Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What I’m Watching: How to Make It in America

How to Make It in America: Season 1, Episode 7 “Keep on Truck’n” (B+)

And down the toilet these characters’ lives go. With the Rasta Monsta truck and their shirts stolen, Cam and Ben are now out of luck and back to square one, with more than one major debt to be repaid. While I imagined this would eventually happen, I didn’t think that the characters would be nearly as sympathetic. While Cam is certainly in sure for some major consequences as a result of Rene’s fury, Ben now has to choose between two women. His big decision to finally go on a road trip with the new girl was followed immediately by finding his ex-girlfriend drunk on his doorstep. Rachel’s life really is blowing up, as Darren contracts Edie and Rachel to design his hotel. I liked Rachel’s response to Edie’s offer to make Rachel a partner if she did the hotel, “and what if I don’t?” I’d love to see Edie and Darren interacting some more, but clearly Rachel and Darren clearly aren’t meant for each other. My favorite part of the whole thing is the people interacting with Rene. The old mentor from “The Pretender,” Patrick Bauchau, makes for a great head honcho, but he’s nowhere near as incredible as John Carroll Lynch as Rene’s parole officer. Having him constantly poke his head into Rene’s affairs to catch him in the middle of an illegal act and send him back to jail could be obnoxious, but he’s such a terrific character and therefore it will be a delight to have him around all the time. It’s also probably a good thing for Ben and Cam to have someone watching Rene to ensure that he doesn’t make their lives completely miserable.

What I’m Watching: The Pacific

The Pacific: Season 1, Episode 3 “Melbourne” (B+)

The first non-battle episode of this miniseries is a roaring success. The enthusiasm with which the soldiers are greeted in Australia after just being in the throes of all this violence and death in the middle of the jungle presents a fascinating contrast between public perception of what’s going on “over there” and the reality of things. It’s also particularly interesting to see how this foreign crowd reacts to the American soldiers, and more entertainingly, how the Americans react to the Australians. The truth is that boys will be boys, and the amount of alcohol consumed and women flirted with within hours of landing in Melbourne is staggering. Some is certainly amusing, while the rest is definitely more serious and powerful. John has to deal with the unexpected consequences of being called and being awarded a medal of honor, and that last shot of the Golden Gate Bridge is a haunting shot, followed by a close-up of his face, as he prepares to deal with the fact that he now has to sell war bonds back home. Bob staying at Stella’s seems like a fantasy, even if it’s filled with sad stories about the past, and all of the conversations about religion and family are extremely intriguing. Seeing Bob get choked up when the mom says that she prays he’ll come back to them was a particularly moving moment. Of course it all has to get taken away so quickly when the soldiers are told they have to march 100 miles back to Melbourne and then arrives to find his lady no longer interested (“you’re dumping me because you think I’m going to get killed”) and himself reassigned as a result of his drunken behavior. This installment also served to really underline the effect of the war on people back at home, and did an extraordinary job of it.

What I’m Watching: Caprica (Season Finale)

Caprica: Season 1, Episode 9 “End of Line” (B-)

This is the way to end a season. Even if the episode wasn’t completely terrific, the manner in which the closing episode signs off is exactly how a finale should be done. Among the events that have either occurred or been set in motion are a failed assassination attempt, someone who thinks they’ve killed someone else, someone who knows they’ve just nearly been killed, someone who might have committed suicide, and someone else who has made a huge move that will change their life and situation forever. It’s ever clearer now how the Cylons will become disconnected from human society, with Zoe charging headfirst into a police barrier and Tamara telling her father that he needs to let her go before forever dispelling him from New Cap City. Zoe finally saying something and revealing herself was an awesome moment, and it makes sense that the first Cylon kill would be an accident, as a result of unnecessary force. I’m unsure of how Daniel will react now that Zoe has escaped from the lab, but I’ll be very interested to see that when the show returns in the fall. Amanda trying to commit suicide ensures that she’ll be treated differently if she does in fact survive when the show returns, and her presence shouldn’t be nearly as annoying as it has been thus far. Sister Clarice nearly being taken out is another major event that proves the Barnabas is a formidable enemy. The way he says “do you want to be a terrorist? How about some terror?” is intense, and the power struggle is sure to heat up from here. This first half-season (the show returns in the fall for the back ten episodes of its initial 19-episode order) has been uneven at best, but I think this closer suggests that the next set of episodes might be considerably stronger.

Season grade: B-
Season MVP: Alessandra Torresani

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What I’m Watching: 30 Rock

30 Rock: Season 4, Episode 16 “Floyd” (B+)

Even if the plotlines are far too silly, this episode still had plenty of laughs that made it more than worthwhile. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Robot, and it’s nice to have him team up with Jack once again since their friendship pretty much dissolved after Jack found out that he was sleeping with Liz. They did a great job getting revenge on the pranksters, and though secret society humor is always a bit silly, it worked well here as Jack was constantly forced to do things as a result of the code words he researched. Most of the stuff with Kenneth is too over-the-top for my tastes, but seeing Tracy and Jenna freak out is usually pretty fun. It’s also good not to have them doing anything too distracting while Liz is really the star of the show. The return of Floyd was certainly less satisfying for Liz than it should have been, but his accidental drunken escapade proved to be quite entertaining. I liked Floyd’s attempt at a pick-up line, “one last ride at Six Floyd’s amusement park” and his proclamation that he would never get Liz drunk on salmon, or any fish. Bad things always seem to happen to Liz, but that’s part of what makes her character and this show so enjoyable. Liz also delivered the best line of the episode – “rejection from society is what formed the X-Men.” It’s hard not to love superhero references, especially when made by Liz.

What I’m Watching: The Office

The Office: Season 6, Episode 21 “Happy Hour” (B+)

Michael is the least subtle human being in the universe, and it’s a shame that he is so unaware of how to behave in society. It was partially Jim’s fault for altering Michael to the fact that he and Pam were trying to set him up with Julie that he had to unleash the horror that is Date Mike. The most fun part is that Michael actually was able to score and impress the manager with his bad attitude and managerial resume. Dwight also scoring was fantastic, and part of it is that it’s so unexpected to see someone actually attracted to his peculiar and unfriendly nature. Her decision to whack Angela in the forehead just like in the whack-a-mole game was random but hilarious. It’s nice to see Angela finally standing up for herself after being treated poorly by Dwight, but it’s a shame that he doesn’t seem to care at all. Oscar’s desire to get to know Matt is fun, and I especially enjoyed the incorporation of Darryl into this episode. The post-credits ending was particularly entertaining, mostly because of the look on Darryl’s face. Andy’s desire to keep his relationship with Erin secret to avoid drama was painful, but fortunately he swept in and made it all right by the end, and I loved seeing Erin so happy afterwards. Having Pam back was nice, but I think that she and Jim have taken on a new role at the office now, and Erin and Andy seem to have usurped the cuteness of their former romance. Quite honestly, that’s alright, because Jim is doing great as the foil to all of Michael’s follies, and Pam being so excited to have human contact makes her return all the more welcome.

What I’m Watching: Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation: Season 2, Episode 20 “Summer Catalog” (B+)

Yet another overly optimistic idea from Leslie spirals into a depressing but hilarious confrontation between four people who all hate each other and make Leslie start to doubt her outlook on her job and her future. Her excitement about the Parks Department Summer Catalog was a bit overzealous from the start, with a comparison to the September issue of Vogue, mostly because they don’t get Vogue in Pawnee. Clarence’s negative attitude towards women being in leadership roles was entertaining due to the angry rise it got out of Leslie, but I especially liked David’s post-littering summary of the parks: “who gives a crap about this crap?” In trying to take a good photo, Leslie’s advice of “try to look human and not so evil” seemed very fitting. I love how it continues to emphasize the surprisingly strong relationship between Ron and Leslie. Their contradictory goals at the end were really amusing, with Ron wanting to eliminate the parks department and Leslie planning to double the size, and both anticipating a spirited fight from the other on the subject. In addition, Leslie actually printing out a blank page and then using the expression “made love to the pooch” was particularly great. Tom’s early pickup lines with the hats were entertaining, and I enjoyed the fact that Donna had a great one that Tom liked a lot. His photographing Mark and Ann wasn’t anything overly funny, but there were a few laughs. The continuing unrequited love sage of Andy and April progressed further in this episode, though still not quite, even though they ended up together on the cover of the catalog. April not even bothering to show a fake ID was fun, and her defense that her confidence sometimes confuses people was a great excuse, brilliantly delivered by the wonderful Ms. Plaza.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What I’m Watching: Flash Forward

Flash Forward: Season 1, Episode 12 “Blowback” (C+)

After a strong start last week, this episode isn’t nearly as promising, and indicates that this show is falling back into old, unfortunate routines. It’s going the “Lost” route of ignoring last week’s plotlines, namely anything to do with Simon, in favor of forgotten threads from weeks and weeks ago. Some of them are particularly less interesting than others, and two of those make up the bulk of this week’s story. I’m really not certain why we care about Aaron’s past at all, since all it really does is show how he has a temper, which seems pretty damn clear when he hangs the guy upside down in the living room. Even if his daughter is connected to what’s going on with the blackouts, he’s not. His flashbacks are just unnecessary and a waste of time, and the only way it’s even going to be partially justified is if he is the one who ultimately helps Mark solve the case. Still, it would be nice to have some of the storytelling do itself instead of trying to demonstrate it too specifically with flashbacks about Aaron being in prison. Obviously the guy he spoke to was going to turn Tracy in, and he would be well advised to operate with at least a little bit of discretion. Having James Remar join the show is great since he’s an excellent actor and hopefully he’ll be able to enhance his character and that whole plotline. Zoe’s meddling in everything involving Mosaic is just as annoying, but not as much as the predictable ending of the episode. Of course the gun is gone! You don’t file something away in a devastatingly slow process if you want to make sure you don’t lose it. It’s not all bad – I’m increasingly impressed with Vogel and the fact that he is the one who suggests circumventing the law in order to facilitate getting answers. The music is also still terrific, just like in the pilot, and makes the show seem a whole lot more exciting than it actually is.

