Monday, February 28, 2011

Review - The Cape Season 1 Episode 9 Razer

For the time being, "Razer" is the last episode of The Cape. NBC reduced the order from 13 to 10 episodes, and the The Event is coming back next week to finish off the final 12 episodes of the season. The Cape still has one episode left, but the date has not been set, if we'll even see it air.

"Razer" brings back Scales and his band of goons for a pretty mediocre ride. Vince goes undercover, pretending to be the mysterious Razer, yet another uber-criminal no one has seen. We learn that Max has ulterior motives for helping Vince, which calls into question exactly how much Max cares for Vince outside of his immediate abilities. In any case, it's a mutually beneficial relationship for now, as Max saves him in the end.

Peter Flemming is kind of crazy, what with Chess being separate yet controllable. Those weird Chess eyes, on the other hand, contacts ready to go all the time? Does the latest Orwell problem have anything to do with the door? It's not like I care (and I actually wanted to know what was up with Happy Town), but it could be good information to know some time.

After the cold open of Dana and Trip, they don't show up for the rest of the episode. Hurray!

Score: 8.2/10

Review - The Chicago Code Season 1 Episode 4 Cabrini-Green

So far, we've heard numerous voiceovers to explain the backstories of the good guys. "Cabrini-Green" dives into Gibbons voiceovers, spanning the entire episode. The weird thing is, everything he says in his voiceover goes contrary to his action in the episode. It also brings up another point: who are these voiceovers for? If they're actually spoken to a camera crew, you can expect Gibbons to lie, but if these are just thoughts in his head, he's either really sociopathic or just delusional.

While Gibbons talks about being a great guy who cares about the people, his intentions are exactly the opposite. Every move is intended to advance his agenda, whether it's knocking down Cabrini-Green, shooting Big Monster, or buying an X-Box for the kid he shot.

The case this week is a string of bombs left across town, which leaves everyone very tense. There are several twists and turns along the way, and like the previous cases it moves fast and is engaging.

I don't know if it's just me, but I really got a kick out of Argyle getting busted at the end. He is, of course, based off leftist scumbag Bill Ayers, who helped plan several bombings back in the day (though he always makes the lame excuses about responsibility). While it's not touched on in the episode, it's pathetic that tons of important figures and institutions have defended trash like him through the years. He's a terrorist. Why does he get a fucking pass? Rant over.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Chuck Season 4 Episode 17 Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil

Wow, I haven't had this much fun with an episode of Chuck since the Sarah-centric episode a while back. "Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil" doesn't have much plot, but it brings the character of Vivian McArthur, teased last week as Volkoff's possible successor, full-circle.

The episode moves quickly, with Chuck, Sarah, and Vivian in and out of the bank, before the final bank heist which was pretty much that scene from The Matrix. Ray Wise, who was, incidentally, the Devil on Reaper, manages to sway Vivian in the end, and Chuck is well on its way to another epic confrontation. Like pretty much everything on the show, the transition felt a little rushed since Vivian didn't really do much investigating on her own, but it gets the job done and the plot moves along.

There is a tiny bit of Buy More stuff, which wasn't particularly funny but advanced the plot. Casey is now on other assignments, and Morgan knows something is up. Tying into his search for a place to stay, Morgan essentially blackmails (although Casey is one who actually states the offer) Casey into letting him stay at his place in exchange for silence.

After being largely ambivalent about her wedding, Sarah finds the perfect wedding dress and is well on her way to becoming a bridezilla. Chuck has problems with the cost, but shouldn't the CIA foot the bill for their services?

Score: 9.0/10

Review - House Season 7 Episode 14 Recession Proof

"Recession Proof" has certain signs that things could turn ugly--House licking a Vicodin pill, a patient dying, lots of drinking, and lastly, House telling Cuddy that being with her makes him a worse doctor (Yes, there is no evidence for this and it's completely random but whatever--manufactured drama is better than no drama.). Then things turn back towards the House of season seven, with House proclaiming his undying love for Cuddy, Cuddy sighing and generally accepting House for who he is. Now we're back where the episode start, House and Cuddy in this lovey-dovvey relationship the writers aren't even going to have multi-episode drama for.

A stated earlier, a patient dies, but it's no one's fault, as there have only been 1000 reported cases. Why House thinks it has to do with Cuddy baffles him, especially when he's lost patients before (and House tells Wilson these previous cases).

On the plus side, the pairings of Chase/Masters and Taub/Foreman are pretty benign, with a couple amusing moments for Taub and Foreman, and some more serious moments for Chase and Martha, including a call-back to the Dibala debacle. But, as always, they take a backseat to House, who has gotten increasingly less interesting.

Score: 8.1/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 6 Episode 18 A Change of Heart

"A Change of Heart" is a funny episode, detailing Barney's journey through love with corresponding heartbeat measure. However, as Barney finds himself wanting more than the usual with Nora, I can't help but be reminded of Barney and Robin. In a general sense, this episode shows that Barney is capable of more than sex, but hasn't that happened before? In a more specific way, it shows that Barney loves Nora, but the eventual ending of the episode would seem to suggest a change in Barney's outlook towards women in general versus Nora. I want to see the writers' full intentions before passing too much judgment.

The final scene heads towards what looks like a joyful reunion, as we see Barney enter the restaurant and explain everything to Nora. But then we see what really happened, Barney look inside before walking away. I guess Barney and Nora is over before it really started. More Barney and Robin?

The only other subplot this week was Robin's friend, Scooby, who, like his namesake, is a dog, and not just figuratively. He's kind of like a dog in a human's body like that terrible Tim Allen movie. It makes for tons of dog jokes, including the characters spit-firing words with double meanings.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Shameless (US) Season 1 Episode 8 It's Time to Kill the Turtle

Because the original Shameless only had seven episodes in the first season, the writers have to come up with a lot on their own, and while they take a bit from the second season, for the most part, there's lots of new content, which drives the show in another direction.

Things with Steve took a huge turn when it's revealed he has another life--and woman. Debbie is on the case, however, so this should be interesting. Meanwhile, we see Fiona working in sketchy sports bar, struggling to keep up.

The plot this week is that Frank is offered money to be sober for two weeks. We see that sober Frank is actually a good parent and knows to take care about his kids, but he's steal an idiot, pulling the copper wire out of the wall. So we see this other side of Frank, not drunk but still without common sense. And at the end of the day, it's better to have a drunk Frank in the present instead of a sober Frank who'll raise expectations before crushing them.

Kev was really virtuous (relatively speaking), actually caring about the wacko cult girl instead of wanting to toss her out like Veronica wanted to. There are tons of funny things they can do with her.

Score: 8.7/10

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review - Big Love Season 5 Episode 7 Til Death Do Us Part

Before "Til Death Do Us Part," did Big Love really need another layer of trouble? There was plenty of turmoil and plot going on already, which seemed sufficient to fill the final four episodes. Then "Til Death Do Us Part" comes around and plots a giant new thing on our lap: Alby bought both Home Plus buildings. Where, when, how? When it comes to artificially generating plots, Big Love does not disappoint. To top things off, Bill is being investigated for statutory rape while Heather inadvertently allows this to happen (though she should know by now from every movie/TV show out there that every religious figure is bad news).

Barb is hauled off for questioning, and that should prove to be interesting, but I'm still not sure how necessary this all is. In a position to save or damn Bill, Barb will have a lot of think about, especially after getting legally divorced and seeing the other wives get resealed, and it'll definitely test her commitment to Bill. But it'll happen only after another external element is introduced to an already overburdened show. How many plots will be pushed aside for the "Bill fights rape charges" arc, and why can't there be conflict between Barb and the rest of the family without outsiders getting involved?

It goes back to one of my biggest problems with the show, that the family, which in my eyes is the most entertaining and gratifying, is often relegated to external forces which skew the show entirely. Instead of seeing the family operate and fight as is, these other elements act as lenses. We still see the family, but it's not an exact image.

Margene is an idiot. Bill tells her Goji Blast is a pyramid, and Margene is too ignorant to know what that is. To find the "truth," she goes to Golgi guy and asks him. What does she expect, an admission that he's a con artist? How stupid can she be? But since she's so dumb, I guess we can excuse her for telling Pam to waste what little money she and Carl have.

Lois acts crazy again... The writers top it off with some sympathy, but 95% of pure insanity, which isn't even amusing, is just hard to watch.

With three episodes left, I'm getting really worried where all this is headed. I hope the writers can pull it off, but the signs of disaster are definitely present.

Score: 8.6/10

Preview of Week 2/27/11 - 3/05-11

Castle - ABC, Monday, February 28, 10:00pm ET

The final of the two-parter airs Monday night and in line with Castle's previous two-episode endeavors, it should be good.

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

The last episode until April brings Supernatural back to the Mother of All plot after last week's meta detour.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review - Spartacus: Gods of the Arena Part 6 The Bitter End

Since Spartacus: Gods of the Arena can't end on a cliffhanger because it leads into the first season, I guess there's a structural reason why "The Bitter End" was the worst episode of the miniseries. Personally, the fights have never been that interesting; heads get cut off, limbs are severed, blood flies everywhere, but it's all the same. What makes Spartacus interesting is the plot, and the episode dispenses with that quickly, the main battle between Quintus and Tulius resolved in the first half of the episode.

There are flecks of Spartacus we like--Solonius turning on Quintus, Gannicus winning his freedom--but overall,  second half is pretty much a snoozefest. There's little plot or intrigue and most of it is a huge, silly fight which ends with Gannicus winning and a jaw literally ripped apart. What's disappointing about the fight is that the writers never slow the action in favor of real tension which could have made us believe or even consider that something horrible may happen. The miniseries ends with Quintus delivering a grand speech about how high he'll rise, before the writers take out a 100-foot tall, blinking neon sign declaring, "This is IRONIC," with the shot of Quintus and Lucretia dead.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Fringe Season 3 Episode 15 Subject 13

Going into the past has lots of problems, notably the urge to draw distinct connections between characters, in essence retconning. The seminal season two episode "Peter" tells the complete story of how Walter stole Peter from the other universe and doesn't introduce anything contrary to our assumptions.

"Subject 13," however, shows us that Peter and Olivia knew each other as children, and not just in a passing moment since they talk and hang out for a while. And not just that, Peter knows he's from the other universe, making a big fuss about it. In present time, it's weird and confusing to look at these characters and realize they'd already met and were friendly. The writers have to chalk it up to, "Oh, both Peter and Olivia forgot their entire childhoods," which is ridiculous unless we see Walter wiping their memories. I guess the writers want to create some kind of cosmic connection between Peter and Olivia, spanning time and universes, but it's too hokey for me to buy.

