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Thursday, September 27, 2007

it's tv after all

As The Sopranos wound down, or stopped short as it were, HBO premiered its new series John from Cincinnati, which I blogged about on July 3. Three episodes in I was intrigued: the show had such defiantly little exposition that I assumed I was watching some new experimental form of television narrative. It was, alas, just a badly written show. By the end of the ten-episode season, the audience still knew nothing about any of the constantly growing cast of shrill, surly characters. It was, in short, artlessly dour.

Sadly, HBO is at it again with its new series Tell Me You Love Me. It should be called Tell Me It's Not HBO. This time I am throwing in the towel after three episodes: I will not watch this awful show again.

Imagine a highlight, or lowlight, reel of the worst moments of needless bickering from every relationship you ever had. Then cast four different couples—all white, all straight, and all dressed in black and grey and living in modernist-designed homes—and give the characters no back stories, no jobs, not even last names, as far as I can tell. All they do is bicker in the most obvious ways. And there you have it: HBO's new Sunday night series. (I would say more, but I don't want to be accused of bickering.)

The hot new shows are all elsewhere: Mad Men on AMC, which HBO passed up, and the surprisingly good Californication on Showtime. There will be plenty more to say about them in subsequent blog entries. Tune in again soon, Reader: same blog time, same blog channel.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe The Flight of the Conchords is an HBO production, and it's sublimely clever, funny and warm-hearted, like a more deadpan and downbeat Mighty Boosh. If you've never seen the Conchords, check out their Pet Shop Boys pastiche on Youtube.

6:47 PM, October 10, 2007

Blogger Jeff Strabone said...

I agree with everything that Dan has said about Flight of the Conchords. Not that I'm dissing half-hour comedies, but HBO's creative reputation was built on its one-hour shows. They have replaced two great shows, Six Feet Under and The Sopranos, with two miserable, unwatchable shows, John from Cincinnati and Tell Me You Love Me. In the meanwhile, they let Mad Men go to AMC.

That's fine with me. I don't care for brand loyalty. I'll watch great television whatever the channel. But not so long ago, HBO had a certain reputation for good judgment that it has lost.

12:04 AM, October 13, 2007


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