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Cable Television Rundown: Big Love? Tetherball? Really?

Yeesh, where do I begin, Big Love?

One, nine episodes of a season for a show that has previously existed on 12 in the first two seasons, then 10 in the third season, is just way too condensed. Obviously, this season has been rushed (and, frankly, last year felt as rushed at times), and as a result, there are about 10 million plots in the air at one time. Last week's episode, "Blood Atonement" haphazardly brought to a conclusion the bizarre saga of Frank, Lois, a bunch of birds, Kathy Marquart's twin sister, ultimately Ben, the Hollis Green clan, Mexico, and Bill/Joey coming to the rescue, which culminated in Lois chopping Hollis's arm off. If that sounds like something from a show not like the show you know Big Love to be...well, you are correct. In the end, Ben, Bill, and gang all came home, told everyone what happened, they showed them all hugging for about 20 seconds, and all was well. So, what was the point?

Another "what's the point" moment was Sarah Hendrickson's final episode last night, "Next Ticket Out". Last season, the much lauded episode "Come, Ye Saints" pulled everything that is great about the show together by deftly balancing the comedy of the Hendrickson family, their search for meaning in their religion, sadness and secrets, and ultimately, catharsis. And Sarah was the center of that episode, culminating in that memorable scene where the whole family pulled over to watch the sunset and comfort her after losing her baby. Of course, last night, being that Amanda Seyfried has decided to move on from the series to pursue films like Dear John (hey Brigitte, you promised you'd take me on my birthday!), her character's exit from the show was, again, rushed through by explaining that she's moving to Portland with Scott, and a sort of awkward scene that, again, lasted about 30 seconds to show that Bill still loves her, despite everything, near the end of the episode. This, after a weirdly epic game of Tetherball played between Bill and Goran, Margene's new husband(!!!) ("in paper only"). Hey, that reminds me that Ana came back and is pregnant with Bill's baby. Meanwhile, Bill is running for Senate, partially because he wants to out his family as a morally strong polygamist mainstream family, has opened a casino, and (ostensibly) still runs his Home Plus store. Wow, I watch TV to escape the stresses of our lives' many commitments, but when I watch Big Love this season, I just get anxious.

The one plot, though, that has paid dividends, is the one with Alby and the UEB trustee who committed suicide a couple episodes ago. This season, Alby has been revealed to be much more sympathetic than he has ever been. Last night's strongest scene, though, featured Alby pushing Nicki away from him, while the ghost of his father taunted him. It was very Anakin Skywalker Turning Into Darth Vader, minus the atrocious dialogue penned by George Lucas.

Still, this season has mostly been dizzying and, unlike last season where there was real emotional resonance behind the dizzying plot twists, this season has just left me exhausted.

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  1. Blogger chris | 12:28 PM |  

    Thanks for reassuring me that I wasn't in a bad mood after all and that in fact Big Love is finally starting to go off the rails. Might not even make my Top 10 by the end of the year. I actually really liked the tetherball and dismemberment scenes if only because they made interesting/memorable moments. A lot of the show is now just needless stressing and scenes of characters yelling at each other with overly dramatic music in the background.

  2. Blogger qualler | 12:41 PM |  

    I agree -- I wouldn't mind the music as much if I didn't feel like it was substituting for actual drama. In fact, the show could take a hint from video blog posts by Margene that are on YouTube the day after episodes -- i.e. a scene with one person talking, no background music, and a scene that lasts for more than 2 minutes:

    http://www.margenes-blog.com/margenes-blog/2010/2/28/my-amazing-penny-analogy.html

  3. Blogger qualler | 5:23 PM |  

    Here's the creators' explanation for the meaning of the tetherball scene:

    http://www.hbo.com/big-love/episodes/4/42-next-ticket-out/video/inside-the-episode.html?autoplay=true&cmpid=t1

  4. Blogger DoktorPeace | 5:08 AM |  

    I was told in person tonight that this post (as read on my facebook) was both hilarious and accurate, so congrats.

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