea Party for the better part of a half hour was a bit much, just a tad to easy.. It was the right call, allow the show to have some sort of shadowy force that wants to keep them down. It’s better than having the drama purely be centered around their relationships.
This shadowy drama is good since I really don’t care about the Will-MacKenzie will they won’t they dynamic. It makes sense now that last week tried to put Will over as loveable but angry. Why else would be mad at him for this weeks actions? This episode loveable but angry is coming off as petty revenge maneuvering to embarrass Mac, by going out with random good looking smart girl of the week. All of their interactions are governed by Will being the hurt ex and Mac constantly trying to prove how sorry she is while being his part time boss. Their relationship needs more range than passive agressive.
The same can’t be said for the Jim-Maggie-Don triangle of crap. It’s kinda cute seeing the awkward Jim quasi court Maggie while being firmly in the friendzone. Luckily that seems to be placed on the back burner for a while, just waiting to pop up at a season finale. I don’t always hate the will they won’t they dynamic, what made Ross and Rachel funny was they would go off and have a relationship and circle back to each other. Jim needs to go find a girlfriend not named Maggie. Everyone in that show does and appear to be generally happy with mystery partner X.
Overall I really enjoyed the structure of the episode but it went too far into real fake news commentary world. Commentary on real events is fine but I’m not watching for old news, I’m watching for the characters and right now they aren’t all grabbing me as much as I’d like.
C Cool structure would like to see it used in the future but not at the extent of character.