Saturday, 12 November 2011

TV Week in Review: 6th-10th November

Looking back at the week on the small screen, and it was a good one.

Boardwalk Empire: “Peg of Old”; Season Two, Episode Seven [B+/A-]

This episode is teeming with the erraticism, but the thing with the show is that it doesn’t make for a poor episode. It’s strange that in an episode where Nucky gets shot, he still features so little in it – but that’s the thing with Atlantic City. With so many characters to navigate through, someone is always on the losing end. The younger crew that Jimmy is now running with pressure him to assassinate Jimmy, and Pitt does an excellent job of showing how much emotion runs through his face in a matter of seconds. Eli suggesting Nucky’s death is chilling, and it’s unclear what Jimmy expected that very late warning to do. He’s not featured prominently, as with Nucky, but it’s an important episode for him too. It seems he’s coming to realise that strangeness in his relationship with Jimmy, and none too soon since she still seems to be dallying with Lucky. Van Alden dealing with the new DA and meeting with Nucky as Lucy apparently leaving puts Shannon in a position to return to the goodness of season one. Margaret’s return home was deliberately played, but for all the obviousness I loved it and even though the narrative seems the slightest bit judgemental towards her, it’s so great seeing her letting her hair down – literally – and enjoying the physical excitement we’ve never seen her attain with Nucky.
[Writing: B+/A-; Directing: B+]

Homeland: “The Good Soldier”; Season One, Episode Six [B+]
Just when I think I know what type of show this series is trying to be, something like Brody and Carrie’s tryst happens and changes everything. There are bit portions of the episode that fall the slightest bit flat, but the good parts are superlative. The lie detector tests provide a nice backdrop to some nice character building, and even though I wish we’d seen more of Jessica Brody finally surrendering to her infidelity while he was away was excellently staged. We keep getting more aspects of Saul at home, and I’m appreciative. Carrie continues to be a difficult character to read, and that entire drunken scene with her and Brody was so strange. Has she really allowed things to get that out of control? The infidelity question was just poor form, and I’d expect that both Brody and Saul would suspect that something is up. Learning of how wrong we were about the “terrorists” was a nice plot twist, but hot damn – that ending. It’s going to be something explosive watching everything play out.
[Writing: B+/A-; Directing: B+]

Dexter: “Just Let Go”; Season Six, Episode Six [B+]

This episode is something of a turning point for Dexter for me. Okay, maybe I’m overreaching but I can’t recall an episode where Michael C. Hall didn’t submit the best performance of the episode (even with Stiles or Lithgow) and I suspect that Deb’s significance in this episode is only an indication of how well the show is learning to handle its supporting characters. I was just as, perhaps more, interested in Deb’s issues and Quinn’s insecurities than I was in watching Dexter trying to deal with finding Sam’s killer. The ultimate revelation of Sam’s death, and the way it arose, was a nice capper to the episode though and watching Dexter being so out of control with a murder was something chilling. Meanwhile, the Doomsday murderers are becoming more and more alarming, and the repercussions for Hanks letting the “Whore of Babylon” go will be catastrophic, I’m sure. And the return of Dexter’s brother? Well, even more so.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Once Upon a Time: “Snow Falls”; Season One, Episode Three [B/B-]
The show still hasn’t found an especially strong footing for me, but it’s doing fairly well. Watching the story of Snow White and her Prince Charming begin was a nice parallel as we saw the comatose patient finally wake up in the real world. I still think that the concept of the Evil Queen is just a bit underdeveloped, and though she sneers excellently I don’t think that Parilla is doing as good a job of delving into the character as I’d hope her to. What’s off with the show, is that the tone still comes off as being especially sporadic and I’m never wholeheartedly buy the fantastical nature, never truly charmed by what they want me to be charmed by, never completely invested in the drama or amused by the funny. Yet, it’s not going badly; it’s enjoyable and sweet in its flawed way. And, I will say that thus far the strongest arc of the show seems to be that between Goodwin and Dallas. The two are lovely together.
[Writing: B; Directing: B]

The Good Wife: “Executive Order 13224”; Season Three, Episode Seven [A-]
 Before I get to the episode in detail, goodness gracious did Kalinda have – what – two lines in this episode? What the hell? Onwards, this is the first brilliant episode of the season, and what’s so weird is that all along I’ve been somewhat reticent about how cold the stakes seem to be and this episode plays up that coldness but it’s working. Is Peter really out to destroy Will and Alicia, by proxy, for revenge? I like Peter and I’m going to say that I think he’s honest. And I really do find Will annoying and a bit despicable, so in that showdown between the two I’m firmly in the Peter camp. The opening was so tautly done, especially in that portion where Diane (and Kalinda) might just have realised that Will and Alicia might be too close for comfort. I’m sure that the blowout will me more than a seminar on sexual harassment in the work place. I figured that it would be strange to introduce the feisty Dana just as she was leaving the State’s Attorney office, and I don’t really mind it spelling trouble for Will – but that entire situation is problematic. And, I didn’t even get to the best part of the episode – the absolutely delightful Carrie Preston turning in a flawless guest performance. With Kalinda gone, I feel bad admitting it, but this episode was just fantastic.
[Writing: B+/A-; Directing: B+]

