PS Television Exchange: Shameless, True Detective, shows that ended too soon

true detectiveBY BRIAN CHIMINO AND SCOTT PHILLIPS

During the week, Poor Scholars staff members Brian Chimino and Scott Phillips, spend a lot of time talking about the latest and greatest that television has to offer.

This week, Brian and Scott discuss Shameless, True Detective and some shows that ended too soon along the way. 

 As a courtesy to our readers, this post contains SPOILERS.

Scott: Another quiet week of TV thanks to the Winter Olympics, but Shameless and True Detective were both really strong.

Let’s just cut to the chase and hit those two, what did you think of Shameless and True Detective?

Brian: It seems I was one of the few that enjoyed Lip adjusting to college life. We both know college is a whole different world than high school and felt the show was doing a good job portraying Lip’s adjustment both educationally and socially. That said, the show is better with him at home around the family, in those situations, with those characters.

I had that problem with the Netflix season of Arrested Development. Didn’t like that everyone was separated so much when the chemistry with the Bluth’s together is what made the show.

Lip is the best character on that show right now. He’s the only one that wasn’t in a rush to get Fiona out of jail and seemed to be the family leader towards the end as Fiona wandered through the empty house. This has been the season of Lip for me.

Do you get the feeling they are writing Wiiliam H. Macy off? When you think of it, what more can they do with him? They guy is so good at being hated by the audience though.

Scott: I really like Lip as the best character on the show as well. I think Frank trying to survive is a solid storyline, but how much longer does it last? Fiona was great in the last episode, by the way. And you know now the decision will come between ratting out Mike’s brother or keeping quiet since Mike bailed her out.

What about True Detective? Holy shit… Intense again. The final scene with McConaughy in the abandoned school is just creepy. The whole episode just had a lot of intense stuff going on.

What were your thoughts?

Brian: The fact that True Detective is an eight-episode season and some awful shows continue on, irritates me. I understand it’s sort of a miniseries or anthology type series but damn.

The move to not make the whole season about one case and to jump further in time and tease the tension and future break up of that team, I love it.

I’ve always wanted to write a screenplay and watching such a well written show like this just crushes my confidence.

The first scene with them telling the fake story juxtaposed with how it really unfolded was brilliant.

I don’t know if they are teasing Rust as a killer but I don’t care. I want to see how the partnership unfolds. I want to see Rust’s home life. I don’t know what else we can say.

Scott: Rust has so much about him that we don’t know yet. With Harrelson, he’s grounded by his family life, but with Rust, he’s a complete wildcard and I have no clue how his character ends up.

You’re right, unfortunate True Detective has to be eight episodes but maybe it limits filler a little bit as well.

Interesting you note your interest in screenwriting because it is a hobby of mine as well. Are there any shows or writers that you really enjoy that you have to see what they’re working on?

Brian: No real writers by name as far as TV goes. I’ll see who has created a show and their resume. Anything Vince Gilligan or Dan Harmon do from now on, I’ll watch. JJ Abrams had hits with Alias, which I have on my Netflix list but haven’t watched, and Lost, but he’s also had junk like Flash Forward and Alcatraz.

I think TV writing is so difficult because people want plot plot plot but what drives EVERY great show is characters and their development. That’s what drives TV, IMO. Some writers don’t seem to think that.

I loved LOST, but without the flashbacks and individuality of a Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Locke, etc, it’s a dumb show on an island with ridiculous twists. The characters are what made you buy all the mythology.

Good point about eight episodes and True Detective, and that we have no problem with a show setting some end date and building towards it like Breaking Bad just did. More and more shows have done that. Are there any shows that have ended that you felt could’ve gone on for another season or two? Friday Night Lights is one of my favorite shows of all time and was fine with 5 great seasons, but they could’ve done one more season with the Dillon super team. Just me?

Scott: I would have loved another Friday Night Lights season with the “super team” but for Taylor to go back to Dillion would have cheapened him a bit. It ended the right way, in my eyes.

But, fantastic question.

Three shows I would have loved to have seen go on longer:

Arrested Development: I enjoy the new season and it’s really grown on me, but I needed 3-4 more seasons of the Bluths during that era. That cast was unreal, the writing was unreal. Oh, what could have been….

Freaks and Geeks – Duh… One of the greatest comedy casts assembled was canceled prematurely during it’s first season — and with it, years of great storylines. James Franco and Jason Segel are both killer. Declared deserves honorable mention as another Apatow show that never made it past a season.

Sports Night – This show is soooo good. I think if this same concept aired now it would have more legs with how self-aware ESPN’s audience has become. Sorkin doing Sorkin and many of these storylines seem like early “Newsroom” angles, but it’s still phenomenal.

