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Category: television

Stay Golden: The Devil’s in the Details

mad-men-2Having trouble with your sliding doors? Ah jeez, perhaps a goblet of wine will calm your nerves. Along an isolated winter’s road, amongst all the clones and yellow kings at the center of a blair-witch like labyrinth sits an iron throne. When I say iron; I really mean leather and when I say throne; I really mean my couch. I am currently lost in the maze of reoccurring characters, unexpected deaths, lost souls and  TV for days and days. Keeping up with the Lannisters is becoming a full time job. TV has become the mythical Hydra: lop off one head and two will take its place. The completely addictive and compelling True Detective ends and  magically Mad Men and Game of Thrones are back. Throw in FX’s new Fargo and you really shouldn’t be making any plans anytime soon.

main-s1So what has all this TV consumption taught us? Well, bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, but sometimes when you wait around long enough, bad things happen to bad people. It has also taught us that ‘even though our maps no longer show us where the dragons are, doesn’t mean that they’re not still there’. Dragons and demons are alive and well in today’s TV landscape; from the literal GOT variety to the dark whisperings of Rust Cohle and the ones Don Draper just can’t seem to shake.  “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” W.S. 

FARGO - Pictured: Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo. CR: Chris Large/FXSpeaking of devils, I’d like to take a moment and talk about Lorne Malvo played by the brilliant Billy Bob Thorton on FX’s Fargo. The series is only one episode in but the premiere offered up enough intrigue, dark humour and Midwestern Gothic to have you wanting more. Malvo perches perfectly on the shoulders of the characters he meets and manipulates their actions for his own benevolent amusement. Billy Bob plays a villain you love to love. Jack Gleeson’s King Joffrey on the other hand, is a character everyone relishes in hating. (spoiler alert*)

game-thronesJoffrey’s the worst kind of devil: an idiot with power. We tend to encounter these the most in our everyday lives: horrible bosses, drug addled man-child mayors, bullies, bratty kids, corrupt politicians and so on. Four seasons in on a show with so many of the supposed good guys taking it on the chin; it was really satisfying to witness the events of the Purple Wedding*. The devil may be down but he is nowhere near out. Cut down one and more will take his place. Long live good TV.

Speaking of multiples, I have an Orphan Black marathon to attend to. No rest for the wicked.

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House of Cards: Reality Index

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Season 2 of Netflix’s House of Cards has left me divided. It has left me with the same feeling you get after consuming fast food. It’s tasty while you’re eating it, but afterwards you don’t feel full, you just feel different. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are still very watchable, absolute power corrupts absolutely – check, but I found more often than naught my suspension of disbelief was having a hard time getting to first base. Seduction was an underlying theme of this season but it was heavy on the dangling carrot and light on the Barry White. I think I take my cuff-links with a little less tie the damsel to railroad tracks symbolism. Speaking of that…. there will be spoilers.

Ok, so I’m going to borrow steal the brilliant recap format from the high watermark of all TV recaps: Vulture’s Gossip Girl coverage. (They made watching a bad show fun.) This is how it works: points are awarded when events seem believable and deducted when the events are a little too implausible. At the end, we’ll tally the score and see if our tale of the Underwoods veers into the realms of the unreal, and yes I do know this is a TV show but even TV has its limits.

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A testament to House of Cards’ believability is that it plays on the idea that somewhere in the back of our minds we secretly believe that politics is as greasy as it’s portrayed. The question “Do you think Washington is really like that?” or some version of it has probably been uttered in every living room from coast to coast and beyond. This is the opportune moment for the current reigning household authority on all things pop culture/politics /conspiracy theories to either confirm or deny this proposal. This is also the opportune moment to look at your roommate/significant other/soul mate/ life coach/binge watching buddy and think you’re so full of…….. the truth or what have you. +10

Frank’s and Claire’s lust for power above all else seems plausible. They will use and dispose of anyone in their path. No one is immune: old flames, new flames, friends, colleagues, favourite chefs  and so on. +10

