Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #1

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#1: Banshee

This Cinemax series was just as awe-inspiring as it was violent, creating a cruel world in which Antony Starr’s criminal managed to assume a murdered sheriff’s identity and hide himself in a small town that was just as dangerous as the mobster from whom he was running. No show was as visceral and shocking as this one, and an early January return promises even more action and grittiness in season two.

Best Episode: A Mixture of Madness
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #2

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#2: Orphan Black

This BBC America original was a truly creative and exceptional series. There’s no topping Tatiana Maslany’s multiple performances, and it really did feel like each one was played by a different person. The show’s mythology only got more interesting as time went on, and I’m excited to see this show produce more intrigue and drama as it goes into season two and beyond.

Best Episode: Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #3

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#3: Ray Donovan

Showtime picked a great new show to pair with the final season of one of its longest-running hits, “Dexter.” Liev Schreiber was born to play Hollywood fixer Ray Donovan, and the supporting cast was uniformly excellent, especially Paula Malcomson as his wife and Jon Voight as his father. The show managed to mix slightly entertaining episodic storylines with darker background themes, and each installment was gripping and immensely watchable.

Best Episode: A Mouth is a Mouth
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #4

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#4: The Bridge

This dark drama started off as a moody thriller and evolved into a deeply powerful look at two different personalities and the cultures that helped shape who they are. Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir were equally terrific as an American cop with social difficulties and a kindhearted Mexican cop with infidelity issues, respectively, and Annabeth Gish was fantastic in a supporting role that helped anchor and balance much of the show’s grimmer main plot.

Best Episode: The Beetle
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #5

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#5: House of Cards

This Netflix show used movie star Kevin Spacey perfectly, putting him in a juicy role in which he literally pulled strings to make Washington operate to his every whim. The show’s supporting cast, particularly Corey Stoll and Kate Mara, were well worth watching, and made it so that Spacey’s corrupt congressman wasn’t even the show’s most engaging element. The only question for season two is how quickly the streaming series should be watched.

Best Episode: Chapter 4
I didn’t review this one episode by episode, but I’ll aim to do that with season two!

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #6

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#6: Orange is the New Black

This Netflix offering seems to be considered a drama by many, and that’s certainly true considering the disturbing predicament in which its protagonist often finds herself. Yet in many ways it’s a dark comedy, showing the wild and wacky happenings at a female prison with fantastic supporting characters and some truly involving storylines.

A detailed season recap and review will be posted soon – I still have two episodes to go!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #7

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#7: Hello Ladies

Stephen Merchant didn’t receive rave reviews for his first major solo outing sans partner Ricky Gervais, but I heartily enjoyed this look at lust and loneliness in Los Angeles. Merchant is terrific in the lead role as the eternally offensive Stuart, and Christine Woods was wonderful as up-and-coming desperate actress Jessica, who put her foot in her mouth and embarrassed herself almost as often as her landlord did. There’s still no word on a second season of this show, but let’s hope we’ll get one.

Best Episode: The Wedding
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Friday, December 27, 2013

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #8

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#8: Family Tree

The infinitely endearing Chris O’Dowd was delightful in this offbeat series about an unemployed man looking into his ancestry after a relative died and left him money. His ventriloquist sister and curmudgeonly father were only the beginning of this tremendous web of wonderful wackiness, and this show demonstrated a true commitment to being unapologetically irreverent. No one knows if this show will be back for another round, and I do hope it will.

Best Episode: Indians
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #9

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#9: Rectify

This six-episode Sundance Channel series aired over the course of just a few weeks, but it was extremely memorable in a short time. Aden Young was magnetic as a recently-released convict ostracized by his community for a suspected crime years earlier, but the show was all about its supporting players, especially his fiery sister Abigail Spencer. This was a thought-provoking, contemplative series that should prove just as powerful in season two.

Best Episode: Plato’s Cave
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #10

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#10: Masters of Sex

Showtime’s latest offering was a bold and adventurous look at the 1960s and one doctor’s quest to make scientific breakthroughs in the understanding of human sexuality. Michael Sheen is a solid stoic researcher, but the true stars of the show were Lizzy Caplan as his ambitious assistant and Caitlin Fitzgerald as Libby, Bill’s long-ignored wife. The season ended on a less than satisfying note, but I imagine that year two will head in an innovative and intriguing direction.

Best Episode: Pilot
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #11

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#11: Welcome to the Family

This show has been off the air for a while now after being inauspiciously decommissioned three short episodes in. This fall’s “Ben and Kate” was a fun addition to NBC’s Thursday night lineup, and easily the best new broadcast network comedy of the year. Mike O’Malley and Ricardo Antonio Chaviras were great as fathers who hated each other, and the show’s entire ensemble was a committed and entertaining bunch. Hopefully any other episodes made of this show will someday be available.

Best Episode: Pilot
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Monday, December 23, 2013

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #12

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#12: Almost Human

With only six episodes aired thus far, it’s hard to tell how this one will fare. After a strong start that showcased a thrilling future and a dynamic duo in the lead roles, the show has followed suit with other ambitious offerings like “Terra Nova” and “Flash Forward,” getting in over its head and failing to deliver the same kind of excitement, intrigue, and sophistication promised by the pilot.

Best Episode: Pilot
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Top 13 New Shows of 2013: #13

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced a handful of impressive new television series. As 2013 closes out and 2014 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#13: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I was incredibly excited to see this spin-off of “The Avengers” arrive on television, and its overly simplistic and family-friendly nature was disappointing. With time, however, this show has grown into something more engaging and exciting. It still needs some work, but I’m glad to see that it’s headed in the right direction. Its best asset is the amusingly-named Fitz-Simmons, actually two equally endearing characters whose scientific enthusiasm often gets the best of them.

Best Episode: “The Hub
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Saturday, December 21, 2013

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 3, Episode 11 “Lethe” (B+)

This episode was probably the show’s least thrilling installment in a while since it’s set in the aftermath of Carter’s death and Reese’s time off following the devastation of her murder and the failure of his revenge plan. But, by its end, everything got turned around, and this episode came together to send things in a fantastic new direction. Casting Saul Rubinek from “Warehouse 13” as the NSA operative whose brain tumor was causing him to say too much about covert programs was great, but even better was Camryn Manheim, who won an Emmy fifteen years ago for “The Practice,” in the too-insignificant role of his wife. Her presence prompted the episode’s best moment, which was the reveal that she wasn’t actually his wife, and instead working not for Collier but with Hersh as Control. That reshapes things in a big way, and it’s great to see yet another acclaimed performer choose to guest star on this show in a major role like this. This isn’t the first time that an episode has ended with all of our heroes in jeopardy, and let’s hope that Fusco can help coach Reese back into being useful just in time to save the day. Flashing back to Harold’s childhood was intriguing, and even more fantastic than that is the notion of a second machine existing. Root using books from Finch’s library to spell out a number he was trying to ignore was typically superb, and I hope that she gets a chance to shine outside of her willing captivity soon.

