Thursday, December 14, 2006

Merry Chrismukkah to all

Been out of the office most of today, including a stop by HBO to interview Ricky Gervais about season two of "Extras" (and, after being lukewarm on season one, I loved season two), so I'll get to the column link quick: a look at the improvement of "The O.C." and how hard it is for long-running dramas to reverse a creative slide.

As the column says, I wasn't wild about tonight's Chrismukkah episode. I feel like the "It's a Wonderful Life" riff has been done better too many other places, and it wasn't nearly as funny as the last several episodes have been. Since I'll be otherwise occupied this evening, feel free to use this post to comment on the episode after it airs.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

"[...]season two of "Extras" (and, after being lukewarm on season one, I loved season two [...]"

This is encouraging. I too was lukewarm toward season one of Extras, which I found too repetitive, with Andy or Maggie always wrecking their pitches by doing a nervous Ellen DeGeneres-style stream-of-consciousness faux-pas ramble. But I LOVED that last episode with Patrick Stewart. Funniest thing I'd seen all year. If season two is more along the lines of the Stewart episode, then I'll add it to my must-see list.

Anonymous said...

I've had an opportunity to see the second season and I love it. The episode with David Bowie is especially good, but what I like is seeing Andy trying to deal with the success of the "are you havin' a laugh?" character. There is definitely an aspect of Gervais working through the success of his David Brent in that storyline.

TheHype said...

" The shift from Barton to Reeser, whom Fox wisely signed to a development deal even as it neglected the show she was saving, has been like the Nets' swap of Stephon Marbury for Jason Kidd, dumping a moody, self-absorbed player who contributes nothing to the offense in favor of a gifted passer who makes everyone else better."

Oh my god Alan.. even though that hoops analogy is pretty easy for you, but that made me smile (coming from a tv-obsessed hoops blogger) It read like a reverse Bill Simmons if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I actually didn't mind the "What if" Alt-World because really, at this point, just watching Autumn Reeser is bliss.

Anonymous said...

Alan - gotta disagree. This was hands down the most inventive, creative, funniest OC hour yet. The best episode of anyting I've seen since HUSH. Maybe you need to watch it again to catch all the great inside jokes (Johnny Harper lives!) etc. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

I think I missed some of the jokes too. Where was there a reference to Johnny? What other inside jokes were there???

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you about Nip/Tuck, Alan. I think the show was way over the top last year, but this season was incredibly boring. The relationships are all totally played out (how many times have Sean and Julia broken up already?) and none of the storylines had any urgency (did we really care about Michelle or the organ thieves?) I think the move to Beverly Hills is a sign of how desperate the show is. Even Ryan Murphy admitted in the LA Times that he was moving them b/c he didn't know what else there was left for them to do in Miami. It's especially ironic given that he told an audience at the Museum of TV & Radio last year that he purposely didn't set the show in Beverly Hills b/c he didn't want to do starlet of the week storylines. I guess now that they've totally run out of ideas that's looking pretty good. The only thing that would make me okay with the move would be if they used it as an excuse to finally dump Matt and Kimber (the latter of whom should have been discarded long ago. she's a good character, but there's REALLY no place for her to go anymore). Unfortunately, Murphy's already said Liz, Matt, and Kimber will all be moving to LA. Which basically makes the move pointless. And when has a scenery change ever revived a show? Are we really looking to Baywatch Hawaii for inspiration now?

Anonymous said...

Btw, much as I disagree w/ you on N/T, I agree about Boston Legal and David E. Kelley. All Kelley shows usually have a very short shelf-life before the characters go from quirky to annoying or insane and Kelley seems to get bored with them. Literally EVERY show Kelley has done has suffered from Kelley's attempt to "fix" this problem by adding new characters. I mean, does Boston Legal really need Jeffrey Coho? Especially since Mark Valley already has nothing to do? And after previous cast additions (like last year's young associates) didn't work out and the cast has already gone through so many changes?

