Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Under the Dome 1.03: "Manhunt"

Jesus God Almighty, was that second episode of Under the Dome a piece of crap last week.  I greatly anticipate seeing what effect its crappiness has on the ratings for this week's episode; I suspect that the result will be that the numbers sag quite a bit.  I'm a-gonna guess it drops from...well, the premiere episode was roughly 13 million, and the second episode drew roughly 11 million...I'm a-gonna guess the third one dips down to 8 million.

If that's the case, then "Manhunt" may well end up being the make-or-break episode for the series, and the good news -- for me, at least -- is that I thought it was a significantly better episode than "The Fire."  I still don't know that I'd call it a good episode, per se; but there was no question in my mind that this was the most satisfying episode of the three we've seen thus far.  And a lot of that comes down to...

Well, we'll discuss that in a moment or two, but first, this:


stolen from: http://th00.deviantart.net/fs40/PRE/i/2009/015/3/1/Angry_Old_Lady_by_Tinalm.jpg


First of all, if that's your Nana, my apologies for co-opting her confused and annoyed mug for this blog.  But hey, free use and all that.

The photo is intended not to give any specific Nana some free -- if dubious -- exposure, but instead is intended to serve as a representative Nana for the one who was in a doctor's office near me this morning.  Yes, it was time again for my annual physical.  In case you're wondering: 321 pounds.  Bam!  And yet, despite that, I have no cholesterol issues, no diabetes issues, an extremely manageable blood-pressure issue, and no liver or kidney issues.  Apart from being a lardass, I'm really quite healthy.  Also, my dentist says my teeth are fuckin' impeccable.  (That appointment happened today, too, although sadly, my dentist did not actually say "Bryant, your teeth are fuckin' impeccable."  No, though he would have made my day if he'd said that, he instead merely said "Bryant, your teeth are impeccable," which I think we can all agree is a lot less satisfying.)

I mention all this because while I was waiting on the lab tech to call me back to have some blood drawn, I overheard a woman maybe my age talking to an older woman who I assume is her Nana.  They were talking about television, by which I mean that the granddaughter was talking and Nana was gazing into space vacantly, perhaps questioning her life's efficacy, perhaps jonesing for some oatmeal.  Who can say?  Not important.  What's important is that granddaughter began trying to explain Under the Dome to Nana.
  
The explanation included gems like this: "It comes on CBS on Monday nights.  CBSCBS.  Every week.  CBS.  It's really good.  I don't know what any of it means."  I couldn't hear Nana's side of the conversation, so I've chosen to assume that the granddaughter wasn't responding to actual questions so much as to perceived questions.  In any case, it was an entertaining few seconds.
 
Speaking of an entertaining few seconds, there are a number of those in this week's episode, which, as I've indicated, I found to be more successful than last week's or even the pilot.  A big part of the reason for that is that this week, it seemed as if most of the conflict grew from the characters themselves.  Consequently, everything that happened felt as if it had some consequence and import to it, whereas in the second episode everything felt engineered.  
 
In "The Fire" most of the choices made seemed to answer the question "What plot point can we introduce to cause this character to behave in this fashion?"  And so you had a moronic scene in which Barbie is revealed to have lost his dogtags, and then goes to retrieve them, all of which was done purely so as to put him and Junior in a place where the two of them could have an unobserved fistfight.
 
This week, it seemed more as if the writers had asked themselves, "What would be happening to these characters right now?"  In other words, the characters came first, whereas in "The Fire" the plot came first.  In "Manhunt" it felt organic, whereas in "The Fire" it felt contrived.

As a result, I immediately became interested in what was going on with many of these characters in a way that I was not interested the previous two weeks.  Example: whereas I thought Dean Norris was iffy in the pilot and downright bad in "The Fire," I thought he did strong work in "Manhunt."  Big Jim driving the bulldozer was terrible; Big Jim calmly -- if intently -- telling Barbie a story about breaking a teammate's pelvis was compelling.  Example the second: Angie screaming at the walls and knocking food out of Junior's hands was histrionic and annoying in "The Fire"; Angie playing into Junior's (presumed) delusions not by trying to con him into thinking she loves him but by trying to make him feel like a man is interesting and somewhat surprising.  It makes Angie a vastly more sympathetic and interesting character than she was in the second episode.

I also enjoyed the brief scene at the diner in which a local rube named Ollie shows disdain for Carolyn's relationship status.  When she shows the man (played by Leon Rippy, who always makes me think of Deadwood) a picture of her daughter, who is a white girl, he looks up at her and asks in a tone of unconcealed contempt, "How's that work?" 


