January 23, 2012

TV Report Card: Week of January 15, 2012

After a slight delay, here is this week's TV Report Card:

Leverage: "The Last Dam Job"
Season 4 of Leverage ended on a relatively high note even though "The Last Dam Job" was a pretty standard episode. Seeing the Crew assemble a B-team of former rivals and mentors was a nice touch that made everything feel new, and this was one of Eliot's finer episodes due to his concern for Nathan's well-being. I still don't think the Latimer/Dubenich arc was successful though because we did not spend enough time establishing the story over the entire season, but I still enjoyed watching Leverage more often than not.


How I Met Your Mother: "46 Minutes"
I really, really, really wanted to hate "46 Minutes" because it focused on the things I despise about this show, but I ended up only mildly disliking it in spite of myself. The only redeeming quality of this episode that kept me from hating it was Barney's temporary stint as the gang's leader, and that's only because we got those great retconned title sequences. Oh, and the Silence of the Lambs moments involving Marshall were OK too. Other than that I could've left everything else behind. I hate it when Ted get's all mopey, I still don't care about Robin and Kevin, we all know Marshall and Lily are moving back to the City so their story was pointless, and Chris Eliot's character needs to be killed off or something. Now that I think about it, "46 Minutes" was a giant waste of time, but those damn title sequences get me every time.


2 Broke Girls: "And the Upstairs Neighbor"
Yes, I know that I said that I was done with 2 Broke Girls, but it's so easy to just keep watching CBS after How I Met Your Mother, so here I am. There are a few critics out there who believe that 2BS would be a better show if they just got rid of the diner, and I agreed with that statement until "Upstairs Neighbor." This episode didn't rely too heavily on the questionable diner and its employees, and we got to see more glimpses of Max and Caroline at home, which wasn't as offensive but it was more boring. The lazy writing about cleaning ladies mistaken for hookers and the annoying word of the day (this week it was herpes) didn't help either. After this one, I'm convinced that there truly is no hope for 2 Broke Girls, and even the alt-narrative of them being lesbians won't be able to save it at this point.


Being Human: "Turn This Mother Out"
Last year, I went into watching Being Human with some hesitations due to vampire fatigue, but it quickly grew on me, so I was excited for the Season 2 premiere. "Turn This Mother Out" was a decent enough episode thanks to the Josh and Nora storyline (I love that they've brought her into the mix), but the Aidan plot fell a little flat although it has potential. I was also expecting more from Sally's C-plot, but it didn't quite gel either, but I think that's because I didn't appreciate the concept of a ghost going to her high school reunion which does sound kind of interesting.


Castle: "Dial M for Mayor"
I'll be honest, I was kind of let down by this week's Castle. The promos made it look like there was going to be a major rift between Rick and Kate after this case, and I would have applauded the show for taking such a risky move. Instead we got a few scenes where they didn't quite see eye to eye, but everything seemed to work out in the end, so there really wasn't any thing at stake which has become a problem on this show. The longer they draw out the Caskett tension, without any real stakes or challenges, it will get stale because it will be nothing but more of the same drama. The thing is, when they do try to introduce some obstacles, like Rick and Kate dating other people, it all feels rote. Having Rick up and leave the precinct because Kate busted his friend could have set up some very interesting and entertaining stories, but we'll never know because the Castle writers continue to play it safe.


Lost Girl: "It's a Fae, Fae, Fae, Fae World"
I did not know much about this Canadian supernatural drama until I started blogging about television. Some of the sites that I frequent and submit write-ups to have been covering this show for sometime, but I never paid much attention since I live in the States. Things changed when Syfy decided to air it with Being Human, so my interested was piqued. The pilot episode did a good job at introducing the audience to Bo and the world of the Fae, but parts felt a little cliched. For example, you have the tortured hero trying to figure out her place in the world with her plucky sidekick and mysterious organizations for her to contend with. It's pretty standard genre fare, but I do like the idea of Bo being a succubus instead of a vampire. At least it's something different. While I wasn't blown away by "Fae World," it has enough of the elements that I'm looking for in this kind of show, so I'll be checking out more episodes.


Glee: "Yes/No"
I probably should have hated everything about "Yes/No" because it contained so many things that makes this show not work like Jerk-Ass Will, clueless Finn, way too many outlandish storylines and fabricated drama, but I actually kinda liked the episode. I think the reason why I didn't mind "Yes/No" was because it started off in such a surreal place (the Grease homage), and the rest of the episode had a strong musical vibe to it, that I just went with it. Sure, things that Will and Finn said and did probably didn't make much sense, but none of the episode made much sense, so why nitpick? Plus, I think it either progressed some important storylines forward (Will and Emma's engagement) while introducing some potentially volatile ones (Finn proposing to Rachel). I'm not going to be crazy enough to say that "Yes/No" was good because it wasn't, but I did find it entertaining.


New Girl: "The Story of the 50"
I know that some viewer's milage may very when it comes to Jess and New Girl, but I thought that "The Story of the 50" was by far one of the strongest episodes to date. I liked how the focus really wasn't on Jess since she spent most of her time throwing Schmidt a birthday party, and how she was able to strike the balance between being naive and a competent adult.  I'm also a fan of any episode that  allows viewers to get to know more about Schmidt and brings back the Douchebag Jar. It also didn't hurt that Lizzy Caplan guest starred as Nick's girlfriend, and I'm already liking her more than Justin Long's character. I also loved the fact that this group of mismatched individuals have become friends and will stick up for one another no matter what which is something you don't always see on shows like Happy Endings or Community.


