Saturday, 14 January 2012

TV Week in Review: 8th - 12th January

The Good Wife: Season Three, Episode Twelve; “Alienation of Affection” [A-]
Lockhart/Gardner are back with the type of episode that was well worth a wait. Oftentimes it’s the simple deposition cases which do the show well, because we stay at the office allowing for as much of the cast as possible to become involved. It’s a nice bit of continuity having issues from Alicia’s first year turn back up for major stakes and the return of F. Murray Abraham was a nice touch. More and more Margulies has succeeded in losing that aloofness that often defined Alicia for me, and it’s nice seeing her wrestle with her capabilities during her first year. It’s also a nice touch having Cary turn up and explicating just how much things have changed over the year seasons. Speaking of which, it’s a great touch having Elsbeth turn up as Will’s lawyer, and the promise of the showdown between her and Wendy Scott Carr is reason enough for anxiety. And, Anika Noni Rose is so good you can’t help but feel a bit bad for Wendy as things play out. Then, there are the Eli/David Lee/Julius showdowns which all work so well in the fabric of the show, just as well as someone – but who? – saving the day and Alicia’s hide, and Diane controlling the outcome of everyone, the always sedate mother-hen.
[Writing: A-; Directing: A-]

Once Upon a Time: Season One, Episode Eight; “Desperate Souls” [C-]
I’m continuously losing interest in this show, and it continues to be because for all its pomp and scenery and machinations it is lacking in scope and dynamism. Everything all feels desperately low stakes, the past seems too modern and the modern portions seem bland. And Lana Parilla continues to turn in a performance which continues to grate on me with its lack of subtlety and nuances. The show itself isn’t hard to look at, but it’s incredibly too easy to look away and by episode eight I’d think it’s time for them to stop with the build-up and begin telling their stories without continued necessity of retrospective looks to “establish” the stakes. It’s a perfect example of network shows wasting time and failing to effectively utilise the time available them.
[Writing: C; Directing: C+]

Parenthood; Season Three, Episode Thirteen; “Just Smile” [B+/A-]
It’s so difficult finding creative ways to applaud this show for wearing its simplicity so easily on its sleeve managing to be all the better for it. Crosby and Adam’s relationship has always been something of a hot button, and it’s nice that when this argument comes around it’s neither for the reasons you’d expect nor is it resolved in the way you’d expect. It’s nice that it leads to Adam having a moment with Max, a moment handled with praiseworthy delicacy. And, what makes this episode so good is that as significant as that arc is it’s hardly the only important development. Joel and Julia finally get some closure on their adoption issues, and it’s so nice to see because Christensen and Jaegar do such a good job of making us feel for these characters that are good but not saintly. And, Amber’s issue at work seem set to give Mae Whitman some good things to do, because she’s been a bit underused this season. The sweetest thing, though, was Mark and Sarah’s relationship moving along so nicely, really Lauren Graham and Jason Ritten are doing beautiful work opposite each other.
[Writing: B+/A-; Directing: B+]

Modern Family: Season Three, Episode Twelve; “Egg Drop” [B+]
It’s not so much that this episode is a stark departure from last week’s subpar one, it’s still obvious jokes, the characters are still a bit static but it works exponentially better because the earnestness is honest and effective even if I’m still not appreciative of Ty Burrell this season as I usually am. I don’t know, it’s as if Phil has become the character worst written on the show, and everything for him is established through such broad strokes. Not that portion doesn’t work this episode, it just doesn’t soar as well as past escapades with Burrell. The Egg Drop scenario is ridiculous, but it works and it leads to an effective moment with Claire and Jay. And, once again Cam and Mitchell are lucky enough to have the best arc of the episode with both Stonestreet and Ferguson (doing his best work of the show this season) are excellent.
[Writing: B+; Directing: B+]

Revenge: Season One, Episode Eleven; “Infamy” [B+]
It’s the reveal at the end which this episode seems determined to focus, it’s directed in a way that plays the entire episode up for it, but there’s good stuff to take away. First off, how great is it seeing Robert Bart show up to be deliciously hammy as a victim for Emily and it leads to great Nolan/Emily bonding and the inclusion of Amanda in the takedown, which is a nice touch especially as in all her promise for potentially unhinged machinations I’m starting to feel a bit sorry for Faux-Manda and her sad life. It will be intriguing seeing how this divorce war between the Grayson’s turn out, especially considering the reveal at the episode’s end which is both a surprise and then not, since if I recall a friend called that – in jest, though – a few weeks back. The potential for drama shall be interesting, especially since I think Charlotte’s potential as a character has been a bit squandered as of late.
[Writing: B+/A-; Directing: B+]