The fact they hung the smear campaign infidelity portrait of Claire in their home to complete the lie. +20

The idea the President of the United States could use a Xanax. +20

Between books, reenactments, miniature figurines and all manner of souvenirs, the American Civil War is big business, that and some old wounds still haven’t healed. +10

The pressures of Washington could drive any bird lover to snap a few necks. +10

The threesome seems just about right for all the people involved: Claire gets a little of what she burned down with the photographer, Frank gets to relive his college days and the chauffeur is just doing his duty. The Underwoods seem more like a business arrangement than a married couple, so what’s a little mutual affair? +5

85 on the believability scale, not bad but let’s see about the flip-side of the coin.

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When one ties a damsel to a railroad track you always run the risk of some do-gooder showing up at the last minute spoiling your well laid plans. So instead of fumbling with some complicated knot; a good quick shove really does the job. The idea that the Vice President of the United States disguised only in a film-noir fedora would do his own dirty work in a crowded subway station with only one working surveillance camera, well…. Add the fact that they assigned Chief Wiggum to the case…. -30 This did however supply one of those I can’t believe what I just saw TV moments.

Doug’s middle aged balding sex appeal is so alluring that every nubile twenty-something woman can’t help but fall into bed with him. -20

The super intelligent mastermind hacker who uses Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights references to allude to the  deep web would name his pet guinea pig Cashew. -5

The President and the First Lady are so ditsy that they can be run out of office for offences they didn’t commit. Frank had more trouble throwing a baseball than ousting the most powerful man in the free world. -50

Even though she was told that Frank was out to get her husband, the First Lady sees nothing wrong with divulging a little career crippling personal information to Claire. -10

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-115 on the ‘that could happen scale’, with a total score of 85-115= -30

Overall we slipped into the implausible, but just like fast food -we know we shouldn’t, but what’s a little implausibility every once in a while.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

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These days, Jerry Seinfeld can basically do anything he pleases. The pressure of staying in the public eye is no longer a worry or a concern for him. This is one of the perks of having one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. He gets to do what he feels like doing, and because he’s Jerry Seinfeld we’ll tag along when we feel so inclined. At the moment, he feels like going for coffee with his friends. The thing is, his friends are some of the funniest people on  the planet and lucky for us we’re invited along for the ride.

Jerry Seinfeld Chris Rock Comedians in Cars with Coffee

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is currently in its third season. The web series always follows the same formula. Jerry starts by introducing the car that will be featured in this week’s episode. Every car is chosen to reflect his guest’s personality. I’m not much of a car guy, but his choices are both exotic and eclectic enough to keep you engaged in this aspect of the show. What’s nice is,you can see the sheer delight on his face as he zips around Manhattan or Los Angeles in one of the automobile hall of fame’s who’s who. You can also see that not all of his guests share his enthusiasm. Next up, the canned phone call to make arrangements to go for coffee. Jerry comes and picks up his guest and then they’re off to get coffee.

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What makes this web series so watchable, is its fly on the wall approach to filming. The audience gets to come along as two comedians get to let their guard down and have a casual conversation. It could be the best interview method on the planet. No studio audience, no desk, no house band and no project to shill or promote; just two guys trying to make each other laugh.

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And laugh you do. Watching Mel Brooks sitting behind a TV tray delivering 40 year old punchlines is funny. Chris Rock has you laughing the minute he steps into the car. Think what you will of Alec Baldwin, but the man can tell a story. My personal favourite would be the episode with David Letterman. Only Jerry Seinfeld could get the notoriously reclusive talk show host to be so candid. I’m a huge Letterman fan and seeing another side to him is just tremendous. And at the end of the day, who wouldn’t want to go to lunch with Don Rickles or Tina Fey? Well now you can – sort of.

Thanks Jerry.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

New episodes are available on Thursdays at noon EDT.

