Saturday, April 30, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 4/28/11

FOX won with American Idol (5.7) and Bones (2.8).

CBS was second with The Big Bang Theory (3.3), Rules of Engagement (2.3), CSI (2.4), and The Mentalist (2.6). CSI going below 2.5 and TBBT near 3.0. Most shows were down for the night, so it's best not to draw too much from them.

NBC was third with Community (1.4), a repeat of The Office (1.4), a new episode of The Office (4.2), Parks and Recreation (2.3), and 30 Rock (1.9). Michael Scott's final episode got more attention than a normal episode, but nothing too spectacular.

ABC was last with 20/20 (1.4), Grey’s Anatomy (3.7), and Private Practice (2.2).

Review - Camelot Season 1 Episode 5 Justice

After several episodes mired in romance, "Justice" puts Arthur and Guinevere to good use, as they rid the land of evildoers. There is no hint of further angst between them and both are useful and productive for once. We see that Arthur is an upstanding guy or fight for what's right. Thankfully, there wasn't an over the top Maoist land distribution and was confined to fulfilling the mild punishment--banishment--that he ordered and killing those who wanted otherwise.

Meanwhile, Morgan dishes her own justice, a deceptive, manipulative form, which is in clear opposition to Arthur. She manages to win over a large crowd and is poised to fully oppose Arthur. Not on a particular side of the spectrum, Merlin purges himself of whatever consumed him last episode, but there is definitely something dark still inside him.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Supernatural Season 6 Episode 19 Mommy Dearest

Since Eve arrived a while back, she hasn't been a very good villain. We've seen her do evil things, but certainly not on the scale of Lucifer, and I had a hard time buying her hype, especially with a lot of tangential episodes along the way. Like the confusion which begun the season, there hasn't been a clear sense of where the season is going.

"Mommy Dearest" resolves this problem, getting rid of her character, and reintroducing Crowley/Castiel(?) as the main enemies. But it also brings up another question: why introduce Eve in the first place if she'd get ganked once they found her? There really seems to be little point to her other than providing a bridge to Crowley, and if that's the case, why was she made to the such a fearsome enemy?

What comes out of the episode is the information that Crowley harnessing souls to gain more power and Castiel is intimately involved with this. With three episodes left in the season, we'll see what happens soon enough.

Score: 8.6/10

Friday, April 29, 2011

Review - Bones Season 6 Episode 20 The Pinocchio in the Planter

Sorry for getting this one out late. I had computer troubles and now Friday shows are here.

"The Pinocchio in the Planter" is one of those episodes which isn't much of anything. Everything is acceptable, but nothing, save the one scene between Angela and Hodgins, really stands out. The radical honesty concept could have been taken further for both Brennan and Booth with their numerous secrets, Brennan in particular. In the end, though, Booth just expresses his gratitude, which isn't any big revelation.

I don't believe I've mentioned the Toyota product placement yet since I don't really mind too much, but the whole automatic parking thing was a little much. Still, that's part of what keeps Bones on air and we have to remember that.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Fringe Season 3 Episode 21 The Last Sam Weiss

If anyone had problems with "The Last Sam Weiss" before the last minute or so, they probably changed their mind. The episode doesn't move very fast and a lot of the dialogue is mired in "mysteriousness," with Sam Weiss talking about the previous Sams and Peter looking for his father, the Secretary of Defense. Because the characters themselves are wading into unknown territory, the writers have significant leeway over how things play out and not everything has to make sense at first, though we may never get some of the answers we're looking for.

Then the ending hits--Peter entering the machine after Olivia turns the other one off. We see a montage of Peter's life and he steps into the machine--and an apocalyptic future where everything has gone amok and Fringe division is trying to keep things under control.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Nikita Season 1 Episode 20 Glass Houses

Ever since things starting heating up on Nikita, the show has been caught in a predicament. It wants keep the tension going, maintaining a credible threat so we think something bad might happen to Alex, but the drawback has been the elimination of other characters. She's almost caught nearly every episode and in some of those episodes, I'm sure plenty of people thought she'd actually be caught. In the end, though, Alex's biggest problems were solved by characters deaths (Thom, Jaden). After a while, you see how this can't work in the long-run, because we'll catch on that the characters outside of the main ones (Nikita, Michael, Alex, Birkhoff, and Percy) and easily expendable and that they should be taken lightly.

At the same time, as options become limited, the initial concept of the show--Nikita on the outside with her mole on the inside--has a very definite lifespan, and Alex is increasingly closer to getting out. The ending of "Glass Houses," with Amanda showing her cards, should be enough to push her over the edge--unless Amanda is killed and all is fine again.

The main plot was fine, but the more I think about this black box system, the more absurd it sounds. Percy doesn't keep tabs on the guardians besides tracking devices and doesn't make sure every guardian is fully aware of and prepared for the Nikita threat (and by that I mean personally making sure they have guns up the wazoo). Also absurd is that Michael and Nikita can be seen publicly when Division supposedly has access to cameras everywhere.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - The Mentalist Season 3 Episode 20 Redacted

"Redacted" has a standard crime with a couple suspects and the murderer is eventually caught. All of this is fine. But the subplot, Jane trying to free the burglar he hired to steal Laroche's suspect list, was far too silly. Somehow, in the middle of the case, Jane runs around the office, talking to the thief and hoodwinking the guy standing guard, without being notice by anyone, not Lisbon, not Laroche.  Jane isn't even on top of things and has no good plan to break the guy out, which made him look really foolish. I did like, however, Jane coming clean to Lisbon about Hightower, and shows the natural progression of their relationship to the point where Jane, a secretive person, can share innermost secrets about the Red John investigation to her.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Parks and Recreation Season 3 Episode 11 Jerry's Painting

Parks and Recreation has established a rich setting through the seasons, which allows the writers to really put the characters in familiar but funny situations. Faced with the fundamentalists, Leslie defends Jerry's painting which depicts her as a bare-breasted goddess and Tom as a fat baby. It all makes for a fun time, especially when the porn star shows up and joins Leslie's side, partially confirming what the fundamentalists think. And best of all, Leslie gets the last laugh even though the painting was supposed to be burned.

April and Andy getting married may have been very sudden and they're as dopey as ever. Still, under Ben's instruction, they realize that with marriage comes a needed maturity and they buy some of the necessary items.

Leslie and Ben are still circling each other like they have been since this thing started. Nothing is new about it, but it doesn't take up too much of the episode, so the repetitiveness doesn't bother me. However, it is reaching the point where you either want the writers to make a move or just not approach the subject.

Score: 8.9/10

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review - Community Season 2 Episode 22 Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts

I don't know about everyone else, but I have little interest in Shirley's baby. My reasoning is that because Community lies on the fringe so often, something as normal as a baby just doesn't compare. A baby might be a big deal on another show, Parks and Recreation perhaps, but when the show can do something weird and genius regularly, I'm not drawn to the baby.

That's why the main plot of "Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts" didn't appeal to me much. The stuff surrounding it--Jeff getting Britta to step up, Pierce stealing Troy and Abed's handshake--was great, but the main plot wasn't enough to carry the episode to a higher level.

Now that the baby is not Chang's (though don't Asian and black babies still look dark?), I'm wondering what will become of him. Will he dive into a deep spiral, actually improve, or stay the same? It was really helpful and honest in his own way, and the baby not being his when he laid it on the line may be enough to break him.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - The Office Season 7 Episode 22 Goodbye, Michael

When I think of Michael Scott, I imagine a guy who doesn't always think clearly. Whatever his actions, whether it be extreme jealously, putting people in physical danger, or just being mean, Michael Scott is not a malicious person. He may have gotten out of control some times (or a lot times), but we always knew that he wanted to do good. Largely, his ailments result from an inability to realize that his lofty ideas may not work in the real world.

"Goodbye, Michael" takes that idea and allows Michael's character to grow. He'd like the perfect send away with everyone paying attention to him and heaping on praise. He'd like to make the basket in the warehouse and everything to go right. But that's not how things work and Michael comes to terms with that. He sees these imperfect events happening in front of his eyes, and instead of getting worked up as he usually would, he gets a little misty eyed, brushes it off, and leaves.

While it's not perfect for Michael, the episode has plenty of wonderful moments between Michael and his employees. He gives Dwight the affirmation he's been looking for, puts confidence in Andy (which Andy quickly puts to use), and says good-bye to Jim and Pam. Above all, Steve Carell delivered a monumental performance which reflects the truly amazing work he's done through the years.

I'm liking Deangelo less and less. In the midst of all this great stuff with Michael, there's Deangelo being awkward, incompetent, and not funny.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 4 Episode 21 The Agreement Dissection

Assuming Priya is just a temporary character, she'll probably be gone by the end of the season. Half of the characters--Penny, Bernadette, Amy, and Sheldon--hate her and she doesn't do much but hang around with Leonard and be passive-aggressive (or just aggressive in the case of Sheldon) to Leonard's friends. After pissing Sheldon off with her legal arguments, Priya eventually gets her own dose of Sheldon which requires blackmail and not law. This thing has to end soon, right?

The rest of "The Agreement Dissection" is really funny, with the girls and Sheldon going out and all sorts of craziness happening. We get to see Sheldon and Amy dance, and even kiss later on, as well as a smoking monkey. Since the episode ended on an ambiguous note, it looks like there will be follow-up on Sheldon and Amy.

Score: 8.9/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 4/27/11

FOX won with American Idol (7.1) and Breaking In (2.4). Breaking In has an okay chance for renewal at this rate.

CBS was second with Survivor (3.2) and repeats of Criminal Minds (2.0) and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (1.7).

NBC was third with Inside the Royal Wedding (1.2) and a repeat of The Voice (2.2). The Voice is even repeating well!

ABC was last with a repeat of The Middle (1.3), Better With You (1.5), a repeat of Modern Family (2.0), and new episodes of Cougar Town (2.1) and Happy Endings (2.1). Better With You is pretty much dead at this point while Better With You is heading in the right direction.

Review - Justified Season 2 Episode 12 Reckoning

The beginning of the episode immediately confirms that Helen was killed and from there, "Reckoning" stands as one of the most powerful episodes of the season. This is the episode where everything comes full circle--the Givens and Bennets coming into conflict, as well as the Crowders on the side--and the table to set for the season finale next week.

Raylan spends the episode tracking down Dickie, going through various sources like Boyd and Arlo, before catching him. We see just how invested Raylan is in catching Helen's killer, so this isn't something he can easily write off. However, when Raylan has Dickie on the ground, begging for his life, he stops and decides to follow his code. He's not going to shoot this pathetic, defenseless man.

