The Finale

Posted in American TV (General), American TV Shows, Behind-The-Scenes, BiogTV, Internet TV, Reviews, TV Criticism, TV Culture, TV History, Watching TV with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2021 by Tom Steward

New Blog 15.1

Ten years is a long time for a show to be on the air. I don’t even know if blogging still exists after ten years.

I started this blog to connect better with the woman I was going to marry and the country I was going to live in through the medium I knew best – television. I was already a US TV scholar by the time I began, but I had never lived in it. I had looked at it through binoculars. After seven years from the inside looking out, I now don’t know any other way to watch television except with Americans.

I’ve been fighting the redundancy of this endeavor for some years now. That’s why the blog has changed so much recently. I experimented with “Watching TP with Americans” – an 18-part series about Twin Peaks: The Return that was as strange and incomplete as the program itself, though far less brilliant. I knew the format had to change and had to match what it was talking about, hence the popcorn-style blogging that took us to the present day. My hope was this could accommodate the rise of social media. I didn’t clock that this was a tacit admission of blogging being too broken to survive.

Every good Pilot has a trigger and all good Finales need a button. For me, this is divorce. When the Seinfeld cast got imprisoned, there could be no more Seinfeld (except as a Curb Your Enthusiasm meta-world). There were enough reasons for it to end – not least the end of the nineties – but this was the point of no return (the end-credits version of Jerry in jail is enough for me). American TV is no longer a mystery to me and blogging is an anachronism, but I could conceivably carry on in that knowledge. Cable and Outlook are supposedly dead in the water too, but I still have both of those. I can’t go further because I’m no longer married to the woman I started this blog with and for.

New Blog 15.2

I always wanted to end the blog by writing about The Sopranos. I will, but I’m really writing about my marriage. David Chase said The Sopranos would end after four seasons. At the end of the fourth season, Tony and Carmela were separated. Two worthwhile if imperfect seasons followed. Then the series ended in a way that pleased no-one. There was no therapist in the finale. As time passed without The Sopranos, we stopped focusing on the final scene and began to appreciate what there was in the episode we liked. Stories were worked out sadly but well. Time was spent with the family. I don’t know where Lilyhammer fits into this analogy. Maybe that’s my bachelor future.

Finales are never good. They are often bad, occasionally transcendent, and invariably passable. I think of Justified, which ended as it began, which is to say perfectly. Six Feet Under broke all the rules of what makes a good series ending in that in offered on paper nothing but errors and on screen nothing but joy. I respect the finale of Breaking Bad because it refused to end any other way than it possibly could, but it was already a story told. Steven Bochco passed while this blog was live and I admired the finales of NYPD Blue and Hill Street Blues for trying to be normal episodes for as long as they could get away with it. Let’s face it, most shows aren’t intact by the time they get to their finale. They’re in a slow limp with a false leg.

This blog too ends far removed from whence it came. One look at the Zoom-fatigued faces of awards show attendees will tell you that TV itself is also a shadow of its own interconnected liveness. It remains a fascinating object in the best and worst of TV times, and providers will soon hold the balance of corporate power over movie studios as they did in the 1960s. I’ll keep my social media accounts open and comment when and where I think it is deserved, but not regularly. I still keep a Creed’s Word Document Blog in my mind of what I want to say about American TV. But, even for the internet, it’s … pretty shocking.

My life was shaped by American TV. Now my life is American TV. I lost a lot in getting here. I still have “Cosby’s sex smirk and Roseanne’s sarcy liberal mum laugh”, but they are forever tainted.

New Blog 15.3

The Last Post of 2020

Posted in American TV (General), American TV Shows, Americans watching British TV, Behind-The-Scenes, BiogTV, British Shows on American TV, Internet TV, Local TV, Reality TV, Reviews, TV Acting, TV advertising, TV channels, TV Criticism, TV Culture, TV History, TV News, Watching TV with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2021 by Tom Steward

New Blog 14.1

Am I just too goddamn old to appreciate The Walking Dead: World Beyond?

America was rescued from the brink of fascism by a hair’s breadth but, you’re right, Chris Harrison, all anyone was talking about in the first week of November was The Bachelorette.