But aside from that, "Subject 13" is a fantastic episode, as we see exactly what Walter was up to in Jacksonville, how important Olivia is, and how her abusive stepfather stimulated her to crossover. And in crossing over, Olivia handed her sketchbook to Walternate, cluing him in to another universe. The highlight of the episode is the acting. The kids are great, John Noble was great as usual, and Orla Brady was out of the world, with her wonderfully nuanced performance as Elizabeth, who is deeply troubled the entire episode.

It's a real shame Fringe has to air opposite Supernatural, because as good as "Subject 13" was, nothing could even touch Supernatural's ultimate meta episode.

Score: 9.3/10

Friday, February 25, 2011

Review - Supernatural Season 6 Episode 15 The French Mistake

Because Supernatural is a fantasy/horror show which pushes the boundaries all the time, an episode like "The French Mistake" isn't too out of the box. After the string of funny episodes last season, we're kind of accustomed to the writers pulling these incredible ideas out of the box. But for most other shows, an episode portraying the characters in an alternate universe as their real-life selves would be too much, although I would do anything to see more normal shows do this kind of episode.

"The French Mistake" has a little plot tacked on the beginning and the end--and it's actually pertinent--but I'm sure no viewer cared after the laugh riot in between. Epic acting fails, "Eric Kripke" gunned down, Jared Padalecki married to Genevieve Cortese (as he is in real life), Mischa Collins tweeting, and the hilariously twisted world at large, with hilarious lines constantly coming from all the producers. What more could you ask for?

Score: 10/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 2/24/11

Fox won with American Idol (7.2).

CBS was second with The Big Bang Theory (3.8), Rules of Engagement (2.8), CSI (2.7), The Mentalist (2.8). In the first week without Shit My Dad Says, Rules of Engagement improved on the timeslot while CSI was a bit lower. This is definitely a night to keep an eye on.

ABC was third with Wipeout (2.2), Grey’s Anatomy (3.4), and Private Practice (2.3).

NBC was last with Community (1.8), Perfect Couples (1.4), The Office (3.2), Parks and Recreation (2.4), 30 Rock (2.3), and Outsourced (1.4). Yeah, so NBC's comedy shuffle hasn't had much good.

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 2/23/11

Fox won with American Idol (7.9).

CBS was second with Survivor (3.1), Criminal Minds (3.2), and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2.4). Big drop for Suspect Behavior. Given how the CSIs and the NCISs turned out, this is a big surprise.

ABC was third with The Middle (2.4), Better With You (1.8), Modern Family (4.1), Mr. Sunshine (2.2), and Off The Map (1.7). Mr. Sunshine has had a massive drop since the premiere and can't drop any lower if it wants to stay in contention.

NBC was last with Minute To Win It (1.0) and Law & Order: SVU (2.5).

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 2/22/11

CBS won with NCIS (4.4), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.9), and The Good Wife (2.0). As much as I love the show, The Good Wife is doing awfully.

Fox was second with Glee (4.4), Raising Hope (2.4), and Traffic Light (1.6). Traffic Light is probably a goner.

NBC was third with The Biggest Loser (2.7) and Parenthood (2.1).

ABC was last with No Ordinary Family (1.4), V (1.9), and Primetime: What Would You Do? (1.4). NOF was down yet again while V is actually hanging in there.

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 2/21/11

ABC won with The Bachelor (3.4) and Castle (2.6).

CBS was second with How I Met Your Mother (3.5), Mad Love (2.8), a repeat of Two and a Half Men (3.0), Mike & Molly (3.2), and Hawaii Five-0 (2.8). With Two and a Half Men apparently done for the season due to Charlie Sheen, it'll be interesting to see how CBS responds.

Fox was third with House (3.5) and The Chicago Code (2.1). Marginal improvement for The Chicago Code, but an improvement nonetheless.

NBC was last with Chuck (1.7), The Cape (1.2), and Harry’s Law (1.7). What can you say? It's NBC, where nothing seems to work.

Review - Nikita Season 1 Episode 16 Echoes

Wow, wonderful execution of the dream sequences! If I had to point to one episode this season that impressed me the most, it would be "Echoes." While it doesn't reach the level of Tony Soprano dream sequence episodes, it effectively spends a huge portion of the episode inside Alex's mind, as we explore her feelings about Division, Nikita, her childhood, and finally her great fear--the future Alex who has taken her father's place.

Meanwhile, Michael, using overpowered technology, find out that Alex was not in her apartment during a phone call, and was actually in the same room Nikita was in years ago after she had supposedly killed someone. The episode ends on a great cliffhanger, Michael sitting in a chair in Nikita's loft.

Score: 9.0/10

Those who've watched the La Femme Nikita series (and if you haven't, stop reading or you'll be spoiled) will probably recognize the similarity between Alex taking her father's mantle and Nikita, in LFN, being groomed by her mother to become head of Division.

Review - The Mentalist Season 3 Episode 16 Red Queen

I wondered last week why the writers had paired Jane with Hightower instead of the other agents. After the cold open of "Red Queen," there were no questions remaining: Hightower has Jane at gunpoint. So for half the episode, we wonder how it could have gotten to this place.

Big clues are dropped, that Hightower probably had an affair with one of the cops killed by Red John's cop killer associate who was subsequently burnt alive in CBI custody. There's the motive, but then why is there also a case that Lisbon and the others are working on? The bombshell is that Hightower's prints are on a dinosaur bone (the tech says he's not David Caruso, but can you get prints off a dinosaur bone in real life?). So we begin wondering, could Hightower do this after last week's episode established her as a good person and parent? Was Jane tricked? And Jane, knowing the killer's ties to Red John, puts a gun on Hightower before she knocks him over and takes it.

But what makes the episode, after the ensuing kidnapping and chase, is that Hightower is indeed not the murder, framed by whoever Red John has inside CBI. Now, Hightower is out of the way, presumed to be a murderer, and the mole will ease up. Little does he/she know that Jane is onto him/her. So awesome!!!

Score: 9.3/10

Review - Parks and Recreation Season 3 Episode 6 Indianapolis

"Indianapolis" begins with two separate plots and then merges them to great effect, as the group, Ben included, come together in the end. Leslie and Ron head off to Indianapolis to receive a reward--and stop by Chris's house, which Leslie, on Ann's orders, searches for evidence of cheating and finds a woman's razor and swimming cap. Then, Ann arrives to confront him. The kicker? Chris had already broke up with her, except he was too enthusiastic for Ann to realize that.

Meanwhile, Tom tries to promote his cologne, which smells like Chinese food (though Tom is clueless to this), and fails miserably. It allows for Tom and Ben to bond, and it makes sense since Ben will probably be around for a long time. April and Andy are off doing their own thing, scamming people of money as a competition. They put the ill-gotten cash into the tip jar, so it's okay in the end--kind of.

Ron Swanson and no meat becomes a complete disaster. Get him some protein ASAP! Does anyone know how much eggs and bacon restaurants have on hand?

Score: 9.2/10

Review - Fairly Legal Season 1 Episode 6 Believers

Even though many people don't seem to agree (falling ratings), I really look forward to Fairly Legal each week. It's not a complex show, with mediocre plots and basic characters, but it moves fast and Sarah Shahi has tons of energy.

"Believers" has a case about an inventor of a e-reader who hasn't finished his product yet, Kate teaches DAs about mediation, and Leo gets to sketch a girl who models for him. None of it is particularly deep or good, for that matter, but it's nice entertainment.

Lauren didn't speak once with Kate in the episode and had my own thing. I get that she's important in Kate's life, but if she's not doing anything directly related to Kate, why should we care? And these subplots keep reinforcing the fact that Lauren loved Ted without introducing anything new.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Community Season 2 Episode 17 Intro to Political Science

It's about time Community settled down after a string of amazing episodes, and "Intro to Political Science" fits the billing. It's a funny episode, to be sure, but it's not one of those wild concept episodes or an episode with an out of control plot. Instead, it feels like a throwback episode, which spoofs a situation with each character playing a role.

Because VP Joe Biden is coming to Greendale, there has to be elections, sparking a hilarious debate. The debate has everything, the stupid, the overly patriotic, the plain senseless, and everything you can expect. And in the end, South Park wins. Jeff and Annie have a friend moment near the end, but nothing beyond that. At this point, the romantic possibilities between them aren't there, which is probably for the better.

Abed, between a casting the election with Troy, gets a minor plot of his own, with a Secret Service agent having a crush on him. It's cute in a weird, Abed sort of way, and hopefully we'll see Eliza Coupe again.

Pierce is an asshole in the episode, ruining Yellow Shirt's day. I think I'll go back to my season 1 practice of ignoring him (or at least I think I did that).

Score: 8.7/10

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 4 Episode 17 The Toast Derivation

As viewers of a television show, we sometimes wonder why someone like Leonard is the main character. He's not that likable and certainly not as funny as Sheldon. But taking a look at the characters as a whole, Leonard is the most normal guy. And as Amy says in "The Toast Derivation," Leonard is the nucleus of the group. Somehow, his relative normalness is where the action is act.

Meanwhile, Sheldon has his own group, a sorry group of misfits who end up having lots of fun but scaring Geordi away. Penny has Bernadette and Amy over, and decides to get a random guy, but we never get to see the actual outcome. That's one of the deficiencies of the show, not following up on certain threads.

As a whole, "The Toast Derivation" doesn't have anything blatantly annoying. Howard isn't a total ass and everything works more or less. The episode could have had something at the end to tie up the three separate groups, but that's the nature of The Big Bang Theory, temporary changes leading to a reset in the next episode.

I already mentioned this on my Twitter account, but I'll repeat it: how did Amy not use Leonardgrad? It's so perfect!

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The Office Season 7 Episode 18 Todd Packer

Ugh... Packer. Thankfully, Packer isn't becoming a regular or anything of that sort, because he's not funny and just a pain when he's around. As a one time thing, like last week's episode, "Todd Packer" is fine, in my opinion. If the writers want to make a recurring character the center of a single episode, that's cool. I'm sure there are people who enjoy Packer and his antics more than I do.

Luckily, Pam had a big role in the episode which balanced out Packer. Using her position, she helps Andy get a new computer by telling him to destroy his old one. Apparently, Andy's new computer isn't that great either, leaving Pam with a big smile on her face for nefarious reasons.

Score: 8.6/10

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review - Royal Pains Season 4 Episode 18 Listen to the Music

I haven't review Royal Pains in a long time, but I've continued to watch. It's a pleasant show, without too much of anything. Everything, from the acting to the plot, is perfectly fine, but that's all it is--fine. There aren't any highs or lows, something that really jumps out. Instead, the show hums along at a steady pace and it's all good. In my opinion, it's not a show that's conducive to weekly reviews.

