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FRIDAY ROUNDUP! (May 2010, wk 2)

Every week, The Signal will be offering up a Friday Roundup: a collection of mini-reviews, TV news, interesting links and varying television-related thoughts that weren’t big enough to merit a full post on their own.

Reviews, Thoughts and Other Ruminations

Modern Family: The show is so consistently funny, it’s starting to become easy to take for granted. The “LAX 2010″/”Hawaii” pair were definitely very Modern Family, quite funny, but also lovable. The show is fun, but I don’t know that, after the season draws to a close, whether there will be as many “remember when…” moments other comedies this year have had. The show is, much like unfortunately-misnamed partner Cougar Town, content to be worth watching every week without making me roar with laughter multiple times an episode. And I think that’s completely alright.

Community: After a couple weeks of extremely-good gimmick episodes, including future Comedy Directing Emmy winner “Modern Warfare” last week, the show returned this week and settled into something more typical of the show’s earlier rhythms (recalling episodes like “Introduction to Statistics”). “English as a Second Language” was still much fun, addressing some important things (like, would the Spanish study group really keep taking Spanish all through college?), seeding something for the finale (with Annie admitting she tried to dress “like a professor”, kicking off an odd little exchange between she and Jeff that makes me think she was going more for the “Prof. Slater” look) and next year (with Ken Jeong‘s Sr. Chang becoming a Greendale student as of next year – a first year at that!), and more winning one-liners (including one that really spoke to my own experience — Troy, after the Spanish exam: “I think I got half of it, which helped me through the half I didn’t.” Abed: “Like the first season of The Wire.”). This show is gold. Hands-down, favourite comedy at the moment.

The Good Wife: The show is unexpectedly becoming one of my favourite network dramas – though, as the spoils of the drama gold mine that was 2004-2006 age, that’s becoming less challenging. That said, the cast is always on their game. This week’s episode, “Unplugged”, finally brought an end to the junior associate race, but in a way that looked at each character’s strengths and weaknesses realistically: as an unattached young man, Cary would always have been able to outwork Alicia in a straight competition no matter who was a better lawyer, while Cary could never either use Alicia’s famous name nor acquire her possibly useful contacts. So, in the end, the partners chose potential customers over a hard worker, mostly because if they don’t start making more money soon, there may not be a firm left to employ either junior associate. That said, Czuchry works so well in this cast that I can’t imagine them all-out dropping him after season one, and fully expect a twist somewhere in the final two hours of the season.

Parks & Recreation: This week was the introduction of our two new key players: Rob Lowe and Adam Scott as Chris and Ben, new state auditors with plans to hack and slash the entire Pawnee government’s budget. Both, as I’d hoped, fit in perfectly. Though I regret probably losing Adam Scott from Party Down, where he does good work, I think he’ll make an excellent addition to Parks and Recreation. It’s nice to have another character who secretly share’s Leslie’s ambitions, and the two have good chemistry with one another. Beyond the two new additions, “The Master Plan” had April and Andy again dancing around one another as she turned 21 and threw a birthday parter, and I’d dislike the ‘When will they?’ if they weren’t so enjoyable in the process – and if I didn’t know the finale was coming up, due for some big developments. Very happy Rashida Jones got a chance to do some funny, because she did it well. Ann’s secret wanting of Andy, when she’s drunk and forget that he’s still 80% child, was amusing; I find myself wondering whether her courtship by Chris will continue through next season.

Glee: “Laryngitis” was a return to the kaleidoscope-style of earlier episodes, rushing through plotlines fast enough to make your head spin. So, I’ll just outline the main positive: the music. Cory Monteith sounded good on “Jessie’s Girl”, “The Lady is a Tramp” was a success for Mark Salling and Amber Riley, and Chris Colfer was amazing on his adaptation of “Rose’s Turn”. Here’s hoping Joss Whedon stopping by next week to direct will help the show pace itself out a bit better.

News

Renewal, Pickup and Cancellation News: In the week leading up to the Network Upfronts (where renewals and cancellations are decided), a lot of the big decisions have already been made. To recap:

Renewals: FOX’s Lie to Me and Human Target (Deadline Hollywood Daily 12/05/2010), NBC’s Chuck (DHD 13/05/2010) and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (DHD 14/05/2010) and ABC’s V (DHD 13/05/2010).

Series Pickups: NBC’s Chase (DHD 10/05/2010), Perfect Couples (DHD 12/05/2010), Harry’s Law (fka Kindreds) (DHD 14/05/2010), Outlaw (fka Garza) (DHD 14/05/2010), Law and Order: Los Angeles (DHD 14/05/2010), Friends With Benefits and The Cape (DHD 14/05/2010), ABC’s No Ordinary Family (DHD 12/05/2010), Better Together, Mr. Sunshine, Happy Endings, The Whole Truth, Detroit 187Generation Y (DHD 13/05/2010), Off the Map and Body of Proof (fka Body of Evidence) (DHD 14/05/2010), Fox’s Running Wilde (fka Wilde Kingdom) (DHD 12/05/2010), Lone Star (fka Midland), Ridealong, Keep Hope Alive and Traffic Light (DHD 12/05/2010), CBS’ Mike & Molly (13/05/2010),  MTV’s Skins remake (DHD 10/05/2010), TBS’ Glory Daze (13/05/2010), TNT’s Franklin & Bash (DHD 14/05/2010)

