Archive for the ‘Ficus Recommends…’ Category

I must admit I didn’t intend to ever watch ‘Episodes’. Indeed, I was vehemently or even violently opposed to even the theoretical notion of considering watching ‘Episodes’. Yes, it is true. I, loyal readers, am not a Matt Leblanc fan. However, today whilst performing my daily perusal of the internet I was alerted to a headline on salon.com. It went something like this: ‘Episodes may be Showtime’s greatest comedy ever’.  Weeds. United States of Tara. Episodes?

So I legally acquired the premiere and second episode.

I don’t want to give too much about the plot away except the basic premise. A successful British husband-wife writing team are persuaded to go to LA to create an American version of their hit TV show. To their dismay, Matt Leblanc will play the lead.

Leblanc plays a (highly?) fictionalised version of himself. I have to admit he is damn funny. It’s always fun to watch an actor not afraid to poke fun at himself, even when he is really mocking the perception of himself as a low-brow, one character actor.

However what’s even more refreshing about this show is that it’s really a satire of the Hollywood culture and the ‘bullshit’ world of American television.

More importantly though the show is hilarious. Not hilarious in a ‘cheeky smile’ kind of way, but in that it will actually make you laugh.

This is one ficus that can’t wait to watch more.

Keep Watching Your Screens

Ficus aka the Fican Titan

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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

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.

Ficus.

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

So, I guess maybe once a week I will discuss something I have been watching on DVD or blu-ray or betamax which I recommend….and maybe 1 thing I say to stay away from…

I bought the Complete Series on DVD on Amazon for $99. Great bargain.

It isn’t really a show which makes you laugh out loud, but is rather a more nuanced self-critique of fame and the notion of celebrity. Gary Shandling stars as Larry Sanders a self-obsessed, neurotic, late-night talk show host. Jeffrey Tambor stars as ‘Hey Now’ Hank Kingsly, his sidekick (both on and he wishes off air). Read more possibly true info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Larry_Sanders_Show

Anyway, this post is more about the extras the DVD set comes with…

This ficus was both startled and enthralled (a lot like Sunil getting a boner watching Survivor on In Treatment). The dvd features a series of ‘personal visits’ where Gary Shandling meets up  guest stars which appeared on his show. He essentially goes to their houses and has natural conversations with them; Jerry Seinfeld, Sharon Stone, Alec Baldwin etc.

The first thing I was struck by was how old Shandling looked…balding and a little unwell…alot like me except for the old and balding part.

It was certainly strange though, there Shandling was eating breakfast with The Basic Instinct discussing his commitment issues…or with Linda Doucett, who appeared for 3 seasons on the show, a women who apparently sued him for sexual harassment, discussing how “I wanted a baby but he gave me a job”.

It was painfully authentic…though the kind of painfully authentic a ficus can live with…like being crushed by a pair of natural breasts.

The more I watched the more I came to the conclusion that the LSS may very well have been a self-portrait for Shandling…which I guess isn’t all that surprising.

Anyway, it was highly compelling viewing which is why Ficus Recommends: The Larry Sanders Show Complete Series on DVD.

Until next time, Keep Watching Your Screens

Mr Ficus.