Wirthling's General TV Thread

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 45226
NimChimpskyOn Fargo, last night's episode sort of finally clarified for me what it is that I love most about the show, but also what keeps me from completely embracing it. How can both things be true at the same time? Well, see: last night's Fargo.

The episode centered entirely around the inimitable Carrie Coon, doing her version of the Frances McDormand/Alison Tolman/Patrick Wilson unprepared-but-really-the-most-prepared law enforcement officer character as she investigates someone's past in Los Angeles. The episode features, among other things, a number of animated sequences about an android named Minsky. The name, no doubt, a reference to the "useless machine," developed by Marvin Minsky, whereby a flipped switch causes a hand to appear and flip the switch back before disappearing. Such a machine also features in the episode, discovered by Coon in her motel room. Why? Does it matter?

The episode's gesture toward deep thought doesn't stop there. The title is "The Law of Non-Contradiction," a reference to the logical principal that two contradictory premises cannot both be true. A cannot simultaenously be B, and not B. But in this episode, we have a number of stories that call that into question. One anecdote tells of a solider who grants his wife a retroactive divorce if he doesn't come back after one year overseas. For that year, they are both married and divorced. At another point, a character references quantum physics.

What does all this mean? It invites lots of viewer participation, in terms of connecting dots, shading in shapes, parsing the fables. But I'm not convinced it does--or the show ever really does--mean anything. I think, instead, what it does, over and over, is evoke meaning. Oblique titles, seemingly aimless parables, constant references to films both Coen and not--it all adds up to feel meaningful, and to be pretty riveting in the moment and the immediate afterglow, and it's fun, and zippy, and so well-crafted and acted it all feels like something important. But to the degree the show has any merits on a deeper level, it's in small scenes, human character moments. As a "big picture," I just don't think there's any there there.

Nonetheless, it can be a lot of fun to watch. When it's a big soup of weirdness and jokes and melancholy and darkness and befuddlement at the human condition, it can be as great to watch as anything on TV. But I think it's all kind of ultimately an empty pastiche. It's both good and bad at the same time. A contradiction!

This, to an extent, mirrors my sentiments regarding the difference between the first and second seasons. I felt more wowed by what was going on onscreen in 2, but 1 had me more intensely gripped.
May 5, 2017 7:19 AM
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Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 12533
NimChimpskyOn Fargo, last night's episode sort of finally clarified for me what it is that I love most about the show, but also what keeps me from completely embracing it. How can both things be true at the same time? Well, see: last night's Fargo.

The episode centered entirely around the inimitable Carrie Coon, doing her version of the Frances McDormand/Alison Tolman/Patrick Wilson unprepared-but-really-the-most-prepared law enforcement officer character as she investigates someone's past in Los Angeles. The episode features, among other things, a number of animated sequences about an android named Minsky. The name, no doubt, a reference to the "useless machine," developed by Marvin Minsky, whereby a flipped switch causes a hand to appear and flip the switch back before disappearing. Such a machine also features in the episode, discovered by Coon in her motel room. Why? Does it matter?

The episode's gesture toward deep thought doesn't stop there. The title is "The Law of Non-Contradiction," a reference to the logical principal that two contradictory premises cannot both be true. A cannot simultaenously be B, and not B. But in this episode, we have a number of stories that call that into question. One anecdote tells of a solider who grants his wife a retroactive divorce if he doesn't come back after one year overseas. For that year, they are both married and divorced. At another point, a character references quantum physics.

What does all this mean? It invites lots of viewer participation, in terms of connecting dots, shading in shapes, parsing the fables. But I'm not convinced it does--or the show ever really does--mean anything. I think, instead, what it does, over and over, is evoke meaning. Oblique titles, seemingly aimless parables, constant references to films both Coen and not--it all adds up to feel meaningful, and to be pretty riveting in the moment and the immediate afterglow, and it's fun, and zippy, and so well-crafted and acted it all feels like something important. But to the degree the show has any merits on a deeper level, it's in small scenes, human character moments. As a "big picture," I just don't think there's any there there.

Nonetheless, it can be a lot of fun to watch. When it's a big soup of weirdness and jokes and melancholy and darkness and befuddlement at the human condition, it can be as great to watch as anything on TV. But I think it's all kind of ultimately an empty pastiche. It's both good and bad at the same time. A contradiction!

I think the use of something like the presence of aliens in the second season works in so far as it connects the absurdity of life to the idea that we are grasping only a slim facet of existence as we go about our individual tragedies, and taken as far as that, it works fine. There's not a lot to unpack, but I don't think there needs to be, but mixing it with the crime drama elements of the show works quite well. Other things. like the correlation between criminal enterprises and corporate America in the 80's work on a similar level in terms of textual complexity. When I compare it to the glaring predatory symbolism in the first season (seeing a wolf out the window, do you know why humans see so many shades of green, etc) it isn't cringe inducing. When I compare it to actually really clever meditations on the absurdity and fundamental unknowability of human existence, like the Cohen bros A Serious Man, it's not great (and the show sets itself up for such comparison for obvious reasons). All of this is to say I see it less as both good and bad at the same time, and instead as just good and not great. No real contradiction required.
May 5, 2017 2:43 PM
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Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 12533
What's absurd is what I want to do to Rachel Keller.
May 5, 2017 2:45 PM
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Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 35715
Started moving into my new place and on day two without TV (except for Netflix and Amazon Prime, because I do have wifi at least). Verizon isn't due to come out and fix it until tomorrow.

Pray for me.
May 5, 2017 5:25 PM
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ej
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 3721
Yeah, well, I dated a girl from the same hometown of Carrie Coon.

