Saturday, August 30, 2008

AFT Awards: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

This is the fifth category of the 2nd Annual AFT Television Awards to be announced, my personal choices for the best in television this past season. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Honorable mention: Michael Paul Chan was fantastic on “The Closer” but he just isn’t prominent enough on the show for me to include him in the top ten.

Runners-up: Seth Gabel is mesmerizing in some of the “Dirty Sexy Money” episodes this season. Vincent Kartheiser is an excellent seedy underling on “Mad Men”. Glenn Fitzgerald is so amusing as an angry priest on “Dirty Sexy Money”. Naveen Andrews and Henry Ian Cusick are standouts among the large “Lost” ensemble.

The nominees:

G.W. Bailey is the most sarcastic, difficult lug but you can’t help but love him on “The Closer”. Michael Emerson plays Others leader Ben magnificently so that you have absolutely no idea whether he’s one of the good guys or one of the bad guys on “Lost”. Blair Underwood gives the performance of his career as a depressed pilot on “In Treatment”. Donald Sutherland commands the screen as one of the richest men in New York City on “Dirty Sexy Money”. John Slattery turns in a career-best performance as advertising firm partner Roger Sterling on “Mad Men”.

What I'm Watching: Swingtown

Swingtown: Season 1, Episode 12 "Surprise" (C)

This show is quickly becoming devastatingly repetitive, reasserting previously-established character traits rather than propelling along any new developments. The teacher's storyline is perhaps the most frustrating, with every single person in the world save for Lori proclaiming that he is a womanizer, but in truth he's the nicest guy ever willing to turn down his dream job for one of the most boring characters on television. I think Janet would do well as the new Dear Trudy, though Roger's job may ruin things. Bruce should be a bit more careful about his indiscretions. I guess they didn't have cell phones back then, but calling from his own bedroom in his own house seems rather purposefully foolish. Trina's pregnancy isn't nearly exciting as perhaps it might seem, especially because I'm sure Tom will be perfectly fine with it. Nothing really matters anyway, as this show is probably airing its last episode ever next week. A second season pickup would be surprising, and I think it's highly unlikely.

Friday, August 29, 2008

AFT Awards: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

This is the fourth category of the 2nd Annual AFT Television Awards to be announced, my personal choices for the best in television this past season. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Runners-up: Yvonne Strahovski is charming as a secret agent assigned to work with the na├»ve Chuck on the show of the same name. America Ferrera is endearing as the loyal protagonist on “Ugly Betty”. Both Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria continue to turn in fine performances despite poor storylines for their characters. I’m not completely convinced I like Anna Friel on “Pushing Daisies”, but I’ll rank her tenth here.

The nominees:

Mary-Louise Parker is simply incredible as frantic mother slash pot dealer Nancy on “Weeds”. Tina Fey manages to out-act Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, and Jane Krakowski on “30 Rock” all at once – not an easy feat. Natasha McElhone had the perfect off-balance chemistry with David Duchovny on “Californication”. Dana Delany was the best thing to happen to “Desperate Housewives” in a long time. Christina Applegate was at the same time loveable and detestable as the old and the new “Samantha Who”.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

AFT Awards: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

This is the third category of the 2nd Annual AFT Television Awards to be announced, my personal choices for the best in television this past season. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Runners-up: James Roday keeps his goofiness just in check as fake psychic Shawn on “Psych”. Larry David continues to offend every person imaginable on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. Bret McKenzie works seamlessly to create awkwardness on “Flight of the Conchords”. Lee Pace isn’t as enthusiastic as he was on “Wonderfalls”, but he’s still good as the resident piemaker on “Pushing Daisies”. Zachary Levi is likeable as the clueless accidental secret agent on “Chuck”.

The nominees:

David Duchovny turned on the charm as the despicable but immensely loveable Hank Moody on Showtime’s dramedy “Californication”. Steve Carrell makes awkward moments funnier than anyone else as the boss on “The Office”. Alec Baldwin is a great heartless executive whose fall from grace is hilarious to watch on “30 Rock”. Jemaine Clement is incredible as half of the folk parody duo on “Flight of the Conchords”. Tony Shalhoub is still just as great after six years of playing obsessive-compulsive on “Monk”.