The rest of the episode has the funeral, which is touching and we get to see Raylan's future tombstone. But the tables are quickly turned as an old woman shows up and seems to set things in order. Jed recants and admits to the murder, letting Dickie off the hook, and as the final scene shows, Mags is as invested in Dickie and crime as ever. To Raylan, this must be a shitty situation. He had the chance to put down Dickie once and for all, likely putting the Bennets out of business permanently, but decided to go with the law, and then that was exploited to the full extent by the Bennets. Not killing must seem like a hard thing to do.

Score: 9.3/10

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review - Breaking In Season 1 Episode 4 White on White on White

After tonight's episode, I thought to myself how bizarre Breaking In is. Melanie and Dutch are nearly crazy while Oz, somewhat crazy himself, is a God-like figure with complete control over anything. Meanwhile, we see a bunch of clips of a one-man Star Wars, a random Nerf fight in the middle of the office, and the tiniest bit of plot tacked on towards the end. The episode hits zero emotional notes and is confined to the same jokes over and over again. Somehow, this mix of pure wackiness is enjoyable to watch.

Score 8.5/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 4/26/11

NBC won with The Biggest Loser (2.6) and The Voice (5.1). I'm astounded by how well The Voice did. Looks like people will tune in to NBC.

FOX was second with Glee (3.4) and Raising Hope (1.8). Glee inching down towards 3.0?

ABC was third with Dancing with the Stars (2.5, 3.6) and Body Of Proof (2.2). Body of Proof getting kind of low.

CBS was last with repeat of NCIS (2.0), NCIS: Los Angeles (2.0), and The Mentalist (1.5).

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 4/25/11

ABC won with Dancing with the Stars (4.7), Better With You (2.6), and a repeat of Castle (1.5). Better With You did a bit better than Cougar Town did last week, if that means anything to anyone.

CBS was second with a repeat of How I Met Your Mother (1.7), a new episode of Mad Love (2.0), The Big Bang Theory (2.4), Mike & Molly (2.1), and Hawaii Five-0 (1.7).

FOX was third with repeats of House (1.5) and The Chicago Code (1.0).

NBC was last with a repeat of Chuck (0.9), The Event (1.3), and Law & Order: Los Angeles (1.3). The latter two aren't looking good.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review - Glee Season 2 Episode 18 Born This Way

Glee is usually all over the place when it comes to plot, but as "Born This Way" reminds us, it's also all over the place when it comes to themes.

The writers try to generalize complex ideas into a 90-minute episode, and there is never a solid, consistent message. First, let's start with the idea the episode is built on, that you should love who you were born with. Fair enough. The writers go further and make it abundantly clear that Rachel getting a rhinoplasty would be the wrong thing and they also tell us that Emma taking medication for OCD is fine.

OK, so we have a semblance of a principle. It's not okay to change your physical appearance surgically, but it's okay to remediate a chemical imbalance. But they don't go further than that and there are many holes to poke.

Why is using Auto-Tune all the time fine? It might not be a permanent alteration, but it supposedly (based the dialogue from the episode) shows that the people on the show (and Lady Gaga) aren't proud of their singing voices unless the computer is enhancing it. What about more temporal appearance modification such as clothing, tattoos, and piercings? Is Lady Gaga dressing in wacky outfits and wearing lots of make up, obscuring her real appearance, better than plastic surgery? When is accepting medication not acceptable? How much chemical imbalance is enough to justify taking medication to change who you are?

As far as the whole t-shirt thing went, I'm confused that most people would choose physical characteristics and not something internal. Maybe it's because I like to be introspective, but basic physical features on the face shouldn't be the most pressing issue (brown eyes, the end of the world!!), especially for Rachel who apparently has no shame for being a bitch. Also, is Kurt ashamed of liking boys? I think the purpose of the shirts got lost in the shuffle.

Oh yeah, and the message of bullying--the writers should probably follow their own advice. Wasn't Ryan Murphy bullying the Kings of Leon by spewing his bile at them earlier in the year? But you can kind of see why he acts like that. His quote, "They’re self-centered assholes, and they missed the big picture. They missed that a 7-year-old kid can see someone close to their age singing a Kings of Leon song, which will maybe make them want to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument. It’s like, OK, hate on arts education. You can make fun of Glee all you want, but at its heart, what we really do is turn kids on to music," reflects the self-deluded generalizations you see on Glee.

The sad thing is, I actually like "Born This Way" more than some of the previous episodes simply because the plot is generally coherent and doesn't jump around wildly. Sure the theme made no sense, but the prom plot was fun and somewhat interesting.

Score: 8.1/10

Review - United States of Tara Season 3 Episode 5 Dr. Hatteras' Miracle Elixir

After the craziness at the end of last week's episode, United States of Tara settled back to prepare for the next part of the season. There is a lot pushing and pulling in the episode--Tara wanting to hold the baby and Dr. Hatteras wanting to do a study on Tara--and both happen at the end of the episode. With Alice behaving, nothing extreme happens, allowing for a more normalized episode. There are some great scenes of Charmaine and Neil, with Tara lingering in the background to hold the baby. The problem is that the alters are not always predictable and even if they follow the written agreement for now, their historical behavior would indicate that they will eventually break the ground rules.

The kids' plots are moving along as well. Kate begins her flight attendant training and isn't bad at it. Still, it looks like she needs more training before she can begin, so we'll probably see more training scenes. Marshall and Noah kiss a few times and Lionel catches on, shedding his cool exterior and telling Marshall how hurt he is.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Sanctuary Season 3 Episode 13 One Night

It's odd to watch a new episode on Friday and another new one three days later, isn't it? It's also odd that Magnus was absent from most of the episode, but it makes sense since Amanda Tapping directed the episode.

Like "Hangover" a few days ago, "One Night" is a filler episode. There is nothing new introduced other than the ship, which seems to be a one time occurrence since the whole operation should be taken down. Abby is a little dopey, but she works well with Will, who isn't the smoothest guy in his own right. The plot, however, suffers from a repetitive pattern. After getting kidnapped, they try to escape fail, start on the medical stuff, realize something is wrong, ask their captor what's going on, get an answer, and the cycle repeats. There is a hasty ending and it's over.

Score: 8.3/10

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review - The Event Season 1 Episode 18 Strain

With four episodes left, The Event is heading towards the season (probable series) finale, and "Strain" sets the table for what's coming. It's not as dense in terms of total plots as last week's episode, so we see a fair amount of Sterling trying to pin Jarvis for Martinez's poisoning. Ultimately, Sterling has to bite the bullet and accept that Jarvis will get away, but realizes that the poisoned coffee got on his sleeve. For all the time spent to show that Jarvis would be getting away scot-free and would also be president, the ending was rather cheap.

Sean and Vicki do some digging around and find the body carrying the weapon. And... it's the Spanish flu! I know it killed a lot of people back in the day--almost 100 years ago--but would it be effective in light of modern medicine? My guess is that the writers fill link the flu to extraterrestrial origins, which could be cool, but flu doesn't have the shock factor of, say, a massive ray gun.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Stargate Universe Season 2 Episode 18 Epilogue

Once again, I'm very impressed by Stargate Universe, or at least the concept behind "Epilogue." As the crew sift through the archives and look for supplies, we see interspersed through the episode brief clips of the crew starting from their first days on the world to death. It's fairly expansive since there isn't too much plot in the present, allowing us to see the development of culture as well as the relationships that take place.

What the episode does effectively is link the crew in the past, which forges their own path, to the crew in the present. We see characters pairing off--Young and TJ, James and Varro (weird pairing, wouldn't you say?), Greer and Park--but we also see Eli's fears of being alone, before the writers take the happy route and randomly through him in with Corporal Barnes. The scenes of TJ having ALS really hits home not only because we see her suffering in the past, but also because it has present-day implications, and we know the inevitable will happen (unless a cure is found in the Ancient database).

More importantly, we see the evolution of the society, starting from scratch to a thriving culture with grand skyscrapers. There is a real sense of accomplishment. The people who made this happen are essentially the same characters in the present and it gives a fresh perspective on them, that they can make it on their own if they want and it gives them hope for enduring until they reach Earth.

Because most things had to be wrapped up in this episode, the writers created lots of  situations to reach the end easily. It's par for the course, so it's not surprising, but I wanted to point them out. The scientists aren't even going to try to extrapolate to find the other ships (couldn't they look through the archives for speed and trajectory?). The scenes of two people looking at each other straight into childbirth were a little awkward. Varro taking a plunge would be a laughable way to end a love triangle, but he's still alive, though badly injured. The people evacuated years ago and Destiny reaches the planet just days before everything goes to hell. What are the chances of that?

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Treme Season 2 Episode 1 Accentuate the Positive

Like the last season, I won't have enough time to cover everything that happens on Treme, but I'll try to hit some key points.

The nature of Treme is that there is not an overarching plot throughout the season, unlike David Simon's The Wire, which carried a singular plot through each season. This was problematic for many people initially, expecting a New Orleans version of The Wire, and the ratings dipped as the season progressed. Still, for those who stuck around and accepted the show for what it is--slices into the lives of certain people in an expansive environment---there was a lot of watch. The characters were firmly established, outside forces pushed and pulled them while they did the same, and we got to see lots of the city and hear the music.

"Accentuate the Positive" follows in the same vein, following a bevy of characters across the country (most are in New Orleans, but Janette and Del are in New York) a bit over half a year since the end of last season. The characters' paths still aren't crossing all the time, but we do see Davis and Annie firmly together while Sonny is still hanging around and seemingly fine about the situation.

As far as things that really caught my eye, Sofia is still struggling in the aftermath of her father's death, and Toni, who has her own problems, can't seem to reach her. It seems like a major element of the second season is the growth of crime, and Colson will be a bigger part of the season in response.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - The Killing Season 1 Episode 5 Super 8

When reviewing a heavily serialized show like The Killing, one can never be too hesitant to criticize the plotting. I go into each episode assuming the writers have a coherent plan for the season and will execute it with some competence. Perhaps this is overly optimistic, but I want to believe that writers create serialized shows so that can tell a whole story over the course of a season and that they have the ideas ready in their head. In context of The Killing, I want to think that every new piece of information, every action contributes down the line to the ending of the season.

