mv5bmwm4ntu0nwmtytk5nc00zti1ltk5y2qtnta4mjbiy2u5ogixxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjc5mjg0nju-_v1_sy1000_cr0015001000_al_

“Girls” Season 6 Episode 6 Recap: Full Disclosure

Despite the surprising maturity that Hannah found in the first half of “Girls’” final season, episode six proves trying in familiar ways. Hannah gets a ridiculous idea in her head: that she has no obligation to tell Paul-Louie she is bearing his child.

Kudos to the even-handedness of the writers for including characters that think this is an extremely unfair and unreasonable decision on Hannah’s part. Thankfully, towards the end of the episode, she starts to come around and she even tries to contact him. Hopefully she follows through.

(more…)

Ranch still

3 Things the Netflix Series, The Ranch Gets Right

Netflix recently debuted a brand new traditionally produced sit-com series that is sitting pretty with a 4 1/2 star rating from their subscribers. Having recently finished watching this first season’s ten episodes, here are three things the series gets right:

1. Ashton Kutcher is front and center.

Kutcher in Bed

Ashton Kutcher stars as Colt Bennett, a washed-up college football QB, who is forced to move back home to the ranch he grew up on with his never-satisfied father, Beau (the great Sam Elliot), and smart-mouthed brother “Rooster” (Kutcher’s former That 70’s Show co-star Danny Masterson.) Mom, Maggie (Debra Winger) is living in her own Airstream behind the bar she owns due to her estranged relationship to husband Beau.

Ever since he debuted on That 70’s Show in the late 90s, Ashton Kutcher has proven himself to be a natural comedic actor with leading man looks.  In television land, this is hard to come by.  He’s maintained relevancy in pop-culture ever since we were introduced to him with stints like MTV’s Punk’d, a bunch of hit (and miss) feature films, as a successful venture capitalist and angel investor (AirBnB, Foursquare), stepping back into TV and into Charlie “Tiger’s Blood” Sheen’s shoes on Two & a Half Men, and bringing it full circle with this second outing co-starring to his former 70’s Show co-star Masterson. Through it all he’s been married to Demi Moore and now is married-with-children with another former 70’s co-star, Mila Kunis, yet somehow has seemingly maintained humility and stayed true to Chris.

While Ashton is clearly the lead of the show, Masterson, Elliott, the re-emerged Winger (Urban Cowboy) as Beau’s estranged wife, and Elisha Cuthbert (Kim “Kidnapped” Bauer from 24) as Colt’s corn-fed country-girl former high school sweetheart, round a solid cast.  The first few episodes take minute for everyone to gel, but once you know everyone and it feels like they know everyone, it’s a welcome sight when any one of them pops on screen with Kutcher who brings chemistry to each interaction.  The biggest surprise comes from the amount of depth that begins to percolate as the these honest familial relationships start to surface.  Sam Elliott and Debra Winger have both had long careers filled with terrific dramatic performances, that cache helps bring balance to what could easily have been a Duck Dynasty style sitcom. (I contend Duck Dynasty masquerades more as a reality show, when in reality it’s more situation comedy without the acting talent.)

(more…)

Five Seasons and a Podcast

This Week Community was Cancelled
This Week Community was Cancelled

Much like slowly watching your favorite uncle pass away, fans of Community finally saw the death of their beloved show last week. As one of those said fans, I wasn’t really as disappointed as I would have expected. After all, shouldn’t five seasons warrant the Five Stages of Loss?

The Five Stages of Loss
The Five Stages of Loss
Even though I’ve seen quite a few sitcoms either get cancelled or end their runs, I don’t think one really gets used to watching their favorite characters and settings walk off the screen.

When Arrested Development was cancelled, I hit that Denial Stage pretty hard, re-watching all three seasons obsessively as if each episode were new (to be fair, it was a show that rewarded such behavior).

Traffic Light - Also Cancelled
Traffic Light – Also Cancelled

Fortunately, I never had to move past that stage, as the show was eventually resurrected by Netflix.

A lesser known sitcom on Fox, Traffic Light was cancelled after a short first season. I was and still am in the Anger Stage on this one. It was just too short. I can’t even re-watch this show on Netflix, because…it’s…just…errrr. Too soon.
30 Rock’s end, although sad, was much more about the Bargaining Stage. I convinced myself that this would allow Tina Fey to be in more movies and eventually create 200 more brilliant sitcoms. Or at least two for now.
Although the post-Steve Carell seasons left something to be desired, the end of The Office left me in a state that was as close to the Depression Stage as any sitcom could ever create. It was just so good for so long that not having it left a hole in my sitcom viewing schedule that none have quite been able to fill since.
But for all the possible stages of grief, the loss of Community some how skipped the first four and landed smoothly into Acceptance. I share many sentiments with Time’s James Poniewozik, as the show’s run produced many more great moments and episodes than a show of its specificity and unique voice should have been allowed on a major network. If I were to relate it to food, it was a great three course meal, with two bonus courses. Sure the fourth course needed more salt and appeared to be created by a different chef, but at least the fifth course brought back some cohesiveness that reminded you of why you decided to eat at that restaurant to begin with.

However, for me, the reason I don’t feel any loss is primarily because the creator of Community, Dan

Dan Harmon
Dan Harmon

Harmon, has a weekly live show/podcast called Harmontown. Normally, we relate and attach ourselves to shows because we’re connecting with the creator/showrunner’s vision. However, this vision is generally filtered through a room of other writers, producers, network executives, and sometimes preferences of advertisers.

Not with Harmontown. The podcast gives fans an authentic taste of Dan Harmon, for better or worse. And at this point in my life, an unfiltered 90-minute podcast that I can listen to during my commute is more valuable to me than a 22-minute network sitcom.
There’s something freeing about the format and knowing that Dan is being Dan; knowing that there’s nobody looking over his shoulder, editing content, or suggesting material. Without actually doing the research to back it up, it’s also liberating to think that this type of entertainment was probably the only form hundreds (thousands?) of years ago. When there were no “shows” or “performances” other than conversations about one’s day fishing, hunting, or courting a sexy cavewoman (or man). It feels as if life is coming around, completing a Joseph Campbell-esque story circle
Granted, I realize without Community there would be no Harmontown, but people evolve, tastes change, and you learn to accept things that you wouldn’t have accepted three years ago. And given that the nature of podcasts allow a certain freedom, fortunately we’ll never have to worry about Harmontown being cancelled by anyone other than Dan Harmon.