Entertainment news and musings from a pop culture geek

Monday, April 25, 2011

Leave 'Em Hanging

Fellow pop culture and TV geeks brace yourself, the best time of the year is upon us: May sweeps, aka finale season. With the emergence of cable network television, these days we're exposed to some of the longest waits ever. It's bad enough more than half of the best TV is on cable, but because of their programing schedules there can be 9 months to even a year between seasons (Mad Men, ughhhhhh) While we patiently await frustratingly suspenseful nail-biters and/or hopefully well-constructed conclusions, here's a look back at some of Connoisseuraus's most notable season cliffhangers, good and bad. Spoilers follow.

Alias - Second Double/The Telling, S2
"Francie doesn't like coffee ice cream."
In simpler times series hiatus was synonymous with summer vacation, May to September. Not so bad right? Wrong, if the finale was as jaw-dropping, game changing, mind-melding as this. I remember May to September of 2003 felt like eons. After two hours of espionage action and intrigue, Alias's second season culminated in a knock-down drag out brawl between Jennifer Garner's now iconic Sydney Bristow and...her roommate. (she had it coming.) Only J.J. Abrams can make coffee ice cream the lynchpin of a suspenseful moment. And just when every window was shattered, every piece of furniture broken and every rib bruised, Syd comes through with the double-tap, only to collapse herself from the fight. And when she wakes up...she's inexplicably in Hong Kong, with a strange scar on her stomach, oh and TWO FUCKING YEARS HAVE PASSED! Wtf! Vaughn's married? That bastard! I LOVE[ED] THIS SHOW!

LOST - Through the Looking Glass, S3
"We have to go baaaaaack!"
Whoa whoa whoa hold up, what the hell is Kate doing in Jack's flashback, I remember every single Jack episode Lost writers you're not gonna sell me on this one, there's no way they knew each other before...ohhhhh wait. OHHHHHHHH WAIT! Holy....GAME CHANGER! Really though, this is what you call historic, whether you fucked with the show or not. Not just the final minutes either, what precedes is an expert hour in action (Hurley saves the day!), adventure, and heart. R.I.P. Charlie.

Dexter - The Getaway, S4
"Born in blood."
The fucked-up-ness of that really fucked me up, know what I mean? Add in the baby, the bleak irony of the penultimate scene, the symbolism. Just, damn. Up until then a really exciting hour of television and an perfect pay-off of slowly building tension and suspense. You know you cheered when John Lithgow's car broke down and Dex appeared on the other side of the hood. Too bad it was too late. Fuck.

The O.C. - The Dearly Beloved, S2
When I think of the God awful season that followed, it's hard for me to get very nostalgic for this. But when it aired? Craziness! And aside from all the apartment smashing, "tried to rape my girlfriend" scuffling and ensuing shooting that followed, Kirsten's intervention was quite touching. Genuine tenderness and genuinely engrossing melodrama, a marriage The O.C. pulled off quite well when at peak form (ie, the first season).

Entourage - Lose Yourself, S7
You know you fucked up, right?

The Vampire Diaries - Founder's Day, S1
"Hi John. Bye John."
Tooootally was ready to call Elena a hoe after that scene with Damon on the porch. Then she walked in and chopped her father's fingers off (and thus his death-preventing magic ring; don't ask just accept) before stabbing him in the gut. Sooooo, that's not Elena. Nice to finally meet you [in the present], Katherine.

Californication - Mia Culpa, S3
I'm convinced the Moody's will NEVER make it back to New York at this point. And oh wait since when was this show serious and all like, gut-punching? It always was? Touche, show.

Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Bat Mitzvah, S6
Larry and the Blacks? Lmao! What's the show look like with Larry to play off Vivica Fox instead of Cheryl? Well truthfully they ended up not doing much with that. But I'm not mad for a few reasons: a. the whole season had already featured them playing off of each other to be honest, b. there was that hilarious "Vehicular Fellatio" episode c. I could never be mad at the season that gave us the absolutely genius Seinfeld arc. Never.

Sons of Anarchy - Na Tribloidi, S2
The year that this aired, ie last TV season, Sons was the strongest drama out. Hands down. And this tightly constructed hour was the perfect conclusion. The Sons have 99 problems and solving  a few only creates more. Much, worser ones. I'm pretty sure I physically leapt out of my chair at the end. And beyond mere cliffhanger thrills, the emotionality is just so damn amazing. Jax spends the entire season at Clay's throat only to end it screaming in his arms? (Pause, stepfather-stepson shit ya know?) I'm still mad at Kurt for going the whole "dynamic character" route and robbing me of a chance to clap, scream and whistle and whatever else when they FINALLY put a whole shitload of bullets into that gang-raping, Hitler loving scumbag AJ Weston. Gemma getting the drop on the trick that got her kidnapped in the first place was sick though. Until she got like, a warrant for her arrest because of it. Jeez these guys can't catch a break.

