Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Waves of psychetude

So, the Shawn Ryan interview is in today's paper. In addition to reprinting the exchange I already put here, this was the most interesting thing he said:
"I spoke with the writers at the beginning of the year and I said, 'Let's not save anything,'" Ryan explains. "Most TV shows that are successful, you don't want to do anything that will risk the long-term viability of a show, and I gave my writers permission for the first time to ignore that. We're telling a story that the viewers can tell we're not going to rewind the clock back to midnight. This thing is moving forward; there are going to be complications, repercussions."
The 90-minute finale is so awesome that even Barney from "How I Met Your Mother" wouldn't need a custom-made motivational poster to get psyched for it. And speaking of which...

Really strong "HIMYM" last night that, not coincidentally, focused mainly on Barney and Marshall, while Ted and Robin were left to do the latest iteration of their Ross 'n Rachel dance in the background. Any episode that lets Jason Segel dance automatically gets the Sepinwall Seal of Approval, with bonus points for pop-locking, but this was the first time we've seen the show's two least-similar characters play off each other much. Question: is it wrong that I both loved Barney's karaoke AC/DC, and that I desperately want to work "steak sauce" into a conversation today?

I'll get to "24" later today. I have, however, already seen the first three post-hiatus episodes of "Prison Break," and I've been underwhelmed. Like I said in this column that ran over the weekend, the show has now gone into full-on stall mode until the real escape happens, presumably at the end of the season. This show is a classic example of why the 22 episodes per season model isn't right for every series.

Other stuff I watched in the last couple of days:

Take Your Daughter to Work Day on "The Office" featured almost too many highlights to list here (Stanley giving Ryan a hellfire-and-brimstone verbal beatdown, Angela blowing off Toby's daughter, Toby's daughter calling Phyllis "Mother Goose," Dwight reading those horrific German fairy tales to the kids, Pam's desperate attempt to connect with the kids), but the highlight by far had to be the reaction of Edward R. Meow to young Michael's comment about having 100 kids so he'd always have friends. That's the saddest, funniest bit of puppetry I've seen outside of Jim Henson. In general, shows about adults have a hard time incorporating kids without getting either too sappy or too mean, but I thought this was dead-solid perfect. Now that "Arrested Development" is gone, "The Office" is the only comedy on TV I feel the need to watch over and over to catch things I missed.

"Grey's Anatomy" was a'ight-blah, but the thing that entertained me most were the scenes where Sara Ramirez was in the same frame with either Ellen Pompeo or Sandra Oh and looked to be about three times either of their size. (And that's not a knock on Ramirez, who's gorgeous and voluptuous as all hell, but on two actresses who are reaching Danni Boatwright/Calista Flockhart levels of scary thin.) If the writers can't conspire an excuse to have Ramirez sing, could they at least have some kind of fight scene where she and Addison mop the floor with Meredith and Cristina?

Gotta go pay the bills with a review of "The Evidence," which made me feel like a kid again -- in that I was just as bored watching it as I was watching mediocre '70s cop shows.


Tosy And Cosh said...

Here's my new prediction for HIMYM. The Ashley Williams character, much to my dismay, will be packed off, and the Ted and Robin thing will become a full-on relationship, with both deleriously happy. The season finale will introduce a new character we are meant to loathe--maybe they'll intentionaly try to make it seem like a one-off, like we couldn't possibly expect to see this character again. Maybe we'll even end the ep with the loathsome character's departure, as the fivesome shake their heads and express their gratitude that they'll never see HER again. Which will be future Ted's cue to tell his kids--THAT was your mother. End season.

The Office is growing on me tremendously. The writing is just so sharp, so specific, and so evocative of the deadness of office life in the US that it can be painful. But it reminds me a little of HIMYM in two ways--the set up of the Pam/Jim story seems lke it can't/shouldn't go on forever, just like the mystery of who the titular "mother" is. Also, the conceit of the documentary crew is becoming more and more contrived. If the show ends up running several seasons, will the titular (man, I love that word!) office STILL be being filmed for some documentary? Will they have to abandon that central conceit at some point, just as HIMYM may have to abandon the mother-mystery conceit?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Greg Daniels has been asked the same question about the documentary crew a lot. Among the possibilities: the show is airing in a foreign country (hence the original subtitle "An American Workplace") as an ongoing series (like that A&E airport show), or it's being produced as a "serious" documentary by a guy like David Sutherland who takes years and years to put together a few hours of film.

I did like how, in the British "Office" finale special, the documentary had aired in England and made the boss a (very) minor celebrity. Maybe when we get to season three or four, Jim or Pam (who are friendly with the crew) get their hands on some bootlegs and suddenly the whole office becomes self-conscious about their "character." Dunno.

One thing I forgot to mention about HIMYM: were there, like, 10 commercial breaks during that half hour? Even watching it on TiVo, it felt like the show kept pausing every time any scene gathered momentum.

And while I like your scenario about the season finale, I think the writers have learned their lesson about definitive statements from Future Ted, and that they'll waffle on naming the real mom for as long as they can possibly drag out the stupid gimmick.

Tosy And Cosh said...

I hope you are wrong about the HIMYM writers--but I fear you're right.

Anonymous said...

What are the chances of "The Office," its cast, and crew getting some Emmy recognition? I feel that Steve Carell is a lock in the lead category. Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, and Jenna Fischer should all at least be considered in the supporting realm. The show itself should be nominated, but I won't hold my breath with Arrested Development, Boston Legal (if it switches), Desperate Housewives, Scrubs (which hopefully will not be overlooked), My Name Is Earl, Will & Grace, Two and a Half Men, etc. all to compete with. Maybe a writing nomination or a directing nom. could be earned. What are your thoughts?

Alan Sepinwall said...

If I had to predict the Emmy nominees now, I'd guess Arrested, Earl, The Office, Two and a Half Men and Desperate Housewives (assuming it doesn't have to move categories). Curb could sneak in on past rep, and Scrubs could conceivably keep its foot in the door, but I unfortunately doubt that.

Like you say, Steve is a lock, and I wouldn't be stunned to see Rainn get a nod, too. I think what John and Jenna do isn't big enough to get award love, at least not this early in the show's existence as a popular entity.

The big question: can we get Edward R. Meow a nomination somehow?