CBS Mondays

So, obviously I’ve been failing pretty badly at blogging. Mostly this is because I’ve been out of town every weekend for the last month and a half, which has caused my life to feel like it’s in turmoil (it’s not really, but I start to get stressed when I don’t spend, like, 70 per cent of my time in my apartment). Anyway, excuses, excuses, blah blah boring.

Even though I haven’t been writing about it, I’ve at least been WATCHING television. A lot of my stories have started back up over the last few weeks. Because I watch way too many shows (seriously, it’s out of control) I’m going to do a few posts where I talk about blocks of shows that air on a certain network on a certain night.

CBS is not my favourite network. Mostly I feel like it specializes in old people dramas and pandering comedies with laugh tracks. Though supposedly The Good Wife is legitimately good, and it’s on my list of Shows I Should Probably Eventually Watch Some Day. Anyway, I do watch it on Mondays, though it’s starting to feel more like a chore than anything. The real problem is that I’ve invested way too much time in…

How I Met Your Mother

I completely admit that this show is generally bad, but I’ve been watching it for a few years and it seems like at the absolute MOST it has another two seasons left in it, so how can I stop now? Do I care who the mother is? No. Am I increasingly annoyed by the show’s generally misogynistic attitude? Kind of. Do I think Ted is the most boring, whiny, annoying lead character EVER? Hell yes. But I will not give up! I’m stubborn, OK?

It’s not all bad, though. I still really like Robin, and I mostly like Marshall and Lily and Barney are OK. I feel like there aren’t as many actually funny episodes as there used to be (see: Slapsgiving) but I’m still invested enough in the characters for whatever reason that I want to know what happens to them. Kind of. In a really passive, “meh” sort of way. Mostly I just try to ignore the gimmicks – the mother thing, the way they show misleading clips of the future, etc., and just enjoy it as mindless entertainment.

Partners

Oh CBS, you are so sneaky, putting this piece of crap between two more watchable shows. I’ve only seen two episodes of this so far, but since I’m compelled to watch 2 Broke Girls (more on that nonsense later) I suspect I’m going to see a lot more. And I can say with a reasonable amount of confidence that I won’t enjoy any of them. OK, I didn’t see the premiere, but the basic premise is, there are two friends – one is gay, one is straight – who work together as architects or some fake job that only people on TV have. The straight one is uptight or something and the gay one seems to be into meddling, because, you know, stereotypes. They get into wacky situations! In the latest episode, the straight one’s fiancee slept with Derek Jeter a long time ago, which made the straight guy mad, and the gay one was obsessed with the game Celebrity. THERE WERE MANY REFERENCES TO VARIOUS FAMOUS PEOPLE. I think they were meant to be funny?

Ugh, obviously this show is so terrible. Its selling point is that it was made by the creators of Will & Grace, but there is no Jack and Karen and everyone knows Will and Grace were the worst. It’s the kind of show that maybe would have seemed edgy in 1997, but even then only old people would have thought that. Now it just feels unfunny and the more I think about it, I might just have to take a TV break between my Monday night shows, because I’m not sure I can handle this schlock week after week.

2 Broke Girls

I have watched every episode of this show and I’m not really sure why. I just feel like if almost everything about it was different, it could be super good. Seriously! The thing that is good about it now is the relationship between the titular (hehe, titular) broke girls. One has always been broke, the other is a former rich girl, and all they want is to create a successful cupcake business. AWW! They have good banter and sometimes they’re funny and I kind of love Kat Dennings. Everything else, unfortunately, is not great. There is a horse that lives outside their Brooklyn apartment. Most of the cultural references are crazy outdated. Everyone else at the diner where they work is an offensive stereotype. So. Many. Vagina jokes. It tries so hard to be crude, which would be fine if it was funnier, but…last night’s episode was basically just all pee jokes. PEE JOKES!

Whatever though, I still think the girls feel like real friends, and there are moments when the plot is OK! Last season there was an excellent hoarder episode, which maybe I only liked because I am fascinated by hoarders, but still. I also liked when they met Caroline’s (the rich one) imprisoned father in the second season premiere. But the last couple episodes have been…not good, so the season is shaping up to be…not great.

