...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Moar teevee!

I'm going to do a little postee here about the shows I'm following, but first two non-TV items.

1.)  Today is the first annual World Whisky Day, to which I say......Really?  I appreciate the whisky enthusiasm, but every day is World Whisky Day, people.

2.) Speaking of things that are important every day:  Peanut Butter.  I've been doing some gradual peanut butter tasting recently.  Yesterday I opened up a jar of 365's Organic Unsweetened Peanut Butter and OM NOM NOM NOM!  What I mean to say is OM NOM NOM NOM!

Actual photo of me.
So, back to television.  Here are some series I'm watching:

Mad Men - (NO SPOILERS HERE, Kristen is out of the country and will miss the first two episodes.)  I'm fully caught up with this one for the first time.  And it can do little wrong in my book.  It's probably the one drama series I enjoy to the point that I've abandoned any hope of objective research.

Even the best of series have some filler (you know, filler, the stuff they pack into burgers, meatballs, and crab cakes to make the dish seem more physically substantial while not contributing any nutrition whatsoever?).  Mad Men seems to have precious little filler.  What seems like piffle keeps coming around to have character or plot significance.

Each episode is so open and the conflict so gradual, that one often doesn't realize the landslide that has happened until the season is over.  And OH MY GOD THEY KILLED DON DRAPER!!!!  Just kidding, KP.  They killed Betty.  O_o

Awake - (POSSIBLE SPOILERS?)  Here's a new one that I'm all caught up on.  All four episodes worth.

After a car accident that involves his family, a police detective finds himself existing in two separate realities.  One in which his wife is dead, but his son survived.  While in the other, his son has died and his wife is alive.  In both worlds, he sees a psychiatrist, both of which are trying to convince him that there is only one reality and the other is a dream.

Jason Isaacs is great in the lead role, dealing with therapy battles, dual family issues, and solving crimes.  Awake has a nice intellectual bent without losing entertainment value.  The crime-solving plots are entirely closed.  The family issues seem to be mostly closed, with residual character conflicts remaining.  But the therapy keeps the reality-versus-reality story wide open, the hook that brings the viewer back for more.

I do have concerns about an underlying car crash conspiracy plot that appeared in episode two.  To me, it's not necessary.  I like the idea of the lead character using his two realities to work out his guilt over his responsibility for causing the death of a loved one.  Or is that too sad and grim for primetime?

The Wire - I'm midway through Season Two.  So dense.  A constant expansion of the story's universe (to paraphrase the great Sean H.).  I may have mentioned this before, but the element that blows my mind is that almost every moment of The Wire is made up of the minutiae that writers are told to dispose of in their scripts.  In The Wire all of this subtlety adds up, forming into an exceptionally dark and emotional journey through crime, ethics, and existence.  Yeah, it's that deep.  And the questions it poses aren't comforting.

The Walking Dead - Meh.  Yeah, #1 Zombie Fan says "Meh."

Let me qualify that "Meh."  I've only seen the first season.  And I watched it all in one sitting.  So it can't be all bad, right?  It's not all bad.  Some of it is very good.  And it's clearly addictive.  But I couldn't help but notice how much filler was in each episode.  Or the predictable pattern of who's going to die next.  Or the one note characters that rarely surprise.

The bigger question is, am I just bitter?  Probably.  I'm tired of zombie saturation.  It's not that zombies "sold out".  It's more like, the existential terror and spiritual collapse within a world where the dead rise has been totally muted in nearly every piece of zombie entertainment.

It could also be a zombie flavor preference.  Though Dawn of the Dead is the apex of the zombie craft, I've always preferred the cheapie eurotrashy zombie flicks of the late '70s and early '80s over anything that's been released since.  They're straightforward and honest in their exploitation which in turn creates the aforementioned spiritual and existential vacuum at the center of the films' universe.  There's an entire book waiting to be written on this.

I suppose The Walking Dead is more of a post-apocalyptic show where the bad guys keep getting shot in the head.  (SPOILER)  And the most interesting character, introduced at the end of the first season won't be around for season two.  The second most interesting character, introduced in the first episode wasn't around for the other episodes.  His possible presence in the second season is one of the few things inspiring me to continue watching.

But that's it.  I know that Season Two has finished airing, but I have very little desire to watch it.  That's not good, right?

Breaking Bad - Just finished the first season.  I was lukewarm on this one for a while too.  It was Brian Cranston who kept me watching, as well as the occasional very funny plunge into dark humor.

But then episode five, "Gray Matter", hooked me.  I was dazzled by the spectacular writing throughout the family intervention scene and found myself emotionally invested by the end.  Episode six turned everything up a notch, then I didn't want the season to end when Ep. 7 finished.

Though I have some gripes with the characters, the quality of the overall writing is up there with Mad Men.  Can't wait to start Season Two!

That's about it.  I'm dabbling in some other shows in order to study structure, but none that have captured me for a full season.  Again, this is all new for me.  Still trying to get my sea legs...