Thursday, October 31, 2013

What I’m Watching: Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex: Season 1, Episode 5 “Catherine” (B+)

This was an understandably powerful episode which brought about some devastating revelations for our characters. Libby losing the baby was an inevitable event that Bill passed over all too casually when he first realized it, and the sight of him breaking down at the end of the episode, telling Virginia to close her eyes, indicated just what kind of impact it had on the usually stoic and emotionless doctor. Libby analyzing how he packed her things and the baby’s things while he was sleepwalking underlined the depth of his worries about being a father, and telling her that they shouldn’t try again because he couldn’t ever see her go through that again was harsh but not surprising for the man who never quite welcomed the idea of fatherhood. Virginia, on the other hand, had to deal with a troublesome son who didn’t appreciate her and even wanted to run away. Fortunately, all of a sudden, Ethan has become a half-decent person, smart enough to call Virginia when Henry came to him and occasionally kind to his new girlfriend. Vivian at first seemed extremely casual about the seriousness of their relationship, but after their first time together, which was more than Ethan bargained for, she changed her tune to one of utter lifelong devotion. It was good to finally see Allison Janney as Scully’s wife, and Scully managed to get a great dig at Bill after giving him his condolences for Libby losing the baby and then telling him he didn’t want to give him a hug in case he misconstrued it. Austin freaking out when Jane wasn’t his partner presented an interesting situation, and I do hope that Bill doesn’t stick to his idea of only researching anonymous partners.

What I’m Watching: Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire: Season 4, Episode 8 “The Old Ship of Zion” (B+)

This season has featured many interesting plotlines but no coherent centric storyline, and this episode worked to bring things together a bit more. Willie staying with Nucky lets him get a glimpse at just what kind of business his family is in, but it looks like that’s already come to an end after a short stint and just in time for him to be used as a pawn in manipulating Eli to do Knox’s bidding. He’s really stepping up his investigation, and the scene where he confronted Eli was an important intensification. Sally coming up from Tampa was surprising, and it definitely threw Nucky for a loop. Mickey flirting so blatantly with her earned him the first real consequence for his obnoxiousness that we’ve seen, in the form a blow to the head from an annoyed Nucky. I don’t find Sally to be nearly as compelling as Nucky’s last muse, Billie, but that’s also because she’s a character in her own right separate from him who doesn’t want to be tethered to him or to his legacy. As the walls are starting to close in on Nucky without him knowing, things are also going poorly for Chalky. Narcisse is a formidable opponent, and sweating Chalky in church was his first big move, followed by Chalky’s performance in the street outside the play. It’s a good thing he realized that his number two had it in for him, and their physical confrontation was aggressive and violent. Chalky’s going to need some help getting back on his feet if he makes it, and let’s hope he gets the upper hand soon to put him back on a level playing field with Narcisse.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What I’m Watching: The Good Wife

The Good Wife: Season 5, Episode 5 “Hitting the Fan” (A-)

This was an action-packed hour that just didn’t let up, turning everything on its head and reshaping the relationships that these characters have had for so many years. Will’s reaction to Alicia leaving was first one of shock and then one of anger, and telling her that she was poison when they hired her was cruel. The ways in which Diane, Will, David, and Howard approached their dissenting former employees were vastly different, but it still wasn’t a kind process. Hearing “You’re fired!” uttered without any emotion was a sure sign of cutting off relationships and changing things in an irreversible way. Kalinda choosing her side was surprising, cozying up to Cary to get important information about his new firm and then reporting it directly back to Will. Without Diane, the vengeful team of Will and David, with Kalinda under them, might be a credible threat. Using Neil Gross and ChumHum as the make-or-break client was interesting since he’s been portrayed in the past as an unreasonable man who in this hour seemed rather literal about the back-and-forth that occurred with both teams being hit with restraining orders as they were about to meet with him. Peter’s role in this episode was fascinating, as he threatened Will and then stood up for Alicia by talking about what taxes he might impose on internet companies. Coming home for a quickie was a rare moment of martial bliss between him and Alicia, but the final scene of the episode was far more worrisome, since he, unlike Alicia, isn’t forgiving, and Diane seems to have just cost herself the judgeship, which shakes things up in an incredible way.

What I’m Watching: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 3 “Isolation” (B+)

I still don’t think that this season is nearly as good as its predecessors, but at least we’re getting somewhere. The biggest sign of excitement was the rapid turn that the car drive took, after everyone got distracted by the sound of a radio signal and seeming life out there, and Darryl drove right into a tremendous horde of walkers. The shock value of being trapped in an endless swarm of undead enemies has been this show’s strong suit from day one, and it’s great to see it executed so thrillingly again. While the loss of the car is devastating, the notion of Daryl and Michonne roaming the woods together is totally awesome, though I’m much more concerned about the fact that Tyreese is with him and definitely not doing well after he took a really long time to get out of that car. Back at the prison, Hershel was in serious suicide mode as he tried to remedy everyone who was infected long enough to keep them alive for the delivery of these veterinary meds that now aren’t coming, and we got to see more of the emotionless Beth. The most worrisome behavior, however, is attributable to Carol, who nonchalantly waited for walkers to come in from every direction before being rescued by Rick trying to get water, and, in an alarming turn of events, revealed herself to be the one who killed Karen and David. Carol has come a long way from crying over Sophia, and she’s completely unrecognizable now.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What I’m Watching: Homeland

Homeland: Season 3, Episode 5 “The Yoga Play” (B-)

It’s often difficult to continue watching a show and have faith in it after a twist that just doesn’t add up, but I’m determined not to let that become the case for me here. Carrie working an angle for Saul doesn’t make her life any less solitary, although it does prove that there are a few people who believe in her. Quinn doing surveillance outside her home and then her executing a “yoga play” isn’t exactly thrilling stuff, and it would be nice if this show got its sense of urgency back. Its fifth episode in season two had Brody in custody and being interrogated by Carrie, and it would be great to see something of equal caliber playing out right now. Seeing Virgil and Max again should have been fun, but it’s all just in the service of helping Carrie evade her tails, which doesn’t end up being terribly satisfying. Jessica stopping by Carrie’s home was a shock, but it is interesting to see events reframed and to have Carrie positioned as heroic for trying to warn her family about what Brody was about to do. Dana’s escape from her dangerous boyfriend seemed all too easy, but maybe we haven’t seen the last of him either (which I wouldn’t necessarily pose as a good thing). This whole charade has clearly taken a toll on Saul, and to find out that he’s not actually going to become the director of the CIA is disheartening. Let’s hope that he keeps outbursts like the one he had in this episode to a minimum.

Pilot Review: Dracula

Dracula (NBC)
Premiered October 25 at 10pm

I’m not much one for horror, but vampire shows don’t really seem to fit into that category these days anyway. This series resurrects probably the most famous vampire in literary history, and brings him to the screen in a modified, modernized attempt at revitalizing the story with a whole new spin on a classic character. Positioning the awoken Dracula as an American impersonator trying to bring down his enemies in England is somewhat intriguing, as is casting Jack the Ripper as a myth spun by the Order of the Dragon to cover up a string of vampire murders. The show as a whole isn’t quite as competent, creating a dark, moody feel but not managing to capture the energy of its protagonist’s mythology. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who anchored “The Tudors” for four years on Showtime, is a decent fit for the role of Dracula, putting on a convincing American accent as Alexander Grayson and letting him chew scenery when speaking with his loyal confidante, played by Nonso Anozie, last seen on “Game of Thrones.” The other main players in the cast are familiar faces: Jessica De Gouw, the Huntress on “Arrow,” as the reincarnated love of Dracula’s life, Thomas Kretschmann from “The Pianist” and “24” as Van Helsing, and Robert Bathurst, Lord Anthony from “Downton Abbey” as Lord Davenport. Nothing about this show feels original or groundbreaking enough to merit checking back into this particular story, and it actually seems rather simplistic in design, despite the apparent layers of the relationship between Dracula and his allies and the Order of the Dragon. I wasn’t likely to have been interested in this to begin with, but I’m certainly not after seeing this pilot.

How will it work as a series? The show does have many complex characters, all of whom know so little about each other, and the dynamics between each of them should prove productive for the sake of plot, enabling Dracula to continue his quest for electric domination while seeking his true love and trying to take down his enemies. Whether that makes a good vampire show is another question, but it should do the trick for cranking out the scripts.
How long will it last? Friday night is never a good night to launch a show, but maybe it’s just what this one needed. Premiering after the return of “Grimm” was actually great, and the ratings for the pilot were pretty decent. This show doesn’t seem like it will be a sustainable hit, but I think NBC is going to gamble on it for a bit and let it run out the rest of the season.

Pilot grade: C-

Monday, October 28, 2013

What I’m Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 2, Episode 5 “Ancient History” (B+)

There can’t always be cases all the time, and therefore it’s fun to see what both Sherlock and Watson do in their spare time. Going to the morgue to hunt for signs of foul play is a logical exercise for Sherlock, and this was quite a doozy, with so many different players and questionable moments of actual deaths having occurred. Sherlock’s continued surprise at the fact that his proposed victims were alive was amusing, and it made this particular scavenger hunt thoroughly involving and enjoyable. Watson’s suggested effort was also interesting, and I, like her, thought that Sherlock didn’t want to devote any attention to it since romance was of no concern to him. Learning that he was Tony was much more exciting, and I love that, after being scolded by Watson for betraying her trust, he went and told Jennifer the truth, only to have her sleep with him again. Sherlock’s appeal is questionable but evident, and, though he’ll have to eventually reunite with Moriarty (one can only hope – seeing Natalie Dormer in “Rush” got me pumped about the idea), it’s good to see him engage in some completed detached romantic activity at the moment. Watson telling him that she was just trying to get pregnant was a rare but entirely welcome instance of her having the upper hand, and I’d like to see more such instances in the future. Sherlock has no social life, but seeing Watson out and about is also a great thing, since it helps educate us viewers more about what she’s like when she’s not fully focused on Sherlock.