Friday, December 20, 2013

What I’m Watching: Almost Human

Almost Human: Season 1, Episode 6 “Arrhythmia” (C+)

I’m not feeling confident about this show’s enduring nature, and it’s really a shame considering I was so sure that this would reverse the trend of those sci-fi shows that got strong starts only to reveal that they couldn’t top their first episodes. Dorian finding another version of himself who had been downgraded to a less glamorous position was somewhat interesting, but I think it makes this all too small a world. Kennex is annoyed enough with Dorian as it is, upset at him in this case mostly for guilting him into donating to charity and driving his car remotely, and he doesn’t need a less competent duplicate to antagonize him. The pratfalls that the other Dorian sparked were regrettable, and he’s probably a character better left forgotten, which the episode resolved to do when Dorian reset his memories at the end of the episode. This show is fiercely committed to addressing many modern-day issues through a futuristic scope, but there was something about this heart transplant business that just didn’t enthrall me. The same can be said for the quality of the policework on this show. Having a partnership where one is human and the other is an android is great, and why ruin that by making the minute-by-minute nature of their cop work overly procedural and relatively boring? Maybe a few weeks off for the holidays will be just what this show needs to reboot in a more productive and impressive manner in 2014 with the back half of this season.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What I’m Watching: Masters of Sex (Season Finale)

Masters of Sex: Season 1, Episode 12 “Manhigh” (B-)

Some of the events in this episode are certainly momentous and sure to have permanent consequences, but there was something about the hour that didn’t feel as authentic or powerful as the initial episodes of this season did. At least Bill wasn’t hallucinating Virginia talking to him all the time, but he did manage to forget just how far from ready the world was for what he wanted to share with them. The results of his martini-assisted presentation were disastrous, and getting fired and having the locks to his office changed were bitter punishments. It’s a good thing that Virginia wasn’t credited with being at the forefront of the study, though most of the men who saw the film of Jane thought that she was its star. Libby having the baby at another hospital was fitting considering Bill’s newly soured relationship with his former workplace. Hopefully getting to be a father will prove a positive distraction for Bill, who could use the time off to become a nicer and more appreciative person. While working with Dr. DePaul won’t be easy, Virginia seems to have her own best interests in mind, and I assume that won’t include either moving to California or accepting Ethan’s proposal. It’s good to see that Margaret supports her husband in the best way that she can, and let’s hope that Bill’s lone selfless act, pretending that Scully knew nothing of his study, enables him to be able to stay in a good position and achieve more personal happiness. Most of this season was great, and I hope that season two captures the energy of the majority of the episodes rather than these lackluster final two hours.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Caitlin Fitzgerald as Libby

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What I’m Watching: Homeland (Season Finale)

Homeland: Season 3, Episode 12 “The Star” (B+)

There’s certainly much to talk about regarding this finale, and I think it’s helpful to look at this episode from a larger perspective pertaining to the series as a whole. Brody was never a good guy from the start, and while he demonstrate some sympathetic qualities along the way, the bad things he did always outweighed whatever positive actions he took to atone for them. He also gave up Javadi in the moment before completing his mission, something that was not necessary since he was already alone with him and could have just taken him out right then and there. Talking with Carrie about having a family together was an impossible dream, and the speed with which his execution was decreed and carried out made its permanence difficult to accept. Carrie coming to see it while Brody gracefully accepted his fate was immensely emotional, and Saul’s reaction back home, while more personally detached, was almost as impactful. Flashing forward to find that Javadi was serving as a proper moderate leader for Iran was some comfort, and it looks like both Saul and Carrie are happier in their new roles. Where things go from here, I’m not sure, but I will say that this productive, if devastating, resolution to this season doesn’t justify everything that led up to it. Let’s go for much action and less setting up of the plot next season, and maybe a few new characters and a focus on something other than Brody or Javadi (and without too much Lockhart) can be helpful.

Season grade: B-
Season MVP: Mandy Patinkin as Saul

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What I’m Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 2, Episode 11 “Internal Audit” (B+)

After last week’s unconventional episode which told its story in a flashback-oriented fashion, it was good to see an episode that was much more straightforward. This hour was extremely introspective, allowing Sherlock for once to examine his behavior and to think about how his actions affect other people. We haven’t seen Alfredo in a while, and, as was the case with his first appearance, it’s great to see that Watson really did find Sherlock the perfect sponsor, someone who doesn’t want to put up with his attitude, and instead is willing to tell him exactly how it is. Training him on how to break the alarm is helpful, but giving him a stern talking-to about how he should really start being a sponsor was just as productive. Sherlock is going to make one hell of sponsor, but it seems that Randy is ready for it. It was intriguing to see Watson deal with things on a personal level in this episode too, running into an old client at the scene of a murder and contemplating the ethics of whether to include her in the investigation or not since it would expose her past. I’m glad to see that Sherlock didn’t make the same mistake twice in a row. The subject matter of Holocaust reparations was a strange and delicate one for this show, but I think it worked alright. Bell’s new job offer is actually a pretty good deal, but I worry it’s going to have only adverse affects on his outlook on the future.

Monday, December 16, 2013

What I’m Watching: Parenthood

Parenthood: Season 5, Episode 10 “All That’s Left is the Hugging” (B+)

This was a particularly emotional episode, thanks mostly to one of two deathly serious plotlines. Amber’s reception at work was a difficult one, and hearing Adam and Crosby express concern at Ryan having been violent with her was disconcerting because it’s clear that his actions were truly irreversible. Having Amber talk to her mom and get advice while Ryan spoke to Zeek and then for the two of them to sit down with completely opposing viewpoints was devastating, and the stoic news from Ryan that he already reenlisted just moments after Amber poured her heart out to him is sure to send her to a bad place for a while. Joel, meanwhile, seems to be actually trying in their marriage for the first time in a while, and it’s a shame that Ed had to go and kiss Julia while he’s in the midst of losing his battle for his marriage, since it will likely be Julia who breaks the news to Joel due to a guilty conscience rather than someone else who lets it slip. Drew’s relationship drama pales in comparison, but it was at first entertaining to see him struggle with the idea of a friends with benefits arrangement and then accidentally get the whole thing nixed because he cared too much. Sarah’s age-appropriate relationship has finally started, and let’s hope she isn’t too awkward to give it a shot. Adam’s egg-throwing session was very therapeutic and a wonderful sign of support for his wife, the former candidate.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 5, Episode 10 “The Old Man and the Tree” (B)

This episode was full of funny plotlines even if it wasn’t entirely even throughout. Some of the storylines were a bit too literal, like Gloria being jealous because her mother was treating Claire the way she always wanted her to treat her, but that got a decent dramatic resolution. Cam realizing that he and Lily were benefiting from a party for the needy only to have Mitchell drive up with a car full of presents ended on an amusing note, especially because Mitchell had purchased gifts meant for Pepper and their friends. Luke encouraging Phil to fulfill his yearlong goal of walking to Canada to buy himself time to empty the garage of the year of recycling that he had failed to take out was fun, and I loved that he involved Dylan, who ended up blowing out his hearing and hurting his hand while shooting off the fireworks just as Phil was approaching the border. Manny and Jay going to chop down the tree with different ideas about its importance was entertaining, and the simple solution that presented itself after Jay got multiple tools stuck in the tree was relatively funny. Santa disappearing while Haley and Alex were helping out at the mall was somewhat less convincing, but it was all worth it for the shot of the arms bursting into the house and Haley and Alex grabbing onto each other for dear life. Perhaps this show will do better when it’s not trying to theme its episode around the holidays.

