For the first half of the book, Semple sends up Seattle with a detail and vigor that belies the semi-autobiographical nature of her story. Unlike, say...moreFor the first half of the book, Semple sends up Seattle with a detail and vigor that belies the semi-autobiographical nature of her story. Unlike, say, the tv show The Killing, she gets so many of these nuances of Seattle life correct that it makes the few "mistakes" that much more noticeable—specifically an overabundance of articles ("the UW" and "the Seattle Center") and a strange sense of geography (I don't care what anyone says, Madison Park is NOT closer to Lakeside than Queen Anne).
Still, I enjoyed her take on Seattle culture, and even when the story ran off into the wilderness (and a little off the rails), it maintained a quick wit and quicker pace. The latter is assisted by the novel's epistolary format and use of a teenage narrator—though admittedly one with an astounding vocabulary and sense of structure. Best of all, while reading this I rarely thought of the movie adaptation, which I'm sure will be fun to see. I just need to work out the casting in my head.
ps. It's strange that, as rarely as I read fiction, the past two novels I've read (this and Gone Girl) deal with runaway wives. Must be a trend.(less)
I don't know if NBC's decision to air the Jay Leno show killed prime time television as we know it, or if it was nothing more than the nail in the cof...moreI don't know if NBC's decision to air the Jay Leno show killed prime time television as we know it, or if it was nothing more than the nail in the coffin. Still, this sordid tale of the second battle over the Tonight Show—as always Jay Leno comes out on top—proves that Conan O'Brien was victim of little more than bad timing.
In retrospect, he inherited a show doomed to fail. NBC executives wrongly believed that he could continue the era of late night profitability that Leno extended into the '90s. Nobody realized at the time that his perpetual leads over Letterman were hiding the slow erosion of the format, the network system, and television as we've known it for more than 50 years.
Conan wanted so badly to host the Tonight Show that he gave it up, citing a disinterest in tarnishing its legacy by moving to 12:05. He may have been right to stand his ground, though oddly for the opposite reasons he believed—reasons that, as others like Jerry Seinfeld were quick to point out, there wasn't much legacy to protect.
Now, just three short years after Conan's short-lived run as the 4th host of the Tonight Show, Jay Leno will finally (I think?) be stepping down, to be replaced by Jimmy Fallon. He's the right choice, not just for these times, but for whoever is left watching.
I know I'm one of those devoted viewers, though after reading this book, it's now more clear than ever that I'm nothing like the average late night viewer. I care about the musical guests, for one. I don't care much for the monologue, for two. Most glaringly, I record these things to watch later, and have been doing so for decades.
Apparently that makes me an anomaly. So does the fact that I watch more than one of these shows with regularity. So does the fact that I will change the channel between whatever's on during primetime, the news, and late night. All the talk about lead-ins and the like left me baffled, especially in the age of the DVR.
Are these network suits really that dumb? Or maybe they're smart and it's the audience that's stupid. Either way, how hard is it to change the channel, people? How difficult is it to watch what we want? Obviously people are starting to grasp that, and the TV landscape is changing as a result. In the end, that's what this book seemed to me to be truly about; not so much the war for late night and Jay Leno's re-ascendancy to the throne, but the death of a medium, and the people caught in the middle.(less)
My usual problem reading fiction is that I spend the whole time trying to adapt the story into a screenplay, then cast it. I do this before I've even...moreMy usual problem reading fiction is that I spend the whole time trying to adapt the story into a screenplay, then cast it. I do this before I've even gotten half way through, and that's not because I'm not enjoying myself. In fact, these strange attempts to finagle the story into a medium my brain more frequently uses and better understands in fiction are usually signs of my interest in the book.
Gone Girl uses a he said/she said structure of dual narrators—both unreliable at times—making it seemingly impossible to translate to the screen. But I'm sure someone will do it, and do it well, because this is what the critics call a "ripping yarn" and I haven't had this much fun trying to decipher a mystery since I read Joshua Ferris' The Unnamed. Like that book, Gone Girl has a somewhat controversial ending, but actually I think it's a pretty bold way to conclude such a tale. It's certainly one that would test movie audiences, though I often wonder why people feel the need to change things like this.
If it were me, I'd stick to the story as Gillian wrote it, start to finish, and I'd cast Rachel McAdams as Amy Dunne. And she'd be amazing in it. Or should I say Amazing with a capital A.(less)
What he does go deep into, far too much for my taste, is synopsizing each show as if it were one long episode recap. The author became famous as one of the forebears of that format of criticism, but my favorite episode recappers always tend to talk more about the subtext then give us blow-by-blow descriptions of what actually happened.
The tone and pacing of each chapter also varies too wildly for me, with some—like Mad Men and Breaking Bad—getting detailed descriptions of the shows' entire runs to date, and others—like Oz or Buffy—getting needlessly short shrift.
Had Sepinwall cut this list in half or by two thirds, and intercut his stories of each, I think I would have loved it a lot more. Still, I enjoyed the book, particularly as a huge fan of nearly all of the shows written about within: Oz, The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Shield, The Wire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, LOST, Battlestar Galactica, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, 24 and Friday Night Lights.(less)