"Listen to the Music" is an episode that could have been a major gamechanger, with all the characters headed their separate ways, but the final twist,  Divya and Raj with the bubonic plague, gives the writers plenty of room to return to the status quo. And that's absolutely fine--Royal Pains doesn't need a change in format.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior Season 1 Episode 2 Lonely Hearts

"Lonely Hearts" has a stronger case than the pilot, an inmate who gets his attorney to kill people for him, but man does the cast lack energy. While the pilot had some pretty good scenes with Cooper and Prophet, this week's episode was totally flat with the blandest deliveries possible.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Criminal Minds Season 6 Episode 16 Coda

"Coda" doesn't have the usual scary criminal or that much profiling, as the crime was done by a guy who needed money to support his family, but the scenes with the autistic boy were done very well and it was touching. It was also cool to see the characters during off-hours--Rossi and Seaver playing video games, Hotch and Jack, and Reid with the piano.

Doyle finally arrived to America and confronted Emily, so we should get significant movement on that front next week. One thing I don't understand is why Emily couldn't shoot Doyle right there. Doyle says she wouldn't make it out alive, so does he have help or another mechanism to kill people?

Score: 8.6/10

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review - Justified Season 2 Episode 3 The I Of The Storm

"The I Of The Storm" clarifies a lot of questions about Boyd. Following up on the one scene from last week, he's living with Ava but it's not romantic. Boyd tries his hardest in the episode to keep himself contained, drinking alone, ignoring Dewey for the most part--but by the end of the episode, he snaps, dragging a poor, albeit racist, fellow along in his car before dumping him. And Raylan tells Ava to kick Boyd out, sure that Boyd is incapable of change.

Based on this evidence, we can tentatively say that internally, Boyd is still as troubled as ever and has not changed. But what about Raylan? Like Boyd, Raylan still seems troubled on in the inside, unsure of what to do with Winona and his life. But if Boyd can crack like that, and in one instant unleash pure fury, can Raylan keep it bottled up forever?

I like how Mags is still tied into the crime this week, with her three sons involved in some way. The Dixie Mafia is mentioned a couple times, so they should be another fun bunch for Raylan to take on or talk with.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Mr. Sunshine Season 1 Episode 3 Heather's Sister

So far, Mr. Sunshine has been charming enough that it;s an enjoyable half-hour of television. The jokes are occasionally good and the characters are pleasant enough. What we haven't seen, however, is any working pathos, if the writers even tried.

"Heather's Sister" begins to shape Heather in a real character we can root for. She sets Ben up on a date with her sister, who is kooky, repeating everything Ben likes as her own. In the end when Ben is fed up, Heather's sister flips out. But instead of siding with her sister and doing something as Ben expects, Heather sticks up for Ben, saying he's a great guy. Just like that, Mr. Sunshine humanizes Heather, who was just a crazy assistant until now.

The rest of the episode, with the dog show and Alice's "friend" coming to town, was woefully underdeveloped, but the main plot balanced out with it.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Modern Family Season 2 Episode 16 Regrets Only

My favorite part of Modern Family is when the writers are able to find clever ways to make different pairings than normal. Increasingly, though, the writers seem to be shying away from that in favor of three separate stories in each episode for the different families.

"Regrets Only" sets up the great tag team of Phil and Gloria to decipher exactly what Phil did wrong, so we get clips of Phil and Claire interspersed among Phil and Gloria in a hilariously awkward situation of boobs and potential throat-cutting. Meanwhile, Jay and Claire go to the mall which was became infinitely more funny when Alex, who is supposed to be working but actually doesn't have a job, spots her mom making "noises" while being massaged.

Cam and Mitch weren't as marginalized as they were in the past, but it's clear they were the lowest priority in the episode. Cam has a fundraiser and Mitch forgets sending the invitations, so the usual hijinks ensue. While it's not blatantly dumb like many of their plots as of late, the plot isn't expanded much beyond Mitch saving the day. Overall, even if Cam and Mitchell weren't given the proper respect they're due, "Regrets Only" was a funny episode for me.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Lights Out Season 1 Episode 7 Crossroads

For those who came into Lights Out expecting boxing in every episode, "Crossroads" probably appealed to them, as the episode was dedicated to the build up, the fight, and a bit of the aftermath. The first official fight of the series, and Lights' first in five years, ends with Lights winning even though Morales is an incredibly dirty fighter. What's surprising about the fight is that it ends in a second round knockout after Morales did a good number on Lights in the first round. People have been speculating that Morales threw the fight, which would be a cool twist later on. It would also fit with the fact that Lights isn't ready and why his father won't train him to fight Reynolds.

While Lights is beating on Morales, we get a fantastic shot of Theresa cheering on her husband, indicating Lights's appeal to her: she loves watching him hit other people. Meanwhile, Daniella seems much more at ease once she sees her father winning. But going back to the earlier point, what if the fight was thrown? Lights will be in for a world of hurt.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - The Good Wife Season 2 15 The Silver Bullet

One thing The Good Wife has been fantastic at doing is branching out to give every character more prominence. The series began with the focus on Alicia, but we slowly got to know Diane, Will, Kalinda, Peter, and Alicia's family. In its second season, Eli has taken a large role. He's neckdeep in the campaign, so we see him scheming in the background and being a funny character. Until "The Silver Bullet," however, we haven't been able to see the personal side of him.

With the introduction of Natlie Flores (America Ferrera), we see Eli grapple with his job, wondering whether he should out her as a illegal alien in attempt to score points over Wendy Scott Carr. We also see Eli's daughter and learn that he was divorced. In the end, the pol inside Eli comes out on top and Natlie is exposed. This should be an interesting storyline.

The case this week gets pushed to the back with the return of Kurt McVeigh, ballistics expert and Diane's romantic interest. In the process of defending him, the team finds out that the recently released cop-killer really was a cop-killer. But no double-jeopary. Oops.

Once again, The Good Wife falls to epic mishandling of teenagers. Like her brother, Grace is turned into a moron, so the writers can make fun of Christians. If you want to poke at religion, fine, but at least make Grace reasonable, not a lunatic who watches lunatic videos about Jesus. At leastAlicia hands her a Bible, hopefully a King James Version, which she can read and try to understand.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - V (2009) Season 2 Episode 7 Birth Pangs

The sad thing with "Birth Pangs" is that it's more disjointed and random than last night's Glee episode. I don't really have time to write a full review, but damn did the episode throw out a bunch of random ideas with little follow up. With three episodes left in the season, I don't even feel like watching the rest, let along review them.

Score: 7.0/10

Review - Southland Season 3 Episode 8 Fixing a Hole

Even though it seems like the season's just begun, the third season is over in 2 weeks. As for the ratings, they're below last years', but given TNT's surprise renewal last year, it's too early to tell.

If Southland is renewed, there is still plenty of story to tell. Ben and John are going to reach a breaking point soon, with John continuing to take drugs and everyone warning Ben. The tension is high between them, but they still go ahead and do their jobs. While that partnership is fracturing, Lydia and Josie are working better each week, this week uncovering a lying, alcoholic witness.

Sammy dark spiral took a deep turn this week when he grabs the guy he believes to be Nate's killer and drives him to the desert to be shot. Sammy doesn't kill the gang member, because he's unwilling to kill someone in cold blood or believes the gang member was innocent, or a combination of the two. But this issue clearly is not resolved, and with Mariella moving away, Sammy will have plenty of time to dwell on his feelings. Great stuff from Shawn Hatosy again.

Score: 9.2/10

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review - Glee Season 2 Episode 14 Blame It on the Alcohol

Although "Blame It on the Alcohol" is all over the place, there's legitimately good stuff in there worth exploring, and it kind of comes together in the end (using Glee standards). Whether the writers explore them later is another question, and from their track record, probably half the plots will be forgotten about.

The big thing in the episode is alcohol, the all-powerful substance people can't stay away from. It sparks several storylines--Rachel and Blaine kissing, which leads to inspiration for Rachel's song and confirmation that Blaine's gay, and a drunk dial from Will to Sue intended for Emma--which all resolve quickly and with little conflict The actual plot, singing a song for the school so people don't drink, is hardly important, though the impromptu heaving did leave the school wary of alcohol.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - NCIS Season 8 Episode 16 One Last Score

Well that was boring... "One Last Score" is basically an episode of the writers trying to write about technology they have no idea about. They don't really get what MMORPGs are about (certainly not "high scores"), and the computer talk is both unimaginative and unrealistic. The problem with the episode is that it's only technical talk, with little action or funny gags to flavor the bland dialogue.

Score: 7.6/10

Review - Being Human Season 1 Episode 6 It Takes Two To Make A Thing Go Wrong

I stopped reviewing Being Human, mostly because it's not that interesting and the cast is kind of boring. That said, in the following weeks, I liked watching the show without having to write a review. What interests me the most is how the writers deviate from the original, and "It Takes Two To Make A Thing Go Wrong" certainly does that, taking some original elements--the video, Sally's fiance's girlfriend, Rebecca--and altering them to lead the show in a new direction. Likewise, the reintroduction of Emily and her attack was a good twist.

While I still don't feel the show's charm or any emotional resonance, I like the plot choices that writers are making, so I'll keep watching and drop in here and there.

For those who have watched the British version: thank God the writers didn't go the same route regarding the video... because that would be painful to watch again.

Score: 7.9/10

Review - Hawaii Five-0 Season 1 Episode 18 Loa Aloha

"Loa Aloha" exposes a major problem with procedurals: there has to be a case. 99% of the time, even when there are great subplots going on, a procedural will still have some kind of investigation to frame the subplots, regardless of its quality.

In this particular episode, Danny finds himself unsure of what to do with his brother, a Wall Street scoundrel who is up to no good. Scott Caan does great work and Dane Cook isn't bad either. Unfortunately, the case of the week, an angry father killing those involved in his son's prosecution, seems beside the point. Sure, it emphasizes the importance of familial connection, but adds very little to the overall tension of the episode.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Castle Season 3 Episode 16 Setup

Wow, that was pretty intense, wasn't it? "Setup" is a setup episode, laying out the scenario of a dirty bomb and putting out the suspects, before narrowing it down towards the end. Apparently, the dirty bomb isn't in the hands of Muslim terrorists, as they are ruled out (again, Castle's wild imagination is correct).

