Monday, April 24, 2006

Nail/Coffin Spotlight: Take 1


Part 2

05. Big Love

I've never really found polygamy particularly interesting. However, you start a show with a uniformly superb cast, crisp writing that questions the moral, societal and religious implications of its subject matter--and one that is not at all sparing with the metaphorical spirituality, and you've pretty much got me hooked. Who knew? Big Love is a show that should be a lot more gimmick driven than it actually is. The central mythos of the multiple marriages is what the show is about, not what defines it. It's a fine line that the writers walk quite gracefully. At its best, Big Love reminds me a lot of the lighter moments on a show like Six Feet Under, which is a pretty high compliment coming from me. However, that is not to say the show is without significant dramatic suspense--it just happens to be very good at keeping its head on straight. The first season is barely half finished and I already feel like I've been a fan for years. If the show is able to stay true to its surprisingly genuine nature, we could have a future classic here.

04. Sons & Daughters

The idea of playing the extended/dysfunctional family for laughs is certainly nothing new. The best (now canceled) comedy since Seinfeld, more or less, played on just that...and rather perfectly. Did we really need another one? APPARENTLY. Despite Sons & Daughters' unfortunate comparisons and parallels to Arrested Development (not to mention the fact that it is probably on its way to cancelation as well) it remains a grossly unique show. It's almost disgusting how perfectly it is able to be hilarious one moment and utterly heartwarming the next. Improvisational claims aside, that is actually where the show spins its widest appeal. It is hilarious, yes, but it is human above all else. Minor satiric qualities notwithstanding, the portrait Sons & Daughters paints of the American family of the 21st century is both ridiculous and spot-on all at once. Probably the most relatable comedy I have ever seen on network TV.

03. Lost

It's like watching a mind slowly descend into madness. One thing (among many other things) that Lost does so very well is set up what appear to be simplistic elements and build upon them until they become something else entirely. The archetypal character models, consistently and methodically turned on their ears; The initial conflict(people stranded on an island want to get rescued) now almost completely "lost" within the show's own mythology. It's one of the easiest shows to lose yourself in that I can ever recall, and it continues to challenge itself as well as us at it marches onward, slowly becoming an increasingly unstable arena of paranoia and insanity. The BIG MYSTERY is, of course, second tier stuff to snobs like myself. However, the fact that Lost works so WELL on its own Lynchian dreamscape, as well as operating as a some what valid social and communal parable, makes it a landmark within the TV IS ART ERA.

Unfortunately I must keep dragging this out. Who would have thought I'd actually get BUSY??

Don't cry! Part 3 (DA FINALE) coming soon!

P.S. I thought I should also note that there are several well respected shows that I just have never seen. So shows like Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica, and The Wire may not be on this list, but that doesn't mean I DISLIKE them. I've just not had the pleasure. I plan on fixing that problem soon.


Teresa said...

Lemme guess, VERONICA MARS will be numero uno?

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Having seen this list in e-mail form, I know what's number one: Dan'l's Country Bear Jamboree.

Jacob said...

You haven't had the pleasure of Gilmore Girls, either. This list will therefore be inaccurate.

But go Vero!

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Gilmore Girls isn't good anymore.

And without the soothing cadences of the Palladinos writing everything next season, it should get even worse.

Daniel said...

See, and I some how knew that would happen to GG. Which is why I never bothered watching.

I am a genius.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Sweet lord, Dan'l.

By "isn't good anymore," I mean, "Eh. It's hit or miss."

The first five seasons are WELL worth your time. I mean it.

I mean, geez, you like Custer.