24 - Day 5: 6:00 A.M. - 7:00 A.M.
That gotdamn boat

And the King of Not Catching a Break, Jack Bauer everyone. He more than earned a happy ending this year, and it's not like he even got one the year before, so no alternation clause. The sun was shining, the right people were in cuffs, somehow there was still a full cast even though like a hundred people died that "day" and Kim Raver as Audrey Raines was looking sexy as fuck waiting to give Jack his due reward. And then the Chinese showed up.

Supernatural - No Rest for the Wicked, S3
The whole season was built around the looming date when Dean would be sent to Hell for his season 2 deal with a devil (not to be confused with the Devil, that's s5 waters) to save Sam's life. And all season I waited for the Winchester brothers to find some cool, awesome loophole that saved his life in the 11thhour. It never came. The final images are haunting, first Sam staring in disbelief at Dean's lifeless, mangled body only to cut to Dean screaming Sam's name, his torture in Hell already having started. Chilling stuff. Would you believe the show went on to get even bleaker...and better?

Battlestar Galactica - Revelations, S4 mid-season
- "...Earth?"
- "Earth."
This shit might actually be bleaker than Supernatural. It comes to realization that every Galactica finale ended with a crazy cliffhanger, and it's a testament to the power of this one that it was no decision which to choose. Rug, pulled out. 

Heroes -  How to Stop an Exploding Man, S1; An Invisible Thread, S3
Oh I was frustrated. But not because the finale was oh so suspenseful and good or anything. #TheBeginnngoftheEnd. And bonus, s3 finale as well, when I realized just how much crack cocaine was being passed around the writer's room and how many fruitless hours I had wasted humoring them.

True Blood - Evil is Going On, S3
Sigh, it surrrre is. Sam's tired of being bitch-made, so now when he's angry he shoots people, even family members. Cool. Tara's tired of being put through The Worst Existence Ever so she gets a haircut, BECAUSE THAT SYMBOLIZES CHANGE, and drives off. Ok. Bill Sookie and Eric bury that evil gay vampire dude whose diabolical plot was...well I don't know, but it was bad and then Bill's revealed to be a little less than innocent in his and Sookie's romantic origins. Hmm. Jason, well Jason's whole arc hinges on a group of random dirty hillbillies I've never seen or cared about before and don't see myself caring about in the future. There's also impending evil babies, weird psychedelic witch trip outs, Hoyt's mom doing uninteresting stuff,  ^^terrible levitation effects and I STILL don't know what the point of werewolves OR Sam's parents were. And so ends my involvement with this "show."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Watcher: Happy Endings

Has the Connoisseuraus steered you wrong yet? I had the privilege of viewing Happy Endings, ABC's new half hour sitcom which premieres with two episodes back-to-back tonight, a few weeks back and I've been anticipating the premiere ever since. Basic premise: six friends, two are getting married. That is until, the bride decides to leave the groom hanging at the altar. Then she returns and for their friends' sake, they agree to stay civil to each other to maintain the group. Wackiness ensues. Here are a few short reasons why you should give it a shot:

  • The forumla works: Networks have been looking for the new Friends ever since 2004...when Friends ended. In those seven years, there have been tons of situation comedies where the situation seems oddly familiar; six young friends, half guys half girls, maybe a couple of em like each other, all a weird, neurotic and quirky with a penchant for pop culture references. There have been a zillion already failed shows like that this TV season alone. Endings doesn't have much to show for originality...but moving past that it works. But whereas past series have just thrown six random pretty people together this cast has genuine chemistry and the jokes flow well together. And hey, political correctness, the cast includes not only a black dude [Damon Wayans, Jr.] but a gay guy as well! And surprisingly he isn't the cardboard stereotypical gay dude viewers have come to expect at this point, and actually has some of the best one-liners! 
  • It's got potential: Even non TV geeks know at this point that the jury's out on a new show till you've seen at least the first 3 eps. It's hard to introduce new characters and new situations in one episode. What you're really judging a pilot on is potential; it may not be great but you can see it possibly leading to a perfected format. This pilot? I was entertained all the way through. And I read from other [professional] critics that got advance screeners that the pilots the weakest of the bunch. So it only gets even better!
  • It stars Elisha Cuthbert: It. stars. Elisha. Cuthbert
There's not much more to say really. It's funny. If you're looking for a new sitcom, especially if all of this season's failed Friends clones left you unmoved, then check this out tonight.