Over/Underrated 2014 – Part Nine

10 Jan

On Pointe

Jimmy Fallon

–Brook 

I think it’s pretty safe to say that if VH1 did a show called Best Year Ever, Jimmy Fallon would win 2014. Hands down.

In February he took the reigns from Jay Leno, the culmination of a very public and drawn-out late night battle that saw Conan O’Brien replace Leno, only to have Leno reinstated as Tonight Show host after O’Brien tanked it, in every sense of the word.

Leno is now retired, O’Brien is licking his wounds on TBS, and Fallon? Well, he’s pretty much the king of everything right now.

Between his epic lip synching battles with the likes of JGL and Emma Stone and using the wonders of video editing to make Brian Williams rap, Fallon has breathed new life into the Tonight Show.

Moving the show to New York helped a lot with that, too, but his set is so obviously an homage to vintage Hollywood, one gets the sense he wanted to be fresh without shaking things up too much.

And he does it all with this confident nonchalance that likely won him the job in the first place.

In his first monologue as Tonight Show host, Fallon got emotional remembering being a kid and watching Johnny Carson. He seems to understand that he’s filling some pretty big shoes but he is able to do it without succumbing to the paralyzing fear that he might not live up to some idealized version of Carsonhood.

He might not be the best interviewer, but he is the best at getting his interview subjects to engage with him in a way that’s very appealing to audiences, and we walk away from the exchange feeling like we know both of them a little better despite them never discussing anything of any real substance. And that’s all America’s obsession with Hollywood really is. To feel like we personally know our favorite celebrities.

Whether it’s “Justin Timberweek” (ok, fine, that was a Late Night bit, but the bromance between them continues) or Zac Efron and Seth Rogen dressing up as teenage girls for “Ew!”, Fallon nails it. Every time.

He’s not even a full year into his tenure as Tonight Show host, but if the run so far is indicative of what we can expect, it’s safe to say that the kid who replaces Fallon will have similar stars in their eyes on their first night.

JFallon

Off the Mark

How I Met Your Mother Series Finale

Andrea & Brook 

Yes, we both felt so strongly about this topic that we both had to have our say.

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

There were two great rewards that came out of being a fan of the television series How I Met Your Mother. One was Neil Patrick Harris (obviously). The other was that the writers of the show treated you like one of the MacLaren’s gang.

More than any other series in television history (in our humble opinion), HIMYM embraced the concept of the running gag. Numerous references to red cowboy boots, interventions, doppelgangers, a cockamouse, a goat, and of course slap bets not only served to entertain viewers, but to invite them into Ted Mosby’s story. If you were a random, casual watcher of the show, these references would at worse confuse you, if you noticed them at all. To a loyal fan, these references served as reminders that not only did we know the punchline of the joke, but we were a part of it.

Perhaps that is why the finale of HIMYM hurt so much. For the first time in nine years, fans were blindsided by the storyline. Instead of being in on the joke, we were left feeling like outsiders.

For me, personally, the finale bothered me for other reasons as well. I’ve always been a fan of the long game when it comes to television romances. Take your Ross and Rachel or your Luke and Lorelai. Both of these classic couples got their start in the pilot episodes of their respective series. While sharing Oreos and pouring coffee may not be the clearest of indicators of romantic relationships, it was clear from the acting and scripts that these were couples that were meant to be together. They were each others’ lobsters. Sure, there were complications and relationships between those pilot moments and the Finale Ever Afters, but there was never any doubt in my mind that those couples would go the distance.

I felt the same way about Robin and Ted. Ted meets and falls in love with Robin all in the first thirty minutes of the series. I spent eight years of my life shipping them and loathing the idea of a Robin/Barney match up. All the “Aunt Robin” references in the world couldn’t shake my belief that somehow Robin and Ted would find a way, and I went into season nine of the show determined to hate The Mother (aka Tracy). After all, she wasn’t Ted’s lobster.

During the premiere of season nine, “The Locket,” I had to admit she was kind of cute. By “The Lighthouse” I could maybe see why she and Ted would be good together, and by “Gary Blauman” I had finally made peace with the fact that Ted would wind up with Tracy instead of Robin. Damn that Cristin Milioti for being so darn likable.

I would just like to point out that for all the things the showrunners got wrong in our estimation, they got a couple things right, especially pertaining to The Mother. First, just in casting Milioti as Tracy. When I first saw her asking for “One ticket to Farhampton, please,” I was less than impressed. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I made a snap judgement about her compatibility with Ted, and by extension, me, based almost solely on her physical appearance. In five words I wrote her off as, like my esteemed colleague so astutely noted, “not Ted’s lobster.” But after season nine really got rolling, I changed my mind about her. By the end of “How Your Mother Met Me” as Ted listens to, but can’t see, Tracy play the ukulele and sing “La Vie en Rose,” I hadn’t just made my peace with her, I was in love with her (not to mention a sobbing mess).

Second, I really don’t think that there has ever been a more perfect first meeting for two characters in the history of television than the one Carter Bays and Craig Thomas so beautifully created for Ted and Tracy. Their rapid fire repartee using the letters T and M beneath the yellow umbrella was pure brilliance, and indicative of how meant to be be Ted and Tracy really were.

How cheated did I feel, then, when in that last rushed hour of the series not only does Tracy’s character die, but Barney and Robin get divorced, and Ted does wind up with Robin after all. It makes one wonder, what was the point? What was the purpose of the whole series, nevermind the last season which focused only on the Barney/Robin wedding and the eventual mother-meetup?

I really think what happened here was that Bays and Thomas sort of painted themselves into a corner. I know from reading stuff about the show that the ending they ultimately used was filmed while season one was still in production, before they even knew if they were being picked up for a season two. So that awkward exchange between Ted and his kids telling him to “go for it” with Aunt Robin is so awkward because a) the footage of the kids is almost 10 years old,  b) it’s the ending they planned in case they didn’t get picked up, and would’ve been appropriate pre-spending an entire season at Robin’s and Barney’s wedding and c) almost 10 years later, it’s the ending that almost no one wanted.

It seems to me that they, too, had shipped Ted and Robin straight from the beginning. The problem with the finale was their total unwillingness to change course, and be open to the beautiful ending that just sort of happened while they were busy figuring out how to get rid of a character we had spent almost a decade dying to meet. They underestimated the gold mine they found in Milioti, and that is why the ending fell so flat for so many viewers.

HIMYM

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: