Things I’ve Been Watching

There’s So Much TV To Watch

One doesn’t really want to go into a situation where one ends up waiting for the next episode. But once one goes down the alley of ‘Game of Thrones’, one must then confront the reality that one must wait an awfully long time for this story to unfold so in the mean time one had better get used to it by filling the intervening time with other TV content. besides which, one can be advised most frequently on any number of splendid shows one must ought watch to keep up with the one’s discourses with one’s friends and family.

So, one must necessarily watch this stuff. And one is amused.


Aaron Sorkin is at once the lauded TV creator and the much reviled target of envy in the world of TV productions. Was ‘West Wing’ so good? I have friends who thought that was just the pinnacle of political fiction on TV. I guess in the years of GW Bush, people would want to see a liberal riposte to the sorts of challenges GW Bush was bungling. So it’s with great interest that Newsroom presents itself as a show about a bustling newsroom that tackles current events and the limits of news media on television.

It’s a nice show, with nice characters and if you can get used to the incessant ping pong dialogue of way too many words filling the air, it has its witty and well-observed moments. Jeff Daniels’s Will McAvoy is a varied, interesting character around whom they have built the show, and it’s nice that he bears watching. On the other hand, his comic foibles place him as a close contender with Will Ferrell’s marvelous creation, Ron Burgandy.

You can do worse than spend time watching these characters. They all seem like really nice people that you might like to have as friends. Maybe it’s the one show that doesn’t lean on personality disorder as a crutch to tell exciting stories.

House Of Cards – US Version Season 1 & 2

In stark contrast to the nice people inhabiting ‘Newsroom’, the US version of ‘House of Cards’ is pretty intense and misanthropic. I think the creative team were probably aiming for Machiavellian but end up more in the psycho ward. This show is filled with personality disorder and psychopaths. It’s essentially “Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright do some crazy spooky wicked things to get to the top” kind of story.

It’s sort of a picaresque, and draws greatly on the device where the character addresses the audience. Kevin Spacey has likened it to playing Richard III. The story of a party whip taking control doesn’t play so well in the American context because the American two party system is in some ways more diffuse thanks to the geographic enormity of America itself. All the same, the logic of how things tumble and fall, giving rise to interesting scenarios is eminently watchable.

Having watched two season and seen how it ends up, I’m not so sure there’s a whole lot more to this story that it could go beyond Season 3. You hope they finish this thing properly rather than let it bleed and hang on for many a dead season. One of the mercifully great things about ‘Breaking Bad’ was how decisively they were able to end it.

House of Cards – UK Version

Having watched everything that’s available for the US version,it seemed logical to go hunt up and watch the old BBC version. Of course, the machinations of a chief whip makes much more sense in the British Westminster system. Knocking off a Prime Minister who crosses the path of Francis Urquhart is much more feasible in its native context.

It’s enough to make me wonder what this might look like in the Australian parliamentary context. I have a hunch we might find out in the coming weeks, what with the dreadful polls for Tony Abbott. Can the Tory pollies really stand not to be loved?

It’s a good bloody question. 🙂


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