Wednesday, January 29, 2014

If A New Chapter Starts But No One's There To Watch It, Did 'Coven' Matter At All?...


Does anyone else feel like they just had their time wasted by American Horror Story?

I feel like Ryan Murphy and Co. got bored with their own story mid-way through the season and just delivered week after repetitive week of the same story with no stakes. It wasn't enough to blind Cordelia once; they had to do it again later. Literally every one of the potential Supremes (not to mention a few other key characters) were killed only to be resurrected. Even the shock value of the burning at the stake only worked the first time around. And what about the race relations between the witches? It didn't matter much in the end, now did it; it's not like Queenie overcame expectations or broke down barriers and earned that crowning. And for what? It took 13 episodes-- the entire course of the season-- just to learn who the next Supreme was, kick-starting what should be a whole chapter in the life of this coven. But why should we care when we don't get to see it?

The finale episode would have worked extremely well to set up another season-- one with a whole bunch of new witches learning to come into their powers, learning how to navigate the politics within the coven and with the council, learning how to thrive while not tempting Cordelia to turn into her mother too much. But American Horror Story is an anthology series, so Coven is one and done, not granting us the chance to watch anything actually happen with the coven itself-- especially now that the outside world knows about its existence in a way that should be threatening to at least a couple of those crazy religious groups that boycott everything from abortion clinics to gay marriages.

Coven as a season didn't feel arced out properly at all. If it had been, the writers surely should have come to the realization that nothing really (especially nothing that had lasting effects) was happening and moved up The Seven Wonders (test and episode) to mid-way through to actually allow to see the regime change. But it didn't feel like they even knew who they wanted their Supreme to be. The first episode seemed to promise the title to Zoey, but the show very quickly distanced itself from her individual journey. We as an audience got to care about Cordelia, especially in the wake of all of the blindings and her dysfunctional maternal relationships with both Myrtle and Fiona (and later her own maternal inklings towards the next generation), but we'd care more if she learned she was the Supreme and be awoken to all of the pressures and pain her own mother had been. 

How great would it have been to watch this over the course of the last few episodes? To have those Academy doors open to a wide variety of girls, any of whom posed a potential ally but also a threat to Cordelia? To see her struggle and perhaps succumb a bit to being the Supreme she never wanted to be, even if just out of fear-- to see her slip despite her immense power-- to see that there is still another generation under her with a Supreme in it and she has to suss out who it is to take true control-- those are all the things that would have highlighted her humanity that much more, not to mention provided real character turns, dramatic stakes, and yes a chance to see a wider emotional journey for a woman who forced herself to be a hero just because she came from a villain.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Another Year, Another (Old) Story...

A few years ago I wrote a story that helped me work through some stuff from my childhood. The story attracted some attention and helped me obtain an agent. As she shopped it around, I mentioned my love of pop culture, and her voice got much more excited about the possibilities of an essay-memoir project instead. They were really hot at the moment, and she encouraged me to work on one. I did. That was the book that ended up getting published first, while my other, initial story got pushed aside. 

That story is "pseudonym: a novel" and it has just (finally?) been published as an e-Book (it's just so easy to do so these days, I figured 'Why not!?')

It's only $2.99 on Amazon.com, but in case you need a little more about the story, the summary is below.

 
At the age of thirteen, Megyn Alessi lives a double life.
After witnessing the September 11th attacks first-hand, the precocious young woman retreats into her own little world online where she adopts the persona of a Hollywood television writer. She buries all of the things about her own life that she doesn't like and pretends to be someone else every afternoon after logging online after school. In one of those "sessions," however, she meets a guy named Chris, around whom she finds she can actually be herself. Realizing she has started their relationship as someone else and unsure of how to come clean to him now sets Megyn on an emotional journey on which she is forced to acknowledge that just because she can fool virtual strangers into thinking she’s older, doesn’t actually make her as mature as she likes to think she is.
 
Like everything I write, it's a coming of age story
 
 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

'We Have Thoughts': Picking Favorite (and Disappointing) Moments of Fall 2013...