I guess my verdict is that probably you shouldn’t watch CBS on Mondays if you’re looking for quality, intelligent television that’s in any way compelling or deep or particularly good. But Mondays are hard, man, so mindless junk is important too. And it’s not like I watch Mike & Molly or anything. I love Melissa McCarthy, but even I can’t handle a show that’s one giant fat joke.

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The Weeds finale

So, Weeds ended, following a thoroughly lacklustre finale season. You know, I really wish it had ended with the sixth season. There were definitely some weak points before that (I didn’t really enjoy the fifth season, as I recall) but at least Nancy going to jail felt like a meaningful ending…as opposed to her getting out three years later and continuing to ruin the lives of everyone around her. Anyway, it was definitely better than the actual series finale, which transports us eight years or so into the future – a future where Shane has a moustache and a drinking problem and where Alexander Gould is just not a good actor, and where Doug’s storyline is still stupid (though it was nice to see Josh, his estranged gay son who disappeared after the pilot). In the future, Nancy is still needy and really, the only major character who experienced any meaningful growth was Silas. Of course, he also gets married to the girl he dated in high school who he once impregnated by poking holes in condoms without her knowledge, so…..that’s kind of messed up, probably. Anyway, I live tweeted the whole mess, so maybe you’ll enjoy this if you’re a masochist like me who watched this crap until the bitter end. Oh, and if you want to follow me on Twitter, it’s @alex_geedee. Like, 90 per cent of my tweets about TV, so, you know, be prepared for that.

Wait, did Stevie get less Mexican in the future?

Lol, future technology = keyboards in tables.

Nancy Botwin never ages, she just gets highlights.

In the future, everyone is stoned. That sounds right, actually.

Holy shit, is that Natasha Lyone?

Shane is grown up now because he has a moustache, obvs. Too bad he looks 12.

In the future, customer service still sucks.

Actually I kind of buy Doug as a cult leader.

Awwww so many blasts from the past taunting me, all like, remember when this was a good show?

Isabelle got a sex change, ok, sure.

Bath salts are still a thing in the future.

Ahahaha, gay Justin Chatwin. So old school.

Oh sweet, high carb diets are a thing in the future.

Can someone please reference Celia?

I wish this show would end with Nancy just leaving Andy alone at last. I feel like she can’t though.

Well. That is an oddly articulate 13-year-old.

Did those lesbians name their Chinese daughter China? #monsters

Nancy’s history is very confusing to us all, Stevie.

Oh god when Shane tries to act it’s sooooo awkward.

Aw, I love Andy, JUST LET HIM BE HAPPY, NANCY.

Hey, where is Jill in the future?

Ok, Rilo Kiley is always a good choice

Oh, Nancy smokes weed in the future.

The last scene was nice, but I’m mostly glad it’s over.

Deceptive trailers

I don’t think this is exactly a profound observation, but I’m so sick of movie trailers that edit together the only three good minutes of a movie to make it look good, and then completely fail to deliver. I was thinking about this because I was talking about The Adjustment Bureau the other day for some reason. That’s a movie that was totally mediocre, but the preview made it look SO GOOD. I thought it was going to be the best thing ever. In case you need a refresher:

I mean, this looks like all the shit I like in a film – some kind of weird, dark concept based on a Philip K. Dick story and Emily Blunt. Whatever, I have specific tastes. Anyway, the movie didn’t deliver on whatever it was I was expecting. Honestly, I wish it had been weirder and darker, and that the adjustment bureau dudes’ one weakness wasn’t water. I also thought the ending was stupid. Like, yes, there was a struggle or whatever, but then the people who control the fabric of the universe just left these people alone because….Emily Blunt and Matt Damon were for realz in love I guess? I don’t know. Dumb.

Another more recent example is Snow White & the Huntsman, which had THE BEST TRAILER EVER!

