Category Archives: sitcom

Frasier (s.02, 1994-95)

Second season of Frasier is a rather good one. The story/environment evolves, but very, very slowly; in terms of the story, only a few events were significant enough to effect the personalities of the heroes: there was certain resolution in the relationship of Frasier with his ex-wife; Martin solved the case he’s been struggling with for many years; Daphne received an upgrade and asserted herself in the Frasier’s apartment more or less definitively; Frasier, in his turn asserted himself with the radio station more definitively by renegotiating his contract; also, the Crane brothers tried to run a restaurant and failed miserably.

Of course, there’s more to that; there are stories not as far-reaching, but interesting nonetheless, and there are some not so great ones, as well; more importantly, there’s a lot of humor, and most of it is pretty good. Stories about Daphne’s room (ep. 17), the blackout (ep. 24), the triple translation (ep. 21), the restaurant drama (ep. 8), Frasier being robbed (ep. 14), contract renegotiation (ep. 22), are all really good. The one about the restaurant business (ep. 23) I didn’t like very much – the disaster is just way too symmetrical (life usually includes amounts of chaos here and there), more like geometry than paintings, didn’t seem plausible. But other than that, the season is great – funny, entertaining, low bullshit level.

Names and figures

Frasier (s.01, 1993-94)

Frasier is one of the most successful sitcoms of the 1990s. It is a spin-off of another successful comedy that dominated american TV in the 80s – Cheers – and follows one of its characters, doctor Frasier Crane (played by Kelsey Grammer), as he moves back to his hometown of Seattle and becomes a radio host. The story revolves around Frasier’s efforts to reconstruct his life, and reconnect with his father, a retired policeman Martin Crane (played by John Mahoney). Other primary characters of the show include Frasier’s brother doctor Niles Crane (played by David Hyde Pierce), his producer Roz Doyle (played by Peri Gilpin), and his father’s physiotherapist Daphne Moon (played by Jane Leeves).

First of all, I should make it clear that I haven’t seen Cheers, but, considering that Frasier was written by completely different bunch of people (although James Burrows, one of Cheers‘ creators is a director here), I don’t see how that might be a problem. For what it’s worth, my perception may be clearer and less prejudiced without prior influences.

So, is this show worth watching? I think it is. I didn’t detect any falsity in any of the situations, or consistent lines of relationships. The actors are all pretty great, which might have helped a lot with that, but primarily it’s because of the writing, which was of good enough quality. I can’t say it’s amazing, or anything like it, but it’s quite good in general, and there are no silly or stupid solutions, like I feared, and also the humor is very good. Not hilarious, but really funny, – great jokes were present in every episode. Another important thing: there is no sag towards melodrama whatsoever, but emotional component is not at all abandoned. I’d say, the series, at least in this 1st season, is very well-balanced.

That being said, one should keep in mind that it’s the middle of the 90s, and TV developed a great deal since then, meaning the setting, the demeanor of the characters, as well as certain fundamentals of the environment (like the radio talk show) are somewhat outdated. If you can make peace with that, I think, you’d enjoy the show quite a lot, same as me.

Names and figures

Mom (s.04, 2016-17)

Mom‘s 4th season is about the same things as previous ones: the Plunkett family and their friends and acquaintances going through another year of their lives. Christy studies to become a lawyer. Bonny manages the new relationship. Jill comes up with a wish to have a baby and ends up being a foster-mother. Others have some insignificant stuff going on as well.

I watched this season only because the mixture of immiscible substances that constitutes the essence of this show seemed curious to me. Nowhere else have I seen attempts to show absolutely non-funny things, like death, rape, or relapsing, in a comical way; it’s an interesting experiment, really. Unfortunately, this season brings me to conclusion that it doesn’t work. This particular experiment doesn’t work, that is, and not just because the task seems unyielding for the writing crew (which it is), but mostly because even those pieces that have no reason not to be funny are written on a level that is mediocre at best.

I was a little bored during this viewing, so I counted every joke that seemed more than amusing to me; turns out, there were 3 such jokes per episode at best, and most of the episodes had less, and some of them had none at all. That is terrible statistics. I’m not sure why people keep watching this, except, maybe, because it deals with stuff a lot of people care about, you know, drug dependency and all that. For me it’s not enough, so I’m giving this up. The show’s just not worth the time.