Cancellations: NBC’s Law & Order (DHD 14/05/2010), Mercy (DHD 14/05/2010), Heroes (DHD 14/05/2010) and Trauma (The Ausiello Files, 14/05/2010), ABC’s Romantically Challenged, Scrubs, Better Off Ted and Flashforward (Ausiello Files, 13/05/2010), Comedy Central’s The Sarah Silverman Program (DHD 11/05/2010)

Still unconfirmed: The CW’s Life Unexpected, One Tree Hill, and Melrose Place, ABC’s The Deep End, Happy Town, Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives, and CBS’ Miami Medical, Numb3rs, Accidentally On Purpose, Cold Case, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Gary Unmarried, Medium, Ghost Whisperer, Rules of Engagement, CSI: New York, NCIS, CSI: Miami, CSI, The Mentalist, and Criminal Minds.

Commentary: Some intriguing moves this week. Chase‘s pickup marks director David Nutter’s 16th consecutive pilot pickup, continuing his reign as Pilot Whisperer. Happy to see Will Arnett and Keri Russell (Running Wilde), Michael ChiklisJulie Benz, Romany Malco and Autumn Reeser (No Ordinary Family), Adrianne Palicki (Lone Star), Garrett Dillahunt and Shannon Marie Woodward (Keep Hope Alive), Josh Cooke and Kurt Fuller (Better Together), Matthew Perry, Alison Janney and Andrea Anders (Mr. Sunshine), Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings) and Melissa McCarthy and Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly), Dana Davis and Reed Diamond (Franklin & Bash), Fran Kranz (Friends With Benefits), Summer Glau (The Cape), Dana Delany, Jeri Ryan and Sonja Sohn (Body of Proof) and Caroline Dhavernas (Off the Map) will all have shows this coming season. Lots of favourites here, in fact. Also, funny to notes that Josh Cooke and Kurt Fuller will be again sharing the screen; they also did so in ABC’s Big Day back in ’06/’07, a not-that-great comedy that I nonetheless carry a lot of fondness for still. Also happy to see McCarthy and Kurtz in shows pretty much guaranteed a full season or two, thanks to their pedigree as Chuck Lorre sitcoms (here’s a hint: the guy’s responsible for the #1 and #2 rated sitcoms, they’re gonna give M&M at least time to grow).

Also, worryingly, this means Ryan Hansen (as well as Adam Scott and, last season, Jane Lynch) has been snagged away from Party Down. Lizzy Caplan is also in danger of being stolen away, depending on whether CBS decides to move forward with its pilot True Love. Does this latest potential cast loss mean a death knell for Party Down, or can the show survive losing half its original cast only 2 seasons in? We’ll see.

Network upfronts are as follows: NBC on Sunday May 16, FOX on Monday May 17, ABC on Tuesday May 18, CBS on Wednesday May 19 and The CW on Thursday May 20. All final decisions on the ‘unconfirmed’ shows should be made then.

Interesting Links

First, as we introduce the first iteration of Interesting Links I want to say something: If any of you follow these links, you are to be respectful of their author. Period.

I know this comes off as condescending, but honest, we all know that internet anonymity can lead to people typing before they consider whether they’re being respectful. There will be a lot of opinion pieces, some of which you’ll disagree with, in these sections. Bloggers, especially those involved in criticising popular culture, get a lot of nasty responses due to the hurt feelings of fans. If I hear we’re sending any nastiness out, when The Signal is linking to them as a way of acknowledging and supporting their work, we’ll stop. That said, this is all done with love for you guys and for these writers; I just wanted to make sure we understood each other, especially as the first link here has gotten a lot of grief for her very valid work.

Joss Whedon and Feminism (at this ain’t livin’): Joss Whedon is a fantastic writer (I’ve called him, on numerous occasions, my God), but as s.e. smith and I agree, even those we admire make mistakes. And television criticism is where we’re supposed to acknowledge them, in the hopes that people will become more critical of the media they consume and so storytellers have help perfecting their craft.

That said, the reason I’m linking posts in this series is because, even when I disagree with them, they have some very worthwhile things to say. If you’re interested, first check out Setting Some Boundaries and Contextualization; in addition to laying out some basic facts about the series, they addresses some issues I think every potential commenter should keep in mind when responding to work on the internet. Then, I’d steer you towards  The Silencing of Cordelia Chase, parts one and two. Back when Angel aired its fourth season, what exactly transpired with Cordelia’s character is one of the major elements that made me step away from the show partway through season five. I may link to more of these in the future, but this should give you enough of a taste that, if you’re interested, you can explore further.

May Sweeps Scorecard (The Ausiello Files): Spoiler alert! Michael Ausiello outlines all of the crazy events that have occurred this finale season. It’s always interesting as an overview of the trends if where TV writers tend to go at end of season.

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