The strength of the episode lies not in the plot, but in Beckett whose boyfriend is leaving once again. While under quarantine with Castle, she states what she wants, someone reliable and will always be there. Of course, that's Castle, but before anything else can happen, they're cleared. The episode ends with Castle and Beckett off the case officially, but working on the case together--and they're trapped in a freezer.

Score: 8.9/10

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review - The Chicago Code Season 1 Episode 3 Gillis, Chase, & Baby Face

After dialing back Gibbons's potential evilness last week with the revelation that another police officer had shot Antonio and Theresa for his own reasons, the writers brought Gibbons back to pure sliminess, starting what appears to be a long chess game between Theresa and the alderman. And boy was it enjoyable.

"Gillis, Chase, & Baby Face" is chalk full of political intrigue, as Theresa rattles Gibbons's cage by shutting down a project of mob boss, Hugh Killian, one of his supporters. In turn, Killian pressures Gibbons, even threatening to have him taken out once he's not useful. But Gibbons has one more move, planting child pornography on Killian. Lastly, Gibbons gets Theresa's chief of staff for attempted bribery. Gibbons, played by the wonderful Delroy Lindo, delivers a speech that is nothing short of pure brilliant, with full theatrical gestures towards the entire city, while Theresa can do nothing but watch. But again, Gibbons underestimates Theresa, placing his own guy to be her chief of staff, only Theresa does her research. Now, Theresa can funnel whatever information she wants to Gibbons--and the game is on.

The case this week isn't that important, but the specifics are about a bank robbery which leaves several people shot. More importantly, it allows us to see the dynamic between Jarek and the rest of the cops, who think he's feeding names for Theresa to get rid of. This results in Jarek and Caleb receiving no backup, Jarek eventually redeeming himself to Moosekian, and finally, Jarek getting into Moosekian's face. We see that Theresa's initiatives are have a large effect on the department, and externally, they aren't good. For now, though, Jarek, and by extension Caleb, are willing to weather the storm

I always like to comment on ratings the first couple weeks of a new show (that I like), so I'll say flat-out that The Chicago Code is in danger. Last week's episode dropped from the already lackluster premiere, so the numbers need to stay the same for the duration of its run, and that rarely happens for shows which have just begun.

Score: 9.1/10

Review - Chuck Season 4 Episode 16 Chuck Versus The Masquerade

"Chuck Versus The Masquerade" fell flat for me like many episodes this season. These days, I go into an episode of Chuck expecting to be entertained, but "Chuck Versus The Masquerade" didn't do it. Until the end, the plot was predictable, the action was isolated, and I didn't think anything was funny in particular.

What worked, though, was the idea that there is a right time to leave. In Morgan's case, that means moving out since Chuck and Sarah are getting married. They'll still see each other, but Morgan finally realizes he doesn't belong in their immediate space. Casey faces a larger problem, that he isn't crucial to the team anymore. He has been relegated to lesser roles these days, but without him, the henchman probably would have reached Sarah and killed her. Still, the NSC agent gives him an offer he can't resist--or he can't resist not knowing what's behind the door. But whatever, the magical door draws Casey in.

I really hated the opening scene. Last week's episode begun with the introduction to the Cat Squad, which was kind of believable, and a fun reference to Charlie's Angels. This week's episode begun awkward and just plain weird. The characters can be silly in their own way, but their behavior in the opening scene, notably Morgan and Alex's, seemed out of character.

The final scene is all sorts of awesome, with Vivian Volkoff accessing her father's vault which leads into the next arc. The arc for the first half of the season was a disappointment, but with 8 episodes to work with, hopefully the writers can deliver.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - House Season 7 Episode 13 Two Stories

"Two Stories" is a gimmick episode, but not all gimmick episodes are bad. If executed correctly, they can be charming, innovative, or any number of positive adjectives. But if the episode is like "Two Stories," neither enhancing, nor adding anything, then the gimmick looks like any easy way for the writers to get through an episode with minimal effort.

The story within a story isn't too bad, and is funny for the most part with Hugh Laurie tugging it along with all his abilities. Unfortunately, the story is completely boring and by the end of the episode, like the two kids, I just wanted to know what happened. Get rid of the school and have Hugh Laurie sit there and tell the story until the end! The main problem about the story is that it's about Cuddy and how how House doesn't seem to care much about what she wants. Predictably, he makes up with her in the end.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 6 Episode 17 Garbage Island

The question in my mind through the season has been whether Zoey is the Mother. There have been hints dropped about the Mother, and none of them seemed to apply to Zoey, but the writers could easily pull some kind of wordplay on us. "Garbage Island" gives us the definitive answer, with Ted stating in the future that the relationship ended badly and he's now married to a great woman. It makes sense given the main plot, which ends with Ted and Zoey both agreeing that Ted is the bad guy because he stole Zoey from the Captain. While I don't exactly agree, their agreement and the broken egg analogy puts an onus on the relationship.

While the writers continue to drag on the Mother, they're also dragging on Marshall becoming an environmental lawyer. After watching a documentary on garbage island, he goes into an ultra-environmental frenzy, putting off sex to put in green initiatives everywhere. By the end of the episode, however, he is still not committed to anything. More satisfying, Barney gets Nora's number after Robin gets him to admit his feelings for Nora by offering to sleep with him. I started the season believing the wedding would be for Robin and Barney, but how about Barney and Nora?

Score: 8.7/10

Review - The Cape Season 1 Episode 8 The Lich (Part 2)

When you watch a live-action show, you expect a degree of realism. For one, humans should be similar to humans in real life. With this assumption, however, The Cape falls apart completely--or there's something in Palm City's water that makes people dumb as rocks.

Naturally, you'd think that Vince, even in costume, wouldn't be able to talk to Dana since she'd recognize him. (I can believe Trip is too dumb to recognize Vince.) Surely Dana would recognize his voice and bottom half of his face, so Vince would have to jump through additional hoops to get in contact with her. But no, Dana is oblivious until the end, which allows the plot to advance unencumbered.

In the end, the Lich turns out to be a bad villain. He's crazy, but that's it. With only a couple henchman, mediocre fighting abilities, and zero tricks, the Lich is easily taken down by Vince, Max, and Rollo.

Meanwhile, Orwell's dreams are totally random, without logical connections, and up to interpretation. She wants/was to be married to Vince/a guy, and Peter Flemming/her father showed up. And the white door... huh?

Score: 7.5/10

Review - Shameless (US) Season 1 Episode 7 Frank Gallagher: Loving Husband, Devoted Father

In terms of bad behavior, Shameless hit a new low last night, as the entire family, plus Veronica and Kev, stole a truck full of meat. Yes, the driver was a little rude, but that surely doesn't justify the theft of so much. The writers want to indulge in it, showing how fun and cool the theft is, but really, who can look brightly on such behavior? Like previous thefts, the episode just rolls along and it soon becomes an afterthought once the next plot kicks in, Frank faking his death. It's successful in the end, and not particularly harmful to society.

"Frank Gallagher: Loving Husband, Devoted Father" has several iffy moments which made me groan and roll my eyes. Now, there's this love triangle between Kash, Ian, and Mickey, while Kash continues to be a loser. Meanwhile, Sheila finally comes out of the house--tethered to blankets--to grab Liam. The scenes between Sheila and Liam were really fun, but then Sheila decides to be more crazy and flush her birth control pills.

The episode also solidifies Steve and Fiona who spend a night at a hotel which gives Fiona some time off before she has to wade back into the house and take care of the kids.

Now that Shameless has 7 episodes, the number of episodes in first season of the British version, it'll be interesting to see what the writers will do. Will/can they create their own stories or will the dip into the second season?

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Big Love Season 5 Episode 6 D.I.V.O.R.C.E.

When I go into an episode of Big Love, the first thought in my mind is that the episode hopefully won't go off the rails like several season four episodes. Maybe this is a pessimistic way of thinking, but I still have a hard time believing the writers set up so much stuff early in the season just to have them pay off in the most awful ways.

"D.I.V.O.R.C.E." has lots of warning signs--Cara Lynn and her teacher, Ben and Rhonda, Marg and Golgi guy, Alby and Verlan--but it remains true to the Big Love of the first three seasons and the fifth season, in that Bill and Barb, family in general, are the heart of the episode. There isn't an external force driving the drama, only the growing division between Bill and Barb.

To me, the discussion of the priesthood with the addition of Renee Clayton felt like a lot of justification for the viewers alone since Bill doesn't even entertain the notion. (Although Renee could play an important role later on, in which case I'm very mistaken.) It's a pretty obscure subject for most people, but it does seem like a legitimate topic after a bit of Googling. The writers prop up Renee as an expert, using Barb to flaunt her credentials and papers, thus justifying Barb's position in viewers' eyes so she doesn't seem crazy.

But Big Love has never been a show primarily about theology, and what Barb wants seems to have less to do with religion than simple equality. After all, if religion were completely absent, Barb would still have grounds to be mad at Bill and the marriage. Barb's problem are general, about women's rights and her own, but they manifest themselves in religion, which is a major force in their lives. It makes sense that she would conflate these issues together.

A major instigator is Nicki, who is pretty bitchy in the episode. In private, Barb tells Bill that it would be best if she were still in charge of finances after the divorce, given Nicki's spotty record. That makes sense and the divorce was supposed to be solely for Cara Lynn's adoption. When they bring it up with Nicki, however, she balks, making a big deal about how Barb is trying to usurp power. Although she's right, and it does rattle Bill to his senses, Nicki also is trying to take a bit more than she had, not unlike Barb trying to have the priesthood.

While Bill and Barb's marriage crumble, the marriage of Lois and Frank, which has consistently been destructive and often times silly, actually grows stronger once Frank realizes what he'd done. In a sad sort of way, it's emotional and sweet, and for the present, allowing us to forget the craziness of their past.

In exactly a month from now, March 20, Big Love comes to an end. I'm very curious to see what finally happens to the characters and whether the writers will split apart the family.

Score: 8.8/10

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Review - Episodes Season 1 Episode Seven

As the first season of Episodes drew to a close, I asked myself when I started disliking Sean and Beverly. Despite lots of people on the internet hating on Beverly, I liked her most of the time for her attempts to push back against the excesses of Sean and Hollywood. Sure it made her a killjoy, but that was her role.

But as we see in "Episode Seven," Hollywood leaves no one untouched, both Sean and Beverly turning into unpleasant people. Beverly feebly tries to justify sleeping with Matt by saying, falsely, that Sean did it first. Then Sean goes and acts like an idiot, refusing to listen to Matt and getting in a fight. Put beside Merc, Sean and Beverly only look marginally better.

