A Look at Gravity Falls: “Weirdmaggedon 2: Escape From Reality”


Jason Ritter and Linda Cardellini, blurring the fantasy and reality lines

“You can’t argue with the results. People are happy here. Does it really matter if it’s real or not?” – Mabel Pines

Gravity Falls is ending. The show hasn’t been cancelled but it’s going to be over in short order. Well, kinda. One more super-sized episode – to be aired at some unspecified date (likely sometime in the new year!?!), Disney XD was never one for scheduling the show with any consistency – and that’s it. Alex Hirsch, the show’s creator (and, to my mind, genius) said that this was part of his plan from the start, to create a show about one amazing summer among two siblings on the verge of growing up. Summers don’t last forever. Amazing ones are even shorter. Weirder and weirder things have happened to the Pines twins over the course of this summer (spanning 2 television seasons) – gnomes, merpeople, sea monsters, video games coming to life, time travel, body swapping. Pretty much anything Mulder and Scully would have investigated was also investigated by Dipper and Mabel during their stay with Grunkle Stan at the Mystery Shack.

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Keeping it Casual

Recently there has been a trend on TV of what I like to think of as “small” shows. And I mean no disrespect by that moniker. I love small things. I love things with compact, precise focus. Grand things aren’t usually my style. These small shows are generally half-an-hour long but aren’t sitcoms in the traditional sense. They are shows that walk the line between comedy and drama and their focus is usually relationships on a micro level. I can think of a handful of shows like this that I watch and enjoy (You’re the Worst, Catastrophe, Transparent, Red Oaks). These shows all air on smaller networks or streaming services (FXX, Amazon, Hulu) – another trend that is allowing for more of relatively inexpensive content to be created. These shows look and feel different from brightly lit network sitcoms. They remind me of indie films in the late 90s – more raw, a little less polished, dimly lit, taking place in houses that don’t have matching furniture – but, aside from the astonishing Transparent, not about anything particularly groundbreaking. These shows are immediately familiar, if a little bit odd. Continue reading

“Is Anybody Out There?”: A review of The Last Man on Earth, season 2, episode 1

Would it be lonelier to discover you are the last person left on earth, knowing you will never again interact with another human being, or would it be lonelier knowing that other people are out there somewhere, to know that you could be talking to them and enjoying their company, but that you might never find them again? The Last Man on Earth began as a show about a guy who thought, wrongly, that he was all alone in the world, and then transitioned into a show about a guy who, if he wasn’t really the last man on earth, might as well have been. If the first season (back then I called it the “weirdest show on network television” and that hasn’t changed much since, more than that though it was also a very funny, sad, sometimes difficult and heartfelt show) was about the way that people can unwittingly force their own isolation with selfishness and pettiness, season two starts by exploring the way that relationships can make the feeling of loneliness more pronounced when those relationships are lost.

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Remember When?: Growing Up on Playing House

WARNING: If this opening sequence makes you cringe, if it’s too sweet for you, you should probably stop reading now.

Playing House (one of USA Network’s surprisingly great shows, along with this summer’s breakout, Mr. Robot) is in its second season and stars Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair (both of whom you may have seen recently on Review) as two long-time best friends. St. Clair plays Emma, who left her childhood hometown of Pinebrook for China to become a super successful business-woman. Maggie, played by Parham, stuck around Pinebrook her whole adult life, got married and got pregnant. Maggie lives in her childhood home, too, the one she inherited after her parents died. The little playhouse is still in the backyard, now infested with a family of deranged raccoons – things are the same, with an added air of anxiety. When Emma returns to Pinebrook, she finds Maggie distraught. Maggie’s bumbling husband has been cheating on her with a woman online. And so, with Emma’s help, Maggie drums up enough courage to leave her husband. Emma then quits her job overseas, move back to Pinebrook and moves in with Maggie to help her through the pregnancy and, once the baby is born, raise the child with her. The world hasn’t changed so much in Pinebrook in the time Emma was gone but the clock kept ticking.

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Email Roundtable #51: TV in Fits and Spurts, or what we watch when we are busy

Kerri and Jane attempt to discuss how they fill their down-time during busy times.

Jane: So, full disclosure, Kerri and I are both fully immersed and crazily busy with the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Obviously, we still have time for TV; meaning we have some things to say this week. We’ve discovered that both of us turn to cooking shows during those hectic, busy days when we have a bit of time to ourselves. Kerri, why are cooking shows so important to your down-time and what are the favourites that you rely on? Continue reading

A Great Little “Catastrophe”: Channel 4’s charming show about life’s best mistakes

“Fully Formed Human Beings”. That’s what my co-worker Sandra calls them. You might know them better as adults. Those people who have lived long enough to know that they really don’t know anything and ask the right questions and probably worked a shitty job dealing with the public at some point in their lives. People who know when they are feeling like crap and why they are feeling like crap (probably because they haven’t eaten) and when they are happy and why they are happy (probably because they have eaten). When I was a kid adults always seemed like they had a script and knew exactly the right lines to say at all times. But, of course, they didn’t. They were messing up just like I was. Because, really, when can we say we are fully formed? When can we say we’ve stopped growing and changing and learning and fucking up? Sometimes it feels like adulthood is just a series of awful mistakes. Continue reading