Saturday, 13 November 2010

TV Week in Review: 7th – 11th November

I’ve been vaguely remiss about blog upkeep as of late, but I think I’m doing fairly well in returning and this week in TV actually made me interested for the sake of watching. A number of shows stepped up in particular arcs and actors or just stepped up overall – and that’s always good to see.

Desperate Housewives: “A Humiliating Business”
There’s a lot of forward movement of plot that takes place in this episode. The most notable developing arc was the Paul/Beth saga. Emily Berg turns in a great performance this episode, even if I now have legitimate reasons to doubt her mental state. Her attempts at scaring Paul’s prison mate into confessing the secrets were chilling and freakish all at once. Naturally, though the big moment was the revelation that the other psycho – Felicia Tillman – is her mother. It’s going to be really interesting to see what the writers decide to do with that, it could go horribly wrong, but it could go well. We’ll see. It was kind of ridiculous seeing Gabrielle worry that Bob would “flip” Carlos – but Bob and Carl are hilarious so as silly as it was it was still amusing. And Bob’s intimation that Tom Scavo was two beers away from being “flipped” was hilarious. It’s difficult for the writers to make Susan’s plight sympathetic. A middleclass woman becoming poor is not the stuff you get compassionate about (remember Diane Keaton in Mad Money), but they’re doing a fine job thus far. It was tough watching her be the Nanny while Rene and Lynette were the businesswomen. I’m not sure if they’ll make her inevitable return to the middle-class believable – I should hope so, but I don’t see how it can be done in the near future without being ridiculous. I feel a bit like a soothsayer, because as soon as Bree went into the hospital for menopause I just knew that her doctor would end up being Keith’s mom. What really made that arc interesting, though, was the emotional confrontation at the end of the episode. I suppose I’ve been underestimating Brian Austin Green.
Brothers & Sisters: “Resolved”
I’m actually glad I started watching this show again. This episode is sort of like a blueprint for a typical Brothers & Sisters episode with all the dysfunction and craziness of the Walker family. I’m impressed how the writers have decided to handle the Scott/Kevin storyline – a lesser show would have dragged it out for half the season but it works better with them deciding to settle it immediately because we don’t need any added drama to their already insane lives. What’s more I liked the fact that they took the arc and made it the B plot this episode, although I’m not certain what the A plot was – but that’s the way I like it. (Paige is a vaguely annoying child, but I’ll let that go.) Kitty and Sarah dredging up old wounds for the umpteenth time had to be the highpoint of the episode. Calista Flockhart and Rachel Griffiths are just great together and that sisterly dynamic will never get old, add Sally Field to the argument and it’s just too hilarious for words. I’m not especially fond of Sally’s new beau – but unless he becomes a regular it’s not an issue, and the promise of Sarah becoming Nora’s boss is something that seems destined to be excellent. I do wish that Kitty and Sarah had decided to work together, but that probably would have been disastrous. I’m a general fan of Dave Anable on the show, but Justin has turned into something of a bore – that’s one character that needs some serious development, but no storyline with Patricia Wettig is ever unsalvageable. And no Saul? Even better. (PS. Happy Belated Birthday to Calista Flockhart who turned 45 this past week.)

