Feelin’ TV: October 30-November 5, 2017

I think that a mark of a good show is its re-watchability. Sometimes I’ll love something the first time, but when I have a chance to watch it over again, I have little to no interest. Some shows, like The Office, Parks and Recreation or 30 Rock for example, are shows that I can watch and enjoy, start to finish, over and over again. Then, there’s the rarest of rare shows that get better every time you watch. I’m talking about Arrested Development.

I watched AD for at least the 5th or 6th time this week and I’m still blown away by it. There are set ups in season one that aren’t paid off until season three. There are gags that run further than any other gags in television history. There are things that make me laugh that I can’t even tell if its intentional or not (is it weird to anyone else that they refer to jelly beans as “candy beans”?) In previous viewings, I’ve been blown away by the intricacy of the story, enamored with the ability of Will Arnett and Jessica Walter to take over every scene they’re in as Gob and Lucile, the awkward existence of Michael Cera as George Michael and the creepy energy of David Cross as Tobias. This time though, I couldn’t stop admiring the straight man, Jason Bateman’s Michael Bluth.

The Bluth’s are wildly un-relatable. They’re rich, oblivious, and as characters, they’re ridiculously broad. I love each and every one of them, but I don’t think I would have been able to put up with them for more than an episode or two without Michael Bluth there to keep the show grounded…sort of. Through 3 seasons and 53 episodes (the Netflix season doesn’t count), whenever the rest of the Bluths threatened to take the show too far over the line into Crazy Town, Michael was there with a look or a perfectly timed quip to bring us right back down to earth. One of the biggest failings in Netflix’s attempt to bring the show back for a season four in my opinion is that Michael was as nuts as the rest of his family, losing its tether to normal people altogether. In a show full of perfectly cast characters, there may have been no one more perfectly suited to the show than Jason Bateman. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to give it a shot. If you have seen it, watch it again to rediscover its brilliance. Season five is coming in 2015 with a promise of episodes in the vein of seasons 1-3 and less season 4. Here’s hoping that’s the case. Arrested Development is available to stream on Netflix.

Channel Surfing:

  • The Arrowverse had a great week with a crazy fun episode of Supergirl involving Kara and Jonn flying a convertible to Mars, a Legends of Tomorrow that wrapped a tale about Ray Palmer’s childhood into an homage to ET and The Flash introduced Elongated Man into its universe. The best news this week though? MICHAEL EMERSON IS A BAD GUY ON ARROW! His character at this point seems to be the master of manipulation that we saw in Lost’s Ben Linus combined with the tech savy expertise of Person of Interest’s Mr. Finch. There may have been an audible squeal of glee in my living room when he showed up. This has been a stellar season all-around for the Arrowverse, and with Emerson around, it looks like it will continue trending up. The current season of Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow can be viewed on The CW app.
  • Thursday night NFL football is the worst. The games are always subpar because of the quick turnaround and the matchups are typically pretty lame. The worst part though, is that because of NBC’s commitment to Thursday Night Football, we don’t get to see any new episodes of The Good Place or Great News until the new year. Maybe it’s just sour grapes, but I hate TNF. Well, unless the Chiefs are playing. If you’re like me and you can see The Good Place withdrawals in your future, check out this video taken by Kristen Bell of the rest of the cast finding out about season one’s epic twist (spoilers, obvs).
  • I was remarking to a friend this week that out of all of my friends with kids, I don’t know anyone who has ever had a baby without making it to the hospital first (not counting my slightly crazy friends who have had their kids at home on purpose). But if my calculations are correct, roughly 90% of TV children are born that way. A This Is Us flashback added Randall’s oldest child to that statistic this week. It’s a pretty worn out trope, but overall, it was a strong episode that made me cry so I’ll forgive them for going to that well.
  • Oh, and The Walking Dead was awful. I’m going to need someone to spend some time in the Facebook group telling me why I should still be interested in this show.

That’s all for this week. As always, if there’s anything you’d like me to check out that we haven’t covered, let me know in the comments or in the Facebook group. Happy viewing!


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. In addition watching as many movies as he can and writing reviews for Feelin’ Film, Jeremy consumes an unhealthy amount of television and writes about it weekly in his Feelin’ TV column.   Follow him on Facebook and Twitter  to be notified when new content is posted.

