The Televerse #15- Insomniac with Dave Attell with Matt Singer

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This week on The Televerse, Simon catches up with Awkward., Kate catches up with some of Justified season one, and we do our Fairy Tale Showdown. We go through our week in TV, spotlight Homeland’s “The Vest,” and welcome film critic Matt Singer on to discuss our first reality show at the Shelf, Insomniac with Dave Attell.

This week, we cover New Girl, the Sons of Anarchy finale, Suburgatory, Modern Family, Happy Endings, State of Play, Top Chef: Texas, the Community mid-season finale, Parks and Rec, It’s Always Sunny…, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Amazing Race, The Good Wife, and the Luck pilot. Then we take a longer look at Homeland‘s penultimate episode before heading over to the DVD Shelf with Matt to break down the drunken brilliance of Dave Attell.

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  1. Ken from Chicago says

    Mario, I agree about THE GOOD WIFE taking baby steps with character development. It has an overflow of so many good characters the series is almost forced to take baby steps to development them all.

    Yeah, I heard TNT was going to do a spin-off from THE CLOSER, but I didn’t know it was going to be about Captain Raydor (I see what they did there considering Mary McDonnell’s BSG character was plagued by cylon raiders, but I digress). Totally agree Mark Pelligrino has been a great addition as Brenda Lee’s fiesty lawyer. That’s another show that also has a bounty of supporting and recurring characters.

    I’ve heard bad things about HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER still taunting fans with The Mother plot and now adding another tease about the spouse of Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris (aka NPH), of DOOGIE HOWSER, HAROLD & KUMAR and DR HORRIBLE, and “Mayhem of The Music Meister” (a great musical episode of BATMAN: THE BRAVE & THE BOLD) fame. Not to mention that recent seasons have been felt by long-time viewers as at best treading water if not repeating similar plots and underserving the characters and actors in general.

    Personally I’ve been spoiled by the single-camera format of NBC’s better Thursday-night and ABC’s Wednesday-night sitcoms. CBS’ multi-camera sitcoms filmed before a studio audience, with the set up, punchline, pause for laughter format was too tiresome for me for HIMYM and THE BIG BANG THEORY. But they are popular series so clearly others disagree with my opinion.

    — Ken from Chicago

  2. Ken from Chicago says

    Hi, Televersers. Kate, you remember my previous post and the ridiculously long build up to my defense of Sepinwall? Yeah, curse him out for all I care, but

    DO NOT WATCH the 2nd Xena musical episode!

    If you remember nothing else from this post, don’t do it. Okay, don’t curse out Sepinwall, but I needed to stress how disappointed that 2nd Xena episode is ESPECIALLY since you have seen “The Bitter Suite”.

    That out of the way, tough crowd. I was about to get up on my hackles about COMMUNITY and PARKS & RECREATION, but you were critical of all the sitcoms this week, including IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (altho by all reports I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER might be the worst “sitcoms” of the year–mainly because WORK IT doesn’t debut officially until 2012). Psst, Simon, look forward to more of Dennis’ awfulness in the ALWAYS SUNNY season finale.

    Mario is totally right, THE CLOSER is a great series, with a great ensemble cast of characters. Kate and Simon, watch it.

    Sorry, Simon, I always have my phone either off or on vibrate because I don’t want it to ring at work, on the bus, at stores, restaurants, movies and forget to turn it on at home.

    Oh and a belated, Simon’s right, from Televerse #14. Jet Li is 48. Chuck Norris is 71. Of course, Jet Li would win in a fight. Maybe if Jet Li was a chubby or scrawny out of shape 48, but the guy has stayed in fighting shape. (Okay I accidentally launched this ep instead of Televerse #15 for about 15-20 minutes before realizing the error.)

    Kate, the great thing about JUSTIFIED is that it has great stand-alone episodes, with in-depth, fully fleshed-out criminals AND serial arc episodes that increases your appreciation of Raylan, Boyd, Ava, Winona, Raylan’s boss, et al. (Ironically Sepinwall and Feinberg debated JUSTIFIED starting out more episodic than serialized. Sepinwall enjoyed it while Feinberg was looking for more serialized drama for his FX dramas).

    Simon, you didn’t like the Deus Ex Anarchy season finale? I disagree about serialized and popularity being at odds. Serialized can work IF you willing to allow for growth–and realizing growth requires change. If you don’t wanna bump off characters, then don’t write them into corners where idiocy and out-of-the-blue CIA agents are required.

    Totally agree that Ellie Grant is stealing scene after scene of SUBURGATORY.

    Yeah, people warping thru time and space is common on shows set in locales you’re familiar with, be it Dave Atell speeding around Canada or Jack Bauer speeding around Los Angeles or even Wayne Campbell speeding around Aurora (and showing up at the Car-henge in Berwyn, back before they let it get replaced with a stupid Walgreens, when Berwyn is a suburb bordering western Chicago city limits while Aurora is a suburb about an hour’s drive west of Chicago, not only not in Cook County, but not even in the adjacent DuPage county, but actually in Kane county, to which Kate can attest, but I digress).

