Archive for January, 2011

Details here.


After a first season which imitated the British classic line for line, sans mature language and content, The Office (US) stepped outside the shadow of the original to become of the funniest and most heartfelt shows on network, hell, all of television.

The recipe was simple enough. Give Steve Carell and Rainn Wilson decent material and you’ll have yourself a damn funny show. Add a ‘will they-won’t they’ romance featuring boy and girl next door Pam and Jim and you get a compelling romantic story. Put them together and you have a great show, which for seasons made us laugh and cry.

The supporting cast was and is unspectacular but solid enough. There’s fatty, grumpy, bitchy, stupid and slutty.

So what went so wrong in the past two or three seasons? Well, as is inevitably the case as much as the writers would have liked to artificially extend the intrigue surrounding Pam and Jim, there reached a point where they had to be unified. In doing so, the show lost momentum and a distinct overarching storyline. Oh and it turns out that Pam and Jim aren’t very funny or engaging in their new found marital bliss.

The writers have tried to create other points of romantic interest yet they do not measure up. Moreover, the humour has dissipated. We know the routine all too well after 7 seasons. Michael is going to do something inappropriate (we cringe). Dwight will say something slightly quirky (we smile). Pam and Jim love each other (we fall asleep). The supporting cast will give their well rehearsed and well-worn responses (we lip-sync).

So perhaps, the show hasn’t ‘gone bad’ in so much as it has gone stale. Steve Carell is supposedly leaving at the end of this season, leaving a space for a new boss to enter the picture. Or should they just call the whole thing off?

This Ficus thinks so.

Keep watching Your Screens

You be the Judge

My owners have seen fit to move me over to this location

I am prompted to post this as an appeal to the world…well Americans with access to FX. I implore you to watch LIGHTS OUT! I have just discovered its ratings are in a dismal state. Given the swift and cruel manner in which the execs at FX axed newcomer ‘Terriers’, I have grave fears for one of my new friends.

This isn’t just a self-interested appeal. It’s inherently altruistic (if entirely unintentionally so). For Lights Out is great television.

Commence Ficus Breakdown. It’s essentially about a retired boxer, ‘Lights’ Leary, a family man who lost the last fight of his career on points. There is general agreement that he in fact deserved to win this fight. Since then, Lights has tried to be a family man but times are tough, money is short. This leads to some less than reputable means of surviving (he tries his hand(s) at debt collecting). The upshot of all this is that he is on track to return to the ring to face the man who unfairly defeated him. End Ficus Breakdown.

Predictable? Yes. Regardless, the execution of the story makes it seem original. There is something about flashbacks, cut sequences and non-linear storytelling that enlivens the soul and invigorates the mind. The performances are top-notch. The accompanying soundtrack assists in creating some truly moving scenes and in forming some ficus fornication for the characters.

In summary, Watch ‘Lights Out’ America. Tuesdays at 10PM on FX

Keep Watching Your Screens

(Especially when’ Lights Out’ is on them)

a concerned and forlorn Ficus

Does Choice Determine Identity?

Judging from the conclusion of episode 1 of the new Skins, the answer is undoubtedly in the affirmative. Frankie, generation 3’s resident lesbian (at least in spirit), was the focal point of this episode.  I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed. I suppose it’s asking too much for an original character in Skins now, but Jane Doe’s portrayal of a confused, insecure teen wasn’t very convincing. It lacked sufficient emotion and any gravitas. In this episode we see Frankie toy with the idea of trying to fit in before letting her inner freak flourish in her new home. On the other end of the scale is Mini, resident crazy cutthroat bitch, I suppose the female counterpart to generation 1’s Tony (sans charisma, looks, charm etc.) She’s popular, cruel and highly manipulative. A couple of louts, Mini’s boyfriend, his sidekick and two of Mini’s devotees (one who joins the dark-side) complete the Skins cast. Oh and some weird guy that reminded me alot of Angel…a really crap Angel. These characters face a stark choice between embracing one’s inner self and hiding this self behind a veneer of materialism and ritual aggrandising superficiality. To wear your bathers or to skinny dip in the public pool (totally disgusting by the way)? In other words, do you want to let your freak flag fly? Paper or Plastic? Who adorns your walls- The Boy who Lived or the Boy who Sparkled? This is an interesting starting point for the 3rd generation of the Skins franchise. One could argue that both previous sets of Skins characters faced this dilemma. I mean the show is about the Skins we wear…But here the question is posed in a very unsubtle juxtaposition. There seems to be two opposing camps, set on a collision course for the sun…or the local pub. Regardless, it creates some interest and I think the show needs it. From what I saw of the characters and the cast there isn’t much to get excited about. One disappointing part of this episode was the total lack of humour. Sure, Skins can be dark but there must be laughter. For without laughter there is no Skins. Also, there is no standout character. No Tony. No Cassie. No Sid. No JJ. No hope. That’s perhaps a bit harsh. Where there is conflict, identity crises, philosophical arguments concerning life and sex there’ll be viewers. And where there’s Skins, there will be Ficus. For at least another episode…

P.S. Just to clarify: where there is Skins (UK), Ficus will be there. Where there is Skins (US), Ficus will be concentrating on photosynthesis.