COME ON. That is a great preview. You know you wanted to see this movie. And then you saw it and you were all…….really? REALLY? I know I should have known better. I should have remembered that, with few exceptions, I cannot stand Kristen Stewart. And she was in fine form in this one, with the constant lip biting and mumbling. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE SHE’S PRETTIER THAN CHARLIZE THERON I KNOW BEAUTY IS SUBJECTIVE BUT THAT’S JUST CRAZY! Anyway. I wish this movie had been called The Evil Queen, and was just about Theron’s character and that there was no stag in it. Like, yes, it was better than Mirror Mirror, but not that much better, and that is a travesty.

Anyway, I kind of just think whoever’s editing these trailers should also be editing the films they’re for. Because even if the previews are extremely short, they do tell a story. So why can’t these two minutes just be expanded to an hour and a half and form a good story instead of a mediocre one? I want to live in a world where they make the trailer first, and expand it to make the full movie. This seems logical! Why am I not a filmmaker/trailer editor?

Oh, and I should also mention that there are very rare occasions where the reverse thing happens and the trailer looks awful but then the movie is really good. Example: 21 Jump Street.

I watched it and, based on my experiences with trailers, I assumed these were the best scenes in the whole film. But I was so wrong! This movie was actually really funny, with animated drug trip scenes and weird Korean Jesus references and action scenes that referenced cliche action movies and awesome cameos. So I don’t think there’s a moral to this story – just don’t trust previews and see every movie ever to decide for yourself if it’s good. I’m a genius.

Project Runway’s bringing the dramz

The last couple seasons of Project Runway have been totally lacklustre. Most recently, there was Project Runway All Stars, which was essentially a different show due to the different host and judges. I didn’t even watch the whole thing because it was just sooo obvious Mondo (who should have won his season) was going to win. I wasn’t going to go through a Heidi-less season for such an obvious conclusion. Anyway, the season before that was AWFUL. It was that one where Nina was obsessed with Anya, who could not sew and all her clothes looked the same, AND THEN SHE WON. Actually no one in that season was particularly great though, so whatever.

Anyway, it’s not like I really watch Project Runway for the clothes. Sure, that’s part of it – watching a designer create an entire beautiful outfit (or a total trainwreck of a garment) in an hour is fascinating. But what makes Project Runway great is when it’s filled with crazy people. This season may not be the craziest, but it definitely has its share of characters. Here are my top five favourite weirdos.

Kooan. I’m 95 per cent certain Kooan is actually a Harajuku Girl who escaped from Gwen Stefani. He left the show too soon! I wanted to see more brightly coloured jumpers with oversized buttons or whatever it was he was making.

Elena. Elena is an emotional basketcase. Most of the time she’s a mean girl who doesn’t play well with others and talks about how tough you have to be to survive in the Ukraine. I’m pretty sure she came up with the word “chiffonies” to describe the dudes on the show who are way into silk chiffon. But then she has random crying jags when things don’t go her way or when she has to design Wearable Clothes. Her clothes are mostly whatever…she’s really obsessed with shoulders for some reason…but I’m way into her bitchy, unpredictable personality.

Gunnar. I mean, his name is Gunnar Deatherage, so he seemed like a promising villain at first. He made up this random rivalry with Christopher, but that seems to have dropped off in recent weeks. He thinks he’s really fabulous, but he’s kind of just a shittier, tackier version of Christopher. Also: HIS HAIR. Ugh.

Dmitry. Dmitry is kind of the unsung hero of this season. The scene above was his shining moment, but he says unintentionally hilarious Russian-y things all the time. He’s an especially big fan of talking about how terrible Elena is behind her back. Also, while I feel like the judges are kind of ignoring him, I like his aesthetic! It’s kind of understated but elegant. I’m into it.

Ven. I couldn’t find a gif of Ven, which I assume is somehow related to the fact that….HE IS AN ANDROID. Ven is not capable of exhibiting or understanding human emotion, which leads to him saying things like, “I’m so excited about this challenge” in a complete monotone, or insulting the woman he’s designing for by basically calling her fat. Because he’s an android, all his clothes look pretty much the same – they all involve the same fold-y, flower-y technique.

As the season goes on and the pressure gets more intense, I can only assume things will escalate. I don’t really care who wins or anything (though I’m kind of into Sonjia – she’s pretty!). Mostly I’m just on Team Not Ven, because if the robots win, we all lose.

Marry me, Louis C.K.

