List O’ the Week: 20 Worst episodes of The Simpsons (Classic Era) – Part. 2

 

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See here for positions 20 -11

10. Lisa the Iconoclast (7×16)

Ahh Lisa. If not my favourite character, then the one I relate to the most. She’s the main focal point for some of my favourite episodes of The Simpsons, including my very favourite. This is because the show always treats her efforts, passions and insecurities seriously, even if they start to bore or annoy other characters in her family and in Springfield at large. She’s also the focal point for many of my least favourite episodes because her earnestness can sometimes start to bore the audience as much as it does those around her. Continue reading

Mad Men: 7×06 – 7×07 Mid-Season finale

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On a gut level, as a fan of the show, my enjoyment of Mad Men is determined by how the story treats its two protagonists: Don and Peggy. Do I care about Betty, Pete, Harry, Joan, and the rest of SC&P? Of course I do, but these characters are cyphers. They are made to represent characteristics of 1960s society, serving doubly as a representation of a certain personality type and a certain factor of corporate society. Continue reading

SFF ’14: Xavier Dolan Double Feature

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Tom at the Farm

It’s not a stretch to call Tom at the Farm (Tom à la Ferme) Dolan’s least distinctly Dolanian work. While it’s filled with many of the director’s trademarks (loose plotting, unhurried pace, Mother/son issues, intense characters), it lacks the usual emotional directness that fills Dolan’s best work; attributed perhaps to this marking Dolan’s first adaptation of someone else’s material, working off Michel Marc Bouchard’s play. The story centres on Tom’s visit to the farm of the title to attend the funeral of his recently deceased boyfriend, Guillaume. Upon arriving, Tom (Dolan himself) discovers that not only does Guillaume’s mother (Lise Roy) not realise her son was gay, but Guillaume’s brother Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal) wants to keep it that way, going to great lengths to intimidate Tom into submission. Continue reading

Game of Thrones: 4×07 – 4×08

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4×07 – Mockingbird

Nestled between ‘The Laws of Gods and Men’ and ‘The Mountain and The Viper’ is this curious little episode; a quiet interlude from the intense filibustering that proceeds it and the bloodshed that follows. It’s an episode intended to establish and re-establish the goals of our characters and set them on their intended path for the rest of the season. As such, without the distraction of epic battles and shocking plot twists (for the most part), one’s enjoyment of this episode is dependent on how much you relish spending time with each subset of character pairings.

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Mad Men: 7×05 – The Runaways

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Well, I certainly can’t say ‘The Runaways’ was uneventful, because…….no seriously what the fuck? For people who claim that Mad Men is all stuffiness and period decor, I will henceforth direct them to this episode. Was it a good episode? I’m honestly not sure. For any other prestige drama I would say a recurring character slicing off their own nipple because a giant computer is turning him gay might be a ‘jump the shark’ moment, but there’s so much subtle character work, fantastic acting and solid direction nestled around that truly bizarre storyline, that it’s hard to not just sit back and appreciate that after six and a half seasons, this show is still capable of both moments of pure brilliance and pure absurdity.

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Game of Thrones: 4×05 – 4×06

thrones_612x380-600x372 So I’ve decided to simply post 2 mini-reviews every fortnight for Game of Thrones. I know I called them mini-reviews last time and they were each about as long as a Song of Fire and Ice book, but this time I’m going try to be…dear God…..succinct (yeah, you’re right, it won’t happen). Continue reading

List O’ the Week: 20 Worst episodes of The Simpsons (Classic era) – Part. 1

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This wasn’t the easiest list to make, but limiting myself to the better, earlier seasons does mean that I have less to choose from and therefore less crap to wade through. The primary common denominator amongst these 20 is that the stories they tell feel rote or boring. I can handle stupid but funny, wacky but fun, but certain characters and situations are simply comedic deadweight.

Just like my ‘best of classic era‘ list, I’m defining the classic era as seasons 3-8. There’s no real consensus but that’s where I choose to draw the line. I’m not including clip shows for obvious reasons – they’re just the worst (despite my fondness for ‘The 138th Episode Spectacular’)

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Mad Men: 7×04 – The Monolith

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Mad Men’s sixth season was full of institutional shake-ups for SC&P. While this kept the series from getting too comfortable or stale, it also made the season feel unbalanced and plot heavy, trading the show’s trademark purposeful pacing and philosophical leanings for multiple character introductions and messy office politics. Season 7 seems to be following a similar pattern in terms of its mid-season office shake-up narrative, but this time it is more intensely grounded by its characters, namely Don’s, so that all the office swapping and building renovations seem to exist to inform the character’s mindset, provide obstacles and reflect the character’s situation within the narrative.

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Mad Men: 7×03 – Field Trip

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I don’t think we’ve ever seen Don Draper so powerless and uncomfortable in what was once his natural environment. The real triumph of ‘Field Trip’ is the way director Christopher Manley along with Weiner and co-writer Heather Jeng Bladt, take the SC&P offices, a place that has become so comfortable and inviting for its audience and turn it into a scary, foreign environment, where even a partner who helped build the company feels out of place.

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Games of Thrones: 4×03 – 4×04

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I noted in my review of Mad Men’s season 7 premiere that compared to Mad Men, shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones are less thematically driven and more story oriented. This generalisation does something of a diservice to the way Benioff and Weiss shape the individual chapters of their Game of Thrones saga. Undoubtedly Mad Men doesn’t have the same narrative drive and sprawling scope of Game of Thrones, but neither is Game of Thrones simply a series that moves characters from A to B (very slowly) in order to fulfil the endgame of a complicated narrative structure. In the moments between the beheadings and wedding ceremonies, Game of Thrones episodes are cleverly composed to create, if not thematic unity, then at least a sense of cohesion that stops the show from becoming a series of disparate vignettes that just happen to take place in the same universe.

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