Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Clear eyes, full hearts, time to lose Street and Smash

Not a lot of news out of press tour day one, it sounds like, other than Chandra Wilson trying to defend Katherine Heigl's Emmy non-submission soundbyte, so instead I'll point you to a couple of non tour-related things:
  • Michael Ausiello, now at EW, reports that the abbreviated Direct TV/NBC third season of "Friday Night Lights" will write out both Jason Street and Smash Williams, which is no doubt a budget thing but also a case of the writers not knowing how to deal with two characters who wouldn't be on the football team, in high school or, in the case of Smash, even living in Dillon when next season begins. (Again, Jason Katims is going to try to keep the show in real time. On the one hand, that gives them some distance from various season two storylines that weren't working. On the other, I once again feel like they're missing the opportunity to mine a lot of story from the rest of that football season and then what happens once the season ends.) I love both these characters, and think both Gaius Charles and (especially) Scott Porter have done outstanding work, but I can understand the rationale from moving on once they've each gotten a proper send-off.
  • I'm going to have a big feature on "Generation Kill" on Sunday, the morning that the HBO Iraq war miniseries (produced by "The Wire" team of Ed Burns and David Simon) debuts. One of the things I discuss there, and that I'm going to discuss in my blog review of the first episode, is that the show suffers from the "Band of Brothers"/"Black Hawk Down" problem: lots of unfamiliar faces, most of them young and white, in identical uniforms, and an unfamiliar but elaborate command structure. At one point in watching the first episode, I wrote in my notes "I HAVE NO IDEA WHO ANYONE IS" -- and I had read Evan Wright's book the year before. Simon doesn't believe in holding the audience's hand, but I would strongly recommend checking out all the PDF files that HBO made available to the press explaining who's who, what the command hierarchy is, what all those anagrams mean, etc. The files may or may not wind up at the show's official site at HBO.com, but in the meantime, Mo Ryan has uploaded all of them to her site. I would say it would greatly enhance your viewing of the miniseries -- the first episode in particular -- if you had a computer handy so you could keep those reference guides handy.

26 comments:

Dan said...

So if they are worried about how to write Smash and Jason's storylines now that they are both graduates and maybe no longer part of the Dillon community, what about Riggins? You can't tell me that Riggins was a Sophomore in Season 1...yet was best friends with Jason (Jr maybe Sr) and Tyra (presumably only a season 1 Jr)? I've always been confused by what grade these characters were in.

Does anyone have answers...not just opinions?

Anonymous said...

Considering they ended Season Two in medias res, I'm not sure why they wouldn't just continue with Smash's senior year this coming season. And Jason lives in Dillon so I don't see the problem with including him too. I love both actors and the characters they play so this is a disappointment.

Carrie said...

I am very saddened by the FNL news. Yes, they were having an increasingly difficult time writing for Street's character but his journey seems like such an essential one to the world of the show, and Scott Porter does such a great job portraying him, that it seems like a waste to give up. Gaius Charles will be greatly missed as well, especially if this means we won't get to see Mama Smash anymore. I love Mama Smash!

I just hope we're not giving up on these characters for some further examination of Tyra and Landry's ongoing guilt or something.

Anonymous said...

I was looking forward to Generation Kill, but tv that comes with homework isn't really my thing.

Bobman said...

I'm actually more upset about Gaius Charles' departure than Scott Porter's, not so much for acting ability (they have both been very good) but just because I think the Street story has been not only played out but flogged to death at this point.

Kristin said...

I thought that *was* Smash's senior year. In my head, this coming fall, he should be playing in college. I would at least like one little follow up to know he's okay in his new environs...even a comment by coach that he got an email or something!

As for Jason, there was really nowhere to take him once he and Lyla broke up. I mean, he was so disconnected from the football aspect of the show, I can see why he's not coming back.

Riggins is one of the reasons I watch this show...got have him around for at least one more year. I could see him failing whatever year of school he's in and needing to stick around in order to graduate.

Andrew said...

It seemed pretty clear that the writers didn't know what to do with Street in season 2. And while Smash could have a coherent and interesting story arc for season 3, I can see how casting enough people in his college environment would be prohibitively expensive.

Riggins should have graduated after season 1, but even if he was in fact always supposed to have been junior in season 1 and does in fact graduate between seasons 2 and 3, would there be any situation where he doesn't end up stuck in Dillon anyway?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I was looking forward to Generation Kill, but tv that comes with homework isn't really my thing.

It's not required reading or anything. I just found it useful to have the book next to me as I watched, especially for the first episode or so.

Mo Ryan said...

I'll miss Mama Smash the most, I think.

I agree with Alan, you don't *have* to have read that HBO stuff before you watch Gen Kill, but a quick skim through at least the org chart would probably help.

I for one could not tell Encino Man from Capt. Patterson for the life of me. It's a quibble, but I really wish they hadn't cast two guys who look exactly alike.

