September 26th, 2011

rain, Totoro

TV Thoughts

I've watched a lot of tv this weekend, partially because all the new Fall shows are starting up (and Shannon and I are trying out a few before deciding if there are any we want to stick with) ... and partially because I've been feeling digestively ill a lot in the past few days, which leaves me not really wanting to hop up and down and engage in active pastimes (and I find tv often soothing when I'm feeling sick) ... and partially because it was frickin' RAINING all day today. Sheesh! It was like 90 degrees two days ago, and now it's raining! I'd say our weather was schizophrenic ... but "schizophrenic" doesn't mean what most people seem to think it means. Dude, it is not the same as multiple personality disorder! But, at any rate, it was raining, and I didn't feel like long walks in the rain at this particular juncture.

Anyway, so, as I said, I've been watching a lot of tv. Here are some thoughts:

"A Gifted Man": One of the two main characters (the ghost, in fact) is played by Jennifer Ehrle, who also played Lizzie in the fabulously famous 1995 BBC mini-series adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Despite her significantly lighter hair, she looks pretty much the same age now as she did 16 years ago, so clearly she must have some kind of deal with the devil. I must admit, however, that she looks a bit different without the Georgian-style ruffled bonnets and empire-waisted gowns. (And she does a damn fine American accent!)

"The Great Food Truck Race": I discovered this show for the first time today when I was lying sick on the couch and cruising the random junk the TiVo had recorded as "suggestions." Clearly, this suggestion was based on my fondness for the "Top Chef" shows, but TGFTR is quite different, as the contest is less about the food and more about running a successful itinerant business. They move from city to city, all across the country, and have to figure out where to buy their supplies, where to park their carts (for the best traffic flow of hungry people with plenty of money to spend), what kind of menus will best appeal to their customers-of-the-day (e.g., ceviche might sell better on a hot day in Miami than grilled cheese sandwiches), etc. It's more about logistics, about creativity in problem-solving rather than in food design. I hadn't seen anything like it before, and I love it to pieces. Thank you, TiVo suggestion algorithm! Today they only aired the final two episodes of last season, and research seems to indicate that neither of the two existing seasons is available on DVD or streaming, so I can only watch the new season as it airs, which I believe will begin soon. Such sadness in my heart! Such sadness!

"The Amazing Race": One of my favorite people ever to appear on "Survivor," Ethan (who actually won his season, after being pretty damn adorable the whole time and playing soccer with ragged little kids in some random African village), is on TAR this season, so I'm interested to see how he does. He's about a decade older now than when he won "Survivor" (though he didn't win "Survivor" primarily through winning physical competitions, anyway), and he's lived through a serious battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma in the intervening years (and only went into remission about a year and a half ago), so I'm not sure how physically fit he is, but a lot of different factors contribute to people doing well on TAR, and physical fitness is only one of them. I really liked this season's premiere, if only because there were some embarrassingly stupid people and some impressively cool people, both of which can make for interesting tv if not taken to extremes. I particularly like the two friends who were both Olympic snowboarders, probably for the same reasons I liked the "hippies" in season 9: they've got a fun, relaxed vibe about them, like they're out to enjoy themselves and compete without taking themselves too seriously. I like people who find time to laugh while they're racing, people who smile at the locals they encounter, people who try to speak a few words of the local language, people who hug each other and support each other and encourage each other and try to understand each other (instead of screaming at each other, blaming each other, pouting, giving up, or any of the other bad behavior we see on the race every season).

"New Girl"

I am shocked -- shocked, I tell you! -- to discover that the "New Girl" pilot actually made me laugh! More than once! I'm not generally a fan of sit-coms (understatement), but I thought I'd give this one a try because I'd heard some good things & I really liked Zooey Deschanel in the excellent indie romcom film (500) Days of Summer. Plus, she's gorgeous, and even us straight gals can enjoy watching a beautiful woman upon occasion.

I quite like the sense of humor that permeates the show's writing, the supportive (and yet not saccharine) friendships among the characters charmed me, and some of the actors are fondly familiar, such as Max Greenfield, who played the adorable Deputy Leo D'Amato on "Veronica Mars."

I had set the TiVo to tape the pilot, but had 100% assumed that I wouldn't want to watch any of the show beyond that. In fact, I expected that I might not watch the pilot in its entirety, since sit-coms often annoy me with the stupidity of their humor and I doubted I'd have the stomach to watch an entire 30 minutes.

Color me surprised.

As Shannon points out, we've been disappointed before by interesting pilots that led to terrible series (e.g., 2007's obviously Clerks-inspired Reaper), but I'm willing to give "New Girl" another couple episodes to see what they do with it.

Were we the only ones who watched it? Anyone else have an opinion?

In other news, I was very very sick pretty much all day today, and I blame the antibiotics. Two more days of suffering, and then I will be free.
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