Saturday, 30 July 2011

TV Week in Review: July 24th-28th

We’re almost at the halfway mark for a number of the summer shows. I always find the shows during the summer to be more performance based than regular network shows and we get some fine performances this week.

Breaking Bad: “”; Season Four, Episode Two [B/B+]
This episode is a step up from last week’s good, but not great premiere. For one, it’s an episode that’s Jesse centred which is never a bad thing – Aaron Paul is a fine actor. The thing is, I can’t help thinking that Paul’s Jesse is a lesser version of Joel Kinnaman’s Holder on The Killing. I’d definitely watch a spin-off where the two of them have a clash, baggy jeans and all. Watching Jesse try to inject enthusiasm into the life around him is disturbing especially in those quiet moments like that brilliant closing scene. I’m not as interested in [ ]’s own machinations, although Cranston does manage to make everything that he does work. Truly, Walt is turning into such an insufferable douche I actually feel bad for Marie. I’m still wondering, though, exactly where this current season is headed. The first two episodes haven’t given us any indication as to the season’s arc.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B+]

Entourage: “Home Sweet Home”; Season Eight, Episode One [B/B+]
I know Entourage has lost its fans over the years, but I’m glad to have it back. It’s been three months since last year’s finale and Vince is out of rehab, Sloan has terminated her engagement with Eric and Ari is still living out of the house. For me, Entourage never delivers unparalleled brilliance with their premieres, and true to form this episode is good but not faultless. But, it sets up the story for what’s going to happen in this final episode. The filial relationship between Vince and Drama is always fun to watch and watching him trying to de-drug the house is fun. Vince is still being something of a dick, especially to Eric who I’m feeling badly for – broken engagement and all. It’s a true shame, though, that Jeremy Piven has lost his streak of Emmy nominations. His expression when his wife tells him that she’s seeing someone is brilliant as is his tearful gaze as he watches Vince’s house go up in flames. What does the future hold for this motley crew? Well…we’ll see, I guess – but it’s a solid start.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B/B+]

True Blood: “Me and the Devil”; Season Four, Episode Five [B]
This week the folks at Bon Temps offer up what’s probably the weakest episode of the season, which is not to say that it’s a bad episode in itself – it’s just a bit of a fall from the first month of goodness. Recently the great number of characters on the show has been turning into more of a crutch than a blessing and it’s becoming a bit difficult to focus on the goodness of characters like Pam when people like Alcide keep turning up to annoy me for no reasons. I’ve no idea what will become of Arlene’s demon baby, but the arc seems decidedly forced this time around And, of course, I have a right to resent any episode of True Blood where Sam doesn’t turn up until the halfway mark. On the upside, though Marnie is becoming even more interesting of a character and it’s nice to see just what those witches can do to the vampires. It’s nice to have Jason back in the human world, although I’m undecided as to what I think of his dreams. The episode is marked by some great duo moments, though – Sam and Tommy bonding over the death of their parents (none too soon) was a nice moment. Amidst the occasional confusion, though, Paquin holds down the episode with great moments opposite Skarsgård, Shaw and Wesley. And, on that note, it’s great that Tara’s gets more to do in this episode. Still, the overall episode is lacking in bite, a bit.
[Writing: B/B-; Directing: B]

The Closer: “To Serve With Love”; Season Seven, Episode Three [B/B+]
We’ve had episodes where Finn and Provenza have been the cause of craziness but this episode was interesting in that Brenda is relegated to almost supporting status. It’s fun watching the men interact with each other, and it becomes even more fun when Buzz is added to the mix. The case is an interesting one, and it’s great how everyone keeps ignoring Commander Taylor and it’s even more hilarious watching Brenda trying pull one over Fritz and the FBI. It’s a filler episode of sorts in that the major plot-points like Captain Raydor’s investigation are absent, but as far as filler episodes go it’s a delight.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B]

