Saturday, 14 May 2011

TV Week in Review: 8th-12th May

It’s another great week of TV as most shows wind down to the end of their seasons. The stakes are high, so most of them are in top form. I caught up on the episodes of Cougar Town and Modern Family from last week but missed this week’s Cougar Town (I’ll rectify that next week) AND I missed the second episode of Parks & Rec this week (sadness) which means I'll have three episodes of the show's best comedy up for review next week. Okay, moving on....

Cougar Town: “Lonesome Sundown”
It’s so great to watch how good of an actor Dan Byrd has become on this show, and whether it was being oddly humorous opposite Grayson or getting emotional opposite Kirsten (and then Jules) Travis was essential to that episode. But that was just a subplot alongside Jules moving into Bobby’s boat for a weekend while Laurie’s idea for “The Council” led to a string of hilarious gags. The episode was marked by all the whimsy, like Ellie realising that her life is nothing with [the ability to taunt] Laurie and Grayson and Travis doing some much needed bonding.
[B+]

Modern Family: “Mothers’ Day”
It was an essentially solid episode, although none of the three subplots were particularly stellar. The Cam/Mitchell issue was probably the most sincere –
Cam’s “crises” is understandable but it’s also hilarious. I do love Jesse Tyler Ferguson, even if I wish he’d get stronger material on a weekly basis. I didn’t love Bowen this week as much as I usually do – but that was more to do with the storyline, although I love moments where Luke and Manny have conversations. It always leads to hilarity. And, of course, Jay and Phil is always a recipe for awkwardness – in a good way.
[B/B+]

Desperate Housewives: “Then I Really Got Scared”
The episode is a lot of random stuff. Apparently the Solis household is back to normal a horror flick which Gaby shows Juanita ends up precipitating some night terrors and then an impromptu camping trip in the yard. On the upside, the presence of Lee worked well this episode but the closing with the random creepy guy who’s apparently searching for someone was just strange. Then, there’s Bree and Chuck. It gives Vanessa Williams an opportunity to turn up and be amazing, and the potential relationship between Bree and Chuck does seem good but something is off. The Lynnette/Tom storyline has reached cringe worthy heights. I have to say, I think Lynette is being ridiculous and Susan heading to jail for Felicia’s crime is bordering on ridiculous. Hopefully the finale makes more sense.
[B-/C+]

United States of Tara: “The Electrifying & Magnanimous Return of Beaverlamp”
Finally, I’m feeling something from Keir Gilchrist this season. As funny as all the madness with Tara’s alters is it is nice when the realism hits and it’s good seeing Marshall deal with that even if he’s too emotionally stunted for words (and it’s great seeing Lionel back). The episode, generally, is rooted in serious as Dr. Hatteras seems to be heading out owing to a fatal relapse in a patient he treated. Tara was in a good mood this week, though and watching her do such good planning for the birthday only to be waylaid by the new alter at the end. The best thing about this show, right now, is how everything is developing so well which brings me to my favourite arc of the episode – the excellent Brie Larson’s Kate. Something as simple as a tentative relationship with a passenger becomes much more poignant than I expected. Larson is really doing impressive stuff this season.
[B+]

Nurse Jackie: “Orchids and Salami”
Holy devil, Jackie is devious. The episode opens with her being the no-nonsense, good mother that she is but the way it switches to her drug issue ending on a troubling only underscores the dichotomy between good nurse and mother Jackie and drug addict Jackie. Now that we’re in the second half of the season the direction that show is taken is more obvious, and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when everything flares up. I’ll admit that I love the rapport between O’Hara and Eddie, Best hasn’t gotten the opportunity to do anything brilliant, yet this season. Merrit Wever and Peter Facinelli were in top form, though. Wever was responsible for the comedic beats, like working on her blog – typing at a snail’s pace – and reminiscing with Thor about Kelly. But, it’s Coop who continues to be my favourite character. It’s both sad and hilarious watching his downward “spiral”. I really wish Facinelli would get some Emmy love.
[B+/A-]

