November 13, 2011

TV Report Card: Week of November 6, 2011

With ABC's Wednesday night shows (the best night of TV in my opinion) taking a backseat to country music, this week's TV Report Card is lighter than usual, but here it is anyway:

The Walking Dead: "Cherokee Rose"
So, it looks like The Walking Dead is starting to establish a pattern where it alternates between a zombie-heavy episode and a more character based one. Last week's "Save the Last One" focused a lot on Shane's actions while trying to get away from a zombie herd, while "Cherokee Rose" took a look at the aftermath. It also gave some other characters some time to shine specifically Glenn, and while I'm all for my boy getting some loving, I was a little bummed by Maggie's reasoning although it was probably just classic defense mechanisms at play. Even Daryl was given some great moments that has given the character more depth and color, so kudos for that. There were a few negatives though like the asinine plan to get the floater out of the well, and it felt like this was a very wordy episode where everyone had to wax about issues like God, faith, and killing. These quiter moments can excel and take this show to a higher level, but they cannot drag down the storytelling either, and the writers haven't found the balance, but they're getting closer.


Homeland: "The Good Soldier"
"The Good Soldier" continued to throw twists, turns, and questions the audience's way and so far I'm digging it. While I think there were a bit too many red herrings being set up, especially the polygraph and video tape scenes, I'm still enthralled by the character moments. While watching Carrie and Brody fall into the backseat of her car together was slightly cringe-worthy, it worked from a narrative and character stand point so I was OK with it. Plus, it led to that chilling final scene where Brody proved that he could throw off a lie-detector. Craziness. I wasn't as fond of the couple on the run moments, but that had more to do with their just plot devices at this point, but it looks like that's about to change.


How I Met Your Mother: "Disaster Averted"
Based on the feedback I've been reading about this episode, most people liked "Disaster Averted" and I cannot figure out why. Sure, it wasn't as bad as some of the previous episodes, but it wasn't good either. Ted was annoying, Lily and Marshall were annoying, Robin was annoying, the "so, boogie boarding" gag was annoying, the bears were annoying. Get the picture? Now, I'll give it some credit. I'm always a fan when Barney and Marshall get a storyline together even if the Slap Bet has worn out its welcome, and I actually found myself liking Kevin. Too bad he was not meant to be significant. On that note, I'm just going to skip over that last scene. What it comes down to is "Disaster Averted" was not classic-HIMYM, it was just a less bad version of what the show has become.


2 Broke Girls: "And Hoarder Culture"
I think I'm at my breaking point with 2 Broke Girls. "And Hoarder Culture" wasn't inherently a bad episode of television, but it wasn't a particularly a funny one either. The jokes are still a little too low-brow for my liking, last week's vagina jokes were replaced with 69 and penis jokes, and the supporting characters are still too one-dimensional. And are hoarders that fascinating? I don't get it. It seems like I have the same complaints week in and week out about this show, which makes me wonder why I keep watching. Admittedly, it's out of habit but I shouldn't be wasting the amount of time on it that I do. Part of me thinks I should remove it from the Report Card, but I have a feeling I'll be back next week bitching about all of the menstruation jokes that Max thought were so witty.


Castle: "Heartbreak Hotel"
For the second week in a row, Castle gave us an episode that broke away from its usual form, but it didn't work as well as "Cops & Robbers." Having Kate and Rick split up while he accompanied Ryan and Esposito to New Jersey to solve the murder of a casino owner was a decent change up because it allowed us to see the boys bond some more while we got to see Kate being a little less inhibited about her feelings for him because he wasn't around. The actual Case-of-the-Week was kind of cliche, and I'm still not loving what they're doing with Alexis, but "Heartbreak Hotel" was not the worst episode of Castle just wasn't one of its best. Seeing the boys dressed up as Elvis (Elvez!) was worth some serious laughs though.


Glee: "The First Time"
I'll admit that I was leery when I heard that Glee was going to address teenage sexuality because this show can be either too preachy or drop the ball completely when it comes to hot button topics. Overall, I thought that "The First Time" was a respectful, honest, and intimate look at how some teens handle sex, and it laid the foundation for some potentially interesting story lines. The way West Side Story was incorporated into the main narrative was also a nice touch. I would've liked the episode to be a little bit lighter in tone, and some of the other plot points like the ones that involved Artie and Mike didn't quite land, but it was not a horrible episode. At the end of the day, that's all I really ask from this show.


New Girl: "Cece Crashes"
"Cece Crashes" was not a particularly original episode, and it relied too much on the "will they/won't they" between Jess and Nick, but I pretty much laughed the entire time. I wouldn't mind the WTWT stuff if it was more subtle, but the writers have been telegraphing this pairing since episode 2, and I'm already finding it stale. That said, I find the two cute when they're awkwardly navigating their situation. Silly romance aside, the highlight of "Cece Crashes" was Schmidt as he pulled out all of the stops to impress Jess' friend Cece who crashed with the roommates. Some of the things he said and did were just so nuts that I couldn't help but be amused. I don't know if he can maintain this level of zaniness without becoming annoying, but so far I'm digging him.


Sons of Anarchy: "Hands"
Even though there are still a few more episodes to go in Season 4, it felt like everything was leading up to "Hands." We finally got to see how Clay's greed and ambition impacted her family, and made him the ultimate villain. It was hard to watch the scenes between Clay and Gemma, but they were captivating as were the moments between Jax and Tara. Even Juice's season-long story arc started to make more and more sense, so it's easy to say that "Hands" was one of this show's best outings to date.


