More series business

How many different series can a person watch and still keep them all apart? Right now we’re watching Angel, HouseĀ  M.D., Carnivale and Heroes and Grey’s Anatomy, I’m rewatching Six Feet Under, Battlestar Galactica and Life on Mars, we’ve just finished Fringe and we’re waiting to continue The Sopranos and Buffy. Well, at least no one can accuse me of being a total elitist snob when it comes to telly series…

I enjoyed Fringe because it fulfilled my post-X-Files FBI-investigating-weird-shit cravings. Is it a good series? Not particularly – it’s repetitive, some of the acting is dubious and with half the episodes I think that I’ve seen them before, only Mulder and Scully did them better. It’s great turn-off-your-brain TV fast-food, though, and I’m looking forward to more Leonard Nimoy in season 2. “It’s all lies. But they’re entertaining lies. And in the end, isn’t that the real truth?” (Damn you, YouTube, for not having a clip of that scene!)

The answer is, "No."

Grey’s Anatomy has been something of a guilty pleasure of mine, and throughout much of season 4 it wasn’t all that much of a pleasure, to be honest. The series’ problem – well, main problem – is that they’ve got a number of very good actors and even the middling actors know their parts by now, but the writing (especially with respect to character development) covers the whole range from maudlin to obvious to plain bad, with the occasional strong scene. If the series could decide to be a comedy, it wouldn’t matter that most of the characters are written to be highly unprofessional so much of the time (typical example: some patient is dying and needs urgent care, and doctor X decides that this is the right moment to ask doctor Y why they didn’t have sex the previous night – remind me not to get ill in TV Seattle…). It takes very good writing to make the constant jumps from quirky comedy to serious (melo)drama work if the characters aren’t to come across as nincompoops at the mercy of the script. Season 5 had many of those weaknesses, but it had enough strong moments to keep me watching. Still, there are some developments and storylines that just annoy the hell out of me: a resident at a big Seattle hospital going more or less bankrupt from one day to the next because Daddy cuts her trust fund? Swapping one interesting lesbian character for cute but eternally bland blondie because you want eye candy rather than an actual character? Derek Shepard yet again going all pompously self-righteous, and still no one takes one of those circular saws to his perfectly coiffed head?

If we all gang up and stab him with scalpels, it shouldn't take too long...

In the meantime, I’m rather enjoying where Angel season 3 is taking us. Yes, there were a couple of false steps – Gunn and Wesley going all mooney over Fred wasn’t cute, it was just annoying, and having it go on for several episodes made me want to go Angelus on them all – but it’s fascinating to see how Angel, Cordelia and especially Wesley develop during the season. Just 2-3 more episodes to go until season 4 – and I’m ignoring all those people who say that it’s one of the worst seasons ever in the Whedonverse, because it’s something we have to get through before season 5 and “Smile Time” and the (wait for it) bitter-sweet finale. (Yes, Lucy, I put that there just for you…)

Oh, before I forget: gotta love this recent article in The Onion: Next Tarantino Movie An Homage To Beloved Tarantino Movies Of Director’s Youth.

Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight. How many fights is that? A lot.

And finally: I’ll be writing a weekly entry at The Best Shows You’re Not Watching, alternating between Six Feet Under and Life on Mars. You can find the first one here. Let me know what you think!

Chekhov’s carotid artery

If you’re watching a hospital soap, and it introduces a patient whose carotid artery is only protected by a thin flap of skin after an operation, what do you think’ll happen?

Yes, it’s Tuesday, which means that yesterday evening was Grey’s Anatomy. While it didn’t figure any pencils-in-eyesockets, it was still not exactly the show I should be watching while eating merguez. However, what usually ruined my appetite while watching the show was the increasing lack of development as far as the characters and their relationships are concerned. At times, the show now feels like E.R. as scripted by Beckett – for all the romantic back-and-froing, there’s a distinct lack of getting anywhere.

However, while too many of the characters now behave like lobotomised idiots who shouldn’t be allowed to practice medicine (they’d probably be taxed by practising the recorder), the patients are where it’s at. The Grey writer are quite amazing, really: it takes them 3+ seasons to make me bored and annoyed with the main cast, yet it takes them 30 minutes to make me care about characters who come into the series to be sick and die.

Can’t say I care yet about Carotid Artery Boy, mainly because I keep looking at him and thinking, “I wonder if it’s full moon already…” Yep, that’s the problem you get when you play a werewolf on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (I’d be the same if Leonard Nimoy turned up on House… “Do they have green blood on stock? I wonder…” Putting Greg House and Mr Spock in the same room would be sheer geek awesomeness, though.)

P.S.: Don’t worry, an entry on Fun Home is still to follow. Hopefully even before the move. (Sigh.)