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Is the 2011-2012 Sitcom Schedule the Worst in a Decade?
November 10, 2011 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Splitsider asks "Is the 2011-2012 Sitcom Schedule the Worst in a Decade?"
posted by reenum (163 comments total)

 
I think the more important question is "Who the hell cares about arbitrary rankings about totally subjective things?"

Obviously this guy. Discuss.
posted by Talez at 2:02 PM on November 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


On th other hand, there really don't seem to be many good comedy shows on right now.
posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on November 10, 2011


I'm having trouble parsing this laundry list of TV shows.
posted by clvrmnky at 2:04 PM on November 10, 2011


I don't understand the parenthetical number system after each show. Are those supposed to be merits/demerits? Because both Community and Arrested Development are worth 3 whatevers, whereas Grounded for Life is 5. Or is it ratings, since Two and a Half Men is a 9+? But I don't think that gets Parks and Recreations a 4+. What the fuck are these things?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:05 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's what they ask in the title, but that's not what the article is about. The proper question is "Are the 2011-2012 Sitcom Premieres the Worst in a Decade?"

The proper answer is, who gives a fuck?

On preview: Happy Endings, Modern Family, Parks & Rec, The Office, Community.
posted by graventy at 2:05 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Those are seasons, shakespeherian.
posted by graventy at 2:05 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


These rankings make less than zero sense meaning they make negative sense.

Speaking of which, Sons and Daughters was fantastic--he judged it as Bad which means he never saw it which means I call into question all the other blurbs. THE SMOKING GUN
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:05 PM on November 10, 2011


There's still great stuff like Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead on the torrentvision.

Also, what clvrmnky said.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:05 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Number of seasons.
posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on November 10, 2011


Oh, is it number of seasons? Did The New Adventures of Old Christine really go five seasons?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:06 PM on November 10, 2011


I will not rest until American Dad! gets the appreciation it deserves. Remember that awesome time-bending episode of Community from two weeks ago? Well, the guy who wrote it, Chris McKenna, wrote an even better time-bending episode of American Dad!, “Rapture’s Delight.”

Wow. I was just thinking about how awesome "Rapture's Delight" was while on the bus this morning. It's one of the most amazing episodes of, well, anything, really that I've seen. It's on Netflix, so, really just do yourself and burn 21 minutes on it (and don't crap out halfway.) It'll be worth it.
posted by griphus at 2:06 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ah, like everyone else said.

The Walking Dead

Loved the start of season 2, hated the ending, now I just can't seem to muster the energy for Season 2.
posted by Artw at 2:07 PM on November 10, 2011


Sitcoms are generally ways to idly pass the time after work. You might talk about sitcoms the next day at work during idle moments. But trying to recall all the failed sitcoms from years past is like trying to remember bad meals you've had on various road trips. There are better parts to your past experiences than the fast food you ate along some highway.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:07 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


All I need is Venture Brothers.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:07 PM on November 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


But trying to recall all the failed sitcoms from years past is like trying to remember bad meals you've had on various road trips.

There's a Family Guy gag wherein they go to a racetrack where all the horses are named after failed Fox sitcoms. The overly-long announcement of the finish line order is the punchline to the bit.
posted by griphus at 2:08 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where the fuck is Venture Brothers anyway? Come on, Urbaniak, hurry it up!
posted by Artw at 2:09 PM on November 10, 2011


The overly-long announcement of the finish line order is the punchline to the bit.

Nah, the punchline was that those were all shows that Fox spent money on and cancelled in between Family Guy's premature finish and return.
posted by graventy at 2:11 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I blame The Simpsons for inventing the concept of "worst ____ ever" leading America's nerderatti to always assume everything is crap.

And The Simpsons also being kinda awful at least the past 5 years or so probably isn't helping sitcoms, either.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:12 PM on November 10, 2011


Nah, the punchline was that those were all shows that Fox spent money on and cancelled in between Family Guy's premature finish and return.

D'oh. Still a good gag, though!
posted by griphus at 2:15 PM on November 10, 2011


Meanwhile, my daily "tv news" email report (that I signed up for when I was writing about TV) reminds me that "Walking Dead" is the HIGHEST RATED DRAMATIC SERIES IN CABLE HISTORY. It's a good show, but it's a show about zombies, and the herd-like mentality of network executives will guarantee that most future "dramas" on TV will feature mindless, undead antagonists, making nuanced characterization obsolete. Not a good thing.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:16 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I blame The Simpsons for inventing the concept of "worst ____ ever" leading America's nerderatti to always assume everything is crap.

Worst. Comment. Ever.
Boooo, easy.
posted by phunniemee at 2:17 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


> There's a Family Guy gag wherein they go to a racetrack where all the horses are named after failed Fox sitcoms.

I used to have 20+ VHS tapes filled with Simpsons episodes, complete with commercials because it was easier to tape them that way. When I was at library school in '98 my housemate and I started a list of all the cancelled Fox shows the tapes contained commercials for ("M.A.N.T.I.S.!" "The Great Defender!", etc.). By the end of the term it was a long, long list.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:19 PM on November 10, 2011


I'm still waiting for the bit in The Walking Dead when they get a little further south and accidentally shoot Dexter Morgan in the face.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:20 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


griphus: D'oh. Still a good gag, though!

There was a similar gag in the first episode of the first renewed season.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:20 PM on November 10, 2011


Hairspray, a lighter and felt pens can produce some interesting results - also fire damaged artwork, no eyebrows.
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Artw: Hairspray, a lighter and felt pens can produce some interesting results - also fire damaged artwork, no eyebrows.

Either you just posted your comment in the wrong thread or you just pitched the next must-see sitcom. I'm hoping it's a new sitcom!
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:24 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Walking Dead is SO BORING. Zombie makeup is not a show guys.
posted by yellowbinder at 2:25 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]



And The Simpsons also being kinda awful at least the past 5 years or so probably isn't helping sitcoms, either.


It's more like ten, it's been bad longer then it was good. It is the undead among us.
posted by The Whelk at 2:26 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Either you just posted your comment in the wrong thread or you just pitched the next must-see sitcom. I'm hoping it's a new sitcom!

Heh. Hell, let's roll with that...
posted by Artw at 2:26 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sitcoms which began in the last ten years? OK, here's my list:

Good: Arrested Development, Raising Hope*
Bad: Everything else

*And the only reason these two are even remotely in the same category is because we're only using two categories.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:32 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


This guy actually LIKES Bob's Burgers?!?! That show is so unfucking funny and I'm a big fan of H. Jon Benjamin.
posted by GavinR at 2:37 PM on November 10, 2011


Kind of ridiculous to order these like they did. It's 12 entries for 12 consecutive years, but ordered funny. Each year is so similar that they should have done it chronologically, and then flagged the best and worst.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:37 PM on November 10, 2011


I saw one episode of Bob's Burgers and enjoyed it. I haven't really gone back to it, though. Archer is the real overhyped pile of stupid.

Venture Bros is still brilliant.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:38 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The numbers in parentheses are the numbers of seasons the show lasted. "+" means that it's still on.

From 2010-2011: Matthew Perry’s droll and unfunny Mr. Sunshine... if he managed to be droll AND unfunny, he deserved an Emmy. And a Nobel Prize.

From 2004-2005: I will not rest until American Dad! gets the appreciation it deserves.. Agree a thousand times. My favourite show on American TV.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 2:39 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


That article is a hot mess. What exactly are they trying to achieve here? I don't get it.
posted by Doleful Creature at 2:40 PM on November 10, 2011


Nothing brings out the "I've got an opinion that I think is important enough to share but I'm not actually going to bother making an argument" on Metafilter like TV, does it?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:40 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


If by "nothing" you mean "everything," then yes.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:45 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's still great stuff like Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead on the torrentvision

Those aren't realy "sitcoms" though, are they?

Walking Dead is SO BORING. Zombie makeup is not a show guys.

There is a whole lot more going on there than zombie makeup. A lot of people here are of the opinion that zombies are passe and the show doesn't contribute much to the genre, but even accepting that, the Walking Dead is consistently exciting and suspenseful by comparison to anything else on TV and many zombie movies. I really don't understand where you're coming from with this.
posted by Hoopo at 2:45 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's just a weird list. He says "Sitcom Schedule" but he's really ranking premieres, as mentioned earlier.

And if you are really ranking by the number of good premieres that debuted versus bad, then you are also restricted because the number of returning shows will affect how many new shows come in.

Also, Chuck and Reaper are sitcoms? I feel like I've already spent more time thinking about this article than the author.
posted by curse at 2:47 PM on November 10, 2011


I miss Better Off Ted. That is all.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:50 PM on November 10, 2011 [17 favorites]


Misfits is back for a third season on UK telly, so all is not lost if you have Bittorrent. New writer and a major cast change, but not too bad so far.
posted by Abiezer at 2:51 PM on November 10, 2011


Isn't every year the worst year for sitcoms in a decade? I don't know the last time the consensus was that it was a good year for new sitcoms. Maybe I've just lowered my standards, but my current problem isn't lack of sitcoms I enjoy, it's not having enough time to watch all of the ones I Tivo. Sure, most of them won't go down on the all-time greats list, but if I'm looking to kill an hour or two with some funny empty calorie TV I seem to be happy with my options.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:51 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The proper question is "Are the 2011-2012 Sitcom Premieres the Worst in a Decade?"
posted by graventy at 10:05 PM on November 10


No, the proper question is "Are the 2011-2012 American Sitcom Premieres the Worst in a Decade?"

You're right about the answer, though.
posted by Decani at 2:54 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


oneswellfoop: "It's a good show, but it's a show about zombies, and the herd-like mentality of network executives will guarantee that most future "dramas" on TV will feature mindless, undead antagonists, making nuanced characterization obsolete."

I think you just described 90% of TV dramas produced in the last 20 or 30 years…
posted by Pinback at 2:56 PM on November 10, 2011


As long as Archer is on, it's the best TV season ever. Even if the rest is complete shit.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:57 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Who the hell cares about arbitrary rankings about totally subjective things?"

The internet.
posted by auto-correct at 2:58 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, Chuck and Reaper are sitcoms?

More or less. Comedy Dramas?
posted by Artw at 2:58 PM on November 10, 2011


No, the proper question is "Are the 2011-2012 American Sitcom Premieres the Worst in a Decade?"

They don't tend to write about Little League in the sports pages, either.
posted by griphus at 3:01 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, what about Bored to Death? I haven't seen season 3 yet, but 1 and 2 were hilarious.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:02 PM on November 10, 2011


I feel like such an outsider. I've vaguely heard of maybe five of the shows listed in that entire article. Don't think I've ever seen an episode of one.

I just kinda look at this list and I'm like, hey, this is a long list of stuff that nobody ever expected to do much more than fill a few hours and pay people's bills. The distinct lack of any involvement I have in the world of sitcoms, contrasted to the dedication of someone who has opinions about every single sitcom on the big networks in the past ten years, is kind of... astounding, really.

Unless this dude is a professional TV critic in which case oh god the poor bastard HAD to watch ALL of this stuff and form opinions on it...
posted by egypturnash at 3:08 PM on November 10, 2011


making nuanced characterization obsolete.

To be fair I haven't seen a lot of nuanced characters as antagonists on TV shows. It's a rare exception, and generally a really good show, that treats antagonists this way. On TV bad guys are bad because they're bad guys, it's just more convenient for telling stories in a 22- or 45- minute format.

They don't tend to write about Little League in the sports pages, either.

There are some great shows that come from England, it's hardly "Little League." I mean look at the shows in that link. If that's "Big League", it's 75%-90% comprised of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros.
posted by Hoopo at 3:08 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I s anything great and new coming out of the UK at the moment? AFAIK the big thing is The Inbetweeners, which I'd stab my eyes out rather than watch.

I did like Misfits though.
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


>I feel like such an outsider<

I actually read through the whole list and have only seen 6 shows on it, and almost all of them animated. American Dad and The Cleveland Show are the only ones I’ve watched more than once or twice, the former being one of my favorite shows of all time, the latter because it’s in the way and sometimes amusing.

Apparently I gave up on sitcoms a long time ago. I didn’t realize I was such a hater.
posted by bongo_x at 3:15 PM on November 10, 2011


I s anything great and new coming out of the UK at the moment?

No idea; I usually see BBC stuff well after it airs in England. But if we're talking about the decade, off the top of my head we have the original Office, Dr Who, Sherlock, Shameless, some show called "Psychoville" that I'd really like to see at some point but can't vouch for, and fuck it I find Sasha Baron Cohen funny but Ali G is now over 10 years old at this point.
posted by Hoopo at 3:22 PM on November 10, 2011


The Card Cheat: I used to have 20+ VHS tapes filled with Simpsons episodes, complete with commercials because it was easier to tape them that way. When I was at library school in '98 my housemate and I started a list of all the cancelled Fox shows the tapes contained commercials for ("M.A.N.T.I.S.!" "The Great Defender!", etc.). By the end of the term it was a long, long list.

