November 4, 2012

TV Report Card: Week of October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy's impact was limited to physical damage because she also affected the television industry as the networks made changes to their line-ups due to the storm. Since some of my shows were benched or moved around, I don't know how this edition of the TV Report Card will look like so pardon the mess in advance.

The Walking Dead: "Walk with Me"
What Worked: Moving away from the prison could've been a risky move, but the introduction of Woodbury and the Governor was effective enough that I didn't even think about Rick and his ragtag band of survivors. David Morrissey had a fantastic debut, and I'm excited to see how these two new locales will mesh down the road.

What Didn't Work: We learned more about the Governor in one episode than we have about Michonne. To be fair, she hasn't been on our screens that much, but I'm not seeing how she's one of the best Walking Dead characters and I'm afraid that she's not going to live up to the hype.


Homeland: "Q&A"
What Worked: Pretty great stuff this time around from Homeland. Obviously, the highlight of the entire episode was the phenomenal interrogation scene between Carrie and Brody. Claire Danes and Damian Lewis were terrific and proved that their Emmy wins weren't flukes.

What Didn't Work: The Dana/Finn/hit and run sub-plot that was introduced was clearly the weakest element because it just didn't fit in with the rest of the episode or the series for that matter. Right now, I still have enough faith in the writers and believe that it will make sense in the near future, but for now it didn't make a lick of sense and I couldn't careless about it.


Castle: "Probably Cause"
What Worked: Even though it was clear how the episode was going to end, "Probable Cause" was still filled with twists, turns and tension. I'm glad that they finally brought back 3XK because that was an arc that had some meat to it but was dropped for no real reason. I even didn't mind the cop-out ending that ensured that it could keep going if the show wants it to.

What Didn't Work: In spite of its strengths, the episode was so predictable that it was knocked down a few pegs. Of course Rick was going to be cleared. Of course 3XK would show his hand since he's a Bond villain. Of course Kate would doubt Rick for a slight moment just to be back on his side. It was all old territory, and I'm surprised it took Castle so long to go there... if they haven't already and I'm just blocking that episode out of my mind.


Revolution: "Sex and Drugs"
What Worked: Apparently, on Monday night NBC stood for "Nice Boobs, Charlie." Seriously, her getting in and out of that tub was the best thing this show's ever done.

What Didn't Work: It was just too bad that everything around Charlie's smoking bod was clunky and uninteresting. I still don't care enough about Aaron to spend so much time on his backstory, and that fact that he had an Asian wife was so cliched that I immediately tuned out. Even the hook of the episode, Drexel trading medicine for a favor smacked of bait and switch because he wanted Charlie to kill someone instead of doing other things. I suppose I can credit the show for taking the unconventional route but still.


Hart of Dixie: "Walkin' After Midnight"
What Worked: I loved it how the show worked the Iron Bowl into Lavon's mayoral campaign, and I was a little surprised that it took so long. It was also a strong episode for Wade as he realized that cares about Zoe more than he's been leading on.

What Didn't Work: I still don't care about George's dating life, so anything that had to do with him juggling women or hitting on random bar patrons didn't land for me. Also, his sleep walking bit wasn't as funny as the show thought it was, but it did its job by forcing him to talk to Zoe about their feelings. Another romantic sub-plot that didn't work for me: Annabeth's crush on Lavon and Lemon's jealousy.


Raising Hope: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Me What To Do"
What Worked: First off, putting Burt in a gay bar was beyond genius because watching him adjust to the culture without mocking it was commendable. Plus, his bit about dressing as the Village People version of a mail man because he brings the biggest package was equally as brilliant. Garrett Dillahunt for an Emmy!

What Didn't Work: I didn't really mind Jimmy and Sabrina's story about them being sperm/egg donors for her friends because it was a nice way to explore their relationship, but I couldn't help but feel bad for the two guys who asked them because their hopes were unnecessarily dashed twice. Sure, they're only minor characters that we'll only see a handful of times in the future, but that entire plot felt short-sighted.


