Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Reviews 6/26/12 - 7/2/12

After last week’s misstep, Falling Skies rebounded nicely with a quieter episode which had some great character moments, not necessarily because of the acting, but the writers actually came up with an interesting situation. My biggest problem with the episode is that the plot developments went by a bit too quick, and there wasn’t enough time to fully development things in one episode. We meet Weaver’s daughter who’s living a with band of kids, and of course the writers play up the family drama angle up as much as possible. Again, I wish it went on for more than an episode, but there were genuinely good moments in there. Prior to the episode, Falling Skies didn’t emphasize the creepy nature of the skitters and their parasitic harnesses. This episode, however, embraces it fully, and gave us a stunning scene in which we see a bunch of kids about to be harnessed. Lots of gooiness, tendrils, and everything else icky. For those brief moments, I was freaking out over what everything looked like. Good job, prop, special effects, and visual effects guys.

True Blood isn’t exactly racings forward as previous seasons did, but there are enough interesting parts per episode to keep it afloat. The indisputable highlight of the episode was Pam and Eric’s scene. Pam is an awesome character, always willing to let off the best one-liner insults, but also vulnerable enough when it counts. We root for her when she’s winning and feel bad for her when she’s hurt. With Eric and Bill on the verge of getting killed for not bringing Russell back, Eric lets her go in order to keep her safe by preventing her from helping him. I do wonder, though, whether the scenes would have been more potent had the flashbacks been in this episode rather than the previous one. The rest of the episode had a bit with everything like the funky fairy detour, so we know they haven’t been forgotten (unlike, it seems, the werepanthers). And oh yeah, Alcide and Sookie, known killer of Alcide’s fiancée, kiss as Eric and Bill watch. Bon Temps, everybody. Needless to say, the brief Terry and Sam parts did nothing for me. Yeah, I want to know what happens next, but those measly few scenes are just too brief for anything to really come of them. The thing that bothered me most, though, was the kid vampire who was killed. There wasn't one time in all the episodes in which I didn't feel like he was just blurting out his lines. Surely there was a kid out there who could say the lines semi-realistically... or not.

Longmire: For all their efforts to be realistic, police procedurals in the end are about as unrealistic as 24. While the world we live in indeed has plenty of crime, the rates at which such fantastical murders and schemes occur are greatly overstated in these worlds. Imagine the public reaction if the Criminal Minds world suddenly became a reality. Widespread panic sweeps across the US, as crazed murderers rampage across the country, impeded only by a small group of FBI agents. But in the Criminal Minds world, the public is fine, accepting of their world where killers seem commonplace. Longmire, though framed in a grittier world than that of Criminal Minds, has its own set of problems. It’s located in a small town in Montana, and yet there seems to be an awful lot of wild adventures going on. Cartel members, child snatchers, major Native American conflicts, frequent shootouts—a lot has happened in just 5 episodes in this dinky town with a couple sheriffs. This week’s episode lays it on pretty thick with the Native American stuff. Now, I realize the US government has screwed them since the beginning of time until present day, in every possible way, but I’m not sure a fictional television show is where this kind of activism, with an increasingly preachy tone, should happen. And besides, are there plenty of other plots already ongoing?

Weeds is one of those shows which should have ended long ago. Agrestic burning down pushed the show down a certain pass and it was all downhill from there. Now, there have been interesting developments here and there, but the show has grown tired, going from one twist to another in order to propel the family from one location to the next. At long last, the show will come to an end for a 13 episode final season. The eighth season premiere begins where the seventh left off, with Nancy getting shot. Nothing really happens in the episode except we learn that the shooter is Tim Scottson, the son of Nancy's second husband all the way back in the second season.

Episodes is a fun show for someone like me who constantly wonders what's going on in private in the television industry. There are times when you question how such terrible shows can end up on network television with millions watching, and Episodes provides answers, however fictional they may be. The writers--in the show Sean and Beverly--are well-meaning, genuinely funny people whose creation is ripped to shreds and built back up into a monstrosity by the desire for ratings and stupid network executives. This would be a comforting thought, that there really is talent out there, just the networks are destroying it. On the other hand, writers of Episodes would want us to think that, as they and their friends would take less heat if they make bad shows. Back to the matter of the show, it tries hard to make us like Beverly and Sean as they navigate their way through Hollywood, but I could care less about what happens to them.