Names and figures

Will & Grace (s.08, 2005-06)

Eighth and final season of Will & Grace last approximately as long as Grace’s pregnancy, except the final episode. Will almost falls in love with a psychopath, and eventually ends up with Vince. Karen drops Alec Baldwin’s character after having some fun and reunites with her ex-late husband, only to divorce him in a few weeks, and soon after that she gets broke. Jack leaves his channel and his show, and goes back to acting, and suddenly becomes a decent, sought-after, actor, and then gets rich through a gay marriage (or something like that). Grace gets knocked up by her ex, Leo, and also eventually ends up back with him. Rosario keeps popping here and there, even though there is absolutely no reason for that most of the time.

So, the showrunner for this season did a lot of effort to entertain: they did not one but two live episdoes (e. 1 and e. 11); at least one episode is brilliant (it’s #15, in case you’re wondering); and they casted Britney Spears, as well as Hall & Oats, George Takei, Josh Lucas, Lily Tomlin, Wanda Sykes, – which is sort of cool. But there are less guest stars than before, way less, and somehow, even combined with whatever great jokes are scattered across the seasons (and there are some good ones), it does not top the emptiness of mediocrity that surrounds everything. My overall impression, unfortunately, is not favourable: the season is weak, contaminated with sentimentality and aa (Stanley’s revival alone is worth 100 points.)

That being said, it should also be mentioned that the show is still quite funny, and sometimes – abundantly so.

But still. Things happen to people in the story for pretty much no reason but the writers need to lead it to a certain point. Britney Spears was awfully poseur. During live episodes the cast broke characters way too often to consider it cute.

All in all, even with the grand finale and the 15th episode accounted for, things might have been much better.

Names and figures

Will & Grace (s.07, 2004-05)

In 7th season of Will & Grace Jack becomes a TV executive and later TV personality, and makes a genuine attempt at being a good friend; Will makes partner, lives through a relatively lasting relationship, quits his job, then becomes lawyer again; Grace transitions from her marriage into a new, sinfully delicious, affair with an ex-flame; Karen almost looses her company, almost becomes a designer, almost feels something towards her stepdaughter.

Kohan and Mutchnick, creators of the show, have not written anything for this season, they are listed as consultants in the credits. This abandonment did not go without consequences, specifically it affected the quality of humor, as well as the story. Unfortunately, alongside wonderful gags and scenes there were also rather strained ones; the best term here would be degradation – although it only has started and didn’t have a chance to develop in full, the direction where the things are going doesn’t give a lot of causes for optimism.

As for the story, it seems to be loosing its psychological edge. On the one hand, when Will’s relationship with Vince was still active, it wasn’t present in the story enough; with Leo we have a more or less decent explanation of his absence, but with Vince we don’t, and it doesn’t feel right. Then, at some point the friendship between Will and Grace stopped being toxic – for no reason at all, I might add; there was a quarrel early in the season, but nothing after that, which is unnatural, because none of the main characters has changed very much, so why would the essence of their relationship would? All in all, I think the problem is that events are more driven by authors’ arbitrariness than their natural development. This is not to mention an extremely weird finale, and not in a good way weird, more like contrived coincidence weird.

It is still a good show, not least because there was a number of notable guest stars (although, subjectively feels like there were less of them this time): Alec Baldwin, Jeff Goldblum, Jennifer Lopez, Debbie Reynolds, Janet Jackson, Patti LuPone, Will Arnett, Stephen Tobolowsky, Alan Arkin, and Sharon Stone. But guests alone won’t make much of a difference, especially if they have to act some bullshit, like Baldwin in the last one or two episodes.

In general: I’m displeased. I see clear signs of decay, – exactly the same thing happened to Dream On when Kauffman and Crane abandoned it. That show too lived for like 2 season after that, and it didn’t end well at all. Soon I’ll know if this is the case.

