Monday, July 16, 2007

Psych You Out in the End

This past Friday finally marked the season premiere of Psych, now in its sophomore go-round on USA. Also known as the return of scripted TV to the wasteland called Our Summer Oh Seven. Honestly, I’m surprised that more networks don’t better use this time as a launching pad for new shows, or old shows, or any shows, what with the abject lack of competition and all, but go figure. At this point I’d watch pretty much anything, with the possible exception of Hidden Palms – seriously, my bar is set just slightly above overwhelming blandness – and nobody’s taking advantage. But this is neither here nor there, unless here is the fact that Psych is generally awesome, and there is the fact that it's on again, and together these make me happy. Onward, to the show:

Overall, the episode was a little uneven. I mean, I like Tim Curry as much as the next girl – Clue is still kind of amazing, and my roommate once hooked up with a guy actually named Tim Curry, which entertained us to no end, for reasons that are still a mystery – but his Simon Cowell impression wore thin after approximately two minutes. Gina Gershon’s cracked-out uni-shoed Paula was a little funnier, but for an even shorter period of time. Ultimately, however, the main problem was that the mystery just wasn’t very, uh, mysterious. I mean, I know that the cases are really just there to let Shawn and Gus do their thang, but C’MON. This one was like an enigma shrouded in lazy, buried in a shoebox filled with nobody cares.

Which brings me to my second-ish point. Are they trying to phase out the whole Shawn-has-mad-crazy-powers-of-observation angle? On the one hand, honestly, it could be a blessing. Lately the zoom/flash/kapow of it all often feels like a bit of an overstatement, contextually. Like, he narrows his eyes and Ziiiiiiink! That lady’s wearing pants! Shawn. I love you, but BFD. That’s called “seeing.” I can do that. On the other hand, back in the days when he could walk into a bar, close his eyes, and recite all nine people there who hated kittens, or didn’t wash their hands after they used the bathroom, or whatever…well, that was pretty fucking cool, and something I could get behind. You’re a fake psychic, dude, and that’s a beautiful thing to be. Work it.

Of course, none of this is to say that I didn’t enjoy the show, overall. The writing is still sharp, the non-sequiturs abound. Not their finest hour, sure, but still possessing of that special Shawn/Gus magic that really charms one’s proverbial pants off. Seriously, James Roday and Dule Hill (great in West Wing, even better here) are so perfectly cast, it’s impossible NOT to secretly think that they’re totally best friends/roommates in real life, and that after a long day of shooting they go home to eat peanut butter & jelly sandwiches together, except that James ate ALL the Crunchy Jiff again, with his fingers, which totally pisses Dule off.

The O.C. Revisited for the Very First Time

For a long time I thought watching the O.C. would be a lot like letting Josh Schwartz hand me a bag marked “Delicious” and tell me I should look inside.

ME: What’s this for?
JOSH: Just open it.
ME: Why does it say delicious?
JOSH: Because I wrote it on the side.
ME: Yeah. But why?
Josh: Because it is.
ME: I very much doubt that. I can smell from here that this bag is filled with burps.

My beliefs weren’t my fault. I blame a crisis of courage on the part of all who watched it, loved it, and then apologized for it, saying the show wasn’t that good and acting like they were somehow tricked into getting sucked in.

Then one day I was trying to get a hold of the Wire Season Three (which is apparently impossible to find) when I came across the first season of The O.C. for like twenty bucks. So, I bought it. And now that I have seen it, I want to tell everyone who will listen: I have looked inside Josh’s bag marked “Delicious” and it is not filled with anything gross or smelly but with something that is in fact delicious – maybe muffins filled with nuts.

It turns out, this is the show that gave birth to the tone and style that made the television savvy fall in love with Veronica Mars: the decadent rich kids, the super sharp dialogue, the indie music. It even has a kid living in the penthouse of a hotel. Now yes, it can be too meta for its own good sometimes and occasionally it makes inconsistent choices to forward storylines. But, what makes the show so good is the characters are so amazingly conceived, cast, and performed.

For those of you who don’t know, Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) is a tough kid from Chino brought to the OC by the rich but good-hearted Sandy Cohen (more on him in a minute). Awesomeness ensues. Atwood is a linear problem solver, a gladiator if you will, and I don’t just mean like Russell Crowe -- though he does bare a striking resemblance -- nor do I mean he solves all his problems with punches made of fists -- though he does do that a lot. Atwood is essentially a man with a turn of the century moral code who is struggling with the fact that society has a monopoly on violence that will allow people of action to take such only in limited doses. And Ben Mckenzie can flat out act. I’m talking I haven’t seen a young man playing a teenager this good since James Van Der Beek on Dawson’s Creek (if you are laughing, you shouldn’t be. I’m not kidding. Go back and watch a few episodes. The show isn’t very good but James is).

But the break out holy-crap-how-long-has-this-dude-been-this-amazing gem of the show is Peter Gallagher as Sandy Cohen. A brief aside, more of a warning, actually. You’re gonna watch this show, like I did, and, also like I did, your gonna want to fill your queue with Peter Gallagher movies. Don’t . Sometimes history gives no warning or hint of the greatness it has planned for a man. And so it is for Peter. Like an unremarkable carpenter (except for a few magic tricks in his youth) riding into Galilee to forever change the course of Western Civilization, Gallagher comes to the O.C. to change the course of awesome.