Dexter: “Circle Us”
So Dexter is determined to continue its streak as the best show on TV (that I’m watching at least). Another brilliant episode is delivered and there’s some much information given it’s striking that they never make it into too busy of an episode and once again make me bemoan the fact that Dexter never wins the top awards. The revelation of Boyd’s accomplices is turning into another interesting arc. I had doubts about how they’d manage to take it through the season but it’s turning into a more than serviceable main arc. Plus, it’s great watching Julia Stiles and Michael C. Hall together (again I say, an Emmy for each please). It’s a bit sad, though, because Dexter – who’s already fatalistic – is already developing feelings for her. They perform well together, but we all know that that cannot end well. Debra and Quinn still manage to be nice together and I’m developing an interest in Quinn as a character on his own. I’m curious if there’s something we’re missing with the arc on the Fuentes brothers. And the apparent degradation of Maria and Angel’s marriage is not easy to watch. Either way, the showdown in the club was one of those high adrenaline moments and the fact that we get it just before another tense moment – Dexter almost getting caught – just made the episode that much better. I’m still hating on that Nanny because she gives me the creeps, her statue didn’t help any but Harrison is such a weird baby....he’ll probably love it. After all, his father is Dexter.
Glee: “Never Been Kissed”
Aw, Glee. Where to start? I think that, perhaps, I’ll never love Kurt. I just can’t get completely on board with his character in large doses and as much as I’ll appreciate Colfer’s work (he did make my shortlist last season) his general lack of subtlety at times always has potential to prevent me from being completely involved in his character. Kurt doesn’t get the A plot this episode – there is no A plot, parts of his arc work brilliantly, others not so much. I’ll qualify that by asking what the big deal with this Blaine guy is. Was I the only one uninterested in the “Teenage Dream” cover? Yikes. Darren Criss is a good actor though, so I’m not uninterested in the character. Usually I’m all for Colfer the comedian, but his comedic portions with Blaine don’t land well – it’s the dramatic moments where he actually delivers. And Karofsky? Yowza. Didn’t see that coming. I’m afraid that Murphy may be laying it on too thick with his anti-bullying campaign, but thus far it’s working – I hope it doesn’t self destruct, the potential is there for it to go either way. The Beiste issue is ridiculous beyond belief, and yes I laughed at a portion of it because Glee IS ridiculous. I love that sometimes. Dot Marie Jones is doing such a lovely job and I’m loving how they’re developing her character. Can we keep her? Is it nepotism that makes me think that the Puck/Artie arc is the strongest? I don’t think so. It doesn’t have any correlation with the “Never Been Kissed” title – but that’s Glee for you – bipolar, just like me. I was a bit worried that they were deciding to do some regression of Puck’s character who was almost a carbon copy of him in the pilot episode for the first few moments. Salling’s ability to switch temperaments in seconds is weird, but kind of brilliant. To make their decision work the writers really do need to tell us why Puck stole that ATM? Is he lacking his attention at home? The fact that that the scene in Figgins’ office works is something of a miracle – we really shouldn’t. In theory we don’t know enough about Puck to know what the issue is, but it manages to succeed. And though it’s more evidence of its inconsistencies I’m glad that the whole Puck/Quinn issue wasn’t addressed. I’d be fine if it never is because this way I’m free to not like Quinn. Dianna Agron is lovely, but Quinn is just annoying. But, Santana? Kind of awesome, and Santana and Puck. A no-brainer.

Parenthood: “If This Boat Is A Rockin'”
An episode where Crosby gets the A plot doesn’t make me jump for joy. Dax Shepherd is serviceable, but sometimes he’s just seems so obtuse – that may be the character, but either way it gets tedious to watch him on occasion. Still, I understood his plight with the boat and something I’ll always treasure this show for is its sedateness. Another show would have dragged the potential for a fight between Crosby and Jasmine through an entire season. Parenthood knows better. I’ve said it once, and I shall repeat it – that Baldwin guy is unnerving me and every time Sarah shares screentime with him it seems like an omen. Her arc doesn’t exactly resound, but it does well and she has the best children on the show so extra points for that, speaking of which her son is someone in need of a real arc. Having Haddie ground an actual arc on her own may not have been the wisest decision, but she tries. I’m not loving it, but I like Sarah Ramos so I’ll settle. It’s unfortunate that my favourite couple Julia and Joel don’t get a real arc but I love that moment where Joel  and Jasmine have a one-on-one. We never see these characters together so it’s nice when he warns her that the Braverman’s change all their future inlaws. And her response, “To what? White?” Brilliant. If there’s one thing Parenthood lacks is the chemistry. Perhaps it’s because they’ve only been on for below a year, but unlike Brothers & Sisters that palpable feeling of filial chemistry is lacking among the four. Lauren Graham and Peter Krause work, or Krause and Shepherd or Graham and Christensen. But when they all come together it’s not as on point as I’d hope. Adam has the strongest arc, though, him dealing with Asperser’s is an issue and I prefer when the show decides to examine the difficulties instead of making it seem simple.

