Saturday, 16 April 2011

TV Week in Review: 10th - 14th April

So, there’s an interim of one week to wait until I Cougar Town finally returns – I can’t wait. It’s been a generally good week of TV, no I still haven’t tuned into see what The Borgias has to offer, and I still have that final instalment of Mildred Pierce to watch. But, what I’ve seen has been good enough.
Brothers & Sisters: “Olivia's Choice” “Never Say Never”
It seems like such a waste of time for there to be a dual episode of Brothers & Sisters when both episodes are so terribly trite. I don’t even care to actually speak about the plot. One focuses on Olivia’s adoption and the other on Nora’s mother’s death. And I’m not sure if its poor storylines or just a general lethargy to the entire thing but both episodes seem to have no gusto. I’m really worried about where this series is going. Between this and Desperate Housewives, ABC on Sunday is not must-see TV. But at least the latter manages to sidle out sporadic bursts of laughter every now and then.

Nurse Jackie: “Play Me”
It’s been a while since a comedic beat was my favourite part of this show, but seeing Zoey in the basement talking to the piano-playing “God” and then having O'Hara walk in on her and her boyfriend making out was excellent. There’s not all that much in the way of actual character development, but it’s all well done. From Jackie, perhaps, realising that she’s on a downward spiral, having Coop needing Thor and having him behave like a petulant child to get what he wants (Fachinelli is such a good actor). I’m still trying to see where this season plans on heading, I’m not seeing much in terms of actual direction. But, it’s not an issue thus far – it’s all very entertaining.

United States of Tara: “The Full Fuck You Finger”
Raise your hand if you think Frances Conroy is brilliant. I only recently re-watched the premier season of Six Feet Under and she’s such a welcome presence to this episode – even though United States of Tara is not really a guest oriented comedy like, for example, 30 Rock. There are a number of interesting things going on, and having Marshall wonder about Max stepping out on Tara for her craziness is interesting. Sometimes her alters do seem to be glorified so it’s nice to root that in reality. Watching Kate deal with the wrenches thrown in her plan to teach in Osaka was great, and Larson once again delivers a fine comedic performance. The relationship between Charmain and Tara remains dysfunctional and that ending worked well without being too much out of left-field.

Parenthood: “Slipping Away”
I will say I’m glad to see the return of Drew (even if it was only for a few moments), but otherwise I’m not alotgher positive about this episode of Parenthood. Adam has just become a terribly annoying parent as of late, and I’m not sure if it’s the writing or Krause preventing me from fully appreciating what he feels as a parent to know that Haddie is having sex. Then, there’s the craziness with Amber which just seems so strange – in a train-wreck sort of way. Lauren Graham didn’t have as much to do in this episode as I would have liked but she handled those two confrontations with Amber brilliantly. I’m sceptical about where they plan on taking Sarah’s play and what’s going to happen with Crosby and Jasmine – and I’m still waiting for Sam Jaegar and Erika Christensen to get a good storyline before the season ends. Good actors deserve better storylines.

The Good Wife: “Foreign Affairs”
I do wonder if, with the loss of her campaign, if Wendy Scott Carr (i.e. the excellent Anika Noni Rose) will return to The Good Wife. This episode was a fairly good one – excellent on some fronts, but only competent on others. The albatross of the episode, sort of, was incidentally the main case which had Will and Diane defending Hugo Chavez. It was just a bit too ridiculous to be taken in honest, even if it saw the return of that “in-my-opinion” hilarious presiding judge. Everything else was good, though. Those bits with Natalie and Eli were lovely, America and Alan make for such an odd coupling but it works, nonetheless. On that note of good coupling, Czuchry and Panjabi’s chemistry continues to be one of the best things on the show – and it is interesting seeing Kalinda asked for favours this time around. Of course, it all comes down to this final few moments and props to Margulies for selling that silent reaction to the uncovering of that bit of information. Naturally, they leave us with this cliff-hanger and then go on a hiatus – well played.

