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Commentary, Lead Commentary

Week Five TV Contest Results

As an experiment in recommendations, Austin is watching every show that was suggested to him during one weekend. He’ll watch three episodes apiece and write about what he thinks every Sunday on The Film Yap. After he gets through his list, he’ll award TV-related prizes.

 

“Nathan Barley”

Previous Relationship: I had to look this one up. It’s from Christopher Morris, who made one of my favorite recent comedies, “Four Lions”, so that was a plus.

I Watched: Season One, Episodes 1-3: “Episode 1,” “Episode 2″ and “Episode 3.”

And…? This was not what I was expecting. Right away, the jarring visual style is gross and unappealing. It’s obnoxious, vile and empty, yet this is the world of Nathan Barley. Nathan is an idiot whom most idiots find to be cool. The audience’s guide through the satire is “Mighty Boosh” star Julian Barratt, who plays a journalist who despises the “rise of the idiots.”

His frustration ends up being really funny and, like most satires, depressing about how he’s doomed. He doesn’t want his sister to date Nathan and he doesn’t want to cover vapid artists for his magazine. Sometimes, the world is too punk for me, but the show remains smart about what it’s presenting. Also since it’s well established that there are only 15 actors in England, it’s starting to be no surprise to see great comedians like Richard Ayoade and Noel Fielding show up with great bits.

Will I Continue Watching? There are only three episodes left so … yes.

Grade: 4 Yaps

 

“The O.C.”

Previous Relationship: I said “Welcome to the O.C., bitch!” several times in high school because the ad was on a lot.

I Watched: Season One, Episodes 1-3: “Premiere,” “The Model Home” and “The Gamble”

And…? This was recommended by a friend who has been telling me to watch this for some time. I knew of its popularity but never really heard anyone say it was good. Well, I’m not sold yet. There are plenty of questionable moments in judgment throughout the episodes, the child leads are acting very flat and they all talk in that Josh Schwartz (“Chuck”) way of saying their emotions through clichés. Also, Doug Liman directed the first two episodes and it’s visually pretty tame. He had just made “Go” and “The Bourne Identity”; I expected a little style.

And yet there is something there. There’s something bubbling under the surface that suggests hope for more. They treat the teens not just as horny idiots. There is respect towards the characters and their situations. The show has patience to let them interact without entirely relying on the plot. It seems rough now, but I think it needs more time.

Will I continue watching? My friend lent me the season, so I’ll finish it.

Grade: 3 Yaps

 

“Hill Street Blues”


Previous Relationship: I threw the pilot into my Hulu queue and hadn’t gotten around to watching it.

I Watched: Season One, Episodes 1-3 “Hill Street Station,” “Presidential Fever” and “Politics as Usual.”

And…? Wow, that pilot is something. Weeks ago, I compared “ER” to “Homicide” because I was impressed at how real the second-to-second lifestyle was in their buildings. Turns out it’s all because of this show. A lot happens in that opening episode, and it wasn’t until a few more that I was able to get a grasp on its large cast.

It’s a cop show going for a new level of realism in how the cops deal with the small and big cases and the phone calls that never stop. That pilot was risky for them, so maybe that’s why the next two episodes focus on something very heightened. I don’t know how much I really buy the President of the United States wanting to do a fact-finding in their district and Furillo making deals with gangs to let him pass. However, I really appreciate that the story went longer than one episode and all of the characters continue to move forward. It’s clear how inspiring this is to so many shows I love.

Will I continue watching? Its seven seasons are daunting, but I’ll watch a few episodes at a time on Hulu.

Grade: 4 Yaps

 

“Modern Family”


Previous Relationship: I saw the pilot weeks before it aired and was certain it would be cancelled. (I also made this assumption for “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Big Bang Theory.”) After it became incredibly popular, I watched two more episodes a year later and still didn’t like it. Take three?

I Watched: Season One, Episodes 3-5: “Come Fly With Me,” “The Incident” and “Coal Digger.” (ABC aired episodes out of order, so I’m going with airdate.)

And…? Ugh, this show is so broad. There’s not a laugh track but it feels like it sometimes. Most of the jokes are telegraphed and obvious. I hate when the pseudo-documentary style doesn’t make any sense with the plot. The characters are simple and likable, but I’ve seen them before on countless shows.