What I’m Watching: Parenthood

Parenthood: Season 5, Episode 5 “Let’s Be Mad Together” (B+)

If this season’s third episode was all about parenthood, this one was all about relationships. From the start, it’s looked like this will be the toughest year on Joel and Julia, with him being pulled in one direction by work and Pete and her in another by her school parent responsibilities and Ed. Joel getting drunk after going out for a martini-laced discussion about boundaries with Pete was an unexpected and deceptively entertaining look at someone who doesn’t usually get the chance not to be serious, and it made his subsequent fight with Julia all the more alarming. It’s no longer about Victor or her job, but now it’s about her asserting herself and her opinions in their marriage too much. That makes Julia’s attempt to intervene on her mom’s behalf with Zeek all the more impactful, as that’s another marriage being strained by staunchly different worldviews. Adam and Crosby are having business partnership problems, and it’s good to see Crosby come in there no holds barred and say what he really thinks to get everything back on track and repair the damage he had done by walking out in the middle of a recording session. Kristina got to take a break from her campaign to be a truly supportive mother for Max, and though it’s an awkward situation with the yearbook, I look forward to seeing how she deals with it going forward. Ryan explaining his situation to Sarah was sweet, and it’s nice to know that he really cares what his future mother-in-law thinks about him.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 5, Episode 6 “The Help” (B)

This episode was the weakest of the season thus far, but, as tends to be the case, it still had its funny moments. Frank staying at the house led to the very unlikely scenario of Jay, Phil, and Frank going out together to try to help Frank pick someone up, and the very unfortunate result of Frank bringing home a prostitute by accident. Peri Gilpin of “Frasier” was well-cast as the surprisingly sophisticated overnight guest, who had Claire plenty confused and whose best line was definitely her comment that she saw so much of herself in Alex. Phil telling Claire that she was mad because he lied and not because there was a prostitute in her kitchen was very amusing, and yet another instance of why Phil is this show’s most reliable character. While I like Nathan Lane, I find that his character is tremendously overused on this show, and over-nominated for Emmys, and I think this show could do with a little less Pepper. There were too many jokes about purple and gay weddings, and the whole character of Ronaldo was unnecessary. I wasn’t particularly taken with the introduction of Andy the new male nanny, though Gloria introducing him to Jay and Manny did lead to the best line of the episode, from the younger Manny: “Am I being replaced?” This show relied a lot on its guest characters in this episode, and I think it would be well-served to focus more on its primary players and let them speak for themselves.

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 3, Episode 5 “Razgovor” (B+)

Here again we have another episode that’s functioning on so many levels, and, for the first time in a while, brings two of the plotlines together in a way that complicates matters considerably. Carter taking time out to really try to identify the top player of HR looked like it was going to get her into trouble, but instead it brought her right to Reese, who was busy looking for the Russians who had abducted Gen. Reese coming face-to-face with Simmons was important, and it means that we’re getting much closer to HR playing an ever bigger role in this season. Carter shooting Jerry and revealing herself to Laskey was also monumental, and let’s just hope that her new errand boy proves dependable. After infiltrating a book club and going out dressed to party, it was fun to see Shaw get made by a ten-year-old practicing counter-surveillance, and to see her try to channel her emotions even though she’s just not wired that way. Flashing back to the car accident that killed her father in 1993 was useful in that it clearly explained how she copes with life-changing events. As if this episode wasn’t action-packed and dramatic enough, its ending reintroduced one of our beloved characters who was missing all throughout last week’s episode, and reunites this season’s two great new full-time additions heading into next week’s installment. Both Root and Shaw are fascinating characters, and seeing them share the screen is always a blast, and is sure to be quite intense.

What I’m Watching: Sons of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy: Season 6, Episode 7 “Sweet and Vaded” (B+)

This show is so completely driven by its plot, which makes it incredible to watch since there’s absolutely nothing preventing something completely crazy from happening. Wendy showing up to tell Gemma that Tara had opted to go with Margaret as her guardian instead of either of them was a bit of a surprise, but it led to something infinitely more shocking, which was Tara framing Gemma for causing her miscarriage. It was alarming to think for a moment that Tara had ended her own pregnancy, but it makes much more sense that she wasn’t ever pregnant and instead has been planning this for a long time to ensure that she gets Gemma out of her family’s life. In this same episode, Gemma proved to be less destructive in her loyalty to another family member, Nero, by getting Jax to help Venus with her big problem. It’s fun to see Walton Goggins in this role, and he really is terrific here, so different from the characters he played on two other classic FX series, “Justified” and “The Shield.” Jax shooting his mother in the head while she was insulting him was intense, but served as a major sign of loyalty to his new friend. Patterson offering Nero a deal to give up Jax is worrisome, though not too much considering the solid that Jax just did for his pal Nero. Encouraging Charlie to cooperate is much more dangerous since he doesn’t have the long history with either of them. Ratboy getting his patch is a good example of this show spotlighting its supporting players, but it also may put him directly in harm’s way now that something good has happened to him.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

What I’m Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 3, Episode 6 “Keaton” (B+)

This episode was actually rather simplistic, and for the first time in a while, the characters weren’t all off on their own plotlines, instead centralized on the long con to keep Schmidt from losing his cool and realizing that he had never actually been communicating with his idol Mr. Michael Keaton. I love the way Schmidt’s brain works, to the point that he thought Nick and Jess were just pretending to be Michael in the present and recreating his former rapport, when Nick had been posing as the actor for eighteen years. Schmidt’s excitement about being in contact with Michael was palpable, and it was embarrassing to hear him brag so much to the very people who were deceiving him. I enjoyed Nick and Jess’ back-and-forth about what and how to respond, and some of Jess’ messages were quite terrific. I was worried about how a clearly distraught Cece would react to seeing Schmidt, but it ended up being rather anticlimactic, instilling confidence in Cece that she really was over Schmidt, who definitely isn’t done with her, though he’ll have considerable trouble winning her back after what happened with Elizabeth. Schmidt moving out is a big deal, and you could tell that his roommates were most concerned with the balance of the apartment when he announced his departure. Taking the Douche Jar with him was triumphant, but that was undone quite a bit by the fact that he was merely moving across the hall. I’m sure that won’t last long, but it should prove to be an interesting diversion temporarily. On a side note, the Halloween costumes were fun.

Friday, October 25, 2013

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

Agents of S.HI.E.L.D: Season 1, Episode 5 “Girl in the Flower Dress” (B)

This show is definitely on a good track, keeping its storylines rather simplistic and broad but making them considerably more interesting. Starting with Chan showing off his fire-creating abilities and then being abducted by his date’s friends was a good setup, and one that I think this show would benefiting from using again in the future (not too much, of course). Shannon Lucio’s doctor reappearing solidified the strength of the operation going on, and proved worrisome when it was clear that she was setting up yet another super to be a ticking time bomb. Debbie did get what she deserved, and then some, in the form of being incinerated and literally crumbling to pieces, while Raina, who seemed innocent but is clearly the one pulling the strings, made a clean getaway and will now be able to continue her work. On the guest star docket this week was Tzi Ma, who played Jack’s nemesis Chang on “24,” as Chan’s handler, and Austin Nichols, who starred as Tommy Wheeler on “Ray Donovan,” as Miles. Skye’s allegiances have always been uncertain, and I don’t buy that she was spying for the Rising Tide just to get more info about her parents. What is good while she’s around, however, is her bonding with Ward, and it’s nice to him softening up in general. The quote of the episode was definitely Coulson’s excellently-delivered “We don’t want to hurt you, but we have to,” a firm reminder that, no matter how hard they try, they can’t save everybody.

