Archive for the 'Television' Category

11
Jul
11

Grey’s Anatomy – Season 7 Thoughts, Feelings, Ideas…

Of course we look worried - next season could probably be our last.

It’s kinda weird, this ‘thing’ I have with Grey’s Anatomy.  I don’t really watch many regular TV shows and of the shows that I do watch (or have ever watched) none of them have been hospital dramas. But there’s something about this show that keeps me coming back each year.  Some of it has to do with the writing. (Or at least the writing in the first few seasons). But most of the reason why I tune in has to do with the characters.  Creator Shonda Rhimes and crew have crafted a cast that, despite their unimaginable situations in love and life, seem to stay true to the integrity of the way that the respective characters are written.

Grey’s season finales have traditionally concluded with me scavenging for details from any Internet resource – credible or not – about what’s going to happen next season.  Will Izzie get kicked out of the surgery program?  Has Burke left the apartment (and Christina) for good?  Will Meredith and Derek stay together?  Yet having just completed a marathon session watching this, the seventh season, I find myself asking only one question: When will the writers bring this story to an end.  Clearly it seems to have run its course.  (Read on to understand my rationale).

Continue reading ‘Grey’s Anatomy – Season 7 Thoughts, Feelings, Ideas…’

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15
May
09

Thoughts on Grey’s Finale (Season 5)

Here's Your New Lunch Table Clique... It would be easy to roll up my sleeves and pontificate about all of the reasons why I feel this season of Grey’s Anatomy was disappointing.  (And had I started writing the minute after the credits rolled, that’s precisely what I would have done).  But reflecting on the show (for all of, let’s see….two hours), my thoughts turn to T.R. Knight’s character, George O’Malley.

When people think of Grey’s, the character that they usually reflect upon is Meredith.  After all, the show bears her name and she narrates most of the episodes.  But in a strange way, I always saw the show through George’s eyes.  During the early episodes when Grey’s was just this show that came on after Desperate Housewives, I kinda looked at George and laughed.  He was every nerdy, ‘wish-i-could-hang-with-the-cool-kids’ dude I ever knew.  And while he was annoying, he was also the character that seemed to be the most humbled by the opportunity that was set before him.

As the show moved on, out of all of the characters on the show, I saw him as the character who evolved and matured the most.  One of the things that I loved about the show was the relationship that he and Isaiah Washington had as student and teacher.  It was one of mutual respect and it was wonderfully written.  (Which was part of the reason that I was so crushed to find out that in reality their relationship was less than cordial, the true reasons behind which we may never fully know.)  But even without ‘Burke’, George found a way always give us something interesting to chew on.  The guilt that he carried and emitted without words during the season where he cheated on Callie.  The pain of explaining his father’s sickness to his family, playing the ‘bad news-bringing doctor’ role in a way that he probably never figured he’d have to do.

By now it’s pretty clear to anyone that watched the finale that George was the victim of an accident and that T.R. Knight is no longer on the show.  I don’t profess to understand the complexities of running an award-winning primetime drama.  And I feel that for all of the good moments Grey’s writers have given us, we should all give them the benefit of the doubt when they make the decision that for whatever off-screen reasons that they need to somewhat abruptly end a character’s term on the program.  I just feel like there had to be a way…hell, there had to be a hundred ways… to give this character, whom you’ve invested so much time and energy and show-hours helping us to get to know… a proper good-bye.

Yes, I know by now that the theme of this entire season is that “life is precious” and that it should be cherished every minute that you breathe.  I get that.  But a tragic, quick death is one that is befitting a character who isn’t a staple of your program.  I don’t read TMZ and I don’t have a subscription to Us Weekly, but just like everyone else, I heard that both T.R. Knight and Katherine Heigl were leaving the show.  And it’s really none of my business why either the actors or the writers felt that they needed to part ways.  But if the Grey’s writers are fans of the show as much as they claim to be and are really concerned about what the fans want, then there had to have been a better way to “kill these characters off”.

