Television Show Review: Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire: Season One created by Terence Winter (Home Box Office, Leverage Management, Closest to the Hole Productions) Starring Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, and Kelly Macdonald. In Praise of the Anti-Hero  Not to say that the anti-hero is a recent development in storytelling, but it seems like the last ten years have seen a rise in the flawed protagonist. Whether Dexter Morgan in Dexter, Walter White in Breaking Bad, or Don Draper in Mad Men, many current shows extol depravity and require the viewer to root for the “bad guy”. Boardwalk Empire’s Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) is another character to add to this list. Boardwalk Empire: Season One tells the tale of prohibition-era Atlantic City and the politician who… Read More →

Television Show Review: Dexter: Season 6

Dexter: Season 6 developed by James Manos, Jr. (Showtime Networks, John Goldwyn Productions, The Colleton Company) Starring Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Lauren Vélez, David Zayas, James Remar, and C.S. Lee. I Might Be an Anglophile Without intentionally positioning myself as an anglophile, I appreciate the reserve under which English television operates. No matter how massive the hit, English writers and producers understand that quality trumps quantity. As such, these television professionals would rather sacrifice paychecks than integrity. Not so in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Case in point, the best episodes of Showtime’s hit series, Dexter, exist in its rear-view mirror. With Season 6, the viewer continues on a plot development holding pattern. The setting remains the same—a… Read More →

Television Show Review: Once Upon a Time: Season 1

Once Upon a Time: Season 1 created by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis (Kitsis/Horowitz, and ABC Studios, airs Saturday nights at 8/7c on ABC Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, and Lana Parrilla Why Fairy Tales All of a Sudden? Last week I reviewed the television program Grimm. Naturally, I thought it appropriate to review its ABC rival, Once Upon a Time. Both shows are incredibly alike in that they use common fairy tales as a point of reference. However, the two could not be any more different. The creation of both seems to coincide with fantasy, a niche market, achieving widespread popularity. Since an adaptation of Harry Potter and Twilight means paying lots of money for the rights to broadcasting… Read More →

Television Show Review: Grimm

Grimm: Season 1 created by Stephen Carpenter, David Greenwalt, and Jim Kouf  (Universal Television, GK Productions, Hazy Mills Productions, and Open 4 Bisiness Productions, LLC, airs Friday nights at 9/8c on NBC) Starring David Giuntoli, Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Sasha Roiz, and Reggie Lee The Grimm of Old Historically, the Brothers Grimm collected folklore and published these stories in Grimm’s Fairy Tales. With fairy tales acting as an oral tradition, the Grimm brothers met with people to write down their stories. Being an oral tradition, fairy tales obviously varied from town to town, and the stories from the Germanic origin were much darker. For instance, in the Grimm version of Cinderella, the evil step sisters chop off their… Read More →

Television Show Review: Breaking Bad: Seasons 1-3

Breaking Bad: Seasons 1-3 created by Vince Gilligan (High Bridge Productions, Gran Via Productions, and Sony Pictures Television) Starring Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, and Aaron Paul. Dexter Morgan vs. Walter White As I watched the first three seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix, I couldn’t help but compare the series to Dexter, television’s other critically acclaimed series featuring a protagonist with dark secrets. Where Dexter Morgan is a serial killer vigilante, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a down-on-his-luck chemistry teacher who utilizes his scientific expertise to cook methamphetamines. Although it may sound astonishing, I argue that Dexter functions as a more likeable character than Walt. In spite of its dark content, Dexter carries an air of levity. In between murders,… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: Season Two created by Frank Darabont; produced by Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, Robert Kirkman, and Charles H. Eglee (Circle of Confusion and Valhalla Motion Pictures) Starring Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, and Chandler Riggs. A Premature Review Partly because I’m currently engaged in some lengthy books and need to post some content, I am reviewing the current season of The Walking Dead despite the fact that it is early in its second season. As I mentioned in my review of the show last year, I am not a fan of the zombie genre. Yet, the more I consider the subtext beneath these post-apocalyptic narratives, the more the genre… Read More →

Television Show Review: Doctor Who

Doctor Who created by Sydney Newman, C.E. Webber, and Donald Wilson (British Broadcasting Corporation) Currently starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, and Alex Kingston. His Name Is the Doctor Currently listed as the longest-running science fiction television show by the Guinness World Records, Doctor Who follows the adventures of a time-traveling alien named The Doctor. Traversing the universe with a time machine called the TARDIS which possesses an outward appearance of a blue police box, the Doctor typically travels with a female human companion and, together, they encounter numerous villains and work toward saving people groups, worlds, and righting injustices in the universe. Although the series began in 1963, the current version of Doctor Who premiered in 2005. With… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Killing

The Killing: Season 1 developed by Veena Sud (Fox Television Studios, KMF Films, and Fuse Entertainment) Starring Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Billy Campbell, Michelle Forbes, and Brent Sexton. To Speak Frankly Veena Sud, developer of The Killing, a U.S.-based version of the Danish series Forbrydelsen, needs to go away. In an article penned by Tim Appelo for the Hollywood Reporter, Sud responded to the significant critical and popular backlash to her show with the notion that the public does not understand her greatness. Relating her show to The Sopranos, Sud proclaimed, “The fact that people love us or hate us is a beautiful thing. I don’t want to be kinda liked.” What is this backlash? Well, for most viewers, it… Read More →

Television Show Review: Modern Family: Season 2

Modern Family: Season 2 created by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd (20th Century Fox Television and Lloyd-Levitan Productions) Starring Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Eric Stonestreet. Base Humor, Smart Writing Disclaimer: Modern Family is my favorite comedy on television at the moment. Where most sit-coms repeat tired scripts of “character A” lying to “character B” with hilarity ensuing, the writers of Modern Family connected low brow humor with humorous references that required a certain amount of intelligence. Stated differently, this show is the unusual comedy that mixes base humor with smart writing. Although the consistency of each episode varies from week to week, Season 2 of Modern Family reminds me of Seinfeld in… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Office

The Office: Season 7 created by Greg Daniels, Ricky Gervais, and Stephen Merchant (Reveille Productions, NBC Universal Telecom, and Deedle-Dee Productions) Starring Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Steve Carell. Jumping the Shark When Fonzie literally jumped over a shark on water skis in the premier of Happy Days: Season 5, a new idiom was born. Signifying the moment when a television show moves beyond the signature characteristics that made it a hit, jumping the shark occurs in every television series if the station allows the show to air long enough. While some shows choose to end early in order to maintain creative integrity, other shows increase a character’s unique traits in order to capture the laughter of a… Read More →