Category Archives: TV I’ve Seen

TMI, Or, Too Much Information? Also, Cake.

I’ve been composing this blog mentally since listening to a discussion of the critical reaction to The Killing on the “Firewall & Iceberg” podcast this morning, and it’s gone through a variety of thesis statements and witty titles. I was going to channel my inner Neil Gaiman and call it “Veena Sud Is Not Your Bitch,” until I realized that I have no inner Neil Gaiman and didn’t want to make a fool of myself by presuming so, even facetiously. Then I was going to go on a little Internet Rant about all those people going on Internet Rants about the ending of a show they already didn’t like, but didn’t like even more come Monday morning, but the irony/hypocrisy seized my fingers and I was unable to type. Then it was time for lunch, which was brought to me by a playdate’s parent for free. I didn’t even have to change out of my bathing suit.*

Jack in the Box Egg Rolls**

*Not Shown

**I always thought it was weird that a fast food restaurant could get right old school egg rolls of the kind you can’t even get at Chinese restaurants anymore, until I learned that they make them with MSG. I remember well the year MSG disappeared from all the Chinese restaurants for “health reasons” and “popular demand,” because it was the year egg drop soup became watery and I had to move on to hot and sour.

You can read in a variety of places all about how the show runner of The Killing broke an implicit contract with viewers and insulted them with the ending of the first season and wasted three months of Sundays of people’s time and all kinds of invective ranging from carefully analytic to frothy tirades. All kinds. Critics are mad, fans are mad, and I don’t really understand the rage, but I do understand that there’s rage and there’s Internet Rage, and Internet Rage is a group process that doesn’t necessarily reflect actual emotions on the other side of the keyboard. If I can go by my own habits and the habits of people I post with on boards that discuss TV and other topics. For example, a particularly upsetting episode of, say, The Office Season 3, could have had people seething and hollering in the episode thread, but being funny and charming one minute later in the job thread or the chit chat thread.

Now I have to take a break to put a crumb coat on a cake I’m baking for Husband’s 60-year-old coworker who had a JoP wedding over the weekend and who, if I really had to guess, probably doesn’t need anything as a present. My Aceling of Cakes was excited about making a tiered cake for a while, and claimed first rights to cut off the dome, but now he’s crapping out on the crumb coat. Dude, no one wants to frost the crumb coat. It is admittedly the suckiest of the coats, but it’s the most necessary, especially on a pretend wedding cake with frosting tinted very slightly off-white because I have only real vanilla extract in the house instead that artificial colorless vanilla stuff.

Yes, I Did Drink All That Soda Today

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The Great Twin Peaks Rewatch of ‘Eleven

First of all, let me say that I sincerely miss the Two-Thousand-Aughts, and that referring to the years of the second decade of this century is far less satisfying, and that I feel privileged to have lived through those special times.

Second of all, Alan Sepinwall and Dan Fienberg of HitFix.com* are doing this thing on their podcast, Firewall and Iceberg, where they conduct over the summer an official rewatch of an old show and discuss it each week. Last year they covered Undeclared and it was a lot of fun; this year they are tackling the first season of Twin Peaks.**

*You may know HitFix.com from such venues as the checkout line at Albertson’s, where tiny monitors run loops of entertainment news while you stand in line.

**And that’s some damn fine link bombing in the first paragraph, if I do say so myself.
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Feminist Friday–Going Rogue

The Transatlantic Blonde is taking a break from Feminist Friday this week, but I don’t dare lest I lose the swing of things altogether. So I’m going it alone! The benefit of that is that I don’t have to try (with variable success) to piece together an extended, coherent thought. What you’re getting today, then, is a collection of loosely affiliated blurbs–with pictures!–that I have a sneaking suspicion most people would rather read anyway. What you’re not getting, however, is anything particularly newsworthy or insightful.

1. Baby Storm Stocker
For crying out loud, people, nobody is raising any genderless baby. The parents aren’t “picking” the kid’s gender any more than any other parent has picked any other kid’s gender. The kid is going to grow up in a family and in a community where there are lots of males and females, and whatever gender the kid has already been born will eventually show itself and the kid will have a name for it, and in the meantime it’s certainly not your business what the shape of the baby’s genitals are, and if the parents aren’t telling you and you are getting mad about it, they still aren’t the ones with a problem. So there.

Get Over It

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Mad Men–Season 3, Episode 6: Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency

I believe that it was Anton Chekhov who first said that if you park a lawnmower in an office in Act I, you need to run over an Englishman’s foot by the end of the play.

If reports are accurate, I watched this entire episode with my mouth agape. Agape, I say. I was made sufficiently uncomfortable last week by the baby, and the prison guard, and Sally’s teacher, and the rest of it that I was looking forward to an office drama. I believe it was Chekhov who also said that you should be careful what you wish for! I haven’t had the time (or energy) to write up everything I want to say from “The Fog” about Betty’s delivery or Pete’s career, but I found this latest episode much more painful–obvious jokes aside. Everything in it was stressful, and I’m not sure there was a single happy thing in the entire hour, with the possible exception of Joan hearing Peggy say nice things to her, and even those were cut short.

In all of three seasons, this is the first time that I’ve really experienced the characters being caught up in something out of control.

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Mad Men–Season 3, Episode 4: The Arrangements

OK. Tonight’s episode was about legacies, and parts of it almost made me cry (OK, just the Gene parts), but first I have to gush about some stuff.

