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What You Watched

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3 years ago
  • Icky
    Jun 28th, 2012

    I decided to bring this thread back because I’m getting rid of my Netflix subscription and I am trying to catch up on some things before I’m done with it.

    First thing I decided to get out of the way were the first four seasons of Ally McBeal. I recall enough about the atrocious fifth to know not to go there. So, I never watched this show consistently but I had a hate love/hate relationship with the series much like many of its viewers.

    I first season is fairly charming. It’s more low-key than I was expecting. I mean it’s pretty much like the early seasons of SatC but with less cursing and more gimmickry. It takes almost halfway through the first season for the show brighten up, become consistently funny. The first half of the season is also brought down by Ally’s infatuation with Billy, which remains dull for all the seasons. Flockhart is appealing throughout.

    Season two is where it becomes the show I remember this being. I was really anticipating this, because I barely remember anything specific from this season, and of course this is the apex of the show’s popularity and the one season to win the comedy series Emmy. I was pretty disappointed. Ally goes from “cutely quirky” to an annoying twat in a blink. The quirk meter and self-references get turned exponentially. Its talented cast gets expanded, but the focus is so sporadic and so Ally centric that none of them get their full due.

    Season three is pretty much a continuation of season two. In fact, unlike most I’d argue the first half of this season is better than most of season two. The series gets more consistently absurd, which is better than it being wildly absurd one scene then ridiculously mawkish the next. The final some odd episodes are just too cheesy for their own good. It just all becomes pretty insufferable

    Season four is overall my favorite. The addition of RDJ helped out tremendously as there was now a character, particularly a male character, who was quirky but not ridiculous. And Downy was able to pull off some of the writing better than of the ensemble in the previous years. His presence added something the show never had but was in desperate need of from the start: some genuine tension and convincing romance.

    Overall, this is a mess of a show with some genuinely good moments, not even really more than a handful of genuinely good episodes. Kelley was never able to satisfy with his melding  of oppressive quirk with his equally overwhelming sentimentality. The show’s biggest crime however was never forcing me to give a damn about any of these people. They never really had any arcs or growth. And none of them were funny enough to justify being so cartoonish. It’s not even as good as the iffy show I remember it being. I guess I should appreciate ‘Ally’ and its brief popularity for helping usher in more ambitious comedies. But in comparison to some of the meta, cutesy dramedies that followed it (Scrubs, Gilmore girls, Pushing Daisies, etc) it’s a failure.

    1. season four
    2. season one
    3. season two
    4. season three

    May 24th, 2011

    I just finished watching several series on Netflix in the last year and a half, they are:

    Leverage— I got through this one in a few weeks.

    One Tree Hill—-I got through this one fairly quickly considering how many seasons there are (9, i think) and managed to do so in about 3-4 months.

    Charmed–This one took me the longest simply because my interest would wane pretty often and I would leave it and go back to it.  It took nearly 2 years on and off for me to finish the whole series. 

    The Glades— I’d say I likely finished this one in a few weeks as well, a quick, easy show to get through.

    Rules of Engagement— Sort of a guilty pleasure I’ll admit.   I watched the last 3 seasons which I had missed in broadcast.

    and right now I’m watching The West Wing, which for some reason I have never seen before; I think likely because I wasn’t “mature” enough when it originally aired or felt I wouldn’t like it.  I’m actually enjoying it a lot; although I’ll admit I don’t always understand all the dialogue.    So far I enjoy the characters a lot and I appreciate that they try to showcase different points of view; although not always in a subtle way.      I’m mid-way through season 2 right now and can’t wait to see how it develops.   I’m trying my best not to look up plot points online but it’s sort of difficult to wait sometimes.  

    I have to say my favorite characters are easily: Sam, Josh, CJ, Ainsley (which shocks me to no end!), Abby (although so far she’s had precious little to actually do and has never driven the plot of an episode); and Donna.        I’m not sure if this is a common thought, but my least favorite character right now is actually President Bartlett.  I find him to be smug, arrogant and too preachy.  I also find Mr. Sheen’s performance to be a little bit too on the nose, too showy. 

    One thing that impresses me so far is the depth of material they are able to cover in 1 episode; and the pretty flawless ability to maintain the pace of the episodes.   I also love all the marvelous guest stars they manage to get in there.

    I have one question though; I know Allison Janney is a fantastic actress, but so far I’m into season 2 and she hasn’t really ever “driven” or been the main focus of any one episode or storyline continiously. She’s had a few moments here and there; does she ever become more of a “lead” character and drive her own storylines?    

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