Pop Culture at its Best

The Televerse #10- The Newsroom (CA) with Jesse Singer

This week, on The Televerse, Simon and Kate talk procedurals, westerns, and reality, as we discuss the premieres of Bones and Top Chef: Texas and the pilot of Hell on Wheels. We go through our week in TV, with looks at New Girl, Suburgatory, Happy Endings, Community, Parks and Rec, It’s Always Sunny…, Beavis and Butthead, Supernatural, Fringe, Amazing Race, The Heart She Holler, Homeland, and HIMYM. Then we spotlight The Good Wife‘s latest, “Executive Order 13224” and we close out the show by welcoming Jesse Singer from the Watch It TV Podcast and Filmed But Not Forgotten to the DVD Shelf to talk about the Canadian comedic gem, The Newsroom.

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  1. […] Newsroom, in 2002.) If you need further encouragement, take a listen to the DVD Shelf segment in Televerse 10, where Kate and I discuss the series with Jesse Singer of the Watch It […]

  2. Ren says

    Also the Red Riding trilogy. Poop.

  3. Ren says

    Some edgy shows are anything by Tim and Eric, Chris Morris and Tell Me You Love Me. Spaget.

  4. Ken from Chicago says

    Oh, by “thematic” sequels, I mean movies with the same star(s) that fit together as a narrative series even tho not officially a series:
    –ROMANCING THE STONE (which had an actual sequel, JEWEL OF THE NILE) / WAR OF THE ROSES: Starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner as an adventurous couple who settled down to domestic life but finally fell out of love with each other, at least she did (oops, spoiler for a two-decade old movie).
    –FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF / ELECTION: Starring Matthew Broderick (and the city of Chicago) as a popular kid who rebels against high school authority and teaches his friends some life lessons, but grows up to get his comeuppance as average a high school teacher who bristles at a nerdy, by-the-book girl (Reese Witherspoon) who seems destined to win, yet another, a school election, until he get a popular jock to run (Who wins? See above about comeuppance.)
    –TITANNIC / HIDEOUS KINKY / HOLY SMOKE, starring Kate Winslet as a wealthy British debutante of a financially bankrupt who agrees to a marriage to save the family’s wealth, only to have her eyes opened by a poor American (Leonard DiCaprio) to live life on her own terms, and she does so, passing on that spirit on to her (grand)daughter who hooks up with some dude, gives birth to two daughters and goes on a hippie tour of Morrocco, before finally realizing her girls need a stable school environment and sends them off to a proper boarding school. She continues her adventures in India and converts to teachings of some guru, meanwhile her parents in Australia scheme to get her back home by having her mum visit her and telling her that her dad had a stroke. It’s all a ruse to get her back home and into the “welcome” of an American deprogrammer (Harvey Keitel), to deprogram her from the cult of this guru (and wackiness ensues).

    — Ken from Chicago

  5. Ken from Chicago says

    Finally, carved out the time to relisten to the podcast:

    First, yes, Kate, I totally agree about Chicago, come for the pizza (and architecture, people and stay for the logical, sensible, surprisingly-rare rectilinear street grid system where 8 standard blocks equal a mile).

    So Kate and Simon are NOT locked in a house engaged in a War of the Roses (the movie starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, and was what I consider a “thematic” sequel of Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile–not the 15th century British war).

    Simon, MI-5 was like a British version of 24 or ALIAS–altho there was a great, and darkly hilarious, 1st season episode, where the lead’s girlfriend and her daughter was almost blown up in his house–because of a peanut butter.

    Simon, while I appreciate COMMUNITY going for the conceptual or even dramatic poignancy (ala SCRUBS or THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW), I can understand why some people are looking for sitcoms merely for the funny aka one-liners and / or slapstick. Don’t you understand, Troy is the Chosen One, to heal the rift between the dueling plumbing and A/V guilds.

