TV Rants and Raves 11.14.2012: All The Lights In the Sky are Stars
Posted by Dimitri Dorlis on 11.14.2012
Rants and Raves on the CW's Arrow, the return of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Vinny from Jersey Shore getting a spin-off and more!
Welcome to TV Rants and Raves. I am your host, Dimitri Dorlis.
You may have noticed that we've been off the air a few weeks. That's completely my fault. Between school and a new job (well, it's really a promotion, but it involves training more than 50 new hires), I've been incredibly busy. But that's not fair to you guys, so I promise to be better on getting these columns out.
With that said, let's dive into this.
TV Rants and Raves
In which DC does something right
I've always felt that comic stories translate much better to television than they do to movies. Maybe it's in the setup of a comic that lends itself so well: with a set amount of time to tell a story, a comic moves at a brisk pace, while usually setting up a hook for the next issue. Dramas are much the same way, with the action occurring on a weekly basis, always with some hook to tie into a larger, series-spanning narrative.
Really, that was just another way of saying that I'm a big fan of Arrow.
DC seems to do well with its television projects (see also: Smallville, Justice League Unlimited, Young Justice), and Arrow is no exception. The character of Green Arrow has always been a guy who was there, filling in a constant supporting role in the DCU, yet his story is perfect for a live-action adaptation. For example, it's much easier to follow Smallville's rule of "No flights, no tights" with Green Arrow, because he has no explicit superpowers – much like Batman, he's just a regular guy who trained really hard to be good at something, in this case a bow and revenge.
Yes, the show still drops into some of the CW's worse habits. Everyone in the show is pretty to look at, and in some cases it almost takes away from the current events of the episode (Deadshot was the big culprit, as he was tatted up as all hell, but was still attractive). Also, as great as some of the main plot stories have been, the show still tends to revolve around petty teen romance bullshit at times. The character of Laurel Lance, in particular, is problematic, because she exists as a love interest, but they have to keep finding stories to involve her in the Green Arrow's nightly romps. Also you can't tease me with giving Oliver's kid sister a nickname of Speedy and not act on that right away, come on CW.
That brings up another problem of the show. For as faithful as they can be towards Green Arrow's origin story, they're pretty bad when dealing with secondary villains. China White was given all of 5 minutes of screen time, which I guess helps Kelly Wu's shot of coming back (for the record, Wu is a veteran of superhero movies, having played Lady Deathstrike in X-Men 2). But Deadshot was a grievous misuse of a character, who shows up for half an episode and is completely different from his comic character, and then is killed. Thankfully, the use of Deathstroke in the last episode worked well, and news of the arrival of Count Vertigo and Black Canary is some good news indeed.
It may seem like I'm harping on the show for some missteps, and I am, but its only because the show is pretty good in most of the other stuff it does. The Green Arrow is a great, human character that is relatable to a larger audience, in a way that Superman and other super-powered heroes aren't. To add on, the story of vengeance is always a crowd-pleaser (see: Revenge). And the world-building the show has done so far (Iron Heights, the references to Bludhaven WHICH I HOPE will lead to a Nightwing appearance) is going to do wonders down the line. Oh, and John Barrowman is now on the show. How great is that?
It seems almost unfair to call Arrow the best CW show on TV, because it seems like such a backhanded compliment. The truth is, this is one of the better new shows on television, not to mention a great piece of superhero-related television that makes it even harder to understand how DC can be so bad when it comes to non-Batman movies.
The Gang Gets a Review
I love It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. That could be this whole review, and I'd be feel good about it.
But it's more than that. The show has grown every season, not with much of an overall narrative, but with more character growth. Ok, that's the wrong word. Character decline would be better, as the Gang hasn't gotten better, but have turned into worse people over the course of the show's run. This is most evident in Dee, who in the beginning tended to be the most "rational" of the group, but now is just as bad as everyone else. For example, in The Gang Gets Analyzed, she instigates the whole episode by bringing everyone to the psychiatrist's office.
Let's talk about that episode, because it's a good recap of where the show has ended up. Dee brings the Gang to the psychiatrist's office because of an argument over who would clean the dishes, and we end up getting an introspection into everyone's lives at this point.
