Teller of tales

30 days of TV: Day 11(ish)

Day 11 - A show that disappointed you

Yiiiikes. We could be here a while. Sometimes it's hard for me to be a fan. I fall in love fast, I fall hard, and I have high standards. I get disappointed a lot.

Sometimes a show has an excellent pilot, but then the series fails to deliver on the promises made. That's what happened with New Amsterdam. The pilot was riveting, with a charming lead and an interesting premise, not tomention some beautiful filming. And the rest of the episodes had their enjoyable bits, and they made John into an appealing character who I liked watching, but they also insisted on focusing on his non-relationship with the bland, poorly-written, chemistry-free woman he thought might be his soulmate. That arc ended up dragging the rest of the show down, and it made it harder for me to care about John as a character because he was obsessing so hard over something that the show couldn't make me as a viewer care about. I ended up watching every episode as it limped its way to the inevitable first-season cancellation, but by the end it was more out of a sense of duty than anything else.

Sometimes a show slides gradually. White Collar had one of the best pilots I've ever seen, and by the second episode I felt like I'd known these characters for a lifetime and wanted to continue knowing them forever. It was, I felt, a show that found its groove early on and knew how to keep the beat. Even if it was never quite as jawdropping as the pilot, it was still damn good appointment television. And then the hiatus happened and the spark died as quickly as it had kindled. Same characters, yeah, but their interactions felt off, and forced. The writing wasn't quite as smart, and they completely abandoned a character they'd gone out of their way to add, leading me to think the showrunners had no real idea where they were going. There were a couple episodes right near the end of the season where everything felt all right again, but then the season finale was crap. Weak writing, weak acting of the kind where you can tell they're doing the best with what the script is giving them, and even the cinematography was amateurish. I watched the first episode of the scond season just to see if things will improve from here, but it didn't do much to raise my hopes.

And sometimes, completely out of the blue, a show punches you in the face. Yes, Bones, I'm talking about you. Starting an arc when you don't know how it's going to end is bad form enough. Deciding to make one of your main characters a serial killer's apprentice -- despite the fact that it contradicts both everything we know about said character and several scenes you've already shown -- because you can't think of a more interesting way to end the arc is quite possibly the most spectacular failing you can do without actually writing "Rocks fall, everyone dies." Not gonna lie, I get vicious pleasure out of hearing how much further that show has gone off the rails since I declared it dead to me, and how bewildered and dismayed peple who kept watching it are getting.

"Disappointed" may be the wrong word.
Teller of tales

30 days of TV: Day 10(ish)

Day 10 - A show you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving

A couple years ago my buddy started talking me up about a show he'd started watching and wanted to try and talk me into. This is not uncommon. I ignored him. This is also not uncommon. He continued to pester me. This... okay, let's just say we have a pattern. But come on. An actiony spy drama about a mysterious government conspiracy directed against one man? How fun can that possibly be? Sometimes, though, it's your friend and you love him and you have to humor him a little to make him happy. Or just make him shut up.

Yeah. About a week later I'd watched the entire run of Burn Notice and was going to strangle someone if it didn't come out of the second season's midseason break soon.
Teller of tales

30 days of TV: Day 9(ish)

Day 09 - Best scene ever

This is another toughie, because it's been so long since I was really into episodic television. There are plenty of amazing scenes that are fresh in my memory, but I don't want to use any of them because they all rely on a whole lot of other information. Like, if I was going for pure epic awesome I'd probably be talking about the scene from the Doctor Who Finale where Am
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...Yes, okay. Point taken, River. That would be kind of a jerk move. Anyway, suffice it to say that there is one specific moment of complete awesome, but in order to really appreciate it, you have to have watched it build for twelve and a half episodes. So the scene on its own can't really stand as "best scene ever."

(River Song is going to showing up a few more times in this meme. Just so you know. Can you tell I was really jazzed about this season and the Christmas special cannot come fast enough?)

So yeah. Problem is, all my real favorites are payoff for something that happened ages ago, so I can't justifiably call them favorites on their own. So, I'm gonna talk about two of my favorites that require the least buildup.

First off, Desmond and Penny's reunion on Lost. First time I ever cried from pure happy while watching television. And yes, there was some serious buildup involved in that one, but one of the reasons it as so amazing was that it was so much less buildup than we were seeing in other places on the show. I mean, by that point the series had been breaking its back to get us to care about the Jack/Kate/Sawyer love triangle, and the bulk of the fandom Was Not Buying It. But Des and Pen... all we had to go on was, like, three episodes where they interacted before the island, one phone call, and their words that they were both desperate to find each other. And it was epic, and you believed every second of it, and you prayed that they'd work it out. And then they did, in the most satisfying way ever, and they could have ended the show right then and there and I think a lot of people would have been okay with it.

