Monday, December 13, 2010

Week 11 TV Power Rankings

With a lot of shows seasons either ending or going on hiatus until after the holidays, we too will be taking a break from the rankings. Look for our return sometime after the week of 1/17.

"Running Wilde" and "The Challenge: Cutthroat" have been removed because the first was garbage and the second was too difficult to write about each week.

1. (2) “Chuck” – Well it was pretty much inevitable, wasn’t it? After one week off the top spot, “Chuck” returns. I thought the return of Timothy Dalton was a lot better than his first episode that other “Chuck” fans were all about. I was a little bit disappointed with the way Chuck was able to regain his Intersect abilities though. It seemed like too much of a quick fix.
2. (1) “Community” – I thought the episode dealing with Troy’s 21st birthday was one of the more depressing episodes of a sitcom I’ve seen. The laughs really weren’t there this episode, but it showed how strong a show “Community” has become because I don’t watch it for the jokes (even though they are usually plentiful), I watch it for the characters. That’s usually the mark of a very strong show.
3. (5) “Terriers” – It’s just so sad. Unfortunately, no one besides me and a few other people watched this show, and so FX had little choice but to cancel it. I’m still ranking it this highly because there was no show on cable this year that had a better full season. I’d highly recommend anyone interested to someday purchase the DVD and am confident you won’t be disappointed.
4. (4) “30 Rock” – I keep saying it and I am fully aware how repetitive I am, but this season has just been such a return to glory for this show. I am starting to not be surprised by how good the quality is each week, but rather expecting it the same way I did when the show first started.
5. (3) “Modern Family” – There’s been a couple slow episodes and a few strong ones, but the majority of this season has fallen somewhere in the middle. Still, it’s held firm as one of the shows I look forward to the most each week.
6. (6) “Boardwalk Empire” – Fantastic finale. I know I criticized the show in the beginning for being a little slow, but I had absolutely no complaints about the last few episodes. The finale did an excellent job of closing out the season, and also setting things up for a second season I can’t wait to see.
7. (7) “Sons of Anarchy” – Well here’s the question: Would you rather watch a show where the season is very good throughout, but the finale is so-so, or a show where the season is uneven, but the finale is incredible? Season 2 of “Sons” was the former, Season 3 the latter. I think I would put myself in the former category because even with the finale of Season 3, I still enjoyed Season 2 a lot more. What will be interesting is the first two finales clearly set up the dilemmas for the following seasons, whereas I think Season 4 could go in a number of different ways.
8. (9) “Walking Dead” – It’s difficult to really get a good feeling for a show in only six episodes. It’s also surprising that is the usual length of seasons for British shows. (Fun fact: British shows call the seasons of shows, “series”) I really enjoyed the premiere season of this show and will be very excited when it returns. However, I still have my doubts for how long a show built on simply surviving a zombie attack won’t soon get to be too much of the same thing over and over.
9. (8) “Fringe” – I’m a little sad the two Olivia’s have returned to their respective worlds now. I’m also a little nervous the show won’t be as strong without that dynamic involved. It was a great ride while it lasted though and I am sure the two will meet again. Sadly, this show will be relegated to Friday nights soon and that’s not a timeslot that spells big time hit.
10. (10) “The Event” – I have fallen back a bit with my enthusiasm for this show. I think I am only a fan of learning more about the back stories of where the aliens have been for the last 40 years. I still have very little interest in anything related to Sean and Leila, but perhaps finding out her father is an alien will change that for me when the show returns.
11. (12) “Family Guy” – It’s difficult to really go to in depth reviewing this show since the characters never change. I just feel like this season’s been particularly strong as I am laughing out loud a lot more frequently.
12. (11) “How I Met Your Mother” – I think this season’s been a lot better than the previous one, but I still don’t think it’s rebounded back to the form of the first two seasons. They are still having those dud episodes where too much is going on and I am not laughing enough. And I don’t think Zoey is the mother anymore, so now I’m just waiting for them to get through her storyline because at this point I only want Ted to be with the mother. Finally, it really pains me to say this, but Jorge Garcia’s performance as the Blitz made me realize why I didn’t see much of him before “Lost” and now don’t expect to see him much after. I still love you Hurley.
13. (13) “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – I was disappointed with this season as a whole. I also don’t like how the season finale is the Christmas episode I already bought on DVD a year ago. I feel like I got screwed somehow with that. I’d say the lone bright spot from the season was when Charlie and Dennis got drunk with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. They seemed like nice enough guys.
14. (15) “The Office” – I have to say, the Oscar-Michael China debate really brought the show back a little bit for me. I was getting used to ripping the show in the rankings every week, but I can’t rip what I’d loved. The Tour De France joke was probably my favorite.
15. (X) “Glory Daze” – Ok, there was some chatter among the masses for this show to be added so I decided to give it a shot. The show seems to be “borrowing” a lot of subject material. The scene in the pilot when Reno hits on the teacher in the supermarket is reminiscent of Otter hitting on the Dean’s wife in the supermarket from “Animal House”. I liked Kevin Nealon’s appearance as the weird townie who the guys visit at his house better the first time when Will Ferrell did it on “Undeclared”. The “Guy who’s close to 30 and is still in school” character is in almost every college movie, and the one in this show looks like Tom Green, who played that type of character in “Road Trip”. I also felt I recognized the Republican main character from something, but couldn’t remember what. Well it’s from a music video he did with Selena Gomez they played at my gym all the time and it’s awful (go to the 2:15 mark, ). Now despite this show having all this going against it, I really like it. I know that sounds silly, but I don’t care that I’ve seen this stuff before or if one of the actors is a Canadian pop star (the male version of Robin Sparkles), I just like the show.
16. (16) “Cougar Town – Hasn’t been on since the last time I did a rankings, but my opinion stays the same. It’s not horrible, but I feel like it’s taken a step back and have been very disappointed with its sophomore season.
17. (17) “Raising Hope” – I was waiting for when “My Name is Earl” star Jason Lee would make an appearance on this show. Now that he has, I wish it had been a character that had more potential to pop up again. Maybe that’s still something that can happen, but I don’t see why an aging rock star would revisit this small town or odd family anytime soon.
18. (18) “Glee” – I’m strongly leaning towards chopping this down to 15 shows once I return and this is one of the reasons. I have nothing to say about this show anymore. Last season, I really enjoyed the jokes the show had, I liked Sue, I tolerated the characters I didn’t care for and I knew most of the songs. This season, there are less jokes, Sue’s become like a cartoon character villain, I can’t stand whenever Mr. Schuster is on the screen and I know one song an episode. I don’t even know why I keep watching it at this point.
19. (19) “Survivor” – I disagreed with people who thought it was corny that the prize they got one week was to watch “Gulliver’s Travels”. These people haven’t had anything to do for a month except swim, stare at each other, crap in the woods and be hungry. It wouldn’t surprise me at all that they’d welcome a movie, ANY movie, as an escape from what they would be doing without it. Having said that, from the standpoint of someone who is well fed, uses a toilet and watches so much TV they write a rankings column, that movie looks like terrible.
20. (20) “Parenthood” – Whenever I see Michael B. Jordan, it just makes me wish “Friday Night Lights” was currently on instead of shows like “Chase” or “The Defenders”. And that’s why “Parenthood” is #20, because I use the space for it to discuss my fondness for other shows.
21. (21) “The League” – I didn’t think it was possible, but this show is starting to ruin my enthusiasm for fantasy football.  