It may be a new year, but We Have Thoughts isn't completely finished rehashing things that happened on television last year. A lot went down, okay!? So Marisa and I wanted to wrap up some of those thoughts with a little more flashcard fun. In our latest vodcast, we took some key categories and selected our favorites from this past fall season. What we selected was a surprise to each other as we chose in secret and revealed only on camera. Then we discussed why we made said selections and in a few occasions went into deeper discussion about the picks because we just had so many thoughts. With shows like Scandal, Arrow, Sleepy Holow, Homeland, and Once Upon a Time making the cut, though, you can probably see why!

Favorite Twist
Favorite New Show
Favorite New Character


Favorite Fall Finale 


Most Disappointing Show (Returning)


Most Disappointing Show (New)



What would you have selected? Leave your own thoughts in the comments below!


Friday, January 10, 2014

We Need to Change the Conversation...

Every TCA press tour there is at least one panel that sparks controversy amongst attendees and casual observers (via social media and publications' immediate posts). Only one day into this winter's tour, and we have already hit upon one-- but what is sure to be just the first of a few. Yesterday Judd Apatow, Jenni Konner, Lena Dunham, and the rest of the female cast of HBO's Girls took the stage at the Langham hotel in Pasadena to talk about the comedy, which is entering its third season. It is not as rare a luxury for returning shows to be presented at TCA in the world of cable, and therefore it is not uncommon for questions to be repeated or expanded upon from previous years, now with more content behind the production and more context for the person asking the question. Still, yesterday's Girls panel opener of what basically amounted to "Why all the nudity on the show?" from The Wrap's Tim Molloy set things off on a defensive tone for the panelists.



The way these TCA panels work is that a couple hundred critics, reporters, and bloggers (and yes, there is a distinction!) sit in a ballroom, press conference style, with the show's producers, writers, and cast on a stage. The TCA attendees raise their hands to have microphones brought over to them to ask their questions when they think of them. There is no order; there is no vetting of the questions beforehand; and often, there is no time for follow-ups as their is more than one microphone circulating the room and others are ready to pounce with their question often before the one currently being answered is even finished. A lot of times, the loudest person gets their question in, literally actually talking over others to be heard. With so many different publications being represented (trades to tabloids and everything in between), needless to say there are a lot of different agendas at play. There is often not a lot of flow to the way or when of the questions being asked, and it is not the time or place for thoughtful back and forth, in-depth discussion between the person asking the question and the person answering it. And that latter point is not just because of the questions but because of the panelists who are all there to smile and promote their new show, whether they actually like their new show or not and whether they plan to answer questions with anything other than pre-planned soundbytes or not.

With that kind of context for the situation, the way questions are answered (jokey, anecdotally, personally, politically, etc) do often have the most to do directly with the way the question was asked, though. Phrasing and tone are key, especially in a setting like the TCA press tour where you are not even allowed to clap as panelists take or walk off the stage because that could show bias.

As a somewhat casual viewer of Girls (I loved the first season but tuned out in season two when I realized I was not rooting for any of the characters), I have to admit when the show first started, I had questions for Dunham about her writer's process that were not dissimilar to what Molloy asked. We as an audience have been so trained by other, older films and television that on-screen nudity must be for a purpose, often simply just to get it past censors or even to get actors to agree to do it. It had to be "tasteful" or "artistic" or "pretty". Otherwise it fell into the "gratuitous" and oftentimes "salacious" camp, being done simply because it could or to let two usually classically attractive people roll around together. Things are different overseas, but in America, casual nudity was never commonplace, especially for female characters. But what this has taught us about nudity is that it may only be acceptable if it is a certain way, and that created a moment of jarring disconnect when a viewer first encounters something that doesn't fit into the traditional or stereotypically accepted molds.

Dunham utilizes casual nudity easily, often, and oftentimes seamlessly simply as tool to fully immerse the audience in the world of these characters. In a key scene in season three, Hannah (Dunham) is engaged in a conversation with her boyfriend and a house guest, but she is also getting ready for the next stage in the day, and in the middle of the conversation she strips off her shirt and slips on another. Not a word is said by any of the characters about this; their conversation continues on as normal. Had this happened in season one-- and when similar things did happen in season one-- I fully admit I would have been thrown by it-- by how free Hannah as a character was to do such a thing and by how accepting and used to it those in her life were to not remark about it while it was happening. While their responses (or lack thereof) say everything about the characters, even more can be said for the audience. 

