Telediction: Super Speed Catch-Up Edition

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Hi! Welcome to my new reoccurring fall TV column, Telediction. I’ve finally emerged from the very dark place (my room) post “Breaking Bad” finale, and I’m ready to start an entire new obsession with this season’s shows. I’ll be talking about some old favorites (“Homeland,” “The Walking Dead”) and also some new (“American Horror Story: Coven,” “Masters of Sex”), but this column isn’t a place for recaps. Excuse me while I live out my QVC salesgirl dreams, but this column will take you where no TV addict has taken you before. Since I feel every one does the whole “recapper” thing, I thought I needed a break from analyzing to just enjoy the show as a fan, but I couldn’t stop writing about it. Every two weeks, Telediction will catch up on these shows at a hyper fast rate, but mostly I’ll be talking about what I loved/hated, what connections I made and what I doodled through out the week (This is where “Masters” really works – just kidding, too hot for the web). I’ll pretty much watch anything once, so if you guys have any suggestions on what I should be watching or what you want to see featured on this column besides the four core shows, name drop them in the comment section or tweet me @ClaudiaCMarina.

 

OK – I require that you play the opening clip from Lars Von Trier’s “Europa” to get you in the mood. TV binge watching has a hypnotizing effect.

 


Homeland

This season of “Homeland” is – um… Well, it’s OK; I just don’t really know what’s going on, but no complaints because I’m expecting all the dots to connect in a couple of episodes. For now though, it seems the show is way more into character development than plot, focusing a lot of screen time on Carrie Mathison, and this week, almost an entire episode on Nicholas Brody, Maybe-Terrorist-On-the-Loose. I don’t like that they’re taking the show into Venezuela, and I also don’t like the fact that Brody is still relevant. I don’t like the character and it’s not even moral ambiguity, it’s his wish-washy disposition towards terrorism. It’s OK to strap a bomb in a plot to kill the Vice President of the United States, but please, don’t harm your average burglars. The last episode felt like a weird dream, probably the kind of stuff your parents imagine when they’re giving you the “don’t do drugs” speech. “Homeland,” satisfies your parent’s fear and gives them a ton of lesson-learned future stories by casting a younger, Morgan Freeman look-alike to play some Caribbean dude obsessed with administering heroin. It can happen to you!

Claire Danes is an amazing actress. She was chosen to play Carrie after show runners saw her in “Temple Grandin.” Danes’s depiction in the movie was stellar. She got into the skin of Grandin and truly became the brilliant doctor of animal science, treating her autism in a genuine, understandable way. I haven’t really noticed Dane’s depiction of bipolar disorder as great as I’ve seen her this season. That’s when I realized Danes has different Carrie modes, which she switches on-and-off and explains why no one knew she was diagnosed with the disorder for the majority of her career. We’ve seen manic Carrie in the past, standing in front of her wall, color coding intel like Beethoven composing a symphony. We’ve seen her in depression, barely unable to get out of bed, but a lot of that was situational. Season 3 turned the dial further as Carrie stopped taking her medication and can’t seem to control the thoughts racing in her head and escaping through her mouth, often getting her in trouble. She’s neurotic, and as a viewer, I feel unstable watching her, which is exactly how I know this show is still doing something right.

 


The Walking Dead

“The Walking Dead” premiered its fourth season this week with an episode titled “30 Days Without an Accident.” That title is classic “The Walking Dead,” pretty much guaranteeing that there will be a major accident by the end of the episode. The show still hangs on to its characters trying to reconstruct humanity in a lawless land. Zombies are still a prominent threat, multiplying by the masses and lined up around the prison gates. Rick and Co.’s new community, which if you remember now houses most of Woodbury’s ex-residents, is the opposite of the dystopia-masking-as-a-utopia that was Woodbury. Everyone has a job, even Carol who administers story time to the community children. Like all seasons, a dark cloud follows every ray of light. Carol uses story time as a façade to teach the kids about weapons and survival tactics, loners out in the woods go insane and ravenous, zombies are being named just like pets and the threat is becoming dangerously familiar. Rick’s psychological issues continue to haunt him. He refuses to carry a gun because of Lori’s death, and while he seems better, the woman he encountered in the woods reminds him of what he could have turned into. There’s a strong moral weight to this show. Rick is good and everyone that defies him is bad. I wasn’t excited about this season because I think “The Walking Dead” doesn’t really have a story to tell anymore. Every season, the same good cop vs. bad cop, law-man-in-a-lawless-land story gets told and I wonder where it could lead us. They finally have a safe place, but everyone knows it’s really temporary. When will Rick loose it? Why is Maggie thinking about having kids? The show runs in circles, season after season with the same supply runs, zombie attacks, romance subplots and home-finding tactics it’s relied on. Judging from the season opener, I have no idea where the show is heading and neither do the people behind it for that matter. The show’s deviated far from the original comic book, which is nice because die-hard fans can appreciate something else without obsessing over fact checking, but maybe this is because in the four seasons that the show has been on air, it’s gone through 3 separate show runners, each with a distinct vision.

