Monday, November 28, 2011

Thoughts on shows from 11/18/11 to 11/27/11

I guess I'll make this a weekly thing, commenting on various shows that come to mind. As always, I have more to say on Twitter, so check that out. Last week I started from Sunday and went forward, but this week I'll start from yesterday (Sunday) and go backwards.

Dexter was awful. There is a problem with the twist and these "identity twists" in general. When 24 did these twists, everyone was surprised, and for good reason. These twists came out of the blue, with zero indication of something amiss. This is problematic, because you'd assume a mole would exhibit mole-like characteristics prior to the viewers finding out. Then there's the way Dexter did it, showing viewers large hints, but never explicitly telling us until now. Those of use who caught the hints were not only unsurprised but disappointed. Even master-sycophant Michael Ausiello was disappointed.

Neither of these options--popping it on the viewers randomly and genuinely surprising them, or giving viewers hints and not surprising them--are particularly good. Both have their flaws and few remedies. I will say, though, that the first option would probably be a better choice. 24's earlier identity twists were pretty good, shocking and fitting with the "anything goes" attitude of the show. Their weaknesses came in the later seasons, when viewers could already expect such twists.

For Scott Buck to treat the viewers with such impunity is a shame. Did he really think it'd be a good twist, 9 episodes into the season, after showing us hint after hint in each episode?

I don't get Hell on Wheels. Bohannon has a shoot out with Harper, then returns, while the rest of the characters continue to mill around doing nothing.

Once Upon a Time has been quite enjoyable, but its format is troubling. Each week's episode has a familiar pattern, the fairy tale story filling in the background of a character while the modern plot moves very slowly. Some deviation would be nice.

I don't want to sound all negative, but, yes, I have complaints about Homeland as well. A good part of Homeland was built upon this abstract idea that Brody was in Iraq and somehow turned. While there have been some twists here and there, this remains true--up until the last episode. Everything was peeled back, as we learned Brody's exact motivations, revenge for Abu Nazir's son. Is it compelling? Kind of. Is it hammy? I'd say so. The biggest problem is that Brody is now far, far less mysterious. I guess this is the natural progression of a show, but it shattered one of the illusions surrounding him.

The first half of The Walking Dead's second season hasn't been great, and has largely been hindered by the characters staying at the farm for so long, but the final scene was perfect. There's Shane, yelling like a crazed man--except he makes sense. They're living in a horrible world, with horrible conditions, with horrible zombies trying to eat them. What's left? So he opens the barn, letting out the zombies and everyone is forced to slaughter them all. Meanwhile, we can imagine how Herschel is feeling, as he clearly expressed his thoughts on zombies earlier. After they're done killing the zombies, out comes Sophia. The girl they're been looking for for weeks is not only dead but a zombie, feral, slowly walking towards them. The characters are stunned as should be every viewer. While Rick has been hanging back the whole time, wishing to respect Herschel, he finally gives in, blowing out Sophia's brains.

The Sanctuary musical episode was really bad. The writers have never been particularly skilled and it definitely showed. They don't have the creativity or finesse to pull off a musical episode that is both plausible and fun.

Suburgatory's Thanksgiving episode was fun and crazy, and remains a great pleasure to watch.

Opie finally snapped on Sons of Anarchy, putting a couple bullets into Clay. Whether he dies is something to be seen later, but there's no doubt that things will change.

Castle had the kind of serious episode is needs to have more often--not the trumped up, "will everyone die???" kind but the psychological one. The episode was by no means perfect, but it was better relative to the previous serious episodes. Excellent acting by Stana Katic in the scenes that demanded it, which is saying something, because she's usually very wooden.

Hawaii Five-0 was crazy and incredibly entertainly. Rebels in North Korea, taking a helicopter to North Korea, Jenna being a total idiot? What part of the episode made sense? But the episode had a plenty of action and amazing cinematography, so it was all good, in true Hawaii Five-0 spirit.

Terra Nova was more interesting than usual since it touched on Taylor's son and the mystery, but it's still not that interesting.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thoughts on last week's shows

While I'm not doing reviews anymore, I still want to provide some thoughts on the shows of the week, some of which I've already said on Twitter. Basically, I'll write a sentence or two about the show that comes to mind, so I may not cover all shows if I don't have anything good to say. Also, I haven't watched the past three episodes of Boss or Boardwalk Empire. The episodes discussed, unless otherwise specified, will be from last week only. I'll try to keep the order in which they were aired.

Homeland remains the best new show on television and one of the best shows period. Each week the show is flipped on its head, all while the characters are richly developed to the fullest extent. Last week, Carrie hung out with Brody and we got all the explanations for his odd behavior, then learned of Walker still being alive. This week, Walker escapes and we see that Brody knows more than he's telling.

Dexter continues to be very boring. It seems like the only thing the writers have left is the eventual reveal that Gellar isn't actually there, something that's constantly been hinted at.

The Good Wife having less focus on Alicia is good. It allows for interesting plots like Will being the center of a big corruption investigation.

Hell on Wheels is visually gorgeous, but is otherwise lacking. It's never bad, as I would occasionally describe The Walking Dead or Dexter, but it's certainly awkward. The episodes are choppy and don't flow well, both plot-wise and thematically. A couple things I noted on Twitter earlier about last night's episode: Weird music at times, Bohannon randomly stumbling on Lily on his way to find Harper, acting on Johnson's tip a whole episode after getting the information, super explicit dialogue that would make Dexter blush.

The Walking Dead has gotten better since the opening episodes of the season. It's clear the writers are holding back the plot, but the farm setting has improved the viability of character development.

Terra Nova remains the most underwhelming show, using generic plot after generic plot, with the worst sci-fi tropes around. I wish someone would stand up in the writers room, toss all the papers to the ground, and tell everyone the truth: it's not just crap, but boring crap.

NCIS's two-parter ended with a whimper. There was hardly any plot and Gibbs's flashbacks were completely random.

After a great episodes two weeks ago--which was rightly touted, for once--Glee came back with an awful episode, reminding us why we shouldn't trust the show. Half the characters were crazy bitches in the episode and the other half was just crazy.

Sons of Anarchy has been great as it heads towards the end of the season. The lines are being drawn and it looks like a monumental shift will happen some time soon. It's funny that Kenneth Johnson got blown up again by Kurt Sutter.

Covert Affairs tried to do this big emotional episode with Annie and Eyal, but it was more cheesy than anything else. It stems from the fact that Eyal's role in the previous episodes was to be the smooth, foreign spy. Here, the writers try to make him something he isn't, with far too much fake emotion compared to who he is.

The Ava from Up All Night's pilot return and it wasn't pretty. Too screechy, too in your face, too much.