The end credits of The Mandalorian are back!

Covid-19 has turned every reality show in 2020 into the first hour of The Birds.

Star Trek: Discovery boldly goes where Star Trek has gone before.

I sincerely hope production designers on The Walking Dead series are paid handsomely and writers the bare minimum.

How long have the opening titles of reality television been like novelty backwards chronology episodes of 90s shows?

I predict Timothy Olyphant will become the Bart Maverick of The Mandalorian.

My AT & T U-Verse lies to me like Trump to his base.

I see your Werner Herzog and I raise you David Cronenberg.

I previously predicted that Conan would be a Vine by the time my son was at college. He’s only three and Conan is already on a streaming platform.

The Bachelorette accidentally revived Bachelor Pad for a season.

Not content with being Space Have Gun, Will Travel, The Mandalorian wants to be Space CHIPS.

I’m surprised there was public outcry when The Charlie Brown Holiday Specials left broadcast television but not when the Peanuts gang were used as shills for an insurance company.

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Pictured (l-r): Anthony Rapp as Stamets; Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou; Mary Wiseman as Tilly; Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham; of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Discovery reminds me of an awards show skit riffing on Star Trek.

The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special could be subtitled The Roast of George Lucas.

The biggest revelation of Showtime’s The Reagans is that previous documentaries on the family have all been under the spell of their mythmaking.

Geico sells insurance and condones fraud.

The dialogue in the edited-for-TV version of Scream about The Exorcist being edited-for-TV should have been edited-for-TV.

B is only 3 and can already identify characters on TV shows by their story functions. For example, Fred from Scooby-Doo is “We’ll go this way, you go that way.”

The Thanksgiving episode of The Mandalorian is brought to you by parents of children who skipped nap and fell asleep at the dinner table the day before.

I’d Ask The Storybots if there is a better example of their kind of show in the whole of television. It’d be a short episode.

I replied “Yes” to Netflix’s question about whether I was enjoying Star Trek: Enterprise because there was no option listed for “Not really but I need to watch this for completism’s sake.”

The Crown faithfully recreates the weekend in the Summer of 1981 when The British Royal Family stalked a CGI Stag.

Mario Lopez stars as Colonel Sanders in a Lifetime Original mini-movie called A Recipe for Seduction … is a honey-mustard trap for TV reporters!

I’ve spent decades wishing that the actors in Star Trek would loosen up. Discovery reminds me to be careful what I wish for.

Fun game. Watch The Mandalorian on a Holiday Weekend and complete the dialogue every time it buffers.

New Blog 14.3

Having PBS on in the morning and hearing the incidental music from Curious George makes me feel like even my kid is a sophisticate.

The best thing about the home release of The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is that Francis Coppola does an introduction in front of a bookshelf in the kind of segments typically reserved for movies that American culture is now ashamed of.

If we stop making television about Reagan and Thatcher, do you think they’ll relinquish their hold on the future?

Ask The Storybots scratches my itch for exposition dump theme tunes.

When it comes to Star Trek canon, you have to take Enterprise with The Original Series.

Sorry, Mandalorian, but Droid Tales is the only Star Wars canon revision I’m interested in.

I always said that a young Margaret Thatcher was the role Gillian Anderson was born to play but until The Crown I thought I was talking figuratively.

12/10 was a good day to bury backdoor pilots.

I’m a little perturbed that the HBO Max algorithm can’t see the difference between Scooby-Doo and The Dead Don’t Die.

The Mandalorian is the best version of what you used to do with your Star Wars toys. Although for extra authenticity, Favreau should start throwing disabled He-Man and Ghostbusters characters into the mix.

Star Trek series must be fringe-watched. This is my new term for watching one episode of every series in a franchise at a time.

Ducktales went the way of Glow.

August and September 2020

Posted in American TV (General), American TV Shows, Behind-The-Scenes, BiogTV, British Shows on American TV, Internet TV, Local TV, Reality TV, Reviews, TV Acting, TV advertising, TV channels, TV Criticism, TV Culture, TV History, TV News with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2020 by Tom Steward

New Blog 13.1

Star Trek: Enterprise really tests my rule about not skipping introductions.