Gossip Girl: “I Am Number Nine”; Season Five, Episode Six [B/B-]
Taking into consideration what Louis found out, it would seem that he really is the father of Blair’s foetus, which is so disgusting I can’t put it into words. Even if Blair/Chuck is the not the endgame of the show, I still find the entire union of Blair and Louis to be especially bizarre. And, I’m beginning to think – hope – that maybe she’s realising it too. Louis’ plots to destroy Chuck just reek of childishness. On the note of childishness, the entire scenario with Dan and Serena is just unfortunate but I have to say I actually felt bad for Humphrey now that his fame seems to have catapulted so soon – even if I find it hilarious that Harvey Weinstein would even care enough to read “Inside”, and if he was interested wouldn’t that mean people would like it and put it on the bestseller list? Whatever. Charlie seems to have gotten a little bit more interesting, and though he’s not as boring as he was for the last two seasons, Nate seems to be sleeping through this episode a bit. And, what oh what, is Chuck Bass going to do now that’s “reformed”?
[Writing: B; Directing: B/B-]

Parenthood: “In-Between”; Season Three, Episode Eight [A-]
It’s only the eighth episode and I already sort of felt as if Seth had been back on the show forever, and I was becoming worried about what that would signify for the Sarah in the long run. The rapid development from him out of rehab, to moving into Ambers to their kiss and then his departure, though, were handled excellently. Mae Whitman is one of the show’s finest actors, and she hasn’t been given much to do this season so it was wonderful having her play such a significant role in this episode. I’ve been here and there on John Corbett’s work on the show, but in this final episode he just wrecks me. Parenthood is all about the very simple things, and sometimes those simple things become devastating which the episode delivers on. It’s the same with Kristina trying to deal with the aftermath of pregnancy. It’s an embarrassingly simple and perhaps even clichéd arc but it works so excellently and both Krause and Potter navigate the well-known so excellently. The Crosby arc does pale a little in comparison, but it serves its purposes and the added sweetness of the Zeek and Camille storyline was well appreciated even if wish Bonnie Bedelia gets a chance to “act” – she’s fantastic, after all.
[Writing: B+/A-; Directing: B+/A- ]

Glee: “The First Time”; Season Three, Episode Five [B+/A-]
In episode of nice moments to hold on to, I have to admit that I smiled all the way through Rachel’s meeting with her “girls”. Perhaps it’s because I’ll always consider Lea Michele to be the best actor on the show but there’s something ridiculous yet charming about Rachel at her silliest and over-analytical and it was sort of a nice paradigm for how the entire episode managed to succeed with weaving the general mundaneness of life and romance into a one hour that was sweet, a little bit of cheesy but a whole lot of fun. I’ve managed to, ultimately, surrender to the Finn issue – he keeps annoying me, but I’ll deal. And, I must give props to the show managing to make that final moment between him and Rachel work with a sensitivity I might not have expected, at least not recently – perhaps, not ever. On that note, it’s been such a long time since Kurt was anything but overbearing for me, I was surprised at how despite the same harshness in his character Colfer came off seeming sincere this time around. More importantly, though, Criss actually comes off looking like a real character and not a glorified “perfect-boyfriend” type. It’s a nice movement forward for the show, and I won’t praise the way the songs are interwoven too much because it won’t work to have every episode supplemented by an on-going play. But I’m hopeful to see where things go from here.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+/A-]

American Horror Story: “Piggy Piggy”; Season One, Episode Six [B+]
As far as development of plot arcs go, this was probably the show’s most cohesive episodes and considering how much the show thrives on the bizarre it was a bit of strange considering how toned down everything was. It works, though. The opening sequence of Tate’s murderous rampage was chilling to watch, but not as chilling as the closing with his tearful confession to Violet. Murderer or no, I feel bad for him especially with the proof that he too is a ghost – or at least something more, or less, than human. It’s gotten to a point where the machinations of our married couple have become so annoying I want to just kill them or at least Tami Taylor because she just keeps annoying. And, I wonder, is Morris Chestnut showing up simply for her to get someone to hump on? That would be…strange. At least Dylan McDermott actually gets put to some good use, bringing us to Eric Stonestreet’s delightful patient. The PiggyMan scenario was frightful and though the resolution was ridiculous I found it fitting for the craziness of the show. And, the absence of Denis O’Hare made the episode all the better.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+/A-]