For some reason the official season premiere of Wilfred was last week rather than the episode the week before, the super-trippy episode which explained how Ryan got to where he was. It makes in the sense that the official season premiere is more in line with what we've seen before. Lop off the final episode of the first season, change Wilfred's attitude towards Drew, add in Allison Mack, and you get the second season premiere.

Louie is one of those shows which doesn't really require regular viewing if you care about plot, and the season premiere doesn't exactly offer anything we haven't seen before (though his black ex-wife was a fun  change). Sometimes things will carry over from episode to episode, but everything is so surreal that randomly watching a couple episodes is about the same as watching consecutive episodes. Thematically, you don't need to watch every episode either as you can gather tons of information about Louie from a single episode. In the season premiere you can see a lot of Louie's attitudes towards relationships in the episode as he tries his hardest not to be committed and yet be frustrated at his predicament.

On the onset, Anger Management presents itself as a CBS comedy; it definitely has all the right parts: the profession--psychology--a bunch of other quirky characters, the family, an overbearing laugh track, and obvious writing. So you wonder why this show ended up on FX, home to Louie and Archer, as esteemed as comedies can get, and you look deeper into the show. In the end, you conclude that the only reason it's on FX is because of Charlie Sheen and the viewers he'll bring. Indeed, Anger Managed debuted to stunning ratings and showed that even cable--FX!--can devolve the easy-thinking writing that dominates network television.

Suits really spread out its wings last week, with all the other characters having plenty of screen time, in addition to Harvey and Mike's usual legal work. There was Louis, trying to prove his worth and Jessica acknowledging it, and Donna and Rachel having drinks. It may not seem like much, but it looks like the writers are making a considerable effort to make the show into a real ensemble one. Mike got dragged into the office politics this week and while we know Mike won't be drawn in by Hardman, he's in the crosshairs now. This season is focusing on Mike's development as a lawyer and the fact that sometimes the "good guy" doesn't win. It's basically the opposite of Fairly Legal, where everyone wins once a mediator steps in.

Burn Notice continues to give the new characters a bit more to do with Pearce getting a lot to do for a change, interacting with all the characters. Although Michael and Fi will be separated for a while longer, it looks like the writers are pushing Jesse and Pearce together. At the beginning of the season, Burn Notice is working nicely right now. The team situation is changed up and we don't quite know what to expect week in and week out. Can the writers keep this up?

There was a bizarre interview with Royal Pains executive producers last week. They have several statements that make no sense, like Hank having to be with another doctor, and others which are a mark of unambitious writing,  when they basically said that they had nothing more for Jill to do. The main problem with her character, from the  very beginning, is that everything she did was defined by how it affected Hank romantically. There were attempts to broaden her character with the clinic and friendship with Divya, but ultimately, the writers did the will-they-won't-they thing with Hank way too many times and then ditched her. My thoughts after reading the interview was that this was an isolated incident. After all, Divya has grown plenty since the beginning, and even Paige eventually got something to do. Why the writers could never write anything consistent and long-lasting for Jill is quite baffling. I want to believe that Jill Flint is leaving because of something behind the scenes, out of hope that the writers are really more competent than their words indicate. But in last week's episode, there was another mark against the writers when the Hank and Evan conflict abruptly ended. Again, we see the writers unable to carry through with a plot in a meaningful way, ending things before they really begin. These brief half-season arcs begin with so much promise but always peter out this way. It's a matter of trust, and before long, viewers realize something which seems "big" really isn't.

With only 10 episodes this season and 4 episodes already aired, Dallas is rolling along nicely. Plot twists continue to come, information is revealed, and characters are continually backstabbing each other. For those who like the deception and intricate web of liars, Dallas pretty much hits the mark. For those looking for something more in terms of character, there is not much there.
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