Sunday, October 05, 2008

Weekend round-up: Life, Earl and Always Sunny

Brief spoilers for the most recent episodes of, in order, "Life," "My Name Is Earl" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" coming up just as soon as I buy a grenade and a wedding dress...

If I hadn't already seen this Monday's episode of "Life," I'd be far more concerned that season two has opened with two disappointing episodes in a row. "Everything... All the Time" was actually weaker than the season premiere, which at least had some memorable "Life"-style visuals and a plot I could follow from beginning to end. I spent this one feeling like the Donal Logue character, not sure what the hell Crews and Reese were doing, or why, and so other than some of the business about Charlie not having a car (and then getting another awesome one), this didn't work for me.

Again, Monday's episode feels much more like the sort of thing they were doing late last season, so I'm not too worried yet. But since I'm skeptical that the show's going to be around very long, I want as many good episodes as possible before it goes.

This week's back-to-back "My Name Is Earl"s were both better than either of last week's. (They were also helped by being one of the few Thursday shows I watch that wasn't pre-empted by the VP debate, since I was just glad to have something scripted to watch.) Joy's one of the show's two strongest characters (Randy is the other), and the combination of her abrasiveness and Darnell's germ-phobia made for some funny moments before the inevitable "Earl heart-warming ending. Meanwhile, the second episode cast Jerry Van Dyke as the world's greatest killing machine, and I have to admire it for that. It's still inessential viewing, but on a week like this, it was welcome.

I should probably only write about "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" when they do an episode I like, which tends to be once ever three or four times out. But people like to talk about it, and I did watch the two-part "Mac & Charlie Die," even if most of it fell flat for me (other than Dee's unfortunate SEPTA bus ride and the matter-of-factness of the pawn shop guy), so have at it.

What did everybody else think?


Nicole said...

I liked this week's Sunny better than last week, and having once owned a Neon, I had to laugh when they were shooting at the gas tank in an effort to get it to explode. I also thought the cold open was effective too, even if not exactly realistic. And did you really not find the memorial slideshow funny? On its own it was silly enough, but using Blaze of Glory made it hilarious.

I watched Life and wasn't that impressed, but it was a Friday show so my expectations aren't as high.

Speaking of funny, I hope you caught this week's SNL because Anne Hathaway was really good and I think every skit was funny this week. Probably the first time in years that I can say that.

Anonymous said...

(They were also helped by being one of the few Thursday shows I watch that wasn't pre-empted by the VP debate, since I was just glad to have something scripted to watch.)

I'd count the debate as scripted televisions. ;)

And I agree with Nicole that SNL was really strong this week. The cold opening was, of course, hilarious, and all the other skits were good as well.

thedalyn said...

The last four episodes of Sunny have been flatter than usual, though there were--as always--some pretty funny moments strewn throughout. I think that Sunny does a better job when it tackles big controversial issues (disability, abortion, etc.). The episodes that are simply about their personal lives (dating the waitress, Mac's dad, etc.) seem to fall short. That said, I still think it's the funniest show on television.

Anonymous said...

Sunny is so hit and miss to me it reminds me of good morning talk radio, such as Howard Stern. You've got to sit through a lot of "tries" before something strikes you as funny/poignant.

My issue is, Sunny isn't trying to fill 4 hours of morning drive for 5 days a week, but 20 minutes a week per season. As such, it should be so refined and potent so as to really sing.

And, like Stern, the fans of Sunny feel it necessary to proclaim it to be the "king of all comedies" (on TV right now). If you get beyond the "shocking"...there's rarely anything substantive there; the show has simply distracted you enough to get through your commute on your way to bed...

Hatfield said...

For a show that many people keep telling me to watch, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" only sometimes makes me laugh. Maybe I'm just burned out on the "randomer than thou" comedy that is so prevalent these days, and done much better on Adult Swim.

On another note, Alan, you asked last week if anyone was still watching "Sons of Anarchy" and I'd like to put my name in the "yes" column. It still feels very uneven at times, but the little bits that take place week-to-week while they slooooooooowly unveil the larger story arc are still keeping me interested. And wow, do I take back my confusion about what Don Draper saw in Rachel Mencken--Maggie Siff is my new celebrity crush. Have you given up on the show, or just too busy and not enough of us on here commenting on the posts?

Anonymous said...

I thought this was by far the worst episode of "Life". Crews and his ex hooking up came out of nowhere. The dead guy in the car? I can see why they didn't send you this episode to screen. It seems like NBC is tryng to support the show but how long will it get if the ratings don't improve? I really grew to like this show last year but I'm not sure what they are doing this year.

Anonymous said...

Wow... Tara in SoA is Rachel Mencken?

I'm a big fan of both shows (although MM is definitely better IMHO), but I had no clue that the same actress played both parts. Thanks, Hatfield.

Hatfield said...

No problem. There's a reason I'm good at Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Unknown said...

For Life I pretty much ignored the case of the week since I'm really all about the characters and I enjoyed the banter between Dani and Charlie but I think I liked the scene in the gym, when the suspect appeared out of nowhere.

I think more than anything, that felt like something from the first season.

I do hope they regain the pace and tone they had last season, trying to be just any procedural show and trying to be fast paced doesn't work for Life's format.

One of the things I loved about Life last year was how it wasn't afraid to take its time establishing things, the new frenetic pace doesn't suit the show at all.

Anonymous said...

Crews and his ex hooking up came out of nowhere.

I didn't think so. All last season, it was clear that Jennifer still had feelings for him but suppressed them due to her betrayal in losing faith in him and her marriage. Charlie showed that he was still smitten in every scene with her. This time, Jennifer initiated the closer contact in trying to make Rachael comfortable, and the old chemistry blew up. Seemed natural.

I have the same fears as Alan regarding the ratings but I've enjoyed these two episodes on the whole. The cases of the week have lacked that little extra that made them quirky and unexpected, but otherwise the show continues to be subtle with its character development.

Anonymous said...

I am still very much enjoying "Life" but I have to agree with ther assertion that the sudden romantic sparks between Crews and Jennifer Siebel was led up to in any way.

My memory from season 1 was that while internally, she may still have held love for him, she was pretty antagonistic to his blatant attempts at rekindling their lost, 12 years interruptus of their dissolved marriage.

To me, they seemed to skip a few episodes to lead Crews and his ex wife to suddenly go at it in her car.

Alan Sepinwall said...

To me, they seemed to skip a few episodes to lead Crews and his ex wife to suddenly go at it in her car.

I think they were trying to suggest that Jen being around Rachel Seybolt -- remember, the Crewses and the Seybolts were good friends, which is one of the reasons Charlie wound up being an obvious framing target -- made it easier for her to fall back into old habits.

But everyone's right: it felt rushed. I imagine there's a damn the torpedoes mindset in the writers room, where they're trying to tell as many of the stories that they want to tell while they can, since they're really living on borrowed time.

Mapeel said...

Life trivia: The Flext gym is actually The Paley Center for Media, in Beverly Hills. I think it looks pretty good on film. Too bad they didn't leave any of the equipment for the staff to use--

Alan Sepinwall said...

Life trivia: The Flext gym is actually The Paley Center for Media, in Beverly Hills.

I knew that ramp looked familiar, but I couldn't place it! Thank you!