Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review - The Mentalist Season 3 Episode 18 The Red Mile

"The Red Mile" has a relatively simple cased, solved relatively early in the episode by Jane and his usual tricks. The suspect list isn't too extensive, and, diving into hedge funds, alien abductions, and skin, there is only a cursory look at each. However, there is plenty of solid material in the background for the episode to stay fresh.

The final scene can be approached from many different angles and I still don't know how I feel about it. It's touching that Jane is willing to sit there while Dr. Steiner kills himself, but there is something inherently disturbing about that from my perspective. I don't know if I'd be willing to be right there as someone kills himself even if he was sure to die in the near future. But Jane is one to look past these moral quandaries and embrace the path others may not take, and he certainly makes that clear when it comes to dealing with Red John.

In the big shootout, O'Laughlin doesn't jump to Van Pelt's rescue, forcing Rigsby to take a risky action to save her. So what's his deal? Could he just have frozen up (which is understandable) or does he have a more sinister motive (which there is little evidence for)? In any case, Rigsby keeps it to himself and actually helps Van Pelt with the wedding.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 3 Episode 19 The Zarnecki Equation

For all the flack The Big Bang Theory gets for its stale construction of episodes (certain characters always being pathetic, Sheldon going out of control etc), at least there is some character development. It's not the priority of the show or probably even the fifth, but it's there and the writers made sure to sneak it in to quite a few episodes this season.

Ultimately, Penny with get back with Leonard (and if they don't, it'll be really stupid), and we're starting to see more and more signs. Aside from the fact that Leonard to a loser who likes Priya because she's hot, Priya is losing interest in Leonard, not knowing about his games and talking to her ex-boyfriend. And Penny is still reliable, helping Sheldon get his game items back. (On that note, how exactly did Sheldon lose the items if most high-level items in WOW are soulbound? Surely he should have gotten his account back after contcting Blizzard.)

The rest of the episode is standard stuff, Sheldon freaking out about the loss of seemingly trivial online goods and the girls teaming against Priya.

Score: 8.3/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 3/30/11

FOX won with American Idol (7.7).

CBS was second with Survivor (3.1), Criminal Minds (3.5), and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2.3). Even with a new Criminal Minds, Suspect Behavior can't keep up.

NBC was third with Minute To Win It (1.2), a repeat of Law & Order: SVU (1.1), and Law & Order: SVU (2.5).

ABC was last with repeats of The Middle (1.4, 1.5), Modern Family (2.1), and new episodes of Mr. Sunshine (1.4) and Off The Map (1.3). Mr. Sunshine and Off The Map are in really hot water.

Review - Justified Season 2 Episode 8 The Spoil

As expected, Justified was renewed a few days ago. This isn't a renewal that really got my attention since there was no way FX would cancel the show with the ratings and the year its had, but it's still good to know in the back of my mind that there will be a third season to follow what is shaping up to be a great second season.

We're now past the midway point of the season, and "The Spoil" beings the climb to the top. After setting the table in the beginning of the season, every part of the show is heating. Continuing from last week, Raylan protects the mining company executive who flirts with him the whole time, and ends up defending her from the angry plaintiffs from last week. Since the company still has work to be done, it'll be interesting to see if Raylan sleeps with her or stays faithful to Winona.

At the same time, the Bennetts are staking their claim to Harlan, using whatever means possible to keep the mining company out of Harlan, including attacking Boyd. Luckily Ava is there and even shoots Coover's animal, which Coover is really upset about. Speaking of Coover, we really see the vicious side of him when he pounds Raylan at the store. Any sympathy for his hand getting smashed is gone. But aside from her strongarm tactics, Mags proves to be an amazing orator, having great presence and rhetorical abilities to sway the crowd away from Carol.

Back at home, Raylan assumes that Art knows about the stolen money and Wionna remains very worried. We don't see what Art does or wants to do yet, but his inaction would indicate an unwillingness to turn them in.

Score: 9.3/10

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review - Criminal Minds Season 6 Episode 19 With Friends Like These...

Prentiss is gone for now, so we'll be seeing more of Seaver, who graduates from the academy. At the very least, her title as cadet won't be a constant reminder that she doesn't belong on the team, and, well, we just have to roll with if we ever want to watch the show in peace.

While there is a fair amount of Seaver, the episode belongs to Reid's whose psychological problems have been cropping up lately. The unsub is killing people left and right, stabbing them many times, and the root cause, manifested in hallucinations, may be from schizophrenia, which troubles Reid greatly. The final few minutes do a good job of illuminating the situation, as Reid sleeps peacefully and Ben is shown to have had hallucinations as a child, so schizophrenia was not the only reason for his murderous spree.

Score: 8.7/10

I wanted to address something I've read several times on the internet, and yes, it's crazy, but apparently some people (a very small number of people, but the statement is explosive) think this way. Their conclusion, based off the departure of Prentiss and JJ, is that Criminal Minds will implode and be canceled. Ratings for CM are as solid as ever, and I can guarantee my life that there are not millions of viewers who will stop watching just because a few characters departed. It's time to get over the petty anger and start using reason.

Review - Mr. Sunshine Season 1 Episode 8 The Assistant

Each week, my complaints about Alice and Alonzo are less insistent, because the writers are gradually mixing them with the other character. This week, Alice actually has a couple scenes with Roman. It's not perfect, though, since I can't even remember the last time Alice and Alonzo did something meaningful with Crystal.

Like last week's episode, "The Assistant" brings up the relationship issues which had all but disappeared since the pilot. Ben inadvertently receives an email from Alice intended for Roman (I don't know the writers' intent, but it was super obvious from the beginning), leading him to believe Alice still has feelings for him. In response, Ben has Roman become Alice's assistant to spy on her and he learns that she's unhappy about Alonzo hanging out with his ex-wife. Eventually, all is well. Alice forgives Ben for prying, keeps Roman as her assistant, and most importantly, finds a good conclusion for her problem with Alonzo.

Crystal's plot was pretty funny, but largely the same as usual, Crystal being insane with a touch of sweet sincerity behind it. As the writers develop the other characters, I'd also want to see Crystal become more than she currently is.

Score: 8.7/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 3/29/11

ABC won with Dancing with the Stars recap (2.8), Dancing with the Stars (4.3), and Body Of Proof (3.1). Very impressive debut for Body of Proof.

CBS was second with NCIS (3.9), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.5), The Good Wife (1.9). TGW dips below 2.0. Ouch!

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

FOX was last with repeats of Glee (1.4), Raising Hope (1.3), and a new episode of Traffic Light (1.1).

Review - Body of Proof Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

By now procedurals aren't special, and Body of Proof is no different: there is a group of people who solve crimes using autopsies as the focal point. Even the main character, Dr. Megan Hunt, is a near mix of the titular characters of House and Bones, two shows which used to be very good (as far as procedurals go). She pays close attention to detail and makes incredible deductions, drawing from House; she is drawn to dead bodies and their ability to communicate facts, drawing from Bones; and her willingness to speak out at inappropriate times is drawn from both. But this is a formula that works, especially with someone as good as Dana Delany who manages the emotional and fun scenes well.

As far as the rest goes, we'll have to wait to see if it develops. The conflicts with the detectives and chief medical examiner, and the male partner to bounce ideas off are are very generic. Still, Megan's engaging backstory should be enough until the rest jells.

Score: 8.4/10

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review - Lights Out Season 1 Episode 12 Sucker Punch

Like everyone else, I was saddened last week to hear that Lights Out was canceled. Admittedly, I was more bummed when Terriers was canceled, but it still hurts when  complex television  (relative to most shows) is canceled.

