The Legend of Korra – Book One: Elemental Television

After a short, but action packed twelve episodes the Avatar: The Last Airbender sequel, The Legend of Korra, has now ended it’s first season, or should I say finished book one. Below are my general thoughts on the finale and the season as a whole, along with my hopes for the second season. But before I get nitpicky and specific let me say that despite a few clunks, Korra is more than a worthy sequel to Avatar; it’s some of the best television airing today. With six months still to go, Korra already garnered a high spot in my list of top tier series this year.

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Penny Can or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love A Show Titled “Cougar Town”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article first posted on May 25th 2011, right as the second season came to a close. I’m reposting it again now as the third season premieres tonight at 8:30pm on ABC after an almost eight month long hiatus. I attended the NYC Paley Center panel Bill Lawrence and crew held as part of their grassroots campaign and can safely say despite the time off the show contains to be one of the best comedies around. The first episode of the season is both hysterical and incredibly heartfelt, being a perfect example of what makes a Bill Lawrence show so great. If I get some free time in the next few days I’d love to do a piece on their unique marketing strategy, but for now I thought I’d repost my article on why I love Cougar Town and why you should be watching.

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Pilots of Remote Interest: Suburbatory

Fall is my favorite season for many reasons, but probably the biggest contributor to that is it marks the beginning of the new TV season. Each fall the many TV networks premiere a bunch of new series, in addition to new episodes of returning shows. And now that we’re midway through September we can finally say the 2011-2012 TV season has officially started. In honor of this occasion I will be writing various short pieces on the new shows that particularly interest me. I won’t watch every pilot (hello The Playboy Club), but I’ll try my best to sample a bunch and put my early reactions down here so you can find out which new shows should be of remote interest.

Back in the spring when networks announced their upcoming programs I saw a clip of ABC’s new comedy Suburgatory, and right after I wrote the show off finding the quick snippet I saw to be mostly bubble gum. Characters seemed stereotypical and unlikable, while the stylistic design of the show seemed on the verge of fantasy. In other words Suburgatory is not a show I thought I would like, or even watch. Turns out I was wrong, and I’m very happy to admit that (though said scene, when they first go to the mall to buy clothes, still remained one of my least favorite parts of the pilot despite now understanding the context). Most of this comedy season hasn’t been pretty, with the majority of them not even being worth writing about (Whitney, 2 Broke Girls, or just anything Whitney Cummings). While I enjoyed Up All Night and New Girl, neither of them have have that great of a pilot. In both shows the majority of my enjoyment came from the potential they have, but with Suburgatory my enjoyment came directly from the episode at hand.

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Pilots of Remote Interest: Up All Night With The New Girl

Fall is my favorite season for many reasons, but probably the biggest contributor to that is it marks the beginning of the new TV season. Each fall the many TV networks premiere a bunch of new series, in addition to new episodes of returning shows. And now that we’re midway through September we can finally say the 2011-2012 TV season has officially started. In honor of this occasion I will be writing various short pieces on the new shows that particularly interest me. I won’t watch every pilot (hello The Playboy Club), but I’ll try my best to sample a bunch and put my early reactions down here so you can find out which new shows should be of remote interest.

This year networks seem to be spacing out their series more than usual, rather than the typical blood bath that occurs when all the new shows start within the same two week period.  Next week is the full start of the new TV season, where the majority of new shows will first air, but I want to talk about two series that have already been released. One has just begun airing on television (Up All Night), while the other was made available online early as a sneak peak to gain word of mouth (New Girl). Lets begin.

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Louie Louie: Comedian, Showrunner, And All-Around Auteur

This piece is less of a review or critic; it’s more of a brief look into what I love about Louie and what Louis C.K. has done with the role of a showrunner.  In the spirit of the show I didn’t preplan extensively what I was going to write and instead just put down whatever came into my head.

I love Louie for reasons I dislike many sitcoms.  It has no standard structure, no clear rules within the show’s universe, and an inconstant cast (many of which are reasons why Glee is such a mess).  And yet it uses all this qualities, which would normally be considered flaws and turns them into great assets.  With each episode of Louie you never know what you’re going to get.  One episode is almost entirely a flashback, another is a few laughs somber drama, and others can be just purely funny.  Community may play around with structure and the conventions of a sitcom, but Louie challenges the notion of what it means to be called a half hour comedy.  Sometimes a plot covers a whole episode, others may take up only a third, and then the episode plays out as a series of short films.

