Saturday, 3 December 2011

TV Week in Review: 13th-17th November

And, on with the week in TV. There were some disappointments, but there were some GREAT returns. On with the shows...

Boardwalk Empire: “Georgia Peaches”; Season Two, Episode Ten [B+]
Grading this episode was particularly difficult to grade because there were so many great things mixed with so many not-so-great ones. I’m still trying to assess whether there’s some larger theme building to account for Emily being infected with polio, and I’d hate to think that Margaret’s return to religion is what is being suggested. Margaret has always come across as so pragmatic (sometimes, annoying so) that the scene where she takes her money and jewels to the church feels somewhat off, although it does suggest that people in grief want something to believe in. The case being built against Nucky is sure getting more and more multifaceted, even though Van Alden keeps getting less and less to do. Meanwhile, Jimmy is having a rough time of it. For one, the Commodore is regaining his speech, and things are just going awry for him on all fronts. I’d like to think that an apparent dip in his friendship with Richard is one of the reasons (really, people, give Jack Huston more to do. He’s awesome.), but what do I know? As badly planned as his murder by hire attempt last week was, and even though she’s an on and off lesbian his scene with Angela was perfect and naturally it’s immediately followed by her death. And, strategically it saddens me because I used to love Angela, then she started annoying me but the show is short on women so it’s a significant loss. On the upside, you just know that Michael Pitt is going to give one hell of an Emmy consideration performance next week. Right?
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B+]

Dexter: “Get Gellar”; Season Six, Episode Nine [B]
It is not imprudent of me to say that this is the poorest season of Dexter. I will qualify that by saying the show is still good, but it’s just not great for the moment. What particularly worries me, though, is that Michael C. Hall seems to be getting less and less to do. And, I’m all for opening up the show and dealing with the supporting characters and their issues, but I hate for it to happen at the expense of Dexter. On the side-lines we have Luerta covering for death of that prostitute, a suggestion that Masuka’s affable intern is unhinged (or at the very least, a lying thief) and then Quinn and Angel come to blows. Neither incident feels absolutely essential to the development of the episode’s overall theme. Then there is Debra’s therapy session and I hope that she finds out Dexter’s secret soon because that would be a nice capper to all the things she’s learning. What important thing have we learned? Well, it turns out Gellar is dead and Travis is now the lone Doomsday Killer which does make for some interesting drama and something which I hope the next episode makes excellent use of. It’s going well, I just want it to go better.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Homeland: “Crossfire”; Season One, Episode Nine [B/B+]
Somewhere around “The Weekend” and its revelation, the show has felt a bit uncertain of its self and even though it reveals itself as one of the finest dramas on television, still, this is its weakest offering. The tonal detachment of the episodes prior to this one has worked excellently. We’ve been introduced to characters unimpeded by large attempts for audience sympathy, we’re trapped in a narrative with two protagonists who we probably don’t like but are fascinated by nonetheless. Thus, the delving into Brody’s past to reveal how sympathetic a character he was and how he became a “terrorist” does not work for me at all. It feels unnecessarily and unusually cloying from a show that seems to take such pride in its detachment. Then, there is the fact that the episode is so low on Morena Baccarin and Mandy Patinkin (more on that soon) that doesn’t please. I do love that final scene with Brody and Jessica, but I want them to address their issues…or are they gone now? Elsewhere, though, Carrie’s investigative techniques were brilliant this episode and it’s nice seeing how good she was at her job. Saul shows up in two scenes, and Patinkin kills it like nobody’s business, but I want more of that. Amidst all the drama, the episode’s finest moment was Saul happening in on a nervously energised Carrie. What will became of that investigation? Well, we’ll see.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Once Upon a Time: “That Still Small Voice”; Season One, Episode Five” [C+]
Well, on the downside the show is still struggling when it comes to making the characters multifaceted. After five episodes it really is time that we get some indication as to Regina being more than just a heartless bitch and each time I begin to think that, maybe, she has some sort of appreciation for Henry that is more than just incidental those suggestions are dashed. And, it’s not so much that every evil character must have some sort of good, but the two dimensional nature of her character in particular is vexing. For now, as trite as it, I’m more invested in Mary Margaret and her Prince Charming. That too ends up a little worrisome because it’s moving at a snail’s pace, and the point of it all seems especially vague. To move from episode to episode focusing on each Fairy Character’s history. It might contribute to the development of the overall Fairy World, but it seems to be happening at the expense of the major characters and their issues, which is something of a shame. It’s all still quite nice to watch, but I wish it’d get better.
[Writing: C/C+ ; Directing: C+ ]

