Tuesday, February 26, 2008

All TV: 'quarterlife' review

Today's column revisits "quarterlife" (which you may remember I wrote about back in November) now that the latest HerskoZwick drama is moving from the Web to NBC. Back in November, I was lukewarm-to-negative on it. Now I'm just negative. The column also has some info on the lowest-rated Oscar-cast ever.

21 comments:

Freckles said...

I watched the Oscars because my boyfriend made me. He saw all those depressing movies without me. But I have to wonder if less people watched because less people watched the movies in the first place. I didn't see the vast majority of the nominees and hardly any of the winners. Too depressing.

Like Stewart said, thank God for Juno and a little teen pregnancy to lighten things up a little.

Anonymous said...

I watched quarterlife for a couple of weeks until I realized how much I hated all of the characters. They're whiney and self-absorbed and, despite all the navel gazing, incredibly shallow. The acting was also pretty subpar and some of the actors seemed really miscast. For example, if they wanted us to buy Danny and Debra as a couple then maybe casting a dumb jock and a hippie in the roles wasn't the best idea. Because there was no way those two were even remotely believable as a couple or even just as their individual characters. And if you're gonna complain about the dialogue, Alan, how about "a sad truth about my generation is that we were all geniuses in elementary school but apparently the people who deal with us never got our transcripts because they don't seem to be aware of it?" That little gem came within the first 8 minutes, so it's amazing I ever made it past that. And I'm actually from the same generation as these kids.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Anonymous, there was some debate about the elementary school line when I discussed the show back in November. (Follow the link in the post.) Some people were convinced Dylan was being literal and didn't understand why the world didn't recognize her genius. A few others (including myself) were more charitable and took it to be ironic -- that Dylan realizes that the culture of self-esteem was setting her and everyone else her age up to fail by not being more critical of them.

Dark Tyler said...

Perhaps the Oscars should have nominated Spider-Man 3, 300, Transformers, Wild Hogs and Meet the Spartans for Best Picture.

Oh, scratch that. Meet the Spartans was produced in 2008. Epic Movie it is!


Look, I agree that the Academy is way too snobish for a group that has given a gazillion Oscars to Paul Haggis and Ron Howard (and Kim Basinger and Cuba Goodning Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow and Halle Berry and the list goes on and on forever) but: faulting them for presenting what is arguably (yes, I said arguably) the best nominations line-up in recent memory, is just wrong.

The public should just watch better movies.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Dark Tyler, I see where you're coming from, but at the same time I think the Academy goes out of its way sometimes to ignore strong achievements in more mainstream filmmaking. Would it have been so terrible if Bourne 3 or Knocked Up (or, in previous years, Bourne 2 or 40 Year Old Virgin) got a few major nominations?

Dark Tyler said...

Oh, I'm with you on that. Totally. Bourne's 3 Oscars (along with Ratatouille's 5 nominations) show that the Academy loved those two movies, but were just too uptight to actually nominate them in any of the 4 major categories.

But the thing is, a lot of people are upset by the fact that it all came down to two dark, nihilistic and rather poetic movies. And to me, that shouldn't have been any different because they happen to be the best American movies since, I dunno, the Fight Club / Magnolia combo in 1999?

By the way, I loved Superbad more than Knocked Up. :)

Freckles said...

I sort of wish the Oscars were like the Golden Globes, separating comedies and dramas. Maybe they shouldn't have to compete against one another. The distinctions are sometimes artificial and maybe don't always work. But I think there are fun movies out there with great performances and writing that can't really compete with dark and poetic. Just a thought.

Also, I am not faulting the Academy for putting up arguably the best movies. I am faulting Hollywood for creating so few movies I wanted to see this year. Maybe the public needs to see better movies but maybe Hollywood should also make more good ones, including good movies that are fun.

Loved Ratatouille. Thank God also for Brad Bird. Instead of seeing There Will Be Blood, I think I will rewatch the Iron Giant.

BigTed said...

The annoying 25-year-olds in "Quarterlife" sound a lot like the ones in the movie "Cloverfield." Maybe what this show really needs is a giant monster to crush them all.

deniswm said...

I think what's bugged me the most about Quarterlife is in the tv ad it says "These 6 friends ..." while showing 7 people sitting around a table. I dunno why, but it does.

John F said...

Alan, do you know if anyone hsa looked into then number of people who tivo'd/dvr'd the Oscars?

dez said...

Loved Ratatouille. Thank God also for Brad Bird. Instead of seeing There Will Be Blood, I think I will rewatch the Iron Giant.

