Tag Archives: American Horror Story

Fall 2011 New Show Ranking

27 Dec

Well, we’ve just seen how I did in my predictions about the new shows in fall 2011.  Let’s take a look at what I actually think of them, rankings style.  I didn’t think it was a particularly strong season, as most of the shows sat in the healthy middle of mediocrity with a fair few as true garbage.  Although it’s a linear ranking, I’ve tried to point out when there’s a large gap between shows here and there.

1.  Homeland – far and away the best new show of the year – it’s not particularly close.  I’m not sure where they’ll go from here, but first season a must watch

2.  Revenge – surprisingly good for a trashy primetime soap and although that sounds like a backhand compliment, I really don’t mean it that way.  I enjoy this show thoroughly and Madeline Stowe is great.

3.  New Girl – improved as the season went on and seemed to find its place, the last of the three shows on this list that I’ve seen every episode of, and thus there’s a little drop off here

4.  Boss – I haven’t cared enough to watch more, but I was more impressed than I thought I’d be in the first episode, and more episodes could easily move this in either direction

5. Hell on Wheels – solid but not spectacular, I wish it was better, but I’m glad it’s not worse

6.. Ringer – 6 is higher than it should be, but it’s really just in a similar tier with the next few shows and I’ve seen more of it than the next few

7.  American Horror Story – I’ve never seen a show like it in any way, and I think I mean that as a compliment

8. The Secret Circle – the show is much more entertaining than it has any right to be for someone of my age and my gender

9. Terra Nova – It’s not great but it’s really not bad either.  There’s something to work with and I feel slightly more than ambivalent about continuing to watch

10.  Suburgatory – newer episodes are definitely better than the older episodes, and I like the two main actors, but it constantly battles not to not be a poor man’s Mean Girls

11.  Prime Suspect – you’ve just entered procedural country.  Prime Suspect is probably slightly the best of the bunch – it’s a minor shame it’s being cancelled but no Terriers

12.Grimm – second best of procedurals, my friend likes it because it takes place in his home state of Oregon, so props for that

13.Person of Interest – second in a row of shows my dad watches – he likes this one better, but I prefer Grimm slightly

14.Up All Night – it’s not bad, it’s just not really that good either – what in the world is Maya Rudolph doing here

15.Unforgettable – this may actually be better than one of the two above it – who even knows at this point?

16.A Gifted Man – repeat what I said about Unforgettable.  The show is fine but hardly compelling

17.Pan Am – we’re still in the section of shows I don’t completely want to bash, I just want to let them be ignored

18. Hart of Dixie– Rachel Bilson is good, I guess. Alabama seems pretty boring.  Is that the message?  Still not at the bad ones.

19.Enlightened – People tell me it gets better after the first episode, and maybe it does.  Laura Dern’s character was just so annoying.

20.Free Agents – shows starting to get bad here – it had two good characters, and a bunch of terrible ones

21.Once Upon A Time – why do people like this?  This is exactly the type of show people like to pretend is interesting and complex but really isn’t

22.  Man Up – men aren’t really men anymore part 1 – possible but hard to win with that premise

23.  Last Man Standing – men aren’t really men anymore part 2- much more patently offensive than the previous

24.  Allen Gregory – animated misstep – close enough to a good show to maybe understand what the creators were thinking but far enough away that it will never get there

25. I Hate My Teenage Daughter –  a generic instructional example of a bad traditional sitcom

26.  How To Be A Gentlemen – why do so many actors who were in shows with more modern forms of comedy (It’s Always Sunny inPhiladelphia, Mr. Show, Flight of the Conchords) sink to this?

27.  Playboy Club – Saying that Amber Heard is attractive is about the nicest thing I can say about this show

28.  Chalie’s Angels – Saying that Minka Kelly is attractive is about the nicest thing I can say about this show

29.  Whitney – and here we are, a Whitney Cummings two-some – whoever thought this show made sense after Community, Parks and Recreation and The Office should be shot, tarred, and feathered

30.  2 Broke Girls – there is nothing redeeming about this show – the fact that it is popular embarrasses the US as much as the existence of the death penalty

Fall 2011 Review: American Horror Story

6 Oct

When I watched Homeland, I made the possibly too soon comment that I had just seen the best pilot of the fall 2011 season.  Well, after watching American Horror Story, I feel far more confident than that that in saying that I’d just seen the strangest.

Here’s the set up.  Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott are married with a daughter, living in Boston.  He’s a psychologist.  She comes home to find him cheating one day, and we find out later that she recently had a miscarriage, after which they had been distant emotionally.  They move out west to try to save their marriage and their family, and move into a creepy looking Victorian house because it’s twice the size and half the cost than the neighboring houses because the prior residents died inside, in a murder suicide.  We know the house is haunted already because, well, first, the show is called American Horror Story, and second, we saw a prologue in which a couple of mischievous twin pre-teen boys walked into the house to bust stuff up, were warned by a creepy girl that they would die inside, and then were brutally murdered by mysterious paranormal causes.

They enter the house and things are strange.  I’m going to engage in a bit of summarizing here, but this is as much for me as for you, because I need to write it down to have it all make sense to myself.  The mysterious girl from the prologue shows up out of nowhere, a bit older, telling Connie Britton she’ll die, and Jessica Lange comes into the house to take her, introducing herself as the neighbor, but she’s clearly also in on the supernatural.  A woman comes in claiming to have been the maid at the property for years and years, played by Frances Conroy, best known as the mother on Six Feet Under.  She’s hired, but oh, she’s in on the crazy too, in that she looks like a young attractive woman to McDermott but an old maid to everyone else, and she tries to seduce McDermott when she has a chance.  McDermott is treating a high school aged boy who has fantasies of murdering kids at his school, and who befriends McDermott’s teenage daughter who is having trouble fitting in and apparently also cuts herself.  McDermott begins sleepwalking naked (there’s a lot of naked Dylan McDermott) and starts playing with the flames on his stovetop.  Britton has sex with something a latex suit that she thinks is, but is not, McDermott.  McDermott runs into a mutilated Denis O’Hare (Vampire King of Mississippi from True Blood) who claims he lived in the house, which told him to kill his family, which he did, and now he’s only out of jail because he’s dying, but he’s warning McDermott, or maybe he’s just part of the whole supernatural business also.

It’s not just the fact that things are strange.  It’s that they are strange to the point of being extremely confusing (as you probably are if you read that whole summary paragraph), and I don’t mean that in a blatantly bad way as much just an extremely confusing way.  There can be a benefit to a certain amount of confusion in a show like this to get a certain feel, but that can be defeated if it goes too far and the viewer doesn’t have any idea what’s going on halfway into the season.  The style validates this confusing plot with frequent camera jumps and strange coloring.

Where do we go from here?  I’m not sure how this is sustainable for a long period of time.  Either they go crazy and die one way or another, or they get out of the house.  Those seem like the only two options, and though going crazy and dying can certainly take a couple of hours, it’s hard to see it taking more than that or they’d leave the house, unless they’re trapped or who even knows.

Will I watch it again?  Recently I said Pan-Am was the show that I said no to which was the closest to yes of all the series premieres so far.  Well, this is even closer, in that I honestly don’t know.  I’m leaning towards giving it another episode, because I’m curious where it could go, but it has the potential to burn out or get repetitive really quickly.  It may well be a game time decision.  I’m leaning towards watching it, but if I fall behind I can easily see just giving up.