Monday, September 21, 2009

TV Stuff

Last week I read at least a dozen articles touting this new TV season. Community got the most kudos, Glee running a distant second.

As I always say, and mean, maybe it's me. All I'm doing is giving you my reactions. Believe it or not, it's possible I'm full of beans.

I gave up on Community halfway through. It wasn't bad but it didn't have enough going to keep me interested. Joe McHale is good but his constant choice of responses is the smirk and that can get deadly; the Chevy Chase character is a cartoon and not a good one; John Oliver, a likable Brit, seems miscast here; Gillian Jacobs, on the other hand, gives the show energy and dry humor. She's funny and sexy and just the right degree of cynical. I'm reacting to a single episode. The show has a lot of interesting elements. I'm sure I'll catch at least a few more episodes.

I'll probably even try Bored To Death at least once more though I'm not sure why. The closest equivalent to this show was Stephen Cannell's Richie Brockelman, Private Eye. He was the naive but cunning sidekick that Cannell introduced in the last season of The Rockford Files. The series was a spoof of all the weariest tropes and was a lot of fun to watch. It went something like five episodes.

Bored To Death on the other hand struck me as being about nothing more than two not-especially interesting narcissists played, respectively, by Jason Schwartzman and Ted Danson. Schwartzman and Zach Galifianakis are struggling artists (novels and comic strips) and Danson a world-weary owner of a trendy art gallery. My first problem is that I do not believe that anybody would hire Schwartzman's character as a private eye. Ever. Under any circumstances. And having never been much of a Danson fan, his attempts to convey Continental ennui were to me pretty embarrassing. Galifianakis saved the episode for me. The whole thing comes alive when he's on screen. His bitching, his self-pity, his paranoia--he should be the private eye. For one thing he looks a lot more competent than Schwartzman or Danson at just about anything you care to name. And he's a hell of a lot more fun. It's worth a second look but I'm not sure where it can go for here. The way it's set up I sense it'll be repeating itself endlessly.

The book HBO should adapt for a series is Lee Goldberg's The Man With The Iron-On Badge. It has a voice and world unlike any other p.i. novel I've ever read. And if you put Galifanakis in the lead you'd win Emmys for sure. Lee''s novel will be my Forgotten Book for this week.


mybillcrider said...

Having taught at a community college for 19 years, I thought that COMMUNITY was a flop. Real life is much, much funnier. I'll give the show another chance, but if it doesn't improve a lot, I'm giving up.

Haven't seen BORED TO DEATH, but I kind of like GLEE.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Me, too. Same with the other one. Disappointing for two series that were highly regarded by critics.

Lee Goldberg said...

That's very kind of you, Ed. Lots of people have told me that BORED TO DEATH is similar to my book...perhaps that's why I am reluctant to watch it, though I have it sitting on my Tivo, waiting to be seen.

Charlieopera said...

Ed, is this regular TV you speak of (as opposed to cable)?

I don't get much of a chance to see regular tv and depend on that On Demand stuff for cable shows. I'm a big Larry David fan and look forward to that show again this season. I don't like the way Mad Men started this season ... but I did like the first two seasons (I know you're not fond of it). My wife is a Monk fan but she's completely dependent on the Demand thing because of nursing school again. Speaking of which, we both loved Nurse Jackie (although there were a lot of "that would never happen" comments by the boss through each episode).

Most of the network (regular tv?) gets under my skin very, very fast.

Todd Mason said...

COMMUNITY was pleasant enough to listen to while I was working, and indeed could go any which way...Gillian Jacobs does, judging by the pilot only so far, stand out, while most of the rest of the cast is riding on shtick. John Oliver, for me, helped.

The twenty-minute teaser for FLASHFORWARD posted on Hulu, rather like the teaser chapters of a writer's next novel in the paperback release of the latest, is not compelling, if reasonably well-shot, with an expensive amount of mayhem.

BORED TO DEATH simply has looked uncompelling, but I'm not surprised that Gallifinakis is the best thing about it.

Haven't forced myself to suffer GLEE yet...the echoes of FAME, both the film and the even worse two television series that followed, would tend to haunt even w/o such lines as "I'm your wife. Of course I don't want you to be happy." LAFF RIOT!

pattinase (abbott) said...

The third episode of GLEE revised my second episode issues. Loved it. Maybe they have two writing teams.