What I’m Watching: Sons of Anarchy (Season Finale)

Sons of Anarchy: Season 6, Episode 13 “A Mother’s Work” (A-)

This show never fails to be absolutely devastating. After last week’s heartbreaking conclusion, it seemed like things couldn’t possibly turn out well, and that was underlined when Tara panicked at the sight of Jax walking towards her and her boys when they were in the park. Yet Jax is not the ruthless, cold-blooded leader that Clay was, and he’s willing to give people a second chance. Offering to go to prison for twenty-five years was incredibly generous, and Patterson seemed extremely shocked by that particular proposal. Gemma thinking that Tara had ratted him out was always going to bad, but to see her bash her head in repeatedly without even asking her any simple question was pretty appalling. That’s such an irreversible event which signals a departure that has been a long time coming, but it’s still incredibly jarring. Just as startling was Juice’s quick reaction, to shoot Roosevelt and then help Gemma to her feet in an act of loyalty to Jax and the club. Patterson walking in to find Jax cradling Tara’s lifeless body was quite the way to end, and something tells me that he ends up taking the rap for it in some form or another. Nero supervising Alvarez’s meeting with Marks’ people was a positive thing, but, as usual, there’s so much bloodshed at almost every turn. I think Nero and Gemma are through, and her condition following her cold-blooded murder isn’t going to inspire them to reconcile. Where this leaves everyone is up in the air, and I’m sure that the show’s seventh and final season will be just as terrific as this year. Season six managed to live up to the high standard set by season five, and I’m excited to see what the show has in store for the future.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Charlie Hunnam as Jax

Saturday, December 14, 2013

What I’m Watching: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 1, Episode 10 “The Bridge” (B-)

This episode didn’t do much for me, and I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe that’s because the villainy on this show is far too cartoonish, and that mixed with Skye whining about wanting to find her parents is becoming grating. This show has proven that it knows how to handle solid action plotlines, and bringing a character back from its pilot episode just didn’t do the trick. He was much more charismatic than I had expected, relatively evolved from the “I want to be a hero” sensibility yet still tethered to the notion that he should be doing good things for people and atoning for his past sins. He didn’t mesh all that well with the team, received positively only by Coulson and by Skye. An enhanced, non-exploding team breaking Po out of prison was a worrisome start, and things only got worse when the Po pulled a kill switch on one of his men when he was about to be interrogated by Coulson about who was pulling the strings. Mike making a deal to get his son back which involved turning Coulson in rather than himself ups the ante considerably, and he did try to be heroic after getting to his son to safety by running back to save Coulson. Unfortunately, I suspect that Coulson is in for a dangerous ride, and let’s hope that whatever answers Raina is seeking about the details of his resurrection aren’t going to be used in the service of harming him or anyone else.

Friday, December 13, 2013

What I’m Watching: Almost Human

Almost Human: Season 1, Episode 5 “Blood Brothers” (C+)

I’m saddened to see where this show is headed, but I’m hopeful that it’s just a case of a few less than stellar plotlines and not a greater indication of the show going downhill. The first three episodes were full of cool technology and emphasized the differences and similarities between Kennex and Dorian. Now, there’s too much casual banter about Dorian having to live with all the MXs and unzipping his fly so that Kennex can see his unnecessary “appendage.” I understand that Stahl is attractive, but their flirtation is bordering on extremely childish. I’m much more interested in the idea of how technology plays a role in all of this future-set policework, like the fact that Stahl was located because of her MX and that they can now use holograms to have people appear in court where they won’t have to be put out in the open on their way to testifying. Maldonado using that same trick to fool Avery’s clones into thinking that she was delivering him to them was clever, though it didn’t hold up quite as long as it needed to. Getting a glimpse into Maldonado’s psyche after Avery, who didn’t even know her or anything about her, taunted her was somewhat intriguing, and she’s one of the characters I’d like to see more developed. I think that going forward it would be nice to see the Syndicate featured more and mediums less so, and to get back to the partnership at the core of this show that was barely noted in this episode at all.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Golden Globe Nominees: Best TV Series – Comedy/Musical

My predictions: 3/5, missing “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Parks and Recreation”
Who’s missing? Enlightened, Smash, Veep

I couldn’t be happier to see Parks and Recreation here, especially after Amy Poehler’s SAG snub yesterday. Why voters are just now waking up and honoring it for the first time is a mystery, but I’m not complaining. It’s strange that “Veep” got snubbed and sad that “Enlightened” did, but there is one new entry here, and that’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which isn’t my cup of tea but isn’t all bad. Returning are the regulars: The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, and last year’ winner, Girls. Not as good as the drama list, but it’s decent.

Who will win? I’d love for it to be “Parks,” but something tells me it will be Modern Family.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best TV Series – Drama

My predictions: 3/5, missing “The Good Wife” and “House of Cards’
Who’s missing? Boardwalk Empire, Homeland, The Newsroom, Orange is the New Black

This category threw out three perfectly good shows which didn’t have a great last season, most notably two-time defending champ “Homeland,” which is a big deal (though I don’t disagree). I’m thrilled to see that they welcomed back The Good Wife for its second-ever nomination, and its first since 2010. It’s refreshing to see a difference from the Emmy and SAG mentalities, and to see that “Game of Thrones” wasn’t recognized here, even if it did have a good season. Instead, we get Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey back. The former earned two acting nods while the latter got none. Joining the race are two new shows: House of Cards, which netted three acting nods, and Masters of Sex, which got just one. A pretty good list, but I’m surprised that “Orange is the New Black” didn’t make the cut (probably because it’s a comedy).

Who will win? I’d hedge my bets on either “Breaking Bad” or House of Cards.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series

My predictions: 1/5, picking only Vergara
Who’s missing? Kathy Bates (American Horror Story), Kate Mulgrew (Orange is the New Black), Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

Eek. This ranks as one of my worst categories, and also one of the strangest lineups. For starters, there’s no Maggie Smith, whose show is represented only in the top race this year. Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) as the sole acting nominee from her show doesn’t feel right, and Hayden Panettiere (Nashville) earning a repeat nomination while costar Connie Britton was snubbed is odd. I’m thrilled for Monica Potter (Parenthood), who is finally earning some recognition after her show has been ignored all these years. I haven’t seen Jacqueline Bissett (Dancing on the Edge) and Janet McTeer (The White Queen) in their roles.

Who will win? Who knows? Maybe Potter?

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series

My predictions: 2/5, picking only Stoll and Voight
Who’s missing? Max Greenfield (New Girl), Danny Huston (Magic City), Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)

What a fun category. I’m thrilled to see new inclusions Corey Stoll (House of Cards), something that didn’t happen at the Emmys this past year, and Jon Voight (Ray Donovan). Though it’s terribly unlike them, it’s great to see a fresh face who’s been eligible countless before like Josh Charles (The Good Wife) show up when his show is back on top again. Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) netted his first-ever Globe nod, swapping with costar Anna Gun, who got the SAG bid yesterday. Rounding out the category is someone nominated for a different TV movie by SAG, Rob Lowe (Behind the Candelabra). His is the only performance I haven’t seen.

