Thursday, September 24, 2015

Season Premieres for South Park, The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.

The three most relevant sitcoms on television - in my opinion - are back so let's review their respective season premieres.

First, South Park (pictured above) had an episode about political correctness that I found to be relatively important. S19E01, 'Stunning and Brave' managed to make a lot of good points about how our society is becoming too "P.C", as they say.

In this episode, our South Park kids get a new principal who takes political correctness to an absolute extreme. Everyone who doesn't agree with his politically correct views gets abused and beaten up ("check your privilege!").

To be honest, when I saw it for the first time, "Stunning and Brave" wasn't an episode that I appreciated enough. I felt that it was too blunt and perhaps a bit too one sided. I didn't feel that the climax of the episode made enough sense either.

Yet, after taking another look at it, I think it became more obvious that the episode was much better written than I had thought at first. Even though there were some scenes that could have been better, as a whole South Park's season premiere managed to deliver.

The Big Bang Theory also had its season premiere. This episode started the show's ninth season, which is quite an achievement considering that this is a network show that is mainly supposed to be about nerds.

Nevertheless, I haven't found Big Bang Theory to be consistently funny in years. I feel that the show is past its prime and that the writers have run out of ideas. Despite the massive ratings, there's not much energy left.

Not surprisingly, the season premiere didn't manage to cheer me up. I've never been a fan of Leonard and Penny and I haven't really liked Amy and Sheldon together either. So when you have an episode that centers around these couples, one can't expect much.

It's pretty weird how lackluster the episode "Matrimonial Momentum" is considering that this was supposed to be the happiest day for Leonard and Penny. Yet, the episode is all about arguing and creating drama out of nowhere. It's no surprise that very few liked it.

The third show that had its season premiere is Modern Family, that last Sunday lost the best comedy series Emmy to HBO:s atrocious 'Veep'. (In reality category, 'Voice' winning over 'Amazing Race' was also mindboggling).

In my opinion the S7E01 "Summer Lovin'", was an okayish episode that had some genuine moments that made me feel for the characters. There were also some Phil moments that managed to land rather well.  

I liked how they took Haley's feelings towards Andy seriously. This was her 'last chance' before he would propose to another girl. I didn't have a problem with these two - and the same can also be said about the scenes between Alex and Sanjay.

At the same time, the usual problems with the show were also there too. The plotlines weren't elegant enough so there was too much stuff going on. I also didn't like how Andy 'overheard' about Haley's feelings. It's as if the writers took the easiest way out to solve the problem.

Yet, as a whole I'm pretty happy that Modern Family is back on tv. In my opinion, it's still likely the best comedy on television, even though in all honesty the show could be much, much better than it is right now.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How many 'experiences' do you need as a writer?

I've heard so many times from these so called educated writers (who have a degree in writing) that in order to become a great writer, you need to experience as many things as possible in life. In their opinion that is what counts the most.

If you haven't worked as many jobs as possible, if you haven't met as many people as possible and if you haven't studied writing, you're not going to become a great writer. You just haven't done enough to earn it or to deserve it.

This hypothesis, as popular it is, in my opinion, isn't true. Even though it is crucial for example to have a certain amount of knowledge about life, it's not needed to know 'everything'. It's not required that you know all those things about how our society 'works'.

It's not required that you have to be that interested in others. It's not necessary that you spend as much time as possible with people so that you could 'learn' from them. It's not really required - and it might not even be good for you.

It's also not required that you have to study drama or writing at a university level. It's a pretty big misconception that you need to study like hell in order to become better at understanding what drama is about.

In my opinion, when it comes to having the abilities, it's much more about having a god given talent than it's about having special experiences in life, meeting all those people that you haven't met or having studied this supposedly mysterious craft.

After all, most of us who have made it through the difficult years of growing up have 'experienced' enough things already. We've had our successes and victories, and we've had also those brutal failures, humiliations and disappointments too.

The truth is that if you didn't learn enough about human nature while you grew up, the chances are likely that you never will. In most cases that's when the really good and the really awful 'experiences' already happened.

So if and when you think about becoming a writer, don't get fooled when people say that you need to learn more about life. Don't believe when they say that you need to meet more people or that you need to study because otherwise you won't write well.

Instead, believe in yourself, since that's what's really required. Know what's important and what's not. Recognize that not everything is worth your time, because in the end, not that many things in this life matter or make sense.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Who could trust those crazy critics?

