September 30, 2012

TV Report Card: Week of September 23, 2012

The start of 2012-2013 television season means the return of the TV Report Card, but I'm still finalizing which shows I'll be watching regularly so be warned that there will be changes as we plug along. Also, my recapping responsibilities have increased, so I'm going to do my best to keep up with these write-ups for as long as I can. OK, enough rambling, here is the TV Report Card for the week of September 23, 2012:

How I Met Your Mother: "Farhampton"
What Worked: The only time I even cracked a smile was when Barney recapped the series up until this point in less than a minute, but that was mostly due to the always amazing Neil Patrick Harris. So yeah, that was about it.

What Didn't Work: Obviously, everything else that was crammed down our throats which included more stalling, more unlikable Ted, more Barney and Robin drama and an painfully unfunny bit where Marshall and Lily were sleep deprived due to their new baby. None of it worked... at all. Please Tomas and Bays, make this the last season.


Castle: "After the Storm"
What Worked: Even though it took way too long for it to happen, I did get more of a kick out of Beckett and Castle finally doing the deed than I thought I would. The main reason I liked those moments was because of the sheer comedy. Aside from Caskett, I was glad to get more information about the murder of Kate's mom.

What Didn't Work: I really wanted Castle to be a little riskier with its season premiere. Having Kate quit her job just to have her back on the force within an episode made the finale anti-climactic because everything was pretty much back to the status quo. I shouldn't have been shocked since these kind of procedurals do this all of the time (see: Bones, White Collar, etc.), but I was hoping for more.


New Girl: "Re-Launch"
What Worked: Apparently, I was in the minority of people who liked "Re-Launch" better than the second episode that aired this week. It was just so much fun having these characters back, and I got a kick out of Nick and Jess, Schmidt still being Schmidt but with a softer edge and nothing has made me laugh more than drunk Winston singing with his fruity drink.

What Didn't Work: I was too stoked about the guest stars even though it looks like New Girl is competing with Happy Endings to be the show where ex-Perfect Couples and Traffic Light actors go for a paycheck (and Olivia Munn's still to come). The funny thing is, had Happy Endings been cancelled New Girl would probably be a better show and we'd see Zach Knighton and Adam Pally show up to date Jess and have awkward moments with Damon Wayans, Jr. Thanks a lot, ABC! Sorry, that was a rant just to say that I didn't really care for Parker Posey or Nelson Franklin.


Ben and Kate: "Pilot"
What Worked: For a first effort, I thought that Ben and Kate did an admirable job at giving us a pretty clear picture of what to expect from the show. Now, I'll admit that the pilot wasn't incredibly funny, but I found the title characters charming and the entire concept refreshing because it didn't feel like another "20-somethings hang out and make fun of each other while shooting off random pop culture references" sit-com. Sure, B&K is not the second coming of New Girl, but started off capably and was better than The Mindy Project. But more on that later.

What Didn't Work: A few more laughs would have been welcomed, but that's more of a quibble since so many people reacted negatively to the first episode. I don't get those people. On a more serious note, I didn't really care for Lucy Punch's BJ and she needs to be toned down quickly. Then again, pretty much everyone else loved her so what do I know.


New Girl: "Katie"
What Worked: For some reason, I really enjoyed watching Nick fall for Old Nick's story because part of me believes that he'd get caught up on such an insane concept. Also, more of Nick and Jess is welcomed just as long as they don't rush their inevitable hook-up.

What Didn't Work: I wasn't a fan of Jess as Katie because all of her actions felt out of character. I'm all for her growing as a person and trying on new versions of herself, but Katie didn't work for me. Schmidt also dialed up the douchiness to eleven as he hit on Winston's sister, and he wasn't even redeemed by episode's end. Unfortunately, everyone came off in a bad light when it was all said and done. Oh, and the Poor Man's Jonah Hill was beyond annoying.


Go On: "Bench-Clearing Brawl"
What Worked: Four episodes in, and Go On has become one of my favorite new comedies of the season. Don't get me wrong, it still has a ton of problems, and it probably won't even make my top five by the end of the year, but it's able to mix heart and humor fairly well. For example, Ryan and Anne bonding as they tried to figure out when it's time to move on was a nice touch even though it wasn't as heart-string tugging as last week's episode.

What Didn't Work: This episode wasn't as funny as previous ones, and the one-ups-manship between Ryan and Lauren's already getting old. Plus, there was not nearly enough of Carrie this time around, so it'll get docked for that alone.


The Mindy Project: "Pilot"
What Worked: Not much because I didn't laugh once while watching the episode. But I'm happy for Mindy Kaling and I want her to be successful, so there's that.