What I’m Watching: Hello Ladies

Hello Ladies: Season 1, Episode 4 “The Dinner” (B+)

This show continues to be fun as it gets ever more awkward with each episode. Stuart accompanying Jessica to a gay club – trading her the wi-fi password as an incentive – because there’s no competition was a terrible idea, and I’m amazed at how long it took for things to implode. He actually held up well for a while, and went from doing fine to doing so miserably in a moment in the hot tub. I recognized the two actors who played the token gay couple in this episode from their past TV roles: David Hornsby from “How to Be a Gentleman” and Alimi Ballard from “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” I was very pleased to see Jenny Slate back again as Amelia, so skilled at delivering insults to Jessica as if they’re compliments. Their competition for who could diminish the other’s accomplishments more at the party was fantastic, and I for one don’t think that Jessica’s extended tap dance routine with makeshift tap shoes and no music was all that bad. At least she didn’t fall and break something – of her own or of Margo’s property – and that did seem imminently possible throughout. I’m glad that Wade made the most of his movie night alone by inviting Kives over, and this finally gave him something to do other than try to pick up women. Putting mayonnaise in the soap dispenser was a mean and disgusting trick, but the best part of their attempt to teach Stuart a lesson was happening upon his list of hopes and dreams. At first, it was truly funny, but ending with “Happiness?” was a sad but fitting conclusion for this offbeat show.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What I’m Watching: Eastbound and Down

Eastbound and Down: Season 4, Episode 4 “Chapter 25” (B+)

This episode couldn’t have been nearly as multi-faceted as last week’s, but it did deliver. Guy Young is managing to become a regular player on this show, and while he’s now being much nicer to Kenny, it’s subtly being indicated that he’s not actually a good person. Forney beating Guy on his own show was a small development that started to bring out Guy’s competitive spirit, and his run-in with Dantell really fleshed out his mean side. Dantell is far from a sympathetic figure, but appealing to Kenny and telling him that he’s glad he no longer has to work for Guy seemed to get the wheels turning inside Kenny’s head. Last week’s shenanigans were sure to have negative consequences, and let’s just be glad that April now loves Kenny and believes him when he tells her his version of the truth. It was hard not to be impressed with April when she stormed over to Dixie’s house to tell her that her invitation to her dinner parties must have been lost in the mail. Dixie’s reaction to the news of the kinds of things that went on while she and the other wives were sleeping was not pretty, and it’s always fun to see someone who’s excessively fake and irritating start freaking out and swearing. Stevie managing to find the spark in his relationship with Marla was nice, since the ever-loyal weirdo does deserve happiness. Toby working up the courage to feed the wolf was a great ending.

What I’m Watching: Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex: Season 1, Episode 4 “Thank You For Coming” (B+)

It’s about time that this show had a major dinner party, and it couldn’t have gone any better in my opinion. The interpersonal relationships here are just fantastic, and the show doesn’t spare any of its characters. I didn’t recognize Ann Dowd, from last year’s haunting “Compliance,” as Bill’s mother, who Libby manages to get along with just fine and who even surprised Bill, who wasn’t too open to the idea of her new lease on life because of the relationship Bill had with his late father. Having her around on a semi-regular basis might not be a bad thing, especially since she seems to share some of Bill’s curiosity about the less talked-about things in life. Libby trying to fix Ethan up with Virginia was well-intentioned but not good for Libby, and it’s even more problematic considering how obsessed he is with her. Starting a relationship with the provost’s daughter is a bad idea, but Ethan doesn’t tend to think with his brain most of the time. Mather Zickel’s George is an intriguing new character, and the way he talks about Virginia is almost as interesting as the fact that Bill is clearly taken with her in a way that’s consuming his entire being. The study is proving to be continually fascinating, and I can say that I’m consistently impressed with this show and the direction in which it’s headed. As of now, this is the fall’s best new show, and it’s only fitting that it got picked up by Showtime early this week for a second season.

What I’m Watching: Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire: Season 4, Episode 7 “William Wilson” (B+)

Nucky is still a background player in his own story, but I’m glad to see all of his tangential plotlines coming to fruition. The most satisfying part is the chance to see Margaret again, since I had thought that her appearance at the start of last week’s episode was the one opportunity that we’d have to revisit her departed character. Recognizing Arnold Rothstein as one of her clients was pretty jarring for both of them, and, though it’s far from what she wants to be involved it, it’s good that he’s chosen to see her as an asset rather than as an enemy. Eli’s reaction to the news of Willie dropping out of school was not good, and his relationship with Nucky really has changed to the point that he can yell at him for interfering in his father-son affairs. Torrio wasn’t happy with what Al had been doing without a leash, and getting arrested during an alcohol raid was a bad next step. Roy telling Gillian that he began divorce proceedings the day after he met her is quite the compliment, and that’s a good thing since Gillian could use a pick-me-up right about now. I was pleased to see Esther Randolph again, even though that means the case being built against Nucky is a big one, and the chance to see Remus knocked down a peg for his third-person talk was amusing. Hoover taking credit for Knox’s nationwide conspiracy theory after dismissing it was unwise, and he’s sending Knox right to a man he doesn’t want to be spilling his innermost thoughts to: the incomparable Gaston Means.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What I’m Watching: The Good Wife

The Good Wife: Season 5, Episode 4 “Outside the Bubble” (B+)

More than anything, this episode was a showcase for Diane and for Christine Baranski, who this past year was the only regular cast member to earn an Emmy nomination for her performance. Diane has always been a consistent character whose ability to deal with whatever came at her was admirable. It’s understandable that she would start to crack under the pressure of what’s going on now, being forced out of her own firm and having to contend with her friends not being anywhere near compatible with her new husband. Kurt doesn’t make it easy, but that’s the great thing about Gary Cole here, painting the Sarah Palin-loving, gun-owning ballistic expert as utterly uninterested in what anyone else thinks about him. Telling Will what she had correctly deduced about Alicia’s plan to leave with the fourth-years was a noble move that indicates just how committed she is to the longevity of the firm of which she’ll no longer be a part. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen now that the secret is out, and it will be interesting to see how Will handles it since he’s much softer than Diane and certainly David, and especially considering his relationship with Alicia. The returns of Rita Wilson’s Viola Walsh and Emmy winner Carrie Preston’s Elsbeth Tascioni were welcome, and what a case this was! Howard’s part in it was the most lamentable, while Kalinda resolving it was equally amusing and considerably more productive. The latest squabble between Eli and Jackie was the best one yet, and it’s great to see the eternally argumentative Eli compromise for once and see very positive results right away.

What I’m Watching: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 2 “Infected” (B)

This episode was considerably more focused than last week’s, and for that, I’m glad, but I’m still not entirely satisfied. I feel like this season is all about just waiting for something big and bad to happen, whereas last season was much more populated with interesting developments. Things managed to reach a chaotic level almost right away with the aftermath of Patrick’s death and rebirth within the prison walls and the tension at the fence which threatened to make the impermeable fortress not so impermeable anymore. Finding out that you don’t need to be infected to come back to life as a walker was a fascinating revelation several years ago, and the notion of a virus going around that’s infinitely more fatal and destructive than the common cold is somewhat intriguing but admittedly less exciting. More practically, it means that there’s going to be a lot of loss, but we’ve departed from the decimation of regular players to the offing of random guests since this season is much less neatly stitched together. I think that all underage speaking privileges should be usurped by Beth, and that the naming of walkers by irritating children should cease immediately. I haven’t always been on the bandwagon of Carl haters, but he’s getting pretty inconsolably obnoxious. Carol lecturing Lizzie about being weak was rather ridiculous considering how much of a crybaby she used to be before toughening up. Going forward, I’d like to see more Michonne and more action altogether that isn’t confined strictly to the prison walls.

What I’m Watching: Homeland

Homeland: Season 3, Episode 4 “Game On” (C+)

This was the first truly disappointing episode of this show that I’ve seen. We finally got a chance to see Brody last week, and now he’s gone just as abruptly as he entered back into the show’s universe, and we’re left with Carrie back in the mental hospital. It’s all supposed to be worth it because of that final scene in which everything suddenly makes sense, and Carrie is actually back in the field. It’s hard to believe, however, that this really was anyone’s plan all along, and it’s a far cry from battling terrorism and trying to figure out who is on the wrong side of things. I’m always pleased to see Martin Donovan on a show after his memorable performances on “Weeds” and “Boss,” but I don’t quite comprehend his character, who seems all too smooth and definitely too smart to be deceived by Carrie’s grand plan. Carrie being deemed crazy and subjected to horrible sleepless nights like the one depicted in this episode just so that she could have the perfect cover seems like a long way to go just to create the off chance that she’d be approached by Bennett’s people, who in turn can connect her with Javadi. We had the chance to see two former cast members in this hour, and neither’s appearance was particularly satisfying. I am glad that David Marciano’s Virgil tipped Carrie off to the trap he had set for her, and I’d love to see him at his most sarcastic again soon. Diego Klattenhoff, currently enjoying success as an FBI agent on “The Blacklist,” was back as Mike, who was probably the most reliable part of an awful plotline that now subjects Dana to something infinitely more boring than terrorism: a murderous boyfriend. This show seems to have lost sight of what it’s supposed to be about, and I do hope it regains a sense of itself soon.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What I’m Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 2, Episode 4 “Poison Pen” (B+)

It’s strange to see Sherlock actually express emotion for someone, and you know that when he does, they have to be very important to him. That was the case for not one but two people in this episode, starting with dominatrix Mistress Felicia, who he calmly and helpfully instructed on what to do when she ended up with a dead body at her place of work. Anne/Abigail was interestingly the more complicated manner, since she and Sherlock had bonded so many years ago over letters, and therefore he was in a unique but definitely biased position to consider her guilt in the case. Laura Benanti, who played the part of Sherlock’s former pen pal, was last seen on “Royal Pains” as prospective buyer Shelby, and also recurred on the last show to regularly star Jonny Lee Miller, “Eli Stone.” I like that Sherlock went to go talk to Graham after realizing what he did do and warned him that he’d be watching rather than taking any more measures to ensure that he saw justice. Watson’s detective work was impressive, as has consistently been the case recently, and noticing that there were too many vents in the room managed to win Detective Bell over too. We haven’t seen all that much of either Bell or Captain Gregson recently, and therefore it was refreshing to see Bell get his own moment of glory, proclaiming that he’d stand in the fetish shop with his badge very visible while they waited for a warrant.

