Welcome to part three of OCTV’s mid-year wrap up, where Nicole and SB go over what they’ve been watching all year and take a step back to look at the seasons (or the seasons so far) as a whole. If you missed part one, you can find it here, and part two is here. Gifs are generously rounded up by hockeybychoice, and as always, Nicole’s thoughts are in purple and SB’s are in blue. Enjoy and be sure to comment!
I … can’t exactly decide how I feel about Modern Family. I do really like it, and I almost always think it’s really funny. I care about the characters and I look forward to watching it, and I find it relateable and likeable, and it doesn’t really feel like a show that you should be able to find much about to criticize, but I still can’t bring myself to say that I love it without any sort of qualifications, the first being … goddamn, do I hate Manny! He is THE WORST. The good news is that I actually really like everyone else.
The second is that I feel like as this show goes on, it goes deeper and deeper into “sitcommy” territory. There’s always some sort of mix up or misunderstanding or “wacky hijinks” that make it feel like a screwball comedy, which is not normally my favorite thing. And this was starting to drive me a little insane, but I kind of learned to stop thinking about it and just enjoy the show, because, like I said, I do enjoy the characters and one-liners so much that it just really isn’t worth getting worked up over.
Man, that sounds like more of a downer than I meant it to, and I don’t want to end on that, so let me finish by saying that I’ve enjoyed this season a lot more than the last, and I LOVED the whole wireless printer gag, Phil and Luke continue to be hilarious, and Gloria ALWAYS cracks me up … but of course, my favorite character is Stella.
I have mixed feelings about the show too, and I try to adopt the same attitude as SB when I watch it because I do like most of the characters and there are some great jokes in every episode. But a lot of the times, the jokes feel like we’ve seen them before, you know? Gloria is hilarious and her accent can be used to great effect, but it loses its impact when every episode features a joke (or five) about her wacky mispronunciations.
You can practically predict the basic elements of every episode: Claire will be frazzled and annoyed with her family; Mitchell will be embarrassed by something that Cam does and will be kind of a dick about it; Phil will fall down; Jay will curmudgeonly complain about Manny and one of his fucking annoying quirks (valid). The only thing that seems to change from week to week is the ‘wacky setup’ that SB talked about, the situation that is basically contrived just to highlight same beats over and over again.
The show really works best for me when the show mixes up the characters in ways that we don’t see very often, because it forces the dynamic of the entire show to adapt and vary from the norm. Don’t get me wrong – those elements that they go back to over and over again are funny (well, except for Manny – as SB has already said, he is the worst) – it’s just that I’d like the show to find more ways to make us laugh or it’s going to start to get old. Take Luke – his character evolved from the hilarious dumb kid to the secret genius of the family. He’s still awesome, just in a new and different way. If the show can figure out a way to make the characters seem as well thought out as the jokes, they’d be on fire.
I can’t believe how little time this show has actually been on the air because I kind of feel like it’s always been a part of my life, if that makes sense. The first little season was SO GOOD, and hilarious, and very generational. And I loved it so much that I was pretty shocked when it got picked up for a second season but oh my god, you guys, IT DID.
There’s really not a lot to say about this show that hasn’t already been said a million times by everyone, so I’m going to keep it short–I love Max, love Eliza Coupe (in EVERYTHING, major girlcrush alert), love all the little Chicago nods (HELLO, Polish cleaning lady!), and the writing is spectacular, as evidenced by how much comedy there is to be mined solely from Dave getting a perm. God, that was genius. Also? The Halloween costumes. Whoever came up with Max as a baby in Penny’s Baby Bjorn needs a raise.
Um, I second everything that SB said. I love this show for so many reasons. One, it’s about my generation, and the jokes and references are so on point that I can’t help feeling connected to the characters. Two, the characters are AMAZING, as are the actors playing them. It’s no surprise that Adam Pally is my favorite – I’ve discovered recently that I seem to be oddly drawn to a thick Chicago accent and Adam Pally is the king of it. But I second the Eliza Coupe love (DENISE 4 EVA), and will add Casey Wilson to the list. You can’t not love Penny Hart. Dude, that episode where the cats kept showing up at her new spinster condo? SO GREAT.
