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Here’s a Suggestion for Galavant Season 3, Kill Galavant

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Seriously. Kill Galavant. Kill Isabella. Kill Sid.

Galavant does evil characters well. The best moments of the season focused on Richard, on Gareth and on Madalena.

After two seasons, the show developed a meaningful romantic relationship, not between Galavant and Isabella, but between Gareth and Madalena. And a heroic growth narrative arc, not for Galavant, but for Richard.

The season finale worked because it focused on Richard.

Villains are just more fun. And Galavant can only write them well anyway. Galavant is barely tolerable. Isabella is nails on a chalkboard irritating and always will be. Same for Sid. They’re insipid, irritating heroes. So get rid of them.

Season 1 wasn’t good. Season 2 dived into desperate gay jokes and parodies and fourth wall breaches like a drunken sailor. But it did get Richard, Gareth and Madalena right. So why not just stick with it? This is an unconventional show anyway. Make it a little more unconventional and make it a musical fantasy comedy about villains.

There’s precedent. Lots of precedent.

Surprise, the X-Files is Still a Confused, Unwatchable Mess

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Nostalgia is a hell of a drug.

The passage of time convinced a whole bunch of people that bringing back the X-Files would somehow reset it back to the show it was originally and not the confused, unwatchable mess it became in its later seasons.

How was that supposed to work anyway?

Nostalgia filtered out the terrible mess that the X-Files had become and people remembered the good stuff. But they brought back the zombie corpse of the X-Files to shambling life. Instead of the good stuff, they got more of that final season in which nothing made sense and nothing mattered and everyone was just phoning it in.

Is there any universe in which that wasn’t going to happen?

Star Trek got a second act in movie theaters because it acknowledged the passage of time, brought in new people and switched mediums. Without that, you got Star Trek the Motion Picture or Star Trek Phase II or the first season of TNG. The TNG movies were just more of TNG’s terrible final season made by most of the same people.

The X-Files just picks up where it left off. And where it left off was terrible. That’s the way it is for most shows that drag on for too long and lose whatever energy and craft made them work.

But don’t worry. The good folks at ScumCo Inc. will just reboot the X-Files just like they’re doing to 24 because audiences are so retarded and studios are so nervous that every intellectual property has to be rebooted so it can be kept around for all time.

Or at least until Generation X finally dies.

Thanks for Bringing Back the X-Files So We Can Remember How Much We Hated It

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Heroes Reborn helped remind us how much we all hated Heroes. But that’s nothing compared to bringing back the X-Files so we can remember how much we all hated that.

Chris Carter talks like the X-Files was prematurely killed off by an unappreciative corporation.

Reality check. FOX did everything it could to keep its stinking carcass going short of running the X-Files logo for 43 minutes between commercial breaks.

The X-Files ran for nine horrible years. Its producers got to launch more failed spin-offs than Aaron Spelling.

The show was only canceled because the cast wanted out. Viewers wouldn’t watch their replacements. Like the Simpsons, the X-Files spent half the time making fun of itself. The first movie came out and reminded everyone of why they stopped watching the X-Files. The second movie came out and no one watched it.

So it must be time to bring back the X-Files, said no one.

Look at the shiny trailer. Scully has a cell phone. Mulder almost grew a beard. Drones. Terrorism. Other topical stuff from ten years ago.

Shadowy hallways. Half-baked conspiracies that never pay off. The last ten conspiracies were fake. This conspiracy about shadowy elites using alien technology to bring back the X-Files will pay off. Or your six hours back.

We’re closer than ever to the truth. Mysterious phone calls. Creepy music. Shadowy informants. Total horseshit.

Hey, X-Files was fun. Early on. Like Lost, it had a lot of atmosphere. You thought it might go somewhere. It never did. But at least Lost went away. It even gave a really stupid explanation of what was going on. The X-Files was all atmosphere and no payoff. Nothing made sense and nothing was stupid enough to make sense.

You know where we can go to get that feeling today? The YouTube channel of some guy who has been stalking Bigfoot in his backyard for two years while getting high. It’s like the X-Files, but real.

I know X-Files has a fandom, but it’s mostly the real life versions of the Lone Gunmen (and they smell much worse in real life) or 50 year old women who named their cats Mulder and write fanfic in which aliens make Mulder and Scully do it.

These are not the viewers you are looking for. These are not the viewers anyone is looking for.

The truth is out there. Mulder is an obnoxious asshole whom aliens have been screwing with because they think it’s funny. Scully has a martyr complex and has been empowering him. Their kid will be taken away by child services.

And then the X-Files IP will be rebooted with Benedict Cumberbatch as Mulder and Amy Poehler as Scully with a crossover with Heroes Unborn as part of the Complete Shite Cinematic Universe and the skies will weep blood and the aliens will come to take us to a better planet on which none of this ever happened.

