Assorted Musings on 2014 TV

8 Jan

Don’t ask why Mike from Breaking Bad is on this now cause I still don’t know.



Well, nothing will ever disappoint me as much as the ending of LOST, so with that being said, 2014 was a pretty good year for television. Dan Harmon came back to Community, and while it still wasn’t as good as its first three seasons, at least it felt like the same show and not the horrible Frankenstein monster it was in 2012. Hey, who knows, maybe they’ll be able to swear now that they’re on Yahoo!

Quite possibly the best TV opener of all time.



I’m catching up on Louie but am still on season three. I really like it, see a kindred spirit in Louie’s curmudgeonly-ness, and like the balance of dark humor and depressing drama. Another FX show I tried to catch up on but failed was Sons of Anarchy.

The black and white color scheme of this photo speaks to Jax’s tortured soul.



My wife and I won the first three seasons in a silent auction a few years back, but didn’t feel compelled to continue after all that crap in Ireland. Then I got bored and tried to get back into it but got as far as the first three episodes of Season 6. After Juice smothered the innocent junkie mom and then Donal Logue shot a prostitute to death by accident my stomach churned and my brain went “alright! That’s enough violence against women as a shock tactic, thank you very much!”

“Look ma, I’m Jesus!”



But I like being a part of cultural phenomena, I guess because deep down I’m just a conformist like the rest of you assholes, so I skimmed the remainder of Season 6 and watched all the relevant scenes. Hey, remember when Ron “Hellboy” Perlman was on this show? Tara’s death was another moment that made me go ewwwwww but the series finale was a few weeks away, so I watched half of the Season 7 premiere before I got bored. Fast-forwarded to another musical montage and a shot of the Nomads standing around a mass grave in the rain and I was like, “yup! This show is still needlessly grim!” Watched the penultimate episode, where Marilyn Manson stabs Juice in the throat and everyone dies, and then watched the finale. It was whatever. For the first time in a long time I actually liked the closing musical montage. Didn’t even catch the forced Jesus imagery.

This probably would have been more effective if that looked more like bread and less like pound cake.



Hey, is that the magical homeless lady? She gave Jax a blanket! Awwww… oh wait… wait a minute… he just used that blanket to murder more people.

NICE BLANKET, ASSHOLE.



Sigh.

Honestly I have no idea how this show became such a phenomenon, but it’s gone now, so we can all stop taking cold showers and crying ourselves to sleep every time we watch it. Ahhh, remember when the Mayans and the Sons would have awkward shootouts where no one got hurt and the most violent thing that happened was Jax murdering a dude who kinda actually sorta deserved it? Those were the days… Too bad Kurt Sutter watched Breaking Bad and got some big ideas in that ole noggin of his.

This is the most popular image on my Hannibal/Will Tumblr. A girl can dream…



Anyways, another show that everyone loved but which didn’t quite nail it for me this year was Hannibal. Hannibal was a pleasant surprise when it debuted in 2013 and at first it looked like season 2 was gonna continue the trend. This is probably my only real contrarian opinion because it wasn’t just the Fannibals who ate up this season (I made a pun!), it was the critics and the bloggers too. IDK, maybe they saw something I didn’t, because what I saw were wasted opportunities and worse, pretentiousness. This show can be soooooooo pretentious. What was charming and novel in season 1 is now obnoxious. Like a Christopher Nolan movie, this show is so LOUD, with oppressive drums constantly smashing at you even in the dullest moments. It’s the most beautifully-shot show on TV, but sometimes it starts pulling dutch angles like it’s American Horror Story and I’m all “where is Jonathan Demme to tone all this shit down?” Still a great show though, and I’m excited for season three.

Time is a flat circle.



My biggest TV disappointment of the year, other than Cersei getting raped and the D’s generally making questionable decisions with my favorite book series of all time, is the ending of True Detective. TD was a great show with great acting and some stellar episodes but it had too high an opinion of itself. This wasn’t a reinvention of the cop genre, and did it have much to say beyond “there is evil in the world and it takes two cantankerous old farts to stop it,” but it always thought it was saying something big and grand. That’s all well and good, but the ending committed one of TV writing’s greatest sins, what I dub “window dressing.” This is essentially what ruined LOST—no one really gave a shit about whether Jack and Kate found love or Sawyer forgave himself because LOST’s characters weren’t characters they were archetypes; what really drew the audience in was the mystery and the mythology. But good ole Damon “Daddy Issues” Lindelof decided you know what, fuck that mystery junk, let’s talk feelings! when the show had never really been about feelings. When it was all said and done, LOST was never about characters it was about monsters and time travel and crazy shit, but the show decided nah, none of that is important, rendering all the portentous speeches and cryptic hints meaningless.

Goddammit, now I’m talking about LOST again.

GET OUT OF MY HEAD YOU MONSTER!!!!



The point is, this angers my subconscious. As Harry Plinkett would say, “you might not have noticed it, but your brain did.” Now, not all people are like this. Some people will go, “what really mattered was the feelings!” but those people are idiots, what matters in storytelling is telling a goddamn story. True Detective did tell a story, but in its latter episodes it did the same thing LOST did. It presented the audience with all these clues and hints about a cult and even got nerds like me jumping for joy at the names “King in Yellow” and “Lost Carcosa” because some of us only have 3 friends and spend our time playing H.P. Lovecraft-themed board games.

Turns out none of that was really important. You know what was important? Existential evil. The big killer of the series turned out to be just some crazy hick pulled from the missing reel of a forgotten David Fincher movie. There was no greater significance to the literary allusions and Carcosa was just a creepy maze. Nothing ever came of all the buildup; in a word, it was anticlimactic. I’ll watch season 2, but I don’t have high hopes. I feel the show is a one trick pony, and what really elevated it wasn’t the writing, but the acting and the direction. Cary Fukanaga is now a big movie director and Matthew McConaughey is making Lincoln ads. I like Colin Farrell, but a California-set installment featuring Taylor “John Carter” Kitsch just sounds… well… dull.

So dull it put Malkovich Beard to sleep!



For the most part though, it was a good year for TV. I still like Girls, I like Jon Oliver’s show even if the news is too depressing for me to even hear jokes about it, Cosmos gave me faith that humanity isn’t completely retarded and Crossbones gave me two weeks of guilty Malkovich Malkovich pleasure before I decided to reevaluate my life and stop watching it. Apparently I went to school with one of the girls from Broad City but alls I know is that show is funny. I still need to watch all those Netflix shows and I’m going to finally get around to watching The Sopranos. Once I’ve seen that and The Wire I think I am officially an expert on American television dramas.

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