The Odyssey Online- Tenth Issue

13 Nights of Halloween TV

An episode-a-day guide to TV’s best Halloween specials.

The Odyssey Online

Boo! Like a ghost ninja, Halloween is almost upon us and for TV fans everywhere that can only mean one thing: the Halloween episode. Every year I look forward to seeing what twists my favorite running shows will play in tribute to this scariest of all holidays. It’s also a time to wax nostalgic on Halloween specials past. While Christmas specials get all the glory, Halloween specials are often among the most memorable episodes in many series’ runs. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Whether you’re a Halloween scrooge (yours truly), a Trick-or-Treater for life, or just around for the costumes, there is no better way to get into the Halloween spirit early than a marathon. After much careful deliberation here is my ultimate Halloween TV playlist, for all your spooky, haunted pleasure in the 13 nights ahead.
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The Odyssey Online- Seventh Issue

Karaoke: As Fun As It Looks?

Why singing covers in front of an audience sounds so appealing to me.

The Odyssey Online

I have never karaoke-d.

Correction: There was one karaoke but it was elementary school and I don’t remember the actual singing part, only the picking of the song–“Wild Thing” or “American Pie” because I didn’t recognize any of the rest.

It’s not like Everest, either. I’m sure I wouldn’t have to look far to find a bar or restaurant that hosted a karaoke night or catered to the teleprompter lyric reading crowd. Yet I guess I’m still waiting for the perfect moment. Because, whatever bad or cheesy rep this activity sometimes receives, there are so many reasons to want to give it a try! Here are only a few of the endless possibilities karaoke has to offer:
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The Odyssey Online- Second Issue

How I Got Away With(out) Facebook

Having resisted the popular social media website this long, is it finally time to cave?

The Odyssey Online

Not having a Facebook account as a college student in 2015 is a pretty rare thing. Being able to access the internet and not have a Facebook account is an anomaly in its own right. Yet while it doesn’t come up as often as you might think, word of my Facebookless-ness usually gets met with one of five versions of shock.
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Online Submission #11

Have Your Cumberbatch and Miller, Too? Call Me Skeptical

Loco Mag

A few days before the announcement came out that BBC’s Luther, starring Idris Elba in the daunting title role, was going to be picked up for another two-episode season, news was broadcasted that America’s FOX was going to be taking their own stab at the series. What a shocker.

TV has gotten out of hand with its attempts to measure what constitutes “good television” from “number of successful offspring shows.” This is far from a novel concept—take the current superhero trend. Television has been in the remake business for years now, to the point that it’s almost become an inevitability—like with British shows getting Americanized: basically common practice. What makes these repetitive motions more glaring lately is the turnaround time. Continue reading

Online Submission #3

Narrative Rising

The Compass

In recent years television has become infamous for making the likes of Snooki famous. At the same time, the late twentieth century onwards has been one of television’s brightest stretches, an ongoing era of narrative that consists of more than arguing about a show’s romantic leads, chuckling at stereotypes played for laughs on sitcoms, and listening in awe to a wise, loner detective solve his case in the final ten minutes. All of a sudden, viewers have to remember what happens from week to week, look up charts online to keep track of characters and their allegiances, feel compelled to buy t-shirts with quotes and logos plastered on the front. New technology has made that kind of commitment viable but it is these narrative shows that deserve all the credit for generating such strong fandom responses. The industry is taking notice, too, realizing the profit and loyal audience that comes from airing programming with a little more depth than the typical standalone-episode dramas or comedies. Paid cable may have gotten there first, when the widely considered leader of the pack, The Sopranos, first premiered in 1999, but now basic cable and network channels are moving in pursuit of this growing television trend. The question is, what exactly makes up this elusive narrative format, and why does it reap so much popular and critical appeal?

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My Dream Emmy Ballot 2013: “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series”

UPDATE:

Again, picking comedy nominees has not been my strong suit.
 
The Emmys seem unperturbed by the fact that The Office had its final season and will never have a chance to be given any awards again.
 
Congratulations Anna Chlumsky for your first Emmy nomination! You are my favorite character on Veep and that show is packed with funny characters.
 