That being said, the Dave and Alex characters have really come a long way since the first episode – they both started off sort of being overshadowed by the other four actors, who are all clearly well-trained in comedy, but the writers have really been finding ways for both of them to shine and find their own ways to contribute laughs rather than just being the straight guys reacting to their friends.
The show is just so fun and so smart. The jokes are fast and furious, and I love that I’m pretty much laughing from start to finish. Which, in the end, what more can you ask out of a comedy?
I honestly don’t know how I started watching this show, because I don’t think I intended to. But whatever made me check it out, I’m really glad, because I can’t imagine my TV lineup without triple collars, tea sippin’, and immortal dogs. (By the way, those first two were lifted directly from tv.com’s Revenge Bingo, found here, which is absolutely brilliant and wins the internet.)
This show is DELIGHTFULLY campy. It’s over-the-top in every single way, and it is AWESOME. Truly escapism TV at its finest, and as I mentioned in yesterday’s post in the Hart of Dixie section, it really captures the zeitgeist like nothing else. I mean, listen. There’s a shitty economy, everyone’s broke except for the one goddamn percent, the six Walton heirs have more wealth combined than the bottom 30% of Americans TOTAL, Bernie Madoff, Occupy Wall Street … EVERYONE IS PISSED. (Also, I suddenly feel like we need an updated version of We Didn’t Start The Fire, much like Elton John updated Candle in the Wind for Princess Diana.) What better time for a show about some rich assholes that deserve what’s coming to them, and the crafty bitch who serves it up cold? GOD, it’s SO GOOD. I can’t even … my emotions are starting to take over.
Now, when the show started, I was a little worried that it might just follow the same formula every week–one person goes down per episode. I mean, I was cool with that. It was a highly entertaining show regardless. But the show has really become even more fun as complications arise and the situation becomes more and more tangled. I really love all of it–the pace, the overlapping stories, the backstabbing, the MADELINE STOWE? You guys. She is incredible. She’s so beautiful and terrifying and psychotic and I kind of want to be her.
Goddamn, I love this show. And it totally took me by surprise too. As tv bloggers, we do our best to keep abreast of the new shows each season, so I’m usually relatively informed about what’s coming up and what I’m interested in watching. Revenge was so totally under my radar though, and the only reason I checked it out was because the internet seemed to be generally enthralled with the pilot. So the weekend after it aired, I was baking and needed some background noise so I put it on. Soon enough, I was completely caught up in it and came close to burning several dozen cookies (I didn’t burn a thing when I put Ringer on right afterward, because that shit was boring, especially in comparison to the deliciousness of Emily Thorne and the Hamptons crew).
I remember seeing magazine ads for the show and finding it strange that the girl who played Rebecca on Brothers and Sisters had her own show (I didn’t watch Everwood, so I didn’t know much about Emily Van Camp) and figuring it would probably be one of the first shows cancelled because I hadn’t heard much about it. But oh, it was so great. And continues to be so. Plus it’s popular as hell, so you know it’s coming back next year. It’s so rare that I love something that’s a bonafide hit, so it feels novel to get invested in a new show and not have to worry that it will be pulled off the air just as I fall in love with it (yes, I’m still sad about Terriers, and Lonestar, for that matter).
There are so many fantastic characters that I either love to hate (Tyler), just plain love (Nolan) or am in complete awe of (Emanda, Victoria). Like SB said, it’s so damn campy, but in a GREAT way, and I miss it every week that it’s not on.
American Horror Story
As of me writing this, I have still only seen the pilot episode. But unlike Ringer, I actually plan on catching up because I’ve heard it’s great. I was concerned after that first one for a few reasons. A) As a massive FNL fan, it was hard to accept Tami Taylor in a role where I had to see her have sex with a dude in a rubber suit. B) Dylan McDermott sad-sterbating. C) It’s Ryan Murphy – can I be blamed for being wary? I think not. But now that I know that things are good, I have to catch up. And I will. [I kind of thought I’d burn through these over the holidays, but I’ve been caught up in a Sons of Anarchy obsession for the past week and it’s just not going to happen. Summer it is. On a related note, fuck yeah, Jax Teller!] But I know that SB is a big AHS fan, so I’ll let her take it from here.
