Friday, 22 July 2011

TV Week in Review: 17th-21st July

It's a good week of TV this week and a number of shows are doling out some brilliant episodes.

Breaking Bad: “Box cutter” Season Four, Episode One [B]
I have to admit, just like my feelings on Mad Men I don’t love Breaking Bad (and well, at least Mad Men has a kick-ass female ensemble). That preamble was just in the vein of full disclosure because as good as Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are the show sometimes tends to get a bit self-indulgent – the season premiere a case in point. The episode spends about half of the time dawdling, and true this is AMC so the dawdling is sophisticated but it’s still dawdling. And, true, the last half hour are so brilliantly intense it sort of makes for it. In the midst of the somewhat disjointed first half, though, Anna Gunn manages to turn in a surprisingly good performance. More often than not, it’s like the show doesn’t care for [ ] but she offers something vaguely close to comedic relief which gives the episode a little time to breathe and find itself. I’m not ecstatic to have the show back, but I’m not mad either.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B+]

True Blood: “I’m Alive And On Fire” Season Four, Episode Four [B/B+]
Maybe it’s because I watched the first three seasons of True Blood in a massive three week marathon earlier this year, but even as this season goes along with arcs developing it seems as if we’ve covered little ground for a season that’s already a third through. For the first time I feel as if the show’s playing with too many characters and I just wanted to excise Alcide from the storyline promptly, but really the episode is a solid. I was getting a bit annoyed with Tommy’s visit to Jolene, but that arc ended on a high note reminding me that for all his boorishness that Tommy isn’t completely unsalvageable. The season’s still is especially low on Sam, so I’m getting anxious to see where his arc is going to go. The hijinks of the coven continue to impress even though I want Tara to get something more to do that point a gun. And, finally, Jason is up and running – giving Hoyt and Jessica something to do this episode. Of course, Arlene’s demon baby steals the episode though. The baby’s adorable – devil or no.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B+]

The Closer: “Repeat Offender” Season Seven, Episode Two [B+]
“The king is dead, long live the pope.” Even if the supporting characters on The Closer don’t get ample screen time, they are well developed and highly quotable – that previous one comes from Lt. Flynn. So, with the death of Chief Delke, Chief Pople becomes interim Chief and he decides to keep Captain Raydor on performing that investigation on Brenda. McDonnell is, as always, fabulous but I’m getting a bit antsy for her to get more material. Still, this episode was a good one spending a surprising amount of time on a suspect who ended up being not guilty. In an excellently written scene a wife and husband go through a difficult spousal that becomes difficult to watch. Brenda is a bit low-key during the first half, but she’s great as usual as it comes down to the time for closing.
[Writing: B+; Directing B/B+]

The Big C: “Boo!” Season Two, Episode 4 [A-]
The Big C deserves resounding props for the goodness that’s been occurring since the season began and this episode is probably one of the series’ best. Cathy begins her clinical trial but the day is wrought with madness despite Andrea’s attempts at putting her in a good mood. But, it’s Paul who takes control of the episode – Platt is doing a fine job playing “cancierge” to her and his firing was a nice twist to the episode. It’s going to fun watching how Cathy deals with her annoying co-patient. The series finally seems to be able to use Linney’s talents at being bitchy for good. Sidibe is still fun as Andrea managing to interact well with Hickey who had a good episode too dealing with what seems to be Marlene’s ghost. The arc was both funny and poignant and is proof that Hickey IS a brilliant actor. The concept of Adam acting out at school isn’t especially profound but Basso is a whole lot of fun to watch – even in his more jerk-y moments. And, everything unfolds with a strong comedic quotient.
[Writing: A-; Directing A-]

Web Therapy: “Click to Start” Season One, Episode One [B+/A-]
My heart did a little happy dance when I saw that image of Lisa Kudrow come on to the screen and Web Therapy began. I follow the actual web series intermittently, but Kudrow is such a brilliant actress and the concept of the show allows her to be at the front and centre of it all. I didn’t expect the actual episode to be a string of therapy sessions put together and I have to admit that it took some getting used if only because talking heads make my head hurt. Yet, the series premiere was brilliant. The writing is outstanding and Kudrow is phenomenal. The tone of the series depends on those moments of awkwardness where Fiona’s eccentricities are just over-the-top but the strongest beats were the moments with Victor Garber, playing her husband. The set-up is done brilliantly, though, and I can’t wait to see how all her “patients” fare. Thank you, Showtime, for giving us Lisa back.
[Writing: A/A-; Directing: B+]

Damages: “I’ve Done Way Too Much For This Girl” Season Four, Episode Two [A-]
What a difference a year makes. I’ve always found Rose Byrne a trifle lacking in Damages but she’s doing excellent work this season and this episode is proof of that. Ellen’s getting trouble trying her case at her firm and she concocts a delightful sting operation to get Patty to help her. Patty has her own issues with her new shrink. It’s beautiful watching how the relationship between the two women has grown over the years. It’s just brilliant watching them play opposite each other. But, it’s Chris Messina who steals the show. He’s being duped by High Star into going back to Afghanistan in order to prevent him from helping Ellen bring a suit against the company. Messina is excellent, managing to play Chris’ instability without making it ridiculous. This season of Damages is looking to be a winner.
[Writing: A-; Directing: A-]

Wilfred: “Respect”Season One, Episode Five [B/B+]
And this week Rashida Jones guests as the coordinator of a hospice Ryan decides to volunteer at. It’s so weird how interesting the show is even though I sort of loathe Wilfred. Gunn is excellent, but Wiflred is exasperating and I can’t stop fêting the work that Elijah Wood is doing on the show. The bond between the two is growing, but it’s also nice to see things like more of Jenna who is apparently not as crazy as she seemed in the pilot.
[Writing: B+ ; Directing: B/B+]

Standouts
Lisa Kudrow in Web Therapy : A
Oliver Platt in The Big C : A-
Chris Messina in Damages : B+/A-
Rose Byrne in Damages : B+
Elijah Wood in Wilfred: B+
Glenn Close in Damages : B+
Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer : B+

Laura Linney in The Big C : B+
John Benjamin Hickey in The Big C : B+
Victor Garber in Web Therapy : B+
Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad B+
          
What did you watch this week?

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