For the winner, though, we're going to a show that I once loved deeply but have since learned to pretend never existed. That's right, kids, we're going back to the first season of Heroes. Say what you will about the following years and I'll say it right along with you, but my God the first season was mentally, visually, and emotionally brilliant. And nowhere more so than the end of "Company Man," when we finally see just what Bennet has gone through to keep his daughter safe, and how far he's still willing to go. Sure, it's better when you've followed the whole season and seen what a shock some of this information is, but even watching only that episode, with no other backstory, it's an amazing thing to see unfold. It's Bennet's entire career and Claire's entire relationship with him compressed down into forty minutes. And at the end when Bennet orders the Haitian to erase his memory of Claire in order to keep her safe, you can feel the weight of the decision and the strenght of the sacrifice, and you know that Claire feels it too.
Teller of tales

30 days of TV: Day 8(ish)

O Lord, I am fail in my keeping-up. I'll try to post some multiples soon.

Day 08 - A show everyone should watch

This is one of the ones that I went back and forth on for ages, and the conclusion I eventually came to surprised me: Coupling. And no, it's not just because Steven Moffat is my new god. It's because it may be the cleverest sitcom ever.

I feel the need to clarify that I don't mean most intelligent or cerebral show, because God knows Coupling is four straight seasons of sex jokes and insane rants with not a drop of subtlety. But even the crudest and raunchiest jokes are so elaborately crafted that you can't help but marvel at the storytelling. The gags are individually simple, but layer onto each other in amazing ways, and frequently one major joke will carry through the entire episode, dipping into dozens of funny moments along the way but only truly coming to fruition at the very end. And often that whole-episode punchline will tie together multiple comedic threads that had previously been completely unrelated. Watching this show and really paying attention to the way it's constructed, it's fascinating to see the complexity hidden under Jeff's latest failure to speak to a woman.
Teller of tales

30 days of TV: Day 7(ish)

Oh, look who lapsed.

Day 07 - Least favorite episode of your favorite TV show

In my defense, this is the one day where I have no answer anyway. Look, I've already told you guys that I love this show. But it went on for (at least) two seasons longer than it should have, the creator had no goddamn clue where the longterm plot was going, and there were plenty of individual episodes in the good seasons that relied on a drastic misunderstanding of basic science, serious sexual/gender politics fail, and every character holding the idiot ball at least once. I defy you to find one worst episode.
Teller of tales

30 days of TV: Day 6

Day 06 - Favorite episode of your favorite TV show

Well, since I locked in The X-Files as my favorite, this one is easy. "Bad Blood," hands down. For those of you less Phileish than I, that's the one where Mulder and Scully are each recounting their view of the events that apparently led to Mulder murdering a teenage boy. Sorry, teenage vampire, and Mulder insists it was in self-defense. The highest quality episode they ever did? No, that's definitely "Triangle," which was a piece of miniature cinema back in the days when you just didn't do that on television. I have forced almost everyone I know to watch bits of "Triangle" because the cinematography is just such a damn treat, and it is a very close second for my favorite. The best plot ever? ...Yikes, I have no idea. It's been a long time, and even when it was at its cleverest I was watching it more for the adventurey stuff than the storylines, and I never cared about the mytharc. But "Bad Blood" was a character episode, it was funny as hell, and it was a Rashomon episode. There is very little in this world that I love more than a Rashomon episode, and this one is my favorite. It played up the most contentious bits of Mulder and Scully's relationship perfectly, and they are both perfectly themselves even when being caricatured by each other. And to top it off, Luke Wilson is brilliant in it. I never get tired of this one, I can quote almost every line, it's my go-to episode when I crave a Scully fix, and her little "Hooboy!" is still my "you've got mail" sound.
Teller of tales

30 days of TV: Day 5

Day 05 - A show you hate

Oh. Oh dear.

Look, there are questions on this meme that I'm gonna waffle a lot on, or have to talk through my options, and there's at least one day I'm going to bow out of entirely. But this one? There is no question, no hesitation, and no contest.

I HATE FIREFLY. With a passion so intense that it loops around and almost becomes a weird sort of love again.

I hate it for what it is. I hate it for what it should have been. I hate its shoddy worldbuilding and cardboard lead. I hate the fact that the entire civilization is supposed to be based on a fusion of Chinese and American culture but there are no Asian characters. I hate that I knew Wash was going to die the first time I saw him interact with his wife. I hate River's generic crazybabble and the fact that nobody tried to sift through it for sense even when it became obvious that she was getting some things right. I hate that so many of the characters are interesting, or at least well-acted, to the point where my favorite novel-length fic ever is a Firefly story, but they're trapped in this crappy show. I hate that the movie ignores an entire series' worth of character development. I hate that the show is full of sweet and quoteable moments but the whole never equals the sum of the parts. I hate that Mark Sheppard, my favorite character actor and personal celebrity stalker, is going by my name and I can't even enjoy it. I hate that Joss sacrificed substance for style and then tried to blame its failure on the network. I hate that he thought the movie might be his chance to get a second season, and that it never occurred to him that killing off the loveable guy and the guy with the backstory everyone wanted to find out might make people lose interest. I have a disproprtionate hate for his insistence that Jayne has a crush on Kaylee when nothing in the writing or acting bears that out.

