So even when there's no Glee on air, it's still in the air. Two controversies in the place of a week, I'm not sure which is more inane...the fact that the producers are being criticised for having Brittany and Santana lie down in a bed with each other (lips not even touching) or the fact that the actors are being criticsed for their sultry poses in GQ magazine. WTF? Seriously? This is a controversy? Eh, what the hell. On to this week in TV...
Desperate Housewives: “The Thing That Counts Is What's Inside”
I don’t know if I’m out of touch with reality – a possibility – but I have to say that Marc Cherry has actually managed to make Desperate Housewives improve starkly in contrast to the last two seasons of general banality. This week’s episode was lacking in places, but generally coalesced to form an interesting and most of all funny hour of TV. Sometimes Desperate Housewives lacks the panache for handling multiple storylines equally well (see Parenthood, Modern Family, Glee) but this week was a general improvement. Once again, Felicity Huffman gets the least diverting storyline but her performance was up. I have to say, the actress playing Penny is kind of boring and she reminds me of Lynette’s stepchild from hell from three seasons ago. I’m never going to warm up to Paul Young, although I suppose that’s sort of the point and I will say I’m really anxious to see what on earth he’s planning for the neighbourhood. Emily Berg continues to impress as his wife, who seems to have severe psychological issues. I never knew cutting green peppers could look so scary. Yikes. On the note of guest stars, I want to start campaigning for Laine Kazan to get a Guest Actress nod next season. Her role as Susan’s madam of sorts is just hilarious, and she comes with her own quotable quotes (“If I was fifteen years younger I’d ride you like a hobo rides a boxcar.) Susan’s arc is silly, but in the god way that Susan used to be silly back in the first season, and of course Bree and Rene continue to hold down the forth, with Marcia Cross and Vanessa Williams both being in-form this episode. Eva Longoria is doing well with the storyline, but I’m not sure where it’s going to go from there...I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
Dexter: “Beauty and the Beast”
Aaah, Dexter. This is why this is my favourite show. The episode wasn’t as brilliant as last week’s, but it was still satisfying. Julia Stiles is another actor I want to start a Guest Emmy campaign for, and her arc seems to have a potential to be very satisfying. Michael C. Hall didn’t overshadow the episode as much giving the supporting players a chance to shine, but he’s still the strongest player on the show. I’m still distrustful of that psycho nanny. Okay, so she’s not really a psycho –but, I keep expecting her to turn manic. Time will tell. I especially loved Deb’s arc this week, the confrontation between her and the killer was gruesome and brilliant all at once. I still hate Quinn (can you blame me?) but I still like his relationship with Deb; I’m worried where that’s going to end up. Lauren Velez tops her performance last week delivering again now, I especially loved her blowout with the Quinn in her office. Although, yes, that means that she’s not as good as him since Quinn is right I love her delivery of the repeated line “He just lost his wife.” Of all the shows that are in a new season, Dexter wins for the constant movement of plot, everything is going along at a good pace.
Parenthood: “Orange Alert”
Somewhere between the first episode I saw and the most recent episode, Sarah has turned from my favourite part of the series to my least favourite and Monica Potter has moved from my least favourite performer to the most consistent – in my eyes. I’ll never get the hubbub about Halloween, because I’m not American and I will admit that Asperser’s aside I kind of loathe Max but even though the episode had its pitfalls one thing Parenthood always manages to do his handle the stories well. I don’t like the Baldwin on the show, and I hate him with Lauren Graham so I was really just bleh over that storyline, although it provided for two great scenes. One was Lauren Graham in a catsuit (MILF anyone?) and that office scene with Sarah and Julia. Sarah’s line about getting pregnant in the hot tub...priceless, and I only just realised Finn and Quinn and that whole baby drama from Glee. (Even when it’s not on air it’s still on.) Seeing Julia struggling with Sydney’s costume of a beauty queen was hilarious, Sydney just might be my favourite non-teenaged child. Kristina and Adam stressing about Max’s issues and Halloween wasn’t the strongest storyline, but god knows Monica Potter can sell anything and that final scene with her Krause was kind of just perfect. What I didn’t love was the ending, I love the idea of Jasmine and Crosby getting married – but they did they need to end the episode without the lack of an answer? Jabar at school was sweet, though and the costumes were all kind of cool – though I had to laugh at Julia dressing up as Amelia Earhart.
