Saturday, 22 January 2011

TV Week in Review: 16th – 20th January

It’s been a fairly busy week – and I’m on a mini/semi-vacation (umm, sort of), I wanted to see Community and Brothers & Sisters but I was sort of busy, and I’m still not sure if I’ll decide to watch Desperate Housewives new episode. But, of the lot I did see – it was a great week.

Big Love: “Winter”

The final season of Big Love is here, and it begins on a powerful note – as usual. Bill’s still trying to deal with the campaign and the wives are trying to deal with each other. As usual, one of the best things about Big Love has always been how seamless each episode seems to flow – it’s probably a quality about showtime shows generally, but they always seem more cinematic than television like. The fallout with the wives is interesting to watch, even if it’s ground we’ve covered before. I’m not sure I love the idea of Barb turning to alcohol, but Marge and Nicki have interesting subplots – especially Nicki (Sevigny is always so good at mixing the comedy with the drama). Kudos to Paxton for showing why he’s the lead on the show; sometimes I’m wont to think that he gets lost in the supporting players but it’s nice when he takes the reins to decisively and he turns in a good performance. The inclusion of Mary Kay Place (whom I love) is starting to feel a little extraneous, but other than – it’s going well.

Parenthood: “Opening Night”
Two things happen that have been a long time coming, one more than the other. First, we finally get the presentation of that school play that’s been in preproduction for months and then we get Kristina and Adam finding out about Alex and Haddie. It’s weird, this episode hits all the right notes but no one really stands out which only elucidates why Parenthood’s at its strongest when it’s a purely ensemble drama. As usual it’s the little moments that define it all – like Sarah and Drew bonding over selling wrapping Christmas wrapping paper in January and Zeek stepping in to save the day. One of the strongest arcs I loved about the episode was how he and Camille stepped in to hover over the entire storylines – being the parents of everyone. Camille and Haddie bonding (and conversely getting Kristina) upset was nice to watch – even if I don’t like watching Kristina regress. I suppose it’s about time that Crosby gets a “win” as a parent – but I didn’t love that his forcing Jabar to perform the play ended up well, although Sidney is just the cutest child on TV. Her spoofing Marilyn Monroe was delightful.

Cougar Town: “A Thing About You
Cougar Town is, as usual, able to keep up its brand of ridiculous humour this week as we get three storylines that don’t exactly intersect but are fun to watch. They all, sort of, fall under the overarching team of friendships lasting. When Travis needs help being romantic with Kylie he approaches Grayson and not Bobby, which becomes an issue. Meanwhile Lorrie and Jules get into a spat when Lorrie moves in for the weekend and Ellie is her usual acerbic self with her soul-mate, a similarly caustic man at the wine bar, who’s not fond of Jules. None of the storylines really stand out as especially profound but they take on a nice brand of quirky humour when all together. Watching Busy and Courtney interact is always fun – and more importantly I love seeing Ellie having fun with her meanness. It was a surprisingly nice touch watching Grayson and Bobby bond as friends – a friendship I’m usually not that invested in. And as usual those closing zingers (this time starring Ellie and Allie) were on point.

Modern Family: “Caught In the Act”
It’s weird, writing wise this is nowhere near the strongest episode since it all depends on a brand of situational humour that’s been treaded before, and quite often – caught during sex, misunderstood conversations, sending wrong emails, running expensive carpets. And yet, it turns into one of the most hilariously timed episodes that had me laughing more than I cared to admit. I still wish that Mitchell and Cameron wouldn’t always be left with the most incidental of plots, though they do their best to make it work but of course it’s the Dunphy’s that standout because watching Bowen and Burrell (and Hyland) having it out is NEVER not funny. What’s more, I love how I’m getting more and more invested in the relationship between Jay and Gloria – even if I did miss Manny. Really, a hilarious episode overall.

The Office: “Ultimatum”
Yay, Amy Ryan’s still here – and they’re wise enough to not overuse her and make her fit into the fabric of the show. Honestly, the ridiculousness that is Michael Scott will never get old and watching him prepare for defeat or success is hilarious – even if I still don’t quite get why Erin’s not a fan of Holly (hello, the woman is amazing). The Andy/Darryl/Dwight subplot seemed nice in theory, but didn’t land quite as forcefully as I did; although the opening zinger with Dwight and Jim was well played (but Krasinski and Wilson know to sell it). I’m interested to see just where they’re going to take Holly’s ultimatum but of course the strongest point of the entire episode was Pam’s resolution board – from Andy’s resolution to cook less, Creed’s cartwheels or just having Ryan pop for a few seconds of hilarity it’s going well; not brilliantly – but well.

