Friday, 15 October 2010

TV Week in Review: 10th – 14th October

I decided to add two shows to my lineup. Apparently I have more time on my hands than I care to admit.

Desperate Housewives: “Truly Content”
Desperate Housewives will always have one single issue in the majority of its episodes. With four independent (and rarely intersecting) storylines one storyline will always come out on top, and one will always fall to the bottom. That being said, despite falling victim to that this episode managed to be a generally satisfying one. The Scavo plotline continues to be the most insufferable portion of the show. Felicity Huffman has long been my least favourite performer on the show, and I’m not sure if the storylines or her but the constant tug-of-war between her and Tom does not make for riveting TV. Eva Longoria came off a good week last week, and though it was nice seeing her get a little drama it’s not how I like Gabby. I have to applaud Cherry for not making the switched-at-birth storyline tedious or prolonged. It’s about time that Teri Hatcher makes good use of her top billing status and she brings the funny this week. Even if James Denton is hands down THE worst actor on the show Susan’s sparring with the competition was pleasant to watch, and I’m coming around to Emily Bergl who plays the new Paul Young with just the right amount of nuance. Naturally, the top story was the Bree/Renee/Keith storyline. There’s nothing like seeing two talented thespians go at it and Vanessa Williams and Marcia Cross are more than capable of a battle. I’m not sure the object of their fight is worth it (sorry Brian Austin Green), but Marcia is the only one capable of handling Ms. Williams.

Dexter: “Practically Perfect”
 The first two episodes of Dexter were solid, but it finally feels like the season’s begun with the deliverance of a “practically perfect” episode. I have a tendency to be unduly harsh on Jennifer Carpenter – I can’t help it – but she’s good in this episode, especially in her interactions with Dexter; the two do fine work together and the opening was the right amount of realistic and ridiculous. The A plot of the episode focused on Dexter trying to get back in the game by targeting his first victim since Deb’s death. In some ways the episode was a bit like a slowburn – the first half was sedate and well executed and then the second half gets intense, but never explosive. Seeing Dexter get shot with the tranquilizer gun was one of those scary WTF moments, and his eventual killing of [ ] was well played. The dénouement of meeting Julia Stiles, who learns Dexter’s secret in an awful way, was brilliant. That’s one arc that I’m particularly looking forward to this season. Batista’s potential incarceration is unfortunate and Lauren Velez does a good job this episode. I still essentially loathe Quinn even though I actually like the chemistry between Deb and he (go figure); and Vince keeps on getting the best one-liners. This episode works so well because the smaller storylines are just as interesting as Dexter’s, even though his takes precedence. On a side note: perhaps it’s my lack of trust, but I have a really bad feeling about the nanny. Am I the only freaked out by her?

Parenthood: “The Booth Job”
I tried to get my best friend to watch Parenthood last week. Half way through he turns to me and says, “Does anything happen on this show?” I’ll admit that as far as TV shows come Parenthood is about as languid as you can get, but I think that’s one of the things I like about it. If there’s one thing that it manages to do excellently it’s the balancing of storylines. We get six this episode and each gets the recognition it deserves. Somewhere around the last two weeks Monica Potter has become irreplaceable, I’m loving the dynamic between her and Krause and she’s particularly good this episode. Sam Jaegar / Erika Christensen are still my favourite family and seeing them struggle with their lack of time together, though not riveting, is still interesting. How the writers manage to make the most mundane storylines work befuddles me. I haven’t seen season one, so perhaps that’s a reason I’ve never been interested in Zeke and Camille. That changed this week, though and Bonnie Bedelia did much with little screen time. I can’t believe I’m saying this but Lauren Graham’s work even better with Mae Withman than she did with Alexis Bledel and Dax Shepherd who usually annoys me was on point as Crosby. That almost proposal was strangely moving. Parenthood keeps going well.

