Archive for December, 2010

3. Weeds

Weeds is a very well written, performed single-camera dramedy which satirises suburban America. Because, as you know:

The people in the houses
All go to the university,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
And there’s doctors and there’s lawyers
And business executives,
And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

Sorry, Weeds was a terrifically funny show which satirises suburban America. The first 2, and for the most part 3, seasons lived up to this billing. It was also interesting to see how Nancy Botwin (MLP) slowly became consumed with her career as a drug distributor come king-pin (not a great one mind you) to the ruin of her family. The previous season, following the trend of the past couple continued to move further and further away from this original premise. Consequently, the show has lost all meaning and relevance. It is without focus and direction. In many ways it mirrors the now itinerant Botwins as the move aimlessly throughout the American landscape. The Botwins are on the run without a home, a map or a decent script. Unfortunately, their pursuit of mediocrity will continue next year, as Showtime have already signed the renewal contract. I have one thing to say about that…Ah, why don’t you take this one Senator:

Until tomorrow,

Keep Watching Your Screens (unless Weeds is on it)

Ficus

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4. The Office

Ah, Where Everybody Knows Your Name. I mean that’s what she said. The Office has been on the slide for a season or two. It was inevitable once Pam-Jim became ‘Pim’ or is that ‘Jam’… the writers would be devoid of a central driving force to guide the show. This season saw Steve Carell begin his fairwell tour through the fields of uninspired writing. Why not end it? Well, it’s American television and as Shaq says “The great thing about America is you can always come back next year” (If your ratings are good). And The Office’s ratings are good. Real good. So what if the writers just try to recreate the Pam-Jim will they/won’t they with lesser characters. So what if after 100 episodes, there’s not much left to laugh at, not much left to happen. So What? I’ll tell you what: It makes a Ficus cry. And You’re on the list. Take that NBC. Get out of my nook. And that my friends…

Keep Watching Your Screens

– Inconsolable Ficus

Remember, these aren’t the worst shows of the year as I tend not to watch bad television. These are the shows that either promised big and delivered a deuce, or have proven themselves in the past and this year have come up holding their schrum.

I begin the daily countdown with Number 5…

5. True Blood

I’m going to do bad things to you. Like put you 5th on my list. True Blood is starting to impress me less and less. There seemed to be fewer meaningful and heartfelt scenes than last season. Instead we saw a lot of blood, gore and spine. Not that there’s anything wrong with that….But I can’t help but feel the show has become somewhat of a parody…of itself. The sultryness and sexyness have enveloped the story, which seemed stuck for most of last season. Some of the character development, like that involving Sam were a little disappointing also. More importantly, does Tara annoy anyone else? I nearly dropped my seed when watching her.

WARNING: Children, the squeemish or those who value the integrity of the human skeleton should not watch this clip

Keep Watching Your Screens

A truly Misanthropic Ficus

WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW

Greetings friends. I started off this daunting quest with the intent of creating a top 10 list. After weighing up my options, I realised that this would devalue the whole exercise. 10 is too many. It would mean including a few shows that aren’t mandatory viewing. These are, as I see it, the elite shows of 2010. I am interested in seeing everybody’s opinions. Well at least a person’s opinion. Feel free to post your own top 5.

Now to the order. I see Mad Men and Breaking Bad as interchangeable. But the again, Breaking Bad has Skylar as the ex-wife, Mad Men has Betty. I rest my case (order). Community is the best comedy on television. I give Lost the nod in favour of Fringe as the series finale blew my pants off (even though I was naked at time of viewing).

1. Mad Men

This is perhaps television’s most consistent performer. 2010 saw Don Draper transition from married man to bachelor back to married man. It was a quick 360, but it was one hell of a ride none-the-less.

Other highlights included Don and Peggy forming a close friendship. Given Don’s proclivity towards secrecy, it created a very interesting, although at times awkward, dynamic. Betty continued to discover ‘happiness’ cannot be attained via marriage. At least

not to a Republican…I think America learned this lesson already (High-Five!).

The mid 1960s. Beautiful women. Life after Kennedy. The dawn of the nuclear family. Don    Draper. Enough said really. The shows that exudes class continues to be predictably classy.

2. Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad seems so long ago…that I barely remember what occurred in the 3rd season.

Yet, I do remember that the show continues to be riveting viewing.  Walt’s transformation from mild-mannered science teacher to drug-manufacturing genius is complete. He is now Heisenberg.

So much so that he cannot envision a life without cooking…alot like Jamie Oliver. Jesse continues to be tortured by his girlfriend’s tragic death. This season featured some very gripping scenes, not least of which was where  we saw Heisenberg on the edge of discovery by Hank (his DEA brother in law). The attack by the two twins on Hank was similarly amazing. It is never dull and features superb performances, especially by Cranston. It is the best told story on television. Breaking Bad continues to be mandatory viewing.

