TV Diary

New Girl
How I Met Your Mother, The Office, Parks & Rec. These are all sitcoms that aside from being funny I became emotionally invested in the characters and their happiness. All three went one one or two seasons TOO LONG. For the sake of New Girl, I hope this was it. It was a neat bow. They all have better jobs, they’re all in relationships, they’re all moving out of the loft. Would’ve been nice to get a Coach cameo, but otherwise this was just right and didn’t over stay its welcome.

Louis CK – 2017
I own a copy of Pootie Tang on DVD and feel like that should automatically give me some cred as a Louis CK fan from back before his more recent run as the most important an respected comic of our time blah blah. He opens with bits about abortion and suicide, immediately trying to test how much he can really get away with since the bits themselves aren’t that funny and just more about shock. There is some gold in there though, stuff that had me rolling with laughter in the second half so it is still worth a watch.

Dave Chappelle – Deep in The Heart of Texas / Age of Spin
While Louis is a comic I’ve seen many hours of in the last decade, Chappelle is another story. Killing Them Softly ran on HBO constantly around the turn of the century and I watched it a lot, even had a bootleg CD of it that I played in the car for years. Chappelle does have some problematic humor. Observations on race and class are as sharp as ever, especially now that he acknowledges his status as a superstar after his sketch series. But jokes about women, gays, and trans feel decidedly late 90s. Even when something lands well like “It takes a while” its wrapped in phrasing that shows he clearly doesn’t quite get it. Still jokes about Kevin Hart charging more for tickets than he does or Key & Peele stealing his show betray his secret reasons for finally coming out of seclusion: he’s jealous and wants the spotlight back.

Arrested Development
I’m pretty late to the party on this, but Dawn and I rewatched the first 3 seasons with the intent on finally seeing the 4th recently.
Not only is there a noticeable decline in quality in the 3rd season but the 4th Netflix only season is a real dog. I’m not intending to finish it. See New Girl above: stop while you’re ahead.

Came up in the suggested list on Netflix and I didn’t know anything about it and we watched all 22 episodes over the course of 5 days. Pretty good! I’m always interested when the star of the show is also the creator, because I wonder if any of this is fulfilling some crazy fantasy on his part. And sure enough he has quite a lot of sex with women way out of his league starting with AT&T pitch woman and @Midnight champ Milana Vayntrub and ending with Community alum Gillian Jacobs. This is all for art right? The show does produce some pretty good laughs along the way, I’ll stick around if they make more.

TV Diary: HIMYM, New Girl, The Office

In the last week I saw three season finales from sitcoms I regularly watch and all three leaned heavily on the tried and true plot device of a wedding.  For the love of god, of course there are spoilers.

How I Met Your Mother
In a perfect world this would have been the last episode.  Midseason the actors signed on for a 9th year and as such the writers had to pump the brakes on the plot and leave the titular Mother off the table a little while longer.  I hear people complain about the lack of momentum in the plot on this show a LOT and it is usually from folks who had the same complaints about Lost or similar sci-fi/fantasy drama.  The difference is, this is a situation comedy.  A pretty pure situation comedy, if not a more well evolved one with lots of call backs and deep mythology.  So as long as the 22 minutes I watch has jokes, I’m fine.  I only care if we meet the mother if the mother is also funny.  So the only frustration in this episode was that it was trying so hard to move the pieces into place for a final season.  Lilly and Marshall moving, Marshall being offered the job, Ted putting the house up for sale and moving to Chicago, Ted knowing where Robin’s necklace is… All this plot and not enough gags about it.  The strongest part of the show was Barney and Robin going out to dinner and feuding with another couple.  They are getting married soon and nothing in the episode disrupted that.  The characters were free to just be funny.
As for the moment when we get “One ticket to Farhampton” It was a big moment for the show and for fans who have been waiting, but I’d be a lot more invested in her importance if I’d seen her do anything remotely as interesting as Robin, Barney, Lilly, or Marshall do in every episode.  Note to Bays/Thomas, you’re still writing a comedy show.  Season 9 is your victory lap.  We met the mother.  Justify her existance by making her shine brighter than the cast we’ve come to know.

New Girl
Unlike the HIMYM or The Office, New Girl isn’t ending any time soon nor is it intending to.  So they left a lot on the table and thats why it was a successful finale.  I want more.  Of course I’ve been saying that New Girl is the best sitcom on TV for most of this amazing second season. Schmidt has become the runaway success of the show with countless one-liners and obnoxious choices keeping the show hilarious even in the face of momentum killing romance between Nick and Jess.  Luckily, it appears they’re not going to make things easy or happy for Nick and Jess. They like each other a lot, as has been established, but they’re going to fight and nit pick and argue and probably storm off a lot in the future.  But that is going to be OK because those moments are going to come in the middle of stuff like chasing Bucky The Badger through an air duct.
Keep up the good work, make Winston even crazier next year, and don’t let anyone decide for sure what they want for as long as possible.  New Girl works best when its characters are reduced to children in adult situations.

