Thursday, January 31, 2008

Because it was a funny episode, of our lives that is

Cupid's a pretty damn good show (as I have noted here). But that said it's a pretty uneven show. No episodes are really bad or unwatchable, but some are only so-so. But those episodes that are good, they're solid gold. And moreover, they've got so many nooks and crannies that they're worth talking about, whether just for a little bit (as I do) or for quite a bit (as the grand NJ TV guru Alan Sepinwall does). So talk I shall... for I AM RAND!!!

But for reasons of time, and perhaps even interest, I'm only going to hit the upper-crust of the episodes I've seen. It's a mixed bag of funny, dramatic, relateability, and straight-to-the-heart (usually obvious, but still valuable) truths about love. Even if the truth hurts sometimes. Even if just thinking about romance for a man lonely in that department is painful. But if an episode can conjure up such an emotional response, that's a testament to its quality (isn't it?).

Because of that a couple of the best episodes hurt enough that I can wax poetic (or perhaps pathetic (but how can the mighty and glorious Rand be pathetic?)) about them, especially since they were a bit close to home. But let me first highlight just some generally very good episodes (I'm planning to go back and do this with a lot of the other shows I've reviewed):

Ep. 3: Heaven, He's in Heaven (you can get the start here, I'll leave you smart internet-pioneers to find your way to the rest of the episode) (And here's the comments of Mr. Sepinwall on the episode (including input from the show's creator Rob Thomas))
- Touching episode about death, loss, and growing old - and about your husband spontaneously bursting out into song and dance in the middle of the day (and he's surprisingly good at it too). Hilarious and moving. That's Cupid.

Ep. 5: First Loves (start's here) (Mr. Sepinwall's comments)
- The central concept is cliche, but Cupid's about love, so the show's unabashed by cliches, or if abashed, it still runs gleefully into them. And there's plenty of glee here. And some soft played romance (with a nice twist ending). And then there's some more weighty drama in the background. Perhaps most important in the episode is it shows all the characters being themselves in a softly spectacular way, and if you love those characters, then the episode's just gold.

Ep. 6: Meat Market (start's here) (Mr. Sepinwall's comments)
-Dude, for Halloween the guys dressed up as the village people. And one of them thought there was a milkman in the group. And one of them thought they weren't gay. Dude. This is a fun, fun, funnity fun episode, with little gems of small drama because the fun just demands you love the characters. That's Cupid (once more).

Ep. 8: Heart of the Matter (start's here) (Mr. Sepinwall's comments)
-This episode is a tricky beast. It brings in a new character who's got some real comedic chops. It puts up a real solid barrier to the romance. And then it hits you with a surprise that neither you or the characters really know how to deal with. Does the episode hit some sour notes? A little. The introduced character slips into Trevor's life a little too easily and with too few questions (usually characters friendly with Trevor take some getting used to his whole Roman god thing). But the balance of so many different emotions. It's like a house of cards, except the house is holding. Have you ever looked at a house of cards? Imagine if despite all the gravity and balance issues it held. That's this episode, and that's Cupid at its best.

So those are some generally good episodes. Now let me touch on some episodes that have a particular sense for me:

Ep. 2: The Linguist (full links: 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, 4/5, 5/5) (Mr. Sepinwall's commentary as well) (well, I've got spoilers everywhere, but there's especially a lot of spoilers coming up about these episodes).
- This episode speaks to me for a couple reasons. First of all, the male of the week is a virgin. I actually don't like how this is played in the episode, since it's treated as a freak thing, which I don't think anyone outside of Hollywood would actually consider it (I mean its funny to talk about the 40-year old virgin when it's apparent that the whole thing is pure laughs, but here, while the show laughs at how other people react to a 35 (around that)-year old virgin, it also laughs at him, and that pisses me off a little). When I first saw that I basically felt I probably wouldn't like it. But even from the beginning there were a few elements of gorgeous charm.