    Ah, Kate, another UIC alumnus–oh, you’re from the Evil UIC, the UIUC, Urbana Champaign, instead of UICC Circle Campus. We didn’t build Hal 90000 and nearly wrecked humanity’s meeting with the Starchild.

    PARKS & REC future of April & Andy seems obvious: Baby, and their molding of a young impressionable mind, other than Andy’s, of their … distinctive … worldviews. Yes, Ron Swanson tough love talks with Leslie was great. No, Simon, I think they might get Chris and Ann back together now that Ann is on more even footing having seen Chris without her rose-colored glasses.

    Kate, while I don’t watch BONES anymore, I like it when a show breaks the lame “Moonlighting curse” on principle (e.g., PSYCH, DS9 and especially BABYLON 5, that had three lead characters getting not only in a romantic relationship, but actually married, without derailing to show to focusing on romance). So BONES has a … “violin problem”?

    Simon, I agree that “reality” tv might be guilty of breaking the FCC’s rules on truth in advertising–especially when the writers’ strike a few years ago actually affected them.

    THE WALKING DEAD’s Daryl Dixon has become the breakout character this season and certainly my favorite.

    HELL ON WHEELS’ lead, a Southern rebel who fought in the Civil War for honor, isn’t so hard to believe. Plenty of people have gone to war because they don’t want someone else telling them what to do. That said, yeah, the writing is anchor pulling down the great actors and production values of the show.

    I don’t have pay cable, but have heard about HOMELAND. Carrie and Brodie could have been a one-nighter, and that more for Carrie to see definitively if he could pass a lie-detector test. How does the show go on for Season 2? Um, plenty of people have slept together and gone on to fight, sometimes even more passionately. Jack could have slept with Nina–and they had–in 24’s 1st season and the show could have easily continued. After all in 24’s widely-considered best season, President Logan’s wife slept with him after finding out he had committed treason, while she was wired by CTU.

    Kate, I totally agree about the victorious Bears (and again yesterday, sorry Stephen Colbert).

    THE GOOD WIFE’s “Executive Order 13224” was truly awesome:
    –You think you know where it’s going–but you don’t.
    –I totally agree, Kate, about the show having a wide variety of lawyers STYLES / PERSONAS. They aren’t all hard-hitting, earnest lawyers like Alicia, Grace, Will and Cary, but some have a lighter, softer tone–hiding a devastatingly brutal legal body blows in and out of court.
    –Yes, Bob Balaban was delightfully menacing by him NOT being obviously evil or biased but matter-of-factly utterly destroying lawyer client privilege, between offering cupcakes.
    –Yes, Will / Peter confrontation on the court steps was great.
    –Argh, it’s been 3 years, Alicia hasn’t learned to mute her phone or set it on vibrate? That’s so annoyingly cliche. I mean when WOULDN’T Alicia have her phone on vibrate–or any lawyer–given the nature of her business and the meetings she’s in?
    –Simon, ah, yes, the eternal Buffy question: Where do we go, from here? (Notice the question was already asked about HOMELAND?) Alicia and Peter are in a bit of a trap because Peter wants to run for Governor and doesn’t want to run as a divorcee while Alicia wants to avoid the spotlight again. The easiest way out is if midway thru his term, Peter and Alicia divorced, and Peter ran for reelection as DA and THEN run for governor. Alicia could explain she had forgiven him–until she found out one of the women was someone she had considered a friend. That secret undermined her trust.

    Finally, Kate and Simon, great, insightful, enlightening, and even at times when I disagreed, still an entertaining show. I look forward to more.

    — Ken from Chicago

    P.S. Wasn’t THE ODYSSEY a kid show that was basically a kid version of LIFE ON MARS, where the kid was comatose and woke up in a brightly-colored, alternate universe of kids only, but they were slowly growing older to teen kids?

    P.P.S. THE OFFICE’s Michael Scott had the kind of personable glad-handing charisma that probably served him well in Sales but then he got promoted to management above his skillset (ala The Peter Principle). Btw, Naomi Wolf is a political pundit who had her heyday during the 90s–including consulting with Clinton re-election campaign in ’96 (so that’s why you likely heard of the name).