Was Gotham’s Terrible Idiotic Finale Supposed to be a Parody?

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Sometimes Gotham is great. Sometimes it’s terrible. There’s not a lot in between.

Its finale, “All Happy Families Are Alike” didn’t go bad out of nowhere. The decline steadily began when the excellent Everyone Has a Cobblepot gave way to Beasts of Prey.

It got worse episode by episode.

Gotham’s best part is its characters and the characters were ruined. Riddler, a subtle villain even in his worst self, started acting like Norman Bates, stabbing and giggling. By the finale, he’s gone full Gollum.

All Happy Families Are Alike went off every rail there is. And none of the character moments made any sense.

James Gordon, whole defining trait was doing the right thing no matter what, suddenly buys into Falcone all the way fighting to help him rule Gotham. Falcone even compliments him for thinking like a mafioso.

And he keeps rambling about how he’s done in Gotham when just before the entire police force was cheering him.

Gordon doesn’t care about the law. He pals around with Falcone. He lets him go.

But All Happy Families Are Alike might as well be wearing a “We Don’t Give a Shit Anymore” sign. When you’re dressing up Fish and her gang like Mad Max rejects, you’re either going for parody or you just don’t care.

All Happy Families Are Alike is so full of stupid and ridiculous moments that it’s probably parody.

The rooftop showdown, “Shoot him”, “No, shoot her” and “I’m King of Gotham”. Gordon running around firing two guns and an assault rifle with one hand. Barbara smashing her way through a bathroom door with a kitchen knife.

All Happy Families Are Alike has so many cliches that it seems to have been designed to be stupid. It’s like the sort of episode writers might throw out in response to network demands. “You want this garbage. Here’s this garbage.”

Maybe Bruno Heller sucks. He hasn’t written many episodes, but The Blind Fortune Teller was good.

But if this signals where the show is going in Season 3, it’s bad news. And even if it doesn’t, most of the characters have been ruined.

The Rise and Fall of The Following

Theo uses Gwen as a human shield.

The Reckoning was the show’s best episode in a long time. The series didn’t get new writers. Its showwriters finally decided to give a damn right at the end writing dialogue instead of breathless exposition. They were trying to save The Following.

It looks like they failed.

Marcos Siega did a great job, though he couldn’t figure out how to light Croton Dam at night, especially with the final moments of Dead or Alive as the growing illumination as Ryan tried to read the sign quietly signaled that Theo had returned.

The finale wasn’t great stuff, but it was a return to the serial killer 24 that the show used to be. Even the terrible Season 3 began picking up after Joe Carroll died, but not until a terrible episode with actual Ryan/Joe shipper fanfic was filmed and broadcast. If Carroll had stayed dead after Season 1, The Following might have retained its viewers. Instead it finally has a premise and no future.

The Reckoning remembered that Theo is a sociopath, not just a random villain. It gave Ryan heroic lines instead of a nervous breakdown. It ends with a powerful secret society of serial killers that should have been the premise of season 2 or season 3.

It wasn’t too little. But it was too late.

The finale in an indictment of the stupid decisions and laziness that ruined the show. If Hawley and Brett Mahoney could do all this for the finale, they could have been writing better episodes all along.

They didn’t.

The Following didn’t have to turn into garbage. It didn’t have to be a string of fumbled plots, Joe Carroll hallucinations and the Sam soap opera. After Season 1 it had room to grow. Instead it crawled up its own asshole and died.

Maybe Hulu or Yahoo or someone will pick up The Following Season 4. I doubt it. And even if they did, I can’t help but think that Ryan Hardy will stop being a rogue agent, the Ryan and Sam soap opera will continue and Joe Carroll will somehow come back.

 

Go Home The Following Season 3, You’re Boring

It's happening again... no really, it is.

It’s happening again… no really, it is.

The first episode of The Following Season 3 is named New Blood. If Only.

Instead we get a serial killer conspiracy headed by the dumbest and dimmest member of a second group of serial killers that were the B Team last season. And that was a season running on fumes.

Season 1 of The Following was brilliant. And then it was over. Season 2 tried to say something about religion. It failed because it couldn’t shake its addiction to Joe Carroll. And Joe Carroll still isn’t dead and probably is running the whole game from behind bars. And that’s probably optimistic.

Instead of moving on to new threats, The Following Season 3 is about more amateur serial killers recreating murders. Kevin Bacon’s Ryan Hardy is reduced to constantly pointing out that something had happened before. And that’s the writers announcing their own repetitiveness.

Why?

Lilly Gray might have been just as compelling as Joe Carroll in her own right. Instead it was the Joe Carroll show. And that meant turning a mediocre novelist into a cult leader obsessed with religion. It didn’t work. Now what’s left of the band is back together again. And it’s a bad band.