What I’m Watching: Ugly Betty

Ugly Betty: Season 4, Episode 17 “Million Dollar Smile” (B-)

As we’re fast approaching the end of this show, a fantasy episode hardly seems necessary or appropriate. It’s not nearly as unforgivable as a clip show, a sin committed recently by “The Office” after a hiatus of a few weeks earlier this season. At least there are a few enjoyable and clever moments in this alternate reality, and it certainly is fun to see all of the characters in their slightly different situations. It’s absolutely a great way of having Daniel and Betty sleep together without needing it to actually happen. This was a wonderful opportunity to finally give America Ferrera a chance to look good, and it’s also a great audition tape for her. The performance she turns in here as bitchy Betty makes it clear that she’s capable of playing more than just ugly Betty, and it’s likely that she’ll have another great role after this show. Back to reality I did enjoy the other happenings of this episode, including the development and speedy end of Amanda’s budding romance with Tyler. Marc seeing him standing in the apartment with his pink shirt made for a funny interaction, and I enjoyed Amanda emphasizing that she was telling the truth by affirming “honest to Prada.” Betty is really gaining more confidence these days, and I liked her “Betty: one, giving up: zero” moment. Wilhelmina’s call to cut Betty apart when it was suggested that the bra be cut apart was hilarious. I enjoyed seeing Austin come to the door at the end of the episode, but what’s going to happen there? We have to wait a whole week to find out? My favorite part of this episode was Marc’s delight at asking Betty if, in four years, he had ever gotten tired of making fun of her. It’s just the unfettered enthusiasm with which he says it.

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 1, Episode 18 “Starry Night” (B+)

The opening to this episode was brilliant, starting with Phil’s immersion in the TV with his noise-cancelling headphones and the abrupt exit from the serenity imposed by an angry Claire. He also delivered one of the best lines yet on this show, trying to defend his suspecting that Claire might smother her daughter – “It’s not your fault! It’s part of the word! You’ve never heard of anyone being sfathered to death!” Having both parents try to work with their children on teaching them was extremely entertaining, and I particularly enjoyed Haley’s certainty about how to exploit her mother and Claire’s refusal to stand for it by throwing out all of her cupcakes after teaching her how to make them. Another hilarious scenario presented came from the horribly misunderstood conversation between Cameron, Mitchell and Claire where he said that the Columbian woman should go back to where she came from and take her brown friend with her. Their follow-up dinner was fantastic, and among the funniest lines were “I feel like I ate the sun” and “breathing only makes the fire spread” after Cameron tried to impress her by ordering the hottest food. As I’ve stated before, mixing and matching all of the family members makes this show even better. Along those lines, Mitchell being jealous of Manny because he wanted to spend time alone with his dad doing the one thing they both like doing started out as fun but turned into a truly dramatic bonding moment because father, son, and stepson.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What I’m Watching: Human Target

Human Target: Season 1, Episode 9 “Corner Man” (B+)

Is there anyone as cool as Christopher Chance? I don’t think so. Flipping a plane upside down in midair to put out a fire was awesome, but taking out several armed guards from underwater with something weighing him down was just incredible. The whole plan to have Chance pose as an unbeatable boxer was pretty smart, and having every step of the way covered by connections that Chance, Winston, and Guerrero had was fun. Having Chance know the boxer he took down in the alley was an amusing start, and it just got better from there. We had the chance to see our second “Battlestar Galactica” femme fatale guest on this show, and Boomer, a.k.a. Grace Park, did a great job of playing her role in a situation very similar to that which occurred in “Ocean’s Eleven.” The dynamic between the trio is what still keeps this show going for me, of course. Guerrero’s response of “I don’t need a reminder” to an irritable Winston starting to give him one was fun, and it’s pretty much no different between Winston and Chance: “I’m only half-listening to the plan; that’s better than not listening at all.” It is nice that Winston actually does care about Chance and wants to protect him. There’s a great sense of loyalty present on this show, even with Guerrero, who more often than not seems to be either distracted, duplicitous, or both. Guerrero really is all about the friendliness, as evidenced by his comment to the boxer they were protecting: “hug me, dude, and you’re a dead man.”

Round Two: Justified

Justified: Season 1, Episode 2 “Riverbrook” (B+)

While the specific plot of this episode isn’t quite as good as last week, this is still a terrific show. What’s especially interesting about this show is the way that it spends so much time on just one scene without any cuts, dwelling instead on one event for an extended period. It makes each one all the more fascinating, and emphasizes the conversations in a great way. It’s very intriguing to see Boyd as a possibly repented man, and I’m hopeful that his appearance at the start of this episode means that actor Walton Goggins and his character will be back in future installments once he’s healed from his gunshot wound to the chest. Raylan’s commanding officer made a stellar analogy between the lawman and a kindergartener that bites someone every week. I love the way that Raylan reacts to all of these situations, especially when it comes to Ava, who continues to be a wondrous presence on this show. Winona is also wonderful, and I loved seeing her and seeing the amused look on Raylan’s face while she was yelling at him about scaring her new husband. I really like Raylan’s explanation about how he started wearing his hat: “I tried it on one time and it fit.” There are plenty of stupid, obnoxious criminals in Kentucky, but that just means there are many more interesting directions for this show to go in the future. Raylan is definitely a fantastic character to be leading the way, and this show is truly defined by him.

What I’m Watching: Parenthood

Parenthood: Season 1, Episode 4 “Wassup” (B+)

This episode was fun because it delved into the lives of some of the children more than just the parents, further developing the relationship between the two generations. The complete misconception of the term “Facebook official” by the parents was hilarious, and definitely something that is true to life. I enjoy how Crosby in the one who they got to hack into her computer and her Facebook, and that he likely understands the term but chooses not to explain it to his siblings. Crosby’s weekend babysitting was entertaining, and it’s nice that he ended up getting in touch with Julia since she really needs to feel like a good mother. Her own concern with having Amber babysit their child made for a fun and meaningful situation where Sarah had to come to terms with the fact that she is trying to avoid being portrayed as a screw-up by validating her parenting abilities. The whole issue of discussing masturbation with Drew proved to be entertaining in so many ways, one of the funniest being that of Zeek. I love how each episode ends with the whole family together having a good time, and one of the best surprises here was that Haddie brought her boyfriend to meet the entire family after Adam and Kristina were horrified to learn that her boyfriend’s parents knew all about her, and them, while they didn’t even know she was dating anyone. Adam’s attempt to seem cool by saying “Wassup” was a perfect finish, and certainly a memorable way for the two to be introduced.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What I’m Watching: Lost

Lost: Season 6, Episode 9 “Ab Aeterno” (B)

There are number of important firsts in this episode which serve to make it especially exciting, but I’m not altogether thrilled with the results. I noticed early on that the episode went to commercial in the middle of a flashback, and beyond that, the flashback went on for the entire episode with only a few quick minutes at the start and a few quick minutes at the end set in the present. It’s also the first time a flashback has occurred this season rather than a flash-sideways, unless I’m mistaken. An episode-long flashback about one of the most mysterious and most crucial characters to the story of the island should be an extremely satisfying hour in theory, but I think far too much time was spent in 1867 off of the island with Richard pining over the death of his wife and seeing her in different places. I’ve never really liked Hurley talking to dead people (though I’m alright with him conferring with Jacob), and therefore having her come back at the end was somewhat frustrating. I do like what she said, however, and what that tied in to what my favorite part of the episode. That would of course be the dynamic between Jacob and Man No. 2, in his original form played by the fantastic Titus Welliver. The way they both tried to pit Richard against the other was fascinating, and I loved how what Man No. 2 told Richard was exactly what Dogen told Sayid when he was going to meet Locke. Man No. 2 telling Richard that he, and not Jacob, was the Smoke Monster was another terrific moment. The notion that these two men are just spending hundreds of years bringing people to the island to prove a point about good and evil is somewhat infuriating, especially for everyone on Oceanic Flight 815. Richard’s anger about that makes sense, and the fact that his discovery that a now deceased Jacob didn’t actually have a plan led him to try and switch sides by calling out for Man No. 2 was pretty crazy. That parting shot of Locke when they were discussing killing No. 2 was haunting, and I can’t wait for more. Let’s spend a little bit more time in the present though next time, shall we?

A TV Theme Medley You Have To Watch

I found this video originally by way of Ramblings of a TV Whore and included it as part of the Rapid Recaps & TV Web-bits from Last Week that I write for I wanted to share it here because I just keep going back and watching it; it's simply fantastic. Enjoy!

What I’m Watching: Damages

Damages: Season 3, Episode 9 “Drive It Through Hardcore” (B+)

There are two scenes here which showcase intense, tremendous, unfiltered cruel passion, and it’s hard to decide which is more powerful. The first comes from a surprising source, Ellen’s boss, who doesn’t just tell her not to get involved within seconds of being informed that her sister has been arrested, but actually suggests that she try to seek the most severe punishment possible to distance herself as much as possible from affiliation with the situation. It was pretty shocking coming from him, especially because it made Ellen choose to go to Patty to ask her help. The other harsh scene featured Patty scathingly taking down a clueless Arthur Frobisher, who seemed to think that she might think kindly of him just like he does of her, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth. I thought last week that I recognized the actor who wants to play Frobisher, and I realized this time around that it is in fact a toned-down Craig Bierko, who should be a great fit. I’m very curious to see who will be cast as Patty Hewes in the movie. That was a pretty shrewd but not unexpected move on her part to get Carol to come in by tricking her into thinking that she was meeting with her therapist. It seems that no one is quite telling the truth, but that only makes things more interesting. I would of course like to see more of Keith Carradine’s architect in future episodes, and less sporadically if possible. That final shot seems to indicate that Tom may have jumped off the bridge, but it’s unclear, especially since he wasn’t really featured in the episode at all. We’ll have to see; we’re most of the way through the season at this point.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What I’m Watching: 24

24: Season 8, Episode 13 “4:00AM-5:00AM” (F)