Glee: “Prom Queen”
Jesse St. James is back! I have to admit, I was way less interested in the prom results than seeing Jonathan Groff back at McKinley. Of the three males Rachel has worked opposite the chemistry with Jesse worked best with the show (actually, the Puck/Rachel dynamic was more enjoyable but I won’t go there) so it’s nice seeing them get another killer duet. The one random thing was Mercedes’ sadness about prom. It’s not that it’s unwarranted, but just felt random – like all of Mercedes’ arcs seem now that I think of it. Other than that, it’s generally good. Oddly the highlight of the episode was Artie’s number which was so simple with the guys playing the instruments, it reminded me of old times (Glee wise). The climax of Kurt being prom queen didn’t really land as strongly as they seemed to want it to – sometimes Colfer just comes off as shrill to me, which is a shame because his comedic scenes are brilliant (just those few moments in the Home Economics class were great). Essentially, though, it’s a good episode and that bathroom conversation with Quinn and Rachel was surprisingly well contructed.
[B+]

The Good Wife: “Getting Off”
The dual arcs intersect nicely on this one. On one hand the lovely Mamie Gummer is back, a thorn in Alicia’s side and the arc features a guest spot from Sarah Silverman as a woman who owns a site that helps spouses to cheat. The crime itself is rather standard, but the concept of a triad marriage sparks some thinking on Alicia’s part which is proof that she’s not as holy as she thinks. But, of course this episode was all about that Kalinda/Alicia showdown. That scene of Panjabi in the elevator tops everything of the entire season, and all with no words. I’m not feeling Alicia’s perspective in either the Jackie or the Kalinda case, but Margulies delivers a forceful performance. It’s difficult to look away when Panjabi is on screen though. I want a three hour finale.
[A/A-]

Modern Family: “Good Cop, Bad Dog”
This is a nice solid episode of the show featuring the Dunphy clan in top form. Burrell and Bowen are so good in their roles it’s easy to forget that they’re actors and watching them switch roles for this episode was fun. Watching Phil, especially, being the main parent was a good highlight for the episode. And, we get to see the rapport between Manny and Luke, which is always a plus for me. The Gloria/Jay arc was excellent, but it was nice in its way underscoring the Mothers’ Day episode about Jay’s warmer interior, although Vergara’s performance felt over earnest. The Cam/Mitchell was better, though. I love the fact that Mitchell can be selfish at times and make it so logical, and it’s an interesting arc because I’m sure that almost everyone has been there.
[B+]

Community: “A Few More Paintballs”
So, another seasons ends. It’s a fine end to an iffy season of this show. Okay, perhaps not an iffy season. I’ve already confessed that the first half of episodes this season didn’t thrill but the show turned it around in the second half and they end on a powerful note. Everything works, from the blink and miss it cameo from Busy Philipps and Dan Byrd (go Cougar Town) to the star wars’ references which never went over the top to the resurgent theme of City College vs Greendale. It’s going to be interesting what becomes of Pierce and they leave us questioning that without turning it into too much of a cliff-hanger.
[A-]

The Office: “Dwight K. Schrute, (Acting) Manager”
I don’t know about anyone else, but I think the show is doing well without Michael. Dwight achieves his dream this episode, and naturally it leads to goodness. I’m not a big fan of a Dwight, I’m all for Jim but whenever the conflict between the two rears its head I’m excited. Dwight is at his most ridiculous and Wilson turns in a fine performance, and it ties in so well with the other office drama of Andy/Erin/Gabe. Gabe is becoming unhinged (and disturbing); it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of that. I’m glad to see the show is remaining solid.
[B+]

