Saturday, 5 November 2011

TV Week in Review: October 30th-November 3rd

Looking back on the last week on the small screen…the dramas trounce the comedies.

Boardwalk Empire: “The Age of Reason”; Season Two, Episode Six [B+]
Since episode two I’ve been a little exasperated with Margaret Schroeder, I still love Kelly’s work but she’s seemed so parsimonious lately that I don’t feel much sympathy for her as she navigates her household issues along with her burgeoning attraction to the Mr. Slater, who’s I’m sure will turn out to be no good. Despite the name there is an alarming number of unreasonable actions this episode. Nelson is back and feeling profoundly guilty for the burning of his co-worker. It turns out to be for no reason, but his goose is kicked nonetheless when his wife turns up to see Lucy and her newly delivered baby. I do wonder what will become of that arc. Speaking of things going pear-shaped, Nucky’s problems might not be gone for good due to don interesting developments. The first is the fact that the Attorney General might not be able to fix his case and then there’s the fact that Jimmy has become wise to his alcohol plans. That scene where Jimmy kills the turncoat was particularly hard to watch, and I keep hoping that he’ll avoid the excess of violence – kudos to him for ultimately avoiding too much bloodshed at the end. It’s going to be interesting watching the “new generation” moving to the top of the business.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Homeland” Blind Spot”; Season One, Episode Five [B+]
We’re treated to less of Brody and his family this week, which somewhat works against my theory that Lewis is the show’s co-lead (but then again, it’s not completely disproved). His guard comes in and Carrie and Saul interview him. It’s an obviously bad move allowing Brody to see him, whether or not he slipped him the razor with which he killed himself it’s bad form for David to encourage him. Seeing a bit more of Saul and Carrie’s family life was effective. True, I’m still not getting enough Patinkin, but the arcs are developing nicely. The show keeps avoiding the usual pitfalls because we’re just as devoted to what’s happening in the now as we are to finding out the end-result. Of course, Carrie will not really be quitting her job but it’s great having us see just how devastated she is by doing it poorly which only suggests that when things do explode it will be particularly overwhelming.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Dexter: “The Angel of Death”; Season Six, Episode Five [B+]
It’s nice seeing how everything is being opened up as we see more of our supporting players, and I did enjoy seeing bits of the investigation with Quinn and Angel. I’ve come to appreciate Quinn’s character much so as basic as it was the tug-of-war of emotions currently happening with him and Deb is working for me. It’s nice, too, seeing Deb getting a bit better at her job and getting close with her new detective. Olmos’ big bad continues to be a particularly chilling character, a fact augmented by his coldness only making him more fearsome. It’s a curious decision of Dexter to let Travis go. It will definitely be a decision which comes back to bite him in the ass, but the question is how. There’s something a bit too much about Sam getting shot at the end, but who knows where the show will go with it.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B+]

The Good Wife: “Affairs of State”; Season Three, Episode Six [B+]
I’m glad to get a Cary centred episode, I’m always glad when Czuchry is given a chance to prove that he’s more than a pretty face the final revelation that Peter has made him Deputy State’s Attorney is either really good news or very troubling news if we think of it as part of Peter’s plan to wreak havoc on Alicia and company. Peter doesn’t do anything with a purpose, but I’m hoping he doesn’t turn into the season’s villain. Elsewhere, this season continues to be devastatingly low on the Kalinda front, but I continue biding my time and we do get some fun as Parker Posey shows up to play the former Mrs. Eli Gould – excellently. Developing Eli’s character works, it makes his eccentricities more pronounced and Posey and he work well together. Anna Camp continues to be too much as David Lee’s niece bringing nothing that I would call significant to the episode and her attraction to Will only makes for more annoyance. I sincerely hope the show doesn’t get distracted by a silly arc like that one.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Once Upon a Time: “The Thing You Loved the Most”; Season One, Episode Two [C]
The second  episodeof this show is something underwhelming. Even with the appearance of the lovely Kristin Bauer van Straten as Maleficent of “Sleeping Beauty” fame the episode over inclination to succumb to the blandest of storylines isn’t serving it well. A fine example is the touch of cinnamon which the three generations all seem to love, that sort of hokey overemphasis makes for something rather awkward which the show should be avoiding so the magical nature is second to oversentimentality. It’s not all bad, though. I admit that Robert Carlyle’s overacting as Rumpelstiltskin is more than a little annoying, but his presence is definitely a positive providing the episode with a significant amount of thought to chew on. I’m all for humanising villains, but I’m curious as to the reason for showing how difficult the Evil Queen’s journey to wickedness was in the second episode only. Already I’m wondering if I should jump ship on this one, Ginnifer Goodwin or no.
[Writing: C; Directing: C+]

