Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review - The Office Season 7 Episode 2 Counseling

"Counseling" is all over the place with three separate plots that aren't strong on their own and never come together in the end. Furthermore, there's still no ongoing arc for us to look ahead to. There's a few good laughs in there, but nothing that would qualify The Office to be a must-watch show anymore.

I was hoping Pam would continue moving up the ladder, but the episode brings a disappointing to what could potentially be a funny saga. Why couldn't her charade as office manager be extended a few episodes?

Michael's counseling session with Toby is a weird affair, with the give and take leading to all these wild places. Michael decides to be belligerent because it's Toby and starts saying ridiculous things. Then, Toby decides to stop and play games with Michael, leading to Michael opening up with a bit of encouragement from Toby. Before Toby can dig deeper, however, Michael realizes what's going on.

The worst of the plots was Dwight trying to get back at the mall. After being turned away and ridiculed at the mall, Dwight decides to take revenge and proceeds in ridiculous fashion. In the end, we learn everyone at the mall treated him awkwardly because his hands were stained red, presumably blood to regular people, from beets.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Bones Season 6 Episode 2 The Couple in the Cave

Sometimes when I watch Bones, I want bash my head into a wall and I'm having a hard time not going on a crazy rant right now. The writing regarding Booth and Bones is mindnumbing and quite frankly, condescending to some extent. It's like the writers think the audience is so stupid that we need to be reminded at least 10 times per episode that Booth and Bones love each other but aren't in a relationship. Everyone sees the signs--EXCEPT THEM. We get the fucking point!

And there was more talk of love. Bones doesn't believe in love, attributing it to chemicals, while Booth gives his usual speech. This has been done before! Geez!

As far as Hannah goes, she's a generic character who is only the latest roadblock to Booth and Bones getting together. Yawn.

Score: 5.0/10

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 4 Episode 2 The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification

"The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification" pushes the limit of how much an individual can stand Sheldon. It's one of those Sheldon episodes where he's just out of control in his behavior. The audience knows it, the characters know it, and Sheldon, well, he revels in it.

The problem is that it can go on for too long with high intensity that some viewers get turned off at some point. It's one long joke with variations here and there, all dealing with Sheldon's weird obsessions. Personally, I was annoyed in some places, the car ride which stretched on too long and the end, after 15 minutes of nonstop Shelbot.

That said, I laughed a lot, mostly due to Jim Parsons, and liked the episode as a whole. What could have helped the episode was a semblance of a subplot to take away the directness of Sheldon being near-insufferable.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Community Season 2 Episode 2 Accounting for Lawyers

The versatility of Community is on show in "Accounting for Lawyers," where there doesn't need to be a particular class to keep things going, or even much of the college. We see Jeff's old colleagues, a mixture of morality ambiguous characters, including an thin Drew Carey and Alan, the guy who ratted out Jeff. The group pulls behind Jeff, trying to out Alan, which leads to a hilarious heist. Of course, things don't go completely as planned and Annie has to use chloroform--twice. In the end, Jeff doesn't confront Alan and let's things stand, and gives himself an opportunity to leverage the information in the future. Throughout the night, we hear about Jeff's courtroom prowess, and he definitely shows his abilities in that situation.

Meanwhile, Senor Chang dances for hours and hours, hoping to win the contest so he can join the group. He manages to stay upright until the group returns. However, Jeff stops for a moment and disqualifies the group, further putting hurt on Chang, who, after last week's Gollum display, appears to be heading towards a major breakdown.

In its second season, Community is doing everything right, blending clever meta-commentary with all kinds of jokes and gags, and "Accounting for Lawyers" hits all the notes.

Score: 9.3/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 09/29/10

CBS won with Survivor (3.5), Criminal Minds (3.6), and The Defenders (2.5). Survivor is slipping but still strong, and Criminal Minds is doing fine as well. The Defenders, however, is falling into danger territory.

Fox was second with Hell's Kitchen (2.8, 3.0).

NBC was third with Undercovers (1.6), Law & Order: SVU (2.8), and Law & Order: Los Angeles (3.2). Undercovers is surely dead, premiering low and falling even further. On the other hand, LOLA started off strong.

ABC was last with The Middle (2.5), Better With You (2.2), Modern Family (4.6), Cougar Town (2.8), and The Whole Truth (1.2). The Whole Truth is dead and Better With You isn't looking too good, but the other comedies are around where they should be.

Review - Law & Order: Los Angeles Season 1 Episode 1 Hollywood

Law & Order is one of television's most successful franchises. The original, which ran for 20 seasons and ended earlier this year, spawned two very successful spin-offs and even one over the pond. The format is simple and effective. There's an investigation and trial, no flash or frills.

Law & Order: Los Angeles, set in the eponymous location, is essentially the same as the other reincarnations, with location as the only different. Of course that opens more avenues for cases (and closes others), but the format is the same.

The series premiere, "Hollywood," is one of those episodes, where Hollywood critiques itself, attacking drugs, clubbing, fame whoring, overbearing parents, and all those things we see in tabloids all the time. Frankly, it's not a subject that interests me, and if the series starts off like this, I'm not enthused to see episode after episode like that.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Terriers Season 1 Episode 4 Fustercluck

The first season of Terriers plays out much like the first season of Justified. The pilot introduces a central conflict while the following episodes are generally standalone episodes with splashes of overall continuity. Then, there's an episode which sends overarching plot into overdrive. For Terriers, it's "Fustercluck."

Lindus goes from the rich bad guy who Hank and Britt framed to dead guy who probably didn't do anything wrong. Instead, the target is now developers of a resort who probably are doing something with chemicals. Mickey must have seen too much and needed to be gotten rid of, which we learn was simply a drug dealer providing a means. There's still a bigger person higher up the chain who is responsible.

Along the way, Hank and Britt stage a cool heist and we meet Hank's off-kilter but brilliant sister Stephanie. By the end of the episode, things just get worse and worse as the problems are compiled upon each other, and Hank and Britt somehow manage to stay safe for the time being.

Sadly, the ratings for Terriers are really, really bad, almost as bad as the third season of Damages. I have a very hard time seeing Terriers get more than a season, so hopefully we'll get some kind of resolution.

Score: 9.3/10

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review - Criminal Minds Season 6 Episode 2 JJ

This is the episode I've been dreading, CBS kicking out A.J. Cook simply to save money. And it happens with a ridiculous plot twist that makes the U.S. government in Criminal Minds look like North Korea. Here's what I think happened: The writers wanted to reflect A.J.'s thoughts on J.J., the unwillingness the leave, and have the higher ups in the governments be the CBS executives. Okay, so it works on a sentimental level and the final scene got to me.

However--big however--CBS is a business and the FBI is part of the government. A business can get rid of people or move them around easily. Can the Pentagon really force someone in another agency to work for them? Really? What kind of hellish contract did J.J. sign?

The rest of the episode was dumb interrogations of two guys until one of them reveals where the missing girl is. And before anyone forgets, Paget Brewster is heading out the door soon.

Logistically, getting rid of two-thirds of the females cast was a bold and interesting move for CBS. Criminal Minds is one of CBS's long-running shows, and unlike CSI: NY, which was paired with CM last season, its ratings aren't showing signs of serious erosion. But it's not like CBS has much favor with the fans, as most hated the spin-off episode. Will the departure of two well-liked characters do anything to the ratings and offset the cost reduction?

Score: 7.5/10

Review - Modern Family Season 2 Episode 2 The Kiss

One thing I like about Modern Family is how they don't make a big deal about two gay characters. Mitchell and Cam's relationship, on a whole, is portrayed no different as Jay and Gloria's and Phil and Claire's; they are loving and committed.

The whole issue over the gay kiss (which was completely blown out of proportion by certain people) is resolved in a tactful, earnest way. Jay starts the round of family affection, giving Mitchell a kiss, before giving a kiss to Claire. While they kiss, off in the background, we also see Mitchell and Cam kiss--no big spectacle or parade, just a smooch from a loving couple.

The rest of the plots were more disparate than usual and aren't clearly defined, although Gloria's voiceover about kisses, sometimes even waiting in the case of Alex, brings everything to a heartwarming conclusion.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Undercovers Season 1 Episode 2 Instructions

Despite the promotion, the J.J. Abrams name, and a competition-less timeslot, Undercovers premiered last week to a weak 2.2, especially since NBC put lots of money into the project. Although the ratings did rise ever so slightly through the hour, that's the one bright spot in a whole bunch of bad news.

In a day and age where shows often push the boundaries, stretching arcs for many episodes, Undercovers, by nature, is underwhelming. The pilot last week was faster paced and there were some personal stakes, which pushed the episode along fine. This week, however, there's no tension, no sense of urgency. Instead, the characters stand (or sit) around with their "cute" banter, do some computer work, kick some butts, and then return to the cute dialogue.

It looks like Samantha's ex, Nash, will be sticking around for a while. Oh great, more douchebaggy comments and faux marital problems.

Score: 7.9/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 09/28/10

Fox won with Glee (5.9), Raising Hope (3.1), and Running Wilde (1.9). The Britney episode elevated the show to unprecedented height, lifting Raising Hope along with it. However, Running Wilde fell and isn't looking good.

CBS was second with NCIS (4.1), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.7), and The Good Wife (2.5). All looks good for CBS, except that The Good Wife was closer to 3.0 for the majority of last season.

ABC was third with No Ordinary Family (3.2), Dancing with the Stars (3.8), and Detroit 1-8-7 (2.1). Surprisingly strong start for NOF, considering the competition. We'll see what happens next week. Detroit 1-8-7 is slipping into danger territory already.

NBC was last with The Biggest Loser (2.7) and Parenthood (2.0). Very dire situation for NBC. Even TBL isn't doing well and Parenthood was hit sharply with the return of The Good Wife.

Review - Sons of Anarchy Season 3 Episode 4 Home

Compared to the second season, the third season of Sons of Anarchy has been substantially slower, without a frantic pace, heading towards an inevitable showdown. "Home" works on the relationships between the characters with the Sons hooking up with Gemma up north, and slowly moves the stuff in Ireland, which don't really care about right now.

On the Belfast/Abel front, Father Ashby is going to use the Sons to get rid of Jimmy O by dangling Abel as bait. Abel himself is at a home with several other babies where a woman is collecting cash, possibly a blackmarket adoption place. Before telling anyone the whereabouts of Abel, Gemma collapses from an apparent heart attack, the result of Nate sent to the nursing home and the latest piece of shocking news.