"Sucker Punch" disappointed me, in part because it is the penultimate episode of the series. Out of nowhere, Lights's mother, who is barely mentioned, shows up and becomes the focus of the episode. It's good for the most part, allowing Lights to draw to line between helping family and knowing a lost cause, but it's just not material suited for the second to last episode of the series. And yes, I know the episode was made before the cancellation; my feelings on the episode largely come from the knowledge that there will only be one more episode after this. (In contrast, the Shameless season finale was quite muted, but it was renewed, so I didn't have that much of a problem.)

There aren't really any shocking twists or cliffhangers going into the final episode. The boxing plot is facilitated by the big players in the background, Barry and, mostly importantly, Brennan. At first the line is heavily in favor of Reynolds, because people think Lights will throw the fight, and Barry is unhappy, wanting to be seen as a clean promoter. Brennan is somehow involved in all this, getting shot at and then sending an ambulance to Reynolds's house to gin up scare. The result is that Barry gets the odds he wants and Brennan declares he will defeat Barry in the shell game they're playing.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The Good Wife Season 2 Episode 18 Killer Song

After the explosive episode last week, The Good Wife cooled off with "Killer Song," which didn't have that many twists, but kept some tension going throughout the episode. Like the rest of the episodes this season, it is quite effective in weaving together all the different characters and storylines so there aren't large holes from week to week.

This week's case involves a convicted killer who is "better" after 30 years. The crux of the episode is a song he wrote while in jail, detailing a murder but not necessary the murder he was incarcerated for. Initially, Kalinda good evidence linking the song to the murder, but her clouded mind misses a key point, and it falls apart. Eventually, however, the case is blown wide open when the victim's daughter says that the lyrics correspond to the murder of a friend's mothers, and while the murder gets free from the this trial, Cary quickly has him arrested for the next crime.

Up until the Natalie Flores episode, Eli had been mostly a comedic character, the political insider with quick quips and quick solutions. We saw a different, human side to him when he decided to out Natalie. She returns in the episode, and we again see Eli trying to make up for what he did, and helps soften his character, especially after all the "put white people on the website!" business last week.

I'm beginning to wonder whether Kalinda and Peter slept together. Although the hints are as big as they get, neither of them explicitly confirms (the "one night" comment is ambiguous, to an extent) that they slept with each other. Could they be covering up something bigger? Whatever happens, there'll be plenty of unhappy campers. Peter openly and honestly states that he loves Alicia and is fine with Alicia's plan to stay in the apartment, but all of that has to come crashing down soon.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - NCIS Season 8 Episode 19 Tell-All

As fun as NCIS is, I sometimes wish the murders would actually be rooted in dangerous criminal enterprises instead of the familial problems. "Tell-All" begins with the death of two people who read a tell-all book about an operation to nab arms dealers, so we learn the background of the operation, and meet a sociopathic college arms dealer. It's all fine, but the episode churns along at the same speed for most of the episode, until, by deduction, there is one people still not implicated, the female victim's husband.

The episode sets up future tension between Ziva and Tony, with mentions of marriage and EJ, who should be critical in the upcoming weeks. Gibbs and Fornell also have fun with their ex-wife Diane getting remarried--this time to a Homeland Security agent.

Score: 8.5/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 3/28/11

ABC won with Dancing with the Stars (5.2) and Castle (3.2). Another strong outing for Castle.

CBS was second with a repeat of How I Met Your Mother (1.9), Mad Love (2.1), and repeats of Two and a Half Men (2.3), Mike & Molly (1.9), and Hawaii Five-0 (1.6). Mad Love really, really needs new episode as a lead in.

Fox was third with repeats of House (1.6) and The Chicago Code (1.1).

NBC was last with All Together Now: A Celebration of Service (.9), The Event (1.2), and Harry's Law (1.6). The Event and Harry's Law remain stagnant despite being against repeats.

Review - Castle Season 3 Episode 19 Law & Murder

"Law & Murder" is a standard Castle episode--a case with several twists, a strong sense of justice, teamwork, and an Alexis dilemma which ends with her looking like a saint. There's nothing that really sets the episode apart from the pack, but a couple things that stuck out in my mind--Montgomery's involvement in the case and Alexis's line about her friend situation being complicated, a possible precursor to a more substantial plot.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - The Event Season 1 Episode 15 Face Off

"Face Off" has some good moments--the Washington Monument getting obliterated, two buses getting destroyed--but it's all so ridiculous that I wouldn't matter how many landmarks are destroyed. After being a badass the past few weeks, Thomas turns back into a mama's boy and is unceremoniously killed off, the president only sends one attack helicopter after three buses, and the list goes on. Nevertheless, the final confrontation between Sophia and Martinez is getting closer and we many dead lives on both sides, at least there'll be lots of action.

Score: 8.3/10

Monday, March 28, 2011

Review - Stargate Universe Season 2 Episode 14 Hope

After scaling back the magic stones for a good part of the second season, the writers decided to bring back another magical object in full force--the magic chair! Like any self-respecting magical object, the chair is fucking amazing, able to receive both Ginn and Amanda Perry's consciousnesses and allow them to communicate with others. Hell, this chair might just climb out of the script and slap the writers a few times.

No one seems to mind (there are a couple weird looks but zero actions/comments) that Chloe's body is cuddled up to Eli when Ginn is present, cuddled up to Scott when Chloe is present, and cuddled up to Rush when Amanda is there. The writers don't see the dramatic potential in this? Okay, then.

I will admit, though, that I liked the surgery on Volkoff--not the ridiculous TJ-Perry superteam, but how all the scientists plus Greer banded together in a time of need. Following up on a comment from last week, Wray indeed does not show up after "bonding" with Greer last week.

Score: 7.7/10

Review - United States of Tara Season 3 Episode 1 ...youwillnotwin...

It usually takes a while for United States of Tara to start rolling, so "...youwillnotwin..." is expectedly a pretty normal episode, moving the plot just enough so the viewers get an idea of what's coming up. There isn't one super-emotional moment and only one super-crazy moment, but there is lots going with every character.

As far as the major plot points go, Buck finds Bryce, Tara's half-brother, after Neil comes to Charmaine's side, she decides to let him on the couch, Kate has trouble finding a job since everyone can find her sitting on a cake video, and Max and Lionel take one step further, contemplating whether to buy a video camera together. The most shocking moment is when Tara begins writing her paper, goes berserk with 500 WPM of random words, before beginning to cut her wrist. Is this another personality from her college days? What happens next is equally weird, with Buck, Alice, and Shoshanna coming out to help her write the paper (and T does nothing useful).

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Being Human (US) Season 1 Episode 11 Going Dutch

When Being Human began, I read in an interview that the producers have only watched the first season of the British version so their creativity wouldn't be tainted. However, some recent developments have me doubting that narrative, with the vampires getting werewolves to fight and Nora getting pregnant. Are those the logical steps for producers of both versions, or have the American producers been perusing more of the British version?

I really like the expansion of the vampire culture and hierarchy, which is something the British version barely explored in the first season. Needless to say, Bishop's coup was masterfully executed and Mark Pellegrino was great as usual. Rebecca gets Aidan to kill her, and now Aidan stands alone against Bishop, though Sally and Josh will certainly be there.

Sally's plot was very cool this week, resolving the lingering Danny problem by having Sally take action and inhabit the exorcist and making the truth be known.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Mildred Pierce Parts One and Two

Because I actually want some Sundays where I don't stay up late to watch TV and review episodes, I'll be won't be writing much about Mildred Pierce.

