Sunday, January 10, 2010

Big Love, "Free at Last": Know when to walk away, know when to run

I reviewed the start of "Big Love" season 4 in a column last week. Because I'm occupied right now at press tour, and because I've been pretty clear and consistent about the parts of the show I like (the wives and kids) and the parts I don't care for (Juniper Creek, Bill's businesses), my approach to blogging the show this season is going to be to put up a post like this after I've seen an episode and invite you to comment. If an episode down the road strikes me as particularly great or bothersome, maybe I'll write more, but for now this is your show.

What did you think of the premiere?


KeepingAwake said...

Liked the new opening, but not sure if I need to see it every single week. Good song choice though.

Seemed like an awful lot of getting all the plates spinning and not more than one or two of the moments that make the show great. The sort of episode you'd see in a lot of series two or three out from the finale--just arranging the board for the end game, not any real investment in any of it.

And as a big fan of this show, that was disappointing.

Fat Tim the Potato Farmer from Space said...

Does anybody know the name of the song in the new opening?

Paulina said...

I completely agree with your comment that the show often suffers from overextension, especially with the Bill's casino business and the whole FBI thing (which was very confusing to me; it felt like the agents were just popping up everywhere at completely random times).

It's too bad, because when the show's at it's best it can definitely be moving and touching, especially when it focuses on the family (namely Margene and Sarah, and to some extent Niki when she's not scrambling after her mother).

I have to say I did laugh when Niki saw Roman in the freezer, it was just so... weird.

Overall, I would say I just really dislike the scenes with Bill's parents. They're so expected at this point and not all that integral to the story.

Also, was that Adam Beach? Not my favorite.

KeepingAwake said...

@Fat Tim--Have to catch that on the rewatch in the credits. It's not the Interpol song Untitled that they used in the promos though.

Anonymous said...

I like Bill's parents trying to kill/main each other at every opportunity. It's a comic break and probably seems silly to some viewers. I have a weird sense of humor so, for some reason, I find it weirdly funny.

Trilby said...

Anyone-- what was that bit at the end when the Indians were holding out a hat to Bill, saying "Is this yours?" Cowboys and Indians?

The shot towards the end of the family looking wide-eyed, drooling almost, at the sight of the money was either great or terrible, I can't decide. For spiritual people, they sure are dazzled by cash!

I thought Ben was kind of cute in way, singing at his audition, but I didn't realize he was auditioning for opening night at the Casino! What happened to Jim Neighbors?! (jk)

And the Indians hate Barb? I didn't get what that was about.

But Margene has really grown on me, I must say. She used to annoy the crap out of me. Is she maturing a little? Anyway, I'm starting to admire her spunk and she is by far the cutest wife.

I'm happy about the new opening even though it seemed to go on too long. For some reason the old opening really grated on me and I'd have to mute the sound and walk away after 2 seasons of it! So thanks, BL!

Lastly, I'm sad that Alan doesn't blog this show. I count on him to tell me what I thought of some of my shows, like Mad Men.

Anonymous said...

Trilby, the hat that was given to Bill at the end is Roman's. The Blackfoot now have him by the you-know-whats. The song over the opening credits is
Home, by the Engineers.

Chalmers said...

I think they had to ditch the old opening (probaby a year too late) because Ginnifer Goodwin looks about 10 years younger in it. It certainly doesn't comport with Margene's current status as Boss Lady.

JanieJones said...

I liked the new opening.

Last season, Margene was integral with Bill, dealing with the Indians. They liked her. There was no explanation as to why Barb is now the go between besides Margene is busy with her jewelry business. I know Margene was pushing Barb to deal with the casino, et al, because of being excommunicated, etc. but it felt unnatural. Barb seemed overwhelmed and did not communicate with the Tribe well. The only time she looked happy was when the money was shown.

Chloe Sevigny was funny when she discovered her father in the freezer.

Anon 8:18 am-I think the hat was Roman's too but I did have a moment of doubt-my thought was too easy. Is Bill already stuck dealing with another problem?

This season seems like it may be crowded, considering there are only 9 eps, I'm worried that it will not translate well to the viewer.

Lastly, I didn't feel like last night's episode was fluid.

Yes, that was Adam Beach, who I was happy to see.

TL said...

I wonder if the new credits are signaling a new, apocalyptic theme to the season. It was hard to watch that and not think about last season's warnings to Barb that she was being cast into "outer darkness."

@ Trilby - "For spiritual people, they sure are dazzled by cash!"

That really begs the question of whether they really are spiritual people, doesn't it? Or rather, for all their outward piety, whether they really have a Mormon/Christian ethic. A constant theme (especially of last season) is how willing Bill is to prey on other people, about how his family is the most important thing in the universe, and if someone else has to get hurt, so be it.

