Saturday, 30 April 2011

TV Week in Review: Sunday 24th – 28th April

Before long a number of these shows are going to be airing their finales, so they’re all doing their best to go out with a bang which means a generally good week of television.

Desperate Housewives: “The Lies Ill-Concealed”
Last week this show turned out a good episode, which was like a long drink of water after a drought. The show has been a downward spiral this season, and this week it manages to top last week’s good instalment with another episode featuring that excellent juxtaposition of humour and drama which once made this one of the best comedies on television. I’m all for character development, so the arcs all worked for me. Lynette’s was the poorest, but it was the source of much humour. The character herself seems to be learning things she should learned ages ago but it works in a great way, even if Vanessa Williams doesn’t get as much to do as I like. And although it starts out with some gruesome images, Susan and Paul’s affiance works much better than any arc she’s given this season. But neither matches the two great arcs surrounding Felicia and Karen and Gaby and Bree. On one side, Felicia reveals that she is still freakishly diabolical and poor Karen is the sap and on the flipside watching Bree and Gaby bond was such a nice touch and even though I understand Carlos’ decision I was cheering when Gaby went moved in – temporarily, I presume – with Bree definitely putting her marriage in jeopardy. If only the entire season had developed in such an admirable way.

United States of Tara: “Dr Hatteras’ Magical Elixir”
The episode itself is probably the weakest of the season, thus far – but it’s hardly an unrewarding episode. Tara signs on to be her professor’s “lab-rat” which is something that I’m interested in, guest star Eddi Izzard in turning in some good work. Max is facing troubles at work, and though it’s a generally trite arc Corbett turns in some good work this episode. Larson doesn’t get as much to do as I’d hope, but her shenanigans on the plane were hilarious – I’m looking forward to what becomes of that. Charmaine and Tara finally reconcile in what ended up being a sweet closing. And, Marshall and Lionel call it quits which felt a bit odd – but I’m not sure why. I’m not sure if it’s because the relationship felt bogus, or because its end seems so flippant. I suspect that a tornado could brew from his latest liaison, but we’ll see, I suppose...

Nurse Jackie: “Rat Falls”
I love Facinelli’s work on Nurse Jackie so – naturally – I was glad that he got a major this episode and I was even more overjoyed when that arc ended up being opposite Soozie Kurtz (as one of his moms). Facinelli is the only character who seems to be playing to a comedic audience (I still think Nurse Jackie is a drama in disguise) but his scenes manage to work on the comedic and dramatic level. In other news, rats infesting the hospital and happened upon Jackie’s pills. Will Jackie ever quit? Who knows? Eve Best too turned in fairly good work on this episode. As usual, Nurse Jackie never really overdoes it with the plot – but the episodes are almost always enjoyable.

Glee: “Born This Way”
I feel a bit badly for Glee, it’s as if it can’t win and I don’t know if perhaps audiences were expecting a “revolutionary episode”, a notion I find hilarious – this is Glee,people. Kurt’s back at McKinley and though he comes via a turgid rendition of “As If We Never Said Goodbye” (which happens to be one of the few Andrew Lloyd Webber songs I actually like) it’s all good. Sort of. For me, the episode is saved less by the overreaching arc of self-love and more by a trio of fine performances from Jayma Mays, Lea Michele and Dianna Agron. Emma’s rant about being a “ginger” was a nice moment of silly humour that I’ve been missing. Jayma has been given so little to work with this season. Quinn and Rachel have the best number of the episode – it’s easily one of best mash-ups the show has done, which makes the episode lopsided because it comes so early in it. The revelation of Quinn’s ugly past is an awful plot-point which subverts the entire self-love theme by implicitly saying that being conventionally good-looking is bad and by being too heavy-handed with high-school clichés. The Santana/Karofsky madness was humorous, mostly. Issues abound, as per usual, but for me it’s a strong episode. And I love randomness like the band geeks having their instruments with them on the patio. During lunch hour. Complete with a piano. Madness.

Cougar Town: “You're Gonna Get It”
True, it’s not an excellent episode but it’s solid comedic goodness, and Cougar Town is a fine show. Bobby hits the wrong ball at the golf tournament which leads to a hilarious bit of random humour courtesy of Van Holt. This arc was buttressed by Jules hilarious mistakes with the “Pledge of Allegiance” (the strongest plot-point) and Travis and Laurie teaming up to hoodwink Ellie and Grayson. The relationship between Travis and Laurie is a winner, but even more I love how Ellie and Grayson don’t care for each other but still manage to foster a weird rapport between them. There are some classic Cougar Town moments, most of them courtesy of Laurie and her twitter fansite and it’s all in all a nice half an hour of good times.

Community: “Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts”
...and so Shirley’s baby is born. The episode feels a bit flat, and yet I think it’s a solid one. It’s probably because it’s missing on the most outrageous of things making for a softer, and oddly poignant episode. Fans will be pleased to know that Chang is NOT the father (said as Murray Povich). Jeong does a fair job this episode, but even when he’s good I still find him to be an exasperating performer. Troy and Abed’s handshake gaffe was hilarious, and I just love seeing Donald Glover get chances to show random bits of emotion. Britta and Jeff have a number of “moments” this episode, most of which end up working much better than I anticipated. I’m so glad to see that Community has managed to maintain my interest.