Who will win? Possibly Charles or Lowe, but more likely Voight.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy/Musical

My predictions: 4/5, missing Falco
Who’s missing? Laura Dern (Enlightened)

I’m glad to say that Emmy and SAG trends weren’t followed here, which means that we get to keep Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) and Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), whose show miraculously got nominated for Best TV Series – Comedy/Musical for the first time ever, along with Lena Dunham (Girls). Though her show failed to make it into the top race again, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) is here, and a double nominee thanks to her film role in “Enough Said.” Puzzlingly, Globe voters did something they rarely do to fill the fifth slot: they went back to someone who hasn’t been nominated for two years and honored her. I’m fine with Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) being here since her show is always relatively fun to watch when I sit down for a few episodes every Emmy season.

Who will win? Probably Louis-Dreyfus since she hasn’t yet.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a TV Series – Comedy/Musical

My predictions: 4/5, missing Samberg
Who’s missing? Robin Williams (The Crazy Ones), Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

With Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., and Matt LeBlanc all ineligible this year, it tracks that the other two nominees from last year, both past winners, would be back: Don Cheadle (House of Lies) and Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory). Both earned SAG nominations yesterday along with Jason Bateman (Arrested Development). Joining them is one expected new face, Michael J. Fox (The Michael J. Fox Show), and another whose show got nominated for Best TV Series – Comedy/Musical, Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine). These are all undeniably funny men even if this wouldn’t be my exact list.

Who will win? Probably Fox.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a TV Series – Drama

My predictions: 4/5, missing Wright
Who’s missing? Claire Danes (Homeland), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Connie Britton (Nashville)

Sometimes, I get so caught up in cheering for the nominees that I forget that they’re announced alphabetically, which means that when the one everyone else expected to be snubbed, Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), was announced first, that meant that two-time defending champ Claire Danes wasn’t going to be nominated. I personally agree with the snub, and I think this list is completely fantastic. The one I’m least excited about is Kerry Washington (Scandal), but I know that there are plenty of people who are thrilled, which is good enough for me. Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black) managed to make it in, as did another Netflix contender, Robin Wright (House of Cards). But then there’s the absolutely incredible Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), who I’m so glad is included here.

Who will win? I’ll go with Maslany impressing everyone.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a TV Series – Drama

My predictions:4/5, missing Sheen
Who’s missing? Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Damian Lewis (The Newsroom)

How’s this for changing it up? All five nominees from last year were eligible, and we get four brand-new ones to go along with Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) for his final nomination. I’m thrilled that Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) is here, and though I wish his costar Lizzy Caplan were nominated instead, Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) being recognized is still a good thing. James Spader (The Blacklist) I’ll have to with them, and I’m glad to see a very positive reception for Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) and his show.

Who will win? Who knows with this list? My bet is Spader.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Final Golden Globe Predictions

Please find my final Golden Globe predictions for all television categories below. I’m hopeful that they’ll be considerably more creative than the nominees for the SAG Awards this morning, which welcomed new nominees but none from new shows. I’m going to err on the side of Globe voters not blindly following SAG and Emmy trends. Maybe they will still include Julianna Margulies, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara, and Amy Poehler. I think “Mad Men” will be entirely forgotten, but I’m not confident that Liev Schreiber will be the one to take Jon Hamm’s place, and I’m not sold on Damian Lewis coming back or Michael Sheen popping up. I’d love to see “The Bridge,” a show that I forgot all about when I put together my musings, do well, but I think it may have an easier time at the Emmys. I swapped out Kate Mara for Kathy Bates in the supporting actress category, and I’m just hoping the nominations announcement is full of good surprises.

No guts, no glory:
“Homeland” shut out
“The Killing” for Best Drama Series
Three actresses from “Orange is the New Black” in Best Supporting Actress

Best TV Series – Drama
Breaking Bad
House of Cards
Masters of Sex
Orange is the New Black

Best TV Series – Comedy/Musical
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family

Best Miniseries or TV Movie
American Horror Story
Behind the Candelabra
Phil Spector
Top of the Lake

Best Actor in a TV Series – Drama
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)
Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan)
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
James Spader (The Blacklist)

Best Actress in a TV Series – Drama
Claire Danes (Homeland)
Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black)
Kerry Washington (Scandal)

Best Actor in a TV Series – Comedy/Musical
Jason Bateman (Arrested Development)
Don Cheadle (House of Lies)
Michael J. Fox (The Michael J. Fox Show)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Robin Williams (The Crazy Ones)

Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy/Musical
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Laura Dern (Enlightened)
Lena Dunham (Girls)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)

Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie
Benedict Cumberbatch (Parade’s End)
Matt Damon (Behind the Candelabra)
Michael Douglas (Behind the Candelabra)
Idris Elba (Luther)
Al Pacino (Phil Spector)

Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie
Helena Bonham Carter (Burton and Taylor)
Jessica Lange (American Horror Story)
Laura Linney (The Big C: Hereafter)
Helen Mirren (Phil Spector)
Elisabeth Moss (Top of the Lake)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a TV Series
Mandy Patinkin (Homeland)
Peter Sarsgaard (The Killing)
Corey Stoll (House of Cards)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Jon Voight (Ray Donovan)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a TV Series
Kathy Bates (American Horror Story)
Kate Mulgrew (Orange is the New Black)
Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story)
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)

SAG Nominees: Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 5/5
What’s missing? Glee, Nurse Jackie, The Office

I almost didn’t realize when this category was announced that I had gotten it completely correct. It’s interesting to note that three of last year’s nominees, all of which were eligible, didn’t get nominated. Arrested Development was back after two nominations during its initial run, and Veep joined the race after being omitted last year. 30 Rock competes for its seventh and final time for its last six episodes, while the two hottest comedies on TV right now, The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family, round out the list. If only “Parks and Recreation” could have been here…

What could win? Why bet against the defending champ from the last three years, Modern Family?

SAG Nominees: Best Ensemble in a Drama Series

My predictions: 2/5
What’s missing? House of Cards, Mad Men, Orange is the New Black

I really didn’t do too well here. I didn’t bet on either Boardwalk Empire returning for its fourth consecutive nomination or Game of Thrones coming back after being snubbed last year. I also didn’t have faith in Homeland to be nominated again after its first inclusion last year. In big news, “Mad Men” was snubbed for the first time ever, and nothing creative like “Orange is the New Black” made the cut (let’s see how it fares with the Golden Globes tomorrow). Instead, deserved frontrunners Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey expected rounded out the list.

What could win? I think Breaking Bad takes it this year.