Modern Family: “The Musical Man”
This episode seemed, sort of, like a throwback to 90s sitcoms. Everything that happens depends on a significant amount of happenstance and chance. It’s not particularly inspired, but it’s funny enough and as obvious as Phil’s ads turned out to be it was hilarious seeing Claire deal with it in her typical silly fashion. The most interesting arc was the Cam debacle and the school play. He got the best storyline, but it seemed to slight – every scene with him was golden. I especially loved how he was proud of “Sondheim-izing” the middle-school children, just golden. I didn’t much care for the storyline with Jay, though the resolution was sweet in its schmaltzy way. Not perfect, but more than just competent.

Community: “Competitive Wine Tasting”
It’s a generally fair episode, I can’t say I care much for the A plot of Pierce, and I do wish that Annie would get a significant arc but the episode was generally consistent with some bits of humour. The Troy/Britta pairing will always be strange for me, but Glover and Jacobs work well together and that final scene between them was well played. I have to admit, the biggest laughs came from Abed and his course on “Who’s the Boss” which was so ridiculous, but also quite hilarious. Not exceptional, but a fine episode.

The Office: “Training Day”

Carrell’s swan song begins, and Ferrell turns up to a fine job as a guest. Overall the episode doesn’t quite pack a punch as you’d expect; instead, the good things from random moments. Of course, the opening gag between D’Angelo and Michael was well done but it was things like Kelly’s “Meet-Cute” or Erin trying to adapt to the new way of answering the phone or even Darryl’s ridiculous embarrassment at impressing D’Angelo that really made the episode work for me. It’s great to see that they’re handling Michael’s departure with such sincerity.

Parks & Recreation: “Fancy Party”
I spent the first five minutes laughing at the ridiculous opening gag of Ron faking pulling his teeth to maintain the semblance of being able to withstand. It’s so ridiculous in itself, but it was the reaction that was golden which is sort of like this episode. Andy getting married to April is crazy, but it was the reactions at their fancy party that made it more treasured. Leslie turning into the voice of reason (just look at now, and compare it to season 1) is inspired and I do like how her relationship with Ben just keeps going slowly. Ann and Donna are always a welcome pairing, even if I worry that they writers don’t quite know how to use Ann adequately. A very solid episode, though.

30 Rock: “I Heart Connecticut”
The episode was not brilliant, but it was consistently hilarious despite the presence of a few glitches. And, for that, I’m grateful. The main arc was Kenneth and Liz searching for Tracy, and I’d just like to mention that despite my inherent loathing of Tracy Jordan of TGS his appearance at the end was hilarious – from the portmanteau of their names “Clement” to his confusion between ketchup and mustard it made me realise how Tracy – when tempered – could be successful. Of course, though, the most interesting arc was the unholy alliance between Jenna and Jack which was perfectly played. I’m always ready for more digging in Jenna’s messed up psychological inclinations and even though it wasn’t an A plot for her it was enough. Everything else felt essentially extraneous – but it was good enough.

Standout Performances
Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie B+/A-
Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife: B+/A-
Toni Collette in United States of Tara: B+/A-
Jane Krakowski in 30 Rock: B+
Chris Pratt in Parks & Recreation: B+

Brie Larson in United States of Tara: B+
Alan Cumming in The Good Wife: B+
Amy Poehler in Parks & Recreation: B+
Meritt Wever in Nurse Jackie: B+
Rosemarie DeWitt in United States of Tara: B+
Eric Stonestreet in Modern Family: B+
Lauren Graham in Parenthood: B/B+
What did you watch this past week?


CrazyCris said...

A cliffhanger after that bombshell in The Good Wife?! They wouldn't dare!!! grrr....
The case of the week was a bit ridiculous, but it was nice seeing America Ferrarra again!
Was also really odd not seeing Peter at all considering the episode was about the election!

I got some good laughs with Castle and Bones this week. Was rejoiced to see that "the bitch is back" on House. And got goosebumps over the way things are escalating in Justified! :o)

5plitreel said...

I love Nurse Jackie, is one of the only comedies that I actually watch now. I love 'God' what a great character.