Names and figures

Will & Grace (s.06, 2003-04)

6th season of Will & Grace is notable mostly because it’s the season, when Debra Messing got pregnant, but Grace didn’t, so the writers had to dance around that, which they did quite skilfully (except the ending). Grace’s marriage to Leo goes through a couple of curious things, and by the end of this season comes to a logical conclusion, which is fine because it seemed like a temporary thing from the very beginning. Jack almost gives up acting, and almost becomes a nurse. Karen meets another guy and marries him only to regret it immediately. Will lives with his mother for a short time, and also gets into business with Grace.

Disregarding all the chaos caused by Debra Messing’s personal life, the season is pretty much business as usual. It’s funny, it’s rather inventive, it’s full of prominent guest stars. The only thing I don’t like about it is that Will doesn’t have a steady, continious storyline, like Grace has with Leo, or Karen with Fenster, instead his presense is comprised of isolated stories of different sizes. But other than that, it’s pretty great. James Earl Jones was one of the funnies guest stars on the show; other appearances include Bobby Cannavale, Minnie Driver, Jennifer Lopez, John Cleese, Debbie Reynolds (less than before), Barry Manilow, Bebe Neuwirth, Mira Sorvino, Jack Black, Edie Falco, and Chloë Sevigny.

Impregnable until now fortress of Will & Grace wavered a little bit, but it happened due to objective circumstances, and the writers almost completely indemnified the losses by providing quality damage control. The spirit of the show remains where it was, and I don’t see any reason why the next season should be any worse than this one.

Names and figures

Will & Grace (s.05, 2002-03)

In 5th season of Will & Grace the named heroes try to proceed with artificial insemination thing, but quickly abandon the idea because Grace meets a guy she later gets married to. Most of the season is dedicated to the curiosities surrounding this new arrangement. Karen’s husband gets out of jail and later dies before he can divorce her. Will and Jack take on a project of introducing a freshly came out guy to the world of gayness.

In terms of the general story development, there have been some quality moves, mostly have to do with Grace’s sudden change of position, and Will freaking out about it. And when the drama is framing the comedy, it usually becomes deeper and more interesting, sometimes even funnier – by contrast. Comedy remains on pretty much the same level, which is quite high: this season can brag with some great stories, including one with Kevin Bacon, gay mafia (represented by Elton John), and death of the absent character (Karen’s husband). And, as it apparently became a tradition, there were a lot of prominent guest, including Minnie Driver, Katie Couric (although, her I don’t really know, but she’s a big deal apparently), Gene Wilder, Rosanna Arquette, aforementioned Elton John, Madonna, Macalulay Culkin, Demi Moore, and even Seth MacFarlane as the voice of the toaster.

All in all, the season is just as successful as every previous one. Which is a little weird, if you think about it, because I don’t know any other comedy that preserved its quality on more or less the same level for 5 seasons straight. I wonder if they kept the pace.

Names and figures

Will & Grace (s.04, 2001-02)

Will & Grace’s 4th season is a bit lop-sided. The main storyline continues exploration of the disfunctional marriage-friendship relationship between Will and Grace, and by the end of the season comes to a rather natural conclusion of surrogacy, which is at the same time is a whole new endevour and gives way to a lot of comic opportunities.

Nearly whole first half of the season makes it seem like the authors stopped trying to do their best, and were hoping to get by on whatever bag of tricks they managed to accumulate earlier. Look, Karen is an alcoholic! Look, Jack is once again failing at everything he does! It was dull, and more forced than funny, so it seems to be the first drop in quality so far.

Thankfully, somewhere in the middle of the seasons things started looking up. During the second half there was a number of significant and funny guests, including Maggie Wheeler (although, her part was more like a cameo sized), Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Nick Offerman (he was dating Megan Mullally at that time, and some time later they got married), Sandra Bernhard, and, of course, Cher, who was given a somewhat larger part this time. These appearances, along with curious, inventive stories, and steadily improving quality of humor, pretty much made up for the dullness of the 1st half.

Also, I think, it’s nice that the distribution of forces started to shift; the core situation is developing once again. By now it is clear that neither Grace, nor Will can manage a long-standing emotional relationship with anybody, because the gravity of Will-Grace relationship is too strong for it to happen, ever. The way out of the dead end: you can’t escape the situation, and you don’t really want to, so you embrace it, and you try to make the best of it. We’ll see how it goes.

