October 15, 2011

TV Report Card: Week of October 9, 2011

Things started of a little slow due to some sub-par outings, but things picked up by the end of the week. Let's stop wasting time; here is this week's TV Report Card:

Homeland: "Grace"
Showtime's Homeland continued to slowly build its world, and episode two focused mostly on Brody and Mathison. The show clearly wants to show the audience how their lives parallel one another. Both have inner demons that they're trying to keep at bay, but doing so disturbs their relationships with those close to them. It's not a new concept, but so far it's been told in an effective way which I appreciate. I'm also a fan of the curve balls that are constantly being thrown our way, like what Brody was doing in the garage, because it keeps the audience guessing. I just hope we don't get too many red herrings though. We all remember what happened to The Killing...


How I Met Your Mother: "Field Trip"
"Field Trip" was not as bad as some of HIMYM's other flops, but it wasn't necessarily a good episode either. First off, I've never been a big fan of Professor Mosby because he's an example of the character at his most annoying. Ted's need to be the cool teacher always comes off as needy and pathetic, so his entire field trip story didn't do anything for me. Also, I'm not seeing the chemistry between Robin and her shrink, but it's not like this relationship is going to add up to anything anyway so why bother. While I can relate to Marshall's turbulent work situation, I'm kind of getting tired of him going back and forth on his jobs. The only saving grace, Barney and his slide shows and pollstering.


2 Broke Girls: "And the Rich People Problems"
Earlier, I wrote about how so far 2 Broke Girls has been a disappointment, and it's mostly because of yet another less than stellar episode. I'll admit that it was novel getting a glimpse of Caroline's life before she met Max, and the writers are slowly making the two leads believable as friends, but most of this episode wasn't funny. I don't need to see any more of the diner, and perpetuating the Asian stereotype involving karaoke felt like a joke from the late 80's, but this is CBS where broad comedy reigns supreme. I really wanted to like this one, but it just keeps missing the mark.


Castle: "Kick the Ballistics"
Another show that hasn't been bringing its A-game has been ABC's Castle. I've been a big fan since day one, so it pains me to say that so far Season 4 hasn't been the show's best. It feels like they're toning down the Castle and Beckett chemistry, and there's also been a lack of humor. This week's Ryan-centric episode should have been one of the show better outings, but the return of the 3XK mystery took it down a darker path which wouldn't have been a horrible thing except for the lack of lighter moments. Castle's still one of my favorite shows on the air; I just hope it can find its spark again.


Up All Night: "Mr. Bob's Toddler Kaleidoscope"
I know that I'm not saying anything new, but the "two shows in one" structure of Up All Night has been one of its weaknesses mostly because I cannot muster any emotions whenever Ava shows up on the screen, but "Mr. Bob's Toddler Kaleidoscope" proved that the chasm between the family and the workplace moments can be bridged. We've seen Reagan in both environments, but we've rarely seen the two worlds mingle or how her home life has impacted her work life/relationship with Ava. It was obvious from the jump that Ava doesn't grasp parenthood which has been used for cheap gags, but we finally saw how the evolution of her friend has affected her emotionally which was a nice shake up. And as always, Chris was by far the best part of the episode. I'm so thankful for Will Arnet...I never thought I'd say that before.


Suburgatory: "The Chatterer"
I'm starting to think that the shine is starting to come off of the Suburgatory apple. This week's "The Chatterer" had a few humorous moments, but nothing about the episode as a whole jumped out at me. I get that this show is also supposed to be about George's transition to suburban life, but I found myself uninterested whenever Tessa was not on screen, and when she was her B-plot about turning the school news paper into a gossip rag didn't ring true to me. She seems like the kind of person who would avoid schoolyard slander instead of promoting it. I am intrigued by Malik's character though, so I'm hopeful. Three episodes in, and I'm entertained by Suburgatory, but maybe not enough to dedicate too much time to it.


