Archive for TV

FIRST IMPRESSION PROSE (Season 20, Episode 2)

*ICYMI: FIRST IMPRESSION PROSE (Season 20, Episode 1)*

A few scorching observations from this week’s “Ride Along” to Malebolge and back:

1. Still not an occupation.

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2. Chemistry as a metaphor is just a lame simile.

3. Shouts to all of Ben’s former teachers who were most definitely watching their newly famous former student call them hags (paraphrasing) on one of network TV’s most enduring programs (while “running through the halls of high school” faster than John Mayer runs from the fact he once penned this euphorically nostalgic song). 

4. Ben blaming that Ricky Rubio-esque jumper on his button-down may have murdered fellow Hoosier Jimmy Chitwood.

5. I’m making eye contact with you too, Lace!

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6. ”Hi kids. Are you having fun during your reality television-induced abandonment?”

7. Poor Man’s Noah Emmerich SLAYS as dystopian Dr. Love.

8. Shushanna speaks English?!

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9. On a scale of 1-Carrie’s Mom:

Abandoning your two little girls for a dating show = Carrie’s Mom

Only acknowledging their existence out of pure desperation = 7.5

Comparing them to other contestants’ dogs = 7.0

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10. “If it was never new, and it never gets old, it’s a song from Amos Lee’s bizarro private concert during The Bachelor’s 20th season’s second episode.” – Llewyn Davis

11. I obviously chose “LB” in my first ever suicide pool. Blessing in disguise. My fickle heart wasn’t built for this show.

12. See y’all next week?

FIRST IMPRESSION PROSE (Season 20, Episode 1)

Before watching last night’s Kansas vs. Oklahoma triple overtime classic, I spent two full hours ingesting my very first episode of THE BACHELOR.

A few quick takeaways:

1. I’ve been wasting way too much time consuming obscure/prestige “Peak TV” cable/streaming dramas (such as Sundance’s riveting German spy thriller DEUTSCHLAND 83).

2. “Twin” isn’t an occupation (unless you’re 1997-2007/2015 Torii Hunter).

3. Don’t ritually sacrifice bread when it can be easily shared with a less fortunate mini-horse.

4. Faux humility is more irritating (and insulting) than shameless arrogance.

5. Never name your daughter “Lauren.”

6. Can’t wait ’til next week.

Bank’s Favorite TV of 2015

Keeping up with “Peak TV” is starting to feel more and more like a second job.

While consuming immense amounts of quality programming part-time can often be more stressful than making it full-time (heartwarming human interest/home renovation shows don’t produce themselves), I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2014 was a historic television year, but 2015 has taken my side gig (as some kind of former aspiring ex-Grantland-esque pop cultural commentator) to another level.

Though I’d have to quit competing for local Emmys and pull a Primetime Emmys Andy Samberg to binge-watch everything, I’m proud of how much additional “work” I’ve taken on before my year-end review.

‘Tis the season for Top 10 lists, so I hope you enjoy this labor of love.

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10. Transparent - TV’s most dysfunctional family is slightly less fun this time around. It’s nearly impossible for the rest of Season 2 to live up to its raucously affecting premiere. Jay Duplass is officially my favorite Duplass (sorry, Mark!).

 

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9. You’re the Worst “To be a slave to an idea of coolness is why some of your friends never grow and in the end are actually less themselves, and counter intuitively live less authentic lives than the buyers-in.”

My very favorite 2015 quote appears in YTW’s strongest episode to date. With unprecedented emotional/narrative focus on mental health, FXX’s best began provoking as many discussions as laughs. It should be the network’s signature series. Will anyone catch up before Season 3?

 

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8. Rectify - A series so self-aware of its methodical pace that one of the season’s emotional climaxes occurs while the audience and protagonist are literally watching paint dry. Sold yet? Rectify revolves around a recently released inmate, but seeing breakout supporting characters (especially Clayne Crawford’s Ted Jr.) also seek redemption has been truly extraordinary.

 

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7. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - Jeff the Diseased Lung is easily 2015′s most riveting anti-Big Tobacco ambassador. And those Johnny Flynn bobbleheads? Praise be. Praise be.

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6. Show Me a HeroDavid Simon’s soul-crushing HBO miniseries deserves The Wire-esque praise and scrutiny. Let’s not wait eight years to talk about it. Something tells me True Detective’s Frank Semyon would’ve loved this far superior exploration of city planning’s complexities and mundanities.

Oscar Isaac is wide awake. His 2011-2015 rivals The McConaissance.

