The Importance of Being Younger Than Successful People

Lena Dunham

So, I’ve been watching HBO’s new series, Girls. I’m not particularly excited about it, I just find it OK. Maybe a little too hip for me, but it’s funny, witty and sick enough to get me hooked thanks to morbid and awkward situations.
Anyway, by the fourth episode I noticed that each one of them was directed by the same person: Lena Dunham. So I googled her and… THE HORROR. She’s the creator, the writer, the showrunner, the director, the leading actress. In short, she’s the HBO version of Tina Fey. But the real point is: she’s younger than me. Seriously, she was born in 1986 and I was born in 1985.
And here we go, existential crisis. A 25-year-old girl has her own HBO show… I can’t even afford to own a car, let  alone a house. Or a TV show. I don’t feel the same way about Tina Fey, because she’s in her forties and she makes me feel like I still have time to… grow (old, rich, talented, mature, lucky… Go pick one).
I had to find a solution to this new depression, so I read Lena’s wiki. Well, she happens to be the daughter of a famous New York photographer and a famous New York painter. Alright, I said to myself. Nevermind. I’m from a small town in the north of Italy and my parents are sort of blue-collar workers. Still, I won a scholarship and got into Berkeley for a year. Not bad.

But Lena Dunham is younger than me. Bummer.


The Running Man

I was thinking about Jack Bauer Kiefer Sutherland. Have you noticed? He’s actually not Kiefer anymore – he’s just… Jack Bauer. All the times. Take The Confession, the webseries streamed on Hulu. Sutherland plays a nameless killer, a hitman who murders in cold blood and then goes to a priest to confess his sins. Well, he’s just Jack Bauer gone completely bad. Not that Jack Bauer was a saint. Au contraire. That’s why the connection is easy.
Now, take Tim Kring’s new series, Touch. Kiefer plays a single father (Martin Bohm) who, after the death of his wife on 9/11, has to deal with a “weird” son. Given the kind of spiritual premise that we are all interconnected in this world, that little kid uses math and numbers to find these connections. It’s up to Martin, then, looking for the people whose life are destined to “touch”, to impact on each other in an unpredictable chain of events. Matin Bohn is no hero, he’s just an average man who finds himself stuck in an extraordinary situation. Yet, I keep on seeing Jack Bauer. Especially because he can spend an entire episode running from one place to another with a cell phone in his hand, not really sure where he’s going to end up to. But I also must admit that it hurts when people treat him bad or punch him and he doesn’t react like he should. C’mon Martin, we all know that there’s a little Jack Bauer in you! Anyway, this is not my point. My point is: Jack Bauer lives. No matter who Kiefer Sutherland is going to play: agent Bauer is one of the strongest characters in the history of TV. He’s an icon, he’s pop culture. And if you cast Kiefer Sutherland and make him run, talk to the cell phone and chase people… Well, you don’t need to put a gun in his hand and another terrorist threat in the world to remind us of the 24 world. That’s the power of very good shows and their franchise.

By the way, I really like Touch so far. I find it gripping and fascinating… Though I’m a little afraid of the Heroes‘ effect. I mean, Tim Kring is the creator and we all know how it ended up with Heroes: great first season, then just too much mess.
Let’s just wait, hope and see.

Quality Overdose?

So, HBO’s Luck has recently been cancelled. Despite high expectations, pedigree and promised quality.
Some say that the show was plagued by fightings between director Michael Mann and writer-producer David Milch, added to raging animal-rights groups which condemned the horses’ treatment (three of them reportedly died). That surely didn’t help, but the real point is that nobody watched the show – 500.000 is actually a number too small even for advertisement-free HBO.

I have to be honest: I tried to watch Luck, but I just couldn’t even get to the end of the pilot. I could say that nothing happened, but that’s not a good reason. Even in Mad Men nothing really happens… on the surface. In fact, I felt that the problem with Luck was that nothing lied beneath the absence of action. There was no promise of great things ahead and all I could see was a display of technical proficiency. That was all.
So I wonder: HBO is the flagship channel of Quality TV. What if what we have here is a case of Quality Overdose? I think that the Premium network has taken to extremes the features that made it popular.
A month ago, Ryan McGee wrote on online magazine AV Club: “The first three and a half hours of Luck are installments in the nine-hour story that is that show. Events happen, but they are shaped to the season first and the episode second. It’s one thing to have a goal toward which everything is progressing. But episodes need to have goals as well. It’s the difference between making people anticipate where the show is going, and making them wait for it.”. That’s right: I didn’t want to wait for it anymore. I was giving HBO a 50 minutes chance to entertain me and hook me. To make me desperately want to watch episode 2. Sorry to say that, but HBO failed.

You can’t ask entertainment to pay the price for “quality”.