Community: “Cooperative Calligraphy”
I’m still trying to get in on the Community bandwagon because I refuse to believe that I don’t have the right funny bone to enjoy it. One thing I noticed about this episode that sort of clued me into some of my issues with the show is Community’s incessant need to use parody to carry out their points. The first rule about parodying concepts, though, is that your point needs to work even if you’re not aware of what’s being parodied and that’s something that Community often fails at. I will applaud the producers for not having Ken Jeong in this episode – I’m so tired of him and Shirley having his baby. Easily the most disgusting thing of the season. Kudos too to Alison Brie for milking her role for all its worth and turning to the MVP for this entire season. Really, the entire pen thing is ridiculous – just ridiculous but compared how much of a miss this season has seemed so far this is more of a hit. I’d have liked them to actually do more with a bottle episode, but it was not awful. And for that I’m thankful.

30 Rock: “Brooklyn Without Limits”
30 Rock has never been the best in cold-openings, but I found this particular one particularly funny. A dynamic on 30 Rock that never gets enough notice is the Jenna/Liz one. Tina and Jane work well together and they sell the opening. From a technical standpoint the A-plots of Liz and Jack don’t amuse as much as the Jane and Tracy plot. I generally loathe Tracy but he works with Jenna and their attempt at making a good “Oscar worthy” movie and then Jenna’s attempt to derail him were hilarious. Jenna’s crazy in jokes will never not be funny and the shameless emotional drivel in Tracy’s movie was too funny for words. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to take the political implications of Jack and Tina literally true Tina’s ass did look great in those jeans (was that a body double?) but the end of the arc doesn’t resound quite as much as I’d hope. I will say that John Slattery was brilliant as the kooky would-be politician. After all the years of snubbing him on Mad Men perhaps an Emmy is in the near future. Altogether the episode was a fairly satisfying one, 30 Rock may not be at its peak – but it’s far from the pits

The Office: “Viewing Party”
How awesome is that what is arguably the best episode of The Office this season is one tangentially linked to Glee. Of course if you don’t like Glee it won’t be awesome, but what can you do? It’s not Glee that makes this episode works, seeing all the cast together doing something not at the office is the real treat of the episode – which incidentally is what Michael was pushing for last week. I did miss Meredith, but otherwise it’s a good use of the ensemble. Michael acting in the register of a petulant child is actually one of Carrell’s strongpoints and his insecurities are always interesting to assess. The end of that arc with the paternal relationship between Erin and Michael was unexpected, but was probably the most interesting thing to happen; not that Dwight, aka The Baby Whisperer wasn’t fun. It’s simulatenously ridiculous and believable that Dwight would be the one to get Cecee to calm down and watching him milk Jim for the service was hilarious. I’m still not fond of Gabe so I’m all for Andy and Erin getting back together. But not soon, watching Andy on edge is kind of hilarious. I’m a big fan of Mindy Kalling so seeing her be front and centre more than usual is fun to watch. It’s episodes like these that remind why Angela was once a favourite of mine and Ryan gets key lines so that’s even more to shout about. Phyllis still annoys me profusely, but I’ve come to realise that perhaps she’s supposed to. I’ll chew on that thought.
[ B+]

