Saturday, 12 February 2011

TV Week in Review: 6th - 10th February

So, here's what the TV viewing was like this week. I'm actually annoyed I missed Community, I sort of loved the "Dungeons and Dragons" episodes from the week before last (hilarious), so I'll have to check up on that. And why is Cougar Town on a hiatus? Ugh.
Glee: “The Sue Sylvester Shuffle”

The weirdest thing about this episode had to be the Lady Antebellum duet between Puck and Rachel. The fact that they get the two loudest Glee club members to sing a duet (to entice the footballers) which ends up being a sappy country had to be most unintentionally hilarious thing of the night, if a trifle disappointing. Other than, that, Glee was back to it’s madcap ways and it made for a generally fun episode. Sue going crazy is unsurprising but it works because that’s Sue and you can tell Jane relishes those moments. The idea of Finn actually being a leader makes no sense to me, because evidence shows that he’s actually a bit of a coward (case in point: choosing football over Glee, not turning up to take the Glee photo). Call it character development if you wish, but it’s sort of ridiculous even if it’s nice seeing him and Puck on speaking terms. The episode works as a standalone, but it makes sense within the narrative and though the musical numbers didn’t thrill me it’s a solid return. Welcome back.

Big Love: “The Oath”
I swear: I’m reticent about watching an episode every week because it’s so near to the end. It’s often difficult to pinpoint a significant detail about Big Love that makes it work, it just all ends up happening. Bill is still getting pressure from all ends – including the family, and now that it’s been revealed that Marge was underage when they married it’s turning into an even bigger clusterf****. I still can’t resist those scenes where the three wives come together to spar, and there was something brilliant about having Barb confess to wanting a third partnetr in the marriage. This episode was setup sort of brilliantly – like you’d notice that each of the wives have significant one-on-one moment with Bill, and though Jeanne wasn’t the strongest this episode her and Bill’s moments were great. And the only thing near as good as seeing the wives bonding is the seeing the children doing the same. Bill’s dream towards the end was freaky as hell, though.

Glee: “Silly Love Songs”
Ignoring actual plotpoints and group dynamics, this episode felt like something straight out of the season one catalogue – though, I’m not certain if its buoyancy is more akin to sometimes misguided morals of something like “Bad Reputation” or the smart (if occasionally silly) humour of something like “Mash-Up”. It’s probably somewhere in between because I can palpably point out some of my favourite and least favourite things about Glee all in this episode. Even if Murphy’s actual plots sometimes exasperate, the episodes he writes almost always have a singularity to them that’s a bit necessary in the all the bipolarity (see “Laryngitis”). There were scenes this week, like Kurt, Mercedes and Rachel bemoaning their loveless lives or a ridiculously hilarious scene with Santana helping out at a hospital reek of lunacy – but in the good sort of way where Glee is comfortable with its madness. But then, there are those Finn/Quinn scenes which don’t exasperate as much as confound. True, Monteith is not half as trite as he was one year ago but Finn’s sudden confidence boost seems disingenuous and though I’m not even invested in the Puck/Quinn arc that they had seemed interested in perpetuating it’s weird how that just sort of fizzled out. I’ll admit, though, Mark Salling performing Queen sort of tipped the scales in a favourable way.

Parenthood: “Just Go Home”
I keep wondering why Julia and Joel keep getting little to no screenplay in this back half of Parenthood – it’s making me sort of antsy about what the writers have up their sleeves. That aside, though, Parenthood delivers another solid episode. In typical sedate fashion the Haddie drama doesn’t reach to a catastrophic boiling point and something as simple as a conversation with Connie leads to end. I have to trumpet Bonnie Bedelia who keeps on impressing with small portions of screen-time. I’m not particularly invested in the Haddie drama, and the two main arcs this week are much more important. On one hand we get the return of Seth to wreak havoc on Sarah and her children which acts as an impetus for one of my favourite things about the show – the various brother and sister relationships, this time the one of Drew and Amber. Whitman and Heizer are both great in their roles and their chemistry is excellent, and it’s nice having Sarah deal with an actual adult problem and not have her being a loafer. I’m not as fully enthusiastic about the problems with Jasmine and Crosby, not on the surface at least but that final argument between the two is excellently played – on both sides. And, though, I kind of don’t want Parenthood going for these cliff-hangers – it was a necessary plotpoint. I sure am interested in seeing where this one goes.

Modern Family: “Bixby's Back”
There was something especially slight about this episode which seemed, at times, more interesting in overreaching to fit the paradigm of Valentine’s Day than genuine comedy. I’ll maintain that my favourite portions were the few minutes of watching the four Pritchett grandchildren interacting and then the ending signalling the return of Dylan who’s probably my favourite guest star on the show. As, per normal, the Dunphy’s come out on top when it comes to the adults – if only because Julie Bowen, and especially Ty Burrell are always willing to go the extra mile with the physical comedy, without making it ridiculous. The other two arcs aren’t terrible, though. I couldn’t help but remember the Will & Grace episode where they were both interested in the same guy when I watched Cam and Mitchell going crazy over Mitch’s assistant. It’s still not an ideal plotline worthy of Ferguson, but I’ll take it. And, I can’t resist the connection between Ed O’Neill and Sofa Vergara which is always fun to watch.