Like Sal’s flirty bedroom dance.
Like Gene salting spoonfuls of chocolate ice cream right out of the carton. I have totally done that! It’s awesome.
Like Peggy’s new roommate–KAREN–wearing a yellow Mad Men dress. When I Madmenized myself, I wore a yellow Mad Men dress. It was meant to be:

Mad Karen

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Mad Men–Season 3, Episode 3: My Old Kentucky Home

Tonight’s episode of Mad Men was slow… but not in a bad way. It was not boring at all, but the scenes dragged out and dragged out and unwound and you just didn’t know where they were going to end up. It was an hour that seemed like much longer, and I can’t even say that so many things happened to the characters in it that I was tired out from watching them, because they didn’t. Maybe I was just holding my breath the whole time. Maybe it was that everyone was sort of in a haze during this episode that I got caught up in it, too.

There was the atmosphere of the garden party, the smoke from the joints, the increasing senility of Grandpa. The scenes just unspooled while you watched, with nothing and everything happening all at once. I think my favorite scenes were the ones at Sterling Cooper, and not really because of the joint. Peggy announcing she wanted to smoke marijuana was funny, but her line that set the tone for the scene was when she told Paul off for never, ever asking her anything about what she liked and so he had no business presuming he knew what she wouldn’t like (I’m paraphrasing). Her bluntness (ha! see what I did there?) startled him. Paul is pretentious, but I think he is pretty self-aware. He hadn’t noticed that he never bothered to ask Peggy anything outside of girly work stuff, but he was immediately embarrassed because he knew she was right. I like to believe that he fully sees her as a person and as a professional now, and that his behavior toward her in the office will undergo a major change–just by paying attention.

It was very interesting, too, to see how Paul is playing his own part in the pageant of hiding your roots and assuming the identity of someone you weren’t.

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Mad Men–Season 3, Episode 2: Love among the Ruins

So I have probably improperly processed the episode, although I am allowing alliteration. “Love among the Ruins” was far more depressing to me than it seems to have been for other people online, and I think it’s because I am aligning myself too sympathetically with Peggy’s point of view in this one, what with my sexism ruckus blowout on the Skeptic’s forum a week or so ago. My frustration with that whole situation is not so much that people in the end didn’t agree with my point of view, it was that they seemed to deliberately misunderstand it, or dismiss it, or not even hear what I was trying to say–and yes, appearances to the contrary, I am done worrying about it now. It’s just that watching Peggy say, quite clearly, how she objected to the “playing up men’s fantasies” angle for the ad campaign for a diet soda aimed at women–even if she was wrong–and no one really listened to her. They really did not care what she had to say.

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Babylon 5–Season 2, Episode 19: Divided Loyalties

I really, really liked this one. I always take breaks from watching right before the weaker episodes, I guess, and then start to wonder about the series, and then when I stick with it, I end up with awesome. The psychological drama embedded in this episode was potent. That it reminded me of the whole Battlestar Galactica Redux “who’s a Cylon” game made it even better, because I got to relive the tensions from watching that series, too, so it packed twice the punch!

Since watching the episode, however, I’ve been quite sick, and my memories of the past few days are fuzzy. I apologize if I get details wrong.

The Episode

So this is the one about the Psychic from the pilot movie (Lyta) who sneaks back onto Babylon 5 in order to warn the captain that there’s a traitor in his midst–a traitor who doesn’t even know he or she is a traitor! Some person has been programmed to collect information and hide beneath an invented personality until the code word is psychically transmitted to him or her, and the PsiCorps can bring the station, or its personnel, down for its nefarious purposes. It’s not a lot of plot on the surface to pull through a whole hour, but what I loved about this episode’s treatment of it was that instead of pulling in a real side plot, we got lots and lots of character development. Missing from the episode were my favorite non-humans (G’Kar specifically), but they weren’t likely candidates for the subterfuge anyway.

A long time ago I got some information in an unexpected place…

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Mad Men–Season 3, Episode 1: Out of Town

Well, it’s been a long time coming and I am SO HAPPY that Mad Men has started that I CAN’T WAIT to blog about it, even though I am probably a little too tipsy to make any sense and the episode just ended a few minutes ago so I haven’t fully processed it. Nonetheless, here I go roughly into that good night of impressions, stream of consciousness, and full-on unfiltered reaction.

I wasn’t really sure what to make of this episode at first, and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out when the episode was set. I had heard a long time ago that it was going to be in 1964, but I also was expecting Don and Betty’s baby to be born already. I was expecting Joan to be married or not married, but not still engaged, and I was worried that I was going to hear about Peggy’s little baby ripped out of his home–wherever his home ended up being–and placed into Trudy and Pete’s care. I am dying to know if Pete has said a word to Trudy; I am surprised, for some reason, that Sal is still married. Of course, babies were much on my mind, considering the opening. Had we ever wondered before about the exact circumstances of Don’s birth (I had not), we had all our questions answered.

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Babylon 5–Season 2, Episode 18: Confessions and Lamentations

Boy, it’s been a while since I’ve watched this show! I got distracted by Buffy and Angel (although I am definitely lukewarm about Buffy right now… Season 5 wasn’t that good), and caught up in other stuff, like a party we had at the house yesterday, but because I was too tired to work last night I decided to hit the series again. I know too well how easy it is to let things drop, and this is a show that has a lot of momentum that can get lost if you take breaks that are too long.

That said, I’m just not thrilled about this episode. I watched partway through the first time while I was too busy wrapping presents to pay attention to it, and then started from the beginning another day. There’s just not that much in it. If a show has been so carefully scripted across multiple seasons as this one has been (or so it is said), then there’s probably not a lot of fluff in it. If I take as a given that everything comes back as important in future episodes, then fine–it’s chock full of stuff. But I’m not seeing much beyond the beginning of the Delenn/Sheridan romance, some glimpses into Minbari culture, some generalized comments about society during a plague, and a hint at how the population at large views the events happening at Babylon 5 (a la the remarks about Vorlon poisoning from the bartender at the end of the episode).

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