In season one, the adjustment to casual nudity included moments of disconnect for me personally. I wasn't uncomfortable by it, but I was surprised by it. Simply not expecting it to come in the random moments it did often distracted from the story for a second while I looked for the other characters to be as thrown as I was. When they continuously and consistently were not, it was easy to slip into their frame of mind and no longer think about it in the same limiting ways. In many ways that was freeing and opened the door to a lot of realizations about what we have been trained to believe is "okay" or "acceptable" by societal and censorship standards-- after all, not that long ago seeing gay characters on television wasn't common either and the introduction of them certainly probably threw many viewers initially, but that doesn't mean they are not a part of life and don't deserve to have their stories told. It really was a can of worms that could be a couple additional blog posts long...

By utilizing casual nudity in the show, though, Dunham has asked audiences to accept something as "normal" and "regular" that for too long before had been used selectively and often strategically, to control and contain power. By season three, the fact that I no longer think twice about these instances of casual nudity means Dunham has done the job successfully. But as a writer myself, that doesn't mean there aren't still questions.

Now the questions that come to mind (for me) are process ones in the sense of how many of these instances are actually written into the script as specific, clear descriptions and actions Dunham plans out ahead of time for visuals versus things that just happen organically on set, in the moment of a scene because it feels real and right and natural for the character. Questions about why write a scene that takes place in a bathtub into the script in the first place-- is it just to reflect all aspects of reality (Dunham answered Molloy's question by saying that it's real to be nude, leaving me to assume these moments are just so natural in her own life she doesn't think twice about them the way so many of us do when viewing them), or is it to set a conversation in a new and somewhat unique location-- or is it even to more intentionally make a point to be with a character in an intimate situation? Questions about whether or not she has felt that divide of acceptance and understanding shift over the years. Questions about comparisons she may draw between different ways to express a character's self. Questions that give us peeks inside her brain and her unique brand of creativity that may not make us like her product more or less but certainly allow us to understand where she is coming from and why. We're all better off when information and inspiration is shared.

Unfortunately, that was not the way the question was posed in the room at TCA (and before you get up and arms and then say I should have raised my hand for the microphone-- I fully acknowledge that being in a room like that is not the way to get a real, deep conversation going). In fact, the way the question was posed may have proven how taboo or at least different and difficult casual nudity still is to many. Everyone doesn't have to love it, but the idea of limiting an artist's sense of storytelling just feels wrong (and archaic) on so many levels.

Hopefully what can come out of these stories that are more about this one reporter's take on Girls and Dunham rather than the show as a whole now is a discussion about how people are watching and responding to these things. After all, that matters just as much as the product itself.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

'We Have Thoughts': Reviewing Most Exciting Mid-Season 2013 TV...

Mid-season television has already begun premiering, so We Have Thoughts sat down to consider what new major network shows we are excited to watch over the next few months. Admittedly, not all of the upcoming shows were even available for review when Marisa and I sat down to film this, which was disconcerting for its own reasons, but it did severely limit our choices, so some of what we talked about was selected simply because we felt we had to select something. We weren't necessarily excited at all, which I guess broke our own rules about how we were supposed to make the selections, but either way, it doesn't bode well for what's new and upcoming this mid-season at all! ...Though I feel it important to point out there is a lot of great returning shows this mid-season, so it's not all bleak!

ABC (Killer Women, Resurrection)

CBS (Intelligence)


FOX (Enlisted)


NBC (About A Boy)


The CW (Star-Crossed, The 100)



What are you excited to watch in 2014?


Monday, January 6, 2014

The "Simple Pleasures" of 'Shameless' (Season 4 Preview)...

I usually don't worry about spoilers when it comes to Showtime's Shameless. Not because nothing happens in the episodes (actually quite the opposite; that show is on par with Scandal for amount of crazy crap these characters endure each week!) but because the network usually takes the term summary to heart with each episode description, going story by story and explaining exactly what's about to go down. And the best part is that even when you know exactly what's coming, you still get so much out of watching the episodes because it is how what happens (not the "what" itself) affects the characters that matters the most. You see it on their faces and you see it in their actions. But for season four, Showtime is being a bit more conservative with what they are putting out there pre-episode airing, so I, too, want to be careful about the details I give you before you watch. Because some things really are just extra juicy when you don't know they're coming (even if you suspect they might).