What I'm Watching: The Cleaner

The Cleaner: Season 1, Episode 6 "To Catch A Fed" (B-)

Imagine my excitement when I discovered that not one but two of the actors who I feel have given two of the best single performances I have ever seen but rarely appeared in anything afterward were guest-starring in the same night of television. Christian Camargo was so fantastic as Rudy on the first season of "Dexter", and Sarah Clarke was simply incredible on season one of "24" as CTU agent Nina Myers. Now what I got from the episode was that these two should have their own show together as FBI agents, and it would be really good. I wish they had done more with both of these characters, and I hope that the "and" credit Sarah Clarke got wasn't just because she is a well-known government agent type but rather because the writers plan on bringing her back. Glad to see the Akani angle being fleshed out; wish they did more with it. I don't want to hear any more about the son and his troubles, but I guess any good masochistic tragic hero has to have family problems.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

AFT Awards: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

This is the second category of the 2nd Annual AFT Television Awards to be announced, my personal choices for the best in television this past season. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Runners-up: Evangeline Lilly turns in some of her best work yet as “Lost” castaway Kate. Angie Harmon is a good match for the surprisingly quality “Women’s Murder Club”. Though it’s not quite my cup of tea, I’ll admit that Holly Hunter is rather good as a tough cop on “Saving Grace”. And rounding out my top ten are two “The L Word” actresses who have been better on previous seasons but still did fine this year: Mia Kirshner and Jennifer Beals.

The nominees:

Kyra Sedgwick still stands out among an increasingly-showcased ensemble on “The Closer”. Minnie Driver keeps her character in check as her life got ever crazier on “The Riches”. As the lead female in a mostly male cast, Annabeth Gish continually impresses on “Brotherhood”. Laurel Holloman turns in her best work since season one of “The L Word”. Mary McDonnell imbues President Roslin with an even mix of determination and compassion.

What I'm Watching: Weeds

Weeds: Season 4, Episode 11 "Head Cheese" (B+)

More Shane and Isabelle interactions are needed immediately! I love the two of them together, and I'm sure I'll love the newfound foursome that includes Shane, his two girlfriends, and Isabelle. Doug and his love I can do without, but I'm now extremely pleased with the happenings at the cheese shop. The guy who tried to pay with a five-dollar bill for what he thought was just a cheese sandwich, previously seen portraying twin brothers corruptly running a funeral home on "Pushing Daisies", made for a hilarious situation when Lisa's gut response was to say he was too fat to buy a sandwich. They should really come up with some actual non-pot product to sell just in case. And you can always count on "Weeds" to come through with a whole new twist just when things are starting to slow down - I was genuinely shocked when Roy Till arrived at Nancy's place and she's ready to help him put away Guillermo. This is never where I expected the show to be when I first watched the pilot three years ago. It's incredible.

What I'm Watching: The Closer

The Closer: Season 4, Episode 7 "Sudden Death" (B+)

I've always been a fan of episodes spotlighting each of the individual cast members, and while I would have liked to see more of Sanchez's (and Tau's for that matter) home life, this will do fine. That was an intense opening scene with Sanchez darting to frantically help his brother and nearly attacking the paramedics for not coming immediately to his brother's aid. It's weird to see the whole team in plainclothes, but then again, I wouldn't mind seeing them like this again in a more personal sense, especially with characters like Tau and Daniels who we really don't know too much about (I loved last year's episode with Provenza and Flynn on their way to the ball game, and Pope's dealing with his wife's lawsuit). Besides offering a nice spotlight for one of the characters, this is a good, moving episode with a lot of intensity and a compelling finish.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

AFT Awards: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

This is the first category of the 2nd Annual AFT Television Awards to be announced, my personal choices for the best in television this past season. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Runners-up: Gabriel Byrne works hard to deal with out-there patients on “In Treatment”, while Denis Leary persists despite a ludicrous plotline on “Rescue Me”. Bryan Cranston is subdued and impressive as a high school science teacher who cooks meth on “Breaking Bad”, and Edward James Olmos might have made the top five had he been in more of this season of “Battlestar Galactica”. And while Peter Krause could never get as good a role as Nate Fisher from “Six Feet Under”, but he tries his very best as the only sane person on “Dirty Sexy Money”.

The nominees:

Michael C. Hall turns in an amazing performance in the second season of “Dexter”. Jon Hamm creates a fascinating ad man in Don Draper on AMC’s freshmen drama “Mad Men”. Eddie Izzard keeps his character perfectly grounded in an even more frantic season of “The Riches”. Jason Isaacs and Jason Clarke are terrific as brothers on opposite sides of the law in “Brotherhood”.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What I'm Watching: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 2, Episode 5 "The New Girl" (B+)

I've never really liked the character of Peggy but in this episode, I think she's beginning to grow on me. She's always been the time of person who's constantly apologetic and always willing to sacrifice her own happiness to please others, but with some not-so-subtle nudging from a certain unfaithful wife, she finally stands up for herself and demands money from Don, proceeding to call him by his first name. I'm interested to see where that goes, as Don surely cannot suppress her and take advantage of her forever. I thought for a moment that he would call Roger, who would of course understand his situation, but I guess Peggy makes more sense. I hope the new girl has more depth to her, and I'd like to see Pete find out about his secret offspring.