Parenthood: “Forced Family Fun”; Season Three, Episode Seven [B+]
Character development, entertaining distractions and more character development make for a very solid episode of Parenthood this week. True, I’m just a bit worried about using Jason Ritter, John Corbett and Lauren Graham for a love triangle but they’re all such good actors I’m willing to imbibe. And, I have to commend the show’s treatment of the issues thus far. The same goes for Julia and Joel’s baby mother. Yes, I’m still pissed that Joel is not getting enough to do but Julia’s so adorable this episode with her micromanaging and I really hope the show remembers its roots and doesn’t go for an overwrought adoption battle. We’re getting enough of the overwrought from Kristina – not in a bad way, though. Her meltdown in the car was fun in its way, and as sentimental as it was that scene with her and Haddie at the end was nicely done. The same goes for the entire Jasmine/Crosby issue. I feel bad for Crosby, but it’s nice that the show’s assessing everyone’s perspective in a particularly awkward situation.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Glee: “Pot O’ Gold”; Season Three, Episode Four [B/B+]
Okay, so there’s a bit of gender weirdness when I consider how awkward the Rachel/Schuester “romance” of season one was treated, and how much more earnest the Puck/Shelby one is being handled. But, I’m willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt and assume that it’s because Shelby isn’t actually Puck’s teacher, and that he’s mature. Possibly. Yes, that was the arc of the episode which I found most interesting even with Quinn’s obviously lack of fitness for a mother role, I’m intrigued by the implications of Puck’s paternal inclinations for everyone involved even though I’m incredibly doubtful that the show will handle any potential flame between those two well. We’ll see. Having Santana and Brittany leave the club seems a little overblown especially since I have no faith in the Santana/Mercedes friendship and I’m disinclined to think that things are that bad in New Direction but I have to give credit for the way it’s being treated and club’s new Irishman could be a positive. I’m less thrilled than most at Burt’s running for office, and Sue hasn’t had one good thing to do for the season. I’m still on the fence about that, but it’s a good episode.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Modern Family: “”; Season Three, Episode Seven [B/B+]
Once again, it’s the Cam/Mitchell arc that makes the episode and I’m inclined to believe that it’s less about the actual arc than the performances that the two and Leslie Mann put in. It’s a pretty standard mix-up but the ensuing hijinks are funny, and it’s so nice seeing Stonestreet and Ferguson turning in good work, and Leslie Mann is always appreciated. Conversely, I keep on being underwhelmed with the majority of the Dunphy storylines this episode even though I’m highly appreciative of the bit with Phil and his new friend at the end. The Jay/Gloria arc veered a little bit towards mawkish, but it was sweet how he decided to come out and dance for her. The season seems to be paying more attention to arbitrary hooks than actual arcs. It’s still good, but it’s gotten a bit too tried.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Revenge: “Charade”; Season One, Episode Seven [B+]
Despite my love for the evil, revealing that Ashley’s not as angelic as she seems doesn’t make me love her more. It does make for better drama though and the possibility of more reveeeeeeeenge, so I’m pleased. It’s all about revelations this week as we meet the real Emily Thorne and leading to an apparent death. I’m so impressed with how the show is tying up all the potentially loose ends keeping everything rigidly tight. It’s another strong episode for Stowe, as we see a little bit more of Victoria’s insecurities and that mother/son scene with her and Daniel at the end was nice in its simplicity. With my allegiance firmly with Nolan, I feel a bit bad for him now that he’s seemingly lost the friendship of his jack and sleeping with Tyler doesn’t seem particularly wise, but Nolan’s not a novice at his game so I suppose the insurance of their taped liaison will come in handy. And, YAY, Lydia isn’t dead. Curiouser and curiouser.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

American Horror Story; “Halloween II”; Season One, Episode Five [B+/A-]
Even with Jessica Lange turning up almost three quarter way in this was a brilliant episode. Next to the lovely Lange, Evan Peters is turning out to be my favourite player on the show and it’s proving much fun as we dig into Tate’s past and the revelation that Constance is his mother does point to some even more delicious developments. Really, Tami Taylor (yes, that’s what I shall continue to call her) is annoying me. Cheating husband or no, I feel as if she’s overreacting and with one member of the house moving out I’m beginning to wonder just how the season is going to develop. That chilling scene with all the inmates returning to the house at the end was expertly done, even though it reminded me that I haven’t gotten m full dose of Frances Conroy lately from the producers. Hopefully that oversight will be addressed soon.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+/A-]