I like the pacing (despite complaints that it's slow) and the acting is very strong. However, Veda is a potentially problematic character. From the onset, she's not a good person, with her snooty ideas of the world and treatment of others, much like the character played by Hope Davis who interviewed Mildred. But Mildred, who is supposed to be strong and trying to stay afloat, falls for her charms (bitchiness?),  inventing the story of getting the waitressing job so she can satisfy Veda. Initially, she rightfully spanks Veda but quickly reverses course. It kind of undercuts the strong, confident character we see waitressing and building her business.

Her actions can be explained by the fact that her husband left her and she doesn't want to alienate her daughter. While that's a plausible explanation to her implausible behavior, Veda's overt vileness doesn't help. The final scene of the second part once again emphasizes this, as Mildred goes to Veda after Ray's death.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Breakout Kings Season 1 Episode 4 Out of the Mouths of Babes

"Out of the Mouths of Babes" does some good things with the characters, showing how Charlie's dedication to his job cuts into his personal life and opening up Julianna's backstory, but it suffers from the fact that Erica isn't that unique. The writers seem to want a lot of her, but honestly, mother yearning for her child is the oldest trick in the playbook.

At this point, I'll still be reviewing Breakout Kings with a paragraph or so, although Sundays will become crowded once again in a month.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - Shameless (US) Season 1 Episode 12 Father Frank, Full of Grace

As far as season finales go, "Father Frank, Full of Grace" isn't much of one. It lacks the pathos of "But At Last Came a Knock," the wild playfulness of the earlier episodes, and even the frenetic pacing found in other Showtime season finales. But it is a solid episode of television, which, while not exemplary by any means, is a fine way to end the season. The episode cuts out most of the subplots, ignoring Kash, Mickey, and Mandy, focusing instead of the problems setup last week, Karen videotaped sex with a drugged Frank and Steve getting run out of town by Tony.

The most important cliffhanger-y event is Fiona not leaving with Steve. While this isn't unexpected, it's clear Steve is still an important character who will be a big presence in the second season even if he isn't present. Steve makes a good case why she should leave--her age when all the kids graduate and how others could take care of the family. But ultimately, Fiona refuses to leave the family, much like she refused to let Monica take Liam, and takes the job with a steady income (though Jasmine has to be up to something, right?). Steve, realizing that staying out of prison is his first priority, takes off. With both admitting they love each other, this is a problem of different priorities, and unless those change there are many boundaries between them. Not only that, there is still Steve's secret life that needs dealing with (assuming Fiona's reassurance to Debbie pertained only to the car thefts).

Meanwhile, Tony basically stakes his claim on Fiona, plunking down money to buy season tickets for the detective to let go of Lip and Ian. Of course, he's only doing this to stay on the good side of Fiona, and hopes that Steve leaving will be the ticket back to Fiona. To me, Tony is really creepy/desperate, continuing to pursue Fiona even when she's unavailable and abusing his power to get her.

Frank remains a real enigma as far as his morality goes. He seemed really out if it due to drugs at the end of last week's episode, so sex with Karen isn't really his fault, and next day he tells Karen it can't continue. Compared to the British Frank, he's practically a saint. But then Frank talks, and talks, and talks, trying to justify what happened. Lip smacking him with the car didn't seem so bad after that, and getting peed on was fair. This is Shameless, after all, and pretty much everything is forgiven in the end, as we see Lip and Karen together again.

The real victim of all this is Eddie, who started the season living with his wife and daughter, got replaced by Frank, and kills himself over the humiliation of his daughter's video.

Score: 8.6/10

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Preview of Week 3/27/11 - 4/02/10

Shameless - Showtime, Sunday, March 27, 10:00pm ET

The season finale of Showtime's surprisingly good remake of the British show is tonight and should be a episode, with three characters possibly going to jail.

Nurse Jackie - Showtime, Monday, March 28, 10:00pm ET
United States of Tara - Showtime, Monday, March 28, 10:30pm ET

Showtime's two dramedies return Monday night.

Body of Proof - ABC, Tuesday, March 29, 10:00pm ET

After all their new shows failed, ABC rolls out a medical drama starring Dana Delany.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Review - Fringe Season 3 Episode 18 Bloodline

I'm sure you've all heard by now, but Fringe has been renewed for a full 22-episode season, which means we'll see more of this incredible story play out. It would be a shame if we didn't see a conclusion since the writers really went out on a limb with all the twists and developments they threw in, and now we don't have to worry about the possibility of that happening.

"Bloodline" returns the show back to the other universe where Olivia is pregnant and troubled by the high likelihood she has a condition which will leave both her and her baby dead. Quickly, the episode spins into high gear with Olivia kidnapped by a group of shadowy doctors.

While the episode is Olivia-centric, as we spent a lot of time seeing her react and escape, but the reactions of her colleagues are perhaps the most interesting. As we've seen by now, they're not bad people, following orders based on the assumption that the other universe is at war with them, starting with Walter's theft of Peter. And as Charlie and Lincoln learn more about where Olivia was and how Walternate was involved, they begin questioning the ethical issues.

Other than that, I'm not too keen on this episode. I know I was supposed to be feeling something when Olivia was delivering the baby, but I was oddly unsentimental, not caring about Lincoln, the baby, or Olivia, even when she might have died. Maybe it's because the baby being born was sprung too quickly or that Lincoln was a little creepy. The final twist of Walternate receiving the blood, following the Observer fake out, was nicely done, but the episode, overall, didn't have the kick of a top-notch Fringe episode.

Score: 8.7/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 3/24/11

FOX won with American Idol (6.4) and a repeat of Bones (2.4).

ABC was second with Wipeout (2.3), Grey’s Anatomy (3.7), and Private Practice (2.6). Private Practice really benefiting from Grey's Anatomy lead in.

CBS was third with NCAA Basketball (somewhere between 2.5 and 3.0 for a huge timespan).

NBC was last with Community (1.8), Perfect Couples (1.6), The Office (3.4), Parks and Recreation (2.4), 30 Rock (1.9), and Outsourced (1.5). Perfect Couples and Outsourced remain the odd men out.

FX cancels Lights Out, FOX renews Fringe

Both Fox Entertainment Group channels, FX and FOX announced important renewal decisions yesterday.  

Lights Out, FX's critically acclaimed but low-rated series about retired boxer Patrick "Lights" Leary's return to the ring. This comes less than four months after FX canceled Terriers, a PI show in much the same position as Lights Out.

Fringe, FOX's science fiction show about the Fringe division, was placed on Friday nights after underperforming on Thursdays, and received considerably lower ratings. Still, the series was renewed for a complete 22-episode season (and I'm guessing there will be budget cuts).

Review - Fairly Legal Season 1 Episode 10 Bridges

"Bridges" defines exactly why Kate's life is so messed up. On the one hand, she is dedicated to mediation, spending lots of time and effort to do her job, and succeeds in mending the bridge between Croatia and the United States. On the other, she burns the bridges between Justin and Lauren, something that's been coming from the first episode.

It's hard to blame Justin and Lauren for what they did. Kate is never there, misses Justin's acceptance speech, drops the bomb about her pregnancy without confirmation from the doctor, and later tells him that only the home test was positive. After being constantly thrown around, Justin should be angry. Kate has bashed Lauren around since the first episode, and I honestly can't see what is supposed to make Lauren a bad person. I can't blame her for firing someone who is a constant disruption. As much as Sarah Shahi sold the scene in the aftermath, I find it hard to feel bad for Kate who is just that myopic.