If this show hadn’t “jumped the shark” a few years ago when it was revealed that the President of the United States was actually the traitor, this would probably be the second most unbelievable and indefensible moment in the show’s history. I refuse to accept the fact that Dana is a mole working for the terrorists. It doesn’t make a lick of sense on so many levels. There’s no reason she would become a soulless killer now after twiddling her thumbs and whining for twelve episodes while a common criminal tried to get her to do something illegal. Rule number one of flying under the radar involves trying not to arouse any suspicion, and instead of offing Kevin in the privacy of her own home, she decided to play along with the whole charade and wait until his parole officer was in an interrogation room at her place of work to finally deal with the situation in a productive way. It would also appear that she hadn’t yet checked in with the terrorists to provide them with an update, officially making her the worst mole ever. It just doesn’t add up, and we’ve seen way too many moments of her freaking out when no one else was around for it to compute. The writers should have learned their lesson in season one with Nina that they can’t have their secret moles be seen alone looking all innocent. Clearly that’s not the case, and the need to have another twist, though completely unfounded since CTU being pretty much completely destroyed, seems like enough of a problem. On to other concerns, it seems like you really can’t get anything done these days without pointing a gun at someone. The NSA guy asking Chloe whether she really wants to do this seemed so silly because no one, especially Chloe, ever has to reap the consequences of their actions on this show. But along those same lines, only Chloe and Jack can be right. The sole half-decent moment of this episode, which I’ll admit made me smile for about half a second, was Renee showing up to save the day, even though she waited until after Jack got shot to step in. It wasn’t nearly as cool as one of the best-ever moments on this show, featuring Tony saving Jack and Audrey in season four, but at least it’s a glimmer of hope amid the rest of this trash.

What I’m Watching: Chuck

Chuck: Season 3, Episode 11 “Chuck Versus the Final Exam” (B+)

I still feel like every episode seems to send Chuck out on his “first real mission,” yet I’m never bored and always delightfully surprised by what happens next. Part of what makes it so great every time is how Chuck reacts to everything. Far and away the most fantastic thing about this episode is how new citizen Casey, who was bold enough to take a hearty bite out of a sandwich just touched by Jeff’s mouth, stepped in to help Chuck out when he needed it the most. It’s wonderful to see Casey in a different element, when he doesn’t seem so constantly angry and truly seems to be watching out for Chuck and trying to help him along in his path to becoming a spy. Having him shoot the traitor is perfect, because now Chuck can become a real spy and Casey won’t ever rat him out since, as he pointed out, he’s technically just committed murder. Casting Kyle Bornheimer as the traitor who gets little screen time but is immediately unlikable and seemingly worthy of being shot by someone, at the very least. Seeing Casey dress up and be taken under the wing of Big Mike was a nice surprise, and while I don’t need to see as much of Jeff and Lester, I’d love to see more of the interaction between the two toughest guys at the Buy More. We did get a huge dose of sponsor Subway in this episode, but it wasn’t intrusive at all. It’s nice that Sarah still cares deeply about Chuck and even tried to stand up to Shaw in order to prevent him from having to make his first kill.

What I’m Watching: Breaking Bad (Season Premiere)

Breaking Bad: Season 3, Episode 1 “No Mas” (B+)

This is one intense show, but that’s hardly a surprise after last year’s extremely dark second season. It’s not bleak without reason, and as a result it’s extremely effective, especially in the midst of the tragedy that took place at the end of last season. The opening was weird to be sure, with the numerous people crawling on the ground headed toward the sketch of Walt. It’s nothing new for this show, and it certainly helps to get into the rather incomparable mood it creates. The twin bald guys are definitely bad news, as confirmed by their murderous behavior at the end of the episode. The execution scene in the desert was very well-filmed, even though it was obvious how it was going to end. One thing is certain: Walt is not getting out of this business easily. He held his ground well during his meeting with Gus, but the fast-food manager slash drug kingpin isn’t going to give up easily. Walt has a spectacular quote that really stuck with me: “I am not a criminal, no offense to any people who are. This is not me.” Jesse also had a good way of putting things into perspective: “you either run from things or you face them, Mr. White.” All of the television coverage about the plane crash worked well to emphasize its impact on the community, and Walt’s seeming calm throughout the whole situation was all the more alarming as a result, especially during his painful speech in the school gym. My favorite part of the episode, of course, was when Skyler was asked if she had a good account of her husband’s finances. The look on her face was priceless. I was stunned that she knew about Walt being a drug dealer. I accidentally read that she would find out in Entertainment Weekly a while ago, but I didn’t realize she’d put it together by herself. Whoa.. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What I'm Watching: How to Make It in America

How to Make It in America: Season 1, Episode 6 "Good Vintage" (B-)

After last week's episode, I'm much more pleased generally with this show, but I must admit that this week's installment wasn't nearly as entertaining as last week's. Ben and Cam keep lucking out like crazy, which actually works well because it enables them to interact with some fun people and to make great new contacts. Margarita Levieva is a fantastic addition to the show as the flirtatious Julie, and I'm hopeful that she'll return in the future and have a recurring role on the show. It's nice to see Ben finally standing up for himself, even if it does get him fired. It’s a sign that hopefully he’ll be making bolder moves in the future that should definitely help him get ahead. I’ve now come around to the device of the quick flashbacks featuring a smattering of photographs, especially how it worked out for showing Darren’s many makeout sessions, including one of him kissing a dog. Forcibly asking Rachel to move in with him after that night doesn’t strike me as the smartest move, and I can’t see this relationship playing out for much longer. Rene’s attempts to seek out revenge were entertaining, and my favorite part was his pre-confession to the priest, who then helped to point him in the right direction a little part. Reenacting his schoolyard sucker-punch was another great move from this intimidating criminal supposedly trying to make a straight of it. I’m sure he’ll fall completely back into his old ways soon, but seeing him try to keep clean is amusing.

What I’m Watching: The Pacific

The Pacific: Season 1, Episode 2 “Basilone” (B+)

Episode two of this miniseries maintains the quality of the first installment while delving further into the conflict and the intensity of the situation in which the soldiers find themselves. All of the positives of the first episode are still there, and it appropriately has the same feel, which is helpful because this is a limited series and therefore should be cohesive, even though it spans a good amount of time and takes on a considerable breadth of events. Centering on a few specific characters is a great way of making the series relatable instead of simply gazing from afar at a huge army. Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale) seems to be the one with the most personality, and therefore he’s a good anchor for the show. Writing his letters to the girl back home is one way of staying connected to civilization and remaining sane, but his poetry is another helpful and intriguing thing that makes Leckie even more of a three-dimensional character. The battle scenes continue to be powerful and unrelentingly lengthy, and it’s not as if they’re becoming any less interesting or engaging as the show goes on. I’m certainly interested in continuing with this show even though I don’t have much to necessarily say about it since it seems to be keeping up the standard of quality that has been established by and has come to be expected from HBO. Eight more installments of this miniseries will definitely prove interesting., and I’m very much looking forward to them. Are you watching?

What I’m Watching: Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives: Season 6, Episode 18 “My Two Young Men” (C)

This is the kind of episode where I feel slightly more satisfied toward the end when Mary Alice offers a neat wrap-up of the lessons learned but definitely don’t feel secure during the events of the episode itself. I’m not even so sure that I’m pleased with a few of the conclusions. To start with the good, Katherine leaving with Robin to pursue lesbian life elsewhere is a good thing because she can be happy, and there really wasn’t much more for Katherine to do on Wisteria Lane anyway. At least Katherine’s conversation with Mrs. McCluskey provided some decent entertainment. It took Patrick a whole episode to get to Wisteria Lane, but this hour made it clear that, though he appears like a nice guy, he’s dangerous and ready to get revenge for what’s been taken from him. Tad the Perfect Son Without A Father is becoming continuously annoying as this plotline plays out in a very expected way, turning first Andrew and now Orson into seeming paranoid lunatics when in truth they’re probably right. At least Lynette has some backing from Tom, but Preston and his mustache are still not cutting it. It’s also not as if Irina has said that she’s actively there just to take Preston’s money or something sinister like that, but she has threatened Lynette and that’s clearly not going to fly. Susan and Gaby getting more involved in their children’s contest than the kids themselves is nothing new, and I think that allusions to child kidnapping come a little too close to the line. Again, the moral established with winning actually translating to doing a good deed is much better than the actuality of what transpires.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What I’m Watching: Caprica

Caprica: Season 1, Episode 8 “Ghosts in the Machine” (C-)

This feels like a waste on an episode for multiple reasons. Firstly, I don’t understand why Zoe feels the need to hide that she’s in the Cylon body from her father. It might help if she explained to him that she wasn’t the one who blew up the train, but resisting all of his tests is just dumb. The fact that he’s testing her so vigorously and relentlessly is a bit much, considering she’s his daughter and presumably he cares about her and isn’t obsessed with humiliating her, but what’s worse is that there’s no reason for the tests. No matter what, he’s going to believe she’s in there, and if she doesn’t respond, he’s just going to think that she’s changed. Who wins in that scenario? Certainly not anyone who watches this episode and has to suffer through these countless absurd trials. In New Cap City, Joseph is completely out of his element, and I can’t believe that he would take drugs to enhance his ability to react and gain control of the situation. Also, it’s not like he’s a Cylon, and all of these cheats in the game make it so that he could be almost as godlike and superhuman as Tamara. In any case, it’s not interesting, and having Amanda to fall back on as the third plotline isn’t much comfort. I don’t think having her brother be still alive would do much to enhance the show, and Amanda is no Gaius Baltar, therefore she needs to stop seeing people who aren’t there. It would be nice to have some human-human contact in the real world, wouldn’t it? It seems like we’re very much lacking in that these days.