Up All Night: "First Night Away"
I've ragged on Up All Night for its two-shows-in-one formula because I just do not find the workplace scenes funny, and that's mostly due to Maya Rudolph's character. So, when it became obvious that "First Night Away" was going to try to combine the work world and the baby world, I was skeptical. Thankfully, it was a pretty funny episode thanks to more Chris than last week and Ava becoming an actual character. Her moments with Amy and Kevin were silly but fun, and the Brinkley's night away was worth a few solid laughs, so it was a nice rebound after last week's "Parents", so I can't really complain.


Community: "Studies in Modern Movement"
On the recent episode of "The Small Screen Podcast", I talked about how Community tries to be everything to everyone. Some episodes are high-concept to appease the die-hard fans who want to believe that it's the greatest show ever, and there are some that are a little bit more mainstream for those who want to like this show but can be put off by it. In my opinion, "Studies in Modern Movement" was one of the latter versions and one of the better outings of the season. The reason I liked "Modern Movement" so much was because it focused mostly on the characters and not on gimmicks. Yes, there were still some goofier moments that have become this show's trademark style, but it was just nice to see these characters grow and relate to one another instead of seeing them in some forced pop-culture heavy situation. I can respect it when Community wants to go big, but these smaller episodes tend to entertain me more.


The Vampire Diaries: "Homecoming"
Part of me thinks I should've liked "Homecoming" more than I actually did. Sure, it had a lot of twists and turns, and the obligatory mid-season cliffhanger, and maybe that's why I didn't love it because we've seen these tricks before. I'm still liking Stefan as a dick, and I'm glad that Katherine's still around, but what was the point of Mikael? Was he seriously brought in just to give Klaus daddy issues? So much for being the big, bad vampire hunter. Admittedly, I'm excited to see where the rest of the season goes from here, but I just wish they'd pulled out some new tricks this time around.

Chuck: "Chuck vs. The Frosted Tips"
"Chuck vs. the Frosted Tips" isn't going to be on anyone's list of the Greatest Episodes of Chuck, but it was one of the better installments of the still young fifth season. I still didn't enjoy watching Morgan even if they did explain why he was being such a jerk, but I'm hoping that him as the Intersect is coming to a close sooner than later. What made "Frost Tips" work was the camaraderie of Chuck, Sarah, and Casey as they had to deal with Morgan's defection, and it was also a good vehicle for Casey as we got to see some of his softer sides. Again, not one of Chuck's best outings, but still good enough to keep me excited about where this season is going.


Nikita: "London Calling"
After a Division/Oversight heavy episode last week, "London Calling" went back to the season's second major arc: Michael and Nikita's relationship and how it's impacted by his unknown son. I'm still not quite on board with the idea of Michael having a son, but I did like how they ended the episode with Nikita pretty much breaking it off with him because she knew he'd be drawn back to his new family. The idea of Mikita splitting up doesn't phase me because I don't watch for the ship, but I did like them as a couple. The Alex/Sean stuff hasn't really clicked for me, but I did like it how Percy continued to pull her strings, and I'm interested to see how Sean's seduction of Alex to save his mother will pan out. "London Calling" had enough twists and action to keep me intrigued, but it wasn't the season's best offering.


Grimm: "Beeware"
I'm going to say it again, Grimm is by no means a good show yet, but I can see little glimpses of a show that could be good someday. "Beeware" still had a Monster-of-the-Week structure, but it also continued to tell the more serialized story that underlines the cop procedural elements. We got more information about Grimms and how there are forces out to get them, and we came back to the police captain and his blond accomplice. Another plus was how the show is trying to make Portland a character unto itself which made me miss PDX even more, but also made me respect what Grimm's trying to accomplish a little bit more as well. "Beeware" created more questions than answers, but that's to be expected, and so far it's kind of interesting.


Supernatural: "Season 7, Time For a Wedding!"
Maybe it's because I wasn't feeling well, or maybe it's because I'm buying all of the online criticism that talks about how Supernatural is no longer good, but I did not find "Season 7, Time For a Wedding!" entertaining. Usually, Supernatural hits these meta-heavy episodes that focus on the fact that it's a television show out of the park, but this one was a miss. It wasn't funny, it felt like something we've seen before, and it didn't push the larger story forward. All in all, "Time For a Wedding" was a waste of time, but at least it wasn't horrible. Oh, and I'm always for bringing Mark A. Sheppard back, so it had that going for it...


I should consider axing How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls altogether, but knowing me I'll probably keep them around for now because I still believe that they can rebound. Plus, I don't know what I'd replace them with.


Anonymous said...

Up all night: I do find it funny sometimes but I can't stand Christina Applegate's character, which is strange because I really enjoyed her in Samantha Who? It's just that a character that has so much going for her should be able to be cooler and poke more fun at herself, but it's unsympathetic how they make her so desperate and overcompensating (to have a hot sex life or party hard despite having a small baby, to prove that she has a terrible mom, to impress the babies playgroup moms etc). I would laugh with the character if she was laughing more at herself.

Marcos said...

Yeah, Reagan can be somewhat problematic but not as much as Ava in my opinion. It's a moot point for me though because I pretty much only watch for Will Arnett at this point. Thanks for commenting!

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