Justified: "The Gunfighter"
While I was late to the Justified game, even I knew that the show's sophomore run was a special season of television, so I was a little worried that my Kiss of Death would kick in an affect Season 3. After watching "The Gunfighter" I'm still convinced that Justified is still one of the best shows on television, but I'm still curious to see how they're going to fill the void left by Margo Martindale. From the looks of it, the writers are going to take a quantity over quality approach because a ton of new villains were introduced or brought back to kick off the season. So far, these new baddies seem competent enough to stir up some interesting stories, but I'm still cautiously optimistic. Honestly though, all will be right in Harlan County as long as we get some good scenes between Raylan and Boyd, so I guess I shouldn't be too concerned.


Modern Family: "Little Boo Bleep"
Man, I don't know what to think about Modern Family anymore. For the most part, I did not care for "Little Boo Bleep." I'm not a fan of talking Lily so the Cam/Mitchell A-plot fell kind of flat, and my hatred for Jay, Gloria and Manny have been well documented, but throwing in a "suicidal" dog didn't make anything better. Once again, it was the Dunphys who saved the episode because I'm a fan of when they gang up on Claire for being so unlikeable. Even her trainwreck of a debate was worth a few laughs, but the overall episode didn't deliver enough enjoyment to make me care about what was going on, and I was counting down the minutes until Happy Endings came on.


Happy Endings: "Makin' Changes!"
Speaking of Happy Endings, it too gave us a flawed episode that was salvaged by a singular storyline. I've never been a fan of people trying to changes others for their own benefit, so I really didn't care for either Penny or Brad and Jane's plots because they just came off as manipulative and mean-spirited. I get that this approach to comedy is one of the reasons why Happy Endings works (much like Cougar Town and Community), but somedays I want them to be nice people. While the Dave, Alex and Max V-neck B-story also focused on changing Dave's habits, it didn't come off as negavtive (although it could be argued that pestering someone out of boredom is just as bad), but I think my favor for this one had more to do with the fact that I'm in love with Alex despite that fact that she's becoming too one-note of a character. In the end, "Makin' Changes!" landed enough jokes to keep me happy, so I can forgive it for a poor choice of subject matter.


30 Rock: "Idiots are People Two!"
After a clunker of a season opener, 30 Rock was able to get back on track by focusing on what makes the show special: Liz and Jack. I loved watching Jack get all upset because of Liz's new boyfriend, and how he reacted by playing mind games. I know that comment sounds like a contradiction compared to what I wrote about Happy Endings, but I believe that Jack's interference came out of a place of caring, and that he truly wants what's best for Liz and not for himself. Regardless, I'll take these kinds of episodes from 30 Rock any day of the week. Heck, I even liked the Jenna/Kenneth story, but that had a lot to do with the return of Kelsey Grammer. As for Tracy's dig at himself, I'm always in favor of celebrities taking themselves down a notch, so it was aces as well. Overall, a pretty decent episode from start to finish.


The Vampire Diaries: "The Ties That Bind"
As much as it pains me to write this, but I think I'm starting to lose interest in The Vampire Diaries. "The Ties That Bind" wasn't necessarily a episode, but I didn't feel like I was engaged either. This disinterest may have something to do with the fact that I wasn't paying 100% to what was going on, but that was because I wasn't drawn in. Since I'm not a huge fan of Bonnie, I didn't care about her estranged mother or her connection to the larger story. Even Dr. Fell's presence and her tiff with Damon didn't do it for me. Thankfully, Caroline had a bigger role, but she was once again handcuffed by Tyler, so that was a miss too. Hopefully, Elijah's return will liven things up for a bit.


Archer: "The Man from Jupiter"
A year ago, if you had told me that I'd be a fan of Archer, I probably would have laughed. I never thought that Archer was my kind of show, but then I actually watched it and was won over. After a good Season 2, and the "Heart of Archness" mini-series, "The Man from Jupiter" had its work cut out for it, and was a pretty decent effort. The premiere had the added bonus of having Burt Reynolds as a guest star, but his voice acting was sub-par, so he didn't add much to the episode in my opinion despite being a natural fit in the Archer universe. I did like Sterling's fanboy moments, and the rest of Isis evading a Cuban hit squad, but I was expecting more from Reynolds. Still a funny episode though.


Chuck: "Chuck vs. The Bullet Train"
Just when I thought Chuck could not get any better, they had to go and make "Chuck vs. The Bullet Train." While the episode did have its share of flaws, it also had the perfect combination of comedy, action and drama. Having Sarah upload the Intersect could have been a big misfire, but it's working so far, and I'm actually excited to see Chuck and Sarah face off next week. Plus, anytime I can not only tolerate Jeffster but also actively root for them is an indicator of the writers doing something right. The only minor drawback was Quinn who was too much of a super villain to be taken seriously, but he's still been one of the better big bad's of the show's run. He just needs to reign it in a little bit. I'm just so glad that Chuck's not resting on its laurels and is pulling out all of the stops towards the end of its life.


Grimm: "Of Mouse and Man"
I knew that Grimm couldn't be on a hot streak forever, and it was bound to churn out a mediocre episode. To be fair, I really wasn't paying that much attention to "Of Mouse and Man," but that's because the Monster of the Week was not very engaging because the idea of a meek person going crazy on those who push him around is far from new even if he is a mouse. The only highlight had to do with Eddie as he had to deal with the larger world of fairy tale creatures moving in on him and Nick for interfering, and I'm hoping that we get back to the Reapers sooner than later, although I don't know why they're to convince us that Juliette is relevant all of a sudden.


Some quick notes, I did watch White Collar, but since it was the winter premiere of Season 3, I decided to leave it off of the Report Card since it's already overstuffed. Also, I haven't had the chance to watch Up All Night, but it may join Parks and Recreation on the bench for now.


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