Second season of Flaked follows the Chip story after the unfortunate public meeting. He’s an outcast now, despised by everyone; his relationship with London is developing, but all the difficulties they encounter (no place to live, lack of money, etc.) threaten to ruin it to the ground. Dennis opens a wine-store, or, at least, tries to do it; he later engages into a relationship with his new neighbor, who turns out to be George’s daughter. Cooler looses his lease, and is forced to live in his car for some time, which doesn’t effect his cheery optimism all that much, and then he meets a woman. Chip eventually confesses to London his big secret: he still fails to repair what has never worked properly, but at least they get some clarity.
On the one hand, the overall development seems more or less plausible, especially the development of the relationship with London storyline; all the relapcing is shown rather authentically (although I believe things like this should be emphasized a little more clearly); the acting is fine, as well as the new characters. But Chip becomes more and more repulsive with each episode, as he appears not only a chronic liar, but also a person who can easily abuse somebody’s trust for merely a glimps of benefit. This character is donwright unpleasant, and attitude he provokes kind of spreads onto the show in general. Also, there’s an issue with the story digressing almost entirely into the relationship stuff, which makes it, basically, a melodrama, because most of it ends unnormally happy, and the thragic nature of the rest is a bit too tragic.
All in all, it’s not that bad, really, but it’s worse than (most of) the 1st season; and the troubling tendency leans towards soap, which is never good. Still, there’s a hope, albeit a decrescent one, that the next season would be better than this.
Flaked is a tragicomedy about a recovering alcoholic named Chip, whose life has rapidly changed after he killed a person while drunk driving some 10 years ago, and who since then relocated to Venice, California, and gradually became a renowned member of the community by trying to help those around him. He cultivates a friendship with a guy named Dennis, who lets him live in his house, and maintains a business of making stools, though not a very successful one. When a new girl starts waitressing in his favourite restaurant, Dennis immediately fells for her, but so does Chip, and though he tries to keep away from her, the chemistry between them soon becomes indisputable. Also, the era of new technology comes to Venice in the form of large Internet companies, as well as real estate developers, which arouses resistance reaction in the community, and, because Chip has certain connections (his famous and wealthy ex-wife is in a relationship with one of the key developers), he manages to overthrow the redevelopment project, – or does he?
Up until a certain point, the show was great, even amazing. The story is simple, yet deep enough to be interesting; the characters – well-elaborated; story turns – curious and quite unexpected. The atmosphere, and well as the whole environment mutation premise, is savoury and rich with ingredients; all in all, it was pure pleasure to watch it.
But then came the finale. The last episode spoiled everything. First of all, it introduced the final story turn, which turned out to be so spectacularly trite, I felt it like a personal betrayal. If not for this ultimate-truth-that-threatens-to-ruin-everything bullshit, even hero’s selling out (which is the second bad thing about this episode) wouldn’t have been all that disenchanting, but 2 of them combined feel kind of like you’ve been eating in a nice restaurant, and every single dish was perfect, so you dig into the last one, not expecting any foul play, and suddenly it’s a piece of tofu, or something equally terrible. And the worst part: there was no need for either of those things, they weren’t exactly driven by the story, but added simply for the purposes of intensification. Sadly, that miscalculation ruined all the previous hard work.
I’m still going to see the 2nd season, though: for one thing, it’s not that large, and also I’m curious as to how would they extricate themselves from that mess.
Sixth is Girls‘ final season, there will be no more Hannah and Adam, and Ray, and Marnie, and Jessa, and Elija after this. The most notable storyline of this season (arch, like Lena Dunham called it) is Hannah’s pregnancy. Besides the development of childbearing thing itself and its impact on the universe of discourse, there were plenty of pretty amazing stories about all of the main characters – each in its own way deep and smart, and airy.
And there’s not much else to say than that, because how many compliments can you fit in a paragraph without sounding like a toady? I love the show not just because it managed to maintain a very high level of drama quality over the years, but also because it was consistent, in everything, all the time. Every single piece of it, take it away and watch under a microscope, is of highest quality from beginning to end, and the assembling was being done by a team of nearly genius level. I’m not sure if any of them could qualify for such a characteristic by themselves, but altogether they certainly do.