Psych had Shawn in a psych ward, which obviously had funny results.

American Horror Story still makes no sense, but I watch it each week because there are the occasional interesting flashback or something really freaky.

The identity mixing on Revenge is pretty fun.

Sadly, another awesome Community episode was predicated on the fact that it isn't on NBC's midseasons schedule. The episode works so well because we know these character intimately. The documentary format following Dean Pelton's madness is genius.

Parks and Recreation is on the midseason schedule, so that's something. Andy going to college with Ron was funny, and Amy Poehler showed her versatility in the episode.

Bones last week was better than the previous two episodes of the season, with less emphasis on Brennan doing something obviously objectionable and a better investigation. Hopefully the season will pick up from here.

The Office hasn't exactly been appointment TV for a while, but this season is embarrassing. Occasional, over the top silliness is fine, but every plot every week is the characters being buffoons.

The Mentalist had on okay case and some Cho scenes we always like, but I wish there was more follow-up on Red John. Lisbon wants to talk about it, but that's all the discussion there is.

Chuck, in the fourth episode of its final season, finally hit that familiar balance we've come to love.

Grimm is getting more interesting and the tone of the show is good, but Nick could use a big dose of charisma.

Fringe had another solid episode with an interesting, touching plot. Peter is still off on the sidelines--invisible, like the "bad guy" in the episode--which was fitting for the episode, but not necessarily conducive to the overall narrative.

Supernatural had the best plot in a long time, with plenty of icky shots and funny moments. The Leviathan twist was expected, though, and they aren't good enemies.

Blue Bloods is well-acted and well-made, but it's too damn perfect. There's zero flaws with the Reagans. Every problem they have is mostly resolved at the end of the episode, even if the episode begins with something major. With nothing on the line in every episode, it's hard to care what happens to the characters.

Sanctuary is quickly becoming something not worth watching. The Hollow Earth arc in season three--from episode to 7 to 10--was truly great, filled with wonderment, action, and a grittiness we rarely see on the show. After that petered out, the show went back to the lame, cutesy plots. Laughably, last week's episode tried to make us care about some characters we saw about one time total, and was a rehash of the 5th episode of the series. And the week before that featured the two flying abnormals--characters that were either introduced awkwardly or I'd forgotten about them.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thoughts on Fringe Season 4 Episode 6 And Those We've Left Behind

I've officially stopped blogging regularly, so I'm just going to point something on last night's Fringe episode.

What's most interesting to me is Peter basically admitting that he doesn't belong and will try to get back to his own world. Are the writers considering sending him back to a perfect world, where Walter and Olivia know him? If not, there are still enough episodes left in this season, probably the final, for Peter to get reacquainted with everyone.

The End is Nigh

I don't know how else to begin, so I'll start off with a statement: I'm going to stop blogging regularly.

When I first blogging, I envisioned writing long recaps from the shows I watched, TWoP-style, with quips to go along with summaries. You can easily tell how sloppy the writing was and how I was trying to spit out words as fast as possible with some dumb jabs littered through the reviews.

But I had a mandate which, I think, has served me well: I'd only review shows I'd watched every episode of and I'd review every show I watched. While the second part of the mandate changed and I don't review everything I watch these days, the first has held true. The underlying principle is that I wanted to fully know about the show I was reviewing. So, yes, I've watched around 200 episodes of NCIS and hundreds, if not thousands, of episodes of the other procedurals I review. (Next time you find a typo, remember to blame the procedurals which rotted out my brain.)

Back to the story, after a few months of review, I realized I didn't have enough time for recaps and instead did more reviewing and less recapping. Good reviews should be about as long as good recaps, covering each part of the episode with some critical thought. Since my constraint was length, I was fine doing short reviews because the alternative would be short recaps. I got a much better understanding of television as I blogged, able to put a bunch of random thoughts into tangible words.

Flashforward to today. I don't have time to write reviews anymore. I'm having a hard time watching all the shows I've been watching let along write reviews. I haven't read the comments on this blog for a very long time (in part because I can imagine all the mean comments and spam) and I don't really check my email anymore either. As one can tell, the reviews for a number of months have been pretty poor, either too short or just plot summary. The time, effort, and concentration isn't there.

The television landscape is growing, with more basic cable and premium cable networks vying for a piece of the scripted show audience. If I could watch only 10 shows, review them, and be fine, that would be great. However, I don't want to half ass things. One can't critically say Breaking Bad is the best show on television when watching a couple shows regularly and random episodes here and there. There is a lot of comparison going on--albeit much of it subjective--and there must be established points of reference. I think it's a disservice when people review shows and make sweeping comments about them without knowing much of other shows. (I'd generally say this applies to Dexter fans, no offense.)

At the end of the day, I'd say I feel good about what I've done, if only for the sheer volume of reviews. According to the tags, I've written over 2000 reviews, which is pretty crazy. Yes, there are tons of misspellings, typos, omitted words, grammar errors, but I also think there are some good reviews somewhere in those 2000, however few there may be. I watch between 50 and 60 shows (which are still not canceled, though not necessarily airing right now), so I feel like I watched enough to give informed opinions.

If anyone is saddened for my departure, I'll probably be tweeting on Twitter more often, giving one or two line assessments for the shows I watch. (Recent sample:  "See, Glee, this is why you don't have a string of bad episodes. This week's episode was very solid, but I said I'd stop reviewing Glee.") Those who still haven't hopped on the Twitter train should really consider it. It's less personal than Facebook and more oriented towards information, which, as they say, is power.

Have fun, everyone, and remember to watch as much television as you can!

Review - Chuck Season 5 Episode 3 Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips

The way the writers handled the plot was impressive, considering how dumb the ending of last week's ending was. They managed to bring everything together, resolving Morgan's Intersect problem, creating an explanation for it, and ending the episode on a solid, if implausible, cliffhanger. That and the hilarious subplot where Awesome brings Jeff back to normalcy were enough to make the episode enjoyable.

However, the character stuff with Morgan didn't work. We're supposed to believe that Morgan acted the way he did in part because he was a little douchey himself, not just because the modified Intersect made him that way. This is problematic, because there aren't any well-defined lines on how the Intersect works on his brain. When the Intersect kick in and take over Morgan? The hazy ideas behind how the Intersect works makes the character development also hazy, as we don't know anything concrete.

As an aside, Chuck's ratings have been horrible, even for NBC standards. Do not expect a save like in previous years.

