Last Week’s Binge Viewing

While Jenn was off in Flagstaff at a novel workshop last week, I was home working, minding the cats, and, uh, watching a boatload of television.

I started off with season three of Friday Night Lights, which I burned through in a weekend. I thought it was a major improvement over season two (which was still pretty good). Season three smartly completed the storylines of characters whose presence on the show was played out — namely Smash (Gaius Charles) and Jason (Scott Porter) — and I really liked the “stage dad” throughline involving freshman QB phenom J.D. McCoy (Jeremy Sumpter), which leads to some great dramatic fireworks and some nice moments between Zach Gilford and Kyle Chandler. The senior year arc for Tyra (Adrianne Palicki) was also inspiring, and the third season finale may be my favorite episode of the series so far.  I’m eagerly looking forward to season four.

During the week I caught up with season five of Weeds. I thought it was pretty meh. Weeds is definitely a show that could learn a thing or two from FNL when it comes to knowing when to phase out a character — I mean, why are Kevin Nealon and Elizabeth McGovern still hanging around, anyway? I’m hanging in there basically because I really like Mary Louise Parker in this, and Justin Kirk is fun. But this season the show, which often makes a habit of  substituting shock value for pure funny, didn’t produce as many laughs as usual, and it’s become more of a “background TV” show for me since it left the suburbs.

Finally, I finished off Extras recently with the “Extra Special Series Finale.” Ricky Gervais is a master of “feel-bad comedy,” and in some ways I think Extras was stronger thematically and more laugh-out-loud funny than its quirky predecessor The Office, thanks largely to its brilliant celebrity cameos and great work from Ashley Jensen and Stephen Merchant as Andy’s daffy sidekicks. Gervais knows not just how to end a show, but when, and while this finale lurches a bit into pathos from time to time, in the end it sends off the series nicely.

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