One of things that has been bothering me lately is how critics can be so wrong about certain shows and certain movies that they've been reviewing. It's as if they have somehow lost their minds and have gone off the deep end.

They keep giving perfect or very high scores to movies that I was barely able to even finish. They keep telling us that this and that installment is awesome even though it's obvious to anyone who has a clue that this just isn't the case. 

Here are three examples based on the films and tv shows that I've reviewed recently. Notice how critics absolutely loved an awful movie and an awful show and had a luke warm at best reaction to a quality film that actually made sense. 

1. Trainwreck (pictured above).

Here's a movie that on metacritic has a metascore of 75% and on an 85% fresh rating. Based on this, you'd expect that it would be a pretty funny movie. After all, only 1 critic out of 45 gave it a negative review.

Yet, I wasn't even able to finish the film because it was so unbelievably bad. It went nowhere and had no momentum whatsoever. Clearly the movie was written by someone who had all the connections but not much talent.

When you look at what the general audience had to say about this 'raunchy' movie, they weren't happy either. 40% of the audience gave it a negative review compared to a single professional reviewer who agreed with them. That's pretty amazing.

2. Difficult People.

You wouldn't believe the raves for this Hulu series. Almost 90% of the critics thought that this show is somewhere between good to awesome. One major critic even wrote that the writing on Difficult People is 'hilariously great'.

In reality though, when I watched this series for the first time, I had to give up after six or so minutes because the show was completely unbearable. Unlike what another critic wrote, these characters most certainly weren't 'inherently likable'.

When it comes to people like you and me reviewing the series, it has a negative 70% rating. That should pretty much say it all, because people aren't usually that negative unless there'a a really good reason. In this case, there most certainly is.

3. The Intouchables.  

Here's a French movie that I found to be totally awesome. It made me laugh and cry and it didn't bore me, not once. The film was superbly written, acted and directed. It's easily one of the best movies that I've seen in a long time.

The general audience loved it too. If you go to there's not a single negative review from any of the users. Nobody thought that this was a bad movie - which is nothing sort of a miracle. This happens so rarely.

Yet, the U.S critics did not like this movie. Almost half of the reviews ranged from mixed to negative on metacritic. It has a twenty points lower average score than the horrendous 'Trainwreck' - which in my opinion is simply outrageous.


In conclusion, I know I might have a bit small sample size here, but examples like these tend to show that a lot of the critics are out of touch with reality. I'd like to trust them, but in too many cases I don't think I can do that at all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It was too difficult to watch 'Difficult People'.

I originally had decided to review 'Difficult People' based on the first six minutes of the pilot. That was all I was able to take before I had to stop watching. I had seen enough to know that this was a really bad show.

Yet, when I started writing this article, I came to the conclusion that I simply didn't know enough about the series. Even though I knew that 'Difficult People' wasn't going to be any good, I had to go back and finish at least two or three episodes.

So I managed to take another look at it and not surprisingly I still can't recommend 'Difficult People' to anyone. As sad as it might be, it's difficult to find a single good thing to say about this show. It's as if there are no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Probably the biggest problem I have with the series is that pretty much all the characters on it are completely unrelatable. There are no reasons why anyone would find them likable or anything. These people are just unbearable.

As the title of the show suggests, the characters are indeed difficult. But they are not difficult because they are talented or hard working. They are difficult just for the sake of being difficult. Unlike what the poster suggests, they do not mean well.

They don't have goals that would make you root for them. They don't have problems that would make you feel for them either. All they have are 'Hollywood' problems that would make most people feel sick in their stomach.

Who really gives a damn about their 'goals' that involve trying to get access to some celebrity stuffed events? Who in all honesty feels for them when the main character's 'problem' is someone in Twitter not appreciating him enough?

Watching this kind of stuff is just painful for anyone who understands drama or comedy at all. That is because there aren't any decent characters, there aren't any plots and there aren't any funny moments either. There's only massive amount of pandering that is just sad.

A series like this simply makes me angry. That is that 'Difficult People' is a superficial show that celebrates the worst aspects of show business. What these characters do and what they want doesn't contribute to our society in any way.

The same unfortunately applies to those in charge of the show too. What were the executives thinking when they greenlit the series? What were they creators thinking when they wrote the script for the pilot? My guess is, probably not much.