Score: 8.7/10

Friday, November 11, 2011

Review - The Secret Circle Season 1 Episode 9 Balcoin

By its ninth episode, The Vampire Diaires had turned the corner and departed from the boring teen angst for batshit crazy vampire adventures. The Secret Circle, unfortunately, has not reached that point yet--far from it. The majority of "Balcoin" is spent on Jake and Cassie and their doomed romance. While Jake continues to be suspicious, Cassie remains oblivious and silly. Then, Jake reveals who he is and floats away on the boat at the end of the episode. Great...

Score: 7.6/10

Review - The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 9 Homecoming

I'm ready for Klaus to be killed. He survived Elijah's plan last season and now he's killed Mikael as well. It's getting a bit tiring to see these big, planned schemes fail. In "Homecoming," there's this huge plan involving all the characters and then it blows up in their faces. There's no "so what?" moment when the writers justify what they went through the motions to reach this point.

Mikael is dead, but what more did we learn about him? Nothing. Katherine loves Damon? Okay. Now freed Stefan is taking revenge on Klaus? Alright... All of this feels like wheels. We'll see what happens when the show returns in January.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Bones Season 7 Episode 2 The Hot Dog in the Competition

The characters of Bones are generally fun and well-meaning, but boy were some of them mean. The new intern Finn might have a distinctly Texas accent and a juvenile record, but Hodgins and Caroline really overreacted. Maybe that was the drama the writers were looking for, but good drama does not come from likable characters being dicks. Likewise, Brennan being inhuman for the thousandth time without any character growth or understanding gets old. Of course Booth wanted to be there when she saw the sex of the baby.

The rest of the episode was about what one would expect. Everyone becomes friendly under the backdrop of a case involving competitive eating. After a rough start, people accept Finn and all is well.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - Parks and Recreation Season 4 Episode 7 The Treaty

"The Treaty" is a good reminder that Parks and Recreation has a heck of a lot more continuity and overall story than The Office these days. The episode continues from last week's episode with plenty of Leslie and Ben drama as well as Tom getting his old job back after the crash of Entertainment 720. I like Tom in a more serious role, being semi-useful, in contrast to constant Entertainment 720 hyping.

The main thing I wanted to comment on was Chris. He's the most problematic character on the show--oblivious yet not as heartwarming as Andy, visible yet not contributing to the main stories. In "The Treaty," he feels more complete. He's able to notice sarcasm and, for once, is able to sit down and have a meaningful conversation. As a plus, the person he sits down with is Ann, who was in a relationship with him and is still troubled.

Score: 8.9/10

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 5 Episode 9 The Ornithophobia Diffusion

Episodes like "The Ornithophobia Diffusion" feel like tests. In the case of this week's episode, the writers are testing the boundaries of how antagonistic Penny and Leonard can be with each other and how nonsensical, illogical, and silly Sheldon can be. If you usually like these things, then the episode was probably fine. If not, the episode is painful.

The Leonard and Penny stuff I could live with. Though on the mean side, the plot did explore their relationship which was sorely unexplored when they were actually together. From the way they were acting, they probably won't be getting back together anytime soon.

The Sheldon plot, however, was pretty dumb. Sheldon's supposed to be neurotic genius whose intelligence is often overshadowed by his social awkwardness. Here, he's just neurotic, devoid of any character besides his phobia.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Community Season 3 Episode 7 Studies in Modern Movement

"Studies in Modern Movement" is a funky episode that didn't really feel like a Community episode. The characters are out of their normal school setting, and there are three separate plots versus the two which have been the norm this season. Though this kind of episode might have seemed less palatable earlier in the show's run, we come to know and love these characters so much that it's funny regardless of what's actually going on.

The three plots have little to do with character growth or anything, but give us a charming look at their lives. Abed and Troy act very weird and a little rude to Annie when she moves in, so she finally snaps, understandably, and gives them a piece of her mind. Dean is a creeper as usual and drags Jeff into a music video. Britta and Shirley ride together, arguing about religion before they pick up a hitchhiker who believes he's Jesus. The central theme is that these character can live with each other even when they're not part of the bigger group. It doesn't work as well as episodes where they're all together, but it works fine for its purpose.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Psych Season 6 Episode 5 Dead Man's Curve Ball

I think I've been suffering from Psych withdrawal, because I really liked the first five episodes of this season more than I usually do. "Dead Man's Curve Ball" is an episode where Shawn and Gus are just doing silly, ridiculous things while the plot flounders. But Psych isn't a plot-oriented show anyway, and the episode turns into a big laugh riot with lots of physical humor.

Score: 8.7/10

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 11/8/11

CBS won with NCIS (4.1), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.4), and Unforgettable (2.4).

FOX was second with Glee (3.1), New Girl (3.5), and Raising Hope (2.1). Glee continues to go up and down, but it's almost certain that it's nowhere where it used to be.

NBC was third with The Biggest Loser (2.4) and Parenthood (2.0).

ABC was last with Last Man Standing (2.6), Man Up! (1.7), Dancing With the Stars (2.8), and In the Spotlight with Robin Robert (1.7). Man Up continues to slide towards cancellation, and Last Man Standing

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 11/7/11

CBS won with How I Met Your Mother (4.4), 2 Broke Girls (4.6), Two and a Half Men (5.2), Mike & Molly (4.2), and Hawaii Five-0 (3.1).

ABC was second with Dancing with the Stars (3.4) and Castle (2.4).

FOX was third with Terra Nova (2.6) and House (2.8). Terra Nova's ratings, while underwhelming, should be enough for renewal. House's, on the other hand, may not be enough after 8 seasons.

NBC was last with The Sing-Off (1.5) and Rock Center with Brian Williams (1.0).

Review - NCIS Season 8 Episode 9 Engaged (Part I)

NCIS is generally a light, fun show, but it knows how to do serious as well. When it does serious, it doesn't do the played up false tension that's so prevalent on Castle. And when it does do the tension, people actually get hurt as we've seen numerous times in the past. The trade-off is that the seriousness comes out of a certain melodrama or darkness.

"Engaged" is one of those melodramatic episodes, playing up the military aspect of the show as much as possible. Given that it is a two-parter, the plot moves slowly and sets up for next week's episode. Other than that, a bit too much pandering and not enough of the normal stuff NCIS needs.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Covert Affairs Season 2 Episode 12 Uberlin

I didn't review last week's fall premiere because the episode contained the worst parts of the show, basically anything to do with Jai. Normally, a show might retool things that didn't work in the first season, cutting them out entirely or radically changing them. Covert Affairs, however, doubles down: more Jai, this time with a different job within the CIA.

"Uberlin" places Jai off to the side and instead focus on Arthur's past. He and Joan have been underdeveloped, so it was good that we got lots of backstory on him as well as seeing him doing spy world. While this will certainly not be a normal occurrence, Arthur was a lot cooler than he's been and worked well with Annie.