Okay, I won't Tiggs you. They're from Copley, OH. (as in OH, OH, give it to me, EJ. In my vadge.)
May 5, 2017 10:59 PM
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Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 35715
I know most of you pirate whatever non-free TV you watch, but is there anyone who understands how to sign up for HBO Now? It only gives me the option to sign up on iOS, Android, Amazon, or Roku devices. I don't want to watch anything on my phone. My TV and my PS4 both have HBO Now apps but don't give me the option to sign up through them. My hunch is that I should just sign up for any of those devices and then I can just sign in through whatever app, but I don't want to go through this signup process for nothing (and waste my free trial) if my hunch is wrong.?

Why has HBO made this difficult? Signing up for a number of other exclusive content providers has been super-easy.
May 7, 2017 9:04 PM
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Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 35715
Verizon finally got me connected yesterday and I discover 1) I am getting SD content only, no HD, and 2) NO FUCKING DVR. NO FUCKING DV-FUCKING-R!

This is war.
May 8, 2017 12:24 PM
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Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 33451
I know most of us are distracted with the political scene lately, but man... this week's Better Call Saul was fucking outstanding. Maybe a series high point in a show that's already pretty damn good.
May 10, 2017 8:44 PM
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Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 35715
Have DVR capability again, still trying to piece together what I have missed during my time in the wilderness and what's available OnDemand or where I need to find a re-showing I can record.

Meanwhile, got started on The Handmaid's Tale, American Gods, and Sense8 season 2. And I think there's another I started but I can't think of what it is at the moment.

The Handmaid's Tale wavers between feeling close to home and outlandish, at least for things that are ostensibly happening in America. Of course, what is "outlandish" and what is "normal" is in quite a bit of flux these days, so my commitment to that interpretation is shaky. The relentless oppression (minus a pleasant game of Scrabble) is fairly soul-draining to watch and so I hope the rebellion gets going soon.

American Gods definitely has Bryan Fuller's fingerprints on it. The visuals and the sound are as great as in Hannibal. I am still fairly lost on what the main plot is and what sort of reality is being described. I did not read the original source material so I am a complete newbie here. But what a wonderful world to be lost in with such a great cast and creative scenes. ?

I'm about ready to throw in the towel on Sense8, It does some things well and I am sympathetic to the overall theme but it also tends to be repetitive and I hate Jamie Clayton's monotone acting and goddamnit when are they going to give Tena Desae a decent nude scene?!
May 11, 2017 11:49 AM
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Joined: May 2003
Posts: 17235
Community - Season 1 (2009-2010) - 75

This is a thoroughly enjoyable show, but it's kind of interesting to me how much funnier/better Harmon has gotten with Rick and Morty. Obviously, they're not directly comparable, but I think Roiland's improvisational style is a huge boon to Harmon, who had evidently locked down standard sitcom storytelling into a fairly staid (if not effective) formula.
May 12, 2017 6:39 PM
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Joined: May 2003
Posts: 17235
Chris Gethard: Career Suicide (2017) - 60

I'd imagine this would be pretty cathartic to watch for someone with a history of depression or suicidal thoughts, so it has that going for it. I do think the trend toward more raw, emotionally vulnerable standup (if there is one) is probably not a bad thing, but it's never going to get better than that Tig Notaro set. Chris Gethard's aight, but he's no Tig.
May 14, 2017 11:39 PM
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Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 35715
Six episodes into the second season of Master of None and loving it. Even more Louie-esque than season one not just in style but in creativity and execution. The core of the cast is still on average not good actors but they are all improving -- even Ansari's parents.
May 15, 2017 4:14 AM
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Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 33451
JeanCommunity - Season 1 (2009-2010) - 75

This is a thoroughly enjoyable show, but it's kind of interesting to me how much funnier/better Harmon has gotten with Rick and Morty. Obviously, they're not directly comparable, but I think Roiland's improvisational style is a huge boon to Harmon, who had evidently locked down standard sitcom storytelling into a fairly staid (if not effective) formula.

I know it's tempting to endlessly compare Community & Rick and Morty, but one was on network TV while the other flourishes in few-holds-barred cable. Who knows how each premise affected Harmon's writing, but it's hard to deny that a Harmon/Roiland combo isn't yielding absolutely brilliant results. Community leaned a lot more on sentimentality and some typical sitcom compositions of characters and premise (and gradually deconstructed that), and was pretty successful given that. Full disclosure: I personally love both.
May 16, 2017 4:08 PM
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Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 1864
Silicon Valley has been awesome this season
May 16, 2017 11:25 PM
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Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 35715
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is back and fabulous.
May 19, 2017 11:52 PM
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Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 35715
Tonight's SNL will be the last (at least as a regular cast member) for Bobby Moynihan and Vanessa Bayer. Excited and bummed.
May 21, 2017 1:27 AM
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Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 45226
I've been rewatching Star Trek: Enterprise and it's decent. Bakula is a likeable captain, but naturally suffers in comparison to Picard or Sisko. His character makes sense though as a leader of a more naiive, optimistic sort of era. Blalock's T'pol is a clunker though, just a one-note, sneering bore.
May 21, 2017 10:05 AM
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Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 11002
wirthlingUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is back and fabulous.

How do you think it compares to season 1 and season 2?
I thought the 2nd season wasn't as good as the 1st. I think the increased episode length in season 2 really killed the 30-Rock like pacing I loved about season 1. (Season 1 episodes were about 22 min each, Season 2 were 28 min each)
May 21, 2017 1:54 PM
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Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 20532
Wrong Thread
May 21, 2017 4:56 PM
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Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 35715
wirthlingTonight's SNL will be the last (at least as a regular cast member) for Bobby Moynihan and Vanessa Bayer. Excited and bummed.

And Sasheer Zamata, turns out.

May 22, 2017 11:31 AM
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