The mediation this week seemed really stupid. The girl's father may not be biological, but he's obviously capable of taking care of her and loves her, demonstrable through past and present actions. Then there is the grandmother who blathers on about blood (as if it's the sole indicator of well-being) and kidnaps the girl. And, to cast a general overview on living standards, the US has over double the GDP per capita adjusted for PPP compared to Croatia.

Score: 8.4/10

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review - Parks and Recreation Season 3 Episode 8 Camping

Like everyone else, I was surprised Parks and Recreation would be wrapping up the Harvest Festival story so soon since there seemed to be plenty that could still happen. But the writers decided to move on to the next project with the remaining 9 episodes of the season. So does "Camping" provide an answer to the question of the next project? Not exactly.

The Harvest Festival proves to be a huge success, bringing the city back to solvency and giving Leslie leeway for her next big idea. She takes the time for the office to go camping and brainstorm ideas. This is all well and good, but no one seems to have anything viable. "Camping" has a plethora of camping related humor--Ron trying to fish in peace while Jerry keeps talking, Tom with his Sky Mall tent, Andy in the wrong place, Leslie keeping everyone awake--and it's all well and good, except that's all the episode is, people not having the best time while camping.

The only progress in the episode comes when they spend the night at the bed and breakfast, the epitome of an old people place. Ron finally gets Leslie to sleep and she comes out full of random ideas. Ann talks to Chris, who is unwilling to restart their relationship.

Perhaps I was expecting too much from the episode since I kept waiting for something substantial to happen. The episode was very funny, utilizing the characters and their traits to the fullest in an unfamiliar environment, so I really shouldn't be as hard on the episode as I am.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - The Office Season 7 Episode 19 Garage Sale

As we head into the next stretch of episodes, we already know Michael's final episode will air on April 28, and according to reports, "Garage Sale" is Holly's final episode. While Michael could up and leave at any time without missing a beat after the initial confusion, the writers know this is a big deal and are making the most with what little time they have left.

"Garage Sale" deals with Holly in a near-perfect way, showing us how much Holly cares about her parents while providing ample opportunity to indulge classic Michael Scott ideas of a marriage proposal (gasoline fire in the parking lots, dog, etc), before ending with the actual proposal, a sweet, candle-lit affair which ends up being reminiscent to Jim's proposal, with the sprinklers turning on.

The garage sale was great as well, with the office hijinks transported into a room with all these foreign objects. Andy, Darryl, and Kevin play the Dallas board game, and without rules they do whatever they want. The money in the pot gets stolen, however, and Kevin, after complaining several times about the rule bending, walks off--money in pocket. My favorite part was Dwight miraculously trading his way up to the most expensive object, starting with a simple tack. Even though he gets played by Jim's magnificent baiting of the magical legumes, Dwight is a total boss in the episode.

Score: 9.4/10

Review - Community Season 2 Episode 19 Critical Film Studies

I don't know where the writers keep coming up with such brilliant, diverse episodes, but they did it again, taking what was supposed to be a Pulp Fiction homage and turning it into a touching glimpse of Jeff and Abed.

"Critical Film Studies," by official billing, was said to pay homage to Pulp Fiction and I could certainly imagine the show doing something like the Goodfellas episode. In reality, however, the Pulp Fiction bit was the supporting role, with the other characters dressed up for a Pulp Fiction themed party and various references that the characters are aware of.

The real story lies in the dinner between Jeff and Abed. Jeff immediately tells Abed is off when he doesn't make pop culture references, which leads to Abed's existential story of visiting the Cougar Town set and pooping his pants after realizing his self-created character was dead. (I love how the writers were willing to mention Cougar Town fifty times.) This leads to Jeff opening up about his own personal trauma, being mistaken as a girl one Halloween.

But as the surprise party gets spoiled, the waiter lets slip an errant phrase, leading to the biggest surprise--Abed has been faking it all along to create a My Dinner with Andre situation. Jeff is initially mad, as one may expect, but Abed is there to soften the blow and the homage party still goes on. While Abed is set as an unchanging character, in opposition to his behavior at the beginning of the episode, I think the writers now have more power over the audience with regards to what they can do to Abed. Abed is still a moldable character, and even if he wasn't being honest this episode, he still has emotional content buried deep beneath everything else.

Score: 9.3/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 3/23/11

Fox won with American Idol (7.9).

CBS was second with Survivor (3.1), a repeat of Criminal Minds (2.1), and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2.2). Suspect Behavior really benefits from new episodes of CM.

ABC was third with The Middle (2.0), a repeat of The Middle (1.7), Modern Family (4.4), Mr. Sunshine (2.1), and Off The Map (1.5).

NBC was fourth with Minute To Win It (1.2), a repeat of Law & Order: SVU (1.1), and Law & Order: SVU (2.6).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review - Justified Season 2 Episode 7 Save My Love

After the way last week's episode was resolved, and my habit not watching the promo, I didn't expect anything more. As far as I could tell, the money stuff was done since the hundred dollar bill was recovered and all was well and good. Even if the writers didn't go further than that, I would be okay. But the writers decided to push the plot further as well as bring everything else together, reminding us that Justified isn't a simple procedural. Perhaps this is a case of lowered expectations, but I was darn impressed by "Save My Love," which felt like an episode of The Shield, with the main character running around so the authorities can't find the money.

The episode begins with what would seem like a cliffhanger from last week's episode, Winona waking up to tell Raylan that her hundred dollar bill had its corner torn off and none of the bills match. And then she drops the bombshell that she stole all the cash. Suddenly, it makes a lot more sense why she'd steal money, since the amount she has now is actually worth something versus a measly $100. She is no longer purely stupid but also a little greedy and opportunistic.

Raylan, of course, is fuming underneath, but agrees to help her as always. Through the misdirects, near-misses, bomb threat, and money bag almost being opened, Raylan prevails in the end, stashing the money away. If the money is eventually found, it can be attributed to someone messing up years ago since the communication between the closed bank and the Marshalls has already been so muddled. The real consequence is that Raylan and Winona aren't on great terms anymore, and there's a good possibility Art knows something fishy is going on

Boyd gets placed in an interesting situation, hired by the coal company as "security," which includes handling the Bennetts. Once again, Raylan and Boyd may have converging interests and end up fighting side by side despite their obvious animosity.

Meanwhile, Gary wants Wynn Duffy, a member of the Dixie Mafia, to help him with his horse thing. He just doesn't know when to give up.

Score: 9.4/10

Review - Mr. Sunshine Season 1 Episode 7 Celebrity Tennis

While "Celebrity Tennis" isn't perfect, it's certainly a step in the right direction. The two plots cross over from time to time and there is a scene where 5 characters are sitting together (I know, incredible!). Alice and Alonzo still don't talk to any character other than Ben, but baby steps are fine.

Since the first episode, Mr. Sunshine hasn't touched the relationship issues at all between Alice, Alonzo, and Ben, which is curious since Alice was billed as Ben's girlfriend. It's good to know the writers haven't let that go, and they generate a plot out of that--Alonzo somehow not knowing about Ben and Alice. In the end, Ben isn't too bad of a guy, not trying to win Alice back and telling Alonzo he should have Alice. And Ben does get what he wants in the end, affirmation that he's not bad in bed.