What I’m Watching: Parenthood

Parenthood: Season 5, Episode 4 “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” (B+)

In this episode, we got what probably ranks as a much-needed break from the Jasmine-Crosby baby drama and instead put the spotlight on Adam as the irresponsible business partner, completely inspired by Mr. Ray’s outlook to revitalize his business in an entirely crazy way. It’s nice to finally see him be fully supportive of Kristina’s campaign, getting her the check she needed, which in turn enabled her to turn down the donation that Heather had so aggressively procured from the developer whose project she didn’t want to support. It was sweet to see Max tell Kristina that he didn’t think she should drop out of the race, and to donate his own hard-earned money from Hank to symbolically help her campaign. I also loved seeing Drew turn to Adam for help with Joni Mitchell music, and it’s good to see him in a semi-romantic plotline that, while not fully to his liking, is at least relatively healthy. Sarah not liking Amber’s proposed wedding location was understandable, but expressing her lack of confidence in Amber’s relationship with Ryan is going to have serious implications that are only going to push them further apart. It was difficult to see Sydney grab the instruction manual from Victor and read it much more fluently than him, but I like that it gave Victor and Zeek an opportunity to bond, since Victor is clearly more skilled with his hands than he is at reading and can have something to call his own with his adoptive grandpa.

Pilot Review: Reign

Reign (The CW)
Premiered October 17 at 9pm

The third of the CW’s new fall offerings feels a whole lot like its first two, only it’s not based on a preexisting series but rather on history itself, albeit a bit exaggerated for melodramatic effect. Why broadcast networks bother to take on the burdensome business of period drama, since it’s expensive and lavish and not all that easy to sustain. What’s more problematic here is the boring nature of all that’s going on, reminiscent of a Keira Knightley movie but with far less maturity or depth. The visually violent death of the food-tasting nun at the start of the episode was a bitter way to start out, and the intensity moved over to a sexual nature after that, with a bit of public bedding to rile everyone up and an attempt to deflower the queen which resulted in a rather swift execution. This show has a lot of characters, though that’s not too surprising given it takes place in a regal realm, and princesses have to have handmaids and the like. The notion of a real romantic connection existing between the two betrothed people but them being held back by a desire to remain steadfast to their respective home countries is somewhat interesting, and should prove to be a decent guiding anchor for the show going forward. I’ve said it before, but I’m not supposed to be in the target demographic for this show. Taken objectively, it’s fine, but hardly worth a second look even if it was the kind of fare I liked.

How will it work as a series? Mary coming to live in the palace has already caused much turmoil, and character assassination attempts (in addition to actual assassination attempts) are sure to follow on a weekly basis. Think of it as a much, much tamer version of “The Borgias” or “The Tudors,” with as much sex implied but much less actually shown.
How long will it last? A statistic like the CW’s lowest-rated Thursday night debut ever is hard to shake, and the network has enough hits that it considers successful not to need a show that underperforms. It was never going to have the audience of “The Originals,” but it needs to improve its performance if it’s going to make it to November or beyond.

Pilot grade: C-

Monday, October 21, 2013

Take Three: Welcome to the Family (Last Episode)

Welcome to the Family: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Big RV Adventure” (B)

Well, that didn’t last long. I was concerned last week that this show would soon be axed, and, wouldn’t you know it, it took just over three weeks for NBC to decide that it wasn’t worth its time. This episode was indicative of a slight dip in quality, but it certainly didn’t merit immediate cancellation. What this episode did feature which was positive was more of Molly, who is proving to be intelligent enough to figure out that there’s something up with her boyfriend not wanting to have sex with her but still naïve enough to bring the problem to her mother. Katrina expressing a combination of rage at Dan for buying an RV and hunger for the burger resulted in a rather over-the-top field trip to the drive-thru, with Molly and a shirtless Junior in the back helpless to do anything about the situation. I’m not convinced that enough people watched this show to realize what wasn’t great about it, but I will admit that perhaps its broad nature might have been disappointing. It also did seem a bit early in the show’s run to feature Eva Longoria, who for those paying attention played Ricardo Chavira’s onscreen wife on “Desperate Housewives,” as Demetrio’s teacher and Miguel’s ex-girlfriend, though she was fine if not particularly hilarious. It was also strange to see Jamie McShane, most memorable to me as a murderous Irishman on “Sons of Anarchy,” as the cop not seduced by Lisette at the encouragement of Miguel. I do hope that this show’s remaining filmed episodes get put online somewhere, since this show deserved more than three short installments.

Round Two: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Season 1, Episode 2 “Trust Me” (C-)

I watched this second episode only because I was genuinely interested to know what similarities this show would bear to the original series which shares part of its title. After seeing Alice escape from the miserable real-life world of an insane asylum in the pilot, there’s no trace of any sort of other universe in which Alice exists without Wonderland being a reality. Instead, this show is bogged down by flashbacks to happier times with Alice and Cyrus celebrating their human-genie love so that they can pine over each other in the present time. It’s understandable that the Knave of Hearts is meant to be a heartbreaker, but the fairy’s casual attitude towards him and excited attempt to send him to his death was irritating. It’s also annoying to see so much time and energy exhausted on the power struggle between Jafar and the White Queen, since both are entirely unlikeable people whose villainy is based on how much each of them can overact and try to chew scenery. Ultimately, Alice and Cyrus are just pawns on their chessboard, and it’s not nearly as fun a game as this show seems to think. Implicating the White Rabbit as the one who sold out the location of Cyrus’ bottle to the White Queen is unfortunate, and it makes him just as detestable as the actual bad guys. The ratings aren’t looking good for this one to live a long life, but I’ve had more than enough already to be done with it.

What I’m Watching: Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation: Season 6, Episode 5 “Gin It Up!” (B+)

This show is just terrific, and I can proudly continue to call it my favorite comedy on television right now. It’s always thrilling to see good shows recognized by the talent that they are able to net, and seeing Tatiana Maslany show up is an excellent testament to that. Maslany, who was incredible in multiple roles as clones on “Orphan Black,” was cold but intriguing as Tom’s latest crush, and I love that he put on a fake British accent the moment he saw her, a likely nod to the fact that she does a spot-on British accent as one of her characters on the BBC America series. Tom hasn’t had a passion outside work and technology in a while, and it’s great to see him make a fool of himself for love, especially with April watching and laughing. Leslie’s political career continues to be miserable, and I think it’s fantastic that Jamm and Dexhart do things just to make her life unbearable and have no qualms about announcing their corrupt intentions to anyone who will listen. Leslie has learned to take it in stride, and it’s nice that she was able to accept Donna for who she is and the limited patience that she has. The state of Ron’s will was hardly surprising, and it’s never a waste of time to see Ben try to point out someone’s ridiculousness to them. His astonishing fortune is a great plot point, and I enjoyed his constant references to the man or animal who will ultimately kill him and inherit the bulk of his property.

What I’m Watching: Nashville

Nashville: Season 2, Episode 4 “You’re No Angel Yourself” (C+)

It didn’t feel right to stop watching this show midway through an episode, so I think I’ll officially say that this is my final episode. Whether I’ll return to this show again someday is unknown, but, for now, it’s just not doing as much as for me as other shows are. The drama that’s occurring between Gunnar and Will is grating, especially since Avery, who has suddenly returned to the only available job in Nashville other than being a famous musician, is the one who planted the idea in Gunnar’s head that he shouldn’t lie down and let Will take his fame from him. Scarlett’s plotline is so tame and boring by comparison, and it seems like she’s just headed sideways, already famous enough to be successful but still acting like no one knows or cares who she is. Maddie fleeing the party and calling Juliette felt a bit forced since it was the only way to unite Rayna and Juliette, and it forced Juliette to stoop to a level she’d likely never even consider – asking her own imitator to open for her so that she can still remain relevant. I’m perplexed about why Lamar needs to be officially gotten rid of when he’s barely even been present lately, and it makes the equally infrequently-seen Tandy more relevant than she’s ever been. Teddy proposing to Peggy was very sterile and unemotional, and you’d think that she’d have at least an ounce more discretion than to wear the ring around her neck to a party where she knew she’d run into people that would recognize it. So long, Nashville. It’s been a fun if unspectacular ride.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 5, Episode 5 “The Late Show” (B+)

This is the kind of episode that most shows have somewhere during the run (“The One Where No One’s Ready” from “Friends” comes to mind), and while it wasn’t necessarily creative, it was thoroughly entertaining. Starting with a splitscreen frame that showed Jay, Mitchell, and Phil yelling for their respective partners to get ready in time was a fun beginning, and, from there, things went in predictable directions. Gloria taking forever to get ready so that Jay’s head would explode while he was waiting for his table was highlighted by his bafflement at Gloria’s repeat disappearances so that she could show up and introduce herself to whoever had just arrived. Claire worrying about Luke being able to take care of himself while Phil squirmed around in his too-tight sight was funny, and I like that Luke and Manny ultimately ended up being Haley’s backup singers in karaoke. Alex babysitting Lily framed the Phil and Claire’s book-smart character in a great light, boring her little cousin to death with her reading of “Little Women” and getting her hair and makeup done by the surprisingly talented and Haley-trained Lilly. The best plotline, however, was reserved for Cam and Mitchell. It’s so rare that Mitchell gets to be just as dramatic as Cam, and to see him go to war with Cam over who gets to wear the outfit they both chose was fantastic. Cam being in the right is an equally rare thing, and guilting Mitchell into admitting that he had shaken up the champagne was superb revenge.

