Finally: Star Trek: The Next Generation finishes its growing pains (by tossing out Gene Roddenberry and most of the writers) and arrives at the era that made it the classic series it is. We talk about "Evolution," "The Ensigns of Command," and "The Survivors," and the uptick in quality is immediately noticeable. Then, we talk about Mad Men, with the episode "The Flood." (We recorded this before recent allegations against Matt Weiner, so they aren't addressed here, if you're wondering.)
Just in time for trick-or-treating, we deliver this quartet of spoooooky seasonal offerings! We take a look at The Twilight Zone's "The Four of Us Are Dying," and talk about the evolution of television from stagecraft; we chuckle-slash-shudder at The Outer Limits's "The Zanti Misfits," and decide it was easier to be scary on a tiny television; we dial up "Sorry, Right Number," a Tales from the Darkside effort that J. should have realized he'd encountered before; and then, finally, The X-Files takes us "Home," with a grisly, unshakeable affair that you will never forget. Seriously.
Holy crap, we actually remembered to do an holiday special. Will wonders never cease? So what Halloween-themed television will we be talking about? Open it to find out! (Though you know one of 'em gonna be The X-Files, don't you?)
Seriously, the men on this show. We watch "The Harriet Dinner" parts 1 and 2, and "The Friday Night Slaughter" and wonder just what the hell was happening in Aaron Sorkin's personal life. Ladies don't generally fall in love with their stalkers, you know. And then, speaking of creeps, we talk about Mad Men, as Harry Crane, Toad Person, fights to get what he wants in "To Have and to Hold."
Yikes: the second season of Next Gen ends with a pile of wet trash. We talk about "Manhunt" (which is terrible), "The Emissary" (which is great), "Peak Performance" (which is really great), and then the clip show "Shades of Gray," which we will never speak of again. Then, Mad Men has a conversation about loneliness in "Collaborators."
Somebody's gotta call the police on Danny Tripp. We cringe our way through "B-12," "The Christmas Show," and "Monday," and while these episodes have their moments, it's all weighed down by what a terrible character Danny Tripp is. (The others don't tend to be much better.) Then, we kick off Mad Men's sixth season with "The Doorway."
Hey, sometimes Mad Men forgets how to do subtle. The fifth season finale, "The Phantom," is definitely one of those times, with its hyperobvious symbolism and to-the-audience speeches. Elsewhere, the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation has an eclectic mix of episodes, as we watch "Q Who," "Samaritan Snare," and "Up the Long Ladder." From the Borg to the Space Irish -- it's the whole spectrum on this show, idn't it?
Man, there is a good television show buried somewhere deep in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but it's barely visible through the haze of Aaron Sorkin's smugness. We watch "Nevada Day," Parts 1 and 2, and "The Option Period" and try to find it. Come for the nonstop political tirades, stay for the inside baseball plot points about screenplay formatting! Then, Mad Men sends Lane Pryce careering off the deep end in "Commissions and Fees."
We've got three second-season Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes this week that don't have a whole lot going for them -- we do our level best to get something interesting out of "Time Squared," "The Icarus Factor," and "Pen Pals," but they didn't make our work easy. After that, Mad Men wades into some gross territory and probably pisses off the real Jaguar in "The Other Woman."
To be fair, it's not just about Studio 60. We also talk about podcasting in general, the Twin Peaks revival, and other things. But Studio 60 takes up the bulk of the conversation, and, you know, this is a show with problems. We talk about "The West Coast Delay," "The Long Lead Story," and "The Wrap Party," and see if Aaron Sorkin can get around himself to just write a decent script (spoiler: no). Then, Mad Men, as Joan and Don dance a "Christmas Waltz."
Would the head writer of a television show sabotage another writer's script, just to piss him off and make him look bad? We don't know, but J. has a theory. We're talking second-season Star Trek: The Next Generation this week, with "The Dauphin," "Contagion," and "The Royale," and one of these episodes has a backstory way more dramatic than anything on screen. And one of these episodes is so flamboyantly stupid it might be genius. Spoiler: it's the same episode! Then, Mad Men bums everybody out and basks in "Dark Shadows."
My God, that's Aaron Sorkin's music! And it sounds like Gilbert and Sullivan! Yes, we're kicking off our next one-season-only show in this episode, with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. With such a pedigree both behind and in front of the camera, how could it have gone wrong? We'll explain it to you! Then, Mad Men backs up a truck full of money to pay for a Beatles song on "Lady Lazarus."
Seriously, deliberately getting Data's chosen pronouns wrong is not cool. We talk about that, along with old age makeup and how Klingons are rad as fuck, in our episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation this week. We watched "Unnatural Selection," "A Matter of Honor," and "Measure of a Man," and two of these are amazing! Then, we watch Mad Men's "At the Codfish Ball" and can't remember if Megan's parents are supposed to be French or French-Canadian. It's the former, right?
