Before I get into it, I wanted to note my tendency to review things almost exclusively in ones and threes. How many pairs of things have I reviewed without either comparing or contrasting? Or dare I say both? (Four, of course, is right out.) That's all I had to say on that. Just thought it was weird.
THE OFFICE (US)
Finally got around to the American version. It is indeed a different beast. It's not nearly as historic as the British version, and Michael Scott isn't anywhere close to the singularity of David Brent. On the other hand, they manage to make every single character in the office memorable and insightful.
But it's certainly reached the stage where the comparisons must end. The new version is consistently funny and fantastically written. A great sitcom.
JOHN FROM CINCINNATI
I love this show. It defies explanation; no demographic pigeonholing is possible. Not a comedy, not a family drama in the strictest sense, not a show "about surfing," not an angry man's weirdo HBO show... just an ingenious little story about forgiveness.
Its structure reminds me of The Wire, in that not a lot happens on a daily basis, but the universe of the show is so compelling that nobody cares. Six episodes in, I'd say only three or four things have actually happened. And that sparseness doesn't matter, not even a little. Imperial Beach is just that fascinating, in and of itself.
The amazing, iconic dialogue these characters have been given certainly helps. John's tendency to parrot sentences contributes to the iconic feel of each turn of phrase, but they're also great turns of phrase to begin with. I can't get over the incredible stuff they come up with on a weekly basis for Ed O'Neill... off-the-charts hilarious and heartbreakingly sad and crazy at the same time. He's both the most and least normal person on the show. But this is a guy at the periphery of what action there is... and he's totally gripping.
Most of all, it's impressive that they can shape such coarse dialogue into a show that has so much soul. No show has its heart in the right place more than this one.
Strongly recommended to anyone with a little patience.
FREAKS & GEEKS
I have watched two episodes, but it only took the first episode for me to lose my shit that this show got fucking cancelled. I'm totally beside myself right now.
This show should be taught in schools. This show gets Judd Apatow a free pass for life. So he wants to make a TV show about paint drying? Give the man a chance! That's how good it is.
And yet it was aborted before being given any kind of a chance. There's more genius in fifteen minutes of Freaks & Geeks than you'll find in entire seasons of shows that weren't cancelled. JAG was on the air for ten seasons. FUCKING TEN!!! I can't name a single notable thing about that show, and it got 242 episodes. (I looked.) And these knucklehead networks can't figure out a way to keep a show full of broke-ass nobodies on the air? Out of 22 hours of prime-time programming every week, they can't take one hour and devote it to vegetables... it's all gotta be ice cream. What a joke. Fuck you, NBC.
The only explanation that makes any sense is that the show was somehow cancelled by accident. Like, they meant to cancel one of the fourteen Law & Order spinoffs, but some first-day-on-the-job intern clicked the wrong button by accident, and by the time someone figured out what had happened it was too late. That makes sense, because at least the incompetence can be chalked up to human error.
Yeah. This is all after two episodes. I have no idea what else happens, but I strongly suspect that whatever comes next won't change my mind.
So I guess I haven't really said anything yet. Turns out I'm angrier about the cancellation than I am insightful about the show. But I have some basic impressions:
- Seth Rogen is a genius.
- Jason Segel is a genius.
- Martin Starr is a genius.
- Screw it, they're all fucking geniuses.
- Even James Franco is a genius. Who knew he had an actual pedigree??? I'm stunned. I mean, I thought he was good given the expectations of yet another cookie-cutter James Dean wannabe... but he's pretty good without any qualifiers. Like, you can tell he's bigger than the show. I never would have guessed.
- I found myself getting kinda attached to Linda Cardellini, and feeling like a creep about it. I mean, she's in high school, right? So I felt all weird and dirty... until I found out she was about 24 years old when she made the show. Sweet! I don't have to go to jail!
I admit that this wasn't much of a review. "This show kicks ass" doesn't help much. But hey, I haven't exactly seen it either, so I shouldn't say much anyway, right? I just know what I love, and I love this.
And NBC... go fuck yourself. Did I say that already? Well, just in case, fuck all of you. Seriously. Because apparently the rest of the world agrees, for the most part. That's right. Eat shit, NBC. Eat my shit. All of it.