November 20, 2011

TV Report Card: Week of November 13, 2011

Here is this week's TV Report Card:

The Walking Dead: "Chupacabra"
"Chupacarbra" was one of the quieter episodes of The Walking Dead that relied less on zombies and more on the characters trying to avoid them. For the most part, the character development worked but some missed the mark (especially Andrea's...get it?) The scenes between Rick and Shane, where they talked about why they're still looking for Sophia and comparing leadership styles, gave us some more insight into both men, but I would've preferred less exposition. On the other end of the spectrum was Daryl's external and internal struggles that he faced on his own after being thrown from a horse and getting stabbed by his own arrow. Daryl's scenes were by far the best of the episode because they were tense, introspective, and effective. Everything else that went on: Andrea's attitude, Glenn's continued fling, and Lori's situation all felt like filler, but at least we know more about Herschel.


Homeland: "The Weekend"
Wow, just wow. Homeland never ceases to amaze me, and "The Weekend" took this show and storytelling to a whole new level. Admittedly, I was a little squeamish about Carrie jumping into a tryst with Brody as a way to get information out of him and to fill a void in her own life, but I was not expecting the payoff to be coming so soon. The scene at the cabin where they just put it all out on the table was mesmerizing to say the least. Saul's road trip with Aileen was equally as gripping as he slowly chipped away at her. What was also great about this episode was that it still didn't give definite answers, and there's still a chance that someone we've met will be working with Brody's old partner. It wouldn't shock me if that person turns out to be Brody, but I hope they go in a different direction. Great stuff all around (except for the shoe-horned in Jessica and Dana scenes.)


How I Met Your Mother: "Tick, Tick, Tick"
After the first minute of this episode, I was already over it but the ending made it a teensy more tolerable. As if the ending of "Disaster Averted", Barney and Robin making out in the cab, wasn't bad enough they had to make things worse by having them sleep together thus making them both horrible people and ruining the chances that I'll ever care about them as a couple. The treatment of Robin's character also annoyed me because she's full-out unlikable at this point. That being said, I commend the show for shining a spotlight on how cruel these people can be to one another because it added an extra layer to the dynamic. Most shows wouldn't have the guts to go in that direction. As for the Ted, Marshall, Lily B-plot, it was painfully unfunny, so I'll move on.


2 Broke Girls: "And the Really Petty Cash"
I don't know what else I can write about 2 Broke Girls. Once again, it gave us an episode that was mediocre at best but not horrible enough for me to rant about it. I will say that the "will they/won't they" storyline with Max and Johnny isn't gelling for me because I don't see any sparks between them, so it all feels forced. Say what you will about Jess and Nick on New Girl, but at least I can buy them as a potential couple because they have chemistry. I can't say the same about Max and Johnny. Also having Max and Caroline cater at an art gallery that Johnny's girlfriend was at felt contrived, and I cannot for the life of me remember what Caroline contributed to this episode. As always, 2 Broke Girls was inoffensive but not very funny.


Glee: "Mash Off"
I know that I don't say this enough, but I really did not care for "Mash Off." Every story that annoys was on display from Quinn's quest to steal Beth back to Sue's silly campaign for Congress. Like I mentioned in my initial review, watching Glee felt like a chore for the first time ever. Add to the mix that watching Santana and Finn verbally attack each other for the entire episode, and the latter outing the former, made for an uncomfortable viewing experience. There's no doubt that Naya Rivera acted the heck out of those scenes, but I couldn't help but be upset by the treatment of Finn's character. Stupid plot lines, anger inducing scenes, and adequate but not great mash-ups made for a weak episode of Glee.


New Girl: "Thanksgiving"
I've come to the defense of New Girl because I still like Jess and the show, but for the first time I understood where the critics were coming from. I was not a fan of Justin Long's guest spot as Paul because his schtick wore out its welcome fast, so now I can see how some people can tire of Jess because he was just the male version of her character. Thankfully (see what I did there?), Schmidt and CeCe were able to salvage the episode with his cooking control issues and her need to set him off because it got her all excited. "Thanksgiving" was probably a better overall episode of New Girl, but Paul's involvement wasn't doing it for me. That being said, it was still pretty funny.


Sons of Anarchy: "Call of Duty"
Following up "Hands" was already a tall order, so the next episode had to really bring it, but unfortunately "Call of Duty" was too preoccupied with throwing in too many plot lines instead of capitalizing on what was done before it. For example, why did Wendy need to show up out of nowhere? Do we really need to go back to Charming Heights? Even though there was too much going on in "Call of Duty", it did have some strong moments like everything that involved Juice and Opie. I'm still hooked and excited to see how the season's end, but "Call of Duty" slowed down the momentum that was built during "Hands."


