Finales and Live TV

I have a standing appointment with AMC. For the next six Sundays, I’ll find someone who subscribes to AMC, show up at their door at 8:45pm sharp, and we’ll watch Mad Men. We’ll be watching along with 2 million other people, if Mad Men’s viewership statistics stay predictable. And come finale night, maybe a few million more will join us. Here at Golden Age of Television, we write about Mad Men a lot, but today’s entry isn’t about Mad Men so much as it is about watching shows live. A while back, Kerri wrote about communal TV watching and how watching TV has never really been a solitary activity for her. I think about communal TV watching a lot when it comes time for a series finale. Continue reading

When Being Neat Gets Messy

I know the whole point of this blog is to celebrate TV. I will always prefer television to movies. To me its a matter of running-time. Art should be like church, you have an hour to prove your point. I understand if it’s something like the Pope having high Mass at the Budokan or the last episode of M*A*S*H – you can go over but, for the most part, you get an hour. Oh, I will watch several hours of Mad Men, Community, Top Chef, etc. in one sitting but that is not one continuous narrative.

That’s why it pains me to knock television. It really does. TV is my friend, mentor, drinkin’ buddy, teacher, and mental masseuse. I was very excited to hear of the new The Odd Couple reboot. When I was a youngster, Tony Randall was an ironic celebrity, past his prime to be used for anything other than being Tony Randall. He’d just show up on SNL as Tom Hanks’ celebrity friend on a game show and would be on Letterman sporadically, often needlessly but hilariously dressed up as Batman. I later discovered him on late night re-airings of The Odd Couple TV show with Quincy. They were just darling. You can have your Lemon and Matthau but my Felix and Oscar will always be Randall & Klugman. TV, yay!!! Movies, booo!!!!

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Females are strong as hell: early thoughts on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt

6 of 13 episodes watched for review

In scene one, episode one of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Kimmy Schmidt is rescued from an underground bunker. For 15 years, Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne brainwashed Kimmy and four other women into believing the world above ground had been destroyed on judgment day. When Kimmy emerges from the bunker, she is ecstatic. “It’s all still here!”

Ellie Kemper, as Kimmy Schmidt, radiates happiness. She hops and skips, pulls faces, and gobbles candy, and when she’s down she trudges and drags her body through whatever situation she’s in. Kemper is an excellent physical comedian and gracefully enacts not just Kimmy’s exuberant joy, but her deep-rooted anger. Kimmy’s escape from the bunker is where the plot begins, but Kimmy’s escape from her personal trauma is the driving force, and the root of the comedy in Unbreakable Kimmy SchmidtContinue reading

We Took a Break

We took a break.

We got busy and we were tired and we all have demanding jobs and excuses, excuses, excuses.

There was a time when this blog didn’t exist at all and a time when we weren’t writing as regularly as we all do now and it would be easy enough to stop and go back to that. But we all decided to not let that happen. Taking a break is one thing but letting something good just fizzle out would be a true disappointment.

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Happy Valley: The best new series that I almost missed in 2014

The first thing that happens in Happy Valley is an introduction of character (by said character) that throws the whole “show don’t tell” ethos out the window. Catharine Cawood (the tremendous Sarah Lancashire, who the entire show hinges around, the standout in a uniformly good cast), a police sergeant in Yorkshire, is called to the scene where a young man, down on his luck, has doused himself in gasoline in a playground and is threatening to light himself on fire. Catherine introduces herself to the man saying, “I’m Catherine, by the way. I’m forty-seven. I’m divorced. I live with my sister, who’s a recovering heroin addict. I’ve two grown-up children – one dead, one who don’t speak to me – and a grandson. So.” And we are off and running. But what is strange here is that Happy Valley, after Catherine’s speech and the promise of being a by the book, heart-on-sleeve cop show, is much more a show about the way that violence, grief and guilt can turn people inward, can shut them down and turn them off. Catherine’s openness to this man in the opening moments of the show is a bit of a red herring to the rest of the output, and the show is all the better for it. Continue reading