Ben and Kate: "Scaredy Kate"
What Worked: Pretty much everything because this episode did everything I asked from the show. We got frazzled, socially awkward Kate. We got silly, dancing Kate. We got smart and caring Kate. We pretty much got every version of that character that I'm smitten with and some got subplots involving the rest of the ensemble. While Ben and Tommy were funnier, BJ's moments with Maddie was a nice mix of crazy and warm.

What Didn't Work: I don't know if I can come up with anything that I didn't like about this one. I guess it could've been funnier, but I've already come to terms with the reality that Ben and Kate's not a laugh-out-loud kind of show. It's quick, charming and heart-warming.


Happy Endings: "Sabado Free-Gante"
What Worked: Even though it's based on a worn-out rom-com trope, I'm not hating Dave and Alex's rekindled romance because I know that it's only a placeholder until he hooks up with Penny. Usually, I'd hate this kind of storytelling, but the writers are burning through it so quickly that you can tell that they're not even taking it too seriously.

What Didn't Work: The combination of Brad and Max should've made me laugh more than it did, and I was largely indifferent about Brad's inability to cope with a less high-end lifestyle. Penny and Jane's plot about buying a car was by far my least favorite because it did nothing but highlight the latter's gigantic flaws in a way that wasn't amusing to me.


New Girl: "Halloween"
What Worked: I appreciated how Nick and Jess realized that what they thought they wanted didn't match up with what they really wanted. Yes, it was just another step towards their inevitable pairing but I think that the show's being smart about that journey, so I'm going with it.

What Didn't Work: Schmidt was at his all-time douchiness as he constantly insulted Cece's boyfriend and he strayed into insufferable territory. I get that he's struggling with seeing her with someone else, but I cannot root for him when he's being such a jerk. Also, why even bother with giving Winston a girlfriend if you're just going to forget about it?


Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23: "Love and Monsters"
What Worked: I really didn't love this one, but I thought it was kind of clever how Chloe's story was supposed to be a riff on rom-coms, but it never quite came together like it could have. I also didn't hate seeing JVDB getting to know the guy June works with.

What Didn't Work: Aside from Chloe's A-plot, we did not get nearly enough of the Beek but I'm biased since he's the main reason I tune in. Similarly, I could have done without so much June because Dreama Walker's still not bringing enough to the party to make me care about her or the schlubby gut that they forced upon her.


Arrow: "An Innocent Man"
What Worked: In spite of Arrow's glaring problems, I have to admit that "An Innocent Man" was one of the young series' better episodes. The main reason why I thought that this one was better than most had to do with the fact that Oliver opened up and shared his secret with Diggle which should liven things up. The complications between him, Laurel and his alter-ego was also more interesting than it had any right being.

What Didn't Work: Even though the story had to do with clearing the name of an innocent man, I found myself not really caring about the resolution because we all knew where it was going which speaks more to the formulaic nature of the show itself. While I enjoy some of the more serialized aspects of Arrow, its mark of the week premise has started to bore me.


30 Rock: "There's No I in America"
What Worked: Per usual, all of the stuff involving Jack and Liz was gold, and their debate made Jenna entertaining for the first time in what feels like forever, but that probably had to do with the fact that they only highlighted why she's a horrible character. Tracy's history lesson was also worth a few chuckles.

What Didn't Work: Pretty much anything that didn't involve Jack and Liz. Pete's sadsack routine has never been all that funny to me, so using him as a symbol for how little things have changed since 2008 didn't work on me. And Kenneth was featured way too much.


Modern Family: "Yard Sale"
What Worked: I've got to say it again, why do I keep watching this show? I suppose I didn't hate Phil's bit with the motorcycle, and the end tag was the best part of the episode. And Alex's plot about whether or not her boyfriend was gay was decent enough.

What Didn't Work: Since I hate Gloria, her ventriloquist bit was excruciatingly annoying and unfunny, but I chuckled when Luke admitted to being a manipulative little shit. To be honest, I don't even remember what else happened during this episode. I just know that I didn't really care for it, but what else is new.


