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February 13, 2012 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-13

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 7A

No analysis can render
the 'best' TV show

T his is my third column
for The Michigan Daily,
which is particularly
important because "third"
things tend to be the best - the
third season
of "Buffy
the Vampire
Slayer," the
third sea-
son finale of
"Mad Men,"
the third
time the KAYLA
Ones had
to vanquish
Cole. And for this special third
column, I'm going to tell you
all about the very best show on
Spoiler Alert: There is no best
show on television. Well, maybe
there is and I'm just stuck in my
ways, but I've never felt com-
fortable declaring a single show
* as the best. Even when I break
it down into painstakingly spe-
cific categories, I can't reach a
conclusion - is "Breaking Bad"
really the Best Show That Uses
Crystal Meth As a Plot Device,
or is "Justified?"
I don't even like top-10 lists.
First of all, they operate under
the assumption that the person
or people creating them have
sampled everything there is to
sample. Otherwise, the judge-
ment wouldn't be fair, right?
I believe there are only three
people on this planet who watch
more TV than I: my dear friend
and aspiring television writer
LaToya Ferguson, my arch-neme-
sis and aspiring television writer
Nate Levy, and AV Club's Todd
VanDerWerff. I, however, do not
believe that the four of us - even
when factoring in our collectively
astronomical consumption of
television - could come up with a
* satisfactory top-10 list.
I suppose I should have
distinguished between the
terms "best" and "favorite"
upfront. Except that there isn't
a difference. When it comes
to television, there really isn't
a distinction between what
is "best" and what is the the
"favorite" of the person or
group labeling it as such. No
matter what that pretentious

show c
best. Y
next to
them a
score. I
gle witi
in TV r
Little L
holes, b
ever giv
ing" ev(
show th
star rev
to me. F
and the
are har
and "TI
rank or
have at
Rock" r
the oth'
hard to
other, b
a workt
fair to h
of "Gam
the cur
when oz
tage of.
either l
new "H
be.? Spe
of "Hap
to make
ter than

walk Empire" fan you're "Louie"?
with says, a television When I am finally forced to
annot objectively be the choose and rank, I do what I
ou can't check little boxes think most people do - I make
subcategories and add politically strategic choices.
11 up to equal a numerical Maybe if I keep insisting "Com-
this isn't figure skating. munity" and "Cougar Town" are
is why I frequently strug- the best, more people will start
h assigningstar valuations watchingthese hilarious yet rat-
eviews. I get that "Pretty ings-poor network sitcoms. I also
tars" is riddled with plot love making radical statements
ut I'll be damned if I like "'The Vampire Diaries' is
ve it less than 3 1/2 stars, the best show on television,"
e it keeps me glued to my because, you know, it probably
on more than "The Kill- isn't, but it is a damn good show
er managed to. And a TV that explores familial issues more
sat rightfully earns a five- deftly than "Modern Family," and
iew seems so implausible maybe if I throw in the "B"-word,
Five stars imply perfection, people will shut up and watch.
re hasn't been a perfect As someone who writes and
of television since "My talks about television every day,
ed Life" was canceled. I frequently get the weighty
episodes of television "What's your favorite television
d enough to come by (the show of all time?" question. All
ones that come to mind are time? Why don't you just ask
of Jordan" on "30 Rock" me what I think the meaning of
he Son" on "Friday Night life is? Before you declare your
). own favorite show, keep my per-
sonal rule in mind: An all-time
favorite show should no longer
re is no best be on air. A television show
needs to be a complete body of
'True Blood' work before it's worthy of such
praise. I feel bad for the people
the worst. who prematurely called "Dex-
ter" or "Weeds" their ultimate
favorites before both shows fiz-
zled into mediocrity after such
n people ask me to simply strong starts.
recommend shows, I None of this is to say that I
mental breakdown. Is "30 don't think awards shows have
eally better than "Dam- a purpose. I hate them, but it's
Sure, one's a sitcom and probably a good thing I don't
er's a legal drama, so it's control them, because there
stack them against each would be approximately 317 cat-
ut I can't even compare egories ranging across absurdly
place satire like "The specific criteria, like Most
to an animated action- Varied Facial Expressions in a
'like "Archer." And is it Supernatural Teen Drama (tie
told up the first season between Chris Zylka and Ian
ne of Thrones" against Somerhalder) and Best Horse
rent season of "Fringe," on Television (Lil Sebastian,
ne has the obvious advan- obviously). I also don't think TV
an HBO budget? How do critics should stop making their'
ook next to Showtime's top-10 lists. I just think it's all
lomeland," which is the a bit of an illusion. The best TV
d, provocative action- show is like a boring episode of
"24" always wanted to "Revenge" or an unfunny epi-
taking of "24," Elisha sode of "Childrens Hospital" -
rt and the rest of the cast it simply doesn't exist.