SAG Nominees: Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 3/5, missing Bialik and Bowen
Who’s missing? Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Lena Dunham (Girls)

It infuriates me that, after welcoming her for just one year, Amy Poehler is already tossed aside and forgotten. SAG voters are also pretending that “Girls” doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t bother me as much. They traded three-time nominee Sofia Vergara for costar Julie Bowen (Modern Family), who was nominated two years ago. I’m surprised that they didn’t honor Emmy winner Merritt Wever alongside Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), but it makes sense that they did include Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), whose show continues to be hot. After snubbing her last year, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) is here, as is Tina Fey (30 Rock), a four-time winner earning her seventh nomination for the final six episodes of her show.

Who could win? Probably Louis-Dreyfus.

SAG Nominees: Best Male Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 3/5, missing Bateman and Cheadle
Who’s missing? Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)

I’m not too surprised that Jason Bateman (Arrested Development) made the cut, though he was only nominated once before back when the show first aired. I didn’t expect Don Cheadle (House of Lies) since that show is in its second season and hasn’t proved popular beyond him, but I guess it’s a good thing since I did very much enjoy the show’s first year and I’m hoping that season three will be fun. Following Emmy voters’ lead, two-time nominee Eric Stonestreet is gone, and costar Ty Burrell (Modern Family), earning his fourth nomination, is holding down the fort for his show. Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) is back for the only the second time. Finally, Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) is ridiculously included for the eighth and final time for a mere six episodes of his now-ended show.

Who could win? Definitely Baldwin for number eight.

SAG Nominees: Best Female Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/5, missing Gunn
Who’s missing?: Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)

It’s sad to see this recent tradition of SAG and Golden Globe voters following suit to not nominate someone who was unexpectedly snubbed by Emmy voters. This is one of the best seasons of “The Good Wife,” and for Margulies, a two-time SAG winner for this role, to be snubbed is unfortunate. Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) is fresh off her Emmy win, and even managed to get in while costar Aaron Paul couldn’t. The other new fresh face is Kerry Washington (Scandal), whose show is really picking up now. Veteran actresses Jessica Lange (American Horror Story) and Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey) are here, as expected, as is last year’s winner Claire Danes (Homeland). Not a terribly exciting list, but I suppose it’s fine.

Who could win? I think it could be Gunn or Washington.

SAG Nominees: Best Male Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 3/5, missing Buscemi and Dinklage
Who’s missing: Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)

The inconsistencies among the various categories here don’t always make sense to me. That Anna Gunn would get in following her Emmy win but Aaron Paul wouldn’t doesn’t make much sense, as is the fact that “Game of Thrones” would reemerge victorious this year after being shut out last year. It turns out that voters welcomed back “Game of Thrones” but also kept “Boardwalk Empire,” honoring both Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), who has had better seasons on his show, and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), who is here for the first time. Emmy winner Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom) is back, as is last year’s victor in this category, Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad). Joining them is Kevin Spacey (House of Cards), the lone representative from his show. Most staggering, beyond the understandable omission of Damian Lewis, is Jon Hamm’s absence, especially because it signals a complete shut-out for “Mad Men.” Overall, this is actually a pretty solid list.

Who could win? My guess is Cranston unless Spacey takes it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What I’m Watching: Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex: Season 1, Episode 11 “Phallic Victories” (C+)

I didn’t particularly like this episode, and I think it’s because some of this show’s plotlines are turning sour while others are going in unanticipated directions. Bill has become so immensely detestable that he has no redeeming qualities, especially because he’s surrounded by genuinely nice people who he treats horribly. Hallucinating Virginia a lot is an unfortunate device, since this show has been fairly straightforward in its depiction of forward-thinking researchers to this point, and now there’s an entire episode based around someone seeing a person who isn’t there and being endlessly distracted by her. However unrealistic it might be that Bill would actually allow it to happen, Libby volunteering in his office and learning about the study and its twenty-three-time participants was probably the episode’s most interesting plotline, and Libby continues to be the show’s best character. Virginia really is meshing well with Dr. DePaul, and it’s good to see her save their delay-plagued trip by going straight to the doctor’s wives rather than trying to meet them on the golf course. It’s sad to find out that Dr. DePaul has cervical cancer, though it does help to explain a lot about who she is and how she acts. Watching stay-at-home wannabe-dad Ethan engage in a verbal and emotional battle with George was rather silly, but not quite as ridiculous as the conclusion of their interactions, which found the eternally immature George actually extending an olive branch of sorts to Ethan with a few insults thrown in to boot. Let’s hope for a more fulfilling season finale.

What I’m Watching: Homeland

Homeland: Season 3, Episode 11 “Big Man in Tehran” (B)

With just one episode left until the finale, it’s a relief to see something big happen in this episode, but, once again, it’s pretty much just a singular plotline going on without any supporting points in the hour. The one exception to that is Carrie noticing that she is starting to show while she is outside the Iranian hotel on the phone with Saul. But otherwise it’s the simple task of trying to get Akbari to come see Brody, which ended up resulting in Abu Nazir’s wife being the one to vet whether he was a viable candidate for asylum. Skipping ahead six days was a veritable confirmation that Brody wasn’t working out the way he was supposed to, and it sure didn’t take long for everyone, including Saul, to decide that he should be taken out. There really should have been a better back-up plan, since having Brody in such an important position within Iranian culture could also have been productive, yet instead it’s an immediate idea to kill him because he’s just trying to stay alive and keep up his cover. Threatening to expose Javadi was bold, and somehow Brody managed both to get his vengeance on Iran’s new number two and then kill its number one, which actually ranks as one of his less violent kills. It’s not going to be easy for Carrie to get him out, especially considering she just botched the assassination attempt on his life. That’s what season finale are for, and let’s hope this one is plenty satisfying.

Monday, December 9, 2013

SAG Predictions

For the second year in a row, the Screen Actors Guild announces its choices for the best in film and television one day before the Golden Globe nominations announcement. It used to be the other way around, which meant that the Globe list was a more extensive, inclusive list, employing comedy and drama categories as well as lead and supporting races for television, and the later SAG list was a thinner, more specific pool of nominees. As such, I got used to preparing my Golden Globe musings for Thanksgiving week, and didn’t do extensive SAG predictions. After preparing the broader list, it’s less exciting to zero in on a list with fewer nominees. Therefore, please find my SAG predictions for all TV categories below with overall notes at the bottom.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Claire Danes (Homeland)
Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Coven)
Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
Kerry Washington (Scandal)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Ed O’Neill (Modern Family)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)
Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
House of Cards
Modern Family
Orange is the New Black

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Arrested Development
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
30 Rock

There are some very crucial differences between the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards when it comes to the TV categories this year. Two major new comedies that caught on with both Emmy voters and Globe voters didn’t do the same in year one with SAG members – “Girls” and “Veep,” and whether that happens this year is anyone’s guess. Usually, new shows don’t break in right away, especially not comedy series. Last year, the one and only freshman inclusion in any category was Jeff Daniels. A few similarities with the Globes that don’t match the Emmys: “Boardwalk Empire” was nominated for its second season while “Game of Thrones” wasn’t, while many expect the opposite to happen this year, as was the case with the third season of both shows with this year’s Emmy nominations. “Orange is the New Black” is entered as a drama here rather than a comedy, which change its chances considerably. It’s hard to know if SAG voters will follow the Emmy precedent and snub the likes of Julianna Margulies and Zooey Deschanel, and then there’s the continued fact that “American Horror Story” is considered a drama series here and a miniseries everywhere else. I recognize fully that I’m predicting three Netflix shows to reap ensemble nods, and I think it will happen. My no guts, no glory pick is “Rectify” earning an ensemble mention. Check back here Wednesday morning for analysis of the nominees by category, and leave your own thoughts in the comments below! Film predictions were posted yesterday at MoviesWithAbe.com.