Related: Rochelle Rochelle poster

                  Louis CK

Pinkie and the Blue Boy

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It’s the classic boy meets girl story. Married by a curator/collector in 1927 resulting in a relationship cemented by sentimentalism; Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy 1770 and Sir Thomas Lawrence’s Pinkie 1794 have been eternally entwined in the  collective consciousness of the wigs and keys crowd since the early twentieth century. They are the subjects of endless reproductions, porcelain figurines, commemorative plates and all manner of kitsch. Two youths betrothed to one another by the place they shared on a museum wall. The girl in pink and the boy in blue; how perfect is that?

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Gainsborough The Pink Boy 1782

The truth of the matter is, that is a very twentieth century construct. Pink and blue were worn by both genders for centuries. For the longest time blue was actually more thought of with girls due to its association with The Virgin Mary. The gender/colour denomination was more of a marketing gimmick than anything; created by savvy ad men between the world wars.  Gainsborough even painted a Pink Boy in 1782. (Both the Pink Boy and the Blue Boy are wearing costumes modeled after the clothing that could be typically found in the portraits of Anthony Van Dyck  from the 1630’s and 40’s.) The Blue Boy was actually green when it came into the possession of H.E.H Huntington in 1921. The painting had discoloured under coats of a golden varnish over the decades since it had been painted. The layers were lovingly removed, revealing the brilliant blues we are familiar with today.

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Over the years, Pinkie and the Blue Boy found their way into the homes of countless families. They were the perfect middle-class adornment. They represented a sense of nostalgia, romanticism with just a whiff of culture.  They played into traditional gender roles and fifties family values as evidenced by their inclusion in Leave it to BeaverIn the episode pictured above, Wally is asking permission to grow a mustache and Mrs Cleaver has just removed her apron and hid it in the couch when company arrives.  It doesn’t get any more gender stereotypical than that. I wonder what the Cleavers would make of the fact that Jonathon Buttall (Blue Boy) was fatherless and Sarah Moulton ( Pinkie) was the daughter of Jamaican plantation owners. Probably nothing, their histories remain invisible. These paintings have crossed over from portraits of real people to decorative pictures.

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Truth be told, The Blue Boy is a far superior painting than Pinkie and it seems almost unbelievable that people can misconstrue the idea that they were painted by the same artist. I guess it is a more romantic notion to think they were made for each other. The countless second rate reproductions out there help to level the playing field considerably. Nothing takes an artist down a notch or two like being the loving subject of a flea market TV tray. As tacky as these objects may seem, there is still something endearing about them that cuts through the kitsch. We do enjoy our matching sets and it’s nice to think that there is someone out there for everyone.

Lists the Season: TV edition 2013

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It’s that wonderful time of the year again; when we organize our lives into easily readable bullet-ed points rating our experiences from good to bad. Who doesn’t love lists? Many of you reading this right now probably have a few lists on the go as we speak: presents to buy, food to make, movies to watch etc.. Last year I listed my favourite Christmas tunes. This year I contemplated listing movies, but since I only saw 12 Years a Slave and Blue Jasmine it would make for a  very short one. Both films are excellent by the way.

What I lacked in movie watching, I more than made up for in TV consumption. They say we are in the ‘new golden age’ of television. So much so, that it is hypothesized that TV entertainment may have enriched our standard of living. To add on to that, one seriously flawed outlook implies that no one can truly be considered poor when they are surrounded by so much rich distraction. Wow, who knew  TV wasn’t just  teaching us what to do in the case of a zombie apocalypse or how to be a functioning alcoholic at work but also trying to eliminate poverty? God bless us, every single one.

2013 was definitely a spoil of riches when it comes to TV entertainment. We had to say good-bye to some beloved characters and some not so beloved, as well as were introduced to a whole bevy of new ones. (Attention there may be Spoilers.)

