Saturday, June 8, 2013

My TV-logue

Its a slow day at the office today, so I figure I might as well make an entry here. In fact, there is a certain article that I have been planning in my head for a while. A full and comprehensive review of all the TV shows that I have seen till date, and a person with an average CGPA who stays at NITR for 4 years, does end up seeing a lot of them. But a little thought over the matter made me realize how stupid the idea was, not to mention, pretentious. I definitely cannot claim to have watched every TV show that exists in DC-verse, nor can I claim to have a fully unprejudiced view of each. Watching a TV Show is like a love affair, and a person does form his list of favorites. Again, there is a huge number of shows that I just saw the pilot of, or abandoned midway for one reason or the other. But I do want to write this article. So to effect a compromise, I will drop the whole notion of a "full and comprehensive review" and instead write what can be loosely described as a very egotist referral for all the shows I have ever looked at. Here goes-

  • How I Met Your Mother

It makes sense for me to start with this, because it is the first show that I saw, even before I came to NITR, back in the days when it was still considered by a large majority of the population as an out-and-out hilarious show. It is true that it lost out on a lot of steam in the 3 to 4 years after Season 3, but it has its core fan base of die-hard loyalists, present company included, who have kept the show going strong. And now, with Season 8, these HIMYM-fans' faith has been rewarded amply. For the rookie, the overall theme of the SitCom can be summarized as the story of five young friends- the mushy and strongly committed Lily and Marshall, the beautiful and ambitious Robin, the womanizing and 'legendary' Barney, and the hopelessly romantic Ted, revolving around the latter's search for his one true love, and his eventual redemption, as narrated by him to his kids in the year 2030; the story of how he met their mother. What sets HIMYM apart from other SitComs is that it is, as its writers put it, a "comedy with heart". There are plenty of touching and romantic moments amidst the laughs and it is even a tear-jerker at times. And then there is the case of its fast-paced writing with its flash-backs and flash-backs within flash-backs and the slow and meticulous development of every single one of the major characters. With HIMYM all set to come back for its last season this September, it is time for Carter and Craig to take a bow.

  • 24
24 started off strong for me, with its fresh concept of one hour in the show being one hour in the characters' lives; a season consisting of 24 episodes making one season the story of one single day in the plot. But as soon as the novelty wears off, you start seeing the ridiculousness and impracticality this entails: don't they eat, sleep, shit, atleast piss? It has super-cop Jack Bauer killing bad guys who have deep conspiracies and plans to kill the President. My interest had waned by the time of the 5th episode of the 1st season and when Jack kills the would-be assassin and immediately another assassin is sent in, I stopped watching it altogether.

  • Prison Break
I guess this list is turning out to be arranged in the chronology in which I saw the shows. Might as well be the case, as it helps me organize my thoughts better. So the third TV show I saw, and I remember it was the summer after first year that I came across this gem, was Prison Break. A thriller with tight scripts, marvelous acting, and a wonderful plot that never strays too far from its basic premise, this show skirts the line between a crime show and a political drama. The story revolves around Micheal Scofield, the prodigal civil engineer who concocts an elaborate plan to break his brother out of a maximum security prison where he is on death row. The first step of his plan is of course robbing a bank, armed, and getting arrested himself. Prison Break has plenty of fantastic moments and keeps the audience's attention for all the four seasons with its speed and Scofield's brilliance. It is one of the shows where its hard to find too many flaws, and although the impression it leaves is not indelible, it is definitely a worthy investment of one's time.

  • Lost

This is probably the show that started the string of high-budget TV dramas that have so dominated the last decade. Originally conceived by none other than J.J. Abrahms himself, its the story of a group of people marooned on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific following a plane crash. As the plot progresses, it is revealed that not only is the island full of mysteries and powers, the seemingly random collection of survivors are, in fact, not random at all. Full credits to the show for keeping its audience entirely intrigued about almost every aspect of the plot, and for developing rich backstories for every character there is. I saw it the only way it can be seen, in a full 2 week-marathon, and cannot imagine how people could possibly wait full weeks and seasons for the next episode. The cliffhangers are beautiful and a person watching it will spend the larger part of the time at the edge of his seat. Originally conceived to be a 3-season show, its huge revenue generation had the network push the producers to extend it for another 3 seasons. And that is where the show 'lost' it. Introducing needless complexities and pushing the storyline into utterly irrelevant and fantastic elements, it ended on a low, not being able to resolve most of the major plotlines and intrigues that it itself had raised. The series finale episode was such a colossal clusterfuck that it was an insult to intelligence everywhere.

  • Two and a Half Men 

This was the first SitCom I saw after HIMYM, and as such my standards were pretty low going in. Not to imply that this was not an entertaining show. To the contrary, TAAHM is one of the better comedies of the last decade with its cleverly titled name, and its basic premise that could only spell trouble. Two brothers, one a stinking-rich man named Charlie who has made his fortune composing jingles and lives a life of booze and babes, more like a practical version of Barney Stinson, and the other, Alan, who is a middle-class Chiropractor with a son and an idyllic suburban life. The plot starts when Alan's wife divorces him and takes away everything to leave him and his son Jake going on to live in Charlie's Malibu beach house. The interactions and adjustment pains for all the three concerned is a riot, and is the backbone of the story. But what really drove the story for me was Charlie Sheen, and his impeccable acting as Charlie Harper, a character so resembling his own self. So needless to say, I stopped watching the show when he left and was replaced by Ashton Kutcher.