What I’m Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 2, Episode 10 “Tremors” (B)

I didn’t love this episode because this show usually does such a spectacular job of storytelling, and this excessively structured hour felt too forced in a fully unnecessary way. The fact that all it led up to was Bell getting shot taking a bullet for Sherlock wasn’t all that compelling for me. Sherlock coming to apologize to Bell and offering to find him the best care the world has to offer for his injured limb was uncharacteristic and took a lot of courage, and for Bell to tell him that he didn’t want to see him didn’t quite track. It was interesting to see just how content with himself Sherlock felt that they had avoided putting an innocent man in jail and how little he cared about upending the life of one parolee who was now being sent back to prison because Sherlock had blown his cover. Perhaps that’s what got Bell so upset, since Sherlock never gives much thought to what consequences his actions have. Watson, on the other hand, didn’t seem too broken up by the trial, though it was a considerably less exciting affair than it could have been. Sherlock telling the prosecuting attorney that she and the city could thank him for his services provided free of charge was both a high and a low point. It was good to see Elizabeth Marvel of “Lights Out” as the attorney who later invited Sherlock to join her at a meeting, and Frankie Faison, a familiar face from Hannibal Lecter projects and “Banshee,” as the judge.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 5, Episode 9 “The Big Game” (B+)

This was a perfectly enjoyable episode, not too remarkable but fun enough. As usual, this was one of those times where the entire extended family gathered together for an event, and it was how they each got there that made up the meat of the event. Phil getting locked out of the house he was about to sell was probably the strongest plotline, since Burrell is always more than up for some committed physical comedy. Claire making a big deal about special treatment from her father only to find herself locked inside a closet unaware that Jay was watching the whole thing on camera was funny, mainly because of how the two reacted to the situation. Cam being superstitious about the game was hardly a surprise, and facing off against a team whose coach had died the night before on the day that happened to be his birthday threw a wrench into that. While his desire to win for his own merit wasn’t a shock, I did enjoy the fact that Manny tried to miss the final goal but accidentally scored rather than the other way around. Gloria inspiring Lily to be too aggressive with the boys in her life was unfortunate, and not the best use of either character. Mitchell struggling to tell his boss that he was leaving was amusing, and I like that he recommended Phil as a realtor Charlie, which suddenly turned Phil’s luck around and put him in on top. The most unexpectedly enjoyable plotline was Haley’s, which featured a reappearance of future nurse Dylan, a refreshingly smart decision on Haley’s part, and a rare act of charitable kindness towards her sister.

What I’m Watching: Sons of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy: Season 6, Episode 12 “You Are My Sunshine” (A-)

This episode’s title is extraordinarily fitting since the show’s use of the song was incredibly effective in its final scene, transitioning from Tara’s awkward singing of it to an overpowering track that underscored the devastation Jax felt upon returning home to find that his sons were gone. This has happened before to Jax, though back in season two Tara was a loyal supporter of his who had to witness the murder of a club member and be left tied up for Jax to find when he arrived. It’s almost worse that Tara didn’t end up taking the deal that Patterson had prepared for her, since now she doesn’t have anywhere to turn, and Patterson’s prediction about her being hunted down and killed by the club might come true. The bloodshed on this show never seems to cease, although we may finally have reached a peaceful point if Connor and Marks can outdo their predecessors and coexist together. It’s good to see that the club is loyal to their own, and that Happy didn’t have be the latest member to die in this extended bloodbath. It seems like so long ago that Juice committed the first of his two kills this season, but Nero finding after Juice’s near suicide is still just as miserable. Watching him struggle with whether to ream Jax out for lying to him but decide instead to comfort him was magnificent, and it makes the very lengthy finale of this show in just a few days even more enticing.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

What I’m Watching: Major Crimes

Major Crimes: Season 2, Episode 13 “Jailbait” (B-)

This episode was pretty much on par with last week’s, if not less appealing, and I’m not sure it compels me to stick around to watch any more of this show going forward. After making some serious progress in the Rusty arena thanks to the young-looking buy guy’s suggestion that Rusty resume school and the plan for him to begin looking for the person who has been sending him all the letters, what we got in this hour was an awkward doctor who happened to be insanely good at chess. It’s just not all that interesting, and I think this show would be much more productive if Rusty wasn’t a regular character. The episode’s title refers instead to the many attempts made by one grieving father to lure his daughter’s rapist out of his home and back into jail for violating his parole. This was a sci-fi reunion of sorts for two players from the Cylon universe: Mary McDonnell of “Battlestar Galactica” and Esai Morales of its short-lived prequel series “Caprica.” Morales’ character was somewhat intriguing, but ultimately it didn’t go quite as far as it could have, which makes his guest spot relatively lackluster. This show needs to beef up its series regular interactions, beyond Sanchez being accused of knowing every Latino in Los Angeles only to actually know them and Morales being tipsy after being called away from the Christmas party scheduled before suicide season. Not that I’m complaining, but I’m also not sure why Emma only appears in every few episodes and gets swapped out for D.D.A. Hobbs a good portion of the time.

Friday, December 6, 2013

What I’m Watching: Almost Human

Almost Human: Season 1, Episode 4 “The Bends” (B-)

This was a very disappointing episode, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. I understand the need to spotlight supporting characters, and while I’m sure that Minka Kelly will have her chance soon enough, it seems too soon to put Mackenzie Crook in the driver’s seat. His character, Rudy, is not meant for stardom, and he works much better as a quirky supporting player. His prominence also means less of Dorian, who continues to be the show’s most magnetic character, and that’s a shame considering we still don’t know him all that well. The prevalence of bots is quite interesting, however, and it’s fun to see Dorian square off against one and use his abilities to take down a far larger opponent. The notion of an extremely dangerous drug in the future makes a lot of sense, though I’m less taken with the concept of a police captain actually being the Bishop. It’s always great to see Benito Martinez if only as a reminder that he was once part of one of the greatest ensembles in TV history on FX’s “The Shield,” where he also played a police captain with considerably more integrity. It’s no surprise that Kennex is a loyal friend, defending the deceased cop and going to great lengths to prove his innocence. Though it’s relegated to jokes about embarrassing him in a bar in this episode, it’s clear that he feels just as close to both Rudy and Dorian, which is sure to put him in harm’s way in the future as he lays it all on the line anytime either of them is in trouble.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What I’m Watching: Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex: Season 1, Episode 10 “Fallout” (B-)