This applies most readily to Bennet, who was the suspect at the end of the last episode and remains the subject at the end of "Super 8." Unlike the situation Jasper and Kris, the evidence against Bennet actually mounts as the episode goes on. We learn that his pregnant wife was an ex-student and that he has chemicals which were found on Rosie. But the biggest piece of evidence absolving him of Rosie's murder is the fact that we're only five episodes into the season. There's no way the murder will be solved right now, and unless there is a bizarre cat-and-mouse thing going on for the remaining eight episodes, Bennet will be let go sooner or later (or, better yet, arrested for another crime since he seems like a creep).

This seems like a good move on the writers' part. If there were one additional suspect per episode, we could likely end up with too few suspects by the final episode. In addition, deviating from the initial one-episode-as-suspect format of Jasper and Kris allows for the writers to deviate more after Bennet and we could see some be a suspect for three episodes in the future.

That said, we're almost halfway through the season and things haven't exactly picked up. Linden is still headed towards some kind of obsession with the investigated, teased several times by Rick, but isn't there yet. Holden is still edgy, but we haven't learned anything too substantial about him (unless celibacy counts). Mitch continues to head off the deep end while Stan's grief pushes him towards the criminal elements. They rarely look at each other and the two children are suffering. From an individual episode standpoint, this slow built up of their characters isn't really going anywhere.

The one thing that did move forward was the Richmond campaign. Richmond, with the help of Jaime, nabs the mole who has ties to Yitanes, but also alienates Gwen by checking her emails, and it resembles the usual political stuff on other shows. However, The Killing isn't supposed to be about politics, and none of it seems remotely linked to any killings until we see Richmond and Bennet together. I'm hoping this is the missing link that ties the campaign to the investigation and gets the ball rolling.

Score: 8.6/10

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Review - Game of Thrones Season 1 Episode 2 The Kingsroad

After the pilot introduced all the characters, "The Kingsroad" sets out to show what kind of world they inhabit, and even if there isn't a lot going on plot-wise other than shuffling the pieces around, the immersion into the culture serves to enhance the drama and keep us on our toes.

The main theme of the episode is the stark divide in classes. Royalty is allowed to do pretty much anything to whoever they want and the ordinary people have take whatever is coming to them. On top of that, Robert and the Lannisters are able to do whatever they want to the Starks because they are a step above. This causes a lot of tension between the houses even before Arya lands in hot water. Catelyn is already expressing her doubts and fears, while Ned is somewhat reluctant to go along with Robert.

Of course, the last part of the episode is clear representation of this, as Joffrey is able to be a prick and still impose on the Starks. Whether he's like this as a result of upbringing or that's his nature is another question. Seeing his father order people around and knowing he is the heir must have a boon to self-esteem, possibly into arrogance.

There's nothing major lost resulting from Robert's imposition except for a Sansa's direwolf (I suppose some would consider that major, but at least no important person was killed) and the money spent, but it sets up general unease among everyone. Coupled with the White Walkers we saw at the beginning of the pilot and talk of further unrest if the Targaryens and Dothraki combine, the current equilibrium is hanging on a fine line and could break at any moment.

Score: 8.8/10

Preview of Week 4/24/11 - 4/30/11

Treme - HBO, Sunday, April 24, 10:00pm ET

HBO's acclaimed drama returns tonight. One thing I'm looking for is whether there is tighter plotting than the first season.

Glee - FOX, Tuesday, April 26, 8:00pm ET

This 90-minute, Lady Gaga-themed episode could be a total disaster, given Glee's track record, or it could be decent.

Justified - FX, Wednesday, April 27, 10:00pm ET

After the bloodshed at the end of the last episode, the second to last episode of the episode will definitely be a good run up to the season finale.

The Office - NBC, Thursday, April 28, 9:00pm ET

Michael Scott's final episode should be a must-watch for anyone who's followed the show at some point.

Fringe - FOX, Friday, April 29, 9:00pm ET

Season finale time means that shows like Fringe reach another level of epicness. With the machine turned on and Peter in the hospital, these last two episodes should be great.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Review - Sanctuary Season 3 Episode 12 Hangover

After the Hollow Earth arc, anything short of mythology-deep, exciting episode would be a disappointment. It doesn't mean that the episode would necessarily be bad, just that our expectations from Sanctuary are probably higher than they were a season ago.

"Hangover," however, is both a disappointment and a pretty poor episode. The initial confusion over the disorder and broken items in the Sanctuary is done very well since we're left completely in the dark and the possibilities are endless. Soon, we realize that whatever happened to the characters is transferred through touch (the editing made this too clear), so we are way ahead of Magnus. Unfortunately, we know this after Henry touches the abnormal, but the episode drags on as we see this happening again and again with no deviation until the characters finally figure it out. It's an ugly bug which caused all these problems and the episode turns out to be nothing more than filler.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Fringe Season 3 Episode 20 6:02 AM EST

Whether the big plot movement was a result of possible cancellation or that it was the intended path of the show, "6:02 AM EST" really stepped things up and made sure the audience knew that the season finale would be big. The episode begins with sheep obliterated and soon sinks the world into an apocalyptic situation, with the machine turned on in the other world, by Walternate using Peter's half of the baby's DNA, which in turn activates the machine in our world.

The other Olivia makes her fateful choice, deciding to try to cross over to stop Walternate, but gets caught. Peter touches the machine to get it to stop, but is thrown to the ground and is in bad condition in the hospital. I guess the only person whose plan goes the right way is Walternate. These actions cause lots of angst for the other characters, especially Walter, who prays to God (or a god, however you want to interpret his actions).

What's up with Sam Weiss? Given how much he's been hyped up, he could provide an explanation for everything, which would be far too easy

Score: 9.2/10

Review - Supernatural Season 6 Episode 18 Frontierland

There comes a time when a string of episodes like "Frontierland" show up and you begin to wonder when the meat of the season is coming. It's near the end of the sixth season and honestly, not much has happened since the first arc of the season with soulless Sam. Supposedly, the angels are fighting a huge war and Eve is on a rampage, but so far, we've seen little of anything.

Normally, I'd be fine with a gimmicky episode like "Frontierland," because the writers are adept at writing funny situations while advancing the plot without cutting too many corners. This time around, however, the overall plot development is paper thin, while the rest of the episode is dedicated to  "this travel travel thing is funky" jokes, which are funny but not deep.

The plot of the episode is rather meager as well, with the Phoenix, an angry guy who burns people, and Samuel Colt, a regular, chill guy, turning out to be stock characters. The final confrontation, teased at the beginning of the episode, is over in a blink of an eye and is very anticlimactic.

Looking ahead, Castiel has a big, dark secret that caused another angel to attack him. Hopefully we'll finally get to see what's going on in heaven.

Score: 8.3/10

Friday, April 22, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 4/21/11

FOX won with American Idol (5.8) and Bones (3.2).

NBC was second with Community (1.4), The Paul Reiser Show (0.9), The Office (3.3), Parks and Recreation (2.4), and 30 Rock (2.2). The Paul Reiser Show was cancelled today, unsurprisingly, and 30 Rock's 100th episode did not bring in significantly more viewers.

CBS was third with repeats of The Big Bang Theory (1.8), Rules of Engagement (1.5), CSI (1.6), and The Mentalist (2.1).

ABC was last with Wipeout (1.3), Grey’s Anatomy (1.2), and Private Practice (0.8).

Review - Bones Season 6 Episode 19 The Finder

I've been far too busy to keep up on the latest Bones news, so I was initially confused about "The Finder." I wondered who these new people were and why they were featured so prominently. Something clicked in my mind and I realized this was the backdoor pilot I'd read about some time ago.

The idea of a Bones spin-off is pretty good from FOX's standpoint. The network has had a hard time launching new shows, and aside from Glee, most in recent memory have failed (low ratings or cancelled). Bones has had very solid ratings for years and a dedicated core audience, which means that they will have to watch this new show at least once (or a portion of it, depending on how many people stopped watching after a while).

The problem, though, is that people want to watch Bones, not this new thing with three new people. The writers try to appease this problem by keeping Booth and Brennan somewhat active in the episode and bringing in the other characters later. The result, however, is a mess of plotting--unfocused, redundant, and with little mystery.

I could see this show working on its own. The three main characters aren't bad (though the British accent HAS to go) and a procedural about finding things could be fun. But this is a Bones episode and the awkward attempt to put the two groups together failed miserably.

Score: 7.0/10

Review - Nikita Season 1 Episode 19 Girl's Best Friend

I've commented several times about how there is little nuisance to the way Divisions and Percy are portrayed. For all intents and purposes, Percy is an evil, power-hungry individual, who, in turn, makes Division evil. "Girl's Best Friend" pulls back on that slightly, with Michael insisting that the current task would be better for the world. After all, who's against destroying dangerous weapons? This thought festers in our mind until the end of the episode, when Jaden happens the chunk to Percy.

We see that Nikita is not a story about morality or doing to right thing. The main character, Nikita, Alex, and Michael, are all on the right side of the fight and, from what we can tell, moral people. The real story is that of deception, layers good and evil trying to outwit and outthink the other, sometimes pretending to be the other. This is where the ambiguity comes in and where Nikita is most interesting.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Parks and Recreation Season 3 Episode 9 Soulmates

Leslie and Tom? The writers know how confounding and gross this combination would be to the viewers, and they exploit that perfectly in "Soulmates," having Leslie and Tom become soulmates on an online dating site. It's disturbing and very funny. Meanwhile, the Ben and Leslie thing will be dragged out longer because Chris has a no office dating policy.

Beef prevails over turkey. Fuck yeah!

Score: 9.2/10

Review - The Office Season 7 Episode 20 Michael's Last Dundies

As most people probably know, "Michael's Last Dundies" is the second to last episode for Michael Scott. With this in mind, I'm guessing most people don't really care if these past couple episodes don't have much plot. Michael's plot, getting back together with Holly, is already finished, and there isn't much left to do but reminisce on past times.

The episode begins with Michael being an ass, before he comes around and we understand why he's making such a fuss. He has a dedication to the office unmatched by anyone and he will feel bad about leaving. The episode culminates in a sweet song from the rest of the office, confirming that, despite Michael's numerous problems, he was a good boss.

Deangelo was about as unfunny as he was last week, even though he had the speech problem. The problem is that he's a big part of these episodes and makes the episodes not funny in general. I'm interested to see if he'll be funnier once Michael is out of the picture.

Score: 8.4/10

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review - Community Season 2 Episode 21 Paradigms of Human Memory

When I read the episode description for "Paradigms of Human Memory," I wondered why Community would retreat to a clip episode when it's been on fire all season long. Was this something to trim the budget? Had the writers run out of ideas? And then I watched the episode.

