Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Alienated/ It's Too Late Now - Aliens in America, Men In Trees

Raja at Sixteen - Ep 117

Since Men In Trees restarts tonight (10pm on ABC/City) for its now final 3 episodes ever, and Aliens in America ended last week to its series finale, here's a little final eulogy to two of my favorite shows that barely anybody watched.
And I'm not going to start some kind of peanut campaign or anything, just saying that they were two terrific shows and now most people will miss out on the charms of Elmo, Alaska and Raja and the Tolchuks.

That look on Franny Tolchuk (Amy Pietz)? Is recreating the look of horror when the fans (and there were about that many as in the picture, 4 of us I'd say) found out that The CW was cancelling Aliens in America. And now it's too late and this is really a pointless post to convince you to watch (though it does go into repeats now) since you've missed the boat already and all I'm going to do is smack my head when you all come to me 3 years later after discovering a wonderful show called Aliens in America and wondering if it was still on. It's not. It's too late, cause you didn't watch when it was airing originals. It's your fault. (I'm talking to you Trent)(He "discovered" Six Feet Under and Veronica Mars after they were both cancelled AND thought I should check it out as if I had never seen them before. Smack.).

So sadly, we end our little run with Raja just as he turns 16 and just as he goes on his first date with the OTHER Muslim girl living nearby in Wisconsin. It was less a funny episode than an emotional and dramatic one, and again, it was nice and sweet as we watched Sadika and Raja "date" properly with both sets of families sitting by chaperoning the young pair.

Still, it was no less hilarious since Franny does her scheming to get these two together in the first place, AND THEN goes out of her way to clear some alone time for Raja and Sadika (and by extension, Claire and the hot blond foreign exchange student which was equally hilarious, especially when they finally "talk" instead of just sucking face).

Both the Muslim religion and their practices are treated with respect in the episode even as Franny tries to circumvent them (without intending them to insult Sadika's family).

Amy Pietz as Franny has been a total revelation in this series, never wavering from her Wisconsin accent and playing the fierce mother with her twisted sense of duty with such loyalty and love, that I've completely forgotten she was the loose neighbour in Caroline in the City.

Adhir Kalyan's Raja is simply superb in an Emmy winning performance (ditto with Amy Pietz) that will sadly never get recognized. It will be interesting to see him move onto Nip/Tuck, a 360 turn in moral attitudes.

As for the show, loved that Sadika, while liking Raja, was not immune to her North American upbringing, choosing to date the local boys as well, while trying to find that place between her own culture and background and her new place in America. While Raja felt betrayed, it's all a part of his learning experience in America, and those immigrant issues and emotions have rarely (if ever) been delt with in a serious (yet still sweet and funny) manner on American television.

Unfortunately, it's the last time we will see that for a while, until things turn around and a network sees the worth in showing stories that divert from the typical whitebread family life (not that that's bad since the Tolchuks are skewered and adored nicely at ths same time in this same series).

Sigh, so there it is. One season of the terrific Aliens in America, where even Scott Patterson was able to break out from his Gilmore Girls' Luke, and where Dan Byrd proved he can hold his own on a series.

Now it's time to say goodbye to the lovely folks on Men In Trees, another charming easy going show that tackles controversial issues in a light, delicate, funny and non-controversial way.

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