  • Friends
In the pantheon of SitCom greats, FRIENDS probably sits on top of the pyramid. With its massive 10-seasons run, it pretty much ended up dominating and defining the later half of the 90's and the first half of the new decade. Its success was unprecedented and made the actors playing the six major characters household names across the globe. The very essence of the story was its lack of a definite plot. The show just depicts ten years in the lives of six friends, their daily trials and triumphs, love affairs and heartbreaks, all packed with probably the best jokes ever written for primetime TV. Its laugh-a-minute scripts coupled with superb performances by its legendary cast surely makes FRIENDS a show that will resonate through the ages. 

  • The Big Bang Theory
Its true you always end up very unimpressed with whatever SitCom you see after watching FRIENDS, quite simply because, nothing can be as funny as FRIENDS. And it is the one you see immediately after FRIENDS that you end up particularly disliking. For me that was TBBT. I know people rave about it, and I agree it can induce proper geekgasms, but fresh after watching FRIENDS, all the jokes seemes 'Meh!' to me, and the truth is I could watch it only because the winter vacations were on and I did not have anything else on my lappy. The story revolves around 4 super-intelligent nerds who suddenly have a beautiful bimbo move in next door, and the awkwardness that ensues. The show has its funny moments, but the gags do get repetitive after a while, and the level of jargon gets too damn high at times. I didn't watch it after the 2nd season.

To Be Continued

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Post Title

Its been close to a year now since I wrote here last, and while a lot of that can be chalked down to lethargy, and career pursuits, the major reason is of course that I found the means to get more people to read my stuff by "legitimizing" it. If you think that is a curious choice of words, I would explain myself by saying that it probably all boils down to my interview at Hero Motocorp. My CV listed, at the fag end of it, nothing more than a filler, among my hobbies, sandwiched between guitaring and reading, this word: blogging. And that one word had me chalked down as a socially inept, nocturnal, "underworld" nerd. That is the stigma that we bloggers live under I suppose. But then I could further suppose that that is what we have invited upon our sorry selves; we children of a lesser god, of unread articles, and untimely posts. 

Earlier tonight I took some childhood buddies for a drink, a celebration, now that two of us are on the cusps of major transformations in our lives. As fate would have it, it turns out we had to wait till our last evening together to discover that one good bar in the town, now when we have no idea when the three of us would ever raise our glasses together again, while we spent about 6 vacations hunting for good watering-holes, settling for the theka at Naraaj and the outcrop of rock overlooking the barrage. While that place had its own perks, the wind in your hair, the economy of the outing, there are certain times when a decent bar is where you want to be. It does speak about the nature of the town when its bars don't even have a ladies' room. At that moment I felt nothing but the deepest sympathies for the good people over at NLUO Rourkela- 1. Cuttack- 0.

One thing that I was losing out on and have regained in the past 5 months has been my reading. I only sat for two interviews in 8th semester- XLRI and ZS A, having already gotten placed last August. And both of them were experiences of the highest order, much more enriching than my trials and tribulations of the Autumn. Of course part of why I view these two so fondly in particular could very well be the positive or positivish nature of their outcomes, but hell, I'm human and I am allowed to favoritize. So what I am trying to say is this last semester has been particularly ameliorating. I started off a tabloid in our college, completed my thesis, got my dream job and yes, caught up on a lot of reading. The last one was helped by a sudden windfall in the form of a huge accumulation of cash in my insti book account. So there I was at the book fair with 3000 INR and nothing but novels to buy. The only books I had read in the entire last year were The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs and Midnight's Children. So I decided to pick up where I had left off. There comes a stage when you start appreciating novels in terms of their literary and intellectual worth, where plots and characters become tools, a secondary concern. 

Now Rourkela has a pathetic book scene. There are absolutely no good book stores, so I haunted the one where I had placed my order everyday, lapping up whichever good book came to its shelves. I started off January with The Chemistry of Tears, a tale of two people stuck in two different centuries. Their only connection being the journals of one of the protagonists being read by another. It was very reminiscent of the Luisa Rey-Robert Frobisher connection from Cloud Atlas and has, if the text is indeed independent of the author, a touch of surrealism in the pages. Or maybe its me who feels that ways because most of the time I was reading it, I was in a half-stupor either in my room or in the class. Next thing I picked up was this journalistic epic- India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha. Its a 1000-page masterpiece detailing the entire modern history of India, and although I only read it on the side, and it took me close to 3 months to be done with it, it has to be one of the most erudite works ever done. Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years Of Solitude was one of the finest pieces of literature I have ever come across and its easy to see why Salman Rushdie speaks so highly of it, although truth be told, its a slow read. God of Small Things had me melancholic for an entire week, but did show me the beauty of pain and suffering. The Shiva Trilogy by Amish started off strong but ended limping, and Coelho has gotten on my nerves. Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger was very different kind of book from what I had been reading for some time, but was thoroughly enjoyable. Then there was this book of stories by Franz Kafka which I borrowed from my friend, although I could read just Metamorphosis, The Great Wall of China and Investigations of a Dog before he took it back.  Kafka is a genius, my friend is a dick.