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Monday
Nov192012

TV: Arrow, Nashville, Revenge, Copper, Homeland

For as much as I've tried to ween myself off of TV, it remains the go to entertainment medium when I'm tired- sick, writer-blocked or basically-broke... add those  things up and that equals a lot of time. I wish I could kill time by listening to music since there's so much good stuff out there that I'm unfamiliar with but music, like the cinema, absorbs all of me. I can't do much else while indulging in it. The only other things I can do while listening to music is exercize and clean.  

Welcome to the Nineties! Jennifer Jason Leigh and Madeleine Stowe are stars again!

So herewith a few thoughts on various shows from the fall season, new and returning... would love to hear if you're watching or feel differently in the comments. More...

NASHVILLE
I watched the first episode of this show on an airplane this summer months before its debut and was solidly on the fence about it. It has Connie Britton going for it and that is not an inconsiderable thing. Hayden Panettiere is a tougher sell but she seems to be a good sport here about playing someone with meager talents and oversized confidence. But I worry about the show's insistance on including political drama when showbiz has always had more than enough drama to sustain its own narrative. I'm behind and still trying to decide whether I'm going to watch or not but this song performance killed me because it highlights the most compelling element of the show: Rayna's (Britton) platonic selfishly dependent relationship with her former lover Deacon (Charles Esten). 

 

COPPER
I watched this On Demand on the recommendation of a friend and sped through about three episodes. Somehow the time period and setting: NY's Five Points Neighborhood (previously dramatized in Gangs of New York) were compelling enough that I sometimes forgot I was just watching a procedural in fancy clothing. But TV shows live or die by their characters and I love the lead, Detective Kevin Cocoran (Tom Weston-Jones). Bonus points: The sexual scenes are actually hot. While watching the first episode I thought, delighted, "This prostitute looks just like Franka Potente. Somehow needs to give Franka some work" and then I realized it was Franka!!! Someone did give her work. Tis pity she's a whore.

 

"Arrow" is more like Batman than Green Arrow

ARROW
I've always thought that superheroes deserved television series more than movies... but that's probably just because they were born in a serialized medium. Unfortunately this series leans heavily into the post-Nolan world and the Green Arrow has been retro-fitted to that aesthetic. Of course he has to be this deeply brooding rich boy who lost his father and then himself in the wilderness; it's very Arrow Begins. Stephen Amell is kind of a dud in the lead role (albeit a beautiful frequently topless dud) BUT that could be because the show refuses to give him more than a couple of notes to play. Still, advice to all actors stuck with boring characters: make like a diva and do runs -- add your own notes! Reservations aside, the fight scenes and stunts are above par for this sort of thing and I hear they're adding The Huntress so maybe I'll give it a couple of more episodes.

HOMELAND
Did you see that SNL skit about Hurricane Sandy and Mayor Bloomberg? In the skit he switched to Spanish, as is the actual Bloomberg's inclusive custom, but then he started telling the Latino community to be patient with their white neighbor's who've also lost power.

In the coming days, the white people of New York will be irritable and moody. They do not have Internet, they do not have Facebook, they have no Seamless web, their cable is not working. No HBO. They cannot watch 'Homeland'. White people love 'Homeland'. So I ask all Hispanics to be patient with the white people because missing 'Homeland' is the worst thing that's ever happened to them."

Every week now on Sunday we lol about that because it's always like this desperate waiting "is Homeland on yet? Good Christ but this day is long." Season 2 has been very well paced (the show has mastered the sort of seasons within a season mini-arcs -- it's like the polar opposite of True Blood which only ever has one main plot and just makes sure it lasts for twelve hours) with as many twists and turns as the first Season though it maybe doesn't have quite as much "ohmygod" energy... partially because that always happens with longform shows and partially because Brody's narrative is difficult to believe in wholeheartedly at times because of the "are people really falling for this?" problem. As his lies grow bigger more cracks need to show. Damian Lewis is doing the best work of his career  though I'm sad they didn't make him wait for the Emmy because Jon Hamm! and also because Claire and he will obviously keep winning now. Best thing that happened to this season is the addition of Rupert Friend as a mysterious operative who is rather unpredictable especially in the way he reacts and interacts with Carrie (Claire Danes) who is only predictable herself in the sense that she is 100% terrible about staying on plan and obeying orders. I was about to complain that the show didn't have enough sex this season. Be careful what you wish for. SPOILER Carrie's bugged hotel room noisy fuck-a-thon with Brody was super uncomfortable.

Best Part of Show: The acting continues to be incredible. Mandy Patinkin, Holla!
Worst Part of Show: Waiting for the next episode
Underappreciate Cast Member: If you ask me Diego Klattenhoff is excellent as good soldier Mike, the third wheel in the show's central marriage. It's a very unshowy role. He mostly just has to be privately hurt but so intrinsically loyal that he can't extricate himself from two relationships (his past friendship and service with Brody, his almost-wedding to Brody's wife) both of which are entirely one-sided and not giving him one iota of happiness.

REVENGE
I feel so guilty about not writing about this show this season! It's not quite as excellent as Season 1... mostly because Victoria Grayson (Madelein Stowe) is on the defensive but it's getting braver with its other lead actress Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) and increasingly willing to push her into outright evil behavior. So now the show essentially has two completely selfish completely arrogant and completely powerful bitches at its core instead of a villain and the avenging heroine that wants to take her down. Unfortunately the show has much less of a grasp on what to do with the supporting characters: Nolan (Gabriel Mann, totally Emmy worthy) gets a lot of screen time but it seems like the writers can never quite decide what to do with him. (Even if they don't figure it out he's a terrific scene partner for VanCamp loosening her up until her robotic vengeance demon persona seems funnier and more shaded); Charlotte and Declan are still maddening with their constant whiny naivete; and Ashley is still utterly worthless to the narrative.

What are you watching this season?

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Reader Comments (18)

I enjoyed Homeland last season, but it's really starting to veer into a boring season of "24" territory for me. Yes, the acting and production are excellent, but aren't Carrie and Jack Bauer basically the same character? Not to mention Brody's daughter Dana - for some reason her unnecessary storyline reminds me of the Kim Bauer cougar trap fiasco on 24. I'm still going to stick with it, but I'm hoping for a change up soon.
Revenge is my biggest guilty pleasure. Watching Madeleine and Jennifer Jason Leigh on screen together makes me smile. What a great duo! And I'd love if they had an episode where Emily and Nolan take a road trip together.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Mad Men left me so demanding! I can't see any other show. I need the best and the best only.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Watching the Carrie/Brody fuck-a-thon killed a little part of my soul. Intense secondhand embarrassment. But yes, Rupert Friend has been a fantastic addition to the show. I'm just hoping he doesn't meet a gruesome end in the season finale.

I think Nashville has turned into a hot mess after the very strong pilot. It feels like all this disparate elements are not only not coming together, but they're actually moving further apart. It's like five different people are writing three scenes each week, and then everything is just mashed together into a single script.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

I agree with you on every point about "Revenge." I wished they gave Madeleine Stowe more juice to squeeze.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

I know everyone has said that before, and the show is on hiatus now but... "BREAKING BAD", nathaniel!
I would love to know at least what you think of the skyler character (well, specifically, the way she is viewed by some - or lots of - fans of the show... I can't stand reading some online comments about her!)

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

I'm actually enjoying the new one "Emily Owens M.D." ... quite refreshing especially coming from the CW

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

I don't watch Revenge because...blah blah blah...barely enough time in a day to see the movies I want to see. (Louie is my TV jam right now.) I get serious anxiety this time of year about "seeing all the movies"
But I would love to know which star of Short Cuts you expect to joi