 

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5. Halt and Catch FireMy favorite 2015 binge. As James Poniewozik articulates, this series legitimately fills some Mad Men voids. Mackenzie Davis is such a magnetic performer. When AMC eventually decides to Ctrl+Alt+Del (likely after next season), I can’t wait to see where she lands next.

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4. Better Call SaulWhile somehow/simultaneously honoring and enriching its predecessor’s legacy, this Breaking Bad spin-off has been taken for granted. Tonal inconsistency plagues so many shows, but Better Call Saul’s comedic and dramatic depth help showcase (and justify) Bob Odenkirk’s leading chops. And he isn’t alone.

Five-O” may have been television’s single best hour since “Ozymandias.” Jonathan Banks broke me.

 

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3. Mad MenForm-fitting end of a classic television era. While I believed this series would conclude at Glen Bishop’s funeral (with Matthew Weiner concurrently burying both of his babies), Don Draper’s spiritual quest leaves me at peace with a drama that routinely illuminates how the pursuit of clarity often breeds ambiguity.

 

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2. The Leftovers

Justin Theroux is one of the most interesting TV stars of our time (friendly reminder that the dude wrote Zoolander 2). His unrivaled physical and emotional reactivity are rooted in vulnerability. I’ll never forget what Jovan Adepo, Amy Brenneman, Kevin Carroll, Carrie Coon, Ann Dowd, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Regina King, and others excavate from Theroux (& Damon Lindelof) during this tonal experiment’s sophomore/penultimate run.

Casting Eddie Winslow as a seer foreshadowed this remarkable season’s thesis (Family MATTERS) in the same way Theroux’s “Homeward Bound” karaoke session underscores the deeper meaning of Kevin Garvey’s journey (he must take on Simon & Garfunkel’s irreplicable harmonies in order to find harmony).

I would’ve been just fine with Lindelof dropping his mic after a masterful season finale that couldn’t have been more hilariously dark and optimistically cynical. This, “No Room at the Inn,” and “International Assassin” are all-timers.

 

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1. Fargo 

2014′s best show got even better by drawing more from No Country For Old Men than its Coen namesake. Few shows radiate more visual (and casting) confidence. Although Fargo is a fully actualized breath of fresh, Midwestern air, it’s truly out of this world (in more ways than one).

Okay then.

 

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First alternatesThe Grinder, Nathan For You

Honorable Mentions: The Americans, Broad City, Catastrophe, Daredevil, Deutschland 83, Humans, Fear the Walking Dead, Fresh Off The Boat, Game of ThronesGirls, Inside Amy Schumer, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, The Knick, Project Greenlight, Making a Murderer, Master of None, Masters of SexMr. Robot, New Girl, Orange is the New Black, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Real Time with Bill Maher, Red Oaks, Silicon Valley, Scrotal Recall, The Carmichael Show, Togetherness, True Detective*, Undateable Live, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 

*Farrell and McAdams (plus Pizzolatto shamelessly throwing shade at Fukanaga) made this dumpster fire Californoir worth watching

All-Bank First Team: Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Nathan Fielder (Nathan For You), Oscar Isaac (Show Me a Hero), Justin Theroux (The Leftovers)

All-Bank Second Team: Chris Diamantopoulos (Silicon Valley), Kerry Bishé & Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)

Unsung Heroes: Clayne Crawford (Rectify), Daniel Ings (Scrotal Recall), Joshua Leonard (Togetherness), Nick Sando (Orange is the New Black), Martin Wallström (Mr. Robot), Collette Wolfe (You’re the Worst) 

Rookies of the YearMunro Graham (Game of Thrones flasher), Connor Kalopsis (The Grinder), Trevor Larcom (True Detective)

There’s Always Next Year (Stuff I Couldn’t Get To): Empire, Hannibal, NarcosParks and Recreation, Penny Dreadful, Veep, The Returned (Season 2), Review, and MANY more.

 

Mad Guys: Bill Simmons is Don Draper

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Bill Simmons won’t be your white whale. While today’s ESPN isn’t 1970′s McCann Erickson, The Sports Guy and Mad Men‘s Don Draper would much rather be captains of their own murky fates.

Simmons walking away from his current Skipper isn’t so different from Draper walking out (and driving off) on his new one. Simmons’s September departure and Mad Men‘s May 17th series finale will each mark the end of distinct eras that these iconic wordsmiths have cultivated and personified. 

Like Draper at SCDP, Simmons helped construct a successful empire by creating demand for feelings and insights people didn’t know they couldn’t live without. Regardless of whether you believe happiness is “a moment before you need more happiness” or simply another Boston sports championship, it’s becoming more transparent that both brand builders are really chasing elusive fulfillment. Despite boundless resources at their disposal, fulfillment is surprisingly harder to define and attain.

