At the outset of these reviews my stated goals were to figure out what I was missing or pinpoint what doesn’t work about this series for me. Strangely, I think I’ve succeeded on both counts. I always appreciated how well-crafted this series is but didn’t find that alone to be enough to make it worth watching. Having watched it with the critical eye, that’s changed; Mad Men is a clinic in unconventional storytelling. But that’s all it is. I watch television to be swept up in the story but Mad Men, even at its very best, seems driven to keep the audience at arm’s length. Much as I enjoyed analyzing this series, I can’t quite say that I enjoyed watching it. Continue reading
Believe the hype. With superb writing and even better acting, Damages somehow breathes new life into legal drama, the most clichéd and over-exposed genre on television. That’s no small task but the show succeeds by keeping the action out of the courtroom and focusing on the characters. Patty Hewes, the brilliant, merciless head of Hewes and Associates, is among the most compelling characters on television and Glenn Close’ performance deserves all its praise, but what’s truly astonishing is how well the rest of the cast keeps pace with her. Continue reading
Everyone knows that Dexter features a serial killer who only preys on other killers, but what it’s “about” is much more than that. This series gives us one of the most troubling, complex looks at morality on television and, for my money, the first season does it better than any other. Subsequent years would see improvements in acting, writing, etc., but I dare anyone to find tighter plotting or character development over twelve episodes. Continue reading
“Believe the hype” is about the only thing I can say to anyone who hasn’t yet watched this series. Tight plotting, powerhouse performances and innovative storytelling all add up to make this one of the best show’s I’ve seen in a long time. Continue reading
The quality of the first season of The X-Files varied greatly from episode to episode, which isn’t surprising for an anthology series. Given how different the show was each week, it’s difficult to identify broad trends; the highest highs and lowest lows were mostly isolated to individual episodes. Nonetheless, there are some elements that elevated this show even when the CoW was tanking, and others that just seemed to weigh it down at every opportunity.
A “What Worked/What Didn’t” post on Dexter Season One would be a trifle redundant given that it was 99% awesome and 1% Doakes. I believe it will be more productive to focus my first season summation on its big bad, the Ice Truck Killer, aka Rudy Cooper, aka Brian Moser, aka Binie. What makes ITK such an incredible villain is how our understanding of him evolves over the course of the season. He moves from playmate to foe to kindred, with each phase informing the previous ones. Knowing who he is and what his motives are provides the best sort of twist, both undermining and enhancing our understanding of the rest of the story. Continue reading
Season five of Dexter is less than a month away and, in a effort to capitalize on the anticipation, I’ll be writing about each episode of season one over the next three weeks. The write-ups won’t follow my usual review format as I see little point in recapping episodes I’ve seen half a dozen times and letter grades would be limited to A- through A+. Instead I’ll focus of the thematic elements of each episode and see how the component parts add up. If you’re interested in that short of thing, look for the first post tomorrow. If not, see you in October for the season five reviews.