Glee: “Duets”
Umm, so what happened to Mark Salling? Is he sick or something? I kind of spent the entire episode waiting for Puck to turn up, so I was mildly disappointed when he didn’t. That being said, I’d like to give Glee a hand for delivering a near-perfect episode, the best episode of the season yet – and who’d have thought it would be without Puck, Sue or Emma? That’s something of seismic proportions. I still think that Chord Overstreet’s Sam needs to vacate the premises – it took me fifteen episodes to start tolerating Finn. I can’t deal with another stupid jock. Nonetheless, “Duets” managed to have excellent song choices, a well executed plot, much needed character development (Brittany, Artie, Mike, Rachel, Sam, Quinn, Kurt) and one thing it managed to do that “Grilled Cheesus” couldn’t is find hilarity in the poignancy it had to impart. I kind of called the potential for a Rachel/Kurt friendship way back in “Hairography” (the two of them along with Puck are kind of notorious for giving off potentially damning first impressions) and the ending duet was just lovely. Brittany and Artie should seem more WTF but it ends up working in some strange way, as funny as Heather Morris’ one-liners are it’s best when they don’t overload us with them and the meatball moment at the end was ridiculous, in a good way. I managed to actually like Quinn this episode – so there’s progress, I managed to like Mercedes – that’s a miracle. I mean, obviously Santana and Mercedes won that competition, Sam and Quinn were like a snore-fest. Ugh. Great episode, but I still hope Puck’s back next week (and some explanation for the stolen ATM. WTF?) – not that I’m actually looking forward to Glee doing The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Modern Family: “Stranger on a Treadmill”
At Jose’s behest I decided to give Modern Family another go. A thirty minute addition to my generally scant entertainment wasn’t much to add. I’ve seen one other episode of the show and I still feel like there’s a divide preventing me from truly enjoying it. I have to give it credit for handling four storylines credibly within the short space of time. I may have to revisit season one some time to get the appeal of Sofia Vegara. She’s gorgeous, but other than that I’m at a loss to her comedic appeal which just seems way too parochial. The plotline with her and her husband works in its way, but just seemed too hackneyed. The two converging storylines of spouses trying to be honest with each other is familiar, but handled well. Despite her slight shrewishness I enjoyed Julie Bowen, she seems to be made of the same mettle of Monica Potter’s neurotic Kristina from Parenthood but I felt even more amused by the rapport between Cameron and Mitchell. Jesse Tyler Ferguson easily gets best in show honours. Strangely, though, my favourite storyline was the Dunphy girls. Sarah Hyland gave me the strongest laughs of the episodes, which only goes to show that there are some children on TV that actually are well executed. I suppose I’ll make it a weekly thing, but I’m hoping that I’m more impressed next time.

Community: “Basic Rocket Science”
Good lord. I hadn’t planned on taking Community out of my weekly viewing, I just never got around to watching it since the new season began. Well I did, and it seems I chose the worst time possible time. The episode was god-awful. I think I’ll always be slightly confused by its large fan base but people I’m usually in sync with love it too (exhibit A, exhibit B). Community thrives on being over the top and doing things that just seem silly. In theory it supposed to work because they’re that irreverent, but the faux school-spirit and the launching of the KFC rocket just seemed downright stupid. I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the mood for funny (see 30 Rock below) but it just never managed to take off, no pun intended. I’m especially disgruntled because Alison Brie seems to be trying even harder, but it’s just not coalescing to something satisfying. I’m not sure I’ll be tuning in for another episode.

30 Rock: “Live Show”
Oy, Vey. I remember the live Will & Grace episode. It was ridiculous and brilliant, 30 Rock Live was ridiculous – but that’s about it. I can’t believe it but I spent the entire first fifteen minutes without laughing once. Whatever my issues with 30 Rock I always find something. I’m becoming more and more confused as to why Jane Krakowski seems to be the only one doing consistent comedic work. I don’t know what the missing ingredient it but it’s getting exasperating. Liz turning forty seems like the type of storyline that could work brilliantly but its executed offers little to be amused about and Tracy Jordan continues to annoy me to no end. I’m not sure if it was the issue of being live that was the problem, but the story just seems to be nonexistent, Julia Louie-Dreyfuss shows up for a nice cameo, but she doesn't exactly make the episode sing. True, the last five minutes do seem sweet in a strange sort of way and when at their best the Liz/Jack dynamic is a beautiful thing to watch. But overall, I’d call this the first official 30 Rock bust of the season.