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 10. Orange is the New Black garnered a lot of praise when it came out. It is a show I like but don’t love. It never graduated to binge watching. We would watch an episode or two and then forget about it for awhile. The high point for me is Tayrnn Manning’s portrayal of Tiffany Doggett. She does crazy well.

9. Treme / Boardwalk Empire HBO does TV well. I came up with a tie for number 9. Both shows are wonderful pastiches of unique times and places. Their settings are their protagonists, with many story lines running parallel to one another, sometimes never crossing and other times unexpectedly intersecting. Music is a key feature for both shows, delivering gems every episode.

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8. Broadchurch explores the fallout of a young boy’s murder on the inhabitants of a small seaside town. It is a classic who-done-it with multiple suspects and dead ends. They are remaking it for american TV, I just hope they get the emotional weight right.

7. Day of the Doctor The latest season of Dr. Who may not have been its strongest but all was forgiven with this year’s 50th anniversary special.

6. American Horror Story: Coven This season may not even be over yet but it has already made the list. It is experiencing its highest ratings ever and people are thoroughly hooked. On a show that out crazies itself every week I got two words: mellon baller. Yikes.

5. Shameless never gets enough love. William H Macy is in a word: without shame.

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4. House of Cards was definitely binge worthy. Kevin Spacey makes being bad look so good but it’s Robin Wright who can turn your heart to ice. I’m a little nervous after viewing the trailer for season 2. Francis looks like he is teetering into the dangerous and cartoonish ‘The Devil’s Advocate’s’  depiction of evil. Putting out candles with your fingers is never a good sign.

3. Game of Thrones  Two words: Red Wedding.

2. Mad MenFive wordsThe Desolation of Don Draper. 

TV Breaking Bad Gallery

1. Breaking Bad has gone on now to live in the Pantheon of all time greatest TV shows with The Sopranos and The Wire. Absolutely tremendous ride and one of the reasons we call it ‘the new golden age’.

Day of the Doctor: Review

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It’s been quite a journey, but my two and half month binge watch, led me to yesterday and the Day of the Doctor. It all started at the beginning of September; if I rewind: the local Space channel was replaying every episode of the new series every Sunday leading up to the 50th anniversary. I happily set my PVR and was delightfully on my way to be in the know and saved myself hundreds of dollars from Amazon in the process. After years of hearing how good it was, I was finally going to watch Doctor Who . Well that’s not exactly right, I actually had started watching the newest season last year; rewind again to last Christmas and I watched the impossible girl and Matt Smith battle the snowmen. I was a little lost, but I liked the way this guy manically flailed his hands around when he talked and the overall tone of the show was quite agreeable. I knew I had to go back and figure out how we got to this point in the story. I finished watching the rest of the season and discovered that Mr. Smith was now my Doctor. Well that’s not exactly right either; they say your first Doctor is your true Doctor. Rewind again, and I am a kid cowering behind my couch watching Tom Baker confidently thwart anything that gets in his way. So I guess, Tom Baker’s my true Doctor?

That’s the funny thing about Time; it can rewrite your past.

"The circles are back!"

“The round things are back!”

Fast forward to the future, so that lands me squarely on my sectional yesterday afternoon (Nov 23rd 2013), sharing a TV moment with tens of millions of casual acquaintances in 94 countries. We all wanted to see something good, and for the most part we weren’t disappointed.

(From here on end, there will be SPOILERS: these totally mess with the time-stream.)

