Wednesday, September 30, 2009

09 Fall TV Season & The Good Olde Days

As I wrote elsewhere, I'm either A) A fussy/ bitter old curmudgeon or B) A high-minded aesthete/ cognoscente/ other fancy-schmancy French words.

But I'm just not feeling the love for any new shows this fall 2009.

Some people are raving about “Modern Family.” I sampled a few minutes of it and went away "meh." I liked the Robert Sawyer book that "Flash Forward" is based on. But I wasn't super-enthused about the series pilot (which bears little resemblance to the novel anyway).

I saw Community's pilot during a special Facebook promotion weeks ago - also underwhelmed. (Although this week's preview did give me an LOL moment.)

Meanwhile, though, my affection for Amy Poehler, and now some of the other characters on Parks and Rec has made me stick with that show - despite the fact I'm not a fan of the Office-style of dry humor or of mockumentaries. (And I’m looking forward to 30R & Better Off Ted’s returns, natch.)

Speaking of P & R/ The Office, I can remember in a screenwriting class years ago being told flashbacks were a no-no. Then sitcoms did it for laughs and LOST did it for intensive backstory (or the occasional unintentional laugh?). And now mockumentaries AND flashbacks are the thing these days. But an old-fashioned part of my brain still says they’re both a lazy way of storytelling.

What I really have loved most in TV history were the hour-long hybrids like Moonlighting and Northern Exposure. (But thanks Sarah Palin for more recently ruining my vision of Alaska as a funky utopia.) What happened to those kind of shows? Oh yes, there’s still a lot of pretenders to that throne. But Castle? Desperate Housewives? Just lacking something for me.

I know - go write your own. And I certainly am working on my own projects. But it’s hard to come up with a sample script for a current series, hourlong, when you can’t quite jell with anything out there.

Waaah. Tiny violin. Shut up and write.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yes, Someone Has Already Called It Saturday Night Dead

SNL is one of the longest relationships I've ever had. We've grown up and are growing, um, older, together.

I'm old enough to recall my frustration over not being able to get the show in certain Michigan towns when it first when on.

To remember how truly different it was, and to have nearly worshipped some of the first, vaunted cast.

To remember the night the last of the OC walked off the stage and out the door together. To have corresponded with one of the early writers. To have owned probably the first book ever written about it.

And on through the decades - to have stuck with it in the Doumanian year. (My reward: Having seen the Charles Rocket incident live. Oh what a handsome, troubled man he was.)

Through all the years that are a blur now, of You look mahvelouses and Dieters, Ed Grimleys and Mangos, all the various incarnations of Clintons and Bushes. And I remember strongly how much I disliked the smug Spade/Sandler years. And any of the "stars" whose main claim to fame seems to be wildly laughing at the own sketches: Fallon, Thompson, etc.

Like so many others, I refocused on the show during the '08 elections. Hulu, I'm about 100 of those hits for the Palin rap and Fey/Poehler cold opens.

But then SaturdayNight Live lost steam again the minute those two ladies were back out the door. But I let forth another burst of snarks when Michaela Watkins was fired. She just showed promise, true enough, but that was more than what half the curernt cast was actually delivering.

So SNL, I kvetch 'cos I care. And while I'm kvetching, I can't help also snarking about us snarkers. So to reprint what I said on Gawker (
here's the shorthand guide for everything we have to say (and say and say again) about SNL:

Standardized Responses for SNL Threads.
1. SNL is still on?
2. I might have to watch this SNL sometime.
3. SNL hasn't been funny since _____ (insert name) was president.
4. The Tina Fey era was the (Choose one:) Best/ Worst.
5. (Canadians/Brits/Aussies:) You Americans can't say Fuck on the telly?
6. (Me, other Oldes:) Jane Curtin/ Dan Aykroyd - now there was a Weekend Update.
7. And I remember when Charles Rocket said Fuck. I got on my Commodore computer and typed a letter about it.