In the 5th season of her show Lena Dunham continues to explore lifelines of her characters: Marnie gets married only to get a divorce later, and reunite with Ray in the closing episodes; Shoshanna moves to Japan to run from her troubles, but eventually returns to the US; Elijah has his heart broken by a famous person; Hannah destroys yet another one of her relationships, and helps her parents to find new sense along the way; and Jessa engages into a wild, conflicting relationship with Adam, who also evolves professionally. I’m writing all these things down, because actual events don’t matter very much: this whole season has been so penetrating and pure, it is exceptionally enjoyable whether you know the plot of the story or not. Every damn second of it was pure pleasure; it’s so good, so accomplished and integral, I’m starting to believe Dunham might be actual genious.
It’s interesting that Hannah is the only character on the show whom I truly dislike. She’s not a good person, that’s for sure; but the truth is – she was designed this way, and the design (which includes her multiple flaws) is absolutely perfect. But then again – the show in general is, too; well, at least this season of it. In fact, the finale of the season left me with an impression of total completeness; I think it may be a wonderful moment to wrap up the show for good, but there would be another season next year, and this fact makes me a little worried. Because it’s very easy to spoil a good thing with unnecessary continuation, and it turns out to be quite hard to just stop at the right moment. But, I want to believe in Lena Dunham’s vision – if anybody, she might actually overpower this threat. Let’s hope she will.
The story is solid, nothing to complain about at all. The development of events is rather natural and leads to an appropriate finale. It would seem that theme of addiction is studied by the writers from every quater, and yet this season uncovered some details that were not emphasized before. This tells me that when you sink deep enough into something very specific (which might be really hard), it eventually pays off, sometimes considerably. Same thing as with The Walking Dead, by the way, only in case of Nurse Jackie, it wasn’t clear from the beginning what the main subject is. That’s probably the reason why first 3 seasons are not as great as the subsequent ones.
The characters are all great, including new ones, although the Norwegian guy seemed a little artificial to me – too much of a jerk. But Tony Shalhoub did a wonderful dr. Prince, and the main cast managed to maintain the level attained. Dr. Couper was extracted from the show in the mid-season, and it was a calm removal, clearly organized beforehand, so no disturbances were entailed. Some of the recurring characters from the previous season didn’t show up, but the story managed without them quite fine. Show’s final episode starred some old friends, and it was nice to see them; that really put a gloss on the last moments.
What can I say about the show in general? It is a definitely an interesting one. Not without weak spots, but very healthy in the long run, which is ironic, considering that the disease is its main subject matter. Started off as a kind of comedy, but ceased being one rather quickly. Quite enjoyable. Probably important. I do recommend it to anyone.
Story development in season 6 has no evident flaws. The chain of events is defined by the cause-effect relations, and is very strict. The only thing that might give rise to doubts is Jackie’s determination on her path of destruction, but only to somebody who haven’t dealt with addicts, or addiction. It is rather terrifying to watch, actually, but very fascinating too. Jackie became even a better liar than she was before (genious sometimes), and yet that skill didn’t save her from being uncovered; that’s because drugs may make you feel like you’re in control, but really it’s a delusion – there are always some things you’re missing out, like small cracks in the foundation of a house, and when their amount exceed certain level, everything goes down, no matter how much effort you put into adorning the upper floors.
Two characters were removed from the show this season: dr. Prentiss re-enlisted to the army (it was okay), and Frank made it to the last episode with obvious intention not to return, which was naturally interwoven into the Jackie’s story. Akalitus takes less space than before; Zoey is great; and Coop’s story paired with dr. Roman’s is rather interesting as well. The season all in all is one of the best, although there’s nothing comic left in the show whatsoever.
The season is pretty great except for one weak link in the story in the very beginning. The way Eve Best was removed from the main cast is quite decent. New characters are interesting, especially dr. Roman (Betty Gilpin) – starting off as an ill-competent doctor tending to manipulate others with her looks, she eventually revealed a pure core. Development of old ones are logical, and sometimes fascinating (I like how Coop turned out, for example). Jackie’s personal life, her relationship with ex-husband and daughters, as well as her part in the working environment – the development of all these things is absolutely consistent. Season finale deserves a separate mention: it might seem that relapsing on the high note, like she did right before her one-year-sober ceremony, is unlikely, but in fact it is very much possible: fighting the desire is very hard when you feel bad, but you see the point, and that helps a lot, on the other hand, when everything’s going great, you just assume that you’re in control anyway, and making it a little better won’t hurt. It’s a mistake, of course, but it is also almost impossible to avoid.