The Office
I made a big deal earlier about how HIMYM shouldn’t be so concerned with plot and instead just focus on being funny.  The Office has been historically pretty uneven in this department.  Plot threads come and go, and hilarious highs are met often with uncomfortable dramatic lows.  The heart of this show is Pam and Jim and their happiness.  Fuck anyone who think this show was about Michael Scott and said it should have ended when he left.  Any weakness shown in the last 2 years since Michael left was based on lazy writing (Andy got rebooted a half dozen times) and the writers not knowing where to send Pam and Jim next.  They were happy and had 2 children.  Comedy doesn’t usually come from complacency.  The “Brian” sub plot from earlier this year was met with a lot of fan resistance because he threatened to ruin Pam and Jim.  Athlead should have been enough stress.  We didn’t need Brian.
Pam and Jim got their happiness though.  And Andy went far away so he can be unpredictable and uneven somewhere else.  Everyone got some kind of moment where the were sent off into the sunset, even if it was as bizarrely forced and Joan Cusack and Ed Begley Jr arrving at a Q&A to reveal to Erin they’re her birth parents.  Dwight firing Kevin was a long time coming.  I actually would’ve been disappointed in Dwight as a manager had he not done something like that.  No emotional attachment, just based on merit.  And since it was the last episode, it was OK to not have Kevin around anymore.
Dwight’s growth is amazing though.  With Angela at his side and the manager’s desk, he suddenly doesn’t seem as infuriatingly difficult to work with.  He got eaxctly what he always wanted and laughs off a decade of Jim’s pranks by asking Jim to be his best man and doing him a huge favor by the end of the episode.  Dwight will look after The Office better than Michael or Andy did, and without that disfunction, it is a perfect end.  The Office itself as a non living entity got closure.
I’m glad Michael did cameo, and his single talking head moment was one of the better lines in a good episode.
The reason I give The Office a pass on all this plot and drama is because I did get emotionally invested in the characters. Seinfeld is one of the all time great comedies and remains rewatchable today.  But the last episode was a disaster because the characters were funny but we just didn’t care what misfortune happened to them, and the parade of proof they were assholes all along just made you care even less. On The Office, even when the show was weak, it was still satisfying to check in with everyone.  I’ll miss it because I miss them.

TV Diary

What I’m watching on TV all day.  ALL DAY, SON.

I’m taking a page right out of the book of narrowcast here, but he created a template that is easier to follow than what I used to do.

New Girl

Schmidt.  Schmidt Schmidt Schmidt.  Nick and Winston and yes, even Jess, are all good reasons to watch this show.  But Schmidt is clearly the Kramer of this group.  My Seinfeld comparison doesn’t end there though, since I think Zooey’s Jess is an integral part of the show that keeps it all together just like Jerry did, but you tune in for the friends more than the title character each week.  Winston seems a bit under used but when he is doing something other than playing the straight man foil against Nick or Schmidt’s antics each week, he more than earns his place on this show.

I honestly thing New Girl is one of the if not THE funniest shows on TV right now.  Its at Workaholics level.  Its at Parks & Rec level.  Its HILARIOUS.

Duck Tales

I’ve watched the first 65 episodes via Amazon Prime over the last 2 weeks and am shocked at how well it holds up.  I kinda talked about it on the most recent NTR podcast so I’ll leave it there.

The Americans

I couldn’t tell you why I’m able to keep up with this series while a dozen other hour long cable series seem to elude me.  I guess I miss Alias and saw a new show about spies and jumped right in.  I kinda like that I’m not rooting for anyone here.  I know thats old hat for cable series, but like I said, I never seem to make time for those shows before.  Russian spies are not the good guys.  The FBI agent is not the good guy.  Their leaders are not the good guys either.

Bob’s Burgers

Did I say New Girl was the funniest show?  Maybe just live action.  The recent “Mad Pooper” episode was inspired.  The side plot of Gene turning into Bob was worthy of holding a show on its own.

Top Gear

I appreciate that the new episodes from the BBC are airing here on BBC America only a week later. But considering how many episodes I’ve missed over the years, I still like watching the old ones.  I’m not sure if this is a comedy show or a reality series or a talk show or news or whatever, but it is definitely on TV and doesn’t require a lot of car knowledge to jump in and really enjoy.  Mad challenges, races, verbose car reviews, and gorgeous cinematography.