The Office: “Goodbye Michael”
Well, Michael Scott has left the building and like the usual serious things that occur at Dunder Mifflin it all occurs with a level of poignancy that’s become a bit underestimated in the modern sitcom. It’s wonderful watching Carell interact with the entire cast as he gives each of them a goodbye present. Yet, even as the episode is marked with all this sadness it never loses site of those random moments that will always make this office the best one. The very sight of Pam walking into The King’s Speech while on a work assignment was just one of those brilliant little moments that worked much better than you’d think it would on paper. Or Dwight telling Michael that he doesn’t deserve to be “buttled”. It was such a nice touch having Jim figure out the ruse without breaking it, although I can’t say Deangelo Vickers is interesting, I’m a bit worried...

Parks & Recreation: “Jerry’s Painting”
And, as per usual, Parks & Recreation delivers another solid episode this week – and it’s a few minutes longer than usual, which I’m all for. Jerry’s controversial painting of a centaur with a striking resemblance to Leslie leads to controversy in the department. The painting acts as a nice impetus for a number of things. Ron doesn’t play a significant role this episode, but he does have an excellent speech about his interest in arc. Leslie’s a little down because she can’t date Ben (the sexual tension is killing me, hee) so she makes it her mission to save the painting. Meanwhile, Ben moves in to the married home of April and Andy which leads to some exceptional moments between the trio. April and Andy’s marriage is somehow leading to even more great moments on this show, which I didn’t even think was possible. And to think this is one of the season’s weaker episodes and it’s still head and shoulders above almost anything on television. As Andy would say, “Awesome-sauce”.

30 Rock: “Everything Sunny All the Time Always”
Well, cheers to all in involved – this was a piece of brilliant. I’m not sure (I’m a bit partial to “Christmas Attack Zone”) but this might have been the best episode of the season and what’s so odd is that Jenna’s role was significantly muffled – although she delivered on that opening gag in Liz’s apartment with “The Secret”. It’s a trio of arcs. Tracy returns and is annoyed that the gang survived without him, leading to a ridiculous situation of trying to create the moment of a specific joke. The concept succeeds much better than I expected. Meanwhile Liz tries to take control of her life and Avery gets kidnapped in North Korea leading to a guest appearance from Condoleezza Rice which gives Alec Baldwin a chance to be brilliant.

Grey’s Anatomy: “It's A Long Way Back”
It’s as if all that singing was a sort of therapeutic measure for Sara Ramirez to turn out a great performance. Perhaps not excellent, but it’s a season’s best for her as she deals with recovering herself and it’s an arc which functions as a fine backbone for a fine episode. It’s good watching the trio deal with the baby measured against some other interesting arc. Don’t we all wish Teddy and her non-husband would just bang and get over it? Yet, it’s not an annoying storyline. Things get even more interesting watching Meredith and Alex being unethichal. That scene with Devine and Pompeo where Adele thought she was Ellis was well delivered and it’s interesting watching Meredith break the rules to ensure she gets the best treatment. In the same way watching Alex almost blackmail a patient (excellent guest turn from Doris Roberts) for money to help some children in need. It toes the right line of ambiguous because it’s all in his race for chief resident and yet you get the feeling that Alex is truly just happy helping those children. I’m actually glad to have Grey’s back, it’s going well...

Private Practice: “What We Have Here”
I sound like a broken record, but I’m really missing this show with Audra McDonald. It’s a fair delivery, but it continues a trend of well constructed, but trite episodes which the show has been riding on for some time now. Violet confronts, for the final time one can assume, her past with Kathy and moves forward with “allowing” Marshall to date the reviewer who hated her book. For some reason, Violet has lost that cadence that she first had and she’s become a bit of annoying character. Speaking of annoying, as much as I understand Addison’s dilemma the drama between her and Sam seems ridiculous. For now, Charlotte and Coop are the only sane ones. Strickland continues as MVP in Audra’s absence and they have some nice moments together moving towards their impending marriage.

  • I loved Kurt’s utterance about Santana and her Lady Macbethian ways, her worth as a Latina Eve Harrington.
  • Dare I say it: I don’t miss Paul Schneider from Parks & Recreation. I’m such a traitor.
  • I’m not sure what to think of Deangelo’s terrible salesmanship and obvious eating issues. It just seems disturbing...
  • How brilliant was the cake switch between Gaby and Bree?
  • Did anyone try following @thelarmi?
Standout Writing
30 Rock A/A-
Parks & Recreation A-
The Office A-
Standout Performances
Adam Scott in Parks & Recreation: A-
Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock: A-
Amy Poehler in Parks & Recreation: B+/A-
Peter Facinelli in Nurse Jackie: B+/A-
Sara Ramirez in Grey’s Anatomy: B+
Chris Pratt in Parks & Recreation: B+
Jayma Mays in Glee: B+
Tina Fey in 30 Rock: B+
Busy Philipps in Cougar Town: B+
Eva Longoria in Desperate Housewives: B+
Lea Michele in Glee: B+
John Corbett in United States of Tara: B+
Dianna Agron in Glee: B+
How was your week in TV?


Dan said...

Agree with Cougar Town, The Office, Parks and Rec and Community, but I wasn't wild about 30 Rock. The Jack/Avery story has potential but Lemon's fight with the plastic bag was a waste of time. I've been so bored with the characters lately that I really just want that show to end.

Alex in Movieland said...

I loved the 30 Rock episode!!! :)
Avery is so funny, the line with the Emmy just killed me.