Leon Rippy as Ollie

   
Rippy is a good actor, and he plays small-town prejudice extremely well.  It is perhaps the most honest and human moment of the series so far, and it is precisely the sort of thing that the show has been lacking.  It shows that there are people in Chester's Mill who are probably not going to need much urging to fall back into a state of uncivilized savagery.  If the moment didn't send a chill down your spine, it probably means you ought to question whether your spine is working properly.  No, not you, Stephen Hawking; you're excused.

[UPDATE:  It's the next day, and the more I think about that scene, the better it works for me.  Rippy is one of the rarer-than-you-would-think breed of character actors who really sells every scene that he's in.  He always sounds like a real person, and never like an actor delivering lines.  Ask an actor sometime about whether that's an easy thing to accomplish or not.  Under the Dome needs more of that sort of performance, and here's hoping that Ollie shows up again in subsequent episodes.]


Image stolen from IMDb, which does not allow users to save the photos that appear on their site.  But guess what, IMDb; you can't do shit about the old print-screen-and-paste-into-Paint method, can you?

I also got more out Scarecrow Joe's story this week.  I was harsh toward Colin Ford in my review of "The Fire"; I believe I mentioned something about his having what seemed like a fundamental lack of understanding as to how to read a line.  If I didn't, I should have, because he sucked in that episode.  Here, though, he's fine, and friends and neighbors, if you ever wondered what one director as opposed to another can theoretically bring to a television series, look no further.  Last week's episode was apparently directed by Jack Bender, a solid television director who directed a great many episodes of Lost (and scored three Emmy nominations for directing episodes of that series), as well as things ranging from Eight Is Enough to I'll Fly Away to Alias, including four episodes of The Sopranos.  Bender is not a nobody, but he certainly seemed to be having an off week with "The Fire."

"Manhunt" is directed by Paul A. Edwards, another Lost vet; his teevee directing credits also include episodes of Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, and Alcatraz.
   
(Why he succeeded where Bender failed is a mystery, but the screenplay certainly must have been a part of it.  Oddly, "The Fire" was written by Rick Cleveland, whose credits include episodes of shows like House of Cards, Mad Men (!), and Six Feet Under.  As with Bender, Cleveland is not a hack; this is a seasoned, talented television professional we are talking about.

So, what the hell gives with "The Fire"?  Beats me, but here's a mini-rant about it: the second episode of a series is arguably even more important than the first episode.  Marketing can get people to watch an episode's first series, but even if the episode itself is only mediocre a lot of people will come back for a second to see if it improves.  For a lot of people, that second episode will be the one that makes or breaks their interest in a series.  If you hook them with it, you're likely to have them for several more weeks; if you lose them, odds are good that you lose them forever.  Producers and executives are not ignorant of this fact, which begs a question in my mind: why would CBS allow such a crappy second episode to go on the air?
  
The only conceivable answer is that they had no means of doing anything else.  My guess is that production on the series has been overly rushed, and that the writers and producers were simply never able to figure out what to do for a second episode; but they had no time to debate it, and simply had to grab the best idea on the table, which -- lamentably -- happened to be "The Fire.")




I also thought Linda's story this week was fairly good.  There is an exceptionally dumb scene early in the episode in which Linda falls for the old prisoner-getting-"sick"-as-a-ruse-to-escape gag, but the scene pays off a lot better than might have been expected: Linda, obviously feeling stupid and used, decides to take matters into her own hands to capture the escapee, and in the end she saves Big Jim and/or Barbie from getting killed.
  
Give Natalie Martinez a lot of the credit for how well this stuff works.  The scene in which Linda falls for the getting-sick gag plays, in retrospect, less as an unintentionally stupid moment on the part of the writer (Adam Stein, this week) than as an intentional moment of stupidity that the writer has put in as a means of developing the character.  Here, you certainly get the idea that Linda will never make a mistake like that again.  Martinez plays all angles of it well: in the jail-cell scene, she does a good job of showing Linda -- who as a small-town deputy would likely have never had to deal with many scenarios of this nature -- as a concerned colleague who allows her judgment to slip in a crucial moment.  In other words, she comes off less as stupid than as caring; that's a small distinction, but it's a crucial one, and a lot of actors would get it wrong.  Martinez doesn't; she gets it right, and she also gets Linda's resolve right, as well as her sadness during the scene in which she takes Duke's nameplate off his old locker.

