Monday, January 31, 2011

Review - The Cape Season 1 Episode 5 Dice

To start, I'm going to ignore the logic and science behind T.R.A.C.E. Let's just assume it remotely realistic.

The Cape hangs on the edges of moral issues, always sure with the suggestions but never fully embracing the morality of superheroes. "Dice" puts Vince into what would seem to be a tough situation--except it's shown in a way that Vince only has one decision. Does Peter Flemming really need to be alive for Vince to clear his name? According to Orwell, yes, so Vince runs with it. Thus, any qualms he has about saving Flemming are pointless since he's helping himself.

Most problematic in this is that Tracey/Dice gets the short end of the straw, portrayed as the 'bad guy' of the episode rather than a damaged savant. And, of course, the whole discussion on fate, ending with Max's line "There are no accidents," leaves no opening. Dice's blindspot is a personal problem, but the rest of the universe rolls along as planned. Basically, in the writers' minds and the universe's course, Vince will eventually beat Chess.

If you been keeping up with the ratings, you'd see that the ratings are still dropping, and even if it stabilized at this very moment, it'd be a goner anyway.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - Human Target Season 2 Episode 11 Kill Bob

With Fox's latest move to take a post-Idol slot away from Human Target and assign it a Monday burn off along with Lie to Me, it's clear Human Target will have a short lifespan beyond the 13 episodes this season. There's really not more to say at this point. The first season had plenty of awesome and epicness, but the plots were the exact same each week. The second season, retooled to attract female viewers, has had more diversity between episodes but is still mediocre at best.

Despite its many, many faults, "Kill Bob" is an enjoyable episode with some cool actions scenes, especially Chance and Angie shooting at each other while in cars. That alone is enough to make me happy considering how low my expectations are. Yeah, the plot was a perfect cliche, but I don't care at this point.

The rest of the episode has a shallow message about love which only touches the surface, and has a bizarre subplot in which Ames randomly gets married before the annulment.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Chuck Season 4 Episode 13 Chuck Versus the Push Mix

"Chuck Versus the Push Mix" succintly wrapped up the Volkoff arc and boy am I glad it's over. Every season thus far has had some kind of spy-related thematic connection tying the episodes. The first season was Chuck figuring out what's going on, the second about Chuck deciding who he wants to be, and the third a look into the darker side of the spy world.

The fourth, however, really doesn't have much in terms of the spy business. Briefly, it was touched on that spies can fall so far into their undercover roles that they become different people, but that was instantly scuttled with the resolution this week. Sure, it can be attributed to the initial 13-episode order and the planned series finale, but regardless of intent, the overarching theme and plot has been extremely weak.

If you care about plot, Chuck and Co. devise a wacky plot to take down Volkoff and it succeeds with surprising gusto. There are plot holes everywhere, but they don't govern the episode as they did last episode. More importantly, "Chuck Versus the Push Mix" crafts a nice resolution for every character. Chuck and Sarah are back together and Chuck proposes, Morgan, Alex, and Casey are happy with each other, Ellen is finally out of Volkoff's grasp, and Ellie delivers the baby. Pair those conclusions with some Jeffster, and things are looking up. The only thing missing from the episode is Scott Bakula.

While "Chuck Versus the Push Mix" is generally a good episode, I have mixed feelings on the season. If, for instance, you're watching the fourth season on DVD, the first 13 episode would seem quite awkward and incomplete--without knowing the full story about the writers planning it to be a possible series finale

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Shameless (US) Season 1 Episode 4 Casey Casden

Plot-wise, "Casey Casden" has nothing new, with plots borrowed entirely from the original. However, they do come from separate episodes, and we get a good idea of what the writers are trying to do. Instead of create their own show, the writers are trying to stretch out seven episodes worth of material over 12 episodes, inserting new but not essential elements--in the case of last week's episode--or simply leaving things temporarily unresolved--the wedding and Karen's thing.

"Casey Casden" gets a bit too silly with the baby plot looking like a Leverage episode, but the episode does get to the heart of the problem with the family, with Fiona calling into question whether the kids are getting hurt. Seeing how crazy Debbie is, I can't say the family is doing too great, although we don't know what more Fiona could have done.

Score: 8.8/10

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Revew - Big Love Season 5 Episode 3 Certain Poor Shepherds

As everyone probably knows, this is Big Love's final season. There's a time when things are going to start turning towards a resolution, but for now, it's all bad news piled on more bad news. With Alby, Margene, the casino, senate, Barb, Cara Lynn, Adaleen, Lois each spawning more problems, half of which I don't mind for, Big Love is heading in dangerous territory. Let's hope this doesn't turn in the wrong direction.

Because "Certain Poor Shepherds" features plenty of legitimate grief, the women shine again as they manage to stomach what's going on without going off the walls (although the breaking point is near). Bill isn't too awful in the episode, praying to God for lenience for his family and reaching out to people. But we also have to wonder how much is a political act and how much isn't, and the writers giving him the "separate but equal" line puts him out to be a bad guy regarding gender relations.

Margene's underage bombshell is no doubt shocking and adds another layer onto the existing problems, but there's also a ridiculous feeling about it that hearkens back to the fourth season. First of all, 16? Wow, it sure makes Bill look scummier than he already is. Maybe Bill didn't know her real age back then, but how about how she looked? Considering last week's episode where Margene is crying over what she gave up for the family, this situation just gets stickier and creepier, approaching Roman Grant level. Also, I'm surprised no one has dug up the proper dirt on Margene since all the politicians are gunning for Bill. I don't like this extra wrinkle coming out of nowhere, but the writers may have a plan.

Lois's aha moment comes when the doctor tells Bill she has dementia--so THAT explains why she always been crazy and unlikable. She's always been a problematic character and this provides an easy and logical way out.

It wasn't all bad news, however. Heather and Ben get plenty of screen time, and Sarah and Teeny are briefly on the phone! It's not much, but I'll take it.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Episodes Season 1 Episode Four

With only three episodes left, Episodes really hasn't advanced the story much, and "Episode Four" barely touches on the television show. Instead, we're treated to an entire episode of Sean, Beverly, and Matt. You can kind of expect what happens. Matt, in his usual douchebaggy ways, gets in trouble, so the ever-pliant Sean runs out to help him--with Beverly in tow this time. So Beverly expresses her disapproval while the others bemoan how much of a killjoy she is, and the episode ends up being a lot of wasted time.

The episode does a fairly good job rounding the characters, albeit in a predictable way. Despite his rudeness, Matt "Don't be a cunt" LeBlanc really cares for his kids, and everyone is more or less happy at the end of the episode. However, there's still the underlying problems of Morning and Pucks! which should be explored later.

Score: 8.2/10

Preview of Week 1/30/10 - 2/5/10

Human Target- Fox, Monday, January 31, 8:00pm ET

As Fox continues to burn off Human Target, it airs on a special Monday night. 

Lie to Me - Fox, Monday, January 31, 8:00pm ET

Lie to Me had a huge ratings bump last week, which may indicate part of a greater trend. However, the season finale is here, so we won't know more. Unfortunately, it also means Fox will decide its fate one of these days.

Supernatural - CW, Friday, February 4, 9:00pm ET

For unknown reasons, the CW pushed back the return of Smallville and Supernatural a week.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 1/27/11

Fox won with American Idol (7.7) and Bones (3.9). Bones very strong with the AI lead-in

NBC was second with Community (2.2), Perfect Couples (1.7), The Office (4.0), Parks and Recreation (3.0), 30 Rock (2.4), and Outsourced (1.9). The comedy lineup was down or even across the board with Outsourced as the only exceptio.

CBS was third with a repeat of The Big Bang Theory (2.3), a new episode of $#*! My Dad Says (2.3), and repeats of CSI (2.1) and The Mentalist (1.9). This all but confirms that $#*! survives because of TBBT.

ABC was last with Wipeout (2.4), and repeat of Grey’s Anatomy (1.5) and Private Practice (1.0).

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 1/26/11

Fox won with American Idol (9.2).

CBS with Live To Dance (1.0), Criminal Minds (3.2), Blue Bloods (2.1). Blue Bloods was up a tiny bit, but still disappointed consider what it got on Friday and the big increase for Criminal Minds from last week.

ABC repeats of The Middle (2.0, 2.0), Modern Family (2.6), and new episodes of Cougar Town (2.0) and Off The Map (1.8). Cougar Town looks bad compared to repeats of The Middle.

NBC with Minute To Win It (1.4), Chase (1.2), and a repeat of Law & Order: SVU (1.7).

Review - Fringe Season 3 Episode 11 Reciprocity

In and of itself, "Reciprocity" is an average episode in line with those of the first season. But this is the third season of Fringe, which has become more serialized over time, and everything that happens has an implication for the future. With this in mind, "Reciprocity" becomes a fairly exciting episode as shapeshifters start dying.

The final revelation that Peter is the killer is really awesome, enhanced by Walter's suggestion that the machine somehow changed Peter. While we don't know exactly what's going on, Peter is different, changed by the machine or extra angry from the Fauxlivia fallout.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Spartacus: Gods of the Arena Part 2 Missio

The thing that drives Spartacus is the knowledge of impending doom. Maybe nothing too horrible has happened yet (relatively speaking), but we know something is coming. In "Missio," Gannicus is forced to have sex with Melitta and they're clearly pained by the act. Coming after the scene in which Gannicus, Melitta, and Oenomaus are shown to be very close, you can only imagine what will happen next. Meanwhile, Batiatus, who doesn't care about what happens to the gladiators or how they are used, revels in Gannicus's future participation in the primus by having a threesome.

Aside from the main sordid mess, "Missio" doesn't have anything new. Gaia is still a proto-Ilithyia, we've already seen Batiatus put hits on people in the street, and we've already seen powerful people force Batiatus's gladiators to fight with real weapons. The end if coming near, however, with only 6 parts, so things should heat up soon.

Score: 8.8/10

Friday, January 28, 2011

Review - Fairly Legal Season 1 Episode 2 Priceless

I'm really busy this week, so very short reviews only.

More so than other USA shows, you can tell that Fairly Legal tries hard to pull at the heartstrings. The scenes with guy wronged imprisoned for 22 years, continued angst for Kate and her stepmother regarding Kate's father's death, searching looks between Kate and her ex all force the episode to a stop, slowing everything down so we can really get into the moment. It's unnecessary, unnatural, and breaks the natural flow of the episode. It's fine to go for the pathos occasionally, but it's sprinkled across the episode and quickly loses significance.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Nikita Season 2 Episode 14 Free

I'm really busy this week, so very short reviews only.