What I'm Watching: 30 Rock

30 Rock: Season 4, Episode 15 "Don Geiss, America and Hope" (B+)

I love the way this episode started out, with Jack holding a ridiculous press conference that devolved into an argument about which city is a better city than the next. The fact that Liz brought a snowball with her was funny, as was Jack lobbing a battery back at her. It's flat-out hilarious that the first thing cited about L.A. is Michael Bay. Having Liz and Wesley both go see "Hot Tub Time Machine" is a nice attempt to be hip and reference current events, though the film doesn't actually open until this Friday. Wesley asserting that it was not the science of the time travel but rather the science of the hot tub that doesn't make sense was great (he should know, after all, he's been in a hot tub twice). So many of the subtle differences in between Liz and Wesley were fantastic, including Wesley's belief that God is a woman and that a video camera is known as a film pod in England. The revelation that his full name is Wesley Snipes made for a truly stellar scene. Tracy's problems were a hoot, and the notion that he doesn't want people to know that he's not an adulterer is marvelously preposterous. Of course, this is the same guy who literally had a bat in a suitcase. Kenneth had his share of wacky references to his upbringing, like memories of being back at school learning about the dangers of bookreading and how his cousin in Atlanta is a business model and holds up staplers. Jenna comparing Tracy's situation to when she ate the pig who played Babe was quite funny. Jack the "master baiter" is a bit too obvious of a pun for me, but his end-of-episode speech fully excused that line. He may be the reason microwave trays rotate, but there's no matching Don Geiss, who invented the nightlight and spearheaded the campaign to make children afraid of the dark: "a monster under every bed." I love this show.

What I'm Watching: The Office

The Office: Season 6, Episode 19 "New Leads" (B+)

I do enjoy when the people in the office end up taking sides, and surprising alliances and relationships develop that are well out of the ordinary. Having Angela torment Phyllis is one thing, but I'm talking about Stanley trying to get the leads out of the hands of Ryan and Kelly by pretending to like the Kardashians or Andy fighting to borrow a pencil from Darryl. The chain of events that led to the leads ending up at the dump was quite entertaining, including Erin taking out the trash because Toby had baba ganoush, which of course involved a great cut to Toby trying to defend ethnic restaurants over the monotony of pizza. Michael asserting himself immaturely was nothing new, but it was still enjoyable, especially to see just how frustrated it makes Jim, who described having to deal with two babies instead of just one. Michael and Dwight talking about how Dwight has changed made for an unexpectedly deep moment, and it really does make sense since Dwight used to be more of an idiot than just a jerk. It's good that the usually hapless Michael is able to realize that and point it out. In a twisted way, it does make sense that Andy and Erin would have their first kiss in the middle of a pile of garbage, because those two seem so blissfully unaware of what's going on around them yet still so charming. My favorite line of the episode has to be Phyllis' snippy comment shooting down one of the proposed peacemaking ideas: "If they don't have an iPod by now, they really don't want one."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What I’m Watching: Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation: Season 2, Episode 19 “Park Safety” (B+)

Everyone really does give Jerry such a hard time, but it turns out that he seems to deserve it. One of the best things about this show, which makes me love it so much, is that it’s made okay by the fact that he’s in the joke and is okay laughing at himself, as evidenced by the ending scene where he is asked whether he’d like salmon or twout. His misery sure does create a lot of comedy, however, beginning with Ron explaining how his Jewish friend taught him about schlemiels and schlimazels, and that Jerry is both. April in particular trying to restrain herself from making jokes was a delight. It made me so happy that when Jerry was telling Leslie why he made up the story about being mugged, there was a cut to Leslie doing a spot-on impression of Tom making fun of Jerry. Andy Samberg as the constantly yelling park ranger wasn’t all that funny, but like when Will Arnett guested, he makes Leslie look good, and it’s really a riot to see her so flabbergasted and off put by someone else’s behavior. Having Ann finally catch on a little bit to the fact that Andy is caring about someone else is good, but what’s even more refreshing is Andy finally actually trying to be into April and show his affection for her by getting her things like veggie muffins. Lastly, I really like that Leslie turns to Mark for serious guidance about what to do since he’s not quite in their department and, putting Ann aside, is probably the voice of reason on this show.

What I'm Watching: Flash Forward (Spring Premiere)

Flash Forward: Season 1, Episodes 11 & 12 "Revelation Zero, Parts 1 & 2" (B+)

If ever there's been an opening sequence that makes me completely change my opinion about a series for the better, this was it. The amazing start with a visual recap of what happened during the blackout accompanied by Gil Bellows' narrating voice reminded me of the coincidence-heavy opening to the film "Magnolia" and took me back to fantastic memories of the pilot. The greatest part of this episode is the way that it takes a barely seen character and makes him absolutely central to the show's overarching story. I'm sure some wlll disagree with me, but after this episode, I'm convinced that Simon Campos is a much better role for actor Dominic Monaghan than Charlie Pace ever was. He's able to display a far wider range of emotions here, appearing first as an emotionless violent bad guy but now demonstrating that he's more than capable of lying but also demonstrating a seemingly true desire to help rather than hurt people. I'll admit that I'm more than a bit confused about the identity of Ricky Jay's character, Uncle Teddy, and how he and Simon apparently have known each other all their lives. The fact that the name he introduced himself to Lloyd under had "floss" as part of it was silly, as was his tirade about knowing that he's the villain because he exhibits traits typical of villains. Still, the reveal that Simon was the man at the stadium who was awake during the blackout was cool, though I'm a bit suspicious that a mere ring could enable him to remain conscious. I totally thought it was going to be some liquid concoction that he would have to drink. Trying to reason out how the blackout led to flash forwards has never been a strong suit of this show, and focusing more on the action makes it a lot better. Even if the future is dictating a bit too much of the present, as evidenced by Mark plowing his car through a door just because the future told him to do it, there is something cool about him piecing together Lloyd and Simon's location by the evidence he later found in the future. I'm also glad that Michael Ealy is sticking around as Marshall Vogel, and he'll surely butt heads with the newly reinstated (or so it seems) Mark. Paula Newsome, who also appeared in this week's episode of "Parenthood," as Mark's FBI therapist is another great addition, and just one of the many signs that the future looks bright for the second half of this show's first season.

What I’m Watching: Ugly Betty

Ugly Betty: Season 4, Episode 16 “All the World’s a Stage” (B+)

I’m so enjoying these last few wonderful adventures before this show goes off the air permanently. I like where things are heading and how characters like Betty, Justin, Amanda, and Wilhelmina are being starkly defined to create some sort of conclusive portrait of how they’ve grown throughout the span of the series. It is still sad to see Betty get humiliated for the millionth time, but at least she’s doing something productive instead of just sitting back and taking it. When she went for it and kissed the playwright, I was cheering because it’s about time she worked up the courage to take her life into her own hands. When she almost made a move on Bobby but it turned out to be purely an imagined scene, I longed for more, and now we have it. Punching him in the face and refusing to give him a second chance just proved that she is serious about becoming a new person, starting with the presumable removal of her braces. Wilhelmina, on the other hand, is back to her old ways, which is a great thing because having her be really bad is what makes her so fantastic, and it will be a thrill to have her bad as ever for the end of days. I laughed at what she said at the start of the episode – “is that monochromatic blur Betty?” – and I think that the idea, however over-the-top, of Betty developing a fashion sense nearly killing Wilhelmina is hilarious. Hilda is so entertaining, and I loved her trying to show off her ring repeatedly instead of listening to Betty. She had a stellar line that didn’t come up again but was still great – “Does this say engagement party or dead hooker under a bridge, because Bobby’s cousin is a hooker, and I don’t want to offend her.” Marc and Amanda’s misadventures trying to quell the monster that is Wilhelmina were entertaining, and my favorite part was Amanda calling the doctor “Dr. So and So.” Of course the most notable development in this episode is Justin’s first kiss with a guy, which was brilliantly choreographed and filmed. Good for him, and good for Marc, who doesn’t have to feel the most alone he’s ever felt, as he sadly put it when Justin was talking to him about the girl he liked. It’s good to have characters who really get each other on this show.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What I'm Watching: Human Target

Human Target: Season 1, Episode 8 "Baptiste" (B+)

As always, the first and most exciting thing to say about this show is to express a full-fledged praise of its spectacular guest stars. Not only is the killer from Chance's past perfectly cast, but we also get two great guest actresses who have appeared on this show in the past back for another round. Though I've become accustomed to it by now, I would never have expected a purely action-based show to make such good casting decisions. Lennie James, who played an iconic role as the mysterious Robert Hawkins on "Jericho" a few years back, is fantastic as an emotionless skeleton from Chance's history as a hired gun, and he really does a good job of getting under Chance's skin. It's wonderful to have both Emmanuelle Vaugier and Autumn Reeser back as FBI Agent Barnes and techie Layla, respectively. It's easy for the whole crew to irk Agent Barnes merely by their presence, though it's a nice surprise that she actually was swayed by Chance's charms and was considering accepting his invitation to have dinner. Layla, on the other hand, fits in nicely with Winston and particularly Guerrero, and the dynamic between Layla and Guerrero is absolutely priceless. I hope she sticks around and doesn't take this idea of freelancing too seriously since I'd love to have her around a while longer (even if this show doesn't make it to season two). Story-wise, this was another whirlwind thrill ride full of plenty of action and excitement, and an absolutely satisfying hour.

What I’m Watching: Scrubs (Season Finale)

Scrubs: Season 9, Episode 13 “Our Thanks” (C-)

You may have missed it since the airdate of this episode came from pretty much out of nowhere, but if you’re like most, you’ve had enough of saying goodbye to this show. This season is much different, of course, since familiar characters like J.D. and Elliot are gone, and this finale also doesn’t try to neatly wrap everything up in order to pack up and conclude the show. Instead, it’s a salute to the end of the students’ first semester of med school, running through the lessons they supposedly learned and the ways that they’ve questionably grown as people. What it reveals more, however, is how this season was a failure. It’s not that Scrubs: Med School was necessarily a bad idea from the start, but this experiment did not work. The first half of this shortened season was plagued by a constantly disappearing and reappearing, but never maturing, J.D., and once he was finally gone and it was time to start focusing on the med students, they hadn’t gotten any more interesting. There’s simply too much pessimism and negativity running rampant in this show, and no constantly sunny character to liven up the days and hours spent at the hospital. It’s not Lucy, since she’s more often than not fretting about something or other instead of smiling and trying to make everyone else happy. Cole’s new interest in being a surgeon comes from out of nowhere, and nothing that occurred up to this point suggested that he secretly wanted to be a surgeon so badly that he would suddenly shape up and get serious in order to shadow Turk. It literally comes about as a result of a prank pulled by Dr. Cox to annoy Turk, and therefore it just doesn’t stand up against how Cole has acted all season. When they’re not trying to destroy the universe with their sour attitudes, Denise and Drew are constantly switching roles in the relationship since both of them are made out to soulless and emotionless robots whose sole purpose in life is to mock Lucy and Cole. When one randomly wants to try and grow as a person, it doesn’t work. That’s pretty much true of everything on this season of “Scrubs,” and I don’t think there’s anyone out there really clamoring for a renewal. If this show does mysteriously return for a tenth season, it will become the least appreciated series on the air to earn endless renewals since “According to Jim.”