For the second week in a row, Covert Affairs was partially shot on location. There's really a marked difference seeing the real Venice and real Berlin compared to the lame green screen we usually have to see. Unfortunately, the show doesn't have the budget to fly all around the world, so we probably won't get another episode like this for a while.

Score: 8.8/10

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review - Sons of Anarchy Season 4 Episode 10 Hands

Wow. So much happens in "Hands" that it's impossible to turn back. Looking back at the previous 9 episodes, the cartel business was reversible to a degree. The Sons could have backed out before things got too deep or maybe shot their way out. We'll never know if it would be possible since they don't even try, but now it's too late. The cartel does things their way, despite Clay's urgings to call off the hit, and that's that.

Clay beats the shit out of Gemma and Tara gets her hand crushed by Clay's hired hitman. If Clay shooting Piney wasn't enough, those two evens were the nails in the coffin. Clay's not going to make it out alive, and if he is, he'll be very marginalized. With four episodes left in the season (an extra added earlier this week), Jax has plenty of time to deal with Clay.

The most powerful part of the episode is Tara getting her hand crushed. Being a surgeon is the one thing she has which keep her tethered to the outside world, the one skill interchangeable in Charming and anywhere else in the world. Her hand, crushed, represents any hope Tara has of leaving Charming. She has nothing now but Jax, the kids, Charming, and the club which doomed her career. After 9 episodes of not getting much to do, Maggie Siff is simply amazing in the episode, in her calm and anger.

And what can Jax do? Apologize, say sorry? He's out of luck, with nowhere to turn, and he still doesn't know the half of what Clay has done.

Score: 9.5/10

Review - New Girl Season 1 Episode 5 Cece Crashes

The possibility of Jess and Nick hooking up has been floating out there since the first episode, but not explicitly addressed until tonight's episode. Them getting together could lead to lots of easy plots for the writers, but it would also mean submitting to an obvious sitcom trope. Nothing happens in the episode and we don't know how often the writers will press the issue, so I'm in wait and see mode.

The episode title, "Cece Crashes," really hits the point. Cece crashes into the show, disrupting everything about it. She's nice to look at, but is otherwise a big, annoying nuisance without any positive qualities. We can accept Jess's quirkier traits because we know she means well. With Cece, she's kind of just doing whatever she wants.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - House Season 8 Episode 5 The Confession

It's safe to say the writers have accepted that House is a silly show and aren't interested anymore in realism. The return of Chase and Taub isn't anything spectacular, but it introduces some more fun dynamics--new team and old team, old team plus Foreman as boss, and old team dealing with House. They work well in "The Confession," an episode without a good medical mystery, but has significantly more joking than in previous episodes.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 7 Episode 8 Disaster Averted

HIMYM has built up so many gags over the years that it can pull them out from time to time with great effect. Ducky tie, slap bet, Barney and Robin--lots of old favorites in one episode. "Disaster Averted" moves very fast, as Ted tries to tell a story about boogie boarding which wanders off into Hurricane Irene, with the majority of the story spent showing how fun the group is together. Between Ted telling the story, Barney wants to get rid of his tie, because he'll be meeting Nora's parents. Barney trades three more slaps on top of the one Marshall already had--and promptly receives two slaps. This leads to Barney and Robin kissing in the cab, something that should drastically alter what's been going on this season, in particular with Nora.

The episode is odd because it's almost entirely comprised of a flashback. It's some time in the past, probably near the beginning of the season, but we not know exactly how it fits exactly into the show's timeline. Once the episode starts rolling, however, it's more of an afterthought when the events occurred.

Score: 9.1/10

Review - Terra Nova Season 1 Episode 7 Nightfall

Trying to ignore expectations for Terra Nova is a near impossible task. The characters are millions of years in the past, surrounded by dinosaurs, and there hasn't been one interesting plot yet. I think part of the problem is that their living conditions and way of life is actually really good and their lives unchallenging. We can't help but want more from the show, given its premise.

Even with dumbed down expectations that the writers have no good ideas, "Nightfall" isn't a particularly good episode. At this point, I'd say that the random, cutesy subplots are actually better than the A plot, as unbelievable as  that may sound. The episode starts with the plot device, a meteor hitting the atmosphere and creating an EM pulse, which knocks everything out. Why it knocks everything out is a mystery. The archives actually has shielding against the pulse and Alicia even describes how the Russo-Chinese used it in Somalia, so it's not like they don't know about the threat. In any case, it leads to a series of misadventures until the box is stolen. The plot is better than the generic ones that began the season and had a cool sequence where Mira uses a dinosaur to attack Terra Nova, so I guess that's something.

The revelation of what's in the box isn't much. It has pretty colors, but is otherwise unimpressive. The writers don't even give us a clue what it's for, unless you want to speculate what the various diagrams and shapes are. On the plus side of the plot, it seems like Mira follows Lucas, Taylor's son. That's a new development at least.

Worse than the main plot, though, is the tale of the worm. Just a bunch of horse shit with Skye and a random roomie who confesses his love to her. Could someone please teach the writers how to write serialized television?

Score: 8.1/10

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review - Dexter Season 6 Episode 6 Just Let Go

Okay, I think I'm done reviewing this season. I remember previous seasons being mediocre and I even didn't watch the end of the third season, but I don't remember a season with this many boring ideas. Maybe Brian showing up and Dexter going full-on serial killer will change things, but I'm not confident about that.

I don't even want to comment on the rest of the episode, but I have a question. Did the writers include Ryan's theft of the Ice Truck Killer's hand earlier in the season solely so we'd remember who Brian was when he did pop up? I actually wouldn't be surprised if they did, given their continuing incompetence.

Score: 7.5/10

Review - Hell on Wheels Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Well, that wasn't what I expected. The pilot of Hell on Wheels is well-shot and looks great, but it's missing something every good Western needs--good characters. Aside from the main character Cullen, who's harboring lots of darkness, the other characters are drawn very poorly.

There's Elam played by faded rapper Common, who acts as a major plot device. Right as Cullen is about to learn from Daniel the name of the sergeant who killed his wife and, conveniently, is in the same exact camp, Elam kills him. With that, Daniel is made into a plot device--the necessary impetus for Cullen to continue his search to exact revenge--and Elam is turned into the guy who has ridiculously bad timing.

Colm Meaney is good, but his scenes are just bizarre. He spouts off these long monologues with flowery speech to no one in particular, with no goal in mind. While the other characters have conversations and walk around, Thomas Durant sits and talks about making money and railroads. Really unnatural and baffling.

