October 23, 2011

TV Report Card: Week of October 16, 2011

This week's TV Report Card is a little lighter than usual since I missed Suburgatory (and haven't made the time to catch up), and was so bored with American Horror Story that I ended up cleaning my bathroom, so they're not listed. Other than that, here is this week's TV Report Card:

The Walking Dead: "What Lies Ahead"
Season 1 of AMC's The Walking Dead was a nice little appetizer before the main course that is Season 2. Now that we're getting a full season's worth of stories, we'll finally get to see what this show has to offer, and if the rest of the episodes are as good as "What Lies Ahead", then we're in for a crazy tense time. The Walking Dead's at its best when it focuses on the survivors dealing with the zombies, so the opening sequence in the traffic jam was brilliant. After that scene, the episode started to drag mostly because the characters still need some development, but it still had some memorable moments like Rick and Daryl gutting a walker and the big twist ending.


Homeland: "Clean Skin"
Right now, Homeland is still slowly burning, but what I started to notice is the spy/terrorist/traitor aspects of the show's premise have taken a backseat to the more human relationship moments. As a viewer, I find myself being more enthralled by watching Brody re-enter his family's life and the drama and tension that's caused by his presence. For example, it would be easy for people to dislike Jessica for starting a relationship with her husband's close friend, but we need to remember that she was moving on, and she started a new life as a widow, mother, and woman. Now that Brody's back, she doesn't know how she fits into her own life. That's way more gripping than watching torture scenes. As for the spy stuff, who didn't see Lynne's death a mile away? It was so telegraphed that I knew she wasn't long for this world when she showed up in the last episode. I'm going to give the terrorist plot some time to gel, but it's not doing it for me now, so I'm glad there's enough interpersonal drama to keep me interested.


How I Met Your Mother: "Mystery vs. History"
I've been hard on How I Met Your Mother over the years, but for the first time I actually felt hatred towards the show. "Mystery vs. History" had zero redeemable qualities, and I didn't laugh once. Barney & Robin's cyber stalking didn't work. Marshall & Lily's struggle over finding out the sex of their baby didn't work. Ted feeling inadequate on his date didn't work. The examples of the gang's dysfunctional tendencies didn't work. The texting gag didn't work. Oddly enough, the only element that almost worked was Kal Penn mostly because he played the outsider role so well and was good at pointing out how unhealthy these five really are. Oh, and it was nice having Greek's Amber Stevens back on TV. Too bad she was wasted.


2 Broke Girls: "And the 90's Horse Party"
Even though I've been let down by CBS' 2 Broke Girls, I keep coming back with hopes that it will finally live up to its promise. Mostly, "And the 90's Horse Party" failed to win me over because it still relied on broad jokes, unfunny stereotypes, and some risque humor (which I'm both impressed and turned off by). The episode's only real bright spot occurred when the very one-dimensional diner manager and the token black guy got some character growth. They're still cardboard cut-outs, but at least they're trying to give them some depth. With a disappointing How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls, I'm close to giving up on CBS Mondays. The Sing-Off, here I come.


Castle: "Eye of the Beholder"
So far Season 4 of Castle has been mostly miss because it stopped focusing on Castle and Beckett, and the humor has been toned down. Luckily, "Eye of the Beholder" felt like a return to form. I'm glad that the show is back to addressing the feelings that Rick and Kate have for one another, but I wasn't a big fan of yet another woman being thrown in between the two of them. What's even more frustrating is the fact that every one of Castle's would be suitors go out of their way to tell him that Kate's in to him yet he still does nothing about it. Get on with it already! Minor annoyances aside, "Eye of the Beholder" was a solid episode.


Sons of Anarchy: "Fruit for the Crows"
Since Glee is gone til November, I've decided to put Sons back into the TV Report Card rotation. Season 4 had a slow start, but the last couple of episodes have really amped up the tension and drama between the Sons, which has been more intriguing than all of the drug cartel business. Everything involving Jax and Tara fell a little flat this week, but I am still enjoying Juice's arc even though people still aren't buying it. Yes, it's a little confusing and I can see how it doesn't make sense to some, but I still think its been some of the most effective storytelling this show has given us. And that twist at the end! Good stuff.