Wow, that just gave me a major flashback. I did the same thing... assembled an exhaustive VHS library with every single (at the time, ~10 seasons worth) Simpsons episode. I was so proud of it; there was no way back then to know what episode would be on when... I would have tapes queued up every day and manually recorded them all... no time-based recording, no commercials. If after a few seconds I realized I already had that episode, I'd rewind and leave the tape poised for the next broadcast. I was poised, catlike, to pause out commercials (so I'm missing those gems). I even put together a fat 3-ring binder with episode synopses, cross-referenced with the appropriate tape and how far in to fast-forward. 200+ episodes worth... it took me a couple of years to get them all.

A little part of me died when they announced the first season of Simpsons on DVD, with pristine picture quality, extras, and promises of all the rest to follow... "aww, fuck it." Overnight it went from a proud accomplishment to a futile quest, obsolete before it was even complete. Excuse me, I have something in my eye.
posted by rodeoclown at 3:25 PM on November 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


Wait, what? With Parks & Rec, Community, Modern Family, and How I Met Your Mother all airing, I'm irritated by how much TV I really like.
posted by flaterik at 3:25 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


The first two eps of the new Beavis and Butt-Head alone make this a great sitcom season. I would also like to know what's become of Venture Brothers, though, not to mention Metalocalypse...I think the real question is whether we're still able to make good sitcoms that aren't cartoons.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:26 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I miss Better Off Ted too. Anyone up for a rousing game of Lindabagel?
posted by infinitewindow at 3:32 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's on Netflix, so, really just do yourself and burn 21 minutes on it (and don't crap out halfway.) It'll be worth it.

I have never been more thoroughly convinced to do myself.

sorry
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:34 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, reading with my reading comprehension set to "on", I realize he's rating the seasons based solely on NEW shows. That seems like an... odd... way to do things.
posted by flaterik at 3:34 PM on November 10, 2011


A little part of me died when they announced the first season of Simpsons on DVD, with pristine picture quality, extras, and promises of all the rest to follow... "aww, fuck it." Overnight it went from a proud accomplishment to a futile quest, obsolete before it was even complete. Excuse me, I have something in my eye.

Now you know how Star Trek fans felt after two decades of obsessively taping shows. I can remember going to conventions in the early 1990s and seeing tape collections that were 12-15 years old then.
posted by briank at 3:34 PM on November 10, 2011


"A little part of me died when they announced the first season of Simpsons on DVD, with pristine picture quality, extras, and promises of all the rest to follow..."

To be fair, DVDs didn't even exist when The Simpsons first went to air…
posted by Pinback at 3:39 PM on November 10, 2011


And even today, obsessive tapers are still the only reason shows like the Norm Show or Get a Life or (until very recently) Larry Sanders are available for viewing. Heroes!
posted by Lorin at 3:40 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Loren Bouchard's Bob's Burgers and the voice of Jon H. Benjamin will be a welcome winter return to Fox's Sunday night schedule, if only because it means less Cleveland Show

When a guy's right, a guy's right.
posted by Splunge at 3:42 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was only last season and I have no recollection of Better with You.

That one hurts. I'm sure I'm the only person who didn't get paid for working on the show who thinks this way, but I almost cried when I learned that Better With You was cancelled. It started out slow, but by the end it was the only sitcom that I planned my television watching around.
posted by Golfhaus at 3:54 PM on November 10, 2011


I actually really liked Carpoolers. It had the best names in sitcom history. Here are all the male lead character names:

Gracen
Aubrey
Dougie
Marmaduke
Laird
posted by ericbop at 4:02 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I realized after only recognizing less than a handful of those shows that I haven't owned or regularly watched a TV since 1999. Sometimes when I'm visiting my mother, I'll watch the news, Everybody Loves Raymond (ugh) or the Food Network (which I do love!)

Annnnd that's it.

Unsurprisingly, most of those shows sound boring.
posted by Malice at 4:13 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I feel like such an outsider. I've vaguely heard of maybe five of the shows listed in that entire article. Don't think I've ever seen an episode of one."

"I actually read through the whole list and have only seen 6 shows on it, and almost all of them animated."


Congratulations? I guess it's a step up from the "Is this something I'd need a television to understand?" crowd...

"There is a whole lot more going on there than zombie makeup. A lot of people here are of the opinion that zombies are passe and the show doesn't contribute much to the genre, but even accepting that, the Walking Dead is consistently exciting and suspenseful by comparison to anything else on TV and many zombie movies. I really don't understand where you're coming from with this."

My problem with Walking Dead is that it's a character-driven show set during a zombie apocalypse with loathsome, uninteresting characters, atrocious writing, and laughable acting (My friends and I blazed through Season 1 on Netflix and were unsure if it was meant to be a satirical comedy -- especially that scene where Andrea mourns her sister's death by clutching onto her body for half the episode until she begins to turn, then wailing, pulling her now-zombied sister's head in close and blowing it off with a gun). At least the first season was entertaining. This second season has been one of the most boring, pointless bodies of work I've witnessed in years. Again, wouldn't be so bad if they had characters you could relate to or at least had more than the banal, uninspired drivel exchanged between characters. Hopefully there's a method to the madness and it picks up steam.
posted by Mach3avelli at 4:20 PM on November 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


I liked Bob's Burgers, a lot. This is not just because of my love for H. Jon Benjamin. The first three episodes were admittedly a little shaky, but I felt the same about Community, and both shows evened out by the 5th episode or so and developed characters I really, truly, absolutely love.

I note that it's labelled with a '+' but I haven't heard a thing about it since last season ended. I really hope that symbol isn't lying to me.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 4:20 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is a whole lot more going on there than zombie makeup. A lot of people here are of the opinion that zombies are passe and the show doesn't contribute much to the genre, but even accepting that, the Walking Dead is consistently exciting and suspenseful by comparison to anything else on TV and many zombie movies. I really don't understand where you're coming from with this.

I don't know, I find the writing, charactization, and most of the acting to be really flat. I can't make it through an episode anymore, so I've ditched it from my viewing. Of course, all art is subjective, so this is only my opinion. I also hate how so much of Metafilter is people saying your favorite x sucks, and I'm a little annoyed at myself for having done it here, so I'm going to bow out on this subject.
posted by yellowbinder at 4:23 PM on November 10, 2011


To be fair, for top Metafilter hate, he should have put each season on its own page.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:27 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Using your television to watch television is so 90s. I just use mine as a heat lamp for drying tobacco.

