January 2017 TV

Shows I kept current with: 8 out of 10 Cats, 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Jane the Virgin, No Tomorrow, Only Connect, Riverdale, Taboo, The Good Place, The Graham Norton Show

Non-current shows watched: Crashing, Galavant, Only Connect, The Night Of

Pilots tried: Chewing Gum, Frontier

Other: The Big Fat Quiz of Everything

I guess I also watched the first episode of Sherlock season 4, but then realized, “wait, I super don’t give a shit about this show” and did not finish the season. Apparently the ending—was it a series (UK) finale or series (US) finale—was very controversial?

 

Crashing (UK)

Note that this is the sitcom on Channel 4 about a group of twenty-somethings living as property guardians in a hospital and not the Pete Holmes vehicle (which I probably won’t watch, because ugh Pete Holmes and ugh TV shows starring comedians as slightly less successful versions of themselves, you know?)

It’s sort of similar to Girls or Please Like Me, in that it captures some very specific and very generational brands of obnoxiousness in the writing. E.g. Lulu, the girl (woman?) who is super in love with her own ~quirkiness –she carries around a ukulele, wears rompers, etc.–and assumes that she’s the most interesting person in the room at all times. Or Anthony, who works at a restaurant where the customers are forbidden from using utensils. Crashing is a bit more cartoonish and wacky than those shows, I guess, due to the high-concept premise and more traditional sitcom-y pacing/hijinks per episode. But it has some interesting relationship dynamics and was certainly compelling enough for me to watch all six episodes in one go. One hopes there will be another season, but I don’t know how likely it is, given that Phoebe Waller-Bridge (the writer and one of the stars) is in the midst of blowing up, with Fleabag and the as-yet untitled Han Solo film.

 


Galavant

I watched the first two episodes of this back when it premiered, but was not impressed and gave it up. Now, having watched the whole series, I’m…still not impressed. I probably made the right call in 2015. But I guess I wanted to have it in my back-pocket for the next time I feel compelled to make a point about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in a comments section, in case I need to provide more context on the history of musical TV series? And there was, of course, the hope that it would shape up over the course of its two seasons and get somewhere closer to the Robin Hood: Men in TightsThe Princess BrideA Knight’s TaleEver After, etc. type of semi-historical/fantasy/comedy mashup that it clearly wants to be.

But yeah, the songs are mostly bland and forgettable; sure, it’s impressive that they managed to come up with multiple original songs per episode for two seasons (although it’s not like they were 22-episode seasons), but it would be a lot more impressive if any of them actually left an impression–the theme song is catchy, but that might just be the power of repetition–and if so many of them weren’t just kind of tired parodies. A lot of the humor (sung and spoken) is pretty lame—this is a show where saying  “[insert whatever] is The Worst” is used as a running joke/callback humor, as if that’s a phrase unique to Galavant and not, like, super common in colloquial speech? And the characters are either too cartoonish or poorly defined to get super invested in–which might be fine if they had better jokes or better songs, but: nope.

Still, it had a few moments and it was sort of comforting–or at least not distressing–viewing. I’m glad that they tried, anyway–it’s good to have some variety, so that not every half-hour sitcom is centered around the dating misadventures of a group of four to six 20- or 30-something friends in contemporary LA, New York, or Chicago.


The Night Of

Sure, why not. I basically liked this, but I’m probably glad I wasn’t watching this and following the reviews/theories/reactions when it initially aired. A few things:

  • Riz Ahmed’s face = great
  • If this had aired a few years ago or on a different network, then you would feel confident going in that Naz’s name would be cleared by the end and all would be well, but in the current Prestige Television landscape, it really did seem possible that he would remain in prison at the end of the series. So that was stressful.
  • The criticism of Chandra’s plotline–and it seems there was a lot of it–seems unfair to me and perhaps rooted in people’s desires for Perfect Strong Female Characters rather than Human (and thus Flawed) Female Characters. Maybe she wasn’t that well-written in general, but I feel like Eczema Detective (a.k.a John Stone, apparently) was the only character we got a deep sense of anyway (since I guess the structure of the show relies on us not really being sure what Naz’s deal was before the titular Night). I don’t know that we knew enough about her to see kissing Naz as out of character; it was a dumb choice for her, as a person, to make, but right, the whole premise of the show is that an otherwise smart person may make one (or a series) of dumb, impulsive choices that can ruin their life. She’s stressed, he’s hot, the lawyer/client relationship is weird and intimate and her angle (or the angle that’s been imposed on her) has been to get him to bond with her through race, age, etc., so it doesn’t seem like a completely random event–that is, I don’t think it was necessarily bad writing. But sure, because the whole “competent woman succumbing to unprofessional emotions because women, am I right?” plot-line is the type of thing we see so often, handled poorly, in TV and movies, we’re inclined to see any instance of that plot-line as automatically sexist or cliched or whatever; I do get that.
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