"Paradigms of Human Memory" is nothing short of brilliant, and it is a clip show, just not the normal kind. Every clip is new, and the episode is a laugh riot. The recollections begin when Chang climbs after the monkey and discovers all the stolen items. We soon learn of Jeff and Britta's ongoing sexual relationship, Abed love of The Cape, the western ghost town, the killer robot, and, best of all, Youtube-style montages of Jeff and Annie giving each others looks along with Abed and Pierce looks, among a bunch of other flashbacks.

The episode has a little emotion tacked on in the end as most Community episodes do, with the group anger at each other for the present, but ready to meet again tomorrow. This may be a dysfunctional group of people, each with his/her many faults, but it works somehow.

Score: 9.6/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 4/20/11

FOX won with American Idol (7.1) and Breaking In (2.5). Breaking In fell a bit, but is still in the right range.

ABC was second with The Middle (1.9), Better With You (1.6), Modern Family (3.8), Cougar Town (2.3), and Happy Endings (1.8, 1.6). Happy Endings fell from the season premiere, but it's not entirely out yet.

CBS was third with Survivor (3.1) and repeats of Criminal Minds (1.9) and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (1.7).

NBC was last with Minute To Win It (0.8) and repeats of Minute To Win It  (0.8) and Law & Order: SVU (1.4).

Review - Breaking In Season 1 Episode 3 Need for Speed

Because Breaking In is very surrealistic at times, it's hard to judge characters like Melanie and Dutch who are on the fringes of regular behavior. They fail to notice obvious signs and react very differently to every situation than other characters, including Oz. This causes lots of randomness to go on, which kind of translates into humor.

I'm not sure what the writers intended, but the sentient copier was probably the least subtle thing I've ever seen. It was obvious from the beginning that Oz was behind it, taking away the mystique of a killer copier.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Justified Season 2 Episode 11 Full Commitment

No time for a longer review again. :(

Justified has hit the home stretch and is rapidly approaching the climax with only two episodes left. There's no time for usual Marshall business or a break in the activity, as all the factions and interests will come into conflict soon. As the title "Full Commitment" suggests, people make their choices and stick to them, and some pay the consequences.

The big cliffhanger is Dickie shooting Helen, and I don't think she made it out alive unless Dickie was intending to send a message to Arlo. Of course, this all wraps back to Boyd, who recruited Arlo, so Raylan will definitely be looking for him. That doesn't necessary mean he'll be violent, though, as he dealt with Wynn and Gary civilly.

Score: 9.2/10

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review - Modern Family Season 2 Episode 20 Someone to Watch Over Lily

My main complaint about episodes of Modern Family has been the usage of Cam and Mitchell who rarely get much to do or have plots where things just go crazy. The writers put them to good use in "Someone to Watch Over Lily," not giving them the most screen time, but using them effectively in a supporting role, as Mitchell tries to decide who will be Lily's guardian in light of something happening to him or Cam.

Jay and Gloria are eventually picked after a bit of trouble. Cam sees Jay pushing Manny to climb the rock wall and it troubles him, because his parenting ideology is different. Likewise, Gloria gets Lily's ears pierced and the protective parents aren't too happy. But Jay isn't hard on Manny all the time and Gloria's enthusiasm should be enough, so Mitch and Cam come to a decision.

Claire and Phil are the other choices, but from their actions in the episode, it's no wonder they weren't chosen. After bringing Luke to a child psychologist, Claire blurts out that she doesn't want Luke to end up like Phil. All is well in the end, however, even after they leave Luke at the parking lot.

Haley and Alex get a plot of their own as Alex goes with Haley to vandalize the school. What could easily turn into pure silliness becomes a nice sister moment when Alex admits that she hates the cello and actually went to the wrong house for the lesson, but wants to continue because she's the only one in the family that can do these things.

Score: 9.0/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 4/19/11

FOX won with Glee (3.8), Raising Hope (2.1), and Traffic Light (1.3).

NBC was second with The Biggest Loser (2.3) and Parenthood (2.5). Very impressive season finale for Parenthood, which should be good enough for a renewal.

CBS was third with repeats of NCIS (2.2) and NCIS: Los Angeles (2.4, 2.1). Looks like a repeat of NCISLA can beat TGW.

ABC was last with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (1.1), Dancing with the Stars (3.0), and Body Of Proof (2.4). Body of Proof is still hanging in there are should survive if it stays the same.

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 4/15/11

FOX won with American Idol (6.4) and Bones (3.4).

NBC was second with Community (1.4), The Paul Reiser Show (1.1), The Office (4.0), Parks and Recreation (2.5), 30 Rock (2.2), and Outsourced (1.7). Could Outsourced by on an upswing?

CBS was third with repeats of The Big Bang Theory (1.8), Rules of Engagement (1.4), CSI (1.4), and The Mentalist  (1.9).

ABC was last with Wipeout (1.9) and repeats of Grey’s Anatomy (1.3) and Private Practice (0.8).

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 4/18/11

ABC won with Dancing with the Stars (4.0), Cougar Town (2.2), and 20/20 (1.7). Look like DWTS viewers don't care about Cougar Town.

FOX was second with House (3.2) and The Chicago Code (1.8).

CBS was third with How I Met Your Mother (2.5), Mad Love (2.0), a repeat of Two and a Half Men (2.1), Mike & Molly (2.7), and Hawaii Five-0 (2.8). Weren't the comedies at or above 3.0 a month ago?

NBC was last with Chuck (1.3), The Event (1.1), and Law & Order: Los Angeles (1.1). Chuck remains low, but the rest are even lower!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review - Body of Proof Season 1 Episode 6 Dead Man Walking

Even if a procedural isn't entirely based on new ideas, it still has its recognizable ticks. For Body of Proof, one of them is Megan outright accusing someone at an inappropriate time and drawing ire from the accused and his/her friends/etc. This happens without fail in every episode, and it gets tedious after a while. Part of this stems from the fact that the writers want as much people to know Megan, so these beginning episodes will largely flow around Megan's central traits--her passion to find the criminal, her guilt over killing someone, and her guilt over losing her daughter.

The case this week is balanced by Ethan and Curtis have their own body this week, and while they don't solve a crime, they do discover that the twin sister of deceased has the potential to have blood clots, so they kind of save a life.

Score: 8.4/10

Random tidbit: Geoffrey Arend, who plays Ethan, is married to Christina Hendricks, who played the redheaded twin.

Review - Glee Season 2 Episode 17 A Night of Neglect

When people negatively stereotype Glee, they usually bring up the stunt casting, the lack of direction, and how the songs are the only focus of the show. While I partially agree with comments like these, I also have a "but" to add; Glee is a great show at times, and there have been times when I've been thoroughly impressed. But I look at "A Night of Neglect" and wonder, "What the hell?"

I'll start with Sue, who is, in my opinion, the most outlandish character on the show. Sue is pretty much far-gone, starting the "league of doom" to further combat Will. Without any pretense, she states her goal to destroy him, the glee club, and the students. The writers might try to marginalize her evilness, like the random hospital scene a while back, but the writers always return to the supervillain who attempts to stop the heroes at every turn for no good reason and loses in the end. The major problem, however, is that unlike Sunshine or Holly, Sue can't be written out because Jane Lynch has gotten so many accolades and is a terrific actress. The only solution is that the writers have to write her character back into realism, and unfortunately, they continue to dig themselves deeper into a hole.

A bigger problem than Sue, though, are all the random subplots which have little relevance. "A Night of Neglect" is filled to the brink with them. Sunshine Corazon returns, sings, is slated to sing later, and never returns; Kurt, Blaine, and Santana have a random confrontation with Karofsky in the hallways.

Even the plot-relevant stuff was done haphazardly. Emma, after doing little this season, pops up to tell Will that Carl wants an annulment. At the end of the episode, Holly gets a job offer like Cleveland. Just like that, Will and Emma are inches from being back on with zero character development to get there. After lots of diva-ing, Rachel decides to be nice for once and let Mercedes have the final song. Does this mean Mercedes will get the spotlight in the future? With Glee, you never know.

Score: 7.0/10

Review - United States of Tara Season 3 Episode 4 Wheels

"Wheels" begins with a joyful event, the birth of Cassandra, but the episode quickly takes a turn. Charmaine, realizing how dangerous Tara can be, refuses to let Tara hold the baby. This, in turn, causes more stress for Tara who wants to succeed in school but can't get an extension for a test, which leads her to lash out at Max. Finally, she sits her alters down and tells them that their days of freedom at over. It turns out that she's in the lecture hall, covered in the writing she told the alters to do!  Big, big props to Toni Collette for being so good.

Still nothing for Marshall to do, but Kate has a new idea, becoming a flight attendant. That could work I guess.

Score: 9.3/10

Review - Stargate Universe Season 2 Episode 17 Common Descent

Despite an opening similarity to a certain Star Trek: DS9 episode, "Common Descent" quickly establishes itself as a unique and interesting episode, ranking near the top of my favorite SGU episodes. Given my general disdain for most episodes, I have to add that "Common Descent" was a good episode by itself.

They find a planet populated by descendants of the crew that was thought to be lost when they tried to dial via the sun. And this group is actually just explorers, cut off from the home planet, which was having political and environmental difficulties, and unable to dial back. This is really a fascinating idea and the writers fully explore the implications--the videos from the past reflecting on the present, language remaining intact, a political and ideological divide, and technological progress over time.

The great thing about this is that the writers don't brush this under the rug and somehow turn back the clock so that the civilization was never started. The descendants come on board, stay, and are there when they find the home planet covered in volcanic ash. There's going to be continuity!

Score: 9.1/10

Review - The Chicago Code Season 1 Episode 9 St. Valentine's Day Massacre

The internal rumblings of the police department come to a head in "St. Valentine's Day Massacre," placing Teresa in possibly her most difficult position yet, facing a vote of no confidence. She's confronted from all sides--from the mayor, the media, the public, and the officers--and each move she makes can have a large effect. If there's one thing that the episode shows us, it's that doing the job the right way pays off, as the criminal is caught and Teresa handles it like any other case.

There is a small subplot with Vonda and Isaac going up a vile attorney, who is also very perceptive, and the city is forced to pay. She mentions their relationship, so they could be running into more trouble soon.

Teresa and Jarek give Deion control of the gang, assuming he'll run it into the ground. Really? The writers better have a follow-up.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - The Event Season 1 Episode 17 Cut Off The Head

The Event works best when crazy shit happens. The characters suck, the plot holes are aplenty, and the writing in general is terrible. But I gotta admit--there is some really wild things that go on sometimes. "Cut Off The Head," unfortunately, is not the least bit exciting and juggles several plots in preparation for next week's episode

Sophia finds this body in Siberia which is supposed to be the weapon, she gets Jarvis the poison to kill Martinez, Dempsey randomly kills himself while Sean and Vicky are still figuring out what to do, Leila tries escaping and manages to call Sean, and lastly, Martinez's wife tells him a story about how her parents were Dominican, not Cuban, which seems to be a cover up. Yeah, a lot happening but nothing too important.

