Saturday, 20 August 2011

TV Week in Review:7th-11th August

I added a new show to my roundup this week. Ryan drew my attention to the new BBC series The Hour premiering this week which stars Ben Whishaw and Romola Garai (who you I had mentioned in a post a few months ago). Looking over this list I really do seem like an obsessive TV watcher. Ah, well. On with the roundup.

True Blood: “Spellbound”; Season Four, Episode Eight [B]
Regardless of quality I can always depend on the writing team of True Blood to ensure that developments are made in the major plot arcs, and this week there’s a lot that happens. The episode is tinged with goodness and occasional oddities and the graveyard showdown in particular comes off more disjointed than majestic. I don’t quite like the idea of Hoyt and Jessica severing their relationship (he’s my favourite non-magical creature and she’s my favourite vampire) but it’s excellently done and it’s great seeing Parrack get more to do. Still, amidst the overstuffed ensemble the main actors aren’t being given enough to do – Paquin in particular is being woefully underutilised. Moyer turns in a fine performance, though – and really even when it has its issues the shows delivers on intensity.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B+]

Breaking Bad: “Shotgun”; Season Four, Episode Five [B+]
Taking into account the headiness of the first few minutes the episode ended a bit limply, but it’s a generally fine venture. The show has always been one for slow moving arcs so we can only wait to see what becomes of the plan hoodwink Jesse for whatever. It’s troubling seeing Jesse become more and more antagonistic towards Walt, although Walt’s resultant paranoia is interesting to watch. We take a closer look at his personal life this week, and it’s nice to see him and Skylar having these sorts of romantic moments.
[Writing: B+; Directing B+]

Entourage: “One Last Shot”; Season Eight, Episode 4 [B+]
It’s not a seminal performance, but I can’t help but fĂȘte Grenier’s work on this show every time I can. I don’t know if it’s because he’s such a pretty boy to look at, but he’s always underrated and the show depends on Vince. Last season was particularly low on Eric/Vince bonding so it’s nice seeing Eric stepping in to offer some salient advice, even if he ends up being wrong. I like the idea that the show doesn’t try to consecrate its characters, and yet it’s not completely impossible to understand Vince’s logic of smoking weed to prove that he’s not addict. I’m a bit worried about how Mrs. Ari is being painted – a shrewish – but I couldn’t help but side with Ari this week. And, Piven continues to be a true comedic beating.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

The Closer: “Home Improvement”; Season Seven, Episode Six [B+]
The episode is one of those moments where the show merges the comedic and the dramatic into such a zany whole that I can’t help but love it. I continue to miss Captain Raydor, but it’s nice to Brenda is taking her advice and working on getting a lawyer to defend her, who ends up being a hilarious side note character. And, the episode is filled with those innocuous hilarious moments. Even though an assumed paedophile has been murdered there are bits like that ridiculous confessions, Brenda pretending to be an open house buyer and her taking cable away from Fritz. It’s a tone that few shows manage, and no procedural has ever managed to achieve. Really, this show is terribly underrated.
[Writing: B+; Directing B+]

The Big C: “The Last Thanksgiving”; Season Two, Episode Eight [B+/A-]
Here again we have yet another fine episode to add to the list of goodness that this show has been offering this season. Event episodes are always interesting and it’s nice seeing the entire cast at one table doing great things. Mick’s thievery is a puzzling arc as is Paul aiding him, but I’m interested to see where it goes. The most beautiful moment of the episode was the girl talk in the kitchen with Andrea, Cathy and Rebecca which is perfectly handled by all three episodes. We get such hilarious things like Sean’s concept of Thanksgiving, and that adorable proposal and then the drama hits like Lee and Cathy’s argument and Rebecca losing her baby. And yet, it doesn’t spoil the greatness of the episode.
[Writing: B+/A-; Directing: A-]