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 3, Episode 4 “Reasonable Doubt” (B+)

I’m consistently impressed with the guest stars that this show manages to get, and though her role here wasn’t nearly as exciting as the one I know her from, I was excited to see Kathleen Rose Perkins from “Episodes” as this week’s number. Paul Ben-Victor, fresh off a recurring stint as a big movie producer on “Vegas,” fit right in as the latest corrupt cop in the NYPD, though, for once, not affiliated with HR. My suspicion that Carter’s new partner is working for HR was unfortunately confirmed, and that’s very problematic considering the fact that him being a threat isn’t on her radar at all. What I liked about this episode is that it really was a rollercoaster ride, with Vanessa initially seeming guilty, particularly after knocking out the counsel she had requested, and then shifted gears entirely to seem like the victim. Changing things completely with less than ten minutes left in the episode was great, and ending on two gunshots heard but not seen was a memorable and haunting way to leave these very awful people. Shaw’s distaste for most things feminine is really being milked, and her presence at the book club was quite entertaining. What we didn’t have in this episode was any of Root, but I’m sure there will be plenty of time for that given that this show is only four episodes into the season, and it’s already headed in such a fascinating direction, fully on in its mythology and its featured storylines each week.

What I’m Watching: Sons of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy: Season 6, Episode 6 “Salvage” (B+)

In the aftermath of last week’s ground-shaking conclusion, it seemed all but certain that this episode was going to be full of violence. While we did see that to an extent, this was actually among the calmest hours we’ve seen in a while, with less loss of life than usual. It was fun to see how much they enjoyed their getaway from the corrupt cops in Eden, and how impressive their response was, forcing them to apologize to each member of the club and ensuring that their relationship going forward was a positive one. Jax’s rallying speech was powerful, and it was good to see such accord around the table, even from Bobby, who seemed like he was off on another planet but appears to be content in his current state. I’m relieved to see that Roosevelt is keeping D.A. Patterson apprised of his suspicions about Toric and his role in framing Nero, and though she seems intent on getting Nero into jail despite his innocence, at least she’s pursuing the truth as it relates to Toric and his murder of Nero’s girl. This show doesn’t skimp on any character, no matter how minor, and Patterson changing her hair was a terrific bit of extra personality that helped throw Tara for a loop. I’m hopeful that Tara’s fate won’t be miserable, whether it means her going to jail or ratting Jax out, and that things don’t end violently for the Teller children. It was a wonderful surprise to see Walton Goggins back as Venus Van Dam, and to give her a great scene with Gemma at her most honest and sympathetic.

What I’m Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 3, Episode 5 “The Box” (B+)

This show has been extremely funny, and that’s only continuing as Jess and Nick’s relationship hits more speed bumps along the way. Inheriting thousands of dollars from his dad is a big deal for Nick, who doesn’t think of money in the same way that other people do, content to think that putting bills into his box means that he doesn’t have to deal with them anymore. Splurging on silly things made complete sense, and lashing out at Winston when he tried to collect the $1,900 he owed him was equally expected. That Jess would break go into his box and pay all his bills in cash, only to try to unpay them later when Nick expressed his anger at being told what to do with his money. Schmidt going to see his rabbi, played by the questionably convincing Jon Lovitz, to help affirm his self-perception as a good person, was funny, and the best part of it all was Nick’s inability to comprehend the word tzedakah. This episode had two hilarious instances of characters adding a possessive to an expression – Schmidt’s casual reference to performing “Heimlich’s maneuver” and Nick’s bafflement at hearing for the first time about “Bobby’s pins.” The writing on this show has been on fire, and I’m thrilled to see such terrific lines being uttered by the very entertaining players. Now let’s get Cece back into the center of things, and send Schmidt on a good path now that their relationship is over for good (or is it?).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

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

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 1, Episode 4 “Eye Spy” (B)

It’s not quite there yet, but this was definitely a substantial improvement on what we’ve seen so far. What made this episode work, for the most part, was the fact that the primary plot of the episode had to do with someone with a definite but uncertain supernatural ability, who had the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on her tail and managed not only to have a connection to Coulson but also turned out to be acting against her will because she was being controlled by the people who put a camera in her eye. The episode started off in a creepy way because of the many masked men who were walking all around Stockholm, and it’s the sure sign of a show about superpowers when they’re the ones who get taken out when a subway car goes dark. Akela is a great example of an abandoned agent left to fend for herself who has detached from the mentality of the organization, and who couldn’t possibly go back to regular field duty because of all that she’s endured. Watching Coulson advocate for her and encourage her to do the right thing was interesting since he lost his life and is now back in some form or another, unaware that he’s gone through even more than anyone else. FitzSimmons made a decent crack surgery team, while Grant and Skye, with their dueling quips and sexual tension, were an effective field squad. This team may just come together after all, and this show might prove to be worth watching.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Take Three: Hello Ladies

Hello Ladies: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Date” (B+)

This was inarguably this show’s most awkward installment yet, and I’ll have to reconsider my assessment from the pilot that Stuart is a nicer guy than most British sitcom characters. He doesn’t set out to offend people, but he’s so damn selfish that he can’t be bothered to consider how anyone else might react to a situation unless it directly affects him. I couldn’t figure out where I recognized Annie from, and it turns out she played Cathy, the employee who tried to come between Jim and Pam on “The Office” but didn’t end up doing much in the end. She was much more charming here as the flirtatious barista who still said yes to Stuart when he asked her out and destroyed a whole lot of merchandise in the process. His banter with the waiter was most amusing because of the waiter’s inability to comprehend that him being a jerk was meant to be part of the charade, and that he shouldn’t offer something just as expensive as an alternative option. Mini-golf was going well, and it’s a shame that he had to let his curiosity and jealousy get the better of him. Though he managed to miraculously talk his way out of getting caught snooping at Annie’s house, his night ended the same way it always does, with him getting cursed out for his rudeness. Jenny Slate of “House of Lies” and “Parks and Recreation” was another great guest star in Jessica’s embarrassing quest for tampon stardom, and I also liked Wade’s disconnected but well-intentioned side plotline involving his immense fear of dying without anyone knowing, highlighted by the gratitude he expressed when rescue finally came.

What I’m Watching: Eastbound and Down

Eastbound and Down: Season 4, Episode 3 “Chapter 24” (B+)

This episode used music a whole lot, and it’s fascinating to see how it appropriately reflects Kenny Powers’ rollercoaster ride up and down the ladder of success. The most affecting moment was seeing Kenny and his family and friends so happy at the water park, and to see the pure joy he got from being a family man. April is such a fantastic character, so eternally committed to her husband and in awe of the way that he interacts with their children. Her getting drunk and passing out was a firm reminder that she isn’t always the most responsible, and it was an unfortunate impetus for Kenny to start thinking about things that will prove extremely destructive to his family life. Kenny was all set to go down the wrong path with the hot girl in the pool, and, amazingly, he resisted her many offers for pleasure and turned her down. Seeing him return to her room after changing his mind was disheartening, but, luckily, she too had changed her mind, instead rejecting him and wounding his pride, finally making him realize that he can’t always get whatever he wants when he wants it. If Kenny’s life were perfect, this show wouldn’t be interesting, and so, as it unfurls its final few episodes, let’s hope that Kenny makes mostly good choices and makes his mark as an incomparable legend who managed to be both a player – in baseball and in life – and a father and husband at the same time.

Take Three: Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex: Season 1, Episode 3 “Standard Deviation” (B+)

As time goes on, Bill is becoming less and less likeable, but his study is becoming all the more interesting. Involving gay men is an intriguing new idea, and it seems to have exposed something unexpected with Scully that Bill used to his advantage to keep the study going. The flashbacks to an earlier, brighter time when Bill was still on his way up in the world and Scully was his kindly mentor were extremely effective in contrast to his harsh, much less forgiving attitude in the present. Taking Ethan’s prized quadruplets case away from him was cruel, especially since he didn’t even seem to care about the glory of it all, while Ethan wanted to share it with the whole world. He doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, even if he doesn’t yet have the staff position and he’s gradually losing the respect of those around him. Announcing Libby’s pregnancy to her was a big win, and that’s a huge surprise that’s sure to throw everyone on this show for a loop. Virginia telling Libby that Bill was the one who was infertile wasn’t mean to be malicious, and it’s a good thing that she got the good news before she had the chance to really punish Bill for deceiving her. This episode was full of great guest stars, starting with the always fantastic Mae Whitman, who fit into the role well, Julianne Nicholson as the steely new female doctor, and Greg Grunberg as the kindhearted and unassuming Pretzel King and future husband of the also infertile Betty.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What I’m Watching: Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire: Season 4, Episode 6 “The North Star” (B)

This wasn’t a bad episode by any measure, but it’s one of those that gets caught up in its period setting without managing to be fully engaging the whole time. It was wonderful, however, to see Margaret, if only for a moment, perfectly content in her current life and far from eager to let Nucky think that she was anywhere near as overjoyed to see him as he was to see her. Nucky’s visit to Tampa was decently productive, and the best scene was the unexpected moment with Sally where she responded to his venting by punching him in the face until they started having sex. It seems that such foreplay is common, as in the similar case of Chalky being rude to Daughter and obsessively glaring at her before finally making his move. The aftermath of Eddie’s death was strangely remiss of any tributes to his steadfast nature, and it was interesting to see his absence affecting Eli most when he gave Knox the German suicide note which likely didn’t say what he said it did. It was good to see Richard back home, first encountering Julia’s alcoholic father after he received some life-altering news at the hospital and then walking around with Julia and Tommy. Richard is probably this show’s most dependable character, rarely one for excessive conversation, but always putting his own needs after those around him. Let’s hope his return to Atlantic City, however permanent or impermanent, doesn’t have adverse consequences for those he cares about.