Score: 7.8/10

Review - House Season 7 Episode 19 Last Temptation

Well, there goes Masters. To be honest, I didn't really care about her one way or another. She was just another character to bounce lines off of House and it was the predictable "that's against the rules!" dialogue every time. But that's not bad in the context of House, because she was at least a distinctive character. So in the end, I'm fine with how things went down. I don't care about her character staying or leaving and she didn't contribute much to the overall plot anyway.

"Last Temptation" tries its hardest to set up a situation where Master is put in a difficult condition and go against her conviction. The girls arm HAS to be cut off, her parents HAVE to be idiots, and Master HAS to save the girl, so she HAS to break major rules and pull a House. Then she gets up and leaves. I guess this is plausible...

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Chuck Season 4 Episode 21 Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner

First things first, Chuck and Sarah getting conned was utterly ridiculous and the usage of CIA funds to track down the wedding planner was almost as bad. But this is Chuck, where things like that are pretty much givens. It hasn't improved and will likely never improve.

"Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner" features the return of Jack Burton to explore Sarah's background. We see young Sarah helping her father con, and see the connection between them. The episode, though, isn't entirely about Jack, as Chuck and Sarah do carry the load. He saves the day in two respects--making sure no one got hurt and leaving money for Sarah--but he definitely didn't dominate the episode as past guests did.

Kathleen finally finds and talks to Casey, first doubting his story before seeing him flash his badge to the police. It feels very incomplete, however, so I want to see if this will be expanded, because if left in this paltry form, it'll be largely a waste.

With three episodes left in the season, Chuck is possibly coming to an end this season because of terrible ratings yet again. Yes, NBC has bad ratings, but Chuck has continued to drop and is now lingering below 1.5.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 6 Episode 21 Hopeless

After the brief detour last week, How I Met Your Mother returned to Barney and the ongoing plot about his father. It dives into the central conflict of Barney's character, that Barney only seems to care about sex and nothing else, which isn't much of a character at all. There have been glimpses here and there that Barney cares about more, but he's never confronted these issues head-on.

Seeing and talking with his father, however, has changed his outlook. After Jerry pretends to get drunk and do all these things, he tells Barney the outright truth about drinking and growing up, and Barney admits he is fundamentally broken. With such a revelation and admission, what's next for Barney? We've gone down this road before, but Barney and Robin?

Robin has a small plot of her own, teasing something in future regarding Michael Trucco's character and we also learn the origin of Ted's red boots. While the whole thing wasn't necessary plot-wise, it added the humor that Barney's plot didn't necessarily have.

Score: 8.8/10

Monday, April 18, 2011

Review - The Killing Season 1 Episode 4 A Soundless Echo

We know the first season of The Killing has 13 episodes and because we're only at the fourth episode, Rosie's murder won't be solved. Any leads which appear to be the answer--the video or the letters from Bennett to Rosie--are almost 100% red herrings. Even if that is the case, we learn from the interrogations of Jasper and Kris that Rosie was leaving school to do something, which leads Holder to Bennett as Linden finds the letters.

"A Soundless Echo" gives us a good look at these characters, starting with Sterling who is wallowing in her grief and guilt. Mitch is crumbling while we learn that Stan bought a house and was involved in some criminal activity. One thing that caught my eye was how creepy Rick was. I might be my innate reaction to Callum Keith Rennie, but his scenes with Linden and Jack were a little off.

Richmond's campaign is still loosely tied to Rosie's murder and there hasn't been more concrete connections made. Still, the stolen campaign car is hurting the campaign and Richmond is looking for more money. We also learn that Jaime was fired so he could get close to Mayor Adams, and it's working so far.  

Score: 9.0/10

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Review - Game of Thrones Season 1 Episode 1 Winter Is Coming

Because of time constraints (except late reviews for Monday's shows) and a serious lack of sleep, I won't spend too much time with the premiere of Game of Thrones, but there isn't much to say yet anyway. This is an introductory episode, after all.

From the first episode alone, the mythology is deep and there are a lot of characters to keep track of. So far, we know that there was a war to win the throne and the son of the loser is preparing to take over by using his sister to gain an army. There is quite a bit of sexual politics and just sex itself, resulting in the episode's cliffhanger, Bran taking a big fall. Meanwhile, there is a Wall to the north, protecting everyone from these creatures which seem to be only myths. But as the harrowing opening shows, they're definitely real and ready to kill.

Aside from the first few minutes of the episode, "Winter Is Coming" didn't blow my socks off, nor was it intended it to. The episode sets up the characters, the major conflicts, and some backstory governing these aspects. In HBO fashion, these elements from unravel and combine as the season progresses, but we'll have to wait.

Score: 8.9/10

Just a note, I have not read the book which the show is based on, but I probably will after the season finished (unless I really want to know what happens next).

Review - Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe

The Fall of Sam Axe is one of those things which isn't necessary, and you begin to wonder why it was even made. Filling in Sam's backstory is a good idea, but it's not something we couldn't live without. From a plot standpoint with regard to the series as a whole, nothing would change even if the movie were not made. Maybe we'll see the characters reappear in a future season at most.

So if the backstory isn't all that impressive, what's left? As a standalone story, The Fall of Sam Axe is a by the books narrative of the hero leading a bunch of commoners to victory over guys with big guns before the US military swoops in to save the day. There are explosions, car chases, gun battles, comedy, and typical goodwill from Sam--all components of a Burn Notice. Basically, this is a regular episode of Burn Notice extended an hour, in a different location, and minus Michael, Fi, and Madeline.

From my perspective, whether one enjoys The Fall of Sam Axe depends on how much he/she cares about time. It's not crucial, but it has its fun parts spread across two hours, and isn't a complete waste of time. On the other hand, The Killing and the premiere of Game of Thrones are tonight, so there are also better ways to spend two hours.

Score: 8.2/10

Preview of Week 4/17/11 - 4/23/11

Burn Notice - USA, Sunday, April 17, 9:00pm ET

In what appears to be an attempt to squeeze out as much money out of the show as possible, USA brings us The Fall of Sam Axe, a long, lackluster episode of Burn Notice.

Game of Thrones  - HBO, Sunday, April 17, 9:00pm ET

HBO's highly anticipated drama arrives tonight and should do just fine. However, I do wonder how people will react to it, given its similarities to Camelot and The Borgias.

Glee - FOX, Tuesday, April 19, 8:00pm ET

Glee is back after a month, so we'll see what the characters are up to in the run up to nationals.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review - Sanctuary Season 3 Episode 11 Pax Romana

Sanctuary has been gone since mid-December! If you can remember all the way back, Helen, Will, Henry, and Kate had been killed by Ranna after trespassing into Praxis. "Pax Romana" begins right where the previous episode leaves off, and the episode is largely with mythology/plot-related material.

The problem facing the city is that there is increasing seismic activity, and the super-abnormal that it supposed to regulate it is currently out of operation. While Helen, Ranna, and Kate go to help the creature, Will and Henry stay behind to track down Adam. After a lot of plot, all is well--John takes care of Adam, the abnormal is saved, the city is saved, and Helen gains partial trust from Ranna.

Just like that, the arc which began very early in the season, stretched on continuously until now is over. Am I disappointed? Considering how long the buildup was compared to the relatively brief payoff, yes. But it was a fine episode by itself and the city still has plenty to be explored.

One thing I'm curious about is the title of the episode, "Pax Romana." There are certainly parallels between the Roman Empire and Praxis--the technology and duration of existence--but does the title imply that Praxis achieved peace by beating their enemies into submission, as the Romans did?

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Camelot Season 1 Episode 4 Lady Of The Lake

Camelot hasn't yet reached the level where it's entertaining, but I like parts of this reimagining, Merlin's portrayal, in particular. We see a real darkness in him, willing to take the straightest path for an objective and always protecting himself in the process. Likewise, Arthur is not portrayed as a noble king, but rather a bratty kid whose priorities are in the wrong place. There is potential lying somewhere in here, but it still has not come out.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Supernatural Season 6 Episode 17 My Heart Will Go On

One thing Supernatural has been able to do consistently is taking a bizarre situation and spinning it in a way to connect to the mythology. This is the case with "My Heart Will Go On," which begins in an alternate universe. We notice all the discrepancies right away--Ellen being alive and the Mustang logo--but, deviating from previous episodes like this, Sam and Dean are oblivious to anything being wrong and continue their normal investigations.

Soon, everything becomes evident as Balthazar shows up to show his hate for Titanic and Fate shows up to kill off people who deserve to be killed. Ultimately, there is little overall story progression, but we do see Ellen again and are introduced to Fate.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Fringe Season 3 Episode 19 Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

Whatever one may think about "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide," there's no denying that the writers are as bold as ever. While most shows lie back and return to normalcy after large events, Fringe pushes forward in its own unconventional way. "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide" doesn't advance the plot of the two worlds fighting, but it does resolve the issue of William Bell and has plenty of humor along the way.

The episode is one long LSD trip--a cartoon with zombies and zeppelins, Broyles tripping, and wacky stuff in general. But the writers never forget that they have a purpose, and the episode is quite emotional with the return of Olivia and the departure of William Bell. Of course, the last line of the episode, Olivia casually remarking that the man in the drawing will kill her, is the type of cliffhanger we've come to expect.

Score: 8.9/10

Friday, April 15, 2011

Review - Chaos Season 1 Episode 3 Love and Rockets

If you haven't read by now, Chaos has bad ratings, even for Friday nights. There is basically no chance for renewal, but we might as well enjoy these episodes while they last.

I don't understand why the show doesn't appeal to viewers (although it is a bit out of the CBS mainstream), because there is plenty to like about it. "Love and Rockets" has some funny spy stuff, Casey staying in the car compartment for eternity and the usual hijinks to get out of the situation. The pathos doesn't really get through, but it's not really the point, as the sense of duty always comes out on top.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Parks & Recreation Season 3 Episode 9 Fancy Party

I still have a bazillion shows to watch, so this will be very short.

April and Andy's wedding was random, if not unexpected, and it works out for the best. We get to see the characters out of the office, which is always fun, and April and Andy continue to be great together. There is also plot progression, as Ben decides to stay and Pawnee and the signs of him and Leslie getting together are all too clear.