With the goodwill built up over the past two seasons, it's fair to give Sons of Anarchy the benefit of the doubt and expect that the quieter, more somber tone of the show is heading somewhere. And when that happens, you bet I'll be glued to the television.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - The Good Wife Season 2 Episode 1 Taking Control

The Good Wife was last years breakout hit, defying all expectations and becoming a very unique show--on CBS no less. It didn't become a cry-fest where the wife hid in the background and cried, or a scorned wife who is abrasive towards anyone. It was about a now-single woman clawing her way back into professional life as a defense attorney. Meanwhile, her husband tries to regain his honor and position as State's Attorney. The combination, along with Julianna Margulies's acting, made for an utterly engrossing and compelling show, never failing to deliver something each week.

This week's pulled-from-the-headline case is basically the same as the Wikileaks videos a while back. This time, Alicia must defend the presumed killer of the video originator.

On the relationship side of things, Will leaves an impassioned voicemail to Alicia, a declaration of love, after leaving a previous voicemail telling her to drop the subject. Hearing the message and realizing the possible consequences, the ever cunning Eli Gold deletes the voicemail. Problem solved--for now. And Peter, who becomes turned on by his wife's feisty courtroom behavior, isn't afraid to express his opinion in physical affection, and Alicia sure likes it.

"Taking Control" also introduces the new partner from D.C., Derek Bond, who, by the end of the episode is rather chummy will Will. From the outside, Dianne looks in, realizing she can never be "one of the guys." Kalinda, played by this year's Emmy winner Archie Panjabi, tussles with the investigator Bond brings in, but she gets the job done in the end and exerts her mysterious power over everyone.

Given The Good Wife's mediocre ratings, which have continued to drop, the show may be in slight trouble this year. However, the critical acclaim should be a great help, especially since most critics and award shows write off CBS.

Score: 9.2/10

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review - Stargate Universe Season 2 Episode 1 Intervention (Part 3)

I never know quite what to think about Stargate Universe. At the end each episode, I always have a "meh" attitude, never a real decisive thought. My first instinct is to wonder whether it's because I'm a huge SG-1 fan (and by huge, it's probably the show I'm the most well-versed in). They're two different shows and seem to be connected through the physical presence of a Stargate and a smattering of old faces.

The final scene of "Intervention (Part 3)" is a good representation of the show. Stargate Universe is high on sentimentality, low on character development. The writers would much rather have a montage showing the various characters in the aftermath rather than a discussion between characters to broaden the relationships or give us a new angle.

The biggest problem resulting from this is that the show loses momentum quickly, with everything slowing to a crawl several times in each episode. The dramatic tension comes in waves, coming fast, receding equally fast, and never staying long enough to get my heart beating faster.

"Intervention (Part 3)" resolves the Lucian Alliance problem and to my delight, doesn't end on a cliffhanger. The remaining LA people are prisoners, TJ's baby is on the planet, there's some omniscient god-aliens helping the crew, and as Caine tells TJ, "Out here, on the edge of the universe, who you are and what you believe is everything. So it's up to you to determine whether this is a blessing or a curse."

Score: 8.4/10

Review - No Ordinary Family Season 1 Episode 1

Let's see exactly how ordinary this family is: Super-strength? Check. Super-speed? Check. Super-intelligence? Check. Hearing others' thoughts? Check. Overly elaborate demonstrations to show the extent of powers? Check. Marriage problems? Check. General family problems? Check. Boy problems? Check. Ethnic sidekick? Check. Evil corporatist? Check.

There's nothing remotely new or refreshing about No Ordinary Family, but the superheroes concept has too much potential to let up after one episode. The one thing I'm interested in--how Michael Chiklis deals with an uncooperative criminal.

Score: 8.1/10

Review - Glee Season 2 Episode 2 Britney/Brittany

Talk about awkward. People give Glee lots of leeway because of its upbeat tone, songs, and extensive choreography, which makes each episode a fun time. The characters and plot, though, are always secondary, lingering in the background to fill in the space. In general, the show works well this way and rarely does it go to far.

However, "Britney/Brittany" takes things to extreme in a mess of an episode. It's a Britney episode all right, and the songs, well, they come spontaneously from the dentist's nitrous oxide with zero relevance to anything other than more willingness to perform Britney songs.

With the majority of the episode devoted to Britney worshiping, the character drama is half-baked, and resolution for Finn and Rachel is just laughable.

I'm expecting a storm of angry people to come here and call me names (if anyone comments at all), so remember--this is my opinion, I don't get paid for these brief reviews, and I'm a human being.

Score: 7.0/10

Review - NCIS Season 8 Episode 2 Worst Nightmare

"Worst Nightmare" bridges three generations of government workers--the current NCIS team, the retired team of old guys, and the new interns. The two younger groups provide the humor while the old guys, played by William Devane and Sam Anderson, carry the emotional heavy-lifting. For the most part, "Worst Nightmare" is an enjoyable episode, put together well, and has the hallmarks of a decent episode. With NCIS, even when nothing is really happening plot-wise, we can always expect the characters and their quirks to shine through.

Small note, it was implied that Ronald Reagan was responsible for Carmichael killing people. I wonder what Donald Bellisario thought of that.

Score: 8.7/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 09/27/10

ABC won with Dancing with the Stars (4.8) and Castle (2.8). Castle is looking very strong for now.

CBS was second with How I Met Your Mother (3.9), Rules of Engagement (3.2), Two and a Half Men (4.8), Mike & Molly (3.7), and Hawaii Five-0 (3.6). All clear at CBS, with the possibly exception of Rules.

Fox was third with House (3.8) and Lone Star (1.0). House is doing fine, but Lone Star did worse than last week's already dismal 1.3 and was canceled later in the afternoon. Well, the two episodes were great.

NBC was last with Chuck (2.0), The Event (2.9), and Chase (2.1). No good news in sight for NBC. Chuck dropped by .1, which actually pales in comparison to the sharp drop of The Event and average drop of Chase.

Review - Lone Star Season 1 Episode 2 One in Every Family

Week two ratings are in and Lone Star is a goner, performing even worse than last week, unable to generate additional viewers from the buzz created by showrunner Kyle Killen. As it stands, Lone Star will coming off Monday nights soon. Fox simply can't waste a huge House lead in on a show which has no ratings. My prediction is that Human Target gets the spot and Lone Star is moved to Friday which is a pathetic night for Fox anyway. Or Lone Star is outright cancelled in the next few weeks.

OK, slight update. In the middle of writing this review, Fox canceled the show... So yeah, there's not much point in reviewing a show which will only have 5 episodes total, even if Fox decides to air the remaining three at another time or release them online.

Lone Star was far and away the most innovative new show on network television. The relationship between Bob and his father has more layers than all the characters of the new network shows combined (no joke!) and the style of the show is packed with intrigue. My guess for the poor ratings, despite critical acclaim, is the concept of the show and ambiguous marketing. I'm guessing there isn't a large segment of America who wants to watch some guy deceive two women. However, there is a large segment that would watch a textured family drama that isn't all about sex.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - Chase Season 1 Episode 2 Repo

On a whim, I decided to watch Chase on Hulu. It's clear Chase has no innovation. "Repo" is boring, a bland chase with the Marshals finding bodies strewn along the fugitive's path until they catch him. The characters are boring, what they do is boring, and the guests are annoying. The one bright spot is Robert LaSardo who is very intimidating with the tattoos and swagger.

Score: 7.0/10

Review - Hawaii Five-0 Season 1 Episode 2 Ohana

Without all those slow, unemotional moments with McGarrett which dragged down the pilot, "Ohana" was an very enjoyable episode of television. I wouldn't mind sitting down an rifling through 5 episodes of the show. The location is great to look at, the people are good to look at, the action is cool, and the plot isn't bad. My Monday schedule is packed, but after the second episode, I'm definitely making room for Hawaii Five-0.

We see the team break the law again, torturing and threatening one of the Serbs. While Hawaii Five-0 approaches the issue differently than Blue Bloods, with a much lighter tone, there's  potential for the team to fall into more illicit activity a la The Shield.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Castle Season 3 Episode 2 The Double Down

Castle is not an original show. You could call it the child of two 80's relics, Murder, She Wrote and Moonlighting. The cases rarely have game-changing twists or an interesting hook. In many ways, it's the poor man's Bones.

The death of a medium in "The Double Down" treads no new ground or is even exciting. There's the believer, Castle, the skeptic, Beckett, and the two guys who start off as skeptics and move towards the skeptic side, Ryan and Esposito. And at the end of the episode, there are several facts which fall on Castle's side, although we'll never no the truth. Like we haven't seen that one before...

On the flip side, Chet dies just after proposing to Martha, which makes for a few heartwarming scenes between Martha and Castle.

Score: 7.8/10

Review - The Event Season 1 Episode 2 To Keep Us Safe

Well, The Event sure is fast at providing answers. We got definitive confirmation where the plane went (Arizona), who's holding Leila (Vicky), who the prisoners are (aliens), who Simon is (an alien), and when the aliens were first discovered (1944). We also get a cool scene at the end, dead bodies of those from the plane.

What The Event doesn't do is provide an ounce of emotion. The constant time switches attempt for some pathos, but come off misplaced, coming after a series of intense scenes at a different time period. For now, the mystery is enough to keep me watching, but I wonder exactly how much story the writers have.

Score: 8.3/10

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review - House Season 7 Episode 2 Selfish

For this review, let's just assume there was no patient this week. I don't want to consider the overly broad theme and pitiful characters. There's only Cuddy and House.

The writers didn't know exactly how to get Cuddy and House together without a plot contrivance, but now that we're here, they're proving to be adept at keeping them interesting and realistic without falling into patterns of too much cuddliness or snappiness.

House is stuck in a difficult position he's never been in before. He's in love with a woman who's also his boss and extends himself, even changing his routine to accommodate her. But there's still the House of old, the crotchety, snarky analyst who can be awfully cold sometimes. While the present issue gets resolved by the end of "Selfish," there's sure to be problems as the series continues. Let's hope the writers can continue with this sharp writing.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Chuck Season 4 Episode 2 Chuck Versus the Suitcase

Last week, I was jumped upon by two Chuck fans, one of whom couldn't even string together a coherent sentence, for saying that I was disappointed in the season premiere for the clunky shifts in the beginning of the episode and the lack of coherence to the episode. Well, I wasn't disappointed this week. "Chuck Versus the Suitcase" was the high-quality Chuck I've come to expect.

