Monthly Archives: June 2011

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In the U.S. “Life on Mars” Finale

Dear Frank,

Oh, the tragedy of the great British TV series, pure and original and beautifully executed — and then adapted into something completely different and strange for American consumption. Well, I say it’s a tragedy, and it is — but sometimes it leads to hilarity.

Frank, today I am not going to tell you about the very very good BBC drama Life on Mars (or its 80s-set sequel, Ashes to Ashes), in which a cerebral police detective from the 21st century finds himself inexplicably thrust backwards in time, and is forced to deal with the rough-and-tumble nature of police work in the 1970s (as well as the fashion and lack of iPhones). You should watch it yourself if you get a chance, because if you do you will get to meet Gene Hunt, the chief detective of Sam’s new 1970s precinct, one of modern television’s great alpha male characters and a perennial delight.

Instead, Frank, we’re talking about the American remake of the show, for a very specific reason. See, the central mystery of the British series is the question of what has really happened to Detective Sam Tyler — per the opening credits, is he in a coma, going crazy or traveling through time? The series slowly but confidently reveals the truth over two seasons, and then Ashes to Ashes continues things by asking the question of who Gene Hunt really is, and that takes THREE seasons, but you better believe it was a deeply satisfying conclusion.

Meanwhile, what happened with the American Life on Mars was as follows: Show premieres, fails to really grab an audience despite starring Harvey Keitel and Christopher from The Sopranos, slowly starts to circle the drain. However, ABC did a relatively decent thing, and gave the showrunners a big heads-up that there would be no season two, which gave them permission to end the story in season one.

That alone would be interesting, but several months ago, I got accidentally spoiled for what that ending entailed and HOLY SHIT, FRANK, IT WAS THE CRAZIEST SHIT I EVER HEARD. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “The Clan of the Cave Bear”

Dear Frank,

I have never read the Clan of the Cave Bear books or seen the movie before this week, but they’ve always been on the edge of my consciousness. See, my parents had at least one or two of Jean M. Auel’s novels on our family bookshelves, which I spent a fair portion of my childhood raiding in search of books that were probably inappropriate for my age. However, I was never inspired to pull these off the shelf, because while I was aware that they had quasi-sexy bits, cavemen erotica just seemed dirty and weird to me. I.E., not terribly erotic.

As an adult, Frank? My opinion hasn’t shifted much.

But here we go! And let’s start with a big-league apology — I’m a lazy high school sophomore. I watched the movie instead of reading the book. I did this knowing full well that there are fans of the book who’d probably react to me just watching the movie the same way I would react to people skipping Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for the HBO adaptation (specifically, with blood rage), but sorry, this is what’s happening.
Read the rest of this entry

“Parks and Recreation”: The Skip It/Watch It Guide

Ah, welcome to summer! That magical time of year when all the TV goes away. All of it! Even Game of Thrones is over now! WHY BOTHER BEING ALIVE?

The answer: To catch up on old television you may have missed! So we’re bringing back the Skip It/Watch It Guides for a few weeks, specifically to give you some extra viewing options as we head into the hot hell of July and August. And to kick things off — we’ve got Parks and Recreation!

Once upon a time, Parks and Rec was known as “the show that’s not exactly a spin-off of The Office that stars the blonde chick from Saturday Night Live. You know, the one who seems to be pregnant all the time.” But it has since evolved into one of the funniest and best-hearted comedies on television, with a top-notch cast and complex yet clearly defined characters. It is a show about a bunch of people who work in local government, but unlike local government, it’s hilarious, affecting and inspiring.

In case this isn’t clear: I LOVE this show, to the point of near obsession. And you should love it too! You probably will love it too. It’s great. But like many fantastic shows, it takes a bit of time to find its footing, and thus I have gone to great painstaking effort to create a detailed guide that will enable you to fall in love immediately… Read the rest of this entry

Frank Tells Liz What Happened In the “Smallville” Series Finale

Dear Liz,

To begin: a confession. A few weeks ago, of my own volition, I watched the series finale of Smallville.

Some background: As you know, I’m a fan of Superman. When I was small, I watched the Christopher Reeve movies religiously and regularly tuned in to the latter seasons of Super Friends. I owned Superman pajamas and wore them publicly on more than one Halloween. In college, I may have written and staged a series of short plays called The Superman Chronicles, in flagrant violation of copyright statute. (I can’t really confirm or deny that at this time.)

Also. I have a tattoo of the “S.” Sometimes I regret getting a corporate logo permanently engraved on my body, but it can’t be helped.

My senior year of college, I watched the first season of Smallville in its entirety. I came to the series with pretty low expectations, but the show actually made some really intelligent and interesting choices right off the bat. Over the course of that first season, the show gradually evolved from guilty pleasure to the brink of being actually good TV. So I tuned in to the second season quite optimistically, but I found it immediately dumb. I kept watching episodes here and there, but by the end of that second season it was clear that the slump wasn’t going to turn around any time soon, so I tuned out. Still, a part of me always wondered how this series with such a clearly established endpoint was going to round out. I guess that’s why, when I heard the show had ended, I went to the CW’s website and pulled up the final episode.

Obviously, you should keep in mind that what you are about to read is written from the perspective of a viewer who has missed well over 80 percent of the series he’s about to discuss. That said, having watched Smallville‘s finale, I can state with confidence that the series is a complete and abject failure. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “The Nines”

Dear Frank,

The trouble with Netflix is that as the quality of its library improves, the stockpile of “interesting-sounding movies that I might try to watch when I have some spare time and feel like it” threatens to explode and consume a human soul.

Mentioning this is a half-assed way of apologizing to Dogtooth, which I swear to God I am gonna see at some point, and also leads to my explanation for why instead of watching Dogtooth this weekend, I watched the little-seen Ryan Reynolds flick The Nines — it was literally above Dogtooth in the queue.

The Nines also isn’t in Danish and has Ryan Reynolds in it. But only a shallow person might point that out. Read the rest of this entry

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