In terms of storyline, there is nothing unpredictable about the season finale. For the show to go on, Pucks! has to be renewed, and the previews practically told us that Sean would find out. And on that note, I'm not entirely sure Episodes will be back for another season. The ratings haven't been exactly stellar, but this is premium cable where low-rated shows can survive.

Score: 8.2/10

Preview of Week 2/20/11 - 2/26/11

Royal Pains - USA, Thursday, February 24, 9:00pm ET

With Hank and Evan tossed out of Boris's house and Divya spilling the secret of kissing a patient, the Royal Pains season finale is sure to be interesting.

Supernatural - CW, Friday, February 25, 9:00pm ET

Sam and Dean become Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Too meta? Nah.

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena - Starz, Friday, February 25, 10pm ET

The finale of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena will probably involve lots of blood... just a guess.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review - Spartacus: Gods of the Arena Part 5 Reckoning

At some point, everyone knew all hell would break loose. This is Spartacus, after all, which actually became a somewhat respectable show down the stretch with twist after twist. For "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena," that episode is "Reckoning."

Following Gaia's death, the house is in ludus, with Titus kicking Quintus and Lucretia out, Gannicus prepared to be sold,  Ashur being conniving bastard, and Naevia freeing Diona. The unrest in the house is stretched out through the episode, and we know something bad will happen.

It all comes to a head in a bloody final scene, which isn't as effective as previous murders of the series, but is still potent. Without knowing the writers' intent, this was my thought process: At first, I thought Tullius had poisoned the wine once Titus started talking. Then when Melitta took the wine, I wondered to myself whether she would drink it. Lucretia admitting to poisoning the wine came as a shock, but Melitta's death wasn't that shocking since I was thinking about it in the back of my mind.

Still, the finale next week looks like be bloody fun. Will Gannicus survive so we may see him in the second season?

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Fringe Season 3 Epiosde 14 6B

"6B" has two distinct ideas/plots, and the writers aren't quite able to reconcile the two, leaving me once the fence about the episode. The first is the old woman who sees a "ghost" of her husband, and it turns out her husband is actually from the other universe. It's rather sweet and advances the notion that emotion and love can linger across any boundary in a more scientific sense than just metaphysical. The second is end of the world, which is imminent because the old lady is causing a vortex to open up. This allows for major development between Olivia and Peter, which is what the writers were going for since the second season.

Coupled together, however, the two don't work as well as they would individually. That the end of the universe could be caused be a woman yearning for her husband takes away most of the gravitas of the end of the world and omits the other world entirely. The result is that the middle part of the episode is ginned up drama and not that compelling (though the morality stuff is interesting). In this respect, "6B" is a below average episode.

On the other hand, the scenes between Olivia and Peter are really terrific, with Olivia finally letting go in the end and allowing love to do its thing. While we don't learn anything about the machine or whether Peter was changed by it, the relationship between Olivia and Peter takes one step ahead, and the dilemma presented at the end of last week's episode, Fauxlivia's pregnancy, is amplified.

Score: 8.7/10

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review - Supernatural Season 6 Episode 14 Mannequin 3: The Reckoning

The case about killer mannequins, more precisely a ghost inhabiting mannequins, is standard horror movie fare, but it's still freaky as hell. No matter how many times you see a doll kill someone in movies, it's still unsettling each time. Who doesn't shy away from those empty, unmoving eyes? In its own way, Supernatural always puts a little extra on top, ending with a woman dying because she received a kidney from the now-deceased woman who is the ghost. A little more explanation would have been nice, but it was a good twist nonetheless.

The idea of an inanimate figure possessed by a ghost is a bit like Sam's soul returning to his body. In a way, the body is a mere vessel, a hulk of mindless flesh like a doll, before it has a soul, which is the purpose the ghost has in the episode. Supernatural is again advancing the idea that body and soul, are completely different entities.

The rest of the episode is Dean figuring out to do with Lisa and Ben. After Ben tricks Dean into meeting Lisa, Dean faces reality, knowing he can't stick around and make things right. As Dean rightly tells Ben, even if you love someone, circumstances don't always allow you to be with them. I'm fairly certain this isn't the last we've seen of them, though, so Dean may get another opportunity when the time is right.

Score: 8.9/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 2/17/11

Fox won with American Idol (7.6) and Bones (3.3).

CBS was second with The Big Bang Theory (3.7), $#*! My Dad Says (2.6), CSI (2.9), and The Mentalist (3.0). The season finale of $#*! My Dad Says looks pretty bad, and I wouldn't be too surprised if it were cancelled.

ABC was third with Wipeout (1.9), Grey's Anatomy (3.7), and Private Practice (2.3). Terrible night for ABC.

NBC was last with Community (1.8),  Perfect Couples (1.4), The Office (3.3), Parks and Recreation (2.2), 30 Rock (2.0), and Outsourced (1.5). TV ratings are depressing. And then there's NBC...

Review - Nikita Season 1 Episode 15 Alexandra

The Nikita franchise is dark, inordinately so compared to the latest remake. There's lots of skeevy behavior especially in the series La Femme Nikita, so it was cool to see "Alexandra" return somewhat to its roots, with drugs and sex (although it doesn't happen). As we're reminded Alex was once a sex slave, and as the flashbacks fully reveal, she was also the daughter of a tycoon who, as we know, was killed by Division.

The episode doesn't have much plot, but builds off the flashbacks with Nikita rescuing Alex to give the episode plenty of emotion. Best of all, there isn't forced romance, aside from the large hint that Nikita loves Michael.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - The Mentalist Season 3 Episode 15 Red Gold

With Lisbon out of commission, there are plenty of combinations of another agent and Jane--Jane and Rigsby, Jane and Cho, and Jane and Van Pelt. The writers, however, take another path--Jane and Hightower. Hightower? Does anyone even like her? And doesn't she have more important business? But the choice works out well in the end, as we learn about her devotion to her kids, impending divorce, and see her banter with Jane.

"Red Gold" features a generic case about a goldminer and Jane figures it out as usual, putting himself in more harm than he should have. Both at the beginning of the episode, inciting the crowd to stampeded the stream and almost getting shot, we see signs of the season 2 Jane, the guy who only cares about mischievous fun.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Bones Season 6 Episode 14 The Bikini in the Soup

How about that final scene? Booth and Brennan at the shooting range, using authentic 20s weapons, is the fun couple I remember, and it's not tinged with romantic overtones that the majority of endings the past couple seasons.

"The Bikini in the Soup" has a good amount of investigation, and agreement between Booth and Brennan that Valentine's Day is pointless--but .there is a pointless time limit imposed on the investigation. Cam doesn't have to be there to arrest the suspect, but the writers force it into the episode so Cam spends the episode telling people to hurry up.

What's up with the interns changing behavior? Fisher is trying to be less depressed and now Clark has done a 180, telling everyone about his personal life. If this keeps going on, Nigel-Murray and Daisy will stop yapping all the time (which is a negative for Nigel-Murray and a positive for Daisy).

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Fairly Legal Season 1 Episode 5 The Two Richards

It seems like Fairly Legal has only begun, but it's already halfway through the first season. For the most part, there hasn't been much serialization in terms of plot. The introduction of David Smith and his mysterious motives, however, represents the beginning of the usual USA style, standalone episodes surrounding a story arc. By the end of the episode Kate knows who is David Smith (Richard Dean Anderson), but doesn't tell Lauren. Since there aren't life or death circumstances involved (at least from what it seems), I'm not entirely sure how long this could drag on.

"The Two Richards" has a case which was one of weakest so far. It involves a wife and a husband who "died" because he is totally different after being hit by a bus. It's kind of bizarre, without anyone looking for a medical explanation for his change in behavior (perhaps it's because of all the House episode I've watched), and Kate gets them to reconcile in the end, so they presumably agreed to the settlement.

I kind of have problems with Justin being weirded out by his naked neighbor. From the viewers' vantage point, the neighbor looked a fair distance away, and even if Justin could see more than he wanted, couldn't he just not look in that direction?

Score: 8.2/10

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review - Parks and Recreation Season 3 Episode 5 Media Blitz

Ben is a train wreck in "Media Blitz," flubbing lines all over the place from the start. We saw signs that he might not be the best with people when he was talking with the cops, but he breaks down in the episode and it only gets worse once The Douche asks him about bankrupting his old city. It's actually a fair point outside of the comedic value, and is worth explaining to the community why there's this guy who seems to not know how to handle money.

Leslie is the great savior, with her uncanny ability to talk about anything, and manages to save the day by delivering a bombshell interview. In the end, Leslie and Tom can have a good laugh over Ben and not feel bad about their jobs.

Meanwhile, Ron helps Andy with April, and they kiss in the end, concluding a season of teasing. However, Chris remains oblivious to the hints Ann continues to drop, and it's getting to the point where it's getting stale. Chris is a good guy, but he's a little too dopey when he clearly can't see the big picture.

All in all, "Media Blitz" is a solid episode with lots of jokes during the interviews and a good call back of Ben's driving motivations, his bankrupting of his hometown.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - The Office Season 7 Episode 17 Threat Level Midnight

"Threat Level Midnight" isn't remotely realistic, but who cares? I don't expect The Office to be realistic or even striving to be realistic each week. The show is supposed to be a mockumentary, but if the writers want to go out of the box for one week and make a funny movie using the characters we know, I'm fine with that.

It was cool seeing Jan, Karen, and Roy again, and to be honest, the movie itself is funny, playing off James Bond themes in ridiculous fashion. Michael also acts fairly normal in the end, able to poke fun at himself and be happy with what he has.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 4 Episode 16 The Cohabitation Formulation

One of the major points for this season is that Penny still has feelings for Leonard. The writers actually know how to handle this, so it's both interesting and funny, unlike when she and Leonard were together. "The Cohabitation Formulation" takes another step forward towards them getting back together, with Penny crying over Leonard and Priya while Sheldon and Amy provide the laughs.

Unfortunately, the other characters are handled badly. Raj is featured a lot in the episode, but instead of doing anything meaningful, he says no to everything Leonard and Priya and tries to control the situation. It is Raj, however, who is too chicken to do anything, so he doesn't prevent anything. In the end, Raj just looks like a fool.

Howard is possibly a more problematic character than Raj. He's a giant loser in the episode, moving in with Bernadette and then expecting her to do everything for him--shopping, washing, driving him places, and the rest of the home stuff--and it's more irritating than funny. But it's because Howard's mother provides everything for him and Howard has depended on her forever that he's like this. Basically, Howard is a big child, and who wants that? Can we fault him for being so insulated? It'd be one thing to dismiss him as a bad person, but we can't do that here because his mother's craziness is, in part, passed down to him.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Community Season 2 Episode 16 Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking

Like so many times before, Community switches up the format and shows just how versatile the crew can be. As the title suggests, "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" is a mockumentary. It covers every character, reaching something deeper inside them, not only for laughs, but also for character development and drama. What makes it even better is that Abed is directing, which makes it somewhat realistic in context of the show.