Community: “Advanced Gay”; Season Three, Episode Six [B/B+]
It’s a good episode, just not great. Both the inclusions of Peirce’s racist father and the air-conditioning crew seemed decidedly unsubtle and me and all my snobbery don’t respond well to obvious gags. But, the episode avoids those issues and still turns out to be particularly enjoyable. It’s weird how the gay gag which could have come off as more obvious ends up being sincerely funny, complete with some great moments of the cast just being funny around each other. Easily, the Troy/Abed moments this episode was the highlight. The end gag was great, but it was the conversation where the two switched personalities (addressed with out being overstressed) that ended up being the strongest part.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

The Office: “Doomsday”; Season Eight, Episode Six [B/B+]
There is much about the episode that evokes a strident sense of awkwardness, but I’m sure that it’s intentional since this season with Andy as the manager seems to be pervaded with a striking amount of awkward. Dwight’s doomsday plan itself was just a bit mean, if effective in theory and it’s a bit sad seeing how BAD they are at their jobs but as expected the resultant madness which ensued was worth it. The Gabe/Daryl aspects of the episode was hard to watch as everything concerning Gabe is and I wish they’d just expel him from the show. It wasn’t a complete deal breaker amidst silly things like “Closing Time”, or Pam milking Dwight’s affection for her or Jim trying to play squash, the latter of which shouldn’t have been as funny as it was. But, that’s Dunder Mifflin for you.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Parks and Recreation: “End of the World”; Season Four, Episode Six [B/B+]
What shall become of Ben and Leslie and their romance? It’s anyone’s guess and it’s a bit sad watching the admittedly funny amblings of Leslie trying to prevent anyone from having him. The end of the world backdrop seemed a bit underutilised making the episode feel a bit like it was meandering during the middle bit, but this instalment had a lot to do with the little things. It’s nice seeing April and Andy’s marriage addressed again and her helping him with his bucket list was particularly sweet of her. Tom’s greatest party did seem like a silly idea on top of a slew of silly ideas, but it’s good for him that he at last went out on a bag.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Grey’s Anatomy: “Heart-Shaped Box”, Season Eight, Episode Eight [B/B+]
The episode was worth the entrance purely for that scene with Meredith, Alex and Cristina at the end where Alex talks about George and Izzie and if every episode has one scene just as honest with our original interns I’d be satisfied. It’s a sedate episode, but a nice one as Mama O’Malley returns to Seattle Grace and I loved how nervous Callie was about revealing that she’s gay. Debra Monk is a lovely woman, so it’s nice seeing her back in the halls. Alfre Woodard’s patient was not as acerbic as I’d have anticipated and her machinations with Lexie were nice. I’m not so secretly glad that the Lexie/Jackson ship has sailed, it was becoming just too awkward for all parties involved. Teddy and her husband were just a little annoying but how can I complain when we get the awesomeness of Doctor Bailey advising Meredith even though she’s still annoyed or Chief Webber helping Cristina with some help from Heart in a Box?
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]
Random Thoughts
  • "So, you’re a religious man and a torturer. What, are you Catholic?" An easy joke, but still, I love Saul's interrogation technique.
  • It's so nice that Bailey is still thinking about "mothering" her former interns. Continuity for the win.
  • Ron Swanson on the recorder was something strange...
  • Jessica Lange plays Constance as a quarter Blanche DuBois, a quarter Mrs. Venable, a quarter Maggie the Cat, a quarter Amanda Wingfied and 100% batshit crazy.
  • Reveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenge. That's all.

Standout Performers
Claire Danes in Homeland B+
Michael Pitt in Boardwalk Empire B+
Lauren Graham in Parenthood B+
Evan Peters in American Horror Story B+
Madeleine Stowe in Revenge B+
Matt Czuchry in The Good Wife B+
Michael C. Hall in Dexter B+
Gabriel Mann in Revenge B+
Michael Shannon in Boardwalk Empire B+
Alan Cumming in The Good Wife B+
Eric Stonestreet in Modern Family B+
Monica Potter in Parenthood B+
Jennifer Carpenter in Dexter B+
How was TV for you this week?


anahita said...

I actually really enjoyed the Once Upon a Tine episode this week. It's finding it's feet like any new show but it looks really promising and has defo captured my attention!

Squasher88 said...

Glee - Ok episode. I like the Irish guy.

The Good Wife - They have really sedate Kalinda haven't they? She used to be the star. I also hope they don't make Will and Caitlin get involved. Pretty decent episode.

Modern Family - great performances as usual.

Parks and Recreation - that party actually looked pretty damn awesome.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

ana i will stick with it, how can i resist the adorable ginnifer goodwin, but that episode just did not work for me.

sqausher oh my god, where is kalinda? i'm dying, straight up dying waiting for her to get a meaty storyline and we're SIX episode in. *flails wildly*