Up All Night: "Birth"
"Birth" was an odd episode because it was a flashback without the actual flashback. I have to give the show respect for doing things slightly different, but overall the episode was not that great. Sure, it was novel seeing Reagan and Chris prepare for the birth of their child, but their story relied way too much on standard labor jokes that we've seen millions of times before (her wanting a natural child birth, forgetting the bag, pooping). Plus, we got more annoying Ava scenes. It all felt repetitive and worn out, and it didn't add up to that great of an episode.


Modern Family: "Go Bullfrogs!"
I'm going to sound like a broken record again because only a third of this week's episode was funny. At this point, I think I'm only watching for Phil and the Dunphy kids because even Claire has become a difficult character to watch, which is a shame since she used to be one of my favorites. Watching Cam and Mitchell whine about the slower pace of their new lives got old fast, and I cannot think of one redeemable quality of the whole Jay/Gloria/Manny sub-plot. By far the best part of "Go, Bullfrogs!" was seeing Phil and Haley touring his college alma mater because it had the right mix of funny and sweet.


Happy Endings: "Secrets and Limos"
I know that Happy Endings is not for everyone (that can be said for every show), but so far Season 2 has been clicking. "Secrets and Limos" had the show's trademark mediocre story ideas that were made better by the rapid fire jokes. Out of all of the sub-plots, I liked the one about Jane and Penny's vision board because watching Jane try to be the universe was true to her character and worth a lot of laughs. Max, Brad, and Brad's Boss was a distant second, but still good. I even liked the C-plot about Dave's girlfriend because it allowed us to experience more of this group's dynamics. Right now, Happy Endings isn't as hip as Community or as zany as Cougar Town, but it's starting to surpass both of them to become one of my favorite comedies on television.


The Vampire Diaries: "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Up until last week, I had forgotten that everyone was still in high school and honestly I would have been happy if they never stepped foot in Mystic Falls High ever again because the teen angst component of TVD can be hit or miss. Seeing everyone in class or practicing cheers didn't add anything to the bigger arcs that have been established, and it felt like unnecessary. That being said, "Teen Spirit" did have the patented Vampire Diaries twists and turns. I'm still liking Dark Stefan, and seeing him tormenting Elena was oddly satisfying. On the other hand, I'm not sure how I feel about Elena the Vampire Slayer. In other goings on: Tyler's new role as Klaus' new sire also has a ton of potential, I wanted more out of the Vikki/Matt/Anna/Jeremy story, and I'm genuinely upset about what happened to Katherine. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" wasn't as strong as last week's "Reckoning", but there was still enough craziness to keep me entertained.


Nikita: "Looking Glass"
Much like last week's "Partners", "Looking Glass" was a look at a character's former life as a part of Division and a clue to why they do what they do. This time around we got a glimpse of Michael's former life before he bolted with Nikita. While I really wasn't a big fan of Nikita's jealousy or the reveal that Michael has an illegitimate son with the wife of the fake President of Belarus, I did like most of the episode. Getting to see more of Michael's human side's always a plus, and I like how Alex's story didn't intersect Nikita's. And what's going on with Percy? All in all, "Looking Glass" was a decent stand alone episode.


Supernatural: "Shut Up, Dr. Phil"
This week's Supernatural was supposed to be this big Buffy reunion since Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters guest starred, but it was much ado about nothing. It was fun seeing Cordelia and Spike back together on screen, but their roles as married witches didn't do anything for me especially since there was a lack of winks and nods about their former roles. Also, I don't know why they tried to shoe-horn in the Leviathan because it really didn't do much besides remind us that it's supposed to be this season's Big Bad. Amongst all of the boring stuff, I'm still glad that Dean's suffering due to his actions, and I'm still excited to see the fallout.


Next week, I may or may not add ABC's Once Upon a Time, but Chuck will definitely be back after its Season 5 premiere!


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