The plot, featuring Karolina Kurkova, is very basic, but it allows Chuck and Sarah to poke fun jabs at each other. With no angst in sight, the couple is fun together, and their relationship problems pale in comparison to the gunfights they get in. By the end of the episode, Sarah fully commits to the relationship and moves in with Chuck.

At the Buy More, Morgan has the brilliant idea that the store is operating too well under the CIA. And the only solution? Bring back the old crew. That's right, Jeffster's back and dirtier than ever. Because the CIA is still in control of the place and will still have spies working there, it'll be interesting to see how Morgan, now store manager, manages to keep the place under control and the cover intact.

Like Sarah, Casey, a step behind her, realizes that Burbank is more than just the location of his next job. His daughter lives there and she should be a good reason for staying.

Given Chuck's very pedestrian ratings last week and lack of promotion, we'll be in for another season of worrying about ratings. Still, if Chuck is cancelled, a definitely possibility, I'm glad we had the show for four seasons.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 6 Episode 2 Cleaning House

Often, Barney's ways with women makes him a slimy guy. If Barney weren't so funny, it'd be hard to see the audience love a character who constantly objectifies women in any circumstance. Of the group, Barney is the most peculiar of them, with his corporate job and suits.

"Cleaning House" brings Barney back into the realm of humanity, refining his character and pushing the potential of what his character can do. Cleaning his childhood home, Barney and James (the too dark Wayne Brady compared to James's father) come upon a picture addressed to a man that was never sent. Eventually, James meets his father while Barney, hilariously, believes he's black. The episode comes to an emotional ending with Barney realizing that Loretta fulfilled the role of his father and he really doesn't need to know who his father is. And since Ted doesn't do any forewarning, I think it's safe to say we can close the book in this story.

We see that Barney isn't completely deluded into believing the lies wholesale. To an extent, in the back of his mind, he knows they're false, but there is security in the lies--and when he's in a bar, his behavior, the veneer of a lothario.

OK, so maybe I made a stretch there in the end, but if we're to believe that the wedding in last week's season premiere was, in fact, Barney and Robin's, Barney has to undergo a big shift in behavior, and ditching the safe lies is a start.

"Cleaning House" works great as a character episode and carries a rather powerful (compared to other sitcoms) scene in the end, and Ted and Robin provide some chuckles in the background.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Boardwalk Empire Season 1 Episode 2 The Ivory Tower

The aftermath of pilot's blood bath is largely a quiet affair. "The Ivory Tower" further develops characters with small, seemingly insignificant moments. At the heart of the boardwalk is Nucky and his dealings with everyone else, and he's displaying the sociopathic tendencies we've seen in guys like Tony Soprano. With Jimmy, he can be stern and uncaring, snippy with Agent Van Alden, and very gracious to Margaret.

As far as the murders go, the feds and press are poking around, but they have nothing so far--though Al Capone delivers a "message" to a reporter, beating him half to death. On the other hand, there was no word on Jimmy's involvement with the feds, or any implication that he ratted out Mickey Doyle.

I'm very tired right now and typing on my lap, so this review will be short. After Mad Men ends, I'll be able to write longer reviews.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Dexter Season 5 Episode 1 My Bad

To preface this review, I'm not a huge fan of Dexter. I haven't been genuinely impressed with the show since the second season. I liked Trinity, Dexter, and the final twist last season, but rest of the show is terrible at times. And even the big twists don't get much out of me. Lots of people love Dexter; I'm not one of them.

"My Bad" delivers on Rita's death with surprising gumption. There's no outside serial killers (by now, Miami must be oversaturated with them), no outside force driving the story. It's all about Dexter and how he deals with her death in a very dark episode. At one point, Dexter decides to run, and for a moment, I really thought this would be the season where everything blows up. But no, Dexter returns to once again continue hiding his true self.

Looking forward, Dexter doesn't have the typical serial killer hunt to carry the season. Will the writers be able to use Dexter effectively for the entire season?

Score: 9.3/10

Review - Mad Men Season 4 Episode 10 Hands And Knees

Like Rubicon, Mad Men, with three episodes left in the season, moved in the endgame with several startling developments. In "Hands And Knees," the characters are hobbled over, trying to climb out of whatever terrible situation they're in. While I like where many of the plots are going, there should have been more build up than everything being dumped on our laps at once.

As far as anyone knows, Dick Whitman is Don Draper. Since very few people actually know the truth, there's no reason for Don to be looking behind his back all the time. He's slipped into another identity and for all intents and purposes, owns it. However, a background check from the DoD leads to Betty, who, showing signs of geniality, lies for Don and later calls him. With the feds bearing down on him, Don hides himself in sickness, which seems to have manifested from his stress. He nearly doubles over from seeing two men in suits and spends the rest of his day in bed. Physically, Don is an utter wreck, unable to function from the mere possibility that his world is over. Of course, Jon Hamm is excellent in his various portrayals of Don, first of his initial reaction from Betty's call to telling Faye the truth. It's as thrilling as Mad Men gets, and for a while, I thought Don's world would imploded.

But then, before things can go into overdrive, Pete comes back with good news: Don hasn't been flagged. Don takes the solution at hand, telling Pete to ditch North American Aviation to stop further investigation.  With what appears to be only blue skies ahead, Don takes one long, long look at Megan. Maybe he's getting a little cocky and looking for sex? Interestingly, as other characters are sinking, Don is rising fast, having dodged a major bullet.

Compared to the other plot lines, Don's was by far the most compelling, and I wanted to see things stretched out a bit longer, perhaps Roger telling everyone about Lucky Strike before Pete nixes the deal, forcing Don into an even narrower corner. And that may as well happen by the end of the season, but at the very least, we got to see Don sweat profusely from the increased scrutiny.

Through all of this, Pete comes out looking like a real great guy, although we know he'll hold it over Don's head. Not only does he have his buddy look into where the feds are, he also gives up a major account--$4 million dollars --in order to keep Don safe, and receives a severe reaming from Roger which, unfortunately, was partially bleeped out. He'll probably be back to cause distress, but for the time being, Pete is mighty fine beside the likes of Roger and Don.

If there is one narrative force driving the events at the office this season, it'd be the lack of money. SCDP is held up tenuously with Lucky Strike providing the lion's share. However, Lee Garner Jr. drops a bombshell that'll reverberate for a long while. Lucky Strike is dropping SCDP, and Lee only grants Roger a 30 day leeway period after a fair amount of begging. Without Lucky, SCDP loses their most important and valuable account. Can Roger turn things around?

And with all that going on, Lane leaves for England, following a smack to the head from his father, to deal with family issues. Seeing as he has his "chocolate bunny," Lane probably isn't interested in saving his marriage,

Joan's pregnancy and her response is shrouded in mystery and we'll have to wait until a later date to see what she actually did. What we do know is that she goes to an abortion clinic and talks to a mother, implying to the viewers that one of her daughters would have been 17 had she not gotten an abortion. Was that enough to dissuade her from following through? Was the tragedy the existence of the child or death of a child?

Mad Men isn't known for plot-heavy episodes, which sets "Hands And Knees" apart from pretty much every episode this season. But that doesn't mean its necessary; following Don lose control was exhilarating, but I'd much prefer if the other revelations--Joan's pregnancy, Lane's girlfriend, Lucky Strike's move--were handled with more tact and subtlety.

Score: 9.1/10

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review - Rubicon Season 1 Episode 10 In Whom We Trust

With only three episodes left in the season (and possibly series due to the low ratings), the various threads of Rubicon are coming together in a very satisfying fashion.

After being alone for the majority of screen time, Katherine finally meets Will and they exchange some information before the creep Donald Bloom threatens to kill both of them if they meet Still, Katherine sends Will the photo of all the kids who would become the world government (yeah, the notion is silly unless someone was directing them from birth). Will's investigation into Atlas McDowell brings him on the same path David was, but he's not letting up.

At API, things are moving as well, with the discovery that Kateb is still alive and coordinating attacks. What's more, those around him have been systematically eliminated, indicating he silenced them for a future attack. The air of conspiracy around Kateb leads me to believe that there could be a tie to the conspiracy. Whether there is an actual connection or just a parallel situation due to the global nature of the conspiracy, it's interesting stuff.

Maggie is the most problematic character of the show, working in another area and not involved in the conspiracy. The custody battle feels out of place, although we do see Kale actively protecting her. Unless she suddenly gets knowledgeable enough about the world or is revealed to be related to the conspiracy, it's hard imagining her ever doing something meaningful other than being Will's love interesting, whose current position is held by Andy.

Score: 8.8/10

Preview of Week 9/26/10 - 10/2/10

Dexter - Showtime, Sunday, September 26,  9:00pm ET

Ever since the third season, I've been pretty bored with Dexter. Dexter is a fascinating character, but the rest of the characters, with Deb as a small exception, are poorly developed and get a fair amount of screen time. And even the twists within each episode don't do much for me. Still, the huge twist at the end of the fourth season and a change in showrunner might just be enough to lure to back.

Boardwalk Empire - HBO, Sunday, September 26,  9:00pm ET

Boardwalk Empire opened huge for HBO and was quickly renewed by a second season, so hold on--the ride is just beginning.

No Ordinary Family - ABC, Tuesday, September 28, 8:00pm ET

It's cool seeing Michael Chiklis as a good guy, but the superpowers and family drama are ordinary. Seriously, marital problems, guy problems, super strength, super speed, hearing thoughts, and super intelligence aren't supposed to be ordinary? Come on!

Stargate Universe - Syfy, Tuesday, September 28, 9:00pm ET

The show I love to hate is back. Watching SGU is very frustrating. If you look at the scores I gave the show last season (and my scale has since changed to make all scores slightly lower), they weren't all bad. In fact, there were only a couple bad, bad episodes. The good stuff in each episode is overshadowed by some of the dumbest things I've ever seen.

The Good Wife - CBS, Tuesday, September 28, 10:00pm ET

Last season's best new drama is back. Continuing from last season's cliffhanger, Alicia will decide between Will and Peter (although I'm guessing the matter will be unresolved).

Law & Order: Los Angeles - NBC, Wednesday, September 29, 10:00pm ET

Prepare for the onslaught of murdered starlets.