Oddly packed into the episode is Lily and her husband drawing maps for the railroad company. There is an Indian attack leaving everyone but Lily dead and she's left wandering out there. It seems to me like it'd be better to place her story in the second episode, so there'd be better focus on both ends.

Although there is little to like of Hell on Wheels so far, there are distinct reminders of Deadwood. Yes, there's almost no chance it'll ever be as good, but one can hope.

Score: 8.3/10

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Review - The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 4 Cherokee Rose

I actually like the style of "Cherokee Rose," a relatively laid-back episode without much of a central plot and a lot of quiet moments for the characters. There's no overbearing sense of false urgency, just people doing what's required of them and nothing more.

My main complaints with the previous episodes were that the tension didn't match the eventual plot outcome, very small increments. This week's episode is completely different, with individual groups off doing their own thing. Everyone convenes to get the zombie out of the well, which ends in a glorious splatter, before going of to do their own thing. Maggie and Glenn get supplies from a pharmacy and hook up. Shane talks to Andrea about shooting. Rick wants Hershel to let them stay. Darryl tries to comfort Carol about Sophia. Lori confirms her pregnancy. There's nothing spectacular, and the dialogue could still use lots of work, but for its purposes, the episode worked.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Homeland Season 1 Episode 6 The Good Soldier

The usage of the polygraph in "The Good Soldier" is very unsettling and leaves a multitude of questions that need to be answered. The first major, and perhaps most important, polygraph incident is Saul flubbing the first test when asked whether he slipped razor. This could indicate a lot of things. The most obvious would be Saul as the mole. But if he were truly this good of a mole, would he have failed so easily the first time and passed the second? Then again, if he was the mole, he did get away unscathed. Another thought is that the writers used Saul as a benchmark before Brody's test, to show that the test can go in any which direction depending on the disposition of the subject. If Saul can have different answers at different times with different results, then so can Brody.

Carrie and Brody hook up in the episode, and it's fairly interesting. They seem completely at ease with each other, and Brody certainly has no problem performing with Carrie as he does with Jessica. Carrie's behavior stays consistent, though. She's able to instantly disconnect from the sex, using it as a tool. It seems like she blew her cover at the end of the episode, asking about Brody cheating on his wife, leading to Brody telling her to get in his car at the end of the episode. Will he know?

Despite Brody passing the test, all signs still point to him being a sleeper. We're reminded during the service for Walker that Brody, in fact, beat Walker to death. Then, Brody gets through the polygraph--including the question about cheating on his wife which he obviously just did with Carrie.

The people outside of Carie's immediate life continue to have short lifespans. Faisel and Aileen have barely been introduced and now Faisel is dead, killed by their handlers. We get to see how scared Faisel is and how Aileen was the original terrorist, but not enough time was spent on them to really build anything. Still, I'm not sure I would like more time spent on these other plots. Carrie being the central pillar of the show works very, very well, and disruption to that may not beneficial.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - The Good Wife Season 3 Episode 7 Executive Order 13224

"Executive Order 13224" is about as packed as an episode can get without going overboard. There are so many things flying around during the episode that the episode could have gotten out of hand under less capable writers. However, the episode is tightly plotted, so the episode more dense than anything else.

Put under personal threat, Alicia hires her own lawyer, Elsbeth Tascioni, Peter's old lawyer played by the very impressive Carrie Preston, who is nothing short of delightful in her attitude and tricks. The case of the week was probably the strongest of the season, with hilarious redacted reenactments (which, I presume, were going on in Caitlin's head), and thorny issues regarding the post-9/11 world.

In another strong plot, Peter tries to go after Lamont Bishop through information on Will provided by Blake. It leads to a confrontation between Peter and Will which almost reached an apex before calming down. It looks like Dana will stay on the show, as the law firm was just using her to lure the person they really wanted.

For the n-th time, Grace had a subplot and it was awful. The writers have been so off-base with the children since the first season that we shouldn't expect more. Grace is back to her idiotic ways, learning about religion through the internet. I understand that teenagers can be dense at times, but it's pathetic how dumb Grace is. She hears that Jesus never said anything about gays but spoke against divorce on numerous occasion, and her thinking changes instantly as she tells her father getting divorced would be bad. As bad as the plot was, it became an afterthought in an otherwise strong episode.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - Once Upon a Time Season 1 Episode 3 Snow Falls

Three episodes in and Once Upon a Time is still in the table-setting phase. Each episode switches back and forth between the two worlds--the fairy tale part explaining backstory while the modern part moves at one slow step at time. While the tone of the show remains solid along with the great CGI (which put Grimm's to shame), the premise of the show has stagnated.

Everything is one-dimensional to the point where we can expect almost everything that happens next. Snow White and Prince Charming had love at first sight, despite Snow saying the opposite. The one-time use spell in a bottle is used to save the prince instead of killing the Queen. See how much she cares about him already?

In the modern world, it isn't much different. Comatose John Doe responds to Mary's touch and snaps out of it eventually. But John Doe has a wife! Mary cries afterwards, seeing her true love with someone else. Henry continues to blather on about the fairy tale while Emma and Mary indulge his ideas for the time being. When will the story pick up?

Score: 8.2/10

Review - Nikita Season 2 Episode 7 Clawback

I'm beginning to get worried that Nikita is overextending itself. There are already several major conflicts going on between the various factions we know, with interests colliding and crossing at every turn. "Clawback" introduces yet another one without resolving any of the previous conflicts: Division vs. Oversight. Now, it may turn out that all the conflicts get resolved in one fell swoop, so it doesn't matter in the long run, but it's worrisome that so much is piling up without anything be dealt with first.

At the same time, with Ryan presumed dead and working for Amanda, there will be plenty of plots available in the future. There are definitely more moving pieces this season than in the first, so pretty much anything could happen.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Grimm Season 1 Episode 2 Bears Will Be Bears

The second episode of Grimm exposes some glaring holes in the show. The most obvious is the CGI. There are a few scant glimpses of bear faces (which could have been anything), some hazy, brown blobs going through the forest, and a half-second of a whole bear. If the show doesn't have enough budget for solid CGI already, it's troubling to think whether the show can ever be more without showing the monsters in full for an extended period of time.

Then there are the structural problems. Nick's girlfriend is living plot device, intended to show the things Nick may have to give up. Hopefully the writers do something interesting if her character--either give her something to do or get rid of her entirely. The trailer is also a big plot device. It conveniently provides all the answers if Nick just looks--and quite quickly, I may add. It's parked right outside his house, but his evil boss still has no clue about it.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - The Mentalist Season 4 Episode 7 Blinking Red Light

The Mentalist always becomes a different show when Red John is in the picture, because the kill is revealed at the beginning or middle of the episode. "Blinking Red Light," however, goes along like a regular episode for the vast majority of episode. First, there's the obvious suspect who isn't the serial killer, followed by Jane narrowing his scope to the reporter. The timing of Jane's trap comes earlier than usual, and his plan is quickly foiled.