Names and figures

Will & Grace (s.03, 2000-01)

Third season of Will & Grace exceeds in quality both previous ones – it is implemented in the same familiar style, which makes it very cosy; it has even more of brilliant stories than before, and the general level of writing keeps rising steadily; the cast is totally mindblowing, and includes Cher, Sandra Bernhard, Martina Navratilova, as well as Jeremy Pivenn, Ken Marino, Ellen DeGeneres, and, of course, Woody Harrelson – all bright, amazingly gifted personalities, and so many of them. The season is very funny, very high-energy, very enthusiastic, not agressive at all, nothing unkind in there, – the show is pretty much as comfortable as Friends, it actually feels like Friends‘ distant relative. All in all, a great show, 3d season in a row it only gets better and better.

Names and figures

Will & Grace (s.02, 1999-2000)

Second season of Will & Grace shows definite steady improvement. There was a whole bunch of stories, the biggest of which was about Will’s loosing a job and then finding a new one, but really even that one wasn’t the determinative – it’s more like feudal disunity than a monarchy of any kind.

Basically, the show preserved all its virtues from before, and then added a couple of good characters and wrote a number of great stories. Jack and Karen gradually became much brighter than the title couple. Because the basis for their brightness is their general inclination to extreme manifestations in everything, their purpose in this structure is to provide some sort of a baseline to compare the level of insanity against, to emphasize the mildness of Will’s and Grace’s eccentricity, so that they would seem relatively normal (although vivid, original behaviour is not really normal, alas). This approach obviously works well.

There is a lot of funny, and nothing is in bad taste. Stan, Karen’s husband started to exist not only in references, but as an absent character now, which is interesting. The best episode of the season is #7, where Jack comes out to his mother. The character of Ben (Gregory Hines) is multi-faceted, deep, and interesting, which is a little surprising (because it seemed like he would go away just as quickly as dosens of other guests before and after him), but nice. Neal Patrick Harris appeared in one episode. Although it seemed in the beginning that the writers are overusing certain types of jokes, later they mended their ways – all in all the writing becomes more and more subtle over the course of the season.

So, in short, – so far so good.

Names and figures

Will & Grace (s.01, 1998-99)

Will & Grace is a sitcom about the relationship of 2 friends, one of whom is a gay man, and another is a straight woman. This show is one of the gems from the era of comedy revival, i.e. the 1990s; it lasted for 8 season, and was not only loved by the audience, but praised by the critics as well. The story for the first season is about the introduction of the said relationship, examination of it from various sides, – but it is also about establishing the axis of the narrative, as well as engaging of 2 other main characters.

So, most importantly, – the show is quite funny. It is relatively well-written, and implemented on a high professional level. It’s not without certain drawbacks, but most of them are characteristic to the genre and not specifically to the series, so they can be tolerated rather easily. All 4 main heroes are bright and imperfect personalities, which makes it interesting: because of the imperfection they can be related to, and the brightness makes them attractive.

Because the number of primary characters is pretty low, it becomes quite apparent that there can be characters not personified; in this particular case, it’s the connection between Will and Grace, their long-term relationship, and significant thing about it is that while it enriches lives of both participants (in general), it also cuts down certain possibilities for both of them; in other words, it impacts their lives not only positively, but negatively too. The realization of this fact becomes a conclusion to the 1st season; this is how the inherent conflict of the relationship comes to the surface, which process is shown in a manner comprehensive yet light.

All in all, the show produces a good impression: the gay aspect is portayed is a more or less realistic way (but without any elevated drama); Debra Messing’s character is extremely alluring; and Megan Mullally’s character is quite original. Combination of all the spare parts forms a mechanism that simply works. I wounder what the development would be.

Names and figures

M*A*S*H (s.01, 1972-73)

M*A*S*H is a comedy show based on the 1970 Robert Altman movie and featuring all of its crucial characters. As was in the film, there is a meducal unit known under the code name of MASH4077 located somewhere in Korea during the Korean war. And, as was in the film, the center of the narrative is occupied by a couple of wayward doctors who only get away with all their escapades because they are the best damn surgeons to ever walk the earth.