Other things I feel like mentioning:

  • The thing with Barbie's map at the end of the episode is awful.  Am I actually being asked to believe that Barbie would be dumb enough to assume there is ZERO chance of Julia snooping through his shit and finding that he has what appears to be a treasure map?  Bad.  Mike Vogel is good, but this series is doing him no favors so far.
  • Julia is in danger of falling into the reporter-so-smart-she's-an-idiot trap.  I don't think I believe for one second that she would actually follow Junior into those tunnels; she'd almost certainly know that there was a danger of getting lost down there.
  • Where was Samantha Mathis?
  • Where was Dodee?
  • Seems like people at least need to be trying to talk to the outside world.  I don't think the show is doing an even vaguely acceptable job of indicating how an entire town would respond to something like this, or how the outside world would be responding to it.  It feels to me like there would be tons of people on either side, holding signs up to each other, trying to figure shit out.
  • I have no interest in Phil Bushey.  None.
  • The guy who plays Lester didn't suck this week like he did last week.
  • The shots of the dome continue to be cool.  The one kid skating up it was nifty, and so was Junior punching the hell out of it to no effect.

There's probably other stuff to say, but I sense that I'm mostly rambling at this point.  Not, perhaps, my finest hour as a reviewer.  But that's okay.  I made a few salient points, I think, and got to use the word "Nana" multiple times.

I call that a win.

So, to sum up: a decent episode, with some good performances and some signs that the series still has potential in it.  Let's hope that potential is capitalized upon in subsequent weeks, and that America did not find itself as annoyed with "The Fire" as I was (thereby tuning out by the millions and making the ratings for "Manhunt" too low to recover from).  Trust me, I want this show to be good, and to succeed; I'd love to see others like it.

See you Domeheads next week!  (Yes, I'm going to try to make that a thing...)

23 comments:

  1. I was kind of intrigued by the changes to the characters, but now they just seem rather pointless. And I realized last night that I'm just not very interested in watching these versions of the characters in a compromised version of the plot/ dynamics.

    Which means - as I'll probably-definitely keep watching - I may just resign myself to leaving grumpy notes of dissatisfaction here on your blog every Tuesday morning for the rest of the summer.

    Natalie Martinez is probably the best part about the show, but she's not someone I'd tune in to see what she's getting up to week-to-week. Ditto, unfortunately, for everyone in the cast. It's kind of pissing me off to see characters and situations I enjoyed in the book turning into this blandness.

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    1. "Blandness" is an apt word, I think. Some of that went away in this episode (for me, at least), but it does still feel like an exceptionally cookie-cutter product, which is how all of CBS's shows feel to me, and have felt for a couple of decades now. Not that I watch them; I don't. But based on snippets I see here and there, that's my take-away.

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  2. Some posted this at AV Club which more or less sums up my feelings:

    "Basically, the points in common with the book are:
    -Some place and character names.
    -There is a big, invisible force field
    -The Chief of Police's heart bursts because of the force field.
    -The Big Jim Rennie character (who is no longer actually very big) says the line "It's a small town, we support the team".

    And that's about it, 3 episodes in."

    Now, as we've been noting all along, everyone knew there were going to be changes. But it's starting to grate on me that there's so little of the book showing up on-screen. I mean, did they even need to buy the rights to develop the book? Why not just make a show about different characters trapped under a dome? Surely the idea has already proven it can exist in two different places (Simpsons/ King's book) - and it's not like King or the Simpsons would mind.

    I dunno. It's just amusing me to think of other King books adapted in this fashion: let's buy the rights to It but make them all brooding twentysomethings, and Pennywise can be softened up a little bit... maybe less arms-ripped-off, let's show him as a conflicted man with a dark secret. Scratch that, let's get Andy Samberg to play him. (I'M AN ADU-U-ULLT!!!) Instead of Derry, let's make it Cincinnati.

    How about Cujo as an ongoing series about a town stalked by a rabig kangaroo? Instead of a couple undergoing a crisis, let's make it a statement on gay marriage. And instead of a car, let's set the attack scene in an elevator at the mall.

    etc. etc.

    I just wonder why people bother acquiring the rights to something they'll change so much. Wouldn't it be cheaper just to do your own thing? Is the name recognition all that important? Answer: probably.

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    1. Whew! Buddy, that's some vitriol! I approve.

