Saturday, 10 September 2011

TV Week in Review: September 4th- 8th (and back log for Wilfred and The Hour)

Is it because I’ve been feeling especially critical this week, or was it other factors that made the majority of the shows this week seem just a bit short of their normal goodness. Plot developments abound, but not always as excellent as I’d hope. Recaps ahead.

True Blood: “Soul of Fire”; Season Four, Episode Eleven [B]
Somewhere between last and this week my appreciation for this season dipped. The necromancers and their connection to the vampires are interesting, surely, but in following this arc the writers seem to have lost focus of their characters. It’s become exasperating watching Sookie become more and more trivial rendering Anna Paquin – a good actress – increasingly superfluous. The thin line between campy melodrama and ridiculous melodrama becomes difficult to discern as the show seems to be getting a bit cyclical at times. It is uniformly enjoyable at the best of times, but almost immediately conflicting itself. The ending, although a bit too on the nose was an interesting switch and the episode is filled with enough little titbits for me to love. But, it could have been so much better.
[Writing: B/B-; Directing: B/B+]

Entourage: “Second to Last”; Season Eight, Episode Seven [B/B+]
It’s a severe case of ends being tied this week on Entourage, loose and otherwise, as we head down to those final moments that feel very final. It’s amusing, probably unintentionally, how Vince’s script has turned into such a movie one but it’s nice that it’s still small scale – it is only a TV movie after all. The rapport between the guys has always been the heart of the show and it’s great watching Vince trying to do right by Turtle and Johnny. Thus, it’s sort of odd seeing Eric on his own for his arc but even if it lands a bit too precisely Connolly directs himself well and turns in a fine performance. It was curious washing where Ari’s arc went and I’m even more anxious to see if perhaps they could redeem Mrs. Ari in the show’s final moments. It’s been a journey well spent from where I sit.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B]

Breaking Bad: “Hermanos”; Season Four, Episode Eight [B]
One of the things about being determined to see as many shows as possible is that there are often a significant number of shows I watch which I haven’t built a significant connection to and Breaking Bad is one of them. This episode functions as a sort of interim as we get a lot of backstory and some significant development forward and it is held down by Gus. Giancarlo Esposito rises to the occasion and delivers a fine performance, and the episode is well orchestrated. I can’t help but find it only good, though. Thought it may be well rendered it’s hardly an episode that makes me profoundly impressed, which – all things considered – is not a precisely bad thing.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

The Closer: “Star Turn”; Season Seven, Episode Nine [B/B-]
This episode was filled with some of the most amusing little bits as the cast interacted with each other, but the overall episode was quite as excellent. I fear that it might be the case itself which was interesting but seemed decidedly ridiculous preventing all the small things hinging on it to succeed as well. Still, we’re seeing progress in a number of things. Raydor questioning Pope’s loyalty was a nice move, as was the inclusion of Brenda’s hilarious lawyer. What will become of the civil suit against the department? It’s anyone’s guess really but it’s leading to great moments and the way that Raydor and Brenda’s relationship has grown over the seasons is impressive.
[Writing: B; Directing: B/B-]

Web Therapy: “Psychic Analysis”; Season One, Episode Eight [B/B+]
Sometimes the potentially sensitive issues which the show covers tend to make its humour much more melancholy than you’d anticipate. As funny as it watching Fiona try, and fail, to achieve success in her business, a good marriage and a relationship with her mother (all for her own narcissistic pleasure, of course) it becomes just a little sad watching her fail on all counts. Cox’s appearance was especially light and surprisingly straightforward for a mystic – although her dreams were amusing. The meeting with the Lachman brother was a bit awkward and that ending with her mother once again underscores the bitter tone to the comedy. Kudrow is still lovely to watch, but it’s curious seeing what a terrible life Fiona leads.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B]

Damages: “There's a Whole Slew of Ladies with Bad Things to Say About the Taliban”; Season Four, Episode Nine [B+/A-]
There’s one more episode to go, and it’s been a fine season of Damages. This episode ensures on the moving forward of all the plot-points, at a slight bit of detriment to some performances but still a strong entry in this excellent season. Patty’s dream is my least favourite of the dreams sequences this season, but it reveals a nice facet of her relationship with Michael – apparently that custody battle won’t be finished soon. It’s great to see how quick, and how decisively, Boorman and Erickson have turned against each other and taking into consideration the first impressions of them in the season premiere it’s a change that’s been excellently developed. What could possibly happen to wrap up that final episode? I have no idea, but I’m waiting with bated breath.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

The Hour: Season One, Episode Three [A-]
What is interesting about The Hour, to me, is the way that it manages to be so fascinating without paying any significant attention to the plot. This week (well, last week) Bel and Freddie head up to Hector’s estate which doesn’t bear much importance to actual plot but leads to an absolutely delightful English overnighter. Garai and Whishaw are just adorable together and I’ve managed to warm up to West, who steps up this episode. But, of course, there are significant things at work in terms of he actual investigation and it leads to a brilliant showdown at the end of the episode where Freddie ends faces off with Tom, who ends up dying. Anna Chancellor continues to be just delightful as Lix…if only they’d give her more to do.
[Writing: A/A-; Directing: A]

The Hour: Season One, Episode Four [B+/A-]
And, voila, Lix gets more to do. It’s startling, and impressive, watching how Freddie has matured in just four episodes. He’s clearly affected by the death closing the last episode and the weariness her carries throughout the episode is well played. The quickness with which Bel moves from vaguely loathing Hector to sleeping with him is just the slightest bit random and that’s the least entertaining arc at the moment – but watching Garai is still a joy. Secrecy is the underscoring theme, so we’ve got virtually no idea what’s at the bottom of all the craziness even if it seems obvious that Freddie and Bel are both in over their heads.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Wilfred: “Doubt/Sacrifice/Identity”; Season One, Episode Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen [B/B+]
As I might have expected, when the show attempts to address the strangeness on which it exists the results are sometimes excellent and sometimes not as much. “Sacrifice” is a smidgen better than “Doubt” in setting up what may or may not be a seismic revelation. But it won’t be happening until next season. As the finale saw Ryan reverting to his old ways (which we were never privy to) the entire situation feels terribly humorously. The show manages to retain its goodness, but the humour is faint and instead we get something of a tragic-comedy. It’s been an interesting first season to this show, never quite excellent but always good and Wood has just been spectacular to watch. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens now that Wilfred and Ryan seem to have lost their connection. But, alas, we have to wait until next year.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Standout Performers
Ben Whishaw in The Hour A (ep. 3)
Romola Garai in The Hour B+/A- (ep. 4)
Elijah Wood in Wilfred B+ (ep. 13)
Glenn Close in Damages B+
Anna Chancellor in The Hour B+ (ep. 4)
Rose Byrne in Damages B+
Jason Gann in Wilfred B+ (ep. 11)
Dominic West in The Hour B+
Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer B/B+
Giancarlo Esposito  in Breaking Bad B/B+
Jeremy Piven in Entourage B/B+
Dylan Baker in Damages B/B+
What did you watch this past week?

1 comment:

Colleen said...

I'm catching up on ALL my Wilfred episodes so I'm not going to read this yet. I have six more to go!