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by Robert Moore

9 Aug 2011


Friday Night Lights

High Point Number 4: A Fond Farewell to Friday Night Lights and Smallville

It may seem a tad eccentric to pair Friday Night Lights and Smallville. After all, Friday Night Lights was—despite being almost completely snubbed by both viewers and the Emmys during most of its run—one of the great series of the past decade, while Smallville was merely a competent reworking of the Superman story, focusing on his small town roots. But both shows had passionate if small fan bases and the departure of each leaves a gap that is not likely to be filled any time soon.

Friday Night Lights’s story is both tragic and triumphant. When I saw its first season, I was stunned by its quality, the brilliance of its camera work, the outstanding writing, and the astonishingly gifted cast. I told friends that it was one of the best shows on TV, and that it was going to win a huge number of Emmys. I believed Kyle Chandler (who played Coach Eric Taylor on the show) was a lock to win Best Actor and Connie Britton was equally certain to win Best Actress. And at bare minimum Taylor Kitsch, Zach Gilford, and Adrianne Palicki were certain to get Emmy noms for their supporting roles.

When the Emmys came around and the show failed to receive anynominations, I was flabbergasted. Today the results seem absurd. While The Sopranos deserved its Best Drama nomination, the other four—Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes, House M.D., and Boston Legal—were so clearly inferior to Friday Night Lights that its failure to receive a nomination is unfathomable.

by Robert Moore

4 Aug 2011


High Point Number 5: Parenthood Carries the Banner of Family Drama

Few people have commented on the recent demise of the family drama. It is, of course, a genre with a long and distinguished history, but unfortunately of late there have been far too few examples. I’ll hold off commenting further about the absence of great family drama until today’s lowpoint, but great television family dramas are almost nonexistent, these days.

There are, of course, several fine family comedies, including Modern Family, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the recently cancelled United States of Tara, as well as perhaps the best new comedy of 2010-2011 season, Raising Hope. There’s also Desperate Housewives, which is several years past its prime (if indeed it ever was ‘prime’). Indeed, the family remains a ripe source of humor in both one hour and half hour increments, especially when the families are as delightfully dysfunctional as in Raising Hope.

by Robert Moore

1 Aug 2011


High Point Number 6: Fringe Survives the Friday Night Death Slot

For the past three years Fringe has delivered some of the most interesting sci-fi on TV. So fans of the show learned late in 2010 that the series was being moved to Friday night, into what has become known more and more as The Death Slot (a designation so widely used that it has its own Wikipedia article).

For the past two decades Friday night on Fox TV has been the place where shows go to die. The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr., Brimstone, Dark Angel, Firefly, Tru Calling,Wonderfalls, M.A.N.T.I.S., Sliders, and Dollhouse were all cancelled after failing to attract a significant audience on Friday night. More disturbingly, Fox has had a tendency to shift shows it intends to cancel into the slot, including such shows nearing their end as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Malcolm in the Middle, and The Bernie Mac Show.

by Robert Moore

29 Jul 2011


High Point Number 7: Dan and Blair on Gossip Girl

My favorite moment in the entire 2010-2011 television season came in the final seconds of the Gossip Girl episode “While You Were Not Sleeping”. Blair Waldorf has been driving herself to the limits of physical endurance throughout the episode, getting virtually no sleep, skipping meals, undertaking two or three difficult tasks at the same time, all in order to move her life to a new place where she would impress and win back her demon lover Chuck Bass. But unable to keep up the pace, she implodes and gets fired from her internship.

For solace, she goes not to the Upper Eastside where she lives, but to the apartment of her old enemy but new friend Dan Humphrey in Brooklyn, where they talk, order pizza, and watch The Philadelphia Story. The Blair we see here is unlike the Blair we’ve see the previous three years. Instead of being mean, tense, driven, and more than a little bitchy, she is relaxed, smiling, content, and very much at home with herself. The magic moment comes in the very last second: Dan and Blair, both asleep, her head resting on his shoulder.

by Robert Moore

28 Jul 2011


High Point Number 8: IFC’s Two Great Comedies

I really had no intention to watch either of the two IFC original series Portlandia and Onion News Network. I loved the Onion newspaper and the videos they put on their website, but I didn’t imagine that it would translate well to regular cable TV. Things began to change when I saw a link to a long excerpt for Portlandia on the Internet. When I learned from watching the clip Carrie Brownstein, best known before now as the co-guitarist/singer/songwriter of the legendary band Sleater-Kinney (and let me confess right here that for me Sleater-Kinney was a band that could do no wrong… until they decided to go on permanent hiatus) was, along with Saturday Night Live vet Fred Armisen, going to headline the show, I knew I had to give it a view. And since Onion News Network followed, I decided to give it a shot, as well.

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