Tag Archives: Glee

Six Shows I Stopped Watching, Part 3

1 May

Part 3 of a brief list of six shows I actively decided to stop watching.   Part 1 and a full intro can be found here, while part 2 can be found here.

Glee

Rocky Horror Glee Show

 

24 is the only show on this list that I even have to think about why I stopped watching.  Heroes and Glee are the two shows that I think had the least amount of actual quality content before they went off the rails.  For half a season, I actually went around defending the show, even outright supporting it, saying that, yes it looks silly, and I am often ambivalent about the singing (it had its moments (4 minutes by Madonna, for example), but sometimes was just too much), but Glee was high school parody done right for a short time.  There were central plots holding the show together, in particular, Will’s wife’s fake baby, and cheerleader Quinn’s real one, that anchored the show.  The show kept a consistent roster of character personalities and plot strands besides merely how the Glee Club fares through the Christmas break, where characters maybe showed gradual change, but were who they were.  And then it all fell apart.  It was clear there was no more meticulous planning, or honestly planning at all.  Instead, everything, including characters’ personalities and storylines, was at the mercy of what the writers decided they wanted for a particular episode, whether it was a message they wanted to send, or a particular musical theme.  Quinn’s cheerleader character was perhaps the biggest casualty of this let’s-not-think-beyond-the-next-episode policy.  She was friendly and helpful one episode, she was a total bitch in another, she was emotional and depressed in a third. Sure, people are complicated and change, but there was absolutely no coherence.  Consistent plotting and characters was simply no longer something those running the show were interested in.  I complained and complained throughout the end of the first season and the start of the second but the official end came when Glee took on Rocky Horror in the fifth episode of the second season to celebrate Halloween.  I didn’t initially intend to just stop watching, but the episode just sat on my DV-r for weeks and then months passed before I realized the inevitable.  I didn’t really like Glee at that point, and I had never much cared for Rocky Horror, and realizing I didn’t care about the show later passed on towards active dislike the more detached I was.

True Blood

True Blood

I searched my google chat logs to figure out when exactly I caught up on True Blood, which I did not start watching right from the pilot.  In fact, what’s ironic is that when I caught up, was just about when I thought the last good episodes were.  This was in September of 2009, when the second season was finishing up, and I watched both seasons at a furious pace, desperately trying to catch up in time to watch the Season 2 finale live.  I say just about because I think the beginning of Season 3 was pretty good as well.  The last few episodes of Season 3, however, were both anticlimactic and terrible, and I found my first official gchat complaint about the show just after the fourth season started, in June of 2011, when I tell my friend I haven’t watched the first episode yet because I didn’t think the last season was so good.  I’m not sure I ever turned on a show as quickly as True Blood.  I was very into when I was marathoning.  I thought the second half of the first season and the entire second season were riveting, addictive TV, and the third season built up in such a way that it seemed to have a solid chance of matching the first two.  But then the show just cratered, and I didn’t even finish season4.  I watched a couple episodes, and then just gradual faded out, noticing that I really didn’t want to watch anymore.  Most shows I’d give at least a full season to let them back on their path, or see if it was just a bad run of episodes that the writers realized as well and had time to correct, but I didn’t give that to True Blood, and history proved me right, as whenever I caught pieces of other episodes, they were terrible, and friends who were still watching told me as much.  The biggest culprits were that first, the universe just became too big too fast, and there were absolutely no natural limits.  Time travel, fairies, witches, it was impossible to keep up with, and more than that, I didn’t really want to.  It lost its fun trashiness quotient into just bad trashiness.  Second, the careful plotting of the early seasons disappeared; where there were smaller individual plots that coalesced into a couple of big plots in time for the end of the season, now every character had his or her own plot, and some of the characters had absolutely no business with one.  Jason’s werepanther plot was terrible (which was a shame because Jason was one of the best characters) as was the plot with Sam’s brother.  More of the plots were bad than good, and I found it harder and harder to pick out main characters that I really liked.  Recently, I’ve had friends describe for me the plots of the end of the last two seasons, and laughed and laughed at how ridiculous they sounded.  It’s possible in context they don’t seem as ridiculous but I enjoyed the short narrative recitation of the plot much more than I would have watching the show and that says a lot.