Mac: For years, the show was really subtle in making hints that Mac was gay, but that went out the door recently in favor of more blatant homosexual tendencies (naked oil wrestling, thinking the pen in the office was supposed to be a penis). At the same time, Mac seems to be focused on how he's perceived by others. He got big last season because he wanted to seem scarier, and flips out on how the Gang sees him. Still, making your own noises when performing karate is the best thing.
Charlie: Charlie is probably the most innocent of the group. In fact, at many times, the rest of the Gang seems to put Charlie's well-being above others. He's the baby deer of the group, and yet, at times this season, he's shown to be just as manipulative as everyone else. Case in point, Charlie seduces the rich girl in Charlie and Dee Find Love specifically to make the Waitress jealous, a point that he makes abundantly clear in that episode's climax. Charlie also seems to be self-aware in regards to his eccentricities, but the amount of self-doubt he has seems to be compounded by his relationship with everyone else in the Gang. He's the only one of the Gang who seems concerned with his actions, and whether or not he's a bad person.
Also god damn he brought a dead pigeon into the psychiatrist's office. That was amazing.
Frank: Frank is an enigma on this show. He keeps bringing up references to a past that seems more and more outlandish. In fact, most of his time in the office is spent on reaction shots as he remembers his past. And yet, that's the perfect use for Frank. In small doses, his level of craziness is more than welcome. But Frank-specific episodes just tend to fall flat for me. Maybe I'm in the minority here.
Dee: Dee has some deep pathological need to be the center of attention, as evidenced by the fact that she can't stop lying. Unlike Mac and Charlie, who seem to have a need to please others, Dee wants people to please her. You can also tell that her failed acting career weighs heavily on her ("You having a White Christmas now? Huh?"), but it's potential issues from her childhood that may be the basis for everything. She spends a good 20 seconds just yelling at the psychiatrist, asking to be told that she's good. Hanging out with the Gang appears to have taken a toll on her, to the point where she's the most likely to have a breakdown at any moment.
Dennis: I moved Dennis to last, because his is the most interesting case. Of everyone in the Gang, Dennis is easily the most psychotic of the group. This episode revealed that he was behind Mac's weight loss, and kept psychological profiles on everyone else in the group since the second grade. If there's one major takeaway from this episode, it's that Dennis has been manipulating the Gang for years, probably to their detriment. He doesn't gain a modicum of truth In his therapy session, and instead reveals that he is even more troubled than anyone would care to admit.
And after all that, the episode still ends with the Gang wanting to know who has to do the dishes. It's a sign of how this show works now. The writers know how terrible the characters are, and it's a strength that the show will embrace. This episode in particular pulled back the curtain a bit to show us just how troubled everyone is, and still knew that ending with Dee throwing plates on the ground would be the best course of action.
- The latest Jersey Shore cast member to get a spinoff will be, thankfully, Vinny, who gets his own talk show on MTV. He's really the only somewhat-normal person on that show, with somewhat-normal having a rather loose definition.
- Big Thunder Mountain will be the next Disney ride getting its own movie, which will follow the Materhorn movie, that Guillermo Del Toro-written Haunted Mansion reboot, and probably 3 more Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
- The Disney/Lucasfilms merger is big. I honestly can't say I'm against new Star Wars movies, because nothing can be worse than the new Trilogy.
- We're just going to ignore the story involving Elmo's puppeteer.
- There are a lot of shows that got renewals and full-season orders recently. Our favorite was the renewal of Chicago Fire, thus making sure NBC will have its prerequisite amount of Dick Wolf programming. The world just needs more Dick Wolf, if you think about it.
- The most surprising renewal has gone to The Killing, which at least keeps constant downpours and meandering stories on the air for another season.
- College students at Duke can now take a class on The O.C. In other news, I am now attending Duke University.
The Non TV Segment Of The Week
WWE ‘13's Create a Story Mode is the greatest thing.
Probably the best piece of political commentary to come out of the election:
And this is just a healthy reminder.
That's all the time we have this week. Leave a comment, and we'll see you next week.