Friday, July 5, 2013

Alias: Mirage (4.18)

Back when Alias first began, the relationship between Sydney and Jack was one of its most important sources of conflict. The writing ensured that their estrangement was uncomfortable yet relatable, while the chemistry between Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber made sure that, in spite of Syd's outward hostility towards her dad, the two of them were always sort of crying out for a real bond once again. But like so many of Alias' major stories, it's a conflict that's become a little directionless over recent seasons, the writers bombarding us with ill-conceived plot twists or a general lack of interest when it comes to the character's actual emotions.

Alias: A Clean Conscience (4.17)

Alias season four was a victim of major scheduling changes, episodes aired out of order, the year front-loaded with standalone hours in an attempt to attract new eyeballs. I bring this up because it's easy to assume that A Clean Conscience is an episode intended for earlier in the season, forgotten about for months, and randomly dropped in at this point when somebody on the crew remembered it existed, it being a huge filler episode that feels entirely out-of-place considering the hours that came before it. Only it's actually not the victim of a switcheroo at all. While last week ended with Sloane beating a man to death in front of a horrified Nadia, an event crying out for some kind of follow-through, the incident is entirely overlooked here, APO all distracted by the same old stuff as always.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Annual TV Commentary 2013

Every year I put together a brief summation of the television I enjoyed or alternatively didn't during the previous twelve months. My 2013 commentary is a little different, all confined to a single post and occasionally lacking the detail I've given previous round-ups. My television viewing has changed, though, along with my own aspirations as a writer. Anyway, television. No real spoilers this year.

Mad Men: Man with a Plan (6.7)

Don Draper exists in a state of perpetual control. Gotta be the top dog, the one holding the power, sharing the pie if and as he pleases. But something has changed this season, as if the people he surrounds himself with have experienced those trademark maneuvers one too many times, and they're not going to take it anymore. On a grander level, the world is going to hell. People in the greatest positions of power and respect are being murdered, and it makes a lot of sense for mere mortals, the bystanders, to try and hold onto the few aspects of their lives that they have control over. Man with a Plan is about that struggle, that determination to take ownership of something in a world where power is constantly out of your grasp. For Don himself, however, it's domination that he seeks, a hideously cruel distortion of a universal truth.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Felicity: Spooked (1.5)

The end mostly justifies the means in Spooked, probably the weakest episode so far and generally an exercise in repetition. Because Felicity isn't actually in a relationship with Ben, the writers have to source material from her perpetual longing. And that's fine, since the show has already done such a successful job of having Ben mostly exist through Felicity's gaze, the guy constantly photographed in slow-motion, the unattainable dreamboat. But part of the problem with an episode like Spooked is that it mostly revolves around their actual interaction, and so far the show is relying on the same narrative trajectory whenever they commit to a real conversation.

Girls: Hard Being Easy (1.5)

There's rarely a time correlation between a relationship falling apart and a relationship actually ending, both parties usually dragging it out far longer than is reasonably healthy. Because relationships naturally inspire self-doubt, the worry that you're not giving enough, or that it's your fault if something isn't working. Both Hannah and Marnie are at that crossroads this week, wondering if they can continue in their respective relationships, or if they're even strong enough to make actual change. Hard Being Easy features some characteristically strong Hannah material, but it's Marnie, unusually, who is the greatest recipient of character growth.