Modern Family: "Hit and Run"
There are some days when I wonder why Modern Family is so popular, and I had one of those moments after watching "Hit and Run". I've shared my love for the Dunphys many a time, and they're the reason I stick around, but even tonight's Claire-centric episode fell a little flat. Usually, I'm a fan of Claire's but the show's really pushing her towards the annoying shrew end of the spectrum, and this is the side of the character that I'm not a fan of. Add that to the fact that there was WAY too much Gloria, and "Hit and Run" ended up being hit or miss. Luckily, the boys saved the day both literally and figuratively, and we need more story lines that focus on them as a unit.


Happy Endings: "Yesandwitch"
ABC's Happy Endings is one of those shows that doesn't relay too heavily on plot but rather on the chemistry of the cast and the strength of their jokes. We obviously get stories every time, but they're not what's memorable. "Yesandwitch" had a decent A and B-plot, Penny's mom and Max's tour limo, but they were just devices that delivered hilarious moments that involved couples improv, sing fighting, and Dave getting in touch with his 1/16th Navajo roots. Megan Mullally was great as Penny's mom, and the chemistry between her and Casey Wilson was infectious. My only quibble was Max came off as a whiny d-bag, which should usually work, but his anger towards tourists got old fast. Best Throw-Away Joke of the Night: The dueling Kennedys.


American Horror Story: "Home Invasion"
AHS was still a hot mess, but I still had to watch it the entire way through. I'm still not sure how it's supposed to be scary, and this week's home invasion gimmick was only a reminder of how "horror" has morphed into torture porn. I'm sorry, but watching psychopaths tie up and threaten to kill people can be disturbing but not "scary" in the traditional sense. Maybe AHS isn't trying to be "traditional", and I wouldn't even mind the randomness of it all if I could understand what the show is trying to say or if it's entertaining at the very least. It's just too bad that it's not.


The Vampire Diaries: "The Reckoning"
I don't know if The Vampire Diaries knows how to let up because we got another jam-packed episode that flowed well and didn't feel to crammed. What I do know is if you want to watch a show with real thrills, then you gotta check out TVD instead of AHS. At the start of the season, I enjoyed Klaus' campiness but never really saw him as the Big Bad until "The Reckoning" but I think that has to do with the fact that he finally unleashed Stefan on Elena AND turned Tyler into his first hybrid. Things are finally coming together. I was even on board the the mushy relationship stuff like Damon and Elena, and Caroline and Tyler. Also, was I the only one who thought Matt and Bonnie should give it a go? OK, I'm off track now. Overall, another solid episode of The Vampire Diaries.


Community: "Remedial Chaos Theory"
This season of Community has given me plenty reasons to doubt it, but "Remedial Chaos Theory" gave me seven reasons to believe in the show again. The multiple time lines gimmick has to be one of my favorites because it's supposed to be out of the ordinary and trippy which made this one of the most honest and real episodes of Community. Every alternate version of reality had its share of awesome moments, but the take away for me was the concept that Jeff is bad for the group while Troy is the glue that makes the group work. They've been tinkering with a Jeff vs. Troy showdown for some time now, and I'm genuinely intrigued to see if they give us a payoff. Other interesting ideas: finally putting Troy and Britta together and Troy, Abed, and Annie becoming the threesome that could carry this show in future (hypothetical) season.


Nikita: "Partners"
This week viewers got some more insight about Nikita's past as we saw how she escaped from Division and how her actions impacted her previous partner, which in turn helped us understand her relationships with Alex and Michael. I'm always a fan of backstory episodes, so I liked most of "Partners" with the exception of the stuff involving Nikita's old partner. Most of it felt a little stale, but I was interested to see the strained bond between Alex and Nikita, and how it will affect the former's mission and life.


Supernatural: "Defending Your Life"
The end of "The Girl Next Door" introduced a doozy of a twist, Dean going behind Sam's back to kill Amy, and I was excited to see how the act would affect the brothers. The thing is, I wasn't expecting the ramifications to start so soon since Dean's actions were already being addressed in "Defending Your Life". Watching Dean have to atone for his past sins was gripping stuff, and I'm always in favor of Jo being brought back, but I still think they went to the "Dean killed Amy" well a little too soon. I'm just glad Sam didn't find out because seeing Dean agonize over what he did will make for some good television.


Next week, The Walking Dead will be added to the line-up, and we'll have to see if any shows get axed (I'm looking at you 2 Broke Girls).


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