      This is a really frustrating situation, and I am currently standing with one foot on either side of it, looking down and trying to figure out which side to step onto. In theory, I don't mind changes to the book. A book and television series are not the same thing, so sure, you want to add characters, go right ahead; you want to delete characters, go right ahead. You want to change the characters you wish to keep, hey, I'm cool with that, too.

      But there are two rules that I insist be followed: (1) you'd better make damn sure you're making these changes for a good reason, and (2) the result had better be that your series is as at least as good a series as the book is a book. So far, the jury is out on the first rule, but the second has been flat-out violated. I have issues with the novel, mostly to do with the characters of Big Jim and Andy; but most of them don't become terribly apparent until late in the novel. For the first -- what? -- seven or eight hundred pages, it is gripping, compelling stuff. The series so far has come nowhere even close to being as good.

      That said, I did at least see signs that a better show might emerge in the weeks to come; if that happens, it won't change my mind about how mediocre these first few episodes have been, but it could at least still end up being a satisfying season. We'll see.

      So far, though, I'm with you: the changes to the story are fairly galling, not so much because there is no rationale for them, but -- for me -- because they've been ineffective. What they say, cumulatively, is "we don't think this was a good novel, so we've tried to make it better." As a fan of the book (despite its issues), I find that to be a bit offensive.

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  3. By the way, the ratings for last night's episode are in, and they were nowhere near as bad as I expected them to be. The episode still dropped, but it was down to only -- "only" -- 10.7 million, which is actually not too shabby.

    If that many people decided to stick with the show despite "The Fire," then the long-term prospects of the series may still be strong (at least from CBS's viewpoint).

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    1. "For the first -- what? -- seven or eight hundred pages, it is gripping, compelling stuff. The series so far has come nowhere even close to being as good."

      Absolutely. That's my main issue. How is this not charging out of the gate? I keep seeing "it's a marathon, not a sprint" to justify the pace. But this doesn't seem like a marathon. it seems like the bits before the marathon, where everyone's standing around drinking water from small cups and stretching out.

      The changes really do bug me, though. I just don't see how the composites and outright changes to characters are an improvement.

      I am, though, for the record, a supporter for the Cujo series re-set as rabid kangaroo terrorizing a town in the Outback.

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    2. Well...I mean, EVERY series is a marathon instead of a sprint, right? And I can think of a dozen shows right off the top of my head that -- as you indicate (rightly) that this one should have done -- came charging out of the gates, rather than sauntering.

      Game of Thrones
      Battlestar Galactica
      Breaking Bad
      Mad Men
      The Sopranos
      Carnivale
      The X-Files
      Friday Night Lights
      Veronica Mars
      Buffy the Vampire Slayer
      Lost
      Alias
      24
      House, M.D. (I like using the full title)
      The Walking Dead (of which I am not even particularly a fan)
      Dexter
      Hannibal
      Millennium
      Angel
      Deadwood
      Homeland

      And those are just the ones I'M familiar with. I'm sure there are others.

      So, no, there's just no excuse for how slap-dash the start of the series has been. And if the actual episodes had been better, I bet that you -- and others like you -- would not be NEARLY as bothered by the character changes.

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    3. Now, as for your rabid-kangaroo take on "Cujo"...

      ...I have to say, I'd watch the hell out of that. I'd title it "Joey," if I were the one a-doin' the titling.

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    4. Hmmmm. Well, in terms of pacing and "charging out of the gate", part of it has to do with the fact that the source material is actually of a more sauntering pace than most TV these days (a fact common to pretty much all of King's fiction in relation to screen media).

      The list tells me that "charging" is a pattern as well. Although, to be fair, I'm not entirely sure charging is the right word. Some of the episodes of Files were more languid than others and yet still managed to be entertaining, therefore I'm dubious about judging a story by pacing unless it results in absolutely nothing on page or screen.

      As for the book itself, well, after I read it, it was clear to me that none of the pieces or scenes amounted to much of anything. It was all set up with little in the way of satisfying pay-off.

      The counter-argument seems to be that despite a poor ending, the set-up is still good, or at least shows promise.

      I had just the opposite reaction when I thought back on the first half. It seemed part of the overall books (forgive me) sloppiness.

      Judging it from the standards of King's best work, the Dome book all fit together into one big sup-par effort. There was no inspiration, and the invention just wasn't going anywhere, on retrospective, from start to finish.

      ChrisC

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    5. It's because I feel the whole book doesn't work from start to finish that I've been pleased so far with the changes because pretty much from the start they've been, for me at least, a major improvement.

