Saturday, 29 January 2011

TV Week in Review

Due to my own negligence I missed 30 Rock this week. Apologies.

Big Love: “A Seat at the Table”
Things are getting even more complicated on and off the compound and Bill has even more stress to deal with. I didn’t love the issue of Barb getting drunk last week but Jeanne Tripplehorn is doing a brilliant job of establishing her issues and this week especially, the conflict with her mother was a well played arc. Ellen Burstyn does a great job of playing against Jeanne and the eventual blow-up between the two is excellent. Watching Marge descend is difficult to watch, but kudos to Ginnifer for making it work. One of the thing I always love about this show is how the women work so well together, and with the children and that closing scene with Nikki and Barb was beautiful. It’s tough watching Bill sweat even more and it looks like his political career could already be defunct. It’s a good solid episode, not as good as the premiere – but still good.

Cougar Town: “Lost Children”
Sometimes I forget how much fun Cougar Town and this week they offer up what’s arguably the best episode of the season – thus far. Jules, in her crazy controlling way decides to play a weird version of hide-and-seek when her TV breaks down preventing her from watching “Waiting For Superman” (and feeling smart and depressed instead of dumb and happy). And we end up getting a crazy episode filled with adults behaving silly. Ensemble shows like Cougar Town are always best when the group splits up and we get unlikely pairings – like Andy and Grayson or Tom and Ellie. Ellie forces Jules to admit that she’s unduly bossy, and we get a nice back-story as to Andy’s issues with Grayson but I have to give props to Bobbie and Laurie who were hilarious with their fake TV show “Beef and Bubbles”. I love that pairing. And it all culminates with the entire cast – minus Jules – in the back of Ellie’s new truck. Absolutely brilliant.

Community: “Celebrity Pharmacology”
Ah, this was a nice safe episode that didn’t really break any new ground but it was a nice filler episode of sorts that actually had some significant plot development. The major arc was Annie putting on a play for some elementary students fighting drugs which becomes monopolised when Pierce bribes her to get a starring role (blurring the message of abstinence from drugs). It’s hilarious watching Chevy Chase go crazy with Pierce this episode and it’s one of the thing about Community – the opportunity to see these duos that we don’t often see together. Brie and Chase work well together, and that entire scene in Annie’s house stood out as a great moment in the episode. And the subplots were just as satisfying from Jeff and Britta’s nephew to Shirley and Senor Chang (who I can’t believe I do not hate anymore). A nice solid episode, not riveting but worth it.

The Office: “The Seminar”
It’s an episode on par with “Andy’s Play” where Ed Helms take the forefront, and he deals with being a terrible salesman. You can already sense them trying to phase out Michael, and it’s working even though his scenes with Amy Ryan stole the show (WHY ARE THEY SO AWESOME TOGETHER?) And all those little side bits were just delicious – Jim and his friend and their spat from third grade, Kelly being amazing and Gabe and Erin and their scrabble. Erin can be such a moron, but I like her – Gabe still annoys me terribly. I just want that relationship to end. Though I’ll always love Ryan and Kelly and have a special place in my heart for Pam and Jim, Andy stands out as the most multifaceted character on The Office with the exception of Michael and though the audience lacks the most obvious comedic hooks it functions as a nice bit of character development for him. And with Michael leaving, character development of the remaining stalwarts.

Parks & Recreation: “Flu Season”
I love how the team on Parks & Recreation are so comfortable that even their lesser efforts are great. This week the flu hits and Chris, Leslie and April are all victims giving Ann the opportunity to play some importance. Since, I’m a big fan of Rashida Jones I love the chance that Ann gets to play in her natural habitat as a nurse and watching her move between these three crazy (but different) people is fun to watch. And we get so many arcs. There’s really no main arc, although one could surmise that Leslie’s speech to get advertisers for her harvest festival is most salient. Seeing Leslie sick is as fun as you’d expect and Poehler keeps on thriving with the great scripts doing great work. The fact that Chris is afraid of the flu makes perfect sense, and Ann relishing the urge to take care of him is expected. I still love Ann and Andy more than any couple on the show, but Lowe and Jones work well together. And seeing Andy bond with Ron was a hilarious side-note.
Standout Writing
Cougar Town A
Parks & Recreation B+
Standout Acting
Amy Poehler in Parks & Recreation B+/A-
Christa Miller in Cougar Town B+/A-
Jeanne Tripplehorn in Big Love B+/A-
Bill Paxton in Big Love B+/A-
Rashida Jones in Parks & Recreation B+
Rob Lowe in Parks & Recreation B+
Ginnifer Goodwin in Big Love B/B+

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