The backdrop of this episode, the Cold War chaos and disaster simulations, was relatively effective, but there was something about this hour that felt off to me. Perhaps it’s because all of our characters seem to be in such bad places at the moment, so angry with one another and unable to treat each other humanely and kindly. Even Jane threw Lester under the bus when he revealed too much about their extracurricular activities, though that was rectified by a confession of affection which proved unexpectedly smooth on Lester’s part. Virginia suddenly being in a serious relationship with Ethan is somewhat jarring, although it doesn’t feel as awkward or strained as it did before since he seems to have learned how to be a decent human being. Bill, on the other hand, is an absolute monster, and his disregard for anyone else’s feelings is going to be a serious detriment to his ability to continue his research with anyone’s support. Ethan has unsurprisingly lost the support of Scully, who delivered a scathing takedown of his character almost as hurtful as Bill’s. Margaret didn’t have to look far to find someone who was able to immediately peg her husband as gay, and she bounced right back from that news by reuniting with the similarly devastated Austin, whose reaction to the news of his impending fatherhood was only slightly better than Bill’s response. Virginia coaching Dr. DePaul on sucking up was decent, but her attempt felt very forced, and not in the way that it was supposed to. Virginia quitting and coming to work for her should prove interesting, though I’m sure it won’t last long. Let’s hope that the final two episodes of this season return things to a more peaceful and manageable place.

What I’m Watching: The Good Wife (100th Episode)

The Good Wife: Season 5, Episode 10 “The Decision Tree” (B+)

This momentous hour promised to be a packed episode, and that it was. You’d think that there are only so many times that Lockhart Gardner could face off against Florrick Agos in court before it got old, but that’s far from the case. In fact, having Alicia as the defendant proved to be quite intriguing, and helped bring to the surface memories of the long-forgotten sexual tension between Will and Alicia. Bringing back John Noble as the deceased client who we only get to see in flashbacks was once again effective, and it was jarring to find out that he had left $12 million to Alicia in a will written in magic marker. The fact that Alicia seemed startled but almost indifferent to the news of her potential enormous inheritance was good, since it made her fight more levelheaded and less personal. Will, on the other hand, fantasized about taking Alicia down, and instead he walked right into the trap of discrediting his own will. Will calling to tell Cary the news that all wills would be rejected and having Alicia answer with the sounds of the party in the background was a stark representation of the difference between the current situations of these two former lovers. Kalinda tailing Damian and getting arrested paved the way for a fun guest appearance by Jordana Spiro of “My Boys,” just the latest in a line of law enforcement officials to be swayed by the charms and humor of the mysterious private investigator. Of all Peter-related plotlines, my favorite moments were Jackie holding up a dreidel and telling Eli “I have a Hanukkah too,” Eli reacting to Lemond Bishop being at the party, and Eli spitting out his drink in the episode’s closing moment when Marilyn shared what she was planning on naming her baby. All in all, a comprehensive and thoroughly engaging hour.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What I’m Watching: The Walking Dead (Mid-Season Finale)

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 8 “Too Far Gone” (B+)

It’s staggering to consider that the events of this episode take place over the course of just one hour. Cramming more action than has been present in the entire season thus far into the final fifteen minutes of this mid-season finale certainly paid off, as it provided the show’s most emotional and intense moments since Sophia came stumbling out of the barn in season two. It’s strange to think that we got to this point pretty much only at the start of this episode, with the disease wreaking havoc on life at the prison for five episodes and then the Governor beginning his quick ascent back to power in the last two. Revealing that he had taken Hershel and Michonne prisoner to use as bargaining chips to take the prison led to an unexpected encounter that had devastating effects all around. I wanted to scream at Rick for not mentioning the many horrific acts committed by the Governor to his people, though it was clear that, even when Rick offered the compromise of them all living peacefully together, the Governor was never going to let things remain tranquil. Brutally killing Hershel was horrifying, but it said much more about the people around him, that they were willing to stand by someone who wouldn’t accept an offer of peaceful coexistence and to follow him blindly into battle. Even more disturbing was the emotionless way in which Lizzie executed Alisha, a miserable sign that there’s no innocence left in this universe. The Governor being stabbed by Michonne and left for dead or worse was a fitting fate, though being put down by the mother of his new dead daughter, who he had no trouble finished off, was just as appropriate. I’m hopeful that the back half of this season will be full of the constant thrills and excitement that this first set didn’t necessarily have, and that it won’t be all about a search for the missing baby but instead the horror of being on the run once again with no new home in sight.

Season grade so far: B+
Season MVP: Danai Gurira as Michonne

What I’m Watching: Homeland

Homeland: Season 3, Episode 10 “Good Night” (B+)

After so many episodes built to this point, it was relatively good to see an hour solely focused on a mission, even if there were on other plotlines going on within the hour. To see all facets of the show united in watching and supporting – to a degree – the operation, including Higgins and Lockhart, demonstrates that this is where the show is really headed, once again allowing the government to place its complete trust in operative Nicholas Brody, who is now behind enemy lines without any support, save Javadi. The run-in with Iraqi police was an unfortunate misstep along the way, and Brody’s commando attitude enabled them to save the operation and miraculously get across to Iran. The fact that Javadi was the first face that Brody and Yousef saw showed that they had made it so close in no time, but, as usual, Javadi is eager to get away with as much destruction and violence as he can while serving as an asset of the U.S. government. Killing Yousef was probably the humane thing to do since he couldn’t have gotten him out and he would have broken sooner or later, but it was still a brutal act, one which makes his subsequent assistance of Brody more believable since it’s on his terms. With only two episodes left this season, I’m sure things will become quite intense, and let’s just hope that Lockhart really is on Saul’s side and behind his operations so that Brody might have a chance of making it out alive.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Golden Globe Musings: Best TV Series – Comedy/Musical

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anyone important. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family

Returning nominees:

New contenders:
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
The Crazy Ones
The Michael J. Fox Show

Potential first-time nominees:
Parks and Recreation

Past nominees:
The Big Bang Theory
New Girl

There’s an easy swap to be done for one of last year’s ineligible nominees: take “Episodes” out and replace it with “Enlightened.” It’s possible that “Smash” could be back for its second and final season, but that’s unlikely. Keep “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family” in, and probably “Girls” too. That necessitates the addition of another, and while I’d love for it to finally be “Parks and Recreation,” and I’d be equally happy with the likelier choice: “Veep.” I don’t think any of the new shows are strong enough to make it in, though “Orange is the New Black” certainly would have had it entered in this race rather than as a drama.

Current predictions:
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family

Golden Globe Musings: Best TV Series – Drama

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anyone important. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
The Newsroom

New contenders:
The Americans
Bates Motel
The Blacklist
House of Cards
Masters of Sex
Orange is the New Black
Orphan Black

Past nominees:
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Mad Men
The Walking Dead

This category is due for a major shake-up this year. “Mad Men” got snubbed last year, and freshman series “The Newsroom” mad the cut instead. The strongest new contenders this year are “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black,” but a handful of others could also make it. I think voters will dismiss Sorkin’s new show and might even get rid of one of their other favorites.