I still feel uneasy about Crystal and Roman because they waffle between all-out crazy to intelligently sweet all the time, and they do that several times in the episode, with Crystal continuing not to know what to do with Roman (She should have learned by now that talking to him and be upfront is the best solution.) and Roman being a general dope. The plot is quite good, however, with the lawyer hovering around to prevent Roman from suing.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Modern Family Season 2 Episode 18 Boys' Night

"Boys' Night" deviates from most of the previous episodes in that there are not three well-defined plots. Instead, there are two main plots--Jay hanging out with Cam and Mitchell's gay friends, and Phil and Claire dealing with their crotchety neighbor who Luke has befriended--and several other elements which pay off in the end.

Jay with the gays was the highlight of the episode, as one would expect Jay to feel weird and give some wide-eyed stares towards the camera. However, the writers turn it around, making Jay quickly befriend the group of guys which makes Mitch feel uneasy at first, but later allows him to open up as well. What's great is that the events the next day tie directly back into Jay ditching Gloria and Manny the night before. Jay wants Gloria to fake a serious condition to avoid shopping with Pepper, which she agrees to, until Pepper actually arrives and Gloria says everything is fine.

The other plot is rather predictable, with the old, seemingly mean guy actually turning out to be nice, but it was nice to see Phil and Claire completely on the same page this time around. Haley had something substantial to do this week, babysitting Lily for a night and defies all expectations by not messing up. Yes, she brings Dylan over, which Cam catches on the camera, but she promptly kicks him out.

What was the point of Alex randomly popping in to express her fear of something silly? It was far too brief to develop and was more awkward than funny.

Score: 9.0/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 3/22/11

CBS won with NCIS (3.8), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.2), and The Good Wife (2.1).

NBC was second with The Biggest Loser (3.0) and a repeat of Parenthood (1.0).

ABC was third with No Ordinary Family (1.5) and Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time (1.8). NOF is all but cancelled as its ratings are horrible and the actors have moved on.

Fox was last with repeats of Glee (2.0) and Raising Hope (1.4) and a new episode of Traffic Light (1.0). Bad ratings for Traffic Light every way you look at it.

Review - Lights Out Season 1 Episode 11 Rainmaker

Since the first episode, Lights Out hasn't fully returned to the idea that Lights would be immersed in criminal activity, instead turning towards the boxing aspect of the show. However, with the season, and possible series, finale in two weeks, the show turned towards the criminal aspect of the show, and with so much going on, there is still a scheduled fight.

"Rainmaker" is the nickname of a former boxer, Jerry (David Morse), who has taken too many punches in his career. Lights, showing his endless need to help everyone despite the circumstances, invites Jerry to the gym. Jerry is a great point of reference to Lights, who already has some brain damage, and can clearly see how bad it is for Jerry.

Meanwhile, the councilman, who Lights delivered the "cake" to earlier in the season, is caught in a prostitution racket. Consequences are finally upon Lights for his criminal activity, and I'm glad the writers didn't not forget about that. The attention then turns on Lights who is pushed and pulled by Brennan and those around him. What's most surprising is not that the councilman gets beaten into a pulp for his silence, but that it was in fact Jerry, the lovable, addled former boxer, payed by Lights to do the job.

Score: 9.1/10

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review - The Good Wife Season 2 Episode 17 Ham Sandwich

Wow! Now that's how to end an episode! Excuse me for my excitement, but The Good Wife is one of the only shows on television which literally leaves me giddy at the end of an episode  All the relationships have been carefully crafted since the first episode and now we see everything intertwined in the best way possible.

Let's start with the case, Alicia representing crime boss Lemond Bishop whose wife wants a divorce. They can't agree on anything, including custody and money, which Bishop has a lot in illegal activity but little in legitimate business. There are veiled threats everywhere and the two parties are prepared to go to court. As the episode progresses we don't necessarily feel that Bishop is too bad of a guy and his son certainly humanizes things. Then, the writers bring us back to reality, as the opposing lawyer comes back with news that Bishop's wife overdosed. Damn!

But what's more impressive than that are the subplots. Blake has considerable dirt on Will, saying something about Will's theft and how he covered up for him back in the day. Childs is specifically going after Lockhart Gardner, with Blake as a willing witness. With Kalinda subpoenaed by the grand jury, Alicia advises her not to say anything.

If things couldn't get even better, Kalina, played expertly by Archie Panjabi, turns the tables, using the information that Bishop's wife may have been having an affair to imply that it was in fact Blake she was seeing, painting a target on his back, thus running him and his ability to testify out of town. Kalinda stays very quiet while talking with Alicia, keeping the truth close to the vest, but is absolutely perfect when lying.

Somehow, the writers manage to top themselves yet again, using the final meeting between Blake and Kalinda to drop a huge bombshell, that Kalinda has been cosying up to Alicia because she slept with Peter in return for changing her identity. What?!?!?!?

Score: 9.7/10

Review - NCIS Season 8 Episode 18 Out of the Frying Pan...

Even though NCIS is good in its natural state, solving murders of Navy personnel linearly, I like the occasional change of pace when the writers go out of their comfort zone and try something new. "Out of the Frying Pan..." is exactly that kind of episode, with a suspect in an interrogation room and all the forensics done at the beginning of the episode.

What made the interrogation work Cameron Monaghan and his disarmingly young look, as well as his demeanor  in the interrogation room. I've been watching Cameron Monaghan on the American adaptation of Shameless, and he's portrayed as an early high schooler, certainly not 18, so I was thrown off quickly. But in real life, he is indeed 17, only 1 year younger than his fictional age, even though he looks much younger. The plot twists were fairly predictable, but Gibbs putting his faith behind the kid was really great.

Underneath the tale of abandonment and drugs is the continuing conflict between Gibbs and an increasingly agitated Vance, who actually slams the axe into the interrogation table. Gibbs doesn't say anything yet, but he's keeping a close eye on Vance. It'll be interesting to see how this is resolved.

Agent Barrett doesn't show up in the episode, but does speak briefly on the phone with Vance and we learn that she locks her desk unlike everyone else. As for everyone else, they hardly do anything, although Tony does get his fair share of interrogating at the beginning of the episode.

Score: 9.0/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 3/21/11

ABC won with Dancing with the Stars (5.3) and Castle (3.1). DWTS gave a nice boost to Castle.

CBS was second with How I Met Your Mother (3.0), Mad Love (2.4), a repeat of Two and a Half Men (2.7), Mike & Molly (3.0), and Hawaii Five-0 (2.9). It seems like a lot of people didn't get the memo that the CBS comedies were new last night.

Fox was third with House (3.4) and The Chicago Code (1.8). The Chicago Code was down again.

NBC was last with Chuck (1.5), The Event (1.2), and Harry’s Law (1.6). Bad news for NBC. The Event is still bad and both Chuck and Harry's Law were down.

Review - Castle Season 3 Episode 18 One Life to Lose

The meta of "One Life to Lose" is very fun, with Castle and Beckett visiting the set of a soap opera to solve a murder. We see the craziness of shippers and bloggers who are rightfully criticized for getting out of hand sometimes, and it's all well and good. The case is solved, and then there's a Castle and Beckett moment where Beckett that she used to watch the soap opera with her mother so watching it now makes her feel safe.

But Josh's face pops up on Beckett's phone. My reaction: instant facepalm. If the writers are going to make fun of ludicrous soap opera plots, how about not using the latest plot device, Josh showing up at the end of every Castle and Beckett scene as of late?

I have this theory about that scene and shipping fandoms in general. The writers deliberately lead shipper on by providing endless teases to tug at heartstrings, while never providing a good solution. Meanwhile, they create an opposing tension which generates buzz among the fans which eventually spills out to people who aren't fans of the show. This way, they can get more people to watch, continuously leading shippers on with endless teases and also new viewers who want to see what the hubbub is about. So maybe that scene was the writers acknowledging their role in infuriating shippers. Or they're just clueless.

