Saturday, 17 September 2011

TV Week in Review: 11th – 14th September

So, season finales abound. Let's get down to it.
True Blood: “And When I Die” Season Four, Episode Twelve (SEASON FINALE) [B]
It’s a bit difficult to weigh my slight disappointment with the show season finale against the more potent positive developments which ensued. Marnie’s diabolical return is whittled down to a single victim – Jesus – and the glorious fact of that arc, for me, was seeing Holly play a significant role in the dénouement. It was curious, though, how small a portion of the episode was meted out to that particular and how much, for example, was spent watching Jessica and Jason have sex. I fear I may never get on board with the double J train. More positive, though, was Sookie coming to a decision which featured that brilliant shot of Bill and Eric feeding on her. It’ll be interesting to see how some facets end up working out next season – the goodness, like Eric and Bill teaming up, the return of Russel and a now vampiric Boyd and Rutina staying on when Tara’s brains seem to be all over Sookie’s floor. I’m less enthused about the continued living of Alcide or the digging into Terry’s past. But, you know I’m already waiting for next summer.
[Writing: B; Directing: B/B+]

Entourage: “The End”; Season Eight, Episode Eight (SERIES FINALE) [B]
...and so it ends. I do wonder why the producers felt that the final season was only good for eight episodes. There were so many issues to be resolved that the final half hour feels decidedly rushed as loose ends are not only tied but bowed too. It’s unfortunate that we never actually Sophia and Vince together because I’m still uncertain as to the veracity of that relationship but it’s all road leading to Paris. It’s the wedding that adds as an impetus for the gang getting Eric and the now pregnant Sloan back together. Ari’s manic attempts at saving his marriage seemed vaguely out of focus for a significant portion of the episode so I was happy that after the credits had rolled we returned to the show’s fullest character for a few more minutes. It gives us a moment of uncertainty which becomes devastatingly realistic in the wake of all the happy endings.
[Writing: B/B-; Directing: B]

Breaking Bad: “Bug”; Season Four, Episode Nine [B]
This episode feels just the slightest bit like a practical joke. My favourite Breaking Bad character has long been Gunn’s Skyler and oftentimes there’s a sense that the writing team have no idea what to do with her. She put on a good show for the auditors this week, hopefully to successful results. Of course, though, the real drama was the odd revelations of Gus’ purported reasons for Jesse get so close to him whilst Walt got even more paranoid about Hank’s investigations – probably with good reason. Perhaps, it’s just me, but the middle of the episode felt a bit turgid and when Jesse invites Walt over for help I get the sense that he’s playacting to some degree which renders the subsequent beat down all the more plausible. Still, that ass-kicking was a long time coming. More significantly it will lead to some shifting loyalties as the season winds down.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

The Closer: “Fresh Pursuit”; Season Seven, Episode Ten [B+]
The phrase out of the frying pan and into the fire is a perfect description of the hijinks that Brenda has gotten into. Just as she gets out of the Baylor incident she gets into another lawsuit questioning her entire case history. It’s a resounding close to the midseason finale and makes the show just a bit more interesting especially as its augmented by a crazy week of investigation. She almost gets killed when a witness pulls a gun out in the murder room, eventually committing suicide, and as all these things go wrong it’s really setting up the department for a whole lot of red tape.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B/B+]