Maybe next year Amy Poehler won’t have to be the only representative for Parks and Recreations. True, Poehler is a genius, even providing the best moments during actual award shows, but so are many of her colleagues (Aubrey Plaza!).
 
Alas, far less surprised that Cougar Town has no Emmy representatives, but that doesn’t make it right.
 
Here is the official nominations list.
 

***

 
Here is what the “Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series” category would look like if I was in charge of the Emmys (unfortunately, you can only nominate six people, and even my honorable mentions section is missing worthy individuals).
 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

– Anna Chlumsky (Amy Brookheimer, Veep)

– Jenna Fischer (Pam Halpert, The Office)

– Kaley Cuoco (Penny, The Big Bang Theory)

AUBREY PLAZA (April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation)

Was I excited when I realized I owned the same sweater as April? Yes. Yes, I was.

Source: Uploaded by user via Maria on Pinterest

– Busy Philipps (Laurie Keller, Cougar Town)

– Merritt Wever (Zoey Barkow, Nurse Jackie)

 
 

Runner Ups:
Gillian Jacobs (Britta Perry, Community)
Hannah Simone (Cece, New Girl)
Melissa Rauch (Bernadette Rosenkowski, The Big Bang Theory)
Alyson Hannigan (Lily Aldrin, How I Met Your Mother)
Angela Kinsey (Angela Lipton, The Office)
Christa Miller (Ellie Torres, Cougar Town)
Eden Sher (Sue Heck, The Middle)
Cobie Smulders (Robin Scherbatsky, How I Met Your Mother)

 

Honorable Mentions: Kristen Bell (Jeannie van der Hooven, House of Lies), Mayim Balik (Amy Farrah Fowler, The Big Bang Theory), Eliza Coupe (Jane Kerkovich-Williams, Happy Endings), Retta (Donna Meagle, Parks and Recreation), Alia Shawkat (Maeby Fünke, Arrested Development), Catherine Tate (Nellie Bertrum, The Office)

 
And let the debates begin! Do you agree with my choices? Voice your thoughts in the comments below, and feel free to organize your own nominee list using the official Emmy ballot.
(P.S. It doesn’t matter if your choices are long shots (certainly many of mine are) but it’s nice to pretend they have a chance anyway.)
 

Review NBC’s The Office: “A.A.R.M” (Season 9, Episode 22)

[Warning: Possible spoilers ahead for this episode and any episodes preceding it]

I loved The Office. I love The Office.

the office

Credited NBC

The tricky business of which verb tense to use in reference to this show has been a detail I’ve been pondering over for a while.

What is certain is that The Office is ending and, if you said that to me four seasons ago, I would have been despondent. It was in the middle of NBC’s airing of season four on TV that I bought the DVDs and caught up on what I had missed. Ever since, I have stood by and defended this comedy as one of its very ardent fans. I have dressed up like Pam Beesly, driven to Scranton for one of the city’s “Office Fan Tours”, and have a mug with cast signatures (won in a contest)displayed on my book case (the day I found out I won that mug– priceless).

It was my favorite, most treasured show of all time and now, I’m not sure where it falls on the line-up because it carried on too long. That’s it, plain and simple. The show that could do no wrong didn’t leave on a high that it would have so earned but trudged along for nine seasons. Never terrible but a faint shadow of what it had been, there is a marked difference in quality and laughs, strength of characters, that I’m reminded about when I see old episodes again.

Credited NBC

Credited NBC

I also, terribly, forget those great times occasionally because it’s been a shadow of itself for so long (with some sunny patches in between, but always intermittently), tainting my memory of a program that could only be mentioned in the same sentence as high regard. Episodes from later seasons are provided the benefit of the doubt, a cushion of accounting for their flaws, but were being watched more out of ever-withstanding loyalty than anything else (particularly during James Spader’s stint in season eight; Catherine Tate (Doctor Who‘s Donna Noble) has been a much better celebrity replacement for Steve Carell, even if she may not be as big a name in America).

As we hit these final episodes in the lives of Dunder Mifflin paper company’s employees, some great stuff is being done.

