Stealin’ Dad’s Car Keys and Hittin’ the Road

August 2, 2013 § 27 Comments

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Another absolutely wonderful ep. Whoever decided to put Mr. Turner into the Indian outfit, we’re collecting a beer fund on your behalf.  Thank you.

I keep wishing this was the 2nd year of a promising new series rather than the just-saved-by-the-bell 3rd year that’s outperforming all my expectations. I keep hearing that the NZ viewer numbers are terrible and I can’t stand it. This is one of the best, most original, most cleverly written, most resonant shows this year and no one knows about it or is watching it.

This show deserves a fourth year and a fifth. It deserves an audience worthy of it. It deserves…better.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, episode 5 was another show stopper giving some fine dramatic conflict, some hilarious dialog, and avoiding many comfortable tropes that would have been both easy and wrong. Instead, we got to spend time with a far more interesting Joe, and a much better fussing family.

And damned if I don’t rather like Njord — a charming loser of a man — and damned if I didn’t end up feeling rather sympathetic for Karen, a woman who ambitions outweighs her sense or maternal abilities.

From start to end, the ep focused on family and familial love. Never comfortable, endearingly awkward, always worthy of pursuing, often painful. By the time the sun was setting with a game of cricket, they had once again grown closer together despite and because of their dysfunction. Nothing much happened and everything happened and it was a sheer pleasure to spend time with this family. Even the outliers, Zeb and Ingrid, focused the story on family — being on the outs, and having that unwavering bond of brotherhood.

Poor, poor Ingrid — she needed Ty to keep her close and he left her without a second glance. Her scenes,  sitting lonely as Axl made plans and Zeb attempted a date with psychogirl, were so piercingly sad and such a contrast to the big messy love and angerfest over at the party. So much else was happening in the story; Ingrid’s presence provided a constant underlying mournful, awkward note, one that should not be overlooked, especially as Olaf (with Stacey in hand) took his rightful place as the honored patriarch of the assembly.

And then there’s Zeb. From our viewpoint, Axl more than proved his undying love — brotherly, perhaps, rather than romantic, but no less true — on Zeb’s behalf. And in return, Axl got stabbed for his pains (that came out a little more oddly phrased than I intended) and the two are on the outs. It was a second harmony of tragedy, doing what was right, yet hurting Zeb in the process of fixing the unreasonable situation.

On the party end of things, the sons confronted and were confounded by their slippery father — a man who apparently was not as black-and-white as painted by memory or story, and who gave as good as got.  Joe’s smackdown on Mike was as painful as it was true. Mike was shafted but it wasn’t entirely a punishment. Oddly enough, it was Anders who delivered the purest message, righteously smacking Joe with a well deserved right hook.

For all that Ty intended to make the party into a story about domestic abuse, he failed. Instead, we were once again reminded that his heart is still broken for Dawn and Anders wasn’t above tweaking him a few times in the name of brotherly abuse. Fortunately, Ty gives as well as he gets, and the two devolved into a conflict so intense that a cricket game broke out.

I’ve never been a huge Mikechelle fan, as you probably know, but once again the story really served these two well, moving their relationship along and giving them a basis for finding comfort in one another. Two focused, unsentimental beings surrounded by drama.

In the end, the episode was about a bunch of people who got together for an afternoon, talking, bickering, and growing. It left us with several mysteries — about Joe’s intentions (which are as slippery as the sea) and about the mysterious man in the car.

What wasn’t left a mystery were Karen, Zeb, and Ingrid. Poor Karen has once again led with her heart and strolled down the garden path alone. Zeb believes he’s been betrayed by his most passionate defender. Ingrid never even made it to the garden.

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  • The notes mention Loki, Odin going to Norsewood, and show a picture of a church.
  • Of course, Axl was going to end up as a cowboy. Of course.

§ 27 Responses to Stealin’ Dad’s Car Keys and Hittin’ the Road

  • Freddie AppsHero says:

    Great write up. If there’s one thing that bugs me about the new season (and it’s not necessarily a bad thing), it’s the fact that none of the episodes are self-contained; they always lead on to the next.

    I’m mildly upset at not being able to figure out the identity of the mysterious man in the car. I didn’t notice that his notebook mentioned Loki; I interpreted the burning church as an exaggerate reference to Ty’s house, although it could have been a reference to how the gang considered having Colin burn down the god-hunters’ church last ep. It seemed like he was checking off “Odin -> Road to Norsewood”, rather than noting it, so perhaps he’s some sort of prophetic god, although with the failed prophecy of Loki burning down the church, he might not be very good at it. I also noticed that he has a disabled parking sticker and parked in a disabled spot; not too many disabled gods in the Norse pantheon. And the ominous music definitely means he’s a bad guy.