Modern Family: “Unplugged”
Best comedic show this week, by a long shot. Last week I challenged Modern Family to show me a reason to love them, and they did – though not as I expected. I still think Jesse Tyler Ferguson is kind of brilliant, but incidentally he had the weakest of the three plots this week. Not that seeing Cameron and he worry about preschool wasn’t funny. The dilemma was actually well executed, but I just felt really badly during Cameron's rant on being American Indian. God, poor Mitchell – awkward? Sofia Vergara is in better form than she was last week, and I’m especially loving her interviews with the camera. She brought the funny this week, though her son wins for funniest in that particular arc. That scene with he and Jay, sipping tea, was just too brilliant for words. And of course, the Dunphy’s. They take top honours, and the entire family rises to the occasion. Julie Bowen especially is great, but Ty Burrell is brilliant too. I’d say he, Ferguson and Bowen are the three strongest. Sarah Hyland continues to impress, and I love how she hoodwinked her parents into winning the competiton, though she didn’t get the car. It’s the sort of episode that doesn’t exactly push the plot forward but is insanely enjoyable with bits of character development here and there – a winner.
Community: “Messianic Myths and Ancient People”
Last week Community was abysmal, this week it was just really bad. I’m not devout religious, at the moment I’m not really religious at all so it’s not that I found the main arc of Shirley and Abed offensive. It just seemed really stupid. Yvette Nicole Brown is the strongest player of the lot, for me, but it just didn’t work. Nothing about it popped and it ended up feeling ridiculous and kind of silly – a bit like Outsourced, but that’s one show I’m never reviewing (or watching, again). The B plot of Pierce worked a little better, but not completely either. Community is known for the silly, but I can’t find legitimate humour in the inane...hmmm, what to do with this show...what to do?
30 Rock: “Regaining”
Yay, 30 Rock is back. Not in top form, but getting there. I’d like to take a moment to get over my general bias towards Tina Fey and congratulate her for an episode well done. Her confrontation with Jack over sexuality works in a way only Liz Lemon could pull off, and Alec Baldwin is someone else who’s in top form this episode. His attempts at problem solving were inspired and hilarious. But, come on! Jenna and Kenneth and Kelsey Grammer? Brilliance! Everything about that subplot had me laughing, and seeing Jane get solid material to work with is just the icing on the cake. Kenneth is ridiculous but there’s something that keeps him from descending into mindless drivel, I don’t know what – but I like it. And the less said about Tracy? The better.
The Office: “The Sting”
Timothy Olyphant, Ed Helms singing, Meredith and KellyAND Ryan? How could I resist? It wasn’t perfect....but it was good enough and it was written by Mindy Kalling which only further enhances my point that Ryan and Kelly are the power couple of NBC. I happen to like Olyphant, though it was weird seeing him look so slick - he's usually so grunged. He's another guest actor this week that absolutely shines, that scene where he almost blows up at Michael for their failed sting was hilarious. I think Kelly established his presence best with her well-placed "f*** me". Sometimes Darryl fails to entice me, but seeing he and Andy bond was strangely satisfying even if Kevin still manages to freak me out. All in the episode managed to stay consistent and provide a good half hour of comedy.
Grey’s Anatomy: “Almost Grown”
I'd like to point out that Chandra Wiilson directed this episode; so nice to see her growing in the business. Still, writing wise, this felt like an obvious filler episode. There were things that I loved - Callie and Arizona? Yes. Lexie's photographic memory? Yes. Dr. Bailey and Richard? Yes. Then there were things I sort of loathed, like Avery and the fact that writers don't seem to be using Cristina's recent fear of surgery as well as they should. Ellen Pompeo turns in a good job, but Patrick Dempsey at her side doesn't entice me. I'm not surprised Owen won the competition, even if I thought Dr. Bailey's quasi-soliloquy about Paris vs the Grocery Store was quite on point. Tonally, it feels like Grey's back in the day - but there wasn't as much advancement of plot as I would have liked.
Julie Bowen in Modern Family B+ watching her as she realises the psychotic nature of her family was brilliant
Vanessa Williams in Desperate Housewives B+ it's probably borderline offensive watching her shirk from midgets,but it sure is funny
Monica Potter in Parenthood B+ only she can manage to make this work, and in the end she sells her devotion to her family
Jane Krakowski in 30 Rock B+ she's at her best when she's being diabolical with sudden flashes of wisdom.
Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock B+ oh, his egotism is great to watch especially when you consider that he's probably right
Michael C. Hall in Dexter B+ a more internal performance this week, but his struggle with the babysitter and his new victim works
What shows impressed you this past week?
(sorry for the lack of screencaps)