Saturday, 20 November 2010

TV Week in Review: 14th – 19th November

I decided I’d add Burn Notice to my line-up. I watch it semi-religiously as it is, so why not add Michael Weston and his confederates to my weekly TV line-up? Other than a few good episodes here and there this wasn’t a particularly strong week for television though; bummer.
                         
Desperate Housewives: “Sorry Grateful”
Maybe it’s a good thing – but for the life of me I can’t tell how the writers plan on making the Felicia Tilman arc last for the rest of the season. It seems saturated, and it hasn’t even started going anywhere. The Lynette/Susan arc was kind of ridiculous. Putting the two housewives I don’t care for together isn’t going to be a riveting storyline, and so said so done. If the old relationship between Rene and Tom turns into a main arc this season it will be veritable proof of the writers having no imagination. Lynette’s already ridiculously crazy and I can’t see her reacting logically to this, still Doug Savant is hilarious to watch when he’s in his nervous register. Having Hector and Carmen turn out to be illegal immigrants is...interesting. That’s another arc that seems headed to disastrous; I don’t see how the resolution is going to work without seeming something awful. Then we get Keith’s parents getting divorced. It’s an interesting occurrence if only because Keith’s father seems sort of smitten with Bree. We’ll see where that goes...
[C/C+]

Dexter: “Take It”
Oh, Maria – Maria. I like Lauren Velez and I always give her credit for doing a fine job with Maria, but oy vey – what are the writers doing? Throwing Deb under the best was a bit of a shocker, though in retrospect watching her already be in hot water with her superiors makes it a logical thing for her to do to save her hide. I hope that they actually address her insecurities instead of turning her back into the pseudo-psycho from Season 1. It’s nice seeing Quinn comfort Deb even if he’s still after Dexter. Damn, Peter Weller is doing a good job of guesting (yep, just coined that term). Just his face appearing on screen gives me chills. And on to the main arc – Gordon Chase. I loved the opening with Dexter watching all the freaky people at the seminar and Hall does a nice job of digging to core of Dexter and his freakiness. I didn’t expect to, but I enjoyed seeing Lumen get in contact with her ex-fiancé. Watching her get closer to Dexter is still vaguely sad – she can’t stay forever but they work well as a team and taking down Cole was probably the best moment of the season even if this episode was not the best.
[B+]

Glee: “The Substitute”
 Glee has never been a show that’s about the guest. Case in point, “Wheels” – probably the strongest episode consists of a whittled down number of the main cast. Still, when guests are used wisely (case in point: Kristin “The Rhodes Not Yet Taken” Chenoweth) it’s interesting watching the entire cast react to them. No matter how much she impresses me with drama I’ll always think of Gwyneth Paltrow as an underrated comedic actor and melds excellently with the cast as the eponymous substitute. We get four arcs in this episode: Holly’s unorthodox teaching, Will’s sickness, Mercedes and Kurt’s general silliness and Sue’s delicious devilish devises. It’s episodes like these that make me think that perhaps I don’t dislike Mercedes as much as I think I do, although sometimes I just want to punch Kurt. I’m not sure if they’re going for some overreaching arc, though, when I consider that the last time Mercedes had a significant arc it was about food too. I won’t go there. On to Gwyneth, like Kristin she sort of looms over the entire episode but exists essentially as a way for the main cast to get some character development – i.e. Will and Sue. The return of the demented Teri Schuester was all I could hope for, and seeing that I’m one of the dozen or so people that actually like Will I liked him actually having an arc to show off his skills. He and Lynch do brilliant work this episode – they really do work well together and Sue as principal is the sort of ridiculous impossibility that’s irresistible, although I’m wondering if Figgins is really fired. I’m going to miss Iqbal Theba if that happens.
[B+]