Season grade: C-
Season MVP: Kerry Bishé (regardless of her character’s flaws)

Pilot Review: Justified

Justified (FX)
Premiered March 16 at 10pm

FX has always had really good pilots. With a few exceptions, like “Dirt,” the series premieres of shows like “The Shield,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Thief,” “The Riches,” and others have all at least showed tremendous promise, mostly for the new universes they create and the complex characters crafted in just an hour. It’s like the intensity of an HBO series with commercial breaks, and I for one think that’s it’s one of the strongest networks out there. Its latest offering is absolutely up to par, immediately fashioning what has been described as a modern-day Robin Hood out of lead character Marshal Raylan Givens, who delivers ultimatums to criminals in the style of the Old West and struts around with his cowboy hat on wherever he goes. He’s an extraordinarily compelling protagonist, and Timothy Olyphant, formerly of “Deadwood” and introduced to modernity last season on “Damages,” is the perfect person to play him. Starting out in Miami reminded me instantly of “Dexter,” but the speedy transplant to Kentucky makes this show able to stand on its own two legs. Walton Goggins was born to play a hero-turned-villain, and hopefully his Boyd Crowder will become a regular character on this show since he’s a perfect nemesis for Raylan, and Goggins’ work here is easily as good as his performance was on the later seasons of “The Shield.” I was particularly impressed acting-wise with Joelle Carter as Ava Crowder, who was instantly flirtatious and charming, and her relationship with both Boyd and Raylan should be fascinating to watch as it develops over the coming season. And then there’s Natalie Zea, who I’ll watch in anything (most recently “Hung” and “Dirty Sexy Money”). She only appeared in the last five minutes of the episode, despite a brief cameo by her hands midway through, but she has already made her mark on both Raylan and me as a viewer. I’m so intrigued to get to know these characters, and it seems that the rural Kentucky setting, and Raylan’s familiarity with it, should enable this is to be a fully engaging and original show. It’s certainly intense, proven by the fact that in this town (or rather, state), criminals recklessly pull guns on cops and shoot at them to keep them from doing their job. Law enforcement there is sure to be a tight-knit and tricky business, and I think it’s going to be extraordinarily interesting. As a character, Raylan definitely is, and standing out when there are so many shows about dysfunctional cops, doctors, and lawyers on the air is a wonderful and formidable thing.

How will it work as a series? The question of whether Boyd becomes a regular, and Ava for that matter, will likely be answered by the next episode, but even if they’re not central to the continuing storyline, there should be more than enough inbred criminals that Raylan has had dealings with of some sort in the past to keep this show running for a long time. It’s like any cop show, but with a whole state full of miscreants to give the law enforcers a headache.
How long will it last? FX treates its drama series very well, and, with the exception of “Over There” and “Thief,” has renewed pretty much all of its shows in recent years for a second season. I think that the show’s positive reviews and ratings should guarantee it another go-round, and I expect to hear that news sooner rather than later since that tends to be the way cable networks operate.

Pilot grade: A-

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Take Three: Parenthood

Parenthood: Season 1, Episode 3 "The Deep End of the Pool" (B+)

As this show gets more into all of its plotlines, I'm continually impressed and I'm really starting to like pretty much all of the characters. Even weak link Crosby is shaping up to be pretty entertaining, and he takes his lactose-intolerant son for a joyride in his car and then has a hear-to-heart talk with him about why he didn't tell his girlfriend who he really was. Crosby going to Adam to ask him to watch his son and then getting a sarcastic response was funny as well. It's good to see parents as dedicated as Adam and Kristina when it comes to ensuring that their kids are taken care of, and Adam's heartfelt conversation with his daughter was also a good move considering she certainly feels sidelined by her brother, especially since, as she points out, her parents are making it seem like he's only being given special treatment now for the first time. I don't know if anyone else caught it, but right after they had their interview with the principal (Paula Newsome from "Women's Murder Club"), Kristina told her that she looked a little like Oprah, which I found completely random and hilarious. I enjoyed Sarah's "it's not you, it's me" breakup with Jim which was followed up by all of the baristas huddled together and talking about her when she went back in to ask to use their phone. Fortunately, Jim seems to have a soft spot for her and is willing to give her a second chance. Julia also had a tremendous moment when she strutted down the diving board to teach her daughter to swim, and it was a brilliantly filmed scene which really showcased her in an excellent light. It's a pity that it didn't quite pan out for her, and made her look pretty bad in front of all the other mothers. The parting shot of the entire Braverman family in the pool was a nice closing touch.

What I'm Watching: The Good Wife

The Good Wife: Season 1, Episode 17 "Heart" (B+)

Even though I only posted a review of this show's pilot, I've been keeping up with it since then and haven't missed an episode. I was trying to watch a number of shows that I wasn't planning on reviewing just to get more of a sample than the pilot, but I stick with this one because it's part of the Rapid Recaps & TV Web-bits from Last Week column that I write for I do think the show has gotten better since its start, and I'm certainly enjoying it more, and I thought it was about time I offered my thoughts on it, especially since I now have something positive to say. For the moment, I'll dive right into where we are now. If you've been keeping up, please chime in with your thoughts in the comments!

On to this episode, I enjoyed the blend of the high-pressure, time-sensitive case with the most extensive glimpse into Alicia's personal life and the externalization of her innermost desires. Martha Plimpton is currently pulling double duty as the best in show on this series and HBO's "How to Make It in America." Her appearance as cutthroat lawyer Patti Nyholm was deliciously entertaining, and I particularly enjoyed her frequent uses of her own baby, even getting the judge annoyed, and her purposeful waiting for Alicia in the parking lot to blame her for being late to the proceedings. Seeing Will get all frazzled in trying to win the case was impressive, but that wasn't the best part. That moment between Alicia and Will where they got intimate and almost did something naughty was great, and I'm still shocked that Alicia decided to come back when she was in the parking garage. Will's house call seemed to throw her for a loop, but the best part was that Peter was so gleefully excited to see Will and didn't have the faintest hint of anything going on between them. Eli and Daniel are shaping up to be a fabulously fun duo on this show, and all of their conversations are truly fantastic. The next new episode of this show doesn't air until April, but come back then since this will now be a regularly-covered series on TV with Abe.

What I'm Watching: Lost

Lost: Season 6, Episode 8 "Recon" (B+)

Sawyer is awesome. Seriously, I didn't care much for the character in the first four seasons of the show, but when "LaFleur" rolled around and he had a change of heart, he became my favorite character. The start of this episode was one of the best reveals this show has ever had, almost as exciting as when it was revealed that he was in fact LaFleur, chief of security for the Dharma Initiative. Sawyer as a cop is truly a fantastic idea, and having Miles be his partner is even better. While it's hard to understand exactly how Sawyer ended up as a cop, despite his brilliant explanation that he was either going to become a cop or a criminal, it doesn't matter because it really works as a way of getting into his psyche and developing an understanding of the character. It's also important to remember that Sawyer really has changed from who he was when he was LaFleur, and that he's pretty much back to what he was like when he first arrived on the island. The flash-sideways version of Sawyer is much closer to LaFleur, and it's great to see that side of him again. Reincorporating Charlotte as Sawyer's date-gone-wrong was terrific because it emphasizes her role as a peripheral character, and it makes sense that Miles would know her because they both grew up on the island. On another note, seeing Jodi Lyn O'Keefe get taken down in the first scene was particularly satisfying for those who came to detest her on "Prison Break" over the past few years. Back to the island, however, it's fascinating to see Sawyer manipulate both sides into trying to take each other out so that he and Kate can slip away, and he should really be applauded for standing up to Widmore, since that's not an easy thing to do. Man No. 2, who has been termed the "Locke Monster" by some, is becoming even more interesting as he talks to Kate about his mother being crazy and reacts to hearing Widmore's name. I can't wait to find out more about him, and I really like what I've learned so far.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What I’m Watching: NCIS: Los Angeles

NCIS: Los Angeles: Season 1, Episode 18 “Blood Brothers” (B+)

For a show that features an awful lot of violence, the opening to this episode was fairly intense, featuring a drive-by shooting that left the victim riddled by an excessive number of bullets. Unlike the show that spun it off, this series really is delving into the kind of least-connected slayings of marines, with a street race plot last week and now this. I cite that as a positive rather than a negative thing since it allows the cases to be more diverse and exciting. The interaction between the cast, as always, makes the episode, and therefore the plot is almost inconsequential. But whenever Sam goes undercover, it's especially entertaining. The presence of Hetty's rather dangerous sword provoked some amusing conversation where Callen reminded Sam about the "numbchuck incident" and told him he'd be driving himself to the hospital this time. The arguments over Callen's code names were also great, with Callen expressing annoyance over being called Ernie and then referring to himself as Gordo later on. On a more serious note, I am a big fan of the dramatic conversations between Hetty and Sam where they mention Dom and Sam's desire to help everyone. The most powerful exchange came when Hetty told him "you can't take it upon yourself to save all of them" and Sam responded "yeah, but at least I can save this one." Hetty really is the most fun part of the show, and Callen had a great way of summarizing how he feels about her: "I have a guardian angel. She's tiny, but very tough."