For those interested, AMC is showing a marathon of the first five episodes of season two this coming Sunday starting at 5pm. Recommended viewing for those who have missed out so far on this season of the show.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What I'm Watching: Monk & Psych

Monk: Season 7, Episode 6 "Mr. Monk Falls in Love" (B+)
Psych: Season 3, Episode 6 "There Might Be Blood" (B+)

While Monk's immediate affection for the suspect is rather puzzling, it still makes for quite an entertaining hour. I especially enjoyed everyone else's reaction to his attraction, and his continued, and ultimately correct, insistence that she's "not the guy". I do like it when there's a somewhat random connection to the case, like the secret and ultimately crucial identity of the murder victim. On the "Psych" side of things, I'm delighted to see Jane Lynch as the Chief's sister, since the two work together so much better than possibly anyone else I might have cast. It's a perfect role for Lynch, and this episode definitely showcases Kirsten Nelson's acting in a positive manner. I love all of Shawn's comments, and my favorite which I've selected from this episode: "I was never put in the first place." Comic brilliance.

What I'm Watching: Burn Notice

Burn Notice: Season 2, Episode 7 "Rough Seas" (B+)

Jeffrey Donovan really is a great actor. I'm often fooled by his understated demeanor when he's acting normal, but I love all the roles he takes on to go undercover. His token line about not being able to deal with guns and violence and it "not being his thing" was rather funny. He really immerses himself in each one of the roles, and it's terrific. I'd like to see a bit more of Fiona doing that, while Sam does enough already but always make it worth it. I was still lost about who the guest star this week was since I didn't watch last season, but the plot seemed to make sense, and it's nice to see the usually underwhelming Madeline stand up for herself, and better yet, for Michael not to be too unhappy about it.

What I'm Watching: The Cleaner

The Cleaner: Season 1, Episode 5 "Here Comes the Boom" (C)

I can't help feeling like too much is packed into just one episode here in terms of major plot developments. It seems weird that this is only episode five, since this show feels like it's been on for so long since the first few episodes were so surprisingly good. The setup for this episode is good, but pairing Ben's running away from home with it is a bit much. It's already clear that William's life is out of control and that he has issues to deal with. There's no need for him to get hit at the same time with everything. On top of that, Swenton being forced to smoke also seemed to come out of nowhere. I'm not quite sure why he in fact went in and what he possibly expected to happen. I'm a bit curious to see how William deals with it, but out of all the people on his team to get addicted, I would think either Akani or Darnell would have been far more interesting.

What I'm Watching: Weeds

Weeds: Season 4, Episode 10 "The Love Circle Overlap" (B+)

I like how this show is taking on a whole new style centered around Esteban and Nancy's relationship, and I was particularly fascinated by the scenes with the alternative remedy and all of Nancy's hallucinations. Shane talking with those girls and then attempting to turn to an angry Silas for advice was hilarious. Celia's intervention has been a long time coming, and I look forward to her embarking on new plotlines soon. I'm sort of done with Silas' relationship with Lisa, but then again, so is he, and I'm eager to see what Doug and Andy do now that they've been busted and Doug has been reunited with his not-so-long-lost love. I'm also thrilled that Maulik Pancholy is back as Sanjay and I enjoyed his interaction with the guy in the store room talking about how his baby was the devil.

What I'm Watching: The Closer

The Closer: Season 4, Episode 6 "Problem Child" (B+)

This is a great standalone "Closer" episode which represents one of the more interesting cases which result in a very similar fashion to those on "Law & Order". I was very impressed with all the guest actors and characters this episode, and the scene with the confession by the parents was a good one. I would like to see much more of Brenda and Fritz in each episode, however, not simply relegated to Fritz making one call and Brenda contradicting it and barely apologizing later. I hope that they don't just drop his addiction and the fact that he really wants kids and Brenda clearly doesn't. To me, "The Closer" has always been better than a "Law & Order"-type clone because of the wonderful cast and the fantastic way they work together. It's about time Fritz got himself a major role on the series.

