Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mets @ Nationals

I watched through the top of the fifth, so I got to see my Mets playing solid baseball and taking the 4-2 lead.

At that point I went over to S     's to watch not just Top Chef this time, but also Gossip Girl, which was premiering the hour before and which I think she will also be recapping each week. This time, in addition to a bowl of delicious guac, she had also prepared a tasty peach sals. Friends Kate and Peter were also there, and everyone brought beer, so it was a fun evening.

Gossip Girl was pretty terrible, and not in the way that I think it could become a guilty pleasure of mine, but just in the way that I do not want to see any more of it. I don't really understand the appeal of stories about the lives of the ultrarich, except as targets of satire (that may be going over my head in this case), but I guess there has always been a solid demand for this kind of thing. I was sort of hoping that the cultural milieu might have been shifting in favor of the class-conscious Veronica Mars type of show, but it looks like not.

The paper-thin conceit of making the omniscient narrator a blogger is an embarrassingly transparent grasp for relevance that is already dated. Likewise the "kids these days, with their texting!" gags (does that count as satire?): the current crop of college kids are of the constantly texting and blogging and IMing cohort, so this gee-whizziness is about half a decade late. The depiction of the kids' hedonistic partying somehow manages to be simultaneously hysterical (will there be a rainbow party this season? I wouldn't put it past them) and naïve (drinking champagne and casually abusing...marijuana?).

Anyway, it irritated me. I'm sure it will be a hit.

Top Chef was pretty awesome, at least. I think it's interesting how the regular judges and the single-episode guest judges differ in how they evaluate the dishes. Really I think it's just the difference between having some idea of how each chef approaches different challenges, versus the guest judges coming at it with a blank slate as far as expectations. I don't really have a specific example, but it seems like the guests are more likely to issue judgments that come as a surprise to repeat viewers and regular judges.

There is also an interesting dynamic where Tom looks like he's holding off on saying anything concrete, lest he be contradicted by a guest judge that the show has already established as a voice of authority. It then seems like he'll try to massage the guest's opinion to match up with his own. Again, no really hard example, and I'm just interpreting facial expressions and stuff at various points.

It's been a couple years since I've watched Project Runway, which I think was the loose model for this show, but as I remember it, all the judges would score entries numerically on secret ballots beforehand, and only then would they hold a verbal discussion and then take a final vote. I may be wrong about that, but either way it would be a better mechanism, I think. Also making the entries anonymous would be a more fair approach, as I think it's pretty unavoidable that the regular judges establish attitudes towards different competitors that cannot help but color their subsequent judgments. I understand that these changes would reduce the producers' ability to direct the competition for maximal dramatic effect, but I would hope that the added credibility of the competition would make up for that, especially among regular viewers and fans.

But again, what do I know about television.

Wow, it has been several paragraphs since I typed anything about baseball. So I will bring it home by noting that I have finished "sharing" the episode of Little House on the Prairie that Peter told me about, where the plot centers around playing old-timey baseball. It's called "In the Big Inning" (groan). Not sure when I'll get around to watching it, but there you go.


Peter Hamtramck said...

We neet to watch that Little House on the Prairie episode as soon as possible!!!

Travis said...

After It's Always Sunny? I agree, we'll need to consult it to get our wiffleball uniforms as authentic as possible.

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