As for the aforesaid weak link, I meant the initiating period of the season, when everyting resumed its natural course, and primary heroes returned to where they belong. Jakie was rehired by Akalitus, as well as Eddie, but who gave Akalitus her job back? She was fired for a good reason, and that reason never went away. The writers pass this issue in silence, probably because it’s irresolvable. Not a very good thing, but also not very crucial. Still, it’s a minus. But the season in general is great nontheless.
Everything that should’ve happened in season 3 happened here. By all means, this season is the best for the show so far, and also the first one that I can characterize as brilliant without a hint of a doubt.
The storymakers took the previous history and made into a new starting point; the following development is determined strictly by logic, all the cause-effect relations are absolutely proper. Under the weight of circumstances Jackie’s family should’ve fallen apart long time ago, and so it did. There’s no way for her to get away with her addiction for so long, so it resurfaced and caused a shitstorm. Eddie should’ve figured out her bullshit right away, so he finally did. In short, that was the first time I could enjoy the power of irreversible life changes on this show.
Second great thing about this season is represented with the pair of new characters played by father and son Cannavale. This dramatic line is extremely vigorous in 2 aspects: first has everything to do with their broken relationship (on the show, of course), and second is about Dr. Cruz’s way to implement updates, i.e. his professional activity. While both lines are very interesting to follow, the second is the one that made me think. What was so erroneous about Cruz’s efforst to optimize the hostpital’s operational flow? Because at first sight they didn’t seem wrong at all, at least each of them taken separately. I gave it some thought, and came to the conclusion that it’s about 2 things: a well-established complex process that involves a lot of people and a lot of resourses cannot be adjusted on the fly all at once – you have to do it piece by piece, otherwise it’s gonna malfunction at some point, which is exactly what happened; also, Cruz’s personal control over the situation turned out to be more important to him than stuff getting done (Jackie’s strong point). These two things clashed and turned into some pretty strong action; and in combination with the rest of the season’s events brought to life a suprisingly vital show.
I can only hope they would keep it that way.
I don’t like very much when the anticipation grows too old – sooner or later it becomes evident that the writers are playing with the outcome, that they are deferring it using all they can in order to converse the effect of a planned bomb. But the thing is, building up to achieve some kind of catharsis doesn’t work if you make habbit out of overusing the anticipation.
Although, I have to admit: that’s kinda whimsy-whamsy on my part; and considering high quality of the show’s other components (and there are no real complaints there, not from me, anyway), it cannot be a critical point… Unless that anticipation that was being built during the whole season, that planned bomb of a peripeteia that everything was aimed at, – unless it goes off with a whimper instead of a bang. It feels as if you were ready to blow up a house of cards that you’ve been building, and then somebody comes into the room and the draught just blows off the whole thing.
So, basically, what’s wrong with this season is this rotten cherry on top of the wedding cake (that is very tasty otherwise). The saddest thing about this situation, though, is that this kind of conflict solving is pretty addictive, and I see no signs saying that it won’t be used any more. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily means that it will, but previous examples seem to indicate that it’s very likely.
General development of the primary situation feels more or less consistent, except this one thing seems kinda questionable to me: after Eddie discovered that Jackie has a family (and that she’s been lying all along), he naturally was off-balance for a while, which led to some pretty irrational behaviour on his part, but he never made an attempt to inform Kevin of anything, not once. Of course, it would’ve been a very different story, if he did, and it’s not that impossible after all, but still something is not completely right there.
Other than that it’s all great. Zoey really evolves and by the end of season 2 produces an impression of a strongly competent professional. Coop remains to be a peculiar kind of moron. The characters on the whole are quite interesting. Sudden disappearance of Mo-mo is a way to exclude a character I have mixed feeling about: on the one hand, simply not mentioning him again is kinda disrespectful; on the other – if you want your audience to forget about a character not talking about him ever would be actually a successful strategy (the fact that all this is stored on the ranges of internet somewhere and is available for study, spoils the picture somewhat, but not critically).
The show all in all maintains pretty good level of the first season; no signs of corrosion so far.
