Monday, December 3, 2012

The Greatest TV Show Of All-Time

TigerBlog isn't a big fan of presenting opinion as fact, because of the implication that anyone who disagrees is by definition wrong.

So let him instead just say this: It would take a lot for someone to convince him that "Homeland" isn't the greatest show in television history.

If you haven't seen the show, you need to. It's worth the $10 or so a month that Showtime asks from you. If you have seen it, then you know exactly what TB is saying.

TB was first turned onto it in September, when he watched all 12.5 hours of Season 1 in a three-day span.

Last night was the 10th of 12 episodes of Season 2, which has been radically different than Season 1 but has, like Season 1, been so great that each week leaves TB thinking that yes, the most recent episode was the best in the series' history.

"Homeland" centers around POW-turned-terrorist-turned-hero-turned-Congressman-turned-who-knows-what Nicholas Brody and Carrie Mathison, the CIA agent/whack job whose obsession with him is almost as all-consuming as her desire to keep this country safe from Abu Nazir, the world's most-wanted terrorist (and Brody's father figure/controller).

TB isn't quite ready to say that Mathison is the greatest character in TV history, but she's definitely in the Top 5.

The show mixes in some peripheral storylines, mostly centered around Brody's relationship with his wife and two kids, as well as his old friend with whom his wife fell in love during Brody's eight years as a POW. It's a good blend of humanizing Brody without having it dominate the show, and the emergence of his teenage daughter as the character whom the audience can most identify with in a "that's how normal people would react way" has only enhanced the overall product.

At the core of the show is the idea of what's at stake and how, far away from the headlines, there are shadowy people just like Carrie Mathison, people with whom TB and every other American have trusted their very existence, people who live with the ramifications of life and death in every decision they make at work.

To see how these people - especially Carrie and Saul, played by Mandy Patinkin - go through their daily lives with that kind of reality is amazing.

Yes, the audience is asked to accept certain events that are implausible, such as the world's most wanted terrorist on a surveillance camera at a convenience store near Washington, D.C. (or near Washington, D.C., for that matter). But who cares?

It's so unbelievably well-written and well-acted, to a level that no viewer has a right to expect from a television show.

That is what really sets it apart. Well, that and the fact that it takes such amazingly radical (and non-formulaic) chances with its plot that the audience has no idea what is coming next.

"Homeland" goes in directions that no other show will go, and it leaves the audience with no idea what's going to happen next. And that's not easy to pull off.

In fact, there are just two episodes remaining in Season 2, and TB has no idea how it will turn out. None.

He does know he can't wait to find out.

"Homeland" has been renewed for Season 3, which leaves TB and other fans of the show wondering what could possibly be next.

Courtney Banghart is in Season 6 of her tenure as the head coach of the Princeton women's basketball team. Here is her year-by-year record:
Season 1 - 7-23
Season 2 - 14-14
Season 3 - 26-3 (Ivy League champion, NCAA tournament)
Season 4 - 24-5 (Ivy League champion, NCAA tournament)
Season 5 - 24-5 (Ivy League champion, NCAA tournament)
Season 6 - 5-2

Add it up and comes to 100-52 overall, with win No. 100 yesterday with a 93-46 decision over UMBC. Princeton led 25-1, 51-8 at the half and by as many as 53 in the second half.

For the record, assistant coach Milena Flores has also been part of all 100 of those wins.

For those who are mathematically challenged, Banghart was 21-37 her first two years and is now 79-15 the last three-plus.

She is now the second women's basketball coach at Princeton to reach 100 wins, and she trails only Joan Kowalik (a TB favorite), who won 163 games in 11 seasons. Five men's basketball coaches have reached 100 wins at Princeton; TB awards extra credit to anyone who got Frederick Leuhring's 100 wins between 1912-20 and Albert Wittmer's 115 wins from 1923-32, to go along with the other three: Cappy Cappon, Butch van Breda Kolff and Pete Carril.

Of the seven who reached 100 wins at Princeton between the men's and women's programs, only van Breda Kolff (130 games), Leuhring (132 games) and Carril (147 games) got there faster than Banghart has.

What's most impressive about Banghart, of course, is the way she has turned the program around. To go from 16 games under .500 after two seasons to 48 games over .500 in the beginning of her sixth season is amazing.

It's been a radical plot twist.

Maybe not on the level of "Homeland." And, unlike "Homeland," it was possible to see this one coming even in the early years.

Her next 100 wins? Can she get there in fewer than 152 more games?

TB, for one, wouldn't be surprised by that at all.


Anonymous said...

Brody = Quinn Epperly

Anonymous said...

Brody = Quinn Epperly