The case suffers from the problem of the recognizable actress. We've seen Tina Majorino in Napoleon Dynamite, Veronica Mars, and just the night before, on the series finale of Big Love. Everyone else on the show had already been interrogated, leaving her as the only viable suspect.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Hawaii Five-0 Season 1 Episode 19 Ne Me'e Laua Na Paio

Is a single murder really that important? After being spoiled by wild crimes every week, it seemed very odd to have the team, which is supposed to focus on serious crime, take time to solve the murder of a random guy who has pushed off a balcony. It leads to an unsolved murder, but the whole thing seemed a little too standard.

Steve is fully on the trail of Wo Fat now, which should be an interesting rivalry since the original used Wo Fat effectively. The good thing this time around is that Wo Fat has adapted with the times and is no longer a Red China boogeyman but a crime boss. Jessica Kaye (Larisa Oleynik), an off-duty CIA analyst whose fiancee was killed in Wo Fat's trap, will help Steve in his crusade. So far, she's pretty boring, but I guess she could improve.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - House Season 7 Episode 17 Fall From Grace

The writers went way to far with the gimmicks--monster truck, toy helicopters, Green Card marriage--but I laughed quite a bit during the episode, something I never do when watching House. Knowing the writers decided to throw a bunch of random antics into the episode so House could bug Cuddy, I rolled with it, despite how unreasonable it was. And the final twist of the patient being a cannibal was especially hilarious with the previous discovery of bones in his colon.

As far as the actual medical stuff this week, it was mainly a distraction to the main show, House, in post-relationship turmoil, being mean to Cuddy, who, after giving substantial leeway to House, tells him to cut it out. At the end of the episode, House is married but both he and Cuddy are still suffering in their own way.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - The Event Season 1 Episode 14 A Message Back

The only reason why I watch The Event is that I want to know what happens. For all its stupidity, The Event has proven it can have a substantial amount of plot, as opposed to V which is stuck in a continual rut. "A Message Back" is built upon pure stupidity and illogical actions from everyone--slightly more than usual--but things actually happen.

With his homeworld practically useless, Thomas wants to transfer everyone from the alien world to Earth. Sean goes crazy and is now going after Dempsey with Vicky as a virtual hostage. It requires about 50 suspensions of belief, but characters are doing things.

Score: 7.9/10

Review - Stargate Universe Season 2 Episode 13 Alliances

"Alliances" makes the best use of the magic stones thus far, and I wasn't annoyed with them as I normally am. Yes, there was still the same problems--the changing rules that govern the stones and what can and can't happen, allowing for any situation to be manufactured--but the episode nearly scratches a moral dilemma for once, which piqued my curiosity.

Greer and Wray are trapped by an explosion at Homeworld Command face a hard choice--almost. With the knowledge that a naquadriah bomb is still inside, they set out to find the bomb and disarm it. The problem is, they're inside other people's bodies and there is high radiation levels. But the writers offer a perfect solution: the radiation is already fatal so it's not like looking for an exit will do any good, so they might as well find the bomb. So in the end, Greer and Wray stay alive, the senator sacrifices her life to disarm the bomb and the scientist unwillingly returns to his body to die.

Here's what would have made the situation a lot more interesting and thought-provoking. 1) The radiation is still at a high level but not life-threatening unless they stayed for a lot longer. 2) Destiny dropping out of FTL doesn't make them revert back temporarily (although this rule was already established). The result would be an isolated Greer and Wray in other people's bodies and in the place to save the lives of everyone in Washington D.C, struggling to decide what to do. This goes beyond the usual "needs of the few outweigh the needs of the few" mentality of Star Trek, but adds another component--that they are using bodies not their own and without explicit permission to endanger them.

The pairing of Greer and Wray isn't anything special since Greer is a badly developed character who doesn't get along with anyone, but there are a couple good moments between the two that will probably be meaningless once the next episode rolls around.

The major plot hole that bothered me was that Wray quickly wrote off the possibility of another Lucian Alliance member, saying that the ship was probably going to land and the pilot would walk away after setting the bomb. Didn't Telford say that the building was hit by the ship which caused the initial explosion?

Score: 8.2/10

Monday, March 21, 2011

Review - The Chicago Code Season 1 Episode 7 Black Hand and the Shotgun Man

On a scale where shows on one end are supposed to make you feel really bad and shows on the other are supposed to make you feel really good, The Chicago Code would be situated more towards the shows that are supposed to make you feel good. It's not entirely feel-good as most network procedurals are since the events that transpire are usually morally ambiguous, but the episodes never end on a feeling of pure doom.

The Chicago Code frequently reaches an optimal solution, as shown in this week's episode.The criminal in "Black Hand and the Shotgun Man" is a drug lord who chopped up lots of bodies and even killed cops in Mexico. On paper, he's a terrible guy, but for the most part, I was rooting for him--not necessarily for him to be free but for his family to be safe. And the final deal, Romero going to prison and his family going into protection, works out perfectly for everyone. As always, there is an uneasy tension lurking beneath, but it always goes away.

But I wonder how I would feel if the writers really made a concerted effort to make Romero seem like a bad guy. Yes, he kicks the cop in the crotch, he's said to have done heinous crimes, but we never actually see him do anything bad. As far as we can see, he's a guy who cares for his family, not a bloodthirsty drug lord.

Whereas Romero finds a solution for his family after being backed into a corner, Jarek still has room to move, so he spews a bunch of bullshit about his relationship. He's still sleeping with his wife, ignoring his fiance, and yells at Caleb for talking about it. In the context of relationships, Jarek is like Gibbons, make blind justifications for all his actions.

Last but not least, Gibbons, one of my favorite characters on television. Delroy Lindo continues to impress with his lines delivered so emphatically you want to believe in Gibbons. That also raises another question which has bugged me since Gibbons started having monologues (I think I might have said this already): does Gibbons really believe what he is saying and what context is it being said? If those are his real thoughts, Gibbons is delusional. If those are thoughts he records, such as in a diary, it stands to reason that he'd put down lies to make himself look better. In any case, it's hard not to be drawn to Gibbons, who puts so much vigor in his words, and yet does crime on a daily basis.

One thing we've seen Gibbons and his cronies do on a consistent basis is underestimate the cops. Gibbons believes he can push Liam out with his insinuations, but instead, it motivates Liam to redouble his efforts.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Chuck Season 4 Episode 19 Chuck vs. the Muuurder

You can fault the Chuck writers for all sorts of things, especially in the past two seasons, but if there's one thing to praise them for, it's that they always try to dig deeper than the surface plot. "Chuck vs. the Muuurder" is a good example of that, where the main plot--Team Bartowski solving a murder inside a Castle damaged by bombs--is neither new nor executed well, but the episode manages to not be a waste because the writers explore the characters much more than procedurals.

"Chuck vs. the Muuurder" places Chuck in charge of the team, and since Chuck has little experience in the area, as well as fear of the current murder situation, he struggles to maintain his cool. Sarah and Casey are there for him, however, and guide him towards solving the murder. Chuck's final statement about the Intersect being the entire team rings true since none of them would get things done individually.

The return of Large Mart has been a long time coming, and we got to see the rivalry heat up again as Big Mike is captured after Jeff and Lester steal the pig, Kevin Bacon. While the plot was given little focus, it still provided plenty of good laughs, including yet another huge advertisement of Subway.

