October 1, 2010

TV Report Card: Week of September 26, 2010

Here is this week's TV Report Card:

Boardwalk Empire: "The Ivory Tower"
This week's Boardwalk Empire was hit or miss for me. On one hand, "The Ivory Tower" was a great character study about Nucky and how he's a chameleon. After watching the episode, it's easy to see why he's where he is today because he can be slippery, ruthless, and sensitive. The scene where Nucky lost the $3,000 he made Jimmy pay him as his "cut" on roulette was cold, calculating, and brilliant. The rest of the episode was unsettling; from the gratuitous sex stuff to the creepy moment involving Agent Van Auden. I know these kind of scenes are supposed to give the show "realism", but they just took me out of the episode. I can still see the potential of Boardwalk Empire, but the organized crime elements need to start revving up to keep me interested.


Chuck: "Chuck vs. the Suitcase"
I really haven't been on board with all of the relationship stuff that Chuck's been dealing with since the latter part of last season, so the main plot of "Suitcase" involving Sarah's inability to unpack her things didn't do much for me. Chuck's insecurity when it comes to Sarah was starting to get stale, although I loved the fact that we're learning more and more about her. For once, I actually enjoyed the Buy More B-plot where Morgan convinced Gen. Beckman to bring back Jeffster and the rest of the Morons. Also, watching Casey and Morgan connect is always magic, especially when it involves friends and family.


How I Met Your Mother: "Cleaning House"
While I still don't quite trust the HIMYM show runners, I do have to admit that I enjoyed almost all of "Cleaning House". Mother works best when it can take something mundane, like helping back up a house, and make it humorous. Last season, the show wasn't able to accomplish this task as often as I would've liked, but this week's episode felt like an old-school version of HIMYM. LAME wasn't as annoying this time around as they bickered about Santa Claus, and watching Robin and Ted's back and forth about under/overselling was worth a few laughs. I was expecting Barney's story (finding out the truth about his father) to be broad and over the top, and it was but it worked. I can't say I'm fully behind the show again, but "Cleaning House" was a good attempt at wooing me back.


Castle: "He's Dead, She's Dead"
To be honest, I can't remember much about the CoW that took place on this week's Castle other than the fact that in involved a psychic, but I did enjoy the episode. I've come to terms with the fact that the actual detective work is meaningless on Castle because the cases are just reasons for Beckett and Castle to banter and flirt. I could have cared less about who killed the victim in "He's Dead, She's Dead", but there were some great moments between the two leads. Yes, the believer vs. skeptic undertones have been done before, but it worked, and we got some cute moments (Alexander for example) to boot. Can't complain about that.


Hawaii Five-0: "Ohana"
"Ohana" had a lot of cliché action movie moments like kidnapping, shootouts, someone being dangled from a rooftop, a girl fight, and explosions. The crazy thing was, I bought into all of it. I don't see H50 as sophisticated entertainment, but so far it's been an entertaining ride with decent action, a few laughs, and Grace Park. Speaking of Park, she showed us that she's not just a smoking hottie, but she can hold her own and be badass all by herself. The scene where the three guys dressed up in their uniforms to give Kona the celebration she missed added some well-timed heart.


Glee: "Britney/Brittany"
This week, Glee was dangerously close to being the show that everyone loves to hate because "Britney/Brittany" was essentially a mash-up of Britney Spears videos with some weak "story lines" stuffed in between them. That being said, I was entertained despite the episode's shortcomings. Anytime I get to see Heater Morris dancing around in sexy outfits is a win in my book. I was also relieved that Brittany was incorporated more without being overused. As always there were some good Sue rants, and I enjoyed New Direction's version of "Toxic" even though seeing Will dancing around with his students was a little icky. Fans of Britney and Brittany probably loved this episode, but I wanted a little bit more to go along with the musical numbers.


Undercovers: "Instructions"
The second episode of NBC's Undercovers pretty much played to its strengths: it was heavy on mediocre action sequences, one-liners that landed and some that didn't, and sexy people stripping down to their undies. That was about it. While these cheap tricks work well on Hawaii Five-0, they don't work as well on Undercovers. I just found myself being bored while watching "Instructions", which was something that didn't happen while I watched "Ohana" or Nikita. As of right now, Undercovers has to be the biggest disappointment of the new season only because I was expecting so much more. Next week's episode looks promising, but I don't know how much longer I'll be sticking around.


