Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reviews 5/29/12 - 6/4/12

Longmire is quite impressive for an A&E show. It's not bombastic or cutesy, and doesn't have any huge lapses in logic. The pilot sets out a solid premise and gives us an idea of what conflicts we can see in the future. There is the contentious relationship between the sheriff's department and those on the reservation, one of the deputies running against him, and Walt dealing with his wife's death. Along with Robert Taylor's stoic yet damaged portrayal of Longmire, the show gets off to a good start, better than I predicted.

Mad Men: I'll wait to see how the season finale deals with the fallout if Lane's suicide before saying too much about it. For now, I'll just say that it did feel too abrupt. Mainly, his money problems have been really intermittent, only a big deal in one episode, and his personal problems not much more extreme than any of the other dysfunctional characters. Yeah, he was probably the most pathetic of the bunch, but Pete has been pretty terrible as well. Perhaps it would have been too obvious if the writers kept completely shitting on Lane each episode. As the episode progresses, Lane gets in worse and worse shape, Don firing him, the Jaguar not working, and then he's dead. Mad Men is a show that doesn't need this kind of shock value, especially when there are plenty of other interesting plots which don't require a death. I'll wait and see how things work out. The rest of the episode was a bit odd with creepy Glen as the focal point of the "life sucks" theme. Glen, seriously? At least we saw him in the season before this episode so it wasn't completely random.

Veep revealed what kind of it show it was in the opening minutes of this week's episode when we learn Selina had a miscarriage. It won't be a show with long, ongoing stories, and that's fine with me. The episode actually wraps up a couple stories that have been going on despite the potential for large changes. In the end, Amy takes responsibility for the birth control, sort of like the John Edwards situation, which also explains her behavior towards the Secret Service agent. Problems solved. From the episodes that have aired so far, this format seems to work fine, with a new problem each week and maybe some carryover from previous episodes. It's not like the show is trying to be realistic and imitate real life.

Game of Thrones has so many different plots in addition to definite paths it'll head in the next season that the season finale couldn't possibility bring everything together. It's forced to jump from plot to plot, from character to character, from location to location without much pause in order to fit everything into a single episode. Instead of listing the plot, I'll just mention how great Theon's scene was. It was reminiscent of Tyrion's speech in the previous episode, and Alfie Allen just enough crazy into the speech that it boils over and Theon gets thumped from behind. The execution of the scene was perfect, making it very funny while underscoring how out of touch he is.

Book spoilers: I've wanted to see how the show would tackle the House of Undying, the most obscure part of A Clash of Kings. Dany is instructed to always take the door on the right, so she keeps going up and up, with weird things happening all over the place, until she reaches the dragons and they burn everything down. The show portrayal is more palatable, with less hallucinatory qualities, and more grounding to reality.

When I realized that Magic City's first season would end last Friday, I was a bit puzzled. It seems like in the eight episodes, not much has happened. Yes, Ike is now in jail, Meg owns a portion of the Miramar Playa, Ben Diamond knows about Stevie and Lily, Vera is back to dancing, but the build up to these events never felt important. Instead of fully fleshed out plots leading to these moments, there were little droplets of plot points which eventually lead to the ending. Take Ike ending up in jail. It's just a series of coincidences and misfortune that lead him there. He makes a deal with Ben Diamond, who happens to be a bloodthirsty murderer, he keeps Judy alive by killing the hitman, and then FBI Albie Grant is also out of control like Ben. All these things happen to conspire against Ike. Oddly, we never really see what makes Ike a good businessman. He basically fails in every business dealing we see him doing. We're supposed to assume that he is, from all the events and whatnot at his hotel, but we never actually see him negotiating, leaving open the possibility that the hotel itself, not Ike, is the reason why the events come to the hotel. Another thing is how incomplete some stories are. Victor and Mercedes have been on the outskirts of the show, rarely important other than when Maria is being discussed or when Mercedes is with Danny. When Maria dies, we're supposed to care a lot after seeing so little of them.

This is not to say Magic City is bad. Far from it. Magic City, in Starz fashion, did not reach HBO level as was expected, but turned out to be a pretty good show, which very watchable even if the plot developments needed more. I'll be watching next season.
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