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Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “How I Met Your Mother”

Dear Frank,

how_i_met_your_motherSo it’s been a little while — sorry about that. There are a number of reasons, most of which boil down to “I really am going to tell you about After Earth out of revenge for it NEARLY KILLING ME the first time I tried oh god that movie’s bad.”

But someonething I loved left us forever this week, and I’ve been waiting for years to tell you about it. Once upon a time, Frank, this guy named Ted made his kids listen to the story of how he met their mother. It only took NINE SEASONS, Frank, but tonight that story came to a close.

And look, I could get into a lot of the details about this epic journey through the mid-20s to mid-30s years of a group of attractive white Manhattanites. I mean, just for starters, Ted’s many failed relationships, the incredibly loving marriage of his best friends Lily and Marshall, their womanizing buddy Barney’s love of manipulating women into casual sex, Ted’s long-time crush Robin’s pursuit of success as an on-air journalist, Lily’s failed art career, Marshall’s struggles as a corporate lawyer, Ted’s architectural obsession with the Empire State Building, Lily’s credit card debt, Robin’s secret past as a Canadian teen pop star, Barney’s black half-brother, Marshall’s obsession with puns, that time Ted and Barney licked the Liberty Bell, the Slap Bet…

Like I said. I COULD GO INTO DETAIL. But Frank, you want to know who the mother is. We all have wanted to know who the mother is FOR NEARLY A FUCKING DECADE. So I’m going to tell you. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Damages”

Dear Frank,

There are people who watch a lot of TV in this world, and there are people who don’t — I’m clearly one of the former, but my level of engagement varies from show to show. There’s stuff like Doctor Who, around which I miiiiiiight go so far as to structure my social life (shuddup I do a podcast wait I’m not sure that makes it any better). And then there are shows I watch far more casually — yet do consume, do retain somewhere in the great dusty bankrupt Blockbuster Video that is my brain.

Damages is a perfect example of this — a show I have watched regularly since it premiered in 2007, and yet a show that has never had a firm grasp upon my imagination. I mean, I would recommend it to people, but I would recommend it as follows: “Do you like trashy John Grisham legal thrillers? Because if you do, you should watch Damages.”

But while Damages never pushed itself beyond the trashy legal thriller genre, the FX series (that later found new life on DirecTV) brought a new level of class to the trashy legal thriller genre, thanks entirely to its outstanding casting. Seriously, Frank, here are some actors who have appeared on Damages: Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank Stuff She Forgot About Mulder and Scully and “The X-Files”

Dear Frank,

As you know because we are friends, there was nothing more formative for me as a lass than The X-Files. It indulged and deepened my love of science fiction, taught me the difference between procedural and serialized storytelling, and (most importantly) created a teenage ideal for future relationships that still lingers, ever so slightly (I have a thing for trenchcoats).

But I had forgotten until recently, Frank, how COMPLETELY EFFED UP The X-Files was as a comprehensive narrative. Especially (SO VERY ESPECIALLY) when it came to the core relationship between Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.

No one would deny that the partnership, friendship and eventual romance between Mulder and Scully was the closest thing The X-Files had to an emotional center, especially myself. But when you look at the sequence of events that occurred over the show’s later seasons, it made NO SENSE, on a storytelling level or a human level.

Here is why I mention it. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine IMed me with a simple question that she had a valid professional reason for needing an answer to: “When do Mulder and Scully first kiss?” (Frank, it should not surprise you that I was the person she thought to ask that question.) Because Aimee signed off before I could respond, I was forced to send her the following email:

Read the rest of this entry

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

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

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