I got what pretty much was to be expected from a comedy made for TV in the 1970s: it’s a shallow reset comedy with commonplace and/or far-fetched stories that is not as bad as it is boring. It didn’t seem funny to me at all – well, except for 1 or 2 scenes, maybe, which is nothing for whole 10 hours of action. By the way, it made me think that often used definition of good comedy as simply funny is not just imperfect – it’s wrong. Because I’m pretty sure it was funny to people, back in the 70s that is, and probably seemed like a quality comedy, too, but from where I’m sitting, here in 2017, it’s too strained and too poorly implemented to be considered interesting.

All that I understood while I was watching The Pilot, and the rest of the episodes only confirmed in my first impression, because all of them were on pretty much the same level. Most of the time I was thinking about how insincere the major part of the story is, and how much better was the movie. These 24 episodes corroded my memories of the movie, though, so I decided not to keep going. It’s extremely unlikely anything would later have changed anyways.

Also, it felt like an eternity.

Names and figures

Peep Show (s.09, 2015)

Ninth season of Peep Show, which is the last one, revolves around Mark’s trying to snare April (a student girl who previously appeared in season 2 or something), and Jez going openly gay.

The balance of the 3 substances (the funny, the nasty, and the awkward) kind of fluctuates throughout the season, with awkward and nasty dominating roughly the first third, and funny prevailing over the remaining episodes. The whole course of events was designed for the forethought finale, which is usually great, but here it wasn’t embedded into the meat of the drama neatly enough, – some loose ends were evident, all I’m saing. The show is pretty great, though, only imperfect, but that’s not a sin.

All in all, this season, both its implementation and the story, does seem like a great conclusion to the series.

So, Peep Show is a distinctive project, not like any other; it has its own recognizable accent; it can be funny, it can be dark, and it also can be very, very awkward.

So long, dear sir. It was a nice ride, but I don’t think I’m gonna miss you.

Names and figures

Peep Show (s.08, 2012)

Story of 8th season of Peep Show revolves around Mark trying to get things going with Dobby while simultaneously looking for a new job, and Jeremy reinventing himself as a life-coach.

The quality of the narrative remains pretty much the same – it’s still the plateau; on the one hand this is good, because there’s no degradation, but on the other – there’s not a lot of development either. As to the content essense, mass fraction of funny has reduced, and fractions of nasty and awkward have grown, which ratio makes the season sort of bitter. Some stories are truly awful, like the one where Jeremy ruines at least one person’s life with his coaching, or the one where Mark simply runs off. It was demonstrated on many occasions (not that it’s big news, but still) that Mark, while being intelligent is not smart at all.

All that makes me glad that the end is approaching, even though, once again, the writing is quite good.

Names and figures

Peep Show (s.07, 2010)

In season 7 Peep Show continues to the quality plateau. Like before, it is a mixture of funny, awkward and nasty, only this mixture gradually becomes more and more even. Curiuos thing is that the more sudden the surges between the states are, the higher the peaks, meaning that evenness has a downside, and that downside is averaging-out of the overall quality to the level of arithmetical mean (which is, to be fair, very high). It’s not a bad thing, but it does make the narrative a little less fascinating. Or, maybe, it’s the fact that Mark becomes more and more a dick and a ninny at the same time – and while this line of development in general is not lost on me, in this particular case the writers overdo it a little bit, so the character seems plain unpleasant at times. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but this season just feels not entirely irreproachable.

On the other hand, there are plenty of funny situations, sophisticated dialogs, nice new characters, and so on. Story evolution is plausible and curious. The implementation is as great as always. It is also a great entertainment, – and remaining interesting to the audience after 7 years on the air is, indeed, an achievement. Like I said in the beginning – a plateau.

Names and figures

Peep Show (s.06, 2009)

In its development, which seems like a rather straightforward line since at least 3d season, Peep Show comes closer and closer to a perfect merging of comedy methods: while it was fairly easy to distinguish awkward from funny (and both of those – from nasty) before, in season 6 these three substances are intertwined with each other so tightly, any point of such division ceases to matter. They are just three faces of the same, complex and many-sided, essense.