3. Community

In a TV season where the Office and Weeds continued on their quest for mediocrity Community stood out as a beacon of intelligence, humour and heart. And liver. And Annie’s Boobs.  While episodes like ‘Modern Warfare’ and ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’ will become instantly recognisable classics, the week-to-week antics of our favourite undergrads are always lively. Unlike the stale and directionless ‘Weeds’ or ‘The office’, Community seems to push the boundaries each week. Ambition is the key. The characters continue to develop, sometimes in unexpected directions. Oh and did I mention Abed was awesome? And Alison Brie…

4. Lost

I have mixed feelings about including Lost on this list. For much of the final season I was disgruntled, disinterested and generally feeling dissed. Maybe it was the dysentery. The writers seemed to concoct a lot of weak explanations for much of the phenomena which we, as fans, enjoyed pondering and discussing for hours throughout the show’s 6 season run. The creation of smokey stands out as one example. Yet, the resolution for the characters was nothing short of breathtaking. The finale was stunning, beautiful and truly befitted a show that for all its faults was still an epic.

5. Fringe

In the latter parts of season 2 and the start of season 3 Fringe went from inconsistent monster-of-the-week sci-fi to must watch television. The formulaic episodes which plagued most of its inaugural season gave way to a greater emphasis upon the fringe mythology. Our universe and ‘their’s’ continued to edge towards a showdown of epic proportions. It’s a grand story which, if Fox allows it, may rival Lost. Not in hype, but in actual storytelling acumen.

Tomorrow I will post my ‘Most Disappointing Shows of 2010’ List

Until then, Keep Watching Your Screens

-Ficus

Best of 2010

Posted: December 25, 2010 in Best of...
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It’s time for that dreaded cultural institution we like to call the ‘Best of <insert year here>’. Is it really time for that?…

No, give me 5 days and I’ll ponder, pontificate and procrastinate over this list. I shall not eat, I shall not sleep…I SHALL TASTE MAN FLESH!!!…Sorry too much Lord of the Rings. The extended trilogy in the space of 24 hours will do that to a man. Blogging of which Ficus Highly Recommends the Lord of the Rings: Extended Trilogy. If only those basterds would release it on blu-ray…nothing excites this ficus like hairy hobbit feat in stunning 1080p. It’s like you could reach out and comb them.

Back to the list. It will actually be composed of several categories:

1. The Best Shows of 2010 (Traditional but important)

2. The Best New Shows of 2010

3. The Worst Shows of 2010

4. The ‘Give me Back My Baby List’: The Brilliant but Cancelled Shows of 2010

5. The Jumped the Shark Shows of 2010

Watch this Space…and

Keep Watching Your Screens.

Ficus

With the coming of Winter/Summer the TV schedule really does turn to gloob (?). We are forced to say goodbye to our favourites like Community, Fringe and The Big Bang Theory. So what’s left? You can always spend quality time with la tua famiglia. But before you decide to take that risk, rejoice for there are a few worthwhile gems left to keep this ficus afloat.

Kudos to TNT for keeping quiet performer ‘Men of a Certain Age’ airing during the festive season. I have a feeling I might enjoy this show more if I were 30 years older, thrice-divorced and a father of 2…but it is quality television nonetheless. It’s a show very much grounded in reality, with the everyday trials of 3 middle-aged men on display. The performances by the three leads (Romano, Bakula and Braugher) really do lift the rather dull material. There is no melodrama here friends. In fact there is very little drama. However, the actors really do make you feel for the characters.

Plus, the theme song is a classic:

 

 

Peep Show is nearing the end of it’s 7th season. The consistency and genuine hilarity of this oft-forgotten show is something American network execs can only dream of…so is the content they are allowed to air…thanks PTC. The chemistry between Mitchell and Webb is dynamic. Yet what I think what really sustains the show is that deep down, the two characters really do care deeply about each other. They are the modern day odd couple. Here’s to 7 more seasons!

Hmmmm…well that pretty much it. Or is it?

Yes, that is it. I eagerly await the middle of January for my friends Abed, Walter and Sheldon to return to my life.

Until then, praise DVDs.

Keep watching Your Screens

-Ficus Out

Ficus Recommends: Spaced

Posted: December 3, 2010 in Ficus Recommends...

OK. I have to admit: I was a doubter of the brilliance of the short-lived British “sit-com” Spaced, starring the now well known Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes. However, after re-watching the first season in a solitary day I am a believer…without a trace…of doubt in my mind…etc etc.

Perhaps I’m a more astute viewer now. Perhaps, I’m a sophisticated, more well rounded viewer.

Probably not.

Spaced revolves around two twenty-something ‘lay-abouts’ and roomies Tim and Daisy whose lives are as equally dull as they are prone to surreal episodes of pop-culture inspired twists and turns. There is, of course, unrequited romance between the two. Bryan, the post-modernist painter down stairs, Marsha the land-lady, Mike- Tim’s best friend (it all happened…) and weapons expert, Twist daisy’s best friend (she’s in fashion) round out the very strong ensemble case.

Spaced is a rollicking good time. The gags fly faster and funnier than any conventional sitcom could ever dream of. What is most impressive, perhaps most appealing to this ficus, is the breadth and usage of the pop cultural references.

 

 

Running gags are also used to great effect to reward the cognisant viewer.

It both seeks to destroy, lampoon, parody and yet at the some-time rescue and expand the sit-com genre. It is, to put it in words non-ficus would understand- The arrested Development of the UK….unadulterated.

That is why Ficus Recommends: Spaced.

Until next time

Keep Watching Your Screens

Your Loyal Ficus