September 06, 2011

Notes on TV, Old and New

A few thoughts on my recent late-night DVR viewings of TV shows old and new:

- "The Larry Sanders Show." I spent the last few months watching the re-runs of this show on IFC, after not having HBO throughout the '90s and only sporadically catching old episodes since. So, so great. Holds up remarkably well, despite all the '90s pop culture references and celebrities, and it's hard to believe Hank Kingsley and George Bluth are the same species, much less the same person.

- "Louie." The best show currently on TV, and I don't think it's close. The first season was enough of a gem, but "Louie" has taken a leap in Season 2 and is producing nothing less than a masterpiece every week. Always funny, always poignant, and often very, very painful. Highlights of the year are the Dane Cook episode, the "Who Are You" episode with the racist aunt, and the whole "Duckling"/Afghanistan episode. But honestly, I could list 20 more.

- "Breaking Bad." The season got off to a bit of a slow start, especially following Season 3, which was one of the all-time great TV seasons, probably the best of any show since "The Wire"'s Season 4. But it's kicked into high gear in the last two or three episodes, culminating in the Gus backstory episode last night. The third season really got into high gear around this time, and I expect the same now.

A commenter on one of the recap blogs wrote this week that "Skylar's such a bitch! The show doesn't explain why Walt still loves her." I wanted to reply, "Walt's such a criminal, sociopath and murderer. The show doesn't explain why Skylar still loves him!"

- "Friday Night Lights."- My wife and I are finally watching this, on the ESPN Classic re-runs, and we're both in love with it. We're about halfway through season 1 and I'm so glad we have so much more to go.

- "Sons of Anarchy"- I came to this one late- I watched the third season first, while reading the Sepinwall recaps and seeing that every critic and fan hated the season. But I was intrigued enough to go back and watch the first and second when FX started re-running them. The first is good, and the second is even better, although I agree the third isn't up to snuff. Still, I'll be watching Season 4 when it starts next week.

Interesting thing I noticed- for a show about a motorcycle gang, isn't it strange how little the motorcycles matter to the show? The characters never talk about them and they've never figured in a plot in any of the three seasons. I don't care in the slightest about the subject, but I bet biker types who watch the show aren't big fans of that.

- "Curb Your Enthusiasm"- 'Curb' has been revitalized in its eighth season and 11th year by making two radical changes: Larry is single, and the show is in New York, which just feels like its natural home. In nine episodes so far there have been three instant classics, including "Palestinian Chicken," "The Bi-Sexual" and this week's great "Mister Softee," featuring Bill Buckner, Sy Abelman from "A Serious Man" and Robert Smigel, choosing to play his character as Triumph.

- "Entourage"- The very definition of "limping to the finish." Completely cliched drama that always gets solved by a last-second deus ex machina. Nevermind that E is supposed to be the head of a big Hollywood management company, yet he dresses like I did in 9th grade. And I'm just wondering how Melinda Clarke could agree to so debase herself, especially under her own name. I mean, Sasha Grey did the same thing last year, but Melinda's not an internationally well-known porn star.

- "True Blood" What a disaster. The show has just plain dropped the idea of character development in favor of vampires, werewolves, witches, fairies and whoever else just using their powers against each other over and over again. I may have to jump off the ship after this season.

"Deadwood" is next, now that one of the HBOs is re-running it. I'll probably catch up on "Game of Thrones" after that.

Posted by Stephen Silver at September 6, 2011 12:02 PM
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