I guess if I were to make a single criticism of "Breaking Bad," one that I thought most held the show back from being theoretically "perfect" (which, of course, is unattainable), it would be that the show does a fairly bad job of truly portraying the cost of Walt's actions on the community around him, other than in the abstract. We've seen the junkies that trapped Jesse in their house last season and their barely cared for kid. We've seen some of the shambling wrecks of people Walt's dealers sold to in the first season. And we've seen a handful of junkies here and there, but mostly, the costs of Walt's chosen endeavors have been felt in over-the-top action setpieces, like when the Cousins took down Hank or when Walt's actions indirectly led to a mid-air collision. The consequences of Walt's actions are almost always writ large, not expressed on an intimate human scale like the best moments of this series usually are.
Wednesday (May 26) night's "American Idol" finale is scheduled to run for 127 minutes, from 8 p.m. til 10:07 p.m. I know it's running long. You know it's running long. Simon Fuller, Ryan Seacrest, Bruce Gowers and FOX's programmers all know it's running long.
And why wouldn't it? We're going to have musical performances galore, lengthy tributes to Simon Cowell and his storied legacy, more integrated cross-promotional plugs than you could shake a stick at and, if we've been very bad indeed, the time-wasting travesty known as The Golden Idols. All the while, tension will build... Is your next American Idol going to be Lee DeWyze or Crystal Bowersox?
Join me for all of the fun (and the not-fun) over the next two-plus hours. Jump in and comment, or just share my pain. It's your choice.
Click through for the recap and the results...
The costumes may have been gleefully ridiculous, but "Glee's" Lady Gaga episode didn't exactly capture the same kind of magic that Madonna night did a few weeks back. Blame it on the limited catalogue Gaga's unleashed upon the world in her brief reign over pop culture. (What else is there besides "Bad Romance" and "Poker Face?" Not much, according to this episode.) Or blame it on the crippling lack of Sue Sylvester, sorely missed this week.
In what promised to be the most outrageous episode of the season we got a lot of the same old stuff, starting with Rachel and her mommy issues, represented via Idina Menzel's sweet but snooze-worthy rendition of "Funny Girl" and later with a Rachel-Shelby duet of Gaga's "Poker Face." Also familiar was the "Kurt and Finn as stepbrothers" subplot, which brought their family drama -- and Finn's latent homophobia -- to an unexpected breaking point. If anyone's previously overlooked Mike O'Malley's contributions as Kurt's dad Burt, you won't forget him after watching him lay into Finn in one of the tensest, most emotional scenes of the series so far.
But the question remains: was this the episode that Lady Gaga fans deserved, or the episode "Glee" needed to move its characters' arcs along?
[Full recap of Tuesday's (May 25) "Glee" after the break…]
If you had asked me whether or not I was looking forward to tonight’s show on, say, Monday afternoon, I would have said, unequivocally, yes, yes yes! But after seeing last night’s debacle, I’m approaching this big finale with dread in my heart. I’m not sure if I’ll be happy regardless of who wins. Do you give the mirror ball to Erin, as her performances were the strongest last night, despite her not being the strongest dancer overall? Do you give it to Nicole because, even though Derek screwed up her routines left and right last night, she’s been the best dancer of the season? Or do you give it to Evan for simply tolerating Anna’s crap choreography? How no one was able to knock it out of the park last night, largely due to the missteps of the pros, still baffles me, and any victory feels as if it’s going to come with an asterisk. Okay, I’m just being sulky at this point, so let’s get on with the dancing!
Wow, kids. We're reached the "American Idol" finale. Or at least we've reached the first-night performance component of "American Idol." Then, after two hours tomorrow night, we'll actually know whether our next Idol is Crystal Bowersox or Lee DeWyze.
But on Tuesday (May 25) night? We're singing. How did Crystal and Lee acquit themselves with their trio of performances? They're singing one song of their choosing, one song selected by Simon Fuller and their first sing (not to be confused with the traditional coronation dud).
Click through for the full recap...
Score: 28. This seems about right, unfortunately. It’s comparing apples and oranges, but for pure confidence and comfort on the dance floor, Erin definitely outshone Evan. Fingers crossed Evan and Anna bring it in the freestyle.
The good news is, this is an upbeat, high energy number, and Evan really comes alive once you pick up the beat. The basic truth is, he usually seems a little miserable doing the pretty dances, but you let him rock out and he’s a happy boy. And, while Evan seems to be having a ball, this is not a great routine. Bobby Newberry and his Mohawk did not deliver. Evan’s moves start to get loosey-goosey halfway through, as if they didn’t have enough rehearsal time, and it’s just kind of a mess that doesn’t seem to have enough structure or, specifically, connection between Evan and Anna. Evan’s just flapping his arms around like he’s being electrocuted, and I think he’d have really benefited from being able to, I don’t know, dance with Anna instead of dance alongside her. I know Anna doesn’t really like the guy, but come on.
“24” rode off into the sunset tonight, although the plan is for it to ride right into your cineplex in the not-too-distant future. So our mourning may be muted: yes, we’ll never see another failed perimeter grace our television screens, but the possibilities for Parisian, Peruvian, or Pakistani perimeters being breached on the silver screen are endless! Since it was a two-hour finale, I will waste as few words as possible mulling over the impact of the show now, and will hold off grander thoughts for the end. For now, let’s dive into what went down during the series finale of the show.
[Full recap of Monday's (May 24) series finale of "24" after the break...]
Recapping a show is, for me, a very different process than just watching it as a fan.
For the first four years it was on the air, I don't think I wrote more than 500 words about "Lost." At Ain't It Cool, Hercules the Strong was the TV guy, and "Lost" was a particular favorite of his.
More than anything, I just wrote e-mails to Herc to geek out about the show, which I loved. Right away. The pilot had me on a hook. And I have to say that as I sit here ready to put the show to bed, I love it still. I think I've got a lot to say about the way they stuck this particular landing, but for the most part... they did it. I think "Lost" is a show that will have a shelf life. It's a badass ride. It's a really, really well-told pulp story. It's got style and wit and character and big ideas just spilling out of it. It's overstuffed way past the breaking point. It's so full of good things that many of them are just dead ends.
That's sort of the nature of TV, though. TV, no matter how much you plan out where you're going, is going to be reactive to some degree. And some shows are very, very reactive. Those shows embrace the notion that community is important for a show's lifetime on the air, while longevity is important for an afterlife. I think "Lost" is a show that people will watch as an event in the future. I think it is so much fun as a story when it's cooking along, doing its thing, getting all weird and soapy and throwing SF big idea left hooks and Univision-level shameless soap opera right hooks with the occasional pop culture joke jabs thrown in. That's the "Lost" that I love, and that's the "Lost" that got its groove on tonight with a vengeance at times.
"Fly" belongs to a club of my very favorite types of TV episodes. They're the types of episodes that feel like small plays, the types of episodes where it seems like the writing staff comes up with a challenge to give themselves and then spends its time trying to meet that challenge. Properly speaking, this is a "bottle show," but it's a bottle show unlike any other. The usual way to do a bottle show on a series like this is to trap some portion of the regular cast in a small room and have a threat pacing around just outside. Think of, say, "Lost's" "Lockdown," which featured Ben and Locke trapped in the Hatch together, or that "24" episode where everyone had to spend their time in one small room because of a toxic attack on CTU. That sort of thing.
[Full recap of Sunday's (May 23) "Breaking Bad" after the break...]