The 2011-2012 Refrigerator Rants End-of-Season Awards

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The 2011-2012 television season came to a close last week with the end of May sweeps, so now it’s time for me to honour the best of what I watched with my annual fake awards show. The only problem is that it’s proving to be a little more difficult than last year. More

Pop Cultural New Year’s Resolutions for 2012

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At the start of every year, I make the same new year’s resolutions: get in shape (not going to happen); keep in touch with friends and family (not going to happen); and work/study harder (definitely not going to happen). This year, I’m keeping those same resolutions, but I’m also resolving to make some resolutions that I can actually fulfill. Saying “I’m going to start the day with sit-ups, push-ups, and jumping jacks” is a far more concrete goal than “getting in shape,” for example.

I’m applying the same principle to my pop cultural resolutions this year. Usually, I simply say that I want to watch “more” movies and “less” TV, or something of the sort. But this year, I’ve decided to lay out some clear, attainable goals. I doubt that I’ll achieve them all, but at least I’ll feel a sense of accomplishment at having achieved some of them by year’s end. More

Kicking the Habit: Why It’s Easy to Give Up on Some TV Shows and Hard to Give Up on Others

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As you may have noticed, I stopped writing about Wilfred a couple of weeks ago, not because I stopped watching, but because I couldn’t bring myself to care enough about it to put my fingers to the keyboard and type 400+ words about it. The show has thus far been a mixed bag. I like the concept, and Jason Gann and Elijah Wood have great comic chemistry, but the execution usually falls flat. For that reason, I’ve voiced my disappointment about the show in various fora, both on- and offline. But to my dismay, in those fora, I’ve been met with the question: “So why are you still watching?”

My knee-jerk reaction, if I’d chosen to express it, would have been, “Why the hell do you care? It’s none of your business why I do what I do.” In many cases, being asked why one is still watching is a way to dismiss legitimate complaints as mindless kvetching from the peanut gallery, and it detracts from valuable discussions of a critical nature.

However, I still think it’s a valid question. Though TV viewers are far from the hyperrational model of Homo Economicus espoused by the mathematically-inclined, they don’t subject themselves to torture for no good reason. It’s therefore odd that so many people watch TV shows and perpetually complain about how awful they are (the cathartic benefit of complaining aside, of course). In the case of Wilfred, I can provide reasons for why I’m still watching: I like the ideas, I like the cast, and I think the show has the potential to improve. I stuck with Traffic Light for its entire run for similar reasons, despite the fact that the show almost never made me laugh:1 I loved its low-key vibe, and I sensed the possibility of improvement in its future (which never came because the show was cancelled. Oh well.)

But what about shows that have been running for a long time, or shows that used to entertain me, but no longer do? In those cases, the “I think it’ll get better argument” doesn’t work as well. I watch a surprising number of series like that. I recently realized that fact when I noticed that three of the series that I wrote about in my “Five Shows That Should Have Been Cancelled” post (henceforth referred to as “RR1”) a few weeks ago were also mentioned in my “Epic Fail” post (henceforth referred to as “RR2”) from last summer. In other words, this past season, I watched three series that I had vowed to abandon. After some self-reflection, I’ve been able to put some explanations for my TV watching habits to words. I can speak only for my personal experience, but I hope that the readers of this blog will be able to relate. After the jump, I’ll take a look at some TV shows that I’ve given up on or tried to give up on, as well as how fandom, critics, and other external factors may have affected my perceptions of those programmes. More

The 2010-2011 Refrigerator Rants End-of-Season Awards

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With the 2010-2011 television season more or less over and summer TV about to begin or recently having begun, it’s time to take a look back at the best that the past year brought us.

Before we dive in, I have to make one thing clear: I don’t watch most television shows, and I barely watch any cable television. I do watch a lot of television on the whole, but not nearly enough to make a fair assessment of what was truly the “best.” For that reason, the awards will be skewed towards the shows that I watch. So don’t go crying about my failure to include The Good Wife, Mad Men, or Friday Night Lights. I don’t watch those shows. With that mind, let’s get started! More

Five Shows That Should Have Been Cancelled

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The 2010-2011 television season is more or less over now, barring some shows that will continue into the summer (such as The Killing). So it seems like an appropriate time to take a look back at this season and try to speculate about what will happen in the next one. Over the next couple of weeks or so, I’ll be writing a series of entries about this past television season. First up: shows that should have been cancelled.

Let’s forget about ratings for a minute. Let’s forget about advertising, profits, and business. Based on quality alone, some shows just deserve to die. Maybe it’s because they’ve gone on for too long. Maybe it’s because they were never good to begin with. Or maybe it’s because they’ve changed for the worse. After the break, we’re going to take a look at 5 shows that really didn’t deserve to be renewed for another season. More

Cliffhanger Anger

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I’ve had the idea for an entry like this kicking around for a while, but I think it’s appropriate to post it now that we’re in the final weeks of the broadcast television season and shows have started airing their season finales. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen 6 season finales, all of which ended with cliffhangers.1 (That includes How I Met Your Mother, but we’re not going to talk about it here. That could open up a whole can of worms that I don’t want to deal with.) I enjoyed 5 of them (i.e. all of them except HIMYM’s), but the twists at the end of 4 of those 5 left me confused (Fringe), apprehensive (Chuck), frustrated (Community), or just downright mad (Castle).

I’ve already talked about the Fringe, Chuck, and Community season finales elsewhere, so let’s zero in on Castle. The specifics of the episode aren’t important. What matters is that the episode ended with Beckett getting shot and Castle professing his love for her. I didn’t like this cliffhanger for reasons that I’ll elaborate on shortly.

So, which show had a cliffhanger that I did enjoy? Surprisingly, Hawaii Five-0. The episode ended with Kono under investigation, Danny’s family heading back to New Jersey, Chin working for the HPD, and McGarrett in police custody. After the jump, we’re going to take a look at the Castle and Hawaii Five-0 season finales, and why the cliffhanger in the latter worked while the one in the former didn’t. More

Déjà Vu: Thoughts on Castle’s Two-Parter

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Earlier this week, on Monday, Castle concluded its two-parter with “Countdown.” The first part, “Setup” had aired the previous week. Castle did a similar thing last season with “Tick, Tick, Tick…” and “Boom!”

I don’t write much about Castle. It’s a lightweight, quirky procedural that doesn’t lend itself well to extensive commentary. It’s almost always very good, but rarely excellent or mediocre. But “Setup” and “Countdown” were somewhat of a deviation from Castle’s usual formula, so it’s fitting that I write a bit about them, especially in light of what I wrote about the most recent episode of Fringe. I complained that this season’s flashback episode of Fringe was an attempt to replicate the magic of the original, and in the end, it fell short.

I feel the same way about “Setup” and “Countdown” vis-à-vis “Tick, Tick, Tick…” and “Boom!” Both pairs of episodes were built around the same framework. I understand the desire for writers to run with what has worked in the past, but attempting to relive past glory rarely produces results that compare to the original. More

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