It is no secret that Fiona (Emmy Rossum) is the rock of the Gallagher family and in many ways the center of the show. Sure, there are a lot of them running around, and yes, they wouldn't be where they are-- or worthy of their stories being told-- without Frank (William H. Macy) being who he is. But Fiona has always been the most interesting enigma simply for the fact that she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and kept everyone together and alive-- and this season, even a bit thriving. She so easily could have just followed in her father's footsteps (it is literally in her blood after all) and dropped out of school to sit at a bar all day, leaving her little brothers and sister to fend for themselves. But she didn't. She stepped up as head of the household, as sole breadwinner, and as a maternal figure. And now, that is finally paying off for her.

Fiona is excelling at her new job at the cup company, on track for promotion, about to receiving full employee status, and yes, still dating her boss. But where she is doing well professionally, providing better food and clothes for the kids, she is still struggling personally. It isn't because she is still waiting for Jimmy/Steve (Justin Chatwin) to come back but because she doesn't really know what happened to him. She thinks he just left, which is just another tear in her fabric that's eating away on a subconscious level. Meanwhile, her new boyfriend is providing stability in ways she is not used to and therefore with which she is not quite comfortable. He doesn't know nearly as much about her as Jimmy/Steve did, and that's not just because the relationship is new but because they come from different worlds. Jimmy/Steve understood the Gallaghers because he was choosing to be a hoodrat in their world, rebelling from his upper middle class upbringing. If Fiona confides in Mike (Jake McDorman), his response is bound to be uncomfortable laughter when he thinks she's just messing with him and then silent judgement where he's weighing how much he likes her versus the red flags his own upper middle class upbringing has taught him she should be. Their relationship is still too new to be testing the waters with what she can get away, though (she wants to keep this one around for now after all), so instead of sharing, Fiona is just struggling alone. And her silence, even when she's in protector role (though who she is really protecting is herself), upsets Mike. Conflict and chaos are very different things, though, and normal people problems are a bore for Fiona, so she's just trudging along alone, not even sure at first what is wrong within her. But it is that lack of self-awareness that often later causes a spiral.

Fiona isn't completely alone physically (how could she be in that house, right?), but with the exception of Liam, the kids are all old enough that they don't need her the same way. Lip (Jeremy Allen White) stepped up last season to actually help her with money and Frank when things got tough, but now he's off at college and learning he's now a small fish in a big pond who has to actually work to get the things that used to come so easily. Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is gone, too, off in military training, though his family doesn't know that; they think he has just run away (another tear for Fiona, riiip). Kev (Steve Howey) and Veronica (Shanola Hampton) are dealing with their ever-expanding family and an additional financial burden they thought was going to be a blessing. Debbie (Emma Kenney), who just wants to grow up already, has a new group of friends from the neighborhood who have her dressing differently and doing everything to meet boys. Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) has always puttered around the neighborhood getting into trouble but now his focus is on Frank, who is dying but who doesn't want to give up his lifestyle just for a few extra months. More than ever, everyone has their own thing going on, and what is most interesting is that now we're getting a clearer sense of not whether nature or nurture is winning but who is letting one win over the other, even if they don't realize it. 

Fiona railed so hard away from Frank's lifestyle a few years ago not necessarily for herself but because there were little mouths to feed, but was she just fighting her own true nature and what may be inevitable? And without a similar burden, will Debbie go the other way? She's at that age where kids start experimenting, and though she should be more careful than most because of the addiction that runs in her family, it is doubtful anyone has explained such things to her. And if she (and Carl) are free to make their teenage mistakes when Fiona didn't, will that cause resentment? Or just a later in life rebellion for Fiona herself, who now sees the kids all grown enough that they may not need her the way they once did and now she wants to regain some of the youth (and therefore youthful mistakes) she missed?

So much of what the premiere of season four sets up is tragic for these young Gallaghers, but after three years of being with them through similar insanity, it is impossible not to want to give them all hugs and assure them they deserve to succeed, even if you're not quite sure they will. Personally I have this fear that they'll pull the whole soldier at the door "sorry for your loss, ma'am" thing with Fiona where they say Phillip Gallagher died in combat, and the family thinks it's some crazy mistake because they know Lip is at college-- while the audience knows it was Ian's fate. Fewer things more tragic than that, right? Season four really lays it on the line so that you're not sure any of them will succeed anymore, even though just an episode ago, you thought things were looking up. That is the beauty of this show, though: it can warm and break your heart so quickly, just like a real family. 

