Archive | 4:30 pm

Fall 2011 Review: Hart of Dixie

13 Oct

Unforgettable was exactly what I thought it would be, and so is Hart of Dixie, but as a very different type of show.  I’ll talk about the premise in more detail below, but I can pretty much sum it up like this:  big-city-super-educated-doctor-girl moves into small-hick-southern town, learns that the people there aren’t so bad after all.

That’s basically all I need to get across the main gist of the show.  That said, here’s a little bit of a longer version.  Rachel Bilson portrays Dr. Zoe Hart (yes, let’s spend a second on the literalness of the pun in the title, Saving Grace and others like it have a successor), a high-powered doctor whose had her whole life planned out since she was a kid. She wanted to be like her dad and become a Cardio-thoracic surgeon, working with him in his practice.  She is shocked when she doesn’t get the fellowship she needs because, as she learns, she doesn’t have the people skills needed to be a top doctor.  The person who grants the fellowships tells her to get some practice as a general practitioner, and then come back and reapply.  Meanwhile, she has had a strange outstanding offer from a general practitioner in a small Alabama town, a Harvey Wilkes, to come down to his practice and help out.  She takes him up on the offer, only to find out when she gets there that he died recently, but left his half of his practice to her.  She then has a number of City Slickers moments, meeting the (main) characters of the town and not fitting in everywhere, and she feels alienated.  Her mother comes down begging her to leave, and she is planning on it, until she is forced to help deliver a pregnancy at a wedding, and also finds out that Harvey Wilkes was her true biological father.  She then decides to stay and learn about her biological father and about being a general practitioner and about growing as a person.

Okay, so the simple explanation was probably just as useful as the long one in determining what kind of show it is, but that doesn’t say whether or not it’s good.  Like Unforgettable, I think part of it is just whether the type of show appeals to you, in particular because I think the show was nothing notably good or notably bad.  I liked Rachel Bilson more than I thought I would, and I do think she has the charm and likeability to carry a show, and I enjoyed Scott Porter (Jason Street from Friday Night Lights) speaking with a southern accent.  If you like the actors, and you like a little fluffy drama with some probable light soapiness,  you’ll probably like the show.  It’s not close to can’t miss television though.

Will I watch it again?  No, I won’t.  There just isn’t enough going on.  There’s nothing wrong with it, per se; it’s not bad.  It’s just not that interesting either.  It’s cute and it’s light and I appreciate the draw of shows like that but I already watch a couple that satisfy that sector for me.

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 14: The Office

13 Oct

Let’s put this right out there.  I know quite a fair number of people who were long time Office fans for the first three, four, or five seasons who just don’t watch it anymore.  It’s over the hill they say, jumped the shark, however you want to put it.  To me, that’s a lot of shit.  Has that happened in shows before?  Certainly.  I’ve complained about it myself.  And I’m making no claim that The Office as of 2011 and seventh or eighth season is as good as it’s ever been in its entire run.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not quite good and funny and enjoyable.

Admittedly this season was particularly strange, paving the way for the departure of Michael Scott, with guest star Will Ferrell as a potential replacement boss appearing in the last few episodes of the season.

Some people have said, Steve Carell is leaving, maybe that’s a sign you should just end the show, whether to put it out of its misery, or whether it’s going out on top.  Normally, I’d think they have a good point. It can look desperate to replace a major character in a comedy, and worse than appearances, there’s a huge risk of it simply not working.  The show got so far because of the chemistry and laughs generated by the core current cast.  When you risk throwing that off, you could have a show that would never make it on air as a pilot, but automatically gets a season because of the show’s pedigree.  In this instance though, I’m not particularly worried, at least about Steve Carrell leaving, although, of course, who they bring in is another matter.  I’ve been advocating Steve Carell leave the show for another boss for a couple years now.  Not at all because I think he’s done a bad job. On the contrary, I think he’s been able to make a character awkward and funny in a way I think very few actors could pull off.  Still, the character has inherent limitations and it’s a credit to him and the writers that they were able to continue to generate laughs until the end, but fresh blood can be a good thing.

Just looking through the episodes of the most recent season I recall funny segments.  In the last episode with Will Ferrell the oddly hilarious dunk attempt that landed him in a coma –  I can’t explain exactly why, but my friend and I laughed for five minutes straight and had to pause the show.  Dwight at the garage sale, starting small and then trading up, until he is sold on Jim’s magic beans.  Dwight and Jim gags may be the most resilient part of the show.  By all rights, they should get old, but they never do.  Ryan’s grilling of Pam about her Christmas comic book gift was fantastic and emblematic of the newest and best iteration of Ryan’s character as a pretentious hipster.

A word is also worth saying about how the Office’s attempts to add new blood (new blood?  fresh blood?  same difference) with new receptionist Erin and corporate liaison/stooge Gabe have very much worked.  Gabe becoming wholly unhinged by Erin’s awkward and extremely public break up with him turned into what may have been one of the funniest running arcs of the season, highlighted in the last episode when he quizzed Andy, during his interview, about the sun, and when Andy knew the answers, ordered him to “Shut up about the sun!” Erin carefully walks the line between adorable empty-headedness and maybe-she-has-an-actually-problem with the defining moment possibly being her believing that disposable cameras were for disposing immediately after you took the pictures.

Why it’s this high:  It’s still The Office, more or less, Dwight and Jim antics are hilarious, they continue to do good work

Why it’s not higher:  Yes, you should still watch it, but no, it’s not as good as it was during maybe the third season

Best episode of the most recent season:  There’s no obvious choice but I’ll take “Andy’s Play” which had one of my favorite scenes of the season at the end – Michael’s word-for-word rendition of a Law & Order episode as an audition