What I’m Watching: The Good Wife

The Good Wife: Season 5, Episode 3 “A Precious Commodity” (B+)

It’s amazing to see how quickly things fall apart. Diane walking into Will’s office to tell him about her damaging interview ended their relationship instantly, and it’s a real shame given how much they’ve been through together and stood by each other during tough times. Will pulling Alicia in and offering her Diane’s role is a big deal, especially since the romantic component of their relationship doesn’t really exist anymore and she’s on her way out the door to the new firm. Kalinda finding out from Robin that Alicia was leaving with Cary seems to have stung, and I’m curious to see how she handles that new bit of information. It’s taking way too long for them to leave for this to go smoothly without anyone getting hurt, and I’m concerned about how Will is going to take being completely abandoned by the two women who have been in his professional life for a very long time. This episode’s main case with the surrogate who didn’t want to have an abortion, featuring Christian Borle from “Smash” as the attorney and Janel Moloney of “The West Wing” as the surrogate, was interesting, but it’s the mark of a great law show when the still competent case is its least intriguing part. Peter deciding to hire Marilyn back is disconcerting, since she clearly is flirting with him all the time, and renewing his vows isn’t going to dampen his attraction to her. Alicia’s reaction to Grace’s new look was extreme but highly entertaining, and its best result was Alicia inviting her pastor in for a beer before slamming the door in his face.

What I’m Watching: The Walking Dead (Season Premiere)

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 1 “30 Days Without an Accident” (B)

I was extremely excited for this show since it’s undeniably one of the most gripping and intense shows on television. After half a year off the air, it’s fair to say that this premiere didn’t really kick things into high gear, instead killing off two newly introduced characters and showing the bleak state of things at a very slow pace. Rick has gone from being the fearless totalitarian ruler of this crew to its loneliest member, wandering around literally dealing with a crazy woman who had to go and kill herself just to get him to explain what the three questions he was going to ask her were. Seeing Carl and Beth as young adults is strange, and it’s working much better for the stoic Beth than the bratty Carl, whose attendance at storytelling feels over-the-top. At least Carol is taking time away from her reading to teach the kids some good old self-defense with knives. Unfortunately, Patrick’s death inside the prison walls means very bad things for everyone living blissfully inside. What was most lacking about this episode was the absence of the Governor, who was inarguably season three’s best character. Nothing feels quite as satisfying as seeing his twisted operator, and this season needs to get a better sense of where it’s going after pretty much killing everyone off last season. More Michonne couldn’t hurt, and highlighting characters like Daryl, Glenn, and Maggie would probably be a good idea as well to make sure this show stays interesting.

What I’m Watching: Homeland

Homeland: Season 3, Episode 3 “Tower of David” (B)

Not seeing Brody for so long meant that, when we did finally see him, it was sure to be interesting. Not filling in any of the blanks of his story, however, also meant that we got it all in one dose, and didn’t even encounter Carrie until halfway through the episode. Brody’s last few days or weeks, whichever it might be, have been rather miserable, and it’s not like his situation is any better than it was during the second half of his captivity, marooned among a strange, violent people with whom he can’t help but sympathize to a degree. His dismayed reaction to the thief being killed after Brody identified him suggested that he really has become a good guy, no longer subject to coercive influence by those around him. Thinking that the imam would take him in knowing what he had done was perhaps too optimistic, and I worried that Brody’s fate in custody would be worse than it would have been with his current crew, but that doesn’t seem to be the case considering the collateral damage of his rescue. Both Brody and Carrie are being proselytized to by creepy doctors, and neither’s situation is particularly pleasant. I’m very interested to see what this new lawyer has in store for Carrie. She’s too paranoid to realize it, but he may just be the one who is best equipped to help her, and might be able to set events back in motion so that our heroes can be real free people fighting actual terrorists once again.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What I’m Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 2, Episode 3 “We Are Everyone” (B+)

This was an extremely engaging episode because of the way in which it involved the unseen antagonists known as Everyone. It started off feeling like a thriller, with Ezra Kleinfelter arrested for his role in leaking classified documents, a seeming innocent in the fight for the freedom of information. It turned out, of course, that he was guilty the whole time, but that wasn’t entirely relevant because we didn’t even see him until the end of the episode. What was more enticing was the fact that Everyone perceived Sherlock and Watson as a threat and went to work on attacking them the best way they knew how. Some of it was amusing, like the calls about a train set and delivery of a number of pizzas. Cutting off their electricity and posting Watson’s home address on her dating profile was considerably more worrisome, but, as expected, Sherlock and Watson managed to solve the case despite all that annoying interference. It was nice to see one of Watson’s website connections stop by to see how she was doing because he was concerned about the messages he had been receiving from someone who was clearly not her, though it’s good that she’s not getting too ahead of herself with her love life. Impressing Sherlock by pickpocketing Kleinfelter was great, and I liked their disagreement about social entanglements and real world time. As always, it’s the banter that makes their relationship the most amusing. Two pieces of writing at the end were especially intriguing – Watson’s book and Sherlock’s note from Moriarty! I wonder where those will lead next.

What I’m Watching: Parenthood

Parenthood: Season 5, Episode 3 “Nipple Confusion” (B+)

This show’s title could be any more relevant this episode. I remember seeing posters for this show back in early 2009 with an image of Max with his head stuck in a railing, and that’s what many thought that this show would be about. It turns out that it’s far from the case, and the portrayal of parenthood on this show is exceptionally mature and, quite often, entertaining to boot. Crosby’s stint as a dad continues to be an uphill battle, but it’s sweet to see him succeed at finding a way to show his loyalty and commitment to Jasmine without knowing she was nearby. Kristina’s campaign is also rather rocky, and she’s in way over her head with her assistant Heather. Fortunately, Adam seems to be getting on board with the idea, and I loved his back-and-forth with Sarah about her photography abilities. Sarah had a strong episode, highlighted by her scenes with Hank in which he first unintentionally insulted her and then made her feel better by picking out the perfect shot from her less than terrific shoot. Joel and Julia’s latest family issue is the most difficult to watch, since Victor hasn’t been featured all that much lately and now, back in the spotlight, seems not to be doing too well again. Julia didn’t even need to have an affair with Ed for it to become a problem, and hopefully it won’t continue do so going forward. After some stalling, Zeek and Camille did have a great conversation that makes their relationship just as interesting as all the rest of the couples on this show.

Round Two: The Millers

The Millers: Season 1, Episode 2 “Plot Twists” (C-)

Sometimes, shows that don’t look too good surprise you with their first episodes because they’re better than expected. That doesn’t always translate to a worthwhile series, and I think this is one case where I got caught up by my expectations being exceeded and though it was much better than it actually was. In its second installment, this show went for cheap laughs with an uninventive and all-too-literal plotline, which found its matriarch obsessing over burial plot arrangements. The big reveal at the end which exposed Carol’s plot to fool her family by making them think that Sylvia had died was quite obvious, and a demonstration of the fact that this show won’t be terribly creative and high-brow with its humor. This episode also gave us a peek at the too non-biological members of the extended Miller clan. Nelson Franklin’s Adam is extremely one-note, concerned over death being discussed so extensively and then subject to being demeaned by Nathan for not being special because his fears are shared by everyone. Eliza Coupe, a familiar face from “Scrubs” and “Happy Endings,” would theoretically be a great choice to portray Janice, Nathan’s vengeful ex-wife and coworker, but it would be nice if she spent less time haggling with him over how he criticized her for signing a piece of paper and making weather puns. This show wasn’t supposed to be bringing anything especially new to the table, but it just feels like it’s not trying very hard, which is a shame considering the talented players involved.

Round Two: Welcome to the Family

Welcome to the Family: Season 1, Episode 2 “Dan Finds Out” (B+)

I’m hanging on to this show for as long as I can, and a big drop in ratings from last week’s already miserable numbers means that it’s not looking good. Content-wise, this episode was a strong follow-up to the pilot, providing some slightly exaggerated scenarios in which the entire family got to all be present together at big life events and important moments. Katrina’s pregnancy wasn’t going to stay secret for long, and having Junior walk in on her while he was trying to go get Molly’s purse was as god a way as any for the news to start spreading. This episode was most productive for the embellishment of the relationships between the mothers and the fathers. The latter already started last week, but it’s the former that was new and surprising in this episode. Lisette seems to have it together, certainly much more so than Katrina in the face of this life-altering news, but she also demonstrated her pushy curiosity, which might create some awkwardness going forward if the Yoders don’t want to be fully public about all of their affairs. Dan’s visit to Miguel’s gym went about as well as their first encounter there did, and ended with a predictably immature resolution on both of their parts. Agreeing to be punched in the crotch for the satisfaction of getting to punch the other in the crotch was rather funny, and it’s good to see Mike O’Malley and Ricardo Chavira having fun playing these dads who just aren’t ever going to like each other.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pilot Review: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC)
Premiered October 10 at 8pm

I watched “Once Upon a Time” for an entire season before finally deciding to give up on it because it just wasn’t executing its admittedly intriguing premise well at all. A spin-off that isn’t really a spinoff is both appealing and off-putting at the same time. My concern was that, like the original, this show would obsess over stuffing as many characters from different fairy tale universes into the same storylines and trying to make a real-world version of it interesting. The insane asylum setting made this show’s non-fantasy scenes extremely creepy and started the show off on an uninviting note, but that did make her time in Wonderland more enticing. Everything in Wonderland looked cool but also seemed rather fake, and that makes it hard to take seriously. I understand this show is all about suspension of disbelief and being drawn into the characters, but it still feels lacking. The Red Queen really is evil, but as there’s always a bigger fish, it’s actually Jafar who has the true heart of stone. Combining “Aladdin” with Alice and ending things in Wonderland with Cyrus as Jafar’s prisoner suggests that this show won’t flip-flop between the two worlds in the same way or even be framed like that. Instead, it’s up to Alice and Wonderland itself to sell this premise. Sophie Lowe seems like an Alice, and her spunk works pretty well. John Lithgow is a good choice for the voice of the White Rabbit, while Naveen Andrews has seen much better days in his past ABC life on “Lost” than here as the rather cartoonish Jafar. This pilot didn’t surprise me, and that’s a disappointment more than anything.

