Saturday, September 30, 2006

New Television is Good Television

Although I have typically been drawn to films for my entertainment, there has been a recent surge of television that has captured and locked in my attention. Television is normally, in my humble opinion, a weaker form. You have issues of length. A film can be anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 ½ hours long. It is involves one story and one point that it will make, a thesis and the argument. TV differs from this because it covers a wide array of topics and positions. TV does this because it needs to fill a lot of time length. A series with a 30 minute time slot has to fill 20-23 minutes of content for almost 26 weeks, not including the re-runs and specials. If you multiply 23 times 26 you get 598. While this is a lot of time to fill in, there is leeway for some bad quality to seep through. Okay, so this happens in film a lot too, but there are masters that are dedicated to their craft and won’t let the audience down.

All of that format bullshit aside, I have become enamored by a few shows that have me addicted to their stories and characters, including one that is two episodes into the series. They have defied the nature of television giving me deep characters, brilliant writing, and unforgettable moments. So here is Iowa Film Nerd’s top five television shows worth watching today.

This is a show about a drug dealing mom. Although many of you may be apposed to the thought of something like this occurring in the world, it still happens. It is not that far-fetched so get over it. Nancy Botwin has used her brother’s pot connection to start her own business to maintain her suburban lifestyle, since having to deal with her husband’s unfortunate and sudden death. It is in its second season on Showtime and is starting to get its wings and soar into one of the most controversial shows covering a wide range of topics that are not spoken of in a different light i.e. abortion, masturbation, marijuana, and the sometimes over-played dark side of suburbia.

I am currently in a LOST binge. I have flown through the first season in less than two days and started on the next six discs that contain season number two for the premier of the third season this Wednesday. The reason that I love this show is the place. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend time vacationing from their past on a tropical island. This is a resurgence of Gilligan’s Island but with a mystical, cynical, Lord of the Flies twist on it. Another reason I love this show is that it is based on character as apposed to the plot, or shit that happens. I will say that all of the characters in this show are real and fleshed out because they were all given episodes to be fleshed out and filled in. Everyone on the island has their past sins, but the island has given them all a chance to reinvent themselves. Most people haven’t taken up that chance because, they can’t let go of the past. I am not sure if I buy into the belief that the island is purgatory, but it is something to think about. They have become obsessed with the what-ifs of their past, which allows the creators of the show to split the time of on-island time with their issue from their past. Anyways, the next season starts this Wednesday at 9pm, or 8pm if you are still in the Midwest.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
I watched this one Bravo after catching another Aaron Sorkin produced series earlier in the week, The West Wing. This show is destined to be great or have a knock-out first season. The first two episodes of this show had me salivating and waiting for more. The show is about a SNL type show that has hit a recent terrible run, like SNL lately, and is in the midst a major reform. Two former writers are given carte blanche over the newest season if they can bring back the cutting-edge humor and controversy to the once popular show. This has good characters, a slue of good actors, and an executive producer that has a good track record in TV, it even was fought over by the networks for a record amount when it was still a script.

The West Wing
Thanks to Bob I need to finish this series somehow. We watched the first disc of the series in a weekend. So that leaves me with 6 2/3 of the seasons to go. It was a record 3 episodes until I was wanting more and more from this show. This was executive produced by Aaron Sorkin. This show makes me wonder what it would be like if there was a liberal in the White House. This show is just plain good. It is no longer on the air after one of the main character died in real life, but it looks to have 7 great seasons with some of the best television actors in the business, not to mention some film stars in there.

South Park
This is the one show that I have been watching for quite some time. It is crude, yes, but they have honed their craft and blended topical humor with real and timely wit. They blended the Teri Shivo case with Cartman trying to steal Kenny’s PSP after another one of his untimely deaths. They have dealt with immigration, attacks against South Park, P. Diddy’s Vote or Die campaign, Scientology, global warming, smugness of Hollywood, and poking fun at all of those super nanny reality TV shows. They are good at what they do, it will be a sad day when they decide to call it quits on the series. I hope they don’t pull a Seth McFarland and recreate their own show with a new family a la Family Guy to American Dad.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Moving to L.A.? You Have to be Outta Your Fucking Mind?!

Someone once told me that life is about change, evolution. It is the best thing for us. It constantly makes us test ourselves for the better, and sometimes for worse. If this is all true, I would say that I am living quite a bit. I have made the move to Orange, California. I am now living with my great-cousin Floyd and his wife Diane. This is a change that I have wanted for quite some time, but like all things the desire and the moves were there but not like I imagined. I think that my perpetual sin of character is my wild imagination. Often when I think about these big moves and changes in my life, I create wild fantasies that for exceed what reality can contain. I am not sure if this is a terrible thing for me. That is at least one of the reasons that I have chosen career path, the film industry.

All of the things that I have imagined about this town and area of the country, I think are still intact but are hidden in a world that few have the key to. So I am currently searching high and low for these rare and hidden access-holes and befriend the gatekeepers. I have been here for a little over five days, so I haven'’t been too worried about my lack of job at the moment. I do have my boots coming in less than a week so I can start to work in the hot sun of the Orange, CA in the construction industry if a better job isn't procured before that date.

I did get to venture out to the little island of Katelina off of the coast of L.A. It was a beautiful trip out there, but I was a little dissappointed with the tourist trap of a town, Avalon. You could hang out on the beach, buy some expensive and utterly overpriced food at the cafes, or do some parasailing and other like beach activities that would cost you an arm and/or leg. The journey out there was the best part. It was a great day and the sun was shinning in the sky. There was an occation were the dolphines joined us to swim along side the luxurious boat we were on. We got to see seagulls and pilot dolphines as we speed by them.

We also had the chance to view a canoe race that happens once a year. There are ten men on a team, four on the canoe. One man stays on the canoe the whole time because he is the pilot and controlls the steering for the vessel. The other three are constantly changed around. The replacements are dumped in the water ahead of the speeding canoe, and when they are reached the current men jump ship while the three resting in the water hop aboard, trying not to lose much speed. This race is a test of endurance, since the course is only a mere 28 miles long.

Back to the task at hand: my situation. I am currently trying to get my bearings and become familiar with the surreal experience that is Southern California. The drivers are faster and seem to move radically about, but I have been told by Bob that Orange drivers are nothing at all like the fucking insanity that is true of the drivers of L.A. County. I recently checked out the shitty mall that is in Santa Ana only a five minute drive from my current location. I realized that the priorities of these mall is superficial and only contains stores that are meant for people with clothing agendas. It contained only one music/DVD store and one video game store, the rest were shops that had either clothing, jewelry, or something that can be worn on your body. I was shocked that there wasn'’t a single bookstore, but I guess I think too highly of these Californians. Them……..I think not. After all, California is known for its movies, potheads/hippies, and its superficialities. I think that I am coming down a little hard, but who really cares???