My biggest complaint about Nikita is that Division is painted in a certain light which doesn't allow for moral ambiguity. Plain and simple, they're bad people. With "Free," there's also another problem: Nikita consistently fools Division. It's natural for Nikita to get a few wins here and there, but she's only one person plus Alex versus, well, an entire division. Meandering between random flashbacks, pointless romance, and yet another Michael-Nikita encounter, "Free" is very disappointing, especially coming after the great midseason finale.

If you've been following Nikita news and ratings, you'd see that its 18-34 female demographic--the one most coveted by the CW--has been doing that well. In response, the CIA guy Ryan was introduced as a romance for Nikita. Unfortunately, he's only pleasant and nothing more, without that needed spark. Alex also has a new guy in her life, although we don't know much about him yet.

Score: 8.1/10

Review - Bones Season 6 Episode 11 The Bullet in the Brain

I'm really busy this week, so very short reviews only.

As far as plot goes, "The Bullet in the Brain" is nothing special, with a scant amount of forensic work and interviews. It does, however, give us a close look at each character, bringing the Gravedigger, Max, and Caroline back for an emotional episode. Before sounding too positive with this change of pace from the Hannah stuff, I also have to note that we have to see what happens next before laying on the praise.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - The Office Season 7 Episode 13 The Seminar

I'm really busy this week, so very short reviews only.

"The Seminar" doesn't really have a point other than giving individual characters individual funny moments. That's not really how scripted television, especially The Office, is supposed to work, but that's what the writers did this time around. The episode does fit in line with this season, offering nothing more than random, pointless office antics. The whole seminar scam won't go anywhere, Michael and Holly's characters probably won't return, and we know Andy will get together with Erin soon. The one nice surprise was Ricky Gervais showing up in the cold open (I haven't been paying attention to TV news lately, so it really caught me by surprise).

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Community Season 2 Episode 13 Celebrity Pharmacology 212

I'm really busy this week, so very short reviews only.

I'm not a fan of Pierce. His old guy antics never seem that funny, whether it's racial jokes, exaggerations, or outright craziness. "Celebrity Pharmacology 212," though, features lots of Pierce, and I didn't like one bit. Again, Pierce not only steers the play in the wrong direction, he doesn't even understand the intent in the beginning. Sometimes, the other characters may start with a good idea which eventually goes the wrong way, but Pierce immediately thinks it's all about him and how he doesn't have a large role.

The plot "Celebrity Pharmacology 212" is far below the usual quirky/different things we see on the show, and turns into a drug lesson that gets out of control before being being saved by Chang.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Parks and Recreation Season 3 Episode 2 The Flu

I'm really busy this week, so very short reviews only.

"The Flu" embodies everything Parks is about. Against all odds, this scrappy collection of normal people can somehow make use of their abilities and operate, despite the flu ravaging the town. Leslie saves the day, while being very sick, but that's kind of expected--she's Leslie Knope! We can root for these characters, care about them, and at the end of the plot, the overarching plot moves forward as well.

Score: 9.2/10

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review - Blue Bloods Season 1 Episode 12 Family Ties

I'm really busy this week, so very short reviews only.

Did you know that the Russian mob is terrible and needs to be taken down? No, well "Family Ties" lays it out perfectly. Excuse my sarcasm. Excessive moralizing in every episode is expected, but it's particularly dumb in this episode, because the line is clearly drawn from the beginning and doesn't provoke extra thought.

The whole thing about Erin kissing her boss was really perplexing. He's been nothing but self-serving and manipulative, and Erin let's him kiss her? Come on.

This Blue Templar thing is still moving at a snail's pace. Can't the writers focus on it for one episode?

Score: 8.1/10

Review - Friday Night Lights Season 5 Episode 11 The March

I'm really busy this week, so very short reviews only.

Between the Lions rolling over everyone in the playoffs, Tim's broken mindset, and drama in the background threatening to filter onto the field, "The March" is as good as it gets. I'll try to revisit the episode over the weekend and give a more detailed review.

Two episodes left!!!!

Score: 9.5/10

Review - Criminal Minds Season 6 Episode 13 The Thirteenth Step

I'm really busy this week, so very short reviews only.

In terms of sheer brutality and violence, "The Thirteenth Step" ranks high among the top episodes of the show, with a a whole bunch of shooting and hitting. Outside of that, though, the episode contains no follow-up for Reid, little plot, and a rather forgettable Prentiss subplot tied in.

Score: 8.0/10

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review - Lights Out Season 1 Episode 3 The Shot

I'm really busy this week, so very short reviews only.

While the title fight presents an opportunity to save Lights, everyone knows Omar won't win. If he did, there wouldn't be that current tension regarding a lack of money. So we see Lights spend a lot of time with his family on his birthday, even missing a majority of the fight. After the celebration, however, Lights comes down to see Omar lose, and with it the real potential to lose his family as he'll have to dig deeper into the world of crime.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - White Collar Season 2 Episode 11 Forging Bonds

I'm really busy this week, so very short reviews only.

"Forging Bonds" is the flashback episode we've been hearing about for a while, and it's as by-the-numbers as these kind of episodes left. We learn who Adler was, a swindling investor, but there's really nothing new. All the characters pop up and meet Peter and his capture of Neal. Unfortunately, there's no plot twist or anything that stands out.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Southland Season 3 Episode 4 Code 4

I'm really busy this week, so very short reviews only.

Looking back, there were definite signs that Nate would die. Kevin Alejandro had joined True Blood, Cooper talks about Ben getting people killed, and we see Nate say goodbye to his wife. But the nature of television is that people rarely, rarely die. It's weird that Nate and Sammy would get in a situation where they're surrounded and without help, but the result is just utter shock and emotion.

Score: 9.1/10

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 1/24/11

Fox won with House (3.7) and Lie to Me (2.5). For no clear reason (maybe the lack of MNF, drop for The Cape, CBS repeats), Lie to Me jumped up dramatically. With only one episode left in the season, however, we won't we a pattern emerge, if there would be one.

ABC was second with The Bachelor (2.9) and Castle (2.4).

CBS was third with repeats of How I Met Your Mother (2.3), Rules of Engagement (2.2), Two and a Half Men (3.0), Mike & Molly (2.6), and Hawaii Five-0 (1.7).

NBC was last with Chuck (1.9), The Cape (1.6), and Harry’s Law (2.1). Mixed news for NBC. The Cape continues to drop further into oblivion, but Harry's Law was only down .1 from the premiere.

Review - Lie to Me Season 3 Episode 12 Gone

"Gone" would be a very average episode if not for the creepy acting from Doug Hutchinson, who played Eugene Victor Tooms on The X-Files. We could tell the teenage son would be the kidnapper since he is in the episode but isn't thoroughly investigated until the end, but Hutchinson is so good as the menacing father that he steals the episode.

Cal tries to convince Emily that he's not a bully and only acts like that to provoke people in making certain responses, revealing more information than they would have otherwise. But we know that's not true since he bullies Loker and other random people unrelated to cases. Cal loves to feel superior and beat down on lesser people, even if he doesn't think he does that and didn't do anything particularly obnoxious in this episode.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Being Human (US) Season 1 Episode 2 There Goes the Neighborhood, Part 2

I know the writers of Being Human have watched the first series of the British version, so there's probably many twists down the line. However, "There Goes the Neighborhood, Part 2," is plain boring. The cliffhanger at the end of the first part is resolved instantly and the rest of the episode pretty much follows the British pilot (although, if I remember correctly, the fiance did have a girl with him when he went to fix the house).

The biggest problem, which sets Being Human a step or two below below Shameless, is that it does not have the energy or emotion of the original--partially because I know what happens, but also because the acting and chemistry isn't nearly as good.

Score: 7.2/10

Monday, January 24, 2011

Review - Castle Season 3 Episode 13 Knockdown

The only thing people will care about tomorrow morning is the kiss, so I won't bother talking about the plot other than that they now have an assassin who was hired to kill the dirty former detective. I guess you could call the kiss a fake out since it did not occur under normal circumstances. On the other hand, it was definitely a conscious decision since we see Castle stop Beckett from drawing her gun, and both are really into it. What will make or break the moment is what the writers do with the fallout in the next episode. If the writers follow up it and make something constructive out of it (not more artificial roadblocks and postponing), then it'll be worth it. If, instead, the writers ignore it or allow this thing to drag on longer, then we can collectively roll our eyes because everyone knows how they feel about each other.

As for the rest of "Knockdown," I liked the change of pace and tone, which is necessary for the subject matter, and the acting definitely fit in line. It'll be a while until we do find out who killed Beckett's mother, but these episodes are very good so far.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - House Season 7 Episode 10 Carrot or Stick

House has been reduced to mildly amusing, non-dramatic subplots. This week Chase gets pranked by a scorned woman and House gets Rachel into a school for gifted kids by cheating, and Cuddy is turned into a useless nobody. It might elicit a smile or chuckle, but there's nothing more to it.

The medical plot of "Carrot or Stick" is near forgettable. The most I can say about it is that Sam Adama from Caprica is father to young Chris Rock. Meg says her usual girly lines about being nice and how the kid needs his father, and we're supposed to feel all emotional about it.

Recent news that David Shore had to abandon the Rockford Files remake after a major House storyline was scrapped late in development pretty much tells the story. The writers don't know what to do anymore and are on borrowed time.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Chuck Season 4 Episode 12 Chuck vs. the Gobbler

We can safely say that in its three and a half seasons, Chuck has had its share of plot holes, but those problems were usually contained to individual episodes or minor details in a longer arc. With this current Sarah undercover arc, however, every step appears to be one plot hole after another, contrived to generate angst between Chuck and Sarah.

Normally, I can write off a plot hole because it won't matter the next week. But the entire plot of "Chuck vs. the Gobbler," minus the Ellie stuff, makes little sense logically, and the characters are acting as irrationally as ever. Most importantly, the episode is crucial to the overall plot.

I'm not going to cover everything, but this is what bothered me the most: If the ultimate goal is to bring down Volkoff Industries, why didn't Sarah shoot Volkoff when she had the chance, and why didn't Sarah and Mary do something when Volkoff downloaded Hydra onto another machine? Even if Hydra is the heart of Volkoff industries, isn't Volkoff himself the brain of the corporation? What was the point of orchestrating the prison break actively using the CIA? Surely Sarah could have gotten them to help without having Casey, Chuck, and Morgan show their faces.  Casey is unconscious and badly hurt--allowing for Chuck's moment of crisis--but when Chuck calls Sarah, she declines to answer. Why would she do that if she could easily explain what happened?

