Sunday, 8 January 2012

TV Week in Review: 3rd – 5th January

Just in case you noticed, doubtful, but I’m a stickler for continuity if nothing else – I’m aware that I haven’t reviewed the finales of American Horror Story, Homeland and Dexter (and the last two episodes of The Closer) and with so much time gone, it’s unlikely that I shall. Just a heads up.

With that out of the way, welcome back network TV. On with the (few) shows…

Parenthood: Season Three, Episode Twelve; “Road Trip” [A-]
Kudos for Jason Katims for bringing back this great show with a knockout episode. I was worried about it from the title because oftentimes those episode that transpose the main cast of ensembles from their usual abodes seem to be heavy-handed but this one worked beautifully as we saw the gang making it up to Zeke’s mother’s for her birthday. From that tense argument between Max and Kristina you just knew that this trip was not going to be all smiles and watching Zeke undergo his meltdown, and watching Camille and his children react to it was a nice prolonged theme for the episode making way for a number of great moments. It gave both Nelson and Bedelia chance to do good work, and I’m especially happy for that because with a stronger arc in most episodes Bedelia could easily cart away best-in-show accolades, and that’s saying something considering how densely populated this ensemble is. As usual, in between significant issues like Adam and Haddie and Sarah and Drew we get some brilliant little moments of humour like everyone responding to the walkie-talkies and we get poignant dramatic beats like Kristina’s conversation with Zeke at the end. What a way to come back. I’m annoyed that the show only has eighteen episodes this season (WTF, NBC?) but at least they’re using them wisely.
[Writing: A-; Directing: A-]

Modern Family: Season Three, Episode Eleven; “Lifetime Supply” [B-/C+]
I’ve already noted the way that Modern Family utilises the same beats weak after weak to establish its humour – and I’m not mad at it. It is what it is, and most times it works but this episode although good on some levels just smacks of laziness in all departments. We already know that Jay has grown fatherly of Manny; we already know that Mitchell can be unnecessarily harsh (and really, this was UNNECESSARILY harsh) and that Phil can blow things out of proportions. So, even as there were some bits that landed especially well the episode just felt way too much like an afterthought and it’s a bit of a let-down thinking that this is the way the producers decided to come back from the midseason hiatus.
[Writing: C+; Directing: B-]

Revenge: Season One, Episode Eleven; “Duress” [B+]
Even as the show begins with an over-the-top “who will die” hook which we know will not be delivered, I have to give them credit for delivering another stellar episode. I love when shows like this, which don’t allow us to watch the entire cast together, allows us to see them all in one space. Even though it’s such a bizarre notion to imagine Jack and Fauxmanda being at Daniel’s birthday, but this is the Hamptons – logics don’t always as apply to them. On the note of Fauxmanda, though, I’m actually getting more invested in her character even if I’m sure that she’s headed to a nasty fall courtesy of Emily/Amily, who just seems to grow as one cold evil mastermind. It’s nice to see her and Nolan back as that corrupt form of BFF’s although I wish that Tyler had killed off Ashley, but I can’t everything. This episode feels very like a bridge, and with Tyler apparently gone things will start getting serious – what with divorce wars and whatnot.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+/A-]

Grey’s Anatomy: Season Eight, Episode Ten; “Suddenly” [B]
Considering how many ends needed to be tied up, the show might have done better to either make this a two hour episode or drop half of the arcs because the episode despite being good felt occasionally half-baked and occasionally overcooked. Clearly, the centre of it all was Teddy finding out about her husband’s death via Cristina and then finding out so long after. I’m not that much in love with the character or the actress, so I’m not much excited to see her potential spiral downwards. I’m more interested in the scenario to see plum scenes being given to Sandra Oh who remains as the show’s strongest asset. It’s nice seeing Callie step up and take the blame even if I cringe that it’s for Jackson, who still annoys me – even if Debbie Allen is his mother. Everything else felt rushed in the face of the main conflict, including Alex’s adrenaline rush, Lexie and Mark’s new girlfriend, and Dr. Bailey and her annoying boyfriend. But, one the upside – Baby Zola, the most adorable tot on TV, has returned.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B-]

Standout Performers
Monica Potter in Parenthood B+/A-
Craig T. Nelson in Parenthood B+/A-
Sandra Oh in Grey’s Anastomy B+
Sofia Vergara in Modern Family B+
Bonnie Bedelia in Parenthood B+
Ty Burrell in Modern Family B+
Madeleine Stowe in Revenge B+

What did you watch this week?

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