How will it work as a series? I do think a second viewing might be required to comprehend the structure and format of this show. Merely portraying an alternate version of Wonderland which also includes Jafar and characters from other stories could work, but even if that’s the case, it’s clear that this show is content to let its storylines speak for themselves and not worry too much about sophistication.
How long will it last? The original show has proven to be a hit, and this show’s start wasn’t nearly as promising. Of ABC’s Thursday night offerings, it was the least-watched, but it still did pretty well compared to the other networks. It’s too early to tell, but I think this one could go either way, leaning more towards cancellation right now than renewal.

Pilot grade: C-

What I’m Watching: Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation: Season 6, Episode 4 “Doppelgangers” (B+)

Whenever a show pulls a major game-changer and incorporates a merger, there are necessarily going to be a few episodes of transition. On “The Office,” that meant only keeping two new characters for the long haul (one of whom left after a season and now stars on this show), and, in this case, I think it will leave even fewer permanent traces. Its most significant asset is a way for Ann and Chris to announce their unfortunate exits, which were predictably met with different reactions from their respective best friends. I like how Leslie came around to a place of acceptance, and I enjoyed that Ben was so immediately happy for Chris to move on to an exciting new chapter of his life. It will definitely be sad not to have them around, but I’m confident this show can figure out what it needs to stay strong going forward without them. Of the doppelgangers, Donna’s and April’s were funny mainly for how our familiar Pawnee government employees reacted to them. Ron initially liking the other Ron because of his similar no-nonsense attitude was great, and I love how quickly all that spiraled downwards once he realized that he actually disagreed with pretty much everything our Ron holds dear. The best counterpart, hands-down, was Tom’s, and it’s absolutely spectacular that, upon realizing that a computer could do his job about as well as he could, he staged the scene so that it seemed like his human counterpart did exist and that he was so terrible he had to be fired.

What I’m Watching: Nashville

Nashville: Season 2, Episode 3 “I Don’t Wanna Talk About It Now” (B-)

I’m not sure why I’m still watching this show, but it’s not as if its quality has changed so much since it first started. It’s all terribly soapy, particularly the plotline involving Avery and Juliette. He seemed far too offended by her referring to him as the hired help in front of a client, and she just doesn’t know how to avoid bad decisions, like kissing a man who hired her as a gift to his wife in the middle of the hallway while staying in his home. Juliette is determined to be all alone, and it’s not very pleasant to watch. Rayna, on the other hand, jumped right back into bed with Liam after deciding that Deacon isn’t right for her, and the only positive thing about that is he might be able to help her in her newfound battle with Jeff, which is getting uglier by the moment. Not being able to sing anymore is a big deal, but I’m sure that won’t last long. All of the drama with Will and Gunnar and Scarlett isn’t gripping, and it’s about time Gunnar stopped being a sad sack and scored a win. With no position of power, it makes sense that Coleman would leave town as a way for him to be written off the show. I just wish the same would happen with Peggy, who’s only going to wreak havoc on Teddy’s family life as she continues manipulating him into feeling connected to her and her fake baby.

Pilot Review: The Tomorrow People

The Tomorrow People (The CW)
Premiered October 9 at 9pm

I’m not terribly optimistic about new offerings from the CW, and this one didn’t do much to defy my expectations. It’s a remake of a British show from the 1960s, once again showing that it’s awfully rare for shows to be truly original these days. It does represent a bit of a departure from the recent trend of reviving shows from the 90s and later, and I suppose that’s something. This premise is far from fresh, with slightly enhanced humans with special abilities struggling for survival in the midst of excessive persecution by a shadowy organization. The CW is keeping it in the family by featuring Robbie Amell, the cousin of actor Stephen Amell, the star of “Arrow,” in the lead role as the unsuspecting possessor of these powers who, not surprisingly, is actually even more talented than all the rest of his people because of his relationship to their fearless and currently missing leader. Among the cast, Peyton List, who has appeared on “Mad Men” and “Flash Forward,” is the most recognizable face, and her role doesn’t seem extraordinarily complex, and she’s surely going to fall for Stephen romantically sooner rather than later. Mark Pellegrino stands out as a far too sophisticated and talented player for this fare, and I think that he’s not even trying that hard but he’s still infinitely better than the show around him. This show seems relatively infantile, and while the concept is theoretically cool, it’s hardly executed in a worthwhile or compelling fashion.

How will it work as a series? Having a villain like Pellegrino’s haughtily-named Jedikiah means that it will be a constant, never-ending cat-and-mouse game. We’ve seen a few good examples of what Stephen and his people can do, and the teleporting might continue to be fun, but could also become tiring. The suspension of disbelief that needs to be maintained has more to do with them keeping their identities secret than the obvious supernatural nature of their abilities.
How long will it last? The CW has its own standards for success, and this one actually did alright, retaining a high percentage of its lead-in’s numbers. I don’t know if the network will want to commit to it just yet, but it’s certainly among their most successful offerings at the moment.

Pilot grade: C-

Monday, October 14, 2013

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 5, Episode 4 “Farm Strong” (B+)

The 100th episode of this show came and went without much fanfare, but I think that’s fine since this show does well enough with a regular episode and doesn’t need a special showcase to celebrate an anniversary. The fact that Cam is dramatic is no surprise to anyone, but it’s more interesting to learn that he perceives his sister to be the “Pam of the family” just like everyone else thinks that he is the “Cam of the family.” Them both being engaged was ultimately a happy ending once they were able to accept the situation. Cam being alerted to several harsh truths by his family members was more funny than mean, which was good. Jay testing Gloria’s vision to encourage her to get glasses was great, and I liked the final agreement they came to: “I won’t be able to hear her, and she won’t be able to see me. We’ll be together forever.” The jokes about Gloria on this show are often repetitive and centered on her accent, and the bits about her vision, namely forcing her to read quickly when she clearly couldn’t, were quite amusing. Claire going to Luke’s soccer game when she had agreed with Phil not to go only to see him have the best game of his life was a lot of fun, and it’s always a blast to see Phil catch Claire doing something wrong and act all offended and devastated. That’s one of the things that Ty Burrell is best at, and why Phil is one of this show’s strongest characters.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 3, Episode 3 “Lady Killer” (B+)

I was thrilled enough with this show’s decision to add Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker to its cast, but it’s even more fantastic to see that old familiar faces are still more than up for stopping by. Utilizing Carter, Shaw, and Zoe as bait for the ultimately harmless Ian was an excellent ploy, and it was fun to see them all together, comparing guns and tasers and then talking about the various people in their lives. Shaw chatting Reese up about his non-romance with Carter and his apparent romance with Zoe was fun, and I like to see these off-the-grid characters given personality traits that aren’t always spotlighted. Warren Kole was instantly recognizable as Ian, though his accent was considerably thicker than when he starred on both “The Following” and “Common Law.” Ian turned out to be quite the likeable guy, far from threatening and ultimately interested in getting to know the son he never knew he had. Meanwhile, Root is off in her own world, but it’s such a fascinating one, especially as lived out by Amy Acker. Her sessions with Dr. Carmichael were creepy to say the least, but there’s something about the way that she delivers all of her lines that makes it work. Watching her walk out past all the bodies lying on the floor and excitedly answering the phone was mesmerizing, as was telling the doctor to run as she shot at Hersh and then hit him exactly where she knew he’d be, before sparing his life because the machine told her to do so. Where the show goes from here I can only imagine.