The Big C: “Cats and Dogs”; Season Two, Episode Four [B+]
Honestly, The Big C is being absolutely brilliant in its second season. It’s the fifth episode in and every episode has been stellar, and it’s all because the show keeps surprising you. Watching Cathy bond with her fellow cancer patient is nice, and when I saw the previews I was dubious about Cathy having another potential adulterous dalliance. But, we’re thrown a curveball and it’s just great that her new friend turns out to be gay. It allows Linney to breathe a little and have a little fun. On the topic of fun, Hickey is just hilarious playing Sean and it’s good to see that the drugs haven’t made him lose all his peculiarities. I loved the arc with him and Adam (and Adam’s hooker). Adam is being a bit of a dick, recently, but Basso always makes him come off as at least sympathetic. What’s more is the show has managed to make strident dramatic moments work in a comedic register. Paul’s job troubles are sad, but Platt’s final scene is lovely and wanly comedic. I love this show.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Web Therapy: “Desperate Measures”; Season One, Episode Two [B/B+]
RASHIDA JONES!!!! Sorry, I love Rashida and that’s two weeks in a row she pops in her awesomeness on great TV shows (first Wilfred then Web Therapy). She gets way more to do this time around playing the girlfriend to Fiona’s patient and the arc is great to watch especially when Fiona has her freak-out. The first beats of the episode felt a bit reticent, but by the midpoint it was back to ridiculous humorous bits. Kudrow is still true brilliance to watch and even though there’s something decidedly uncomfortable in watching Fiona control Richard it’s still funny as hell.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Damages: “I’d Prefer My Own Office”; Season Four, Episode Three [B+]
Glenn’s back. Sure, Close has been putting in good work since the season began but this episode depended on the virtuoso of Patty Hewes. In theory, her search for Michael shouldn’t be that riveting but Close is always great with quiet bouts of emotion. I especially liked the scene between her and Goodman, even though I haven’t been especially moved by Goodman on the show, yet. Byrne continues turning in effective work and the drama of this season’s case continues to unfold. I really hope Messina doesn’t die (well, at least not soon) he’s turning in fine work and making me rethink his ability as an actor. I have to significant props to the show for managing to be such a riveting drama with such a low interest in romantic hijinks.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Wilfred: “Conscience”; Season One, Episode Six [B+/A-]
What is there to say about Wilfred? It’s one of the best comedies on television at the moment and this early in the season (it’s little over a month old) I’m wondering if any male actor is going to top Elijah Wood’s fine work on the show. Even as a ridiculous concept like a talking dog to develop its narrative, the show is so brilliant in the way that it touches on significant issues despite all the silliness – even if the silliness is excellent. Will Ryan and Jenna eventually hook up? I can’t say, I don’t really care. The show’s great either way.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Standout Performers
Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad B+/A-
Glenn Close in Damages B+
Elijah Wood in Wilfred
Lisa Kudrow
in Web Therapy B+
John Benjamin Hickey
in The Big C

Laura Linney
in The Big C B+
Jason Gann
in Wilfred B+
Rose Byrne
in Damages B+
Chris Messina
in Damages
Rashida Jones
in Web Therapy
Dan Bucatinsky
in Web Therapy
Jeremy Piven
in Entourage B+
Gabriel Basso
in The Big C B+
What did you watch this past week?


Jose said...

OMG Andrew!
The Damages cliffhanger!!!!!!!!!! I need the next ep NOW!

Greg Boyd said...

Haven't gotten around to this week's "Wilfred" yet. I'm enjoying the show, but it's missing... something. I'm not sure what, but it hasn't yet made the leap from good to great. I'm still hopeful that it will.

P.S. I've been meaning to ask you: do you watch "Louie" at all? I don't see it being reviewed here, and I'm curious what you think of the show.

Fitz said...

Breaking Bad has been a little underwhelming the first two episodes, but if the previews for Episode 4 are anything to look forward to it should be very climactic.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

jose seriously, though, patty's son is insane!

greg i kind of get you on wilfred missing something, but wood is so good it makes up for anything. i've never seen louie, not for any specific reason - i just never got around to it.

fitz the thing is, i've never loved the show for being brilliant - but the acting has always been universally good, so i'm not too mad at it.