Annie, after receiving the tiara, thinks the message is that she shouldn't be an elitist; Britta realizes she's terrible with money; Shirley sees that her fear of the group talking bad about her is overblown; Jeff becomes angry about her father after bottling feelings for so long; Troy gets to meet his hero, LeVar Burton, aka Geordi/Reading Rainbow guy, but is so amazed and so worried of disappointing his hero that he spend the entire episode in a state of shock, eyes wide open and completely speechless.

The downside to the episode is Pierce and his behavior. Once again, I'm waffling on Pierce. His pathetic state at the end of the last episode and beginning of this episode would indicate that Pierce might come around and I said last week I was mistaken for ragging on Pierce's increasingly hostile portrayal. But his whole plan during the episode to play a trick on Jeff, and while it does put Jeff in a place to contemplate his father, what Pierce did is still crummy by any measure. So what now? Will Pierce be the eternal jackass of the group who lingers for no reason other than to antagonize people? Community is too good of a show for that to happen--or so I think. For now, I remain cautiously optimistic that he will change eventually, preferably by season's end.

Score: 9.1/10

Review - Criminal Minds Season 6 Episode 15 Today I Do

There's not much to say about "Today I Do." The unsub is an insane person who thinks she's helping people by tying them tie and handling their every need. And she's not particularly scary--just batshit crazy in a non-threatening kind of way up until the end.

One of Emily's former colleagues unexpectedly dies, and we're getting a better picture of what happened. It seems like Emily was undercover and using a different name, got the guy from the end of last week's episode arrested, and then faked her death. But with her colleagues exposed, she's in danger.

Score: 8.3/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 2/16/11

Fox won with American Idol (8.2).

CBS was second with Survivor (3.2), Criminal Minds (3.2), and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (3.3). Despite the lower than normal numbers for Survivor and CM, Suspect Behavior started fairly strong.

ABC was third with The Middle (2.3), Better With You (1.8), Modern Family (4.3), Mr. Sunshine (2.6), and Off The Map (1.5). Tough night for ABC, with everything down.

NBC was last with Minute To Win It (1.0) and Law & Order: SVU (2.2).

Review - Justified Season 2 Episode 2 The Life Inside

"The Life Inside" is largely a standalone episode about a pregnant inmate who escapes from custody. Raylan and Tim track down her and her captors, who actually want to kill her. The investigation isn't too complex, but the figures involved with her escape have enough meat that it turns out to be fairly interesting.

Like last season, Boyd is up to something, with his bloodied face and activities in the mine, but we don't know exactly what. Apparently, he's befuddled Ava into letting him stay with her, which might just be Ava being needy again. Regardless of Boyd's intentions, I'm sure viewers are very curious about him.

Mags continues to be frightening and possibly pure evil. Without proper context, she looks like a benevolent woman, but she's a hardcore killer talking to her victim's daughter. There's a lot less ambiguity from our perspective compared to Boyd from last season when he was all religious.

Is Winona pregnant? That would be a good reason why Raylan is staying, and also why he's cautious about his next move.

Score: 9.1/10

Review - Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior Season 1 Episode 1 Two of a Kind

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior is perhaps the most pointless spin-off in the history of spin-offs. Aside from cast (and there is even one overlap) and the team headquarters which is only shown once, the show is exactly the same as the original: In this twisted version of America, the craziest bad guys lurk around corners to commit crimes and only an elite team of FBI agents can profile them and eventually stop them. The location of each episode is no different than the original since the teams travel around the country. The methods of investigating are no different either, with a bit of profiling and computer magic. CBS wants to rake in the dough, so the show is here to stay, assuming it gets good ratings, which it probably will.

But that's not to say Suspect Behavior is a bad show. To be sure, it's passable as a crime procedural and would be fine to watch (if you don't have FX to watch Justified). Forest Whitaker is obviously in a role below his usual billing, so it's a treat to see a procedural with someone if his caliber, and he doesn't disappoint.

The main problem with "Two of a Kind" is the plot. The investigating takes wild leaps of logic towards the ending, and doesn't have the more methodical breakdown we'd expect on the original. It's interesting that for a pilot, the writers didn't make it an ultra-violent, sexual deviancy crime, but rather a melancholy crime that doesn't have the kick to the gut. We'll see what the writers do in the future to make the show different, but for now, I'm not seeing it.

Score: 8.0/10

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review - Modern Family Season 2 Episode 15 Princess Party

Nearly two-thirds of the way through Modern Family's second season, and consensus on the internet, from both critics and fans, is that the second season simply isn't as good as the first season. While the ratings have increased and the show continues to grab awards everywhere, you can see grumblings all over the internet. The large majority of criticism is fair (basically anything not, "This show sucks!!"). This season hasn't had the standout episode, and most episodes are based on run-of-the-mill misunderstandings. The writers used to be a spin on typical sitcom tropes, but now a lot of the plots are typical sitcom tropes.

"Princess Party" isn't spectacular, but it presents a typical sitcom trope--the return of an ex--with a couple unexpected twists. Claire's mother, Dede, brings Claire' high school boyfriend, Robbie Sullivan, to dinner and starts a very uncomfortable conversation about how they couldn't start touching each other. If that wasn't bad enough, Claire sees them making out outside.

But the situation is saved, at least partially, during Lily's birthday party, where Dede explains to Jay why she had to act this way. Mitchell and Cam teased us with the possibility of Fizbo's return, and we do get him to some extent--a tortured British version--but the real Fizbo is still out there, ready to return and shock us once again.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Mr. Sunshine Season 1 Episode 2 Employee of the Year

After two episodes of Mr. Sunshine, I'm not exactly sure what to expect from the show. The pilot focuses on Ben wanting to be a better person after Alice says she wants to be with Alonzo, and has a flimsy plot. The development for Ben is random, especially since we don't see him being too mean before his change.

"Employee of the Year," however, ignores Alice or his goal of becoming a better person so he can be with her. Rather, it focuses on Ben the employee, the one sane person among many crazies. Instead of dwelling on Ben's supposed character development, we see him operate as the straight man, running around the place to save the concert while everyone else dwells on becoming employee of the year.

Similarly, I like the use of Alice and Alonzo as two wacky characters instead of romantic partner and romantic rival, respectively. They're not stupid like Roman, but they don't exactly care about doing their jobs either, so it was fun seeing them compete against each other.

Score: 8.7/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 2/15/11

Fox won with Glee (4.2), Raising Hope (2.2), and Traffic Light (1.4). We can pretty much see what will happen to Traffic Light (hint: not renewal).

CBS was second with NCIS (3.6), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.3), and The Good Wife (2.0). Despite NCIS being down quite a bit, NCISL LA held up well. The Good Wife continues to brush against series lows.

NBC was third with The Biggest Loser (2.7) and Parenthood (1.9).

ABC was last with No Ordinary Family (1.5), V (1.9), and Detroit 1-8-7 (1.2). V continues to hold up well. It's down from last season, but stable--maybe enough for renewal.

Review - Southland Season 2 Episode 7 Sideways

 The detectives are on the sidelines in "Sideways," so the bulk of the plot comes from the street cops, bolstered in the episode by Chickie and Dewey. There's lots of fun stuff in the episode--the lunch discussion, Cooper dragging the trailer onto the street--before Dewey kills a pedestrian during a pursuit. He just can't get a break, but who can?

Russell tells Lydia he sold the photos for $500K (damn!!), and not only that, tries to justify his actions. Lydia is flabbergasted, as she should be, and doesn't do anything immediately. If I were her, I'd turn him in as soon as possible, but is Lydia willing to burn all bridges between them if bridges still exist?

Sammy had a lot on his plate this week, having to pick Nate's killer from a lineup. He picks the wrong one, though, and is nearly inconsolable--until he finds himself crying in Tammi's arms. And Sammy also finds himself in a weird place with Mariella, Nate's widow. In a way, Sammy, through no fault of his own, has replaced Nate, which is a little creepy.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Lights Out Season 1 Episode 6 Combinations

Going back to the idea I proposed a week or two ago, Lights is headed down one path and refuses to see other facts. The final scene of "Combination," Lights adjusting his line of sight to see one image instead of two, after ignoring the problem for most of the episode, is how Lights envisions he'll solve his problems. Eventually, all his problems will line up and just like that they'll be taken care of.

As far as action goes, Lights Out hasn't had that many fights, and I'm guessing certain people are disappointed. On the other hand, I think it's fascinating to watch all the machinations behind the scene. Even though I expected a degree of violence and illegal behavior (especially after the beating at the end of the pilot), I'm fine where Lights Out is through six episodes.

I've mostly been positive about Theresa, but from my perspective, she was unpleasant in the episode. I can understand why she doesn't want her husband to fight, but how about some leeway. They have no money and Lights will get plenty of money for the fight, further financing her

Score: 8.8/10

Review - The Good Wife Season 2 Episode 14 Net Worth

An episode like "Net Worth" is very tricky. The main character, Alicia, is only tangentially involved in the legal case, because she's all the way in Oregon helping her brother move and can only communicate through telephone. Also, the case is based on the movie Social Network, which is actually referenced in the episode (somehow, in this bizarre The Good Wife-universe, movies about programmers are popular enough that two are made around the same time), and absolutely skewers screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (who is an unlikable person in my opinion). There has to be a balance between maintaining current characters and plots, and still providing biting social commentary on a real life person.

For the most part, the episode does its job, showing how much of a loser the writer is and how he blatantly makes things up because the facts somehow fit the "truth" of a person. While bashing Aaron Sorkin, the writers also get to show how cool Mark Zuckerberg. The moral of the story: Don't make up things about real people but it's okay to refer to real person and paint them in a negative light.

When will the Will and Alicia drama end? Owen pushes Alicia to ask about the missed call (which, if you remember, was deleted by Eli), and she does exactly that. However, Will lies, telling her it was right for her to be back with Peter. And so, the plot rolls along with no end in sight.

In a very saucy scene between Kalinda and Blake, we finally learn the details about Bond and his plan to have Lockart Gardner help MS13 and their expanding operation in Chicago. What's great about Kalinda and Blake is that it's not romantic and not necessarily sexual. Their relationship is charged, always hanging on knife's edge, and we just don't know what will happen next.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - V (2009) Season 2 Episode 6 Seige

The longer V goes on, the more I think the writers have no plan whatsoever. A science fiction show needs a  gameplan, a clear idea of where everything is going. If you're going to create a show about invading aliens and resistance members, you need to know where things are going, and not just vague ideas, but a real framework for each character and future arcs.