But seriously, The Walking Dead. If they'd do a lot less telling and a lot more showing, the show would improve drastically. And how'd that zombie get in the well, anyway? Wouldn't ol' Doc Stereotype and Lonely Competent Horsewoman have noticed that? And why are all the lights in that house always on? Won't zombies be drawn to the sound of the generators? Also: Shane is a butthole and I hope a zombie bites his butthole face clean off. But: Norman Reedus is awesome.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:30 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ugh. Can't fucking stand "character driven" portions of shows that make no sense given the shows premise and are basically just tacked on to make the actors feel like they've got something to do and make the writers feel like they are doing something weighty.

I hear in Walking Dead a character who doesn't like guns is all upset that their kid starts practicing with a gun. In a zombie apocalypse? Jesus fucking Christ that is stupid.

Still nothing on the idiotic "character driven" crap Falling Skies and Terra Nova are padded out with though.
posted by Artw at 4:32 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


To be fair, for top Metafilter hate, he should have put each season on its own page.

That did not help the Slate article on classics...
posted by Artw at 4:32 PM on November 10, 2011


Also: Shane is a butthole and I hope a zombie bites his butthole face clean off.

They've actually made him more vile than he was in the comics. In the comics, he was mostly a dick because he had fallen in love with Lori and was secretly pissed the Rick wasn't actually dead. In the TV show they've turned him into a bit of a psychopath who does "bad things" without any real motivation.

I can give you comic-related spoilers if you want to MeMail me.
posted by asnider at 4:34 PM on November 10, 2011


I'm also beginning to suspect that Fringe has gone a bit rubbish.
posted by Artw at 4:39 PM on November 10, 2011


I don't know, I find the ...charactization... to be really flat

Let's see...noble country sheriff. Racist redneck. Wise old guy who acts all fatherly. "Doc Stereotype" and "Competent Horsewoman" as Bitter Old Punk puts it. Yeah, OK point taken.

Shane is a butthole and I hope a zombie bites his butthole face clean off.

I'm 2 episodes behind; last I saw was where Shane shaved his head, and his butthole move in that episode seemed...potentially justifiable as self-preservation thing. I'd probably have done the same to any of you in that situation, FYI. I'm not a guy you want around in a zombie apocalypse.
posted by Hoopo at 4:43 PM on November 10, 2011


All I need is Venture Brothers.

I felt the same way about Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil. But I'm glad Venture Brothers is coming back (next year, right?)...
posted by mintcake! at 4:46 PM on November 10, 2011


I'm also beginning to suspect that Fringe has gone a bit rubbish.

Sigh. This week's episode is supposed to be huge.



I hope so.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 4:46 PM on November 10, 2011


Thank you for not pointing out that charactization is not a word
posted by yellowbinder at 4:47 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am eager for the zombie apocalypse apocalypse. We need fresh horrors.

Hic habitat minotaurus, or some shit.
posted by everichon at 4:47 PM on November 10, 2011


The first season of The Walking Dead was great because stuff actually happened. This season has mostly taken place in a house on a farm. A plot line that would have been resolved over the course of a single episode last season has dragged on for 5 episodes now, with no resolution in sight.

I blame AMC firing the executive producer and slashing the show's budget. They moved to filming 50% of the show indoors, not spending any money on zombie makeup and making sure nothing much really happened. Because stuff happening costs money.

They killed what could have been a great show by nickle and diming it to death. The biggest zombie is that show itself at this point, waiting for the network to realize what it did, put a gun to its head and pull the trigger.
posted by mikesch at 4:54 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Every last thing AMC have said about the show lately has been a compelling argument for not watching it, that's for sure.
posted by Artw at 5:03 PM on November 10, 2011


And even today, obsessive tapers are still the only reason shows like

My old roommate's obsessive taping is the only reason I've been able to watch David Lynch's tv show that wasn't Twin Peaks (scanning...On the Air?).
posted by drezdn at 5:07 PM on November 10, 2011


I kinda like Mike & Molly. Mainly because I have a crush on Melissa McCarthy but the supporting cast is pretty good too.
posted by jonmc at 5:08 PM on November 10, 2011


FYI - FWIW, Venture Broswas in pre-production for Season 5 (as of December 2010) and was renewed for both season 5 and 6. It takes them a long time to finish the episodes, though.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:09 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Heh. "Venture Browser."
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:09 PM on November 10, 2011


some show called "Psychoville" that I'd really like to see at some point but can't vouch for

Not exactly a sitcom, per se. More a carnival of psychopaths, fools and cruelty, played for uneasy laughs.
posted by Sparx at 5:09 PM on November 10, 2011


He dissed Knights Of Prosperity. This means he has no taste and I can safely ignore his opinions, because KoP was fucking great.
posted by waraw at 5:10 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


People still watch TV?
posted by joelf at 5:15 PM on November 10, 2011


Only those who own one. Haahaha, what the fuck ever
posted by jonmc at 5:20 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Actually the hipster thing now is excessive involvement in TV, usually via streaming media. Not watching TV is now too mainstream.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:25 PM on November 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Reading about TV sitcoms is as painful as watching them apparently.
posted by delmoi at 5:28 PM on November 10, 2011


I just can't believe Elena isn't a vampire yet.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:57 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm also beginning to suspect that Fringe has gone a bit rubbish.
Gone?
posted by fullerine at 6:16 PM on November 10, 2011


Oh my god, Allan Gregory, you guys. So good. Best network animated sitcom since... Well, since Bob's Burgers, I guess. Only it's better. Not only is it perfectly written and acted, but it's also beautiful to look at.

Once Bob's Burgers comes back please oh please oh please, Fox will at long last be able to jettison a certain yellow family from its Sunday lineup please oh please oh please.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:42 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


This article was written entirely for people to argue over. That's not a terribly good reason for writing an article on sitcoms and I can't see any other point being made. "Are this year's sitcoms the weakest in the 21st century? Here is a list of sitcoms."

Also, am I the only one so sick of Zooey Deschanel that I haven't given New Girl a chance? Where did I recently see debate about the manic pixie dreamgirl? Was it here? Someone asked who the male equivalent was and I think they've found it - apparently, Justin Long is joining the cast.
posted by maryr at 7:58 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know. I watched 3 episodes of Walking Dead, thought it was ok, watched Pontypool (which I wasn't 100% sold on but was so much more ambitious) and found I couldn't go back to Walking Dead. Whatsoever.

Also: I hate sitcoms. Except the few I like. Most of these were on around 1980 and... now.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:12 PM on November 10, 2011


How did a post about sitcoms wind up including a conversation about The Walking Dead?

(Which is duller than dirt this season, btw. If it were a sitcom, I bet I'd watch it though.)
posted by tzikeh at 8:23 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was an interesting choice to focus on Sit-Coms on broadcast networks. Over the last year, sitcoms on premium and cable channels have just started making up half my funny-TV viewing.