Score: 9.3/10

Review - The Office Season 7 Episode 20 Training Day

I still have a bazillion shows to watch, so this will be very short.

That was boring, wasn't it? Deangelo Vickers, played by Will Ferrell, shows up to replace Michael and everyone sucks up to him in their own ways. There are plenty of funny scenes, but the plot, outside of Michael's petulant jealousy, goes nowhere. Since Michael is leaving very soon, hopefully we'll get more.

Score: 8.0/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 4/14/11

FOX won with American Idol (6.4) and Bones (3.5). Bones continues to do well after AI.

NBC was second with Community (1.4), The Paul Reiser Show (1.1), The Office (4.0), Parks and Recreation (2.5), 30 Rock (2.2), and Outsourced (1.7). Horrible ratings for Community and The Paul Reiser Show.

CBS was third with repeats of The Big Bang Theory (1.8), Rules of Engagement (1.4), CSI (1.4), and The Mentalist (1.9).

ABC was last with Wipeout (1.9) and repeat of Grey’s Anatomy (1.3) and Private Practice (0.8).

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 4/13/11

FOX won with American Idol (7.3) and Breaking In (2.6). Pretty big plunge for Breaking In, but we'll see what happens.

CBS was second with Survivor (3.1), Criminal Minds (3.5), and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2.6). Suspect Behavior needs more ratings like this week's.

ABC was third with The Middle (1.8), Better With You (1.5), Modern Family (3.9), Happy Endings (2.8, 2.3), and a repeat of Modern Family (1.8). Okay start for Happy Endings, but the second episode's 2.3 is troubling.

NBC was last with Minute To Win It (0.9), and repeats of Minute To Win It (0.9) and Law & Order: SVU (1.5).

Review - Community Season 2 Episode 20 Competitive Wine Tasting

I still have a bazillion shows to watch, so this will be very short.

Falling back into normal mode, Community returned with "Competitive Wine Tasting," an episode without any distinct qualities, but is pleasant nonetheless. These characters have been built up so well that practically anything could happen with them and we'd still laugh. There are three distinct plots in the episode--Pierce's girlfriend, Abed being a "Who's the Boss?" wunderkind, and Troy lying about being molested in front of the acting class--each having their unique qualities, notably Pierce not being too mean for once.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Nikita Season 1 Episode 18 Into the Dark

"Into the Dark" makes me wonder what Nikita would look like if it were not on the CW. There is a lot of good action and some cool stuff with Alex, but, in CW fashion, also a lot of sappy relationship stuff for Nikita and Michael. It's fine and all, but very generic and not particularly interesting.

What is interesting, though, is Amanda interrogating Alex and admitting that she wanted Alex killed. Amanda practically has Alex, using an fMRI to know when Alex is lying. However, Alex worms her way out brilliantly, answering the questions in a general way, not using specific names, so she doesn't lie but also does not inform Amanda who the real mole is.

Meanwhile, we see Owen in withdrawal while he and Nikita retrieve the black box. Eventually, the box is destroy, to Owen's dismay, but there are still plenty more out there to be found and I'm guessing Owen won't have an withdrawals next time, so Nikita and Michael may have a harder time stopping him to leaking the information.

Score: 8.9/10

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review - Breaking In Season 1 Episode 2 Tis Better to Have Loved and Flossed

So far, I'm really liking Breaking In. It's not something that's deep or even that funny, but for a mere half hour you get a USA show without a lot of the exposition. The team jumps into job, there are some good lines thrown in, Oz is the master of everything, and all is well in the end. As the handling of the situation with Cam and Oz's wife shows, the writers are definitely not taking things seriously and it makes for a fun time.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Happy Endings Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot / 2 The Quicksand Girlfriend

In a normal year Happy Endings might seem unique. There is no laugh track and the series begins with a bride leaving the groom at the altar. But this is the 2010-2011 season when almost every new comedy is about a group of people and romantic relationships. We've seen similar setups in Better With You, Perfect Couples, Traffic Light, and Mad Love--friends dealing with relationship issues. The themes of the shows overlap and they all look the same after a while.

Happy Endings had several funny lines and some really cringe-worthy ones, so it's not entirely bad. But it's not something I would watch in the first place, and given he glut of similar shows, it's even less appealing.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Justified Season 2 Episode 10 Debts And Accounts

With three episodes left in the season, Justified is really heating up and all the pieces are coming together. The biggest turn this week was Boyd's complete upholding of the Crowder legacy, plotting and planning to take Harlan. He gets some allies, including his cousin Johnny, and picks Dickie as his method of reintroducing himself.

Meanwhile, Mags seems to be turning away from criminality because she has a nice bundle of cash, and instead of fully blaming Raylan for Coover's death, she actually puts it on Dickie and basically tells him to get lost. We see from this that Mags is somewhat rational in her actions, knowing that pot has its limitations, but cutting her son out at the same time would seem to be an impulsive move. The natural tendency would be to go after Raylan, though, so perhaps publicly disowning Dickie instead of trying to kill Raylan is actually a calculated move to draw less attention.

There is a lot of Raylan and Winona in the episode, mostly them expressing their doubts, but in the end, they agree to move away. But as soon as that happens, they're ambushed and Raylan is forced to kill two guys. With Boyd on the warpath, it's almost inconceivable to think of Raylan leaving now. But what does this mean for Winona who must have been scared out of her wits?

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Modern Family Season 2 Episode 19 The Musical Man

When the plots of Modern Family falter, as they have several times this season, you can still rely on the clever word play of the writers to make the episode watchable. The Dunphy's plot about the horribly misplaced and badly worded ad on the van never went anywhere, but it had me laughing until the end of the episode. Balancing the humor Jay and his brother have some touching moments, which didn't have that many jokes.

All too often in season two, Cam and Mitch have been marginalized, and that was again the case. Cam has something more substantial to do this week, but the plot turns into the usual Cam going overboard thing. It's just tiresome at the end of the episode after Cam demands too much out of the kids when it's obvious the musical won't work out. Mitch, as usual, is afraid of being upfront, but tells the truth in the end. Perhaps the plot would work if the writers fleshed it out more, but that would also mean cutting back on the other plots, which they seem unwilling to do.

Score: 8.5/10

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review - Body of Proof Season 1 Episode 4 Talking Heads

I'll be very busy the next two days, so I'll likely review a couple episodes at most and postpone the rest until Friday.

I don't have much to say about "Talking Heads," except that the writers are trying too hard to make us see that Megan cares. The whole "lift your hand" thing was far overdrawn and seemed like a really corny, prepared speech.

Score: 8.3/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 4/12/11

CBS won with NCIS (3.9), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.3), and The Good Wife (2.0). TGW continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

NBC was second with The Biggest Loser (2.7) and Parenthood (2.1).

ABC was third with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (1.5), Dancing with the Stars (3.1), and Body Of Proof (2.5). Body Of Proof is just fine right now.

FOX was last with repeats of Glee (1.4), Raising Hope (1.1), and a new episode of Traffic Light (0.9).

Review - The Good Wife Season 2 Episode 20 Foreign Affairs

The Good Wife does a good job making characters seem real, even some of the wackier judges who sometimes stray a little too far. Then there is Hugo Chavez. He's a bad person, a tyrant, and many other descriptors. That's all true. But what he isn't is this silly, ridiculous loser who spends his time talking to lawyers via satellite and seem like a big joke. Sure he says stupid stuff in public, but that's for the dumb leftists who gobble up his rhetoric. Why did the writers have to bring him in anyway if he was going to be such an unrealistic joke? And the stuff with Fred Thompson was along the same lines, though toned down.

The rest of the episode was rather good, however, and partially makes up for dumb parts. Alicia goes on television to turn the tide of the election in Peter's favor, and is quite candid about Peter and her family. Whether she helped or not, Peter wins and everyone is happy.

And then the investigator arrives, telling Alicia that Blake had lied about this woman Leela who isn't in any database. Where has Alicia heard that name before... Peter is absent for all the of the episode and right as he appears at the very end of the episode, the waterworks start, and with if, the big cloud of Kalinda sleeping with Peter. Something major has to happen, right? Even if Alicia says the past was the past, Peter still lied (or omitted) about sleeping with Alicia's coworker and friend, and the same goes for Kalinda.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - NCIS Season 8 Episode 21 Dead Reflection

"Dead Reflection" has a case with Mission Impossible masks which sets up the background for everything else going on. With EJ's team coming in, the port to port killer still on the loose, and some thorny relationship issues to work out, there's quite a bit left before the end of the season.

Gibbs confronts Tony about his relationship with EJ after Tony is somewhat distracted during the case. Gibbs has a solid reason for being upfront with Tony since he wants Tony to work optimally, but we also have to remember that Gibbs doesn't like EJ, which could play a role in his decision making.

The new team arrives and while they probably won't be explored much, the the big guy outclasses McGee in every respect and cozies up to Abby which was fun. But McGee isn't the only one feeling threatened, as both Ziva and EJ aren't sure what to make of the other, especially when it comes to Tony.

EJ has this idea about placing the eye in front of the MTAC scanner and sure enough the door opens. Could the eye be from someone important we've met in the past?

Score: 8.8/10

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 4/11/11

ABC won with Dancing with the Stars (4.5) and Castle (3.0). Another showing for Castle.

FOX was second with House (3.2) and The Chicago Code (1.8). Bad night for FOX, and The Chicago Code remains in trouble.

CBS was third with How I Met Your Mother (2.7), Mad Love (1.9), Mike & Molly (2.5), a repeat of Two and a Half Men (2.0), and Hawaii Five-0 (2.5). Bad night for CBS as well with new episodes not passing 3.0.

NBC was last with Chuck (1.3) and Law & Order: Los Angeles (1.4, 1.6). Following the general trend, both Chuck and LOLA hit lows.

Review - Stargate Universe Season 3 Episode 16 The Hunt

There's something attractive about an episode like "The Hunt," reminiscent of Syfy's many Saturday monster movies. First off, there is a tangible creature on the prowl which is always a plus, and it's entertaining to see the characters try to retrieve their crew mates when there is danger.

That alone would have been enough for a decent, non-intrusive episode. But the writers had to throw in a new love triangles which are as boring as they get. We've already gone through with with Scott, Eli, and Chloe, Young, TJ, and Varro, and now we'll have to get through another one. Ugh...