Parks & Recreation: “The Fight”
Hate to be a broken record here, but yet again this show turns in a near flawless episode. Poehler’s writing is excellent and the thing I’m most happy about is the chance for Rashida Jones to get some good work in AND become a worker of the department which should give her more screen-time. Tom’s ideas are always insanely good, or goodly insane. Either way it makes for great plot-lines and the concept of Andy and April playing dress-up was hilarious. April especially was brilliant playing her widowed character. Is it wrong that that blink-and-miss it moment of chemistry between Ann and Ben made me happy? God, this show is just perfection.
[A/A-]

Grey’s Anatomy: “I Will Survive”
Grey’s did a fair job this season. Much better than their worse season (season six) but often just fair and this penultimate episode here shows that they haven’t lost it. It’s not a seismic episode, but it’s well contrasted while managing to move plots forwards and maintains the balance between light humour and comedy. Oh is dominant in the episode and she’s great. Does anyone else notice how this season has rarely given actors the chance to shine? I miss the days when almost every episode was worthy of Emmy submission for at least one actor. Alex’s relationship with Lucy ends, which doesn’t bother me – I never cared for her. That rejection, though, leading to a drunken Alex could be destructive to Meredith, what with her tampering with the clinical trial and all. It seems like the season finale is going to be something great.
[B+/A-]

Private Practice: “God Bless the Child”
Addison and Naomi make up, and it’s about time. This is Addison’s episode as she deals with a patient getting an abortion and Walsh delivers. That’s measured against the return of Dell’s daughter and her potential abuse by her foster parents. To be honest, Violet has been annoying me a bit this season but she’s strong in that final scene of hers and it’s nice to see her and Naomi have a moment. I’m not sure what the season’s end will bring, though.
[B/B+]

Standout Writing
The Good Wife A
Parks & Recreation A/A-
Community A-
Nurse Jackie B+/A-

Random Thoughts
  • Of all the random pairings on Nurse Jackie, I love the interactions between Thor and Coop.
  • Am I the Glee fan who doesn’t think Colfer is an excellent actor?
  • Seriously, the fact that Kalinda actually cried tears pierced my cold heart. But, now I want her to be an ice-queen to Alicia.
  • I wish the character being killed off was Finn. Sue me.
             
Standout Performances
Archie Panjabi in The Good Wife: A
Julianna Margulies in >The Good Wife A-
Amy Poehler in Parks & Recreation A-
Toni Collette in United States of Tara B+/A-
Rashida Jones in Parks & Recreation B+/A-
Sandra Oh in Grey’s Anatomy B+/A-
  
Brie Larson in United States of Tara B+
Merrit Wever in Nurse Jackie B+
Aubrey Plaza in Parks & Recreation B+
John Krasinski in The Office B+
Keir Gilchrist in United States of Tara B+
Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie B+
Peter Facinelli in Nurse Jackie
B+
Naya Rivera in Glee B+
Kate Walsh in Private Practice B+
Dan Byrd in Cougar Town B+
John Corbett in United States of Tara B+
                
Did you like Greendale’s send-off? Who did you vote for the prom queen? Did the Kalicia (Kalinda/Alicia) blow-up work for you? What did you watch this week?

6 comments:

Robert said...

Brie is getting better and better and this was one of the strongest episodes of "Tara" this season.

BUT - "The Fight" was easily my favorite P&R episode of all time...until the episode afterwards, which you have to see!!! It's unbelievably amazing. Haha!

Fitz said...

Parks & Rec and Community are quickly becoming my favorite comedies ever.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

robert fitz parks and rec is just glorious, is it not? i'm praying for it to get some emmy love.

Simon said...

So JSJ's a douchebag now? I mean, of the pretentious hipster variety?

Community. Fuck yeah.

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

Though I really think "The Office" should have ended with Carell's exit, I'm still watching to see who the new boss is. If it's not someone truly awesome, like Rhys Darby, I think I'm done with the show. However, I am thrilled that Will Ferrell is gone. The character was annoying and bizarre and just all over the place.

Fitz said...

I keep hoping the Harvey Keitel rumor is true. A hard-ass boss would be kind of funny.