Clip Show

Remember when it used to be acceptable for a TV show to air a turd of an episode – an episode that had a loose frame but only 5% new content? Ah the clip show, that hated episode wherein the characters reminisce about past hijinx and the viewers relieve those once funny moments out of context. Why did they do it? Was airing a terrible episode really better than simply airing nothing that week? Folks, welcome to my Katie Man clip show!!!!

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Willing to Belong – Pierce Hawthorne’s Last Offering


Community is often criticized for choosing laughs over its characters who lack soul and emotional stakes because they are said to be caricatures existing only to smirk at the audience through the camera lens. This week’s offering, “Cooperative Polygraphy”, squashes this criticism by delivering a character-centred episode of hilarity, depth and heart.

It’s an episode that couldn’t exist without the foundation built from the first three seasons (I refuse to consider season 4 in this discussion). For me the most interesting episodes of Community involve the exploration of the bonds formed by the seven member study group. The friendships formed between Jeff, Annie, Abed, Troy, Shirley, Britta and Pierce are as real as anything on television (camera winking aside) and have often moved me to tears both happy and sad. “Cooperative Polygraphy” is a look into what happens to these bonds when one (or more) of the group members are taken away.  The group met at that cusp in their lives where your friends become family and the loss of a family member raises the emotional stakes to a higher place than Community has gone before. Pierce was the outsider of the study group, always looking in. He desperately wanted to be closer to the group but his meanness kept him on the periphery. Like most bullies his meanness masked vulnerability.  His insults provided many moments of humour but also revealed moments of pain. In Spanish 101 when Jeff bails on their Spanish assignment the way in which Pierce shrinks into himself when Jeff leaves the room reveals an achingly lonely man in need of a friend. He plays a “type” to be sure, but what Community does so well is reveal the layers and complexities within that “type”. Everyone in the study group plays a “type”. It’s creates a dynamic that is immediately relatable but deceivingly complicated. Because Pierce was on the outside he was able to observe the group, taking stock of their deepest darkest secrets. It was a running gag that Pierce would use this information turn the group against each other. However, “Cooperative Polygraphy” reveals that Pierce was saving up some of these secrets and their revelation in tonight’s episode provides some of the shows funniest and most touching moments. Continue reading

When I am Through With You There Won’t Be Anything Left: Why The First 5 Minutes of Damages is its Finest


For my summer TV binge viewing this year I devoured the entire 5 seasons of FX’s legal thriller Damages. Damages makes for excellent summer TV. It is dramatic, suspenseful, sexy, funny, incredibly well acted and for the most part the stories are well told.

I would argue that the first five minutes of the pilot episode is as good as any television pilot I’ve seen. Not only is it beautifully shot, it effectively introduces the characters, structure and themes of the entire series. Continue reading

God and Paper Hearts: Tom Noonan’s Eerily Accessible Small Screen Performances


Tom Noonan does everything. From staring in, producing, writing, directing, scoring and editing award winning plays and screenplays to scene stealing performances in movies, short films and television. As a huge Noonan fan I could go on at length about the many brilliant aspects of his career but this being The Golden Age of Television I will focus on Noonan’s work on TV. My two favorite Tom Noonan roles are his guest starring spots on The X-Files and Louie. Although it is next to impossible to describe what is at work in Noonan’s nuanced and seemingly effortless performances I will give it a shot.  Continue reading

Quintessential Quintuplets of Television

Written and Conceived by Raphael Saray

Hey Yo, I’m the only dude writing for this whoopteedoo. I was asked to contribute and thought about waxing poetic about bosoms and football, but that would probably be better served for So, I’ll start with a solid top 5 examination of my favorite TV moments. In no particular order as that would be like picking my flat screen Sanyo’d children.