Parenthood: “Put Yourself Out There”
This is one of the weaker ventures from Parenthood. There seemed to be a distinct sense of bleakness throughout the episode that seemed to come from the A plot – Zeke and Camille dealing with their marital troubles. Parenthood knows to take generic plots and make them seem fresh but it doesn’t work with them. True, Bonnie Bedelia delivers a moving performance but there’s just something off in the entire arc. The same goes for the tug-of-war between Crosby and Joel and the students’ play. I’m interested to see where that arc goes, though really it seems like Joel’s just getting hits from all sides. Haddie continues to obsess over her co-worker, it really is uncanny how much she seems like Monica Potter’s daughter. Kristina’s attempts at getting Max invivted to the party were painful to watch, not because of the acting but it was a really executed arc. Kristina seems abrasive but she’s really just a bit sad and Monica does a good job of showing that this episode – emerging as the episode MVP. That being said, my favourite storyline was Sarah dealing with Amber’s excellent SAT scores. Lauren Graham and Mae Whitman really have great chemistry, and it was nice seeing Rebecca Creskoff guest star (she was funny on Desperate Housewives only a few weeks ago). It was serviceable episode, but I’ve come to expect more from Parenthood.
[B-]

Modern Family: “Manny Get Your Gun”
I didn’t love this episode. The opening was solid – Rico Rodriguez really does a good job as Manny. But as soon as the flashbacks began it just started feeling the slightest bit disjointed and the disjointed feelings grew. I still love Jesse Tyler Ferguson but I hated the arc with Cam and Mitchell. Sure those old people were vaguely humorous, but it seems like a weird propellant for humour from the writers who usually don’t go for things as simplistic. Watching Mitchell dance was...weird, and Cam’s reaction was kind of ridiculous, but then Cam is ridiculous. The Dunphy plot worked a little better, but even the actors seemed a little off. I’ll admit Phil’s “white is right” mantra had me laughing but there’s only so much you can do with the “Family Camp” gag. When it came to the division I preferred seeing Claire and Luke more than Phil and the girls and their conversation in the car was good. Julie Bowen is so often underrated. The one arc that stood strong was Jay, Mann and Gloria. Rodriguez is just brilliant as he deals with his nonexistent childhood (easily the MVP of this episode) and watching Gloria behave like the psycho she is never gets old. The last five minutes saved the episode though. Put the ending and the beginning together and it’s lovely, the middle section? Not so much.
[B-]

Community: “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design”
This episode of Community is decidedly solid, and arguably my favourite of the season. It reminds me why I used to like it in the first season even if it still has its issues. McHale and Brie get saddled with the A plot, and that should be as it is because they’ve turned into the show’s most consistent actors – it’s a shame Brie is always so underrated. Sure, the entire charade of Jeff’s made-up (or is it?) class is ridiculous; but that’s the very same ridiculousness that’s Community is grounded on. I’m not even sure who was on all the hocus-pocus, but if you’re worrying about that you’re probably missing the point. It doesn’t really matter – it’s just a play on all those crazy twist endings. The thing is, I could have done without the B plot in fact the less said about it the better. And on that note, it seems that they’re ready to regurgitate the Jeff/Annie/Britta triangle which I could do without. Community thrives not when it’s doing the same old concepts that other shows are doing (often better); when they leave the romance and that the normal stuff and just do their own brand of ridiculous/funny they thrive. Ah well, at least they’re back on track – says me.
[B/B-]

30 Rock: “College”
Like the bulk of the comedies this week 30 Rock continues with an episode that’s passable but not all that more. It was nice seeing the writers of TGS back, they’ve been sorely lacking this season but oddly they turned out to be one of the least interesting parts of this episode – go figure. Half the time Kenneth is annoying with his rote tendencies but seeing him almost die just to help Jack was kind of hilarious. There wasn’t too much Tracy – which was fine, but there wasn’t too much Jenna which wasn’t so fine. It’s annoying, the writers know that Jane Krakowski can sell any bit of ridiculous dialogue but sometimes that means they get lazy saddling her with too many jokes that don’t take off. Both Jack and Liz have fairly solid plots, although Jack comes out more interesting than Liz. A fair episode, but....
[B-]