Instead of using another scheme, Jane comes up with an even more devious way to get rid of Panzer. He baits him into insulting Red John and, lo and behold, Red John kills Panzer. With one move, Jane deals with the current serial killer and gets the proof that Red John is still out there. It's a disturbing that Jane would do this--that he'd take a calculated move like this--but The Mentalist has never shied away from the darkness inside Jane and it's very fitting.

Score: 8.8/10

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Review - Supernatural Season 7 Episode 7 The Mentalists

I don't know if it's just me being tired with Supernatural, because "The Mentalists," a typical monster of the week, left me wishing for more--not necessarily Leviathan more, but something the season can really grip on. It's nice that we get a funky ghost story, which had plenty of funny lines and the most solid plot in a long time, but the Sam and Dean conflict, running underneath this episode and season, was again not very inspiring.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Fringe Season 4 Episode 5 Novation

After four episodes sans Peter, "Novation" is a pretty low-key episode considering the circumstances. Peter is off to the side for majority of the episode, interrogated a couple times but in his cell the entire time. The characters' response to him is actually realistic; they have no clue who he is, but he's not an imminent threat, so they don't make a big deal out of him. It's also good that Peter is a smart guy and figures the situation out almost instantly, and does cause a big raucous trying to convince everyone they know him.

The problem with the episode, though, is that the new shape-shifters don't really make good enemies. I like that Peter helped on the case, but the conclusion of the episode is rather tepid: now they can't know who's a shape-shifter unless they perform surgery on them. I'm sure they'll come up with a solution sooner or later. The larger problem is that they're part of the larger mythology of the show--something that's always been nebulous at best, changing at the writers' whims. It's pretty obvious the writers make stuff up as they go--evidenced by the random forays into the pattern, the Bible, etc--so it's hard to gauge anything about the plot.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Chuck Season 5 Episode 2 Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit

Seriously? "Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit" sets up Morgan as the worst person version of himself--wildly overconfident, annoying, and bone-headed. The episode ends in a horrible, unforgivable place, Morgan going to Gertrude Verbanski. Then, "surprise!!" Morgan doesn't remember who Skywalker is--there's a problem with his brain, not a simple problem of character.

The problem would have worked much better if Morgan had been toned down a notch or two and the cockiness resolved by the end of the episode. Another solution would be to build up Morgan's new attitude slower, stretching it out over two episodes, and focus more on the case. There are elements of the episode that work, like Chuck tasked to become Morgan's handler. But with Morgan going crazy, there wasn't any exploration into that.

The spy mission usually doesn't make sense, but I found this week's to be more incoherent than usual. The writers make it a point to verify the story of the brother being kidnapped, but the story is completely wrong. All Morgan had to "zoom" on was that he's in witness protection. Does Carmichael Industries not have the capability to find out something as simple as that?

Score: 8.1/10

Friday, November 4, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 11/3/11

FOX won with The X Factor (3.7) and Bones (3.3). Strong return for the delayed season premiere of Bones.

CBS was second with The Big Bang Theory (5.4),  Rules of Engagement (3.7), Person Of Interest (2.7), and The Mentalist (2.9).

ABC was third with Charlie's Angels (1.2), Grey's Anatomy (3.6), and Private Practice (2.6).

NBC was last with Community (1.7), Parks & Recreation (2.1), The Office (3.2), Whitney (2.1), and Prime Suspect (1.2). Prime Suspect hasn't been canceled yet, but I can't see it lasting much longer.

Review - The Secret Circle Season 1 Episode 8 Beneath

"Beneath" lays off on the plot-heavy aspect of the show and allows the characters to be themselves. This leads to one of the most tightly woven episodes so far. It pulls together Henry's death, the theft of Jane's crystal, and the various feelings that have been floating around as Cassie kisses Jake twice.

Faye has been the most exciting character (though the other characters are pretty boring so it's not a huge complement) and she gets more emotional content this week, reminded of her childhood by the girl running around in the darkness. Like in her more playful scenes, Faye expresses more than the other characters and breaks down over the girl--before seeing her grandfather dead.

As far as the overall mystery goes, all the factions are in the same place but missing each other. It's kind of funny, actually. Each faction knows specifically about only one of the other factions. Jake being ordered to kill Cassie should shake things up. My guess is that he'll become a good guy and spill the beans, but the writers could kill off another character.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 8 Ordinary People

It's times like these when I wish The Vampire Diaries had a larger budget. While the flashbacks are nice and give some perspective, Rebekah having to narrate a majority of the story showed the clear limitations of what they could do. Imagine if, at the end of the episode, we see Klaus ripping the heart out of his mother's chest. Now that would be crazy. Furthermore, there wasn't even enough money to hire a language person, so we had to listen to Vikings speak English.

Even so, "Ordinary People" fills in the blanks of the vampires' origins--how they'd become vampires to fight off the werewolves, how Klaus's mother had an affair with a werewolf which resulted in his hybridation, her shunning of him which led to him killing her, and finally Klaus's deception, which, when revealed, leaves Rebekah in tears.

The only other plot in the episode was Stefan and Damon hanging out at a bar before Mikael talks to them about luring Klaus back to Mystic Falls. The episode ends with a sentiment that pushes Elena out of the picture: Stefan will saved himself not because of his love for Elena, but for Damon

Score: 8.8/10

History lesson of the week: Vikings had Hebrew names and drew cave paintings!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review - Bones Season 7 Episode 1 The Memories in the Shallow Grave

Six season of will-they-won't-they, the final three marred by Hart Hansen's bad decision making. Six seasons of Bones being distant and cold, the last seasons filled with Booth pining for Bones. Then at the end of last season, bam!, it all changes. Bones is pregnant, she and Booth are together, the pining is over. It's a bit sudden.

Honestly, I'm not sure the writers had a better choice, what with Emily Deschanel getting getting pregnant. Her pregnancy already delayed filming the show, and hiding her pregnancy, or avoiding it completely, would delay the show even more or create an unnatural situation where the director is constantly trying to hide the baby bump. There are very few options.

That said, the handling of the pregnancy thus far hasn't been good, though this is only the first episode of the season. The jump from last season--when the relationship was going nowhere fast--to this season--Booth and Bones living together--is way too sudden. While the relationship of the past few seasons was stagnant, at least it was consistent. All the problems of the past are washed away, stricken from the record.

