Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reviews 4/24/12 - 5/1/12

I'm not done watching everything yet and I probably won't have more time next week to fill in the gaps, so sorry if any show is left out.

As House winds down towards the end with a mostly new cast, the one thing that remains constant is House and Wilson, who now has cancer. This flips the show on its side, and the episode shows House and Wilson and their best, in sickness and in health. We're reminded, once again, that these characters don't have great lives, they'll end up without families, but they'll have each other... if Wilson survives.

I'm relieved Castle's season finale is next week, because I'm getting worn out. The zombie theme was okay while it lasted, but the crime part of the show bored me out of my mind. Stock characters, stock twists, and little else. The two Alexis scenes were great, for what it's worth.

If it wasn't clear enough, last night's episode of Game of Thrones, the midway point of the season, made it abundantly known that there will be a big battle soon and maybe more than one. A large portion of the episode is spent developing the plots directly regarding the war. Renly is killed by Melisandre's shadow, Tyrion catches up on the alchemists making wildfire, the Night's Watch waiting at the Fist of the First Men while Jon and others scout ahead, and Tywin scheming at Harenhal. There's a lot going on, so nothing really stuck out to me like certain events in the book did.

Book spoilers: It seems like the writers are giving Bran less to do by taking out the Freys and the Reeds, so it'll just be Bran, Osha, and Hodor. I'm sure many people were waiting to see the traditional Qarthean garb with a single breast exposed, but I guess they decided not to go with it.

After the previous week's trippy episode, Mad Men return back to normal--sort of. Although it didn't have any LSD or 3 stories of a single day, the episode had a clear focus on parents. There are tons of good things in the episode--Megan's brilliant idea, her seemingly disinterest in taking credit, her parents, Roger and Sally, Peggy and Loan--and it makes for an interesting episode that's lighter than the previous episode yet still with drama.

I think I'm done with The Killing. Part of me wants to find out what happens in the end, but it's taking far too much out of me to slog through the mess. At the end of the last episode, the music builds during the montage, as we see the various evildoers waiting in the wings. It's supposed to be dramatic stuff, tense for Linden, sad for Mitch, but I was half asleep by then and just wanted it to be over with. In the episode, we learn some more facts with the return of Jasper and his father, some evidence pointing towards them. But in the end, we're no better off than we were an episode ago or 10 episodes ago. This is a big reason why the character stuff for Linden and Holder doesn't work. The only motivating factor for them to change their behavior is time and frustration, not because of anything that actually happens. So when Holder recognizes Linden's attachment to the case because of her previous case, it's pretty arbitrary.

The third season of The Good Wife is probably the weakest of the three seasons from a plotting standpoint. The previous seasons had complete stories from beginning to end. It feels like the writers started too many plot threads this season, then decided to resolve some of them earlier, while leaving nothing towards the end. So, while the season finale had thematic coherence with the various things that have gone on, there isn't one strong story it really latched on to. Beyond the plot, though, the episode had lots of great moments--the elevator scenes, the dream team--and the trademark snappy pacing. One thing that bothered me is Kalinda's plot, and her mysterious husband. It's just hanging out there, unrelated to anything else.

The main thing that bothers me about  Once Upon a Time's plot is how arbitrary it is and the random magic rules that are explicitly stated. It would be better if the magic were shrouded in mystery, but the writers go out of their way to make characters state the exact constraints of the magic, for no reason other than for plot convenience. That said, the twist of August being Pinocchio was damn good, and make even better because he was tasked to make Emma believe.

Fringe: I want to get the plot issues out of the way first. Yes, the whole DRJ problem, the Cortexiphan kids, and solution was one big plot device with little build up or explanation--that's the outcome of making stuff up on the fly. But I don't think anyone still watching has really cared too much about the plot since the second season (though, considering the drop in viewership, maybe some people did care). What "Worlds Apart" does is what the best Fringe episodes do, bring the characters together and really show who they've become. The episode excellently parallels the characters and their counterparts, and gives them a send off with the weight we've come to know. The writers have explored both worlds so much this season that, even though it is different world than the previous seasons, enough has happened so that we know and feel how important closing the bridge is.

Supernatural: Yes, I'm a fan of Felicia Day so of course I had to like the episode even thought I don't like the Leviathan storyline. I still don't get what the point of ghost Bobby is.

The end of last week's Grimm episode seemed to suggest a dark side to Nick. He shipped two Reaper heads to Germany, no easy task for a regular person. Now Nick is going outside of the law to not only kill people/creatures but to also intimidate.

The Secret Circle works pretty well as a horror show, with characters running around in the dark amidst bodies and blood. The final twist of Nick being alive was mostly unexpected and it signals that the plot will have to move forward.

Last week's episode of The Vampire Diaries featured a lot of the good and the bad of this season. The good was the characters and the way Alaric's near-certain death was handled. The show pulls back and looks at the big picture of his life and it is indeed very bleak, as Ester prepares to transform him. Meanwhile, Elena realizes she and Jeremy have no one left, another devastating view of a character's life. The bad, as has been the case this season, was the plot. Esther, after being absent for a number of episodes, returns with yet another plot and it's pretty random with no build up. But the plot does get moving and at the end of the episode at least we know something has to budge in the next episode.

Parks and Recreation: Leslie!!! After an up and down campaign, Leslie finally got a chance to debate Bobby Newport, and the debate resembled the campaign--mostly downs but some ups. When all seems hopeless, Leslie lets rip a speech for the ages. It's a Leslie speech, full of hope and the can-do spirit she embodies, and everyone, Bobby included, is wowed. At that point, I thought to myself that Leslie would win the election. The writers wouldn't have her come this far just so she doesn't win, wouldn't they?

I'm a big fan of Community theme episodes, and the Law & Order episode was no exception. With the characters filling in the roles of the lawyers/detectives and the plot actually having some complexity, allowing for multiple suspects, the episode played out nicely.

The events on Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 are pretty outlandish, like June dating Chloe in the previous episodes and the shenanigans in the followed, but it's something that could conceivably happen in a general sense. Last week's episode took a big turn, however, when Chloe somehow adopts a girl. It's explained in a flashback, but it's still far from realistic. From there, the episode continued along this weird path until the end.

The cynic in me says Glee did a Whitney episode so it could sell another album. Maybe this would be less likely in the first season, when the plot seemed to matter, but the show has become so glitzy, so decentralized, so devoid of heart, that I wouldn't be too surprised. The vast majority of the episode was bad, Will's pathetic scenes especially so. The one bright spot was Kurt's scene with his father.
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