Score: 7.5/10

Review - The Cape Season 1 Episode 4 Scales

"Scales" has a very cool mixture of factions and allies, which isn't the least bit realistic, but is entertaining nonetheless. On one side, there's Vince and Orwell who both want to take down Peter Flemming. On another, there's Scales, who is informed by The Cape of Chess's real identity, Peter Flemming. Then there's Max's circus crew which is robbing the train and possibly disrupting Vince's operation, and lastly, Peter Flemming himself and his police officers.

This leads to conflict between former allies, Scales and Flemming, and a conflict between Vince, a crimefighter, and Max, a thief, is also brewing. Although we don't know how ambitious the writers want to be, these developments, on the surface, look very encouraging.

All the scenes with Trip, flashback and present-day, serve absolutely no purpose but to manufacture pathos. I'm fine with Vince wanting to get back to his family, but please add some plot. At the very least, use the opportunity to expand the characters of Vince and Trip beyond the simple fact that Vince was/is a good parent.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Shameless (US) Season 1 Episode 3 Aunt Ginger

After three episodes, I'm getting a better idea of what Shameless is supposed to be about. The characters aren't bad people and aren't malicious in intent, but they sometimes have to stoop to a certain level of wrongness to survive. Forcing (or tricking) the old woman to become Aunt Ginger was wrong, but then they wouldn't have money for gas. Likewise, Steve constantly bothering Fiona is a little creepy and wrong, but she does come to him in the end, and he can provide money for bills.

Ultimately, the writers aren't telling us whether we're supposed to like the characters. Everyone lives with a degree of moral ambiguity, some more than others, and taking the sum of their actions, the audience will always have different reactions. Personally, the only character that is really unlikable is Frank, who is wholly irresponsible.

Score: 8.7/10

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Review - Hawaii Five-0 Season 1 Episode 15 Kai e'e

In television, it's refreshing when characters make permanent decisions. Stealing $10 million from police lockup was a permanent decision--that is, until it mysteriously reappears and everything is fine. And that's the problem with procedurals, the unwillingness to take a step forward and instead of introducing a new mystery, planting down a foot and forcing people to make decisions. Right when McGarrett figured out the $28 million was the target, my mind jumped to The Shield and all the problem and fateful decisions that arose from the money train, but of course the situation resolves itself without any consequences.

The plot of "Kai e'e" is ridiculously easy to predict. Would the writers allow a tsunami to hit Hawaii and create a mess? No. Since the signals were messed up, someone must be messing with it in order to fake a tsunami, triggering an evacuation which would allow easy theft.

The writers went overboard with the technology illiterate Danny bit. It's not like anyone was saying anything super-technical, but each time Danny has to stop them and have them repeat it slowly.

The fiancee issue was brought up again, and it looks like Chin Ho will get back together with her soon. Kono would be unhappy with that, not knowing that it was in fact Chin Ho who broke off the relationship. However, I don't understand how Chin keeping that a secret supposedly protects her.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Big Love Season 5 Episode 2 A Seat at the Table

Big Love is one of the most thought-provoking shows on television and can generate endless ideas. I didn't intend on spending much time reviewing the season premiere last week--a few paragraphs at most--but I found myself unable to stop. The fourth season, while terrible, was not devoid of interesting plots, but was weighed down by the awful plots which would not stop.

Early into the final season of Big Love, the resumed focus on the Hendricksons is working well. "A Seat at the Table" is marvelously complex with each wife thoroughly explored alongside Bill's continued quest for respect. With great acting all around, especially Ginnifer Goodwin who absolutely kills the scene in which she visits her old house and talks with Cara Lynn and Barb, this episode alone really pulled me back on board after the disappointment of the fourth season.

Due to time constraints (I'd really would love to writer a lot more if I had time), I'm not going to say too much, but I wanted to touch on each wife.

Barb somewhat reconnects with her mother, but they have a huge argument at the Sunstone conference. They're both strong women who fight and struggle for causes, and we see their conflicting ideology. Barb springs another surprise, that women should also be priesthood holders due to some textual evidence, which again puts her mother on edge. Now we see why Barb has been deviating off the path, and it makes certain sense. If Bill wants polygamists to be equal in others' eyes, then women should also be equal inside the religion.

Margie, after losing everything she has, realizes how much she's given up to have this family. With no job, little friends, and three kids to take care of, there's a lot to be desired. She doesn't want to leave with Ana and Goran to Serbia, but leave Bill? That looks like a definite possibility.

As Cara Lynn's biological mother, Nicki spends lots of time trying to reign in Cara Lynn, making sure she avoids boys and sticks to studying. It's clear she's overcompensating for her own childhood, but it's not necessarily the wrong idea either since education opens many more avenues than Nicki ever had. Still, with Margie, Barb, and Barb all trying to influence her in the episode, Cara Lynn isn't on a clear path yet.

OK, I've done it again and spent more time than intended. I'll try extra hard to cut down next week.

Score: 9.4/10

Review - Episodes Season 1 Episode Three

While last week's episode didn't have anything new, this week's episode gets the overall plot moving rapidly. The scripts are set and filming starts, so a finished product shouldn't be too far away, because there are only 7 episodes in the season and only four left.

In "Episode Three," Pucks! actually looks like a decent show which could air on CBS. Everyone, including both Lincolns, are laughing at the table read. The scene we see shot isn't anything special, but at least it's funny. Then, Matt manages to convince Sean into changing the lesbian, and most surprising thing, he has good reasoning. British shows have less episodes, so things like a guy constantly hitting on a lesbian doesn't get old. However, in American shows which have over 20 episodes per season, the audience will eventually want more. That makes perfect sense and Sean buys it.

As we see these developments, the message of Episodes is coming out. American television isn't necessarily worse than British television, but it is infused with lots of money which creates many problems and pitfalls. The sheer scope of production often dwarfs those involved. Merc can't keep track of the shows, Matt LeBlanc is randomly placed on the show, and the headmaster becomes a hockey coach. In a world where networks want more shows and bigger audiences, it's hard to fault them for sacrificing quality (which is why cable is the place to watch quality television).

Episodes does a reasonable job with character development, quickly putting Beverly on the outside looking in. Sean is becoming friends with Matt and ignoring Beverly in the process, and Matt first turns to Sean with questions about the show.

Three episodes into the show, and I'm liking Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig much more than Matt LeBlanc. They're very natural together whether they're fighting or making up. Even though we know everything will turn bad, teased by the beginning of the first episode, Sean and Beverly are fun, likable characters to follow.

Score: 8.6/10

Preview of Week 1/23/11 - 1/29/11

Castle - ABC, Monday, January 24, 10:00pm ET

There's a new lead in the case of Beckett's mother's murder, and if you watched the promo, something big happens between Beckett and Castle, barring deceptive editing, of course.

Archer - FX, Thursday, January 27, 10:00pm ET

The raunchy animated spy comedy returns this Thursday.

Supernatural - CW, Friday, January 28, 9:00pm ET

Supernatural returns this week with an episode whose description says something about virgins kidnapped by a dragon. Confused? So am I.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review - Spartacus: Gods of the Arena Part 1 Past Transgressions

If asked to described Spartacus: Blood and Sand, how would you respond? I'd call it a freak of nature. Spartacus began as a purely visual aberration, shots of blood and boobs flowing across the screen every second with no redeeming qualities. And then the second half of the first season happened, and it's nothing short of miracle--plot twist after plot twist, killings that actually mattered, and characters we could care about.

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which actually doesn't feature Spartacus, is a prequel, thus there are several safe assumptions we can make based on what we already know. Batiatus and Lucretia will survive, Crixus wil rise to the top, and Oenomaus will become Doctore.

"Past Transgressions" doesn't contain anything particularly revealing or shocking, but given the experience of the first season, the writers surely have several bombshells lying down the road. Again, Battiatas tries to rise above his station and immediately faces trouble from all sides, left bloodied at the end of the episode as Lucretia participates in odium induced revelry with Gaia. The most interesting new infornation is that Battatiatas is not only friends with Solonius, but actively wants to improve both their positions.

In the arena, carefree Gannicus destroys everyone, even while blindfolded. Battiatus buys Crixus, who is deemed too small by the other wannabe gladiators. As usual, there's the excessive nudity and sex, blood, beheadings, and unrealistic physics--yes, Spartacus is back.

Score: 8.5/10

Friday, January 21, 2011

Review - Fringe Season 3 Episode 10 The Firefly

With Fringe's move to Friday, we can only hold our breaths for the ratings tomorrow. Fox has been struggling greatly on Friday, unable to be competitive with new episodes, airing repeats instead. While Fringe was not doing great on Thursdays, it may alter Fox's Friday fortunes. If it gets roughly the same ratings as it did on Thursday, I wouldn't be surprised if Fringe came back--though I wouldn't get optimistic.

It's a shame that Fringe may come to an end this season after a brilliant stretch of episodes starting from the latter half of the second seasons. The plot has thickened significantly, Anna Torv has gotten a lot better, and the overall focus on serialization has definitely picked up the pace.

"The Firefly" features magnificent Rube Goldberg action with Walter learning the far-reaching consequences of the Observer's actions. Months after Peter was saved from the pond, he picked up a firefly, leading to another girl not finding a firefly and trying to find another one, which results in her father hitting a young man--Roscoe's son. This stunning and heartbreaking revelation turns the episode with Walter exposed as the one who inadvertently ruined his hero's life and caused another chain reaction leading to the current war between universes.

The action ramps up in the second half as the Olivia and Peter chase the Observer. Knowing that the Observer is looking for balance or something like that regarding Peter, Walter lets Peter continue chasing, even though there is probably death in the near future. While Peter doesn't die in the end, it's revealed to be one large experiment. That Walter would sacrifice is very important to the Observers and they can use the knowledge however they want.

On the Olivia and Peter front, they come to an understanding at the end of the episode after Peter makes several attempts to help her understand what happened. It won't be easy, and there'll certainly be further tension, but for now they are back on track.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - The Mentalist Season 3 Episode 12 Bloodhounds

When Jane found the kidney and note near the end of the episode, I was thinking how cool it would be if it wasn't  another trick. Occasionally deviating from the structure would inject uncertainty into the episode and bring modesty to Jane's character. Unfortunately, "Bloodhounds" follows the exact pattern, and Jane uses the deception to nab the killer.