 


American Horror Story: Coven

I’ll be honest; I never got past the first episodes of “Murder House” or “Asylum” because I couldn’t take how cheesy it was. I thought the show was trying to lure viewers in with hot sex and that douche bag from Maroon 5 for ratings, and it wasn’t even HBO level, but I’m giving “Coven” a chance. Without any prior knowledge on the show, I’ll be watching the entire season this fall because how can I not watch a show whose premiere episode is titled “Bitchcraft”? I immediately thought of “Gossip Girl” and the only episode name I remembered because it was that good – “The Blair Bitch Project.”

You can expect witch bitches (Say that aloud, I dare you.) played by Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious”) and Jamie Brewer. Brewer’s been on the series before, and so has most of the cast including Jessica Lange, playing the “Supreme” (Head Witch in Charge – heh), Evan Peters as a frat boy, Sarah Paulson as the headmistress at Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. Taissa Farmiga (who is the youngest sister of “Bates Motel’s” Vera Farmiga) plays Zoe Benson, who discovers her powers in the worst possible way. Seriously, Dr. William Masters should probably see her.  It’s nothing like “Teeth,” but actually it’s way worse.

I’m most excited about Kathy Bates because she does a great job at playing a deranged villain. If you haven’t watched “Misery,” please do that now before watching the next episode of “Coven” (It’s on Netflix!). Bates plays Madame LaLaurie, serial killer and New Orleans socialite – the perfect combo. Rolling Stone interviewed Bates on playing LaLaurie and on “American Horror Story.” I think she really summed up what the show is trying to achieve.

“In the midst of all of this kind of ghoulish entertainment that’s on one level, and on another level he’s unearthing the horrors of our own history. That is such a clever way to spice up the soup. Genius, really,” Bates said.

This season will explore aspects of ourselves that we aren’t really comfortable with – sex, our country’s history in slavery and race, women’s issues and bigotry toward the unknown.

 


Masters of Sex

I decided to watch this show this weekend because it was “BASED ON A TRUE STORY” and Americans are suckers for that kind of stuff. “Masters of Sex” tells the story of Dr. William Masters and his associate, Virginia Johnson as they embark on a revolutionary study on human sexuality. The study took two years to complete in the wake of Freud’s impact on sex in culture. The show claims people had no idea about sex, including Masters, played by Michael Sheen. The show is smart and tries to handle sex in a professional manner. The words “ for science,” come up a lot, which could be partially true for the doctor, but just really means “for fun” for participants. I like this show so far because so much happens in the span of on an hour. While I feel nothing really happens in shows like “Homeland” or “The Walking Dead” lately, I can tune into “Masters of Sex” and not be disappointed or bored. One complaint circulating around the show is that all of the subjects chosen for the study are good looking, skinny or built average Americans. Though, it’s classic a paid programming tactic to get more viewers. Would “Game of Thrones” be what it is today if it didn’t get the reputation as Dungeons and Dragons porn in Season One?

That being said, I’ll defend “Masters” because it does a good job at depicting homosexuality in the turn of the century. I’ll even go as far to say that it does this 100% better than “Mad Men,” but “Mad Men” is a show about advertising on the surface, and “Masters” is a show about sex on the surface, providing how in-depth and thoughtful the script can venture into such a subject. What “Masters” doesn’t do however is be as visually stunning as “Mad Men.” I’m probably biased seeing as “Mad Men” is one of my favorite shows, but it feels like the Showtime drama is trying to be the next “Mad Men,” and it’s not going to happen. “Mad Men” has much more visual weight to the scenes. They have an amazing costume designer, Janie Bryant, who puts as much thought in the costumes as writers put in the script. While costumes on “Masters” are historically correct, there’s something missing that isn’t quite there. That shouldn’t be the focus though, because “Mad Men” is all about aesthetics and facades, personal and in advertising, and “Masters of Sex” is about trying to break them down.

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Author: Claudia Marina View all posts by
Journalism student at the University of Florida. Sally Draper is my spirit animal. I love writing about TV and how it affects culture. Occasionally I watch bad TV, but reviews make it better.

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