Now that I’m up to date with my Doctors (new Doctors anyway) I encountered the tour de force that is David Tennant. Not to take anything away from Mr. Smith, but the 10th Doctor was an extremely compelling character to watch. My history is changing once again. He was dark and light in equal measures. To be fair; all the new Doctors carried around this terrible weight of an unspeakable act that helped to define their character. The Doctor was the last of his kind travelling through time and space with blood on his hands. Well, not really anymore. By rewriting his history, they may have taken away the most interesting aspect of his character. The Day of the Doctor expunged the Doctor of this responsibility to end the war by using a most terrible weapon (with the personality of Rose no less). I’m not sure how I feel about this, on the one hand it opens itself up to a whole new story-line: The Doctor in search of the Timelords or The Doctor vs the Timelords, as well it was a clever bit of writing to have millions of fans buy such revisionist mythology. But did the Doctor’s character lose something in the process?Doctor Who – 50th Anniversary Special - The Day of the Doctor

Let me state at this time, no matter what, I’ll follow him wherever he wants to go. The Doctor is nothing, if not multifaceted, and every actor brings something new to the mix. John Hurt added a wonderful patriarchal foil (even though technically he is younger than both of them) to both Smith’s and Tennant’s youthful approach. To watch all three of them together was a sheer delight. They played off one another seamlessly, all the while adding to the mythology of the show, plus it was laugh out loud funny. I’d watch these three again – Star Wars Episode VII anyone, anyone???

Doctor-Who-2845822Also along the way, we had a Zygon plot that kind of just stopped, let Zygons be Zygons. We also had a cameo by Tom Baker as the Curator, every Doctor coming to save the day, including Peter Capaldi and multiple Tardises! The Day of the Doctor played for the fans of both the new and the old incarnations and illustrated why the show’s been around for fifty years. The Christmas special is right around the corner and then we’ll have to say goodbye to Mr. Smith. Looking back on my own Doctor Who history, Time has jumped around quite a bit and I’ve changed Doctors over the years. I am going to miss Mr. Smith terribly, he traveled with the Ponds and River Song, battled the Silence and had pretty big shoes to fill. For the Time being, he’s my Doctor, unless Mr Capaldi really delivers. In that case, I’ll just rewrite history.

Fez

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With just under a week till The Day of the Doctor, I finally caught up on all the new episodes. I’d have to say after 2 months of a steady diet of the madman with a blue box, I’m a total convert. To commemorate his 50th anniversary,  I put together this little homage to the 11th Doctor.

Into the Labyrinth: American Horror Story Coven

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For every good television program, there are a thousand bad ones. For every new idea, there are a thousand recycled ones. Sacrifices need to be made on the alter of good taste in order for things to move forward. Some of these sacrifices are unnerving and painful to watch.  If you’ve been with American Horror Story from the beginning, then you’ve already seen your fair share of flinch worthy material. We’re entering the third season, and are now deep into the labyrinth of  nightmares and pain and lucky for us; the pain is delicious.

Many centuries ago on the Greek Isle of Crete,  King Minos suffered a moment of doubt and prayed to the Gods to show him a sign. Poseidon hearing his prayers sent forth the most beautiful white bull any human had ever set eyes on rising from the sea foam. Poseidon had planned for Minos to sacrifice it in a ceremony in his honour, but Minos had other plans. He substituted one of his own prize calves instead and kept the white bull for himself. Poseidon was not amused with the deception, so he decided to teach Minos a lesson. Poseidon bewitched Minos’ wife Pasipha to fall in love with the bull and she in her delusion employed the great architect Daedalus to construct a wooden bull decoy for her to climb into to fool her new love. The plan worked and the Minotaur was born.

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Minos found himself the foster father to a hideous monster. Daedalus was once again called and a labyrinth was built to house Minos’ problem child. The Minotaur was imprisoned but not forgotten, Minos arranged annual sacrifices by tyrannizing  nearby Athens who had to supply seven youths and seven maidens for the Minotaur to devour. On the tenth year of the sacrifice, the hero Theseus counted himself among the seven. On his arrival to Crete, Minos’ daughter Ariadne fell in love with the Athenian. She couldn’t bear to have her crush chomped by her half-brother, so she came up with a way to help him. She gave Theseus a ball of string and a sword and had him hide them near the entrance to the labyrinth. He used the sword to kill the Minotaur and the string to find his way back out of the maze. He swiftly left Crete, taking Ariadne with him, later abandoning her on a island while she slept. You can see his ship sailing away on the left side of Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne. Jerk.

