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Spoiler Alert Thursday

TV remains slow, unless you watch disaster TV on CNN (or whatever) or watch that basketball stuff. We don’t really watch either. When the Japanese earthquake happened, we only found out because we turned to KTLA (or whatever West channel it is) to watch bedtime-“Friends.” Instead of Joey’s antics, there was a giant wave destroying everything. We turned to CNN, but they were showing the exact same thing. Similarly, with the Libya “intervention,” Ice-T assured everyone on Twitter that it was “on” and that we needed to watch CNN to see it. Turns out there wasn’t much to see. I guess we didn’t get a pre-invasion force of recon journalists into the country in time. Notwithstanding the loss of life, the bombardment of Afghanistan and Iraq prior to the invasion was truly spectacular. From the perspective of, “it is on,” this invasion certainly is not.

“Fringe.” Continues its narrative and ratings decline. Amanda Greystone reprised her role as, more or less, Amanda Greystone (sorry: “Dana Grey”) and demonstrated that either people only want her to play to type or that she can only play to type. I can’t say I was surprised. “Caprica” had the unfortunate consequence of making the girl (I don’t know how old she actually is, but she plays a teenager) who plays Lacey seem like an exceptionally competent actor (c.f., Zoe, Clarice). But, to return to “Fringe.” The basis of the main plot was that Spock has used some sort of contraption to insert his essence into Olivia’s body: call it Willivia or Bellivia, if you please. However, of all the things they do, somehow they recognize that this is somehow ethically dubious. As a result, another host body is needed. Upon hearing of the existence of Amanda Greystone–a woman who can’t die for reasons similar to why Spock is able to survive–they obviously think they’ve found their host. Of course, it isn’t clear why it is fine to inhabit the body of a stranger, but wrong to inhabit the body of a friend. But, before we can get to the inevitable conclusion of the episode (viz, the woman who can’t die manages to kill herself), we have to put up with super-ultra-creepy-Spock (“Maybe I could live in the cow.” “You’d have to be milked.” “Assign Astrid.” “Heh heh.”) which also means that we have to put up with Olivia pretending to be Spock. She has trouble playing herself, let’s not force her limited abilities. At least not too much. The obvious solution to their problem is to use a shapeshifter, but that hasn’t occurred to anyone yet. Nor does anyone know that the shapeshifters seem to have self-awareness, but that isn’t especially relevant in the present context. Next week reverts to the alternate universe: some group kidnaps Fauxlivia and tries to steal her baby (c.f., “X-Files”).

“Breakout Kings.” Honestly, it is a terrible show. But it is terrible in the way that it is highly enjoyable. So, good-bad rather than bad-bad. This week they had to capture T-Bag of “Prison Break” fame, a show we had not watched. Admittedly, for a TV psycho, the character was actually comparatively interesting. I found it improbable that Lowery needed to have it explained to him why Shea found T-Bag’s “prison tag” to be hilarious: T-Bag/tea bag, etc. Doesn’t everyone know what tea bagging is? (For those who don’t, the graphic on Wikipedia explaining the act is wonderful (as are all of the sex act graphics) although it doesn’t appear to represent a true tea bagging.) A number of prominent TV commentary sites have suggested that T-Bag be made a series regular given that, with the possible exception of Lowery, he’s the only character so far that doesn’t suck–Herc’s use of “jerk off” notwithstanding.

“Prison Break.” Because we enjoyed the T-Bag character and because Canadian NetFlix recently added the entire series, we decided to give the show a shot in the absence of anything else to watch. When the show was originally advertised (six years ago!), we thought that the premise sounded stupid and that it was bad-bad TV. Eight-ish episodes in, the series is watchable in the good-bad sense. Unlike most hour long dramas, it is engrossing in its details, although certainly not reaching the heights of a David Simon series. The ability to end nearly every episode with a moderate cliffhanger is also well-done. The conspiracy angle, however, is a bit weak. Why does there always have to be a conspiracy? Why can’t he be, in the immortal words of Xzibit, “a brother falsely accused.” Why does there have to be a conspiracy related to the murder of the vice-president’s brother who ran a successful company that had recently cleaned up its environmental problems through the use of green energy thus, presumably, upsetting an oil-based economy? Really, a corporate cabal running the American government? Can’t we just call this the tyranny of the Democratic-Republican Axis? Do we really need ladies cutting garlic and red peppers in a giant house with children in the middle of nowhere giving the orders? How long before the characters find out they have personal or familial relations to the conspiracy? Comparatively high “True Blood” cast cross-over. Some aspects of the show are given away far too obviously and far too easily: it was plainly apparent that Westmoreland’s cat would have to die before he would participate in the escape plan… in the first episode. All the same, it was upsetting when the cat was killed by Bellick, who in a single individual manages to capture almost all of what is wrong with the present penal system.

The other week we re-watched “Generation Kill.” I’d used Evan Wright’s book in my first year seminar and was going to show an episode, so why not watch the entire series again? Anyway, the book/series is highly teachable and the students enjoyed it. (On the whole, they didn’t enjoy Saramago’s “Seeing” and were conflicted about Coetzee’s “Waiting for the Barbarians.”) Ziggy/Person was on Monday’s episode of “Hawaii Five-O,” albeit for only four or five minutes. However, of the few episodes of this I’ve seen, these were, by far, the best four or five minutes of the series. What is with the short guy? His shoulders are as broad as he is tall. He looks like a walking piece of pie. Oh, and his hair. If that isn’t a crime against decency, what is? Perhaps the best part of the show is that the writers clearly think that the audience is basically stupid, which is likely true.


March 24, 2011 - Posted by | Spoiler Alert Thursdays


  1. So wait — does the T-Bagg guy literally play the same character?! I agree that the early Prison Break was good, including the second season, but it just went straight to hell in season 3. I assure you that all your predictions about the conspiracy angle are accurate.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | March 24, 2011

  2. Yes, T-Bag plays T-Bag in the episode. Even breaks out of Fox River–comparatively easy this time around–and does so to seek revenge against orderlies who abused his mother in some nursing home.

    I’m sorry to hear that the show goes to shits halfway through. That must explain why it got five seasons.

    Comment by Craig | March 24, 2011

  3. I feel like a shill for Bob’s Burgers but it’s the only show I watched “as it happened”. Bob’s reaction to all the paintings of various animals buttholes cracked me up. The youngest daughter’s art assembly line was pretty funny, too.

    We also watched NCIS. The building tension between Gibbs and the NCIS director (I always think of him as Rock’s brother – what’s my deal with remembering obscure shows so well?), the episode’s ending and the allusions to changes mentioned in previous editions of SAT are now screaming “Big Changes!”

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | March 24, 2011

  4. [Kind of a spoiler alert:] Does the T-Bag of this show have a prosthetic arm?

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | March 24, 2011

  5. Yes, replacing it is the premise of his escape and instrumental in his success.

    Comment by Craig McFarlane | March 24, 2011

  6. That is mildly distressing to me.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | March 24, 2011

  7. If it’s on demand/Netflix/whatever, the episode is worth watching. The series not so much.

    Comment by Craig McFarlane | March 24, 2011

  8. I find Fringe’s slow death spiral oddly compelling, in part because the writers’ increasingly empty gestures of embracing the wild possibilities of the universe they’ve created betray either an extreme regard or an extreme hatred for Anna Torv.

    On the topic of wild possibilities, was the implication of the closing scene that Walter and Bellivia had slept together?

    Comment by tw | March 24, 2011

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