Going Off Your Meds

Two shows I’ve been binging lately — and enjoying tremendously — open with the trope of the protagonist quitting mental health medication. Both United States of Tara and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend feature strong lead female characters struggling with their mental health. Both shows are noteworthy for their darkly comic, complex, honest presentations of mental illness. But they both lean on the shorthand device of the main character quitting medication.

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“Going off your meds” could be called a sub-trope of the popular pilot plot line I call “First day of the rest your life.” I can’t say I’ve seen it a lot, but it appears in movies like Garden State. (If you have other examples, please tweet them to me @meek_the_geek.) It was subverted in the pilot of Wilfred, where Ryan decides to take all the meds. Continue reading

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Younger and suspension of disbelief

I really wanted to like Younger. I can’t resist the if-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now fantasy (see Being Erica). Also Sutton Foster. Sutton Foster is fabulous and adorable as a theatre actress, but her talent hasn’t translated too well to the tube. If Bunheads couldn’t figure out how to make the most of this shining star when she was playing a dancer… which she is… this one needed to work extra hard.

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Younger follows the misadventures of a woman in her 40s posing as a woman in her 20s to facilitate her transition back to the workforce following stay-at-home-mom life and a painful divorce. Continue reading

Punky Brewster: The child welfare system in three acts

Kids living with substitute parents were big on 80s TV. Television would have had us believe you could will your kids to your employer (Diff’rent Strokes), take in homeless teens (Growing Pains), force two guys you slept with to share custody of your kid (My Two Dads), or raise a robot as your daughter (Small Wonder), all without any legal intervention. I don’t know if the networks were just trying to be inclusive of less traditional families or catering to kids who wished they could trade theirs in.

PUNKY BREWSTER -- SEASON 1 -- Pictured: Soleil Moon Frye as Penelope 'Punky' Brewster -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank

In this climate, Punky Brewster’s premise wasn’t hard to buy, but the show went above and beyond in attempting to be realistic. In making the pilot a three-parter, the network expressed their confidence in the audience’s willingness to stick with it, and the creators acknowledged the complexity of the subject matter. Don’t misunderstand; the show debuted with all the trappings of an 80s sit-com, including a whimsical montage, but it boldly adopted the tone of a “very special” episode right out of the gate. Continue reading

Other Space

It takes a lot to think of something new to do within science fiction, but that doesn’t mean the old tropes have been exhausted. Other Space owes influences to many of the shows on this list of the 50 Greatest Sci-Fi TV Shows, but manages to find a unique voice of its own. In fact, it proves you don’t need a big name star or even explosions to succeed — although the name Paul Feig probably doesn’t hurt — he created, directed and produced it.other_space

Opening titles tell us that a “multi-national corporate coalition” was formed in the mid-21s century to map the cosmos, and that we’ll be following the adventures of a ship that went missing in 2105. We’re then thrown into action on the bridge of a spaceship, which could be any spaceship on any show. People are frantically shouting for the captain to make a judgment call when he enters with a tray full of hotdogs to share. It’s a ham-handed joke, but tells us all we need to know about central character Stewart.(Karan Soni). Crew morale is his utmost priority and his aw-shucks need to be liked will always trump his professional obligations. And that’s okay, because he’s just passed this simulation (we knew it was a simulation) with flying colors. Continue reading

iZombie

I was fully prepared to dislike this show, and I don’t even know why. It could simply be a bias against the CW, which typically caters to a demographic that is not me, or just a feeling that zombies have overstayed their welcome. But I didn’t expect to like Veronica Mars, either, which is from the same creators, and it turned out to be my favorite show, probably ever.izombie-pilot-episodeWithin the first few minutes of watching the pilot, a few associations were made or unmade… Liking this show will have no correlation to whether you like The Walking Dead or other, more traditional zombie fare. Ditto for police procedurals although that’s technically what it is. Your enjoyment of iZombie may, however, correlate with your enthusiasm for quirky, darkly humorous shows like Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, Being Erica and, of course, Veronica Mars. Continue reading

Wilfred

Wilfred is one of those high concept shows that was so bizarre when it was new, it was hard to imagine it could last. If you’ve hung with it over its four seasons, reflect on how weird it seemed then and how weird it seems now. A pilot can “teach” us to accept a show’s premise and then *bang* we’re on board.

WILFRED: L-R: Elijah Wood as Ryan and Jason Gann as Wilfred. CR: FX.Go back and re-watch the pilot. I forgot how funny it is. It might actually be funnier now, since I’m not wasting mental energy trying to figure it out. Is Ryan dreaming? Is he dead? Is he high? Can he possibly keep it secret that his neighbor’s dog is coercing him to commit petty crimes? It doesn’t matter. Continue reading

Why I Didn’t Hate the HIMYM Finale

bluefrenchhornhimym…because I feel very alone in my non-hatred. Need I warn you that there are major spoilers ahead?

  1. I never, for a second, bought Robin and Barney as a couple. They had no chemistry. She had played witness to too much of his debauchery. Even with his vow to never lie, how could she trust him? Although I love Barney as a character, I would never wish a marriage to someone like that on a woman I cared about. I actually wanted her to run out on the wedding, but I’ll take this outcome just as well.
  2. Continue reading

Ten Surprising Facts About the ‘Blossom’ Pilot

How have I not blogged about this show by now? What finally prompted me was Mayim Bialik’s appearance on The Howard Stern Show, and a blog post she wrote about it. She’s awesome. During her hour-long interview, she talked about how new acting was to her when she was cast as the star of a sit-com at age 14. She and her parents lived in a rented house in L.A. with one bathroom, and she swears she was still a normal, nerdy kid at the same time she played the eponymous Blossom Russo. I believe her.

BlossompilotWhen you recall Blossom you probably think of something like, “Tonight on a very special Blossom… Joey says ‘whoa’.” (That quote is from something. Anybody know what?) And hats. Lots of stupid, floppy hats. Usually dismissed as a bit of 90s fluff, this show actually holds up, at least as demonstrated by the pilot. Here are some things about it that may surprise you:

Continue reading

Susan 313

This week, Sarah Silverman released the pilot of a show she made last year for NBC. I’m going to preface this by saying, I’m not a huge Sarah Silverman fan. I don’t dislike her, I’ve just never loved her. This is honestly my first trip to her YouTube page.

Wreck It Ralph

This is not a photo from the show. It’s from Wreck It Ralph. If you don’t see the connection, you’re probably not interested in this post.

But did you see what was on NBC last year? It’s hard to believe anything of even remote quality didn’t make it to air. (Exhibit A: Another show created by and starring an otherwise very funny comedienne, Are You There, Chelsea? My rating: unwatchable.) Continue reading