And the relationship problems haven't really gotten better with the pregnancy. The prime squabble of the season premiere? Booth wants a permanent residence for his family, but Bones is unwilling. On top of that, Booth, idiotically, wants to split their money 50-50 for the house. Booth, do you want to split 50-05 and have a tiny house because you have no money, or don't split and have a massive house paid by a small portion of Bones's wealth?

Another problem is that the pregnancy focus took away from the case. The pacing is languid, the suspects minimal, and the case is tossed around until it's solved.

I like Bones a lot--the characters, the cases, the bodies. But Booth and Bones, who are the heart of the show, have been very problematic characters when the writers focus on their relationship. Normally, there relationship episodes and normal episodes, with normal episodes as the majority. I worry, however, that the pregnancy will convert every episode into a relationship episode.

Score: 8.1/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 11/2/11

FOX won with The X Factor (4.0).

ABC was second with The Middle (3.0), Suburgatory (3.1), Modern Family (5.7), Happy Endings (3.4), and Revenge (3.0). All 3.0+ for ABC!

CBS was third with Survivor (3.6), Criminal Minds (3.7), and CSI (2.7).

NBC was last with Up All Night (1.8), a repeat of Up All Night (1.2), Harry's Law (1.1), Law & Order: SVU (2.0). Up All Night continues to slip and Harry's Law continues to do poorly. It's NBC...

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 5 Episode 8 The Isolation Permutation

While things rarely change on The Big Bang Theory, and even less for the male characters, the addition of Amy to the show has been great. She can be equally annoying as Sheldon, but she has girly qualities which make her seem more human and likable.

"The Isolation Permutation" puts her on full display when she's left out of trying on bridesmaid dresses. She cries, cuddles with Sheldon, and gets drunk outside a liquor store. It's all very funny, yet cute, behavior. At the end of the episode, she gets to be maid of honor, so we actually get a good indication the wedding is coming sooner.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Community Season 3 Episode 6 Advanced Gay

I don't like Pierce, so a lot of my enjoyment of "Advanced Gay" came mostly from the other characters. Jeff and Britta were on point the entire episode, with Britta talking about the "Edible Complex" the entire episode, and the use of the gay community was pretty clever. On the other hand, the episode did little to change my opinion about Pierce. The introduction of his father shifts part of his personality problems away from him, but it also makes Pierce seem very weak. Then, the episode gives an easy out once his father dies--problem solved!

Troy choosing between air conditioning and plumbing was hilarious stuff, the best side-parody this season. The bizarreness is certainly there and the plot actually moves, as Troy decides not to join the easy life of air conditionering. Hopefully John Goodman will stick around on the show long enough so we can revisit the plot.

Community episode titles always (like 90%) have something to do with education and learning, so the title for tonight's episode, "Advanced Gay," caught my eye. Advanced Gay what? As it turns out, the missing word didn't matter much.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Parks and Recreation Season 4 Episode 6 End of the World

An episode about end times probably would have been more fitting back in May when Harold Camping was getting more attention relative to how much he got two weeks ago, but "End of the World" is still a fun episode, mixing the kookiness of the people with some great character beats--Ron profiting from them, Chris discussing reincarnation, and Leslie trying to deal with her feelings for Ben.

Entertainment 720 goes out with a bang as Tom and Jean-Ralphio blow the rest of the their money on a lavish party. I'm pretty sure they spent more than the 10K they actually had, so their finances are in even worse shape than they think. Generally, Entertainment 720 added nothing of value to the show and was there only to show Tom and his lavish parties. It didn't really affect anything going on in the Parks Department. Now that Tom will presumably be back with the rest of the characters, hopefully he'll be better integrated into the show.

April and Andy are off in their own end of the world events as they try do as many items on Andy's bucket list. Most of the stuff is funny and April's involvement beyond her usual passive self is very sweet.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Revenge Season 1 Episode 7 Charade

Revenge now has had two non revenge of the week episodes after beginning the show with five. Mainly, these two episodes have dealt with Frank and his investigation in Emily. At the end of the episode, Frank is dealt with and no specific knowledge is leaked, though Victoria will surely be more suspicious than ever.

We learn how the real Emily Thorne swapped places with the real Amanda Clarke (the Emily we've been following), and now the real Emily is at fake Emily's house. Yeah, this is going to be more than awkward. Undoubtedly, it'll be very hard to keep things under wrap, especially with Victoria poking around.

Of all the characters on Revenge, Declan is easily the most unlikable. The writers want to make it so that Declan's the only honest guy and that may be true, but being honest doesn't mean he has to be a prick. He doesn't need to that outraged, offensive tone whenever he opens his mouth. How would he like it if everyone told him the truth every time they see him that he's an idiot?

Finally, we learn explicitly what's going on with Tyler. He's gay and Nolan is as well. While Tyler believes he can quell Nolan with sex, Nolan instead tapes it, giving him plenty of future control over Tyler.

Score: 8.8/10

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review - Up All Night Season 1 Episode 7 Parents

Despite all my impulses telling me that the relationship between Reagan and her mother was too dysfunctional for so long for a quick resolution, the ending got me. It felt completely earnest and heartfelt. In retrospect, it probably shouldn't have been that easy--her mother picking up Amy to let Reagan sleep--but I really bought it.

Ava in the backdrop worked fine this week, as she wasn't obnoxious and the plot fit in with Chris worrying about dying. I hope the show continues to use Ava this way.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Suburgatory Season 1 Episode 6 Charity Case

Every show, even a satire like Suburgatory, needs reasonable characters, people who have brains and are somewhere in the ballpark of real life people. "Charity Case" goes waaaaaaay overboard in making the supporting characters dumb, and gets lame quick. The school is clueless and ignorant to no end while Tessa, clearly the only sane person, tries to teach them something. The episode is filled with these silly, stupid moments, topped off with Tessa sort of understanding where they are coming from when she doesn't want to stuff people give her.

Plenty of sitcoms feature exaggerated characters and worlds, but the good ones manage to dial it back just a bit to let the human elements shine through, making one dimensional characters more than they are. Suburgatory, however, still has a long ways to go if "Charity Case" is not an aberration.

Score: 7.7/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 11/1/11

CBS won with NCIS (3.9), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.4), and Unforgettable (2.3). Not good numbers for Unforgettable. We'll see if it can get higher ratings later in the year, as it was given a full season.

FOX was second with Glee (3.0) and New Girl (3.6). Glee continues to get nowhere near where it got last season and the huge break for New Girl didn't help. Still, despite the risky move not to air any new episodes of New Girl for a month, it got healthy ratings last night.

ABC was third with Last Man Standing (2.7), Man Up (1.8), Dancing With the Stars (2.8), and Body of Proof (1.9). Man Up! continues to slip while Body of Proof still isn't doing well.