The good thing about "Bloodhounds," though, is that the case isn't that important, rather the battle between science and Jane's instincts. Dr. Montague's fun exchanges with Jane really are the highlight of the episode more than anything else.

It looks like Cho and Rigsby have solved their problems, although we'll how they interact next week. Again, Van Pelt is relegated to simply delegating information, but Dr. Montague tells Rigsby he still loves someone else and we know who she is.

Score: 8.6/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 1/20/11

Fox won with American Idol (7.8) and Bones (3.5).

CBS was second with The Big Bang Theory (4.2), $#*! My Dad Says (2.8), CSI (3.1), and The Mentalist (2.8). Again American Idol and an Idol supported Bones, CBS manged to stay fairly strong.

NBC was third with Community (2.2), Perfect Couples (2.1), The Office (4.5), Parks and Recreation (3.2), 30 Rock (2.7), and Outsourced (1.8). Great start for NBC's retooled comedy line up. The only mark is Outsourced's low 1.8, which pretty much confirmed that The Office was holding it up.

ABC was last with Wipeout (2.6), and repeats of Grey's Anatomy (1.6) and Private Practice (1.0).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review - Bones Season 6 Episode 10 The Body in the Bag

Increasingly, Bones has been separated into two kinds of episodes, Booth and Brennan episodes and regular episodes, with stark differences in quality. Booth and Brennan episodes used to be the highlight of the show in the first couple seasons as the cases actually reflected on their characters and they grew through the course of the case. These days, however, Booth and Brennan episodes focus on whatever inertia is holding them back--Hannah in the case of the six season. The case running simultaneously with the relationship problem is given less time and there's a detached feeling to the crime solving.

"The Body in the Bag" has a few running themes, cultural identity and counterfeit goods, but the conclusion is quickly shoehorned into the episode after a miraculous facial reconstruction. As it turns out, the "Prada police" slept with her and later killed her. He's arrest and it's over--no follow up or anything.

It's necessary to talk about the relationships since so much of the episode was spent on it, but at this point, you can't expect much. Brennan and Hannah are back to being good friends--exactly where they were at the beginning of the episode. It seems like the writers don't have a good plan and are just circling until they can think of something good. We all know the endgame is Booth and Brennan together, but Hannah and Brennan are really good friends instead of the mortal enemies you'd expect, which is very problematic.

The episode has several strong points with Angela and Hodgins, and Clark finally showing some interest. These elements of the show have always remained strong, though, and the rest of the episode simply does not match up.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - Parks and Recreation Season 3 Episode 1 Go Big Or Go Home

When Parks and Recreation first aired in the spring of 2009, I watched the first five episodes and stopped. The characters weren't redeeming and none of the episodes were particularly good. The second season came around and everyone was saying how great it was, but I didn't have enough time to catch up anyway. Over the winter, I watched the second season and boy is there an improvement. There's legitimate momentum from episode to episode, the characters are broadened and in Leslie's case, made competent. Instead of the bumbling government employees of the first season, everybody strives to make the department work.

At the beginning of the third season, the Pawnee government is finally started up again. Leslie quickly gathers everyone and they get to work--except there's still no money. The rest of "Go Big Or Go Home" sets the table for the rest of the third season with lots of humor and subplots.

As the title states, Leslie decides to go big or go home, proposing that Chris and Ben fund the Pawnee Harvest Festival. It's supposed to draw corporate sponsorship and lots of people--and if it doesn't, the parks department is permanently gone. With the pit filled in, Leslie and everyone else have a newer goal with bigger stakes than ever.

On the relationship front, the waters continue to churn. Tom decides to make Ron's basketball team lose because he's with Wendy, despite Tom having a girlfriend. Ron's Bobby Knight moment is the most spectacular part of the episode and with Wendy standing beside him, this definitely isn't over. Ann's date with Chris, which was intended to squeeze funding from him, turns out great until Chris learns the truth. However, Ann apologizes the next day and seems to be well on her way to get in a relationship with him. April returns at the end of the episode, seemingly ambivalent about Andy and with a Venezuelan boyfriend.

Score: 9.3/10

Review - The Office Season 7 Episode 13 Ultimatum

When Michael becomes irrational, he can look like the most awful person in the world with his selfishness and mean behavior. His attitude regarding Holly, especially in the Christmas episode, was particularly bad. But in "Ultimatum," though, we see a Michael who is still reaching for Holly but realizes his own faults.

Yes, he was wrong to force vegetables down Kevin's throat or yell at Creed, but he realizes that he was wrong and immediately apologizes, and even goes further by helping Creed with his cartwheels. Michael's heartfelt line about never wanting to make Holly cry really struck me. Michael wants to be with Holly, but knows that he shouldn't push the issue, which makes Holly's break up (or simply a break) even better for future episodes.

Meanwhile, Pam creates a New Year's resolution board and it just spirals downward. Nothing much happens, but we get to see most characters' resolutions and other's responses. Most disappointing about the subplot was that Jim was nowhere to make snide comments and I don't remember Pam making an explanation.

While the office is bustling with activity, Darryl, Andy, and Dwight hang out for what seems to be several hours. They don't accomplish anything whatsoever, first going to a bookstore and then to a roller rink. I guess Dwight met a loose woman and Darryl got an ereader, meeting their New Year's resolutions, but the whole plot was a bunch of nothingness.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Fairly Legal Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

These days, you can count on USA to pump out shows with similar qualities. They're cheery, adhere to USA's "blue skies" policy, have a strong, charismatic cast, and add a little extra to differentiate the show from the rest of the pack. Fairly Legal, starring the likable Sarah Shahi, is no different. Her character, Kate Reed, is clearly root someone to root for as she navigates the legal world and copes with her father's death. Her quirky assistant, "evil" stepmother, and ex-husband, played by Michael Trucco, each add a little extra to the package.

There are times when Fairly Legal almost falls into Harry's Law territory with discussion of how the law shouldn't be followed every time. The major difference, however, is that Kate is a mediator and does not fight her battles in court but in a room with both parties, trying to find common ground. This way, she isn't abusing the legal system and we won't be seeing her give a ridiculous closing argument each week.

While Fairly Legal doesn't attempt to do more with the premise, the pilot is solid enough and doesn't have anything too unlikable that would make me not come back for more. If you like USA's other shows as I do, Fairly Legal should fall right into your lineup.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 4 Episode 13 The Love Car Displacement

I like episodes of The Big Bang Theory when the characters are taken out of the usual work/house settings and placed in positions where their problems quickly manifest themselves. "The Love Car Displacement" is exactly that kind of episode with every character going to a science conference.

Although the car ride takes half the episode, nothing really happens and consists of the same Star Wars jokes, Amy being best friends with Penny jokes, Sheldon being in charge of the trip jokes, and Howard and Bernadette being sickeningly sappy jokes.

The conference itself, however, is a complete laugh riot. It begins with Bernadette and Howard sniping each other with subtle penis references before Amy, a drunk Raj, and Leonard jump in while all Sheldon can do is sit there. Practically every line had me laughing because it was at a conference in front of a huge crowd.

I'm guessing we won't see Rick Fox again so he shouldn't be an obstacle for Leonard and Penny. Since Penny clearly is willing to sleep with Leonard at least once and the writers have been heading down this direction for a while, I wouldn't be surprised if they got back together soon.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Royal Pains Season 2 Episode 13 Mulligan

Royal Pains has dropped off my radar of shows I care about. I've watched every episode, but I find myself not caring what happens. The medical procedural elements are virtually the same every week, with a medical emergency at a location where Hank is, and he's able to jury rig a medical contraption. Lots of patients have weird quirks which Hank and Divya have to contend with, but it always works out fine. And the biggest problem, one that puts Royal Pains a step below Burn Notice and the like, is that the cast simply isn't as good.

As the title suggests, "Mulligan" is one big mulligan, resetting the show to neutral after the revelations are the end of the midseason finale, so Eddie try to become a good person. Hopefully this leads to a change in dynamics between everyone, and if it doesn't, then it's further indication that the writers aren't willing to take chances.

Also in the episode is a potential romance between Jill and a golfer. However, Jill, while medicated, expresses how much she misses Hank, so that'll cause problems later on. Jill and Hank have circled each other so much since they broke up that I don't care anymore.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Community Season 2 Episode 2 Asian Population Studies

Every since "Cooperative Calligraphy," Shirley's pregnancy hasn't really been mentioned, but I'm sure the audience still remembered it in the back of their minds. The hammer drops in "Asian Population Studies," and the episode really takes a turn in the emotional direction, with Shirley's ex-husband Andre saying that he stick with Shirley and the baby regardless of paternity. While it's a sweet moment, Chang is also voted into the study group, which means there could be lots of tension in the future.

The bait and switch of Jeff running through the rain to Rich instead of Annie was executed to perfection, and the fact that Jeff wants to learn Rich's secrets so he can be even more deceptive only added to that. If we don't see Rich again, and Jeff doesn't go through a transformation, I'll be  fine with that one funny scene at the end.

Score: 9.2/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 1/19/11

Fox won with American Idol (9.7). AI ratings were down, so the big judging changes probably didn't help (though we don't know what would've happened if the old judges were still here).

ABC was second with The Middle (2.6), Better With You (2.1), Modern Family (4.6), Cougar Town (2.4), Off The Map (2.1). The Middle beat Cougar Town by a whole .2. CT was renewed, but it sure isn't looking good for next season

CBS was third with Live To Dance (1.0), Criminal Minds (2.9), Blue Bloods (2.0). Not a good night for CBS. Live To Dance died against American Idol, Criminal Minds couldn't crack 3.0 and Blue Bloods's move to Wednesday is barely an improvement.

NBC was last with Minute To Win It (1.6), Chase (1.0), and Law & Order: SVU (2.3). Terrible ratings for Chase, bringing down SVU.

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 1/18/11

CBS won with NCIS (4.1), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.3), and The Good Wife (2.1).

NBC was second with The Biggest Loser (2.9) and Parenthood (2.1).

Fox was third with a repeat of Glee (1.5) and Million Dollar Money Drop (1.9).

ABC was last with No Ordinary Family (1.8), V (2.0), and 20/20 (1.3). V somehow went up to a 2.0. If it stays right there, it may have a chance of renewal, considering that ABC's new dramas failed this season.