What Didn't Work: Pretty much everything. The rom-com setup didn't jive with me, and I didn't find any of the characters interesting or even all that likable. I do see some potential once the show figures out how to shed its early premise, but it's first effort was such a misfire that I don't see myself keeping up with The Mindy Project thanks to The New Normal, and especially when Don't Trust the B---- comes back.


The New Normal: "Obama Mama"
What Worked: Speaking of The New Normal, its fourth episode was the most problematic yet but I found more things to like about it than the previous three. Politics can always been an iffy subject to tackle, and while I did think the show tried too hard, I appreciated the fact that it was somewhat respectful of the right while pointing out the hypocrisy that can come with being on the left. It was all heavy-handed, but I didn't feel like I was being preached to. Oh, and of course I loved the Glee/Sing meta jokes because at least they're an indicator that Ryan Murphy knows how insane his shows come off as.

What Didn't Work: Jane's still a huge issue on this show because even though they made her sound more rationale this time around, they immediately undercut those moments by having her say something incredibly stupid and close-minded. I also wasn't a huge fan of Goldie's subplot involving her ex suing for custody because it really came out of nowhere. But it's Ryan Murphy, so what else should we expect?


Sons of Anarchy: "Laying Pipe"
What Worked: As much as I liked Opie, I'm ultimately fine with his death because it was the right move for Kurt Sutter to make at this point. Ironically, Opie's death justified Clay being spared because now Jax has another reason to kill his step-father once and for all. Say what you will about Sons, but it's a whole new ballgame now.

What Didn't Work: I like Jimmy Smits on this show, but I didn't care for his brothel being home to a Gemma/Clay smack down but that's because I'm over these two and their marital problems. Come to think of it, I'm over Gemma in general because I also didn't care about her one millionth face off with Tara. Since Sutter broke the seal with Opie, maybe he'll have one of these two go next. Fingers crossed.


Modern Family: "Bringing Up Baby"
What Worked: Thank goodness for Phil because he was the only thing keeping this episode from being a complete flop. If I want to be nice I guess I could lump Haley and Dylan in with him.

What Didn't Work: Take a guess. Gloria being pregnant's a stupid idea. Claire's jealousy of Gloria was equally as stupid. Lily was more annoying than ever, and I'm already tired of mopey Cam and Mitchell. Manny just needs to go away. And I guess a gorilla humping an elephant is considered comedy nowadays. I swear if it weren't for Arrow and Nashville, I'd just give up on Wednesday night television altogether.


Glee: "Makeover"
What Worked: I think one of the reasons why the Lima side of Season 4 has been working for me is because it's all about people who have been left behind. Last week, we saw how Brittany dealt with Santana leaving and being held back, and this week it was Blaine's turn. While the election wasn't the ideal way for him to express his loneliness, I still found it effective. Also, still loving the idea of Brittany and Sam.

What Didn't Work: Once again, I found myself disinterested in everything that took place in New York. Even when I factor out Kurt's improbably internship with Vogue, things just didn't click. Brody's still trying way too hard and has become annoying, and while Sarah Jessica Parker did a good job, her character's also too good to be true. Then again, it's Glee where nothing's supposed to be realistic.


Elementary: "Pilot"
What Worked: Even though CBS' Elementary cannot compare with PBS' Sherlock, the first episode was successful at being exactly what it wanted to be and that's a CBS procedural version of Sherlock Holmes. I found Jonny Lee Miller's take on the character interesting and maybe a bit more accessible than Benedict Cumbertach's, and he does have a spark with Lucy Liu.

What Didn't Work: The case itself was pretty by the books and it lacked any real tension or surprises. Maybe it was just a way to ease the CBS audience into a new show, but if every case is going to be this boring then I don't know how long I'll stick around. I have enough unoriginal cop shows to occupy my time.


Grimm: "The Good Shepherd"
What Worked: I'm always going to be for Monroe getting more to do, so him going undercover and infiltrating a church full of sheep whose pastor was a wolf worked better than it had any right to.

What Didn't Work: The rest of the episode wasn't Grimm's best effort. Nick has become a super hero over night so there weren't any real stakes when he faced the assassin. Juliette's amnesia arc hasn't completely worn out its welcome, but it could've been stronger, and even the mythology components involving Renard and the families only got lip service.


So, there you have it. The first TV Report Card of the new season. Like I said, some shows will be added and subtracted as we get deeper into the year, so I apologize if your favorite show didn't make the cut or ends up on the chopping block. This feature only works if I write about programs that entertain me or give me something to say, and I think this is a strong baseline to start from.


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