In terms of specific changes, 6th season introduces several wonderful characters (Filatova, Bruni), as well as an abrupt storyturn with the dissolution of JLB, Mark’s working place, which allowed the writers to come up with some truly funny, sometimes brilliant solutions.

All in all, though, the specifics are too sensitive to disclose in a note like this one; suffice it to say, the evolution of the show goes the right way; it becomes better with time – both as a work of art, and as an entertainment. It’s peculiar – in a good way; and it’s really good.

Names and figures

Peep Show (s.05, 2008)

In fifth season of the Peep Show the balance of awkward and funny is back to around half and half. What I didn’t realize before, is that there is actually a third element – one that can be tentatively called nasty: it was represented in the previous season by the dog killing, and there were some instances of it in this season as well. It doesn’t play a determinant role, more like adds a peppercorn to the series in general.

There’s not much I can say about this season, because there were no drastic changes: the heroes’ are developing the way that is not conflicting with the previous story; the show evolves steadily, and is just as curious, and sometimes wild, as we became accustomed to; and only the confidence of the writers, actors and other members of the crew grows stronger and stronger with time. So far there were no feeble ideas, or poor implementations, which is probably one of the reasons the show is so long-living (it doesn’t happen that often). All in all, it’s a great entertainment, and a decent work of art. Up till now, anyway.

Names and figures

Peep Show (s.04, 2007)

With Peep Show it’s always about the balance of humor. In season 4 this balance is shifted all the way to the funny side, with only a few occasions of awkwardness, some of which transitioned into rather horrible events, but that didn’t drop the overall quality, quite the contrary, – it made the narrative intense and edgy, thus emphasizing the hilarious.

I think, that if before Mark was sort of leading with Jeremy following and supplementing, by this series’ beginning they completed with each other in terms of story generating. Mark keeps on evolving into a horrible, inconsiderate and selfish person, and Jeremy remains this naive, not very bright personality, which combination proves to be more and more worthy with time.

There was a lot of truly great stuff, of which I loved the most Mark’s thinking process in general, as well as separate storylines and scenes, such as Mark’s failing at his job; Jeremy’s being black; the dog incident; Jeremy giving a hand; Mark’s reaction to Sophie’s middle name; and absolutely brilliant conversation with the Orgazoid in episode 4.

And even though Mark’s status at work after his terrible presentation remained unclarified until the season’s end, it doesn’t feel too bad – more like an endurable postponement.

All in all, this season was a wonderful pleasure, – more so than before. Hopefully, the tendency will last out.

Names and figures

Peep Show (s.03, 2005)

Third season of the Peep Show changed little in comparison with the 2nd one, although balance between awkward and funny shifted back towards awkward a little bit and now is fixed at around 50/50 proportion.

Circumstances of Jeremy’s wife disappearance were not exactly clarified, and the same goes to the transition in Mark-Sophie relationship, – those 2 things created a gap in the beginning, which felt a little weird, but in the end wasn’t that important and smoothed out pretty quickly.

Mark’s storyline (mainly, his relationship with Sophie) developed in a rather exciting fashion, not completely anticipated, but very lifelike and therefore quite powerful. Jeremy’s role has grown; his influence on the overall course of events gradually becomes more and more significant, which strengthens the narrative in general, – makes it more stable, and more diverse, too. Some of the most interesting moments of the season were provided by this character – for example, his jury experience (a sort of a tribute to 12 Angry Men)

All in all, just like before, Peep Show doesn’t seem like the greatest comedy in the universe, but it’s fairly good and certainly worth the time spent.

Names and figures

That ’70s Show (s.08, 2005-06)

In its final season That ’70s Show endured some significant changes, most of which were not for the better. The story revolves around Jackie’s rupture from Hyde and her consequent decay, Donna dealing with Eric’s absense, Hyde’s business, and, as usual, the Forman household.