We see that the writers have a good grasp on general ideas, with the Visitors ingratiating and implanting themselves into human culture, Anna's mother trapped in the dungeon, and the search for the human soul. These are good ideas--great, in fact--for any show. The details inside each episode, however, are flimsy and that's where the real weakness lies. The writers want to get on with the big ideas and often miss key components like character and plot

What the writers do with Hobbes this week is an egregious example of using a character just so the next phase of ideas can begin. Hobbes was introduced in the first season and has stuck around since then. In "Seige," he follows the Visitor's order and betrays the cause he's been fighting for. Why? For a woman the writers pull out of thin air. Logically, making a character do something extreme (aside from a 24-style mole reveal) requires ongoing character development, building up characters through backstory or memorable events. Hobbes, though, hasn't been developed at all; we know next to nothing about him except that he was a wanted mercenary, and his role in the Fifth Column hasn't exactly been distinguished (although we can say that about pretty much everyone).We can understand why Ryan would flip, seeing him in anguish over his baby several times, but why would Hobbes flip after hearing this woman's voice for a second? Since when was he this susceptible to manipulation? Where is his paranoid nature?

The positive outcome of this silliness is that Joe dies (not the dying part, but the consequence), which inflames Erica to take the fight to Erica. We'll likely see Erica struggle to find the line of acceptable behavior, but in the process, Hobbes has been diminished into nothing more than a tool to jumpstart the plot.

The stuff with Diana is getting really, really bad. The writers have absolutely no idea what to do with her. They got Jane Badler, then realize they didn't know what to do with her, so they stuck her in this dark hole to do nothing.

SLAP!!! Now all Tyler needs is full-on beating.

Score: 7.5/10

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review - Glee Season 2 Episode 13 Comeback

"Comeback" is an example of when the writers throw a bunch of stuff into an episode. There's Rachel's transition from wannabe social trendsetter to song writer, Sue's weird journey, Sam and Quinn drama, more of Puck chasing Lauren, and Justin Bieber. And in the end, there's no resolution that draws anything to a close.

The first half of the episode "Comeback" is a parody of the Justin Bieber phenomenon, girls swooning over a dorky haircut and generic pop songs for no apparent reason. Sure, it's out of character for most of the girls to go wild for Bieber, but isn't that what happens in real life? Personally, I got a kick out of it, and had to contain myself from bursting out in laughter during "Baby."

I know lots of people hate him and will be automatically turned off by anything related to him, so here's what I think: Justin Bieber is a product of genius marketing and perfect timing, when the internet can turn a nobody into a somebody. He's not particularly talented, good looking, or anything at all. He's definitely overrated by his fans, but he's not terrible either. If Glee wants to use his image and music, that's fine. Now that I think of it, we should be thankful the episode wasn't Justin Bieber exclusive as Glee has gone way, waaay overboard in the past.

Somehow, Sue is a part-coach for Oral Intensity now. Yep, with no experience heading a glee club, she's partially in charge of a team that is supposedly really good. But, hey, at least it makes more sense than Will and Sue randomly showing up at the hospital to sing to kids with cancer with zero follow-up.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - NCIS Season 8 Episode 15 Defiance

Now that's how to do an opening in medias res! Quick, shocking, and not entirely explainable. Unfortunately, the initial excitement over what could happen in the episode boils into a pretty typical plot about the daughter staging her own kidnapping. Not helping at all, loose pieces of dialogue about her friend and professor make little sense.

Then there's Vance, who seems to be angry at the world, yelling at Gibbs and the other team members. After the case is solved, he remains miffed, so something isn't right with him.

Ziva has a very interesting conversation with McGee regarding the team staying together. As they both know, Tony's been on the team forever, even declining another post, and they've also been on the team for several years. Does Ziva's worry indicate the team breaking up in the future? And if they do, how will this be different than the previous times?

Score: 8.6/10

Review - House Season 7 Episode 12 You Must Remember This

"You Must Remember This" is one of those unobtrusive episodes of television, without a polarizing subject matter or anything too annoying. The plot about two sisters, one of whom remembers everyone, is fine but nothing special. The subplots have some charm, but aren't outrageously funny.

House pokes around to get Wilson out there after breaking up with Sam (which was totally random), and succeeds until Wilson backs out. Well, he's got the cat.

Foreman and Taub living together... yeah, I'll hold judgment for now. Individually, they might not be interesting or worthy of the audience caring for them, but together there may be a synergy that makes them awesome characters. Or they can much, much worse.

Score: 8.6/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 2/14/11

CBS won with How I Met Your Mother (3.7), Mad Love (3.0), Two and a Half Men (4.2), Mike & Molly (3.8), and Hawaii Five-0 (2.8). OK premiere for Mad Love only, considering it did worse than Rules of Engagement did most of the time.

ABC was second with The Bachelor (2.9) and Castle (2.2).

Fox was third with House (3.4) and The Chicago Code (2.0). Wow, huge drop for House and The Chicago Code dropped a well, putting it in serious danger.

NBC was last with Chuck (1.7), The Cape (1.2), Harry’s Law (1.7).

Review - Hawaii Five-0 Season 1 Episode 17 Powa Maka Moana

I was thinking after watching "Powa Maka Moana" about expectations, what prior knowledge you bring in. For example, if you had no clue who Nick Lachey was, would you expect him to return later as a kidnapper? Probably not. If you hadn't watched Hawaii Five-0 before, would you think think both brazen kidnapping and McGarrett's use of the grenade was absurd? Probably.

Watching Hawaii Five-0 each week, I have a pretty good idea of what's going to come. The episode starts with a crime that would normally be the top headline for national news, and the team does their investigating, which consists of unorthodox methods, at times over the top behavior. After a while, you get acclimated to the beats of the show, and "Powa Maka Moana" begins to look normal in comparison to the rest of the show.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Castle Season 3 Episode 15 The Final Nail

"The Final Nail" Castle and Beckett directly at odds with each other and allows us to see the understanding between them. One of Castle's old friends, Damien Westlake, from boarding school who got Castle into writing--basically starting Castle's multi-million dollar career--is suspected of murder. Castle has this idealized version of him in his head, refusing to believe Westlake could commit murder. Beckett, knowing that Castle loves and creates stories, shatters this vision, saying that Castle has created this narrative in his mind and has to see the truth. In the end, neither are entirely correct, as Westlake was not the murderer for this specific case, but he is a bad guy, revealed to have had his father killed.

While Stana Katic doesn't exactly have the range of Jennifer Beals, who delivered an incredible speech/rant in last night's episode of The Chicago Code, she does an admirable job when she confronts Castle and you could really feel the heat in the room. Afterwards, everything is fine and they go out for a drink, a friendly but not romantic gesture, which looks like the status quo for a while longer.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - The Cape Season 1 Episode 7 The Lich (Part 1)

I have this idea that The Cape is trying to assemble the most insane group of villains in the history of television, topping all sci-fi aliens or fantasy creatures. The outside world of The Cape seems fairly normal, with industrialized cities and the like, but there's so much wackiness on the inside that you have to treat the show as a comedy. This week, the big bad is the Lich, a fearsome thing lurking in the darkness, only drawing whispers under people's breath. And if you think this is an exaggeration, the characters act like 12th century villagers afraid monsters--really!

Instead of an all-out fury, "Part 1" is actually contained, with very normal procedural elements and little fights, until the final twist in the end where Orwell gets captured by the Lich.

The stuff with Dana this week wasn't just useless, but downright laughable. Was I flirting?!?!? NO!!!!!!!

Score: 8.0/10

Monday, February 14, 2011

Review - The Chicago Code Season 1 Episode 2 Hog Butcher

While "Hog Butcher" does a fair amount of recapping, it also uses the voiceovers to expand the characters. We see and hear Isaac's enthusiasm for the police, Teresa helping Antonio be an officer, and Caleb's odd idea that Jarek will help his career.

But it's not just the voiceovers which help with the characters. As the hunt for Antonio's killer goes on, there are several other dynamics going on. Isaac has an extreme dedication to Vonda, Jarek and Teresa butt heads over methods, among many interactions in the episode. The best part is that these developments always occur when something is happening. Everything moves together and the episode keeps going as the character talk, unlike Blue Bloods, which often slows to a standstill so characters can talk.

The shooter turns out to be one of Don's younger friends who he spoke to about Teresa's actions. And in one move, the writers get rid of the Don problem and completely pull back on Gibbons. Gibbons is assuredly dirty, but not a cop killer. So where does this leave us? Without the menace that Gibbons is willing to shoot cops, The Chicago Code loses that extra bit of power that could come around every corner. I'm not sure I like this development, but there's still room to grow.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Mad Love Season 1 Episode 1 Fireworks

Just like my review for Traffic Light, I'll start with my initial thought, "Again?" It's like all the networks were trying to one-up each other this season with the next bunch of TV friends and couples. ABC has Better With You, NBC has Perfect Couples, Fox has Traffic Light, and now CBS has Mad Love. The thing is, none of the four are particularly different from each other and the first three have gotten average to poor ratings. That leaves Mad Love as the only one that could break out, and while it's unlikely, it should get decent ratings.

Airing after How I Met Your Mother, Mad Love begins and ends with a voice-over and the main character even looks like HIMYM's Josh Raydor (so much so that I actually did a double take). The difference in premise is that the narration is done by Tyler Labine's character Larry Munsch, the silly, overweight sidekick, and that the main characters, Kate (Sarah Chalke) and Ben (Jason Biggs), don't seem that important. While Kate and Ben are perfectly happy by the end of the episode and have no conflict, Larry and Connie (Judy Greer) continue to squabble and that's the sticking point of the show.

I like how the sidekicks are getting the spotlight for once (though one could argue that the stereotypical sidekicks are in fact the main characters), and "Fireworks" had decent jokes, but it's been done before to death, not just in this season but plenty of times before.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - Chuck Season 4 Episode 15 Chuck Versus the Cat Squad

Often times Chuck can be stupid, from predictable plots to plots holes to characters being dumb (yeah, I know starting a reviewing like that isn't going to score me points with anyone). But Chuck can also be simultaneously the funnest show on television, negating an ill-will towards an episode. Now, that doesn't happen all the time, and it has been happening with decreasing frequency the past few seasons, but "Chuck Versus the Cat Squad" is definitely one of those episodes.