Review - Friday Night Lights Season 5 Episode 10 Don't Go

I came into "Don't Go" thinking that I wouldn't care about anything else because it's the return of fucking Tim Riggins. Instead, not only was the return of Tim Riggins wonderfully sad, the rest of the episode was on point from beginning to end (maybe with the exception of the random conference).

With the enticing job offer sitting in front of him, Coach declines to make public comments are first, but privately seems to be on board as is Tami. However, after the players' speeches and Vince's personal declaration at his doorstep, Coach announces publicly that he is returning to East Dillon. No matter the salary, oranges, or other perks, Eric has a special connection with these kids and he won't give that up.

Vince also has a chance to move on, but in his case, Oklahoma Tech has moved on. We see increased tension with Vince's father actively defying Vince's wishes in order to line him up with more offers. One of the great moments in the episode is when Vince's mother steps in, telling Ornette that Vince needs a father, not an agent. Ornette probably doesn't see the distinction, though. He has a worldview shaped from tough life on the streets, so in his eyes, everyone is working for their own ends alone, thus Coach Taylor must be moving on since he received an offer from a university, and Vince must immediately snatch an offer before Coach can leave. Will Ornette see the light after Eric's announcement?

From an outsider's standpoint, Tim doesn't have anything to be angry about. He went along with Billy's criminal activity and he's the one who voluntarily took the fall. Billy has been supportive of Tim the whole time, even perhaps getting too much stress over Tim. But still, stewing in prison must have been terrible for Tim. Billy, Coach, and Buddy (who was extra funny this week with his self-interest) give their speeches and just like that, Tim is out.

Becky and Luke really hit their stride, playing football together and hanging out on the farm. Becky admits that she'd have no problem living on a farm. However, her major crush Tim comes home, so that'll undoubtedly shake things up.

Hold your breath--three episodes left!

Score: 9.6/10

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review - Blue Bloods Season 1 Episode 11 Little Fish

"Little Fish" juggles two separate plots--a cold case from Frank's past and the murder of a prostitute Danny knew--and both come up a little short. Both cases have the requisite emotional impact on the characters, but neither case has any uniqueness or unpredictability. The dinner "issue discussion" is shorter than it normally is and still went over the topic (facing the accuser) enough to get everyone's idea. Without anything new or different in any episode Blue Bloods seems more and more normal as it goes on.

The Jaime plot was even more stunted than usual with the quick introduction of a cop who used to work with Joe and a warning from Anthony. There's no tease of a possible connection to the Blue Templars or anything more sinister.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Criminal Minds Season 6 Episode 12 Corazon

With over a month since the last new episode of Criminal Minds, I've cooled off regarding the Seaver situation. She's not supposed to be on the team for logical reasons, but since the writers have added her indefinitely, there's not point complaining each week. She does nothing useless anyway, so I might as well ignore her until she's either useful or extra bothersome.

I like that "Corazon" explored an actual subculture versus the random, crazy killers. The ending was pretty weak with the professor implicated as the serial killer after being a nonfactor in the episode, and his confrontation with Reid ended rather abruptly.

After a episode of headaches and visions, Reid learns that medical tests are negative. If that's the case, does he have a mental illness? Reid doesn't think so, but the doctor says otherwise. Also, for a bunch of profilers, the rest of the team seemed largely indifferent to the pain Reid was going through. Maybe Reid did a good job of hiding his condition, but aren't they supposed to spot stuff like that?

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Modern Family Season 2 Episode 13 Caught in the Act

The main plot of "Caught in the Act" is very funny, with Claire and Phil caught have sex by their kids. Naturally, both parties completely freak out. Matters are complicated when Phil and Gloria show up to apologize to Claire about an scathing email accidentally sent. The initial conversation is hysterical, as Gloria's discussion of whipping and cupcakes evokes all sorts of double entendres. Eventually everything is resolved after Phil makes up a story about the email containing a naked photo of Gloria, and Phil and Claire talk to their kids. The episode doesn't have the emotional hook we're used to, but the humor was solid nonetheless.

Unfortunately, the Mitch and Cam plot doesn't work at all, beginning with the initial deception to the cliched bumbling fools trying to cover up a stain with more deception. It kind of relates to the "caught in the act" theme (if you really stretch to find the connection), but they detract from the main plot and we've seen Cam and Mitch get into these situations before. Saying or doing something accidentally just isn't novel anymore, especially when it's a singular, isolated plot.

About 80% of the episode is great (my estimation for how much time the main plot took), while the other 20% is a complete waste. Since Modern Family is using more separate plots as of late, I'd like to see a lot more consistency inside each episode.

Score: 8.7/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 1/17/11

CBS won with How I Met Your Mother (3.9), Rules of Engagement (3.3), Two and a Half Men (4.6), Mike & Molly (3.7), and Hawaii Five-0 (2.9).

Fox was second with House (3.5) and Lie to Me (1.8).

ABC was third with The Bachelor (2.7) and a repeat of Castle (1.4).

NBC was last with Chuck (2.1), The Cape (1.8), and Harry's Law (2.2). The premiere of Harry's Law was the highest of the night, but still garnered a low 2.2. We'll see what it gets next week. The second episode of The Cape dropped .8 from the Sunday premier, which is very troubling.

Review - V (2009) Season 2 Episode 3 Laid Bare

I don't even know what to say about V anymore. The writers are clearly not going to allow any widespread changes happen, despite the fact that this is an alien invasion. "Laid Bare" has some visceral scenes with the torture of Malik, but it's pretty dull outside of that. Anna continues to mess with Lisa and Tyler, Chad joins the Fifth Column, and Erica discovers the Vs abducting people.

The Vs plan on liquefying every part of the human body (or something like that) until only the soul exists. Sure............ This is inconceivably bad from any point of view. If the Vs were so powerful, couldn't they alter brain chemistry? After all, there's preexisting knowledge of the brain while no one even knows if the soul exists.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Lights Out Season 1 Episode 2 Cakewalk

It's hard to feel sympathetic for Lights. We're watching him fall further and further into crime because he needs money to support his family. That's fair enough, and similar to how Vic Mackey and Walter White started down the long road to hell. But then we take a step back. Lights has a huge house, nice cars, his kids have plenty of extracurricular activities and private education, and he's putting his wife through medical school. Every family goes through money problems once in a while, especially since the 2008 recession, but what they do that Lights doesn't is cut down on expenses. There is a much better choice than turning to crime, so I certainly won't feel bad once things get more serious.

Because Patrick Leary is set up as a guy who'll do anything to support his lifestyle, rather than simultaneously following the law and protecting his family, the emotion in "Cakewalk" comes off very fake. To me, Lights seems closer to a sociopath Tony Soprano than a well-meaning guy like Walter White at the beginning of Breaking Bad. However, I liked that Theresa, despite all her attempts to reign Lights in, decides to lie for him to the police.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The Good Wife Season 2 Episode 11 Two Courts

The amount of deception in "Two Courts" is incredible. Everyone's doing something behind the scenes, with others trying to figure out what's going on, resulting in the giddy pleasure of watching all the background machinations.

There's the jury expert who watches for micro-expressions but turns out to be useless even after Will and Alicia put in extra effort to make his skills useful. Blake has been spying on the associates for Bond, even after Bond joined the firm. Jackie, who seems crazier by the minute, tries to meddle in the campaign by inserting her guy into the campaign. Diane originally offers Cary a job, but after further scheming with Will to take down Bond, she offers Cary a job at Lockhart Gardner. However, Cary asks for double Alicia's salary and a position above hers.

The final scene of Alicia asking the jury foreman why they came to a quick decision pretty much blows out the idea of reading the jury. According to him, they just knew. Whether that's realistic or not is another story. Maybe it's because this case was more clear cut than usual since Kalinda wasn't able to dig up more information. Also, the deviation of tactics towards influencing the jury leaves us without a good comparison.

Score: 9.0/10

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review - Southland Season 3 Episode 3 Discretion

Three episodes into the new season and things are really heating up. As always, "Discretion" juggles three separate plots and the characters' lives get a bit more complicated.

There was no Tammi this week, but she changes the lock so Sammy can't get in his ownand she refuses to take a paternity test until the baby is born. It's not the least bit surprising, but it lets us hate Tammi that much more. Unfortunately for Sammy, when he tries to recover his possession from his house, he and Nate are briefly detained by cops and embarrassed.

So far, Josie hasn't contributed much, but she acts like a meter for Lydia, constantly poking her to see what's up. Josie surmises that Lydia is always taking care of Russell (basically telling him what to do), much like a mother would, and when Russell asks for a loan, bailing him out this time would further contribute to their weird relationship. Lydia doesn't give him money in the end, which means that Josie was telling some of the truth, or at least Lydia believes it is.

The final scene, while emotionally resonant, is very ambiguous. Is Ben's mother saying that she offered to have sex to pay off debts, then cried rape once Ben came? Or did David Morgan ask her first? Does it matter in the grand scheme? In any case we know there was sex, violence, and some form of criminality, however it ultimately went down.

Score: 9.1/10

Review - Harry's Law Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Harry's Law is better than Outlaw. That's a compliment I guess. The first half of the pilot has a decent set up with Harriet getting fired, having people knock her down, and setting up shop in a show store. At this point, Harry's Law has the quirky feel of Ally McBeal and Boston Legal.

Then, the actual legal stuff comes around, and Harry's Law becomes the worst of Boston Legal, a bunch of liberal speeches about how the law should be circumvented. If I wanted this kind of angry extended monologue, I'd read DailyKos and Think Progress, not watch an hour of television.

Score: 5.0/10

Review - White Collar Season 2 Episode 10 Burke's Seven

The serialized parts of White Collar are a lot like that of Burn Notice. Shadowy figures are pulling strings while the main characters keep peeling back the layers. The problem with White Collar, however, is that the mythology seems to go in a ever-widening circle between Kate, Fowler, the music box, and a bevy of others, the newest being Vincent Adler. Whereas the early season of Burn Notice seemed to hint at a potential ending, White Collar is in the "one step forward towards infinity" phase which made Burn Notice's overarching plots negligible in the later season. Even if Mozzie cracked the code inside the music box, how many hoops lie ahead?

