Saturday, 6 August 2011

TV Week in Review: 31st July – 4th August

I haven’t had a chance to catch up on Damages, which is unfortunate because no one’s week should be devoid of Glenn, but most of the other shows seemed intent on upping their game, so the week wasn’t a waste.
Breaking Bad: “Open House”; Season Four, Episode Three [B+]
Third time’s the charm. This week Breaking Bad offers up an episode that’s excellently realised. It touches on those gritty dramatic issues that make you wince even as you hold your breath. Walt notices the surveillance camera in the lab, and Jesse continues to be creepy and tragic as he finds the wrong avenues for his pent up emotion. But, it’s about the women. As psycho as she is, I still feel badly for Marie (who reminds me of Terri Schuester, oddly) and watching her faux house-hunting managed to be both humorous and tragic. Hank is really annoying and Brandt is so good dealing with all those issues. Skylar’s underhand machinations to attain the carwash were all brilliant and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens now that they have a “legit” business to front with. I’m glad to see the season picking up.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B]

True Blood: “I Wish I Was the Moon”; Season Four, Episode Six [B+]
Oh, Sookie Stackhouse you wanton woman...but, I digress. I’ve said it elsewhere over the past week and perhaps alluded to it here but I’m actually feeling now that the show is becoming oversaturated with supporting characters and the machinations of the important ones are becoming a bit diluted. But, even with those superfluous bits this week’s episode was excellent. The concept of possession was examined again and again as the full moon came. Eric is still possessed and Nan and Bill (via Skype) decide he should be punished with the true death, as a precaution of course. But, that’s nowhere near as riveting as what’s going on elsewhere. Evil Baby (a name coined from Mark over at Critical Condition who gives great weekly commentary) burns down his parents’ house, but some spirit ensures that he’s out of the house safe from harm. Meanwhile, Tommy shifts into Sam (confusing me even further on this shifting thing) but giving Trammell a chance to absolutely rock the episode. And I haven’t even gotten to Marnie being possessed by Antonia and Jason realising that he wants to become a were-panther. True Blood is always best when characters interact (stop dividing and conquering Alan Ball) so I’m game for Pam vs Tara and Jason and Jessica (even if that plot point seems a bit too...tawdry?)
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Entourage: “Out with a Bang”; Season Eight, Episode Two [B/B+]

Okay, fine. Perhaps Entourage isn’t quite imperative TV for these first two episodes (even though last season picked up around episode four and turned into something brilliant), it’s still going well though. On the downside, they’re back to making Vince absolutely trite but great things go on elsewhere – I’m particularly loving any scenes which involve Lloyd and Ari. Really, Ari has his despicable traits but I don’t find him anywhere near as jerkish as the writers seem to think he is. I’m also not certain what to make of the Johnny’s Banana’s issues. Dillon was in peak form last season, so I’m hoping the arc will pick up. Plaintive Eric is not exactly fun, but Connolly has improved as an actor – hopefully Sloan hasn’t gone for good. The show’s in need of a level-headed woman.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B]

The Closer: “Under Control.”; Season Seven, Episode Four [B/B+]
Last week we had Flynn and Provenza (along with Buzz) getting their arcs, and this week we get to meet Tao’s son. Tao and Sanchez are my favourite of the supporting cast, and Chan is a fine actor so it’s nice seeing him get something new to do. I wasn’t a fan of the main case this week, it just seemed a trifle too ridiculous and it sort of sucks that Mary McDonnell only shows up at the bookends of the episodes. BUT, she shows up and does excellent work. It seems the season is going to be a dramatic one, so it’s going to be interesting to see what Brenda decides to do.
Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

The Big C: “The Little c; Season Two, Episode Six [A-]

I’ve probably enough superlative rumination on The Big C this season, but the show has turned from a very good comedy into an essentially flawless one. This week cancer takes a backseat to crabs – which Adam brings into the house courtesy of his hooker from last week. To address the elephant in the room, it’s weird seeing how much of a jerk Adam is turning into and hopefully it’s addressed soon because it’s unfortunate seeing him return to his boorish behaviour of season one. Still, it makes for good TV. Linney is back in top form, as Cathy takes on the swim team and that final scene as she lays into those parents is one of those uplifting things the show manages to do without being all mawkish. Paul and his craziness at work makes for good comedy, especially when Andrea shows up at the store. I can’t believe we’ve only got four episodes left.
Writing: A-; Directing: A-]

Web Therapy: “Shrink Rap”; Season One, Episode Three [B/B+]

Lilli Tomlin shows up this week and for the first time we manage to understand that, perhaps, Fiona isn’t as terrible as she pretends to be. It’s a fine thing opening the episode with Fiona receiving a grilling from her mother, which only goes to show just why she’s as messed up as she is. And, as everything happened in the episode you couldn’t help but think how screwed up her childhood was. I’m becoming more and more interested in finding out just what happened at the Lachman brothers, but the episode depended on Bob Balaban’s showing up to evaluate Fiona and I’m still a bit shocked that Fiona actually managed to break him with her shameless attempt at pretending she came up with “word association” but Kudrow continues to be brilliant and the show continues to be rewarding.
Writing: B+; Directing: B/B+]

Wilfred: “Pride”; Season One, Episode Seven [B/B+]

I have to admit that there was something awkward this week watching Ryan essentially whore himself out to get out of a debt, and I’m starting to wonder how the influence of the potentially diabolical Wilfred is going to affect him in the long run; it seems that each week Wilfred gets more bawdy and unhinged. Still, it’s always fun watching Elijah Wood battle with morality issues and Ryan is a character that we want to root for despite everything. Wilfred and his craziness with Bear is so hilariously disgusting, and the fact that Ryan almost got sucked into it only make it more priceless.
Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Laura Linney in The Big C A-
Lisa Kudrow in Web Therapy A-
Oliver Platt in The Big C B+
Sam Trammell in True Blood B+
Anna Gunn in Breaking Bad B+

Betsy Brandt in Breaking Bad B+
Elijah Wood in Wilfred
Jason Gann in Wilfred B+
Gabriel Basso in The Big C B+
Lilli Tomlin in Web Therapy B+
Jeremy Piven in Entourage B+
Next week I’ll have a double dose of Damages. Did anyone see Glenn this week? What did you watch on TV?

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