Everyone is having a good time at the end of the episode, but does anyone care that a bunch of people were killed in the process of rescuing just two people? No one is even remotely troubled? How about the fact that Greer killed the deer after sparing the other sentient animal? Guess not. I thought the point of Stargate Universe was supposed to be that it's more "realistic", but random nobodies getting killed off without concern seems to still be standard fare. Makes you wonder what the writers are thinking.

The scientists were off doing their own thing this week, with Eli and Brody poking around the stasis pods. Rush, staying in character, manipulates them into actually using a pod, leaving them none the wiser. It was funny to see Eli fumble around, but Rush is always a scary character to think about.

Score: 8.1/10

Review - United States of Tara Season 3 Episode 3 The Full Fuck You Finger

First things first, the shocking image of the earthquake in Osaka was an horrible coincidence which was unavoidable unless the writers completely rewrote large portions of the episode and there would still be plenty of logistical problems. Things work like that sometimes and when the episode is shot months in advance, there's really nothing anyone can do.

Just when Kate is ready to do something for once, she turns back and is left with no options. She just can't escape Kansas and everything in it. Max throws out his old stuff in his mother's house and we learn from their conversations that his mother isn't right in the head, and we get the impression that Max is more or less fine with people like his mother and Tara, people who need serious help.

The alters seem to be coming out to help Tara, as Alice suggests after she helps Charmaine with the baby shower. Even Buck is trying to help, searching for Tara and Charmaine's brother. But T comes out the end of the episode and has to ruin things while putting tons of strain on Charmaine.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Chuck Season 4 Episode 20 Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff

Since the first season, Chuck has gone further and further away from Burbank with the fourth season completely embracing exotic locales. These days, the team visits many different locations with varying backgrounds (I'd love to see what could happen with a larger budget.) and what the spy plots lack in ingenuity is a real sense of adventure. Now, the real Mogadishu is waaaaay bigger than the measly set and it would be better if Sarah and Casey weren't sitting on some white stuff, but it's fun to imagine the team dropping in wherever they want, whenever they want.

"Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff" brings back Timothy Dalton as Alexi Volkoff and Elizabeth Bartowski as the team hunted down this superweapon which is supposedly super-important. (See, everything in the Chuck world is how super even if it doesn't seem like it.)

Ellie continues to dig deeper and finds out this mysterious 'Agent X.' Whoever he may be, Vivian thinks that he's the only obstacle to world domination. I don't know exactly how that works out or why Vivian has wholeheartedly embraced her father's enterprise, but it makes for another villain for Team Bartowski to defeat.

Between Elizabeth and Chuck's meddling, Ellie is as close to the truth as ever, and Chuck is prepared to tell her. Chuck finally decides to tell her, walks up to the door, and begins to talk. This has to happen, right? Wrong. Chuck pulls back, and says nothing substantial to Ellie, only to inform Sarah that his sister lied to him--for the first time! What is Chuck waiting for? Ellie isn't an evil supervillain he needs to bide time for. Simply state the facts and it'll all be clear.

Score: 8.7/10

Monday, April 11, 2011

Review - The Chicago Code Season 1 Episode 8 Wild Onions

"Wild Onions" sticks the characters in a unique situation--staggering heat and rolling blackouts--allowing them to explore situations we otherwise wouldn't see them in. The premise of the episode is that crime spikes when there is heat, thus all the officers, including Teresa, must be on hand.

Teresa gets a new driver named Ray, an unmarried Iraq vet who is eager to advance his career. He is especially attentive to his role and seems like a good fit, though he acknowledges the reason why he was chosen--he wasn't wearing a wedding ring.

Jarek and Caleb solve a murder this week, and while Caleb does have a nice moment with the boy whose father was killed, that's pretty much all that happened. Perhaps the greatest development was Vonda and Isaac hooking up after a harrowing incident (although they had been flirting so much before that I'd already assumed they were together)

Gibbons was relatively innocuous this week, helping distribute water to the community, which would be fine if he had no ulterior motives. Of course, he's thinking about votes and is willing to spend a little effort and money to draw in potential voters. And in this way, he's no different than the kids on the street increasing soda prices in times of higher demand. However, if we continue on this purely economic way of thinking, Gibbons completely ignores the numerous negative externalities which makes his actions very harmful.

Liam begins to get deeper and deeper in Gibbons's organization, only to find himself oddly sympathetic to Gibbons, seeing him distribute water. Liam hasn't been completely duped yet like all the other voters, but Gibbons clearly has the gift of connecting with people regardless of motives.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - House Season 7 Episode 18 The Dig

The return of 13! Normally, I wouldn't be too excited about 13 (aside from her looks), but her reintroduction shakes things up, as she and House take a road trip while the team solves the case by themselves. 13 and House play off each other nicely as they devise the perfect spud gun and drive around, and towards the end of the episode, we learn that 13 was in prison because she had to euthanize her brother, reminding us of the large cloud hanging over her head.

The case wasn't at the forefront of the episode, but I, like Masters, thought it was cool that there was so much junk inside the house. I don't find mounds of junk interesting by themselves, but compared to the usual houses the team breaks into, it was a fun change.

Taub and his ex-wife are at it again... really? This seems like the kind of thing that would be a running gag on a comedy, Taub getting caught with his ex every episode with the laugh track running, but the writers want this to be really, really serious. Well, it isn't--it's just bad.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 6 Episode 20 The Exploding Meatball Sub

How I Met Your Mother has strayed far off the path of finding the Mother, and it could still be years before we find her identity. Luckily, the writers have sowed the seeds for a couple good plots down the line, so there is at least some continuity as the series progresses.

Unfortunately, these stories haven't really moved far either. Marshall and Lily finding a mutual agreement was great, reflecting on Ted and Zoey, but it was the n-th time we've seen this iteration of Marshall waffling between GNB and his dream environmental job. Similarly, it's frustrating to see Zoey stick around any longer when we know she's not going to stick around and because her desire to save the Arcadian is beyond annoying.

Barney's plot was funny, but in light of his meeting with his father, it felt a little cheap to see his motivations turn into a farce versus actual fallout. Still, it reached the level of epicness Barney is known for.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Mildred Pierce Parts Four and Five

While Mildred Pierce has its fill of touching moments and is strong thematically, as a narrative, it is pretty much a wash. The main plot points--Mildred opening more and more restaurants and Veda's blossoming musical career--could have been heavily condensed to 3 parts max, which would also cut down on the inordinate time spent on the same thing over and over again.

The drama between Mildred and Veda boils down to the same cycle repeating itself--bitchiness, anger, and conciliation--with the slight variations due to a progression of time. This happens around twice each part, and you can see it coming a mile away each time. Once it happened the first time, that was all that needed to be seen. There were different forms of manipulation, lies, and bitchiness, but it was all the same in the end up until the very ending when Veda drives off in the taxi.

The events that happen are very surreal. Veda can be the worst person in the world and be horrible from childhood, while Mildred sits idly by and hugs her. Monty can be horrible and Mildred will forgive him. And what are the consequences? Oh, Mildred remarries Bert and it's a happy ending.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Breakout Kings Season 1 Episode 6 Like Father, Like Son

As Breakout Kings continues, the interplay between the team continues to improve with the writers incorporating everyone and throwing in lots of funny lines throughout the episodes. However, one thing that hasn't really improved is the crime-solving aspect of the show. This week's episode tries to up the ante, with several explosive situations, but in terms of consequences, there are none. The only thing that may qualify is Charlie realizing how the job has consumed his life.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The Borgias Season 1 Episode 3 The Moor

The Borgias is a predictable show, and not in a good way. As soon as Prince Djem showed up and was friendly with Lucrezia, I knew he'd be dead at the end of the episode. Sure enough, there is a comment about the family getting even more money if he's killed, and at the end of the episode, Juan, despite his massive incompetence, carries out the deed. And that's the majority of the episode, a lot of boring dialogue about marriage and possible assassinations.

In the only remotely interesting part of the episode, Michelotto nearly kills Cardinal della Rovere before running off in a very well-shot scene. It seems like he'd be a much more interesting character than the Borgias who all have predictable ivory-tower dialogue, but the writers are using him more as a tool than a character.

Score: 7.0/10

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Review - The Killing Season 1 Episode 3 El Diablo

With 13 episodes in the season and only one murder to solve, The Killing isn't a show which will reveal much each episode. The writers know this and acknowledge the intelligence of the viewers by not constantly trying to make us think they have the killer. Instead, bits of information, relevant to the murder or not, are dispersed throughout the episode. They may or may not be pertinent in the end, but they give an overall structure and progression to the show as the murder investigation and election campaign goes on.

Linden and Holder make some progress, finding a video showing Jasper and Kris with who appears to be Rosie and brings us one step closer to knowing the answers. We see Holder get a little rough with Kris and Linden has to pull him back, so there seems to be a dark side to him. Meanwhile, Linden is staying for a only couple days (and for narrative purposes, she has to stay until the end) while Rick is frustrated by her delay.

The mayoral campaign is rocked by the press getting hold of the murder story, implicating Richmond, and he ends up cutting a deal with Yitanes. Jaime is caught with an incriminating email of the leak, so we'll see what happens from that. Also affected by the news are the Larsens who are still dealing with the tragedy. I'm not sure where the writers are going with this, but it seems like the Larsens are there to provide the emotional backbone and familial drama instead of anything plot-related.

"El Diablo," being the the third episode of the season, reinforces much of what we saw last week, while also introducing a few wrinkles. There is nothing groundbreaking, not that it should be expected this early in the game, but the episode keeps us on our toes with powerful scenes from Brent Sexton and Michelle Forbes again and the plot moving forward.

Score: 8.8/10

Preview of Week 4/10/11 - 4/16/11

Happy Endings - ABC, Wednesday, April 13, 9:30pm ET

What's this, another comedy about couples? I'm guessing this is at least the 5 one premiering this season and the second from ABC.

Supernatural - CW, Friday, April 15, 9:00pm ET

After a disappointing episode over a month ago, hopefully Supernatural can return with a better episode.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Review - Camelot Season 1 Episode 3 Guinevere

Love triangles certainly aren't new, and "Guinevere" does absolutely nothing we haven't seen everywhere else. Guinevere is set to be married but Arthur is drawn to her, they consummate their relationship, but Guinevere is married to Leontes at the end of the episode. The main problem is that this dominates the episode, leaving little time to explore areas which are, you know, actually interesting, and Arthur spends the entire episode not doing anything relating to his duty.

What makes the episode worth watching, however, is the continuing development of Merlin, an enigma who seems the opposite of a benevolent mentor. Instead, we see him trying to control Arthur, and in his interactions with Morgan, his magic seems rather dark as well.