Man, I’ve been so excited to write about this show, you guys. It was a total surprise. I had planned on watching it all along in spite of the Ryan Murphy connection because I haven’t seen Friday Night Lights (I KNOW, alright? I think it’s next on my list after I finish Buffy.) and because I am a huge horror fanatic, and if there was going to be an honest-to-blog horror show on TV, I was sure as shit at least going to give it a try.
So yeah, in the first episode, Dylan McDermott stood in front of an open window crying and masturbating, and I laughed my ASS off. It was so hilarious and melodramatic, and I figured I’d keep watching because this could be a really hysterical trainwreck, which everyone knows is second only to, you know, an actual quality TV show. Plus, I was curious to see how in the hell they were going to manage an actual horror story in a TV format.
But going back to the first thing, watching an epic, fiery trainwreck. The show, early on, still could’ve gone that way, but as I was watching, it actually turned into a really good show. I will say that I think that, in general, the acting on this show is better than the writing, but it doesn’t matter because it all really works. Needless to say, Jessica Lange is amazing. And I assume that those of you familiar with FNL know how good Connie Britton is. But the real surprise for me was Evan Peters–Tate is a really, really good, compelling character, and so much of that is his work.
Here’s the thing. I don’t want to give too much away, because I would like for some of you who weren’t sure about this show to check it out, but there was an episode that centered around Tate (Halloween Pt. 2), and you really need to watch the episodes leading up to it to fully appreciate the impact of it, I think. I know there are critics out there who disagreed with me and didn’t like this episode at all, but for me, this was both the turning point of American Horror Story AND the best episode of television that I watched all year. Maybe in a couple years, actually. It was INTENSE. And it’s kind of killing me to not discuss it in more detail right now, because that is how into it I was.
Anyway. The show kept the twists and turns and shocking moments coming, but I wouldn’t say it was like the traditional “make you jump” kind of horror. There was some gross stuff, but in general, the actual SCARIEST part was pretty much always the credits, so if you’re the type that doesn’t like stuff jumping out and whatnot, it would really be an alright show for you to watch. And also? I think this show is kind of the perfect vehicle for Ryan Murphy. Everything about AHS was already so out there and batshit insane from the word go that it would’ve been really, really difficult for him to have taken it too far, or past a believable point.
And now that the season is over and the news is out that every season will start with a whole new story, new location, and new characters, I am even more into it. I also like the idea of actors returning as different characters–very pulpy. And I think it makes the most sense in terms of keeping the story fresh and original, and I admire that the show is willing to break the mold. I’m completely pleasantly surprised to say that I really can’t wait for next season.
And I feel like it’s worth mentioning here that while I don’t watch all the shows on FX, I think it’s a very ballsy network and I am really fascinated by the chances it’s taking right now. I think it’s maybe the most interesting network on TV to watch develop, and I think they’re really good at managing their talent. For example, Sons of Anarchy’s showrunner, Kurt Sutter, is clearly not censored in any way about what he can say in public and on twitter (also, I catch bits and pieces of SOA as Billy’s watching it on Netflix right now, and I am DYING to catch up with it); there’s the whole Louie thing where he has complete creative control; the Always Sunny gang clearly pushes a basic cable comedy to the farthest limits it can reach; Wilfred was extremely weird and original (and GOOD) … you know? I feel like NBC could really learn some shit from FX about focusing on what’s good and on taking some risks.
[I wrote about my current SOA bender before I read SB’s part, but YES - DEFINITELY catch up on it because it’s so much fun and really well-done. I just finished season 3 and I’m scared to start season 4 because then I’ll have to wait practically a whole year for new episodes.]
It’s Always Sunny/The League
Well, I haven’t been a regular Sunny watcher for a few years. There was a really bad season (the Dave & Buster’s episode season, which, if you have been around for awhile and recall, REALLY pissed me off), and while the next one was good, I think Dave & Buster’s really tarnished it for me and I was never really a regular watcher again. Perhaps someday we shall reunite.