Titian Bacchus and Ariadne 1520-1523

Titian Bacchus and Ariadne 1520-1523

Apparently, the Minotaur didn’t die that day in the labyrinth, but was resurrected at the hands of Madame LaLaurie (played by the tour de force that is Kathy Bates) in 1832 Louisiana. Bates’s character is based on a real woman who actually did unspeakable things to the people in her charge. According to AHS lore she was cursed for her atrocities with immortality and buried for 180 years by Marie Laveau -Voodoo witch played by Angela Bassett. Madame LaLaurie is dug up in modern day New Orleans and is quickly whisked off to the local finishing school for young witches. In the first two episodes of Coven we’ve been introduced to death by sex, franken-boyfriend, a homicidal child star, a human voodoo doll, Stevie Nicks and our good friend the Minotaur among other things.

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American Horror Story Coven is already deep into the labyrinth, how far you might ask? Who knows, I threw the string out seasons ago. I’ll go anywhere they want to lead me as long as Jessica Lange’s the tour guide. This show is so over the top it transcends both good and bad and has become its own thing.  AHS jumped the shark halfway through its season one opening credits. You don’t watch American Horror Story for the subtlety or what passes for substance these days, you watch it to see Jessica Lange chew through everything in her wake. (This season judging by the cast, she has some fine sparring partners to go toe to toe with.) I’ve been lost in this maze of Horror tropes, mixed messages, great one liners and paint yourself into a corner plot-lines for a few years now and have grown very fond of the monsters and dead ends I’ve found here.

Digital Killed the Video Star

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Our first VCR was a behemoth of a machine. It was a top loading silver monster with buttons the size of dinner plates. The year was 1983, and all over the world budding cinephiles’ lives were being changed forever. My true love for movies was born that day my father unwrapped the box. The family now had their own personal movie theater. Not only could I watch Star Wars a million times, I had tentative access to movies I never could have hoped to see in the theater cause of my age. The VCR was a doorway to a whole new world.

The video store was the new candy store. I loved the experience of walking the aisles as a kid, surveying the boxes with their covers alluding to forbidden worlds of sex and violence. B movies always had the best artwork, from atrocious slasher films to ridiculous teen comedies. The shelves were loaded with monsters, UFOs, freaks, geeks and heroes.

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As I grew older, my friends and I bonded over our shared viewing experiences. We watched everything and anything from the classics to underground cult movies. We craved the weird and the unusual. Foreign films slowly seeped into our viewing stratosphere and the world opened up again. Movies were the go to viewing entertainment. TV in the eighties was its own brand of fantastic, but it couldn’t compare to the silver screen.

When I went away for university I ended up in a town with a brilliant video store. You could always  judge the caliber of a video store by the number of its rare and obscure movies and this one outdid itself. You could spend hours looking through walls of forgotten gems, discussing the choices with the staff, friends and complete strangers who you knew shared your passion. A good independent video store was a meeting place for informed, engaging people and I miss them.

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Our beloved meeting spots are slowly disappearing, but there are still a few out there keeping the spirit alive, and that is why this Saturday is the 3rd annual Independent Video Store Day.  So this weekend, instead of cueing up Netflix try your local Star Video and see what they recommend, those guys know movies.

I even miss Blockbuster. Sure they mainly catered to all the new releases but it was still fun to walk by an entire wall of something. One of my favourite memories of the failed franchise was the scene right before the store around the corner from my house closed its doors for the last time. Everything in the store had been picked clean except one rack right up at the front. It was full from top to bottom with only two titles: Robsessed and Justin Bieber: Never say Never. It was a kind of beautiful nail in an unfortunate coffin.

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Clever Monkey

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In the Chilean rain forest lives a species of coniferous tree  called Araucaria araucana, it is more commonly known as a Monkey Puzzle tree. It received this peculiar moniker due to its sharp scale like leaves and twisted limbs that would present a challenge for any fool who would attempt to climb it.

