Wednesday, August 20, 2008
There is nothing like a brilliantly crafted series finale. In fact, it doesn’t have to be perfectly crafted, as long as it is true to the series, the characters and the fans who have stuck by the show the entire way. Tonight I watched a perfect series finale.
I’m talking about Michael J Fox’s departure from Spin City. Though the show technically did continue after Fox left due to illness, the series finale to me (and most fans of the show) is Mike’s two-episode goodbye. The series ended that day; that drivel starring Charlie Sheen that later was called Spin City was a different entity completely.
Mike’s departure could not have been more appropriate. The only way that the committed work-aholic deputy mayor would ever leave his post would be to ensure that none of his team had to leave theirs. When the mayor and his staff unknowingly entangle themselves with organized crime and an ambitious reporter threatens to take them down, Mike falls on the sword to not only save the mayor but to save the jobs of Carter, Paul, Nicki, Stewart, James and Janelle. For 4 seasons Mike Flaherty put out every fire that his crazy boss and staff lit; he loved his job, he loved his boss and he loved his staff. There was no better way for Mike to leave city hall and no better way for Fox to leave Spin City.
Like so many perfect finales before it (Boy Meets World topping the list- don’t judge me), the finale of Spin City had me crying my eyes out. They first hit me with “Carter, I love you too”; then it really started when Mike had his final moment with Nicky, a character who meant more to him throughout the series than almost any other; I really lost it when Mike gave his speech about hiring James then followed it up with “I have a story like that for each and every one of you… so my proudest moment is sitting here now, at this table, with all of you”; I wept as the mayor taped his final goodbye, called Mike “son” and pulled him in for a hug; and I’ll never get over the footage at the end of the episode, of Fox’s final curtain call.
Every goodbye in the episode (Carter, Janelle, Nicki, James, Stewart, Paul and finally the mayor), packed an extra punch because you just know that the tears in the eyes of all those actors were real; every speech was really about Fox’s relationship with the actor themselves as well as summing up every moment between those characters. Each one of them was a goodbye on multiple levels and that made them so much more poignant.
The greatest moment, the saddest goodbye and the most poignant performance and character writing in the entire series was one of these goodbyes. Sarcastic, creepy, chauvinistic and pathetic Stewart won my heart with my favourite moment. When funny man Alan Ruck looked up from his beer mug, desperately holding back the tears that were forcing their way out, and lamely proclaimed “whatever” after coolly shrugging off Mike’s massive sacrifice, my heart stopped. As Stewart rushed from the bar without a real goodbye, unable to stand the vulnerability, I cheered for the moment that finally transformed Stewart from a caricature into a character.
I loved this show. I’ve always loved Michael J Fox and always will. You all know how much I love Connie Britton. I love Barry Bostwick and Alan Ruck and Michael Boatman and Jennifer Esposito. I love Bill Lawrence (who would later create Scrubs). I loved when Nicki fell in love with Mike; I loved when Mike finally figured that out. I loved when James got braces and when Carter was left dangling outside a window. I loved when the mayor played laser tag and his affair with Mike’s mom. I loved when Carter adopted a suicidal dog and when Paul wore makeup on The View. I loved when the water boy that the ladies were ogling fought back with a $5/word vocabulary and when the mayor asked a reporter if he was drunk. But mostly, I loved this finale: 46 minutes as true to the series, the characters, the audience, the actors, the creators, the writers and the roots of it all as when Feeney turned out the lights and said “class dismissed”.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I have returned and have lots of opinions to share with you. I promise new entries will be posted soon.
Thanks for your patience and I love you all,
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Without question my 2 current favourites on Big Brother are Memphis and Dan. Just in reading a bio or surfing a fun facts page, there is no way in hell that I would like Dan. He's close-mindedly conservative, preachy, judgemental, vain, slightly misogynistic and tries too hard to be macho. Memphis, on the other hand, comes off as fun, strong, respectful, down to earth and interesting. Dan's strategy is to play the weakling and subtly suggest strategy without letting on that he's doing so. Memphis is playing it completely straight; he doesn't seem to throw competitions but he doesn't play to win or die either, he gets his strategies across and makes his alliances but he's neither sneaky nor brazen about it.
I'm rooting for Dan because a) I felt that the whole Brian thing went down unfairly and it would be nice to see him fully rise from the ashes and beat the smug know-it-alls who targeted him early on and b) I think his strategy (though many may disagree) is really admirable; it's smart, easy to execute and will most likely take him far. I can't stand the people who think that if you don't win competitions you're coasting in the game, or "floating" as so many contestants of the past have liked to call it. In fact, many of the best players in BB history will tell you that to win competitions is to throw the game.
More so, however, I'm rooting for Memphis. I'm doing this because I actually like the guy (he's the only house guest of whom I can say that 100% truthfully) AND he has respectable game play. He makes sure his voice is heard without ever losing his cool (with the one exception of when he was personally attacked by Jerry), adapts remarkably well when things don't go his way (see his entire alliance being evicted and him being nominated) and somehow manages to strategically stay on the good side of almost every house guest (an amazing feat).