It's the same thing Kelley did on Ally (where he literally added a new attorney every year), The Practice (did we really need Jessica Capshaw AND Chyler Leigh, or minor characters like Lucy or the DAs) and on Boston Public (where he literally had two of every character with Jeri Ryan/Jessalyn Gilsig; Nicky Katt/Michael Rappaport; Joey McIntyre/Jon Abrams). ENOUGH ALREADY.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I quote Fienberg (once again disturbingly on my wavelength):

Here's my problem with the episode: It took Josh Schwartz and company six episodes to restore order in the show's actual [non-alternative] reality. They led viewers through every stage of grief and closed myriad plot holes and they seemed to come out the other side with an episode last week that may have been the show's best in two seasons. It's hard not to feel like this mumbo-jumbo, however quirky and however much the actors seemed to enjoy playing bizarro versions of themselves (vaguely gangsta Summer and weirdly preppy Che were standouts), was a diversion or a distraction from business of the season. Last year, an episode this amusing would have been an oasis, but for all of the inspired trickery, the resolution -- Taylor liberating herself from her desperate need for her mom's approval, Ryan freeing himself from guilt over Marissa's death --- didn't move the story very far from where we left it.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree on your assessment of The OC. Last night's episode has been done so many times before, but it was still enjoyable.

One gripe though, Rachel Bilson's comic timing is pretty horrible. Can she just stick to looking pretty and sticking to the occasional one-liners?

Anonymous said...

Wow. How quickly we take our funny, weird OC for granted. It's a holiday episode - not designed to move the story forward. And I would take a 100 of these compared to what we were subjected to last year. can't we be happy the show has its mojo working? with the ratings and the 16 eps and the turnaround you pointed out, why nitpick at this point?

Anonymous said...

I agree the episode didn't really move the story forward, but it obviously wasn't intended to. In the context of what it was, I think it was pretty successful. And really, how much can you complain about an episode that features so much Autumn Reeser? Btw, was she this good last season? I remember liking her, but now I LOVE her.

Mike H. said...

I think they laid all the Marissa issues to bed so well in the Cold Turkey episode that this one couldn't but feel a little superfluous.

Having said that, I thought it was really well done. They took something that could have been extremely silly and made it work.

Anonymous said...

Ya know. As someone who actually has lost someone in his life, I know what Ryan's going through. No matter how much you try to get over someone, it doesn't go away immediately, and I admire the show for not just pulling a Dallas and forgetting that Marissa ever existed.

Moreover, Taylor is continuing to save the show. Beleieve me, if DVD sales for this season look promising, don't be surprised if there's a reprieve for the show.

The only people who genuinely have a gripe with this show are those who actually think Mischa Barton contributed something to the show rather than being the weakest link who was dragging it down along with all the characters that came with her: Oliver, Johnny, Volchek, that gardener, etc.

Her character was wholly unlikable and so was the actress playing her, whereas Taylor this season has emerged as a favorite for everyone except those still sucking the ghost of Marissa's dick.

Rammie said...

I enjoyed the alt-world delivery of the Wonderful Life structure. And actually, I think this carried the plot forward fairly well, for a holiday episode. It gave Taylor and Ryan the chance to go through something serious together, as a team. Ryan's mumbly "I'm glad you're here" to cap the episode is a great move by Josh. Using a tried-and-true holiday plot structure, this episode neatly makes a plausible relationship for Ryan and Taylor possible--a necessity to back up Reeser and McKenzie's onscreen chemistry. In a 22 episode season, I think this would be a nice vault over the holiday scheduling break, and we could all come back for a final 2/3 of the season with a firmly established Ryan/Taylor relationship and Summer back from school for the remainder. Ah well, a fan can dream....

Alan Sepinwall said...

To add, I wouldn't mind the narrative running in place if the episode had been funnier, but outside of Taylor's running commentary on Alt-World, this was the least amusing episode since Volchok went away. If nothing else, the writers missed a golden opportunity to have Taylor deliver a monologue analyzing all the reasons why Ryan's absence from Newport would have turned her into a boy.