The Office: “Pam’s Replacement”; Season Eight, Episode Seven [B/B+]
It was all worth it just for that prolonged scenario of Dwight’s pseudo-sexual harassment of Jim’s penis. Because, only Dwight would think that that is appropriate in a quest for the truth. The thing is the main arc of Pam worried about her looks and Jim lying to her works so excellently that the return of Kevin, Daryl and Andy’s band just fails to inject any significant energy into the episode. It’s just a bit too obvious and expected and brings fewer chuckles, and more squirms. Otherwise, though, the episode is a winner. It’s filled with great random moments like talking about a pregnant Helen Mirren or Kelly and Ryan both having their ridiculous quips and Jim being awesome. And, yes, Jim continues to be my favourite character on the show, so an episode almost devoted to Krasinski’s dry deliver of lines was good. I just wish it focused even more on him. But, I’m selfish.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B]

Community: “Studies in Modern Movement”; Season Three, Episode Seven [B/B+]
This episode was really sweet, and a bit strange, but most sweet. I remember in season one when I loved Yvette Nicole Brown’s performance, and I’ve never managed to reach back that level of appreciation since she’s turned into this ridiculous creature. Still, the car ride with her and Britta works a bit especially because Jacobs seems so game throughout the episode. Putting Pierce by himself allows him not to annoy people, and leads to a ridiculous dream sequence that makes little to no sense but one which doesn’t spoil the episode either. And Jeff and the Dean, though silly is silly in the sense of Greendale’s usual silliness and I’d take that any day over Professor Chang turning up which means that I’m satisfied. And, how lovely was the group singing “Kiss from a Rose”? The shadow play was a bit weird for me though, sorry.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Parks and Recreation: “The Treaty”; Season Four, Episode Seven [B+/A-]
Classic Leslie Knope silliness. I forgot that the reason these two work so well together is because they’re both nerds, and the UN summit ended up being a great way to remind me of that. It’s becoming awkward for them both trying to navigate through things without feeling some romantic entanglements. The ensuing childishness is typical of them both and their attempts to solve them were as sweet as expected. It was even nicer that they were surrounded by April and Andy who both deliver great moments. The Chris issues was silly, but having Ann and Donna there made it worth it and then Ron ensuring that Tom returned made it all the more fun even if it's weird seeing Ron so scaled down in the past few weeks. And, of course, Jerry will always be loathed so I loved that closing bit.
[Writing: B+/A-; Directing: B+/A-]

Grey’s Anatomy: “Dark was the Night”; Season Eight, Episode Nine [B+/A-]
 Oh, Grey’s. I was so ready for an episode to capture all the things I love most about the show, and this episode just delivered in a way – without being overblown – that just made me so appreciative. It wasn’t until well into it the episode that I realised that Henry actually was going to die, and I was happy with the way that it all went down. It’s probably because the episode spanned the activities in and out of the hospital for only a few hours, so there was a tightness to everything which serves the episode well. Hopefully Meredith and Derek haven’t lost their chance to keep Zola and the concept of the truck blowing up with them and the baby seemed ridiculous, but that ending which showed just how close they were to death ended up succeeding much better than I’ve expected. Cristina’s lack of knowledge about the patient she was working on moved from vaguely humorous to chilling as everything went down and though it was a fine artistic decision and I sort of wish that we’d have been able to hear her reaction as well as see it. I sincerely hope the follow-up episode lives up to this one.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Standout Performers
Claire Danes in Homeland B+/A-
Kelly MacDonald in Boardwalk Empire B+/A-
Mae Whitman in Parenthood B+
Lea Michele in Glee B+
Michael Shannon in Boardwalk Empire B+
Christine Baranski in The Good Wife B+
Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation B+

Damian Lewis in Homeland B+
Monica Potter in Parenthood B+
Adam Scott in Parks and Recreation B+
Julianne Margulies in The Good Wife B+
Jennifer Carpenter in Dexter B+
John Krasinski in The Office B+
Michael C. Hall in Dexter B+
Sandra Oh in Grey’s Anatomy B+
Darren Criss in Glee B+

What did you watch this week?


Jose said...

Gossip Girl should get a ton of Emmys for Best Use of Music (someone better come up with this award ASAP!) I always find myself becoming obsessed (obsessed I tell you!) with whatever song they close the ep with. This week's was perfect! (It was Lana Del Rey's "Video Games" in case you wondered)

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

jose thank your for titbit.