    I like INSOMNIACS showing people “out” at night partying and showing people “up” at night working. I would disagree on labeling INSOMNIACS a “reality show” but more of a “documentary”, like the old THAT’S INCREDIBLE or REAL PEOPLE. Maybe I was more naive as a child back in the ’70s watching those shows, but I think a major difference is that those shows and INSOMNIACS and what aren’t called “reality shows” is the former showed DIFFERENT people from week to week while the latter often follows the same people week to week for months, if not years. The camera and the fame of latter’s exposure seems to increasingly warp “reality”, be they real housewives, amazing racers, would-be musical idols, or even 7 college-age kids picked to live (and later work) together to find out when people stop being nice and start being real.

    — Ken from Chicago

    P.S. Finally, like a previous emailer or commenter I wanted to mention I thoroughly enjoy the show. I have followed tv criticism from back when Tom Shales was about the only regular widely-known tv critic, to Gary Deeb, to Phil Rosenthal to Maureen Ryan to podcasts by Alan Sepinwall & Daniel Feinberg, Maureen Ryan and Ryan McGee and now the Televerse, general television criticism (as opposed to Slice of Scifi podcast about various mediums of scifi and Tunning into Scifi TV about genre tv).

    [In my best JFK voice:] Let the word go forth from this time and place that the torch of tv criticism has been ably passed on to a new generation of intelligent, insightful, entertaining Televerse tv critics.

  3. Mario in Philly says

    Top Chef: Simon said that there aren’t many memorable cheftestants this season. I agree but I also think this is not the strongest group. And for the first time I’m not feeling it for any of the women (except perhaps Beverly.) I like the two Chris’s and Ty-Lör. Ed and Paul are fine too. (Why does Ty-Lör spell his name like that? And what’s up with his porn ‘stache?) Heather is setting herself up as unlikeable and though she doesn’t appear to sabotage anyone other than emotionally, she comes off more as the villain.

    The Closer: This show usually returns for 3-4 stand alone episodes in December before the season actually begins in April. This is a really good ensemble cast. Mark Pelligrino showing up as Brenda Leigh’s insightful-animated lawyer is a nice fun contrast to the serious character he played on Lost (and SyFy’s Being Human.) I’ve always liked Mary McDonnell and I thought TNT was going to spin-off her character into her own show after The Closer series finale. But I don’t know much more than that.

    BBC America: I watched State of Play when it aired several years ago. If you have Comcast On Demand cable, look for BBC Am programs there. They usually air the full 60-minute version of the 45-minute edited version that aired in its time slot. At least this is what they did with their other shows, like (the original and much much better) Being Human.

    The Amazing Race: I had thought mid-way through the race that Ernie and Cindy were a good team – he was the brawn and she was the brain. Felt bad for Marcus but it took him 12 (?) tries to land the plane. It was almost humorous to see Jeremy and Cathy running around The Dump asking if it was a former residence. Glad for Ernie and Cindy. Snowboarders were still best in show.

    The Good Wife: You’re so right about getting baby steps with regards to the characters’ progress. It would be nice to see a version with just their interpersonal stories. I really enjoy Kalinda and that Alicia has learned her part in rescuing Grace. Now they can live happily ever after! (Haha!)

    Homeland: I agree that Saul as the mole would be disappointing, especially having seen his sympathetic side toward Carrie. And the boss would be too obvious. So, since the show has been thoughtfully put together thus far, I’m hoping there is a nice twist surprise that will be satisfying. Damian Lewis is terrific and I can’t envision what the show would be like without him. I’m wondering if something goes wrong with Brody’s plan and he has to go to Plan B. And though Carrie has already thrown suspicion on him (her ranting has been lost to all but Saul) perhaps, given last week’s ending, she will be an inactive agent unable to proceed other than going rogue. Programming note: the upcoming season finale episode is listed as 90 minutes long.

    HIMYM: I like Neil Patrick Harris but I’ve never watched this sitcom. Do I have to?

    Deadwood: Looks like I have the episodes on my HBO GO app. OK, I’ll resume watching this!

  4. Dan Heaton says

    Nice coup with getting Matt Singer for the DVD Shelf; I’m a big fan of his work. Great job.

    I think the Queen on Once Upon a Time might be the least interesting character on any show that I’m currently watching. It’s not the acting; the writing is just so dull. She’s constantly appearing just to torment Emma, and it gets really old. After the pilot, I thought this was the type of show I would love. I’ll likely keep watching it, but it’s quickly dropping in my opinion.

    One minor thing about the Amazing Race’s first season. The final two teams were really close, and it came down to a cab race to a subway station to see who would win. They were dead even at the airport in New York. The issue was that the 3rd and 4th place teams missed a crucial mode of transportation in the 3rd-to-last leg. They both ended up a full day behind, and while they had a great battle for 3rd, there was no chance to catch up. The 3rd place team was still in Alaska when the race ended. Yes, I know too much about this show.

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