Other notables are Micha Barton, playing Marissa Cooper, who is almost too pretty to look at directly, and yet, so genuinely fragile and melancholy you almost don’t notice her acting isn’t so amazing. And of course the rank-and-file fan favorite Adam Brody, playing Seth Cohen – the perfectly drawn, clinically selfish, only child who is as charming and funny as you’ve heard.

In short watch the O.C. It is really, really good television.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

John Krasinski Totally Doesn’t Not Want to Date a Non-Normal Girl!

And the ladies sigh, and they rejoice. According to a recent interview with renowned lady-rag Glamour, The Office’s John Krasinki will date you if you wear a sweater.

Well, sort of. Maybe. Actually, probably not. Because, sadly, that’s not *quite* what he said. But, judging by the lip-nibbling pandemic that seems to have gripped the nation in the wake of the Declaration of Non-Threatening Sexuality Heard Round the World, wishful thinking can have a surprisingly profound effect on reading comprehension. Let’s break down the exchange in question, shall we? To wit:

GLAMOUR: Would you ever date a normal
girl like Pam? A girl in a cardigan?

JOHN: Yes, Please! It’s not about celebrity or not.
It’s all about, do you have that *girl in a cardigan*
in you. You gotta have that.

Oooh, you’re sneaky! Personally, Jim-John, I like that, and may or may not be nibbling my own lip as I type. You see people, in the journey of John’s true heart, it’s not about celebrity. As someone soundly entrenched in non-celebrity myself, I can appreciate that. Plus, according to everything we’ve leaned about actresses and the like from ET, US Weekly, VH1, InTouch, Okay, Hello, Access Hollywood, and thinking with our brains, it just makes good sense. But wait. Get ready for your mind to be blown! Because, apparently, as much as it’s not about celebrity for good ol’ Johnny K, it’s also NOT NOT about celebrity as well. Whoa! What does that even mean, you ask? Honestly, I don’t think anyone can say. Such is the wily syntax of Mr. Krasinski. But let’s forge ahead and examine further:

Beyond not and not not celebrities, what John really claims to be searching for is a woman with a girl in a cardigan inside of her. Now, I know what you’re thinking. I own cardigans! From Anthopologie! I am totally normal, and a little shy, and maybe not hot but definitely cute in a shy, normal way, as evidenced by my sweater-wearing ways! Apparently, you’re not alone. But – and I hate to be the one to do this – notice the actual placement of the sweater. Or the girl in the sweater. Or whatever. Because herein lies the true brilliance of John Krasinski’s almost come-on to the world. The girl who ultimately wins John’s undying love may have a sweater on the inside, but what, pray tell, of the outside? If I had to bet money, I’d say she’s gonna have a whole *girl with the cheekbones and very, very, very long legs* thing going on. I mean, ultimately, who’s to say Jessica Alba doesn’t have an inner twin-set of her very own? Or that Mischa Barton doesn’t, in fact, possess the soul of a kindly receptionist? Logic dictates that they don’t, but nobody can prove it.

And there you have it: how John Krasinski mindfucked the ladies into thinking he *might* wanna do them, while simultaneously maintaining totes plausible deniability. Bravo, Jim. Bravo, indeed. As for everyone else, well, you can put that change jar to some other use. Cause you’re probably not going to need a dress for the Emmy’s.

TV vs. Art: A Brief Deconstruction of Shifting Paradigms in the Dialogism of Awesome

Oh, really? You don’t watch TV? Oh, wait, you don’t even own a TV? Good for you, you pretentious ass hat. I guess that does make you smarter than me. No, seriously, you’re awesome. And SO right. I mean, books and paintings and the whatnot are obviously more valid forms of art and entertainment! Especially that Mary Higgins Clark. Ooh, and Thomas Kinkade! I never thought I could have such a profound experience of art appreciation. In, you know, a mall. And, well, movies are obviously pretty borderline, at best, but compared to that brain rotting garbage on television, they’re like, Shakespeareish or something. Not that you’d know, cause you don’t have time to watch television. LIAR.

I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree, then. Because we here at TVontheTelevision own TVs. We like to watch them. Nay, love to watch them, and the awesomely amazing awesomeness that often issues forth. And while nobody here is exactly going to stand up and make a rousing defense for, say, According to Jim, we think that, overall, there’s some truly original, daring, hilarious, clever, thought-provoking, tear-jerking, ridiculous and – most importantly – entertaining stuff out there. The kind that makes us watch an entire season (or three) on DVD in one weekend. The kind that makes you hit pause and look at the other people in the room and just go, holy shit. The kind that makes us want to – sweet, bleeding Christ – write a blog about it.

I’m sorry it didn’t work out between us. No, seriously, we wish you all the best. So go on, enjoy that copy of the Nation and the midnight screening of 8 1/2. We’ll be here, getting’ our V. Mars/ Battlestar / Wire/ Freaks&Geeks / O.C. / Sopranos / Psych / Firefly / 30 Rock / West Wing / Heroes / Grey’s Anatomy / Office / Kids in the Hall / Project Runway / Buffy / How I Met Your Mother / Deadwood / Degrassi / Top Chef / Lost / Curb Your Enthusiasm / Mr. Show on, among things. We’ll be okay.