Friday, July 20, 2012

The Big C, Californication, Shameless reviews...

I originally had my reviews below of The Big C, Californication, and Shameless as part of one large post after oddly similar occurrences of complete frustration and apathy towards the TV shows hit me roughly halfway through viewings of each of their most recent seasons. All Showtime comedy-dramas, a lot of the same issues seem to plague each show, whose first seasons I all thoroughly enjoyed. This convergence of correlations seemed like a logical reason to just do the one large post covering all three, but I decided to break them up individually to make for more digestible reading (people are less inclined to read the longer posts).
Specifically, the two biggest issues plaguing all of them: too many of their characters became thoroughly unlikeable over time, plus they all suffer from an over-serving of unrealistic "only on TV could all these things happen to someone" moments. Yes, I know the latter is a basic component of most TV writing, but some shows go too over-the-top and Showtime programs are particularly guilty of it. It's one reason I was so unimpressed with the highly overrated Homeland (whose season one finale was utterly ludicrous), gave up on Weeds before reluctantly returning, bailed on Dexter after season three, and it threatens to pollute the excellent (so far) Nurse Jackie (all four are Showtime series). A show like Breaking Bad, which puts all of the aforementioned programs to shame with its consistent quality and pacing, isn't exempt from straying into plausibility-stretching territory itself, but the brains behind it know when to rein in their creative licence and stop short of inducing eyeball rolls from its viewers. One more gripe: all of these shows, along with a number of other network and cable programs, have run the idea of playing a hip, modern-day song over an episode's final scene (usually some sort of montage) into the bloody ground. Please stop.
The repetitive and unrealistic writing that seems to inevitably find its way into most cable and network dramas and comedies suggests that the British television model, which tends to favour shorter seasons and series runs, is the ideal approach to avoiding creative staleness. On to the reviews...

4 comments:

  1. The only one of the three shows I regularly watch is The Big C and although it has declined since season 1 I still enjoy it quite a bit. That being ssaid, I also can't disagree with what you said about the uneven writing. Californication I tried for a few shows and was also turned off by the sleazy atmosphere of it.

    I loved the "Even though their duplicitous behaviour is played for dark laughs, too often the 'dark' wearyingly overwhelms the 'laughs' part of that formula - truly, this is a show that lives up to its title" sentence. Clever!

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  2. Thanks, Gail. Appreciate the comments, as always.

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  3. Would you like those shows a little more if they played obscure songs over the final scene like the Sopranos such as "Evidently Chickentown" but John Cooper Clark? The Sopranos was brilliant at finding obscure music for the show. True Blood was pretty good at finding some great music to end their shows but I stopped watching a couple of seasons ago.

    BTW, don't ever watch House in reruns. You'll hate how they end every episode with a hip song that ends up on their season soundtrack album after every season!

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    1. I didn't mind the idea when it first started being used - at this point, it's been way overdone, though. And I tried watching House early in its run and found the plots completely formulaic and repetitive.

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