TV Shows

Playing for Plot in the Lost and Portal Franchises

I’m writing from FROG 2011, the Vienna conference on videogames. This conference is unlike any other I’ve been to in a range of ways: it’s my first game studies conference, which means the range of presenters and disciplinary backgrounds is broader and more eclectic than at the typical television or media studies conference. ... read more »

Louie as Jazz for TV (with fart jokes)

An old college friend posted the following on Facebook yesterday: “So I keep watching the show Louie, which I find to be the most depressingly realistic TV I’ve ever seen. I think it’s a really good show, but it’s about as far from comedy as one can get. Why is it called a comedy? The topics are exceedingly heavy, and handled with a minimum of drama – they are too realistic.” My brief reply to her was that the show could be as funny as anything on TV (citing the episode “Come On, God” about masturbation as an example), but that really it’s a show that transcends genre. ... read more »

Killing Surprises

I’d been planning on writing up a summary blog post on The Killing‘s first season this week, looking back on what was ultimately a mixed bag of television over its first season. I liked the show overall more than a lot of the critics who’d turned on it midway through the season, as I was often willing to overlook the shoddy plotting and inconsistencies to revel in the visual style (especially in episodes directed by TV veteran Ed Bianchi) and engaging performances.

And then the season finale happened. ... read more »

Spoiling Klosterman

I’m usually happy to see thoughtful discussions of media storytelling strategies extend into the popular press, as it gives me hope that there is a broad audience for work that engages issues of television narrative and form as my current research aims to do. But I often read such popular accounts with a mix of interest and frustration, with the latter often overtaking the former. ... read more »

Preparing for The End: Metafiction in the Final Seasons of The Wire ...

I’m in New Orleans for the annual conference of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies. I’m actually blogging the conference for the society’s new official website, an experiment in covering a conference from the ground from the perspective of four participants – you need to login to read the blogs, but if you’re not an SCMS member, you can register for a guest account to get short-term access. ... read more »

Best TV of 2010: The Second Tier

In my last post, I offered my Top Tier TV for 2010, roughly serving as a top 5 (with one of those taken by a videogame). So the following shows could be seen as residing in the bottom half of my Best Of list, but I refuse the arbitrary limit of 10 or the time it would take to rank these any way except alphabetically. So feel free to pick your favorite and call it my #6. ... read more »

Best TV of 2010: The Top Tier

Thankful for Terriers

I’d like to interrupt this unplanned blog hiatus – yes, it’s been one of those semesters – to give thanks for this year’s best new show: Terriers. I’d been planning on posting a blog about Terriers after a few episodes, but I’m glad I got too busy to write it, as the show has transformed into something much more engaging and powerful since then. What started out as a shaggy good time has emerged into taught double character study packing a surprise emotional wallop. ... read more »

Rewatching Breaking Bad

As the summer wanes, it’s my annual time to look back at all the things I failed to accomplish. It’s been an excellent summer, marked by quality family time, enjoyable trips, house projects, and general low-stress fun (including a successful immersion into the best videogame I’ve played in a long time, Red Dead Redemption). But for many academics, summer is the designated time for getting things done that require concentrated time and attention – and in that regard, I fell short of my goals, especially in the desire to blog. ... read more »

On Disliking Mad Men

As a scholar and fan of contemporary narratively complex television serials, one of my blindspots has been Mad Men, a show about which I’ve mentioned on this blog has little appeal to me. Thus it was a bit surprising months ago when I was invited to contribute to a forthcoming book of collected essays on the show – the editors knew that I didn’t like the show, and wanted me to write about why. I accepted the invitation as a kind of challenge, and the results are posted below. ... read more »