Archer, Always Sunny, The League, Party Down, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Louie?

versus

Modern Family, Happy Endings, How I met Your mother, Parks and Rec, Community, 30 rock?

I guess the cable sit-coms are so much more niche that measuring quality/popularity is magnitudes more arbitrary but it ignores how recent years the rise of original cable programming means we're consistently seeing better TV, regardless what we're seeing on the Big4 + CW/WB/whatever. I agree 2008 was a local nadir for the broadcast networks, but on the whole I'd take it over anything from the 1990's, even though they had Frasier and Seinfield and that third show... what was it?... began with an Fr... about six annoying yuppies in new york?... mmmm Frasier Seinfeild and the other one. Oh well.
posted by midmarch snowman at 9:00 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fringe is still good. The core premise seems to me to actually be "exploring the inescapable nature of grief through various perspectives" rather than "fringe science." This season is just as true to that as any other.

Was The Walking Dead ever less dull than dirt?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:00 PM on November 10, 2011


at least some talented makeup and SFX folk are making a dollar off that malarkey.
posted by The Whelk at 11:06 PM on November 10, 2011


MaryR: Someone asked who the male equivalent was and I think they've found it - apparently, Justin Long is joining the cast.

The male equivalent of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is the Ryan Gosling.
posted by minifigs at 1:19 AM on November 11, 2011


I've been really wanting an opportunity to ask Metafilter, sincerely: What is the appeal of Modern Family? I watched the first seven episodes or so when they aired, and I see the stylistic differences from typical sitcoms, but other than that, what with the buffoonish dad, utterly bratty teenage daughter, gay dude dressing his baby up as Diana Ross, family that just loves each other at the end of the day, etc, I don't get what makes it special or fresh compared to all the other family sitcoms?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 2:03 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Artw: "I'm also beginning to suspect that Fringe has gone a bit rubbish."

Fringe has, or rather I suspect it will prove to have once its run is finished, a plot arc that could sustain maybe three highly entertaining 12-episode seasons. Chuck in another dozen eps of monster-of-the-week and Walter-loses-it (because even Walter-centric episodes that go nowhere are generally great) and you've got a solid 4-season show. It's suffering because the padding required to fill 20+ episodes per season is not only making for boring episodes but it's making the characters dumber: why, Olivia, after all you've seen, would you not keep an eye on [x]? They're just going to escape and become a minor antagonist for the mid-season "finale", and maybe slightly injure someone you care about!

It hasn't reached Torchwood levels of idiocy yet, but it's not far off.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:35 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is anything great and new coming out of the UK at the moment? AFAIK the big thing is The Inbetweeners, which I'd stab my eyes out rather than watch.

If you haven't ever watched it, you're missing out; it's one of the best encapsulations of 16-17-schoolboy-ness ever. If you can't stand reliving 16-17, fair enough.

Here's a list of notable UK sitcoms by year of debut from 2000 onwards (which just misses Spaced, but there you go), culled from this comprehensive list of UK comedies. A few might be notable for the wrong reasons, but at least they're notoriously bad rather than just forgettable. But most are consistently good, and some have had very long runs.

2000: Black Books, Coupling, Marion and Geoff, My Family
2001: The Office, Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps
2002: 15 Storeys High
2003: Peep Show
2004: I am Not an Animal, The Mighty Boosh, Nighty Night, Shameless, The Smoking Room
2005: Extras, Nathan Barley, The Thick of It
2006: Hyperdrive, The IT Crowd, Lead Balloon, Not Going Out, Pulling, Saxondale
2007: Free Agents, How Not to Live Your Life, Outnumbered
2008: The Inbetweeners, Lab Rats
2009: Gary: Tank Commander, Miranda, Misfits, Psychoville, Reggie Perrin
2010: Grandma's House, Him & Her, Mongrels, Pete Versus Life, Rev, Shelfstackers, This is Jinsy, The Trip
2011: The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff (forthcoming), Episodes, Friday Night Dinner, Life's Too Short

Of that lot, my pick would be Black Books, The Office, Peep Show, The Mighty Boosh (on the margins of what you'd call a sitcom), The Thick of It, The IT Crowd, Not Going Out, Saxondale, Outnumbered, The Inbetweeners, Grandma's House and Friday Night Dinner. Also I'm looking forward to The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff, a TV spinoff of an excellent Radio 4 comedy series. There are others shown above that I've missed myself but have heard are good.
posted by rory at 3:59 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Whoops, missed out

2004: Green Wing
2005: Love Soup
2010: Whites

and no doubt others.
posted by rory at 6:20 AM on November 11, 2011


Whitney is so terrible it should be nuked from orbit. It takes the combined efforts of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey to prevent NBC from not just collapsing under an avalanche of suck thanks to Whitney.

(Parks and Rec last night was so funny I almost spewed my drink on the couch multiple times, though. And will someone please give Will Arnett a show that isn't totally halfassed?)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:23 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hyperdrive was just excruciatingly awful.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:03 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I miss Better Off Ted too.

>Better Off Ted - Vulgar Outtakes: Not to be missed if you're a fan. Very very NSFW language.

I just can't believe Elena isn't a vampire yet.

I've actually stopped thinking of that show as a guilty pleasure now. It's just a good show. Similarly Nikita. Shows with actual plot momentum! Unbelievable.

(I love you Castle, but JFC stop being Bones and chickenshitting around the main coupling. Really, it's possible to do it and not immediately suck! Moonlighting started sucking for other reasons, guys.)
posted by kmz at 9:09 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The proper question is "Are the 2011-2012 Sitcom Premieres the Worst in a Decade?"

The proper answer is, who gives a fuck?


The proper answer is "Are today's shit sandwiches any better than yesterday's?"

And will someone please give Will Arnett a show that isn't totally halfassed?

Yes, please. I'm beginning to doubt him.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:11 AM on November 11, 2011


"And even today, obsessive tapers are still the only reason shows like the Norm Show or Get a Life or (until very recently) Larry Sanders are available for viewing. Heroes!"
posted by Lorin

WKRP with original music ftw!

Also, 2nding Hyperdrive as "excruciatingly awful."

"2000: Black Books, Coupling, Marion and Geoff, My Family"

Marion and Geoff is hilarious and very dark, for those who don't know it, it is the creation of Rob Brydon, and he is also the star of the show.
posted by marienbad at 9:11 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


(via wikipedia - i couldn't remember Brydon's surname!)

In Between Marion and Geoff - Steven Peacock - Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies, Southampton Solent University.

(Page 1 only)
posted by marienbad at 9:20 AM on November 11, 2011


"And even today, obsessive tapers are still the only reason shows like the Norm Show or Get a Life or (until very recently) Larry Sanders are available for viewing. Heroes!"

