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Monday, Mar 14, 2011
TV is better than film. The best scripts, the best acting, and the best directing are deserting the multi-plexes for the freedom of the small screen. But all TV series should die by the end of their second season.

TV is better than film.  It’s almost become a truism that the best scripts, the best acting, and the best directing are deserting the multi-plexes for the freedom of the small screen.  Martin Scorcese is just the latest émigré to arrive at the shores of HBO, where he can tell the story of Boardwalk Empire on the sprawling canvas he wants. Glenn Close, forced out of her role in films as the one you hire when Meryl Streep isn’t available, has found a showcase for her talents on Damages.  A writer like Joss Whedon, dismayed at the film treatment of his vampire-slaying teen heroine, was able to resurrect the concept as one of the great TV series of all time. 


If TV is so much better than film, then what I’m about to suggest is going to sound a little strange: I want to see a lot more TV series cancelled after two seasons.


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Wednesday, Mar 9, 2011
Glee and The Bachelor need to show a little trust in the relationships they're filming, and lighten up on all the talk.

At first glance, Glee, the little show about a bunch of musical high school students that could, has very little in common with the money making machine that is The Bachelor. One is a scripted dramedy; the other, a heavy-on-the–schmaltz search for “love”, or something like it.


While I’d watched Glee since its premiere, it’s the 15th season of The Bachelor, and this is the first time I’ve ever remotely been interested in that particular quest for companionment. Watching real people live out fake relationships is, surprisingly, far less interesting to me than watching fake people pursue real relationships. But as both Season 2 of Glee and Season 15 of The Bachelor have waned on, I’ve realized that they share a striking similarity in the way each chooses to expose relationships. Both programs willingly fight against the old adage taught to good fiction writers: show, don’t tell.


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Tuesday, Mar 8, 2011
The desire to hold on to fame has driven some housewives in The Real Housewives of Atlanta to behave shamelessly.

Every reality TV show has an element of performance, but I always hope for an uncensored slice of life. The less than comfortable moments give the genre credibility and authenticity. We all know that it’s often messy behind the scenes of marriages and friendships. For me, part of the appeal of reality TV is that I get to witness the mess. But what happens when the mess becomes more about holding onto celebrity status than exploring the ups and downs of real life?


The Real Housewives of Atlanta, which recently finished its third season, is one reality series that has mastered the art of revealing how messy life can be behind the scenes. In this case, it’s a look at the lives of privileged women who, despite the smiley picture in the show’s opener, are rarely actual ‘Georgia peaches’. On the series, they attend social events, spend money and sometimes work. They also eat each other up and spit each other out. The women are alternatively best friends and mortal enemies, occasionally in the same episode.


Tagged as: bravo, housewives
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Wednesday, Mar 2, 2011
If Parenthood is teaching us anything, it is that addiction turns all of us into addicts, even those of us who thought we didn't have a problem.

Parenthood, a decent show from NBC that has been generating medium-high heat this season, doesn’t hesitate to confront the mundane. Most problems, especially those involving family, are not exciting, sweeping affairs, but involve small fights that escalate because people just see things differently; Parenthood specializes in said fights.


The show, which PopMatters’ Daynah Burnett originally reviewed to low marks, has become markably better this season. The characters have developed into a relatively healthy family grappling with its fair share of normal and less than normal issues; Aspergers, unemployment and adultery are just some of them. But by far the most interesting hurdle in this second season for the Braverman family is addiction; most specifically, alcoholism.


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Friday, Feb 11, 2011
Perfect Couples, with its sort-of recognizable cast, sets up the conceit that all couples are weird, no matter how you look at them, and no matter how normal they think they are.

Five episodes in, the new NBC comedy Perfect Couples is still endearing. Sure, episode one was technically a pre-pilot, an attempt to gain committed viewers during the slow holiday season with a preview. But the show is officially in full swing now; it had its official premiere during NBC’s take back comedy block. In fact, it’s safe to say that Perfect Couples has been poised to become the modern day Friends, arguably one of the most popular sitcoms to ever air.


NBC’s “Must See TV” dominated Thursday nights. Launched right before the fall television season of 1993, it ended up being such a popular phrase that the network used it for all comedy programming, even that which was moved away from Thursday nights. The attempt to maintain a comedy block during Thursday’s prime-time television, however, remained the same. In 2006, NBC changed their slogan to “Comedy Night Done Right” to play off of the increasing popularity of shows in the vein of 30 Rock, The Office, and Parks and Recreation. In more recent years, they’ve taken this concept further, extending it to “Comedy Night Done Right—All Night.” Some have argued that this new three-hour block of shows is far too much to handle in one sitting, but sandwiched right in the middle is the blast-from-the-past concept in a new format, Perfect Couples.


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