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Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2012 edition: The Outcasts, Part 1

23 Jan

I’m currently out of the country, which is causing me to unfortunately to temporarily fall behind on current television.  What better time, then, to finally issue my slightly belated ranking of TV shows that I watched in 2012.  I last put together a ranking in the summer of 2011, and it will be interesting to see what went up, went down, and stayed the same.  Here are the rules:  to be ranked, the show has to have aired episodes in the 2012 calendar year.  Secondly, I’m not ranking any shows that debuted in Fall 2012 and haven’t finished full seasons, because those shows haven’t put in enough time yet to judge.  Third, I’m trimming the fat from my 2011 rankings; I’m only ranking shows that I’ve seen several of this past year; for most shows that I rank, I’ve seen all of, and for just a couple I’ve seen most of.  So for the most part, I at least like every show on the list, and it’s something of an accomplishment just to make it on.  Fourth, while I’m considering body of work as far as the whole year goes, if a show was much better in fall 2012 than the end of a previous season in the spring, I’ll tend to lean towards accounting for the uptick in performance.  Lastly, primetime shows only; which mainly means no Daily Show or Colbert Report.

With that in mind, we’re almost ready to start, but first we’ll spend a couple posts going over shows that made the last list but didn’t make this one, and why that was the case.  Also, quick apologies to British shows Peep Show and The Thick of It, both of which aired episodes in 2012, but which I’m one season behind on and thus won’t rank; I look forward to catching up with both of them.

Glee

Fuck Glee

2011 ranking:  34

I had already stopped watching this show by the fall of 2011; it’s simply, well, bad.  I know a number of people who watched it regularly at some point and most have at one point or another just decided to quit. It’s closer to Heroes than to even a show like Lost in the ratio of how long it was good before it turned bad. There was a half season in which the show had a coherent plot arc,while  the remainder of the show has been spent trying to reach that again. Flaws include characters which have extremely inconsistent personalities, an extreme reversion to status quo sometimes (like a comic book villain, Jane Lynch can’t win enough to stop the club, but also sticks around to keep almost doing it), plot arcs that just go way over the top, and plenty of the characters that are just well, bad.  Goodbye Glee, I’m glad to see the public has largely stopped caring about you as well.

Modern Family

Three Modern Families

2011 ranking:  33

I gave myself more leeway last rankings in terms of how much I needed to watch a show before ranking it, and though I’ve seen most of Modern Family’s first season, I haven’t watched much after it.  It isn’t so much because I don’t think it’s a good show (though I certainly don’t think it’s a great show) as much as it’s not a show for me; it just isn’t really up my alley.  It does feature an all-time personal pet peeve with little narrations at the end of each half hour summing up the episode and giving it some totally unnecessary and unsubtle overarching theme, but mostly I think it’s still just a small bit old-sitcom-y for me.  I will say I think, from my previous watching, that Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen and their family are far and away the funniest of the three families on the show and I do think there are some genuinely good laughs.  Anyway, I can’t really begrudge anyone for watching it, though I’ve heard it’s gotten worse of late, but I stopped because I realized I just didn’t care enough it to watch, and that’s still how I feel.

Fairly Legal

Fairly Legal

2011 ranking:  32

We’re really in the dregs here.  Honestly, there was absolutely no reason for me to be watching Fairly Legal at any time, except that I had a bit of a possibly ironic, and possibly not ironic obsession with USA programs.  That obsession has subsided and Fairly Legal, the worst of the USA programs that I watched, was pretty quickly dropped.  It’s not awful but it’s pretty generic; charismatic lawyer-turned-mediator uses her natural charm, ability, and determination to solve problems others can’t.  You’ve seen it before.  Just in case I hadn’t stopped watching it by now, USA’s stopped it for me; cancelling it after it’s second season finished airing last summer.  I doubt many will be crying over the loss.

Rubicon

Somebody's Watching You

2011 ranking: 31

Last year’s list reached back into 2010, so it hit upon AMC’s one true failure (we can debate The Killing, but at least it went two seasons),  Rubicon.  It’s a little bit of a shame because Rubicon, unlike say Fairly Legal, had a chance to be a really interesting, good, show.  And then, well, like so many other dramas that start off with promise, it wasn’t.  It tackled a 70s neo-noir feeling in a way I don’t think recent shows have, but while the mood was right, the plots slowly fell apart and the conspiracy may have unraveled a little too far even for a conspiracy show.  I probably would have watched if there was a second season, but part of me was certainly comforted by the fact that it was cancelled and I wouldn’t have to.  I wish it was better, because I think there was something there, but it wasn’t, and it’s rightfully gone.

The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Stephen Tobolowsky

3 Nov

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

An actor perhaps best known for his small role in an early ‘90s movie (Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day, you know his quote “watch out for that first step, it’s a doozy!”), he’s come back to TV over and over in numerous recurring roles and many single episodes, and because his career has been constant for over two decades, please pardon the especially long entry today as we induct Stephen Tobolowsky into the Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame.