Human Target - Fox, Friday, October 1, 8:00pm ET

Human Target started with a mountain of promise and the ratings were pretty good with a few AI lead ins. But then each episode was pretty much the same, a slight variation of a theme, and the ratings dropped, including my opinion of the show. Hopefully, things will be fine this season.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Friday 09/24/10

CBS won with Medium (1.4), CSI: NY (2.0), and Blue Bloods (2.2). CBS sure is looking silly for canceling Ghost Whisperer and keeping Medium. CSI: NY, as expect, dropped significantly from what is was getting on Wednesday nights, although it had been on a downward trend. Blue Bloods premiered respectfully on a night where no show did well.

NBC was second with Dateline (1.4, 1.8) and Outlaw (1.1). Outlaw is a goner. Most people who watched it on Wednesday didn't bother to tune in again.

ABC was third with repeats of Modern Family (1.4), Better With You (0.7), The Whole Truth (0.9), and a new episode of 20/20 (1.5). Mostly reruns, but no surprises here.

Fox was last with a repeat of Human Target (0.6) and a new episode of The Good Guys (0.9). After struggling all summer, The Good Guys returned with little more than a whimper. It's doubtful Human Target will help it either, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see the combo perform worse than TSCC and Dollhouse. Well. that's Fox on Friday.

Nine times out of ten, the CW comes in last (which is why I don't include its ratings). However, the CW was in third place last night, beating out NBC and ABC, with the combo of Smallville and Supernatural. Looks like the swap is paying off nicely.

Review - Blue Bloods Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Blue Bloods is a cut above the usual CBS procedurals. The focus is on the characters, not flashy lab work or over the top crimes. There is a hard-nosed grit and valor about it that stands out among the sea of procedurals. The cast, headed by Tom Selleck, definitely does not disappoint and the dialogue is crisp when the characters don't go into a dumb discussion about "enhanced interrogation" techniques.

Also, a few ongoing plots are setup, investigation of Danny's brutality and the FBI and Jamie's look into a secret organization in the NYPD. However, there was a showrunner change due to conflict with Selleck, so things may change. Hopefully, the rest of the series can build on all the elements introduced in the pilot .

I haven't decided which new shows I'm going to watch this season, and it won't be many since most are bad, but Blue Bloods is definitely on it.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Supernatural Season 6 Episode 1 Exile on Main St.

Supernatural's epic 5-season journey came to an end last season. It could have been the end of the series, and it'd be a fitting conclusion with the defeat of Lucifer and tinge of sadness with Sam dying.

But here we are, at the sixth season, after the CW renewed it for another year. The key is reinvention,--how Supernatural can be different and switch things up so viewers are interested. "Exile on Main St." achieves this goal with a few startling revelations early on. Unfortunately, the rest of the episode is hit-or-miss

The episode begins with Dean going about regular life--work, Lisa, a friend, salting eggs--contrasted by flashes of his previous hunter life. Then Djinn show up and cause Dean to hallucinate.Not only is Sam and Grandpa Samuel back, they've been back for an entire year, as previewed by the appearance of Sam outside Dean's window at the end of last season's finale. Somehow, Samuel was pulled from Heaven and Sam from Hell. Hopefully, we'll finally get a resolution to Castiel's return as well.

We meet the family members Sam's been hunting with for the year. With everything going on the Djinn story is badly developed, shoehorned into the episode, serving only to get Sam and Dean questioning themselves and the reveal the Grandpa Samuel may be up to something, as he bags a Djinn when Sam is gone. I know it's the CW, but the episode should have been longer to stretch out the monster story into something more substantial.

On the other hand, there's a new problem for Dean, perhaps akin to Sam's at the very start of the series. Dean had a good, normal life for the year, which is why Sam and the others left him alone. However, if the near-miss threat to his family is any indication, he's not a normal guy. Darkness follows him wherever he goes and Samuel's warning about monsters coming out all the time is more bad news.

Score: 9.0/10

Friday, September 24, 2010

Review - Nikita Season 1 Episode 3 Kill Jill

Without action, Nikita comes off flat all the time. The dialogue is uninteresting, exceedingly cheesy at times ("Gold star," Nikita says to herself), and moreover, the entire setup lends itself to what is increasingly a formulaic show.

In the previous incarnations, particularly the La Femme Nikita TV show, Division was not an organization which helped drug dealers. It did abhorrent things--to real criminals such as arms dealers--hovering in a moral grey area, but there was always a justification, always a reason that helped the population. Through this, Nikita explores her own morality and the world around her, trying to see where the trade-offs lead and where her cooperation must end.

But in Nikita, we view events from Nikita's perspective, so all we know is that Division is out of control and Percy is Lucifer. There is no compromise, no hope for a amicable resolution. From what we've seen, Division must go down and Nikita must prevail.

In this sense, Nikita has become a mere procedural, a string of Nikita outwitting and outfighting Division at every turn with Alex feeding information. I'd like to think there is more to the show than pretty women and cool fights, but three episodes in and that's what we have.

Score: 8.0/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 09/23/10

CBS won with The Big Bang Theory (4.9), $#*! My Dad Says (3.9), CSI (3.4), and The Mentalist (3.4). TBBT's move to Thursday is looking pretty good for CBS. Though S#*! was actual shit in terms of quality, it held up well. It did, however, drop for the quarter hour, so it should be decreasing next week. Sadly, all the tweeners (Justin Bieber fans) didn't help CSI (and from what I read, JB can't act).

ABC was second with My Generation (1.6), Grey's Anatomy (5.4), and Private Practice (3.2). Yet another flop for ABC in My Generation while the medical dramas stayed upright.

NBC was third with Community (2.2), 30 Rock (2.6), The Office (4.4), Outsourced (3.6), and The Apprentice (1.4). Community managed to maintain the previous season's numbers even against TBBT. Without The Office to lead in, 30 Rock dropped, but still has respectable numbers. The Office was strong as always, and helped Outsourced greatly. Of course the real test for Outsourced is next week.

Fox was last with Bones (2.7) and Fringe (2.1). Bones is going about the same as last year as Fringe. However, in Fringe's case, that means numbers that would usually spell cancellation. Fox execs have always expressed confidence though.

Review - Outsourced / My Generation Season 1 Episode 1

I was originally planning on reviewing both separately, but due to time constraint (I still haven't watch Nikita, and Supernatural is already here.), I'll lump them together. (Though, in all honesty, both shows don't deserve reviews for their horribleness.)

Both shows have a single message and they shout it loud and proud. For Outsourced, it's "AMERICANS NO NOTHING ABOUT INDIA AND INDIANS KNOW NOTHING ABOUT AMERICA." For My Generations, it's "PEOPLE CHANGE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL."

No subtlety whatsoever, just hyperbolic lines and situations to whack us over and over again with the same damn message. The sad part is that they both have decent, unique concepts with the poorest of poor executions.

Outsourced Score: 6/10
My Generation Score: 2/10

Review - $#*! My Dad Says Season 1 Episode 1

"What is that, a joke?" The line from William Shatner early in the episode could be used to describe virtually every line of the show. Mindnumbing joke after mindnumbing joke with no semblance of order or reason. It feels weird to say it, but $#*! My Dad Says makes Outlaw look smart.

Score: 1/10

Review - Bones Season 6 Episode 1 The Mastodon in the Room

The fifth season finale of Bones had everyone going their separate ways, pushing Booth and Bones yet again. For several seasons, ever since the inane Gormogon-Zach debacle, Hart Hanson has played games with the viewers, using innuendo and redirects to lead viewers one way while always going back to a lame conclusion: they won't be together for a long, long time. It wouldn't be a big problem, except Booth, Bones, and their relationship are the center of the show and overshadow the other characters.

Aside from the two main characters, Bones remains a fun show. The ensemble cast is truly a delight to watch converse and interact with various scientific areas.

However, "The Mastodon in the Room" returns back to the tired Booth and Bones status that's been plaguing the show for years, and further transforms Daisy and Sweets in the new version of B&B. Booth has a serious relationship with a reporter, and Bones doesn't outwardly oppose the relationship. Daisy wants to be with Sweets, but Sweets isn't on the same page.

By the end of the episode, they identify the body and find the missing boy, both secondary to the interpersonal relationships. The gang is back together, and the Jeffersonian is there to use.

In its sixth season, Bones, like many long-running shows before it, is beginning to crumble. The cracks are showing, the seams are wearing thin, and the show just isn't what it used to be.

Score: 8.1/10

  • I'm not sure whether this was the first episode to use the term "squinterns," but I love it. Unfortunately, the squirterns will be reduced this season. We have Wendell and Daisy, but it looks like the three other guys are out.

Review - The Mentalist Season 3 Episode 1 Red Sky at Night

Somewhere in the second season, The Mentalist lost track of what it is and supposed to be. Jane became a stream of condescension and mockery, albeit a funny one. Absent, however, was the idea that Jane has a past of deep sadness and regret. Sure, one could argue that Jane's antics were a result of repressing his innermost feelings, but there wasn't even a glimmer of angst in a majority of episodes.

After the second season finale, things appear to be headed in the right direction. Enough of "Red Sky at Night" is devoted to Jane reflecting--which Simon Baker does with ease--and even a lack of motivation to solve cases. Though he's still doing the usual tricks, there's something different about him, and if Red John was the instigator to bring back all those bad memories, then the job was accomplished.

Also, it's fun to see Lisbon engage Jane more readily, perhaps to pull him back to the CBI and prevent him from drifting away. Whatever her motives, Lisbon is much more enjoyable when she's not providing constant opposition.

Score: 8.8/10

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review - The Office Season 7 Episode 1 Nepotism

Ever since the demise of the Michael Scott Paper Company, The Office has been sitting in neutral, neither going forward with any large arc, (to me, Sabre doesn't qualify) nor regressing too much. It's still funny, but most episode aren't essential and people can easily pick up what's going on if they miss a few episodes in a row.

With "Nepotism," it's hard to be excited for anything. Unlike last season's premiere, "Gossip," which at least had Pam's pregnancy, "Nepotism" has nothing to indicate anything beyond the usual office life. We know it's Steve Carell's final season, but it sure doesn't feel like it.

The main plot is one where Michael acts like a total fool before coming to his senses, spanking his nephew Luke for being a horrible employee. The subplot is a bit of fun with Pam and Jim fooling around with Dwight before Pam gets stuck in an elevator with Dwight after switching the elevator buttons.

Both plots were solid, and I'd be hard pressed to find anything I didn't like. Except this is a season premiere and "Nepotism" fits in somewhere in the middle of the season, but I guess this is the present and future of The Office.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Fringe Season 3 Episode 1 Olivia

Fringe began as fairly ordinary sci-fi show, akin to The X-Files, about a group of people dealing with the cutting edge of science. The writing was good, the acting was good, but it wasn't really that special. Jump forward to the third season and Fringe is now one of the most ambitious shows on television, with a wide, sweeping arc that has no bounds: Olivia is trapped in the alternate universe and the other Olivia is undercover in ours.

