Friday, May 02, 2008

All TV: 'This American Life' review, 'Brothers & Sisters' non-incest

Today's column looks at the new season of "This American Life" on Showtime (which I'm finding to be a significant improvement on the first season), plus some brief thoughts on the siblings-loving-siblings plotline on "Brothers & Sisters."

7 comments:

Matthew L said...

There haven't been major cosmetic changes to season two ... other than eliminating the intro segments where Glass sits at a desk in the middle of odd locations.

Really? They abandoned those? But I quite liked them - the different locations were striking, and they helped the show feel like it was still connected to the radio show, just because it was Ira linking the show just as he does on the radio. Do they retain those links in some other way?

I've only just discovered This American Life this year, thanks to the website, and cannot get enough of it. As you say, it is the intimacy of the show that is so compelling - people opening up about their lives, in some cases talking about things they've apparently never told anyone before. The other thing I love about the show is its unpredicability - they'll have a laugh-out-loud hilarious story, and then a moving, sad, tragic story paired together. (Sometimes that will even happen within the one story.)And that sense of surprise, of never knowing what you're going to hear about next, a key part of the enjoyment of the show.

That's probably my one criticism of the TV version's first season. Sure, it had its flaws and mistakes, but I can allow for those since they really knew nothing about making television, and were just figuring it out as they went. The main thing that bothered me was that the half-hur format was too short, and didn't really allow as much of that contrast. Indeed, of the six episodes, there were two episodes dedicated to only one story (and, yes, the radio show does that sometimes, but only rarely, not every third episode). It's not that I had a problem with the single story episodes - indeed, I thought the God's Close Up story about the Mormon painter was one of my favourites of the series. It was just that the show needs that contrast to avoid being just another documentary series and be distinctively This American Life. So it will be interesting to see if they have any single-story episodes this season.

But it's good to know that the show has grown into its TV incarnation.

Kristen said...

I actually think making Rebecca not a Walker is a really bad idea plot-wise for Brothers and Sisters. It doesn't make a Justin/Rebeca pairing any less gross, it undoes a lot of character movement, and once this plays out, it makes a great character become worthless.

Alan Sepinwall said...

It doesn't make a Justin/Rebeca pairing any less gross, it undoes a lot of character movement, and once this plays out, it makes a great character become worthless.

I don't disagree with any of these points. At the same time, I was getting uncomfortable watching Justin Chambers and Emily Van Camp undress each other with their eyes practically from her first appearance. They needed to address it somehow. Don't know that this is the best way, but at least they're not ignoring what everyone at home can see and squirm about.

Andrew said...

At the same time, I was getting uncomfortable watching Justin Chambers and Emily Van Camp undress each other with their eyes practically from her first appearance. They needed to address it somehow.

I'm not so sure that I agree with this. Couldn't they have just allowed it to be a disturbing undercurrent throughout the show's run without ever addressing it head-on? Maybe it would've made people uncomfortable, but it also would've been admirably subversive.

jimmo said...

are we sure the Rebecca/Justin thing is a new development? As in "But as time went on, it became blindingly obvious to everyone..." ...
The very first time Rebecca and Justin appeared together as supposed brother & sister, I (and probably very many others) said, "There's no way she's really a Walker; they'll have to fix that so she and he can hook up."

Ginny said...

Justin Chambers is on 'Grey's Anatomy'--Dave Annable plays Justin on 'B&S'--I think we could have all just pretended not to notice the chemistry between Justin and Rebecca. We pretend to see chemistry all the time on shows. The only big thing this revision sets up is a big ass fight between Nora and Holly. Oh. And creepy sex between Justin and Rebecca. Pointless!

Evie Garland said...

What they should have done is get Gregory Smith in there to play Emily's boyfriend!

And I love your A.D. shout-out in the column! You gotta love that show for toying with the audience with "is she or isn't she adopted?" teasers.