Score: 7.8/10

Friday, April 8, 2011

Review - Chaos Season 1 Episode 2 Song of the North

"Song of the North" may lay on the sentimentality too much for some people, but Chaos continues to be quite a surprise, balancing the humor between the team, action, and a sense of justice. It all comes in a neat package and at the end of the day, every character, even the director, looks like a good person while those except the North Korean government is happy.

You might have heard by now, but Chaos premiered with horrible ratings, so it's a near certainty that it will be canceled. Yeah, it sucks.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Nikita Season 1 Episode 17 Covenant

Even though Nikita has only been gone for a little over a month, I can hardly remember what happened last time other than that the episode ended with Michael with a gun inside Nikita's loft, ready to get all the answers.

With a setup like that, "Covenant" has monumental expectations to live up to. If Michael catches Nikita and is free to interrogate her, wouldn't he find the truth, thus disturbing the genetic makeup of the show, which is of two women fighting against Division? Will Michael, who been questioning the morally of Division and Percy, switch sides?

The answer to those question is yes, but the motivating factor is worrisome. "Covenant" has a lot of scenes of Nikita being awesome at what she does, and for the CW viewers, slightly artificial romance. But the major plot development, Michael switching sides, only comes about after the writers reinforce the silly narrative about Percy being the evilest man in the world. There is no gradation with his character, only pure evil which must be improved. Thus, after Michael learns that his arch-enemy Kasim was actually recruited by Percy, he makes the decision to turn against Division. All his huge decision boils down to is a very logical reason for opposing Percy.

Score: 8.2/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 4/07/11

FOX won with American Idol (6.4) and Bones (3.2).

CBS was second with The Big Bang Theory (3.7), Rules of Engagement (2.6), CSI (2.9), and The Mentalist (3.0).

NBC was third with a repeat of Community (0.8), Perfect Couples (1.0), repeats of The Office (1.7), Parks and Recreation (1.4), 30 Rock (1.3), and a new episode of Outsourced (1.4). Outsourced continues to linger in the lower end of the 1s.

ABC was last with repeats of Wipeout (1.5), Grey’s Anatomy (1.4), and Private Practice (0.8).

Review - The Mentalist Season 3 Episode 19 Every Rose Has Its Thorn

"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" feels like an episode from the beginning of the season, focusing on Jane and what's going on inside his head. The episode brings up a classic temptress, played by Morena Baccarin, who Jane immediately sees through and vows to bring down.

Once again, we're reminded of the lingering doubt in Jane's mind as Lisbon describes his ideal woman--someone who'd love him despite this faults. These features could apply to Lisbon, but then Jane refers to this woman in the past tense--his wife--and we know how deep these feelings still run inside Jane.

On the other side, we see Rigsby finally go on a date with a woman involved in the case, and Owain Yeoman gets to use his real accent, which the team quickly shoots down.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Bones Season 6 Episode 17 The Feet on the Beach

"The Feet on the Beach" is a frustrating episode, because it has many funny moments between all the characters. This part of the episode was top-notch, and I had a great time watching it. Unfortunately, the rest of the episode is wholly inadequate, and really dragged the episode down.

What I don't understand is how Bones could have regressed so far as to attack someone's life's work with no regard to his feelings, and even making fun of him in her paper. I thought she had gotten over this, and she really hasn't been overtly mean for a very, very long time. Why start again? Is the implication that Bones, despite years of being with Booth and Sweets, is unable to change? Or is it just that the writers decided to bring back this version of Bones because they had nothing better?

The case had several aspects to it, but it seemed really obvious from the beginning. Right as the murder comes on screen, he has a shifty look and nervously adjusts his glasses. I was hoping it was because he had something else to hide, but no, he was just the murderer.

Score: 8.0/10

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 4 Episode 20 The Herb Garden Germination

With the season coming to a close, it's nice to see The Big Bang Theory have a good episode towards the end of what is a rather average season. "The Herb Garden Germination" lies in the realm of predictability, as every episode does, but it breaks the mold of what has been pure predictability, episodes following patterns based on overplaying character traits.

Sheldon and Amy dive into the social sciences, and despite their numerous methodological errors (they don't about biases and sample sizes?), it proves to be very funny. Their investigation into the world of rumors is amusing because they aren't openly condescending but enthused about what they are doing, which is a departure from what we usually see. The episode moves quickly, just as the rumor moves quickly, spreading from person to person before Howard's proposal

I'm getting tired of saying this, but Raj has become a ridiculously marginalized character whose lasting traits are that he's a little creepy and very pathetic. Raj and Bernadette barely interact and he has to be all weird about the situation even though Howard is supposedly his best friend.

Score: 8.9/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 4/06/11

FOX won with American Idol (7.3) and Breaking In (3.5). Breaking In premieres strong, but will it last?

CBS was second with Survivor (3.2), Criminal Minds (3.6), and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2.1). Bad outing for Suspect Behavior, especially with a new episode of CM.

NBC was third with Minute To Win It (1.0), a repeat of Law & Order: SVU (1.0), and Law & Order: SVU (2.4).

ABC was last with repeats of The Middle (1.3, 1.3), Modern Family (2.0), and new episodes of Mr. Sunshine (1.6) and Off The Map (1.3). Poor ratings for the season finales of Mr. Sunshine and Off The Map.

Review - Crimimal Minds Season 6 Episode 20 Hanley Waters

Normally, I would decry the short, disjointed therapy sessions as trite and insignificant ways to portray the grieving process of the team members, especially when the case dominates the episode. But the writers link the two, having the team members express their feelings much in the way the unsub does, mitigating lots of problems with the episode. Still, I feel that the therapy sessions should have taken precedence over anything else, given the nature of what happened, and it was cheapened.

And part of that is because Kelli Williams does such a great job at making us feel bad for her while she's gunning down people. Certainly, she has to be stopped, but we see each reveal cut across her, and it's heartbreaking. Compared to the therapy, it was a lot of emotional and relatable.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Mr. Sunshine Season 1 Episode 9 Ben and Vivian

 Although 13 episodes were produced, ABC is not planning on airing the extra 4 episodes, so we can count "Ben and Vivian" as the de facto season finale. While it isn't in the least bit season finale-y, the episode returns to the defining trait of Ben set up in the first episode, his desire to have a real relationship. He meets Vivian, played by the always great Lizzy Caplan, hooks up with her, and starts a no-strings-attached relationship, which Ben wants to become more. He tells Vivian this and she breaks up, unfortunately for Ben. But this doesn't shut him down completely, and Alice is there to encourage him to try again.

Heather didn't show up in the episode, which was fine, but Alonzo was in the episode and had a pointless plot all by himself, dealing with the mascot camping in his office. If the writers can't give him something substantial to work with, how about leaving him out like they did Heather? Crystal wasn't in the episode that much, but at least her plot was about becoming closer to Roman and rejecting a guy.

Score: 8.7/10

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review - Justified Season 2 Episode 9 Brother's Keeper

Wow, that was a great turn of events, wasn't it? "Brother's Keeper" makes full use of Mags's villainy, and Margo Martindale sure as hell can act. The episode begins with Mags being gentle with Loretta, helping her get ready for the party, and it's shocking to think she could have treated Coover so badly just a few weeks ago. But Coover, through his stupidity, realizes that Loretta is basically a replacement for him and Dickie, the child Mags wanted to have, which plays into his later actions. Later, after Coover is killed, Mags is in tears and you want to feel for her.

These events alone might make us sympathetic towards her, but we also see another side of her, the businesswoman whose cutthroat style is both devious and sinister. She outmaneuvers Carol, telling her that the company only wants Arlo's property because it wants to build a road to transport the coal. Somehow, Carol had no knowledge of this (why did the company not tell her?), and the company is forced to cave to her demands. At the end of the day, no one looks great in the situation. Carol kind of gets what was coming, after underestimating these people and turning out to be ignorant of the whole situation, while Mags and Boyd turn out to be looking for a quick buck.

Just when Boyd isn't looking too much like a bad guy, he turns around and joins Mag to make a quick buck. While it was expected that Mags would have something up her sleeves, seeing as her duplicity is overflowing, Boyd has been behaving quite well this season and this latest move doesn't seem to fit in. Still, there is nothing malicious about his actions, only economic interest which happens to coincide with Mags's.

Looking ahead, there four episodes left and plenty to work with. Winona isn't picking up Raylan's calls, which isn't a good sign, Carol continues to flirt with Raylan, and, of course, Mags will want retribution for her son's death. I'm sure Raylan will be in her crosshairs, but what about Loretta?

Score: 9.2/10

Review - Breaking In Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Breaking In seems like a show that would function as a typical hour-long procedural; the team would assemble, and in the course of an hour, accomplish whatever job they're tasked. But in reality, Breaking In takes these elements and compresses them into a quick half-hour, ignoring all but the plot points to get things done as fast as possible. The pilot immediately revs into high gear and we're treated with all sorts of scenes which would usually be drawn out over an hour. With this kind of energy, the finer details--jokes that are rarely funny, a slew of generic "geek" characters--are no longer major problems. Instead, the actors go with the writing and are really fun to watch anytime.

Score: 8.7/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 4/05/11

CBS won with NCIS (3.8), a repeat of NCIS: Los Angeles (2.7), and The Good Wife (2.0). With NCIS: LA repeating (albeit with great ratings for repeat). TGW remained about where it's been, which shows that it doesn't need that lead-in.

NBC was second with The Biggest Loser (2.8) and Parenthood (1.9).

ABC was third with No Ordinary Family (1.5), Dancing with the Stars (3.2), and Body Of Proof (2.4). Body of Proof was down .6 from its premiere last week, but up .4 from its Sunday airing. We'll definitely have to keep a close eye to see what happens to the ratings.

FOX was last with repeats of Glee (1.3) and Raising Hope (1.1) and Traffic Light (0.8).

Review - Body of Proof Season 1 Episode 3 Helping Hand

If it hasn't been abundantly clear yet, the theme of Body of Proof is that interpersonal relationships are hard, starting with Megan who is brilliant at her job (basically functioning as ME and detective) but has severe deficiencies when it comes to relating with people. And the weird thing is, Jeri Ryan's character tries to help Megan with this, much like her ST: V character was helped by various other characters.

We see in "Helping Hand" that Megan can't recognize a patient she operated on in the past (although it's hard to blame her), but she takes it upon herself to find the murder, especially after the victim's father tells her that she was an inspiration to his daughter. The crime is solved in usual fashion while Megan actively tries to learn more about her coworkers, which isn't entirely a success but a first in the right direction.

Score: 8.5/10
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