Saturday, March 29, 2014

State of my March II: Glee, Suburgatory, About a Boy

Part II of my update on what shows I'm watching this Fall

Glee-Glee was a show that felt the need to speed through situations, premises and plots. Characters become goths, quit the Glee club, rejoin it, make major life decisions and switch up romantic relationships every episode. It seems like half the episodes have Will and Emma are either getting married or cancelling aforementioned wedding plans. Ditto Rachel and Finn with their on-again off-again relationship.

Courtesy: The State
The problem with this is that it can kind of get tiring in the long-term. The partial reboot of the New Directions membership seemed to be doing the exact same thing with expies of the old characters. Jake going from a bad boy to a team player and Kitty acting as a kind of moral wild card make them Puck 2.0 and Quinn 2.0.

That was when I tuned out but the show has started to rehook me as of late. What I'm finding most refreshing about the show in Season 5 is the slower pace. The producers primarily accomplished this by splitting up the senior year of Blaine, Artie, Tina and Sam into two seasons. As a result, it feels like the story finally has a chance to breathe. The show that could previously be accused of being melodramatic is now just dramatic and that's a good thing. Characters have a chance to develop, relationships have a chance to form, there's less of a revolving door in terms of casting.

The show still seems to have a little bit of relationship roulette. There's little sense that the writers  asked themselves "why are we doing this?" when deciding to pair up people like Artie and Kitty. Also, When Sam was complaining about being unlucky in love in the season's second episode, was I the only viewer who noticed that Sam has been with every girl he's ever had a crush on?


About A Boy-I reviewed this show a month ago and am pleased to know it's coming around nicely.  David Walton's take on the protagonist of Will is a much less interesting version than Hugh Grant's version or his source material. It remains to be seen whether the shallowness of David Walton's Will will wear the show thin, but so far, there have been enough interesting storylines to keep my momentum going. The premise is a genuinely sweet and interesting one and some of the changes from the source material have been benificial to the show. For one, Fiona (Minnie Driver takes over the role from Toni Collette) is a much stronger and well-defined character. Additionally, the inclusion of Dakota (Talladega Nights' Leslie Bibb) as Will's object of desire and Fiona's confidante is a smart one.

I originally stated that I enjoyed Will's lack of definition for his own life before Marcus came along. The TV show has shifted to a more definable problem for Will. With his friends settling down, he feels left behind and detached from his own peer group. This is a relatable problem and one that gives more impetus for his relationship with Marcus. I'm behind this!

Lastly, it's worth noting that Marcus doesn't sound like much of an 11-year old. He's supposed to be written as a kid burdened by having forced to have grown up too fast. Still, he's a bit too self-aware and his dialogue seems kind of stilted. Cracked columnist Robert Brockway once wrote that Hollywood needs to hire children to hang around writers rooms so writers can listen to what children actually sound like. This show seems like a good use for that idea.

Suburgatory-I'm still loyal to this show but it's with some definite hesitation that I continue to watch it.

Suburgatory was a revelation in its first year for it's wicked satirical bent. Unfortunately, the show's greatest strength has also limited its shelf-life. For its satire to hit the sharpest, the show was reliant on its two protagonists being fish out of water.

Unfortunately, this didn't last long. In the second season,  Tessa and George got more acclimated to Chatswain and entered into romantic relationships with the locals which took away their status as outsiders. Tessa couldn't snidely comment on the inanity of Chatswainians if she was dating one of them. Similarly, George had much less ground to be befuddled by Dallas if he actually committed to her as a life partner.

Now in the third season, we find Tessa and George out on the other end of those relationships but it's not the same. Most of the plots have been soapy. The biggest conflict surrounding Tessa is whether she gets over Ryan or not. When Tessa does start to get hypercritical of the environment around her again, it seems a little disjointed.

The issue of culture clash was brought up in the third season episode "About a Boy-Yoi-Yoing" wherein George and Fred decide to take a trip to the city to get out of the country club lifestyle. Unfortunately, this was relegated to a B-plot and much of the story line didn't take place in Chatswain.

Still, there have been a few highlights. The engagement between Lisa and Malik was a sweet moment and it was wise for George and Nora (the wonderful Natasha Leggero) not to pursue a relationship. The show also had a very strong outing in the episode where Tessa joined a cult.

No comments: