Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Big Love" recap: I just want to make you a BLT!

Yes, this is a criminally late recap of the fourth season premiere of HBO's "Big Love." But I totally have excuses for my tardiness -- excuses that involve a particularly wretched stomach flu and a fire in my apartment building.
Truth is, my "Dollhouse" recap Saturday kind of sapped me, and I haven't felt up to more blogging, until now. So, I didn't write a preview of the new episodes of "Big Love," and was tempted just to let the week pass by without commenting on it at all. But I couldn't let it slide, for two reasons.
Number one, I heard about the new credit sequence. Because my review screeners didn't include any credit sequences, I had no idea that the show had overhauled its opening credits until yesterday morning. No longer do we have the Hendrickson clan poignantly ice skating to the Beach Boys. Now, we have this:

Lovely, yes. But was it necessary? I loved the original sequence -- loved it so much in fact that my husband and I used "God Only Knows" as our wedding song. Why change it? I haven't seen any explanations yet. I assume it's merely the "Big Love" team wanting to shake things up a bit. That's fine, but it's going to take a lot of getting used to.
My second reason for wanting to write about this episode is (SPOILER ALERT) that I weirdly loved the screwball plot surrounding the dead body of Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton, whose character was murdered in last season's finale). I know a lot of critics don't like the Juniper Creek stories on the series and, I'm imagining, didn't care for this episode's "Weekend at Bernie's"/"Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" shenanigans with Roman's corpse. But it's just that insanity that makes me love the show. As soon as Adaleen (the peerless Mary Kay Place) screamingly urged daughter Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) to go down to the freezer to fetch some bacon, you kind of knew what was coming. But that didn't make it any less horrifying when Nicki entered the deep freeze to find her father's corpse. It was a moment both creepy and hilarious, as was the Hendrickson clan happening on Roman's body at their work site.
Yes, it was over the top. But it still worked -- mainly because Roman was always such an over the top character. It makes total sense that his corpse would literally turn up to haunt his daughter and her family.
It also worked because other elements of the show weren't quite as over the top. Margene's struggle to grow her jewelry-selling business was, for example, realistic and compelling, as was Nicki's struggle over her feelings for Bill. However, I didn't really buy Barb being wackily at sea with the casino business. The Barb I know is usually good under pressure. Yes, I know she's been thrown off by her excommunication -- and by the lack of respect given her by Bill's business partners -- but I don't think that would make her act like such a maniac. I felt much better when she gained control of the situation by the end of the episode.
I'm also not totally on board with Bill running for office. I feel the show already has too many balls up in the air, story wise, and this might be one more plot than it can handle.
What did you think of the premiere?


Bill Scurry said...

Bruce Dern's return was not what I expected -- I thought we went through Lois paying him off to leave her alone in season one?

TV Writer said...

Yeah -- it really seems like they're running out of steam on that story.