Jim tells Pam he loves her – The Office

I’ve lost touch with The Office. I don’t know who the new boss is or if Cece is being played by Abigail Breslin or Skyler Lavigne-Kroeger. The first five or six seasons were very enjoyable. What should’ve been the series finale was Jim declaring his undying love for Pam, but I can see how keeping such a plot device in one’s back pocket would be difficult. It was unexpected and I was floored. Full fledged shaking, knowing that this was what TV can be. As Jim goes through his “I want more than that” spiel and Pam nervously mutters – “don’t…please don’t do this” My mouth was agape. It was well written and very well acted to the point where I had a solid adrenaline rush. The kiss afterward in the actual office was a bit much for me but those two in the parking lot is still for me some of the best TV…ever. I kept up with The Office well passed the point I enjoyed it because I felt I owed it something for giving me that. I can’t watch that scene when it comes on again in syndication. It only works if you don’t see it coming.

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Party at The Gute’s: My Favorite Episode of Party Down

Best Episodes

We investigate our favorite episodes of our favorite TV shows. Be warned: these articles will contain spoilers!

At its core Party Down is about dreamers. I think that’s why I love the show so much. Sure, it is hilarious and cynical but it also has heart. My favorite episode of the series is from Season 2, Episode 5: Steve Guttenberg’s Birthday.

The episode deviates from Party Down’s typical structure. Normally the story focuses on the group trying to make it through a catering gig without the event ending in total disaster. This time, at guest star Steve Guttenberg’s insistence, the waiters become the party guests. Steve forgot to cancel his Birthday catering service and hates to waste food and since he is such a swell guy he invites the gang inside to have a party of their own. The atmosphere of this set up is more casual, allowing for longer and more developed character interactions. Instead of concentrating on workplace mishaps, they are given a chance to focus on each other.  Continue reading

Sunny in a Bottle

Best Episodes

We investigate our favorite episodes of our favorite TV shows. Be warned: these articles will contain spoilers!

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Season 7, Episode 7 – “Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games”

At it’s best, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is imaginative, grotesque, and always hilarious. Episode 7 of season 7, “Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games,” is like a sweet little nugget of golden Sunny, glazed in alcohol and blood, stuffed into a bottle. It is loveable and vile, inventive but true to its characters.

“Chardee MacDennis” is a typical sitcom “bottle episode.” It all takes place in one location, the bar (the bottle), and the only characters involved are the stars of the show. Placing the characters of Sunny in a bottle and shaking really hard leads to explosive and hilarious results. Like shaking up tequila + orange juice + grenadine + gas. The accelerant in this episode is the gang’s homemade boardgame, Chardee MacDennis. And it is not a game. It’s a war.

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Homeland – Season 1, Episode 7 – “The Weekend”

Best Episodes

We investigate our favorite episodes of our favorite TV shows. Be warned: these articles will contain spoilers!

“I figure we’re safe here” – Nicholas Brody to Carrie Mathison.

The idea of safety, who you are ultimately safe with and where you are ultimately safe, is central to “The Weekend” the seventh and best episode in Homeland’s stellar first season. Being safe and being at peace comes up several times in an episode that quietly explodes everything that has come before it and sets the table for the rest of the season.

But before we get into the episode, some background: Homeland was created by a couple of the folks responsible for 24. The show revolves around a CIA operative named Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes) who, during a stint in Iraq, finds out that an American prisoner of war has been “turned’ by Al-Qaeda. When Carrie finds out that Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody has been released by his captors, he immediately becomes her number one suspect. Like 24, Homeland has many twisty, turny elements that make this kind of thriller exciting to watch. However, where 24 often employed shock for shock’s sake, Homeland stays more grounded and relies on character development to do its heavy lifting.

In the previous episode, after Brody and Carrie’s shocking back seat hook-up, Brody is interrogated by the CIA. During the interrogation, and at Carrie’s prompt, Brody is asked if he has ever been unfaithful to his wife. Brody says no. Carrie knows he is lying (and fooling the polygraph) but can’t prove it without outing herself to her colleagues.

“The Weekend” starts exactly where the previous episode left off:  Brody picks Carrie up in the parking lot of the CIA headquarters and they head to a bar that is improbably populated by a bunch of neo-Nazis. They get into a fight with a rather forward Nazi asshole and flea after they give him a beating. Then (and this is where the episode really starts) they take a trip to Carrie’s family cabin and settle in for the weekend. Continue reading