Sometimes I forget that not everyone watches, like, every show on television. I think this is because I read The A.V. Club a lot, and it makes me think that other people are watching Todd VanDerWerff levels of television. But based on conversations with my actual real life friends (yes, I have some of those) this is not true! For example, most of them have never even heard of Louie, which is just so mind-boggling to me that it usually causes me to yell at them for extended periods of time (hey, I never said I have a LOT of real life friends).

Anyway, my point is that if you’re not watching Louie, it’s time to start! The third season is airing right now, and every episode is like this little half hour masterpiece. If you’ve ever seen Louis C.K.’s stand-up (and if you haven’t, shame on you!) you know his humour tends to go beyond dark to pitch black. But also, he’s so funny, and so spot on. When he talks about his outlook on life, he manages to make observations that completely resonate with me, but which I am not even remotely clever enough to ever articulate myself. He talks about how OF COURSE he loves his young children but he also kind of hates them sometimes; about how people (himself included) don’t appreciate the wonders of modern technology; and he doesn’t mind admitting that being a white man is awesome. Um, I’m probably not making this sound funny. You should just watch him. He’s so funny, I promise.

On the show, he plays a version of himself. The world of Louie is similar to the real world, but everything is a little skewed, a little exaggerated, a little bizarre. In one episode, Louie watches a homeless man lose his head in a freak accident. In another, he babysits a child who eats raw meat. He has a super creepy sexual encounter with a woman who seems to have daddy issues, and in the next season, he goes on a trip to Ikea with her after she promises to give him a blow job. Probably my favourite scene of the series takes place while Louie is apartment hunting. At one point, he looks out the window and sees a homeless man standing on the street. A black town car pulls up, and men in suits take a similar-looking homeless guy out of the car, and usher the first one into the back seat before driving away.

This season has continued to be amazing. I especially loved the two episodes guest starring Parker Posey. Louie meets her character at the bookstore where she works in the midst of a quest to find a girlfriend, and immediately views her as his dream woman – smart, pretty and funny. Subsequent visits to the store seem to confirm that, as she recommends books for his daughter, and seems to be kind of into Louie.

But then he asks her out, and she goes from Manic Pixie Dream Girl to…mostly just manic. She’s refused service at the bar they go to because of whatever happened last time she was there, but she isn’t perturbed. She tells Louie about how she almost died from an illness as a teenager, which feels like it could be either a total lie or the absolute truth; she doesn’t seem to care as long as the spotlight’s on her and things are constantly happening. When Louie realizes he doesn’t even know her name, she makes up an elaborate lie about how her parents named her Tape Recorder. Oh, and she makes him try on a dress in a second-hand store.  Eventually, they end up on a rooftop, where Posey goes from manic to just sad.

THIS is good television. Louie is genuinely funny, but also intelligent, dark and, most importantly, innovative. There’s nothing else quite like it on TV, and that’s why you should be watching it.

Moonrise Kingdom = the best

I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea – when I’m not watching copious amounts of television, I’m watching copious amounts of movies. The thing is that I review films as part of my job, and after writing two movie reviews a week, I guess I don’t always want to rehash it for a blog post. But, in the case of Moonrise Kingdom, I’m pretty much content to talk about it constantly.

This is probably my favourite movie of the year so far. I admit that I’m one of those people who believes Wes Anderson can do no wrong. I love his distinct style, his attention to detail, his characters, dialogue and plot. I think he’s great at balancing genuinely funny material with darker themes, and he’s at his best in Moonrise Kingdom.

I think I liked it so much because I felt like it really “got” what kids are like. The plot is about Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), two 12-year-olds who become pen pals and make a plan to run away. They’re both pretty miserable because…do you remember being 12? When you’re 12, adults control most aspects of your life, but you’re old enough to realize adults don’t necessarily know what they’re doing, so everything is generally horrible.

Suzy’s dealing with parents (played by Frances McDormand and Bill Murray) who have marital issues, plus she found out they’re reading books about dealing with troubled children. She’s pretty sure she’s the troubled child. Sam has more serious issues, as an orphan with a foster family who isn’t overly concerned with his well-being. Now he’s at scout camp with a troop that doesn’t appreciate his particular brand of solemn weirdness.