Tobolowsky’s first credited television role was as TV Clerk in 1983 TV movie Cocaine and Blue Eyes.  He then appeared in a series of single episode roles throughout the remainder of the ‘80s including Alice, Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, Cagney & Lacey, Stir Crazy, 222, Designing Women, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, and L.A. Law. Then, a series of TV film appearances in Roe vs. Wade, Last Flight Out, The Marla Hanson Story, Tagget, and Perry Mason: The Case of the Maligned Mobster.  Then, more single appearances in shows Lifestories, Down Home, Baby Talk, and Shannon’s Deal, and then on Seinfeld, as a holistic healer who diagnoses George and proscribes a tea which puts George in the hospital (Jerry accompanies George to the healer for the potential comedy value).

A few more bit roles followed, in single episodes of Picket Fences, Civil Wars, and Café Americain, as well as TV movie When Love Kills:  The Seduction of John Hearn.  Apparently this little TV movie starred Gary Cole as John Hearn, a real life ex-marine, who Debbie Bannister, played by CSI vet Marg Helgeneurger, convinced to kill her husband and her sister’s ex-husband.  The movie also featured Michael Jeter and Justified main cast member Nick Searcy.

Next, he got his first main cast role on Against the Grain, a show I can’t believe I’ve never heard of for two reasons.  First, because one of the other main cast members was Ben Affleck a good couple of years before Good Will Hunting.  Second, because the show is based on a little book by Buzz Bissinger called Friday Night Lights which went on to become a somewhat more successful show a few years later (not to mention a feature film).  I’m going to have to investigate this show more in the future, but the coach role was played by John Terry, best known as Jack’s dad in Lost (and unrelated, as far as I know to the controversial Chelsea defender).

He appeared in an episode of Harts of the West before getting another main role in a series called Blue Skies that doesn’t even have a wikipedia entry.  He did act in it next to possible future Ivanek nominee Richard Kind.  After two episodes of Chicago Hope, and two of A Whole New Ballgame, he co-starred again in the 1995 CBS sitcom Dweebs.  Dweebs seems like an earlier take on The Big Bang Theory idea or possibly the British IT Crowd.  A normal human woman, played by Farrah Forke, is hired to manage a bunch of uber nerdy software workers.  Bosom Buddies’ Peter Scolari owns the company, and Tobolowsky is an employee aside other luminaries such as Corey Feldman.  The show aired six episodes before cancellation.

Next up were single episodes of The Home Court and The Pretender along with an appearance as Principal Flutie in the unaired pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Tobolowsky was back in a regular series in 1996 with Mr. Rhodes, starring comedian Tom Rhodes, and yet again, bizarrely, Farrah Forke.  The show co-starred Lindsey Sloane and Veronica Mars’ Logan, Jason Dohring, and lasted 19 episodes.  After four straight failed series, Tobolowsky spent the last few years of the 20th century guesting in a number of series.  These included three episodes of Murder One and Snoops and single episodes of The Naked Truth, Promised Land, The Drew Carey Show, The Closer (the less heralded Tom Selleck one), Suddenly Susan, Vengeance Unlimited, Mad About You, The Practice, That ‘70s Show, and Odd Man Out, along with TV movie Don’t Look Under the Bed.

He recurred in 2000 in one season USA mystery show Manhattan, AZ, as a small town veterinarian who also works as a regular doctor (hey, it’s a really small town).  After that it was back to one off appearances in Any Day Now, Hollywood Off-Ramp, That’s Life, Bull, The Lone Gunmen, Roswell, Malcolm in the Middle, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Oliver Beene, Stephen King’s Dead Zone, Las Vegas, The West Wing, Married to the Kellys, It’s All Relative, According to Jim, Will and Grace and Complete Savages (seriously, this only covers about four years) and TV movies with amazing names like Alien Fury: Countdown to Invasion, The Gene Pool, On the Edge, Black River, The Day the World Ended, and Twins.

He appeared in five episodes of CSI: Miami as Assistant State Attorney Don Haffman.  He became likely one of if not the only person to appear in both series titled The Closer (the more famous Kyra Sedgwick one this time) and showed up in Curb Your Enthusiasm as Jeff’s conservative brother-in-law Len Dunkel.  He followed this by guesting in Reba, Ghost Whisperer, and Desperate Housewives.  He was in 9 episodes of Deadwood, mostly in the second season as Commissioner Hugo Jarry, a politician trying to angle for the inclusion of Deadwood into the Dakota Territory, negotiating with Al Swearengen, Cy Tolliver and occasionally Sheriff Bullock, with mixed results.