What I’m Watching: Sons of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy: Season 6, Episode 5 “The Mad King” (B+)

I feel like this show never stops one-upping itself and putting its characters in an even more devastating spot. There’s no denying the disturbing nature of Gemma’s conjugal visit with Clay, and it’s especially horrifying because this is the second time that Gemma has been the victim of a horrible assault like this and she’s rarely involved with any of the criminal business. That’s what makes this latest event more worrisome, since all of SAMCRO’s extended family would have been incinerated had Jax and Chibs not realized that the keg was a bomb. It’s an extremely violent move for the Irish to undertake, and it’s one from which there’s no going back. Though both he and Nero did a good job of resisting their urges for vengeance, I’m worried that they’ll now be blinded by rightful rage and do something they might regret. The latest business meeting between Charlie, Colette, Jax, and Nero, however hotheaded, was interesting, and it’s clear that this professional relationship is among the best the club has had. The most surprising moment of the episode was Clay being so forthright with Gemma about the Irish coming to him and then telling Gemma to ask Jax what he wanted him to do. That’s a major development, though it may not matter anymore since things can never go back to the way they were. Tara’s attitude about her impending jail sentence is so blunt and fatalistic, and the events of this episode only affirm the validity of her desire to get her kids away from the club.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

What I’m Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 3, Episode 4 “The Captain” (B+)

Schmidt trying to break Jess and Nick up could have been a long process, but I sort of like the fact that it only lasted a short time and produced such terrific results. There’s really nothing better than when Nick and Jess list off things that they feel, and that scene in this episode was just as good as the one in last week’s. His quick apology when he was yelled at by Winston for talking about his biscuits to Jess was funny, and it’s just so great to see them together. A familiar plotline like impotence turned out to be rather entertaining, and it’s so wonderful to see what Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson can do together. Nick being overly sentimental and not concerned with jumping Jess’ bones in a timely fashion was great, and while I thought that he was going to say “I love you,” it was better than he just kept rambling before Jess got so frustrated with his inability to act. It’s sad to see Schmidt so hung up on Cece when she’s clearly so done with him given his latest betrayal, but he’s still a lot of fun to watch no matter what state he’s in. Winston is bordering on being really creepy, but I guess that’s nothing new. He could use a woman in his life now, and it’s a shame that he’s so obsessed with his cat that he couldn’t see that Kylie was flirting with him and was interested in him when all was thinking about was getting his cat laid before he got neutered.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Take Three: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Asset” (B-)

I’m reluctant to give up on this show because I feel like I was too excited about it before it premiered and I’m still thrilled about what the concept could produce that I just want to stick around to see if it gets there. Unfortunately, it’s not getting all that much better just yet, and it continues to come close to delivering but fall short in the end. I almost didn’t recognize Ian Hart, who has starred on TV shows such as “Dirt” and “Luck” before, as Dr. Hall, who got caught up in the ideology of preventing mass chaos and destruction that he was a bit too alright with the collateral damage that would result from his preemptive actions. Sending Skye into the field was a bold move, and it seemed for a stretch that it wasn’t going to pay off when she destroyed the listening device during her meeting with Quinn. It doesn’t make much sense to me that someone like Skye would make a fake case against S.H.I.E.L.D. when what she was saying is actually what she believes, which suggests her game really is a long one. Though she’s not too capable of defending herself, nearly getting choked out before being rescued by an all-too-invincible Grant, she did do a good job of getting inside and then bailing by jumping rather bravely into the water below. Seeing Coulson in the field was decently engaging, and he continues to be the show’s most consistent and magnetic character. I’m still holding out some hope for the rest of them.

Round Two: Hello Ladies

Hello Ladies: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Limo” (B)

I do like this show, and I enjoyed its second installment, but I’m not sure if it’s quite there yet. It’s reminiscent of a less quirky version of “Family Tree,” a show that was perfectly entertaining but wasn’t always lively enough to be fully engaging and hilarious. There’s no denying the casting of Stephen Merchant, however, since he does a magnificent job of playing a completely naïve buffoon who, in the scene with Wade’s ex-wife, managed to make things exponentially worse every time he casually interrupted their very serious conversation with a trivial update on the progress of his moving her car. Ignoring the St. Louis girl in favor of Jessica’s hotter friend was a jerk move, and he got what he deserved when he ran back into the limo to settle for his second choice after finding out that his top pick was already taken. Though he’s a smooth talker on the show as Kives, Kevin Weisman isn’t being used as well as I might hope for someone who used to be one of the best and most entertaining supporting characters on “Alias.” Nate Torrance was put to good use in this episode, experiencing both high and low points on his emotional rollercoaster. Christine Woods is also doing great as Jessica, who wants to be intellectual and made the ill-advised choice to try to get her actress friends to watch “Battleship Potemkin,” which they originally thought was the movie starring Rihanna. What’s nicest to see is the relationship that Stephen and Jessica have, one of true friendship and commiseration over not being all that cool.

What I’m Watching: Eastbound and Down

Eastbound and Down: Season 4, Episode 2 “Chapter 23” (B+)

It’s hard not to enjoy this show, and that’s because it knows its characters so well. April and Stevie in particular were on fire in this episode, each standing their ground but ultimately giving in to their love for Kenny Powers, but showing it in an appropriate and effective way. April saying that she wasn’t worried about Kenny failing but was worried about him abandoning her was sweet, and I like that she showed up to encourage him to take down the bully on the show, which instantly gave him the courage he needed to withstand the lights. Stevie coming to Kenny to grovel only momentarily and then whip him into shape for his appearance on the show was also great, and a spectacular use of a sometimes stupid character. Guy being nice to Kenny rather than mocking him only made Kenny’s early predicament worse, and it was truly awkward to watch Kenny get skewered on the show. But that’s what’s best about it, that we were rooting for Kenny to burst, because we wanted to see his anger. Kenny’s mean streak is often one of the most appalling things about this show, but getting to see it emerge, especially when directed at someone who’s been equally vicious without being likeable, is a majestic thing. The notion of Kenny being on TV swearing his ass off and insulting lots of people on a regular basis is actually perfect, and I’m sure it will be a bumpy road, but that just makes the payoff so much better and funnier.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Round Two: Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex: Season 1, Episode 2 “Race to Space” (B+)

At the start of this episode, I was thinking that this show was, ironically, a bit sterile. But by hour’s end, my feelings had changed considerably, mostly due to the surprisingly rich portrayal of women on this show. The most stirring character in my mind is Libby, who reacted angrily to the news of Bill’s arrest at the brothel and his extremely blunt explanation of his work, and then seemed amused about it when he came home the next night. Offering to let him watch if that was something he enjoyed in order to make their sex life interesting was brave, and it’s too bad that he doesn’t want to be bothered with making his wife happy rather than just pregnant. Virginia is proving to be strong-willed as well, saying what she means and figuring out a smart plan to both keep her job by dispelling the other candidates and then choosing the best one to be her nanny. Betty is also full of creativity, bargaining with Bill for a job at the hospital in exchange for using the brothel as a study site, and then asking him to untie her tubes so that she can start a family with a man who wants to provide for her. The anonymous subjects meeting to discuss their connection was another great moment, and it seems that this show really knows how to create characters. I’m least into Haas, but I think even he is coming along, realizing the power of his obsession with Virginia as he searches the hospital for someone like her and only finds women either not willing enough or all too willing to please him as she did.

What I’m Watching: Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire: Season 4, Episode 5 “Erlkonig” (B+)

It’s always a bad sign when a previously supporting character gets a big spotlight. Eddie had the time of his life last episode, finally letting his hair down and enjoying being someone’s equal rather than someone’s servant, and he had it all taken away by episode’s end when Knox came to arrest him. It was immensely devastating and disturbing to see Eddie so abused so horrifically by Knox, both physically and emotionally. Returning home to have Nucky demean him by showing him his shoes and socks was miserable, and I only hope that Nucky is somehow made aware of Eddie’s despair after finding his body and reading his suicide note. Without much for him to do lately, it was fascinating to see Nucky step in to coldly help his nephew out of a tight spot, and to train him on how to withstand questioning so emotionlessly. Nelson is getting in deep with Al, and though he had the chance to kill him and almost took it, he’s now most likely going to be his number one confidante after Frank’s brutal death. Gillian was in especially bad form in this hour, and trying to take her grandson from his school was a humiliating moment. Roy seems to be a good guy, and it looks like he’ll be taking care of her even if she doesn’t quite deserve it. In an episode without any Richard Harrow, Arnold Rothstein, Chalky White, Valentin Narcisse, and a whole slew of other characters, there’s plenty to look forward to as this season gradually kicks into gear.

What I’m Watching: The Good Wife

The Good Wife: Season 5, Episode 2 “The Bit Bucket” (B+)

It’s so interesting to see what this show features and how in-depth some of its plotlines are. Actually seeing the two NSA analysts, one of whom was played by Zach Woods, recently of “The Office,” listening in to all the calls between Lockhart Gardner employees and not paying attention to the ones that we as audience members would deem quite important, showed that there’s a much bigger web of things going on than anyone suspects. Connecting Nisa’s father with the Governor’s office may seem far-fetched to viewers, but it’s likely to mean plenty of trouble for Peter and Eli. Diane giving a negative interview about Will to appease the judge who had already been swayed by the Governor is worrisome, and it’s sure to have adverse effects going forward. This was a big episode for returning guest stars, featuring John Benjamin Hickey as Neil Gross, Jeffrey Tambor as Judge Kluger, Stockard Channing as Veronica, Miriam Shor as Mandy Post, and, for the first time since “Apartment 23” and “Compliance,” Dreama Walker as Zack’s manipulative and mature ex-girlfriend Becca. I love the way that the lawyers on this show argue cases, and how they ended up using AUSA Hortense’s one-sided hearing rule against him. He, for the record, was played by Brennan Brown, who was seen in a recent episode of “Breaking Bad” and on season two of “Person of Interest” as the ever-belligerent Donnelly. Things are reaching a boiling point on this show, and season five is definitely going to be one of its most exciting years yet.