Smash debuts tonight, but it was released a while back, so I'll review it now. The show starts off with some really questionable scenes involving Tom's assistant and the leaked video, but once Katharine McPhee's character Karen gets more involved, the episode takes off and there's a lot to like about it. It's an ambitious show and the stakes are real for these characters who want their shot at stardom. Of course, the danger in a show like this is that it overextends itself in "fan favorites" as Glee has done and becomes a mess. But the biggest danger to the show is people's fear of NBC. Plenty of people tune into the mediocrity of FOX's Alcatraz or ABC's Once Upon a Time, making them into hits, but NBC again finds itself floundering. Will Super Bowl advertising be enough for Smash?
I rewatched a bunch of scenes in Luck's second episode multiple times, so I generally got what was going on in every part of the episode. It bothers me when I don't understand what's going on, which is why I'm willing to spend extra time listening to barely decipherable dialogue. It feels like a chore, but it should get better as the season goes on. Without multiple plots riding on a horse race, as there was in the pilot, the second episode felt dry. Every character is developed a bit more--Jerry gambling, Renzo wanting to buy the horse, Ace plotting, Escalante taking risks and losing, Rosie losing the chance to ride Gettin' Up Morning, and Walter being sympathetic--but nothing really stood out.
Surprisingly, we're only one episode away from the midway point of Shameless's 12-episode second season. What we see from this week's episode and the season as a whole is that the show has become less involved in money-making schemes. There's still stuff going in the background, but nowhere near the level in the first season, when characters were engaged in episode-long cons. The focus on the characters this season is turning out great, as it feels natural that the characters are changing as they grow older. Ian looks forward in his life, but finds West Point an near-impossible goal. Debbie is hitting that age when she cares about boys. Fiona tries to find her purpose in life and decide what she wants to do with her personal life and then Steve arrives. Lip is thrust into a position where Karen is pregnant and the baby could be his, throwing his life into even more turmoil.
Fringe writers should have had an Astrid episode long, long before--especially since they had those Bible episodes in the second season which were never revisited (probably the greatest proof they make things up as they go along)--and now in the likely final season we get one when the writers should be trying to tie things together. Okay, so the situation is far from ideal, but Jasika Nicole is pretty awesome and the plot was solid, covering the spectrum of Astrid and her counterpart from the other world, Neil and his deceased brother, and Walter and Peter.
In the middle of the season, we couldn't expect Nikita to have another monumental change and have everyone inside Division die, so as expected everyone turns out fine. The biggest change is that Percy is now out and free to execute his evil plans.
I kind feel bad about being so uninterested in Supernatural these days. I want to like it, but there's little I get from it these days, other than being occasionally amused by the Winchesters. The Amazons were badly developed, the daughter twist obvious, and the Bobby ghost thing going nowhere. Every scenario with Sam and Dean has been done already, so their conflicts no long feel fresh, just rehashes of stuff in the past.
Grimm had genuinely freaky creatures last week and Juliette was outside for an extended period of time! The stuff with the captain is still terrible, but maybe Juliette being involved is a sign of things to come.
Last week's Office episode blew by quickly. It started and then was over before anything really happened. There was one big development, the reveal that Angela's baby might by Dwight's--possibly as a prelude to Dwight's spin-off--and the rest was filler. The filler actually took up most of the episode, as Jim made up excuses after excuse after excuse, ad nauseum.
I don't think Up All Night will every reach the level of Parks and Recreation, but last week's episode with Chris and his brother was probably the best plot thus far, showing the squabbling part of a sibling relationship and resolving it as well.
The reason why I rarely have anything to say about Parks and Recreation is because there's rarely anything wrong with it. During the episode, I laugh and think about how great every character is. There wouldn't be much I could say, other than listing funny scenes, which would take too much time.
Until the end, last week's Secret Circle episode was the most boring episode. Even after the psychic stabbed and then got killed herself, the episode, on average, was probably still the most boring. There was more non-committal love triangle/quadrangle, mild drug use, and all of time-wasting. Doesn't the show have another gear?
The Vampires Diaries showed why is several steps above The Secret Circle. The episode had movement in all direction with Caroline's father dying, a killer scene with Caroline and Elena, and then Alaric is found stabbed in the darkened house with blood everywhere. Finally, all the Originals are gathered and most aren't happy about Klaus. There's lots of uncertainly right now with the Originals, and there's an unknown killer on the loose.
In its third episode, Justified gives a fuller introduction to Limehouse, rounding out the villains and showing us the various factions in Harlan who will be fighting for turf and money while Raylan and the Marshalls trying to keep them under control.
Glee's Michael Jackson episode was a bit better than previous theme episodes but not by much. First, the one positive: the application plot was relevant and something was actually on the line. And the big negative: in evil Sue's absence, this Sebastian guy became the ultimate evil, completely unrealistic and malicious for no reason.
Reading the description of last week's Alcatraz episode, I thought the hostage problem would take up most of the episode, where Rebecca learns more about the prisoner as she tries to defuse the situation. Instead, the episode played out its usual procedural before the tepid bank robbery. I'm surprised to see the ratings for the show are still really high, as the show has not indicated it's anything other than another supernatural procedural.
Being Human (UK/US): I want to talk about both shows because the fourth season premiere of original aired on Sunday (which you can find online if you look hard enough...), and it took the show in a dramatically new direction. Without spoiling anything, the DNA of the show has been changed. Going back to the US version, it introduced Josh's ex-fiancee Julia as the doctor Aidan hooked up with. It looks like the shows have completely diverged.