Grey’s Anatomy: “Something's Gotta Give”
Whoa. I have to say it, I might be falling back in love with Grey’s Anatomy and I hate to say it because I still feel guilty for loving it when it’s so different (damn you Katherine Heigl and your busy “career”). This is a pertinent time as any to point out that I love Sandra Oh in comedy, so seeing her out of her usual register and behaving almost like a spaz was hilarious. I’ll always be indebted to the Cristina/Meredith friendship but Sara Ramirez will always be brilliant so watching Callie and Cristina tussle was a fine arc with two actresses I adore. Turns out, that was the weakest arc. So, yes, the episode was good. Even when she’s not given A material Chandra Wilson still manages to show her chops anyway she can and yes Jesse Williams did a good job this episode. I really want to keep hating Jackson, but he’s growing on me – damn the writing. Speaking of hating, I don’t hate Teddy anymore. I’m almost certain that it’s because she spent most of the episode pitted against the insufferable Patrick Dempsey/Derek Shepherd/McDreamy/good hair but Kim Raver did a fine job this episode even if I could have done without the slight political undertones of the episode. And of course Alex and April. Ugh, called that last week and here it is. Aaaargh. Okay, fine I’m at peace. Izzie is out of the picture, and April is interesting in her freaky way – the blowout at the end was actually well executed even if it seemed like Alex was being more than just a little douchey. But seriously what is with Alex and crazy people? Everyone around him really does go nuts. I guess they’ll spend the rest of the year dancing around each other in time for him to apologise by Christmas. Eh, whatever. At least we get some nice moments with Pompeo and Chambers – always a plus in my books.
Other Musings...
  • I swear, I know that everyone hates Rachel but how is Kurt liking the competition any less unsalvageable than Rachel and Jesse?
  • I’d have no complaints for Kathryn Joosten submitting this episode for a guest spot, Mrs. McCluscky was on fire.
  • Best line of the week on The Office when Gabe says Michael, you are making this harder than it has to be. Michael’s response, “That’s what she said.”
  • Okay, broken record yes...but too early for FYIs for Julia Stiles?
  • I love how Kelly has her issues with Glee being “irresponsible” but loves it anyway.
  • So Jenna’s exercise video: “Jenna Gets Hard”, anyone buying that?
  • I miss Lea Michele. Episode 6 and no real Rachel arc yet? WTF? But no Rachel means no Finn, which I don’t mind.

Michael C. Hall in Dexter A+
Peter Krause in Parenthood B+/A-
Justin Chambers in Grey’s Anatomy B+
Mark Salling in Glee B+
Rachel Griffiths in Brothers & Sisters B+
Chris Colfer in Glee B+
Jane Krakowski in 30 Rock B+
Regale me with your comments? What took your fancy this past week?

(PS. Supposing I do end up dropping Community - a possibility, what show should I pick up for actual reviewing? Something I already follow like Cougar Town or something new? Give me your ideas.)


Alex in Movieland said...

DH: fine, nothing special there. I'm glad Gaby's girls were out of the picture, at least for one episode...

30 Rock: I wasn't crazy about the episode, even though the second part was better and it definitely funnier than last week's. That whole GG thing was funny, but I thought the John Slattery storyline sucked and he shouldn't even get a nomination! it was embarassing at one point :)

Grey's: I hope they bring Christina back into the OR, Yang is one of the few interesting characters remaining.
And I am continuously annoyed by their... their... ignorance. Have they actually even been in a hospital? People jumping on eachother every episode and having sex there is ridiculous.

Jose said...

I can't stand Chris Colfer actually, he has the subtlety of a train on fire and Kurt's storyline is so preposterous. I think shows should stop making characters gay just to deliver a message.

LOVE Jane Krakowski as you know. It saddens me she'll never win an Emmy for 30 Rock.

Robert said...

I liked this week's glee at first, and though it hasn't quite stayed as great in my mind as when i posted my lovely rave about it, I still think it's one of the better episodes of the season. I really like Dot Marie Jones, she's doing some great stuff with Bieste! Glad to hear a mention of her.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

alex i didn't actually LIKE slattery's arc but he was so immersed in the character. it was half way through before i actually recognised him. and i'm laughing at your comment on grey's the amount of sexin' that goes on in that hospital. what a show, but come on - it's going better than season 6.

jose ah, the storyline isn't THAT preposterous. is it? ah well, i guess as a gay person you'd know. and i'm soooooooooooo with you on jane. hate that she might never get that emmy.

robert if you liked it, you shouldn't let people NOT liking it make you like it less. (that was a whole lot of like). and yeah, beiste is great, though i wish she'd have stayed meaner for longer.

CrazyCris said...

Christina quitting. WOW!

And much as I hate to admit it, I think I now watch Glee more for the music than the actual characters... it's getting a bit too over the top.

But I think my favourite tale of the week was finally digging into the murky past of Catherine Pierce (a.k.a. Katerina Petrova)!

Can't remember much else from last week... but let me know when you get this week's up. I have an absolute favourite from Monday that I seriously doubt any other show will be able to beat! :o)