Monday, May 27, 2013

Arrested What in the Hell!?!

Here's the story of a TV audience who lost a great show, and the one totally non-existent blogger who had no choice but to procrastinate from all the other stuff she should be doing by blogging about the long-awaited return thereof.

Okay, let me begin by saying...


Now, first let's make note of the fact that the casting - in particular for the 1982 flashbacks - was fricking genius!  I'm not a fan of either Kristin Wiig or Seth Rogen, but both were perfect as Lucille and George.  And young Barry... THANK YOU!  There was so much great casting.  Who could possibly be Liza Minelli's brother, if not Tommy Tune?!  A particular standout for me was Mary Lynn Rasjskub's character... an excellent gag that I will not spoil just in case one of the three people who might read this hasn't seen the episodes and still progressed beyond my warning.

There was a lot of great payoff from the original series.  Roles were reprized, running jokes were resurrected and alternately beaten to death or had the breath quietly wrung from their respective alvioli (her?).

And I have to say... the relationship with Google over the course of the episodes was pretty amusing.  I'm going to have to something search that one.

In general, I would say that the arc took some time to get moving.  From the first episode the elements were all there, and the construction was every bit as clever as in the original three seasons, but I wouldn't say it was as funny.  There was so much ground to cover since last we had seen the Bluths, so much foundation to lay before we could understand how everything was going to fit together.  The pace was break-neck most of the time, so a lot of the jokes didn't have time to land.  Add to the overflow of exposition the fact that we watched all fifteen episodes in two very long sittings, and we've definitely got the feeling of drinking out of a fire hydrant, despite the fact that nothing seemed to be happening per se.  Since each episode centers on one family member's personal journey, I initially felt the absence of the manic interplay that made these strange, self-involved characters so watchable.  It is especially difficult to watch Tobias without much interplay with the other characters.  Gotta love David Cross, but MAN... Tobias is rough.  There were tastes here and there, but it wasn't really until the seventh episode - the first to feature the incomparable GOB - that I started to feel the Arrested Development rhythm settle in.  That episode brought in some of the first truly hearty laughs for me...and a healthy helping of "DID THEY JUST DO THAT?!?" From that point on, we got increasing dollops of overlap, but I still wanted more.  I guess I felt like characters were too often absent from each other's episodes.

We were left hanging on a lot of people for a long time - not even getting a Buster episode until the penultimate one.  And George Michael took a long time to have his say as well.  But as much as we were left hanging throughout the fifteen episodes, the final one leaves us dangling by our pinkies off of a cliff over we don't have any idea what...but you can just barely make out that brown area and its points.  Question upon question has piled up on us, and almost none has been resolved.  If they're campaigning for a season 5 or a movie... well... that's great.  But what the hell was up with George, Sr's identity crisis (my theory is that is has something to do with the sweat vs. the lemonade)?  What about Maeby's arrest?  What happened to Lucille 2?  How are Michael and George Michael going to sort out their squabble?  Will the truth about fakeblock ever come out?  And who brings their girlfriend a cactus?  Who really sabotaged the tomb (my theory: Ione Skye was looking pretty shifty!)?  And while we're at it, what's up with Tony Wonder and GOB?  Talk to me about the Lindsey/Sally Sitwell campaign!  What happened to Tobias and Marky Bark?  How about poor DeBrie?  What about the wall?  And seriously... the cactus?  Come on!

Seriously... there had better be someone greenlighting a next whatever as we speak... and if the Bluths all just  end up coming together in some lame church in an alternate reality, I'm going to punch Mitchell Hurwitz AND J.J. Abrams right in the mouth.

Because let's be honest... I'm still a little mad at J.J.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Today I sent off what I hope will prove to be my first usable draft of my dissertation prospectus.  Truly a terrifying thing to do - especially since the draft prior to this one didn't really go over too well.  The problem with caring enough to write a dissertation about something is how completely invested you become in every morsel you put on the page.  There's the stuff I know is terrible, the stuff I know is great, the stuff I hope is great, the stuff I cross my fingers and wish will somehow be the magical connector between this toothpick and that wad of bubble gum.  And none of it comes easily.  Or maybe some of it does, but then I have to overthink it and unmake whatever bit of ease there may have been.  It's an ugly journey, getting a doctorate. When other people ask if they should get a PhD, I laugh and tell them only those who are a special kind of stupid take this particular road... but it's true.  There's a kind of stupid reserved especially for smart people.  And it's the stupid that leads you to pursue a doctorate and take comprehensive exams and diagnostic exams and qualifying exams, and to write a dissertation... so yes... I am that special kind of stupid.  So I sit in front of my computer, surrounded by my books, hoping that their mere proximity will send the information seeping into my pours... knowing that another book is coming in the mail tomorrow.  And I blog... maybe as therapy, maybe as narcissism, maybe as an antidote to boredom...and I wonder...

Why didn't I buy that wine while I was out yesterday?


Monday, May 20, 2013


Three trips to Moscow... Ah, ah, ah!

It occurs to me that we leave in about ten days for my third tour of duty in Moscow.  It's an odd mixture of knowing exactly what to expect and having absolutely no idea what to expect.  I try to take the advice I gave the students going in this year's group: don't base your expectations on what anyone has told you about previous years... this will be its own experience, and it will be special and it will be yours and it will be exactly what it is and nothing else.  

But I can't help but speculate, wonder, remember the awesome and the awful memories... it's the burden of knowledge that comes with my very strange and very frickin' cool position.

I have to say, I'm nervous about a lot of things though.  First, I'm nervous that I know so many of the people in this year's group so well.  It has a lot of room for great fun and wonderful shared experiences, but it also has added potential for conflict.  I'm sad about leaving my brand new apartment after only three weeks, disappearing for a month, coming back for two and a half weeks, disappearing for a week and a half... and then FINALLY getting to start living here.  We've done a good job of settling in and setting up the common areas so it feels like OUR place, but it's still just a little strange - by the end of June, I will have lived in the dorms at the Moscow Art Theatre FOUR TIMES LONGER than I have lived in my apartment.


And don't get me started on leaving my kitties in their new digs with their fuzzy new roommates... without Mommy to protect them!  Of course Brian will take excellent care of all the fuzzy children, but I can't help but do the worried mommy thing.

Still... these are the minutia.  These are the burrs under my saddle that will be wiped away when I set off down Тверская on the familiar walk to the MXAT school, when I see the now familiar faces of the phenomenal teachers, when I rise to my feet at the end of a show, tears in my eyes because of the sheer beauty of the thing.

I'm going to miss my new home with my awesome roomies (especially the tall, human-shaped one), but I'm going to have yet another amazing Russian adventure... and it will be unlike the others that came before it... and it will rejuvenate me for another grueling year of PhD studies... and I will fall in love with Moscow and my fellow travelers all over again!

Of course... before then I have to write a conference paper and pack and get my s**t together for my prospectus... and prep for my summer job (yeah... I have a job in the middle of all this madness) uh... how do you say, "gulp!" in Russian?