Every recap of The Americans, ever

I watched the first couple of episodes of The Americans and was quite impressed. But it’s a little too intense for me, especially given what happened to these families in real life.

But I’m interested in what happens. My hope is that the finale addresses the reckoning of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but my guess is that they just kill off Paige.

To keep up, I’ve read recaps of the show over the years. I’ve detected a trend.

And so this is, as the headline says, every Americans recap ever.

Ready?

It’s soooooooo good.

Elizabeth is sooooooo good in this episode.

Hey, remember that character they wrote off the show two seasons ago? She was soooooo good.

The wigs were soooooo good.

Everything is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo good.

So I really have no idea what’s happening in the show. But I hope the finale is good.

Jenna Fischer’s wonderful new show … and why it won’t last

I checked out the first episode of Splitting Up Together today, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

That said, I’m not sure I’m interested in watching another episode.

Of course, I’m *rooting* for it because I just love Jenna Fischer. She was wonderful on The Office, and I enjoyed her WTF podcast interview talking about her book. And she is, as you’d expect, absolutely terrific in this. Maybe TOO terrific. There are times you want to reach through the screen and slap Oliver Hudson for taking her for granted. What were you THINKING, dude?

But Hudson is good, too. While things may seem a little stereotypical — Mom fastidiously assembles every ingredient for the kids’ breakfasts and lunches, while Dad gives them some lunch money and lets them fend for themselves — it’s not that Hudson is a neglectful jerk. It’s the “free-range vs. helicopter” parenting dilemma at play here, and it’s done with both earnestness and good humor. Fischer’s character really thinks parents can and should solve everything for their kids; Hudson’s character sees reasonable limits for that concept.

So if this were a short-run series — one of those British shows designed to run six episodes — it would surely be worth watching.

The problem: There is no way they can drag this out to a full sitcom for multiple seasons.

Some of the reviews I’ve seen pick up on the issue. It’s an unrealistic long-term premise. Money is part of it — we can understand why a newly divorced couple in the era of overpriced real estate can’t afford separate places, but some reviewers have pointed out that both parents have lax attitudes toward employment and financial restraint, undermining the “financial necessity” point.

The other part is that we’re going to like both of these characters, and we’re not going to wish a divorce on either of them. Even in the first episode, we see Hudson starting to realize what a great life he has thrown away. What will we see in episode 45?

Even in The Simpsons, where they can create and then destroy an alternate reality in each 22-minute episode, they’ve gone to the “Homer and Marge split up” well far too many times over the years. Imagine if Homer was living in the garage, pining for a reunion with Marge for 10 seasons.

It’s a pity, because the first episode is certainly worth watching. The scene in which they inform family and friends over dinner is priceless. I like the supporting cast, too, especially the guy who worships his wife and can’t comprehend why Hudson didn’t do the same. (But again — he makes such a convincing case that the writers are going to have to contrive ways to make Hudson not listen.)

They could surely get about six good episodes out of this, ending either with a reconciliation or one of the parents finally moving all the way out. But we’re probably not even going to get six good episodes out of it because they’re going to have stretch things out and rely on sitcom cliches (oh, no — a misunderstanding and jealousy!) to keep this couple apart long enough to make a second season.

The actual divide in this country, illustrated

Forget rural vs. urban. Forget left vs. right. Forget rich vs. poor (both of which have been convinced to vote against their self-interests, anyway).

Here’s the divide in this country:

Duke course catalog, Statistics 642:

Statistical models for modeling, monitoring, assessing and forecasting time series. Univariate and multivariate dynamic models; state space modeling approaches; Bayesian inference and prediction; computational methods for fast data analysis, learning and prediction; time series decomposition; dynamic model and time series structure assessment. Routine use of statistical software for time series applications. Applied studies motivated by problems and time series data from a range of applied fields including economics, finance, neuroscience, climatology, social networks, and others. Instructor consent required.

TV listing for third-rated cable show in 18-49 demographic for June 21:

Sonja’s love triangle gets more complicated as things heat up with “Frenchie.” Meanwhile, Tinsley goes apartment hunting. Carole and Adam bicker over items he left behind in her apartment. Fredrik and Bethenny look over her apartment as they plan to put it on the market. Carole and Dorinda go to Washington DC for the Women’s March. Ramona throws a party at her apartment with a surprising guest list.

 

 

Corporate social media — an oxymoron?

When your company is savaged on John Oliver’s show, wouldn’t you want to respond?

Companies have so many tools to do so these days. The days of tossing press releases to overloaded newsroom fax machines are long gone. We have Web sites (sorry, AP, but “World Wide Web” is a proper name, hence the capitalization) and social media. If a comedy/news program like Oliver’s does a segment on you, you can even play along so that you don’t look defensive while presenting another side to your business.

So here we are, 36 hours after Oliver’s segment on debt, which didn’t paint a flattering picture of DBA International. And what’s on DBA’s site, their Twitter account and Facebook account?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Why even have social media accounts if you’re not going to try to turn a crisis into an opportunity?

Here’s the segment:

 

Cable-channel ID creep and pandering to the masses

MTV doesn’t show videos. (Not often, anyway.) Neither does VH1. A&E doesn’t show a lot of arts and entertainment. Even The Weather Channel has a lot of shows that aren’t really about the weather.

So maybe it’s a little heartening to read this Washington Post story about Discovery getting back to its roots.

Now, as cord-cutters and online video plunge the cable business into chaos, Discovery is fighting aggressively to return to its roots, spending millions on glossy documentaries, science shows and ­“environmental advocacy campaigns” in a bet that smarter, more-distinctive programming will help it survive the new age of TV.

Two ways to look at this in the cold light of finances:

  1. Netflix and others have shown there’s an audience for intelligent programming.
  2. That audience might be hard to get back from Netflix and the web.

The sad part: Cable television is going to go to its grave pandering to the lowest common denominator. Sure, Mencken said no one went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people (or something to that effect), and Barnum may or may not have said there’s a sucker born every minute. But with a couple of generations taking a college education as a given, it’s disheartening to read this defense of reality-TV crap on the network formerly known as The Learning Channel:

“TLC is a very powerful and heartfelt Middle America brand. When we look at TLC, we basically say, ‘F— New York and L.A.,’ ” Zaslav said. “Most of the media is not speaking to Middle America. So what are the shows we can put on [for a] 42-year-old mom who gives her husband and two kids dinner, and then puts the TV set on? What is she going to watch that she can relate to, that’s going to be entertaining and fun for her?”

I can’t wait for Middle America to say “F— you” right back and prove that they want to watch quality programming, too. Preferably before climate change makes everyone move to Middle America.

The brilliant WKRP Thanksgiving episode

We can all say the closing line together:

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

But there are so many great moments in this episode. When I rewatched bits of it yesterday, I loved the reactions of Johnny, Andy, Bailey and Venus in the studio as they listened to Les describe the carnage.

Then a wonderful performance by Richard Sanders as Les Nessman, reluctantly describing what happened next.

Every year, people are going to share clips from this episode. And it’s worth it. One of the finest episodes of TV ever produced …

Remembering ‘WKRP’s’ “Turkeys Away” | Mental Floss