Meanwhile, Ellie launches herself into Orion's work and with Awesome, shields this from Chuck. Ellie is very much like Vivian Volkoff, finding her absent father's legacy and building on it. It would be cool to see the two do meet, though it'll probably be under dangerous circumstances.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 6 Episode 19 Legendaddy

With the casting of John Lithgow as Barney's father, it was clear that Barney's father would not be a cool, suave guy where the episode blows up in spectacular fashion. Naturally, Jerry does not live up to  expectations, what with Barney's lofty ideas about himself and everything around him. Even still, I didn't think Barney would be so rude.

I usually find Barney to be the funniest character, but man did I dislike him, with all those snide comments and insinuations. In other circumstances, his jokes would certainly be funny; in this case, however, I didn't remotely find it funny. The scene outside the house provides somewhat of an explanation, Barney wanting the too-friendly suburban life, and it has most emotion of an otherwise muted episode. But the episode does provide solid ground upon which future episodes can build on.

The only other thing this week is the rest of the group teasing each other about severe deficiencies. Ted pronounces "chameleons" with the "ch" sound, Robin didn't know the North Pole existed, and Lily has bad aim. Also, a little more of Marshall dealing with his father's death is squeezed out, as he tells the group not to go easy on him. With all the shots of them actually in the middle of their various gaps, it was far funnier than the Barney stuff.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Breakout Kings Season 1 Episode 3 The Bag Man

There should always be fifty armed guards watching him, but yes, Fox River put one guard on the infamous T-Bag, and he promptly escapes. While "The Bag Man" doesn't do much with the main characters, it's a decent episode, because Robert Knepper knows creepy and the writers know T-Bag. He's not an all-out lunatic killer, but he's not entirely in control either, which means even his most cunning actions are tinged with a little extra. This makes for an entertaining episode even if everything is standard and, to be frank, boring.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Shameless (US) Season 1 Episode 11 Daddyz Girl

After all the emotion poured into the last two episodes, it was weird to see Shameless more or less return to where it was, before amping up to another level of plot development. We'll have to see next week if everything will be resolved (that seems like a tough order considering how much happened) in the season finale, and if that doesn't happen there'll be second season, so it's all good.

Fiona meets Jasmine (Amy), one of the moms from Debbie's class who is taking a more than natural interest in Fiona. It's not unreasonable to think that the other moms would look down on Fiona, given her family, but for Jasmine to befriend Fiona and also offer her drugs is very suspect.

I understand that Karen is upset after what her father did to her, but she went way overboard. The writers completely send her off the deep end, as she trashes her fathers room, breaks his car window, and in a creepy daddy-issue scene, has sex with a drugged up Frank in front of a camera.

The new plot for Ian is promising. Instead of the usual sexual identity stuff, he's looking at himself not in terms of sex but who he is a whole and where he comes from. Unfortunately, the Gallaghers aren't exactly conducive to this kind of inquiry and he faces many roadblocks.

Perhaps the biggest development is Tony wholeheartedly going after Steve, catching him in the middle of stealing a car. He gives an ultimatum: either Steve turns himself in or runs away without telling Fiona. However, before we learn what Steve does, he gets Lip and Ian arrested, thinking Steve with in the stolen Porsche.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Big Love Season 5 Episode 10 When Men And Mountains Meet

In my eyes, Bill Hendrickson is not a hero. He's not an anti-hero like Vic Mackey, but he certainly wasn't a hero like Jack Bauer (although Jack being a hero is debatable). Bill wasn't necessary malicious, he very rarely hurt people physically, but he was always very narrow-minded.

Through the seasons, we've seen him manipulate, be selfish, be stupid, and give outlandish speeches in support for himself, as well as more circumstantial wrongdoing like his marriage to a teenager and dalliance with Ana. The only reason why the fifth season had so much angst is because Bill decided to drag the family through the limelight. And even in the series finale, we see the pathetic duality of Bill, yelling at the senate about how the polygamist women were given the right to vote before they were "stripped of their rights" when polygamy was outlawed, while simultaneously refusing to entertain Barb's notions of female priesthood holders. He's perfectly fine invoking women when attacking the senate, but doesn't budge in private, and that's douchey if you ask me.

But the writers apparently don't see it this way. "When Men And Mountains Meet" completely absolves Bill of any past wrongdoings, ending on a surprisingly upbeat tone. Bill is killed randomly by Carl and in his last breaths, tells Barb to perform a blessing--another case of using a outside influence to dramatically affect the family--and in the coda, we see everything perfectly fine: Margene off to save people, Barb with the priesthood, Sarah and Scott still together, and a big hug from the three wives. Yes, Bill is dead, but he's probably going to heaven, and, most importantly, he didn't have to own up to his actions. So, after five seasons, the writers are telling us that Bill was not only a good person, but a truly wonderful person whose presence and actions helped the family.

?? ............................

That's kind of my reaction after finishing the episode--confusion, a tiny bit miffed, and overall very disappointed. I'm taking huge pauses while writing this just so I can wrap my head around what happened.

I think the writers were trying to go for a distinction between 'good family,' the Hendricksons, and  'bad family,' the Grants. Every family has its flaws and weaknesses, but how they deal with them divides the good from the bad, and the writers were supposed to see that.

However, the patriarchal nature of the show meant that Bill dictated what happened and it never quite meshed. Despite the feminist overtones, Bill was the one who dictated the action. He was the breadwinner, he made the big choices, and he was the one with the ideal to change Utah, linking back to the Mormons of old in his vision. With his single-minded drive, Bill hardly cared about what was best for the family until after something bad had happened. Yes, he was better than Alby and Roman, but was he respectable enough for a somewhat happy ending (as opposed to Barb leaving the family, etc)? I don't think so.

I came into tonight's series finale expecting Bill to get his just deserts, what he had coming to him as a consequence of his long string of selfish actions. Instead, I saw that the writers intended him to be a hero. For all his flaws and actions dragging his wives through hell, Bill was intended to be a grand idealist, striving as a reformer to make polygamy legal, and that somehow enabled him to come out looking spotless in the end. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that Big Love is not an HBO drama, but a Lifetime drama.

Score: 7.0/10

I had this idea for a silly series finale a few weeks ago when Bill was going to go on trial. I'm not sure if I wrote this somewhere else yet, but now that I think of it, it may actually have been preferable to "When Men And Mountains Meet" so I'll bring it up again. The episode consists of Bill's trial, where everyone gets to testify. That way we could actually see tangible reasons why Bill should be absolved. The wives, Ben, Sarah, and Bill's friends deliver stirring testimonies while Alby fails miserably on the stand, actually implicating himself in several felonies. Bill gives his own closing arguments, the jury and courtroom is brought to tears, and Bill is let free. Happy ever after. It's incredibly cheesy, but anymore than the actual series finale?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Preview of Week 3/20/11 - 3/26/11

Big Love - HBO, Sunday, March 20, 9:00pm ET

HBO's next big drama--if you consider it to be the spiritual successor to The Sopranos, The Wire, etc--comes to an end. Through the ups and downs of emotion and quality, Big Love has had five seasons worth of story, and it all comes down to a final episode. As an added bonus, Amanda Seyfried is returning.

The Office - NBC, Thursday, March 24, 9:00pm ET

The Office has been gone for a month, and this week's episode is the first of Steve Carell's final  four episodes.