These episodes were a bit better because the little things rose to the surface. Like I keep bringing up with every family show I review, the ensemble works better when it gets to be together. There, they can use throwaway lines and looks that land because they aren’t focused as the primary jokes. I didn’t laugh during the three episodes, but at least that made me enjoy the company a little more.

“Community” remains the best sitcom on TV right now.

Will I Continue Watching? Nope, but then again, I did say that twice before.

Grade: 2.5 Yaps

 

“Sons of Anarchy”


Previous Relationship: I’ve liked a good majority of FX shows, but somehow I have never seen an episode of this one.

I Watched: Season One, Episodes 1-3 “Pilot,” “Seeds” and “Fun Town.”

And…? This didn’t blow me away. This was one of the shows I was really looking forward to trying because I have heard so many great things. I think I would have liked this more if I hadn’t seen “The Shield.” There are a lot of similarities with SAMCRO and the Strike Team, especially when they are trying to hide their crimes. What “The Shield” didn’t have was a character like Gemma. Katey Sagal plays her like the biker Lady Macbeth, which is fun but it’s already starting to feel a little repetitive.

The opening episodes have a formula to them with just enough internal conflict each time to spice them up. The plot about whether or not the gang should be dealing drugs seems like it can’t go far because I doubt they will decide to go straight and not have a show. A lot of FX shows have a bumpy start and pull around a great first season. Let’s hope there is something new around the corner.

Will I Continue Watching? At least to the end of the season.

Grade: 3.5 Yaps

 

“Cowboy Bebop”


Previous Relationship: Back in high school, a friend showed me the movie. I remember liking it, but I can’t tell you one thing about it now. Maybe the end takes place in a mall-like building? No clue.

I Watched: Season One, Episodes 1-3: “Asteroid Blues,” “Stray Dog Strut” and “Honky Tonk Women.”

And…? Too few shows nowadays recognize the potential for a good theme song. This has one of the best. It’s cool, hip and badass. Remarkably, the show continues that feeling to the end of the episode. In the future, humanity has continued into space but some jobs stay the same. Spike is a bounty hunter working on a ship called Bebop. His hair is ridiculous, his suit is great and he makes smoking look cool. He dresses like a model but feels like a bounty hunter.

I’m not an expert on anime, but this feels like something special. A show about bounty hunters could be very repetitive, but “Cowboy Bebop” is exciting because it has the feeling it could go anywhere. There is a larger story starting to boil where I think its secondary characters will start to reappear, especially the very fun Faye Valentine.

Will I Continue Watching? Yep.

Grade: 4.5 Yaps

 

 

AND I’M FINISHED!

One day before school starts up and I finished my five-week-long marathon of 35 shows and 105 episodes of various lengths. Some were fantastic and some were horrible. Did I learn anything from this? Not especially, but it is a good feeling to get to someone’s recommendation in a timely manner. The conversation afterwards is worth it. I would like to do something like this again but with movies. It’ll probably have to wait until next summer, though.

Now let’s give out some frivolous awards.

 

Best Show: “Cheers”

Almost the Best Shows: “The Prisoner,” “Black Books,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Skins,” “Men of a Certain Age,” “All in the Family” and “Green Wing.”

Worst Show: “Jersey Shore”

Almost the Worst Shows: “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” “The Doodlebops,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “The Dresden Files” and “Lie to Me.”

Funniest Show: “Black Books”

Show I Will Start Watching Again First: “The Prisoner”

Most Surprising (Good Thing): “Men of a Certain Age”

Most Surprising (Bad Thing): “Hogan’s Heroes”

Best Cast (Comedy): “Green Wing”

Best Cast (Drama): “Friday Night Lights”

Best Episodes: “Thomas” – “Skins”; “Writing the President” – “All in the Family”; “Give Me a Ring Sometime” – “Cheers”; and “24 Hours” – “ER”

Worst Episodes: “Managing Mom” – “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”; “Queen for a DeeDee” – “The Doodlebops”; and “The Boone Identity” – “The Dresden Files.”

 

I have a handful of TV Ssasons to give away and I will be contacting the ones who recommended the best shows very soon. Thanks everyone for recommending and reading my write-ups!

Now, everyone heed my recommendations and watch “Arrested Development,” “Breaking Bad,” “Community,” “LOST,” “Mad Men,” “Sherlock,” “Spaced” and “The Wire.” Oh yeah, and this pretty good show called “Doctor Who.”

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