What I'm Watching: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 2, Episode 4 "Three Sundays" (B+)

Colin Hanks really does sound like his dad. I hope that his arc isn't over quite so quickly, as I think his relationship with Peggy and the way he will help her deal with her pregnancy/child should be interesting. Betty's going to snap soon if she doesn't get back to riding horses with not-so-eligible but nonetheless charming bachelors. The whole American Airlines thing really didn't work out too well, and it's fascinating to see Roger's reaction and hearing him talk about the chase. I hope that Marguerite Moreau, Roger's new friend, will be back soon as I'm a big fan of hers from her preposterous "life as we know it" days. And I have to assume that Duck will be fired soon, because he really did mess this whole thing up, right from the beginning since it was his idea to dump the other airline that was already their client.

What I'm Watching: Swingtown

Swingtown: Season 1, Episode 11 "Get Down Tonight" (B-)

I must say, this is a terrific episode for Janet, a character who has always been played very well by Miriam Shor. Now she finally gets the chance to take charge when she should be in charge, excelling at her new job and sternly but effectively threatening her boss' policy of sexual harassment. I hope Roger does gets a job soon because this can only last so long, but it's good to see him interacting more with Susan. I really do hope that he and Susan don't get caught by Janet, because that will not turn out well for anyone involved. I do love the therapy sessions and the idea that, much as it didn't really seem that way at first, Susan really is just as in love with Roger as he is with her. Two more episodes left, possibly forever. Can this show outlive the summer?

What I'm Watching: Monk & Psych

Monk: Season 7, Episode 5 "Mr. Monk is Underwater" (B+)
Psych: Season 3, Episode 5 "Disco Didn't Die. It Was Murdered!" (B+)

Monk getting stuck on a submarine is a fantastic plotline which plays perfectly to his phobias. His conjuring of Dr. Bell on the ship to cope with his fears of boats and claustrophobia is wildly amusing, and utilized just to the breaking point so as not to become tedious or annoying. I thought that Casper Van Dien was supposed to be a bad actor - what with his starring in the straight-to-video "Starship Troopers 3" - but he's actually well-cast for the role of Natalie's wannabe lover. On the "Psych" side of things, I'm happy that Corbin Bernsen continues to be deeply involved in each case, and I especially liked the scene with Shawn, the bomb, and Lassiter and O'Hara making themselves out to be far more heroic than they really are.

What I'm Watching: Burn Notice

Burn Notice: Season 2, Episode 6 "Bad Blood" (B+)

This episode is a perfect combination of Michael's in-service-of-Carla job and his off-hours side job, especially when the two converge and Michael is made out to be under surveillance by the FBI (go figure) to scare off the guy he's trying to con. I was thoroughly impressed with how Michael dealt with the situation of having his cover nearly blown and still pulling it off incredibly. It was good to see Rob Benedict from "Threshold", even if his role was a bit weird. The operative from Carla's organization who Michael was assigned to work with grew on me, but I really hope this isn't the last we'll see of Tricia Helfer on this show.

What I'm Watching: Weeds

Weeds: Season 4, Episode 9 "Little Boats" (B+)

This is a terrific episode to follow up on last week's great installment. Nancy's dual-meaning conversation with both of her sons about an Oedipal complex is hilarious and all three actors play it incredibly well. I'm a huge fan of Esteban, who may well be Nancy's most dangerous boyfriend, but he is rather charming and a very likable character for a corrupt politician in the drug business. Lisa and Silas I can do without, as it's clear that's heading nowhere good, but the praise for good coyote El Andy makes the whole episode more than worthwhile.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What I'm Watching: The Closer

The Closer: Season 4, Episode 5 "Dial M for Provenza" (B+)

I like the idea of starting the episode in media res, with the undercover Provenza op already underway, though the show does always feel like it starts in the middle with its credits sequence ("The Shield" does a similar kind of thing). I would have loved Jennifer Coolidge's guest spot were it not for that horrible accent (think Nicolas Cage in "Con Air" or Zeljko Ivanek on "Damages"). I wish there had been more with the drama between Brenda and Fritz from last week, but seeing one of my favorite characters take the spotlight is always a treat. Well done to G.W. Bailey - I especially enjoyed his flamboyant shirt and his final scene with Pope.