Characters are acting the way they used to when they were beloved, and situations like Dwight actually toning down enough to be able to hold the position of regional manager he’s always dreamed about, plateauing at the level of crazy that made him iconic instead of the enhanced version of crazy that made him a joke these last few years (not the funny kind), are occurring (though not really explained). One looks the other way, however, because he’s back. Angela-loving, constantly-pranked-by-Jim Dwight is back, and even if it doesn’t match his character’s developments lately, who cares because those developments were lousy, turning him into someone cruel and dangerous instead of opinionated and quirky. Last night’s episode took him back to a time and place when he was sympathetic, before the “Sprinkles the cat in the freezer” incident, where everything started falling apart for him. Now he and Angela are engaged, and their finding happiness at last was nice to witness, even if a slightly random, fast, and conveniently timed reunion, considering how long they’ve been separated.

Other Blasts to the Past

  • The bringing in of baby Philip, who has now been officially acknowledged to be Dwight’s child, as a device to allow for some references to his father’s infamous favorite things worked well.
  • Daryll’s dancing with everyone as their last request to mark his departure for a new job, while a slightly more “in your face, this is the end moment” (like Andy’s singing a cover of Sarah McLachlan’s song, “I Will Remember You,” last week, an appropriate, well done, dramatic choice that allowed Ed Helms to show off his banjo skills before he left), was a fun excuse to see the various dance styles unique to each person. Plus, Daryll attempting to adapt to match each style as he made his way around the room was quite amusing and successful (Creed jamming on a fake guitar, or whatever erratic motions he was attempting, may have been the most memorable but there was the sweet Jim/Pam dorky dancing to smile at, too).
"When are we going to get to see some of those famous Beesly dance moves?" Credited NBC

“When are we going to get to see some of those famous Beesly dance moves?” -Jim Halpert
Credited NBC

  • The Assistant Assistant Regional Manager prank (from the title of this episode), was straight out of classic Office and classic Jim. Where classic Jim was hiding during his disagreement with Pam over the job in Philly, when his role was filled by a rude, oblivious husband as opposed to the exceedingly caring one that usually resides, doesn’t really jive with me but again, he’s back.

~ SIDENOTE ~

High five to the writers for making the great callback to one of the most memorable scenes from season two’s Christmas special, “The Christmas Party.” The return of the mystery letter removed from Pam’s teapot present led to some false excitement that, in having it be mentioned again, the actual contents of the card would be revealed. But, like whatever was said between the couple when they found out Pam was pregnant, this will probably never be revealed. It’s ok because the sentiment is clear. Jim has loved Pam for a long time, and Pam loves him back.

The One Criticism

The only part that didn’t belong in this episode was Andy’s storyline, which seemed like something that would have appeared in one of the weaker episodes of late and had nothing to do with the wrapping up of the show that these final hours should be concerned will. Well, I guess it is a follow-up on his choice to quit his job last week and put all his focus on making it big in the music business, but the character of Andy has been taken in so many different directions (anger management to Angela’s fiancée to fighting for Erin’s* love to becoming regional manager to going on a boat ride to returning from the boat a complete jerk) that it’s difficult to define who he is anymore, or care. Last week being his final swan song (literally through song) would have been fine. Continuing his story line here by having him cheat his way onto a fake music competition didn’t do him any favors, and only seemed to be included in order to name drop NBC’s successful ratings accumulator, The Voice.

* Erin actually came out of this ninth season better for it. There were intonations that “Andy and Erin” were supposed to be the new “Jim and Pam,” but dating him only brought out her more erratic side, in reflection of Andy’s own personality. New boyfriend, Pete, on the other hand has really grounded her, and not just because he comes from the same mold as Jim (from his expressions to the camera, to his use of customer complaint cards to build a tower in episode eight, “The Target”).

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In any sense, next Thursday will mark the extended series finale of The Office, a show that has meant so much to me, at times frustrated me, but always been there. Even though I know it’s time for it to conclude (been time), I will still miss it because The Office did, and always shall, play a very important role in my personal television fandom journey, producing a lot of laughs along the way with an hilarious ensemble cast.

Watch “A.A.R.M.”

How do you feel about the show’s send-off so far? Any favorite memories from its nine season run? Share them in the comments below (and please, no finale spoilers).