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Quick Thoughts

Just a quick post before I dive into my last day of work before vacation.

It’s been a very hectic week, and so my TV viewing has actually been kind of sparse, as I’ve been busy packing, getting work done, plus living life (working out, working late, being tired, reading a book).

I want to talk quickly about two of the older sitcoms on TV right now, both of which I’ve loved to varying degrees over the years. Both have had good seasons, bad seasons, and GREAT seasons- How I Met Your Mother and The Office. Seasons 2 and 3 of The Office are some of the best ever, and HIMYM had a great start, but got a little lost in tone over the last few seasons.

I couldn’t help but think how both of these shows have changed into something slightly different over the years, and how both, every now and then, remind me of what they once were, back when they were great instead of good.

HIMYM straight up pissed me off this week. While it was clear that there was some kind of plan going on for Barney’s big night, it didn’t feel like an average play, it felt mean. Especially when Robin faked breaking off their engagement- too far. While HIMYM has always exaggerated this group of friends’ interactions and they’ve been tonally true to life while unrealistic enough to say, “That would only ever happen on TV,” I feel they went off the reservation in this episode. It neither felt tonally true to life, in which most people would consider Barney’s “friends” actions downright cruel, nor like true sitcom hijinks enough to make it enjoyable. It just felt mean, and not something anyone would consider “awesome.”

The Office, on the other hand, had an episode so like its earlier self, its great self, I almost wondered if I was watching an episode from season 2 rather than season 9. This show started out being much  more like real life, which a very crazy, needy, insecure boss, mostly normal people just going about their business, and a couple crazies. Every office environment I’ve ever worked in has those personalities in one way or another (my current boss is awesome, not needy/insecure, and the crazy is mostly limited to outside my department.) It was sentimental, but not sappy. We got to see our favorites Officemates act like actual human beings again instead of caricatures. We saw them be compassionate with each other, friendly, supportive. Plus there were a few laughs along the way.

It’s just odd how the longer a show goes on, the less like itself it becomes, but every now and then, if you’re lucky, you get a chance to remember why you fell in love with it. Usually just in time for it to end!

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3 thoughts on “Quick Thoughts

  1. I agree with you. I wonder about this, for example a show like the big bang theory. The changes are gradual, but if you watch the seasons back to back you can see the show change. I have think it has something to do with the show gaining popularity and as such either they have to appeal to that larger audience (with caricatures and outrageous plots) which often leads to that show going down hill (or they lose key players, a la Community) and the show struggles to find itself. I am glad to hear that there are moments of the old show that end up coming through, but I wonder how many stick around for it ?

  2. Yeah, I definitely think that the “fair weather fans” miss out on the moments that remind them of the show they enjoyed before, but then again, with DVDs and on demand and Hulu and Netflix, why should viewers be expected to put up with lackluster stories/characters when they can return to the earlier, better seasons?

    I like the example of The Big Bang Theory, because that’s another show where it went through a little slump in quality, but has found quality again with a slightly different setup than the original premise. Instead of a bunch of geek boys being geeky, and concentrating on the lead geek getting the hot neighbor, it’s grown into more of a Friends- model, where it’s a group of girls and guys dealing with relationships and life in general. They’ve all grown into new characters- even Sheldon, who goes through extremes being exceptionally annoying and one-note and being a character closer to a real human being, one who realizes despite all his quirks and rules sometimes it’s better to change and be open to things. Of course, Raj’s new character is much more annoying than he was in the beginning, but that happens a lot. Characters become caricatures unless the writing is strong. For Raj, the writing isn’t strong.

    The same thing happened with every single character on Friends- by the end, Joey was the loveable doofus, Ross the snooty but ridiculous dork, Monica the OCD control freak, etc. The characters started out as basic prototypes of people, developed over the seasons, and then reverted back into prototypes. It’s lazy writing, honestly, but also writing that’s trying to appeal to the masses. Rather than try to tell a good story, they get more focused on getting the most viewers and catering to what the audience wants.

    I think an example of a show actively bucking this trend to get lazy in later seasons is Psych. The last few seasons have been all about testing Shawn, making him grow up, making the people around him like Lassiter challenge what they believe in and who they are. I mean, hell, can you imagine first season Lassie marrying a convict? Don’t think so. And granted, it’s a little different because it’s a dramedy not a comedy, but it’s still a great example of a show actively keeping itself from getting stale, from resting on the laurels of seasons past.

  3. Where arrrrreeee you????

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