The first episode of the season, "Olivia," deals with the alternate universe, indicated by the red opening credits. Very surprisingly, we don't even see our world until a brief scene at the end. Almost equally surprising is how great Anna Torv is. She manages the subtle shifts in behavior with believability and comes out looking not that shabby beside John Noble.

Olivia spends the episode escaping from her doctors, driving around the place with Bubbles (seriously, why call him anything else?), and dodging her captors. She returns to the opera house where the team initially entered the world, but the cool technology of the world and the protocols leave the opera house encased in an amber-like substance. Olivia breaks down, realizing there's little chance to get back home. However, by the end of the episode, it's a mere afterthought for her, as the injections took their effect and our Olivia now has the memory of their Olivia. My theory is that Walternate somehow captured her memory.

From what I could tell, Walternate truly believes that the two universes are at war. Whether he's a bit crazy or holds animosity due to the theft of his sons remains to be seen. There could also be a war unrelated to Peter that is going on. In either case, his plan is underway and the other world has no idea what's coming.

Oh yes, and our favorite informant Bubbles is returning!

Score: 8.9/10

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 4 Episode 1 The Robotic Manipulation

Penny * Sheldon = Comedic gold. (Okay, maybe not as complex as Sheldon and Leonard's boards, but it's a start!) Penny * (Sheldon + Amy) = Comedic gold and in literal sense, stacks of gold (whose price has been climbing for years). CBS took The Big Bang Theory out of a comfortable, profitable Monday time slot to Thursday, where they expect to cash in big. With the possibility of Amy in conjunction with Penny and the guys, it's hard not to see TBBT reaching untapped heights.

Sheldon's first date--with Penny chauffeuring--results in an awkward, silent drive and an illuminating discussion of sex at dinner. As always, it's fun to see Penny as a normal person while Sheldon is being weird and then see Sheldon cut Penny down a notch. Amy acts like another Sheldon, giving him a kindred spirit with which to bounce ideas off of.

Howard bashing * penis jokes = Unfunny. Howard, the guy who's so easy to make fun of, is the butt of a very, very, very predictable and stupid joke. His penis gets stuck in a robot hand. There are a bunch of dumb suggestions (Winnie the Pooh, really?) before Howard goes the hospital where his penis is freed by turning the robot off.

While I, and probably everyone watching, could have done without Howard's plot, the rest of the episode was running on full cylinders.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Community Season 2 Episode 1 Anthropology 101

The self-conscious of Community and its writers is absolutely amazing. Right when things appear to be veering wildly off course towards normal-sitcom land, a character, usually Abed, chimes in with a correcting comment. But it almost seems too much at times when everything stops for a side conversation and then starts again on the drop of a dime. Still, "Anthropology 101" reminded me why Community is so great, and it was by far the funniest show of the week, with jokes coming from all direction at all times.

After the events of last season finale, the school isn't what it used to be. Britta is seen as a folk hero who wasn't afraid to express her feelings, and Jeff is the mean guy who let her down. Meanwhile, Pierce and Troy who spent the summer living together.

To rectify the situation, Jeff decides to throw things back in Britta's face and profess his love in the middle of class run by Betty White, who plays a slightly crazed anthropology professor. Britta, realizing Jeff's ploy, reciprocates and awkward kisses him, creating a mess of a situation, going as far as Britta's marriage proposal. In one fell swoop, all the romance from the first season--sex after paintball, the season finale kiss--is all brought into the open, bringing the processions to a screeching halt.

Betty White, however, manages to save the day--by almost killing Jeff. The event brings everyone together, and humanity's biggest tool, respect, according to Jeff, fits their circumstances. With the potential romances scuttled for now, Community has the study group back together and on friendly terms.

Community manages to get a few hits on $#*! My Dad Says with Pierce's own @oldwhitemansays with the usual racially insensitive Pierce-isms. What we didn't see, though, were any attacks on The Big Bang Theory which is competing in the same time slot as Community. As it stands, Community is like David with his arms and legs chopped off and TBBT is Goliath with a howitzer, so I kind of expected some kind of counterattack. Well, here's to hoping Community survives another season!

Score: 9.3/10

Review - The Whole Truth Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

The Whole Truth is a bad case of a television show using rote formula from beginning to end. First, there's the accused being hauled off. He gets a defense attorney while the DA prepares the case. Taking turns, both sides gather evidence, and then taking turns again to present the evidence. That wouldn't have been too much of a problem if there was such a symmetric balance between the defense and prosecution, rehashing EVERY fact twice.

Because the ratings for The Whole Truth were terrible, viewers will be spared from watching more of this.

Score: 5.5/10

Review - The Defenders Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

The Defenders falls in the same area as most pilots this season, decent entertainment for those who have a bit of extra time, but not particularly innovative Among network pilots, Lone Star and, to a degree, The Event, are the only shows which break the mold. Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell have great chemistry and keep the show moving along with their charm and roguish attitude. The legal part of the show isn't totally forgotten and we do get an acquittal. But nothing is groundbreaking or that interesting.

Today is Thursday and three new shows are premiering tonight and one is premiering tommorrow. In the last week, I've watched the new pilots, and it's been a mostly boring affair, having to watch new shows back to back that are neither good nor bad. The Defenders stays in the pack, and may be worth giving another shot as long as you're night is empty.

Score: 7.9/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 09/22/10

CBS won with Survivor (4.0), Criminal Minds (4.0), and The Defenders (2.9). On a new night Survivor did well, and Criminals is still very solid. The Defenders is looking okay for now, but we'll see if the ratings slip.

Fox was second with Hell’s Kitchen (2.6, 3.2) which held up fine against Survivor.

ABC was third with The Middle (2.7), Better With You (2.5), Modern Family (5.1), Cougar Town (3.4), and The Whole Truth (1.5). Modern Family obliterated all contenders, and the other ABC comedies did fine as well. On the other hand, legal drama The Whole Truth blew, so it shouldn't be around too long.

NBC was last with Undercovers (2.1) and Law & Order: SVU (2.9, 3.5). Probably the biggest or second biggest surprise of the year--along with Fox's Lone Star--was Undercovers which tanked. Let's not mince words here: Undercovers had a big budget, promotion, the Abrams name, and did horribly, not to mention skewed old. NBC execs must be having a pity party right now.

Review - Terriers Season 1 Episode 3 Change Partners

"Change Partners" took a break from the Lindus plot to explore Britt and Hank. Last week's episode hinted at Britt's shady past, and we get most, if not all, the details. He was once a burglar, and through his profession, meets both Hank and Katie, though in much different circumstances. Hank catches Britt and lets him go, but Britt burgled Katie's house and saw her picture and later tracked him down to a bar. Creepy? Not in the least for Katie, who proceeds with some kinky stuff.

But none of what Britt and Katie did came close to the Fosters. The husband forces the wife to cheat on him, and she pretends to cheat on him--double deception! The whole affair ends sadly when Hank sleeps with the wife in order to get his loan, which in turn, pushes the husband the kill himself.

And wow, that final scene of a hooded figure climbing into Hank's attic. Very trippy. If I had to guess, it's Britt playing a trick on Hank since we see him in a hood in the previous scene.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Better With You Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Better With You is as predictable as sitcoms come and the jokes can be seen coming from a mile away, notably the generational gap joke opening and closing the episode. Still, that doesn't mean the show's not funny. The string of average jokes and the excellent acting makes for an amusing half-hour of television. There was only one or two laugh out loud moments, but no scenes that made me roll me eyes--and that's a big step up from Raising Hope and Running Wilde. The best part is when at dinner when all the characters are together, and the cast's chemistry shines.

Most likely I watch next week's episode to see if anything changes, and if it doesn't, I may even stick around longer.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Criminal Minds Season 6 Episode 1 The Longest Night (Part 2)

Like the NCIS season premiere, I wasn't expecting much. Both season finales were mediocre and the cliffhangers not engaging enough to really interest me. Because I went in with this mindset, "The Longest Night (Part 2)" didn't disappoint me. It's a fairly low-adrenaline hunt for Billy, who takes Ellie and continues to rampage, until J.J. uses the radio and gives a generic speech to talk him down.

Perhaps the biggest thing that bothered me was that the girl had a constant smile on her face. Her dialogue indicates she's unwilling to cooperate, but the look on her face makes it seem like she likes being there. What's going on? Bad directing? Bad acting? I don't get why she didn't do what 99% of girls would do after seeing multiple people shot point blank--be scared as hell. Maybe she'll become the next Billy Flynn?

Score: 8.0/10

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review - Undercovers Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Undercovers seems like an upgraded version of any number of USA Network shows. It's breezy, has an upbeat tempo, and everything is simplistic, the main difference being the diversity of locations and length of action scenes. But it's hard not to feel disappointed, seeing as J.J. Abrams was heavily involved, co-writing and directing the episode. The pilot of Undercovers comes nowhere close to Lost and Alias, neither bringing the forward movement that forces viewers to come back the next week, nor creating characters who are remotely realistic. If the show were created by anyone other than Abrams or a select few, I probably wouldn't be complaining, but with Abrams, I expected more.

That said, Michael Giacchino's pulsing score and Lost-like low strings, in addition to the spunk from Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (say that 10 times fast!), made for an enjoyable hour of television which I don't regret watching. Undercovers certainly isn't appointment television, but since Wednesday is less crowded than other nights, I'll be back.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Modern Family Season 2 Episode 1 The Old Wagon

After bagging several Emmys, Modern Family returned with an expectedly strong start with a message of progress and growing up. With strong ratings and critical acclaim, the show will last very long, and we'll be seeing all the kids grow up.

The main plot about the Dunphies and their old wagon goes in a heartwarming direction with a "time machine" picnic. But things can't always go to where they were. There's kids and well, they aren't always the best travel companions. The story spins toward trouble, and just as the situation goes off the edge, so does the wagon. Still, everyone's happy in the end, knowing what they have now is just as good as the wagon was.

The other two plots are divided into three-person groups--Gloria, Manny, and his female classmate and Jay, Mitchell, and Cam. Gloria plays the Colombian mother to the encroaching girl, and Manny eventually comes to realize the girl is too controlling--before phoning yet another girl. Jay and Cam have to deal with Cam's perseverance to build things and the dangerous powertools he's wielding. As Jay and Cam talk behind his back ("That was my Vietnam... and I was in Vietnam.), Mitchell finally gets the castle built, unfortunately trapping himself inside. At least it's a start.

Score: 9.3/10

Review - Raising Hope Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Who wants to watch a bunch of idiots raise a child? Well, me... kind of. At first, I was appalled by the treatment of everything, especially since it concerns a small kid, but it slowly grew on me. The majority of Raising Hope is about a bunch of bumbling morons, who surprisingly got a couple of laughs out of me. In the middle of all this is heart--albeit a small one. Jimmy really wants to raise Hope despite her parents' urgency to drop him off, and his dedication isn't all words; he does sell all his stuff to buy baby items

Score: 7.7/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 09/21/10

Fox won with Glee (5.6), Raising Hope (3.1), and Running Wilde (2.4). Fox must be pretty ecstatic with Glee which wasn't bolstered by American Idol and blew away the competition, including making significant gains each quarter hour. On the other hand, the comedies didn't do too great even with the big lead in. We'll see how they do next week.

CBS was second with NCIS (4.0) and NCIS: Los Angeles (3.4, 3.0). Both shows were down from last year's premieres, but they still did good--maybe not what the execs were looking for but not bad at all.

ABC was third with Dancing with the Stars (2.6, 4.4) and Detroit 1-8-7 (2.3). The DWTS results show didn't get much attention, but the second hour did, averaging out well. Detroit 1-8-7 premiered worse than The Forgotten did last week, and from the quarter hour reports, people didn't like it.

NBC was last with Biggest Loser (2.9) and Parenthood (2.5). Biggest Loser took a pretty big dip from last year and Parenthood was down a touch from last week. We'll see if Parenthood can hold on once The Good Wife premieres next week.

Review - Sons of Anarchy Season 3 Episode 3 Caregiver

Three episodes into the third season of Sons of Anarchy, and there are so many things going on, it's hard to make a judgment until something breaks. For now, the show's in a holding pattern, juggling several large plots at once without fully committing to one, and current momentum is agonizingly slow. Hopefully that'll pick up very soon.

While Nate is out contemplating suicide (Hal Holbrook was exceptional) and Gemma is out looking for him, Tara decides to be stupid, letting one of Amelia's hands loose and then turning to her back. Obviously Amelia clunks Tara on the head and tries running, before  Gemma returns. The tussle results in Amelia dead and a body to be rid of. Luckily, there's Stephen King AKA Bachman, a creepy guy who quickly deals with the body.

Back at Charming, townsfolk are starting to distance themselves from the Sons, setting up a possible mayoral win for Hale, who's already making trouble for the Sons.

In "Caregiver," the most pressing issue is money to deal with the Mayans in Lodi. Their solution is to pony up some girls for Lin's porn party. It's going fine until Opie spots Lyla about to go down on some guy, and starts a fight, nixing the deal.

My least favorite part of the third season has been the Belfast business, and Cherry's impromptu return didn't do much to help. But she does provide the link from Belfast to the Sons in the States, which should prove necessary later. At the end of the episode, Juice pulls up a photo of Cameron dead in Belfast. No Canada road trip?

When there are a multitude of plots, it's hard not to feel a little wary whether everything will spiral out of control a la the fourth season of Big Love. Still, I'd like to stay positive and think Kurt Sutter has a master plan that will blow our minds.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Detroit 1-8-7 Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Detroit 1-8-7 has a healthy energy to bolster the all too familiar premise. Much like Southland, Detroit seems to be from another era, where criminals were caught in the streets, not in the lab or on the computer. The major difference is that the characters are bland and uninteresting. OK, these are regular people and not super-sized heroes on most shows, but every character, maybe with Fitch as the only exception, is lifeless. Heck, we'd probably find a higher percentage of interesting people simply by plucking people off the street.

The pilot brings us two separate homicides until they intersect, leading to a hostage situation. Fitch talks the guy down, indicating that he may have hurt his wife in the past, but he indicates to his partner, Washington, that is was only to get the job done.

The final scene has trouble all over it. We see Fitch hand over the criminal for booking, except there's no one else around except an unsuspecting detective on the phone walking past. The perp grabs the gun and shoots Washington before being taken down. Jon Michael Hill is a series regular, so we'll be seeing him again, although he perspective on life and job will surely be different.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Warehouse 13 Season 2 Episode 12 Reset

After all those heartfelt conversations between Myka and H.G., all the understanding built up this season, it comes down to one thing that comes out of the blue--H.G. is completely crazy. Not just the normal "I'm going to resurrect my daughter" crazy, but the "I've been planning to destroy humans to save the world for over 100 years" crazy. Her reasoning fails completely, making less sense than a gesticulating monkey, and Myka making quick work of her felt equally trite, though I'm curious as to where she'll be incarcerated.

After H.G.'s demise, which could have been drawn out longer and thought out better, there's a long cooling off period where Claudia breaks down, Kelly leaves town, and Myka voluntarily leaves the Warehouse, knowing she can't operate after allowing a villain like H.G. to take advantage of her.

I haven't read anything about Joanne Kelly departing the show, so I think it's safe to say Myka will be back. Like Artie's "death" at the end of the season, this is just anything hitch to get the audience riled for nothing.

From what I can remember of the first two seasons, I'd say that both seasons are about equal in terms of quality. The second season really hit some high points, but also hit lower points, and was overall more dynamic, whereas the first season was never great, but never bad either.

Score: 8.0/10

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review - Running Wilde Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Everyone has different reactions to television, and especially comedy, so my reaction is different than the next person. With that preface, I didn't laugh once. I mustered a smile or two, but that was it. The last time it happened was with Hank.

I don't even want to start comparing Running Wilde with Arrested Development--the gap too wide to even discuss. Steve Wilde (Will Arnett) is completely one-sided with no signs of humanity and Emmy (Keri Russell) doesn't bring much to the table. The one bright spot is Emmy's daughter Puddle, who is the cute, likable little girl.

Score: 4.0/10

Review - Glee Season 2 Episode 1 Audition

I caved during the summer and watched all of Glee, not because someone pestered me into doing so, but because it's probably a show I should keep up with. Brief review: Glee has lots of likable elements--the characters, fun numbers--but is lacking in so many areas that it's hard to think of Glee as a premiere comedy. Certain characters or situations are propped up, in what appears a big arc, and then are abruptly pulls back, cutting them short before reaching full potential. And then there's the message of the show and the "drama." Often, I find myself laughing more at the ridiculousness of the serious scenes than the funny ones. So my solution is to interpret every scene as pure comedy, and Glee turns out looking great.

It's hard not to watch Glee without smiling or snickering, so I liked the episode on a superficial level, which is all that's required to watch the show. "Audition" shows signs of a large-scale change, with the introduction of two new characters, but everything resets to where it was. The school hates the glee club and club has the same members, minus the black guy who transferred. The minor changes in status--Finn off the football team, Quinn as head cheerleader, Santana on the bottom of a cheerleading heap (and with implants), Asian and Other Asian together, leaving Artie in the wind--are only blips in the grand scheme of things.

But Rachel and Will surprisingly played dangerously in a moral grey area, which was quite good, at least in Will's case. He and Sue team up to bring down Coach Beist, the new female football coach who is sapping their resources, and do a few mean things before Will realizes he's ostracizing Beiste, just as the school ostracizes the glee club.

In Rachel's case, she's about as unrealistic as Sue is at certain points, and a bit like Nancy from Weeds. She's lost all perspective of things and frankly, is a bad person, maybe even a sociopath. She sends Sunshine to a crack house instead of the audition and later justifies her actions by claiming she was doing it for the members on the lower end of the club who would suffer from Sunshine taking their roles. We know it's because she's scared she'd be overshadowed, and it makes her final song either grating, in that she continues down the path, or funny, in that is hilarious how misguided she is.

When the episode is over, you can go over the episode and say how stupid the plot was (which it was) or how dumb and unrealistic Rachel is, but at the end of the day, Glee remains a immensely pleasurable show, full of laughs and fun moments.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - NCIS Season 8 Episode 1 Spider and the Fly

The whole Merton Bell Mexican cartel revenge arc is mostly a non-issue for me. I don't actively dislike it, but I'd be hard pressed to care more about it than the usual episodes. Compared to the Jeanne or Rivkins arcs, which were interesting, this was definitely a step down.

Luckily, it's resolved in "Spider and the Fly," the continuation from the season seven finale. Everyone helps out in their own way, and Tony gets hits on McGee (apparently the misrepresentation of Canada rubbed many Canadians the wrong way) and Ziva, who may have a new love interest. In the end, everyone is safe and justice is served--the cartel bosses dead. Whether what they did was legal, or even ethical, isn't touched in the episode.

The issue between Abby and Gibbs still isn't resolved, and Gibbs is only giving empty reassurances that everything will be okay. With a show like NCIS, where the characters remain static in day to day operations, it's hard to gauge how far the writers will take them. Will Abby be distrustful/wary some/all the time? Will anything change at all?

Looking ahead, Vance gets a text from Eli David, a simple "I found him." The words themselves don't interest me; however, the fact that Eli David is coming back does, and I'm sure he'll be pissed when he sees Ziva.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Lone Star Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Initially, I was going to watch and review Lone Star before the multitude of cop shows, but then I saw the overnight ratings--a sad, sad 1.3--and that's with House as a lead in. Lone Star couldn't even break 2.0, not to mention the mid-to-high 2s Lie to Me and 24 were pulling.

I have no clue why so many people would tune in to House and not watch Lone Star, especially if they were content to spend an hour watching House and Cuddy all over each other. Out of all the new shows airing last night--and most other shows on television--Lone Star is by far the most different, a change from the mundane procedurals thrown at us each year.

In the spectacularly written pilot, we entered a world which is one giant web, Bob's giant race to fulfill every last desire. He has two lives, one with a wife and one with a girlfriend. But there's an additional layer, the whole con, as cultivated by his father. He's already fleeced his girlfriend's community and poised to take his wife's father's company. Love, however, comes before money, and Bob adds another layer to the already-precarious house of cards, using money from the company to preserve the community.

Score: 9.3/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 09/20/10

Broadcast television is back in full-swing and so is this daily post.

ABC won with Dancing With the Stars (5.1) and Castle (2.7). Going up against two new crime procedurals, Castle held on with very respectable numbers. If things keep on like this, we can definitely expect a fourth season.

CBS was a close second with How I Met Your Mother (3.6), Rules of Engagement (3.1), Two and a Half Men (4.9), Mike & Molly (3.9), and Hawaii Five-0 (3.9). As expected, the comedies, including newcomer Mike & Molly, did well, and the heavily-promoted Hawaii Five-0 did extremely well.

Fox was third (leapfrogging NBC in the final numbers) with House (4.2) and Lone Star (1.3). Things are not looking good for Fox, as House was down from last year, and Lone Star pathetic numbers make it a surefire cancellation, the biggest shocker of the day.

NBC was last with Chuck (2.0), The Event (3.6), and Chase (2.3). Chuck premiered lower than last season's premiere, but its numbers were on par with the season average. The test will be if Chuck doesn't lose any more viewers. The Event is NBC's main attraction this season, so it's no wonder it did well. But The Event needs to hold those viewers. Chase dropped .2 from the originally decent 2.5 from the fast national, but it's still a contender

Review - The Event Season 1 Episode 1 I Haven't Told You Everything

"They saved us." "Who saved us?" "I haven't told you everything."

Because this is the first episode, Sophia won't be spilling the beans next week or any time soon. In fact, we'd be lucky to get a few answers by the end of the series. The Event begins with yet another promising premise--a prison at Mt. Inostranka, a guy's girlfriend being wiped from existence, and a plane barreling down on the president before disappearing into a cool looking vortex.

"I Haven't Told You Everything" doesn't have the flare of FlashForward's pilot, but the writing is surprisingly sound, though it's clear the viewers are supposed to be insulated from the the whole truth, with a couple grating lines where people never directly state anything. Most annoying about The Event is the constant time changing. It adds literally nothing to the show, not even an ounce of increased tension, and is equivalent to ripping random pages from a book and piecing them together to create a "mystery."

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Hawaii Five-0 Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

The revamped Hawaii Five-0 serves its purpose, showcasing how cool Hawaii looks amidst a bunch of action scenes. Clearly CBS didn't skimp on the money, perhaps the one factor which makes the show worth watching. The dialogue is leaden, the plot is generic, and the characters equally boring.

Given the ratings for the premiere, an impressive 3.8 for the 18/49 demo, Five-0 will most likely succeed and have many seasons. It'll also mark Alex O'Loughlin's first win, after CBS trotted him out on several shows. But the success of the show won't hinge on him--or at least his acting. (To be honest, his acting still didn't impress me, but neither did the other cast members.) What matters is if each episode can be as exciting as the pilot.

I'd like to watch more episodes to see if the rest of the episodes do maintain the action, but my Monday schedule is loaded, so it's an uncertainty.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Chase Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

If I had the choice between doing nothing or watching Chase, I'd choose Chase. It's a disposable hour of television that has enough juice to be mildly entertaining. But when it comes to anything else, the writing and acting, there's much to be desired. The characters are underdeveloped and there is no distinctive dynamic for the team. All it is is Annie doing her thing and the rest following her lead, with little interaction other than information or commands.

Score: 7.6/10

Review - Castle Season 3 Episode 1 A Deadly Affair

"A Deadly Affair" sets up Castle as the main antagonist, starting with him possibly shooting at Beckett before cutting to three days later. We learn that he hasn't called or been in contact with the police department--to Beckett, an indication he wants nothing to do with the police department, and more importantly, her.

But we have to remember that this is a procedural, and by the end of the episode, after solving a counterfeiting case, the situation has more or less normalized. Castle and Beckett are a team again, and though they're not in a romantic relationship, it's gonna happen sooner or later, hopefully sooner than later.

Score: 8.6/10

Monday, September 20, 2010

Review - Mike & Molly Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

When a show is about two fat people, the easiest jokes will be fat jokes. They're convenient and occasionally funny. However, a show based solely on fat jokes won't work, which is why Mike & Molly narrowly passes muster. There are far too many fat jokes for my taste, but underneath the fat issue, which is needlessly played up, is sweet show with two people falling in love.

Whether Mike & Molly finds time for the people rather than the flab in future episodes has yet to be seen, and even then, I'm not sure I'll take another look.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - House Season 7 Episode 1 Now What?

Aside from House, I've never been interested in any of the characters, mostly because they've been underdeveloped, so I had a hard time caring about a third of "Now What," consisting of the neurosurgeon medical shenanigans and 13's departure to lands unknown.

Cuddy probably had more development than the side characters, but the baby stuff and then Lucas worked against her, so I don't care much about her either. But when it comes to House and Cuddy, there's something a synergy that comes about. Without House, Cuddy is a poor character. With House, she's half decent.

There are several lengthy scenes between them, showing a lot more skin than we're used to, and they strike at the heart of the relationship and the consequences. Once they get together, it's not the end of all problems, and in this sense, House is far more superior to Bones. And by the end of the episode, all the issues still aren't resolved, a much more realistic and gratifying development than the very end of the sixth season finale.

Score 8.4/10

Review - Chuck Season 4 Episode 1 Chuck Vs. The Anniversary

Somehow we're here: at the fourth season of Chuck. Each year, Chuck has been on the chopping block, and while so many shows have fallen in the same time, Chuck was the one glimmer of light, the one show that just wouldn't go down. By many standards, Chuck is veteran of television, a well-worn, battle-hardened contender, when it seems like just yesterday, this fresh new spy show entered our lives.

Like the previous season premieres, "Chuck Vs. The Anniversary" changes the status quo, in a way more unbelievable than previous iterations. I've always thought Chuck struck the right balance of comedy and drama, but the first episode rubbed me the wrong way.

The episode takes off from the get-go with an overly amusing tone and choppy sequencing, without first providing some kind of dramatic bearing. Sarah and Casey are off doing their spy work while Chuck and Morgan, both retired from the CIA, go all around the world in search for Chuck's mother and do a bit of job hunting. They land in the remade Buy More, finally under complete CIA/NSA control, which is purely to show off Olivia Munn. And the relationship issue between Sarah and Chuck, their distance, falls on the comedy side with the sexting humor, and gets resolved by the end of the episode.

The final scene gave a small push with Chuck's mom tapping an energy source and taking out Volkoff's henchmen to protect her family. Until I watch more episodes, I don't really have an opinion, though Linda Hamilton kicking ass is awesome.

Again, Chuck will have to deceive Ellie about their mother's fate, retreading a familiar setup. But this time, Ellie has knowledge of what her brother is capable of.

All in all, "Chuck Vs. The Anniversary" was a disappointment. It was fun and the references to Rocky IV and Repo Man were nice touches, but the episode lacked much of the serious backbone that usually props the show up under too much silliness or lack of plot.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 6 Episode 1 Big Days

If How I Met Your Mother had a different title or premise, I think I'd still be perfectly fine with it. The writing is loaded with jokes and the characters remain as likable as they were in the beginning. I laugh at everything, the smallest of gags or stupidest of lines.

When it comes to Ted actually meeting the Mother, the show has taken a huge detour, stretching out the time for Ted to find his bride for the sake of keeping the show on air longer. There's been plenty of misdirects, never anything substantial. "Big Days" essentially does the same, dangling out a definite possibility, a flash forward to Future Ted at a wedding and a woman who could be Cindy's roommate in present-time. If the presumed facts add up, we have the Mother. Except the endgame is still years later, and like the 20 instances before, everything crumbles. Cindy kisses the woman, and they later adopt a girl together. And Ted is actually the best man at the wedding, though he does meet the Mother at the wedding. Notably absent from the future: Barney and Robin. Maybe their wedding?

In the present, there was plenty of material to keep the episode afloat, even if Ted's story was another foregone conclusion. Lily and Marshall try to get pregnant, despite Marshall's father barging in. Robin comes into the episode in a filthy heap, coming off her break up, but in 14 seconds, sheds her exterior and nabs a guy. Meanwhile, Barney sits back and does what he does best--make us laugh.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Boardwalk Empire Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

If Boardwalk Empire had been created 12 years ago, before The Sopranos and Deadwood, it'd probably be hailed as a revolutionary piece of television. While that's not the case, we can see appreciate and relish Boardwalk Empire for what it is--an immersive, historical mob show brimming with exceptional acting, writing, direction, and potential that stretches far beyond the boardwalk.

The $18 million (not a typo) HBO plunked down for the pilot is certainly seen (though the enormous cost does seem excessive), as we're shown location after location, both indoors and outdoors, realistic costumes, and a medley of factors that make it look authentic. And the plot draws from historical figures, like Al Capone, not yet a big shot, and a large cast, each with their own priorities, to fill the pilot with plenty of delicious material, setting up the rest of the series.

Score: 9.6/10

Review - Mad Men Season 4 Episode 9 The Beautiful Girls

With an episode titled "The Beautiful Girls," the women (and one young girl) took the reigns of a surprisingly bubbly episode, and pushed Don out of the way, making his troubles a mere afterthought in their own battles.

Peggy's early conversation with Abe, after Joyce's quick switch, initiates the larger discussion: He complains of Fillmore Auto Parts in the south not serving blacks, and Peggy counters, saying she can't do many things men do either, and few speak out. And historically the facts back her up. When it comes to achieving equal rights, women's rights and racial rights have come hand in hand, at least in partnership to reach certain goals. When a racial rights goal is met, however, say, blacks being able to vote after the Civil War, women don't also follow, and their right to vote didn't come until about 50 years later, despite having an overwhelming number over blacks in numbers.

In 1965, though, things aren't as simple. Do we ever see blacks working beside whites? In a managerial position? Nope. But there are plenty of women in higher positions. In this sense, Mad Men can never really tackle the civil rights movement without a character to lead the charge (unless one is introduced).

The event that sets everything in motion is Miss Blankenship's abrupt death. Until now, I don't think I've even mentioned her in a review, despite her being a fairly significant new character. Unlike many character who could simultaneously be funny and have something else, Blankenship was pure comedy, blurting out silly lines at the wrong times. Sure it was funny, but very, very one-dimensional, to the point where she didn't really belong alongside the myriad of layered, intricate characters. Her death ever so slightly put her in a different perspective, as Burt says, she's an astronaut, though I'm still not accepting her for her general uselessness in previous episodes.

Once her body is wheeled out discreetly, things start moving. Peggy wonders whether it's right for Fillmore Auto to refuse service to blacks, but Don shoots her down. I don't see how she has a choice, even if she wants equally for all and herself.

Seeing Roger reel from Blankenship's death and having her husband deployed to Vietnam after boot camp, Joan goes to dinner with Roger at one of their old haunts. Outside, they're mugged at gunpoint, losing all their possessions. In the heatof the moment, realizing how close their lives were to ending, Roger and Joan let go of inhibition and have sex, presumably outdoors where everyone can see them.

