Welcome to Five By Five: Five seriously random lists for a serious random week in which up is down, right is left, fake is real, and everything in between…
Five Recent-ish Episodes Of TV I Point To That Show The Best The Medium Can Do
— Lost, “The Constant”: This has everything The Leftovers later perfected, all within an episode that both moved the central mythology along while placing emotion at the heart of everything. Easily understood as a stand-alone episode, but best appreciated as the culmination of a multi-year yearning.
— Justified, “Decoy”: Peak TV has claimed many victims, and this show is one of them. I legitimately haven’t heard a peep about this show since it’s gone off the air, which is a shame. This is its zenith, a forty-minute masterpiece in which its tension and humor were never greater. It’s the equivalent of a perfect game in baseball.
— Parks And Recreation, “Flu Season”: Comedy bliss from minute one, this episode encapsulates everything that’s great about this show: Amazing performances, stunning character-based humor, and one of the single greatest improvisatory lines ever uttered. This is my “In Case Of Horrible Day, Break Open” episode of TV.
— BoJack Horseman, “Fish Out Of Water”: I just cried typing that out, if you want to know the emotional effect this episode has on me. If I could show just one episode of TV to all of Congress right now, this is the one. A beautiful mediation on the commonality of feeling alone in the universe and the courage it takes to dare make any connection at all, this one leaves a beautiful, bruising mark.
— Spartacus, “Libertus”: Every critic should have a hill upon which they proudly die, and “Spartacus was the show everyone thinks Game Of Thrones is” is mine. The halfway point of the second season and essentially the halfway point of the series, this episode brings everything to a head, razes everything you thought you knew to the ground, and sets the stage for surprise after surprise amidst the biggest, bloodiest action you can imagine.
Five TV Shows HGTV Should Go Ahead And Make Since It Seemingly Just Slaps Words From Other Shows Together At This Point Anyways
— Income Crashers: People just stay on your couch and drain your savings while they “try and get back on their feet,” which mostly involves them using your Netflix password and queso reserves.
— Island Flippers: Geologists terraform existing islands into the paradise of their dreams. Live tomorrow’s dystopia today!
— Holmes On Bones: Mike Holmes and Emily Deschanel properly install drywall while solving murders. Or it’s bad fanfic, in which case, sorry?
— Fixer Upper Hunters: Think The Hunger Games, only with Chip and Joanna Gaines, and you pretty much have it.
— Helen’s Beachfront Bargain Hunt: I mean, you get it, right?
Five Songs That Sound Like Shows I’d Like To Watch
— Massive Attack, “Inertia Creeps”: I’m big on atmosphere, and Massive Attack has atmosphere to spare. A show like Black Mirror approximates this experience, and while I don’t always want to wallow in a show that might swallow me at any moment, there’s something potent about wading into that end of the pool every once in a while.
— The Shins, “Phantom Limb”: True story: I’ve listened to this song a few hundred times. I don’t know more than a third of the lyrics. But I know exactly what it means. Rather, I know exactly what it intends to convey, which is to say that it speaks to me on a primal level the way that the aforementioned BoJack episode works. Knowing specifics often clouds the larger meaning, and shows that affect me emotionally are more important than shows that connect every narrative dot.
— The Cure, “The Love Cats”: Heard this tonight for the first time in a long time, and there’s always room for a sexy/naughty/nerdy/funny vibe in my television schedule. Who needs everything to be DREARY all the time? I don’t have many criteria for friends, but anyone who would perform this at karaoke is my kind of person.
— Crowded House, “Something So Strong”: Probably my favorite pop song of all time, this one makes me feel like everything’s going to be OK and nothing’s going to hurt. Sure, there might be some rough patches (that bridge feels like adorable mischief may be afoot), but everything will work out OK. Drama is conflict, but conflict need not be earth-shattering to mean something. Shows like Friday Night Lights and Jane The Virgin achieve this vibe in their own distinctive ways, and more shows like those would make not only TV but the world a better place.
— R.E.M., “The One I Love”: My fellow critic Maureen Ryan and I often talk about “stealth shows,” which are programs that are seemingly about one thing but really about another. So something like Battlestar: Galactica comes to mind, in which a show set deep in space is actually an allegory for post-9/11 America. There’s nothing better than when a show seeps its way into your subconscious and then explodes from inside of it, transforming what you knew not only about the show but yourself.
Five Sequential Reactions To Dougie On This Season of Twin Peaks
“We’re still doing this Dougie thing, eh?”
“Why didn’t that episode have more Dougie? Fuuuuuuuck!”
Five Film Franchises That Would Work Better On The Small Screen Than The Marvel Cinematic Universe Currently Does
The Fast And The Furious: A show based around a crew of mechanics responsible for designing and building cars that Dom and his family have at their disposal around the world? Sign me up!
The Bourne Series: A 24-style show set inside the Bourne universe? An internationally-funded version could drop 10-episodes seasons with an ever-revolving series of recruits. Yes, please, and thank you.
The Pink Panther: Forget the Steve Martin abominations. This would be a fantastic vehicle for some old-school physical comedy using a familiar property that needs new blood.
Cloverfield: I talked about Black Mirror before, but this is another potential spin on The Twilight Zone that wouldn’t conflict at ALL with the film franchise but in fact represent a great attempt to augment both sides by placing the right story in the right medium.
Pitch Perfect: Oh fuck this was Glee, nevermind.