Feelin’ TV: May 7-14

I’ve long been intrigued by the idea of high-concept movies. For the uninitiated, a high-concept movie is one that can be pitched in one sentence. The most famous semi-recent example is the doesn’t-even-need-a-sentence-to-be-pitched-just-listen-to-the-title movie from 2006, Snakes on a Plane. While some, if not most, films that fit into this subset are easily forgotten or are memorable only for the name and a few lines of dialogue, others like Jurassic Park (“What if dinosaurs were real…TODAY!”) find the legs to transcend the conceit and achieve staying-power. High-concept TV is trickier. While an interesting hook can get people to the pilot, it is character and story that will keep people coming back week after week. Eventually the show has to transcend the concept to survive. The way this has been done well in the past is by using the high concept as a hook and then over time turning the show into a low-concept vehicle that concentrates on character and story. Breaking Bad immediately comes to mind as a recent example (“What if a high school chemistry teacher got cancer and had to start selling meth to pay for his treatment!”) of a show that did just that. Recently, NBC premiered the sitcom Powerless (“What if there was a show about the people in the comics who don’t have powers and who are getting saved all the time!”) that failed to move past the original hook and thus, was quickly canceled. When people don’t have something to grab on to after you grab their attention, even the comedy stylings of people like Alan Tudyk, Danny Pudi and Ron Funchess can’t keep mediocrity at bay.

This brings me to my current favorite comedy on television, Last Man on Earth on Fox. You don’t have to be super creative to have an idea of what the pitch meeting for the show looked like. “Picture this: everyone on earth is dead except for one idiot played by Will Forte!” I don’t say that disparagingly. That’s all I knew about the show when I tuned in for the first episode in 2015. It was a good hook. But over the past 3 seasons, it has consistently risen above its concept and become a really solid look at what it means to be a survivor, forge community (Spoiler: while Forte’s Phil Miller is the titular “last man on earth,” he wasn’t actually the last man on earth) and rebuild after tragedy. The show could have been just a funny look at what it would be like to be able to do whatever you wanted simply because no one else was around, but instead it’s been tragic yet joyful, dark yet silly and always very funny. It has somehow found the perfect combination of lowest common denominator laughs, biting humor, subtle character development and heart. Season three wrapped this week with a bang as we saw a complication filled child birth, a nuclear meltdown, a change of location, a fire, the death of an old character and the introduction of a new character all in two 20 minute episodes. If you haven’t seen the show, I highly recommend it. If you quit watching because it didn’t transcend it’s high-concept conceit soon enough for your liking, I’d suggest you give it another try. All three seasons are currently streaming on Hulu.

  • Do you like high-concept shows that go deeper than their concept like LMoE? Does “Ok, Kristen Bell goes to heaven; only she’s not supposed to be there” sound funny to you? Give The Good Place a try. I can’t think of many shows I’ve watched that had a stronger first season than this comedy from one of the creators of Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn 99. You can catch up over the summer on Hulu.
  • New to stream this week on Netflix is season two of Aziz Ansari’s show Master of None. It picks up where season 2 left off with Ansari’s Dev pursuing culinary training in Italy. While the story arc of the season is nice, the stand out episodes take a detour into the lives of other friends of Dev and, in one stand out episode, the lives of random New Yorkers. The thing that makes Master of None stand out to me is that Ansari and co-creator Alan Yang could have simply created a standard sitcom based around Ansari’s comic persona, but instead they went deeper to create a show that, while funny, takes the time to examine tough issues about being an adult, falling in love, relating to your parents, etc. Season two wasn’t quite as strong for me as season one, but there are some stand-out episodes, including a season premiere that’s an amusing homage to the 1948 film Bicycle Thieves.
  • Did you binge Master of None, get sad and end up wanting to watch something similar? Does Master of None sound intriguing but you don’t like it’s TV-MA rating? I’d suggest giving TV Land’s Jim Gaffigan Show a try, also on Netflix. Like Master of None, it would have been really easy for Jim and his wife and co-creator Jeanne Gaffigan to create a standard sitcom about a husband and father of 5 who is a slob and eats all the time. Fortunately, they dive deeper and offer thoughtful reflection on celebrity, religion, fatherhood, friendship and being a husband in 2 seasons of great television. Sadly, the Gaffigan’s decided they didn’t have the time to put into making more TV, but instead of being sad that it’s over, I’d suggest being thankful that it happened by watching the show that they did have time to make.
  • This week in the Arrowverse: While Arrow and Supergirl focused mainly on table setting and moving the pieces into place for the last couple of the episodes of the season, The Flash pulled out one of its best episodes of the season. By using the old super hero standby of amnesia, the show was able to help us remember the earlier days of Barry Allen’s story where he was light-hearted and fun instead of the brooding hero we now see every week. Doing so allowed them to add some meta-commentary about why things have become so dour in Central City as opposed to the way things used to be. It was a lot of good fun.