Starting off positively—and it’s a big one—no new mysteries were introduced this episode! At least, nothing of the paranormal, never-going-to-be-answered-adequately nature. What we get instead is a couple of contained stories with our lead characters, some swallowed reveals that are appreciated nonetheless, and a whole lot of metaphor. It was still an extreme hodgepodge and smacking of the strained efforts of a show trying to figure out what it is and how to simply tell its story, but at least it’s not like last week’s complete non-sequitur. We are building (some) relationships. We are attempting to focus and head somewhere.
Rectify Ep. 2.04-2.05 “Donald the Normal”/”Act As If” two fantastic, thematically-rich hours of TV’s most underrated show
Change. At the heart of Rectify is the idea of change: set in a town stuck in the past, featuring a family reeling from an event twenty years ago, and a main character whose entire reality is broken the instant he’s released from prison. And as the heart of Rectify, the Holden household kitchen serves as the perfect metaphor for change: starting over really only happens when you start over, when you finally get rid of the old and allow the new to consume you. But true, soul-enriching change is scary, difficult, and easily corrupted: and in “Donald the Normal” and “Act As If”, that struggle bleeds into every scene, every conversation, every shot composition – and as always, makes for some of the most compelling, philosophically curious TV around.
One of the hallmarks of the modern era of television is an increased critical focus on the visual aspect of the medium. For years, when a film critic said a movie “looked like television,” they meant it as an insult. That statement implied that the film in question was shot in an entirely functional fashion, with a lack of creativity involved in the camerawork and shot choices. That stigma has dissolved over the last two decades, with the onset of the much-lauded golden age of television. Today, directors of photography like Michael Slovis and Chris Manley, best known for their work on Breaking Bad and Mad Men respectively, are doing work that rivals that of Hollywood’s top cinematographers. You can see the impact in the increased fluidity of the television and film spheres. Breaking Bad was able to bring successful movie director Rian Johnson over to TV, and Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor was able to spin his TV work into a movie gig directing Thor: The Dark World. There is a danger, however, in suggesting that emulation of film-style cinematography is the goal all television should aspire to, because that goal ignores some of the unique strengths of TV.
One of TV’s most beloved romances is that of Logan and Veronica (affectionately termed “LoVe” by fans) from Rob Thomas’ cult classic Veronica Mars. The romance and the series had enough power and pull to drive a wildly successful Kickstarter and a reasonably successful film. Coming back to 24 for 24:LAD, it struck me for the first time that one of the most famous lines from the Veronica/Logan romance, while it doesn’t quite entirely fit that couple, does, seamlessly, describe Jack and Audrey.
“I thought our love was epic, you know? Spanning years, continents, lives lost, blood shed – epic.”
What is The Leftovers? A mystery wrapped in an enigma, sure, but what else is on the show’s mind, and most importantly, what does it have to offer as a new series? Now that we have three episodes, we should begin to suss out the themes and make a guess of whether we as an audience want to stick with it, if it’s a show that speaks to us, or is making a worthy statement. What’s odd, though, is that there are too many different shows to work through here to figure out if that’s coming. Further, usually if this happens in a show, it happens with different story lines and characters, but in Mapleton that’s not even the case. It is more like an episode-to-episode shoot of the dice, and not nearly as foregone a conclusion as Matt’s roulette game in this boring and deeply flawed episode.
We live in a burgeoning era of horror television. American Horror Story will begin its fourth season in the fall, andThe Walking Dead will start its fifth. Penny Dreadful just finished an excellent debut season, and Netflix’sHemlock Grove just put up its second season. True Blood, Supernatural, Bates Motel, Sleepy Hollow, Grimm. And of course, the most horrifying show currently on television, Hannibal. Horror is all over our TV screens, but if there’s one person who deserves their shot at it (presuming David Lynch isn’t interested), it’s Guillermo del Toro.
Part 3 of our listing of the best television episodes of the year to date looks at shows such as Louie and Game of Thrones, along with the individual picks of the contributors.
Part 2 of our listing of the best television episodes of the year to date looks at individuals outings of shows such as Bob’s Burgers and Fargo.
Sound on Sight takes a look at the best episodes of television that have aired so far this year. Part one includes episodes from shows such as Rick and Morty and True Detective.
2013 was an absolutely amazing year for television, with shows like Breaking Bad and Spartacus going out with some of their best episodes yet and new series like Hannibal and Orphan Black bursting onto the scene. While the jury’s still out on how this year will compare to last, at the halfway point, 2014 is shaping up to be pretty darn great year as well. Continuing favorites have come back stronger than ever and just like last year, a few new series have quickly made strong names for themselves as well; the variety of truly great television, from comedy to drama to the many series that don’t so easily fit either description, has never been so pronounced. However, with so much TV out there, some of the best episodes (and series in general) of the year have flown under the radar, so a handful of Sound on Sight’s podcasters and critics have put their heads together and come up with a list of the best television episodes of 2014 (so far). A panel of SoS’s Editor-in-Chief Ricky D, Televerse Podcast cohosts Kate Kulzick and Sean Colletti, Managing Editor for TV Deepayan Sengupta, and SoS TV critic Randy Dankevitch have put together this list through an exhaustive nominations and voting process–to make the cut, each episode needed to have been seen by at least half the panel and agreed upon by a majority. Of course, not everyone can watch everything, and so along with the agreed-upon list, each panelist also gives an individual pick for one of the best episodes of the year. If the second half of 2014 is as strong as the first half, this year has the potential to be another tremendous one for television. Here are the SoS TV panel’s picks as the best episodes of television of the year (so far):
Science fiction shows on television have always been a tricky proposition. Done effectively, a series can gain a number of fans, many of whom continue to sing the show’s praises long after its end. Done poorly, however, it can become even more incoherent than a non-genre drama. With luminaries such as Star Trek leading the way, this summer CBS tries its hand at the genre with Extant, a science fiction series led by Halle Berry. While the pilot disconcertingly throws a number of potential mysteries into the fray, the series nonetheless shows some promise, and depending on what path it goes down, could develop into a show worth watching.
Emmy nominations were announced this morning, and as usual, there were a number of snubs and surprises, which the Internet collectively whined about this morning. Rather than continue to mourn the lack of a nomination for Tatiana Maslany (which I admittedly complained about as well), actual solutions need to be pitched. Sadly, “chain Emmy voters to a chair and make them actually watch Orphan Black” seems somewhat implausible and definitely criminal, so here are five reasonable and seemingly easy solutions the Emmys should consider next year.
Unexplained pools of blood, assassins, break-ins, and sexcapades mark the opening of The Bridge‘s second season, an uncomfortably scattered hour that only seems to prove this show still hasn’t figured out what it wants to be. A jumbled mess of familiar and new faces dealing with both new and familiar problems, “Yankee” is an hour that ignores major plot threads from last season (if only for the time being) in order to introduce a plethora of new ideas, without giving the audience much sense of direction as to what this seemingly random collection of scenes actually means. Is it intriguing? Sure, there are parts of “Yankee” that suggest this season of The Bridge could head in some interesting directions: but surrounded by so many other plots and characters, it’s unclear what this season actually wants to be about.