Season 1 wasn’t afraid to kill people. Season 3 burdens us not only with Max, but with every boring second banana. The episode opens with the lesbian wedding of the FBI boss who was stupid enough to serve as an unwitting back channel to Joe Carroll. All that was forgiven, but we’re supposed to believe that Congress cared enough to hold hearings on their tactics for catching the serial killers. Or that anyone in the FBI would take accusations from crazed serial killers written in bodies seriously.

Season 2 was critically panned. Why after getting another season would The Following dig through the trash of its failed last season?

The Following Season 3 isn’t bringing anything new to the table. It’s a watered down version of the last season just like that was a watered down version of its edgy raw first season. It’s spending so much time rehashing what happened last season that it won’t attract new viewers or even win back old ones.

Mansions. Messages left for Ryan. Ryan wavering over whether to get close to someone. Captured serial killers sneering at Ryan. Ryan telling him that he had done this before. Because it’s all been done before.

 

Paul Reiser is the Best Thing About Amazon’s Red Oaks

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There was a time when Mad About You was on the air and hating Paul Reiser was in fashion. Red Oaks is in its own way as cloying as Mad About You, but Paul Reiser’s club president, a clumsy jackass, is the best thing about it.

That’s not much of an achievement.

Red Oaks is a semi-average when it focuses on the titular club, but it’s dragged down  by its mopey dorky main character and his sitcom home life. Every time Jennifer Grey and Richard Kind show up to do a routine that got old in the 1940s as a neurotic married couple, the show becomes teeth gratingly awful.

And it doesn’t have to be.

There are fun characters in Red Oaks like the stoner valet and the sleazy tennis pro and Paul Reiser’s club president. If Red Oaks jettisoned the dorky protagonist who is there to act as our avatar and drifted around from the points of view of the club staff, this could be a much better show.

Not great, but a lot better.

An ensemble Red Oaks could be fun. It would spare us from the miserable experience of watching another TV dork who is supposed to be a stand in for the audience, but is really a stand in for the writers and producers, having to choose between two beautiful girls, neither of whom would look at him twice in real life unless he were producing or writing Red Oaks, and choosing between a successful career as a CPA and a career as a tennis pro if he can only escape his crazy parents.

I don’t want to watch this. Based on the other responses to Red Oaks, I don’t think anyone does.

Paul Reiser, Ennis Esmer and Oliver Cooper are the good things about Red Oaks. If this thing becomes an Amazon show, it will have to keep its focus on them, get rid of Kinder and Grey.

Or better yet just order The Cosmopolitans.

Whit Stilman’s The Cosmopolitans Works for the Same Reason Damsels in Distress Didn’t

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Whit Stilman’s movies are at their best when they create an atmosphere that is on the borderline between wealth and sadness, loneliness and privilege, the sense of being an outcast even while living at the center of a life that most can only envy. It’s what he captured first and best in Metropolitan.

It’s what he does again in The Cosmopolitans.

The Cosmopolitans is being compared to Barcelona, but it isn’t really. It’s closer to Metropolitan with Paris standing in for Manhattan and the loneliness of being an expat standing in for being poor. The writing isn’t quite as good, but it captures the same atmosphere and the same innocent timeless feel despite the cell phones.

Damsels in Distress was always doomed. Stilman doesn’t write women well which is why despite its atmosphere, The Last Days of Disco was a poor movie. Barcelona had the writing, but lacked the atmosphere. The Cosmopolitans brings them together. It captures what made a Whit Stilman movie work within the frame of a television show.

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The characters in Whit Stilman’s movies are trying to figure out who they are and what their lives should be. Their status has allowed them the space in which to do that without protecting them from the loneliness and heartbreak of trying. They were sheltered enough to have a kind of innocence that comes from immaturity. They were never really tested. Their decisions have never been hard. It might be easy to resent them if they weren’t basically good people underneath.

Adulthood is the truly foreign world for them. Paris is only a metaphor for the bigger emotional journey that they don’t know how to take.

I don’t know what kind of series The Cosmopolitans will make or if its mood will be sustainable, but if Amazon picks it up, I think it will work in its own way. Stillman’s openness can feel like indecisiveness and audiences may grow tired of a show in which nothing significant happens and in which the flavor of the place is the story. But the same could have been said of Seinfeld.

Stilman’s humor is the nuances. There’s no over the top word salad like Gilmore Girls. The feel of the show is in noticing the small things. It doesn’t try to fool you into thinking you’re smart. Instead you’re another outside experiencing the flavor of a particular place and time. It worked for Stilman in Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco. It works in The Cosmopolitans.