Next week: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
Well, we said we'd decide if we wanted to continue talking about Flashforward this week, and...uh...we certainly decided. We watched "The Gift," "Playing Cards with Coyote," and "Believe," and wonder if these writers have ever left the writers' room, since they don't know how one gets a job, or plays poker, or gets text messages, or responds to an innocent question from a friend. Then, it's back to Mad Men, as Don, Peggy, and Roger look to sherbet, anonymous sex, and LSD -- respectively -- to take them to "Far Away Places."
We're talking Star Trek: The Next Generation season 2 this week, and boy does this season earn its reputation. We watch "The Outrageous Okona," "Loud as a Whisper," and "The Schizoid Man," and try desperately to find anything resembling a plot. In any of them. (For real, a good chunk of one of the episode is watching Data watch Joe Piscipo do a Jerry Lewis impression. It's that kind of season of TV.) Then, we talk Mad Men, as "Signal 30" digs deep into Pete Campbell and Lane Pryce. Yes, it's the Pete-Lane fistfight episode.
Hey, so, Flashforward is not a good show, is it? Nope, no, it's not, and the problems we saw in the first three episodes aren't getting fixed. We talk about episodes 4-6 ("Black Swan," "Gimme Some Truth," and "Scary Monster and Super Creeps"), and wince and the show's attempts to be a cop show, a doctor show, a politics show, without ever becoming a good show. Then, Mad Men gets a little crazy, as Don sees an old fling, Ginsberg calls an audible, Roger and Peggy deal, Joan has enough, and Sally hides under the couch from a "Mystery Date."
Good news: we're starting Star Trek: The Next Generation season two this week! Bad news: the awful producers chased Gates McFadden off the show after season one. Mixed news: they replaced her with Diana Muldaur as Dr. Pulaski, who is...polarizing? We talk about the new doctor, among other things, as we discuss "The Child," "Where Silence Has Lease," and "Elementary, Dear Data." Then, we continue our look at Mad Men season five, as Pete gets petty (shock!), Roger gets his ego bruised (shock!), Peggy is disrespected by a man (shock!), and Betty gets worried about what she sees in her "Tea Leaves."
(This was recorded a couple of weeks ago. J. apologizes for the delay.)
It's summer time on the Podcastulacra, and that means one thing: Mad Men! As per our tradition, we swap coverage of Elementary out during the summer months to focus on the adventures of Don Draper and his merry men (and oppressed women). We're starting season five this week, so cringe along with Don at the season opener, "A Little Kiss." Before all of that, though, we're also starting a new One Season Only show this week, as we flashback to ABC's Flashforward. Maybe if the writers had seen a flash of the future, they wouldn't have been so timid in their storytelling!
Well, this one turned out to be a monster. As promised, we dedicate this week's entire episode to a discussion of the second season of the FX series Fargo. We talk about the things we agree on (the acting! the dialogue!), the things we don't (the split screens! Hanzee's entire character and arc!), J. pontificates on the Coen brothers, and we all have a grand old time.
Elementary's fifth season comes to an end that has us going all "Uhhhhhh..." Then, we talk the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation's first season, with "Conspiracy" and "The Neutral Zone." Hey, did you know 20th century humans were pieces of trash? 'Cause the Enterprise crew is here to tell you all about it!
We've reached the end of Wonderfalls, and it's a bittersweet conclusion. That's to be expected from a show that was this far out of step with its time, really. In addition, we talk about the penultimate episode of Elementary's fifth (but not final!) season, Robby learns about Tim Allen's life of crime, and we go on about a billion tangents. It was kind of night.
Denise Crosby deserved so much better than the first season of The Next Generation. We watch "Symbiosis," "Skin of Evil," and "We'll Always Have Paris," and have a whole of complainin' to do. We also manage to bring up Red Shoe Diaries multiple times, so get your Podcastulacra bingo cards ready.) Elsewhere, Elementary is kind of whatever, which J. can talk about just as soon as his wife finishes updating him on MTV's The Challenge.
We've been doing this podcast for five years! That is a piece of time. We think back to the old days, briefly, until moving on to this week's Elementary, which is...eh?...followed by a few more installments of Wonderfalls. When Wonderfalls is good, it's great, but it's starting to really be unfortunate they never got a chance to work out the kinks.
We start off with goofiness inspired by The Leftovers, because J. is a dork. But then we move on to regular business, as Elementary does an episode about magicians that would have been great without its problematic B-plot, and then Star Trek: The Next Generation's first season gets...good? What? That can't be right. We talk "Coming of Age," "Heart of Glory," and "The Arsenal of Freedom," and take one last chance to dump on Gene Roddenberry. Hey, everyone needs a hobby.
We continue our look at Wonderfalls this week, as we think about the difficulty inherent in doing a television show whose defining characteristic is "quirk." What happens when you can't thread the needle with your tone, and you end up too serious or too silly? Or, um, seesawing violently between both extremes in the same episode? Elsewhere, we talk the endless NBA playoff schedule, and some CBS show called Elementary. It's pretty good, why don't they air this more often?