Sarah in a Charlie's Angel squad with Carina and two other girls? Awesome start. From there the episode takes off, with passable relationship drama, an obvious mole, a cat fight, and Chuck actually fashioning a weapon before the Intersect kicks in. Was the episode predictable? Yes. Was the episode lots of fun? Yes.

In its fourth season, Chuck doesn't have those arcs which used to be interesting and meaningful, but it is still a fun show with plenty of qualities to like, and if I'm thoroughly entertained by the end of the episode, it's a job well done.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 6 Episode 16 Desperation Day

Two-thirds through the season, How I Met Your Mother hasn't alleviated fears that the Mother won't be revealed for a while longer and I'm very wary of this blossoming relationship with Zoey. But it has managed the current arc effectively, starting with the devastating news of Marshall's father's death. There have been fantastic scenes for Marshall strewn across each episode, and you can't help but feel for him. The impact of a parent dying is always huge, and the writers acknowledge this with several episodes with Marshall not yet back into normal routine.

The day before Valentine's Day is Desperation Day, says Barney, and there is desperation in the air, even for those in relationships. Marshall is holed up at his mother's house, trying to cling on his childhood and father. Ted also runs off to Minnesota after freaking out over Valentine's Day plans. Eventually, they realize they have responsibilities and head back home to face whatever is there. Marshall seems to be over this hump and Ted is now firmly in a relationship with Zoey.

Providing the humor is Barney and Robin, who spend their time at the bar talking about Valentine's Day. An interesting development for Barney is Nora, whom Barney has a real date with.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Shameless (US) Season 1 Episode 6 Killer Carl

I really like "Killer Carl" for the hilarious principal and his off-the-cuff remarks, but the episode manages to encapsulate the show very well. With Carl needing a serious adjustment, Frank is nowhere to be seen--except he's with Karen while Steve salvages the situation. Frank is a deadbeat loser who doesn't care about his family, and as Fiona and the rest of them gather together on one side and Frank and Karen on the other, both parties seem to understand.

Similarly, the episode does a good job showing how bad, or even illegal, actions might not be too bad. Lip helps everyone cheat on the SAT and write papers, but it's a good use of intelligence and he gets good money to support his family. And Carl smacking the football players leg? Well, he had it coming.

The episode also solidifies the relationship of Fiona and Steve, with Steve succinctly breaking down exactly why Fiona is scared of relying on him. She doesn't want to rely on him because she's been reliant on herself all her life. And if she relies on him too much, believing that Steve will always be there, one day Steve may not be there just like her mother and father. I can definitely buy that explanation.

While the Gallaghers are trying their best to survive, some other characters need a serious case of manning up. Could Kash become more pathetic? First, he's committing statutory rape and now we see him unwilling to stop a shoplifter who simply walks into the store, puts what he wants in a box, and walks out. And Sheila continues to be stuck in her house, unable to even be normal in a virtual setting. Unless these characters are supposed to contrast with the Gallaghers, I don't see why they are given such prominent roles and they haven't shown signs of changing yet.

Score: 8.8/10

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Review - Big Love Season 5 Episode 5 The Special Relationship

Since the beginning of Big Love, Barb hasn't been entirely happy about her situation, sharing her husband with two other women and various other events that occurred which have shaken her beliefs, although it's never been too explicit. However, she has stuck through it all, and reinforced her belief in plural marriage. But this season, with the political turmoil, there is sea change based on her interpretation of the scripture. Without reading the Book of Mormon, all this talk about the priesthood holder goes over my head and I don't care much about it frankly, except that it puts Barb directly at odds with Bill and the rest of the family. Fundamentally, it is about freedom for women--not needing a man to be priesthood holder.

Complicating matters, Bill asks her for a divorce so he can marry Nicki and adopt Cara Lynn. Barb, thinking that legal marriage is important, initially refuses and Bill realizes he shouldn't be asking her this. But as the episode progresses and Barb remembers her college days, the moment comes and Barb states that they need to get divorced. So is this a legal divorce only or a spiritually one as well? Certainly, I can imagine an ending of Big Love where Bill and Barb are separated, but I can also imagine one where the family sticks together.

Alby once again shows how twisted he is, sending out Verlan to hurt Don. By now, halfway through the final season, Alby hasn't shown any signs that he could come around, not even signs of humanity, so there will probably be a showdown in the near future.

I hoped the reveal of Lois with dementia would get rid of her character permanently, but she's sticking around a while longer. The main problem with the story is that it's unrelated to everything else, and it's just a pain to watch Lois yell about something or another.

What's going on with Margene? From what I can tell, this Golgi thing is a pyramid scheme, but everyone, including business-savvy Bill, seems fine with it.

There's also politics in the episode in which Bill has to be stubborn and unrelenting. Both Barnes and leaders from the LDS church ask him to stop being so brazen about his beliefs, in somewhat insulting fashion, but in the case of Barnes, Bill will actually get quite a bit in return, support for Safety Net. Unfortunately, Bill would rather fight than take a deal, so he'll have to try another way.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Episodes Season 1 Episode Six

With only two episodes left, Episodes amped up the conflicts a little bit more before unleashing the final conflict that will surely reverberate in the season finale. As the shooting of the pilot draws to a near, the Lincolns' marriage falls apart, Beverly moving out due to presumptions she makes about Morning. In the meantime, Beverly openly admits that Pucks! is bad while Merc is as oblivious as ever.

Up until now, neither Sean nor Beverly has done anything too improper. Beverly sleeping with Matt, though, is over the line and makes Beverly look awful. The build-up to this is perfect. We saw tension between Matt and Beverly throughout the season, so it wasn't entirely unexpected, and yet it wasn't expected either.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Nikita Season 1 Episode 14 The Next Seduction

Seeing the effects of the CW's ironclad will to get 18-34 female viewers, I'm worried about where Nikita is headed. If Nikita is renewed, we'll probably have to put up with this watered-down version forever. Sadly, the CW just isn't a network conducive to pure ass kicking and the executives realized that after the first half of the season performed below expectations, which is why they made all the changes.

"The Next Seduction" is primarily about relationships, and the spy stuff gets shuffled in there as secondary point, even thought there are good twists in there. Basically, the end result of the episode is that Nikita kisses Ryan and Alex kisses Nathan. Now, the big question is, will the writers juggle the relationships and spy world adequately?

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Criminal Minds Season 6 Episode 14 Sense Memory

Criminal Minds has a tendency to overexaggerate things to the point where it detracts from the episode. Why can't we see what the bad guy is doing without flashing lights or all those other gimmicks? To be sure, that's my  reaction after watching how Justified follows bad guys around for an extended period of time. For once, I'd like to see a criminal do his thing with little background music or too many fast cuts from shot to shot.

Emily has this big new story waiting for her, which is great, but the flashback we see makes no sense based on what we know of her character. In the flashback, we see Emily doing gardening in a foreign country before being arrested. Then, this other guy gets arrested and calls someone else warning about spy agencies. Huh?

And about Reid's headaches...

Score: 8.5/10

Preview of Week 2/13/10 - 2/19/10

Mad Love - CBS, Monday, February 14, 8:30pm ET

Another sitcom about love? Well, at least Sarah Chalke is back on television.

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior - CBS, Wednesday, February 16, 10:00pm ET

When the backdoor pilot aired last year, I was not impressed by the new team. And why does there have to be a new Criminal Minds, when the two teams will be doing the same thing every week, traveling around the country to profile criminals? CBS's others spin-offs are in different locations which allows for some differentiation.

Review - Bones Season 6 Episode 13 The Daredevil in the Mold

We all knew Hannah would go eventually and that episode is "The Daredevil in the Mold." The way in which this is done, however, is as clumsy as could be. Everything is going fine, Booth buys a big diamond ring, but when he proposes, Hannah says no. That's fine, but the explanation is awful. Hannah says she's not the marrying type, which I can understand, given her penchant for dangerous assignments and free spirit. When Booth is left there stunned, she explains further, saying she's told him this many times before. Really? When did she tell him this very, very important piece of information before? This is the first time I'm hearing of this, and apparently Booth never heard her all those times she told him. Afterwards, Booth throws the expensive ring into the pond, which might have been more stupid than Hannah's explanation.

Anyway, there's a wonderful scene following that disaster with Booth drinking at the bar before Brennan joins him. Booth is in a bad place right now, and there's lots of things the writers can do. Unfortunately, their track record leaves me with little confidence.

Considering this is a "Hannah episode," "The Daredevil in the Mold" has a lot of forensics work and Fisher especially gets lots to do, showing that he's trying hard not to be doom and gloom all the time.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Fairly Legal Season 1 Episode 4 Bo Me Once

The one thing I really like about Fairly Legal is its manic energy. Despite the average plots and characters being too crazy at times, the show keeps charging forward without stopping. It moves so fast from scene to scene, with new wrenches thrown in at all times, that you don't have time to dwell on whatever misgivings you may have. Yeah, you may go back and realize how dumb certain parts were, but you did get through the hour thinking how fun the show is.

"Bo Me Once" deviates outside the norm by resolving the initial mediation quickly, before it turns into Kate standing up again a bully. Because there isn't much to that, ending with the guy getting arrested, both Lauren and Justin get storylines of their own. Since this is early in the show, I'm curious how the writers will proceed. Will the majority of the episodes be about Kate or about Kate, Lauren, and Justin?

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Blue Bloods Season 1 Episode 14 My Funny Valentine

I'm reaching the point where I don't want to review Blue Bloods. Simply put, there's little to say. The writers constantly use the dinner table as a crutch for further conversations, never deviating from the set structure. This leads to the usual complaints how the writers can't think of better ways for the family members to speak, but the writers continue to have the dinner table talk every week. This week, the family gathers for the umpteenth time and talk about Valentine's Day. There's a good scene between Frank and Nicky towards the end, but that's after the frustrating dinner.

There are the crimes which are never interesting or innovative. This week, there's a case about a kidnapped girl who turns out to have orchestrated it herself to get her parents to stop fighting (yeah...). We've seen this happen on other television shows many times and it's just boring.

Finally, the moral implications of the show are stupid. The Reagans are always right. Always. Not matter the torture or various questionable activites, the Reagans are always the big heroes in the end. They can question the morality of certain actions, but never the moraility of people. Why? And talk about an abuse of power. Frank uses his position to save the cleaner's son. Regardless of innocence or guilt, Frank stepped across the line by personally meeting the detective and using selective words. If you ask me, he acts like a mob boss in this scenario, suggesting but not ordering explicitly. How is Frank portrayed, however? He's a righteous hero, of course!

Score: 7.6/10
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