Now The League, on the other hand, has really skyrocketed up my list. I never really watched it before this year, but I don’t know … I was the assistant coach (co-coach?) with Billy on his (our?) fantasy football team, and it’s shockingly addictive. I think next year I need my own team, and possibly my own league. Ooooh! OCTV league? Anyway, so Billy was DVRing this show, and it would be on, and I’d find myself laughing hysterically. I mean, the fantasy aspect really does add to it, but even if you didn’t play, the humor is hilariously inappropriate and I’d recommend at least giving it a try. I can’t believe it’s been on for three seasons and this is the first one I’ve seen! I’m going to have to catch up on Netflix.
Always Sunny just finished up a really great season. I agree that its had it’s share of only okay episodes, but this season they totally found their groove again. The best example is the Chardee MacDennis episode where the gang played an incredibly fucked up game that they invented – it was like the trivia game episode of Friends, if all of the Friends were insane narcissists and also tripping on acid.
I’m not sure how much Fat Mac added to the season, but there were some great moments with him (and it’s crazy how different he really looks – if I catch on old ep in a rerun the contrast is always shocking). I mean hey – kudos to McElheney for going all DeNiro for his art, right? Just because his art happens to involve homeless meth addict priests and warm milk drinking creepy siblings doesn’t mean it’s not as important as Raging Bull, right?
Moving on to The League, as someone who is clinically stupid about football and ESPECIALLY about how a fantasy football league even works, I am here to tell you that you do not need to be sports-minded to love this show and its totally batshit humor.
There is a lot to love here – Nick Kroll and Mark Duplass were the reasons I tuned it at the beginning because I was fans of theirs already, and they are great (Ruxin is such a dickhead – I love him so much). But there’s so much more to the show. Andre and his pretentious affectations, Taco’s general existence and, most important of all, RAFFI. Holy shit – Raffi is one of the funniest characters on television right now, especially if you aren’t averse to wildly inappropriate and disgustingly hilarious sexual imagery. Raffi is played by Jason Mantzoukas who also plays Dennis Feinstein, the perfume king of Pawnee on Parks & Rec. He is amazing.
If you don’t watch this show, Bobbum Man will get da Bobbum van full of his equipmunk, so you’d better just get on board. And if you even know what that last sentence means, I don’t have to tell you because you clearly already get it.
Okay, not to be dramatic, but if this show gets cancelled, I’M GONNA DIE. It’s so weird, and so good, and so unlike anything that has ever been on TV. And this show also had one of my favorite episodes of anything this season (honestly, I would make a top five post if I weren’t too busy/lazy–and trust me, you can be both), and that was the Christmas episode. Instant classic. The riffing on Glee was spot on, and the songs KILLED me. I sang “boopy doopy doop boop SEX” all month long, I am CONSTANTLY saying, “Oooooh, that’s NIIIIIICE!”, and for god’s sake, OCTV even hosted a Sexually Harass Donald Glover Day on Twitter. Needless to say, we’re fans (of everything but Chevy).
Other highlights of the season for me? Britta’s very weird “pizza, pizza, me so hungy”, Shirley and Britta in the car with the hitchhiker, John Goodman’s guest spot (I was so surprised by how well he fit right into the show), Big Cheddar and Tinkletown, and probably my favorite of all, POCKETFUL OF HAWTHORNES. Wow, now that I think about it, that’s MY Sophie’s Choice Alert–please never make me choose between Pocket Full of Hawthornes and Sexy Christmas Baby EVER because I can’t.
God, I love this show. At this point, all I can do is hold my breath and wait for news, and hug my pillow and cry when the agony gets to be too much.
I’ve come to a somewhat disconcerting realization lately – if I had to pick which Community character I’m most like, I’d have to say Britta. And considering how often Britta is the butt of jokes, this is alarming. But I am totally the one who will lecture my friends about not shopping at a particular store (Lowe’s) because they were openly bigoted towards certain minority group (Muslims), or the one who has to make a comment if anyone starts throwing the f-word around (not fuck, that’s like my favorite word – I’m talking about the word that rhymes with and sometimes precedes ‘hag’). I know I piss my friends off with my relentlessly PC attitude (and yet I’m also the most vulgar of them all – go figure – I’m an enigma) and man, I know I totally Britta things a lot of the time. So where I used to find Britta somewhat annoying, now I mostly just feel protective and defensive.