"Burke's Seven" is about Peter after he's framed for Mozzie's shooting. There's the clever sleight of hand, use of technology, and help from insurance investigator Sara Ellis, but hardly anything that sticks out. I'm liking the dynamic between Diana, Jones, and Peter, but I can't point to any singular scene which really stuck out. I'll watch White Collar until the end of the season at least. As for reviewing episodes weekly, I'm not sure I'll continue that.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - NCIS Season 8 Episode 12 Recruited

With the bill repealing "don't ask, don't tell" passing the Senate exactly a month ago, "Recruited" comes at the perfect time. Unfortunately, NCIS never takes a stance on anything and is barely related to the military. The show agrees that gays shouldn't be killed (obviously), but there's no monologue that would indicate something deeper. It brushes the surface but so much more could have been done.

The emphasis on Dr. Magnus, played by the great Bob Newhart, and the potential hate crime gives the rest of the team,who usually receive the funny lines, less screen time. Then there is some random Vance stuff which was forgettable until the end of the episode. The result is that "Recruited" doesn't have the energy or focused plot of a typical episode.

Score: 8.0/10

Syfy renews Sanctuary

Sanctuary was renewed for a fourth season consisting of 13 episodes airing in fall 2010. That's down from the 20 episodes of the third season, but still on par with the first and second.

NBC keeps Parenthood in 10 PM Tuesday slot, holds LOLA

With Harry's Law premiering with decent ratings last night, NBC is now leaving Parenthood on Tuesday instead of moving it to Monday starting March 10. However, it leaves, LOLA, which would have taken Parenthood's slot, without a spot in the schedule. Given the recent casting shakeups, LOLA is on shaky ground right now, so anything could happen.

Review - Lie to Me Season 3 Episode 11 Saved

For a second after Lightman got hit by the car, I wondered whether he'd deliberately gotten into the crash to draw out the paramedic. Lightman's behavior is so ridiculous lately that the thought actually crossed my mind. Luckily, that wasn't the case, but it goes to show how the show is all about danger seeking instead of lies when the idea even pops up.

"Saved" has an even-keeled case with a paramedic whose brother is forcing her to save car crash victims after causing the crashes. There's some banter with Emily and the rest of the team, Torres gets gratitude from one of the mothers of a car crash victim/driver (depending on how you view it), but that's it--no development of characters. With only two episodes left in the season, there's hardly anything to look forward to.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Hawaii Five-0 Season 1 Episode 14 He Kane Hewa'ole

"He Kane Hewa'ole" should be the standard for future Hawaii Five-0 episodes. It has an interesting case with a couple twists, a car chase, a shooting that doesn't go overboard, and  decent humor. Overall, it's a very solid episode.

Danny correctly says that McGarrett does get soft for fathers' and their kids. While it does give McGarrett a little extra kick of motivation, his innate trust could get him in hot water later on.

The one thing that bothered me was the scene when Chin Ho meets his ex-fiancee. She's in one scene, has a few lines, then disappears. Kono and Chin Ho don't even talk about her later. I'm all for introducing new characters, but if someone as important as Chin Ho's ex-fiancee is going to be treated so flippantly, I rather not see her until more time can be spent developing her character.

The CHiPs jokes were funny throughout the episode, especially the final switch after Kono's response. It would be cool if this became a running gag where Danny and McGarrett randomly compare themselves to TV cops.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - House Season 7 Episode 9 Larger Than Life

Someone who does a heroic act isn't necessarily a hero? Wow! "Larger Than Life" tries to be deep or something like that, but the point it tries to hit on is pretty obvious. Martha is amazed by this heroic act, House is unimpressed, and House's realism comes out atop in the end.

Taub and his wife--does anyone care about them together or as individuals? If you do, then you'll be shocked that Taub wants a divorce. Shocked! I mean, after the serial infidelity, online boyfriend, who would've thought they shouldn't be married?

Cuddy's mother ambushing House provided enough humor to save the episode from oblivion. The drugging, while atrocious from a story and character standpoint, was hilarious in Hugh Laurie's hands. As for meaningful development in the episode, there is none, as Cuddy's mother apologizes and leaves. Cuddy is largely a non-factor in the episode and House gets his alone time. At this point, House is running on steam and it's only time before it completely grinds to a halt.

Score: 8.0/10

Monday, January 17, 2011

Review - Being Human (US) Season 1 Episode 1 There Goes the Neighborhood (Part 1)

Unlike the remake of Shameless, Being Human is not an exact copy. The basic premise--vampire, werewolf, and ghost living together--is the same, but there are plenty of subtle differences that between the Canadian version (Before you go blaming Americans for another remake, check out who produces the show--it's a Canadian company!) and British version, notably the addition of Josh's sister and more detailed mythology (in the pilot at least).

However, there's nothing about Being Human that jumps out at me. The highs and lows of the original, buoyed by crackling dialogue and unbelievable chemistry, are non-existent in "There Goes the Neighborhood," a muted hour of television where we see the characters, watch them interact, and go through the motions.

I'll be sticking around until the end of the season, so hopefully the show can expand far beyond the confines of the original and gain the necessary intensity.

Score: 7.6/10

Review - Chuck Season 4 Episode 11 Chuck Versus the Balcony

When Chuck ditched his marriage proposal, I began wondering how long this would drag on. Optimally, it would be resolved by the episode's end, but from experience, the writers love to extend things as long as possible. The end result falls somewhere in between, with both Chuck and Sarah fully committed and knowledgeable about the proposal before a giant plot hole comes between them.

A good part of the episode is the fun Chuck we're used to seeing with Morgan as the proposal double agent and Lester putting on the charm. There's more positive reinforcement to Chuck and Sarah's relationship which solidifies them enough so we don't have to worry about them (assuming Sarah didn't know about the arrest and undercover operation before leaving on the mission, and was cold-hearted enough to almost let the proposal go through).

But I want to go back to final few minutes which a plot contrivance of epic proportions. This isn't the usual isolated plot hole which matters for the one episode, but the beginning to a larger arc. Already, it's not making sense and I can't imagine how the writers can make it work logically.

It's like the writers sat down, decided that Sarah and Chuck would be separated, and came up with an explanation--all within a minute. Somehow, Sarah is going undercover in Volkoff Industries, and her arrest was supposed to establish her cover. Even if Beckman planned this from the point after the chip was recovered (unless this was orchestrated from the very beginning of the episode, which would be insane), wouldn't Volkoff, or someone in the organization, eventually learn that the chip Sarah provided was fake. That would undermine her as a rogue CIA agent since they know she has the real chip. And wouldn't they wonder why Chuck wasn't arrested when he was right there? Lastly, Alexei Volkoff knows Sarah wants to bring him down and plenty of other people have seen her taking direct action again Volkoff, so how is she supposed to infiltrate the group?

Forgetting about the implausibility--which is a must to continue watching Chuck every week--this plot has plenty of potential, but also more of the sappy "oh no, Chuck can't be with Sarah." We'll see what happens.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - The Cape Season 1 Episode 3 Kozmo

To recap my review of the series premiere last week, The Cape isn't a deep show or particularly emotionally resonant. It does, however, embrace the superhero to the fullest, with big fights, costumes, and a slew of characters ripe to explore.

"Kozmo" isn't too different from the previous two episodes, especially the second episode "Tarot," but it immediately tries to involve the other characters. We learn about Max and Gregor and how Max probably did some bad things a long time ago with the Kozmo moniker. Orwell is introduced to the circus, although they don't know that she is Orwell yet, and Gregor accurately expresses how alone Orwell is. The episode ends with the Vince versus Gregor fight which doesn't differentiate itself from the previous fights, but is cool enough.

There's heavy implication that Orwell is Chess's daughter with the spin ballerina comparison and all those things Gregor said about her. Whatever the connection may be, we know there's plenty of backstory to come from Orwell and the circus people.

The biggest problem with the show so far is that family stuff. Whenever Dana and Trip show up, it's an obvious attempt to tug at heartstrings, and more often than not elicits eye rolls instead of tears. Would it be too much for the audience to see them going through daily life instead of the exact moments they're thinking of Vince or The Cape?

Score: 8.5/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 6 Episode 14 Last Words

Are last words really that important? Therein lies the crux of "Last Words," with Marshall making a big deal out of his father's meaningless last words. Personally, literal last words matter much less than how the person feels about me, expressed in general terms or otherwise.

I can understand why Marshall would feel this way, seeing his family members tell their last words stories, but I have a hard time buying that no one, Marshall or his friends, would sit down think for a second. Marvin loved Marshall, a fact everyone knows, and that's more important than any specific words he left behind.

At the same time, "Last Words" is very emotional with Jason Segel doing a absolutely brilliant job, and I got teary in places. However, the comedy was not up to par, with the throwaway priest and Barney and Ted trying to make Marshall laugh with unfunny material. While "Last Words" certainly could be improved in many areas, the key point is that it does capitalize on "Bad News," and is probably the most emotional episode of the series, in addition to finally pushing Barney to find his father.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Shameless (US) Season 1 Episode 2 Frank The Plank

A good part of "Frank The Plank" depends on how much you care about Frank. He's missing, and his sons and daughters frantically look for him. That may be understandable if Frank were useful in some way, but in the first two episodes, he hasn't done anything. Instead of taking care of his kids--or even trying--he gets drunk and is passed out most of the time. He's the biological father, but he's far from the acting father. If Shameless is supposed to be about familial bonds, shouldn't there be an implicit understanding that family goes beyond simple bloodlines? Why is he important?

The other characters try their hardest to survive, whether it's stealing, doing a nude show on webcam, or cutting coupons, but all Frank does is call his disability check and hit the bar, contributing little to the family. Until Frank stops being a useless drunk, there's hardly any value in his character.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Big Love Season 5 Episode 1 Winter

When I think of Big Love's fourth season, I imagine a train on a mountain pass. The conductor, for unknown reasons, decides to increase speed even though there is a decline soon. Once the train reaches the decline, it's already picked up plenty of speed and begins to barrel downwards. At this point, there's nothing the conductor can do but try and keep control. There's no use, however, as the train goes off the tracks and later flies off a cliff. Somehow, all the passengers are still alive, groggy but otherwise in good condition.

Here we are at the beginning of the fifth and final season, with the Hendricksons fully revealed to the public. Every member of the family, from Bill in the State Senate to the kids in school, is ostracized and/or terrorized. The poisonous climate drives the family further and further apart, as Barb turns to alcohol, Nicki dives into her self-righteous hypocrisy, and Margene flounders without her job. What I like most about Big Love is when the wives are together and talk about things, and "Winter" certainly delivers in that regard.