Current predictions:
Breaking Bad
House of Cards
Masters of Sex
Orange is the New Black

Monday, December 2, 2013

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 3, Episode 10 “The Devil’s Share” (B+)

This episode didn’t contain the show’s usual opening credits sequence, and in this case it was a sign that this show’s characters were in extreme distress. In his few appearances throughout the hour, Reese did not look good, and his mental state was even worse. It’s a good thing that our team caught up with him just as he was about to execute Quinn, since that’s something that Carter really wouldn’t have wanted. Bringing Root in at Shaw’s suggestion to help track down the two people who were after Quinn with a vengeance was awesome, and while it’s somewhat hard to believe that she would crawl back into her cage at the end of the adventure just to prove that she’s trustworthy, it does suggest that things to come will be awfully exciting. Truth be told, she’s much more dynamic than Carter, and while her role in things is much different, she’ll do as a replacement of sorts. Showing the three four main good guys being interviewed one-on-one in a room at some point in their pasts was a very effective device, and it helped to shine a particular light into the motivations for doing what they do for Shaw and Fusco. I’m extremely glad to see that Fusco opted not to kill Simmons when he very easily could have, and instead brought him in to face justice for what he did. Elias showing up to get revenge for Carter’s death was a fitting finale, and I do wonder how Elias will figure in to things now that she’s out of the picture. After some time to mourn, hopefully things will be back to normal for our crew and post-HR happenings will be just as appealing.

What I’m Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 3, Episode 10 “Thanksgiving III” (B+)

This episode wasn’t too concerned with realism or anything like that, but it was still full of laughs and funny situations. Coach’s presence continues not to add much, but refusing to compete with Schmidt in this hour in order to make him feel better was a great impetus for them to air their feelings and come to a better place in which they could talk freely and bond. Schmidt telling Coach that he’s really going to have to work for Cece makes it seem like he’s going to give up, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Coach is almost guaranteed to be gone long before that happens anyway. I enjoyed the fact that both Winston and Cece arrived to their night of camping and hunting with solar chargers and a bad attitude, and their interactions over the course of the episode helped to fulfill one of my favorite things in TV: when two characters who rarely interact spend time together. This isn’t the first time for this pair, and I hope it’s not the last either. Jess’ response to Nick’s attempt to be manly was entertaining, and this far-fetched episode actually worked because of the way that she and Nick both approached it. In typical fashion, Jess’ reaction to eating the long-dead fish presented itself awfully quickly, but her physical mannerisms and Nick’s attempts to deal with it made it worthwhile. This may not have been their most memorable Thanksgiving yet, but it was pretty fun while it lasted.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

In Celebration of The Good Wife's 100th Episode!

Tonight, "The Good Wife" airs its 100th episode. This exciting milestone comes midway through the show's fifth season, during which it continues to be the best drama series on broadcast network television. I was thrilled to be a part of a communal top ten list compiled by Andrew of Encore's World of Film and TV. I submitted my top ten episodes list, which you can find below, and got to write up my favorite episode, which ranked #7 on the overall list. Five of my favorite episodes made the list. Head over to Andrew's site to read the big list, and check out mine below, with links to each of the episodes.

1. Hybristophilia - Season 1, Episode 22
2. I Fought the Law - Season 4, Episode 1
3. Hitting the Fan - Season 5, Episode 5
4. What's in the Box - Season 4, Episode 22
5. VIP Treatment - Season 2, Episode 5
6. Getting Off – Season 2, Episode 21
7. Two Courts – Season 2, Episode 11
8. Executive Order 13224 – Season 3, Episode 7
9. Another Ham Sandwich – Season 3, Episode 14
10. The Dream Team – Season 3, Episode 22

What I’m Watching: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 1, Episode 9 “Repairs” (B)

This episode was a competent enough hour, employing a standard haunted-spaceship storyline to help its characters connect and thwart their latest unintentional enemy. Starting off with the scene at the gas station in which the unfortunate victim seemed to accidentally bring down the whole place was a solid introduction to how the episode would work, and the police car driving itself towards Coulson cemented that feel. Once she was on the plane and it became clear that she wasn’t the one causing all of the damage, this episode took on a whole new life of its own, which worked well for the most part. The logic behind him having the wrench was relatively solid and at the same time productive for its part in the deduction of his role in the explosion that set all these events in motion. Character development among the team was at a high, particularly when it came to May, whose harrowing, heroic acts were used as fodder for a relatively lame prank on Skye by Fitz-Simmons and who later turned out to be the perpetrator of an amusing prank of her own. Ward definitely thought much more about their night together than she did, and Skye is in for a real surprise when she learns what happened between them since she obviously has no clue. It’s fun to see Fitz-Simmons work together, and to se their extremely dorky attempts to haze the newest member of the club. The complexity of their pranks could use work, but I’m sure they’ll get there with time.

What I’m Watching: Major Crimes (Mid-Season Premiere)

Major Crimes: Season 2, Episode 12 “Pick Your Potion” (B)

I didn’t even realize that this show was coming back for the last few episodes of its second season, and when I did find that out, I forgot all about it until a few days after the mid-season premiere aired. Since the summer, which feels much longer ago than it was, I haven’t thought about this show at all, and wasn’t sure that I’d return to watch more of it. Yet it’s airing just in that time between when cable shows have just finished and their replacements haven’t yet started, so it seems like I’ll be sticking around for now. There was a lot happening in this episode, and a complex case with some surprising developments and a relatively simple finish. An unapologetic school teacher who slept with a student because she was impressed with his English language skills makes for a solid protagonist, and her jealous vice principal husband a fitting killer. I was less taken with the unbelievably inconsistent Sykes, who got a chance to appear powerful and then utterly disgusted by her behavior, far less on and aware of things going on around her than usual. Emma also seems purposely planted in the room to provoke the Major Crimes squad members into revealing just how cleverly they’re tiptoeing the legal line at every juncture. Rusty trying to figure out who’s sending him the letters seems like the most productive use of his character in a while, and it’s about time he started doing something other than look for a psychiatrist who plays chess.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Take Three: Almost Human

Almost Human: Season 1, Episode 3 “Are You Receiving?” (B+)

I’m continually impressed by what I’m seeing here, and I’m glad to see the premise and concept playing out so well. This episode’s plot could have been found on any cop show, but it’s the futuristic technology that really makes it interesting. This had “Die Hard” written all over it, with thieves pretending to be terrorists so that people wouldn’t realize what they were really up to, but with the advanced capability of projecting someone else’s faces onto theirs to firm up the charade. The casting of Damon Herriman, most recently seen as the completely creepy Jones on “Vegas,” as the ringleader of this particular operation was brilliant, and he played the role perfectly. I like the way that Dorian was incorporated into the situation, receiving all of the calls coming from inside the building and able to answer them as part of his interface. Catching a flesh wound in the head was a definitely low point for him, and I love that Kennex figured out the appropriate improvised fix, which prompted the infinitely corny and memorable argument from Kennex about why Dorian shouldn’t go in alone: “You’ve got bubble gum in your head.” Kennex and Dorian do make a spectacular duo, running headfirst into danger and both demonstrating equally reckless bouts of bravery. The action in this episode didn’t let up, and I think that’s a fantastic sign for the future of the series, especially as the enemies get even fiercer and more threatening than a group of murderous thieves.