First (And Second) Looks


It’s been a good weekend for my television brain. I have the full first seasons of THREE new series at my disposal, so it’s been all sorts of fun for me. Less so for anyone else in the house who wanted to use the television. I don’t know that I love any of these three series quite yet, but I’ve seen two episodes of each so far and there’s some definite potential.

Mad Men

To be absolutely honest, this is not the first time I’ve seen any of Mad Men, but it’s been long enough that I barely remembered anything. So it’s sort of like I have fresh eyes on it.

The thing about this show is that it’s so stylized, I can’t quite tell what sort of substance it has. My obsession with January Jones’ and Christina Hendricks’ costumes aside, there aren’t many things that have really gripped me so far. Watching a couple episodes with my dad, who lived through this period and remembers it, added an extra angle of amusement. The general sixties-ness is certainly interesting (and entertaining). And, because I am a devotee of all things Joss Whedon, it’s a treat to see a slightly more grown up Vincent Kartheiser.

As I said, the production value of Mad Men is phenomenal – you don’t need to look any further than the opening credits to get a sense of just how snazzy it all is. And the acting is excellent too. The multiple actor Emmy nominations Mad Men has earned are evidently well-deserved even after just two episodes. And, the writing is certainly funny enough.

But, when all is said and done, I’m having a really hard time a) connecting emotionally with any of the characters and b) understanding exactly what it is about this show that everyone (read: the Emmy academy) loves so damn much. I may keep watching just out of a stubborn desire to try and figure that out.

Dexter

I have a huge crush on Michael C. Hall now. The man is fucking amazing and I want his brain/talent/babies.

…anyway.

Dexter is…interesting. Of the three shows, I feel like I have the least of a grip on this one. It’s not quite a procedural, but it’s not quite a serialized character drama. This is, again, analysis based on only two episodes, but my immediate reaction to this show is not confusion, necessarily, but something very much like it (and I can’t think of a more apt word at the moment).

The style that Dexter is written and shot in is peculiar and difficult to connect to. It’s like hectic in slow motion. The characters are just as difficult to pin down, because all of them are just so maladjusted to life in the real world. After the first episode of this I was wondering what the writers/producers were smoking when they came up with the whole concept. An episode later, though, I feel like I might be seeing the light. The world of Dexter is the world of Dexter. That is, the show is set not in Miami, but in Miami through the eyes of a serial killer. He is twisted, so everything is twisted. I’ll need to see a few more episodes to see whether that understanding is proof that I’m more insightful than I give myself credit for or proof that I’m just an intellectual elitist bullshitter with an overacting imagination. But I’m hoping it’s the former. I’ll feel so much smarter that way, and I’ll have so much respect for the creators of Dexter.

I honestly couldn’t tell you if I like this show or not. I do not know. What I do know, is that even if I hated the show I would watch it. Because Michael C. Hall is that good and I am that one-track-minded.

(Another great thing about this show – it’s gross! My favorite! A body drained of blood? Mmmmmm. Good times.)

Six Feet Under

…speaking of my undying fangirllove for Michael C. Hall…

Six Feet Under is by far my favorite of these three shows. And not just because the fictional ads for mortuary products in the pilot are the most marvelously disturing-but-hilarious things of all time. This show is the one of the three that really starts out with any sort of heart and soul.

I’ve heard some very disparate testimonies about this show. One friend calls it her favorite show of all time. My aunt gripes about how she doesn’t like any of the characters. So while I definitely didn’t switch on the pilot with a totally open and unaffected view, I feel like I’m more or less unswayed by any of the viewpoints I’ve heard.

My gut reaction to Six Feet Under is comprised mostly of delight. I love the characters for their awfulness. Peter Krause, the lead, manages to simultaneously ooze undeniable charm and bug the shit out of me. Michael C. Hall…well, he’s just damn good. And part of a homosexual relationship (additional emphasis on the sexual) which is a sure way to get my support – because most people just won’t do that on television, stage, or anywhere else and it’s marvelous when they do. Lauren Ambrose is heartfelt and hilarious. And I can’t think of any way someone could not love Freddy Rodriguez’s character. The only member of the cast I have absolutely no enjoyment in is Rachel Griffiths and her character Brenda. She just doesn’t do it for me.

As a whole, though, the show at two episodes down is remarkably well put together. Normally I’d have no interest in a show that is entirely about touchy-feely family/personal interrelationships. Usually I look for sci-fi or paranormal weirdness to bail me out. But dead people work too. Because they are gross. I get the feeling that after watching this show for a long enough period of time I’m going to start considering throwing myself into a volcano when I’m about to die just so no-one has to deal with my facial reconstruction or seeping fluids.

Since I have DVDs at my disposal and don’t have to mess with that complicated finding-episodes-online business, I am resolved to watch at least the entire first season of all three of these shows. And I will. Unless they, for some reason, irritate me so much that I just can’t stand it and have to stop. I have high hopes for my enjoyment of both Six Feet Under and Dexter, and I guess we’ll see how Mad Men fares.

I think the best part of all of it, though, is that these are non-broadcast shows so the characters/writers don’t have to PC-ify all their dialogue. People are allowed to swear and it’s amazing…and I am such a twelve-year-old boy. Wow.

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