What are some shows that ended too soon in your eyes (prepares for three-paragraph Terriers rant)

Brian: Dude, You could’ve solved the Taylor’s conundrum in the first episode or two. It would’ve worked. But that was a series finale that was indeed great and have no complaints about how it ended except I would have left the result of the last state title game up in the air. I didn’t like the whole Hail Mary things and it would have been one of those things people could have discussed for years. Just me? Ok.

Why would you steal my Terriers heat? That show was so damn good and I still am mad at FX for axing it when they renew The Americans which was not that good and had low ratings.

FX screwed Terriers from the get go with the awful promotion with the dogs and there were no dogs in it! Maybe the one guy and his girlfriend had one but it wasn’t apart of anything. The chemistry between Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James seemed so natural. It was funny and intriguing. It’s on Netflix streaming so if you or anyone reading hasn’t watched it, do it and I dare you to tell me I’m wrong. That one season ended on a cliffhanger that actually works as a series finale but wasn’t meant to be. I dare you to watch that one season and resist the urge to download the theme song. Now I’m furious again! Dumb FX!

It’s hard to pick out shows for this because I think 5 seasons of an hour long drama/comedy is a pretty good length. Anything longer could get watered down. Cough, Modern Family, cough.

Agreed on Freaks and Geeks. I watched it on Netflix last year and it was great. Same with Apatow’s follow up, Undeclared.

And I was not a fan of Season 4 of Arrested Development. Too much Tobias, not enough Gob. Didn’t like the stand alone episodes.

Scott, we’re two grown men who admittedly still enjoy pro wrestling, no matter how good or bad it is. First, will you be ordering the WWE Network when it launches next Monday? If so, what will be the first thing you will watch?

I’m ditching HBO after True Detective ends, until the summer when True Blood/Newsroom return for final season and then Boardwalk Empire’s last year, so I will be ordering it. It’s too much of a deal for me to pass it up.

I was at SIU when Vince McMahon bought WCW and the dorms didn’t have the two channels Raw and Nitro were on so I will go back and watch those two Monday Night shows that were simulcasted on TNT and USA — or was it Spike? Whatever.

Scott: If I ever need to get you riled up, I just need to mention Terriers. Never fails.

I will not be getting WWE Network. My interest in WWE has been waning in the last six months — I’ve felt completely underwhelmed by most of the events I’ve watched or went to — and I’m just tired of feeling cheated by an inferior product that continually craps on fans.

No C.M. Punk now? (Even if it might be a shoot) In the words of Jay Cutler, “Doooon’t Caaaaarrrrreeeee.”

I’d watch old Rumbles or PPVs if I did subscribe, though. I just don’t see the appeal in paying more for a network singularly devoted to pro wrestling when I can spend less on Netflix streaming or Hulu Plus. The PPVs are a nice touch, but I have friends ordering it, so I’ll just bring a snack if they host something.

Are you excited for it? It’s a cool concept, just one I don’t wanna pay for.

Brian: I think it’ll be pretty cool to go back and relive moments I watched and enjoyed as a kid. It has a nostalgia factor that could wear off fast though. Who knows if I will stick with it after the six month commitment that you must endure. I don’t even know how much I will watch it but it just seems like such a deal, even though I agree, the product is lacking right now.

This could also be the way TV as we know it becomes in the future. I know people who don’t have cable but pay $40 for internet than have Netflix and Hulu subscriptions and look at the money they save. That would be tough for me because I’m a sports guy and would need my MLB, College Hoops, NBA, and NFL fixes.

Scott: It’s an interesting debate, Brian, and one I certainly understand.

I actually get lucky and have some great free options to work with since my Dad has Xfinity Streampix and HBO GO and I can use those on my XBox downtown (how cool is technology?) without having to pay for them. So I’ve been watching those and enjoying what they have to offer instead of paying for Netflix, Hulu, etc. Figured I might as well use what I have first, ya know?

Here’s my final thought to you:

Do you believe we’ll see television shows phase out the use of network television in favor of the digital formats?

I’m not talking about shows being produced for digital formats like Netflix and Hulu, I’m talking about television shows going completely independent and filming seasons that are available to download by episode.

Think of the elimination of radio stations as users seek out the content online themselves. Similar concept. People could download seasons of shows like albums or mixtapes.

Crazy thought? Would you be interested in that format?

Brian: Wow, you’re a mooch.

Anyway, you can pay and download off iTunes but those shows air on other formats where word of mouth promotes them.

I’d never buy a season of a show that I know nothing about. I pay for Netflix so I’m fine with paying for a service. I tried Hulu but the on demand for Comcast is so extensive, I ditched it.

The medium is always changing and evolving. I actually fear for movie theaters in 10 years. I enjoy the theatrical experience but feel most people want to watch stuff at home on demand.

Scott: You may be right on movie theaters, but they’re getting smarter on the experiential component of watching movies and teenagers still need something cheap and fun to do every weekend.

3D and new stadium seating should keep people in theaters until awhile longer.

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