      So far, what I've seen is going better than in the book, and i'm particularly anxious to see what dynamic plays out between Big Jim and Dale.

      The idea of making the main character a seedy one, possibly dangerous places this in a different, yet much improved ballgame for me.

      That appears to be the main difference here.

      Although, to be fair, there's always room for a second opinion.

      ChrisC

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    6. "As for the book itself, well, after I read it, it was clear to me that none of the pieces or scenes amounted to much of anything. It was all set up with little in the way of satisfying pay-off."

      You are, in a word, mistaken. :-)

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    7. The thing is, tho, regardless of your opinion of the novel (which obviously I do not share,) the show should be better. It should be moving at a faster clip, be more engaging, less beholden to cliched dialogue and tired character set-ups, and people should be reacting/ responding a bit more to the utter unprecedentedness of their circumstances, don't you think?

      Making the main guy "complicated" would work if this wasn't the status quo of every show going. And Dale Barbara was pretty haunted by the work he did in Iraq, so it's not like they had to invent this for his character.

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    8. p.s. right/ wrong = just my opinion, of course. I'm just not a fan of the changes so far. Obviously, if you don't like the novel itself, any change, I imagine, will appeal to you moreso.

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    9. I'm judging the show based on several factors, and they fall in roughly this order of importance for me:

      (1) Is the episode at hand is entertaining on a scene-by-scene basis.
      (2) Is the episode successful at what I perceive to be its intended goals? (I.e., does the episode actually DO what it seems to be trying to do?)
      (3) Is the show distinguishing itself in comparison to similar shows? (What you or I consider to be "similar shows" can be a matter for debate, of course.)
      (4) In relation to its source material, has the show successfully hewn close to it and/or diverged from it?

      I'm not watching the episode with a notepad, grading it moment by moment. I run more on gut instinct. And sometimes, I get it wrong. But nine times out of ten, I get it right ("right" being a relative thing, of course).

      And so far, "Under the Dome" has failed more than it has succeeded. Let's examine each criterion:

      (1) I would say the first episode broke even on entertainment quality; the second failed utterly. The third, I think, succeeded more often than not. In fact, in thinking about the episode, the more I think the more I like it. Not a home run, maybe, but a solid on-base hit.
      (2) The first episode failed at what I perceive to be its intended goals, which are too numerous to list here. The second failed, and failed miserably. I think the third succeeded.
      (3) So far, all three episodes get a "no" from me on this score. Perhaps the best current comparison show-to-show is with "Game of Thrones." The third episode of that show is so much better than the third episode of this show that I would...nah, let's just cut that thought off there, before I turn into a dick.
      (4) Again, for me, this is a no. BUT...depending on how the rest of the season and/or series plays out, I could see that no becoming a yes. So far, I perceive the changes to have been implemented so as to distance the series from the novel, and I honestly do not see a persuasive reason -- so far -- for the show to be running from the novel. Not AS completely as it is. But again, time will tell.

      These are my self-imposed criteria as best I understand them. Most of them are based around a simple assumption: that I have good taste in television. And, frankly, I feel fairly certain that I do. It all comes down to a matter of opinion, of course, but I'm quite secure in mine, and I'm also secure in my ability to both understand and explicate my rationale, given the time and energy to do so.

      And so far, I've seen very little to convince me that "Under the Dome" is anything more than mediocre.

      That said...all it took was one Leon Rippy scene to show me that there was potential there, waiting to be tapped. And happily, this episode had even more going for it than that. So for me, the jury is still out, but the verdict is looking quite as bleak as it was a week ago.

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    10. That first criterion above should read "(1) Is the episode at hand entertaining on a scene-by-scene basis?" Damned typos!

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    11. It's time confess a dirty little secret....I don't watch as much television as used to!

      !!!!!!!!....????

      For one reason or another, there seems to have come a point for me when either that "similar" phenomenon you talked about kicked in for me, or else I just succumbed to premature old farthood and found a lot of modern television fair less interesting. Now, back in my day(etc., etc., yada-yada-yada).

      The truth, however, is when it comes to critical criteria, I seem to have just fallen in with whatever made the most literary critical thinking type sense.

      That's another thing. Until I started getting serious about reading books, I don't think I ever really passed much of anything resembling a judgment on either a book or film, unless, say the movie was undeniably awful. Although, the thing is, I must have been so uninformed (or at least not even half-bright) that those were a rare occurrence.