I never really liked “Alex and Izzie” even though it kept being forced down our throats.  The funny thing to me about Alex and Izzie’s relationship this go ‘round was that the relationship that Izzie had with George made Alex (and thus the relationship) seem even more shallow than it did to being with.  Perhaps George and Izzie weren’t right for each other, but when they were together, for a moment you (or should I say, “I”) felt like love between two friends was possible.  Regardless of why they split (and yeah, I thought they were better as pals) it made Karev look more and more like a neanderthal.  After all, it was George – who wasn’t even with Izzie – who noticed that she wasn’t feeling well before anyone else did.

Continue reading ‘Thoughts on Grey’s Finale (Season 5)’

20
Jan
09

Gavin & Stacey

gavin stacey Video, video and more video.  Everywhere I turn, it seems as if I’m queuing up some sort of moving image to watch.  Whether it’s movies from my Netflix queue, downloaded video podcasts, iTunes purchased TV shows – I always feel as if I’m behind in catching up on watching media.  My OCD kicks in immediately when I add a new piece of media to watch and it just makes me feel as if I’m losing ground.  So, you can imagine my displeasure when a good friend of mine dropped an entire season’s worth of a DVD series on my desk.  (It’s one thing to hit me with a movie – that I can knock out in a sitting or two.  But a television series??) Luckily for me, it was a BBC series.

The Brits really know how to do some things incredibly well.  Making a television series is one of those things.  With The Office, they only gave us twelve episodes and a Christmas special and it was golden.  Probably the funniest and most heartfelt media I’ve ever seen.

Something told me to pop in the Gavin and Stacey DVD.  After all, like The Office, it was only a six-episode season with each episode only a half-hour long.  I thought one night I’d watch the first one and then return it.  I ended up watching the entire six episodes and kept it to see the director’s commentary.  I proceeded to search for the Season 2 DVD and the Christmas Special (like The Office, they did a Christmas special as well, although not nearly as satisfying).  After having caught up on the entire series, I am glad that I didn’t push it to the back of my queue.  It has to be one of my favorite series of all time now.

What makes Gavin & Stacey such an incredible triumph is hard to explain in a single thought.  But if I were forced to explain the one thing that drew me in is how colorful and well defined the characters are.  Everyone is so animated and comical in their own way that it makes a half hour go by like ten minutes.  These are people that you’d enjoy getting to know.  While the plot for both seasons focuses on one main event (a birth and a wedding), these folks are so much fun to watch that you don’t really care much about how the plot is moving along.

OK, so just to give a tiny taste of the plot, two twentysomethings (Mathew Horne and Joanna Page) from very different parts of the U.K. have a chance meeting on the phone while at work and after several conversations, they decide to meet in person.  Of course, from the title of the show you might be able to figure out that they embark on a relationship.  I think one of the show’s creator/writers (and also one of the main cast members), Ruth Jones, explains it best.  During an interview she mentioned that when a relationship happens, it’s more than just those two people who get together, but this series explores the interesting happenings when the people that they bring with them (their families and friends) begin to merge.  And it’s that notion that this show explores so beautifully.

Continue reading ‘Gavin & Stacey’

05
Dec
08

Shonda Rhimes Must Have It In For Katherine Heigl

One of these people is dead. It’s no secret that Katherine Heigl is as close to Isaiah Washington in terms of her current standing with the Grey’s Anatomy writers.  This isn’t to say that she’s making homophobic comments.  However, Grey’s fans can recall the buzzing that was circulating the set when Isaiah had an altercation or made comments towards T.R. Knight.  That same attention is here again.  I find Katherine (as an actress and as an interview) fascinating.  I guess it’s just something in the way that she responds to questions.  It lets me know that she’d make for an incredibly interesting conversation.  However, it might be that independent and against-the-grain attitude that ends her run on Grey’s.

It’s no secret that she’s very outspoken.  She’s different from most of the ‘Hollywood crowd’.  (She has a backbone.)  When Katherine felt that her character was underutilized last season, she took her name out of the running for an Emmy nomination for Best Actress (despite the fact that she won the award last year.)  A bit risky.  Some may say a bit ungrateful… but one that is undoubtedly the response of a person who considers their craft ‘art’ and isn’t just looking for a check.  She cares about how her character is being portrayed.

