Sunday, April 04, 2010

[TV] Toob Notes

Toob Notes: I have cut back a good deal on TV since returning to Misspent Youth in earnest, but let's do a quick round-up, since I haven't in a while.

House may have jumped the shark. The plots of the episodes have always been embarrassingly absurd -- throwaways, afterthoughts, mere props for the character's interaction with House. Years ago I predicted House wouldn't last because they could keep such a one trick pony going for more than a couple of years. I was quite wrong. They got quite a few years out of it, mostly owing to elevating Robert Sean Leonard, a remarkably fine actor, to almost a co-star level with Hugh Laurie. But ever since rehab, with House trying to be somewhat more human, things have gotten weak. Time to wrap it up. Maybe use the time slot to re-run Hugh Laurie's old Jeeves and Wooster series.

I don't expect much from USA's "characters welcome" shows beyond cotton candy for my brain, but the fluffy blue swirls were on the thin side this year. Burn Notice needed to go somewhere and it decided to try somewhere more emotionally serious. Wrong! Opposite direction would work better; nobody wants to take it seriously. We want to have fun. Hell, you got Bruce Campbell, and the hotness that is Gabrielle Anwar, why would you delude yourself that you're John LeCarre -- go lowbrow. In contrast, Psych remains comedy gold, in perpetual wisecrackery overdrive, although the plots were increasingly nonsensical and season finale was nearly incoherent.

My latest happy discovery is It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, for which I am late to the party, I know. An ensemble of characters of dubious morality and smoldering narcissism involved in highly contrived misadventures of daily life, making it similar to Seinfeld -- albeit a totally deranged and twisted version of Seinfeld, but still. This one's not for the kiddies. The underappreciated Danny Devito is sublime (rivaling his Louie from Taxi).

In the realm of good drama, Breaking Bad has just started but it's looking good. I'll cover it in full once the season's over.

Also happy was my second viewing of the entire Sopranos series at about a six-shows-a-month pace. As a hallmark of its quality, my appreciation of it deepened. I saw new aspects of its depth and knowing the ending didn't diminish it in any way. I remain firm in my judgment of it as the second best TV drama of all time, the last word on the mob story genre, and one of the very few TV shows that goes beyond entertainment to real art.

Since then, HBO drama has slipped unconscionably; their current flagship being the deplorable True Blood. But things may be looking up. The Pacific might actually to be worthy of its Band of Brothers predecessor, which is saying something. And no less than Martin Scorcese is kicking off what is sure to be a gritty series set in the '20's in Atlantic City called Boardwalk Empire. Could be outright awesome.

But the most uplifting news is The Return of the Milch. David Milch -- the man behind the Deadwood, the best TV show ever, and John from Cincinnati, the misguided but entertaining as hell experiment -- will be back with a series called Luck, about the world of horse racing. Presumably this will be about horse racing in the same way Deadwood was about the Old West. It will likely touch on metaphysics of chance and fortune. Two phenomenal actors have signed up: Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte. That's some serious horsepower. This is reason-to-live level news.