What I’m Watching: NCIS

NCIS: Season 7, Episode 18 “Jurisdiction” (B+)

Anytime NCIS has to interface with another agency, entertainment is sure to ensue. What’s unusual, however, is when NCIS is technically the senior agency that more people seem to have heard of or know. CGIS, described perfectly by McGee as lacking the same “je ne sais quoi” but still considered a “legitimate sibling,” was a good group for NCIS to sort of partner with, and Diane Neal did a terrific job as the other Abby who gave her subordinate a head slap truly worthy of Gibbs, as noted quite awkwardly by Tony. There were some great rapid-fire exchanges in this episode between some of the characters, like Tony’s promise that he wouldn’t lose the keys again, followed curtly by Gibbs’ declaration of “I doubt that.” Palmer mistaking Ducky’s citing of Charles Dickens for a Jack Sparrow quote was equally amusing, as was Gibbs’ nonplussed response of “I work here” to Abby frantically demanding what he was doing in her lab. Tony’s over-the-top reenactment of Richard Dreyfuss’ exclamation of “this wasn’t a boating accident!” from “Jaws,” however inappropriate, was certainly very enjoyable. The relationship between Tony and Ziva continues to be wonderful, with Tony telling her that he envies her brain sometimes, and then having the show end with them essentially out (or rather in) on a date since they both got stood up. After all this time, I can’t imagine anything will ever happen between them, but it’s nice to hope, isn’t it? On another note, didn’t we have a case of mistaken identity last week on this show? No matter, it still works just as well, and serves as a cool surprise midway through the episode.

What I’m Watching: Secret Diary of a Call Girl (Season Finale)

Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Season 3, Episodes 7 & 8 (B+)

If this season has to end so quickly, at least we get a double dose of it as a parting gift. The first of the two episodes was alternately amusing and shocking. The male escort was very funny, and it was entertaining to see Belle in the other role and how she tried to act differently in order to get the full experience. His reaction to her confession that she was doing research was equally enjoyable. The big surprise is that Duncan isn’t actually a good guy, and even though his duplicity was revealed at the same time that Belle was stepping out on her beau, so to speak, the important thing to remember is that he did it with no prior knowledge of any of her activities. The look on Bambi’s face when she recognizes Duncan contrasted with the blissful ignorant happiness on Belle’s is just heartbreaking. Fortunately, Bambi’s wedding wasn’t at all ruined by her having to tell Belle about Duncan’s true color. Playing the song “Wonderwall” softly in the background while Bambi was breaking the news to Belle was also quite effective. Belle had some great quotes in this episode, including “everyone’s got something; it’s just a case of finding out what it is” and “you don’t have to be a prince to marry a princess.” Belle continues to prove that she is excellent at her job, helping her regular client to do something he’s never done before by encouraging him to dress up as a woman, something it seems he’s always secretly wanted to do. The way she said “I love my job” at the end of the episode was just spectacular. It’s great that Ben is around to be a good friend for everyone, and I enjoyed what he said to Byron: “who needs family when you have friends?” His reaction to Belle’s use of the non-expression “nervous as a kitten” was hilarious, and it was really nice that he forced Belle to finish the chapter, and I love how she disseminated it to Duncan’s entire office. Ben asking Belle out was insanely cute, and I love all of his drawings. We’ll have to see where that goes, and I’m truly hoping that this show gets renewed for a fourth season. Basically, Belle going public could have been a failure for this show, but instead it was a roaring success and probably the best season of this show yet.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Billie Piper

Friday, March 19, 2010

What I’m Watching: Damages

Damages: Season 3, Episode 8 “I Look Like Frankenstein” (B+)

This season continues to get more intriguing as we’re getting the present and future are getting closer and closer to one another. I was expecting a huge reveal about who Carol Tobin was staying with, but the seeming gravity of Leonard’s response to her using an apartment in his name and the homeless man’s reporting of their interaction was substantial enough to merit its seriousness, also eliciting the future connection between Tom and Leonard, which I'm sure we'll learn more about next week. A truly chilling and awesome moment was the way that Leonard said “if you didn’t kill her, then who did?” to Zedeck. My, how deadly things have gotten on this show. Welcome back, Arthur Frobisher. I enjoyed his frustration with the pronunciation of “long and windy road” and how he told his publisher people wouldn’t get it. I’m curious how and if he’s connected to everything else that’s going on, but fortunately it’s all interesting enough, and I liked how his son compared him to Louis Tobin as a much lesser evil. I’m shocked to learn that Tom and Ellen were starting a law firm together, but that does make a whole lot more sense than them having an affair, especially considering Ellen’s likely point of view of infidelity (even though she has no problem using her journalist friend for her own devices). I also suspect that she knew full well that Patty had no knowledge of the upcoming birth of her grandson and told her just to spite her and see how she would react. I love the way that Patty says “we may have another lead – I’ve been talking so Ellen” so intensely. Detective Victor Huntley, portrayed by Tom Noonan, does, however, rival Patty for maniacal line delivery. In short, I’m impressed with the way things are shaping up at this point.

What I’m Watching: 24

24: Season 8, Episode 12 “3:00AM-4:00AM” (F)

Apologies in advance if this review seems like a rant, but this episode absolutely deserves it. In the past, CTU has been blown up, targeted by a virus, and tunneled under by terrorists. Having full knowledge of those previous attacks and other problems that plagued CTU in the past, the government decided to construct a new facility in New York City. In order to make this building more secure, someone decided it would be a good idea to have a tunnel accessible by any person from a random city street that ran not just into some CTU parking garage but directly into their offices without any kind of checkpoint. The fact that Brian Hastings was able to run over from his command headquarters room in a matter of seconds to greet the completely unscreened Kayla and her vehicle is just plain preposterous. My “favorite” part of the whole thing was the CTU valet who for some reason thought that he could get the car away quick enough and couldn’t even slam his foot on the pedal to get the car out of range of the building. Jack, always one step ahead of everyone else in the universe, was just as unhelpful yelling at them to transfer over all of their files to the NSA as if they had more than a few seconds to deal with their present situation. Another entertaining moment from the episode was Tarin’s assertion that they couldn’t go anywhere but CTU because there are traitors everywhere. That’s hardly a surprise, since Tarin himself is one of those traitors! Moments before the episode started, a promo announced that a huge twist would be happening. This isn’t the first time that someone who was originally thought to be duplicitous and then revealed to be good turned out to be truly duplicitous. Nina and Tony weren’t the only ones, and it’s getting very tiresome. As if the level of security at CTU wasn’t low enough, having impossibly dedicated parole officer Bill Prady roaming freely through the halls unchecked is just plain silly. I’m sure he’s not even going to wait until they’ve begun to recover from the devastating effects of the EMP to start grilling Dana about what happened with Kevin. At least Jack is staying on top of Cole and telling him he needs to keep his head in the game, because someone needs to start doing something quick, otherwise New York is hopeless against these uber-resourceful terorrists.

What I’m Watching: Chuck

Chuck: Season 3, Episode 10 “Chuck Versus the Tic Tac” (B+)

While team separations never end up panning out in the long run, the way this one played out still worked pretty well. Adam Baldwin is a spectacular actor who plays stoic very well, and obviously Casey wasn’t actually betraying his country, but there was still considerable suspense until his motivations were discovered. Robert Patrick is now a completely typecast actor, always playing the gruff military commander who demands loyalty from those he helped to mold. Chuck does need to get with the program a little, comprehending that not everything is about him and testing his ability to keep an eye on his team members. Hopefully Sarah isn’t going to transfer to Washington, but I really would love to see more of Shaw. I wonder if there will be a temporary team in place to work with Chuck while Sarah and Casey aren’t around. It would also be nice if Casey could spend some time with his former love and his daughter, not so subtly named Alex after her supposedly departed father. Getting away from speculation about the future and addressing what actually happened in this episode, I’m increasingly impressed by the terrific music choices this show continually employs. Chuck does a fantastic job of getting into his flash-driven powers and reacting in such an excited way every time it works. Watching him smash headfirst into a clear see-through wall was quite hilarious. Awesome and Morgan fighting over who gets to be more involved in missions after they discovered that the other knew about Chuck was also very entertaining. I guess Ellie and Awesome will be sticking around, which is nice, because as much as great as it’s been to see Awesome a lot lately, I’d love to see more of Ellie too.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What I’m Watching: How to Make It in America

How to Make It in America: Season 1, Episode 5 “Big in Japan” (B)

I’m happy to announce that, while I’m not completely on board with this show now, I did enjoy this episode a whole lot more than all the previous one. To begin with, it’s much funnier than those that came before it, and it had me chuckling more than a few times. One of the things about “Entourage” over the past season or two that has been problematic is that the guys ran into disappointment after disappointment when all they were doing was just trying to catch a break. I had feared this might be the case here, but fortunately Ben and Cam seem to have had some luck by running into an old friend who has become a success on the street, and then getting a meeting with a Japanese buyer out of a quick coffee. The good fortune that he liked Ben’s homemade shirt is a nice surprise, and therefore these two should see some easy cash in their near fortune and an unexpected entry into the business. Ben’s refusal to give a 12-year-old a cigarette was amusing, as was the punk’s reaction to the rejection. Rene also proved to be very entertaining in his quest to recover a stored package. Bringing his grandma along to his meeting with his cousin’s ex-wife so that he could yell at her for swearing at him in front of her was a pretty slick move, and him getting a look from her for putting his feet on the table was quite funny as well. Darren viciously eating the Cheetos and the ensuing plotline was terrific, and of course Edie would have ecstasy just lying around in a nearby drawer. I’m definitely starting to like this side plotline involving Rachel much more, even if she herself doesn’t have a lot to do with it.