Friday, December 3, 2010

Remembering My Godfather of Slapstick

I think as people grow up we are introduced to the different genres of movies by the actors who frequent them. For many people they will always equate any action movie to the work of Arnold Schwarzenegger. For others, there will never be a leading lady in a romantic comedy that will top Julia Roberts. These actors define these types of movies and when you think of that variety of movie, you think of that person who portrayed those characters so adeptly.

One of the actors who defined a genre for me growing up sadly passed away this week. Leslie Nielsen was 84 when he died on Sunday night and to me he will always be the face of slapstick comedy. The first time I saw “The Naked Gun” I thought how I had never seen a movie like this before, and didn’t know they made movies like that. Up until that point, my comedy taste focused mostly on Scooby Doo and the Mupper Babies, so this was a major part of the puberty for my comedic tastes. The jokes were so ridiculous but Nielsen spoke them all with such uncanny delivery. Even though I probably understood about 25% of what was said, I still laughed until I could hardly breathe.

As I grew older and I rewatched “TNG”, I picked on even more of the subtler jokes I had missed. I also picked up on the ones that were too mature for me to get, specifically one regarding a stuffed beaver, and the genius of Nielsen continued to grow for me. When I saw “Airplane” for the first time I immediately got excited when I saw him step on screen (this was before imdb, so if you weren’t paying attention to the credits you wouldn’t know who was in the movie until they appeared). His performance didn’t disappoint and it could be argued it’s even better than “TNG”. Nielsen’s presence didn’t always translate to laughs though. I remember being disappointed in him as The Captain in “The Poseidon Adventure”, and being frightened throughout that whole movie. Still, I never gave up hope on Nielsen’s presence in a movie delivering the goods and I followed his work throughout my teens.

There was another reason I followed Nielsen’s work so closely and it’s also why I’ll never forget him. As a kid I remember always wanting to make my father laugh and I loved watching him find something hilarious. The first person I remember my father laughing at was Leslie Nielsen. My father is by no means a stern man, and laughs quite frequently, but there was still something special for me to see him smile so broadly whenever Nielsen told someone not to call him Shirley. I continued to watch Nielsen’s movies not just as a fan, but also knowing each one was something new my father and I could share. We watched both “Naked Gun” sequels as they came out, and then made sure we rented “Dracula: Dead and Loving It”, “Spy Hard”, “Mr. Magoo” and “Wrongfully Accused”. Now none of those movies came near the level of the original “Naked Gun” or “Airplane” but they still made us laugh for 90 minutes each. Laughing at Nielsen’s antics together was one of the first bonds my father and I shared and while there have been plenty more since then; this one will always be close to my heart.

I didn’t follow Nielsen’s career very closely over the past few years. I knew he was in a few of the “(Blank) Movie”s, but I never checked them out. Nielsen’s passing is sad in it of itself, but what makes it even sadder for me is the state slapstick comedy is in right now. Those “(Blank) Movies”s seem to come out every six months, which makes me highly doubt their quality. Still, this was supposed to be something celebrating Nielsen and celebrating the joy his work brought to so many people like me and my father. So with that, I’d like to pass along a final thank you to Leslie Nielsen. For bringing me countless hours of enjoyment, for eliciting some of the biggest belly laughs I have ever shared with my father, and for being my Godfather of Slapstick Comedy. You will be missed.