Sunday, 23 January 2011

Good News for Fringe

According to EW, Fringe's move from Thursday night's laden primetime block to free and clear Friday night last week actually may have helped the show's chances of being renewed for another season!

I've been meaning to blog about Fringe's ridiculously good third season for a couple of months now, but for the sake of brevity let me just say that I think this season has been every bit as good as The X-Files during its golden years (seasons 3-5, in my opinion) and even the third season of LOST to an extent. Since its initial debut, the show has gone from mainly freak-of-the-week episodes, with an occasionally resurfacing and somewhat interesting mythology, to a show with a very compelling mythology that actually informs its more episodic installments. It's now a show that fuses existential depth with believable character development and entertaining popcorn fare. (For the record, my mathematical formula for a great sci-fi show is as follows: [Compelling Mythology + Character Development] x Philosophical Depth.) I may at some point in the near future take a moment to write about a hidden gem episode called "The Plateau" that has stuck with me since I saw it, but for now I'm comfortable simply praising Fringe as one of the very best shows on TV.

Well, when FOX decided to move Fringe from Thursday night (otherwise known as the night TV execs attempt to break our DVRs with program overload) to the darkest night of the week, Friday, lots of fans were outraged. "Could this mean anything other than that FOX is looking for an excuse to cancel our beloved JJ Abrams show," they asked. From my perspective, though, the move to Friday was a brilliant move for FOX. If you will remember, Friday was the coveted night of the aforementioned X-Files during the 90s, which maintained its dedicated cult following to the bitter end. A show like The X-Files probably wouldn't have succeeded as long as it did had it aired opposite Seinfeld on Thursdays, which is the 90s ratings equivalent to Grey's Anatomy, a show that has been Fringe's "competition" for the last two years. Fail.

The other reason this is a brilliant move is because Fridays are a dark hole for primetime because there's simply never anything worth watching on that night. I was upset to see CBS move its surprisingly adept procedural Blue Bloods from a competition-free Friday night to another heavy programming night Wednesday, but alas. Fringe has the benefit of being, like Chuck, a cult show with a younger, DVR-happy fan-base. For people watching Fringe on DVRs, like me, Friday night is a gift!

In conclusion, watch Fringe! It's a nice, conflict-free addition to your DVR's Now Playing list.

Friday, 14 January 2011

68th Annual Golden Globes

The Golden Globes are this Sunday, so I thought it would be worth posting my predictions and hopes about the TV categories so that I could be more invested in the awards. In fact, I can't remember feeling less invested in the TV awards side of things than I am this year. I mean, it's ludicrous that shows like Friday Night Lights and LOST, with its superb final season, have been overlooked AGAIN. In my dream world, those shows plus Fringe, Southland, Parenthood, Cougar Town, and Parks and Recreation would be recognized for their quality programming this year. But, alas.

Below is a list of nominees I think will win (WW), nominees that should win (SW), and nominees that I would write on the ballad (WO) if I were a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press. (Btw, here's a link to the complete list of nominees.) This is a long post, but, hey, it's my blog!

Best Series, Drama:
WW: Boardwalk Empire
SW: Boardwalk Empire
WO: Friday Night Lights

Boardwalk has a lot of things going for it-- excellent acting, an intelligent approach to a fascinating period of American history, the whole anti-hero thing-- but it usually leaves me wanting something by the end of its episodes. There's only so much generally depravity I can take in a show. It's probably the best in its category, though. I just don't want Mad Men to win. As per usual FNL lives up to its underdog status as the best show nobody's watching (including the HFPA), and, I think, the best show on TV. Season four's episode "The Son" is a perfect hour of TV.

Best Series, Comedy:
WW: Modern Family
SW: 30 Rock
WO: Parks and Recreation

Family is good, but I don't think it's as good as everyone thinks it is, kind of like The Good Wife. Say what you will about 30 Rock being past its prime, but that show is as funny as ever. Comedy is more subjective than drama, but for my money, 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation are the funniest shows on TV. Glee, by the way, is fun and innovative, but Best Comedy? Really?

Best Mini-series or TV Movie:
WW: Temple Grandin
SW: Temple Grandin
WO: n/a

Temple Grandin is fantastic! There's a chance it could lose to The Pacific, which is totally acceptable. My only quibble with this category: dude, Pillars of the Earth was objectively terrible. No really, it was painfully bad.

Best Actor in a Mini-series or TV Movie:
WO: Jon Seda, The Pacific

Honestly, my only stake in this category is that Pillars of the Earth doesn't win any awards. Also, both Seda and James Badge Dale should have gotten some recognition for their work in The Pacific.

Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie:
WW: Clare Danes, Temple Grandin
SW: Clare Danes, Temple Grandin
WO: n/a

Clare Danes inhabited the character without a hint of caricature. She deserves to win this one.

Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy:
WW: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
SW: Steve Carell, The Office
WO: n/a

I'm cool with whomever wins this category. Although The Office has gone down in quality over the last couple of seasons, Carell's Michael Scott has grown into a surprisingly well-rounded character. No disrespect to Parsons, but I've never been able to get into TBBT.

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy:
WW: Laura Linney, The Big C
SW: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
WO: Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation AND Courtney Cox, Cougar Town

My beef with this category is that the three actresses nominated for Showtime series in this category deliver performances that should be in the drama category. Yeah, they each have their moments of whimsy, but the only reason a show like The Big C is considered a comedy is because it only runs 30 minute episodes. Giving excessive nominations to these shows in this category is another way for critics to disrespect comedic performers. This category is a missed opportunity.

Best Actor in a Drama:
WW: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
SW: Hugh Laurie, House
WO: Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights

Yeah, Kyle Chandler was robbed again. He should have at least been nominated, along with Matthew Fox for the final season, heck the final episode of LOST. I would have liked to see Bill Paxton nominated for Big Love in this category, too, in spite of a weird season of the show. He's taken the layered, predestined anti-hero to a new level on that show. The reason I would choose Laurie over Buscemi is because I think what Laurie's done as an actor for seven seasons on House is finally worth some recognition. Buscemi's great, but, like I said earlier, Boardwalk bums me out. And I know, I know, I need to start watching Breaking Bad.

Best Actress in a Drama:
WW: Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
SW: Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
WO: Regina King, Southland

There's no reason that Sedgwick should be once again nominated for a fairly mediocre procedural like The Closer, but King should be overlooked for her work on the excellent Southland. Connie Britton of FNL also joins her costars in the "robbed" category, along with Anna Torv of Fringe. The best surprise in this category is Piper Perabo of the ridiculously fun show Covert Affairs. Good for her! Margulies is my pick because her subtle and understated performance takes a would-be middling law show and turns it into a pretty darn good character drama.

Best Supporting Actor:
WW: Chris Colfer, Glee
SW: David Strathairn, Temple Grandin
WO: Zach Gifford, Friday Night Lights

Yet another category with a ridiculous slew of missed opportunities. I know last year was Neil Patrick Harris year, but he's still the best thing about How I Met Your Mother; Dax Shepherd (yes, that Dax Shepherd) should have gotten a nomination for Parenthood; John Noble has continued to be criminally good on Fringe; and Nick Offerman's mustache on Parks and Recreation deserves some recognition. But Gifford's performance in the episode "The Son" should have been enough not just for the nomination, but for the win. Colfer will probably win this, which is fine, but I would argue that the amount of story he's received this season on Glee qualifies him more for lead actor than supporting actor. Strathairn, as per usual, was excellent in Temple Grandin.

Best Supporting Actress:
WW: Kelly McDonald, Boardwalk Empire
SW: Jane Lynch, Glee
WO: Chloe Sevigny, Big Love

I'd be really happy with a win for Lynch in this category. What she does with that character is astounding. No one on TV has the comic delivery and timing that she does. Her SNL monologue was a prime example. I think McDonald might win, though, especially if Boardwalk has a big night. Hey, she is pretty good on that show. Sevigny would be my pick again for Big Love, though, in spite of BL's shark-jumping season. She once again dove deeper into the most complex and interesting character on a show full of complex and interesting characters.

So there you have it, folks. That's my two cents/pence about a weird year of nominations. For the record, my personal favorite picks for the film categories are: The Social Network, The Kids are All Right, Colin Firth for The King's Speech, Natalie Portman for Black Swan, Paul Giamatti for Barney's Version, Annette Bening for The Kids are All Right, Christian Bale for The Fighter, Melissa Leo for The Fighter, Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan, and Aaron Sorkin FTW.

Thoughts? Things you dis/agree with? Post them below!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Southland Returns!

The best cop show on TV returns from its long hiatus tonight. TNT's eleventh hour save of Southland a year ago from the recesses of NBC cancellation oblivion proved to be one of the best TV moves of the year, and in spite of its short second season (only 6 episodes!), the show managed to improve on its excellent first year. I know the idea of "another cop show" turns a lot of people off, but I would argue that this is a procedural that makes you forget it's a procedural. The character drama is first rate, as good as or better than anything on cable right now, and it doesn't try to over-sentimentalize the "gritty reality of the job", if you know what I mean. I also think Regina King is doing the best work of her career on this show.

In short, I know I talk about a lot of silly shows on here, but I would never seriously recommend One Tree Hill or Pretty Little Liars to anyone. I recommend Southland, though.