Gossip Girl: “Rhodes to Perdition”; Season Five, Episode Nine [B]
What is it with this show and ensuring that everyone who pops up is out for the money? I don’t know, I was prepared to think that there was some sincerity in Max and it’s sort of disappointing to think that he’s just another money grubbing villain. Ah, well. It seems Charlie’s dodged a bullet, and on one side it’s nice that she’s becoming to love those Rhodes girls, but I hope it comes out because she still annoys me. Dan and his machinations of being a failed writer are as silly as you’d expect. His brand of self-importance is my least favourite and considering how selfish most of the characters seem to be that says something. I’m still trying to wrap my head around Nate running a magazine company, but eh, whatever. You’d think that Blair tailing Chuck this week would have been the A-plot, but alas no. Still, Blair’s epiphany (wrong or not) was just lovely, and is there any way for them to NOT get those two ridiculous children together at this point? PS. Dorota continues to be brilliant.
[Writing: B; Directing: B]

The Closer: “Necessary Evil”; Season Seven, Episode Eleven [B/B+]
Yay, Mary McDonnell and Kyra Sedgwick are back. I’m glad to have The Closer back, even though sometimes because of its format it doesn’t seem like must-see TV (at least for plot developments) but it always have some interesting things to ruminate on. The revelation of the killer at the end was just a little pat for me, but the episode had more to offer than the main case. I like Captain Raydor, I liked her when she was egotistical and I liked her now and it’s nice to think that she has Brenda’s back because I’d love to see those two having more moments together. Is Taylor the leak? It’s the obvious suggestion because Taylor is untrustworthy, but I’m becoming to suspect that perhaps it’s Chief Pope, and at this point he’s turned into such an annoying spectacle that I would not mind if it were him. It seems like something he’d do, since we learned from last season that he’d through Brenda under the bus if necessary.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Glee: “I Kissed a Girl”; Season Three, Episode Seven [B-/C+]
Oy. I don’t know, this wasn’t a particularly terrible episode but I suppose I’ve finally begun to appreciate the fact that Glee is losing is lustre, which is a bit bizarre because for a while the season seemed to be an uphill swing. I’d just mark this episode off as an unfortunate coincident, but an episode with such significant plot developments (a few not particularly positive) makes me the slightest bit doubtful. I know everyone loathes Matt Morrison, I don’t know, but I hate the backseat role he’s been playing this season and in this episode more than ever the children seem to need to need some sort of direction. Finn’s attempts to win over Santana are annoying in that overly persistent way of his, and it’s only natural that Glee would have it all work out so well – except for her grandmother. It’s okay, but hardly arresting. What’s not arresting, either, is the Sue/Bieste fiasco which is really just painful to watch. The issue of Rachel not being able to sing for Sectionals is a) a disappointment because all the main players are being severely underused, and b) because it’s such an obvious attempt to make things “interesting”. Then, there’s the Puck issue. Puck’s inconsistency as a character has bothered me for some time, especially since I think Salling has the ability to be a better actor than the show gives him credit for. The Shelby issue is difficult to navigate around because there’s really no way that someone as great as she has “no one” but Puck. I’m neither here nor there on their liaison (especially since we didn’t even get to see them getting it on, fail) but Puck’s conversations with Quinn are legitimately good developments although now that he’s confided in her I just know it can’t end well.
[Writing: B-; Directing: B-]

Parenthood: “Missing”; Season Three, Episode Eleven [B/B+]
In typical fashion, everything seems to wrap up too quickly on Parenthood. After giving Adam such a cold shoulder, it’s weird that Kristina is so immediately ready to reconcile so the injection of Max’s disappearance is created. And, I hate plot developments which seem so obviously gimmicky. This one lands, although not perfectly. I love the contributions of Haddie this episode; because we don’t us usually see the whole Max issue from her perspective. And, Kristina’s final phone conversation with Adam’s secretary makes the entire kissing debacle sort of work. The other issue which gets quickly resolved is Julia and Joel’s baby-mama. And, yes, yet another episode without a single shot of the awesome Sam Jaegar is abysmal on the part of the show’s creators. Now that her boyfriend has kicked her out – or whatever – I guess the baby is back on board. I loved the entire arc with Crosby and Jasmine, though, and that final speech he gave her was excellently done. I’m continuously impressed by how good Dax Shepherd has become.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

