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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A quick collection of things that I’m finding fascinating, frustrating and fun on TV this past week.
What’s happening on Gravity Falls?
Normally, when I do a round of Channel Surfing, I start by bemoaning that a once loved show has started showing signs of decay. This time I’m going to start by celebrating an already delightful show for steadily improving from its first season to its second. Gravity Falls is an animated series created by Alex Hirsch that airs on the Disney Channel (or Disney XD – the Disney conglomerate has a weird way of airing TV shows, sometimes months will go by without new episodes airing at all and sometimes an episode airs on one channel and then the next episode airs on the other – but I digress). Yes, it’s a kid’s show but it’s a kid’s show that has been heavily inspired by adult material: The Simpsons (most notably and obviously), Twin Peaks, The X-Files, old B-movies, among others. The show surrounds the Pines twins, Dipper and Mabel, who have come to stay with their old, bitter great-uncle, Grunkle Stan. Grunkle Stan owns and operates a tourist destination/hall of oddities called The Mystery Shack. You see, lots of very strange things happen in the town of Gravity Falls and Grunkle Stan intends to make a few bucks off of all the weirdness. The twins get thrown right into the thick of it, living and working at the Mystery Shack, solving mysteries, happening upon gnomes and monsters and clues and cyphers on an daily basis. The strangeness of Gravity Falls becomes a kind of new normal for the kids and they grow to love the town as much as they grow to love Stan. At the end of season one, they decide to stick around.
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I do miss it so. It was a weekly ritual. With appetites growing every week. I fully bought in. I would watch with a hearty high calorie meal. A dark whiskey to wash it all down. Mad Men in my bachelor apartment is not just a show but more of an event. We are making a meatloaf – that’s 2 hours towards the cause right there. Viewing the elite TV blogs they would have it be known that Mad Men has been on the slide for the past few years. Not to me. No siree jim bob dixie. Although to be fair to those with that opinion, I have fully bought into the sizzle. The style, the babes, the casual decadence of constant liquor and nicotine is pretty much all I need. They are like a sports team. Am I going to boo or not follow my teams just because they lose or play boring? Nuh uh. Go Joan Go! Sally Draper (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap-clap). So it really doesn’t matter much to me if the scripts are trite. I’m pretty pumped for Sunday’s season premiere. There will be a meal with gravy, there will be booing and hissing when Pete comes on-screen, and there will be bawdy locker room wisecracks when the lovely (and perhaps talented) Christina Hendricks bounces about as only her and perhaps the dark-haired Broke Girl can. Continue reading →
When I sat down to watch the first episode of the new season of Archer with a group of friends this past week, one of my friends said “I thought you didn’t like Archer”. And while I don’t outright hate the show I tend to stay silent while the rest of the room is laughing up a storm. The claim that I don’t like the show or maybe even hate it got me thinking, what is it about Archer that makes it difficult for me to warm up to and is that my fault or is something wrong with the show? Continue reading →
Sick of making leftover turkey sandwiches? Read some of my leftover TV favorites from 2012! A smattering of things that I haven’t had a chance to write about that I’ve loved over the past year. No lists, no numbers, just some of my favorite stuff.
Gravity Falls’ title sequence – It seems that more and more that title sequences for television shows are becoming short, efficient works of art. I can’t think of a show that has a title sequence that is quite as brilliant as the one for Gravity Falls. Every episode begins with a beautiful sequence, animated to look like a time-lapse film, that takes us through the weird and wonderful town of Gravity Falls. The title sequence smartly recalls the title sequences of Twin Peaks, The X-Files and even Northern Exposure but its frenetic pace, quirky music and in-jokes tell us exactly what we are getting ourselves into.
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There are few shows I’ve found as immediately gratifying despite a wildly inconsistent, sometimes downright disappointing, first season as Unsupervised. In its inaugural season, Unsupervised found its footing only a few times but it was a goofy underdog that I’ve been rooting for from the start. The reason for my immediate enjoyment is that (and this is likely an unpopular view) I’ve always found myself far more fascinated by what makes kind people kind in the face of evil than what makes evil people evil in the face of kindness. It is easy to make a character like Hannibal Lecter exciting to watch because he’s so different from “normal” people. But when a show or movie can make nice characters interesting, I get very excited. It is refreshing to see a show that knows exactly who its characters are right from the start even if it doesn’t always seem sure what to do with them. There are few characters on TV like the ones on Unsupervised and the show manages to make them nuanced and fascinating in their own right without changing their underlying, unswaying kindness and love. Anger is easy, happiness is hard. Continue reading →