Two links to people doing some smart thinking about television programs:
– Robert David Sullivan, whose work I’ve been reading and enjoying ever since I read his 1997 survey on the most influential U.S. television programs (this was before TV criticism was nearly as big online as it later became, and it’s still a great guide to milestones in TV before the Sopranos revolution), has been doing a blog series on “The 100 Greatest Sitcom episodes of all time,” covering half-hour comedy episodes from the U.S. and the UK.
With each episode, he not only tells us why it’s great, but makes some larger point about the whole half-hour comedy form, what it tells us about us or the way we see ourselves, and how the style of a show becomes part of its storytelling. In doing so, he manages to make every review interesting even if it’s not an episode or a show you yourself would have put on such a list. I’m not a great fan of “Designing Women,” but in writing about the episode “Big Haas and Little Haas,” he also writes about one of the most common sitcom plots – people trying to change their appearance – and the most common of all TV themes, be happy with who you are (which is of course high on the list of things showbiz people don’t actually believe). Starting at #100, he’s now up to #86, and I look forward to every one of the 85 posts to come.
– Chandler Levack pays tribute to Being Erica and how it did some of its best work as a sort of “novelization of ’90s Toronto,” that examined the ambiguous relationship Torontonians have to their city, and implied that Toronto “was a secondary character that had enforced its own psychological pain on Erica’s subconscious.”
– No one can ever get enough of mixed reviews of Smash, just like no one can get enough Smash promos. So here’s a review from Matt Seitz, who basically likes it but finds it a bit cautious.