Thanks for the offer, Bravo, but I’m probably not going to learn about Race in America from someone who thinks the Underground Railroad was a railroad.

I may not have learnt the truth about Brandi Glanville and Denise Richards from this season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills but I now know that the Housewife safety words are “Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!”

Breaking News: TV show about humans in the grip of a deadly virus delayed due to humans in grip of a deadly virus.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s prophecy record extends from The Good Friday Agreement to America’s reaction to COVID.

I had no idea that the “so much more” promised by HBO Max would be the Alan Partridge canon. And I’m not complaining.

In other news, Fox just sold their 20th Television.

If Black Mirror were cut-for-time and edited-for-TV, it would resemble The Twilight Zone reboot.

While we wax lyrical about how much television has improved, Captain Kirk is using self-knowledge of his latent racism to free himself from his captors in an episode of TV from 1966.

Some of the promises Nick Jnr. make about the educational value of their programming are just plain lies.

Black-ish had to go online to criticize Trump. Talk about giving your opponent home advantage.

To treat Gone With The Wind and Blazing Saddles as equally dangerous is a kind of racism in and of itself.

I don’t remember so many characters from the entertainment industry in previous iterations of The Twilight Zone.

New Blog 13.2

Video killed the lady Star Trek.

It’s only a matter of time before Trump calls on John Ratzenberger to defend his dismantling of the postal service.

How far away from the microphones do the Kratt Brothers have to stand when they record Wild Kratts?

How long will the proposed Netflix Shuffle Button last once we’ve all been cycled to late-period Steven Seagal movies?

Of all the John Oliver rants that could go viral, who knew it’d be the ones about the Gilmore Girls reboot and Danbury?

If Strange New Worlds doesn’t include a showdown between William Shatner and George Takei, I’m cancelling my latest free month of CBS All Access.

Boy Scout Child Abuse is not and will never be infomercial material.

Not content with foisting Australian cartoon dogs on us on weekday lunchtimes, Nick Jnr. now wants our children eating to the sound of animated British dirt bikes.

Airing between the years of 1999 and 2006, The West Wing was always key to encouraging responsible voting.

The design of the HBO Max app is based on the aesthetic principle of counter-intuition.

The Next Generation was Gene Roddenberry’s vision of heaven. We are living in his hell.

I’m looking forward to ABC’s uncut, commercial-free airing of Do The Right Thing when another African-American dies in their prime.

I know self-loathing is his thing but I’m saddened to hear John Oliver compare himself unfavorably to Rowan Atkinson as Zazu in The Lion King. I mean, I assume he’s right. I’m not watching that shit to find out. And it’s free on Disney Plus.

In Carol Baskin, Dancing With The Stars continues its policy of casting the refugees of doomed marriages.

New Blog 13.3

Erika Jayne’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Reunion Zoom video looks like a pigeon caught on CCTV.

Trump got confused while watching Short Treks because somebody told him he had a “series of minisodes.”

In the wake of African Americans being routinely murdered by the police, The Help is trending on Netflix and Amazon Prime’s “Black Stories” section is headed up by Space Jam.

The subtitled disclaimer on Luis Miguel: The Series disappears too quickly for me to be entirely sure, but I think we’re supposed to watch the show as if it were a dream.

I expect Lisa Rinna’s “Gaslighting” number to top the Christmas charts launch a nationwide Cabaret.

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado prompted G to wonder “Why isn’t he living in more splendor? He has the same air conditioner we do.”

Lower Decks proves that there is no Star Trek episode that cannot be spun off into a full series.

The Twilight Zone writers should talk to each other before they commit fingers to keys.

Has there ever been a hit show that survived the loss of its star for more than two subsequent seasons?

The Walking Dead is Dead.

September 8 is Star Trek Day. Except for viewers in Canada.

June and July 2020

Posted in American TV (General), American TV Shows, Behind-The-Scenes, Internet TV, Reality TV, Reviews, TV Acting, TV advertising, TV channels, TV History, TV News, TV Sports, Uncategorized, Watching TV with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2020 by Tom Steward

New Blog 12.1

The Plot Against America makes The Man in The High Castle look like a Saturday Morning Kids’ Cartoon.