Everyone has their own storyline this season, and they're all meant to be humbling for the Gallaghers who really did manage to do the impossible for "just kids" with the hand they were dealt in life. But it is Fiona who is delivered a blow from Frank at the end of the second episode of the fourth season who will have the farthest to go. What he drops on her will, perhaps for the first time ever, make her start to think of the "what ifs?" that could have been for her life had she not had to step up to be the matriarch. And for a character who already feels lost without the usual brand of Gallagher-infused chaos, it might just be the thing that sets her off down a very Gallagher-like path.


'Revenge' Reduced Its Protagonist to a Prop...

The third season premiere of Revenge got me excited again about the show in a way I didn’t think possible after the scattered second season full of subplots that distracted from our flawed heroine, her mission, and the overall point of the show anyway. The third season premiere put Emily Thorne back where she belonged: front and center and going hard at the Graysons to finally bring her revengenda to fruition. But as any savvy TV watcher knows, if the show itself doesn’t have an end date, then the character can’t truly have one for her plans, either— at least they can’t march successfully to that end, anyway. And the fall finale set this up nicely by having Emily’s plot to fake her own shooting death turn into a very real shooting and near-death experience. It was full of delicate complications that left me wanting more right away, especially when it came to seeing how everyone reacted even while knowing how most would (they have been very clear cut character archetypes, after all). Unfortunately, though, the mid-season premiere of Revenge proved that delicate threads just unravel everything if not pulled with care.


Here’s why I am once again thinking about quitting Revenge:
  • An amnesia plot straight out of Nashville. Let’s face it, when a character experiences a trauma, the easy reach on TV is to have that character conveniently forget about it. It’s a reset of sorts, even if it is the cheapest and cheesiest of them. After all, the minute a smart and always in control even when wrong character loses that aspect about herself, she is vulnerable— not just to her enemies but also to her friends. Everything about her life can be manipulated based upon what others want for her, and she is no longer really an active character at all. Here there was amazing opportunity for that not only because the Graysons are the most manipulative bunch there is but also with the ones in her corner (Aiden, Jack, Nolan)— ones who at times have conflicted with her plan simply because of how narrow focused, dangerous, and anger-driven it is. Even Emily’s father wanted better for her, wanted her to move on, but she couldn’t. There was opportunity here, even if it meant having three men control Emily’s life which is never a good message, to at least have the discussion about what they should want Emily to remember and therefore what her life will be. If she remembered her alliances and relationships without all the trauma, pain, anger? Then maybe she really could sail off into the sunrise and be happy. But there was no time for such discussion here. The episode moved along at such a seeming-to-try-to-match-Scandal clip with reveals that we couldn’t linger with characters, and it was unfortunate because Emily deserves much more weight and respect than that. So my issue is not so much with the amnesia itself as with how much it was used as a mere story device to catapult a bunch of characters around Emily ahead of her to make her so vulnerable (we’ll get to this in more detail in a minute), while regulating our protagonist to a prop rather than a person, let alone the most important person on this show.
  • What the hell happened to Charlotte!? Just before the wedding Charlotte was scheming to break up Emily and her brother and yet after the fact, here is she by Emily’s bedside telling her how much she admires her and playing a loving friends and now family member. If the show wants to make Charlotte a baby Victoria, the writers are not doing a good job with making that clear; instead Charlotte just comes off as wishy washy and a bit bi-polar, latching on wherever she can for as long as she can, never seeming sincere. It feels like they don’t truly know who she is and are just making up her actions without motivations as they go along.
  • A return to the love triangle. Earlier this year we were promised the love triangle was dead, that Emily knew her true allegiances and her true love and her true mission. Jack was a childhood friend, the one who got away, a “what if?” that was full of pain and regret and innocence, while Aiden was the male version of Emily today, hardened and pained by tragedies of the past, focused and steadfast in their ruthlessness now. Daniel, was the one who could have been saved but proved himself unworthy (seriously, he is not a good guy; if he really wanted to do the honorable and responsible thing and turn himself in for shooting Emily, he would have just done that; he wouldn’t have told Victoria about it first. He knew she’d do anything to cover it up, and he could claim he tried to be noble but was thwarted by Mommy. He’s such a product of his environment I can’t stand him.). Everyone had their place in Emily’s life, and not everyone (audience included) liked it, but it was to be accepted as it was canon. But now the writers are returning to yet another soap opera (primetime or otherwise) trope of the triangle by having Jack be the one who pulled Emily out of her funk— in a very “true love’s kiss” kind of pure way. It gave the shippers the hope they needed to torture themselves further, even though Jack is so pure there are still so many things about who Emily has become he probably could not look past to truly be with.
  • Hamptons cops are morons. Look, anyone from New York has heard the horror stories about Hamptons cops being lazy or ineffective or on the take and always looking the other way when the rich and famous get into trouble. But here we had a boat full of these rich and famous people and a truly terrible thing happened and they’re just standing around taking people’s words for alibis without even doing the most basic forensic analysis like GSR tests? Come on, Revenge; you are asking us to suspend way too much disbelief for a show that’s not all that fantastical!
  • A cliffhanger that only caught a character up to where the audience— and the show— had been for the whole episode. I was left with a big feeling of “So what?” after Emily remembered things and told Jack who her shooter was. I had known who the shooter was since the minute it happened, of course, but over the previous 44 minutes while Emily was in the hospital, other key characters had learned the truth as well. In fact, the story was moving fast while Emily lay dormant— so fast that plans were in motion for cover ups and deeper connections were being made between Emily and Nolan and maybe even David Clarke. Everyone but Emily was active, and that moment at the end was meant for a sigh of relief that she finally remembered and things could get back to normal. But everyone but Emily was so active, any sigh of relief would have been extremely premature because she didn’t have anyone on the boat after she was shot or anyone in the Grayson manor as she was in the hospital; she has no idea just what has gone on or how many pieces are being put together or new plans are in play. She will be playing catch up for a while. As I mentioned before, that allows her to be vulnerable in a way that should be a fascinating challenge for the character, but it’s a way that is extremely frustrating for the audience who is ahead of her, too. She doesn’t just have to catch up (and then get ahead of, if she still has hopes of her revengenda succeeding) the other characters but the show itself. There can be fun in watching characters struggle— especially the ones who are so out of their element while doing so that it adds new layers and colors to their complexity— but is not fun to be so far ahead of the story you’re just sitting around waiting for that character to get to where you already are and have been for quite some time. Emily was always the perfect protagonists because she was commanding and in charge and learning things along the way that may made her question or detour or bring others further in. But she’s no longer “in the know” and without the power seat, it’s hard to see her as a protagonist at all but rather part of an ensemble, someone who really needs to rely on those like Aiden and Nolan and Jack, just for the most basic of information. It’s a real blow to what was once a strong female character.