We’re not watching stupid characters pretending to be smart to convince us that we’re smart. Instead we’re watching smart people who make stupid mistakes because they’re only learning remind us that no matter how smart we are, we’re still basically fools.

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24 is Back…. and It Hasn’t Learned a Thing

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After 9/11, 24 became a left winger’s idea of what a right winger might want to watch. Picture Michael Moore trying to make a show for Oliver North. Then throw in a lot of ADD.

And that hasn’t changed.

It’s 2014 and 24 is still the same show it was. Its producers, picking up some wind from Homeland’s popularity, have shoveled in Wikileaks, the white widow, drone strikes and moved the setting to London and yet it’s still exactly the same show.

Jack Bauer is a rogue. Jack Bauer is on the run. Jack Bauer is the only one who knows the next attack is coming. And no one believes Jack Bauer even though he’s been right a dozen times. And he once piloted in a nuke. And no one even recognizes him.

There’s another substitute CTU war room with its soap operas, another West Wing drama and it’s all the same stuff all over.

24 still has its moments. Only by its last season did it become so hopelessly miserable as to be completely unwatchable. But it’s thin stuff.

While shows like The Following and Blacklist are playing with the 24 formula, it has stayed the same. Why? If 24 had to come back, why not go back to what made its first season work. Jack as a human being, frantic and with something at stake. Or pick up more interesting villains.

It’s 2014. Does anyone really want forced dramatic debates about drone warfare? Or the least plausible Al Qaeda terrorists ever?

Why even bother moving the series to London if you’re going to act exactly like it’s Los Angeles? Why pretend that little drone friendly fire will outrage the Brits when you have a battalion of CIA people running around waving guns around London?

Why not, and here’s an absolutely ridiculous idea, have Jack deal with a British version of CTU? Because that would be playing with the 24 formula. And that golden formula is on its 9th season and ridiculously predictable.

Soon Jack will be believed. He’ll lead a team. Then he’ll go rogue again. Margot Al-Hazari will turn out to be the pawn of some secretive group that wants to discredit drones or that infected President Heller with a senility virus so they can take over everything. And they’ll turn out to be the pawns of someone else.

We’ve done this before. Why do we have to do it again?

You can’t blame the cast. Kiefer Sutherland gives every scene 110%. Yvonne Strahovski is unexpectedly good and working overtime in a generic role. Even William Devane is trying to take bland material to a West Wing level, even if his parliamentary speech is so bland and cliched that no one would even bother booing it.

24 Live Another Day could have worked. It could have justified its existence. All it needed to do was shake the formula up enough to make the show watchable. Stop clinging to old characters. Stop acting as if it had something important to say about drone warfare. Stop being a Bush soap and deal with life in a new decade.

And it doesn’t even try.

Why not dump Jack into London as a stranger without Chloe, the CIA, President Heller or any of the trimmings? Stuff him into an alien world and watch him try to navigate it with no support.

It wouldn’t have given fans nostalgia hits, but it might have been a show worth watching.

The Neighbors was Good… and then All the Characters Became Idiots

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I wish I could say that I feel bad about The Neighbors being canceled, but I can’t blame ABC. The show has slid so much in quality that the few times I tuned in, I couldn’t sit through an entire episode.

And that’s too bad.

The Neighbors had a great cast and debuted with fun episodes, but it worked only to the extent that it resisted becoming a conventional sitcom.

Debbie and Marty Weaver grounded the show for a while with a working class Jersey background. They felt like real people and a real family. And then Marty became Homer Simpson, an overgrown whiny baby with a 50 IQ and the kids became sitcom kids, smarter than their idiot parents.

And The Neighbors became every sitcom, a bunch of cliches pushed around a plate. And the cliches were terrible cliches. The show wasn’t a laugh machine the way that a CBS sitcom is. The Neighbors worked because of its talent cast and because the writing combined sincerity with the actually unexpected.

Season 2 seemed to be about the endless relationship between David Mamet’s daughter and “Reggie Jackson”. And the aliens went from being a little mysterious and different to becoming ordinary wacky sitcom neighbors. The show became I Love Lucy with worse writing and predictable gags.

The holiday episodes were terrible. The musical episode was unwatchable. The celebrity cameos were pointless.

It didn’t have to be this way.

3rd Rock From the Sun, a very similar show, had already gone over this territory. And its comedy stopped working when the aliens became too familiar and the sitcom cliches too overpowering. That show had John Lithgow who could keep the machine going because he could deliver a line like “Hello Family” and make it funny.

The Neighbors didn’t run that way. There was a time when it felt more like Andy Richter Controls the Universe and less like Modern Family. Wacky, strange and unpredictable, but sincere.

It would have been a shame if that show had been canceled. Instead canceling The Neighbors spares everyone from its 3rd season Christmas episode in which everyone ends up on Dancing With the Stars.

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