Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Random Acts of Television: Big Love, Private Practice, The Office, Community and Parks&Rec

I’ve been sort of splotchy in my TV viewing lately, and even worse with the reviewing but I just have to single out a few recent episodes....(even though I'm way behind...I'll catch up soon, maybe)
I’ve been on and off in my Private Practice viewing, though I’m finally up to speed, sort of. I’m currently one episode behind – most recently seeing Addison’s return and the threat of Naomi’s departure. I feel like a Judas because even though I adore Audra McDonald I hope for her to leave the show so I can have another cast recording with her lovely voice on it. I sort of hope she’s not gone for good. Watching Walsh and McDonald will always be fine, and even the episode does not sizzle it retains that placid coolness that marks the show – sometimes better than Grey’s Anatomy in its interest in characters (which I still have to catch up on).

Episode: “Love and Lies” (Mar. 17) [B/B+]
I’m even behind on Thursday comedy which I think is awful, and boy oh boy Community is continuing its awesome string of good episodes which makes me so happy. It’s nice when shows return to form. Oddly, Annie wasn’t a big part of this episode – Britta sort of went front and centre and Senor Chang and yet it worked. Crazily, ridiculously but most importantly HILARIOUSLY. Gillian so often gets terrible material to work with, but seeing her and Abed and Troy having a friendship is nice and that final bit with them all and their “gadgets” was fun. So what if I’m way behind.

Episode: “Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy” (Mar. 17) [B+]

And Parks & Recreation returns from the fun of the Harvest Festival to go camping to find some more great ideas. Perfectly sequenced, excellent ideas to ensure everyone gets a chance and then Ron saving the day by making sure Leslie gets to was just absolute genius. But, it was The Office that still has me smiling back. It’s such a perfect way for Michael, the hopeless romantic, to leave the show. Carrell and Ryan are just perfect together and the entire episode is a piece of brilliant, it’s possibly my favourite episode of what’s surprisingly turned out to be a great season.

Episode: “Camping Trip” (Mar 24) [A-]
Episode: “Garage Sale” (Mar 24) [A]

But the real reason for this post is Big Love. Perhaps, later, when I have the time to give them the farewell they deserve, but I do know the writers offered up an episode worthy of our love. The writer was beautifully placid like the best of episodes, but it was the superb direction – the circle coming to an end, the actors being so cohesive everything emerging so smoothly that was most impressed. I’ll admit, I did shed a tear at that closing – not just for the characters, or even the show but the fact that a trio of strong females might never get such great roles again, or worse, not even get recognised for the great work they’ve put in. An kudos to Paxton, for doing fine work in his curtain call.
SERIES FINALE: A, Season Grade: A-

Standout Writing
The Office A+
Parks & Recreation A
Big Love A-

Standout Performances
Bill Paxton in Big Love: A
Steve Carrell in The Office: A
Amy Poehler in Parks & Recreation: B+/A-
Chloe Sevigny in Big Love: B+/A-
Jeanne Tripplehorn in Big Love: B+/A-
Audra McDonald in Private Practice: B+
Did any of those episodes stand out for you?


Luke said...

First off, it's amazing to see you so overwhelmingly positive in one of these posts! :)

Second, I completely agree with the comment on The Office. The season started out rather bumpy, but every since they came back from the holiday break, the show has been back to basics with so many quality episodes that feature every one of the show's outstanding cast members.

And gah!! Big Love was almost impossible to get through without a few tears. What a great way to go out - a fantastic season, a fantastic finale, and a series-best performance from Tripplehorn this year.

Ryan T. said...

I have such a love-hate relationship with Big Love. The show itself is ridiculously good and the wives are stupendous. I just never, for once, warmed up to Bill. In fact I pretty much hated him. I wasn't shocked at all that he had to die for his wives to flourish. He didn't deserve them.

And I've really been enjoying NBC's Thursday comedies, but kudos on you focusing your love on Carrell and Ryan. Now those two made me tear up (and then some).

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

luke as you see chloe will always be my fave, but i loved how barb's arc played out - with a whole lot more empathy and consciousness than some other shows would have given it.

ryan you're not the only one who hates bill but i've always liked him (paxton more than the character, but still). and yes: amy and steve are just perfect.