The Office: “PDA”
It’s difficult to resist the great rapport that Amy Ryan and Steve Carrell, no other guest star has managed to fit so well into the fabric of the office as much as Ryan and watching them go overboard with the PDA – and everything about their kooky relationship – manages to work for this episode. It’s awkward about watching Erin and Andy go on a scavenger hunt to find Gabe’s Valentine’s Day gift for her. I’m still not sure if it’s a good weird or a bad weird. Of course, those conference meetings always end up being highlights of the show and watching them all consider having closets for office hook-ups (and masturbation) plays out well, and closing zinger with everyone ruminating on Valentine’s Day ended up being surprisingly well played. (PS. Ryan is awesome.)

Parks & Recreation: “Ron & Tammy II”
Generally, Parks & Recreation is not the kind of show that depends on the machinations of a guest star to add humour – but Megan Mullaly is more than just an incidental guest star and when she returns for Part Two in the Ron & Tammy saga it makes to have her become integrated with the other cast members. Watching Mullally and Offerman go at it is nothing short of brilliant and I only hope that the Emmy’s won’t ignore a second chance to honour Mullally brilliant guest work here. The two remaining arcs are smaller, but still satisfying. Watching April trying to deal with the constant peppiness of Chris is hilarious even if thus far the season seems to be either hit-or-miss when it comes to integrating Ann into the show. And of course, seeing Poehler and Scott interact is always fun.

30 Rock: “Double Edged Sword”
Sometimes I feel as if Tracy Jordan exists simply to be the bane of my existence when it comes to enjoying 30 Rock. I almost never manage to wholeheartedly enjoy an arc he’s featured in, and this week’s attempt – although much more than just fair – still fails to stick its landing absolutely. Everything else works perfectly, though. Carol and Liz’s relationship reaches its end and in natural 30 Rock fashion it’s absolutely ridiculous. Naturally, it’s only when the relationship ends I realise just how great Damon and Fey work opposite each other. The true highlight, though, was Elizabeth Banks and Alec Baldwin. More often than not I’m on the fence about Avery/Banks’ worth on the show, but watching her bemoan the potential Canadian nationality of her child is surprisingly hilarious – despite a potential hackneyed joke. But, it’s not really about freshness of the humour – 30 Rock is all about ways of doing the same thing over and over and making it work, and this episode works (even if Jenna is sorely lacking, ugh).

Grey’s Anatomy: “P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing)”
It’s weird, this episode doesn’t have the actors doing exceptional work and the writing is not perfect but it ends up being a solid, very solid, episode where things actually move forward. Callie, Arizon and Mark are dealing with her baby issues and I just want to say (for the umpteenth time) that Sara Ramirez is awesome. A pregnant Callie is almost as fun to imagine as a pregnant Bailey, so it’ll be interesting to see where the writers take that one. Thatcher’s back in the hospital, and though I’m not his biggest fan it actually makes for interesting drama and it’s so good to see Meredith growing up and being mature with Lexie and with her mother’s legacy. I don’t love the idea of that doctor putting Alex in his place, but it works as a plot device and it’s weird how neither April NOR Jackson annoyed me this episode. In fact, April had one of the most hilarious bits as Callie tried to comprehend her peppiness. Good stuff.

Interesting Bits
  • I love how Lexie is contemplating watching Sophie’s Choice and Cristina goes, “It’s a really fun movie.” Cristina’s such a psycho, I wonder if she’s messing with her or actually believes that.
  • “I HATE you, Diane Sawyer.” Jane Lynch is amazing.
  • Between Elizabeth Banks, Megan Mullally and Amy Ryan this year in comedic guest actresses is looking ridiculously strong.
  • Jayma Mays, Jessalyn Gilsig? Where are you?
  • Michael sitting in Holly's lap had to be the funniest bit of PDA.
  • How funny was Claire freaking out about the word panties?
Standouts: Writing
Big Love: A-
Parks & Recreation: B+

Standouts: Acting
Bill Paxton in Big Love: A-
Chloe Sevigny in Big Love: B+/A-
Ty Burrell in Modern Family: B+/A-
Ginnifer Goodwin in Big Love: B+/A-
Steve Carrel in The Office: B+/A-
Nick Offerman in Parks & Recreation: B+/A-
Tina Fey in 30 Rock: B+/A-
Jeanne Tripplehorn in Big Love: B+/A-
Jane Lynch in Glee: B+
What this last week in TV like for you?


Simon said...

I'm just glad someone peeled off those Cheerios costumes. They had to be stuck on, surely.

Luke said...

I love that we watch so many similar shows - makes your writeups so worth the read! :)

I gotta say - though the Super Bowl episode sort of was lost on me (it was a little too big and over-the-top and messy for my liking) I have to say the Love Songs ep was one of my favorites in quite some time...

And are you as glad as I am that Big Love is back to its stellar roots? Last season, to paraphrase Ms. Sevigny, was a bust.

(And I'm glad someone else thought the D&D Community was awesome - it might've been my all-time favorite episode of the show.)

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

and they all so hot out of those god-forsaken ponytails, though. don't they, simon?

and, yeah, big love IS back to goodness. i'm so sad it's ending, god i really want sevigny to win an emmy, but i really wouldn't mind if the show wins a major for ANYTHING.