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Credit Check: Dead Like Me

9 Jul

dead_like_meHulu is a funny thing. As a person who loves a good ongoing story (read: loves the conceit of TV shows) but does not in fact own a TV, I am quite happy that it, and others like it, exist. And with such success no less.

So much success in fact that it has managed, almost single-handedly, to revive a little show like Dead Like Me that was cancelled due to low ratings in 2004. Almost everyone I know seems to have become spontaneously aware of the show’s existence and have been raving about it, both online and off, ever since its inclusion to the Hulu catalog. So I am left with one question to ask.

Hulu – where were you 5 years ago?

For those who haven’t yet seen it the show, created by one of my favs Mr. Bryan Fuller,  is a brilliantly funny and sarcastic look at death and the trails of office work. Both at the same time. And all through the eyes of a recently deceased 20-something grim reaper. Now I ask you. If that doesn’t sound like pure genius, than what does? The opener has always held a soft spot in my heart, finding a perfect balance point that the shows unique humor is constantly teetering on. The music, for those curious, was composed by Stewart Copeland (aka drummer/percussionist for The Police). Who knew?

Credit Check: Mad Men

13 Feb

Mad Men

I have soft spot for well done TV shows.  I may have mentioned this before.  AMC’s Mad Men is my most recent fix.  Despite the enormous amount of praise it has received it wasn’t until the last month or so that I finally started watching.  Now I’m grateful for that lengthy delay of the inevitable cuz it means that I now have 2 seasons worth of episodes to watch at my leisure.  Oh awesomeness.  Anyway, the topic of the day is not so much the quality of the show, but that of its title sequence.  

The use of contemporary band RJD2‘s song “A Beautiful Mine” for the credits is at first surprising given its retro setting, but the choice couldn’t be a better fit.  It lets you know that in spite of our preconceptions about the so-called “glory days” of our recent american past, this will be a much more modern approach.  This is a show that dares to be honest rather than candy coat.  The visuals reaffirm this with an interesting, if not slightly simplistic blend of era specific advertising and modern rotoscoping.  But what I find the most interesting is the apparent allusion to suicide.  It’s no secret that the ad execs on madison avenue had a rather surprisingly high pension for offing themselves from office towers, and I was convinced that Pete Campbell was gonna take the leap when he was nearly fired in the fourth episode.  Which leads me to think that one of the characters will in the end kick their own bucket.   But, even if it proves to be a far less overt metaphor, the image of the man smoking in a chair is remarkably iconic and emblematic of the show.  In other words, I think its pretty tops.  And now I REALLY want to watch another episode.

Credit Check: Bad Things

22 Jan

True BloodA well done title sequence is, I think, a thing of beauty.  It gets you in the mood of the show, primed and ready to go.  It seems however, that as the years pass less and less shows actually have them anymore.  I don’t know if its a push from the networks or an effort by the writers to make up for the screen time lost by the ever encroaching commercials, either way, I miss ‘em.  HBO meanwhile has remained one of the last bastions of this disappearing art.  A fact I have been reminded of over the last few months thanks to an acquired addiction for the show True Blood

True Blood’s opening credits are at once abrasive and intoxicating.  Set to the tune of a dirty, down-home sounding country song by Jace Everett the visuals are an unrelenting barrage of the baptisms, dead rats, gator skins, KKK kids, stripers and catfish.  Its perfect.  It lets you know right of the bat that this is not a show to pull punches, in fact its gonna throw left hooks.  The clash of morbid and sexual images are the stuff pure vampire lore, and the conflict of social images depicted lets you know from the get go that you are not about to watch some sweet home alabama type show.  You are watching the dirty south in all its contradictory, sweaty glory.  

There are of course some choice editing moments as well.  The slow-mo snake bite toward the beginning as well as the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “God Hates Fangs” church sign are two of my favorites.  If you haven’t seen the show it doesn’t ruin anything and if you’re in withdrawal like me heres a little dose to tide you over till the second season.