Related articles:
Did The Soprano do More Harm Than Good? HBO and the Decline of the Episode, Ryan McGee
The Vulture Transcript: Michael Mann and David Milch Open Up About the Cancellation of Luck, Matt Zoller Seitz

A Song of Ice and Fire


Last night I watched Disney’s The Sword in Stone. It’s a classic, so I’m taking for granted that all of you saw it too. Do you remember when Arthur takes out the sword from the stone, his master bows to him and then says to his son: “Bow to your king”? Well, what I thought in that moment was: if we were in Westeros, Arthut would be dead in 5 years. It just takes someone like a eunuch in silk slippers, a Lannister in golden gown or a turncloak ward. Here’s what George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire does to you. Then I also watched Camelot‘s pilot, but that’s another story.
As you could tell, I’ve just finished the last book available, A Dance With Dragons. Actually, I must say that I’m really disappointed. Not only because of the awful ending, but above all because after a sort of preparatory book like A Feast For Crows, where nothing really happens, you expect a huge blow on the following chapter. Nothing like this. Everything that really happens could have been told in 200 pages, instead of 800… Seriously Mr. Martin, do your editors pay you per page like in the 19th century? Do we really need to know the deatils of every meal? Do we really need to read every character’s thoughts, even if they’re just about taking a piss or not? I swore I wouldn’t spoil anything important, but let me also ask you this: why do you hate us, Mr. Martin?
That being said, aside from a huge amount of useless and totally uninteresting pages in the last two books, the saga is just awesome, as you may have noticed from HBO’s A Game of Thrones. The first three books (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords) are mind-gripping, breath-taking and every other absolutely cool adjective you can add to the list. They just surprise you every time you turn the page. So I’m really hopeful and enthusiastic about HBO’s series: first season was just perfect. I think that second, third and fourth (the third book is going to be split up in two seasons) will be on the same page. As for the other books remaining… Mr. Martin, here’s your chance to make things right. I’m not suggesting to change the story. But I’m sure that nobody is going to let you write a one hour episode about Cersei’s breakfast. That’s why, Mr. Bienoff and Mr. Weiss, we also rely on you and your cinematic wisdom: Winter has come. Don’t let us freeze.

About Fall Season’s Finales

DEXTER – Season 6
Overall, the series wasn’t great. At all. Dexter spent all his time hunting down Gellar and Travis, forgetting about his killer instinct and the fact that we liked him better when all he cared about was stabbing bad guys. One bad guy each episode, not a couple of them in one entire season. That being said, the plot itself was good and gripping. As for the finale, well, I’m so glad it happened. In the literary series it happened on the first book and it made things much more interesting.
Oh, I forgot: that psychological problem with Deb… Well, that was awkward and totally inappropriate for the series. Shame on you, writers.

HOMELAND – Season 1
Confirmed: best new series. Throughout this 12 episodes, it had lots of ups and no downs. Carrie and Brody are two of the best characters who ever appeared on the small screen. The long finale was just breath-taking: the opening video gave me goose bumps and the closing sequence made me curse, so I guess every part of it did its job.

Saul for president.

MISFITS – Season 3
Honestly, I only appreciated the last two episodes, from zombies on. Yes, I do miss Nathan. But I also really like Rudy so far… So I guess that, given the ending, I could be happier from the fourth season on. Just a plead to the writers: give them all their original powers back, that was what made them themselves! But again, I think that this ending opened up for a “back to the roots” thing.

Counting Money With AMC

I’ve seen the first three episodes of AMC’s Hell on Wheels, and I guess it’s time to say something about it. Firstly, I think that Mr. Durant is Michel Platini’s doppelgänger. Secondly, I’m a huge fan of western flicks so, whenever I see a cowboy moving in slow motion on a desert environment, it’s usually love at first sight. Weird thing about Hell on Wheels is that the leading cowboy, Mr. Superhot Bonhannon, moves in slow motion even when the rest of the world (his long coat included) doesn’t. Interesting.
Anyway, it’s good. But not really as great as I expected. So far I found it a little bit confused. The storylines are fascinating, but I feel like the writers don’t really know where they want to end up to. The focus shifts too quickly from one storyline to another , leaving behind blind spots and unsolved issues. Actually it seemed things were getting better on the third episodes, so I’m still full of hopes.
Now, let’s talk about AMC. Hell on Wheels is another high budget series, where technical proficiency has a first line spot. Just like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead. Partially Rubicon and The Killing too, but in those cases the plot ruled more than everything else. Though we all now how it ended up with Rubicon… And how I hope it’s going to end up with The Killing if they don’t tell who the hell killed Rosie Larson! That being said, let’s go back to the point. Can AMC really afford another series like these? I mean, yes, it’s basic ad-supported cable, so they kind of have the money to do it. But not to exaggerate because, after all, it’s not premium. I think we’ve all heard about the latest issues with the channel’s executive producers struggling against budget cuts. Matthew Weiner “won” two more seasons for Mad Men. Vince Gilligan ended Breaking Bad without any cut, threatening to move the show to another network. Frank Darabont got fired. I’ve been doing some researches (just to be clear: I don’t usually analyze networks’ revenues in my spare time. I did it because I’m writing my thesis about TV Series economics) and I found out that AMC original programming budget went from 123.3 million dollars in 2006 to 174.5 millions in 2011. And that was a bet already five years ago.

Dear AMC,

I appreciate every new series you bring us. But you should know that I usually grow really fond of those series, so it’s really annoying when you try to cut their budget or you fire an awesome executive producer AFTER LETTING THE WORLD HAVING FUN WITH HIM AT  2011 COMIC CON!
So, dear AMC, please try to behave. How about not adding anymore new series for a while, but taking really good care of the ones you already have?