Modern Family: "The Kiss"
Apparently, this week's Modern Family was supposed to be the big same sex kiss that people have been asking for since last season. The main plot, which focused on Mitchell's reluctance to show Cam affection in public was able to combine subtlety with outrageousness, and it also shed light on how Jay related to his kids while they were growing up. Claire's interactions with her daughters were pretty great, and Phil + technology = always funny. The best part about the episode was how the kiss between Cam and Mitchell took place in the background, which made the moment feel more organic and real instead of forced and uncomfortable. Kudos Modern Family.


The Vampire Diaries: "Memory Lane"
After three weeks of some insanity involving Katherine's return and Caroline's conversion to vampirism, this week's TVD slowed things down by giving us some Stefan/Katherine backstory. Seeing their history from Katherine's perspective was interesting, but watching her get tortured by Stefan was a little unnerving. We've been getting some great episodes focusing on Caroline, so watching her play Katherine pawn and running interference was a letdown. The Mason Lockwood/Damon rivalry storyarc needs to wrap up soon because this whole werewolves vs. vampires stuff is played out. "Memory Lane" was a decent episode, but I'm hoping for more Stefan and Caroline moments next week.


The Big Bang Theory: "The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification"
This week's Big Bang wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible either. Sheldon wanting to preserve his brilliance did seem like something he would do, but the ridiculousness was so amplified that it was hard to take the episode seriously. Despite the sheer wackiness of the story, it still had some laugh out loud moments. After three seasons, TBBT is starting to run the risk of making their characters nothing more than cartoons, which is a shame. This show has always been broad even though it's about geniuses, but at least they were somewhat realistic. Now, they're just silly and one-dimensional.


Community: "Accounting for Lawyers"
Community took a step back from winking and nodding at its audience, and actually gave us some character development. We got a little glimpse of Jeff's life before Greendale, and the person who he was, and where he wants to go. Seeing Jeff amp up his douchiness to eleven made him a little more interesting, but when he showed up at the last minute to help the Study Group during a pop & lock competition (seriously?) felt hollow. For some reason, "Lawyers" tried to be too quirky (Drew Carrey with a hole in his hand?), but these attempts weren't necessary or funny; it was weird for the sake of weird. The highlights of the episode were Annie, Troy, and Abed breaking into a layer's office and chloroforming the janitor. Comic genius! Alison Brie's quickly becoming my primary reason for watching this show, and I'd love to see a Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys type spin-off involving these three characters.


Bones: "The Couple in the Cave"
We finally met Booth's new love, Hannah, but you could tell that she's merely a bump in the road that is B&B. They're so many speed bumps and potholes on the avenue that traveling it has become jarring and a pain in the ass. What's frustrating was Hannah seemed like a good match for Seeley, and he's happy for once. But this is Bones, which means he's quickly going to realize that the excitment of being with Hannah was linked to their time in Afghanistan, and now that they're home the flame is going to fizzle. Breaking up with Hannah will make him realize that he's in love with Bones (again!), but nothing will happen. That's Season 6 of of this show. Also, the one thing that's more annoying than Brennan not knowing she's in love with Booth is watching everyone trying to convince her that she is in love with Booth. Gah! Shipper insanity aside, there were some highlights (Addison losing it, George Clooney, and of course Booth & Sweets), and I didn't totally hate this episode. I'm just tired of the relationship crap.


Nikita: "Rough Trade"
NBC's spy shows, Chuck and Undercovers, have been lacking the elements that interest me in the genre, but thankfully Nikita has been there to pick up the slack. "Rough Trade" was by no means a perfect episode of television, but it sure was entertaining. The main plot revolved around Nikita going back to her first assignment to right the wrong, so we had a glimpse of her life before going rouge as well as more information about Michael. While Nikita confronted her past, Alex had to do the same after she had a panic attack during a Division exercise and was forced to take a lesson from Amanda. I'll be all-in on this show if it becomes about Nikita seeking redemption by revisiting her past sins. It'll be like Angel but with a kick-ass Asian woman instead of a moody prettyboy.


Another week of too much TV watching. I did watch this week's Lone Star, Cougar Town, and Terriers, but I'm not invested in them enough right now to come up with witty musings to share (and I won't have to with Lone Star now that it's officially canned). There's a good chance that a few more shows will be cut from the Report Card because of sub-par episodes, but things may turn around next week.


Kristal said...

I'm loving Nikita so far. I'm definitely more invested in Nikita than Undercovers, which I'm very surprised by. I wasn't even planning on watching Nikita until I saw your positive tweets about it the night it premiered. That's one benefit of living in the Pacific Time Zone, I get some warning/news about tv shows in real time!

Marcos said...

Yeah, I'm surprised how much I'm liking Nikita and disliking Undercovers. The funny thing is the only reason I started watching Nikita is because I stated watching Vampire Diaries based on your reviews. Funny how things work out :)

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