This is not an uncommon attitude among "conservative Christians" (can't speak from experience specifically about Mormons). But it doesn't have much to do with the teachings of Jesus.

Tosy And Cosh said...

I actually love the overstuffed feel of the show - I love the way the very different pieces fit together and would be much less interested in the show without the look into that fundamentalist fringe universe.

Steve said...

Three things

1. I didn't follow Barb's anxiety
2. Ginnifer Goodwin looks fantastic
3. I miss "God Only Knows"

Ryan Finley said...

I'm not a fan of the new intro at all. No big deal though.

What I'd like to see more, though, is the interactions and difficulties inherent in the 3 wife family. That's always been the most interesting part of the show, and I get a little tired of the constant "big" plots they insert that deal with the FBI, Juniper, etc. I found the show more interesting in the first season that focused much more on the family.

KrisMrsBBradley said...

I don't think piety and love of having financial security are two separate things - or even piety and being super rich - look at the Vatican...

Didn't love the new intro, but we fast forward through it anyway, so no big deal.

Margene is definitely becoming the most interesting wife. Maybe it's her growth, maybe it's just because she seems like the only wife who truly wants the best for each person in the family and just loves everyone equally.

Harry said...

No official post, Alan? I was so sure yours was going to begin with "Spoilers coming up, just as soon as I make you a BLT..."


Alan Sepinwall said...

Harry, it would have been "just as soon as you let me make you a BLT..."

Quisty said...

I didn't care for the new beginning, but it did seem shorter than the old, so that's A-Ok with me.

I don't mind having a lot going on, I think it's kind of integral to have the Juniper Creek thing happening so that you can see understand the difference between compound living and trying to assimilate with "everyday" people.

The FBI stuff is old. Inform them Roman is dead, and get over that whole segment. (He made SUCH a good villain, I'm going to kind of miss him!) I'm totally not into the Casino business either. I don't think it was necessary, and all the prior episodes made it seem like Home Plus kept them more than comfortable (hello, 3 HUGE houses!)

The hat threw me off-I thought for sure it was Romans, but so what? It's a hat. The FBI were at the casino looking for Roman, and they found his hat??? Or a hat that looks like one he wears? And? It was kind of a weird note to end on. Especially since he's dead. If he were alive, fine-you might think he was nosing around.

I like Bill's mom-I think she's a character, but I think she should have done away with his dad. He's a creepy scumbag, and man is that actor looking OLD for it having been only a year.

Overall, i liked it. I'm in the minority and have really come to like Nikki. I think she's the most "real" in a bizarre, twisted kind of way. Definitely the most interesting.

M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M. said...

Roman's hat was his symbol of power. Also, there's some thing about the founder of Mormonism (Joseph Smith) using his hat as a divination tool to translate the golden tablets into what would become the Book of Mormon.
I think Alby used the cowboy hat in a similar way in some ceremony in season 2 (3?) to get the community to believe his legitimacy to succeed Roman.
And now Bill has it.

Llama girl said...

So I think I was right in assuming it was Roman's hat, but I am confused as to what Nikki/Bill did with Roman's body. What was the story that Nikki was going to tell her mother? Where is the body going? Why don't they want to leave it somewhere where the FBI will find it, so they can wash their hands of the matter?

Captain Jack said...

The hat is the symbol of the Prophet of Juniper Creek....they're telling him (wink wink nudge nudge say no more say no more) that they know Roman's dead, and that they're inferring that he is involved and therefore is now taking over in Roman's place.

Holy run-on sentence, batman.

Anonymous said...

Alby planted the hat on the casino grounds. Earlier in the episode Bill's partners were mad because they heard rumors that Roman visited. Alby planted the hat to show de-stablaize Bill's relationship.

belinda said...

I miss God Only Knows too - the new opening is all right, but...meh.

I agree with the overextension, but I guess they're just throwing all the first pieces of the 'puzzle' for the season in the first episode. I can't remember what some of the exact plot lines were (involving JC and the FBI, or the casino stuff) though from last season, so I'm not sure what I've missed in this episode.

Count me in as someone who totally laughed at Papa in the freezer - 'I really need BACON!' and 'How could you send me in there when you knew?' really cracked me up. Hilarious.

Rob said...

I must be the only person who thought the new opening was awful. It was contrived, pretentious, melodramatic and seemed almost like a joke to me. The older one was much better and actually made sense (and related to the show). No big deal, that's what DVRs are for, after all, so I'll never watch that again, thankfully.

The episode had its moments, though. The way they found Roman, for example, I found hilarious. I also enjoyed the Albee subplot and was strangely entertained by geekson's rock stardom. He's the next Jonas brother, for sure.

I don't think this is the caliber of show of the best HBO things like Sopranos or Six Feet Under, nor do I think it ever will be, but it's a pleasing enough soap opera for those of us who think we're too good for soap operas.