90 Day Fiance is the only TV show with fidget spin-offs.

I watched The Twilight Zone episode Replay on the same day George Floyd was killed because statistics.

Episodes of TV shows that uncomfortably highlighted and critiqued racism are being removed from circulation along with the racist.

Walking Dead series must be binge-watched.

When the only pleasure in a season of television is its reference to other media, it’s time to stop.

If I’ve learned anything from the recent cull of TV’s racist past, it’s that the turn of the Millennium was basically the 1920s.

I hope that whoever went on set and re-filmed the finale of Top Chef so that a person of color won instead of the blonde white lady again did so safely and at distance.

It’s nice to be ahead of the algorithm. I have zero interest in Hamilton.

I’m definitely in the “adding introductions” camp of TV history reappraisals.

There are no two words I have ever expected to close a teaser trailer less than “Perry Mason.”

Fireman Sam: Norman Price is missing in the mountains!

Me: Just leave him there.

I can’t see anything but an unhinged actor when I watch Winona Ryder on screen.

When Niles Crane is the sanest character on television, you know the social contract has changed.

HBO’s podcast dependency problem requires immediate intervention.

New Blog 12.2

With its near-constant barrage of flashbacks, promos, and station IDs, watching Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story live on USA Network is a harrowing experience.

HBO Max gives me more choice except the one to have it or not.

You might have missed the mark but you’ve never Olive Garden Pandemic Commercial missed the mark.

When HBO puts a warning top of show, you know this is another level.

Breaking News: Papa John’s changes name to Uncle Tom’s.

Based on the commercial, every Snackeez should come with a free ticket to the end of civilization.

Married At First Sight: Australia plays like a parody of the original.

Stolen from G: “The Real Housewives interviews in 2020 look like Real Housewives from 2010.” My own contribution: The interviews look like they’re being filmed through their keyholes.

Seriously, what is John Lithgow paying off and when’s the final instalment?

Wayfair needs to remove any commercials that feature trunk-like furniture.

When it comes to MTV’s Catfish, it’s hard to imagine the solution is better than the problem.

Reviving 30 Rock as an infomercial means the suits won, right?

As long as there’s still an unwatched Star Trek: The Next Generation “Picard learning the Space Piccolo” episode, I’m never going to run out of television.

Arby’s shouldn’t have made those cartoon burrito villains look so appetizing if they wanted you to ever consider their Market Fresh Wraps.

The saddest episode of television in 2020 was a re-run.

New Blog 12.3

How many HBO shows will I want to watch before I find out J. J. Abrams is involved somehow?

Patton Oswalt’s new reality show got dark fast.

Apartments.com commercials are now recommending bodily augmentation in the search for real estate.

B watched an episode of Disney Junior’s Bluey about a sleep-deprived toddler with a solemnity more fitting of an AIDS documentary.

If you want to track the decline of movie stardom, bear in mind that Kevin James and Ray Romano are now considered “Big Screen” talent by TV Land.

Just watched the pilot of Star Trek: Voyager which features a conversation about personal pronouns. So single white men, don’t tell me you’re too old to understand the concept.

The question isn’t who’s going to miss the virtual Emmys. The question is how bad will the wi-fi be of those who attend.

B has me watching 90s and present-day Avengers cartoons back-to-back. I guess blonde hair isn’t the sign of heroism it once was.

I don’t know what’s going on at Ellen but I never liked the way she ran that bookstore.

It’s been thirty years of Lifetime Original Movies … misjudging the tone of every scene.

Well done, baseball. You’re now officially a weirder spectator sport than Blernsball in Futurama.

Regis Philbin was one of talk television’s great serial monogamists.

Rhea Seehorn was not Emmy-nominated for Better Call Saul. Read that again.

You don’t need to see all of The Man in The High Castle to get a sense of America’s fear about becoming a Japanese colony; just watch a Hollywood movie from around 1990.