What these 2 vastly different but similarly subtle players have the most in common that makes me want to take their side is not only the fact that they are 2 of the only remaining house guests (alongside Ollie) who've never been in a stupid screaming match (the aforementioned Jerry incident was provoked and completely understandable) but the way that both of them are playing a house game and a TV game.
Much like Danielle (seasons 3 and 7) and Dr. Will (seasons 2 and 7) before them, both Memphis and Dan make the audience an active participant in their game. Memphis does it on a more personal level; when he vented in the diary room about how out of control the house was to attack Dan on a religious level or how much it bothers him how people fake interest in the HOH room, Memphis made his personal feelings and issues clear to the audience at home (who loves him for it) but was judiciously protective of his own place in the house by keeping his mouth shut outside the personal interviews. This lets the viewer in on the fact that what the house sees and who Memphis is are not necessarily the same thing.
Dan's relationship to the camera has a lot more to do with strategy. He spends little time discussing his personal opinions and beliefs (a wise move since I most certainly would like him less every time he did) but rather makes a point of letting the audience know exactly what he is up to through glances and nods not unlike the Jim's iconic "ironic looks" on The Office. Every time Dan puts on an Oscar-worthy performance as a guilt-ridden traitor, a weak and innocent non-threat or a melancholy long-distance boyfriend, and the other house guests fall for it, he gives the camera a little wink to remind us that we're in on the joke.
Danielle and Dr. Will, two of the house's greatest schemers, would similarly use diary room sessions or private moments with the camera to engage the audience in their game play. Only the audience knew about Danielle's secret alliance with Jason, only the audience knew who the only real members of Chilltown were, we knew who Danielle truly trusted and exactly how Will felt about his all-star showmance Janelle; we knew these things because they would tell us, and no one else. And that's why we cared more about them- we were involved in their game.
While Memphis and Dan may just be the best players in a bad group, they're the ones I'm cheering for now. Who knows who may step up as worthy of my fandom next week (after all, season 8's Jen didn't win me over right away but ended up as one of my all-time favourites) but for now I choose to cheer for 2 men: the best man (Memphis) and the best actor (Dan) who add up to the best players.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
This began to change with Musa in season 2, who began working tirelessly to perform to a higher standard, even outside of his genre. It came to a head later that season when Ivan, another hip hopper, performed a contemporary routine to Annie Lennox's "Why" as well as (if not better than) a trained contemporary dancer could have. And then we were off to the races...
Sometimes he is, and it drives me absolutely insane. Nigel, in general, knows what he's saying. He was the only judge to see that Danny wasn't arrogant, just closed off. He saw how inspiring Donyelle was, he saw Benji run away with the season 2 competition within the first week and he knew that letting season 3's Lauren and season 4's Will into the competition was important enough to merit a slight change in staff or format. It's because he has a reputation for being right when everyone else can't see it that people believe everything he says. This season, however, there are 2 major things that Nigel has been consistently wrong about that I need to mention.
As much as I like this season and its final 4, it has to be compared to what's come before. Season 1 had some good dancers. Blake, Ashle, Melody and Nick were all wonderful (though Jamile, not Blake, made final 4) but the format was still pretty rough, there was only a top 16 not a top 20, and the host was a dud. Still, Nick could turn with more precision than I thought possible.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
PS: my thoughts on the players as they currently stand...
I could not dislike Libra more. She's older than most other houseguests, a mom, politically left wing and outspoken; she should have been a Danielle (seasons 3 and 7)-type player, but instead she's made my top 5 least favourites of all time (alongside season 9's Jacob and, season 5's Holly and season 8's Dick and Daniele)
I keep flip flopping on Jessie. While, overall, I can't stand him there are moments when he almost completely redeems himself. Like the way he stayed by Michelle's side after she fell from the HOH competition and when his strategies actually make sense. If he just was less obsessed with himself, if his head was the correct size for his body and if he didn't abuse the word "respect" so much he almost seems like I could have liked him. Too bad I don't.
April looks like an alien. Also, how boring must her relationship with Ollie be if the producers are airing almost none of it?
I like Dan. All my liberal, secular reasoning tells me not to but I like him anyway and there seems to be nothing I can do about it. He's playing a smart game. He got unlucky the first week, but that doesn't mean that when he picked Brian as an ally, Dan wasn't picking a deserving partner. In fact, I think that if he'd had the wherewithal to tread a little more lightly, Brian would have been the best player in the game. However, once his alliance dropped him in the pooper early on, Dan has kept his head down, his mouth shut and his ears tuned- the best strategy I've seen in the house so far.
Jerry is a mean, potty-mouthed, stubborn old man who is only tarnishing the name of the American military by so proudly touting it and who has openly accused others of crimes he himself has committed (see his unfairly labelling Memphis a womanizer whilst he himself fondles April's breasts and tells Libra to "shut up").
And finally, if Memphis goes home this week, the houseguests will have successfully eliminated all of my favourite players in order of my preference- I hate these people. Why do I have to watch week after week of Libra, Jerry and Jessie when I could have had the Brian, Steven and Angie show?