  6. Mario in Philly says

    @Kate: Try to check out Slings & Arrows. There are only 6 (or maybe 8?) episodes for each of the three seasons. It’s about a theater company who does Shakespeare but also now needs to offer popular plays and musicals to make money. It’s commerce vs. creativity. It’s humorous and lighthearted and just wonderful. (Rachel McAdams is in the first season as well as other recognizable actors.)

  7. Kate Kulzick says

    Ricky- Thanks! It was so great to do the DVD Shelf segment in person!

    Michael- Good point, re: good/bad teams and luck. I was talking with Dan about it on Twitter, we think it’s down to the snowboarders and Chicagoans, with an option on the grandparents. Thoughts?

    Ken- Muh-wah-ha-ha! Our victory is complete! Great suggestions for tmack. I don’t agree with all of them as being edgy, but you offer strong arguments. Also, thanks for the constructive criticism! You’re right- we’ll work to address it.

    Mario- Interesting thoughts, re: Good Wife. I agree with you on Will, but I would like to see her somehow get back to where she was friendship-wise with Kalinda. That woman needs a true friend; it often feels like she’s never had one. Also, I’ve not heard of either of the two Canadian series you mention. (to self) Stupid American!

  8. Mario in Philly says

    Also, have you noticed the episode titles for the Good Wife? Episode titles in the first season are one-word titles, season two are two-word titles, season three are three-word titles…

    Ashamedly the only two Canadian shows I can identify that I’ve watched – and loved – were Slings & Arrows and Terminal City. I’ll keep an eye and ear out for The Newsroom.

  9. Mario in Philly says

    The first two episodes of Top Chef are like casting eliminations, which only served to heighten my excitement for the real cook off. So I’m holding back all judgment until we start with the real elimination challenges. I like the dry wit of new judge and chef Hugh Acheson (and he’s so cute!) but have no idea what Emeril is doing there. I’m wondering if there will be five judges each week or if the two new ones will rotate with Gail who seems to disappear often. I guess guest judges remain to be seen. We aren’t into the meat of the competition yet so it’s hard to – judge.

    If you haven’t watched MI-5 since Matthew Macfadyen was on then you missed numerous WOW moments, as this is the only show I’ve seen that has switched and rearranged and replaced main characters so seamlessly without losing my interest. The disasters of the week are intriguing but it’s my investment with the characters that continues to suck me in. After the season 9 finale I don’t know what the tenth and final season will bring, which I believe has just aired in the UK.

    Hell on Wheels had beautiful cinematography but I was so bored with it. I didn’t care about anybody. My score: Snoozefest.

    What is the happy ending for Alicia Florrick? There won’t be anything clear until they decide to end the show. Nonetheless, Alicia has become a very forward-moving person. As for now, going back to Peter would be going backwards. And I think down the road she won’t end up being with Will – or Kalinda. The kids will be out of the house, whether in college or not. She could be alone. Can that be a happy ending for a good wife?

    I too was surprised that Homeland went there and hooked up Carrie and Brody. They can’t take it back so where does it go? That scenario served to help Carrie spot his lying, which of course she can’t share, particularly with Saul. So with this week’s cliffhanger, where is she going to with Brody – Motel 6?

    With Amazing Race, and perhaps with many reality competition shows, it seems when you get a revelation about one of the contestants, the editors are signalling their time to go. This is not etched in stone but it happens. In this case, Justin came out as a gay man. And poof, he’s gone.

  10. Ken from Chicago says

    Argh, what I meant to say was BREAKING BAD is the primo example of edgy and boundary pushing, after a slow start, well, in every season, tho especially the 2nd season. That season was midway between the more comedic 1st season where Walt and Jesse were bumbling newbs in the meth business and the awesome 3rd season where Walt was fully embracing the dark and the crap was hitting the fan for him, but in the 2nd season it had a kind of unsatisfying feel because the crap was more AROUND Walt and you as the audience member wanted him to have more of a comeuppance–which he got in spades in Season 3.

