Monthly Archives: February 2013

Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 16 — “Best Men”

KIP MOONEY: Modern Family never met a sitcom trope it didn’t like. That’s usually OK because the writers typically find a to tweak them so it doesn’t quite seem like we’ve seen it before. Unfortunately, this week’s episode failed to…

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Downton Abbey: Season Finale in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: You know, for a finale to such an amazing season, this definitely fell short for me. The highlights of the final episode of “Downton Abbey” this season were none of the gigantic and lame plot twists, but were the small moments. Bates and Anna’s picnic. Rose grabbing Anna when it was time to dance the reel. Thomas and James at the beginning of what hopefully will be “a beautiful friendship.” Carson carrying baby Sybil. Cora getting choked up talking about revolutionary, modern daughters. Mrs. Pattmore and Mrs. Hughes sharing a spot of tea and laughing over presumptuous grocers. But throughout the entire episode, it felt like little tiny mounds of conflict were being made over sticks of dynamite that just kept being added to and added to as the episode went on, and one by one they exploded, awkwardly, with some piles still in tact for next season.

NAVA BRAHE: Well, there we have it: Matthew has been conveniently killed off in the spirit of high drama that occurs on the most commonplace of soap operas. I must admit that it was a huge disappointment for me as well, and I agree with Howard that “Downton Abbey” has likely “jumped the shark” with Dan Stevens’ departure.

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Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 15 — “Heart Broken”

KIP MOONEY: In relationships, sometimes you have to try new things. You’ve got to break up the routine, do a little role-playing or be totally spontaneous.

And so it was with this week’s episode of Modern Family. Not just with…

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Downton Abbey: Week 6 in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: This week’s double dose of “Downton Abbey” was one of the best episodes (well, technically two best) that I have seen this season. Minus the pointlessness of Cousin Rose (seriously, I don’t want to know what they’re going to do with her thoroughly obnoxious character) despite introducing us awkwardly to the fabulous underground party world of London in the 1920s, many very interesting story points were introduced. Characters often stuck in their ways proved to have more complexity than their starched exteriors often allow. Relationships developed and grew with a surprising level of intimacy, trust, and knowledge. And finally, we got to see Carson playing cricket. With so much to possibly focus on in this episode, I’m going to tackle a few points that I have been particularly interested in all season.

NAVA BRAHE: Since Sonia tackled the Thomas issue in such depth, all I will add is that Lord Grantham’s admission of having to rebuff what sounded like countless advances from his Eton classmates, sounded rather hollow. You would think that a man of his standing would be more homophobic than he was portrayed, especially given his resistance to change.

HOWARD MEGDAL: I think of Cousin Rose as the lone blemish on an otherwise delightful Downton Abbey. Julian Fellowes has birthed many characters we adore; indeed, it is their company I believe so many of us who watch Downton Abbey are seeking out, not some new plot twist. Continue reading

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Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 14 – “A Slight at the Opera”

KIP MOONEY: It’s episodes like this that remind me that Modern Family is sometimes a show divided against itself. There’s the sharp, hilarious stories it tells for its best episodes and the aggressively mediocre ones it uses to pad out…

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Downton Abbey: Week 5 in Review

NAVA BRAHE: Oh, the poor Crawley family. The fact that they had to make a show of it by keeping the stereotypical stiff upper lip in the face of Sybil’s death really got under my skin. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a little keening or wailing under the circumstances: a 24 year-old girl is struck down in the prime of her life, leaving behind a grieving husband, family, and a newborn child (not to mention a houseful of well-meaning servants) who will never her know her, is deserving of some screaming, crying, and the flinging of breakable objects. Then again, I am not British, and I am sometimes known to wear my heart on my sleeve. Of course, in the best of British families, behavior like I just described would lead to banishment in the attic. Or, to one of the attics if you reside at Downton.

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: In echoing Nava’s observation of the emotional constipation of this episode, I found the stiffness in the days following Sybil’s death to be just fascinating to watch. Frustrating, of course, also from an American perspective, but at the same time I can completely imagine the benefits of holding one’s self together for the moment, then on one’s own, in a safe place, letting it all out. But the moments of letting down their emotional guards seemed to speak volumes. Elizabeth McGovern as Cora (probably because she, along with Branson, is not keeping it together for the sake of appearances as well as Lord Grantham or Ladies Mary and Edith) is becoming the most interesting character to watch for me. The intensity of her gaze at Dr. Clarkson in the Dowager Countess’s parlor was numbing and beautiful, punctuated by her mutual breakdown with Lord Grantham at realizing Sybil’s death could not have been prevented. It was a solid moment of emotional breakthrough for the two of them which, in recalling previous seasons having gone through it all from affairs to miscarriages to potentially fatal illness, puts them once more back together as a couple who truly loves each other.

HOWARD MEGDAL: We tend to agree on these episodes broadly, so I’m surprised that I took so much more pleasure from this episode than any other this season, or apparently, than the two of you. Continue reading

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