What I'm Watching: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 2, Episode 3 "The Benefactor" (B+)

I'm starting to realize that Don Draper can really be an unlikable character, but there's something that's continually appealing about him. Watching him fire that secretary and tell her she's completely incompetent is difficult, yet seeing him at home and dealing with that insulting comedian shows a different, wickedly impressive side of him. I'm amused by the relationship he has with Joan and how she feels both honored and qualified to be his fill-in secretary. Patrick Fischler was perfect as Jimmy - abrasive but not too showy while fitting in seamlessly with the time period. Don's dinner and his wife's reaction to it were quality dramatic scenes matched by the special spotlight on Harry and his sudden drive to improve his status, as well as the subtle interaction between Salvatore and the executive who propositioned him during dinner last season. What a terrific show.

What I'm Watching: Swingtown

Swingtown: Season 1, Episode 10 "Running on Empty" (B-)

All this cabin stuff is pretty ridiculous, but I'd rather focus on the far more intriguing and juicy subplot this episode. Janet's realization that she's attracted to Tom is both amusing and dramatic at the same time, and her interaction with the therapist is classic. I'd love to see her and Roger become swingers, though I doubt that will be the case any time soon. Trina and Tom seem to be having quite a bit of trouble keeping themselves entertained while staying faithful, but their fidelity didn't last too long. Bruce's acceptance of Laurie's dalliance with the teacher is a somewhat touching moment, but having him lunge after her one second before is a bit sloppy. That's a rather speedy change of heart. In any case, I just read about a DVD release for the show's first season. That's impressive considering a lot of my favorite recent summer shows haven't gotten such a treatment (The Inside, Hidden Palms), but I can't possibly imagine they'll translate this one over to the regular TV season. It just has that summer feel - nice and relaxing, but much more of a guilty pleasure than an actual satisfying legitimate experience.

What I'm Watching: Monk & Psych

Monk: Season 7, Episode 4 "Mr. Monk Takes A Punch" (B+)
Psych: Season 3, Episode 4 "The Greatest Adventure in the History of Basic Cable" (B+)

This is exactly the episode "Monk" needed right now to sustain itself after a somewhat lackluster start to the season. I especially love when guest stars form a friendship bond with Monk, such as this episode with the boxer calling Monk "Mr. M". Watching Monk try to pull it together and get in shape was highly amusing, and the finale with him running to stop the bad guy was a great capper. This is my favorite kind of "Monk" case resolution, when it's something small that you have to pay attention for - the guy who stole the paintings in that one scene where they were filming the commercial. The attention to detail is truly terrific. "Psych" could have stopped itself short a bit earlier before getting so incredibly ridiculous, but I still enjoyed the episode. Corbin Bernsen is a lot of fun, and I'd really like to see more of Maggie Lawson's Jules, who's been sidelined a bit this season in favor of the deserving and funny Lassie. It was also great to see Steven Weber, who impressed last year with a more dramatic turn on "Monk", though I do wish he had been given a bit more to do. Part of me suspects that this isn't the last we've seen of him.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What I'm Watching: Burn Notice

Burn Notice: Season 2, Episode 5 "Scatter Point" (B)

The central case plotline this episode isn't too terrific, though it's always a treat to see Oded Fehr and be reminded of his glory days on "Sleeper Cell" - rent that now if you haven't seen it. Especially if you like this show. It's far more serious, of course, but it's still a great series. As far as "Burn Notice" goes, I'm really starting to love the dynamic between Fiona and Sam and all the stuff they do together while helping Michael out on the job. This show has turned out to be far more entertaining than the semi-satisfying fluff I initially took it for.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What I'm Watching: The Cleaner

The Cleaner: Season 1, Episode 4 "Chaos Theory" (B)

Man, Jeff Fahey is everywhere! He was just on "Psych" a few days ago, preceded of course by his recurring role on "Lost" this past season. He's starting to seem a lot like Alan Dale or Eddie Cibrian, who combined together have probably frequented every show ever to hit the airwaves (obviously an exaggeration). Fahey doesn't have much to do here, but he does a few key scenes where he really bonds with Melissa, but then undoes it all by shooting up in William's house. Interesting to see William and Melissa getting along so well, and then have her pull away because it's too soon. I'd like to see a different kind of case come along, something unexpected and surprising, but for the moment, I'm satisfied enough.

What I'm Watching: Secret Diary of a Call Girl

Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Season 1, Episode 8 (B+)

This is a fitting finale for a consistently good first season. I'm eager to see season two, which I believe begins as early as next month in the UK, and I'll attempt to provide reviews based on whether I can get my hands on the episodes as they air overseas. Billie Piper is a terrific lead, and I'm continually impressed by her ability to carry the show and dwarf all the guest stars with her performance. Ben is a fine supporting character, and I suspect that this new position which Belle holds won't suit her as much as she initially thought, and she may revert back to her old job, which may not turn out to be much of a downgrade. All in all, this is a good show which is far better than I might have imagined.