    Of course Season 3 was totally awesome in all Pollos coming home to roost–where the leads kept making emotional short-term decisions that kept making their long-term situation worse, and each episode began with these wonderful pre-credit segments that could be short-films on their own–and featuring the marvelous landscape of New Mexico.

    Season 4 struggled early on, and lack the awesome pre-credit short film segments of Season 3, and our two leads (as well as the other regulars) were in more reactive mode for most of the season and only toward the end did they finally regain, to an extent, mastery of their own fate (or at least one of “dynamic duo” judging by the final shot of the season).

    — Ken from Chicago

    P.S. And of course there will always be The Scene of BREAKING BAD season four finale.

  11. Ken from Chicago says

    Blast it all, Kate and Simon, I hate this podcast. Why? Oh sure, I suppose blind inarticulate rage would be rather pointless, feeble, unconstructive, tho sadly commonplace on the internet. And such undefined, unexplained antipathy would be treated the same as Miles Drentell’s reaction to Michael Steadman’s initial statement that Michael didn’t like Miles but refused to state why–so Miles ignored it as something without weight, without gravitas, thus unworthy of his time, attention, or concern (as opposed to Michael, who clearly wants to be liked by everyone would have been driven insane if someone had told him the same and then didn’t state why leaving Michael wondering why).

    Therefore I will explain my anger: I was listening to this podcast during lunch and I kept needed to reply to points in the podcast but only had my phone, yet when I’m home, I’m usually too busy watching my dvr or on the internet to listen podcasts. For the first time in years I finally managed to get my 120-hour dvr down to 0% full in September and yet now it’s back up to 25%.

    Yet I must RE-listen to the podcast because there were far too many points I need to respond to. Why must you two’s podcast be so frelling interesting?! Why couldn’t you be more mediocre, be blander? Now I have to carve out an hour of time to listen to the podcast at home so I can properly respond.

    For example,
    –THE GOOD WIFE is edgy, boundary-pushing drama, for PNB tv (Primetime Network Broadcast tv)–doubly so because it’s on CBS (normally the meat and potatoes network).
    –BREAKING BAD is the primo example, and after a slow.
    –So is JUSTIFIED (try and name the last 3 dramas set in the South with the regular characters having noticeable accents, about as difficult as finding regular characters on BOSTON LEGAL, BOSTON PUBLIC or THE PRACTICE who have noticeable Boston accents).
    –Unlike the previous two, which are on hiatus, SONS OF ANARCHY is still on, barely, as its coming on its season finale next week (which is now 120 minutes instead of 90 minutes). Altho it started out slow in its 1st season, reportedly was great in its 2nd season, but got derailed in its 3rd season by some ongoing kidnapping and Ireland arc, while its 4th season has been a return greatness (tho not without a couple of visible plot strings where characters are nudged into doing things more for plot reasons than logical character reasons, and those choices are unexplained within the show).
    –FRINGE is edgy, boundary-pushing science fiction that manages to do a fantastic job of blending cutting edge science on the, ahem, fringes, with emotional character-based stories that defy SF’s tradition of focusing more on concepts than character.
    –NIKITA is edgy, boundary-pushing action drama, that’s like a female-led 24, but without Kim Bauer, cougars or the typical fluff that hampered 24 typically around episode 13 of a season. Yeah, 24 but smart. And it’s on The CW (home of tween/teen/young adult female programming–and RINGER, what is your secret to stop watching Sarah Michelle Gellar, aside from the ratings on the show plummeting towards cancellation)!
    –COMMUNITY is edgy, boundary-pushing comedy that often goes for the conceptual over the comedy, and thus rewards thinking, but when it goes for the funny, it nails it. For example: John Goodman as a major recruiter for a secret society of air conditioner technicians–who have a long-standing secret war with plumbers or a homophobic Pierce who is does a 180 when he’s getting filthy rich(er) when the local gay community are buying his company’s product hand over fist.
    –YOUNG JUSTICE is edgy, boundary-pushing for an animated action drama show about teen superheroes being mentored by intelligent adult superheroes. Their Batman, voiced by Bruce Greenwood, rivals the portrayal of Batman in both the Christopher Nolan movies and BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, both of which have set the bar for capturing the essence of Batman. Not only is it a smart, intelligent show but has great action in realistically drawn animation (as opposed to B:TAS’ Art Deco style, or the stylized JUSTICE LEAGUE or BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD or even anime). It’s also edgy in that the kids are not just mentored and assigned relatively safe monitor duty or escorting / bodyguard duties but are used as a secret strike force by the JLA to infiltrate the bases of pretty dangerous foes. That was neatly summed up in an episode where 13-year old Robin / Dick Grayson is saying he’s so calm under fire because he’s been doing this since he was 9.
    –PARKS AND RECREATION is boundary-pushing in having a comedy about people who are GOOD and are GOOD at their jobs, when most sitcoms focus people who are not one or the other or neither. But I’m not sure it’s “edgy” because it focuses on people who are good and good at their jobs and still finds ways to mine comedy from that.