On the other hand, it wouldn't be a Big Love review without some Bill bashing. Right at the beginning of the episode, Bill manages to pull this gem from his ass. Talking about Margene, he says, "We need to give her a little love and care, just didn't think she'd have so much trouble with the publicity, I mean of all people." You mean you didn't think she'd mind being called names? After Bill fires a disrespectful employee, Don tries to reason with Bill, saying that they are already low on man power and that he is popular. Bill goes in to jackass mode and blows him off.

Later, Don confronts Bill and Bill finally breaks down, admitting that he's caused grief to so many people over his dreams. The problem with Bill's big speech to Don, despite his own admission of guilt, is that he'll probably be back in the public spotlight again trying to get others to respect him. Actions speak louder than words and Bill hasn't shown any sort of decency yet.

You know, Bill, if you were truly sorry for all the shit you've put everyone through, you'd resign your senate seat, move away, and hide with your family in a remote location where no one can bother you. But no, you're a self-absorbed ass who wants everyone to accept your beliefs and you're willing to drag your family through the mud to get there.

There was very little of the ridiculous Juniper Creep stuff, but we see Alby stewing in his hatred and Adaleen released from lockup, still with J.J.'s baby, so the writers haven't forgotten about them completely.

Several polygamists show up at the end of the episode to express their support for Bill. It's not much, but considering all bad things that have happened, it's better than nothing. If this snowballs the way the fourth season plots did, this can end very, very badly. Imagine: Bill gathers enough support from polygamist families who come out of the woodwork, starts his own polygamist compound, and essentially becomes Roman Grant.

As an individual episode, "Winter" was a tad above average, without too many highs or lows. There are plots and conflicts set up for the rest of the season, and they all seem fine so far. It's up to the writers to develop them and avoid what happened last season.

Score: 8.7/10

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Review - Episodes Season 1 Episode Two

It's hard to pass judgment on a show that has only aired two episodes, especially when the pilot was a funny introduction to the series at best. With Episodes, however, there are only seven episodes in the first season, so we're basically a third of the way done already.

The reason I bring this up is because the second episode doesn't add anything other than pure reinforcement of the themes introduced in the first episode: Hollywood is filled with fake people, of whom many are stupid and/or clueless, but seem normal at first. Sean and Beverly meet Matt LeBlanc, go to Merc's house, and have their show torn apart and reformed into a unrecognizable monstrosity. Outside of the lengthy introduction to Matt LeBlanc, there's nothing new, and even LeBlanc is exactly what you'd expect.

In line with the rest of the episode, the gate security gag happens again--the exact same way each time except for the last, when Beverly goes ballistic. Okay, now can we get on with everything?

Score: 8.3/10

Preview of Week 1/16/10 - 1/22/10

Big Love - HBO, Sunday, January 16, 9:00pm ET

After last year's disastrous fourth season, let's hope Big Love can end its run on better terms.

Being Human - SYFY, Monday, January 17, 9:00pm ET

Yet another remake of a British show, this time Being Human, which is about a ghost, werewolf, and vampire living together.

Harry's Law - NBC, Monday, January 17, 10:00pm ET

David E. Kelly has another law drama! We'll see if he can spin the magic again.

White Collar - USA, Tuesday, January 18, 10:00pm ET

White Collar is so forgettable that I barely remember what happened in the last episode, but it's back to finish off the season.

Blue Bloods - CBS, Wednesday, January 19, 10:00pm ET

CBS moved Blue Bloods from Friday nights to Wednesday (in my opinion, they should have done that in the first place).

Royal Pains- USA, Thursday, January 20, 9:00pm ET

I had absolutely no idea what happened last time on Royal Pains (speaks volumes to how interesting it is), so I rewatched the last episode, finding a great twist--Eddie R. is a informant spying on Boris.

Parks and Recreation - NBC, Thursday, January 20, 9:30pm ET

Parks and Recreation returns this Thursday and the Pawnee government is still shut down. How will Leslie cope?

Fairly Legal - USA, Thursday, January 20, 10:00pm ET

USA has a U.S. Marshalls show, a fake psychic show, spy show, medical show, criminal turned FBI consultant show, and another spy show, all with very similar tones. Now, USA has Fairly Legal, a law show along the same lines.

Fringe - FOX, Friday, January 21, 9:00pm ET

Fringe's first episode on Friday will be a huge indicator of renewal or cancellation. If a large majority of the audience continues to watch, Fringe should have a good chance of renewal since Fox has huge Friday problems.

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena -  STARZ, Friday, January 21, 10:00pm ET

Ready for more bloody killing?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 1/13/11

ABC won with Wipeout (3.7), Grey’s Anatomy (4.3), and a repeat of Off The Map (2.0). Off The Map repeated well, but will that translate to large ratings when new episodes air on Wednesday?

CBS was second with a repeat of The Big Bang Theory, $#*! My Dad Says (2.9), and repeats of CSI (2.0), and The Mentalist (1.9).

Fox was third with Million Dollar Money Drop (1.7) and repeat of  Bones (1.3).

NBC was last with repeats of Community (1.1, 1.2), The Office (1.5,1.8), and 30 Rock (1.3, 1.1).

Review - Human Target Season 2 Episode 9 Imbroglio / 10 Cool Hand Guerrero

We're near the end of Human Target's second season, and if one thing is perfectly evident, it's that Ilsa Pucci is a horrible character. Indira Varma is fine in the role given what little the writers give her. When Ilsa opens her mouth, you can pretty much guess that she's asking why Chance is doing x, y, and z. And the viewers still don't get it, the writers think, so we'll reinforce the point that she wants to keep an eye on things but is clueless how these operations work. Maybe it was necessary in the first few episodes, but she still asking when she knows the obvious answer--Chance has a plan that'll work out in the end. It's not that complicated.

I wanted to get that out of the way first, because "Imbroglio" and "Cool Hand Guerrero" aren't bad at all, welcome changes to the season two current. The nifty first episode puts everyone on the opposite sides of the equation they're used to being in, with Chance, Ilsa, Guerrero, and Ilsa's sister-in-law trapped with gunmen. There's nothing spectacular about the episode, but it gets the job done. The second episode, however, sheds a lot of light on Guerrero outside of the usual "guy in the trunk" dialogue. We see that Guerrero is very loyal to friends other than Winston and Chance, and that he has a son, indicated by the tricycle at the front of the house at the end of the episode.

Score: 8.6/10

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 1/12/11

Note that Obama's speech wreaked havoc on the networks last night.

ABC won with The Middle (3.0), a repeat of The Middle (2.7), Modern Family (4.2), a repeat of Modern Family (3.4), and Off The Map (2.3). Beastly numbers for The Middle. I would've liked to see how Cougar Town did. Off The Mad premiered badly. We should wait until next week to see if it's Obama's fault.

NBC was second with a repeat of Minute To Win It (1.5), Minute To Win It (1.4), and Law & Order: SVU (2.5).

CBS was third with repeats of The Big Bang Theory (1.5), Rules of Engagement (1.4), and a new episode of Live To Dance (1.5) and The Defenders (1.5).

Fox was last with a repeat of Raising Hope (1.5).

Review – Southland Season 3 Episode 2 Punching Water

While "Punching Water" has the gritty plot, a lot of the character stuff is just annoying. Tammi and Dewey have been around since the first season and they haven't changed one bit, staying as the characters who cause trouble for other characters

With Tammi, it’s an “are you kidding me?” moment when we learn some other guy got her pregnant, but then again, she’s proven time and time again that she’s crazy and just a load of trouble. Hopefully Sammy ditches her this time. The writers have gone down this road time and time again--what more are they looking for?

Similarly, I was miffed right from the beginning when Dewey shows up. For Pete’s sake, get rid of him already! He also acts like an idiot, rarely does good police work, and is annoying as how. How could stay on the police force with his record and behavior, and why are the writers keeping him?

Sally, the woman in the convertible from last week, is like the official police chaser and takes photos with all the cops she’s been with. However bad that may sound, Ben has absolutely no problem with that for the time being. 

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Friday Night Lights Season 5 Episode 9 Gut Check

The episode begins after the Lion’s first loss of the season, so we don’t see the game, which is kind of surprising since it's one of the biggest games of the show. But with the strife at the end of the last week’s episode, it was clear the team could crumble at any moment if it hadn't already and the writers didn't need to show more.

In the aftermath with the team falling apart, Eric decides to bench Vince and start Luke at quarterback. The Lions win their next game with Vince on the sidelines, proving that Vince isn’t as crucial to the team as he thought he was. If Luke continues to perform well enough to win, Vince won’t be getting attention from colleges and his father won’t be seeing the money pouring in. Luke succeeding seems to have sobered Vince (not necessarily turning him around completely), but his father, a person who we know is violent, is extremely angry at the end of the episode.

Becky, after waitressing at the Landing Strip, rakes in tons of cash and likes the perks the job offers, and now she’s fully on her way to become a stripper.

Epyck shoves Tami, the cops get involved, and she’s sent away. Is this the last we see of her, the sad case of someone falling through the cracks despite Tami's heroic efforts, or will everything become right?

Julie showing up at Matt’s door, while optimal to showing up at the TA’s door, is still a diversion. She has a great time and so does Matt, but the root of Julie’s existing problem exists: She doesn’t want to resume her college life, instead feeding off Matt and the warm fuzzy feeling he offers. After a week, Matt realizes this and sets her right, knowing that if he loves he, he should make sure she is successful in life. I don't get why Matt is still with her after all the trouble she's given him, but it works.

After "Gut Check," there are four episodes left. Four! Some of the older characters should trickle back soon so that'll be exciting, and Coach Taylor may be leaving high school football for good.

Score: 8.9/10

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Review - Modern Family Season 2 Episode 12 Our Children, Ourselves

Going through past reviews, I found that Modern Family hasn't done a single plot episode since the Halloween episode 6 episodes ago, only briefly dabbling with everyone together during Manny's birthday (that episode was still in mid-November). The biggest problem of the three separate plots format is that with each plot occupying an exact third of the episode, everything must be on point. In addition, the time alloted to each plot leaves tons of room for underdevelopment. When will we see more complete family and is the frequency decreased?

After not seeing Alex last week, it was kind of disappointing to see her slide into the background while Phil and Claire took over the plot. Luckily, the couple trying to top Sanjay's parents by watching a snooty French film instead of the octopus crocodile 3D movie was pretty great.

Mitchell and Cam engage in a very awkward case of misidentification with both believing that Mitchell has a child with his ex. When they go Chloe's house, they have a gift for the child--but he's actually a red-haired midget. Oops.