He was a regular cast member in the short-lived Big Day, a show which takes place on a couple’s wedding day, and in which he portrayed the groom’s father.  He was then in TV movie Valley of Light and episodes of Boston Legal, Raines, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and Entourage, in which he played the mayor of Beverly Hills.  He was in three episodes of HBO’s one season John From Cincinnati and one of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

He appeared in 11 episodes of short-lasting phenomenon-before-turning-terrible Heroes as Bob Bishop, a member of the evil company who also has the power to turn anything to gold, which allows him to fund the company, and is a member of the older generation of heroes that had some large conspiracy in place from years ago and well, trying to explain more about what he does, it would just make less sense than this.  He did two episodes of The New Adventures of Old Christine as a principal, one of Community as a professor, and episodes of The Sarah Silverman Program, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Defenders, and kids show True Jackson, VP.

He’s been in eight episodes of Glee as recurring character and creepy ex-teacher Sandy Ryerson (a nod to Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day I assume?).  Sandy is the former director of the Glee club and is super creepy and one of those says-he’s-not-gay-but-is-obviously-gay types who apparently has had disturbing incidents with harassing male students (yeah, it’s kind of creepy).  He’s meanwhile been in 19 episodes of the can’t-believe-they’re-on-their-sixth-season Californication.  He was in the last two seasons as movie producer Stu Beggs who dates and then marries Marcy, played by Louie recurring actress Pamela Adlon, who used to be married to Evan Handler’s character, Charlie.  He also appeared in two third season episodes of Justified as a an agent out to get Raylan Givens.

Tobolowsky is now a main cast member (though he hasn’t been in at least a couple of the first batch of episodes, so maybe he’ll end up simply recurring) on The Mindy Project as Mindy’s practice’s head and veteran doctor Marc Shulman.

Ranking the Shows That I Watch: 34 – Glee

4 Aug


GLEEEEEE

This was the most debatable entry on my list – I watched the entire first season, and the first few episodes of the second, but kept delaying watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show tribute episode because I’ve never had all that much love for Rocky Horror, and Glee was already going in the wrong direction.  I originally intended to watch it and catch up but as time went forward and I fell more and more episodes behind, I found myself not really wanting to watch it.  I started viewing it as a chore more than as entertainment, which is probably the ultimate bad sign for a show.  I think I even loaded an episode once or twice and hulu and then switched to something else before watching.

It’s pretty easy to explain why Glee has gone downhill ever since the first half of its first season.  The musical sequences have always been excellent.  I haven’t always enjoyed their versions of songs, but the quality and production values are always top notch and the choreography is very well done.  The other elements that make up a show have changed, however and Glee hasn’t decided exactly what type of show it wants to be.

When I started watching, I told people that if you knew Glee just for the music, you were missing the point;  there was a lot more going on.  Watching those first episodes, I was tempted to skip the songs.  It was a smart high school satire with a couple of absurd soapy plots arcs which were set up in the first couple of episodes and paced out throughout the first half of the season.  The two most important were main teacher Will’s wife claiming to be pregnant, but lying about it, and the pregnancy of head cheerleader Quinn, who was both trying to keep the pregnancy a secret and lying about who the father was.

Current Glee has lost it’s way and here’s why.  While that first half of the first season appeared to be plotted ahead of time, later plots seamed to be ramshackle and written on the fly.  Some episodes started what seemed like a major plot, and then the show would just forget about it, or remember it five episodes later in a different form.  There was no plan and the writers seemed to be making it as they went along.  Second, there was no consistency within the characters.  Cheerleader Quinn is probably the best example of this – her personality changed depending on what the week’s episode needed her to be to tell it’s story.  One week she was learned and wise after having to deal with the exclusion of  being pregnant in high school, and the next week she was a catty cheerleader again, and these traded off with a few other personality traits thrown in occasionally.  The show feels stale and misguided just a year after it started, which is sad, because it really is a good idea.

It’s not easy to keep writing new interesting plots without being repetitive.  Making later seasons of televisions are more difficult than early ones because you have to tell something new without treading old ground, but you’ve formed limits to what you can do by the plots and characters you’ve built in the past.  That said, some shows just aren’t up to the task of lasting, and it’s too bad.  Glee appears to be one of them.

Why It’s This High:  I kind of watch it, or watched it until recently, so that’s why it’s on the list at all

Why It’s Not Higher:  It’s no longer good

Best episode of the most recent season:  I’m limited but what I’ve seen, but I’ll pick “Britney/Brittany” because it gave focus to one of the better characters, the slow-witted Brittany, and there were some pretty good Brittany Spears sequences. Although other parts of the episode were kind of stupid, that’s the case in just about all of them.