I think you should watch both :-)

Anonymous said...

"(the same episode has a good subplot about Lisa battling stage fright after joining a band). "

Really? Wasn't that exactly what happened to Rayanne in My So Called Life when she joined Jordan's band? Oh, that is a bad sign -- to be stealing from yourself within the first few episodes of a show written more than a decade later.

Anonymous said...

I have been watching Quarterlife online, so won't be bothering to watch again on TV....but what seems annoying to me as half the characters have disappeared since the "pilot" and new ones have shown up. Shouldn't they be in the promo picture.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Really? Wasn't that exactly what happened to Rayanne in My So Called Life when she joined Jordan's band? Oh, that is a bad sign -- to be stealing from yourself within the first few episodes of a show written more than a decade later.

I can't believe I forgot that -- especially since I rewatched that episode a few months ago when I reviewed the MSCL DVD set -- and, of course, this story involves this show's token female substance abuser, but in fairness, it plays out quite differently than it did for Rayanne.

barefootjim said...

Back when I was the same age as the quarterlife people, I remember hating thirtysomething for all of the self-absorbed whining that the characters did. All things considered, they had much better lives than I could imagine for myself, so shut up already!!

Now, being slightly older than the thirtysomething people, I watched quarterlife and I all I could think was you people -- making commercials, working at magazines, etc, a world-wide forum to espouse your views -- have way more going for you that not just my generation, but your peers, so shut up already!!

My So-Called Life remains an all-time great, so it was either a fluke, or due to Winnie Holzman.

Linus said...

For what it's worth, the original quarterlife pilot, filmed in late 2004 for consideration for ABC's Fall 2005 schedule, is excellent. What a shame it was not picked up and HerskoZwick had to reconfigure it into this version (which I've yet to sample). The original pilot is up to the standards of their past work. The first season of Once & Again is the finest drama to ever air on television besides The Wire.

barefootjim said...

Couldn't let that stand:

Just off of the top of my head, better than the first season of Once And Again (which I watched and enjoyed):

The Sopranos
Deadwood (Deadwood!!)
First season of Veronica Mars
2nd & 3rd seasons of Buffy
Sorkin seasons of The West Wing (and the prescient 7th season)
3rd & 4th seasons of Angel
This new season of Lost (god I hope so)
First season of Friday Night Lights
My So-Called Life
First few seasons of Hill Street Blues
First season of Twin Peaks

And I know that I'm missing loads and loads.

Linus said...

The Sopranos

- The first season is close to O&A s1

Deadwood (Deadwood!!)

- Nope. Starts too slowly, although the last two episodes are glorious. s2 > s1 and both < O&A s1

First season of Veronica Mars

- Oh my God.

2nd & 3rd seasons of Buffy

- Oh my God.

Sorkin seasons of The West Wing (and the prescient 7th season)

- Unseen by me. Sports Night is more of a comedy, I guess, although there is enough drama in s2 to put it close to O&A s1.

3rd & 4th seasons of Angel

- Oh my God.

This new season of Lost (god I hope so)

- A piece of junk that manages to put together a few intriguing episodes/year. It's all been downhill since the superb pilot.

First season of Friday Night Lights

- Unseen by me, but likely excellent.

My So-Called Life

- O&A is far superior to this overrated program. Winnie Holzman has always been the weak link in the HerskoZwick camp.

First few seasons of Hill Street Blues

- Doubt it.

First season of Twin Peaks

- Probably in the top 5, but not as good as O&A s1

barefootjim said...

Shrug.

Fill up all of those gaps and get back to me. Oh, and add Battlestar Galactica.

In the meantime, you're officially disinvited to my upcoming seminar, entitled: "Wait Until You're 30: Why TV Shows About Teenage Girls That Would Have Never Given You The Time Of The Day in High School Can Actually Be Quite Excellent, Once You've Overcome Your Prejudices About TV Shows About Teenage Girls."

Patricia said...

The thing that I hated most about quarterlife was how crazy unrealistic the 2 job situations were. I've worked in film/video production my whole life and never was there ever a "car" commercial shot in this way. Its a dealershp commercial at best, and ...aargh, it just could not have rung more false. And the magazine office...really? Corporate politics are a lot more subtle (and interesting) than that nonsense. Ugh.
I guess I am the only person on the planet who enjoyed the Oscars, saw all the movies and appreciated them. And Jon Stewart can just do no wrong.

Linus said...

barefootjim,

Please invite me to your seminar. Gilmore girls is one of my favorite shows of all-time. Thanks!