I’m going to miss this show so much during it’s hiatus (please let it just be a hiatus!). The Christmas episode, as SB mentioned, was fucking brilliant, but my favorite of the season has to be Remedial Chaos Theory – the one with the alternate universes. I just thought that it was such a unique and original episode of television, and so brilliantly planned and executed. I was in awe of it from start to finish. Plus, it was funny as hell. Please come back soon, show. We will continue to ignore the shit out of Whitney until you do.
Parks & Recreation
Okay, here’s what I don’t understand. How can Parks & Rec be SO GOOD, and so adored by everyone, so funny and sweet and relatable, and NOT be the number one show on TV? It makes no sense, and I don’t really understand what it says about NBC. Let me derail for a moment.
I really feel like NBC has some of the best shows on TV right now. But it’s like … they can’t get people to watch them. How can more people find out about shows on fucking TNT than NBC, which has stuff like football games during which they could promote their shows? I feel like NBC’s biggest problem may actually be their marketing, so while they throw all this money at new shows (and granted, it seems like they’re trying to up the quality even more), I think they need to throw more money at better advertising. And also, advertising that doesn’t feature Shitney. How about it, suits?
Anyway, I love Parks & Recreation. I mean … LOVE IT. You guys know how I’m always talking about how hard I fell in love with The Office, and how The Office S2 was a high point in the history of television? Well, I feel like Parks & Rec has managed to do a lot of the same things well that The Office does, but that it has also improved on the format of the workplace mockumentary and managed to avoid some of the mistakes of The Office and maintain a high(er?) level of quality for longer. Some of the things I think they’ve done that have helped are adding in more ancillary characters (a la The Simpsons, an excellent comparison that has been around for years); allowing the gang to venture outside the office; maintaining a small staff (and therefore not having to serve more characters); and by exploring dark moments (Batman crying in a mall, OMG) without taking the show down long, depressing arcs (Stamford, anyone?). Plus, I think they have the benefit of the Jim and Pam experience to draw on. I mean, look at how awesome April and Andy were and still are [babies ruin everything, I'm telling you. If April gets pregnant, I might cry tears of sadness.], and I picture the earth letting out a giant squee (much like a squeaky doggie toy being squeezed) every time Ben and Leslie are on screen together.
And please, dear god, let us not forget Ron and either of the Tammys. Obviously, Ron Fuckin’ Swanson is one of the best characters on TV right now, but seriously, this show just knows how to work interactions. And again, I think it’s part of that small cast–P&R is a show that really knows its characters, and meeting Tammy 1 was so funny because we know Ron so well that seeing him be chipper and wholesome was by far the weirdest thing that could’ve ever happened.
Anyway. I digress. This season has been so fantastic, you guys. I’ve loved the Ben and Leslie arc and Amy Poehler REALLY surprised and impressed me during the scene in the tiniest park when she told Ben how much she missed him. I love April and Andy, and I’ve even enjoyed Ann more, now that she has more reason to be in the building and I find her and Leslie so entertaining together. I’m about done with Chris, although I’ll probably let it slide for awhile on “STOP POOPING” goodwill, and OH MY GOD, how incredible was the Treat Yo Self! episode? It was goddamn fucking incredible, that’s what.
I love Parks & Rec so hard. Amy Poehler is someone who I’ve always found funny but since this show has been on the air I’ve developed a bit of hero-worship for her. Leslie Knope is just such a fantastic character in that she manages to be so many things that women don’t often get to be on tv: hilariously unhinged, un-ironically optimistic, and completely dedicated to her job, at which she is almost always kicking ass. She reminds me of a grown up version of Caitlyn, the hilarious little sister she played on SNL (“RIIIIICCCCCKKKKK!!”).
In addition to Leslie, everyone else brings their A games too in what has to be one of the best ensembles on tv. SB already covered a lot of that above, so let me just say that although he’s not a regular character, Jean-Ralphio is one of my favorite characters on tv right now. Especially when he’s interacting with Ron because Ron is totally unimpressed with JR’s enthusiasm, which is really all JR has. He is always VERY excited about something. He loves ideas, hates action.
The Ben and Leslie stuff has been so well done that it has even made shippers of us hardcore anti-ship peeps. But I just don’t think that anyone is more adorable than they are. They’re totally the new Jim and Pam. Which is good because the old Jim and Pam are now officially boring.