First of all, the male was a linguist, and while linguistics isn't quite my field, it is still pretty cool. Secondly, it was dealing mostly w/ the university crowd, which I've grown up with (P-town all the way!!!). Thirdly, it had an interesting angle on how Claire might try to get to the root of Trevor's "delusions."

But then I thought about the reason why the man was a virgin. He had dedicated his life to his work. Sex, but more importantly romance, was a distraction and more importantly it sucked out his energy. But now his interest in work is fading, and he's still alone, and he's never really gotten the hang of the connections necessary for dating. Now I'm still highly interested in my work, but that could, without too much of a stretch be me in fifteen years or so.

And yet there is someone he has feelings for. And there's a secret he's hiding, one he doesn't really need to hide, but one which has defined him. But he lets that go for the woman he loves, and in helping her he revives his own interest in teaching linguistics. But through just tangles of circumstance, and more importantly tangles of prejudice, he starts to lose her. Yet with a bit of help from Cupid, well, he sheds his secret, and shows just how good a linguistics teacher he is, and then... well they were born to run. (funny thing, it's explicitly a quote from Bruce Springstein but they don't use his song at the end, probably because they can't afford it)

So let me give one more episode that struck me like The Thunderbolt:
Ep. 9: The End of Eros
-Again here's an episode that I started out disliking. The set-up was too cliche, a show about love and then there's a psychologist who doubts love. And I think (although my cultural time-line isn't perfect) this came out at a certain time when there were a lot of movies and such that dealt with people giving up on love (Down with Love, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Wedding Planner, etc.). But the male lead again struck me as interesting. He was an academic, in this case a cosmologist (ultra-cool field), he was petrifyingly nervous around women, but when he relaxed, say after he decided romance wasn't a concern, he was decently funny and decently happy and he had work and all that.

This could actually be me today, sometimes. Sometimes I just seem to give up on love. But love strikes him without his wanting. And moreover, it again uncovers a connection between his professional and personal love. Yet he resists.

Redeeming how pretentious anti-love is: Drunk Cupid. Drunk Cupid + Romance distracted Claire = male lead's not getting the help he needs. But Claire remembers about children, and she rallies Cupid's fundamental by nature belief in love, and they form a genius plan. Except, Cupid, wounded by events, scared to fail, wants to blow it all off at the last moment, except Claire says no! And they argue, all the while the plan seems to be falling to pieces. But then they bump into a button and a switch and a ... and all the plans they speculated on come up without them, even better than they planned, and then the planetarium lights up, and then it plays:

Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

Beautiful. Maybe it makes me believe in love.

Maybe this whole show does. But if it does then what? Really, do I throw myself out there? Well, what if I do? What will that require in terms of school and projects and plans? It's so late in my college career and it's in such a critical part of my life and... And what about all of that and that and that and that?

I don't believe that everybody needs somebody. Some people will be more about friendships than romances, and some, from choice or circumstances, will be tied just barely to humanity, and while they need to hold on to those ties, they might not need romance.

And I don't really need romance. It's a Christian Creed that God's love is all you need. But it's not a sin to want romance. And I've always dreamed of it. And it's always inspired me. And... and... I believe in romantic love. And I believe in me and romantic love. And it's hard to imagine me giving up on it, without the surrender being at the root being about fear. And if that's the case... I think I can't really give up on love without giving up on a part of myself that's an essential part of who I am.

Cupid at its best is about that. That those who at their hearts are romantics cannot give up on romance without betraying a part of themselves; however if they keep chasing that romance, they might just be able to raise their soul a bit higher to a very special place. But you got to keep trying, even if it's damn hard. Ask and you shall receive, but you need to ask! It's an old lesson. But God bless Cupid for telling it to us again.

Now before I start whining like a little shojo baby (see Piro in Megatokyo), I think I need to wrap things up. If I have time, some time, I might go over the episodes I didn't get to and some of the episodes that were less than full outstanding level or didn't really hit the connection with me.

But until then, keep on chasing that green light, even if it's very far away.

So take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

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