Thursday, July 06, 2017

[TV] Toob Notes

Two high-end drama seasons came to a close. What both these shows have in common is their near perfect lack of exposition, or at least it's done so seamlessly you don't even notice. So many "quality" dramas are plot driven exercises in emotional button-pushing and superficial surprise. These two aren't and stand out because if it. The only other comparable show in that sense is Halt and Catch Fire which should return later this year.

Better Call Saul -- Still remarkable, still the best show on TV, perhaps Pantheon-worthy. The multi-season development of the relationship between Jimmy and Chuck should be examined by anyone trying to make good character-based drama. We all came to loathe the antagonist, but we understood very clearly his motivations and perhaps even sympathized. Their conflict organically emerges from the facts of their lives and personalities as portrayed -- like a perfect Greek tragedy, it couldn't have played out any other way.

Chuck: "I made Mom proud, but Jimmy made her laugh." That quote is about perfect, no need to dwell on it or talk about it any further. Later, Jimmy: "Here's what's going to happen: you're going to die alone..." Yet later, Chuck: "You never mattered all that much to me..." Michael McKean and Bob Odenkirk, two guys who got their starts in TV playing farcical comedy, just nailed it.

Also, I want to be Mike Ehrmantraut for my retirement. I'm going to say it: I prefer BCS to Breaking Bad.

Fargo -- It's getting a little too cute for its own good. It's also getting a bit repetitive. Carrie Coon was a great Capable Lady Cop, the players all did their Minnesota accents and naivete excellently, the Villain Outsider was delightfully creepy, there was lots of space for philosophical interpretation among the bloodshed, but there was really nothing new here. Although there was some very Old Testament-y, Cain-and-Abel style action, it was really more Ancient Greek, wherein unknowable forces lead to arbitrary outcomes. That can work, but you either have to hit on a core human value somewhere, or the characters have to be truly compelling. They got the human value, filial jealousy, but the characters were hard to really care about, although nicely drawn and portrayed. The open-ended finale, while intriguing, was somewhat unsatisfying. It was a decent ride to get there, though. Still, it might be time to wrap this one up. You got three good seasons out of it and Noah Hawley has plenty on his plate already.

I just noticed I spotted Classical Greek fatalism in both these shows. I'm not really sure what that says about me and my tastes, but I'll it's reason for some navel-dwelling.

I also just noticed that both of these shows centered around a lifelong sibling love/hate relationship. More to consider.