Tuesday, June 19, 2012

DANCE IT OUT: Amy Sherman-Palladino gets a lot of praise for her dialogue (and rightly so), so something I found fascinating about last night's second episode of Bunheads was that there were three substantially dialogue-free sequences that carried much of the heavy emotional lifting in the episode--a pre-credits sequence with Michelle looking through Hubbell's possessions in grief, a sequence about midway through the episode where Michelle dances alone, and the closing memorial ballet sequence with the girls scored to Tom Waits--and all of it pretty much works (though the opening sequence winds up relying on strummy strummy la-la score cues that seemed directly lifted from Gilmore Girls).  Ratings for the premiere were less than spectacular, likely because the ABC Family audience (directed toward younger women) might not be so interested in a show where the primary figures (thus far) are in their 30s and 60s, rather than teenagers, but I'm hoping this finds an audience.


  1. You could tell the emotions were more serious because the "la la"s sounded more Aimee Mann-ish than the Gilmore Girls ones.

    I was also BEYOND frustrated by the scene on the bleachers where three teenage girls couldn't bring themselves to say either "dead" or "died" and couldn't even muster a euphemism like, "passed away" or "didn't make it."  Instead it was all pained facial expressions - USE YOUR WORDS, girls.

    I also hated hated hated the newly-revealed title credits - it seriously felt like a tampon ad. Dance footage in black and white with shades of pink swirls coming from their movements? "Maximum comfort, maximum ease. Because life demands grace."

  2. Duvall11:27 AM

    The wordless scenes were quite good.  The scenes with words, less so.  The tone of some of the scenes early in the episode just seemed off.

  3. Marsha11:30 AM

    I, too, hated the credits. Really, just the swirls - black and white ballerinas is fine by me.

    I have to say, much as I love Kelly Bishop and am fully on board with the Kelly Bishop Full Employment Act, I think it may have been a mistake to cast her as Fanny. Not because she's bad in the role - far from it - but because I can't stop comparing her to Emily Gilmore. The role is reading very much like "Emily Gilmore got hit on the head and found Buddhism." The DAR gets replaced by the quirky friends, but the party planning and controlling actions are still there. The disdainful looks she gives Michelle are the same disdainful looks she gave Lorelai. I'm just waiting for Fanny to emerge as somethng other than "modified Emily."

    And the name "Michelle" is somehow not working for the character for me. Not sure why. I have trouble remembering that's her name.

    Anyway, still enough here to like that I'm sticking around.

  4. Maret1:21 PM

    As I mentioned last night on twitter, I'm enjoying playing "Spot the Gilmore Girls alum" as I watch. Last week we had Gypsy and this week Mitchum Huntzberger. And Pamie let me know that Michelle's next door neighbor/aging hooker in the pilot episode was played by Alex Borstein, who played both Drella and Miss Celine on GG, and apparently was the original Sookie until Mad TV obligations prevented her from taking the part. Crazy.

    Anyhow, I'm really enjoying the show and the performances. And LOVE that Ellen Greene is a part of the community.

  5. Devin McCullen1:23 PM

    You forgot to mention the 2 scenes of characters listening to someone play sitar music over the phone.

  6. Wendy3:28 PM

    I thought the two scenes of Michelle/Fanny listening to sitar music over the phone were hilarious.

    A weaker ep than the first, but since I never watched Gilmore Girls, I'm not really caring about the GG comparisons. 

  7. Marsha3:42 PM

    Oh, and I'm going to be really annoyed if one of the tropes of this show is to end every week on a dun-dun-DUN cliffhanger. We're now 2-for-2.

  8. I was annoyed by the utter artificiality of this one since will modifications made orally aren't usually enforceable, and given the timeline of the pilot, Hubbell wouldn't have had time to pop over to his lawyer's office to sign a revised will.  Of course, at least in most states, Michelle would at least have elective share rights as spouse at death.

    I do give them points for recognizing that they need to give Michelle a reason to stay in Paradise rather than run back to Vegas, but wish the strings weren't so obvious.

  9. Genevieve4:06 PM

    Liked it a lot, and laughed a lot at dialogue, but not nearly as much as the pilot.  Husband and kiddo were not as into it this week.  I think last week's sudden plot twist resulted in this week having a change of tone that didn't allow for as much sparkling dialogue as the pilot.  Hoping next week, since it won't be so sadness-drenched (or characters escaping from sadness through party-planning and moviegoing), will go back to the earlier tone.

    Liked when Michelle (I can't associate the name with her either, and just think of her as Sutton) took the dog; the surf-bar bartender and his wife, who sounded like Janice the Muppet; when Truly said "I blame you," and Michelle responded "Me, too."  Liked the dance and the Tom Waits song, though I'd think Fanny would still want to have her input into the memorial (there could be a later one that actually talked about Hubbell, since this evening didn't but this could be more like a combination of sitting shiva with her and a dance tribute). Love Boo, and liked Sasha's reaction on seeing Fanny -- how she suddenly was hit with the real emotion, but couldn't comfort Fanny, and on seeing Sutton lashed out, as many teens would, demanding that a grownup "do something!"  Like Hubbell's friend, and how to made clear to Fanny that Hubbell cared for his wife for longer than 24 hours; I fear the friend may become a love interest, which would certainly be awkward.