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Six Shows To Catch Up On This Summer

With the 2010-2011 television series having officially ended last week most shows are now on break till the season starts back up again in September.  While there are a handful of good summer series that you should be watching (FX’s Louie, AMC’s Breaking Bad) I thought I’d put together a list of three dramas and three comedies I’d recommend watching this summer to keep your TV busy during a season that tends to be a scripted series drought.  I’ll personally be catching up on HBO’s The Wire and hopefully Deadwood, along with rewatching LOST with my girlfriend.  I’ll be writing about those shows periodically throughout the summer and maybe a few more if I finish those quickly, but till then here’s what I recommend you should be catching up on.

Justified

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Parks and Recreation – Pawnee: First In Laughter, Fourth In Obesity.

This a review of the first six episodes of Parks & Recreation’s third season, written right after the premiere of “Indianapolis”.  It covers all the episodes leading up to  “Harvest Festival”.

When Parks and Recreation first aired in 2009 it was little more than a clone of The Office.  It used the same mockumentary filming style and contained many of the same characteristics to the series.  But just as in season two of The Office when the American version broke away from the British counterpart its based on, so did Parks And Recreation in season two brake away from The Office.  In what seems like no time the show went from the weak link in NBC’s comedy lineup to easily the highlight.  Season three, which began late in January, has continued this trend with being one of the most reliably funny show of the night.  While Community overshadows it in ambition, The Office in ratings, or 30 Rock in awards, it remains the most consistently comical series on NBC (I’m not even going to mention Perfect Couples or, worse, Outsourced).  No matter what episode, the series remains hysterical and fully entertaining.

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Tales From South Park (Part 2)

The second half of my South Park responses from my Research Writing course looking at how  comedy is used to discuss political and social issues.

“ManBearPig”

On the surface level the episode titled “ManBearPig” is one of the more ridiculous ideas for the series, and yet at the same time its quite genius.  Often I’m in awe at how exactly Trey Parker and Matt Stone come up with all this.  Airing about a month before Al Gore’s novel and documentary An Inconvenient Truth were to come out South Park decided it was time for them to give their take on the subject of global warming just as the idea would reach a peak within the public and media.  But rather than being overly preachy as the show can sometimes get, “ManBearPig” is relatively un-preachy with the message simply being Al Gore is over blowing things for attention rather than necessarily global warming doesn’t exist.  The episode consists of former Vice President coming to the small Colorado town of South Park and trying to get the kids to believe in his delusional tale of a “half man, half bear, half pig” creature.

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Tales From South Park (Part 1)

In my Research Writing course we’ve been focusing on comedies and how they use satire to discuss political and social topics.  Typically our homework involves watching an episode of a comedy series and responding to it.  The first half of the semester is based around South Park so here’s the first batch of my responses, which I’ll classify loosely as reviews.

“Death”

South Park is a series that from the very start was given a bad rap.  The initial response to the show from critics and the media was that it consisted of nothing more than fart jokes and crude, ugly animation.  With the speed and ease of producing an episode of South Park, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote the episode “Death” in direct response to this criticism, thus making use of one of my favorite types of jokes: meta humor.  By creating the show within a show Terrence and Phillip they are able to have the characters speak directly to the early critiques and defend themselves against it.  The parents of South Park become enraged by the introduction of Terrence and Phillip, which actually consists of nothing but potty humor in addition to using even cruder animation as the top of the characters’ heads aren’t even connected to the bottom (a joke which would later be applied to all Canadians in the South Park universe).  In this Terrence and Phillip become a representation of the type of show many-viewed South Park to be at first glance.

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How I Met Your Mother – “Last Words”: Better Than Crocodile Dundee 3

As I start to review episodes for the first time I’ll most likely begin the initial review of a series with some background info stating my relationship with the series and feelings on it’s current state.

I originally got into How I Met Your Mother just as season 2 was nearing its end.  I heard a lot of positive feedback about the series for some time and decided to catch the first few episodes to see how it was.  By the time I reached the episode “Ok Awesome” I was completely sold. I immediately ordered the first season on Amazon and devoured the sitcom as quickly as possible.  My next move was to watch the first few episodes with my brother and close friends to which they soon got hooked.  I continued to spread the show around but as season three continued the show became something different.  The sweet romantic Ted Mosby was replaced by what the showrunners in retrospect refer to as Outlaw Ted, notable by his trademark cowboy style shirt (seriously go back and watch, he wears the same cowboy shirt like every other episode).  This new Ted had a goal to hook up with as many girls as possible and just have numerous flings and one-time things.  Though it wasn’t just his character that lost it’s romantic touch, rather the entire series seemed to take a slight dive.

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