The Jay and Gloria plot is confounding to no end, with no relevance or direction, throwing random awkward scenes into the episode. I guess it tangentially relates to everything else because it is about a misunderstanding, but it's still not remotely funny.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Off The Map Season 1 Episode 1 Saved by the Great White Hope

Exotic location, medical work, pretty faces... what more could we ask for? It's a rhetorical question, but the show may become a success given the pedigree and the fact that Grey's Anatomy still attracts a huge audience. Everything about Off The Map what you'd expect from Shonda Rhimes, the melodrama, the relationships, the fun moments of levity.

There's nothing about "Saved by the Great White Hope" that will remain a lasting memory however We see the new doctors, learn their backstories (dished out in rigid format), see them do medical stuff, but nothing about the plot or characters that makes me want to come back. It goes at clockwork precision--accurate, paced well, acted fine, and at the end of day, everything you'd expect and nothing more.

Score: 7.3/10

Review - No Ordinary Family Season 1 Episode 12 No Ordinary Brother

"No Ordinary Brother" is beyond frustrating. The writers go out of their way to maintain a bright, sunny image with a completely predictable plot. First, Jim's brother is terrible, but he's redeemed by the end of the episode. Who didn't see that coming? The writers have to realize that everyone who's watched a couple episodes of the show knows what's coming. The resolution is always easy, and never overly dark. Could Jim's brother have been shot? Yes, and considering his behavior, I wouldn't mind it. But the writers would never do that, because it's out of their parameters of a "safe" show. Sorry, but superheros aren't supposed to be safe.

Another example is the resolution of the cliffhangers. Last week, it was the hand holding which instantly brough Daphne back to normal. This week, it's the deus ex superpower which allows Joshua to change the text in Stephanie's journal. Every continuing character, from the family last week to Joshua, magically isn't a threat anymore and we're back at square one. It's always hard to stop watching a show, but this is the end for me.

Score: 7.5/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 1/11/11

CBS won with NCIS (4.5), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.7), and The Good Wife (2.3). NCIS hit a series high in total viewers last night (22 million), which is quite astounding considering its in the 8th season.

NBC was second with Biggest Loser (3.2) and Parenthood (2.2).

Fox was third with a repeat of  Glee (1.7) and Million Dollar Money Drop (1.8).

ABC was last with No Ordinary Family (1.5), V (1.9), Detroit 1-8-7 (1.0). It's safe to say that NOF and Detroit won't be coming back. And unless V stops slipping, it'll end up with them.

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 1/10/11

ABC won with The Bachelor (2.8) and Castle (2.1). Only a 2.1 for Castle, but it was given an early renewal, so we shouldn't worry too much.

CBS was second with repeats of How I Met Your Mother (2.4), Rules of Engagement (2.0), Two and a Half Men (2.4), Mike & Molly (2.0), and Hawaii Five-0 (1.5).

Fox was third with Lie To Me (1.6, 1.5).

NBC was last with repeats of Chuck (0.8) and The Cape (1.0). Looks like enough people watched The Cape on Sunday (2.6), and no one bothered to watch the repeat.

Review - Lights Out Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Lights Out's pilot does a great job setting the premise and giving a taste of what's to come. Five years ago, Patrick Leary (Holt McCallany) lost the title bout in a controversial split decision and retired due to his wife's urging. Now, saddled with debt, brain trauma, and lingering regrets over his last fight, Leary must find his way back.

There's nothing too innovative or shocking in the pilot, but the pilot is rock solid from beginning to end, introducing Patrick's brother, his father, his wife, and showing the violence he can inflict on others. At the end of the episode, we see that Patrick will return to the ring to fight Reynolds. Will Lights climb out of the hole?

So is Theresa British or is Catherine McCormack just terrible at an American accent?

Score: 9.0/10

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review - The Good Wife Season 2 Episode 10 Breaking Up

Without the general audience having deep knowledge of the law, the writers essentially lock in the end result of "Breaking Up"--something bad will happen. As the entire episode plays out, we see Cary get down and dirty, forcing the couple into an impossible situation. Is there a way out, though? I'm not a lawyer so I can't think ahead and logically think of a solution. Therefore, I have to buy into the situation the writers present and assume that one must go to prison for a long, long time, thus avoiding the usual procedural tropes.

The case brings a lot of ugliness out of everyone (except for Saint Alicia, of course). Will is willing to doom a pregnant girl for his client and Cary callously plays with the fates of two people just to spite his former employers. As Alicia watches, she doesn't know what to think anymore, and Diane offering her a job only compounds the problems.

Will versus Diane comes to a boil once they fully reveal their hands in a huge argument. It seems like they've slipped past the point of return, with Will telling her that security will bar her from the office. And if indeed the split does happen, where does Alicia go? Also, will the show be juggling three different factions now--Will, Diane, and Cary? If I had to fault someone, it would be Will who still doesn't explain his prior relationship to Bond, despite Diane acting a little overzealously.

On the homefront, we get levity from Alicia's brother Owen, who curiously connects with Jackie. One of the oddest lines of their conversation is that Jackie was worried about Grace holding hands with the other girl, not that she was praying. After Jackie's previous apprehension over Peter and Pastor Isaiah, it just doesn't ring true.

Score: 9.1/10

Review - V (2009) Season 2 Episode 2 Serpent's Tooth

The SOUL! If you watched "Serpent's Tooth," you were bashed over and over with the concept of the soul. Out of nowhere, Anna decides to destroy human emotion via the soul, while Jack talks to Ryan about the soul and how it's not physical. It may have worked conceptually, but in the hands of V writers, it turns into a grand disaster with some of the clumsiest writing you'll find on any show,  making Jane Badler turn into a silly caricature ("The soul, it's in your heart!").

Aside from the soul dialogue which will probably scar me forever, there's a decent amount of action and the episode ends with Erika in a flipped car with her V FBI partner. Chad is now a prime target for the Fifth Column, but continues to help Jack.

Score: 7.0/10

Review - NCIS Season 8 Episode 11 Ships in the Night

"Ships in the Night" features Agent Borin in her second appearance on the show, and she acts similarly to the way we first saw her--assertive, confident, and as the writers intend, she is the female counterpart to Gibbs. Without anything new, however, she becomes a moot point who is pleasant but nothing more. It was funny the first time to see her dole out orders exactly like Gibbs, but it wasn't nearly as funny this time around and the writers are doing little to distinguish her character outside of similarities to Gibbs.

The plot is a typical murder of a Marine, followed by an investigation. The "thing" this week is that everyone is sleep deprived, but it doesn't cause any significant problems.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - Castle Season 3 Episode 12 Poof! You're Dead

"Poof! You're Dead" uses the world of magicians very effectively, incorporating a key trait of magicians, illusion, into several plot twists. Along the way, Beckett and Castle get to play around with magic and Esposito tries his best to hide his relationship with Lanie, which everyone already knows about.

Castle breaks up with Gina at the end of the episode and Beckett gives one of her looks. Whether it's a sign of progress is another story. Sure, it can be interpreted as a step forward, but are the writers ready to pull the gun? For those who saw the preview for the episode in two weeks, there was a huge tease, but I'm predicting a fake-out.

For anyone who didn't read the news, Castle was renewed for a fourth season, which will make it somewhat of a TV veteran.

Score: 8.7/10

Monday, January 10, 2011

Review - Lie to Me Season 3 Episode 9 Funhouse / 10 Rebound

Without any new episodes in the pipelines (and no room on FOX's schedule), Lie to Me's third season will end with 13 episodes. While it's a possibility Lie to Me become a summer show, I don't really see it happening. If Lie to Me is not renewed, I don't think I'll be heartbroken. I find myself not caring what happens to the characters, and I'm annoyed with Lightman's senseless antics more and more.

"Funhouse" is amusing for a short while, but comes up severely short. Lightman's hallucinations don't go anywhere and, the plot resolves itself with a flat, disaffected climax. "Rebound" isn't  notable either, taking a generic setup, a creep who marries women for their money, and doing nothing with it. The guy is fingered from the beginning, interrogated halfway through the episode to confirm guilt, and caught at the end of the episode for a slam-dunk conviction with help of the jilted women.

Score: 8.1/10

ABC renews The Middle, Cougar Town, Modern Family, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Castle

ABC renewed its Wednesday comedy lineup--minus Better With You--the Thursday medical lineup, and Castle. If there's something to be mildly surprised about, it would be that both Castle and Cougar Town were renewed early while Desperate Housewives, which is a sure renewal, was not.

Review - Shameless (US) Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

If Shameless were remotely realistic, CPA would be swarming the place and the kids would be sent away. The living conditions are horrendous, Frank is clearly an unfit parent, and Fiona simply can't handle everything by herself. However, Shameless is not supposed to be realistic, serious, or aspiring for a greater message. It's supposed to be funny and energetic with a tinge of heart, which the show does well.

Beyond that, though, there isn't much to see. The character drama and subplots aren't innovative, and it's sometimes grating to see the characters behaving badly when the writers still cast them in positive light. Since there isn't much airing on Sundays, I'll watch the next few episodes to see how it progresses.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The Cape Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot / 2 Tarot

The Cape should not be taken seriously, and certainly not as seriously as the show takes itself. But that's fine. Even with the pacing, lack of depth, or any number of problems, it's still damn entertaining. Who doesn't want to see a costumed hero run around and beat up various goons in a city which is being taken over by an evil guy?

"Pilot" sets the stage for episodes to come, introducing Vince Faraday (David Lyons), a cop framed by Chess (James Frain), his wife Dana (Jennifer Ferrin), the carnival folk who help him along the way, and Orwell (Summer Glau), who seems to be the utility-girl. Vince becomes The Cape after fastforwarded training from Max (Keith David) and vows to take down Chess.

"Tarot" is more or less a standard episode with the plot about saving a guy who can prevent Chess from taking over the prisons, and Vince shows that he can continually grow as a superhero by training himself.

From what we can see from the first two episodes, the lines are clearly drawn: Vince is the classic superhero good guy, a tireless fighter for the people, while Chess is the bad guy, a totally evil criminal who wants to take the city. Dana and Trip truly believe Vince was innocent, and Dana puts herself in a position to dig around.

Going forward, The Cape has plenty of room to grow. We can learn more about each character, more enemies can be introduced, and maybe it'll gain a few complex themes. And if the show doesn't really change, we'll see if it's still as entertaining as it is now.

Score: 8.7/10
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