    And that’s about all the over-analysing I can do in one post.

  • Pilgrim jake says:

    Haven’t watched ep yet or read commentary – beyond its a great ep and ratings are dire.
    It’s this I’m focussing on. I really wish James et al would set up a mechanism whereby passionate international fans can support the show. It’s been hideously butchered here in oz yet it still manages to get a loyal following. One simple option would be a kickstarter for s4 where people could put in different amounts for the DVDs – eg s3, s1-3 and s4 bundles. Even a 10$ option for those who just want to pitch in. I can afford and would gladly pony up $200 to the cause.

  • drjuliebug says:

    I feel exactly the same way about Johan/Njord as you do, KG!

    And wasn’t it interesting that Dawn picked out a sexy costume for Ty?

  • just another mortal says:

    This was just glorious.

    Not a moment or a shot wasted – the hilarious visuals were almost as important as the fantastic dialogue. The Village People joke will live on in my memory for a long time, especially when Colin put the cherry on the top with “Hello Mike, you Macho Macho man”. HEE HEE HEE. And Olaf unleashing the Kraken in the purple get-up – HEE HEE HEE.

    (On a more shallow note – Ty looked very nice, but Anders in those shades – HELLO.)

    A “big messy love and angerfest” it was and I adored every minute. I feel exactly the same way as you do about the show, kg – this show (and this season especially) is so gloriously funny, clever, inventive and original, it’s a crime so few people have given it a chance. I feel like we should start lobbying the TV channels which show it outside New Zealand to help co-fund a season 4. I don’t want it to end!

  • Pilgrim Jake says:

    I’d personally love to see something like a kickstarter setup for Season 4 – where people can in effect commit to getting DVD’s of Season 3 – or even Season 3 +4 , or any combination of the existing ones. And leave options for pitching in for $10 – or something more ‘choice’ for a few hundred. Would be interesting to see what sort of take up from fans around the world it would get. I assume they need in the order of millions to film a season?

    • drjuliebug says:

      When the show faced cancellation last year, didn’t James Griffin offer to write a TV-movie length finale to wrap up various threads? If it comes to this at the end of season 3, maybe that’s a possible Kickstarter or equivalent target. James Griffin, Tim Balme, and Hayden Frost have all been known to visit this blog.

      • kiwigods says:

        I totally forgot about that! I do hope there’s a wrap up no matter how this goes, but I’m wishing that wrap up is a couple of years down the line if you get what I mean.

  • drjuliebug says:

    I’ve also wondered whether we could mobilize the international fan base. KG, this would be a good place to start; Tim Balme just posted a link to your blog on his FB page, and of course it’s also been featured on the show’s official page! I’m also trying to drum up interest among my U.S. friends in case that TV deal ever comes through.

  • Susannah says:

    I’m completely in agreement with all the stuff above about how this show deserves a much bigger fanbase, and it’s sad that it’s really hitting its stride just as it’s most probably coming to an end and all, but…

    …what I really want to dwell on is Olaf in that kraken costume attempting to bowl a cricket ball. Funniest thing I’ve seen in ages.

  • drjuliebug says:

    We’re seeing sides of Anders that never showed before. If we had to guess ahead of time which brother would smack Dad upside the head for dissing Mom, Anders would probably have been in fourth place. But it didn’t come out of nowhere. Anders the human being has become increasingly conflicted, sad, and angry ever since Helen was killed and Gaia became Idunn. So that scene was surprising, but still believable, and I just loved the way it registered on Ty as well.

    Johan/Njord is a terrific character. He’s an irresponsible jerk who beat his wife and abandoned his kids, but he knows himself very well, makes no excuses for himself, and can charm the pants off a pants-on god. And even if he doesn’t know the details, he has to trigger some guilt in the rest of the family. Olaf has abandoned numerous lovers and children. Ty and Eva had a mutually violent marriage. So I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens between Johan and Axl — and also thinking about Elisabeth as the lost character of TAJ. I’ve always wanted to see more of her.

    One hopes that Zeb will shed Amelia and make amends with Axl. Watching your crush stab your flatmate has to be a dealbreaker on some level. But it also unnerved me that Amelia is blonde and Nordic-looking. I’m thinking some scary thoughts about her right now ….

