Thoughts on “Thirteen” and “The 100” as a whole

Trying something different here: I wrote about 1,500 words about “The 100,” but thought that it might be better to post over on Tumblr than here. Maybe I was right, maybe I was wrong.

In any case, you can head over here to read ’em.

How “Fresh Off The Boat” highlights the potential power of Peak TV

Part of what makes television so beloved is its familiarity. Until the last 20 years or so, shows more or less thrived on repetition. To a great extent, that precept is still 100% true: Large numbers of people watch shows precisely because they know precisely what they are going to get. And there’s nothing particularly wrong with that…unless that’s all you watch. Then? It’s a problem.

It’s a problem for a reason that last night’s episode of “Fresh Off The Boat” simply stated. Louis answers Jessica’s confusion as to why so many of their friends/employees help them celebrate Chinese New Year in Orlando by saying, “It’s not that people didn’t care enough to get it right. It’s that they didn’t know.” There’s nothing particularly artful about that sentiment, and yet that makes it all the more powerful. It cuts to the chase and gets to the heart of why diversity on television isn’t just nice to have in the era of Peak TV, but necessary.

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The myth of “true crime”: “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” and “Making A Murderer”

About halfway through the upcoming season of “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson,” a lawyer for one side of the case utters these words to his colleagues:

“Jurors go with the narrative that makes sense. We’re here to tell a story. Our job is to tell that story better than the other side tells theirs.”

It’s a simple, illuminating line of dialogue in a deceptively simple but deeply powerful series. (Long story short: It premieres Feb 2, it’s the first great show of 2016, and it’s REALLY great.) I’m leading with this phrase since I’ve been watching screeners for the series in conjunction with powering through the Netflix documentary “Making A Murderer,” and while the two seem to have at best surface-level similarities, it’s almost impossible to imagine the latter without the events that inspired the former.

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Review: In season three, “The 100” is potentially in as much peril as its characters

I’m hesitant to even write about the third season of “The 100,” which premieres this Thursday, January 21, for two reasons. The first is purely practical: It’s hard to talk about the season without describing what happens in it, and watching the story unfold is something you as a viewer need to experience without having it spoiled. But the second is more problematic: In these first four episodes shown for review, there’s a schism in it that potentially will tear the whole show apart.

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Review: In “Legends Of Tomorrow”, the seams burst on the small-screen DC universe

I love pizza. And burritos. And ice cream. And barbeque pulled pork. But I wouldn’t love them altogether on the same plate: The individual flavors would combat and/or contradict one another, turning something that’s individually delicious essentially inedible.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Figured as much.

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From the Archives: The “Lost” Musical

My laptop probably should have died a year ago, but it’s relentlessly chugged along long past any reasonable amount of expectation. Still, I’ve been backing it up lately, just on the offchance it decides to commit seppuku when I try to open Microsoft Word and GarageBand simultaneously. While doing so today, I realized I’ve been backing up stuff I’ve written since 2004, more or less when I started blogging seriously. That’s meant I’ve found some older stuff I thought had been long gone.

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Review: In season two, “Man Seeking Woman” keeps things entertainingly weird

There’s always a sneaking sensation that goes into every year-end TV list: What show am I leaving off? (OK, there’s also the second sneaking sensation of, “Why am I bothering to do this in the first place?”, but let’s deal with the other one for now.) I’m a pretty firm believer that shows that don’t instantly pop to mind shouldn’t be initially excluded from further self-evaluation. But after a secondary round of analysis, those shows left off the list are probably left off for a reason.

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Review: In season two, “Galavant” continues to hit all the right notes

When I was fifteen, I worked on my first musical theatre production. It was “Into The Woods,” and I was the assistant sound designer, which really meant I pressed play on a CD when the stage manager told me to do so. I got hooked on the genre almost instantly: I couldn’t sing, dance, or act (thus the whole “pressing play on a CD” thing), but I loved everything about the world just the same. It takes a lot for a musical theatre-based entertainment to fall flat for me, which makes my hatred of “Glee” all that remarkable. But “Galavant”? “Galavant” is my kind of happy place.

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When the parts are greater than the sum

What do you do when you love a core aspect of a television show, but aren’t sure you actually are enjoying the show as a whole?

It’s something I’ve wrestled with over the past few months with several shows that other critics have almost universally lauded. “You’re The Worst,” “Jessica Jones,” and “Transparent” are all shows that have incredibly good qualities but consistently elude my grasp. That’s different than saying they are “good” or “bad,” because who the hell really can say that but the individual viewer. I’m very glad they all exist, and there are aspects of them that I don’t only enjoy but view as actually important pieces of pop art. But there’s a difference between appreciating the parts but not the whole.

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My Favorite TV of 2015, Part 2: The Top 15

Yesterday, I published my favorite shows that JUST missed the cut for today’s follow-up entry. These aren’t the best shows of the year. They are simply my favorite fifteen. It’s a dirty little secret that every list is constructed exactly this same way, but I figured I’d at least be honest about my approach.

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