    See? See Kate and Simon, that’s all based on ONE point in the podcast asking what’s “edgy” and “boundary-pushing”. Obviously there’s more to be replied to, but it’s late and I have to find time to relisten to this interesting and compelling podcast. Needless to say … To Be Continued.

    — Ken from Chicago

    P.S. Before I forget, love the podcast, but one teensy weensy tiny suggestion for improvement, could you briefly summarize the plot of an episode to help the listener remember which episode it is? E.g., I think for five minutes you were both lauding the performance by Alan Tudyk in SUBURGATORY (btw, when does his character die, because I think that’s the law about Tudyk’s characters) before I remember the episode was about Jeremy Sisto’s character fixing Tudyk’s character plumbing in his shower then trying out the shower; I don’t think you specified the main plot was about the daughter trying to get the suburbanites to be charitable and less wasteful of food only to have them be charitable to her and her dad. It doesn’t have to be a completely summary of the plot just a one-line about what the episode was about (e.g., PARKS & REC was about an end of the world cult triggering the characters to make some big decisions, Leslie about Ben, Tom about Entertainment 720 going out with a bang, April helping Andy do his bucket list).

    P.P.S. And yes, Cheryl Hines’ cleavage does seem to be an increasingly supporting character in SUBURGATORY. Any lower neckline and she’d qualify to be a superheroine.

    1. Simon Howell says

      I was frustrated by Sons of Anarchy’s 2nd-season finale and bored silly by the first half of the 3rd season (enough so that I dropped it entirely), but I keep hearing enough goodness about S4 that I might give ‘er another shot. (Same story w/ S2 of Boardwalk Empire.) They’re both on my list of “stuff that needs watching in time for year-end listmaking.”

  12. Michael Ryan says

    If the DVD segment turned into “Sound on Sight forces Kate to watch Canadian TV” i would be all right with that. (Littlest Hobo marathon!)

    Amazing Race had two interesting things going on: the snowboarders bike fell apart, but rather than do what most teams do – fall apart – he got help, fixed the bike and finished first anyway. And the old couple despite facing a number of physical challenges, worked as a team and finished third when teams three decades younger than them were pissing and moaning and falling apart.

    I am a big believer that good teams win on Amazing Race despite bad luck and bad teams lose because of bad luck. Mind you, the annoying siblings lost because of a stupid, stupid mistake – not reading the challenge properly to know what to do and when.

  13. Ricky says

    Best DVD segment yet despite the fact that I know nothing about this show. There was great chemistry between the three of you.

    Also I want to point out that Simon is quick to judge and has only seen two episodes o Boardwalk Empire. only two Simon… a little too early to call it a bore, don’t you think?

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