Parks & Recreation: “Go Big or Go Home”
There was one thing I didn’t like about this episode, which wasn’t really part of the episode even – the recap of last season. Other than that....perfection! I’m glad the premiere decides to ensure that Poehler leads the show, since the ace-in-hole that’s up Parks & Recreation’s sleeve is not Tom Haverford, or even Rob Swanson – it’s Leslie Knope and Amy is just perfect getting everyone whipped back into shape. I’ll admit, there’s something a little ridiculous about Tom being jealous or Ron, but that basketball game was so funny (stupid, but funny) that I couldn’t resist and Andy still manages to turn up and make his buffoon fresh and not as buffoon-ish as you’d think. Honestly, I’m not that broken up about April and him not finding happiness – I really wish he’d just get back with Ann, but that doesn’t seem likely. On that note, though, how cool were the new additions? The chemistry with Jones and Low is hilarious and it’s sort sweet how they’re making that “relationship” work – and of course Poehler and Scott will be awesome together. Welcome NBC – more importantly, welcome back Parks & Recreation.

30 Rock: “Mrs. Donaghy”
30 Rock returns with a freshness that’s not quite new but is so comfortable and almost feels like a throwback to past and better seasons. The big arc concerns Jack and Liz getting married by mistake which is just a perfect bit of madness to happen at the TGS studios. Watching Tina and Alec go at it in their typical madcap fashion in hilarious to watch – they always are at their best opposite each other. It’s weird, Jenna and Denny get a ridiculous storyline but I can’t help laughing uproariously as they get Kenneth caught up in their madness. And even better, Tracy is marginalised and more screen-time is given to Angie who is – in typical fashion, hilarious to watch. There’s something great about seeing 30 Rock return to its root – devoid of guest stars or over exaggerated hooks – just great humour.

Interesting Bits
  • Honestly, how funny was it seeing Nicki’s altercation with that boy? I know it’s wrong but when he walked into that iron bar I couldn’t stop laughing.
  • Really, wasn’t that child’s show on Parenthood the cutest thing? It melted my heart of coal.
  • I want to see Ellie getting more of these brilliant bouts of dialogue to be mean with – she’s so good with them.
  • That entire scene where Phil, Gloria and Claire are talking at the stairs – and both parties are confused just had me laughing uncontrollably – nice to see Vergara in top form.
  • Dwight’s resolution – “Meet A Loose Woman”. Priceless, I tell you – priceless.
  • I’m both hoping they do and hoping they don’t make Leslie and Ben a couple, but they do have amazing comedic timing together – no?
  • Denny and Jenna are so great, why can’t they get more scenes together?

Standout: Writing
Big Love A-
Parks & Recreation A-
30 Rock B+

Standout: Acting
Amy Poehler in Parks & Recreation A
Bill Paxton in Big Love A-
Sofia Vergara in Modern Family B+/A-
Chloe Sevigny in Big Love B+/A-
Ty Burrell in Modern Family B+/A-
Rob Lowe in Parks & Recreation B+
Steve Carrell in The Office B+

Standout Line
Leslie: “I tried to buy a pile of manure the other day and I got denied, so I literally can’t buy s***.” Absolutely hilarious!
Sooooooooo, what did you see this past week?


Simon said...

Have you ever seen Criminal Minds? It came back this week, and it's the only show I semi-regularly watch besides Community (excellent episode this week, you should watch it, bunch of references to past episodes and, and nobody seems to watch it, or at least review it (I mean, fifth-something season, someone's watching who isn't your grandparents).

So there's that.

Anonymous said...

I guess I should have stayed with The Office instead of changing the channel to a How I Met Your Mother rerun. The Marshall's dad's death one.

Andrew, Amy Ryan is a goddess, and you will slap me every time I miss her on TV. Promise?

Robert said...

Yay! Modern Family was so, so hilariously timed and fast paced. It was too bad that Mitch and Cam got the side plot but it still fit in really well. I can't wait to start keeping up with Parks and Rec.

Eric said...

Ahh, I am kicking myself for not keeping up with Parks & Rec/The Office/30 Rock this season. I especially need to get back to The Office now that Amy Ryan is back. Nice writeup!

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

simon i've caught the odd episode of criminal minds, and i like joe mantegna but i don't follow it regularly. the only procedural i watch semi-regularly is the closer.

paolo ha. amy ryan is just too great. she's such a good comedienne. i want her to get her own show.

robert yup, MF was just FUN, FUN julie and sofia knocking it out of the park, and then more FUN.

eric i'm not going to lie, amy ryan really is my favourite thing about the office right now (see above.)