So the kids run away (though they’re on an island, so they can’t get THAT far) pursued by Suzy’s parents, a scout master (Edward Norton) and the local sheriff (Bruce Willis). They take themselves very seriously, in the way children take themselves very seriously, and believe they can survive on their own with Sam’s wilderness skills, Suzy’s suitcase of books and their beautiful, adorable love for one another.

Everything about this film is so charming. The dialogue is sincere, and often really, really funny. It’s set in the ’60s, which means awesome vintage-looking sets and costumes. Until I watched this, I didn’t realize that my dream in life is to dress like a pre-teen from 1965.

Also, the two lead kids are SO WONDERFUL. This was the first film for both of them, and they were just perfect. The supporting cast of adults is great too, but it’s really easy for child actors to be grating and terrible, and these two were not, so they really stand out.

I’m sure people who hate Anderson’s other films will think Moonrise Kingdom too quirky or whimsical or twee or whatever it is that they hate about his other films (because it IS all those things, but I love those things!) but I swear, it’s also poignant and heartwarming and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So, you know, watch it!

I’m kind of loving Skyler White

Pretty much every post on this blog so far is about things I don’t particularly like. That’s because I find it sooo much easier to write about things I hate rather than things I actually, you know, like. It’s easy for me to point out the flaws in things that suck (in my opinion). It’s fine, I thrive on complaining about junk. When it comes to things I LIKE though, well, sometimes I just want to enjoy them and not analyze them or try to explain what I enjoy about them. But this week I’m going to try to be positive and write a few posts about stuff that I actually think is good. That was an eloquent way of putting it. Good job, Alex. OK, let’s do this.

Obviously, because I am a human being who’s alive in 2012, I love Breaking Bad. It’s pretty much the perfect show. I love the way the plot is constantly building up to some explosive event, and just when you think the show has reached its limit, something more insane happens. But it’s also all believable, at least within the universe of the show. The characters are so well-developed; even though it’s impossible to predict what they’ll do, once they do it, it always somehow makes sense.

Now that this season (or this half of the season, or whatever they’re calling it) is more than halfway done, I have to say I’m really into Skyler. Skyler is interesting because, while the other characters at least have SOME options, she doesn’t really have any. Walt could have gotten out of the meth biz after killing Gus; there’s no real reason why Jesse couldn’t walk away. Mike is sort of stuck, since he owes his guys a lot of money to stop them from talking, but at least he’s resourceful, he’s seen some shit.

Skyler’s situation is different. She could try to run away, but she’s obviously not going to leave her children, and how could she explain the situation to her teenage son, or keep her baby safe on the run? She’s gotten too involved now to turn Walt in – she willingly agreed to launder his meth money! Last season, Skyler viewed herself as a partner. But now that she realizes some of what Walt is capable of, she sees that she’s a hostage.

One of my favourite moments in this ridiculously amazing season was the conversation Walt and Skyler had after she walked into the pool while Hank and Marie were at the house (which was a totally genius move, by the way). As Skyler shouts her increasingly desperate options, she quickly realizes that she’s backed into a corner, that she doesn’t know what to do. She admits that she isn’t like Walt, that she can’t justify or lie her way out of the situation. Then, in what I think was Anna Gunn’s best moment in the whole series, she tells him all she can do is wait…and hope his cancer comes back.

I think I’m intrigued by Skyler because of how my attitude toward her has changed so drastically since Breaking Bad began. At first, she seemed like this stifling force, who was trying to suffocate a man who just wanted to provide for his family. That isn’t really a fair assessment, since her husband was literally cooking meth, but she didn’t KNOW that at the time. Even taking meth out of the equation, it seemed like she was used to controlling every situation, to having everything go her way, and when that didn’t happen, she was kind of an asshole.

Now that she doesn’t have control over anything, I have no idea what Skyler’s going to do next. She’s gotten the kids out of the house temporarily, having sent them to stay with Hank and Marie after convincing them she’s in need of psychological help, but it’s not really a permanent solution. Of course I’m still invested in Walt and Jesse, but for the time in the series, I’m really intrigued to see what Skyler does, too.