Saturday, 16 July 2011

TV Week in Review: 11th – 14th July

Three cheers for the return of Patty Hewes and Brenda Lee Johnson. Yeah, I still haven’t gotten around to officially commenting on the Emmy nominations which inexplicably snubbed Kyra Sedgwick’s work on The Closer but it’s been a great week of television otherwise. All five shows brought greatness to the table.
        
True Blood, Season Four; Episode Three: “If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin'?” [B+]
If last week’s episode of True Blood, this one was oestrogen. After the acmes last week the characters deal with the fallout – Eric’s missing memory being the primary one. The episode is most valuable for me just for the opportunity to see Skarsgard playing in a different register. As interesting a performer as he is, I find Erik to be the most static of the main cast and there’s a great amount of humour to find the thousand year old vampire reduced to infantile mannerisms. But, along with the humour comes the darker facets. Erik’s in palpable and it’s nice seeing Pam and Sam Sookie dealing with it. And as Erik’s shifts personalities, it seems so does Bill. I’ve never been a fan of Bill, but with this undertone of darkness he’s become far more interesting and Ball does an excellent job of blurring the lines as to right or wrong in his plight as King of Louisiana. The B plots succeed in differing respects. Kwanten is a good enough actor so that he can make the werewolf storyline work, thus far, but I’m already getting exasperated. Fiona Shaw is still being remarkable as Marnie but I’m hungry for more combat even if I did love the trio of Tara, Lafayette and Jesus teaming. I’m a fan of Wesley, so more Tara makes me happy and her conversation with Sam managed to be both humorous and touching. As far as poignancy goes, Jessica and Hoyt. This show has such a humongous cast that the actors have to convey significant aspects in little time and Parrack and Woll are both brilliant in that pivotal scene, only reiterating the difficulty of life as a vampire. Sure, it’s a more sedate episode but it’s still good stuff.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B/B+]
         
The Big C, Season Two; Episode Three: “Sexual Healing” [B+]
Andrea moving in with Cathy and her family is going to be something interesting. The show is smart enough to make Andrea more than the random sassy girl, and she’s always fun interacting with Linney. She also manages to forge believable chemistry with Oliver Platt, who was particularly excellent in this last episode. It revolved around sex and it’s great to see how Paul has developed as a character since the show’s season premiere. Rebecca and Sean are having their own sexual tryst, as is Adam who’s growing up before our very eyes. It shall be interesting to see what becomes of Sean’s current state of normalcy prompted by his bipolar medicine.
[Writing: B+/A-; Directing: B+]

The Closer, Season Seven; Episode One: “Unknown Trouble” [B/B+]
The Closer lives and dies by its leading lady, Brenda Lee Johnson. The modus operandi of the show is as basic as ever on procedurals, but the writing is more often than not surprisingly pervasive and Sedgwick is always a trooper. As far as premiere’s go it’s not faultless but, like a number of like-minded procedurals – things get interesting when we leave the procedure. Changes are afoot at the LAPD and it seems that Pope may be leaving and Mary McDonnell (now a series regular) is back to investigate Brenda’s conduct. The actual murder of a would-be rapper is standard ilk, but watching Brenda sidle around her superiors is fun to watch. Still, those last three minutes which could have felt like an unnecessary curveball ended up being as surprising and full of serendipitous madness as one could hope. Changes are afoot, but probably not those we anticipated...
[Writing: B+; Directing: B]

Damages: “There's Only One Way to Try  a Case” [B+]
As much as I enjoyed The Killing towards the end of last year’s television season no other shows handles season long mysteries, morally ambiguous leads and broody atmosphere as well as Damages and now that they’re off network TV we can actually hear swearing. Patty Hewes is back in full form with a granddaughter. It’s three years since we last saw her and as is wont to a show like Damages there’s no time wasted on exposition. We’re immediately thrust into the now and Ellen is trying to build a case against potential war profiteer (played by John Goodman). I have to give props to Byrne who’s finally grown up. I found her so bland in some season one episodes I was watching last week, but she delivers a fine performance especially opposite Chris Messina – her friend who could be the key to the case. (Remember how that worked out for her in the first season?) Patty dealing with her granddaughter is interesting, although the episode is curiously low on giving her much to do. It’s a great premier, though. Let’s see what this season is going to offer us...
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Wilfred: “Acceptance” [B+]
This week’s episode is even more ridiculous than the first three, but Wilfred is turning into must-see television for me. Ryan’s sister turns up yet again, but this time her interactions are much more interesting and even essential to the plot. Because Ryan’s helping her Wilfred gets put in doggy day-care which features a ridiculous arc of him being potentially molested by the owner (played by Ed Helms). It’s absolute craziness, but that is – essentially – what this show is, crazy. And, it works excellently. The comedic beats on this show are priceless, and it’s so surprising seeing how brilliant Elijah Wood here. I never thought he’d have had such a gift for comedy.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+/A-]

Stray Thoughts
  • I’ve been watching some random True Blood episodes and as good as the season is going I miss old pairings like Jason/Tara, Sam/Sookie.
  • I hate to be that person, but doesn’t Patty’s granddaughter freak anyone else out?
  • Who’s watching Breaking Bad tonight?
   
Standout Performers
Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer B+/A-
Elijah Wood in Wilfred B+
Oliver Platt in The Big C B+
Rose Byrne in Damages B+
Alexander Skarksgard in True Blood B+
Glenn Close in Damages B+
Jason Gann in Wilfred B+
        
What did you watch this past week?

1 comment:

Greg Boyd said...

It's tomorrow night, I think. And I'm not, unfortunately. I'll be watching it the next day through Amazon's streaming service, most likely. It's going to be great, though.