I forgot that Awake was airing this week since it's been online for over a week, so here's an addendum. Awake is a nifty show that manages to do what Touch doesn't--feel real. There are almost no moments when the writers try to artificially inject pathos into the story, the main problem Touch suffers from. From the onset we know exactly what's going on--a detective's wife and son dead in separate worlds. He goes from one to another, not knowing exactly what to do. At the same time, the procedural aspect of the show focuses on the similarities between worlds and how they help solve seemingly separate cases. It all comes together nicely in neat package that gives us a good look at every character while never getting bogged down.
With the second season of The Walking Dead coming to a close in three weeks, it's hard not to think that the show has stagnated at the farm. Beyond the immediate character conflicts--which still have not resulted in any significant developments--the characters have stayed safe at the farm, going about their regular tasks. They're quite safe unless they choose to put themselves in a position where it isn't. As for the character conflicts, Rick and Shane's is easily the most compelling, based upon events of the past that they continue to grapple with. On the other hand, Lori being a stupid bitch is getting silly. She's descends into a staunch supporter of traditional gender roles, telling Maggie to get behind Glenn, and yelling at Andrea to get back in the kitchen. Her self-righteousness is incredibly off-putting.
Spartacus delivered in a truly incredible episode--not just in its own bubble but television in general. We see all the various conflicts that have been developed over time, through Blood and Sands, Gods of the Arena, with all these forces colliding. The melodrama is real, rooted in love and death, never blindsiding the audience with behavior that is not plausible. Indeed, the writers realize that characterization comes about from what has happened in the past. This culminates in a glorious final scene in which gladiators--including Oenomaus and Gannicus, once brothers but now enemies--fight for their live, Spartacus tries to exact revenge on Glaber, and Mira brings down the arena in a blaze. It's a magnificent 10+ minutes, the action and drama equally compelling. What's best is that this isn't a one-time scene. Every part is implications for the future, and the future remains even more clouded for every characters.
Fringe finally cleared out a question everyone has had: who are the Observers? Now we know--they're humans from the future. While this may at first rather inconsequential--even similar to Star Trek: Enterprise's underwhelming time travel stories--the implications are highly interesting. Here Peter is, looking off towards an unknown future which September claims is somehow wrong. Just when he thought things were getting back on track and he accepted that this Olivia is close enough to the one he knew, the gets this new piece of information. Immediately, he questions his every move and arrives at the conclusion that he should get involved with this Olivia, lest anything bad happens.
I don't want to call The Office's Tallahassee adventure a bust just yet, but from the two two episodes, I'm not getting my hopes up. Instead of a meaningful plot related to their new location, the episodes have been about things that could have happened back in Scranton. Dwight acts silly and Jim is Jim while Kathy comes on to him unsuccessfully.
Parks and Recreation makes couples work. Whether it's Andy and April, Leslie and Ben, or even Chris and Ann, the show has an ability to make us like couples. Ann and Tom, however, is an entirely new beast. Tom has always been a bit obnoxious, a bit too arrogant. It looks like it'll take a while for them to start clicking.
One of the oddest things about The Finder is Willa and the gypsy stuff. Even after six episodes, the plot doesn't feel like it belongs. While Walter is off being quirky and findy, she deals with this flat family drama. It seems like a really big waste of time.
Royal Pains took an interesting turn in its season finale when the conflict between Hank and Evan, which was a great problem through various parts of the season, finally came to a head, with Evan making some decisions without Hank and Hank blowing up. Evan buying Divya's shares was shoehorned nicely into the episode, as Evan now has two-thirds of Hank Med while Hank has the rest.
Needless to say Glee was awful. Not just regular awful, but awful awful, even for Glee standards. The episode begins like it's going to be about suicide with Karofsky swallowing pills before being found. The show even tries to make Sebastian and Sue sympathetic in the aftermath. Suicide is, after all, a big deal and the spate of gay teen suicides these past few years surely makes it an important issue. Well, the Glee writers tell us, it's actually not. The episode moves on to regionals and the unemotional, uninspired music commences. So New Directions wins as expected and then... the cliffhanger.
The big thing about last week's NCIS episode was Jaime Lee Curtis. The plot was pretty average, but there was certainly something going on between her character and Gibbs. Whether this means anything long term is another story. At this point, you can kind of condemn all of Gibbs's relationships to failure.
The finale of Castle's two-parter had an even more ridiculous plot than the Hawaii Five-0 episode in which the team flew into North Korea. The so-called linchpin was actually a little girl. If it seemed like the CIA targeted her, her father who is influential in the Chinese government and is apparently one of the few people urging the government to buy American bonds would stop trying to help America. Then the world crumbles and certain people profit... like the Russian spy... Yeah, so I don't know what any of that's about or what kind of fandangled economics was behind all that. At least the episode moved at a nice pace.
I can't wait until we get to the end of this season of Justified. Quarles and Limehouse are both great villains, but as we're only halfway through the season, they're not on screen as often as they would be if Harlan blew up into total war--which is clearly where everything is headed.
The new partnerships on Southland have probably been my favorite of the entire series. Cooper and Tang are a good, earnest team, and Lucy Liu has really defied all expectations. Ben and Sammy are also enjoyable, with their ability to play games with each other and also their serious sides as was the case in this week's episode in which Sammy's brash attitude gets significant suspicion from Ben. The weak link, sadly, is Lydia and Reuben who are a typical detective team. With Reuben gone for the week, Lydia was still the worst part of the episode, running around the place while pregnant before going to the hospital.
I'm beginning to think that The River might be too episodic for its own good. In trying to create singular stories, it has to grasp for a solution, as was the case with the cell phone stuff, and the overall story of finding Emmett and the Amazon setting is relegated to the back.
Smash's ratings have quickly fallen down to 2.3 while The Voice is still getting 6.0, so the show clearly isn't clicking with viewers. Perhaps the show doesn't have the bright, glossy sheen of Glee to cover up the flaws. What I like about Smash is that it actually feels like something is getting made. We get glimpses of the production progression and it seems like a long process where the characters are building something and it's quite fulfilling. I think the biggest problem with the show right now is that there are so many characters that it's hard to develop them individually while balancing them with everyone else. This is most evident in Ellis, who is just a scummy guy without much else.
How I Met Your Mother: Was the nail really, really, really, really put in the coffin of Ted and Robin? Maybe, and maybe not. The writers seemed to think the last episode was somehow necessary to show that Robin and Ted don't belong together. Mainly, it seemed like a waste of time.