Friday, 26 November 2010

TV Week in Review: 21st - 24th November

Between the VMA’s obstructing my regular ABC schedule on Sunday and Thanksgiving obstructing my regular view of everything on Thursday it was a rather dry weak for TV. Ironically, all four of the five shows turned in top notch episodes making up for the more-or-less less than excellent showing last week.
            
Dexter: “Teenage Wasteland”
Just when I think I can say I know Dexter like the back of my hand, it surprises me with an episode that’s so evenly tempered that beguiles you into this false sense of security and bam – they’re at it again. Pacing; it’s not my favourite episode of the season but it’s one of those that’s excellently paced. It’s framed by Gordon Chase at the beginning and the end, nice work there – but the character development that abounds? Lovely. There’s an emotional confrontation of sorts that occurs somewhere in the middle between Deb and Maria, and it works (like many things this episode) brilliantly. Maria comes off as unfeeling, but Lauren Veleez really tries hard to subvert that notion (I won’t stop championing her) and Carpenter delivers in more ways than one. The fact that that scene is followed, immediately, by her realisation that Quinn was after Dexter only increases the tension. I really want to hate Quinn but Harrington keeps on doing excellent work, and Liddy? God, that man scares me. I didn’t love Astor’s return, and the thing is – on paper – her friend’s trouble shouldn’t be more than generic. But it works. I always like seeing Dexter in the paternal light and the moments at the end with Astor were particularly well played. The fact that Astor’s friend was being abused acts as a nice (if unsubtle) parallel for Lumen’s own issues. And that ending? Hot damn, how brilliant was that? Seriously, again I say JULIA STILES FOR THE EMMY! She just handles that scene so brilliantly. Only three episodes left before the season ends, and I don’t want it to.
[A-/A]

Glee: “Furt”
 
Ryan Murphy gets a lot of shtick for his writing on Glee, and I’d probably agree with anyone who says that of the three creators Falchuck’s characterisations are strongest. Still, the Murphy episodes can be good (“Laryngitis” comes to mind) and this episode’s strength lay in its writing. We get two main arcs each branching out forming other stories and what’s more the two main arcs are actually reconcilable. There’s the Carol and Burt wedding which I liked because yes, Mike O’Malley is great on the show but Romy Reosemont is so underrated and good as Mrs. Hudson. I hope we see more of her down the road. That arc was only part of the Kurt storyline as the bullying arc continues. It’s nice to see they’re actually holding true to the Rachel/Kurt friendship somewhat and her plan was...inspired. Though I just have to interject and say that that entire Sam/Quinn storyline made me want to vomit. Please, can’t they just expel Chord Overstreet from the show? Ugh, but I digress. On the other hand we have the return of Sue’s mother to Ohio to coincide with her wedding to herself. The arc was just beautifully done and that rendition of “Ohio” was a killer. Honestly, Kurt’s transfer doesn’t break my heart because I don’t really care for the character – but he’s obviously not leaving the show, so it doesn’t really matter. It’s interesting to see the storyline developing though, and I still want to know where the Azimo is. He always seemed to be the more fearsome of the two back when he and Karofsky were on their bullying spree in Season One. Two things though, where the f*** is Jayma Mays? And can they just make Puck and Santana an official couple, those two are just too awesome (even if Puck, along with Tina, does absolutely nothing this episode).
[A-]

Parenthood: “Happy Thanksgiving”
After last week’s underwhelming turn Parenthood is back in business. What continues to impress is their continued ability to handle clichéd themes and make them refreshing. Camille is preparing for Thanksgiving and like the typical matriarch of old is doing it all on her own and feeling neglected. There’s the Gordon/Adam fiasco with him selling the company and whatnot; Crosby trying to impress his mother-in-law; Drew missing his absentee father and Julia unable to cope with the “conventional” bits of motherhood – i.e. baking a perfect pie. True, I’m a bit miffed that I haven’t had a good storyline for Erika Christensen to sink her teeth into in some weeks, but even with little to work with she makes Julia’s anal personality realistic with her inability to be perfect at everything (god forbid). As I predicted, Gordon is a giant douche and I’m not sad to see the back of him but it’s nice seeing Adam grow a backbone without seeming annoying like he sometimes comes off as. Crosby is still the least interesting sibiling, but I’ll cut him some slack because I think Joy Bryant's Jasmine is terrific. On a sidenote, can we just give Miles Heizer a bigger storyline. The guy is easily the strongest child actor on the show – and that’s saying something. Drew’s moments with Zeke had a certain poignancy that was mirrored in the scenes with Camille and Julia and then Camille and Amber. And how nice was it seeing the four siblings and their parents dancing in the kitchen? Very. It’s sad to see Sarah depressed again (good work Lauren Graham) and god knows what Christina will do about Haddie’s new boyfriend, or whatever he is.
[B+/A-]

Modern Family: “Mother Tucker”
It’s weird, I really love Jesse Tyler Ferguson on this show but whenever we get a brilliant episode he gets the horrible arc. This is a case-in-point. I don’t know, I’d probably accept the mother-in-law with boundary issues on a show like Everybody Loves Raymond (generic and dull, says I) but it just seems oddly placid for Modern Family. Sure, watching Mitchell and Cam banter will never NOT be hilarious but damn, they need a real arc! But the rest of the episode? AMAZING. Can anyone resist the elderly infectious ways of Manny (I don’t know what else to call it). I just love watching him and Jay bond and the fact that he actually was sick did make me roll my eyes, but only because Gloria is ridiculous which Sofia Verara knows and milks for all it’s worth. It’s weird, though, the Dunphy’s get the A-plot but the title has nothing to do with them...but I digress. Come on, an episode about Hayley’s boyfriend? I love Sarah Hyland, so yes please. And Ty Burrell? He may end up uprooting Ferguson as my overall MVP. I just find his speaking voice hilarious and that emotional bit at the end works without feeling jarring or disjointed.
[B+/A-]

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
  • Dexter beating that guy up was more chilling than any of his murders this season, take that for what you will.
  • Sue calling Kurt Porcelain. The writing was just so snappy this episode.
  • How cute is Manny and his miniature golf course antics?
  • I wonder if those crazy critics will lambast Parenthood for having a 13 drink beer for fun, and a twelve year old drink the same to avoid problems. Hee.
         
Standouts
Jane Lynch in Glee A
Michael C. Hall in Dexter A-/B+
Ty Burrell in Modern Family B+
Jennifer Carpenter in Dexter B+
Lauren Graham in Parenthood B/B+
Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Modern Family B/B+
Cory Monteith in Glee B
       
Did you watch either of the four this week? Did you like them too?

1 comment:

Luke said...

After the previous week's travesty (Paltrow excepted of course) on Glee - you know when the guest star outdoes every single cast member and transcends the writing, it doesn't say much for the show. But this week had sweet moments and Carol Burnett was a gem. And thank goodness they're bringing Jane Lynch back into the storyline again! They truly need her to be relevant.