30 Rock: Season Six, Episode One; “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching” [B-]
The group is back with their usually kookiness, and really I’ve never been in love with 30 Rock, so a premiere such as this with languishes in their self-awareness as much and then gives a big chunk of time to Kenneth who really doesn’t work most of the time as a solid character for me to appreciate. But, at the end of the day I had some nice little bits to one of them being Jack’s seeking of advice from Liddy, but the most being the awesome Jane Krakowksi returning to my TV and being absolutely awesome. Good god, someone get this woman an Emmy.
[Writing: B; Directing: B]

Parks and Recreation: Season Four, Episode Eleven; “The Comeback Kid” [B+]
Well, turns out that Ben is going to be Leslie’s campaign manager and the show takes the long way to get there, but it’s a fun ride. But before, the subplot of Chris/Ben was excellently handled especially when you recall that these two entered the show in conjunction with each other and haven’t had as much to do opposite each other of note for some time. Sure, Ben turning into something of a manic depressive is a bit over-the-top but it’s the sort of silliness that works in Pawnee and it’s great that Chris’ smoothie turns up to save the day. The silliness which follows Leslie’s campaign is a wonderful step in showing that the gang is not immune to failures, even if their failures are so entertaining and I’m particularly glad to see Ann get a solid arc this episode being her typically adorable self.
[Writing: B+/A-; Directing: B+/A-]

The Office: Season Eight, Episode Eleven; “Trivia” [B]
It’s something a stretch to imagine the entire gang leaving their own lives to drive hours just to play trivia, but we’ll allow them those gaffes because this episode is sweet and entertaining and funny for the most part. I’ve tired of Robert California, or at least the way the show is writing him and Dwight is at his most annoying in this episode and put him with Gabe and that arc becomes something of a chore. The main plot is lovely, though, from Jim’s apathy which works so well to the surprising-not-a-surprise fact that the “fun” team ends up taking it all and it’s all played out with some generally surprising laughs (the Ray Charles joke for example was a nice one) that I can’t help but smile.
[Writing: B; Directing: B

Grey’s Anatomy: Season Eight, Episode Eleven; “These Magic Moments” [B/B+]
I don’t like Dr. Bailey’s romance because I can’t appreciate Ben who just comes off as a boor, but even with something as rudimentary as a simple romance Chandra manages to deliver a fine performance. Sandra Oh is good, with less time, responding as Cristina to Teddy dealing with Henry’s death in a particular harsh way. The main case of the conjoined twins allows for some nice bits like Alex and Richard’s interactions (but god, give Justin Chambers more to do) and the dynamic of Arizona and Callie in the operating room (give Sara Ramirez more to do) and the sweetness of having Meredith and Derek and their adorable baby be happy is perhaps good enough.
[Writing: B/B+; Directing: B/B+]

Random Notes
Does Diane Lockhart have chemistry with everyone?
Did Charlotte and Declan really think they could pull of living together? Those fools.
I swear, I live for the Ann/Leslie interactions on this show. That opening gag? *perfection*
“Jump back up your mother, Liddy.” Nothing more needs to be said.

Standout Performers
Christine Baranskin in The Good Wife A-
Adam Scott in Parks and Recreation B+/A-
Rashida Jones in Parks and Recreation B+/A-
Jane Krakowski in 30 Rock B+/A-
Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Modern Family B+
Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation B+

Dax Shepherd in Parenthood B+
Eric Stonestreet in Modern Family B+
Madeleine Stowe in Revenge B+
Rob Lowe in Parks and Recreation B+
Chandra Wilson in Grey’s Anatomy B+
Julianne Margulies in The good WifeModern Family B+
Sofia Vergara in Modern Family B+
Peter Krause in Parenthood B+
Lauren Graham in Parenthood B+

What did you watch this week?


Squasher88 said...

This episode of The Good Wife was so juicy! LOVE.

Paolo said...

The Vergara-Burrell-Hyland trio seem like a weird group, as if trying to prove that the cast can work together in any circumstance. But at least we saw that those two women have a lot in common.