American Horror Story: “Spooky Little Girl”; Season One, Episode Nine [B-]
It’s not so much that the show has begun to self-destructing because lord knows it’s impossible to look away. A bit like the issues I’m having with Once Upon a Time (see above, if you wish) it’s a bit vexing when each week a new character is introduced to the fabric in some definitive way. Last week any sympathy I might have had for Tate evaporated and I’m still not buying that he slept with Mrs. Harmon even though it’s a proven fact. Sort of. Tate still is a disturbed child, at the root, though so I hope that they do try to establish that character a bit more. At least we get the loony Constance back because last week’s episode was definitely missing her. Hayden’s entire existence continues to exasperates, and hopefully she’s finished with her silliness. It was the two revelations in this episode that were particularly significant – Dr. Harmon is finally seeing things as they are and that foetus may be the child of the devil. This show is ridiculous. I can’t stop watching.
Writing: B-; Directing: B-]

Community: “Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism”; Season Three, Episode Nine [B+/A-]
When I remember how sporadic the second season of Community was, especially the first half, I’m especially happy to see how well they’re bouncing back in the third season. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I missed how much of an asset Yvette Nicole Brown was on the show, and this episode occurs at a nice time when we dig a bit deeper into Shirley’s past and realise that she and Jeff share a common history. I’m impressed by how despite the overt comedic bits how sincere the relationship was assessed and it was a nice A-plot to it all. Elsewhere, Annie steps on Abed’s special edition The Dark Knight DVD and it leads to a string of ridiculous machinations which could only come from the mind of Abed, and it works excellently. Adding Annie to the duo of Troy/Abed is a great move and it’s great watching the trio navigate through the madness of their apartment. Perhaps I shall never be a complete Community aficionado, but with episodes like these it makes me sad that they’ve been put on the bench.
[Writing: B+/A-; Directing: B+/A-]

The Office: “Mrs. California”; Season Eight, Episode Nine [B+]
After the abysmal “Gettysburg” last episode, it’s nice to see the show land on its feet and deliver a good episode. I’ve always liked Maura Tierney, and I suppose that any more glances into Robert’s family life can’t help but he hilarious. His mixed signals confusing Andy – and even the audience, really – managed to come off as genuinely and not annoying and the best part of it all was watching how Jim got pulled into it. It’s so nice how sweet he was talking about Pam working with him because a significant part of the show’s success will always be the Pam/Jim arc. Dwight is up to his usual ridiculous machinations, but it manages to work even if Darryl has become a character that I find less and less entertaining.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Parks and Recreation: “The Trial of Leslie Knope”; Season Four, Episode Nine [B+/A-]
And, the truth comes out. I was worried about how the show would approach the outing of Leslie and Ben’s relationship, and honestly I’m not completely satisfied with Ben leaving the job – we shall only see how that works out. Nonetheless, the episode surrounding that was a finely presented episode of the Pawnee group in their usual craziness. Like most ensemble comedies, the best moments are spent having the entire group together and some of the strongest scenes were those were Leslie was encouraged about her own awesomeness by her fellow employees. For me, though, the most interesting hook about the episode was watching the trajectory of her relationship with Ben and recalling some key moments of goodness from the show’s third season. And, of course, a few seconds of Megan Mullally never made any show less interesting.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

A Few Talking Points
  • Okay, people. Puck’s hair. Discuss.
  • So, I tend not to watch previews (the evilness of the standard trailer in another form), but next week’s Boardwalk Empire looks AWESOME.
  • Okay, really, the antichrist? Can this show get any more ridiculous…and by ridiculous I mean crazy and by crazy I mean – I can’t stop watching.
  • How brilliant was April’s testimony? Aubrey Plaza is killing it.

Standout Performers
Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation B+/A-
Claire Danes in Homeland B+
Rob Lowe in Parks and Recreation
Damian Lewis in Homeland B+
Michael Pitt in Boardwalk Empire B+
Jessica Lange in American Horror Story B+

Adam Scott in Parks and Recreation B+
Joel McHale in Community B+
Donald Glover in Community B+
James Spader in The Office B+
Monica Potter in Parenthood B+
Mary McDonnell in The CloserB+
John Krasinksi in The Office B+
Yvette Nicole Brown in Community B+

What did you watch this week?


Squasher88 said...

HAHAHA, I'm glad I wasn't the only one that noticed Puck's hideous hair in this episode. Maybe they were in a rush and didn't finish his haircut?

Yes, Aubrey Plaza killed it this week. So did Amy Poehler.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

squasher88 the thing is, i'm not sure if i hate it, but it's just so much of it. he needs to just let his hair grow out. maybe he'll try that win over shelby.