Sunday, 15 April 2012

TV Week in Review: 8th-12th April

Unduly late, as become the norm. But, even more than my movie watching I feel it necessary to itemise the television shows I watch, as much as possible. Most of the network shows are winding down, and the cables ones are now starting up. On with the shows…

The Big C: SEASON PREMIERE Season 3, Episode 1 – “Thin Ice” [B+/A-]
Thank god Platt is back. Where will this season go? I cannot wait to find out. Adam is over his douche phase, Sean is back in better form as is Andrea and Cathy and Paul remain as one of the small screen’s best marriages. So the drugs are working…will the cancer go away? Doubtful….but what now? The set-up for goodness is there. Paul’s struggles with his heart, Andrea’s issues with her relationship, Adam’s issues with religion all point to what should be a strong third season for this unlikely dramedy. I hope they keep up the good work.

Nurse Jackie: SEASON PREMIERE Season 4, Episode 1 – “Kettle-Kettle-Black-Black” [B+/A-]
Finally, Jackie will have to get off her pedestal and it should only be better for the show. This premiere sets up some truly excellent possibilities. Falco is in fine form and not going through the motions, O’Hara is in HBIC form and the dynamics at the hospital changing will make for good things, I hope. Last year the tone was ultimately comedic for me, and it’s nice to see so many great comedic handles surrounding this episode which could have been much more dramatic than it turned out. I’m glad to have this one back.

GCB: Season1, Episode 6 & 7– “Turn The Other Cheek” & “Sex is Divine” [B & B-/C+]
An inherently problematic show, there is no way that GCB will be able to become completely good. For that to happen Leslie Bibb’s character needs to disappear immediately, as does Sharon and Heather. Annie Potts needs a better arc, and the show needs to decide on a tonal certainty. That won’t happen soon, so we’ve got the show as it is for now and the renewal of the vows made for the first legitimately solid episode of the show, so I’m hopeful. Kristin Chenoweth is trying, mostly with help from [ ] and [ ] otherwise the show is often flailing and I’m so tempted to cut ties at the end of season 1. Unless it keeps on the right track….we’ll see…

Smash: Season 1, Episode 10 – “Understudy” [B-/C+]
And, another first season show with issues. When this show doesn’t work it really doesn’t work and there are so many small issues that aren’t working that I might be easy on if the main portion weren’t having issues too. So, things like Tom’s silliness with his boyfriend (and the actor being so poorly used), Ivy turning into a hot mess of a woman (who should be much smarter for someone who’s been in the business for so long), the stoic manner in which Karen is continually written – and a few other issues, just turn into reasons for me to roll my eyes. And added to Eileen’s lack of foresight in burning the contracts and being unnecessarily bitchy to investors who have a right to be worried about a musical with more than just growing pains and the continued appearance of Ellis and Julia’s son (whose name I can’t and don’t care to remember) just suck out what should be more enjoyable than this.

Cougar Town: Season 3, Episode 7 – “You Can Still Change Your Mind” [B+]
I don’t know, I’m embarrassed to say but in this its third season I’m not enjoying the cul-de-sac crew as much as I want. There’s a feeling of self awareness that isn’t working as well as it did last season, but this episode was a great one, even with the vague oddities. Laurie and Ellie are great when they play off each other, and the dynamic works even if the actual set-up seems forced. Jules and Travis’ machinations make for the episodes best arc and Byrd is always a great actor to watch. Chalke’s appearance this episode didn’t turn out to be as enjoyable or organic as I’d hope, but it’s hardly a damning indictment.

Modern Family: Season 3, Episode 19 – “Election Day” [C+]
Somewhere after the Christmas break this show took a turn for the worse and it’s been progressively moving from affable and generally enjoyable to legitimately cloying. It’s such that the last time I legitimately loved an outing it was seven episodes ago. This episode is an improvement on the status quo even though there are still so many issues – tired jokes in all the three main arcs, situations that are preventing the casts from doing honestly comedic work and instead has them posturing. It was all worth it for the lovely moment with Hyland and Bown at the end. More of that and less of…everything else.

The Office: Season 8,Episode 20 “Welcome Party”[B/B-]
A fair episode, if there ever was one, but still unnecessarily creaky for a show that usually knows better ways to integrate its talented ensemble into good moments. Will Catherine Tate stay with the show? This week’s about face would mean significant changes in dynamics which could work but then again could not. Should Spader stay with the show? I think no, he seems to have overstayed his welcome. Should the show stay on? Definitely, use Jim better – he’s the best thing you’ve got. Let Erin and Andy be more than cutesy and superfluous, utilise your ensemble more conscientiously and things could work. Get on that, Dunder Mifflin.

Grey’s Anatomy: Season 8, Episode 19 – “Support System” [B+]
A good episode in the vein of this show which recently saves up its most focused storytelling angles for the final string of episodes each season. The Owen/Cristina drama gets awkward and painful to watch fast and I suspect that with such a sensitive issue that might be the point. Where do we go from here? So I wonder, will this point to departures from the show? Everything is tenuous so it’s nice to have things to fall back on like Webber knowing what’s right or Meredith helping Cristina acclimate to the things. It’s a bit odd underscoring Cristina’s dramatic arc with so many light things at the hospital (and then Teddy’s widow status thrown in there neither funny nor sad) but ultimately the episode is one that works.  

Tweet length reviews on everything else…

The Killing: Season 2, Episode 3 – “Numb” [B]
The first episode to obviously suffer from the day an episode structure, payoff comes too late but ultimately it makes it work.

Mad Men: Season 5, Episode 4 – “Mystery Date” [B+]
Sometimes a bit too deliberately but great developments for all the main arcs and Moss and Hendricks shine in particular. I’m pleased.

Glee: Season 3, Episode 15 – “Big Brother” [B-]
Still good at what it’s good at, still awful at what it’s bad at. But, fun, it needs work and the return isn’t faultless, but it works.

Scandal: Season 1, Episode 2 – “Dirty Little Secret” [B+]
Soapy still, yes. Deliberately orchestrated, definitely. But in perfect control of its conceits, and fine performances. Washington and Stanchfield shine.

Community: Season 3, Episode 15 – “Origins of Vampire Mythology” [A-]
In short, my favourite episode of the season, perhaps my favourite episode of last season. Funny, sweet and so honest. Beautiful.

30 Rock: Season 6, Episode 17 – “Meet the Woggels” [A-]
The best use Tracy all season, but he’s still upstaged by great work form ALL members. Also, Stritch’s finest guest turn. Really.


Standout Performers
Jane Krakowksi in 30 Rock A-
Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock A-
Laura Linney in The Big C B+/A-
Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie B+/A-
Sandra Oh in Grey’s Anatomy B+/A-
Elizabeth Moss in Mad Men B+/A-

Oliver Platt in The Big C B+/A-
Tina Fey in 30 Rock B+/A-
Eve Best in Nurse Jackie B+
Joel McHale in Community B+
Christina Hendricks in Mad Men B+
Joel Kinnaman in The Killing B+


What did you watch this week?

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