"Lets get y00 out of lbis naatt uteiously, take i:1011.
Tatum, Me-IAdams
vow to di sappoint

Valentine's Day
rom-com can't
deliver depth
DailyArts Writer
Those idiotic romantic mov-
ies that make you want to burn
a pack of Hallmark greeting
cards are back
- a surefire
sign that Val-
entine's Day The Vow
fever is offi-
cially here. And At Quality 16
with it comes and Rave
the annual Screen Gems
rant about why
those godfor-
saken movies are so painfully
bad. Unsurprisingly, it has a lot
to do with formulaic, beaten-
down plotlines and a noticeably
lackluster brand of uninspired
You would think "The Vow"
- featuring a slightly interest-
ing plotline and directed by a
man who managed to squeeze a
decent performance out of Drew
Barrymore (Michael Sucsy,
"Grey Gardens") - wouldn't be
that bad. Sadly, that's not the
case. The star-studded drama

brings only one question to
mind: How in the world does
watching a load of crap steam
for 104 minutes make two peo-
ple in a relationship feel closer
Sucsy doesn't waste any of
those minutes shoving us into the
meat ofthe story.As Paige (Rachel
McAdams, "The Notebook")
and her husband Leo (Chan-
ning Tatum, "G.I. Joe: The Rise
of Cobra") leave a movie theater
on a snowy winter night, they're
struck by an impulse to unbuckle
their seatbelts and kiss in the mid-
dle of the street. A few seconds
later, they're struck again - this
time by a large cargo truck that
sends Paige flying out of the wind-
shield with severe head trauma.
When Paige regains con-
sciousness in the hospital, it
turns out the last five years of
her life have been wiped from
her memory. She no longer
remembers Leo or ever getting
married to him. It's a sad story,
based on true events, that has
a lot of potential as a script.
Unfortunately, that potential is
never fully realized by the film-
makers. Instead of a heartbreak-
ing tale anchored by love and
reconciliation, we get nonsense
about Paige suddenly changing
political views and being wooed

by an old flame.
There's nothing special about
the two lead performances, but
they never manage to slip into
the territory of horrible, either.
McAdams and Tatum play their
parts plainly, almost seeming
relieved by the time the credits
roll. And to a certain degree, the
reason this film fails has noth-
ing to do with bad performances
or belabored script gimmicks.
It has to do with a director who
never manages to maintain an
even tone as the film progresses.
One minute, we're supposed to
be tearing up about how Paige
doesn't even recall where she met
her husband. A few seconds later,
we're being bombarded by stupid
jokes meant to lighten the mood.
There's no discernible consis-
tency in the directing, leaving
the audience unable to see a clear
point or message in the film.
And in all honesty, there
probablyisn't a point being made
here. At the end of the day, this
is nothing more than an attempt
at making money off of people
going to the movies for Valen-
tine's Day. And as long as those
people keep going, that hor-
rible cycle of mid-February crap
will continue to turn in years to
come, powered forward by fake
tears and phony love.

py Endings" have really
ted, but is that enough
the ABC sitcom bet-
a cable comedy like

Upadhyaya is judging you for
judging TV incorrectly. To complain,
e-mail kaylauvumich.edu.

Kweller keeps twang

DailyArts Writer
From the very first sound of
the album - a gutsy guitar chord
packed with an extra dose of
angsty twang
* - it's clear that
Ben Kweller's
latest, Go Fly Go Fly aKite
A Kite, is going
to be decid- Ben Kweller
edly rock 'n'
toll. The Texan The Noise
has released (Impany
four previous
major albums, most of which
follow a strict feel-good pop-
rock protocol. They were mere
hints at his folk roots, until he
created the latest (and not so
greatest) before Go Fly A Kite:
2009's Changing Horses, a foray
into country-soaked rock. Go
Fly A Kite is easily discernable
- Kweller has returned to rock,
but not without toting a hell of a
lot of folk in his bindle.
Kweller's finally back, this time
with his own label, The Noise
Company. His return to less-folky
rock sounds a little muddled, but
the album proves that Kweller
and his music are insanely like-
able, so fans shouldn't be too dis-
Back to that first guitar chord.
"Mean To Me" is tense, upbeat
and irritated right off the bat. A
harmony-driven melody makes
the song instantly listenable and
sets the stage for a lot more angst.
"Out The Door" is the first
track to deliver some of the
leftover twang from Chang-
ing Horses. It's almost like the
soundtrack to arodeo, as Kweller
emphasizes his drawl, singing
"you bleed 'til you're bled, you

Ui I 1 I fI I I I
Iro, now is the time to
apply for financial aid.

"Will you go to prom with me?'

feed 'ti
with of
listen c
the mo
of the
much -
a girl's
but he'
so the I
the and
ing "ev
want to
so big

i you're fed." "Free" is grungy and sports a
dous Girl" - and it's Ben highly skilled guitar solo, otecof
r, so she's actually a "juh- Kweller's strong suits. He toys
h-jealous" girl - rings with bouncing from a hushed
ptimism (that is, until you singing voice to a booming
losely to the lyrics) and is shriek, finally layering in his
st purely Kwell-ish song own harmonized background
bunch. He doesn't say track.
- he's basically lamenting The album is filled with
envy for four minutes - way more torment than any of
s still charming as can be, Kweller's earlier albums, but this
lack of depth is allowable. comes across mostly in the lyrics:
With Kweller's trademark spunk
weaved through each chord,
everything initially sounds as
lk-rocker happy-go-lucky as ever.
With only one kind-of-ballad
uns gamut ("I Miss You"), it's safe to say
} feel-good this is an up-tempo album and
Iifl. e -a well-done one at that. But for
Kweller fans, Go Fly A Kite will
toangsty. sound like a step backward. He
should be commended for the
accomplishment of starting his
own label, but this album is a bit
"Gossip," he continues like a revamped version of what
ger-ridden streak, croon- he's already done. Music doesn't
erybody hears what they have to sound new to the artist
hear / it makes them feel in order to be good, but it's a lot
/ secrets in their ears." more exciting when it does.

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