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.