Although Simmons and Draper are self-made, neither would have reached their creative potential without an audience, infrastructure, and charming, white haired mentorship (John Walsh is Bert Cooper/Roger Sterling). 

ESPN and McCann will survive (I’m happy to report the latter has continued to thrive), but solutions can be tricky to visualize after the loss of a true visionary. Especially when they resurface. Only time will tell if standout Grantland staffers including “television analyst” Andy Greenwald embrace cultural shift like Ted Chaough, or pull a Peggy Olsen and take change in stride.

While Don Draper has plenty of experience in burying the past, this is uncharted territory for Clairvoyant Bill. Where will post-Grantland and 30 for 30 life lead him next? Fox Sports, Turner, and Tommy Heinsohn’s seat all sound alluring, but Clairvoyant Bank is calling BS. 

After all, “you’re born alone, you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts.” But Bill Simmons won’t forget. He’s “living like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t one.”

Except the one he’s going to make for himself.

Fans will eagerly hitchhike beside him until he gets there.

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Bank’s Favorite TV of 2014

I consumed an absurd (and moderately embarrassing) amount of television in 2014. Hope y’all enjoy my self-indulgent Top 10 list.

*Note: I am not Alan Sepinwall. I couldn’t possibly watch everything. These are merely my favorites.

*Another Note: Some foreign shows originally aired in previous years, but were domestically released in 2014.

10. New Girl 

This reliably competent sitcom reached new heights by becoming more confidently ridiculous and self-aware then ever before. “Tran” needs a spinoff.

9. You’re the Worst 

Who knew raunchiness could be so charming, cute, and meaningful? The show Millenials (man, I loathe that word) need to be watching.

8. Black Mirror 

The trippiest thing I’ve seen since Phish’s 2013 “Tahoe Tweezer.” I’ll never forget episodes 1 and 3. You simply can’t un-see this show, and that’s the thematically fitting point.

7. Nathan For You

No comedy makes me laugh harder. Nathan Fielder’s awkwardness is unrivaled. His genius may be as well.

6. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Instead of hosting a reflective, week-capping Colbert/Stewart highlight reel, John Oliver routinely advances the narrative by calling attention to issues we didn’t know we wanted to care about. Comedy Central should never have let Oliver slip away, but we’re all fortunate that he did.

5. Rectify

This Sundance drama is so beautifully contemplative that it’s almost meditative. Flawless second season. Aden Young’s performance is evolving into an all-timer.

4. The Returned

The most gripping foreign series I’ve ever seen. Leftovers-esque, but its opposite plot is far more conventionally engaging (in a great way). Merci, France.

3. True Detective

Never stop rambling about stars and time, McConaughey. Television as a director’s medium is ironically the best thing that’s ever happened to great actors and writers. The Light is most definitely winning. We all are.

2. Transparent

Deeply affecting on so many levels. Viewers will catch on/up after this first season bags all the awards it deserves. A perfectly named series, though Amazon’s masterpiece is equally transcendent. 

1. Fargo

When reminiscing about his iconic rock band’s emergence, Keith Richards said “The Beatles kicked the door open, and we zoomed in after them and held it open.”

If True Detective’s Rust Cohle and Marty Hart were Lennon-McCartney, Fargo certainly followed with a landmark, Stones-like arrival in the television landscape. No 2014 series established and owned its world like FX’s greatest creative triumph did.

Let’s hope the True Detective/Fargo debate rages on in 2015. The anthology series door has certainly been kicked open, and I can’t wait to see what’s on the other side.

Aces!

 Cheers to 2015.

 

Honorable Mentions: The AmericansBoardwalk EmpireGame of Thrones, Girls, The Honourable WomanThe Leftovers, Mad Men, Masters of Sex, The Newsroom, Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black, Silicon Valley, Every scene on The Bridge feat. Matthew Lillard

All-Bank First Team: Matthew McConaughey (True Detective), Martin Freeman (Fargo), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent), Aya Cash & Chris Geere (You’re the Worst)

All-Bank Unsung Heroes Team: Olivia Munn & Thomas Sadowski (The Newsroom), Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, Nashville, that weird Chanel No. 5 commercial with Gisele), Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire, True Detective), Marc Pickering (Boardwalk Empire), Adelaide Clemens (Rectify)

Rookie of the Year: Allison Tolman (Fargo)

Shit List: The Affair, House of Cards BBQ-centric episode