Posts Tagged ‘television’

Photos courtesy of ABC

While I don’t really consider myself a TV snob, I do have a soft spot in my heart for smartly written comedies. The shows that really get me going are those with wit, fare like Arrested Development (canceled), Better Off Ted (canceled), Breaking In (nearly canceled, but revived for one more shot) and Community (desperately clinging to life). With that in mind, friends keep telling me I should be watching Cougar Town, which made its grand return to television earlier this month to abysmal ratings. Industry friends whose opinions I respect immensely (among them Cougar Town uberfan Jeff Cannata) keep telling me to look past the title and watch what they swear is the most well-written comedy on TV. In spite of the raves I just can’t do it, and here’s why.

Middle-Aged White People Drinking Wine and Being Snarky? No Thanks

Pretty much every advertisement I’ve seen for Cougar Town has showcased series star Courtney Cox (more on her later) and friends drinking wine and bitching about their idyllic suburban lives. In an era when lots of families are struggling just to make ends meet, why on earth should I care about the non-problems of a bunch of fortysomething yuppies who are beginning to wonder if life has passed them by? Basically every ad I’ve seen for the show portrays it as a comedic version of Desperate Housewives, and I have no interest in setting foot in that world. It may just be that ABC is doing a bad job portraying the soul of the show in 30 second chunks, but so it’s been enough to keep me away.

The Courtney Cox Factor

I wasn’t a big fan of Friends back in the day and consequently have no real connection to that show’s stars and their current projects. For the same reason that old fans of Monica may be apt to check out the show to see what she’s up to now (yes, I mean Monica and not Courtney), I’m inclined to skip the show because I have no connection to either the character or the actress. From what I’ve seen of Courtney Cox in other work she’s a capable actress, but not outstanding, and I don’t know if I could ever see her carrying a show on her shoulders. From the looks of things it seems the majority of viewers tend to agree with me.

I’ll Admit It, I Can’t Get Past the Title

Really, at the end of the day I still just can’t bring myself to watch a show called Cougar Town. If it’s really as smartly written as folks claim then I’m sure the title is some sort of self-aware joke that has been picked over multiple times on the show itself, but for outsiders like me I can only assume this is a program about a city full of middle-aged women who want nothing more than to sleep with their sons’ football team and bang their daughters’ boyfriends. If this were a show that was about a town full of actual cougars then yes, sign me up. I know show fans automatically assume that all of my criticisms are now rendered moot because I admit that the title has done me in, but they have to understand that it’s probably the primary reason most folks aren’t watching.

I cop to the fact that I come to this discussion from a place of ignorance, as I’ve never watched a single episode. I also believe that if I tried Cougar Town I’d probably like it, but I just can’t get there. There are too many roadblocks in the way to get me to set the DVR, and too many other shows I’m already watching to make room for another. As much as I hate to see smart shows go down the drain, not even I can get myself worked up for Cougar Town‘s imminent demise. Sorry to Jeff and Abed, I just can’t do it.


Courtesy of Fox

One of the things I was most excited about in starting up this site was reaching beyond just the realm of gaming and offering thoughts on some of my other favorite bits of pop culture as well. I’m borderline obsessed with television, and consequently decided that my very first TV review would be for one of my new favorite shows, New Girl. It seems my decision caused some performance anxiety from the cast of the show though, as last night’s Landlord episode was one of the weaker entries of the series. While there were still a few funny gags and punchy one-liners, the episode itself seemed to tread overly familiar territory and offered a rather wimpy payoff.

The conceit of the episode finds Jess (Zooey Deschannel), the sunny optimist, squaring off against Nick (Jake M. Johnson), sourpuss incarnate. Jess is determined to get some of the apartment’s problems fixed for good by the landlord, while Nick and the rest of the guys warn her to stay far away from the building manager. Perhaps the funniest moment of the entire episode came when Jess slipped up and mentioned that four people were living in an apartment intended for three, and we got to see the guys execute the “Landlord Drill.” The exercise consisted of dumping all of Schmidt’s (Max Greenfield) belongings out the window, including his bed, furniture and beloved chinos. We also got to see Schmidt transform into some sort of vaguely European backpacker named Jimmy as the crew tried to fool Remy the landlord. It was this scene which had me laughing the hardest during the entire half-hour, it’s just too bad things were all downhill from there.

Thanks to Jess’s sunniness Remy agreed to take care of some of the apartment’s issues, which our leading lady took as vindication for her cheerful disposition. Nick was skeptical, arguing that Remy’s pleasantness was directly related to his desire to get in Jess’s pants. And just like that New Girl slipped straight into the waiting arms of one of the biggest sitcom cliches ever.

Throughout the series’ run we’ve seen Nick and Jess playfully spar with one another as his curmudgeonly ways but up against her personality, but up until now the writers have managed to handle it with flair and originality. In the past, whenever Jess has gotten too bubbly Nick has been able to bring her back to earth with a quick line or biting observation, but dragging it out to an entire episode is such a retread of what every other show has done that it was bound to be a letdown. It didn’t help matters that the foil for Jess and Nick’s spar was a sexually frustrated landlord who looked vaguely like Gary Busey.

Surprisingly, the stronger bit of comedy in this week’s episode was tied up in Schmidt’s B-story and his office flirting with his boss. Max Greenfield does a great job as presenting Schmidt as the ultimate poseur, a man who longs for a real connection to women but with no idea how to read their signals or pursue a relationship. He spent the entire episode trying to figure out if his boss’s commands to “sort her files” and “dial her into the Tokyo call” were actual tasks or just euphemisms for dirty, dirty sex. Watching Schmidt fumble his way through the affair was easily the strongest bit of the episode, as was his list of New Year’s Resolutions from 2007 (sample resolution: “Find out where Winston gets his sparkle, then steal it”). I feel like if they had switched the A and B plots this week I’d be talking about what a classic this episode was, instead of what a letdown it turned out to be.

I’m willing to give New Girl as a series a pass for having a bad episode every once in a while, I understand they can’t all be gold. Let’s just hope that Landlord was the only dud in what will turn out to be an otherwise great season. I still can’t recommend this show highly enough for those looking for solid scripted comedy, but if you’re new to the series please don’t start with this episode, because it stunk.

Score: 50 out of 100

For my entire adult life I’ve toiled away in relative obscurity, working a variety of jobs in order to make ends meet. That all changed in February 2012 when I was released from my job as a PR manager and found myself unemployed for the first time in my entire adult life.

Needless to say, without a job I have no income, and with no income I have to cut back on pretty much all the non-essentials. Which includes video games. This is heartbreaking, since games have been my passion, my obsession and my career for the better part of a decade.

But then, an idea! I would start a website where people could donate money to help me buy new games, and thus Brad the Broke Gamer was born. Here’s the rundown; you just click on that handy-dandy PayPal donate button, and any proceeds I receive will go toward buying a new game which I will then review on the site. The best part is that YOU get to pick what games I play, via the poll that’s always running on the page. Just vote on which game you want me to play and whenever we hit the magic $$ total I’ll trundle on over to the store and buy a copy of the top vote-getter. You control the agenda and I’m only going to talk about the games you care about. Also, since you’re paying for the games you know my reviews will be honest; no publisher freebies here.

In addition to games I’ll also be writing about TV shows, sporting news and other things which amuse me, so be sure to check back frequently to stay abreast of all the latest posts. The sites going to be a work in progress for a while, so if there’s anything you’d like to see then just shoot an email to bhilderbrand84 [at] gmail dawt com and I’ll take your advice into consideration.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the lights are starting to dim so I’d best go hand-crank the generator again.