The relationships scheme within the group was crudely modified in part because of the studio’s inability to sign up Topher Grace (he only appeared for, like, 5 minutes in the finale) – his silent break up with Donna looked totally ridiculous and cannot be explained with internal reasons. Even considering the external circumstances, this could’ve been used with better effect – I think, the fault should be assigned to Gregg Mettler, who apparently took over as the head writer instead of the Filgo couple. What happened to Jackie & Hyde’s relationship is also on the writers’ team – they simply pivoted to create a different story and pretended like several previous season never even existed: there are no feelings, no longings, no regrets, nothing at all. Ashton Kutcher also left the show prematurely, but in this case there was at least some substantiation for his depature, as well as a send-off.

New guy Randy (played by Josh Meyers) was pretty cool, and his storyline looked consistent and exciting throug-out. Tommy Chong was promoted to the main cast, which should’ve happened long time ago, and probably would’ve if not for his legal problems. He is just as great as before.

The quality of humor has dropped, although not too significantly. There were a lot of funny situations and jokes, but not as many as before, and there weren’t any brilliant ones. It is still quite fun to watch, but that’s certainly not a grand finale one could’ve hoped for. I’d say, this season is a little disappointing, which is not a good thing for a show’s finale, because the latest impression would always outlive all that came before.

All in all, That ’70s Show is a decent comedy – not perfect, with lots of omissions and mistakes, but frankly speaking, there are no flawless comedy shows on any TV. After all it’s a living thing, and also an incredibly complex undertaking with lots of people and entities involved, both of which things make it very hard to balance it into perfection. On the bright side, it lacks most of the bullshit usually characteristic of this genre, so I say – nice try!

Names and figures

Peep Show (s.02, 2004)

Second season of the Peep Show changed in the most important of all possible ways: from the comedy of awkward it transitioned to the comedy of funny. The shift happenned somewhere in the middle of the season. The events are still mostly about Mark trying to get Sophie, but also about Jeremy hooking up with Nancy, a hot american hippie.

The aforementioned transition was marked with 2 things: on the outside, it’s the increase in Mark’s offscreen voiceover stating his thoughts; on the inside – it’s Mark’s internal change, when he became sort of a jerk who only cares about his own goals while completely disregarding other people’s feelings (including those of Sophie). In terms of the story, it was when he made a decision to hack Sofie’s email. The following episode, with him pretending to be a student, is evoked by these new factors, even though Sophie was not a part of that story.

By making Mark a very specific (and rather curious) kind of asshole, Armstrong and Bain opened up a whole new realm of possibilities, some of which have been brilliantly implemented in the second half of the season. Jeremy, although he initiated some significant storyturns, remained pretty much the same personality, which sort of pushed him to a secondary role. Hopefully, that will change in the future as it has for Mark.

Of course, the development of the Sophie storyline, when every Mark’s mistake pushes her towards Jeff, is also very important, because this way the conflict of Mark’s unfulfilled aspiration can be maintained for a really long time.

By and large, this season provided strong reasons to be optimistic about show’s future quality, regarding the format and the humor both.

Names and figures

That ’70s Show (s.07, 2004-05)

7th season of That ’70s Show maintains the general level of quality established with previous work. Frankly speaking, it’s rather curious how consistently the writers manage to do it – usually the amplitude of oscillation in matters like this varies much greater from season to season, but in this case the things are pretty stable for at least 3 or 4 season in a row, meaning there is always something new, interesting, and probably funny, around the corner; there’s always some steady movement, some logical development freshened with resourcefulness.

I have to say, pairing Jackie with Hyde instead of Kelso proved to be a good idea. Eventually they became the manifestation of a different kind of love – a passionate and conflicting one, as opposed to Donna&Eric’s line (default), which is very serene, sometimes a little too much. Tension generated between these 2 poles drives along pretty much the whole thing, although not without the helf from other key components, including the Forman house line, Kelso’s and the foreign kid‘s lines, as well as some returning secondary characters, like Midge (Bob’s wife, played by Tanya Roberts) and Leo (played by Tommy Chong) – and, of course, some new ones.

