So, some shows return for the new year. But the week felt awfully flat. Ah well, here's what I saw.
Desperate Housewives: “Assassins”
It’s the first episode of the season that makes me think that Marc Cherry should just hang up and call it a day. Usually there are one or two storylines that fall flat – but this week each housewife has an especially flat plot-points to work with that just made the entire thing an exercise in exasperation. The return of Orson only underscores what we already know – Bree and Keith are polar opposites in most ways. Despite her petulance I feel vaguely bad for Gabrielle’s plight – but the writers are making the situation much more ridiculous than it ought to be. Lynnette seems to be back to regressing in her marriage with Tom and the entire arc of Susan’s potential medical issues is just awful. Paul finding out about Beth’s mother is somewhat interesting, but it’s shoehorned into the end and fails to pique my interest much. I’m putting my money on Zach (Paul’s “son”) to be the murderer. Who’s with me?
Parenthood: “Damage Control”
I’m glad to have this show back, and though the return is not flawless I have to credit for returning the show to its core of character development. I haven’t been especially moved by Zeek in the past few weeks and watching him bond with his daughters and grandson was nice to watch. I still think that Heizer's Drew may be the best grandchild, so it’s nice seeing him get some significant screen-time. Lauren Graham seemed just a bit off at times reacting opposite Craig T. Nelson, but her moments with Erika Christensen were nicely played. Julia and Joel continue to be the best couple on the show and watching them try to talk mortality to Sydney is moving in its way. Haddie’s potential relationship with her social-worker friend is the A-plot of the episode and it will be interesting to see where it goes. Potter and Krause do a good job of making Adam and Christina’s fears understandable, even if this seems like something set to explode into disastrous proportions.
Modern Family: “Slow Down Your Neighbours”
The episode was advertised as important for the inclusion of James Marsden, which is a bit of an underselling of the comedic genius at work here. Modern Family returns with a near perfect episode that makes me remember just why I’m glad I gave this one a try. I do believe that to some degree the writers are often unsure of what to do with Jay and Glory, but even though their plot is slight there’s something nice about seeing Gloria be bad at something. Though I still think Vergara’s the weakest in the cast the entire cast is excellent and her chemistry O’Neill is always lovely to watch. Claire returns to her natural craziness and watching Phil try to deal with her madness is hilarious. The dynamic of that relationship really do remind me of Krause and Potter in Parenthood – which is one of the reasons I love it. And kudos to a fine plot with Mitchell and Cameron. I couldn’t help but laugh at Mitchell’s constant eye-rolling and though it wasn’t the best thing of the episode Marsden was amazing.
Cougar Town: “No Reason to Cry”
Ah, Cougar Town – I have returned (I caught up on the first half of the season over the break). Here we have another episode of crazy silliness that’s just the right amount of eccentric that makes Cougar Town so hilarious. True, the first half does better than the first but regardless of when and how many tactical errors it may make in execution Cougar Town always has its heart in the right place. I’m always impressed watching Courteney do her stuff, even if and she manages to make the silliness of Jules work credibly. I was especially loving Laurie and her crazy coffee orders, and Ellie and Andy and their couple-y madness. All in a nice return to a terribly underrated show. More of this.
Grey’s Anatomy: “Disarm”
Hmmm. What was off about this episode? I can’t put my finger on it, but it just wasn’t working. It makes sense that another shooting is what will pull Christina out of her funk – but this episode seemed to be so shrouded by inertia, even the actors seem to be going through the motions. Ellen does a good job of trying to make it work (she’s always so terribly underrated), but there really isn’t that much for her to work with. It seems like a decidedly filler episode and sure there are indications of things moving forward like Callie and Arizona, and Teddy and her “husband”. But other than the random moments there wasn’t much to write home about here.
Ty Burrell in Modern Family B+/A-
Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Modern Family B+
Julie Bowen in Modern Family B+
Craig T. Nelson in Parenthood B/B+
Busy Phillips in Cougar Town B/B+
Courtney Cox-Arquette in Cougar Town B/B+
Anything good on TV for you this past week?