October 28, 2012

TV Report Card: Week of October 21, 2012

Despite the fact that some of my shows were preempted by Presidential debates and baseball, it was a busy week in real life so this may not be the most coherent write-up. As always, pardon the mess and here's this week's TV Report Card:

The Walking Dead: "Sick"
What Worked: Another solid episode that kept things relatively simple. Having Rick deal with the inmates created the right amount of action/suspense, but it also was a great way to show the viewers how Rick's changed over the months. Old Rick would've spun his wheels in regards to the convicts, New Rick was a man of action. The quieter Hershel-centric scenes also worked for the most part.

What Didn't Work: While I'm glad that Lori was able to realize how horrible she was last season, the episode spent more time on her crumbling marriage than I would've liked. It just feels like the schism between her and Rick's going to dominate a lot of the prison narrative, and I don't care enough about them at this point. Carol's C-plot also didn't quite click for me even though it was a logical plot thread.


Homeland: "New Car Smell"
What Worked: Obviously, the ending was amazing because the show once again proved that it's willing to amp up the tension and burn through story. Most show's wouldn't have had Carrie confront Brody and have him arrested so soon, but Homeland's always been special. I just hope the show runners don't run out of momentum come the finale.

What Didn't Work: I liked most of this episode, but I was bored by Jessica which was a shame since she had a standout moment last week. I also wasn't a fan of the new guy because he's so clearly a romantic foil for Carrie that his introduction came off as clunky and lazy. The fact that "New Car Smell" didn't address Brody's previous mission was also a bummer, not because it annoyed me but because I wanted a reason for the naysayers to be shut up.


Hart of Dixie: "Suspicious Minds"
What Worked: Honestly, I didn't really care for this episode, but if I had to pick something positive to write about I'd go with the banter and role playing that occurred between Zoe and Wade. I'm never a fan of "casual" relationship storylines, but Bilson and Bethel keep things interesting.

What Didn't Work: Pretty much everything else. Lemon's pregnancy scare was beyond stupid, and I'm tired of the writers moving her around. I get that all of the upheaval will make more sense once she settles down, but right now it all feels scatterbrained. Speaking of Lemon, her family's reliance on her was equally tired and a waste of time. Still don't care about Lavon vs. Ruby or George's lovelife (but it was fun watching him struggle with breaking up with what's her face). Oh, and don't get me started on Zoe's childish response to seeing Wade with another woman. My eyes still hurt from rolling so much.


Ben and Kate: "Emergency Kit"
What Worked: Ben's emergency drill worked better than it should have but that had more to do with the heart warming scenes involving Kate and Maddie towards the end of the episode. While this one was pretty broad from the get go, I thought that the sweetness was still there and made up for the sitcom-iness of the rest of the episode.

What Didn't Work: I could not have cared less about BJ and her flirtations with Rob Corddry's character. And what was the point of Ben's ex showing up? I got that she was the personification of everything that Kate fears, but her presence never really gelled.


Happy Endings: "Cazsh Dummy Spillionaires"
What Worked: In spite of my love for Happy Endings, I have to admit that its Season 3 premiere was not its strongest outing. That said, I got a kick out of Brad's routines with Sin-brad, and I'm never going to complain when Eliza Coupe decides to walk around naked. Also, the Alex and Dave stuff was not as objectionable as it could've been.

What Didn't Work: Even though we all know that these six people truly do care about one another, Max and Penny's plot came close to crossing the line into outright mean territory. Sure, it was fun seeing Max "Misery" his best friend in order to get closer to her physical therapist, but there are limits.


Go On: "Any Given Birthday"
What Worked: Obviously, Go On is Ryan's show but "Any Given Birthday" felt like a truly Ryan-centric episode. I liked the scavenger hunt and how it was a way for us to learn more about him. Plus, I'm always going to be happy when Steven shows up and his scenes with Sonia worked surprisingly well.

What Didn't Work: Not enough Carrie! I know that she's just Ryan's assistant, but she's gotten next to nothing to do since the pilot, and I'm still more intrigued by her relationship with Ryan than his wholly staged will they/won't they with Lauren (I'm not opposed to their hook-up though at this point). Also didn't love the reemergence of Janie, but I do enjoy the chemistry between Matthew Perry and Christine Woods, so I'll let it slide.