There were some minor thing that I didn’t like or found confusing: I don’t remember under which circumstances Red lost his job at Pricemart (that might be my problem, of course); it seems not very fair to me that not all of the main characters were written personal storylines (Jackie wasn’t), and from those who were, only Hyde’s and Eric’s were more or less frequent, while Kelso’s was undeservedly neglected (both policing and the baby), and Donna’s and Fez’s were just too fragmentary; also, to my taste, instances of high emotional tension were implemented a little too melodramatic. None of that is significant, though, because all the drawbacks are fully compensated from other elements of the show.

The humor is really good – there were truly brilliant scenes, for which I might even rewatch it someday in the future. From the point of view of psychological development, it’s all logical and not hackneyed at the same time. All in all, it’s entertaining and fun to watch.

Names and figures

Peep Show (s.01, 2003)

Peep Show is a British comedy about 2 room-mates, one of whom is an office worker and the other one is a musician wannabe. The main schtick is that the stories are shown through the eyes of the characters (subjective view; hence the title – it’s like the audience is peeping at their lives), although the reality remains objective.

I didn’t find this comedy very funny, it’s more like a facepalm type, when a viewer feels awkward most of the time – for things that characters do or say that is. At that, the main reason why they do uncomfortable stuff is not their stupidity, but psychological traits like pathological shyness, for example, – which, at least is true for one of the 2 heroes. This makes the comedy tolerable, and the fact that writing, acting, direction, etc. are not half bad makes it worth checking out, even though the reason why Sophie (romantic interest) behaves like she does seems a bit like a stretch.

I’m guessing, in development the show might become better, which is why I’m going to continue with it.

Names and figures

That ’70s Show (s.06, 2003-04)

6th season of That ’70s Show is revolving around Eric & Donna’s pre-wedding movements (with culmination in the last episode), as well as the consolidation of Hyde & Jackie’s romatic relationship, with a usual addition of the Formans’ senior generation trivia, and an unusual one – of Kelso maturing into an adult.

By season 6 the show has pretty much settled down – the format is barely moving anymore, and a lot of things are driven with nothing but habit. But, thanks to the handsome amount of high-quality humor, it doesn’t feel like a bad thing, also because the show with time grows more and more psychologically comfortable.

The story development is rather good: there are no obvious screw-ups, and even though it might have been more exciting or interesting, it provides the audience with a decent, well thought-out, variant, which is quite enough. This time I cannot think of any specific great scenes – instead, the narrative in general evolved smoothly, without any significant peaks and downfalls.

Lisa Robin Kelly, who played Lorie before was replaced with a regular hot girl, which is a loss – albeit not really a crucial one. The number of hot women, by the way, rises up to a considerable level in this season, much higher than before.

All in all, it feels like a beginning of a standstill, although the entertainment remains great as yet.

Names and figures

That ’70s Show (s.05, 2002-03)

5th season of That ’70s Show produces a strong impression of maturity. The primary storyline (Eric & Donna’s relationship) recieved a well though-out but pretty obvious development, and the secondary line was transformed significantly by substituting Kelso with Hyde in the Jackie & Kelso relationship, and still retaining Kelso in a different role.

Although, the changes introduces felt too abrupt at first, the writers managed to compensate it pretty quickly – mostly because the humor is really good, but also because there was no stupidity, and overall development was very consistent, and rather logical, too. I think, this is the first season for which I want to mention a specific idea that I really liked – it was the one with the superheroes in episode 5. That means that while show’s quality of humor in general perceptibly grew, the highest peaks of it rose proportionally.

The visual style (the intermissions) kept on being quite diverse, and doesn’t seem discouraging anymore (nor since 3d season, actually). Also, some of the 1st season beautiful and (alas) forgotten techniques made a short comeback in episode 8. Which is the same episode Lorie came back, too. As I thought, the writers decided to pretend like she didn’t vanish for a really long time without a single mention. (It sort of works.) Episode 8 was just an appearance, she re-joined the cast at the end of the season for 3 whole episodes (she played a crucial part in the story).

On the other hand, the character of Leo (Tommy Chong) was removed – but this time the issue was eventually addressed (but not right away). Episode 17 was sort of a little tribute to him, which he totally deserved (although, he deserved to stay put much more.)

All in all, it’s a really good season – strong, funny and interesting. Maybe the best since the 1st one.

Names and figures

%d bloggers like this: