October 14, 2012

TV Report Card: Week of October 7, 2012

This might end up being another abbreviated TV Report Card, so I apologize in advance.

Homeland: "Beirut is Back"
What Worked: Even though some viewers had a problem with this episode because of its plausibility, I have to say that I really enjoyed it because I didn't let believably get in the way of an enjoyable time. By far the best part of this episode was watching Carrie go back into the field and continue to struggle with life after the CIA. The scene between her and Saul on the rooftop was Claire Danes at her best, and I have to agree with everyone who said that it won her another Emmy. Speaking of Saul, Mandy Patinkin nailed per usual and let's hope he gets some recognition come awards season.

What Didn't Work: For the record, I didn't have an issue with Brody's text message that saved Abu Nazir's life because a show like Homeland needs to take some creative license. What I did kind of annoy me was Carrie running around Beirut, putting her life and the lives of others at danger AND stumbling across the bag that had a disk sewn into that contained Brody's suicide video. Now, that was a little too convenient but I can probably let it slide.


How I Met Your Mother: "Nannies"
What Worked: I guess if I had to pick something that I didn't absolutely hate about this episode, I'd go with Marshall and Lily trying to find a nanny. Now, that's not to say that their story was funny or entertaining because it wasn't. I just hated it less than the rest of the episode, and that's saying a lot because I cannot stand Chris Elliott or Mickey. That said, I got a kick out of Jane Carr.

What Didn't Work: Obviously, everything else. Barney was back to his womanizing ways, although it did start to feel like he was growing up. That is until he banged the old nanny. Ugh. Also, I don't mind seeing Ted and Robin as friends, but their whole competition over whose relationship was better just to find out that their partners aren't perfect was groan worthy and lazy mostly because it was just another example of them self-sabotaging themselves for the allusion of narrative momentum.


Castle: "Secret's Safe with Me"
What Worked: As always, anything that had to do with Rick and Kate or Rick and Alexis was fun to watch, and I'm liking how those two relationships have evolved. Even Martha's bond with her son has become one of the better parts of this show which was something I never would've believed after Season 1. It was also nice seeing the softer side of Gates if only for a brief moment.

What Didn't Work: I wasn't a fan of the case of the week. First off, I don't know when Storage Wars became a thing because this was the second time one of my shows alluded to it, and while I do find it somewhat entertaining, it shouldn't be a pop culture phenomenon like apparently it is. On top of that, White Collar actually did a better take on the whole concept because it led to a National Treasure-esque episode that involved secret spy societies and scavenger hunts. "Secret's Safe with Me" had a butler doing it.


Revolution: "The Plague Dogs"
What Worked: I liked how this episode felt like a pure adventure story. Sure, having the protagonists running from a pack of dogs was kind of silly, but it did seem like one of those wacky asides that could happen to a group wandering around in a post-apocalyptic future so I went with it. This episode also effectively used its flashbacks as we got a better understanding of Maggie and what she had to endure up until the pilot.

What Didn't Work: That said, I didn't really care about her so her death wasn't all that monumental. I guess the show should get some credit for killing off a realtively important character so early on in its run, but it's not like it was someone who we took time to invest in. Now, if it was Charlie who died, that would've been monumental and a blessing since she continues to be the weakest link.


Hart of Dixie: "Always on My Mind"
What Worked: Part of me wants George and Wade to just forget about Zoe and move on because it really got a kick out of them during this episode. Of course, Wade trying to teach George to land a one-night stand was gold, but I'd even like to see them form a permanent band that tours the South until Zoe does her best Yoko.

What Didn't Work: For the first time in a long time, I didn't really care for Zoe. Her whole "I don't want to be with the boys but don't want anyone else to have them either" routine was so overwrought and cilched that I actually groaned. I guess I shouldn't expect more from her, but I do so I was irked that she found herself in the most boring of romantic comedy tropes. It also seems like this is the season of backtracking because I wanted to see Lemon as a waitress for more than one episode. Granted, she's still trying to be independent and on her own, but I'd much rather see her struggle as a server than as her father's receptionist. Ah well.


Ben and Kate: "The Fox Hunt"
What Worked: While "The Fox Hunt" was not the funniest episode of Ben and Kate, I did respect how it took some time to establish the world that these people live in. The scavenger hunt was by no means an original idea, nor was it the best version of what it was supposed to be, but it did allow for us to get more insight on the relationship between these two siblings and the history that exists. Plus, it was a strong episode for the two best friends because I found laughing the most because of Tommy and BJ. And as always, Kate dancing's worth a few grade points.

What Didn't Work: Like I said, the "game" episode's nothing new and it's been done vastly better by other shows. Obviously, the classic Friends episode comes to mind first and that one set a bar so high that I don't know if any sitcom will be able to reach it. Right now, Ben and Kate's not steering too far away from traditional comedy trappings but it's not tiresome yet, but it's not going above and beyond in the quirk department either, so ultimately it's serviceable which is a good thing in my opinion but probably not for others.


Go On: "Big League Chew"
What Worked: I was not immediately won over with Ryan's grief eating, but it did allow for him to interact with the group in a different way and without Lauren driving the action. It was nice seeing the rest of the group come to Ryan's side because they could relate with where he was at in his process, and they did it without Lauren telling them to. I also liked Lauren getting an identity outside of the ensemble, and Ryan and Danny's trip to Harborville.

What Didn't Work: We didn't get enough of the things that I really enjoy about Go On. Carrie was only around for a brief moment, and Steven was gone altogether. Again, I know that this show revolves around Ryan and his support group, but his work life has become so entertaining over the last couple of episodes that it was greatly missed this time around.


New Girl: "Neighbors"
What Worked: Nick getting so much happiness out of pranking Schmidt was just another great moment for one of television's funniest characters. To make things even better, Wintson's lack of pranking abilities was also progress as was his need to find direction. Let's just hope it carries over and he can become a fully realized character soon.

What Didn't Work: I didn't love Schmidt and Jess' A-plot because I don't really think he'd go to such great lengths to impress a bunch of hipster youths. Sure, it was all a way for him to adjust to getting older, but I didn't even really buy that aspect of the story either. Yes, he's superficial and obsessed with himself, but him getting all worked up over being un-cool and not as young as he used to be rang false. At least Jess continuing to be out of her comfort zone salvaged most of the episode though.


The New Normal: "Bryanzilla"
What Worked: I suppose I enjoyed Shania's fake wedding because it allowed her to fly her freak flag a bit higher, but it was such a thinly veiled statement about marriage equality that it lost some of its charm.

What Didn't Work: See above. I don't mind Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler standing up for their politics, The New Normal's starting to be too politicized and it's starting to become kind of a drag. Now, I shouldn't be surprised that the creator's beliefs underline most of the show's bigger moments, but they lack subtly and tack which has the show veering into preachiness territory, and Ryan cannot allow another one of his projects to go down that road, especially this one. I can understand a show like Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story and even Glee being a soapbox, but I'm not sure The New Normal benefits from the same treatment. I'm not saying that it should be devoid of messages, but cramming them into a 30-minute timeframe could end up being too much.


The Mindy Project: "In the Club"
What Worked: The male nurse as a bathroom attendant... maybe?

What Didn't Work: I gave The Mindy Project three episodes and it has yet to win me over. I didn't find this episode funny at all (except for a few smirks thanks to the aforementioned nurse guy), and I don't get the appeal of this show. Mindy still came off as unlikable because of her obsession with the V.I.P. lounge and how she didn't give the non-basketball player the time of day until he did something for her. And what was with that one girl's crush on the douchey male doctor? That seemed like it was out of nowhere. I think I've given this show enough time to get its act together, and it's just not doing it for me so I think I'm out.


Sons of Anarchy: "Orca Shrugged"
What Worked: Four words: Walton. Goggins. In. Drag. Seriously, seeing Boyd Crowder all dolled up as a transgendered prostitute had to be the highlight of the season, and it should earn Goggins another Emmy nomination for Guest Actor in a Drama Series. Yes, it was that great. The return of the Irish Kings, and Jax's fist fight with their leader wasn't too shabby either.

What Didn't Work: Gemma continues to be a drag, and I cannot say that I care all that much about her relationship with Nero anymore. Also, I can't remember if they even mentioned Opie's death muchless gave it the proper attention that it deserves. And why are we supposed to care about Roosevelt or his pregnant wife again?


Arrow: "Pilot"
What Worked: While I'm not the biggest DC fan, I have to admit that I was kind of excited for the premiere of Arrow. Superheroes on TV can always be tricky, and I thought that The CW did the right thing by focusing on a more grounded vigilante like the Green Arrow. The action was decent enough, and I liked the Christopher Nolan treatment.

What Didn't Work: It's still a CW show and it had CW level acting. I wasn't wowed by any of the cast members, and I couldn't help but shake the thought that this was the networklets way of capitalizing on Revenge's success which was a little bit of a downer. I'm not saying that it's wrong for a show to try and ride the coattails of another; I was just hoping for something a little bit fresher.


Modern Family: "Schooled"
What Worked: I'll say it again: Modern Family only occasionally works when an episode is broken up into three chunks. As usual, I only cared about the Dunphy third of schooled because they always mix the right amount of sweetness with the humor, and Haley going to college was the right material for this show. I'll admit it, I got choked up when she called them after they left her at her dorm.

What Didn't Work: The other 2/3s. Gloria and Jay's antics at the parenting class came off as horribly disrespectful and made me like them even less than I already did, and I didn't know that was even possible. The Cam and Mitch stuff was more stereotypical gay humor that also felt a tad bit mean-spirited and didn't bring any laughs whatsoever.


Modern Family: "Snip"
What Worked: When the show does mix up the cast, Phil and Jay tend to have some of the best parts, and the same was true during "Snip." The whole vasectomy plot has been done by every single family sit-com that I can think of, so it wasn't new but it was a good reason to have the two of them bond, and that was good enough for me.

What Didn't Work: Anything that had nothing to do with Phil's dingleberries. I'll never like Gloria or Manny, so putting them together will always cause me to tune out. And while I liked the idea of Mitch trying to convince Cam to go back to work, their subplot just put their worst qualities front and center. Mitch's manipulative and Cam's a diva. Snore.


Nashville: "Pilot"
What Worked: I was excited to watch Nashville despite the fact that every critic named it one of the best new shows of the season. Right off the bat, I thought Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere were well cast, and I'm intrigued by their rivalry and the rest of the music industry plotlines. I even dug the up and comer's subplot even though it wasn't woven in all that effectively.

What Didn't Work: When the show focused on things not related to the music, I found myself losing interest. I don't care about Nashville politics, and the family drama was too soapy for my liking. To be fair, some of the music elements are even soapier, but I was expecting that from this show. Having Rayna at odds with her father was too formulaic in my opinion.

The Vampire Diaries: "Growing Pains"
What Worked: At least the show went through with turning Elena into a vampire because I was seriously worried that they'd find a way to back track on that one. All in all, her storyline was the standout of the entire episode.

What Didn't Work: I should be used to Vampire Diaries business, but everything felt even more scattered this time around. We got Klaus switching bodies again, Damon beating up Matt for being alive, Bonnie's grandmother showing up for some reason and the introduction and destruction of the Council in one episode. I think individually these elements work (except for maybe Bonnie's stuff), but pile them on top of Elena's transition, and you get a mess.


Grimm: "The Bottle Imp"
What Worked: Maybe it's because I don't watch SVU or Criminal Minds, but I was really caught off guard by the twist in "The Bottle Imp," and I thought it worked because it was a take on the classic demonic child horror device.

What Didn't Work: Unfortunately, the rest of the episode wasn't up to Grimm's standards. Putting Monroe into his own story about his misadventures in Rosalee's spice shop felt like a waste (even though it was worth a few laughs), and the strange bond between Juliette and Renard only muddled things up. I'm sure we're in for some craziness because of their kiss, but the introduction of this new zig was clunky.


So, there you have it. Another TV Report Card in the books. As you can see, 666 Park Avenue has been dropped because I'm behind on episodes, and I doubt I'll take the time to catch up anytime soon. Also, don't be surprised to see more shows get cut next time. I'm looking at you Mindy.


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