Mere existence of genres designates an attempt to bring structure into something as chaotical as creative work, – and the further, the less helpful it becomes as the borders between different genres, enough fuzzy as they are, keep getting even fuzzier. Nowadays you can tell a comedy from a tragedy basically just from the length of an episode. Nurse Jackie while being a half-hour comedy by default, combines traits of both tragical and comical nature in pretty much equal proportion, which makes it a higher form of organization in comparison with sitcom, for example, but as of the end of season 1, it still doen’t reach psychological depths proper for serious tragedy. Not that it needs to, but the creators’ ambition is rather clear.
Central character of the show is a responsible person – a woman who leads a complicated life in order to satisfy her addiction and remain a functional member of society, who is capable of keeping it all under control for the time being, – until something breaks in the perfectly adjusted system. During the 1st season we’re watching this system’s early stages of failure, the shaping of a future mishap, when 2 carefully isolated parts of life start to finally intermingle, – in the end it seems completely inevitable, but watching the situation mature is the most interesting thing here.
The humor is mostly dark or satirical, but more importantly – it’s funny more often than not. The acting is rather great; besides Edie Falco I really loved Merritt Wever (Zoe); Eve Best is very pretty; and Grace (Ruby Jerins) is a wonderful portrayal of a troubled child. Atmosphere-wise, the show feels a lot like Californication, only not as unscrewed.
General recipe is the same: a little of true-to-life humor coupled with a lot of sentimentality and such. Some stories are funny (as far as I can tell, a bit funnier than before), others are sad and arouse quite an emotional reaction. All in all differences from season 1 are not that considerable.
Karl Pilkington (Dougy) left the show in the first episode, which was the damn stupidiest character extraction I’ve seen so far: he just said that he’s fed up, and left to never return again. Which is bullshit, because in reality they would’ve at least stayed friends. He was replaced by that other guy, who was such a douchebag all the time, it actually made me shudder each time, and I couldn’t understand why did they bring him in; then it became clear that the message of this line is that even a douchebag deserves a second chance. Don’t really believe that, but whatever.
Kev played by David Earl is a more interesting specimen: however disgusting and pathetic he is, he still is capabale of good actions and maybe even not that hopeless as he seems most of the time. He’s got much more screen time than in season 1.
All in all this season and the show in general are pretty good, but I don’t thing I ever wanna watch it again, it’s just too sad, and the sadness does not soothe my soul, unfortunately.
If anything can save the world at all, it would the kindness of small people. This thought is basically the tenor of the whole project.
The show is not that funny; you won’t find here anything to laugh at, because the purpose is not to make somebody feel better (as it usually is with comedies), but to arouse awareness about the elderly, to make people remember that these are actually human beings with needs and wishes and all. That this life, life of a 80 years old man suffering from Alzheimer’s syndrome, is not at all less important than life of anybody who’s healthy and young. That goal was accomplished brilliantly: there’s plenty of stuff that would make you smile, and even more to be sad about; in other words, this film is absolutely sentimental without being a soap.
There is also no real storyline, or better say it’s dotted; declared in the beginning funding campaign doesn’t seem to interest Gervais much: very few scenes were actually about it, the subject didn’t develop and had no conclusion. It’s obvious that everyday life with all its challanges is what truly bothers him.
By the by, every Derek‘s actor is professional actor, including all the elderly ones. There’s no such thing as real life perfomance, not in the serious cimena anyway.
The general line designated in the previous seasons carries on steadily. Hannah reaps the fruits of her selfishness, which is only natural and fair. (By the way, it warmed my heart to hear other characters acknowledging that trait of hers) Adam’s personal life decisions seem wrongful to him but really are for the best. Ray’s switching over to Marnie is fine (at least, it opened a possibility for some truly great moments), and his newly found career in politics might be interesting. Marnie becomes better with her music (although, it’s hard for me to understand why anybody would give her such a hard time about her singing; she’s actually pretty great, and always has been), and keeps making mistakes with relationships. Shoshanna’s choice of career over new boyfriend is understandable as she never got over Ray, and her search for a job before that is kinda peculiar. Jessa keeps going in a direction that seems really wrong.
Secondary characters made some positive impact as well: Hannah’s father coming out of the closet, and Adam’s sister giving birth, and Mimi-Rose’s artistry, and Hannah’s teaching experience, – all these storylines gave way to some really powerful and interesting scenes.
The only thing I didn’t like is that Adam’s professional development was completely missed out, but that’s really minor, and doesn’t influence anything much.
As for the season in general, I detect some kind of intentionality in forcing the drama, by which I mean the existence of the relationships, that I as a viewer desired to be repaired, and whose chances for that were deliberately reduced. Another interesting thing is that Dunhan wrote less, and directed more. Don’t know if it means anything, just an observation.
The border between comedy and tragedy are very much washed out by now. It was clearer before, at the dawn of television, when the quality of production was out of the question; later two poles started to approach each other, so that now every comedy has a certain admixture of tragedy, and vice versa, – all because the viewer demands quality, and high quality means being closer to life. Girls is the kind of show that claims to be comedy-drama (~tragicomedy), but really is more of a tragedy kind, because at places it gets too close to life to be funny.
But that doesn’t mean, oof course, that it’s not funny at all. It kinda is. Like life can be funny, which in no way abolishes its general inherent sadness. And so is the show in at least first 3 seasons: lifelike, full of situations and characters that are extremely interesting to follow and empathize with, but not at all cheerful.
As for season 3, it is a great performance. One of the show’s peculiarities (especially patent here) is unevenness of the characters elucidation: if in the comedies of the past the writers sought to tell about all primary heroes in equal shares, Lena Dunham and her team won’t pay too much attention to this issue combining and arranging bits and pieces as they please. It would seem like this approach should cause irritation and gaps in perception, but it doesn’t, which in itself is quite an interesting circumstance. Charlie character was removed from the cast, and the type of removal is not the best one: he vanishes completely with no screen time whatsoever, and only later his disappearance is explained in a more or less believable way.
In general, though, development of the characters and their storylines is brilliant. I liked most of them, – actually, it’s kinda hard to distinguish my liking for the different things as a human being from those obtained within the professional framework. For example, I like Hannah as a character, because it’s potent and promising, but I hate her as a person because of her utter selfishness. Anyway, regardless of the personal attitude to some of the show’s fundamentals, it thrives and blossoms, and will probably continue to do so in the nearest future.
It’s not that easy to grow into, but then it’s fresh, and interesting, and exciting, and explicitly sexual. I have to say, it’s just amazing, how frank, how vividly Lena Dunham can write – and how blunt and beautiful she can be on screen. Lena isn’t pretty (like supermodels cliche pretty, I mean), and she knows it perectly, and she uses it to her advantage in cold blood. You know, I’ve survived through five weeks of Entourage, and right now a lead in the series who’s far less pretty than two of her co-stars seems an amazing thing to me. America’s usually super uptight and conservative about appearances, but I guess something can change. Anyway, Hannah might not be pretty, but she is beautiful. Actually, all four of the girls are. Each in her own way, of course, but there’s a quality that unites them all: not one of them is boring.
Another thing: every character on the show is not a clear one. Most of the time we know what a person is from the very beginning, – in fact, getting the viewer to know the character asap is a common practice; but not in this show. Here, if you want an answer, you need to ask a question first, you need to show the initiative, because nothing would fall into your hands on its own, nobody would reveal personal stuff just like that, – exactly the way it stands in real life. By the way, it might be necessary to point out that this show is more like a life-comedy, and quite often there are pure tragical insertions to the story, nothing funny about them at all. Very powerful, though.
All in all, I now list this show among my favourite comedies, for one thing, and for another: it’s one of the three most modern comedy shows on TV I know. (Two others are: Modern Family and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Most of the season it was more or less OK (although any kind of novelty is completely out of the question): same characters, similar situations, bright future ahead. Drama’s killing his new show was kinda a nice development. But the finale striken through all the relatively good stuff in the last show’s season by basically turning into a soap, – a real, undisguised soap, when all the events are manipulated in a manner so crude with purpose so obvious, the feeling of insincerity appears as if out of nowhere. This show’s finale is a complete failure that impeaches Ellin’s ability to write interesting things in the first place, – during the course of the series, the quality more or less stayed the same simalteniously declining very slowly to leave the show on a rather low note. I wonder why did they feel the necessity to make a movie after this, – this I’ll see soon enough.
Names and figures
Good story. Way more conflicted than the previous season, although some choices seem to be manipulatively harsh, like intended to force tears out of the viewer. But the development of the Vince line, and return of Billy Walsh with a cartoon idea, and most of the Ari mess, – this stuff is pretty great, and joint influence of those lines compensates the negativity of slight inclination towards the soap of reality tv. There was too little of Rex Lee, but on the other hand, there was plenty of Sasha Gray, and she was good. Just like the season in general. But the fatique of the format is clear to me. It almost stopped changing, you can hardly expect anything surprising now. The quality does not drop (at least, as far as I can tell), but this story is just getting too old.
Names and figures
One of the appeals of the show in its first seasons was an element of ambiguity: career development was uncertain, choices were not indisputable. Now it’s a cousy gauge, when everything basically happens by itself; which is the main reason, I think, why the narrative shifted from Vince’s life to that of the entourage. The shift is quite natural, but in the end it turnes out to be irrelevant, because it happens for the guys too easy as well, – and this is not a very good sign. Dénouement of the Turtle’s relationship might seem like an exception, but it really is uncalled for, and probably was designed so that Jamie-Lynn Sigler can get out of the show. But the Andrew Klein’s affair was quite fun and lively. The general tone of the series remained the same.
Names and figures
Nothing changed much. Same atmosphere, same story development level, same glamour aftertaste. A few more backstage stories were told with nice details, and that’s probably the most interesting part of the show. Fun apperances of famous people (as usual), among which I value directors most (Van Sant, Scorsese). Eric Roberts seems cool and Seth Green seems like a douchebag. I wonder how close to reality those images are.
Names and figures
Previously I leaned towards the thought that the protagonist of the show is the group of four characters known as the entourage, because it seemed inseparable; but in season 4 they actually came to a disagreement. It wasn’t critical so the system remained functioning as it was, nothing changed much. But the whole time I had a feeling that E is right, and everybody else is wrong, that going in that direction will end up in failure; and it did. So E is the real engine of this story. And too bad that the closer it gets to the highest peaks of vanity, the more trivial, predictable, unsignificant it seems. But it’s pretty fun nontheless. For now, at least.
Names and figures
Jeremy Piven’s characters does not pull the blanket on himself anymore: he didn’t become boring or anything, it’s just the rollercoaster with the gang’s everyday stuff, – all those scripts, directors, studios, – gradually became more and more interesting, and inqualed to the Ari Gold’s line during this season. Mostly because it gives a nice insight about the backstage of the moviemaking business, I think.
So, while this balance has shifted a little, everything else seems to be the same, including a tinge of glamour, which feels more and more like an indelible but bearable odour. Development of characters, as well as the story, goes quite confidently, and the direction seems right. Perhaps, I was right, and this show does exist by the rules of comedy; at least no character can really get hurt here, – neither physically, nor psychologically.
Names and figures
As much as I love the show, 4th season left me off with a bitter taste in my mouth. The quality of the feature didn’t drop, of course, but for some reason Crane and Klarik decided to finish with all the primary characters screwed up. The couple’s new show is basically killed, and they have to deal with a jealous type boss at that, which might be worse than downright madness. LeBlanc suffered great losses and didn’t gain much in return. Carol found herself back where she started, – and after such an upsurge. All this stuff is rather disturbing; I have no idea what to expect next, but my anticipations are not rosy at all, that’s for sure.
Names and figures
So the excellent tragicomedy remains funny, subtle and serious all at the same time. The quality hasn’t dropped a bit, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to. The events of season 3 demonstrate quite wonderfully very interesting details of how things are conducted in TV business; all in all, it creates a positively clear understanding of various hidden rocks and tendencies. More or less adequately, I believe, it was conveyed in the Beverly’s monologue before departing. Another extremely powerful moment was when Sean finally talked sincerely in the last five minutes with the sex shrink. Aslo, it was quite useful to learn how a personal touch can change the shape of things, – I mean that last twist that ensured englishmen coming back to America, – that was really beautiful.
Of course, it goes without saying that every aspect of the show is pretty much perfect, especially writing and actors – monsieur LeBlanc, Tamsin Greig, Stephen Mangan and all the others did an amazing job here. Can’t wait to see what’s next.