Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Divine is Back

Okay, so it is possible, I have a man-crush on a gay TV writer/producer/creator. But what can I say, I love the work of Greg Berlanti.

I came late to the phenomenon that is Dawson's Creek. I started watching it the summer after its first season. And after seeing those 13 episodes I was hooked. If you haven't seen the show recently, you should check it out, if for no other reason than to see perhaps the most perfect, complete season in TV history (with the exception of possibly Wonderfalls). I'm glad the show lasted more than 1 season, but the first season was a miracle of story writing. Of course, Keven Williamson was behind it and then left (he just was not ready for the pressure of running that show, he was a great writer after all).

By the time season 3 rolled around, there was a new creative force behind the show (there's a great book out that talks about this and other things, and I heartiluy recommend Billion Dollar Kiss). One of the new kids was Greg Berlanti. I had no idea who he was until much later, I now know he wrote some of my favorite eps of all-time.

Then came Everwood. Another show I came too late, but this time I knew enough to know he was one of the creators and it might be worth checking out. I missed the first season, catching up as I could later. There is a lost art to season finales and season premieres that I think, no, that I know, Berlanti has captured. And I may be going far afield here, and many may disagree with me, but a) a season finale doesn't have to be a cliff-hanger but it does need to remind us of the season's first episode, and if at all possible the pilot, and catch us up on everything that's happened throughout the season. The narration of Irv on Everwood was ready made to allow the "catch-up" but it was the magic of Berlanti and Co. that made the finale of season 1 wonderful, bringing everything together. I recently was able to re-watch that ep on (re: my 2 other blogs on this matter). And 2nd season premiere did what it should, hearkening back to the pilot and connecting directly to the finale. Only this time, it wasn't Andy Brown seeing his dead wife it was Amy Abbot seeing her dead b/f. Easily the heart of the show was the functional/dysfunctional father-son dynamic. It's what kept me coming back for more, each week. That, and I'm not sure how this happened, but this was probably one of the most theologically sophisticated shows on TV. Any show that manages to bring in Kierkegaard w/o being overbearing (Joan of Arcadia managed as well), earns my love and adoration, and Everwood did it twice! Of course, the gods of TV were not kind to this show, as somehow 7th Heaven's finale had such amazing numbers they brought it back for one more season and axed Everwood.

In the meantime, Berlanti had helped create a new show: Everwood meets The West Wing (with Tommy Schlamme attached it was inevitable): Jack & Bobby. This show was not nearly as consistently good as Everwood and I never really bought into the mother-son dynamic like I did with Andy-Ephram (of course, I admit I am slightly prejudiced against Christine Lahiti). At first I was really frustrated with the show for telling us which of the boys becomes president, but in light of the finale it all made sense. I've been rewatching this show, also on It's not nearly as sophisticated as I want, and I really lived for the interview portions where you got a glimpse into the presidency of Bobby McAlister but the show had heart and was able to bridge the huge divide between conservatives and liberals, something The West Wing never fully succeeded in doing.

Berlanti went on to exec a couple shows including Brothers & Sisters (which I have yet to watch but which one fellow TV Slut seems to like) and Dirty Sexy Money, but it is the show he co-created and premiered this past Tuesday night that has be excited: Eli Stone. Sure, at first glance, the premise of the show is almost silly: San Fran lawyer sees George Michael singing, and then starts to get additional visions which appear to be coming from God. And in the pilot we discover it's a brain aneurism (Joan of Arcadia did something similiar and it makes an interesting theological argument: there may be a scientific reason for miracles but that doesn't mean they cease being miracles - but that's a conversation for another blog). As the season progresses, we learn more about Eli's father and we get to see Spy Daddy sing and dance (it was almost as satisfying as seeing Anthony Stewart Head sing in Buffy). Well, Eli is back. And sure there's been some stunt casting to draw people in: Sigourney Weaver this week, Katie Holmes next week, Seal and Bridget Monaghan in weeks to come, but that's stop the fact that this show is all heart: it's funny, it's cute, it's musical but it's also very serious, and topical. I wasn't sure how they were going to get themselves out of the hole of Eli's operation removing the aneurism, but they managed to do it well and in keeping with the character of Eli Stone. It was not some cheap theatric. Moreover, Sigourney Weaver was wonderful in this ep. There is a twist that I don't want to give away, but it definitely leaves the door open for her return (check out this interview for a little more, but be warned of potential spoilers:

I can't fully describe it, but there is something in Berlanti's writing and concepts that makes me come back for more. And I can't wait until next week. In the meantime I'll survive on the scraps leftover from Everwood and Jack & Bobby. If only I could find Dawson's somewhere.


Maggie Cats said...

I am ashamed to admit it, but other than Dawson's Creek, I haven't seen any of these other shows. But I have meaning to check Everwood out, so off to the Netflix list I go!

Whitney said...

I have seen most of those shows and thoroughly enjoyed most of them. (I didn't watch Jack and Bobbby). Eli Stones season premier was good. Not great...

Pamuk said...

Yeah, I didn't walk away from Eli Stone saying: best series premier ever, but it did what I expect of all season premiers: got me excited about the new season by reminding me what I loved about it last season. And this ep managed to do that.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I love Dirty Sexy Money!
So many things to follow just in one episode!
To keep up the craziness check out this great youtube link