January 8, 2012

TV Report Card: Week of January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first TV Report Card of 2012. While not every show was back from hiatus, there was a lot of stuff going on this week, so here is this week's TV Report Card:

Leverage: "The Gold Job"
Leverage continued its streak of standalone episodes that were fun to watch but not much else. I will give "The Gold Job" some credit because it finally started building off of an idea that the show planted in earlier seasons which was Hardison being groomed to either take over the Crew or to start his own one day. From the very beginning, Hardison has been Nate's padawan, but that's an aspect of the show that has been lost in the shuffle, and I for one was glad to have it back. Of course Hardison's plan was not going to work, but that wasn't the point of the episode. The point was to show that Nate does care about his Crew, and that he has a vested interest in them. What I also liked about "The Gold Job" was the fact that Portland was actually Portland this time around, and I loved how they incorporated some important cultural landmarks like Voodoo Donuts and the shanghai tunnels. "The Gold Job" was a game-changer, but it was good enough to keep me entertained.


How I Met Your Mother: "Tailgate"
To me, "Tailgate" felt like an apology letter from Craig Thomas and Carter Bays. After some missteps (let's be honest, that's being nice), the creators wanted to remind the fans of what the show used to be. Remember when Ted and Barney wanted to open their own bar, or how Marshall used to be into mythological creatures, or how we're supposed to care about Lily, or how Robin used to have an actual job? Just in case you forgot, here they all are in a 30-minute episode. Now, HIMYM loves its callbacks, so we shouldn't be shocked that they pulled out yet another tried trick from their bag, and Marshall's narration was pointless, but I did like how his and Lily's stories wrapped up. Unfortunately, this show has made me dislike Robin so much over the last couple of years that I'm totally disinterested in her big comeback.


2 Broke Girls: "And the Secret Ingredient"
It finally happened. 2 Broke Girls has become unwatchable, and I'm probably going to wash my hands of it after watching "And the Secret Ingredient." First off, this show has succumbed to the most obvious comedy crutches which is repetition. This show loves to take slightly uncomfortable words and say them a billion times in a short amount of time. It started with "vagina," and this week's secret word was "tampon." Now, I'm not a prudish enough to be offended by these terms, but the fact that the writers feel that saying them over and over again is lazy and insulting, and Max's point that Han was exploiting female customers fell on def ears because I had mine plugged so I didn't have to hear "tampon" again. Caroline's newfound obsession with extreme couponing was just as bad as the one Max had with hoarding, and what was even worse was the forced story about how Max had a crummy mother. Oh, and they brought back that stupid horse. It's also a bad sign when Oleg gets the biggest laugh ... for the second episode in a row. I don't know how much more of this I can take.


Modern Family: "Lifetime Supply"
Modern Family's back for 2012, and unfortunately the new year does not mean new ideas. "Lifetime Supply" was one of the weakest episodes of Modern Family to date, and I can only remember laughing a handful of times. Usually, I'm a big fan of Phil, and while I thought he was still one of the stronger players, I didn't find his freak out over his doctor's appointment as entertaining as it should've been, and the fact that Gloria was wrangled into it didn't help. At this point, I'm over Cam and Mitchell because their relationship has hit a standstill, and their petty bickering was a waste of time although I'm still a fan of the combination of Mitchell and Alex. I'm not even going to waste my time on the Jay/Manny/Benjamin Bratt plot. I'm still trying to remember why this is the best comedy on television today.


Happy Endings: "The Shrink, the Dare, Her Date and Her Brother"
My new favorite comedy hit a lull towards the end of 2011, but it rebounded fairly well with "The Shrink, the Dare, Her Date and Her Brother." It still wasn't the best episode of the season, but I enjoyed watching Jane and Max's insane bet for the physical comedy alone. I was also glad that we got a new pairing with Brad and Alex, and I hope to see more of this duo in the future. I know that most fans did not see the twist with Penny and Dave coming, and I'm not sure how serious the writers are about these two, but I can remember seeing glimpses of chemistry when they were coupled up in previous episodes, and I'm not hating this idea even though I don't see it going anywhere meaningful. Overall, a pretty fun one from Happy Endings and almost a return to form.


The Vampire Diaries: "The New Deal"
I know that this is going to sound wrong, but The Vampire Diaries started to run out of steam towards the end of first half of Season 3. There were still some good twists and turns, but "Homecoming" wasn't as strong of a mid-season finale as I wanted, so I came into "The New Deal" on the defensive. While I thought it was a good episode, I wasn't blown away by it, but I'm glad that Damon finally grew a set of stones and planted one on Elena. I'm still not on board with a potential romance between the two of them per se, but I was just happy that there was some forward momentum. On the other hand, I don't know how I feel about them compelling Jeremy again, and I'm kind of over Klaus now that he's been strapped with all of these family issues. TVD is still one of the best shows on television today, but it does need to amp up its game in order to stay on top.


Chuck: "Chuck vs. the Kept Man"
I'm going to come clean and admit that I didn't love "Chuck vs. the Kept Man," which is odd since I'm usually a fan of Sarah and Casey-centric episodes. While I enjoyed most of the Casey and Gertrude moments, I was really put off by Chuck's cocky attitude and overabundant need to use the word "care," and I also wasn't 100% on board with the idea of Sarah being pregnant. Yes, I get that part of this show's appeal is watching these extraordinary people deal with seemingly normal issues, but for some reason her storyline felt forced. Oddly enough, the one aspect I found myself enjoying was the Buy Moron B-plot which hardly ever happens. I don't think anything will substantially change now that Jeff and Lester have peeked behind the curtain, but it was a nice diversion.


Nikita: "Pale Fire"
I know that the last time Nikita was on a Report Card I didn't want to waste too much time on Alex's quest for revenge and how it's been the weakest link of Season 2, but I don't have that luxury this time around. As you can probably tell, I was not too high on the developments that we learned about Alex and her mother. It was obvious that the fact that she had survived meant that she was up to no good, and I'm a vaguely interested to see how this new information will affect Alex, but ultimately it all felt cliched. On a positive note, it did allow for Nikita and Alex to be on the same side again. Speaking of teammates, it was nice seeing Michael and Owen work together, and it's too bad that Nikita's going to get in the way of their potential partnership. Oh, and let's not forget Nikita's other man, Ryan, and how he's a pawn in Amanda and Percy's twisted game. So much stuff going on!


So there you have it. The first TV Report Card of the new year. I can't wait to have all of my shows back and this thing really starts getting hefty. NOTE: No Supernatural this time around because I didn't get a chance to watch this episode, but I didn't miss it, so I'm not sure if it'll be back on the rotation any time soon.


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