The Office: “WUPHF.com”
Call me predictable but how could I not appreciate this episode where Ryan actually takes centre stage? B. J. Novak, I missed you. Ryan is a bit of a sleaze-ball but I find him hilarious and at times even endearing. One thing that was on show this episode was the writing, they balanced Michael’s usual insecurities with the fact that he’s actually a good mentor in a weird sort of way and he does like to be the parent to his workers and his ruse to get Ryan to do the right thing was well played. I’m not sure if I think Ryan is a 2, though I often forgot he started out as a temp but I like when they develop his character. And Stanley is back with a strange dream, I always forget that Stanley’s hilarious until he turns up and amuses me. What will become of Dwight and Angela? I think Angela needs to get a backbone, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t enjoy seeing her force Dwight into sex. Gabe still annoys me, but who doesn’t love when Jim gets ridiculous and starts playing pranks?
[B+]

Grey’s Anatomy: “Slow Night, So Long”
I’m not sure if they’re going for continuity or regurgitation but the premise of this episode is dangerously close to the Season 5 episode “In the Midnight Hour”, another one that dealt with an all-nighter at the hospital. This wasn’t as good, we’re nine episodes in but other than Cristina’s issues there’s a lack of any overriding arc to give to the season which means that in an episode like this the characters seem to be walking around a little aimlessly. There’s something off in Cristina – and it’s more than her not being at the hospital. Sandra Oh remains to be a trooper so she can make the craziness work, though I’m getting anxious to see what the resolution is going to be. Like Oh, Chandra Wilson can make anything work and though it was a bit too fluffy it was fun watching Dr. Bailey get drunk. I’m not sure if her drunken rank about Alex is meant to be taken sincerely – if it is I’m wondering what was the point of he and April have that romantic encounter last week. I hate that they’re setting up Jackson as some sort of tortured hero; Jesse Williams is not that good of an actor, people. Am I the only one seeing that? I’ll always cheer the rapport between Ellen Pompeo and Justin Chambers so watching them work together was pleasant enough for me. Still, the episode ended up feeling a bit too much like a filler, like so many of the episodes this week...
[B-]

Burn Notice: “Hot Property”
I love Burn Notice even though it sometimes tends to exasperate me. Like any show of the form it has the tendency to become too much like a procedural with no character development. This episode had the good and the bad. I’ve always found Gabrielle Anwar to be the series MVP and though she doesn’t get an independent arc to work with it’s always fun to watch Fiona be her typical neurotic self. It’s credit to Anwar that she turns any bit of dialogue Fiona gets into a moment to show her comedic ability without hogging the screen. I’m no fan of Natalie or the actress playing her. It was almost painful watching her at times, so I’m glad she doesn’t turn into a recurring character. I’m not sure what audiences generally think of Jesse, but I like his addition to the show and those final minutes where Sharon Gless rips into him and Michael. Sharon Gless tends to get a little over the top at times, but I love her all the more for it. She’s more proof that Burn Notice should be contending in the comedic category, but what I can I do?
[B-]

Interesting Things...
Yes, Kurt was annoying but Colfer had the episode’s best line-reading: “You look homeless, Brett. Homeless.” Brilliant.
At the risk of sounding sexist: was I the only one distracted by Sofia Vergara’s breast when she was running around the house?
Whenever Grey’s Anatomy calls it quits...who wants Sandra Oh on a comedy?
How weird is it that this episode which is one of the most well written wasn’t one with the usual brand of humour on The Office?
So Teddy doesn’t annoy me anymore...it’s weird, I used to hate her.
Okay, raise your hand if you want to hear the complete version of “Conjunction Junction”.

Standouts
Jane Lynch in Glee A-
Michael C. Hall in Dexter B+
Matthew Morrison in Glee B+
B. J. Novak in The Office B+
Monica Potter in Parenthood B+
Alison Brie in Community B+

2 comments:

Simon said...

Am I the only one who thought Terry would try to kill herself or something like that on Glee?

CrazyCris said...

I haven't caught up with this week's Glee, Grey's or Private Practice yet... but a week weak?! Castle was fabulous!!! Fringe and Bones were excellent and The Big Bang Theory was priceless!

Methinks thou art watching the wrong series... ;o)