New Girl: "Models"
What Worked: I loved everything about the boys' storyline, especially Nick not knowing how to return Schmidt's love, and seeing how they became friends was a novelty but still fun. What was even better was how Winston continues to be the voice of reason, and hopefully the writers can turn that trait into a full blown character sooner than later.

What Didn't Work: While I didn't hate Jess and Cece's plot, it couldn't keep up with the boys' especially since it was pretty much the exact same story. The bit with the car was a tad too slapsticky for my liking but Zooey made it work as much as she could, and luckily she had the rest of the cast to do the emotional heavy lifting.


Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23: "A Reunion"
What Worked: Since I'm a child of the '90s, I'm also going to love it when Apt. 23 relies heavily on James Van Der Beek's Creek days because he's so good at mocking himself, and adding Busy Phillips and Mark Paul-Gosselaar to the mix was just icing (could've done without Malcolm).

What Didn't Work: All of the "move forward and don't look back" stuff was a bit heavy-handed, and I'm still not 100% on board with Dreama Walker's performance, and I just don't care about her hangups at this point, but there was enough JVDB absurdity to keep me happy.


The New Normal: "The Godparent Trap"
What Worked: I appreciated The New Normal addressing faith, religion and how the gay community can help shape both if they're willing to fight for it because this show doesn't shy away from saying what's on its mind and bringing touchy subjects to light. Andrew Rannells also had a strong performance in this one.

What Didn't Work: Having David and Bryan searching for godparents was very mechanical. It was like Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler wanted a "Grilled Cheesus" episode but within the context of family, and godparents were the logical way to do it. Also, what's the point of having Goldie around at this point? Sure, she's the surrogate, and thus the show would not exist without her, but she's not doing much and has pretty much become a prop. They might as well have cast Jenna Uskowitz in the role.


Sons of Anarchy: "Toad's Wild Ride"
What Worked: There were some tense moments between Unser and Clay that kept things interesting, and I can't help but wonder how Sutter's going to write Clay out of the corner this time. For some reason, I have a feeling that Juice's going to take the fall.

What Didn't Work: The rest of the episode was a complete dud. Why bring Jeff Winger just to make him a sniveling con-man? And I hated that final scene where Gemma got into a car accident, possibly hurting one of her grandsons, because it felt like yet another twist for the sake of being shocking and more of Sons being Sons.


Arrow: "Lone Gunmen"
What Worked: On the action front, Arrow still impresses. Although I would've liked more time with Deadshot, and it took too long to get to the actual showdown, the fight sequence was effective. I was also relieved that Oliver let Diggle in on his secret so early on in the show's run.

What Didn't Work: I'm getting a little tired of everything that's surrounding Oliver. I don't really care about Tommy and Laurel or his bratty sister, and they took up way too much time during this one. Also, the acting continues to be laughably bad (like the voiceovers for example).


Modern Family: "Open House of Horrors"
What Worked: Once again, all I could muster any positive feelings towards were the Dunphys. Claire going out of her way to scare Phil was funny, and Julie Bowen dressed as Little Bo Peep was super hot. It's just too bad that Alex has become insufferable now that Haley's not there to keep her in check.

What Didn't Work: Go ahead and guess? Pregnant Gloria's far more annoying than regular Gloria, and her increased hot-headedness pushed her beyond the scope of tolerable. Then there was Manny, but I'm just going to skip over him, and I didn't care one bit about Cam, Mitchell and Lily. Not one bit. Honestly, I don't know why I keep watching.


Nashville: "Someday You'll Call My Name"
What Worked: In spite of my better judgment, I found myself actually caring about the young up-and-comers more than the established vets. Maybe it's because they're a symbol of a more pure and simplier music industry, but they kept me interested in an otherwise dull episode. Or maybe it's because their songs are vastly superior than anything Rayna or Juliette's cut so far.

What Didn't Work: It's too bad that Nashville insists on bogging itself down on too much melodrama like Rayna's daddy issues, Juliette's need to seduce Deacon or her junkie mother. I just want the show to focus on the music industry and not all of the insane personal junk that goes along with it. But I am appreciating Hayden's performance... wasn't expecting to.


