Saturday, June 9, 2007

Weeds—Corn Snake

When we left Nancy Botwin at the end of last season, she had just found out her new, charming boyfriend is a DEA agent. Which sucks, since she's a suburban drug dealer. Not exactly a match made in heaven. So poor Nancy's got a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, he's a DEA agent. On the other hand, he's kinda sweet and he likes her big feet. But she's moving ahead with her plans with Conrad to grow their own weed. Except Conrad isn't happy about Nancy sleeping with the DEA agent, and says he's bailing on the deal. And then the bakery catches on fire.

In the meantime, Celia has a car accident and goes on a crusade to get a light installed at the intersection, which leads her to run for City Council against Doug. Andy applies to rabbinical school to keep from having to go to Iraq, and Shane catches Silas in bed with Megan.

They cover a heck of a lot in a half hour on this show. And they do it well. I didn't realize until I started watching Gilmore Girls that Jenji Kohan used to work on that show. It seems like a big jump from Gilmore Girls to Weeds, subject matter-wise, but the shows share a masterful use of quick, clever dialogue. Weeds might even be better with that element, because it sounds less "written" than the dialogue on Gilmore Girls sometimes does (bear in mind I'm only about 2/3 of the way through the first season of GG, so that might not be a fair assessment of the series throughout its run).

F*k Was I--Jenny Owen Youngs
Jenny Owen Youngs - Batten the Hatches - Fuck Was I

Bathtime in Clerkenwell--The Real Tuesday Weld
The Real Tuesday Weld - I, Lucifer - Bathtime in Clerkenwell

Weeds at iTunes:
Weeds - Weeds, Season 1

Pilot Episodes—the Hard Way

Just a little reflection on pilot episodes.

Many pilots use a lot of introductory techniques to pull the watcher into the story. Most commonly, the pilot occurs at a shifting point, where a character is dropped into a new situation, and has to learn about what's going on. See Dean dragging Sam off to hunt demons after Sam's hiatus from the family business in Supernatural, or Farscape, where John Crichton is suddenly dropped into an unfamiliar world, or Buffy coming to a new school. This usually works really well, because the viewer can learn about the new setting along with the central character.

But let's talk about a couple of shows that didn't do that.

Gilmore Girls and House both start in the middle of an established setting. Rory and Lorelai already live and work in Stars Hollow, they know everyone around them, and they've been established in that community for years. House already works at Princeton Plainsboro. In both cases, the viewer was dropped right in the middle, and the pilot episodes felt very much like mid-season episodes. The exposition was kept to a bare minimum, with no voice over to explain things (my issues with voice over should be a separate post because I could go on and on). But in both cases, everything was set out quite clearly, without awkwardness or apology or painfully shoehorned exposition. I found this impressive on both counts. This is probably the most difficult way to approach a pilot episode, and in both cases it was accomplished very well.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Day Break—Final Wrapup

What if He Walks Away?

Fed up that his day is still repeating (and I don't blame him, because it really doesn't make any sense anymore now that he's solved the case), Hopper takes Rita to Vegas. And then Mexico. Over and over. When he finally goes back, he's arrested not only for Garza's murder, but also for the murders of Chad and Rita.

What if She's the Key?

The mystery surrounding Rita deepens as Hopper tries to find out what she's hiding from him, and how it fits in with the Garza case, in order to prevent her death.

What if It's Him?

The last pieces of the puzzle come together as the truth comes out about who really set Hopper up for Garza's murder. In addition, Hopper discovers the truth about his father's death, finally makes it into tomorrow...and beyond.

I really like that they wrapped up this storyline in the 13 produced episodes. There were a few missteps along the way, I thought--things got a bit too convoluted, and the last three episodes really felt like added on padding, especially Rita's subplot, but overall it made for a satisfying, complete story. Of course there were a few loose ends--why was Hopper repeating, and could it happen to him again being the main question--but only enough to allow for the story to have continued if the series had been picked up. The last shot, of the formerly crazy inmate who was apparently also repeating days, now cleaned up and looking like he knew something about Hopper, was a nice way to segue into what could have been more story.

Overall, an enjoyable show. It's too bad it didn't do better in the ratings. I haven't heard anything about a DVD release, but I hope they do go ahead and make this available.

Jericho Picked Up

Looks official! Jericho will return mid-season with 7 new episodes, and there'll be online content until the new episodes begin. If the ratings are good with the new episodes, there'll be more.

Here's the link, at the Jericho wiki.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Creature Comforts—Animal Magnetism

Creature Comforts is a show produced by Aardman, the folks behind Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and Flushed Away. It's been broadcast on BBC America, and last night its American incarnation premiered on CBS.

From the CBS website: "In this new half-hour, stop-motion animated series, excerpts are culled from real person interviews and placed in the mouths of a wide variety of animated animals to produce humorous, charming and insightful commentaries on everyday life."

In tonight's episode, claymation animals talk about what attracts the opposite sex. No, really. And claymation pug dogs talking about their sex lives is one of the funniest things I've seen on TV in a long time. I found this show hysterical in a sneaks up and smacks you with the funny when you least expect it kind of way. The humor is often in the detail on the claymation characters--expressions of the character in the background, or even a character not involved in the conversation--are often what sends me rolling off the chaise laughing. My only complaint is that it seemed really short due to commercial overload--unfortunately a growing trend.

The official Creature Comforts website:

The US production blog:

The first two seasons of the original British version of this show are available on DVD.

24--Day 0

In TV Guide this week, there's a sidebar article about 24-Day 0, an animated web series from the producers of 24. Set before Day 1 (i.e., Season One of 24), it's voiced by the show's stars. Check it out at

Jericho Rumors

This isn't exactly News news yet, but SyFy Portal and TV Squad have both reported that TV Guide's Mike Ausiello has reported (yes, I'm like fourth-hand at this point, but that's okay) that CBS is in talks to produce another eight episodes of Jericho, possibly to air mid-season next year. This would be nice--it'd at least give them a chance to wrap up the story, or possibly to bring in some good ratings to give us more shows. Hey, a girl can hope.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Blood Ties—Wrapup

A quick wrapup of the season, since I fell behind in this series, as well.


This might have been more interesting if I hadn't already seen this plot done to death on so many other shows. An interesting twist on the Fight Club premise, though--raising professional fighters from the dead to fill the fighting ranks.

Post Partum
Mike and Vicki pose as husband and wife to get the scoop on magical goings-on at a fertility clinic. Apparently another popular starting point for episodic TV, as we saw this on the Dresden Files, as well. This episode had some cute scenes between Vicki and Mike--and Mike was much more likeable than he has been--but overall seemed slow to me.

The "Season Finale," aka the last episode they're running straight in a row because they're saving the second part of the season for fall. Vicki's tattoos start to bother her when Norman, the demon-summoning geek from the pilot episode, returns. This time he has shapeshifting abilities. Whackiness ensues. This actually worked surprisingly well as a "finale," bookending Vicki's story nicely. Maybe they planned it that way, after all.

Blood Ties returns with the back nine of the extant 22 episodes in the fall.

Spotted at Best Buy

Best Buy has Season One of The L Word marked down to $28.99. And on the shelf next to it was a free DVD featuring "teaser" episodes of Dexter, Weeds and The Tudors, with a $5 coupon on the back for box sets of Brotherhood, The L Word, BS, Queer as Folk, or Sleeper Cell. I didn't check out the other box sets, but because of the markdown I got The L Word for $23.99 (well, actually I got it for $3.49, but that was because of my frequent shopper coupon...).

Anyway, worth checking out, both for the coupon and the free "teaser" episodes on the DVD.