Up All Night: "Hiring and Firing"
Honestly, I was only half-watching "Hiring and Firing," so this review may not be fair, but I was underwhelmed by what I can remember from the episode. I'm still not a fan of the workplace environment, so having Reagan spend most of her time there didn't win me over, but Missy's meltdowns were humorous. Also, Chris didn't make me laugh out loud like he usually does but that probably has more to do with the fact that I couldn't relate to his story. I was glad to see him take another approach to the hot babysitter cliché though. Last week's episode showed the promise of what this show could be, but "Hiring and Firing" turned it back into a muddled half-hour of TV.


Modern Family: "After the Fire"
Modern Family usually works best when episodes have the entire cast together, and it only sometimes clicks when they're broken up into smaller groups. "After the Fire" tried to do both but ended up being more of the latter. At least this time around we got to see different combinations. The Claire/Gloria/Mitchell story about Claire's jealousy over Gloria and Mitch's friendship didn't quite land and was uncomfortable to watch. I couldn't tell you what went on during Luke and Manny's scenes, but I did like seeing Alex and Haley paired up with Cam. By far the best moments belonged to Jay and Phil, which is usually the case, and that final scene where they talked about Phil's future was a nice way to tie up the episode.


Happy Endings: "The Code War"
I've spent a lot of time praising Happy Endings, so I don't want to rehash too much, but I'm confident in saying that it's my new favorite comedy. "The Code War" was a great example of what this show does well (rapid fire jokes, great chemistry, and fun attitude), and I suggest that those who have been thinking about checking this show out start with this one. Alex's crush on Max took the gold medal due to Elisha Cuthbert's commitment to the new direction of her character, but the Max/Dave and Jane/Brad plots were a close second and third. Unfortunately, Penny kind of wandered in and out of everyone else's stories, but Casey Wilson was still brilliant.


Community: "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux"
"Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" was a good example of why Community is so great, but also of why it will always be problematic. After NBC benched it, the show's band of rebels started a "Save Our Show" campaign, but this was not the episode to attract new viewers because it was pop culture heavy, obscure, and didn't highlight the main characters enough. That being said, "Redux" had some great moments like Jeff Winger's take on Dean Pelton, Britta and Troy shipper goodness, Annie melting down, and Abed's classic meta moments. Not everything worked, but it was still a solid episode of Community...just not an accessible one.


Chuck: "Chuck vs. the Business Trip"
I thought that "Chuck vs. the Business Trip" was a decent episode of Chuck, but for some reason it fell short of my expectations. I'm always a fan of this show when it goes full nerd, so all of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones references were nice touches, and I'm never going to complain when a character like Sarah gets more depth. I liked a lot about "Business Trip," but it didn't feel like the greater story went anywhere. There were a few plot points that moved the narrative forward, but just not enough for my liking. You add a mediocre Buy More B-plot and a shoe-horned story about Ellie, and "Business Trip" ended up not being as good as it could have been.


Nikita: "Fair Trade"
Season 2 of Nikita has been humming along nicely, and "Fair Trade" was probably the best episode of the bunch. Now that Micheal has left the group to spend time with his new family, the plot moved back to Oversight, and watching Nikita struggle without him around was both interesting and sad to watch. I was also glad to see that Birkhoff had more of a storyline, even if it involved him being tortured by Amanda, and those scenes were great for both characters. What was even better was I'm not quite sure if Birkhoff's still 100% committed to Nikita's quest, so I'm excited to see if that leads to anything. I'm still not invested in Alex's mission for revenge or her potential relationship with Sean, so I was taken out of the episode every time it shifted to her, but it was an excuse of have Lyndsy Fonseca dance around a stripper pole so there was that.


Grimm: "Lonelyhearts"
With my Portland biases put aside (although this was a great episode that featured the city), I started warming up the Grimm after "Lonelyhearts." As always, I'll preface this blurb by saying that it's still not a good show, but I see promise week in and week out. This time around, I thought Grimm really bumped up the creepiness factor with this week's monster (a goat like demon who ate toads and kidnapped women), and it also continued to build the world with the return of the Reapers and their ties to Nick's boss. My only real complaint was it took way to long for Monroe to be given something to do, but of course he brought the much needed humor once he showed up.


Supernatural: "How To Win Friends and Influence Monsters"
I don't know why, but I'm not feeling this season of Supernatural. This week's episode marked the second in a row that didn't entertain me. Maybe it's because I do not care about the Leviathan as the big bad or because I just didn't like this week's episode, but something's been off. Admittedly, there were some good Bobby moments, and we got one heck of a cliffhanger, but it wasn't enough to make up for the rest of the episode.


Overall, a pretty decent week of TV with the exception of a few duds. With Thanksgiving coming up, I'm not sure how many shows will be new, so we might be in store for an abbreviated version of the Report Card, but keep checking back.


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