Pilot Review: Sons of Tucson

Sons of Tucson (FOX)
Premiered March 14 at 9:30pm

Tyler Labine is one of those actors who can stand out in a supporting role and deliver an immensely entertaining performance regardless of the material he’s provided. On ABC’s short-lived sci-fi drama “Invasion,” Labine provided comic relief as Dave, the brother-in-law of the main character. On the CW’s two-season black comedy “Reaper,” Labine was lazy and over-the-top as Sock, protagonist Sam’s best friend who had his back even if he’d rather make a little extra cash and get a little snooze time in the process. Now he’s at the helm of FOX’s new midseason comedy, starring as a man who lives out of his car and comes into the unlikely job opportunity of a lifetime, posing as the parent of three young boys and getting room, board, and a few hundred dollars a week. The obvious running joke is that Labine’s Ron Snuffkin is hardly an ideal role model, and that anyone who takes him seriously as a father to three children should be considered a patsy. Like always, however, Labine always comes through in the end and Ron manages to deliver several uplifting and surprisingly effective dramatic speeches even just in the course of the first episode. He’s doing everything he should be doing, making Ron into the perfect anti-role model character. That’s the only positive thing that can be said about this show though. At best, it’s a pale imitation of HBO’s fantastic series “Eastbound & Down” without any of the cleverness. The three kids are equally obnoxious and unfunny, and attempts to make them seem excessively mature, especially in comparison to their new father figure. It’s an unoriginal bore that just isn’t intriguing or compelling at all. There’s simply nothing that makes this show worth watching, and a whole number of elements that make it entirely despicable and off-putting.

How will it work as a series? Circumstances will have to be extreme on a regular basis in order to make Ron necessary in the children’s lives and to create obstacles for him to have to overcome in order to continue posing as their father. This first episode took things a bit far, sending a violent man with a bat after the children, so I imagine subsequent installments may follow suit in an effort to make this show continually relevant and lively.
How long will it last? I’m not the only one who didn’t like this show, and its placement in FOX’s animation block on Sunday nights probably won’t do it much good. FOX has debuted previous midseason comedies like “Free Ride” that have quickly been cancelled and forgotten, and though this one at least has Labine at the head, I imagine it will soon be dropped from the schedule and definitely won’t be around for the kids to move on to the next grade.

Pilot grade: F

What I’m Watching: The Pacific (Miniseries Premiere)

The Pacific: Season 1, Episode 1 “Guadalcanal/Leckie” (B+)

Leave it to HBO to convince you by the end of the opening credits that what you’re watching is the single greatest television production ever made. The main title design certainly is fearsome, and HBO has quite a reputation for its quality-heavy shows and its extremely successful “Band of Brothers” miniseries from a number of years ago (which I haven’t seen, but I’ve only heard great things). This marks the first time that I’m watching an HBO miniseries live as it airs, after failing miserably to catch up on “John Adams” in time to make it past the first episode. All the grandeur and the hype leading up to it doesn’t mean that the first installment of this miniseries falls short. It may not be the most magnificent event in the history of television, but it’s still an impressive presentation. The introductory sequences back on the United States mainland help to ground the show in the time period and explain the motivations of its young heroes for going off to war. Once there, it feels like the full experience of war almost instantly, and this is only the beginning. With nine installments to come, it’s definitely going to get more intense and we’ll really get a look into the minds and souls of these characters. James Badge Dale’s character, PFC Robert Leckie, is already being established as a conscience among this corps when he mercifully ends the Japanese soldier’s life by shooting him instead of letting his fellow soldiers finish him off slowly and painfully. This may as well be a bona fide HBO series, but since it only takes place over a specific period of time and is set to play out over one season, it’s considered a miniseries. In terms of the casting, it’s a real pleasure to see not one but two “Wonderfalls” alumni appearing in an HBO production, Caroline Dhavernas as Robert’s neighbor back home and William Sadler as the passionate Lieutenant Colonel Chesty Puller.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What I’m Watching: Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives: Season 6, Episode 17 “Chromolume No. 7” (C+)

As usual with this show, some elements are strong and others just aren’t. To get the bad out of the way first, a not-so-warm welcome back to Preston. That mustache looks preposterous, and the only reason it’s necessary is for that quick quip from Lynette about the other twin not having to try it himself to see how stupid it looks. The Russian girlfriend, whose name is obviously Irina, feels like something plucked completely out of nowhere, especially since Preston’s entire trip abroad was merely a convenient plot device to deal with the affair they had to cover up before that, if I remember correctly. My biggest problem with the whole thing is that it’s yet another instance where Lynette is the only sensible person in the universe who can see the obvious, and it will obviously take a couple of episodes for others to come around to the truth. Doesn’t Lynette have enough to deal with without being the sole voice of reason here? Katherine’s new lifestyle choice was amusing due to her conversation with the gay guys next door but also in the way that it resulted in Susan accidentally telling Mike that he has a feminine side that probably helped her transition over to being a lesbian. Mike’s defense of his having cried during “The Notebook” was funny – tears of boredom. While cameos by supermodels don’t do much for me, having Gaby and Angie spend some time together is well worth it, especially for Angie’s line, “telling me you were a supermodel isn’t sharing about your past; it’s bragging.” Of course we missed Angie talking everything over with her mother, but it’s satisfying to see her so quickly reach out to Gaby and reveal that Patrick is Danny’s father! That money-grubbing tattletale phone call at the end of the episode signals bad things on the horizon, but I’m very much looking forward to finally getting some answers and seeing how the resourceful Bolen family, along with new accomplice Gaby, handles it.

What I’m Watching: Caprica

Caprica: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Imperfections of Memory” (C+)

Up until the final moment of this episode, it hardly seems like we’re getting anywhere. Joseph wandering around the virtual world in search of New Cap City is hopelessly frustrating since he’s so bumbling and clumsy. The notion that you can so easily be booted from the game by getting shot at a random moment is a nice catch-all that serves to strand Joseph all by himself there, but it doesn’t make too much sense. Heracles getting shot while Joseph survives is also a bit of a mismatched situation since Heracles has clearly done this many times before and should be more skilled than to catch a stray bullet. Joseph’s new guide also seems like she’ll be a whole lot more distracting than helpful, and I’m sure Tamara will have become much more detached from her former human self by the time Joseph eventually locates her. Amanda continues to annoy me, but I’m just not sure why visions of her brother are coming up now. Incorporating the phrase “this has all happened before and will all happen again” is a decent reference to “Battlestar Galactica,” but I was under the impression it wasn’t some saying but a Cylon concept (I'll admit that the timeline always confused me a little regarding the final five). A good moment in this episode, however, was Sister Clarice’s spirited sermon about putting faith in God, to which a clueless Amanda responded, “which one?” I’m becoming more impressed with Alessandra Toressani, who plays Zoe, as an actress after her performance following the simulated flight. Now, on to more exciting things – the end of the episode was fantastic, with Daniel finally putting the pieces together and walking up to the Cylon body and saying Zoe’s name. We’re getting somewhere now, and this is where things could get awesome.

What I’m Watching: 30 Rock

30 Rock: Season 4, Episode 14 “Future Husband” (B+)

If Liz’s drug-induced Valentine’s Day hallucinations seem like forever ago, that’s because they were – an entire month ago. Picking right up where this show left off with Liz, Jack, and Avery is startling when it’s been so long and this show rarely opts to reference and continue past plotlines. Still, sticking with those threads is fun, and Liz finding someone stored as “Future Husband” in her phone is a perfect premise from which to launch an episode of this show. Casting Michael Sheen as the unlikable, unfriendly, and very incompatible for Liz supposed Future Husband was a nice move, and their conversations were fantastically awkward. Liz talking about how British people have bad teeth and him responding, “that’s not something I’ve heard” was a great starter, and Liz just giving up when he suggested Tex-Mex and she agreed despite not liking it was fun. I very much enjoyed the fact that the dentist had to print up specific pamphlets for Liz regarding the rules of what she’s allowed to eat following her root canal because he’s so tired of explaining the rules to her over and over again. Kenneth’s spastic donkey disease was pretty crazy and a smidge over-the-top, even for the show, but fortunately Jack McBrayer does a splendid job of playing the role. Jack’s logical reasoning that Geiss could have used decoys to be in two places or that he could have driven to the second location by now was amusing, and hopefully he’ll be able to stay on top despite this latest breaking news. The surprisingly intimate scene between Liz and Jack was entertaining, filled with many quotable lines. Jack: “Wait did you hear that? That’s the sound of me being erased from contact lists all around the world.” Liz: “That’s the sound of the hug plane coming in for a landing.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What I’m Watching: The Office

The Office: Season 6, Episode 19 “St. Patrick’s Day” (B+)

I’m back reviewing this show after Nancy stepped in last week to review the special birth episode. I agree with her thoughts and really enjoyed that installment. This one is a great follow-up, transitioning Jim back into the swing of things in an amusing and ridiculous way. Dwight’s excitement over the concept of Megadesk was great, and it’s always satisfying when Jim manages to outsmart Dwight in the end. The rest of this episode could have been just another instance of Michael being awkward and embarrassing himself by realizing that someone doesn’t like him nearly as much as he thinks they do. It managed to work pretty well though, partially due to the awesomeness of Kathy Bates as well as Michael’s ultimate uniting ability which time after time seems to serve as the reason he’s lasted this long in his managerial position. I liked Jo’s comment about working hard or marrying rich to get ahead and how she did both. Michael standing up to Jo was a great moment that once again asserted Michael’s surprising ability to get his job done right every once in a while. It’s certainly good that Andy and Erin are finally started to date, it’s a really shame that it panned out the way it did, especially since Andy now seems to have lost much of his hope. Andy faking sick so that he too could get sent home was cute. Erin’s relationship with her brother, however, was far too reminiscent of the Yeti’s inappropriate closeness with his sister which ended up driving Rachel away on “Friends.”

What I’m Watching: Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation: Season 2, Episode 18 “The Possum” (B+)

It’s so fun to see all of the characters mixed and matched here and given the opportunity to interact with different people than normal. Ann’s naivety about the budding relationship between Andy and April is entertaining, and the quick cut to April dryly saying that she doesn’t like Ann after Ann talked about how maybe April looking after her house could lead to them being friends was perfect. April had a whole lot to do in this episode, being enlisted by Leslie to help her deal with the second possum situation. One of the funniest moments was when Leslie was freaking out while asking April to help her out and April was willing to do it if Leslie piped down. Leslie and April screaming together when they were hiding from the possum was quite an unexpected but entirely enjoyable scene. The most fantastic surprise was the snapshot of the relationship between Ron and Mark. Ron’s desire to circumvent the code just because there was no reason he felt he needed to follow it was great, and the way he tried to avoid answering any of Mark’s questions was hilarious. Mark’s response of just telling him to shut up while he was helping him try to adhere to all of the codes was fantastic, and the best part was when he actually interrupted Ron’s interview with the camera to tell him to shut up. This really is a spectacular team working at the Parks department, and I’d be delighted to see many more task forces in the future.