Other than that, it's easy to tell the guys in the lead Humvee apart. You'll have no problem with that, and that's where the show spends the most time. It's really secondary characters, a few terms, and the command structure -- that stuff might be helpful to know, and it'll take 30 seconds to absorb that info.

Steve B said...

It's disappointing that Street and Smash will be leaving. Life evolves around football in Dillon. A lot of the male adults in town fondly look back on their high school days. It would be interesting to see what happens to some of these athletes after their glory days end, when talk radio doesn't revolve around them anymore and moves on to the next batch of hotshot football players.

I can understand why Smash is leaving the show, others have pointed out the cost aspects of moving him to college, but I think Street still has a story to tell. Hopefully this is a way for them to free up storytelling time for Riggins and his life after football.

Matt said...

And if Street is gone, where does that leave Lyla? She's apparently graduated from high school, and with Street no longer around, the point of her seems largely abated.

Jennifer said...

Riggins will still be around, either because he flunks or because no college would want him and thus he will become Meth Ferret Man #2.

I will be sorry to lose the S-guys, but it's really time to do it. That said, I do wish they were finishing up the second half of the football season this go-round.

Andrew said...

I for one could not tell Encino Man from Capt. Patterson for the life of me.

I'm certain that I'll have no issues with Patterson. He's one of the few characters played by an actor I recognize.

Marty McKee said...

I don't think I should have to do research to watch a TV show. If I need to download pdf guides to follow the show, then Burns and Simon are guilty of poor storytelling. Doing personal research as an adjunct to the show, because the show hooks you on a particular subject you'd like to learn more about, that's fine. But it's the show's creative team's job to present characters, plot, dialogue, backstory, etc. in a manner that the viewer can follow, not mine.

Indeed said...

I for one will not let a little 'homework' get in the way of watching Generation Kill. I suspect it will be worth it. I can relate to the Band of Brothers comparison. I spent the first few episodes of that (which I watched on DVD) wondereing how everyone fit in. It was complicated, but worth it. Good TV isn't always easy.
I'm looking forward to your preview and review of Generation Kill.

Vlada said...

I'm sad to see Scott Porter reduced to recurring status, especially when he was just getting a storyline again. Street brought so much heart to the show, and Scott Porter really brought a lot of dimension to what could have been a boring "good boy" character.

Alanna said...

Rather fitting that today's rerun on UHD is "Homecoming", which focuses on Smash and Street. While they're my two favorite teen characters on the show, I'll agree that their storylines have come to a natural conclusion by now.

Jim said...

I almost--almost--wish Mama Smash would take in Smash's troubled younger cousin, Crush, or perhaps "Obliterate", A Talented Young Football Player With A Troubled Past Having Trouble Fitting In.

Riggins almost looks older than the coach, fercrissake.

And I still don't get the whole DirectTV thing.

Katie said...

I'll miss the characters (and Mama Smash too!) but this strikes me as refreshing return to reality. Good luck, Smash! You'll do great. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember anybody -- Coach, Mrs. Coach, Herc, Lila, anybody -- ever suggesting to smart Jason Street that he maybe think about COLLEGE, maybe? That bugged.

Oaktown Girl said...

I really like the show, but the thing that always bugged me about Street was that even from the pilot episode he looked old enough to be one of the assistant coaches. I try to suspend disbelief, but there's a limit, ya know. The Riggins character age-wise wasn't much better, but I did enjoy the eye candy.

Very sad we won't see Smash anymore. Good actor, good character, good eye candy. Hopefully he gets another acting gig soon.

quipu said...

I'm looking forward to "Generation Kill". I'm going to hold off on skimming through the PDFs and go in raw.

I can imagine that "The Wire" must have been very daunting when it first started. I first watched it on DVD, so I was able to pick it up through watching episodes in blocks, as opposed to week by week.

Also, I'd argue that the problem with identifying characters in this show lies not in storytelling, but as Alan pointed out, the fact that the story is set in the army, where people will be wearing the same clothes, have the same haircuts and most likely share the same skin colour.

Marty McKee said...

COMBAT! was in black and white, and there is no problem differentiating characters on that show.

Andrew said...

Did Combat! have a cast of 30?

Pandyora said...

Maybe I am alone in this one, but I always thought that FNL should have done at least a partial reboot to start the second season. The show is about the team and the town of Dillon, not the individual characters, however beloved and well portrayed by the talented young actors.

I think this is part of the reason why season two was such a drag, more of a teen soap than a study of football obsessed down. Many of the main character's arcs were already played out, and all they could do was recycle plots.

Mrglass said...

I had trouble figuring out who was who on The Wire at first, but there has been 5 seasons to get things right. I'll check out those PDF files after the first of 7 episodes for Generation Kill.

Rick said...

Sounds like FNL will have both Street and Smash for four episodes- more than enough to wrap up their storylines and bid them a fond adieu.

I would love a 'NFL Films'-style recap of how last football season went. Instead, I'm expecting the show to nearly choke on new character introduction, since Saracen and Landry are the only two characters on the team (unless Riggins flunked his way into another starting year.)