The Office: “Sex Education”
Hmmmm. What can I say about this? The potential was there, like 30 Rock and though it wasn't a disappointment if felt like opportunity lost. I hated that we couldn't see Amy Ryan. She'll go down in history as one of my favourite guest stars on any comedy in the last few years. Steve Carrell is still trying, but sometimes the writers just don't know what to do with Michael and though his Holly epiphany at the end was inspired, it wasn't as poignant as it could have (or should have) been. The B plot was interesting, Ed Helms won't ever be my favourite supporting actor on the show (and B.J. Novak is still MIA) but he does good work and seeing him try to teach sex-ed was hilarious in its way. Meredith will never NOT be funny, so that was a nice addition. Overall this episode just ended up feeling like it was too much filler and too little comedy. But fair.

Grey’s Anatomy: “Can't Fight Biology”
Well, look at that I'm finally boarding the train otherwise known as Lexie Grey. It took me years to warm up to Chyler Leigh and it's probably more surprise that the more hardcore she gets the more I like her. Speaking of warming up, I get the fact that Jesse Williams and that annoying girl who's name I refuse to learn are semi-permanent (even if I still think of them as Mercy Westers) but can they get less storylines. Williams especially, that entire subplot with Jackson flirting with Teddy was just painful. On the upside, the episode was low on Derek Shepherd - which is a plus. Cristina and Owen are a bit of an anomaly, but I'm willing to invest and Sandra Oh is still doing good work. This is the sort of Grey's episode where all the patients are more important than the actual doctors. The psycho biologist who eats worms turned out to be a strangely moving piece, even though the dancing in the middle of the episode was a bit too much. And Callie and Arizona will never NOT be great.

Michael C. Hall in Dexter [A] the sort of episode he could submit for that eventual Emmy
Chris Colfer in Glee [B+] I prefer this to his sadness in "Grilled Cheesus" funny, funny, funny
Marcia Cross in Desperate Housewives [B+] anyone who can take Vanessa down deserves accolades
Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Modern Family [B+] those few moments on the treadmill had me really amused
Lea Michele in Glee [B+]  she made "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" listen-able; that's talent

Monica Potter in Parenthood [B+] she's constantly finding the warmth in her character with aplomb
What did you watch this week on TV? Which performers stood out?


Mark said...

I have to say, whilst i love the office, it is in no way a good comparison to the original UK one. I watched both and the UK one is so dark and almost sinister, where as the American one emphasizes the stupidity.

Alex in Movieland said...

wow, you have strong opinions on the Desperate Housewives actors :P

i am actually annoyed by this whole Gabby-switched-child story... the series continues going nowhere, but I continue watching. they should've canceled it and kept Ugly Betty on. imo.

great guest star by Frances Conroy (it was her, right?) on Grey's. otherwise, nothing special, even though I was continuously drooling over Avery :P wow wow wow

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

mark i'd probably love the british version. i love the brits, and dark and sinister is great to watch. generally, i like the american one, though. just not a strong week.

alex the baby switch IS kinda dumb, i don't know why i keep watching (lies, i do: marcia cross, and now vanessa williams.) and forgot to shout out frances conroy. i kind of wish she'd guest star on dexter or parenthood now for a reunion with one of her six feet under sons.

Jose said...

I thought the live "30 Rock" ep was proof that their Emmy last year was stolen!
OK not really because I adore "Modern Family" but it was such a funny episode. This show makes me laugh like nothing else ever has on TV.

Robert said...

I'm so proud of you for watching Modern Family now! Hahahaha. I'm glad that this season is giving the girls a lot more to work with and it's so good at balancing all the storylines. I'm working on catching up with Glee now...

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

jose i trust your judgement, so i'm probably going to become a modern family regular.

robert let me know what you think. you managed to like the episodes that i didn't. so who knows?