Monday, November 16, 2009

Gossip Girl Reality Check and Other TV Tidbits

Ok, nobody goes to Gossip Girl for anything resembling reality. A world in which high school students become paparazzi fodder for no particular reason (Serena) or believe their name should be known worldwide while being a serious business man at 18 (Chuck)? Obviously intended to be taken as the silly froth it is.

But even in the world of Gossip Girl, tonight's episode seemed extra silly. Primarily anything having to do with the Tisch cabaret. Now, portraying Tisch students as tools? Totally realistic. But as big Lady Gaga fans? That seems like a stretch. And stretching credibility too far: laughing hysterically at Dan's objectively lame Snow White/Lady Gaga musical. I'm not blaming Dan for this: he did have like 3 hours to write the thing and was doing it for Olivia/Blair. But seriously, it was like something out of a summer camp for 13-year-olds. I can't see theater kids applauding a fractured fairy tale without a heavy dose of incest, suicide, or rape.

As for the Serena/Tripp/Nate triangle, that's problematic less for credibility and more for just being stupid. It's hard to believe Serena started out as the show's main character, cause this season she's been creeping up next to Nate on the list of characters that should be voted off. And Topher-Grace-with-bugeyes (Tripp) can go with her. Speaking of which, what does Jenny have to do to get a worthwhile storyline? This week was no "I'm going to be a hipster designer and take off my clothes for a sketchy hipster photographer," but Belgian ecstasy dealer is close. I'm certainly thankful that the next episode will be a Thanksgiving one, since everyone needs some together time.

Moving over to CBS, How I Met Your Mother gave what I thought was one of its strongest episodes this season, but what do I know, I'm the one person still refusing to hate on this season. What can I say, I still enjoy even the weakest episodes. But with Barney and Robin's relationship rather quickly dispatched last week (since even I admit it wasn't working), we had Barney back to top form, and it felt good.

At times the episode felt like an advertisement for the inevitable tie-in book (will The Playbook be ready for Christmas?), but I'd buy it if it's anywhere near as awesome as some of the examples we saw tonight. After all, we got more Barney tricks and flimflams than ever before, and the Lorenzo Von Matterhorn certainly lived up to its reputation. Like last year's "The Naked Man," I have to wonder how many people will actually try some of these things. I'd certainly like to hear how far real women would listen to SNASA. And most exciting of all: next episode is titled "Slapsgiving 2: Return of the Slap." Unless Wikipedia is lying to me. Which it better not be.

Finally, as part of some recent DVR cleaning (see also: my previous entry on Nip/Tuck), I finally made it to 3 episodes of FlashForward, a show I had high hopes for but, as I wrote after the pilot, found rather disappointing. Two episodes later, little has changed. I still think it has some good ideas and a sub-Heroes-level execution. For those unfamiliar with Heroes, that means wooden acting, weak characters, and ponderous, self-important dialogue.

The former point is the most surprising, since it's got such legit actors as Joseph Fiennes (Voldemort's brother), Sony Walger (Desmond's true love Penny), and John Cho (Harold). And I will say that after three episodes, John Cho's character is the absolute only one I care about, so he gets a pass. But Joseph Fiennes seriously acts like he's starring in a spin-off of CSI: Miami. I keep expecting him to slowly take off his sunglasses.

Otherwise though I blame the writing more than the cast. I thought maybe the constant "this was my flashforward, what was your flashforward" talk might end after the pilot, but nope, it's here to stay. They say the word "flashforward" like 50 times an episode, which is a bit much when it's also the name of the show. Sure, the concept's kind of cool, but not nearly as cool as they all seem to think it is. And as Lost proved, it's the characters that make these stories worthwhile.

Now that V has come to fill the ABC sci-fi niche and to do a way better job of it (blog post to come), there's even less room for FlashForward on my queue. Which means I've FINALLY made all my decisions about what to watch and what not to this fall...right in time for midseason. But hey, with Glee, Modern Family, and V, this is one of the strongest TV seasons in a long time.

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