I hate that I watched every single episode and the film, most of them multiple times, waiting for the show to become as clever and brilliant and deep as it so clearly could have been. I hate it for how desperately I tried to like it, and I hate it for how deeply it failed me.
Teller of tales

30 days of TV: Day 4

Day 04 - Your favorite show ever

Oh lord. This is where this meme suddenly becomes great for my productivity, because my procrastinating ass would rather get honest-to-God fic writing done than try to answer this question. Where do I even begin? I am a lifelong television junkie whose heart belongs to the small screen. And that heart is big, its love is broad, and it is ever-changing. How do I compare my love for the shows I rewatched endlessly when I first got a DVD player to my love for the one that kept me glued to the TV every week in junior high, and how do I compare how I felt about either of those to the way I feel about the shows that have me by the heart right now? It's damned difficult, if not impossible.

I could talk about Lost, and how I was hooked from the very start of the pilot, stuck with it for six years, and feel like my loyalty was ultimately rewarded.

I could talk about Kim Possible, which was not the first fandom I published fic in (because all my earliest ideas ended up taking me ages to finish), but which was the first one to really make me feel like I could do this, like I could write these stories and lay them out for public consumption and feel proud of them.

I could talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which, despite its many failings near the end, was the first television show to make me cry on multiple occasions.

But none of those really seems to fit the bill. So the question becomes, what is the thing I value the most about the television shows I love, and which show has done the most to give that to me? And the answer surprises me a little, because it's a show that's famous for its variable quality and the way it completely collapsed under its own weight several seasons before it limped into oblivion.

My favorite show ever is The X-Files. Because everything I love about television -- its intimacy, its longevity, its potential for plots and character arcs far more complicated than a two-hour movie could ever aspire to, its visual appeal, its vast diversity of style and subject matter -- is enhanced by the fact that I can share it with people. And The X-Files was the show that taught me that. Not my first obsession or my first fandom, but the first time the fandom mattered. The first plane trip I ever met on my own was to meet fellow fans. I still consider myself an X-Phile, still brighten a little when there's activity on my old quiet-but-not-dead-yet mailing list. I wouldn't feel the way I do about television and fandom today were it not for this show and those people, and for that it will always hold a place of honor in my heart.
Teller of tales

30 days of TV: Day 3

Day 03 - Your favorite new show (aired this season)

Oh, I kind of hate this one because this is the absolute worst year to ask me, and unless I cheat I'm gonna default. I've only seen one new show this year.

In one way, if I were going to cheat I could say White Collar. Until next week, it's technically "new." And if I'd done this meme during the first half of the season, well... Lemme put it this way: I volunteered to write White Collar fic for Yuletide, despite the fact that only three episodes had aired when signups opened. It was a bit amazing, how quickly I felt like I'd known these characters forever and wanted them to be a part of my life for a long time. And then the second half of the season happened, will definitely be discussed later in this meme.

If I were going to pull out a different cheat, I'd say Doctor Who. Don't give me that look. Under Stephen Moffat's leadership, this show is an entirely new beast. It manages to be something never seen before, while still paying more respect to the 30 seasons and ten Doctors that preceded it than RTD ever did. And it has been amazing. This will be discussed at length later in this meme, and probably on many separate days, because the season finale aired a week ago yesterday (yes, I'm an evil video pirate) and I'm still giddy over it.

So, what's my real, non-cheating answer to this one? The Good Guys, Matt Nix's new offering. Take every "mismatched buddy cop" show you've ever seen, dial both the loose cannon guy and the straightlaced by-the-book guy up to eleven, and top it off with about six shows' worth of complete absurdity, and you're getting close. I'm very torn on this show; that which makes it delightful also makes it hard to watch because it's so damn ridiculous that I'm having a hard time feeling the core of it. But once I do, I have a feeling I'm gonna love it.
Teller of tales

30 days of TV: Day 2

Day 02 - A show that you wish more people were watching

This is one of the few days where I'm going to have very, very little to say on the subject: Chuck. It's an excellent show for reasons that I will probably discuss at least in part throughout the month, and dammit it just plain needs the numbers. I am tired of having my heart in my mouth every year when the new lineups start getting announced and nobody knows until the last minute if my little geek show is going to survive.