Friday, January 3, 2014

'We Have Thoughts': 2013 Drama Report Cards...

If you thought we had a lot to say about comedies this season, well you ain't seen nothing yet! Comedy may be more subjective, but dramas often stir the most thoughts, feelings, and conversations, and that is certainly what is at play here.

Marisa and I sat down together over the holiday hiatus to finally film some more vodcasts, and in end of year tradition (and because we love grading things), these particular ones fell into the "report card" category. We looked at shows only in their current season so far (so from fall to December), and though we had a few of the same grades, as you will see our reasoning for said grades tend to be very, very different.

Our camera operator was away for the holiday, so these are a little guerrilla and not in our usual location. Full disclosure: we shot them on my FlipCam propped up on some memory boxes on my coffee table-- very low budget, film school style. But even if things look a little different, we're bringing you the same opinionated commentary you should have come to expect!

Now we take a look at three very important (to us) dramas!

Arrow




Castle

Scandal




 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

'We Have Thoughts': 2013 Comedy Report Cards...

We're ba-ack!

Marisa and I sat down together over the holiday hiatus to finally film some more vodcasts, and in end of year tradition (and because we love grading things), these particular ones fell into the "report card" category. We looked at shows only in their current season so far (so from fall to December), and though we had a few of the same grades, as you will see our reasoning for said grades tend to be very, very different.

Now, our camera operator was away for the holiday, so these are a little guerrilla and not in our usual location. Full disclosure: we shot them on my FlipCam propped up on some memory boxes on my coffee table-- very low budget, film school style. But even if things look a little different, we're bringing you the same opinionated commentary you should have come to expect!

First up, grading three very important (to us) comedies!

How I Met Your Mother

Parks and Recreation

Raising Hope