    And: Did anyone else think of the Boyfight thread in Arrested Development during the cricket brawl? Anders, Ty, and Mike should be made honorary Bluths!

    • Freddie AppsHero says:

      You may end up being right about Amelia, but I thought the girl in the last ep would turn out to be a goddess, and yet, not.

      If I had to say Amelia was a goddess, she’s probably too old to be the new Hel, and I can’t think of any goddess as insane as that. Maybe Sigyn, but the implication of that are just nasty.

      • drjuliebug says:

        Amelia may or may not be a goddess, but the fact that she does promotion for a liquor company gave me a bit of a shiver! (I’ve never been completely convinced that Agnetha is dead, or at least that Freyja isn’t pulling some strings via another manifestation.)

        Also, Amelia’s probably over 21, but she could be a goddess and not know it. She seems to have some mental health issues as well. In the TAJverse, several goddesses have been kept in the dark about their situations, and instead sent off to psychiatric facilities by manipulative relatives — notably, Ingrid and Eva. I’m not convinced Amelia’s a goddess, but I do think that something more is going on.

      • kiwigods says:

        I totally didn’t think about the liquor company/PR/free booze thing until you brought it up. Very good point!

      • Pilgrim Jake says:

        There is always Sif too – the wife of Thor… that could end with some amusement….

      • kiwigods says:

        Oh THAT would be interesting – a love interest for Derrick?

      • kiwigods says:

        I suspect Amelia was a one-shot human, personally. She was there because the story was about Zeb and Axl, I think. Now that she played her part, I doubt we’ll see her again soon, unless maybe to further that story.

  • drjuliebug says:

    Didn’t Loki cut off all of Sif’s hair in Asgard once? 🙂

    And speaking of short hair: I wondered fleetingly whether the lurking man could be the former Coma Rob. From what little we could see of him, though, I don’t think he is.

    • Pilgrim jake says:

      I’m still putting bets on coma rob and val returning- the signs for rob were suspicious. One mum and no relations, spouting Norse and miraculous recovery….but I’m not sure if mystery man was him… Had expected it in context of a bemused val instead of creepy stalker music

    • Freddie AppsHero says:

      Nah, don’t think it was him. Although the disabled parking spot would make sense then. Maybe they just couldn’t get the same actor.

      Based on the latest thing posted on the TAJ FB page, I have a really bad feeling that the mystery man may turn out to be… POSSIBLE FUTURE SPOILERS:

      Jesus. Or Yahweh. Although it’s probably just gonna be another Christian fanatic.

  • Maria says:

    Found this show at the tail end of season two here in Canada (and hence researched and found your brilliant and entertaining blog!). I was head over heels that series three would air here at the same time as NZ! (How did Canada’s Space Channel manage THAT one?) Okay, technically airs the next day with the time difference! 😉

    Clever, well written, different, thoughtful, amusing / laugh-out loud funny, and tear jerking – often all in the same episode! Unlike any other show on TV and far above the cheap (“cheap” in production costs, impact, talent, worth our time – or can we simply say “reality shows” all in one?) crap that is shovelled at the mass public.

    I too worry that the ratings / numbers are not high enough to keep it going. I’ve written to South Pacific Pictures, asking if the show would be available for sale via iTunes. And hence – easier for them to make it available in other countries too. Although they have to deal with Apple in the process.

    IF the show does come to air in the US, the DVD’s will probably be sold there as well. If it’s successful that is. In the meantime, I can at least watch the NZ DVD’s here – region free player. Still, it’s frustrating to see a quality show not do well. What is wrong with the public? Wait, don’t answer – it would be too depressing.

  • I could have lived without the cultural appropriation, no matter how much it was tied into the ever present jokes about the Village People. I also speak as an American so knowing the history and whatnot really left a sour taste in my mouth. I pretty much had to ignore Ty until he took of the war bonnet.

    • drjuliebug says:

      Good point. That image does represent a major and contentious cultural shift among North Americans. “Culture costumes” and minority-themed mascots are much less acceptable to the general public than they used to be.

      I suspect we’re more sensitive to issues in our own countries than in other places. If an American actor dressed up as a Hollywood costumer’s conception of a Polynesian warrior, it might trigger fewer bad associations than a Native American war bonnet does here in the mainland U.S., and more if shown in New Zealand — or, for that matter, Hawaii. I can understand the context of Ty’s costume in this episode, but it’s also good that there’s probably no reason on earth to put him into it again.

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