NBC was last with The Biggest Loser (2.3).

Review - Sons of Anarchy Season 4 Episode 9 Kiss

Given that Kurt Sutter has stated he wants SOA to have 7 seasons and the ratings for the show continue to climb, it's hard to believe that Jax would really walk away from the club, despite his own declarations. Likewise, it's hard to believe that the club won't get out of bed with Galindo. So all the movement in the episode--Jax realizing how bad the situation is and wanting to leave with Tara, the reappearance of the Niners as partners with LS, Potter going to Otto--is conditional on how this season actually turns out. We'll have to see if there really is a big payoff at the end of the season which stays faithful to the characters and extricates them from the cartel.

I don't believe Tara will be killed, but if she does, I don't think it'll be too big of a loss. Tara hasn't had much to do since last season, so her impact on the show if she dies will be how others react to her death, not a loss of what she was doing (which was essentially raising kids and reading letters).

On the other hand, I can envision Clay being killed or severely marginalized by the end of the season. Gemma and Uncer pretty much conclude that Clay can't be saved, and all Gemma can do is keep Clay close to try to sway his mind. Then, Clay immediately defies Gemma and calls the hitman. With this, Clay is past the point of no return, if he hadn't been already. If she is so forgone, what kind of character growth will he have? Probably none. And if so, why would remain on the show, if not for being a plot device?

Score: 8.8/10

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review - New Girl Season 1 Episode 4 Naked

The plots of "Naked" don't have much substance--one revolving around the "p word" and the other around American pop culture--but the show proves that it has enough charm regardless of the plot. Zooey Deschanel's high-energy acting meshes well with the other actors and the show moves on quickly without dwelling too much on how oblivious Jess can be.

While I've liked the other characters more as the show has progressed, I want Winston to get a more solid plot, preferably one which has him talking with another adult beyond his roommates. All he did in the previous episode was have a dance off with a kid and this week he catches up on American pop culture (because Latvia apparently doesn't have internet or something like that). Both Nick and Schmidt have done things with people outside their group, and it's about time for Winston.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Glee Season 3 Episode 4 Pot O' Gold

I think I'm done reviewing Glee, and possibly done with the show entirely. Each episode is increasingly filled with random horseshit that the good moments are harder to find; in "Pot O' Gold," there are literally none to be found. Because of all the terribleness, I want to dissect the episode and point out each piece of crap. The problem is, I don't have the time. So I'm probably going to continue to watch the show, but not bother saying anything about it.

In general, a review of any random Glee episode will consist of the following: There are a bunch of stories and most don't work. The songs are generic pop songs and add nothing to the episode other than adding a song. A couple characters are batshit insane and inhuman, but the writers keep writing them like that. There are multiple lapses of continuity, leading to questions about character motivations.

"Pot O' Gold" somehow combines the very worst of everything Glee does, and rolls it up into one stinking episode. From what we've seen in the past, Glee could be a very good show, combining humor and drama effectively. The writers, however, are far too lazy to do that on a consistent basis.

Score: 5.0/10

Review - NCIS Season 9 Episode 7 Devil's Triangle

Gibbs and Fornell are always a fun duo, especially when their love lives come into focus. They're dysfunctional people, perfectly fit for each other, but beneath the humor is a melancholy feeling. Things get weird when their shared ex-wife wants their help finding her current husband. Old feelings are brought back--she having cheated on Fornell, and Gibbs being her Shannon--which probably won't matter in the long run, but add additional information to the characters.

The investigation ends on an ambiguous note, with the "beware the Military-Industrial Complex" line said after it's surmised that someone opposed to the military draw down targeted officials at the football game. Hopefully the investigation will be closed in a future episode and not obliquely referenced in the middle of a random episode.

Score: 8.7/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 10/27/11

FOX won with game 6 of the World Series (6.5).

CBS was second with The Big Bang Theory (4.6), Rules of Engagement (3.3), Person Of Interest (2.7), and The Mentalist (2.5). Person of Interest was given a full season pickup. Whether it gets a second season is shaky, however.

ABC was third with It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (2.3), Grey's Anatomy (3.7), and Private Practice (2.4). Charlie Brown pummels Charlie's Angels.

NBC was last with Community (1.4), Parks and Recreation (1.8), The Office (2.9), and Prime Suspect (1.1). Community continues to struggles, Parks and Rec isn't doing great, The Office is getting sub-2.0 and Prime Suspect is surely dead.

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 11/1/11

CBS won with How I Met Your Mother (4.2), 2 Broke Girls (4.3), Two and a Half Men (4.7), Mike & Molly (3.7), and Hawaii Five-0 (3.0).

ABC was second with a repeat of Scared Shrekless (1.7), Dancing with the Stars (2.8), and Castle (2.7). DWTS still way down from last year but Castle holds up.

FOX was third with Terra Nova (2.1) and House (2.5). Soft return for Terra Nova and House after baseball. We'll see if they rebound next week.

NBC was last with The Sing-Off (1.4) and Rock Center with Brian Williams (1.0). Nothing unexpected here.

Review - Enlightened Season 1 Episode 4 The Weekend

Wow, that was a very good and unexpected episode from a show which has only coasted along thus far. On a show that's billed as a comedy, its best episode is also the most serious. "The Weekend" is a sad episode--shockingly sad the more you think about it--and yet it never gets into depressing territory. Amy's eternal optimism shines through even when her words at expressing the exact opposite.

We intimately see and hear Amy regarding Levi, and she really cares about her. It may be nostalgia, but it doesn't make her feelings any less valid. And Levi, as we see, is perhaps an unwinnable case, which he states himself. Amy, however, remembers those times with him and continues to believe he can be better.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Castle Season 4 Episode 7 Cops & Robbers

An easy way to create drama on television is to subvert the viewers' expectations. After so many episodes, most people have a good idea what's coming, especially when it comes to Castle. Creating a completely unexpected event can be cheap, but none cheaper than what happened on Castle. Unfortunately, the writers still have not figured this out. When they have a gun pointed at Castle's head, everyone knows nothing will happen, but the writers linger on this forever, trying to get any tension out of the moment. But from the beginning, without the possibility of Castle getting shot or something weird happening, there was no tension. The explosion was probably the only thing that was unexpected, because it happened in the midst of other events and wasn't telegraphed completely.

I liked that the plot went beyond the normal "take the cash" scheme, but the eventual conclusion--the mastermind using the heist to find his ex-wife and son--seemed awfully elaborate. I guess some people will go to super crazy lengths to get their children back. With that kind of planning, though, you'd think he could hatch a plan that wouldn't require drawing so much attention.

Score: 7.7/10
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