Keep Watching Your Screens

A Slightly underwhelmed yet still hopeful Ficus

The fifth series of (the real) Skins will premiere on the 27th January. That is tonight, UK time. I cautiously advise you to tune in as it is a new generation of teens. Let’s hope it’s not just a retread of typecasts seen in the last generation.


Today sees a dawn of a new series emanating from the brain that brought you ‘Dan-Blair Watch’ and ‘Ficus Recommends’. It’s a series I plan to add to every week; time, weather, strength and intestinal fortitude permitting. It will look out our favourite characters deemed by a panel of experts. Namely me. However, I do plan to consult with my ever burgeoning list of esteemed contributors…if they ever start contributing. Today I bring you Annie from Community.

Information gleaned from her 100% inaccurate wikipedia page:

Born: December 1990

Gender: Female

Religion: Judaism

Occupation: Student

Significant Others: Ficus (in dream-like world made of chocolate and Hermione Granger)

She is the girl next door. This more-american-than-apple pie sweetheart is a ficus-favourite over at NBC’s Community. Is it her sex appeal? No, my love of Annie extends past the superficial attraction to her unquestionable beauty and feminine charms. Perhaps it stems from the fact that her  character has depth beyond her looks. Unlike other attractive female characters on TV, she doesn’t rely on her sexuality. Indeed, at the beginning of the series she appears barely cognisant of her ability to do this. We know from her interactions with Troy that she was invisible at High School. Star QB Troy didn’t remember her despite sitting in front of her in class for years. It is also stated on several occasions that she suffered a nervous breakdown in High School. It is this vulnerability which shines through Alison Brie’s delicate portrayal of Annie. At Glendale, she finds found a group of friends which understand her. Yet, her vulnerability and naiveté leads  members of the group to treat her as if she was their daughter. In many ways this matches the experience of the audience. We want Annie’s innocence to be protected whilst at the same time find her so alluring in her innocence. We are Geoff Winger, so conflicted and torn that we don’t know whether we want to be her father or lover…or both.  As she continues to evolve with superb writing and the nuanced performance by the brilliant Alison Brie perhaps this dilemma will be resolved. In the meantime we’ll continue to love her.

Until next time

Keep Watching Your Screens

A very smitten Ficus

My owners have seen fit to move me over to this location

Dexter Parody

Posted: January 26, 2011 in Humour

SEMI-SPOILERS for those that haven’t seen the show…

They pretty much nailed it.

Ficus Out.

Become a writer for E4’s Skins!

OMG! It’s happening! It’s really happening! By that I mean the unholy union of Dan and Blair is in the works. See my previous post for why this is a positive move by the writers. Last night’s episode confirmed my belief that Dan and Blair must have more air-time together. Serena continues to be  her incredibly self-obsessed, directionless self. Dan summed it up best when he said she continues to have opportunities which normal people just wouldn’t have. It seems Serena may have finally stood lonely boy up one too many times. This opened the door for two lonely souls, Blair (the dictator of taste) and Dan to becoming at least good friends. Not only is this great fun for the viewers, as their interactions are truly dynamic, yet it is also a positive for the characters. Dan is good for Blair. He, unlike Chuck, doesn’t play games. He is straight-forward and honest. Meanwhile, Blair is, for all her superficiality, is at least if not more of an intellect than Dan. Unlike Serena or even Vanessa, Blair challenges Dan.

So here is my prediction this week in Dan-Blair Watch:

Dan and Blair will continue to secretly spend time together. In an episode or two, Blair will realise she has feelings for Lonely Boy. She’ll make a move. Will he reciprocate?….

XOXO Ficus

Leaving aside that I don’t know what requiem actually means, the title does sound rather apt doesn’t it? I have just concluded episode 11 of the fourth season of my guilty pleasure. So far, this season has lacked any real interest. Unlike previous seasons, the love triangles and melodrama seams stale and lacking in any zazzaz. However, it appears that the writers have finally realised what seemed obvious from the start. Blair and Dan have a great dynamism and chemistry between them. These two polar-opposites create great banter and witty dialogue, not to mention a very interesting story should their involvement become romantic. I don’t necessarily advise the writers take this path…but if they do it would be very fun.

Until next time

XOXO…I mean Keep Watching Your Screens