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by Meghan Lewit

11 Dec 2009


The transition to college has always been particularly treacherous territory for teen shows. High school is such fertile ground to mine for drama, full as it is of angst and social hierarchy and romantic growing pains. High school is awful and wonderful in ways that are essentially universal. But college is different. College is where the common experiences of growing up start to diverge. College cultivates individualism instead of squashing it. College is fun, which is good for real life, but rarely as the setting for a one-hour drama.

Interestingly, Gossip Girl, which just wrapped up its fall season, seems to be navigating the waters better than many of its predecessors. Which is to say that the shift to college life hasn’t had much of an impact at all so far. This isn’t necessarily a compliment, because Gossip Girl was never really a show about high school to begin with. It’s about sex, fashion, scheming and beautiful people being young and rich in New York. Occasionally there had been a storyline revolving around college visits or an affair with a teacher (I’m fairly certain there’s never been a scene set in an actual classroom), but the show has rarely delved far enough into the inner lives of its characters for them to demonstrate any real emotional evolution or coming of age. Where the beautiful people spend their time—high school, college campuses, penthouse apartments, coffee shops—doesn’t really matter. It’s all just window dressing anyway.

by Beth Greaves

10 Dec 2009


I am done with Ugly Betty.

It’s been a long time coming, but this week was finally the week I called time on my two-year relationship with this soap opera set in the fashion dynasty of Mode. For a long time, Ugly Betty was the staple of my Friday nights. Yes, it was saccharine and Betty was irritating, but I put up with it anyway. However, halfway through the third season, I decided that enough was more than enough. The pros—the wonderful performance of Michael Urie, the divine comic duo that was Mark and Amanda, Judith Light as matriarch Claire—were vastly outweighed by the cons. At the risk of sounding childish and immature, I do not see how America Ferrera could possibly have won an Emmy. Her performance is mediocre at best (although the one-note and holier-than-thou attitude of her character does not help matters). There are brilliant comic actresses on TV, and Ferrera is just not one of them. The writing has descended further and further into the black hole that is soap opera.

by Michael Landweber

9 Dec 2009


Glee is a frothy little show. It’s got spunk. The musical numbers are cheesy and fun. The cast is generally game for the kitsch and capable of carrying the story on those occasions when the scripts call for a bit more. Though it is not as funny as it thinks it is, there’s still enough humor to get a couple of genuine chuckles each hour.

But there is a problem in Glee-ville. What’s the best way to put this? In keeping with the let’s-put-on-a-show attitude, allow me to paraphrase a song from the great off-Broadway musical, Avenue Q.

Everyone’s a little bit racist. And so is Glee.

by Matt Paproth

8 Dec 2009


On the first part of the Top Chef finale, which aired on Bravo on Wednesday, December 2 (and which will re-air about fifty times between now and next Wednesday), the final four chef-testants (love it) were narrowed to three, and I for one was sad to see Jennifer depart.  Like many viewers (the show is achieving record-high ratings for the network), I have been captivated by the current season, and I was sorry to see, in an otherwise male-dominated season, the last female contestant eliminated, especially given the misogynist comments of several cast members (Eli and Michael, particularly).

So now it’s time to place your bets… who will take the title of Top Chef?  Who will win the 125K and the… kitchen equipment?  A bunch of stuff from Macy’s?  A photo spread in Glamour?  I usually fast-forward the part where they explain the prizes.

Anyway, here is where I will be putting my money:

by Michael Landweber

2 Dec 2009


For the last few seasons, Heroes has lost viewers at a steady rate. If it was on any network other than NBC, which seems to have less concern for ratings success since the Jay Leno experiment, its cancellation would be all but guaranteed after another drop this year. But the show still has fans. Despite being frustrated by the ill-defined characters and incomprehensible plot twists, I’m one of those who has watched the show from episode one and plans to stick with it to what is increasingly looking like a bitter end.

There is still hope to salvage the show for the diehard viewers. But it will require that NBC cancel it first. 

This is not unprecedented, of course. Lost is about to start its predetermined final season. A couple of years ago, the producers and ABC got together and decided how many more episodes were needed to wrap up the show. Such collaboration and scheduled cancellation should be the new industry standard for serialized mythology shows.

//Mixed media
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The Eye of Lenzi: "Gang War in Milan" and "Spasmo"

// Short Ends and Leader

"Two wide and handsome Italian thrillers of the 1970s.

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