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« The Masters of My Eyeballs | Main | The Linking Daylights »
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 join the fold next. (if they cast one more, I'll watch.)

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Still enjoying Revenge, but man did I hate every second that Jennifer Jason Leigh was on the screen. I was already annoyed by her too "on the nose" casting, but then she did nothing interesting with the character. She could've at least had fun with it, which is why I think Madeline Stowe's performance is so freaking awesome. Actually, all of the actors that seem to understand how ridiculous a thing the show is pretty much excel. The rest with those pretty, boring, utterly uninteresting straight faces should be dispatched of by "The Initiative" immediately! "The Initiative", what the hell! So, so deliciously ridiculous.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Revenge is not as delightful this year, but Conrad is so much better! I never thought I'd look forward to Conrad and Victoria kissing and making up, but all of their scenes together last episode were gold, as was their kidnapping scheming and their maybe not so fake second marriage.

I do wish JJL had been more useful to the overall story, though. This was so not the Irina Derevko turn of events I was hoping for with Emily's mom. The only times I enjoyed her craziness was when Victoria was reacting to it.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterthais

Hey Nat, I know you usually save this for a marathon later on, but I hope last season of Dexter doesn't discourage you from watching the current season. It's so good! You said last season there was nowhere else to take the character, well, this season they've been taking Dexter in a whole new direction and we've been seeing some of the best work from Michael C. Hall as well as Jennifer Carpenter (anything else I say would be a spoiler). Also, we have Ray Stevenson playing what I think is the best villain ever on the show (yes, even better than the Trinity Killer, even though I'm also partial to the Ice Truck Killer). It's not perfect, but the show is headed in some interesting directions (we still have four episodes to go, so we'll see what happens), and it also proves my theory that setting an end date for a show really helps with the quality, since the writers are no longer stalling (the show will end after Season 8).

Besides that and Homeland (which I'm also really enjoying), right now I'm watching mostly half-hour comedies, since I save most of the dramas for marathons. I tried Nashville but just couldn't get into it. I'm still watching Parenthood, a show that makes me laugh, cry, smile and cringe all in the same hour, a show that makes e love and hate every character at the same time, kind of like my own family. Are you still watching that, Nat? What do you think of Ray Romano in it this season (I'm enjoying him)?

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

There will not be enough sex in "Homeland" for me until it involves Morena Baccarin again. When she's introduced to us in the pilot, she's naked and coming, but then nothing after that for nearly two full seasons now! What the hell? It's like how "I, Claudius" teased us with brief nudity in the opening episode—on American television!—but then just provided nothing but Roman political intrigue for the remainder of the series. Sweet, sweet political intrigue.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

ARROW is fine, but oh how I wish they'd just done a SMALLVILLE spin off with Justin Hartley, who is stunning to look at and knew how to play the callow billionaire side of the character just right. Instead, he's stranded on Emily Owens MD, which I can't watch because I'm allergic to Mamie Gummer.

Anyone watch TREME? That's my favorite TV show right now - seriously underrated!

THE WALKING DEAD, PARKS & RECRETIONS and NEW GIRL have all been great this fall too. And FRINGE got off to a rocky start, but the last couple episodes have been really awesome.

BOARDWALK EMPIRE has been quite entertaining too. Bobby Cannavale is killing it as the season's Big Bad.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

"...but aren't Carrie and Jack Bauer basically the same character?"-Anna
This has to be the most wtf statement I've seen in awhile. This is so off I can't even begin, but I did lol at the thought of them switching shows.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

I tried Homeland the first season, but I could only make it through half of it. Even though I realize the performances are good (didn't like Baccarin, though), and it's supposed to be as good as Mad Men, I found it incredibly boring. And boring and couch equal: siesta! Never seen the other ones you mention.

I'm searching for a good comedy, not a comedy that makes you smile (if lucky), but one that has you all the episode laughing out loud the way The Golden Girls did, the way Friends did. All I can find is the ones that try to be Friends following the lives of groups of ....single friends: Happy Endings, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, New Girl (?) but that end up in the rom-com area, focusing on two of the characters with unsolved sexual tension, even though everyone knows they'll be together at some point. The only one I found that doesn't follow that pattern is Two Broke Girls, but the laugh track is so loud I miss half the jokes, and as I'm not straight Kat Dennings cleavage does nothing for me. Yes, there's Modern Family and 30Rock, maybe it's me, but I think they're far from their best moments.

So this leaves American Horror Stoty: Asylum as the only one I really follow. Even though I like this season, I think they've thrown too many things, the new one more shocking than the previous one. Electro shock for lesbians? Imaginary aliens? Anne Frank? Exorcisms? Nazis? Slutty nuns? Too big glasses for Quinto? :) It's never boring, that's for sure, but if they have completely independent seasons, I don't get why they don't leave something for the next one.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

I don't know if I should be impressed or disappointed that REVENGE didn't take the "easy" route of making Nolan's character more prominent. He was above and beyond the breakout character of S1 (well third to the two main ladies of course) and most shows would've done their best to retool the show to highlight him. But no. Apart from the brief joy of him and Emily co-inhabiting, he's been more in the background this season than the first it seems and on top of that saddled by a dud romantic storyline (then again most of the characters are saddled by this same thing this season). I'm hoping they have better plans for him later on.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I'm right there with you on Revenge. I still get giddy whenever it comes on and there is usually at least one moment each episode where I bounce up and down on the couch with delight, but I do NOT care for the Nolan and Jack/Declan subplots. I loved Jennifer Jason Leigh, though. The dynamic between her and Madeline Stowe's character was amazing to watch. Emily Van Camp is tearing it up, too.

I missed out on the beginning of Arrow because of the stupid cable company dispute with The CW and have not had the chance to get caught up. Which makes me sad because JOHN BARROWMAN, Y'ALL. I will watch Captain Jack in ANYTHING.

Homeland is rocking my socks off this season! LOVE IT! And I'm also mad that my man doesn't like it so I have to watch it on my own.

Biggest happy-making moment of TV? Every monologue Jessica Lange gets to spout on American Horror Story: Asylum. She is doing some of the best work of her career on that show, and that's saying something. Sarah Paulsonand Chloe Sevigny are also great, and I was so happy to see Franka Potente again (and her storyline was AMAZING). This is turning into the most actressexual show on TV, Nathaniel. You should watch at least the recent two-parter (the one with Franka as Anne Frank). Also, I will never look at James Cromwell the same way again. What have they done to you, Farmer Hoggett?

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

"Homeland" is the best show on television right now. Claire Danes is going to win Emmy after Emmy for Carrie Mathison. HOLLA! Damian Lewis is right up there with her. The best duo in television no doubt. The "SNL" sketches have been hilarious too. You didn't mention Anne Hathaway's insanely funny Carrie impression. Taran Killam's Brody with his thin lips. And Nasim Pedrad's lost Dana. "Dad? Dad? Where are you?" Muahahahaha! Love this show so damn much. (And you certainly don't have to be white to be obsessed with this shit.)

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClyde

And while we're at it (ok, it,s only me) I find so baffling, or even more than baffling, I'd say I find really utterly annoying every interview where Eric Stonestreet has to make clear once and again, that he's not gay, that he's a real tough macho man who gets arrested in bar fights. We get it, you're a brave actor who risks his reputation to play a gay man, and they give you Emmys for that. You can leave the tool belt at home in your garage.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

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