Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Good luck, Charlie."

Must See TV this week is about "Good Luck Charlie" which is probably my favorite tween show, even better than "Drake and Josh".  I suppose I've started something akin to "Daniel Craig is a better bond than Sean Connery" but I've said it and I'll stand by it.  Don't get me wrong, I love "Drake and Josh", but it didn't have the same legs.  GLC is about six major characters, not D&J's three.

I've only seen a few full episodes but I catch snippets all of the time.  Have for years.  I've probably actually seen every episode in its entirety, just out of order - a sort of "Memento" experience.  I always have to stop whatever I'm doing to watch a few minutes.  Then I have to look for my coffee again.

It's on all the time in my house because we don't have cable - just the NetFlix thank you - and my kids are always streaming it (or one of two other shows).  They've done this for years, watching it like I watched "The Karate Kid" during the summer of 1987.

What makes it so good?  There is a strong engine dressed up with very clever writing.  How strong is the engine?  It's such a driving force that a couple of weeks ago when I sat down to watch the show with my kids and was laughing out loud, my daughter started explaining it to me.  She nailed it.  Every aspect of the engine (it isn't a formula anymore), the beats, turning points, resolutions, etc - down to the timing(!) in the episode.  The thing is, the writing is so snappy that you can't predict how anything is going to happen, even when you know what sort of thing is going to.  It's an engine on par with "Seinfeld" which never failed to surprise even though every episode followed the same format.

Also, like "Seinfeld", each episode is so different and so quirky, that you can watch them over and over and still think they're funny.  "Friends" never quite reached that - there was too much story between the characters and while it was great in first run, that doesn't fuel a strong engine well.

What do I mean?  In "Seinfeld" the characters were all friends and brought their completely different circles of associates/nemeses into the show.  All romance and serious conflict came from characters that weren't part of the main cast.  In "Friends" the conflict and romance was between the main cast.  Sort of a family tree without branches.  GLC basis the show on a family and the inciting conflict always comes from outside of the main cast.  D&J was the same way (albeit with the Miss Cosgrove playing nemesis every time), but had fewer players for variety so it couldn't stay as fresh.

If you haven't seen GLC, I highly recommend it.  You can stream it or catch a marathon on cable.  Invest the 22 minutes in an episode.  You don't have to know the characters when you start, you'll learn everything you need to as you go.  You will laugh, whether you are 8 or 80, it really is that good.

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