March 20, 2012

TV Report Card: Week of March 11, 2012

Here is this week's TV Report Card:

The Walking Dead: "Better Angels"
What Worked: I wasn't expecting for Shane to die during this episode, but it was bound to happen sooner or later, and I appreciated the fact that the showrunners decided to write out such an important character so early on in the show's run. Also, the latter half of the episode had some of the most intense moments this show's given us, and I remember what I liked about The Walking Dead.

What Didn't Work: Unfortunately, this episode had a lot of the elements that I don't care for namely Lori and Carl. I don't know if its the show's mission to make Rick's family the most annoying characters on television, but that's what they've done, and I can't help but get annoyed whenever their on my screen. I can't wait until the walkers get them.


Being Human: "When I Think About You I Shred Myself"
What Worked: Honestly, this was one of the first episode of Being Human that I really didn't care for, so I don't have much to write in this section. That being said, it wasn't a horrible episode; it just wasn't as good as I would've liked.

What Didn't Work: I find myself going back and forth when it comes to Henry because I think the writers want me to care more about him than I really do. All of the flashbacks didn't help and watching him molest women while skinless wasn't fun to watch either. Josh getting back with his ex (and being possessed by his old friend) and the Dark Sally turn didn't quite work either.


Smash: "Chemistry"
What Worked: Absolutely nothing. If I had to pick SOMETHING, then I guess I didn't hate everything about Karen's bar mitzvah gig but that wasn't nearly enough to keep me entertained.

What Didn't Work: I pretty much disliked everything about this episode. From a grown man threatening to throw a temper tantrum to Ivy's drugged out hallucinations to Ellis still showing up at the most opportune times. All of the horrible music moments just dragged everything down as well. When the episode was over, I was ready to write of the show altogether, but I know I'll be checking out the next one in spite of my better judgment.


Cougar Town: "A One Story Town"
What Worked: While I didn't love this episode, I did like watching Bobby and Annie get to know each other even though the rest of the cul-de-sac crew had to meddle in his affairs. Oddly enough, I also liked Ellie during this episode and that's something I don't say very often (if ever), and even that stupid Tom Cruise run couldn't make me dislike her. Also, as you can tell by the picture I went with, I did like the Scrubs mini-reunion.

What Didn't Work: Like I mentioned before, I wasn't not a fan of the gang getting involved in Bobby's love life even if it was coming from a sincere place but that's because I don't believe that Jules is anything but a selfish and shallow person. I still hate Travis' helmet and Laurie becoming a one-note mess. Oh, I can't forget how Grayson was an insecure child throughout the entire thing. Just horrible all around.


New Girl: "Control"
What Worked: The show needs to walk the fine line between making these characters seem real without being over-the-top, and sometimes Schmidt can be one or the other. I felt that his moments with Jess were well played, and I was happy to get more depth from him while still see him be a little out there. Plus, I think the two characters work really well together, so I understand where all of the Jess/Schmidt shippers are coming from.

What Didn't Work: The fight between Nick and Winston made some sense since it punctuated the main point about Schmidt being the calming force of the loft, but I couldn't help but feel like it was also tacked on because it seemed like we had seen it all before. It also bummed me out that we're still not learning much about Winston.


Justified: "Loose Ends"
What Worked: It seems like Boyd an Ava were put on the back burner during the last couple of episodes, so I was happy for them to take center stage during "Loose Ends." I'm starting to get behind this whole race for sheriff that Boyd's trying to fix, and while I wasn't as psyched about Ava becoming a madame, I have enjoyed watching her rise to power.

What Didn't Work: One complaint I usually have about Justified is its tendency to try to make minor characters more important than they really are. Instead of getting some serious time with Quarles or Limehouse, Raylan decided to go after Tanner Dodd who hasn't contributed much besides being an underling so his death made zero impact. I understand that we can't get all Quarles/Limehouse all of the time, but wasting precious time on a nobody felt like a minor misstep.


Modern Family: "Send Out the Clowns"
What Worked: This has to be the first episode of Modern Family that I disliked from top to bottom. Usually, the Dunphy's can save this show, but only Luke was mildly entertaining this time around.

What Didn't Work: MF is an example of how a show can run its break out characters into the ground. Cam's shtick has hit a wall, and he's not as funny as he used to be so Fizbo has diminishing returns every time he's brought out. Similarly, Gloria's a character I could do without, so having a Gloria/Jay/Manny heavy episode was a strike right off the bat. Even Phil could not save this one for me, and he's this show's MVP.


Happy Endings: "Party of Six"
What Worked: This episode wasn't as frantic with the jokes, but it did take some time to give some of the characters some decent backstory, and I'm a fan of having the six pinging off one another just as long as they're not making outsiders feel uncomfortable. I also liked how the episode revolved around something that most viewers can relate to. That's always a plus.

What Didn't Work: I'm still not feeling mopey Penny, but that idea that her birthday's curse was novel, and Dave took a few steps back in my opinion. Also, this one had a less successful rate of jokes that landed but they cannot be on 100% of the time so I can let them slide this once.


Community: "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts"
What Worked: Finally, a Shirley story that was not condescending, and it was fun watching Jeff and Britta working through their issues with marriage while almost getting hitched themselves. Troy and Abed's meta riff on how they need to be normal was also pretty great.

What Didn't Work: For the most part, I thought everything pretty much worked. I would have liked a bit more of Annie, but I can understand why they decided to keep her in the background. I also thought that the odd chauvinistic turn that Andre took came out of nowhere, but that was minor. All in all it was a pretty solid return by the Study Group.


30 Rock: "St. Patrick's Day"
What Worked: Liz's interactions with both Dennis and Criss were good character moments for her, and I enjoyed most of Jack's storyline since it poked fun at games like Settlers of Catan but I wish he could get over his crisis of self a little quicker. It seems like he's been dwelling on his position at Kabletown for way too long now.

What Didn't Work: While other characters were making progress, Jenna and Tracy were stuck in a storyline from season one as they yet again argued over who was the bigger star. Every thing involving these two just felt stale and unfunny, and Hazel's over-the-top nature didn't really add anything. She just made it even more unwatchable.


The Vampire Diaries: "1912"
What Worked: Watching Damon and Stefan fight back in 1912 was tolerable and more fun than watching them do it during the present day, but at least Rebekah was around to keep things interesting. I also liked how self-aware Matt was during this one, and I feel bad for the actor since his characters become such an afterthought. At least they hinted ever so slightly to a rekindled romance between him and Elena, and I wouldn't object at this point.

What Didn't Work: The ring's possessing Alaric and making him commit murders? Really? That twist was too silly even for this show. It doesn't really matter I suppose since he's destined to die for the billionth time, but I think it will finally stick before season's end.


Archer: "Space Race: Part I"
What Worked: I think I'm a bigger fan of Archer when it's riffing on action movie tropes than when it's purely an insane workplace comedy, so I pretty much enjoyed everything that had to do with sending the ISIS agents into space. I even thought there were some good character moments for Lana which are rare.

What Didn't Work: While I know that Pam and Cheryl are fan favorites, I saw no reason for them to be shoe-horned into this episode except for the fact that the writers wanted them in there. Sure, Pam showed up to remind us of her fling with Sterling, but having her in space felt forced. Although, having them around made more sense after the twist ending, but I'm still not buying it.


Nikita: "Doublecross"
What Worked: Percy might be one of the better written villains on TV right now, and I love how he's always able to snake his way out of tight spots. The whole prisoner trade plot had some great twists, turns and action. It was also a good Birkoff episode although I started to sense a heel turn by him when it was all said and done.

What Didn't Work: I never really liked Carla, and she once again dragged the episode down, but at least she's gone ... for now. I'm still also bored by Alex's whole arc this season and bringing back Sean was a big step in the wrong direction because he was part of the problem.


Spartacus: Vengeance: "Balance"
What Worked: Pretty solid episode all around. I liked how Spartacus was able to mull over what to do with Ilithyia and make up his mind in a reasonable amount of time, and I was also impressed by what the character beats that everyone was given, and some well time (albeit worn-out) twists and turns. Overall, "Balance" was a good example of how to slow down the story while still building tension which I appreciated.

What Didn't Work: It's getting harder and harder to watch Ashur abuse Lucretia and that whole "relationship" needs to end. Speaking of Ashur, his band of misfits killing everyone in the brothel was a bit excessive even for Spartacus, and it was hard to take anything they were doing seriously.


So there you have it. One more TV Report Card in the books ... well, the virtual books at least.


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