Six Feet Under


Lauren Ambrose – Claire Fisher
Michael C. Hall – David Fisher
Peter Krause – Nate Fisher
Frances Conroy – Ruth Fisher

Six Feet Under – “Pilot” (2001, Alan Ball) 92

“How’s it going?”
“Great, great. My father’s dead, my mom’s a whore, my brother wants to kill me and my sister’s on crack.”

I waited a long time to jump on the “Six Feet Under” bandwagon, the whole TV-on-DVD thing in fact. Too much hype, I guess; could these HBO shows be that good? This is just good old disposable TV, right? Oh boy, how wrong I was. “Six Feet Under” is as good as I’ve heard, at least this hour-long pilot is bloody brilliant, miles above most of what’s playing in theatres. It’s got better writing, better direction, better acting… If this was a movie it’d be sure to make my year-end Top Ten; as is, I’m curious and excited to know that I’ve got 12 more hours to enjoy with these great characters, and that’s only Season One! ]

Six Feet Under – “1.2 – 1.10” (2001) 93
[ Oh my God, this just gets better and better! Wonderful dialogue, constant insights and surprises and the best ensemble cast you could hope for. I simply adore this family, how they’re always around death yet so full of life nonetheless. Special mention must also be made of David’s black cop boyfriend and Nathaniel’s quirky genius “fuck puppet”, they just might be the greatest thing in this great show. ]

Six Feet Under – “1.11 – 1.13” (2001) 91
[ Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Rachel Griffiths, Matthew St. Patrick, Freddy Rodriguez… I love youse guys. Can’t wait for Season 2 to come out on DVD. ]

Six Feet Under 2.1, 2.2 (2002) 80
[ Oh, I’m glad to be with these great actors/characters again and the writing/direction is still great, it just feels like the show is spinning its wheels. Hopefully the season will kick into gear soon. ]

Six Feet Under 2.3-2.5 (2002) 84
[ I find myself relating to practically every character in the show – only Federico somehow doesn’t fit in for me. But in a scene like the closer to 2.3, when a broken down Claire deals with Nate, David and Keith, every one’s every reaction is interesting and touching and understandable. Good stuff. In 2.4, Lili Taylor is a nice touch as an old “friend” of Nate, even though these Special Guest Appearances still feel ‘60s Batman to me (well, they did have an Ileana Douglas ep in Season One…). Otherwise, I’m really getting into the show again, that “American Beauty”-at-its-best vibe is hitting again. Death, how it makes you question the point of life… *sigh* ]

Six Feet Under 2.6- 2.8 (2002) 85
[ Wow, only season #2 and they’re already bringing in new characters? But hey, I’m not complaining, not when it’s the goddess Patricia Clarkson as a kooky hippie aunt! The tears are starting to flow, too. ]

Six Feet Under 2.9-2.11 (2002) 71
[ Ooh, more Lili Taylor. I love her so much, why don’t we see more of her, not just on the show but in movies and stuff? All the way back to “Say Anything”, she’s been beautiful and heartbreaking, always wearing her emotions on her sleeve… Other than that, this stretch is a little off. Every episode can’t be a winner, I guess, what with the different writers and directors alternating. You still get a funny or touching or clever moment once in a while, which is more than you can say about most TV (or movies), but I’m starting to doubt the show will ever top the brilliance of Season One. ]

Six Feet Under 2.12-2.13 (2002) 89
[ Here we go. Two more hours and then that’s it, at least until sometimes in 2005 when HBO decides to release Season 3. I haven’t been as passionate about Year Two as I was with the first 13, but I do still love these characters. When this show works, it REALLY works, and these two episodes are just gravy. 2.12 is, like, the best Federico episode ever and Brenda’s “cunt from hell” routine finally climaxes with Nate. The “opening death” gimmick is getting old, but 2.13’s one of the most effective yet. Then you’ve got a hilarious “Flashdance” send-up, more Lili Taylor (always a good thing), great stuff with Ruth, one mofo of an intense Keith/David clash… Awesome stuff, really, but the cliffhanger is a b-i-aaatch – I can’t believe I gotta wait a whole year to find out what happens next! ]

Six Feet Under 3.1 “Perfect Circles” (2003) 85
[ Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Seriously, whoa.

The opening ten minutes of Season Three are one hell of a mind fuck, more Charlie Kaufman than Alan Ball! The oddness continues through 3.1, even as we catch up to more down to earth stuff. David and Keith are still a dysfunctional couple even though the sex is outstanding, Ruth’s enjoying her granddaughter, Federico still feels he’s not getting the respect he deserves from the Fishers, Claire is in art school and Nate… That’s the part that’s not so clear yet. I still love the Lili Taylor, Catherine O’Hara is effin’ hilarious as her Hollywood lunatic boss (“I have to pitch to McG in person!”), and the visuals and music cues are all right on. ]

Six Feet Under 3.2 “You Never Know” (2003) 83
[ Gulp. Ok, I might be getting into this a little too much. I wanna be David singing show tunes, or Nate with his wife and kid, or Claire with her cool new guy who’s in a band that’s like early Peter Gabriel meets Tool (!), even though he’s kind of a douche. I wouldn’t wanna be Ruth, then again it’s quite the thrill to see Pat Clarkson again, even if she’s getting off drugs the hard way. Double gulp. Seriously, it feels like I won’t be sleeping much or whatever until I’m through with these 13. Catherine O’Hara: comic genius. ]

Six Feet Under 3.3 “The Eye Inside” (2003) 80
[ All the regulars remain great, and then you got extra juice from Kathy Bates, awesome as a girlfriend of Ruth, the aforementioned goddess of laughter that is Catherine O’Hara, Claire’s geeky best friend and her unconventional new art teacher… The one little minus right now is that, incredibly enough, Lili Taylor is starting to get on my nerves. Nate is such a cool-ass guy, why do his women have to be such temperamental bitches? The same applies with Claire’s bad boyfriends; there’s something wrong when the best relationship around is Keith and David’s, arguments and all. ]

Six Feet Under 3.4 “Nobody Sleeps” (2003) 84
[ Opera, genital piercings, radical art: just another day for the Fishers. Nate increasingly feels like he married his mother… except that a whole new Ruth has been unleashed, a laughing, drinking, hedonistic woman taking after Kathy Bates’ character. Good for her! I dig the asshole pseudo-political artist played by Evan Handler (the bald guy from the sadly short-lived sitcom “It’s Like, You Know…”), too. ]

Six Feet Under 3.5 “The Trap” (2003) 78
[ Nothing much happens for half the ‘sode and theeeen… She comes back. Rachel Griffiths. The Brenda. And even that doesn’t build up that much tension. Heh. ]

Six Feet Under 3.6 “Making Love Work” (2003) 75
[ Again, while the writing and directing and acting remain solid, we’re lacking drama or humor or whatnot. I’m liking Rainn Wilson as the Fishers’ oddball new apprentice, and having Nate and Lisa go out camping with another couple makes for a nice change of scenery, but it still feels like the show’s having trouble getting into gear. ]

Six Feet Under 3.7 “Timing & Space” (2003) 77
[ Ok, ok. More of not only Brenda but also her screwed up mother and brother, that’s cool. But I officially can’t stand Lili Taylor’s character anymore. I’m increasingly intrigued by what’s the deal with Rainn Wilson, he’s so funny and creepy and dorky… There’s also potential around Claire’s new boyfriend, who’s likable but seems to hold dark secrets, and maybe Federico’s wife, but I’m still waiting for something big to happen. ]

Six Feet Under 3.8 “Tears, Bones & Desire” (2003) 79
[ This week’s deceased, the Daddy of a large commune/cult/family, is the most interesting one so far this season. Gay paintball’s a hoot, too. As for the whole deal between Ruth and the apprentice guy, it’s pretty retarded, but damn it if it isn’t great fun! We’re getting somewhere. ]

Six Feet Under 3.9 “The Opening” (2003) 91
[ “Sorry, I can’t. I can NOT have this conversation one more time.” Say it, Nate! Fuck, practically half the season’s been about his passive-aggressive attitude towards his nagging, manipulative wife – it’s about time he puts his foot down. The way this plays against the funeral the Fishers are currently directing is very effective, especially as it also relates to what Federico and his wife are going through. Meanwhile, the artistic/sexual tension between Claire, her teacher and her boyfriend is rising, Rainn Wilson is too darn funny, I’m actually glad Brenda and especially Jeremy Sisto are back now, Lili Taylor is awesome again, and I totally agree with the view on love reached at the end. Bloody brilliant stuff. ]

Six Feet Under 3.10 “Everyone Leaves” (2003) 87
[ I think I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: Lauren Ambrose rocks. What an amazing little actress. It sucks that Claire is so unlucky with dudes, but it gives Ambrose lotsa intense shit to act out! The other couples seem to be doing okay, which is nice… Except that, knowing the nature of this show, any extended stretch of happiness makes you dread the next tragedy that will surely strike. Keeps us on our toes, I guess. In any case, after a midseason lull, the show is hitting highs once more and then some. Scene after scene is filled with intelligence and emotional truth… goddammit i’m almost crying… ]

Six Feet Under 3.11 “Death Works Overtime” (2003) 89
[ No-no-no-no-no. No-no-no-no-no. No-no-no-no-no. As drama, this is effin’ genius. Ass. Edge. Seat. But what the hell am I doing still up at 4 AM? Goddamn TV-on-DVD… It’s getting so great that, in retrospect, I’m glad for the duller moments a few ‘sodes ago. I mean, would the slope feel as powerfully steep if the plateau state hadn’t been established so thoroughly? Claire and Russell and Olivier and Rico and Vanessa and Nate and Lisa and David and Keith and Ruth and Arthur and Brenda and Billy, everyone’s fucked up and everyone’s in this together and there are a bunch of dead folk all around and — ]

Six Feet Under 3.12 “Twilight” (2003) 82
[ Ooh, James Cromwell is quickly becoming a regular (he only just popped in last episode). A re-embalmed mass murderer. His hot daughter with peculiar tattoos on her thighs. “Can you give me a ride, I gotta go get an abortion.” Hello! We swing back between tears and laughs and back again, it’s crazy. Or maybe it’s just the fact that I can’t quit until I’m through, even though it’s 5 and the sun is coming up… ]

Six Feet Under 3.13 “I’m Sorry, I’m Lost” (2003) ???
[ Ended up going to bed after all, wanting/needing to sleep on it before getting to the finale. I’m not sure yet how I feel about it. There are lots of affecting moments, great acting all around, and I think I appreciate where we’re leaving the characters, but I might have to wait until the beginning of Season Four before I can really say. I’m sorry. I’m lost. ]

NEXT:

Season Four