Web Therapy: “Shrinking and Growing”; Season One, Episode Five [B/B+]
Is this show perfect? Perhaps not, we’re only able to be presented with a full picture of Fiona and the episodic quality is strident at times but even when certain elements waver the comedy is always delivered and watching Fiona deal with her lying patients, and her exasperating one adds even more goodness to the show. The return of Komal was much appreciated, as was his liaison with Gina who continues to be one of the most ridiculous (albeit hilarious) characters on television. There are still significant things to ponder, like Victor Garber being underused but the show continues to deliver in a relatively good way with a fine lead performance.
[Writing: B+-; Directing: B+]

The Hour: “One”; Season One, Episode One [A-]
I suppose a paragraph of drooling would accomplish nothing than mucking up this page, so I’ll desist but could I really resist a British, period piece series with Ben and Romola? I didn’t even have to be nepotistic because the show IS good. The acting is superlative, I’ve never seen Ben as charming and Romola is just lovely (and she looks so gorgeous). There shall be murder – two already in the pilot – and it’s going to be interesting to see how the TV show they plan to produce will work out. Admittedly, there isn’t anything exceptionally new in taking a backward glance at the things that were young in generations ago but Morgan doesn’t come as supercilious. The world she’s creating seems lived in, and you get the sense that you’re now meeting characters who’ve been existing for years before you met them. And, in a pilot, that’s a brilliant thing.
[Writing: A; Directing: A]

Damages: “Add that little hopper to your stew” Season Four, Episode Six [A-]
After some stellar work in the first three episodes it’s unfortunate that Messina is having less and less to do. Fortunately, it’s not really to the detriment to the show since this was a particularly fine episode. It’s the battle of the older folk as both Glenn and Goodman turn in excellent performances. We’re finally getting to see Howard move from the gregarious role he’s shown thus far this season to understand just what sort of man he is. It’s a chilling scene as he forces a “friend” to sell him some land; it’s one of those intricately directed scenes that this show keeps throwing at us. Michael shows up and doesn’t seem any less psychotic than he was before, and naturally Patty isn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect. The biggest things, though, were watching Patty and Ellen brilliantly trying to work around Nasim’s arrest. It’s so nice to see how the women have come to play off each other, and seeing Ellen thinking back to season one hijinks was a nice touch.
[Writing: A-; Directing: A-]

Wilfred: “Compassion”; Season One, Episode Nine [B+]
This week’s episode offers what could become a significant development in terms of Ryan’s questionable – at best – mental state. His mother turns up in the story, and it turns out that she was in a mental institution for twenty years – choosing to remain there instead of coming home to her children. Mary Steenburgen is an absolute delight playing crazy but not CRAZY (why doesn’t this Oscar winning actress get more roles?) and watching Ryan struggle with the fear of becoming her is a significant development. I’m still not sure what we’re supposed to make of Ryan’s sole friend being a talking dog but the black comedy packed a significant punch this time.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B/B+]

Random Musings

  • Anna Chanellor playing a quasi mentor to Garai's Bel managed to draw my attention away from Romola and Ben. Hopefully we get more of her.
  • Anyone else notice Patty’s slutty assistant (yes, I said it) checking out Michael?
  • What was up with that woman from Kip’s gym checking out Fiona?
  • If Jessica and Hoyt break up will Parrack have even less to do?
  • That montage of Jesse on his trip was sort of brilliant.

Standout Performances
Ben Whishaw in The Hour A
Glenn Close in Damages A-
Laura Linney in The Big C A-
John Goodman in Damages B+/A-
Romola Garai in The Hour B+/A-

Elijah Wood in Wilfred B+
Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad B+
Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer B+
Lisa Kudrow in Web Therapy B+
Mary Steenburgen in Wildred B+
Rose Byrne in Damages B+
John Benjamin Hickey in The Big C B+
Stephen Moyer in True Blood B+
Did you catch The Hour? Tune in for Patty’s tremendousness? What did you watch this week?


Greg Boyd said...

"Wilfred" is starting to lose me a bit, actually. I was never completely in love with it to begin with, and the stuff involving Ryan's mother (while funn in places) just didn't provide much new insight into anything. The second half hour was a bit better, but still not great.

"The Hour" looks really good, but I'm going to be stuck waiting until the DVD since I don't get the channel. Enjoy!

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

greg it's still not perfect, but i'm enjoying it much - especially wood who i think is doing incredible work.