Parks and Rec is my happy place. If it’s not yet yours, treat yo’self and catch up. You won’t regret it. Long live Zorp.
This is a quote from my thoughts on The Office at the end of last season, when the answer to who would replace Michael was still a mystery:
I love Darryl for the job, but I could get behind Andy too – he’s competent/awkward enough that it would work. My only issue is that I feel like he might be too Michael Scott-ish in that he loves distractions and he’s wacky, but I’d be willing to have an open mind.
Well. I hate to say I was right, but… Don’t get me wrong, I still think that Andy is a lot of fun as a character, but I think it was a mistake making him the new manager. He IS too similar to Michael and that makes it feel like each episode we’ve seen this year is just hearkening back to the days of Michael Scott, with Andy playing Michael’s role. I still maintain that Darryl would have been a better choice because he has a completely different demeanor than both Michael and Andy, who tend to be loud, distracting, and manic at times. Darryl in charge would have totally changed the dynamic and tone of the office and I think that it would have been far more interesting than simply carrying on in the same way as before, just with another doofus in the big office.
I am generally a fan of Robert California (who doesn’t like James Spader?), but I was surprised at how much he’s appeared this season - I kind of assumed he’d be like Jan or Kathy Bates or David Wallace (miss him!!), and would only show up in a handful of episodes. Instead, it’s like he’s the regional manager and Andy is his Assistant RM. And every episode tends to go in the same direction as a result: Robert acts weird, freaks out Andy and others, and then the office rallies around Andy in some way. I like James Spader, and he’s funny here, but maybe overused? I think the role would have more impact if he appeared more sparingly.
I have been a cheerleader for the show for a long time and even I can feel my enthusiasm dwindling more as each week passes (not to say there haven’t been some funny moments this season, because there have – but they’ve been way more spread out than in the past). It’s the first episode of Thursday Night Comedy that I watch, because it’s the one I’m least excited for (I’m a believer in ‘save the best for last’). I just don’t really care anymore, you know? The show has reached the point where you know the cast is probably itching to move on and do other projects, but NBC is unwilling to let it go since it’s the highest-rated sitcom on the network (and if you’re NBC right now, you’re definitely not willing to part with ANYTHING earning decent ratings, hence Whitney’s existence I guess?). However, I can’t just stop watching after all this time, so I’m in for the long haul. But frankly, I hope it’s more like a short-to-medium-length haul.
At least one thing that never disappoints is Kelly because she is awesome:
It’s going to be hard for me to add much to this, because I so wholeheartedly agree with everything that Nicole has said, particularly the last paragraph.
I think that one of the hardest things about this season is how really, really great last season was. I feel like The Office had a creative renaissance leading up to Steve Carrell’s departure, like they finally once again had a sense of direction and purpose, and it seems like it was the last big push. I also am going to keep watching until the end, but I think that when this is all over, I am going to pretend that the show ended with Michael leaving.
Because honestly, you guys? Watching The Office right now is kind of sad for me. That sounds super melodramatic to say about a TV show, but my love for it was really epic and it’s just no longer that show. And I agree with Nicole–I’m sure everyone does want to move on, and rightfully so, but there’s just a whole general vibe of phoning it in. And even if this is kind of an unpleasant experience for me, I also find it totally fascinating how attached to a TV show I can get, that I almost love it like a person, where I feel loyalty to it and remember the good times fondly, but now I just hold its hand and wait for it to die … oh my god, shit just got so depressing. But do you see what I mean? I feel like this is the road I end up on when I think too hard about it.
We need a palette cleanser. String of funny/hot/cute gifs, anyone?
Oh, that’s my cue, isn’t it? Umm… Ryan Gosling in glasses?
No? What’s wrong with you? Some pretty Sherlock HoYay then?
That doesn’t do it for ya? What the fuck are you doing at OCTV then? I guess the only thing I’ve got left for you are… puppies.
Okay, now it’s your turn. What are your thoughts on The Office? Will you miss Community as much as we will? And how GD adorable are Ben and Leslie? Tell us your thoughts on all of the shows we talked about today and make sure you come back tomorrow for the fourth and final installment!