American Horror Story: Asylum: "Nor'easter"
What Worked: So far, I've liked how the possession storyline has progressed. We got some genuinely creepy stuff from Sister Mary Eunice as well as some darkly funny ones. Of course, Jessica Lange was good as Sister Jude went crazy, and I even found myself caring about the three escapees. Not so much about Shelley, but that was an interesting reveal at the end.

What Didn't Work: I don't want to be one of those guys who over-uses "a Ryan Murphy show," but "Nor'easter" and AHS:A are classic examples of his kind of programs because there's too much going on. We've got the devil, aliens and their robotic spiders, flesh-eating mutants, mass murderers, crazy doctors... all in one episode. If Ryan and Falchuk trimmed one (or two) of these elements, AHS would be a much tighter show... but that's not their style.


Nashville: "We Live in Two Different Worlds"
What Worked: Juliette's shop lifting made me sight last week, so I wasn't expecting to care about it as much as I did. I was impressed by how her antics were a commentary on celebrity, and we got some depth from a character that's only been a bratty temptress up until now. I still care more about Scarlett, Gunner and Avery than I do about the older triangle, and I was glad that we got a break from Gunner pining over his partner.

What Didn't Work: At this point, I do not care about Juliette's mother and she's taking up valuable time. Now, I can acknowledge that her precense has given us some insight into her daughter's backstory, but something about it just doesn't click for me. Maybe it's the cliched junkie spin on the character.


The Vampire Diaries: "The Five"
What Worked: In a show with so much mythology, adding more facets could be tricky, but I thought that the introduction of the Five was well done and I'm actually excited to see where this story goes. Plus, it was a good Rebekah episode, and I'm always a fan of it when I'm not bored by the Originals.

What Didn't Work: My indifference towards Bonnie ruined the Elena/Damon moments because her concerned bestie rountine came off as annoying, and I would've preferred it if Caroline had been the one accompaning them on the college visit. Yes, it had to be Bonnie so we could get more information about the Five, but I'm never going to care about her or what she does.


Elementary: "Lesser Evils"
What Worked: For the first time, I found myself not liking an episode of Elementary. As always, Jonny Lee Miller was great, and it was nice seeing some of Watson's former life, but that was not enough to keep my attention during this one.

What Didn't Work: I found everything that involved the angel of death boring. I didn't care who it was or why he or she was going what they were doing. I suppose having it be the janitor (who was a former doctor) could have been interesting but it's all been done before. And the added layer of intrigue only muddled things up. This one was a classic example of a police procedural and it came up short.


Grimm: "The Hour of Death"
What Worked: Another solid episode of Grimm. The idea of a vigilante Grimm had a lot of potential, and while I didn't think the concept got enough time to breathe, it did make for an entertaining hour of television. Also, I'm always happy when they bring Bud back. I even liked the Juliette/Renard scenes but I think that had to do with the fact that this episode wasn't as busy as previous ones.

What Didn't Work: I get that most shows do not have the luxury of time and shortcuts need to be made, but I felt that Ryan being the self-hating Wesen posing as another Grimm was out of nowhere. I should've seen it coming since you don't book a squintern to just be in the background, but still. And where did Nick's pissiness come from? I get that he's frustrated, but the way he reacted to Juliette also didn't feel earned.


Nikita: "True Believer"
What Worked: I appreciated the moment of self-reflection on Nikita's part and how she realized how she's become a part of the thing that she dedicated herself to destroying. It was by no means ground-breaking writing, but Maggie Q sold it. It was the bit of introspection that made the rogue agent-of-the-week device work this week, but it'll be nice to have Amanda back.

What Didn't Work: Once again, the lack of a true big bad exposed this season's weakness up to date. Third Wave had a lot of potential, but I started to lose interest when it became clear that it was only going to be around for this episode. Part of me wanted it to be the new entity that Nikita had to face, but it was not meant to be, and the the fact that it was all a giant scam was a bit of a letdown.


So, another TV Report Card is in the books. As you can see, I didn't include Sons of Anarchy or The Mindy Project this time around. That's partially because I didn't watch the former and had no desire to catch up, and I have officially given up the latter because it hasn't made me laugh once over its first couple of episodes. Maybe they'll make a return... maybe not.


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