In defense of the series creator and lead writer, Shonda Rhimes, it is completely up to her as writer to decide how her on-screen characters are to be developed.  Shonda has gone on record as saying that she has a “Grey’s bible” and that every plotline’s resolution is pretty much ‘laid out’.  And so, perhaps, this was the season to de-emphasize Heigl’s character (Izzie Stevens) and to focus on the development of less prominently featured characters?  Whatever the reason, it’s a bit juvenile to think that someone who has given us as many compelling moments as Rhimes has would de-emphasize a character over a personal dispute.

Or perhaps I have it completely wrong.  Perhaps Katherine doesn’t have an issue with the way she has been used at all.  Maybe she just doesn’t think she herself gave 100% this season and would feel guilty if she won the award?  Or perhaps there is some inside disagreement that is beyond the reach of nagging tabloids.

Whatever the reason, it’s become clear to me this season that Shonda is making an exit for Katherine.

Continue reading ‘Shonda Rhimes Must Have It In For Katherine Heigl’

04
Jul
08

John Adams (HBO Series): Reason to Be a Prideful American

John Adams Today we celebrate the independence of our great country.  I’m proud and blessed to be a citizen of this great nation (although I feel like we deserve more in the quality of those who lead us.)  The road to this country’s existence may seem like a passive chapter in a history book for some.  But clearly there was a deeper story to be told.  I remarked with a friend at work about some of the films that have been released and how superior they are in quality to the bland and lifeless retelling of our nations history by teachers who seemed to be narrating from a teleprompter.  While this may seem a bit extreme, I believe it would be far more effective to substitute 5th grade history class with a 60” Plasma television, comfortable chairs and a DVD Box Set of the HBO Original Series John Adams.  If the quality of history teachers is anything now like it was when I was a lad, this would be a far more effective lesson.

John Adams is an HBO original series based on the book by David McCullough, but calling it a “TV series” is almost degrading.  This is a high quality theatrical production.  I call it a film and think of it as a film, because truthfully that’s what it is – only one that was cut up into seven parts and had it’s theatrical release omitted.

I don’t know how historically accurate the film is, but considering the scrutiny that films find themselves under these days, I would have to say that it’s probably as accurate as it could be (for a retelling of events taking place 230 years ago.)  I thought initially that this would be a long and boring undertaking.  After all, seven parts of any film is an investment that you may later regret.  But as soon as this one gets started, you realize that this is no typical American history retelling.  No faux flutes and patriotic music to drown out the bad acting here.  This one has some substance.

Everyone by now is aware that Paul Giamatti has the lead role, but aside from Laura Linney (Abigail Adams) and David Morse (George Washington), there aren’t many faces here that I’ve seen before.  And this is a good thing.  In fact, it’s a great thing.  This adds completely to the authenticity of the film.  Instead of finding yourself saying, “Hey, look at Patrick Stewart playing Thomas Jefferson!”, you instead find yourself lost in the story and exploring the ideas through unfamiliar faces.

As well directed and well acted as the entire series is, what I took away most from the series was authenticity.  Sure, it’s difficult to even attempt to paint a picture about what really happened in an event so critical to American history and, for that matter, the history of the world.  But it’s the little things that helped me to commiserate with the plight of Englishmen in a foreign land, trying to push away their mother country.  The flies that make the first Congressional meetings uncomfortable.  The dialect of the different characters.  The toys that the children play with.  It’s the little things that seemed to grab me.

There were many details that we learn throughout the more than eight hours of viewing.  Some of them you’ll find that you knew.  But whether some of the ideas that we learn about (like Adams lack of people skills and Ben Franklin’s taste for French culture) are factual may be somewhat debatable.  But the authenticity is only part of the point.  What’s great here is the discussions that might ensure afterwards.  Whether we’re discussing rumors about our forefathers or actual accurate details, the point is that we’re discussing them.

Continue reading ‘John Adams (HBO Series): Reason to Be a Prideful American’

27
May
08

Grey’s Anatomy Season 4 Finale: Thoughts (I Still Like Rose….)

Episode FreedomEpisode WildThings

I had really high hopes heading into the Grey’s season finale last week.  While there are some questions that have been raised, ultimately I walked away a little disappointed.  The writer’s had given us such incredible ways to end each of the past three seasons.  (SPOILERS AHEAD if you plan on going back to watch.)  The clumsy way that Meredith met Addison to end the inaugural season.  The painful way that Izzie’s carried off after losing Denny, leading to all sorts of questions about her career.  And the third season, for me, gave us the ultimate in closure with the wedding break up, Alex being abandoned and so many other satisfying details.  I was expecting the same this season.  And while they can’t all be like last season’s finale, I wanted more.  Maybe the strike-shortened season is to blame.

I’m actually a little frustrated with the directions that everyone seems to be headed in… Just a few random thoughts…

  • I once was ready to play my guitar outside of Callie Torres’ window.  (I guess that will never be now.)  But beyond my own personal hangup, I just kinda don’t get it.  I respect the writers for having characters that reflect folks that we live and love everyday.  But this just seems strange.  One minute she was begging Sloan to come in the closet and now…. I just need to see the way that this plays out.  Perhaps she was hiding the attraction?  Obviously that’s what the writers are hinting at, but they didn’t seem to go down this course until very late in the season.  Perhaps I’m reading into this too deeply, but one thing we do know about Callie is that she’s unstable.  She lived inside the stock closet.  She fell for George and took part in the mistake that was their marriage.  She started looking to Sloan and now this.  Perhaps the book isn’t closed.  And I hope it isn’t because…

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  • …I can’t take Erica Hahn.  The attitude.  The snide comments.  The weird expressions.  She just bugs the hell out of me.  She’s one of those people that you see in the airport and want to slap because they remind you of everything that frustrates you about the show.  But in that way, she’s done her job — good actress.  I just don’t like the character.  And for her to kinda get the payoff in this episode was kinda unfulfilling.  I don’t wanna see her drown, but she just doesn’t seem to deserve to “go home happy”.  The chief made me proud when he carefully yet sternly told her how she might want to reconsider her approach.  I’d have preferred a slap from Christina.  (Kidding.)

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  • George and Lexie.  I just don’t like it.  Lexie’s nice, but she needs someone else.  She needs another intern.  George has matured so much over the course of the show.  Lexie would be the “right now” girl…. again.  I hope this doesn’t come to pass.  It’s a step backwards for him and it certainly doesn’t help his reputation.  (I guess I didn’t get the theme of the episode: don’t care about what people think.  Yes… I got it.  You practically hit us over the head with it.) I still don’t like the pairing.  If he thought there was no chemistry with Izzie…. Continue reading ‘Grey’s Anatomy Season 4 Finale: Thoughts (I Still Like Rose….)’
12
May
08

Grey’s Anatomy… still amazing

Episode 413I stayed away. It had been awhile since Grey’s Anatomy went on hiatus due to the actor’s strike and, well…. I stayed away. At first, it was tough. Grey’s was that moment of tenderness (albeit artificial) in an otherwise hardened hustle-and-bustle New York City workweek. But after weeks of not watching, it became easier to reflect on what the show had already given me than to venture into anything new it had to offer.

Since the last new episode of the show earlier this year, I became a Tivo subscriber. The funny thing about Tivo is the more than you accumulate in content, season passes and those beloved ‘Tivo Suggestions’, the more than you don’t casually browse through channels. (You know, like real people do.) And so it was only after having seen a snippet of Meredith Grey at the beginning of my scheduled Lost recording did I realize that it was the third episode since the show returned with new content — and that I had neglected to start a season pass.

For a moment, I even considered just kinda sitting it out. Maybe I’d let the shows accumulate and if I felt the urge, I’d download them in a season and just start watching again. Or maybe not. Being away from the folks at Seattle Grace made me forget what made the show such a wonderful part of the week.

Strangely, I’d heard rumors that the show wasn’t doing well in the ratings anymore. There was talk that they’d even resorted to trying to use Isaish Washington’s likeness to try and bring the ratings up. (All lies, by the way.) Oddly enough, it was the rumor that the show wasn’t churning out ‘greatness’ anymore that made me curious. And so I thought now was as good a time as any. And with that, I downloaded the first three new episodes since March.

Shame on me for staying away. Continue reading ‘Grey’s Anatomy… still amazing’