The Big C: “Fight or Flight”; Season Two, Episode Eleven [B/B+]
I feel like for all the attempts the writers make they haven’t been able to establish the why of Paul and Mick’s thievery and it’s one of the few reasons why the past couple of episodes haven’t been as excellent as the first two thirds of the season. Having Alda back as Cathy’s doctor and Laura Benanti as his wife was a nice touch and more of Lee anc Cathy is always a good thing. Their final scene was especially good, and much as I see Cathy’s point I have to side with Lee even with the selfishness of his intentions. I’m still not sure what to make of Mick and Andrea, and where that relationship is headed and now with the Jamieson’s planning a vacation I wonder where this season is headed. It’s just adding to the discordance which is part of what makes it interesting.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Web Therapy: “Whistle While You Work”; Season Two; Episode Nine [B/B+]
Fiona returns to her usual outlandish behaviour, once again having an alteraction with the “cuter” Lachman. It’s an episode of insanity and Fiona is in particularly good form behaving in her usual unethical way. It’s fun watching her and her new administrative assistant and watching us learn more about her history was brilliant – toner as lubricant, extortion from the company, apparently this lady has done it all and Kudrow just has the finest facial reactions. She knows how to use her face to supplement the performance making for a particular well played performance this episode. Still, I must say that I’m definitely sad to see Kip gone.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Damages: “Failure is Lonely”; Season Four Episode Ten (SEASON FINALE) [A-]
The writers came out firing on all cylinders to turn this finale into something brilliant. Even though a certain bearded man ended up not dying (thankfully) the episode had enough casualties – physically and emotionally – for it to satisfying. I have to begin at the end, though, and note how brilliant it is that next season is being set up so well. It was like a premonition coming through as Ellen’s name showed up as a witness for Patty’s son. The revelation of what went on in Iraq with Gerald was well established and John Goodman was in especially diabolical form this episode. The parting of ways between Patty and Ellen (yet again) was well established and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens. I hope we haven’t seen the last of Messina.
[Writing: A-; Directing: A-

The Hour: “Episode Five” [B+]
Apparently Bel doesn’t get the chance to sleep around as this week her liaison with Hector becomes a bone of contention with her voice. Garai takes the MVP position this episode and it’s moments like these were I remember how much more interesting the simple dynamics of the show are when compared to the big mystery. Even innocuous things like the triangle with Freddie and Hector takeson sophistication when Morgan does her writing. With only one more episode to go we’ve got a number of things to resolve and things are definitely heating up. I can’t wait.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Parenthood: "I Don't Want to Do This Without You"; Season Three, Episode One [B+]
I forgot how much I missed Parenthood until it came back. It’s a really subtle show that doesn’t go in for the big moments but it’s thoroughly enjoyable and I, for one, am glad to see the Braverman’s back. We get a time jump of what seems to be about six months and it’s Sarah’s birthday and Amber is moving out. The two are still circling each other like wounded lionesses but their bond, when up, is lovely. Haddie and her boyfriend’s issues are the least seismic of the arcs, but it’s still an interesting one to watch. The episode was shamefully low on Joel, but I loved Julia and Sarah talking about her plans to “buy” the latte lady’s baby and the return of Jason Ritter (YAY) was more than welcome. I can’t wait until Kristina pops out her baby.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B/B+
Standout Performers
Glenn Close in Damages B+/A-
Romola Garai in The Hour B+/A-
Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer B+/A-
Lauren Graham in Parenthood B+
Laura Linney in The Big C B+
Lisa Kudrow in Web Therapy B+

Anna Gunn in Breaking Bad B+
Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad B+
Ben Whishaw in The Hour B+
Anna Chancellor in The Hour B+
John Goodman in Damages B+
What did you think of the finales? What did you watch this week?


CrazyCris said...

I feel like I've already written pages and pages on True Blood this week (on my own post discussing book vs series, or the review on Billie Doux), but I might be able to pull out a few more lines for you. ;o)

I was not at all convinced that Tara had taken the brunt of the blast in her face, I thought it shattered the glass behind her and she got blasted by the glass... but everywhere I read about this they say the same thing (including interviews of Rutina Wesley): she's lost half her face. I am NOT happy about that! She's one of my favourite characters...
I'm not at all onboard the Jason-Jessica train either. And I'm glad Sookie dropped both Bill and Eric, loved that scene! (but hated the one where they're both feeding off her)

I wasn't too happy with this season, the ending of the witch arc was a bit of a let down. But at least their little cliff-hangers have peaked my interest for next season! ;o)

CrazyCris said...

Parenthood: I kind of disconnected last season. Don't know why. But caught up with the whole 2nd season over the summer and I was really looking forward to the season 3 premiere! :o)

Was quite happy with the result since the character who most interests me is Amber and I love her and Sarah's relationship. I'm looking forward to seeing how this "moving out" thing works out.

Jason Ritter back = fun! :o)

Simon said...

I was too busy squealing over the return of Young Justice to watch anything else. If it makes you feel any better, it half-focused on the two most annoying characters on the show. So, you know...not much...