      It wasn't until I began to read books that I also began to think in terms of standards for both books and films. The only thing is, since it was book reading that pretty much developed my criteria (based on the theories Jung and Aristotle, along with Tolkien) all my judgments have been essentially literary in character, which may in part explain my regarding imagery as of secondary importance to overall story.

      To be continued.

      ChrisC

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    12. The two factors mentioned above, less TV intake, literary judgments of non-literary subjects (i.e. film, and technically a third being under-reading of superhero comics) determines pretty much how I look at either a book or film (and it just occurs to me now that with one exception, I've never thought of what verdict I'd give on a TV series, not even a sitcom!).

      In regards TV in general, I don't think I was ever that big a TV show watcher as a movie viewer/reader, even if both came from the same box in the living room. So yeah, movies and book predominated (and this from a guy who can remember shows like F-Troop and Dobie Gillis, even My Mother the Car!).

      In fact, around 95-97 (in fact, around the time of the last episode of Pete and Pete now that I recall) I sort of stopped watching TV altogether! The reasoning at the time seems to have been, well, it's getting less fun, Cartoon Network seems more interesting, besides it's got more of what I grew up with so I tuned into that for a while until I think 2000 or so.

      What's the point of all this? I'm getting to that.

      To be continued.

      ChrisC

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    13. Not long after, I picked up my first King films (Cat's Eye, Sleepwalkers, and It) and picked up the first book of his I ever owned (it was a copy of Dreamcatcher) and proceeded to get hooked for life (uh, no, not THAT kind of hooked!).

      Afterwards, I read his on writing, along with some comments by Tolkien about Inspiration/Invention. I was already reading Jung by then, having been introduced to his Introversion/Extraversion theory and then found out about the theory of Archetypes. I'd also stumbled upon Joe Campbell by then as well, and a book called, I think, "the Journey of Luke Skywalker" (Hey, stop laughing!) related Campbell to Jung for me.

      After that I read a few books that explained Aristotle and I saw how he was related to what Jung and Campbell talk about, and, well, there's my critical artistic thinking education, for the most part.

      Because of this, from very early on, I found a lot of what I saw on TV later on in high school as either boring or repetitive. There were exceptions like X Files, MST3K, Twilight Zone, The Prisoner, but for the most part all I can say is the great majority always seemed uninteresting.

      In terms of today's programming, well, it means that I've seen the originals on which a lot of current stuff is based off of, most of them movies like The Graduate, The Manchurian Candidate, Night of the Living Dead.

      All this is stuff I'm sure a lot of others know about. All I can say is, because I've essentially seen it all before, I wasn't interested when I heard about shows like the Walking Dead.

      I don't put much stock in concepts like "Originality", however I also seem not to care about ideas that, to me, seem based off premises of movies that have done the same thing and did it, in my estimation at least, better.

      From that perspective, it maybe becomes more easier to understand, in not necessarily agree with why I give a show like Dome such high marks.

      For one thing, it's a relatively new concept at least in terms of ideas on television.

      As for the reuse of tropes from other shows, well, there I'm not sure I'm fit to say one way or another, although the parallels I've drawn between classic films and some of the shows that are being touted as best today, well, it does make me wonder.

      Still, no matter. This is just to give an idea where one opinion comes from. Not an asking for agreement.

      Just tow cents.

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    14. Hope I didn't come across as a dick. My apologies, if so!

      Let's pool our two cents together and hit up the five and dime!

      BB - solid criteria, and I think your analyses so far have been pretty fair. It's true I'm not sitting well with the changes. Not because they're there, i.e. any change will annoy me, but I'm just not enjoying the transcription of the story/ characters I like into these more tv-boilerplate incarnations.

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    15. Uh, anyone got change for a nickel? (rimshot).

      Also, I do have to at least give a shout out to the one show that is not only original, but would probably do Chandler and Leonard proud.

      I'm talking of course about none other than "Breaking motha%/#$ing Bad", yo.

      If Bryan Cranston's career doesn't go somewhere, someone's going to owe an apology somewhere down the line.

      Also a heads up to the sharp as a tack Vince Gilligan.

      ChrisC

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    16. "Breaking Bad" is indeed flat-out awesome. If the final season manages to not be a letdown, then that series HAS to go on the shortlist for being considered the best show ever produced. I have no doubt that Cranston will go on to other great work; it's Gilligan I'm concerned about. He keeps talking about doing a spinoff based around Saul Goodman, which to me seems like a profoundly bad idea.

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    17. Oh yeah, I'm a big fan of Breaking Bad.

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    18. Oh, hell yeah. August 11, baby!

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