Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Notes on Pop Culture: FNL, Alias, Top Characters of Past 20 Years & SATC 2

FNL: Coach Taylor Boosts Morale

Last week, Coach Eric Taylor attempted to address some of the dire financial needs of his ragtag, upstart (0-2) East Dillon football high school team by organizing fundraisers and writing a personal check to cover the initial installment on the team’s new uniforms. On this week’s installment of Friday Night Lights, “A Sort of Homecoming,” Coach Taylor was trying to bolster the morale end of things, trying to rally the community behind his team, rendering him looking awfully, earnestly ham-fisted at times.

Who knew that ex-Panther booster Buddy Garrity would be his saving grace in luring former East Dillon players who’d won the State Championship in 1983, to appear at a pep rally/homecoming Eric organized? Or that Jess Merriweather would be the person who'd convince her former football star father to reluctantly offer up his restaurant for the rally? (Can't wait for more backstory on that family.) I loved watching how this all came together -- as well as the speech about a “pride” of lions -- knowing that nothing, it seems, is coming as easily for Eric as it had back in West Dillon.

The other two threads that interested me during FNL's new episode this week: Matt Saracen realized that perhaps he made a mistake in passing up a golden opportunity in Chicago in order to stay in Dillon with his high school girlfriend Julie, who's mulling college opportunities on both coasts, and Tami Taylor continued to endure all manner of harassment (character assassination on the radio, vandalism to her car) for simply enforcing the school rules by sending football star Luke Cafferty to the proper school.

As this season has unfolded, I’ve been wondering if Eric really understands the magnitude of the malice that's been directed his wife or whether she’s keeping a lot of it from him, as he’s been so completely absorbed with his job that he doesn’t see what’s happening with his own family . . . other than whether Tami would be willing to cook dinner for former East Dillon football champs.

A Retooled Alias?

I was a major fan of Alias. Became quite fond of J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber while watching this smart and thoroughly entertaining (in the first three seasons anyway) espionage drama which was at its greatest when Garner’s Sydney Bristow was working as a double-agent for the CIA while serving the evil international crime syndicate, SD-6, run by the nefarious Arvin Sloane. (The show launched not only Garner’s career, but Terry O’Quinn’s -- aka Lost's John Locke -- and Bradley Cooper’s, he of Hangover fame.)

When I got word that people have been buzzing about what they’re calling a “reboot” of Aliasan E! report called labeled it an “initial talk” about a newly revised Alias series, sans the Rambaldi element – I was skeptical. Abrams is already working on a new NBC show, Undercovers, that’s slated to begin next fall about a married couple who met while working as spies and are re-activated into the espionage game, adding a dash of excitement to their marriage, now that they're boring, staid caterers. Wouldn’t a new version of Alias be too similar? Would any of the old characters be involved? Could you really call it Alias without them?

EW Top 100 Characters List

If you were to sit down and make a list of the top 100 fictional characters from the past 20 years, who’d be on it? The editors and writers at Entertainment Weekly took up this challenge and put together a rather eclectic list. Why certain characters rank higher than others, and why certain ones were selected over others – like Tim Riggins making the list as representative of FNL and NOT the Taylor family? – remains a mystery to me. Kind of like the Lost finale. The EW top 10 of the past 20 years:

1. Homer Simpson

2. Harry Potter

3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

4. Tony Soprano

5. The Joker (Heath Ledger’s version)

6. Rachel Green from Friends

7. Edward Scissorhands

8. Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs

9. Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City

10. SpongeBob Squarepants

FYI: Some of my favorites made the list: Sydney Bristow (42), Jack Bauer from 24 (44), John Locke from Lost (63), Lorelai Gilmore from the Gilmore Girls (65), Don Draper from Mad Men (74) and Gregory House from House (84).

Sex and the City 2

I went to see Sex and the City 2 on Friday and dedicated this week’s Pop Culture column to it over on Mommy Tracked. While I’m not going to tell you that it’s absolutely fabulous – I called it an “over-the-top, junk-food-binge of a film,” a bad-good movie you can enjoy with friends and share a laugh – I was steamed by the language some reviewers used when writing about the characters and the women in the film, everything from “shrews” to “harridans.”

Image credit: ABC/Alias.tv.


Cooley Horner said...

*I loved that Buffy was #3 on the EW list, though as usual there were surprises. Sue Sylvester of GLEE, for example, is awesome, but #18 is pretty high up considering the show hasn't finished its first season yet. EW tends to crush on shows-of-the-moment, though, so I guess it makes sense.

*Just that picture makes me want to pop in some "Alias" tonight. I was always amused that I found Jack so much hotter than Vaughn. I think they could believably "reinvent" Alias, but it seems like a strange choice given the source material went off the air so recently.

Meredith O'Brien said...

You're right. Looking at the season one cast photo DOES make you want to watch the reruns, to check in with Sydney and the gang: Will Tippen, the lovestruck reporter; Francie, the down-to-earth roomie; Marshall, the geeky techie we love and Arvin Sloane, certainly, somehow related -- maybe in a sideways-flashing universe -- to Ben Linus.

Ahh, those "Alias" memories. . .

Cooley Horner said...

Ben Linus might be cooler than Arvin Sloane, though, as Ben Linus never offed Amy Irving. Do you read the LOST recaps by theackattack? I think I've mentioned them to you before, but if not, buckle up and take a look. They are hilarious...