  10. I really wish (spoiler alert) that they hadn't killed off Hubbell.  I knew very little about the show going in except that it was Sutton Foster and Amy Sherman Palladino, so I was surprised by that twist.  Maybe it's just because I like Alan Ruck, but I also thought he was an interesting character and I would have liked him to stick around. (In the early scenes of the pilot he managed to find a combination of sweet/creepy, which is hard to do.)  I also would have enjoyed seeing Michelle's relationship with Hubbell develop, and it seems unlikely to me that she would stick around now, magical will change or no.

  11. bill.5:16 PM

    Are we sure they killed off Hubbell? Sure, the kids finally said he died, though later didn't someone else mention a rumor about his body not being found? Until they show the body I'm assuming he drove the car off the cliff and went for a walk.

  12. bill.5:29 PM

    From the AV Club review, this line is presented as a positive: If a character is on-screen for more than five seconds of this episode, they notch at least one memorable quip. For me, that's the biggest problem I'm having with the show. It's too artificial, slow down a beat and let people have a conversation. I've also never seen Gilmore Girls (and the same AV Club article annoyingly name-checks it 4 times), so what it reminds me the most of is Scrubs. That's another show that sounded like it was written by smart people trying way too hard to sound smart.

    And is it just me, or does Sutton Foster punctuate half her lines with a Debbie Downer sad trombone face-scrunching?

    One from the wife: Knowing that every little girl in the would be watching this, and it being on the "family channel", how long do you think they'll keep calling her the "sex at the party" girl?

  13. Watts6:46 PM

    I also liked Hubbell as the quiet (read: Luke) character - you can't have ALL the people be chatty ALL the time. Ruck's one of the best reaction guys in the business - why get rid of that?

  14. Shayera7:41 PM

    I keep wishing they'd just put him in a coma instead of killing him off.

  15. Watts9:44 PM

    Right? I was really hoping for coma. It would allow Ruck to only have to appear every now and then, but still give you the Michelle/Fanny push/pull. And it would take care of some of the weird tone issues from last night.

  16. Love these comments:
    What happens: The teacher says that if they don't find a missing tutu, they'll have to cut Clara from The Nutcracker.
    Of course not. First of all, you'd never cut a character because of a costume problem. Second, Clara doesn't wear a tutu, she wears a nightgown (*snorts, pushes glasses up nose*).
    What happens: We learn that the "head of the Joffrey School of Ballet" will visit the school to hold auditions.
    Nope. You go to the Joffrey; the Joffrey doesn't come to you.

    The Joffrey is nice, but it isn't one of the elite summer intensives. Plus, being in California why wouldn't they want to go to San Francisco? Other than San Francisco wouldn't take them because "Their arms look terrible, all snaky and mannered, like they were trained in the 19th century."

  17. Heather K12:26 AM

    I never remember her name is Michele either!  It is so confusing because I have to remember who they are talking about.  I don't know what I think her name is, just not that.

  18. Becca1:00 AM

    Ha! I do agree with some of their comments. The girls' arms are off, and their hands even more so. There's also not enough toe-pointing going on all the time. I noticed a couple of floppy feet in the performance. 

    But my teacher would have never allowed anything beyond leotard and tights, though advanced students could choose the colors they wanted to wear, and you could add a skirt if you REALLY wanted to. She'd protest it, though. Also, we always talked on stage, as long as we knew the ambient mics were off. 

    Also, only a shitty teacher would spring an audition on the girls a week before. "The Joffrey will be here next week! Hope you're ready! Ha ha!"

    I really don't understand why the b plot of this week was at least one of the girls freaking out about the audition they weren't prepping for because the teacher's son died. Surely one of them is that selfish. I'm only asking for a LITTLE continuity. 

    This episode was SO tonally wonky. It's like it wasn't rewritten at all. They just shot whatever draft they had at the time. I felt like even Kelly Bishop wasn't sure what to do with her lines. 

    Oh, and I googled Sophie Tucker! I recognized the name from Chicago, but I always wondered if she was a real person. Such an interesting story! Look, I learned something!

  19. Anonymous1:56 PM

    If Hubbell had died intestate, wouldn't the property have gone automatically to the spouse? 

  20. Laura9:54 PM

    So do people on this show do the dialogue that way because they are directed to do so or because they think that's what they are supposed to do on an Amy Sherman-Palladino show? It's like they don't even listen to each other before speaking. It's like parallel acting. And I love me some GG but it annoyed me then as well. Still in, though. I want to be Sutton Foster when I grow up.