Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Mere Anachrony: Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World

Girl Meets World, the Disney Channel’s long-awaited Boy Meets World spin-off, premiers tonight. Except it’s not Disney’s typical audience of pre-teens who are awaiting this premiere—it’s people in their 20s who have been clamoring the loudest for this show about an eleven-year-old girl. And why? Because we millennials fucking love Boy Meets World.

For those unfamiliar, Boy Meets World aired on ABC from 1993 to 2000, as part of the network’s “TGIF” lineup of family-friendly programming. The titular boy was Cory Matthews (played by Ben Savage). He was in sixth grade when the series began. His parents were happily married. He had an older brother (Eric, played by Will Friedle) and a younger sister (Morgan, played brilliantly by Lily Nicksay, then forgettably by Lindsay Ridgeway). His best friend was Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) and the object of his affections was Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel). Most important, though, was his next-door neighbor and perpetual teacher, Mr. Feeny (William Daniels), who was the show’s voice of reason and guiding light.

But all that sounds pretty cookie-cutter. It doesn’t really capture the enduring appeal of Boy Meets World. So what does? What accounts for the enthusiasm for Cory and Topanga’s return? Continue reading

Sadness and the Big Moments: The Finale of “How I Met Your Mother”

“We’ll always be friends. It’s just never going to be how it was. It can’t be, and that doesn’t have to be a sad thing.”

And so here we are again, with a series that most of us here at NPI liked–if not enough to offer serial reviews—ending in highly scorned fashion. How I Met Your Mother has gone the way of Lost, or even of The Sopranos, its conclusion drawing ire from fans and critics alike.

Series finales, especially for quote-unquote comedies, are really difficult, for the reasons John S laid out a year ago post-The Office. I mean, let’s face it: Endings in any fictional work are hard and typically forced, because in real life things don’t really end. The kind of closure we expect from a story isn’t intrinsic. There are always going to be loose ends and unexplained details and things we never find out. Fiction writers have to navigate their way around this, usually by killing characters or by having them unwittingly broach the fourth wall by weirdly acknowledging a finality that shouldn’t exist diegetically.

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The Top Ten Television Episodes of 2013

The Year of Breaking Bad

The Year of Breaking Bad

This was a big year on television. Netflix and Amazon added a bunch of new shows and a whole new model for making them. A bunch of big shows, from 30 Rock to Breaking Bad, aired series finales. And what the hell happened to Homeland? The result was a lot of turnover on my list of best episodes. Some shows, like Louie, didn’t air in 2013, and some, like Community, simply dipped in quality. Anyway, here are the top ten episodes of the year. With spoilers, obvs…

 

10) “The Marry Prankster” — Happy Endings

 

Happy Endings did not get one. It was cancelled unceremoniously after a season that was kind of a letdown. But it was still one of the funniest shows on TV until its dying day. “The Marry Prankster” was probably the best example of its absurdist humor to air in 2013, from the Usual Suspects homage (“I’m not as dumb as I am”) to the crafty one-liners (“Classic Brad panic move, like when 9/11 happened and you full on supported the War in Iraq…” “We were lied to!”). Happy Endings will be missed, though some of the cast have found new homes on Fox sitcoms.

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Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Rivals II, The Grand Finale

Winners!“I’m always looked at as, like, I don’t know… not that good at shit. I’m not good at challenges. I’m not good at elimination rounds. But I never wanted to let Emily down, so I did the best I could.” —Paula

 

“Third place is not my destiny!” —Emily

 

It may be anticlimactic, but it’s always nice when the team that deserves to win actually wins. And for both the guys and the girls, the winning pair for Rivals II was the team that performed the best throughout the Challenge.

First of all, Emily/Paula were obviously the best female team. They may not have dominated as much as I initially expected—early on I said they might go undefeated in challenges, which obviously didn’t pan out—but they were clearly the alphas on the girls’ side throughout. Even when they did lose, it was a surprise. Continue reading

Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Rivals II, Week 11 Power Rankings

Do they look like winners?“I really want to win this Challenge. I feel like I’m one of the best competitors to ever be on The Challenge, and at the same time I feel like the Dan Marino of The Challenge. One of the best quarterbacks ever, a Hall of Famer—doesn’t have a ring. I don’t want to be Dan Marino. I want to be Tom Brady.” —C.T. 

“I will be shot before I let Camila and Jemmye beat me to that yacht.” —Emily

 

People complain a lot about gimmickry in sports. Of course, what makes something a “gimmick” usually depends on your perspective. Baseball’s second wildcard certainly seems like a gimmick… until you’re a Yankees fan with no other hope of seeing the postseason.

Still, one gimmick I am decidedly against is eliminating players in the middle of a challenge. It seems to me that the whole point of devising these long, elaborate Final Challenges is so the teams have to be good at a lot of different things in order to win. That way, teams that fall behind after one event can make it up in the future. Conversely, teams that build big leads are always in danger of blowing it if they run into something they can’t do.

But eliminating a team after the first leg of a multistage challenge erases these possibilities. If the thing you’re weakest at happens to come first, then you are shit out of luck. This looked to be the case for Cooke/Cara Maria on Wednesday night, when Cara Maria, who had been violently dreading any swimming on the Final Challenge, had to swim her way to the first puzzle. And, indeed, Cooke/Cara Maria were the last team to start the puzzle, but luckily they were able to make up ground on the puzzle itself. Camila/Jemmye were not as lucky—their weakness was puzzles, and their inability to finish the puzzle on “Dream Island” got them eliminated  from the game for good. Continue reading

Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Rivals II, Week 10 Power Rankings

Happier times...“No matter what, people will not be friends after this.” —Paula

 

Diem: “I’m really confused.”

Wes: “That’s an emotional thing.”

Diem: “I’m an emotional person!”

 

I have been watching the Challenge for many, many years—not quite since the beginning, but close. And I’ve watched half a dozen Real World seasons as well. Still, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the entire cast turn to the cameraman, point, and yell, “Go!” the way they did in Wednesday’s episode of Rivals II, after Diem followed C.T. away from the pool.

The confrontation itself was a bit of a letdown—they both just stuck to their guns—but it shows how invested everyone involved in the show—cast, crew, and audience—is in C.T. and Diem. The conflict between the two former lovers was pretty small—C.T. didn’t vote the way Diem would have liked—but it became a kind of Rorschach test for how everyone perceives C.T. Continue reading

Top Ten Things To Be Excited About In The Fall TV Season

As I said last year, it now seems like the fall is the worst season for television. The new shows are mostly on networks, which means the good ones will likely be cancelled in a few weeks, and the best of cable—Breaking Bad, Louie, Wilfred, Pretty Little Liars, Mad Men—seems to air on a summer or spring schedule. Still, there are some great shows coming back this fall, and the sheer quantity of new shows means there’s bound to be something good. Here are the 10 most intriguing shows…

10) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Premieres September 24 on ABC

I’ve pretty much abandoned network dramas at this point, but this one is from Joss/Jed Whedon, which bodes well. Plus, given the Avengers pedigree, it’s likely to last at least a full year.

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