Season 1 grade: B+

What I'm Watching: Weeds

Weeds: Season 4, Episode 8 "I Am the Table" (B+)

Hands-down the funniest moment of the season thus far - Shane hitting the other kid in the face with the lunch tray. That kid is going to grow up to be one messed-up person, but for the moment his antics are hilarious, especially because he gets his advice from a drug kingpin's underling after being told he has to go to school instead of helping to sell drugs. Seeing a bit less of Celia might be nice, as she adds little at the moment with her constant nodding off and whining about needing drugs. I'm thoroughly enjoying Andy and Doug's coyote business, especially giving matzoh to the Mexicans and his whole speech comparing himself to Moses. Silas' cheese shop drug front could go somewhere, and it's a good plotline for him after strong storylines with Megan in season one and Mary-Kate Olsen last season. Now, to Nancy and the mayor - their relationship is a bit messed up with all that blood everywhere, but it's nonetheless a fascinating interaction with great performances from both actors.

What I'm Watching: The Closer

The Closer: Season 4, Episode 4 "Live Wire" (B+)

I'm happy to see the show trend itself towards a more serious tone, with all the tension brewing between Brenda and Fritz, sure to come to a head sooner or later. The brilliance of this show is its seamless integration of the drama and the comedy - evident earlier with Fritz waiting outside Brenda's interrogation room, the break-up of Sergeant Gabriel and Detective Daniels, and that bumbling reporter's continual interference in the departmental investigations. I've heard there's a Provenza-centric episode coming up - I'm rather excited for that. This is one of the best casts on television, and I especially love when characters are zeroed in on for specific episodes (season two did a tremendous job of that).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What I'm Watching: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 2, Episode 2 "Flight 1" (B+)

This show really knows how to utilize history to its advantage. A sad note is that the actor who portrayed Pete's father did in fact pass away recently, but this seems like a fitting tribute to his performance on the show. Pete's relationship with Don is especially fascinating, and watching Don let down Mohawk is extremely compelling. That Duck Phillips is sure to make many more problems for Don in the coming weeks, but I suspect he won't be around for long. It's also interesting to see more of the characters' home lives in this episode, specifically Paul and his "open-minded" girlfriend.

What I'm Watching: Monk & Psych

Monk: Season 7, Episode 3 "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever" (B)
Psych: Season 3, Episode 3 "Daredevils" (B)

The first two installments of the current seasons of these shows were fine, nothing too exciting, but at this point I'm getting a bit fed up. "Monk" proceeds at such a slow pace, with rather predictable results, and the jokes are so deadpan it's hard to burst out laughing (and ruined in the previews, which I can't help seeing watching "Burn Notice" the night before). I long for the cleverness I found in last year's episodes, and especially the original episode which drew me in, long before I ever started watching the show on a regular basis - the season two premiere, "Mr. Monk Goes Back to School". I'd like to see more of that quality in this show. I was thrilled to see Greg Pitts' name in the guest credits, but thoroughly disappointed after he was given nothing to do in the episode. This man was uproariously hilarious in ABC's short-lived but superb comedy "Sons and Daughters" a few years back. It indicates that perhaps "Monk" only knows how to use its high-profile guest stars well, and treats the rest as mere extras. Luckily, things are quite different on "Psych", as guest star Jeff Fahey pulls out all the stops and gives a truly amusing performance. After seeing him shout a lot and fly helicopters on "Lost", it's refreshing to see him let loose. "Psych" would do well to keep itself more grounded, as there's hardly any basis for them to enter into this episode's plotline, and it's not quite as funny but rather sadly repetitive. I think these shows do have some energy left in them, and if not, they only have a few more weeks before they disappear off the air until December.

What I'm Watching: Burn Notice

Burn Notice: Season 2, Episode 4 "Comrades" (B)

This show always makes things seem a wee bit too simplistic, but it's certainly a fun ride. Like Myles, it took me the whole episode to figure out exactly who their captive was, and I finally realized that it was the eye patch guy from "Lost", in a far less serious role here. I'm lost in reference to Michael's brother and wherever that plotline might have come from due to my absence from this show in its freshman season, and nothing in the episode really clued me in too much, but it's not a big deal. As I said before, this show is all about the fun. And Bruce Campbell is indeed quite hilarious.