May 2020

Posted in American TV (General), American TV Shows, Americans watching British TV, Behind-The-Scenes, Internet TV, Reality TV, Reviews, TV Acting, TV advertising, TV channels, TV Criticism, TV Culture, TV History, TV News, Uncategorized, Watching TV with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2020 by Tom Steward

Outlander Season 5 2020

Outlander is now re-purposing Little House on The Prairie episodes.

Because the first thing you want to see when you turn on The Disney Family Singalong is Ryan Seacrest’s kitchen.

The Homeland Series Finale took full advantage of The Americans being off the air.

I had to break it to my son B that conglomerate capitalism was the driving force behind the absence of Mickey from Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures.

Ryan Murphy specializes in making television about fascinating subjects with nothing new to say about them.

Someone is close captioning Outlander phonetically.

A game to play while watching the American Experience on George W. Bush; drink every time someone says “He set the bar so low … “

90 Day Fiance: Before The 90 Days should offer de-programming to all its participants.

I wish commercials would go back to selling stuff.

The Good Fight’s writing of production limitations into its visual style will make it an interesting archeological document in future years, if nothing else.

Outlander trumped The Lord Of The Ring’s record with a full hour of goodbyes.

The problems encountered by the cast of 90 Day Fiance have now become global norms.

The Lego versions of recent blockbuster movies are embarrassingly better than their live-action originals.

The 90s animated Spiderman series that B has me watching may have just done the origin story of Tiger King.

There’s a lot to love about the CBS All Access Star Trek series but a lack of self-censorship is not among them.

New Blog 11.2

Is there a character left in Outlander that hasn’t been raped?

This is not a good time for TNT to advertise Snowpiercer by making it look like the TV signal died.

When the quality of streaming dips during CBS All Access shows, they start to look like 90s movies and it’s adorable.

The veteran cast of Vanderpump Rules are growing their replacements from loose skin on their elbows.

Are there any Netflix shows not about money-laundering husbands?

Outlander is in the half-episode dream sequence stage of its existence.

Old episodes of The Simpsons in the original 4:3 ratio is my idea of new TV content during lockdown.

Late-night talk show hosts are now all essentially Rupert Pupkin from The King of Comedy.

While its viewers are quarantined with only three episodes of TOTS on a loop to show to our kids at lunchtime, Disney Junior tried slipped an Australian dog parenting satire under our wet noses.

Top Chef just did an episode where the prize was a trip to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It should be taken out of syndication like the New York episode of The Simpsons or Seinfeld’s The Puerto Rican Day.

If Barbara Cartland novelized Highlander, you would get Outlander.

Netflix was found to be streaming a censored version of Back To The Future 2 that somehow still left all the white supremacy and incest intact.

I don’t know who in the Netflix Fyre Festival documentary I hate more. I just know that I hate more.

Discovery is more a reboot of Futurama than Star Trek.

I thought Jimmy Fallon’s absolute ineptitude as an interviewer and/or his free propaganda for Donald Trump would have put an end to his late-night talk show career but I’ll take Blackface.

The Outlander series finale had no titles so technically it was an hour-long cold open.

The Original Series characters in Discovery seem to have wandered in from the USS Mad Men.

New Blog 11.3

Breaking Good News: John Krasinski criticized for selling news to the news.

Amy Schumer Learns To Cook is nothing of the sort.

With its closing image of Jeffrey Epstein’s penis suspended in a tank, no wonder the producers of The Good Fight were anxious about ending their season at Episode 7.

Outlander has all the nuance you might expect from Doctor Who slash fiction.

I wonder if television composers ever get mad when their themes are randomly replaced by pop songs.

I want Charlie Brooker’s Antiviral Wipe to go viral.

The trajectory for most contemporary TV series seems to be “2 seasons and a spin-off.”

There’s too much focus on the half-wives in The Real Housewives franchise.

I’m not going to say anything derogatory about Sam Heughan because there are women on the internet who would literally kill me for it.

CBS All Access announces a new Star Trek series set between the Pilot and Episode 1 in TV’s first ever Prebootsequelpinoff.

Ducktales is this month’s “The Sopranos of [insert genre here]”

Every day is a Jerry Stiller marathon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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