My wife laughs at me when I say I want to buy a new VCR.

But who will be laughing in 2050 when I have the only viewable copies of VR.5? Not her, that's who. She'll probably be dead.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:27 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


We get a weird selection of shows over here (UK) - no Community, no Parks and Rec, Party Down (seriously Britain - put Party Down on),Seinfeld and Arrested Development shown really late at night when nobody remembered they were on, 30 Rock and Two and a Half Men on a Sky channel that barely anyone sees, US Office is on at about 1245am on ITV4 or something....but 8 Simple Rules used to be on all the time during the day when I worked irregular hours. My Wife and Kids seemed to be constantly on on E4, and we're getting 2 Broke Girls later in the year.

I don't know if we get Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother still, but they used to play on a daytime channel here. Neither did it for me really. I found Big Bang Theory actively irritating.
posted by mippy at 9:27 AM on November 11, 2011


Whitney is so terrible it should be nuked from orbit. It takes the combined efforts of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey to prevent NBC from not just collapsing under an avalanche of suck thanks to Whitney.

Whitney has been a huge disappointment. I was really happy for Whitney Cummings when I heard she was getting her own sitcom, having always found her to be the highlight of Chelsea Lately and the Comedy Central Roasts when she would appear as part of the panel, as well as really enjoying her stand-up special and appearances on the Howard Stern show.

It would be one thing if it were some talentless hack at the center of the show or someone who didn't have any role in the show besides as an actress and thus had no control over the scripts, but neither is the case with Whitney (she's also a writer and producer). I just have such a hard time believing that someone who has proven to be so funny in many other environments can actually read these scripts and watch the finished product and actually not see how genuinely awful they are (particularly compared with the shows that precede it on NBC's Thursday night line-up).

Whole episodes have been dedicated to such inane topics such as whether or not Whitney's boyfriend looked at some other girl's ass or whether he sometimes uses a condescending tone. The show is like throwaway stand-up jokes painfully stretched into a half-hour.
posted by The Gooch at 9:27 AM on November 11, 2011


"And even today, obsessive tapers are still the only reason shows like the Norm Show or Get a Life or (until very recently) Larry Sanders are available for viewing. Heroes!"

Also Northern Exposure with the original music. Again, something that never got much of an audience int he UK due to rubbish scheduling (though I was a bit young at the time). Yet Cybill was a prime-time show.

God, I loved The Norm Show when I was 17 or so, but I watched it recently and the laugh track made it unwatchable. Has the world changed, or have I changed?
posted by mippy at 9:28 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


And The Simpsons also being kinda awful at least the past 5 years or so probably isn't helping sitcoms, either.

I haven't actively watched it in years, but a friend of mine who's a hard-line Season 5er or whatever says it is actually (finally) getting better now.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:29 AM on November 11, 2011


Family Guy needs to be put down, I think. I saw one of the new season episodes recently and I'm just not sure what they're trying to do anymore. 'Offensiveness' is fine if it's funny, but they can't do it anymore.
posted by mippy at 9:35 AM on November 11, 2011


That episode of American Dad must be goddamn phenomenal, because the rest of the series is garbage.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:38 AM on November 11, 2011


Nthing the total destruction of all record that Hyperdrive ever existed.
posted by Artw at 9:40 AM on November 11, 2011


Has the world changed, or have I changed?

Oh, let's go for a walk where it's quiet and dry and talk about precious things.

Venture Broswas in pre-production for Season 5 (as of December 2010) and was renewed for both season 5 and 6.

I still have only watched Seasons 1 of both Venture Bros. and Futurama. I'm set for comedy for a while.

the Walking Dead is consistently exciting and suspenseful by comparison to anything else on TV and many zombie movies.

Wut.

The *headline* is definitely misleading, but I didn't think the article was that bad, nor the methodology that flawed.

Family Guy needs to be put down, I think. I saw one of the new season episodes recently and I'm just not sure what they're trying to do anymore. 'Offensiveness' is fine if it's funny, but they can't do it anymore.

You could say the same thing about South Park ... 5 years ago. I expect both shows to be going for another 10 years or so. Why not. People watch them.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:48 AM on November 11, 2011


Unsurprisingly, I'm meh on this listas well. Two Broke Girls, the one new sitcom I think has promise, is on the "bad" list. The actress playing Max lit up the screen in what was meant to be a bit part in the movie Thor, and she's the best thing about the sit-com, too.

Don't get the hate for this season's Walking Dead at all, though. Even flawed, it's up there with Pan-Am as a personal favorite while waiting around for the Justify, TrueBlood and Game of Thrones seasons to start again.

Racist redneck Darryl (pretty sure that's his name and his brother was Merill--I remember because they remind me of "Hi, I'm Larry. This is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl," from the Newhart days) went out of his way to save black dude when he tore his arm up, pulling zombies on top of both of them to survive the shuffling herd, getting him antibiotics for his fever, etc. And his resourcefulness and uncanny expertise with the crossbow makes him invaluable right now.

Paternal Wise Old Guy Dale manipulates situations and emotionally blackmails people to keep them doing what he wants, which might backfire on him. Sheriff Rick is an in-charge dude who also has a tendency to cut and run when times get tough.

So yeah, the stereotypes are there, but they're working on making the characters more nuanced. I'd like to see the formerly abused woman cowgirl up too (by which I mean not just hammering on a zombie, because that's too easy, but maybe actually demanding weapons and survival training for her daughter so she doesn't have to rely on the men to protect her the way her Mom did, and so she CAN survive in the woods on her own if she has to).

Oh, and on that subject--I know the inconsistency of who gets guns and who doesn't and the over-protectiveness of the kids is maddening given their situation--but this will, if the show follows the graphic novels, become a major plot point later on, and a good one, if it plays out the way my teen thinks it will.

Admittedly, some episodes are better than others. The zombie in the well plot device was just stupid. I'd never risk Glenn, of all people--and why risk a person at all?! What, Darryl couldn't wound a squirrel with that crossbow to lower down?

I agree that Andrea is annoying, and her acting is flat. I wish they'd kept her sister alive and killed her off instead, and I can't like Laurie despite how "strong" they keep trying to convince us she is (it took her about five minutes to sleep with her hisband's best friend, partner and the guy who arguably got him shot and then left him for dead, so that strong woman storyline is a hard sell) but, hey, you can't expect to have all your dreams come true in the midst of the apocalypse.