People and monkeys alike, are very attracted to all things puzzling, and in our enlightened electronic age we certainly have no shortage of fools who are willing to cut their hands on all manner of topics, including at this time the phenomenal puzzle that is Breaking Bad. As the show approaches its final two episodes, the internet is ablaze with  theories, comments, praise and especially analysis and interpretations.

It seems that people are in shock, both from the events of the show and the finality of it coming to an end. We have become a TV nation of addicts and are already going through withdrawal as we see our supply dry up. We are already making alternative plans to fill the void; courting other eligible suitors to start a whole new love affair with. You hear people casually mention at parties, “Have you seen Broadchurch, House of Cards or Luther?” You’re always on the look out for the new fix, but you don’t want to get burned again. You’re still bitter from the fizzled passion of Dexter. “Dammit, how long until Game of Thrones is back?” American Horror Story season 3 may momentarily ease your shakes and you just found out that they are turning the final season of Mad Men into another two year long goodbye, but the affection you have for Walt and Jesse is special: tattoo special. You never thought you could love another show this much, not after the hole you were left with by the Sopranos, The Wire and Six Feet Under. Breaking Bad restored our faith that it could be that good again and for some, even better.

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(slight spoilers ahead)

The monkey cage that is the internet has already thrown out phrases like “Better than… or Best Show of All Time.” It is true Vince Gilligan has created a five part character study that has slowly sunk its hooks in and not let go from the first season  onwards. It is really hard to find a single misstep. Everything works; from the cast, to the setting, to the premise to the intrigue. It is rare nowadays, to have a show that can genuinely create tension for a desensitized ‘seen it all before’ audience and constantly keep them guessing and surprised. A quick simple example of this would be; the shot in S5 ep. 14 where Skyler is looking at the kitchen counter and choosing between the phone and the knife. The beauty of this show is that it constantly lets the audience into the characters’ heads to weigh the decisions they are making. We get to watch as the problems arise, assess their possible options and more often then not be shocked at the outcomes. The ethical waters are constantly being muddied. The audience has to question its own belief system to reject or have empathy for the characters. We can be sickened by the actions but have to appreciate the logic surrounding their circumstances.  We as an audience are encouraged to participate in the puzzle.

In order to solve any puzzle you must first be sure you have all the pieces. There have been a lot of busy monkeys out there combing through every show/scene/shot to assemble the most complete box they possibly can. Perhaps it’s the withdrawal symptoms surfacing, but in many cases people may have started to lose perspective on the whole thing. The monkeys are rattling their cages and flinging their sh*t at one another vying for monkey superiority. A  recent article by  a TV critic over at New York magazine’s  Vulture really laid into other people’s analysis of our beloved show. Vulture generally does TV very well, their recaps are some of the best on the net, but this particular piece may have been a little too close to its subject.

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Using a smart show to make yourself appear smart by association seems to be a negative side effect of our comment on everything society.  ‘Look how smart I am, I figured out that Walt was trying to get Skyler off the hook with his tirade on the phone’ etc.. We definitely need thoughtful analysis of our art to help deepen its appreciation and revel in its nuances but this is neither a race nor a contest. How we watch TV is more telling than what we watch. We can only relate to anything by comparing it to our own experience. Not everybody is going to arrive at the same page and that’s a really good thing. Art should be liquid and be able to fill a thousand spaces in a thousand ways. Breaking Bad is one of the great shows because it allows you to spin your own moral compass and doesn’t present any one clear cut way to look at it.

monkey puzzle

monkey puzzle

In two weeks time I’ll definitely be a little sad that the opus of Walter White will have come to a close. The internet will be clogged with failed predictions, I told you so’s and analytical fallout that will continue well into the winter. Eventually the cleverest monkey will come forward to receive their Breaking Bad crown  and the rest of the world will be lamenting that they are again back on the market.

 

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