Sally's unexpected arrival to SCDP due to her extreme displeasure with Betty, exposes Faye's cracks. Faye is pretty, successful, and powerful. However, she has no family or kids, and if her reaction to Don is any indication, after failing to show she knows how to handle kids, she's tinged with regret but becomes prickly over the situation.

The final shot, like many this season, is one large symbol. As Joyce walks off in her own hippie direction, Peggy, Joan, and Faye enter an elevator together. Three women, equally strong, have reached a crossroad in their lives, but what direction will they go? Will Peggy continue down the path and pressure the Fillmores? Will Joan continue on with Roger? Will Faye continue on with Don?

Lastly, there's that other woman, Betty. Yeah, her. I liked her fine last week, but she returned to her usual antics--yelling at Don and ignoring Sally.

I'm tired right now, so I'm not entirely sure what I think about "The Beautiful Girls." I enjoyed it, as I do every episode, but the light tone to the episode left it without much bite in the end. And maybe that's how a feminist episode is supposed to be.

Score: 8.9/10

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Review - Rubicon Season 1 Episode 9 No Honesty in Men

By now, we've come to expect that Will--or more precisely, Rubicon--won't dive straight into the conspiracy. There won't be long chase scenes involving Will running for armed men, a shootout in the middle of a crowded street, or the usual hallmarks of a conspiracy show.

But Rubicon isn't just a conspiracy show; it's as much a psychological thriller as a conspiracy. The conspiracy slowly unwinds and a fairly uninteresting fashion (since we know so little), but always around the characters who react very cautiously. And in this way, Rubicon manages to maintain a degree of uneasy tension, even if we know there won't be explosions of that kind of stuff.

In "No Honesty in Men," Will gets plunked in a relationship with Andy, the woman who's been spotting him through her window. Despite Will going to her initially to surveil his apartment, they end up meshing and in bed together. The final message: they're in this together. Yeah, it's cliched, but at least Will catches Donald Bloom in the act.

The homefront at API was a nice blend of drama from Grant, whose wife frustrations about his job seem to be getting to him, and comedy from Miles, who is charmingly earnest in his dealing with Julia.

Finally (!!!), Katherine inches closer towards Will, uncovering API and even scoping the building, passing Miles and Julia on the way out. The meeting between her and Will is so close it's only about a month away!

Score: 9.0/10

Preview of Week 9/19/10 - 9/25/10

The week is finally here, unbounded number of shows descending upon us at once. Not sure whether to feel overwhelmed or jubilant, but they're here to stay.

Boardwalk Empire - HBO, Sunday, September 19, 9:00pm ET

This one is a no-brainer. Interesting concept, time period, Martin Scorsese, and Sopranos scribe Terence Winter.

Chuck - NBC, Monday, September 20, 8:00pm ET

Despite facing perhaps the toughest network competition the past few years, Chuck managed to survive by a hairbreadth. And because NBC refuses to put the show in a better spot, I'm inclined to think they'll let it linger there until the bitter end. On the bright side, there are at least 13 episodes left to discover what Chuck's mom has been up to and how everything ties together, and if the mythology falls apart, as it already is, I'm sure we'll laugh at all the gags anyway.

House - Fox, Monday, September 20, 8:00pm ET

Quick, run! A wild Huddy is on the loose!

How I Met Your Mother - CBS, Monday, September 20, 8:00pm ET

Ted, just find the Mother. Though the show title isn't relevant anymore, with the entire cast,  there's still much to look forward to, just not anything involving Ted.

The Event - NBC, Monday, September 20, 9:00pm ET

Big mystery, big potential, and possibly NBC's saving grace. Or the next big flop.

Lone Star - Fox, Monday, September 20, 9:00pm ET

I'd be hard to make a comparison to Dallas, especially with a Dallas remake already in production, but the premises seem awfully similar.

Mike & Molly - CBS, Monday, September 20, 9:30pm ET

Hmm... a show about fat people. Will it work?

Castle - ABC, Monday, September 20, 10:00pm ET

Beckett and Castle back to hunting criminals and dealing with their love lives.

Hawaii Five-0 - CBS, Monday, September 20, 10:00pm ET

Not only is the title widely recognized, there are also lots of big names and pretty faces tied to the show. Whether that translates into ratings success is another story.

Chase - NBC, Monday, September 20, 10:00pm ET

Kelli Giddish, the one semi-bright spot on Past Life, is back on television with Chase, a generic looking procedural about U.S. Marshals.

NCIS - CBS, Tuesday, September 21, 8:00pm ET

I'll be glad when this Mexican thing is over and we're back to normal proceedings. It's likely the status quo will be restored, even if Gibbs's dirty laundry is exposed. But, hey, that's how the show.

Glee - Fox, Tuesday, September 21, 8:00pm ET

Glee is so unrealistic and absurd I view it as a pure comedy. And even then, it's not that funny.

Warehouse 13 - Syfy, Tuesday, September 21, 9:00pm ET

H.G. Wells showed her hand, and is finally making her move. With Pete and Myka down, Artie will have to step in and save the day.

Raising Hope - Fox, Tuesday, September 21, 9:00pm ET

Fox's recent track record regarding comedies has been sad, but Raising Hope doesn't sound like the answer.

Running Wilde - Fox, Tuesday, September 21, 9:30pm ET

From Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz comes Running Wilde, a show whose pedigree should be enough to have us at the front door at the very least.

Detroit 1-8-7 - ABC, Tuesday, September 21, 10:00pm ET

Nice to see Michael Imperioli on the right side of the law. It looks like Detroit 1-8-7 sets out to be the next NYPD Blue or Homicide, so it could be good.

Undercovers - NBC, Wednesday, September 22, 8:00pm ET

I doubt J.J. Abrams will succeed without heavy serialization or mystery, so I'm not expecting much from his latest work.

Better With You  - ABC, Wednesday, September 22, 8:30pm ET

Better With You sounds so boring and generic I'm don't even want to watch the pilot.

Modern Family - ABC, Wednesday, September 22, 9:00pm ET

The large, lovable family is back.

The Whole Truth - ABC, Wednesday, September 22, 10:00pm ET

Two legal dramas, one time slot. Which will prevail? Drama (The Whole Truth) or dramedy (The Defenders)?

The Defenders- CBS, Wednesday, September 22, 10:00pm ET

Look above.

The Big Bang Theory - CBS, Thursday, September 23, 8:00pm ET

With the move to Thursday, CBS hopes The Big Bang Theory with skyrocket into the pantheon of sitcom gods, and considering how high the ratings were last year, I wouldn't be surprised if it did.

Bones - Fox, Thursday, September 23, 8:00pm ET

Even thinking of Bones makes my brain hurt these days, but that's exactly the way Hart Hanson wants it, the blatant message that Booth and Bones are meant for each other with literally a thousand roadblocks in the way. Yes, it's repetitive. Yes, it's annoying. And yes, it's Bones.

Community - NBC, Thursday, September 23, 8:00pm ET

Going up against TBBT, the already ratings-challenged, Emmy-ignored comedy has a tough order. However, the sharp writing and hilarious characters may be able to stave off an inevitable death.

My Generation - ABC, Thursday, September 23, 9:00pm ET

A lot changes after high school, and My Generations will try to show exactly how a diverse group evolves over a 10 year period. Sounds slightly interesting, but execution is the most important factor.

$#*! My Dad Says - CBS, Thursday, September 23, 8:30pm ET

William Shatner saying random things. Pass.

Fringe - Fox, Thursday, September 23, 9:00pm ET

Olivia trapped in another dimension?!?! I still can't believe the writers went there, but they did, making the boldest late-season move of any TV show last season. Let's see if move pays off in the end.

The Office - NBC, Thursday, September 23, 9:00pm ET

Michael Scott's last season, and I honestly don't care.

Outsourced - NBC, Thursday, September 23, 9:30pm ET

Set in India, Outsourced will probably have a lot of foreigner jokes which could spell disaster. NBC slotted it after The Office, so the executives think it'll be okay.

Supernatural - CW, Friday, September 24, 9:00pm ET

After wrapping up an epic 5 season-long arc, Supernatural hopes to move on--but without maestro Eric Kripke in charge. Hopefully Sarah Gamble will continue the streak of brilliant television.

Blue Bloods - CBS, Friday, September 24, 10:00pm ET

I don't know why CBS tucked away Blue Bloods on Friday, but the cast and concept look mighty fine.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Review - Nikita Season 1 Episode 2 2.0

The huge twist at the end of the pilot last week injected a mountain of potential into Nikita, with the revelation that Alex was trained by Nikita and planted in Division. But if "2.0" is any indication, it'll be a while before things heat up.

Under a generic story of a deposed dictator and Division's search for his enriched uranium, we get a series of flashbacks that aren't interesting and hold little emotional weight. With Nikita and Alex separated in the present, we can't get much out of them other than their individual scenes. However, flashbacks can give insight into their relationship, so we see Nikita saving Alex, but I literally felt nothing when watching them. I hope we see flashbacks of Nikita training Alex in the near future, because I'm not sure how to take Alex's actions. She was holding back on the hacking, but how much control does she have?

Because Nikita is trying to bring down Division, she doesn't push the action, merely sitting back and reacting to what Division does. She's also alone most of the time and the writers make her talk to herself in very annoying one-liners.

The episode contained more humor than the pilot, using Birkoff and by extension, Michael, for a few lines that are supposed to be funny. And even if the actors were better, the lines were incredibly cheesy.

Despite all the problems with the second episode, Nikita remains a visual stunner and is really great to look act, whether it be the fast-paced action scenes or the slower ones with only Nikita.

Score: 8.5/10

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review - Terriers Season 1 Episode 2 Dog And Pony

I like Terriers and the writing is sharp, but I'm not invested in any of the characters. I know it's only the second episode, so there's room to grow, but the basic set-up isn't that interesting, at least for me. Hank used to be an alcoholic, reminisces about the past, and is unwilling to let go if what he once had. Britt has a shady past, as implied by Detective Gustafson, but seems like a good guy.

And while the PI work feels fresh so far, there's already a pattern occurring. In the pilot, Hank and Britt end up investigating the rich guy who paid them, eventually planting a gun on him, and in "Dog And Pony," they end up helping the guy they originally wanted to catch. As for the ongoing murder case, Gustafson is already onto them and their gun planting, though it looks like it'll be a long while before a resolution.

Score: 8.8/10
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