But man, I love to watch Shane's pathology unfolding! Shane may be ab asshole, but he is utterly devoted to Laurie and Carl, and seen in that light, his most despicable actions make sense to me as calculated moves to keep close to them. Volunteer for mission to get help for Carl, no chance for us both to get back, and Otis loyally said he won't leave me behind? Okay, Otis, you're zombie bait! Now Carl has what he needs for surgery, I'm a hero, and the woman I want went from "Leave me the hell alone," to "Please stay." Big win for Shane!
posted by misha at 10:10 AM on November 11, 2011


Two Broke Girls, the one new sitcom I think has promise, is on the "bad" list. The actress playing Max lit up the screen in what was meant to be a bit part in the movie Thor, and she's the best thing about the sit-com, too.

I really wanted to like the show, and the pilot had promise, but I had to turn it off after the extended horseshit gag in the second episode. I like Kat Dennings, and the other actress was pretty good as well, but they need a better show around them.

Oh, the offensive stereotypes at the diner didn't help either.
posted by kmz at 10:21 AM on November 11, 2011


Family Guy needs to be put down, I think. I saw one of the new season episodes recently and I'm just not sure what they're trying to do anymore. 'Offensiveness' is fine if it's funny, but they can't do it anymore.

You could say the same thing about South Park ... 5 years ago. I expect both shows to be going for another 10 years or so. Why not. People watch them.


I concur with both sentiments. Family Guy has been on for ten seasons, which is a lot, and it really does seem like it's on autopilot this year. Same old gags, nothing new plot-wise. It's stayed in a groove for so long that the groove has become a rut. It's time.

In contrast, South Park has been on for fifteen seasons, but it's a different beast entirely. Since it's so often topical, its new episodes have a feeling of freshness about them. It's pretty ingenious, really; topicality was once the domain of the disposable late night monologue, but in episodic television it has an air of real Cultural Relevance. Catch a rerun, though, and that topicality dates the shows terribly. But that's the really ingenious part: The old episodes will always look bad in comparison to the new episodes, i.e. the show will always seem like it's getting better and better, even when it's just spinning its wheels. Since the show airs in two half-seasons a year, there's never enough time for the latest episodes to get stale enough to really be evaluated outside the context of their topicality. Mark my words, South Park will never be cancelled as long as Parker and Stone are willing and able to shovel it out.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:06 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I meant to say, re: Family Guy, that while it's clearly stuck in a rut, as long as they stick to that formula, the quality of the episodes won't go down per se; there'll just be more of them, and, hey, if it works, and people still watch it, more power to them. The only reason I say "It's time," is because, well, at some point you have to concede that enough is enough.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:11 AM on November 11, 2011


Good point on the cultural currency of South Park. It has become the 2000s version of "Law & Order--ripped from the headlines."
posted by mrgrimm at 12:29 PM on November 11, 2011


Wut

Seriously, what even compares for exciting and suspenseful? Dexter should have been caught or killed at least 2 years ago, True Blood just came off it's most questionable season yet and is a step away from becoming Twilight with boobies, Game of Thrones is pretty great I guess but doesn't really have those "omygodomygodomygod" moments. Other than those, what have you got on TV?
posted by Hoopo at 1:08 PM on November 11, 2011


Other than those, what have you got on TV?

Boardwalk Empire.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:18 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm going to go ahead and say Breaking Bad.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:26 PM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Boardwalk Empire is great, but it's never made me jump out of my seat. I'm ashamed to admit I've never watched Breaking Bad...I've seen like 1 or 2 episodes with no context, not the best way to see any series.
posted by Hoopo at 9:00 PM on November 11, 2011


Breaking Bad is bizarre. I watched the first series and considered it to be the best thing since The W**e but for some reason I have a mental block about watching the rest.

Perhaps it is too good.
I'm scared of commitment.
posted by fullerine at 9:11 PM on November 11, 2011


Perhaps it is too good.

Entirely possible. The last episode of Breaking Bad was probably one of my top five favorite episodes of television.
posted by phunniemee at 9:16 PM on November 11, 2011


God, I loved The Norm Show when I was 17 or so, but I watched it recently and the laugh track made it unwatchable. Has the world changed, or have I changed?

Yeah I had the same experience recently with Newsradio, which is a total classic! but the laugh track seems so jarring now.

I enjoy Boardwalk Empire but it's another show like Mad Men in that I prefer to wait for the DVD and watch it all at once. I don't have the patience for one week at a time with slower-paced dramas I guess. I have a similar mental block with Breaking Bad, made it through the first season and had to take a break. Gave me more nightmares than the Wire.
posted by Lorin at 11:49 PM on November 11, 2011


Seriously, what even compares for exciting and suspenseful?

Sons of Anarchy!
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:43 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boardwalk Empire hasn't struck me as "slow paced drama" at all lately. The scene in prison with Chalky White (okay, just about anything with Chalky White this season) was one of the best I've seen on TV in a long, long time.

Also, I hope the rest of you enjoyed last night's ep of Fringe as much as I did. Best all season. Of course it comes just a week before their "fall finale," but what can you do?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:19 AM on November 12, 2011


Breaking Bad doesn't hit its stride until season 2, about the time Saul Goodman and Gus show up. I gave up during season 1 the first time.

It's pretty ridiculous in some regards and almost campy, but definitely exciting and suspenseful.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:38 AM on November 12, 2011


You stopped at season 1? Dude, season 2 is pretty good, as mrgrimm says, and season 3 is killer (though yes, ridiculous). Don't stop now.

Looking forward to Boardwalk Empire.

And reading the books is making Game of Thrones a bit of a difficult watch, to be honest.

I refuse to believe MeFi at large endorses Fringe. I mean Heroes, I can see it. Lost? Sure. BSG? Whatever floats your boat, I guess. But Fringe, seriously?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:20 PM on November 12, 2011


Some of us just miss X-Files enough to ignore Joshua Jackson's whole deal.
posted by The Whelk at 2:48 PM on November 12, 2011


Fringe is really, really well written, especially the build up through season 2. It's what LOST should have been (in terms of epic storytelling in a genre framing), but with a lot more planning and nuance. It's not perfect, but it's kind of the pinnacle of what shows like both LOST and the X-files could have been with more deliberation around planning of long term story arcs. You think it's going to be an episodic X-files rip-off, but it actually grows in depth with each passing episode.

I wouldn't have watched it if not for metafilter, and if anyone picks it up because of my own waxing enthusiastic, it will have been worth it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:30 PM on November 12, 2011


(It's easily better than both Heroes and Lost.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:31 PM on November 12, 2011


The spooky spooky woo woo show - useful for skipping some of the S1 filler - though in the end I ploughed through it all anyway.
posted by Artw at 7:40 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fringe is really, really well written, especially the build up through season 2.