American Horror Story: Asylum: "Tricks and Treats"
What Worked: So far, the story's still a little mish-mashed for my liking, but I thought the possession plot that was introduced was genuinely creepy and scary and opens up the show to a lot of potential especially now that Sister Eunice is hosting the beast. I'm also still liking Grace, and the escape sub-plot worked better than I was expecting.

What Didn't Work: I thought that everything involving Dr. Arden, namely the scenes with the prostitute, were overdone, and I don't know that I care all that much about Shelly or why she's in the asylum. It was just more style over substance, but I don't know why I'd be surprised that AHS has taken this approach knowing its pedigree.


The Vampire Diaries: "The Rager"
What Worked: After last week's superb episode, TVD was bound to take a slip this time around, but "The Rager" was still very entertaining. While I'm still a little iffy about Elena's transition, the Salvatores trying to help her is at least an interesting way to keep the triangle fresh. That said, this episode really reminded me how much I enjoyed watching Stefan help Caroline with her transition and had me rooting for them to pair up once again.

What Didn't Work: I'm still bored by the Originals, and I didn't even care about Rebekah and she's the one I like. I suppose Klaus saving Conner could lead to some interesting twists and turns, but at this point I'm losing interest in him, his hybrids or his mission... whatever that is at this point.


30 Rock: "Unwindulax"
What Worked: Since SNL's at its best during an election season, it makes sense that Tina Fey's show would also do well with political material. Pretty much everything that involved Jack, Liz and their dueling ideologies worked for me (sans the good looking guy who I didn't recognize). Of course, the cherry was Tracy's knowledge of the nation and helping Liz figure out that Jenna was the key to the election.

What Didn't Work: Jenna may be the person who can determine who the next president is, but I thought her whole story was a dud. Then again, I've never liked her and never will so anytime 30 Rock dedicates too much time to her, I tune out. At least she wasn't totally annoying this time around.


Elementary: "The Rat Race"
What Worked: It's pretty clear at this point that the only reason to watch Elementary is Jonny Lee Miller. I'm continually impressed with his interpretation of the character, even if he's not as Sherlock-ian as he could be, and I'm still liking the exchanges between him and Watson.

What Didn't Work: I'm still not wild about the cases of the week because their not kooky enough like say what they do on Bones or Castle, and they're not as out there as what goes down on say Grimm. More often than not, they just fall flat. The secretary did it? Seriously? Luckily, there's so much more to this show than just its caseload, so I still have a reason to keep tuning in.


Grimm: "La Llorona"
What Worked: Like I've said before, Grimm works best when it's a dark, twisted, fairy tale version of a cop show that deals with domestic issues, so it tackling the La Llorona folktale made sense, and I have to say that the show did a good job with it. The episode was creepy enough, and its standalone nature worked in its favor. And we still got some mythology/overarching elements to keep us on the hook.

What Didn't Work: Another week, another under-utilization of Monroe. I get that Hank is really Nick's partner, and Monroe works best when he's paired with Rosalee, but I miss watching Nick and Eddie in full-fledged Grimm mode. Having him in a pretty throw away trick or treat sub-plot was also criminal even if he was funny at with what the material gave him.


Nikita: "Innocence"
What Worked: Another solid hour of Nikita as it continues to go back to its roots as our heroes dedicate themselves to righting Division's wrongs while saving the innocent like this week's Liza/Sarah/Jessica. The mission of the week was a good enough callback to the show's original premise, and it had enough solid emotional moments to get me invested.

What Didn't Work: So far, I'm liking the back to basics approach, but Nikita needs a big bad, and I'm a little surprised that they haven't re-introduced Amanda. Honestly, she was no Percy last season and one of the the show's drawbacks, but a straight-forward rouge agent-of-the week setup can only go so far. I could also do without the unnecessary romance, but ah well.


There you have it. Another TV Report Card down, and it ended up being meatier than I thought. Next week's might be even more jam packed with the return of Monday shows, but I'm not sure how the lack of baseball will affect my line-up.


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