What I’m Watching: Ugly Betty

Ugly Betty: Season 4, Episode 15 “Fire and Nice” (B+)

This show only has the rest of its season to wrap up all of its story arcs, but it doesn’t feel like it’s hurtling towards it end, which is nice because the show is still exploring new avenues. It’s good to see Hilda closer to finding happiness as Bobby proves himself to be a serious man in her life. Casting Nestor Serrano (“24”) and Lainie Kazan (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) as Bobby’s parents was brilliant, and all of their immediate references to murdering people were very entertaining. The hunt for the fire-starter was also enjoyable, and it’s a pity that Betty is always the one who gets blamed for things, although her family is considerably nicer to her than her work friends. This episode did provide a fun and unusual opportunity for Betty to play nice with Wilhelmina, who was at her least vicious since spending some sappy time with Connor. Rich Sommer, best known as nervous, kind-hearted Harry Crane from “Mad Men,” turned in a completely different performance here as a less-than-humble firefighter with an obnoxious sense of humor and strong interest in dating Betty, despite making only annoying comments on their date with Wilhelmina and her normal man. It took the dim-witted Daniel a while to discover that Tyler was his brother, but the process was good because it permitted Amanda to become closer with both of them, and for Claire to become the center of some very misconstrued gossip about her relationship with her illegitimate son. Marc’s continual disappointment about Justin’s assertion that he is straight is also fun.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What I’m Watching: Psych (Season Finale)

Psych: Season 4, Episode 16 “Mr. Yin Presents…” (B+)

It’s nice to have James Roday directing again as this show signs out after its fourth season, and I’m certainly much more impressed with this installment than last year’s “Tuesday the 17th” horror parody. The incorporation of all the Hitchcock references and films is a lot of fun and serves to help lighten the considerably severity of this episode. This was a particularly serious hour, and it’s somewhat alarming to see Shawn not quite taking it so seriously. It was intriguing to have the quite bizarre and now deceased Mary back for an hour, and the way both Shawn and Gus react to him is priceless. Putting both Juliet and Abigail in peril was the first time that Shawn really had to get serious and make a Batman-like decision about which person he wants to save. Now that Abigail is out of the picture, hopefully Shawn can finally realize and confess his feelings for Juliet. Still, involving the whole cast in the effort to locate the two ladies, and seeing Lassie run after Juliet while Henry accompanies Shawn to help rescue Abigail helped to redefine these characters with various strong loyalties to the people they care about deeply. The fact that Mr. Yin is still out there and can easily come back again is a somewhat smart device because it enables this show to take a sharply serious turn if ever it feels like it but also doesn’t need to be front and center unless the show calls for it. I’ll be happy to stick with the comedy, and maybe even some romance.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: James Roday

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 1, Episode 17 “Truth Be Told” (B+)

Once again this show demonstrates that it’s able to use guest actors in a way that doesn’t wreak of stunt casting and doesn’t overshadow the principal cast. In fact, appearances like that of Judy Greer as Phil’s ex-girlfriend hoping for an indiscreet rendezvous with the married man just serve to make the main performers work harder and deliver even more incredibly. Phil’s reaction, coupled with Claire’s jealousy-turned-friendliness, was what made that plotline work extraordinarily well. I loved Haley’s comment of “Ew, Dad, I couldn’t picture you with any woman” and the way that Claire took it. Seeing Mitchell at work was a nice treat, especially as freaked out way too much when he thought his boss overheard his snappy comment. Mitchell’s resignation was a marvelous scene, first defiantly handing his badge and his coffee cup over to his boss before requesting both back because he needed them to operate the elevator and complete his look, respectively. Jay’s desire to inspire confidence in his son was clearly misguided from the start, but the murder cover-up was hilarious. The way Manny said “Jay, I’ve been waiting for you” was terrific, as were the references back to a similar fiasco involving Jay and Mitchell a number of years earlier. Gloria’s frustrated reaction to the whole thing was amazing as well. She’s someone who usually steals scenes and often takes center stage in many of the plotlines, but she’s just as effective when she’s serving as a background buffer between her overly mature son and her overly childish husband.

What I’m Watching: Human Target

Human Target: Season 1, Episode 7 “Salvage & Reclamation” (B+)

As usual, it’s a good idea to start the review of this show with a quick rundown of recognizable faces from the episode. Starting from inside the South American military base, the bad guy who served as an interrogator was Kim Coates, also known as loyal bodyguard Tig from “Sons of Anarchy,” who does a good job of selling himself as a leader in this fun villainous role. The good guy was Kris Marshall, best known as Colin, the American-loving Brit who traveled to Wisconsin to meet girls in “Love Actually.” He wasn’t quite as off-the-walls here, but he was still entertaining and it was very funny to hear both Maria and Chance tell him to shut up at the same time. Chance’s proclamation of “Doug is not a pacifist” provided a great transition into the shot of him maniacally shooting everyone. Chance expressing his fear of the banana spider that was common only in a particular part of Latin America was hilarious, especially when Maria tried to convince him that a bunch of bananas was the dreaded spider. Chance’s conclusion of “it’s 2010, everybody’s got guns” was amusing, and was the first real acknowledgment of time there’s been on this fantasy-driven show. Winston and Guerrero on the plane together was amazing, starting with Winston’s fury about having to fly into the devil’s mount that eats planes. Guerrero interpreting the pilot’s assertion about the plane being overweight as Winston being overweight was great, and I loved Winston’s reaction to Guerrero opting to confess his sins – “I’m not spending my final moments listening to all the heinous things you’ve done.” Guerrero had a perfect comeback a few minutes later: “just for the record, I think you could have handled that a little better.”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What I’m Watching: Scrubs

Scrubs: Season 9, Episode 12 “Our Driving Issues” (C-)

A break from this show until now was not a good idea. If we were ever going to come around to these new characters, taking a whole month off really doesn’t help matters much. Truth be told, this is a better timeslot for the show, grouping it with three successful comedies, two of which actually have old “Scrubs” cast members in their ensembles – Neil Flynn on “The Middle” and Christa Miller on “Cougar Town.” But none of this matters when the season has only two episodes left to air, and this disappointing installment is one of them. The fabrication of intensely dramatic plotlines does not work well, especially when something like Dr. Kelso’s inability to drive is played off too much for comedy, unlike his forced retirement after Elliot uncovered his age in an effort to throw him a party. Cole’s cancer scare was way too casual, and the relationship that is supposed to have been formed between all of the med students just doesn’t exist. Turk, who is allegedly one of the primary stars of the show, doesn’t even have anything to do in this episode at all except tell students that they shouldn’t be worried that they themselves have the diseases they’re studying. I did enjoy one scene, and that was when the warring Dr. Cox and Denise were trying to find Drew and describing him to people during the search. Denise’s description of a “serial killer vibe” was fun, but I prefer Dr. Cox’s searing potshot: “have you seen a med student, like 900 years old?”

Round Two: Parenthood

Parenthood: Season 1, Episode 2 “Man Versus Possum” (B+)

A second go at this show proves to be rewarding, which is a good sign. I like the title of the episode and its theme of trying to find an elusive animal reminds me very much of the first episode of “Weeds,” which was titled, “You Can’t Miss the Bear.” This episode featured a healthy serving of crazy people, from the Buddhist soccer mom to the over-the-top Asperger’s parents. Framing the Braverman family in a light that isn’t quite as insane is a positive thing, and they’re proving to all be very interesting. Crosby’s decision to keep his girlfriend in the dark about the existence of his son is evidently coming to blow up in his face soon, and I fear that it will bring about the swift departure of the magnificent Marguerite Moreau, who makes the most out of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scenes. Julia’s accidentally-broadcasted off-handed remark that the Buddhist mom trying to steal her husband doesn’t even work was insanely awkward, but she did a great job of handling it (as did the writers for having it play out this way) by pledging $1920 to honor all women instead of dwelling on her rivalry. Sarah’s interview was pleasant, but it’s a shame that it didn’t work out and that she was mad at Adam for recommending her without even telling her. All of the supposed adults smoking pot at the school was hilarious, especially when Adam refused because he said it was still illegal. This is one family I’d definitely like to stick around with and get to know better.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What I’m Watching: White Collar (Season Finale)

White Collar: Season 1, Episode 14 “Out of the Box” (B+)

This is certainly a good episode since it’s hard for this show to have an off installment, and the only slight qualm I have the dynamic of Neal and Peter apart rather than together. Obviously, we’d like to believe that Neal is inherently good and desires to abide by the law and that Peter wants to genuinely help Neal even if he has to circumvent traditional methods of justice. The fact that neither of those seems completely true here is a bit frustrating, but it doesn’t really diminish from the quality of the show. Mozzie had two great lines back-to-back, one funny and one appropriately serious. “Italians do prison just fine, ask Galileo” was a hilarious retort to Neal’s assertion that he had little to fear in terms of retribution from the Italians. “Happily ever after isn’t for guys like us” was a far graver proclamation, and what got to me most about it was Neal’s response of “it is.” Neal’s quite a unique case though since he actually possesses the charisma to stand up in front of a room of people and start a toast with the words “I’m an internationally renowned art thief, and I’m here to rob you.” Fowler going after Elizabeth was somewhat unexpected, and it feels good to see Peter really diving in and pulling out all the stops to ensure that Fowler doesn’t get away with what he’s doing. Fowler pulling a gun on Peter was an intense moment, and the plane blowing up at the end of the episode clearly signals that things are much more serious and deadly than anyone ever presumed. I’ll be looking forward to season two, which hopefully should focus a little more on Neal and Peter and a little less on the search for Kate.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Matthew Bomer