From what I keep hearing, it's well plotted, but the writing was so awful I abandoned it after the first episode. I mean, laughably, cringeworthy bad. If I lack for anything else to watch at some point, I may give it another try, but I just don't know.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:03 AM on November 13, 2011


If it helps PhoB, you did convince me to watch the first season, "well-plotted" seemed like the best phrase so far, I was happy to see plot tokens and elements brought up offhandedly re-appear as major devices late, the Mystery/Conspiracy aspects are well done, which if you're coming at it from an X-Files background, is a happy surprise. It's really just perfectly fine, with John Noble stealing every scene he's in which is probably because Anna Torv's character still feels completely out-of-the-box-trope-machine and Jousha Jackson is ...doing something where he says lines and moves his arms but is somehow totally removed from every single story. You could replace him with a hand puppet.


Does Astrid get a bigger role? Or Nina? Cause I am still pissed-off-by-proxy for double major Astrid Farnsworth doing all the grunt work and being ordered around like an intern. She's a haircut.
posted by The Whelk at 1:14 AM on November 13, 2011


From what I keep hearing, it's well plotted, but the writing was so awful I abandoned it after the first episode. I mean, laughably, cringeworthy bad. If I lack for anything else to watch at some point, I may give it another try, but I just don't know.

If you're judging based on the first episode alone, you're dead wrong. The dialogue and character building is much better than on, say, The Walking Dead (or as my husband, who watches it for want of better TV horror, calls it, "The Walking Derp"). Walter Bishop is an incredibly well-crafted character, and his relationship with Peter is startlingly nuanced for television. As is the relationships between Peter and Olivia (or, really
spoilers; mouseover to see).

Anna Torv's character seems wooden and poorly-acted until you realize that that's who the character actually is due to certain childhood trauma, which is very strongly illustrated thanks to certain plot developments that come into play in seasons 2 and 3.

Does Astrid get a bigger role? Or Nina? Cause I am still pissed-off-by-proxy for double major Astrid Farnsworth doing all the grunt work and being ordered around like an intern. She's a haircut.

Nina does. Astrid has this season, but I'd still love to see her character developed more. You're not the only one frustrated by how little she's developed.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:35 AM on November 13, 2011


Anna Torv is kind of awful when she is being Dana Scully, but gets really good when she breaks free of that.
posted by Artw at 8:01 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Also anything to do with "science" in Fringe will be utter, utter cobblers, beyond the degree to which it is in normal TV, which is saying something, to the point where you get the impression that anything works in their universe so long as you do it with conviction and the right amount of mid-century electronics gear. But they kind of let you know that from the get go and you just have to roll with it.)
posted by Artw at 8:15 AM on November 13, 2011


I just assume it exists in the universe where the Fortean Times is a legit, peer reviewed journal. The Silver Age- ish take on science is one of the show's more charming elements.
posted by The Whelk at 8:46 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


That would pretty much sum it up.
posted by Artw at 9:03 AM on November 13, 2011


But yes, I did JUST finish Season one, does season two have less filler? (like ArtW I found it padded, but enjoyable enough. I think the thing that saved it was that the ideas behind the Monster of the week where usually good enough/or just creepy to sustain 45 min, aside from say "Midnight" which telegraphed every plot point in the first 10 min. Very Incan Mummy Girl, that episode.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:50 AM on November 13, 2011


I was watching the first season when it was airing and eventually gave up because it seemed like a Monster of the Week series, and every single solution was Old Man Crazy Scientist at the last segment goes 'Oh this is because of something I was working on thirty years ago, let me solve it handily!' and I was frustrated. I have heard tell this problem goes away, but I haven't picked it back up yet.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:19 AM on November 13, 2011


The Monster Factory that Walter Bishop appears to have run 30 years ago does not diminish in importance.
posted by Artw at 10:37 AM on November 13, 2011


Does his 'oh I forgot but now I remembered in the nick of time' deux ex machina thing diminish, at least?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:44 AM on November 13, 2011


It becomes... complicated.
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on November 13, 2011


Since I last posted here yesterday morning, I have watched one and a half seasons of Justified, and it has been a joyful experience - so much better than leaving my apartment could ever be. Compared to some of the other dramas people have been talking about, it's not very heavy, but it's hilarious and sometimes intense, and most importantly, the characters are awesome and astoundingly portrayed (I can't speak for the accents). Walton Goggins is just captivating - such a thrill to watch, and you never quite know where his character is coming from. There are a few episodes in the first half of the first season that are quite self-contained and seem sort of beside the point (like the early monster of the week Buffy episodes [which I love actually]), but it's so worth it to keep going.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:57 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


But yes, I did JUST finish Season one, does season two have less filler?

Yes. By the end of season two, it's almost all myth arc (to appropriate the X-files term).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:24 PM on November 13, 2011


I agree, I think Fringe does an excellent job blending it's myth arc with MOTW. (FEOTW?) In my mind, it's up there with Buffy in balancing the two.

Also, goddammit FOX, I can never catch up in real time if you don't air episodes until 8 days after they air i.e. one day after the next episode airs. Gah.
posted by maryr at 7:52 AM on November 14, 2011


Also, goddammit FOX, I can never catch up in real time if you don't air episodes until 8 days after they air i.e. one day after the next episode airs. Gah.

lol. I say THANK YOU, FOX, for that is the very reason my wife stopped watching Glee. Phew, that was an annoying couple of years there.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:26 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah crap I just watched " Peter" and everyone already saw it a year ago.
posted by The Whelk at 9:05 PM on November 26, 2011


And I feel like I should use this show to explain what actors do with material, cause I'm pausing the disc and going " see? Her lines are just as ridiculous as anyone else's but she actually makes them work and like, adds infection and makes the woodeness part of the character, so it's not the script, it's that he's not actually acting" and it is starting to annoy people.
posted by The Whelk at 9:11 PM on November 26, 2011


Mos Def was in a handful of episodes of the current season of Dexter which I watched because: Mos Def, and I was doing exactly the same thing. It felt like all his lines were written by some other, better writer than the rest of the show.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:18 PM on November 26, 2011


I'm just trying to figure outof Peter is being marginalized cause it's a bad character or if the character is being marginalized cause it's badly acting.

I love actors who are in totally different movies then everyone else, Fiona shaw in Super Mario brothers is c,early inside a much better more Modesty Blaise kid of movie.

Speaking of which everyone should see Modesty Blaise, it's Dirk Bogarde set to Ultra Camp in a swinging sixties caper.
posted by The Whelk at 9:34 PM on November 26, 2011


It's also that Anna Torv is fucking amazing.
posted by maryr at 4:15 PM on November 27, 2011


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