Parks and Recreation - NBC, Thursday, March 24, 9:30pm ET

Like the pit, the Harvest Festival appeared to be the next big project. However, last week's already quickly pushed that idea out of the way, as the festival was up and running. So what's problem with plague the team now?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Review - Fringe Season 3 Episode 17 Stowaway

I like "Stowaway" as a single episode. Anna Torv, following on her William Bell/Leonard Nimoy impression from the end of last week's episode, maintains the gravely voice and inflection for the entire episode, along with various physical ticks. Bell's interactions with Walter are just priceless. The plot this week has an interesting concept, a woman trying to kill herself after her family is murder but can't. She gets on a train, knowing a bomb is on, seeing all the people who'll die alongside her. In the end, she takes the bomb off the train once the police come and she does die.

However, Bell proposes a new theory of the universe, that destiny is guiding people, which is troubling to say the least. Maybe Peter will end up in the machine despite Walter's best efforts. Maybe Dana (the woman who couldn't die) couldn't die because she was fated to save those on the train. This seems very reminiscent of Lost, where the supernatural weirdness is explained through destiny. Plenty of stories through the ages has explored this concept, as well as recent sci-fi shows, so I'm a little disappointed Fringe may be headed this way. Fringe is supposed to be a show about science (or at least the first 60 are about science), and this isn't science. We also have to remember that this is Bell's opinion, supported only by meager empirical observations and wild speculation, not science. After lots of interesting themes and plot developments in the past two seasons, hopefully Fringe can continue the streak.

As Dana's condition was being revealed, I kept wondering why she was only trying to kill herself physically. I don't want to sound like a wacko, but my impulse from watching so much television is that she should have tried to drown herself or overdose on pills. However, it's not shown whether she tried that or even if that would work. That's part of the problem of Fringe's psuedo-science, because the writers don't need to explain everything.

Score: 8.8/10

Friday, March 18, 2011

Review - Fairly Legal Season 1 Episode 9 My Best Friend's Prenup

The season finale of Fairly Legal is next week and the ratings aren't good for USA standards, so it may be the last episode of the show. If that's the case, I won't be too torn up about it. The show has its moments, but the past two weeks have been really, really cheesy and predictable. Everything starts out fine, goes bad, Kate finds the secret that was teased earlier in the episode, and it is fine in the end.

Score: 7.5/10

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review - Parks and Recreation Season 3 Episode 7 Harvest Festival

Like Community, Parks and Recreation was renewed earlier today and we'll probably see an entire season versus the shortened third season. I want to bring up the shortened third season, because production did stop after the six episode after NBC did not put the show on its fall schedule.

What's interesting is that is "Harvest Festival" not some kind of reacclimation episode for everyone to settle back into their roles and get ready for the next part of the arc, but in fact it fully dives into the Harvest Festival arc with the festival actually beginning. Of course, this means there are greater problems than starting the festival itself, which should be fun.

With the opening of the festival, the media sinks its claws into Leslie and Ben, probing about an Indian curse and Ben's confidence. It is Leslie's diplomatic skills which save the day, as she borrows a generator from the Indian casino as well as getting a fake ceremony to alleviate concerns of the curse.

There are several great subplots underneath the main plot. April declares her love for Andy, who doesn't reciprocate, leading to April not talking to him. Tom and Jerry argue over who let Sebastian escape. These are all inconsequential, however, as all the problems are solved by Ron, who barks out orders and tells everyone exactly what went wrong. Just like that, the small personal problems are resolved, and Ron also spots Sebastien from the ferris wheel. I like how the writers aren't afraid to do things with April and Andy. Since they aren't the center of the show, their romantic tension never seemed that dragged out and now that they are together, the writers continue to make them interesting.

The final shot of the Harvest Festival is a good indication of how far Parks and Recreation has come. It's not about ridiculous people doing ridiculous things in an office. It's about a group of competent public employees who are funny while being productive.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - Bones Season 6 Episode 16 The Blackout in the Blizzard

I haven't had many chances to say this since I started blogging, mostly because these past few seasons have been very uneven, but now is the perfect time: Whenever Bones tries to be fun and fresh, it is, in my opinion, unmatched by any procedural--nothing comes close.

"The Blackout in the Blizzard" puts the team in a unique situation, having to solve a crime without their usual equipment. This leads to liberal usage of potatoes to power a cell phone, cellophane to produce an x-ray, and lots of improvising. Meanwhile, Angela and Hodgins have a couple tear-jerking scenes with the information that their child may be blind (1 in 4 chance or 1 in 5, I can't remember). They power through and remain steady regardless of what happens.

The only problem with the episode is the writers explicitly telling the viewers they'll drag the thing between Booth and Brennan even longer. At this point, I'm in the mindset that he should either get them together or forget it altogether. Brennan stating that she's still not "impervious" and Booth stating that he's angry doesn't do any good. It's just dead weight.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Community Season 2 Episode 18 Custody Law And Eastern European Diplomacy

As most loyal viewers probably read by now, Community was renewed for a third season. Assuming that the writers will eventually run out of ideas for those special theme episodes, we're probably in for more normal episodes. "Custody Law And Eastern European Diplomacy" is a good example of a "normal episode," one which I'm perfectly fine having a lot of. There's nothing too innovative about the setup and the plot resolution is predictable, but the show has established these characters so well and the writers know them intimately that they work brilliantly under any circumstances.

The main plot focuses on Chang and his ongoing quest to become... something. We know that Chang isn't quite right in the head, always acting weird and acting ridiculous, but the paternal instinct is there and after a suggestion from Jeff, actually wants to better himself. As far as Jeff goes, I didn't think he was entirely opportunistic when telling Chang to get a job and his own place. While the end result, Chang leaving the apartment, was favorable, Jeff does seem to have a slight bit of sympathy for Chang. The episodes ends amicably, with Andre wanting Shirley to accept Chang like she accepted him.

I found the B-plot, involving Britta, Troy, Abed, and a ethnic cleanser named Luka (played by the wonderful Enver Gjokaj), to be the funnier of the two. Troy and Abed are great as always, but the addition of Britta and her distinct views on the world was hilarious when combined with Luka's background and Britta's past behavior towards her ex-boyfriends.

Score: 8.8/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 3/15/11

Fox won with American Idol (7.6).

CBS was second with Survivor (3.2), Criminal Minds (3.6), and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2.5). Suspect Behavior really needs that Criminal Minds lead in to have decent ratings.

ABC was third with repeats of The Middle (1.1, 1.3), Modern Family (2.2), and new episodes of Mr. Sunshine (1.8) and Off The Map (1.3). Mr. Sunshine isn't doing well, but Off The Map is almost surely a goner.

NBC was last with Minute To Win It (1.0) and repeats of Law & Order: SVU (0.9, 1.5).

NBC renews Community, Parks and Recreation, and The Office

NBC renewed three of their Thursday comedies. While Parks and Recreation and The Office have been doing well, Community has averaged only 2.1 18-49 adults, according to the press release, but it's a reflection on the sad state of NBC.

It's worth noting that NBC has not renewed Outsourced or Perfect Couples, both of which have been struggling even relative to NBC shows. 30 Rock was already renewed last year.

Review - Justified Season 2 Episode 6 Blaze Of Glory

I'm a fan of procedurals in general, so the fact that "Blaze Of Glory" will likely be inconsequential in the long run does not bother me. It's a well put together episode, with lots of Winona and Raylan, and a solid plot to support them. Basically, the episode solidifies the two of them, as Raylan not only saves her from certain criminal charges, but we also see lots of affection between the two.

Art and Frank was the small touch that made the episode. The scene in which Art chases Frank is funny, with two old guys cobbling after each other, but it also underscores the fact that Art is not as functional as before and not feeling great about it. Both are getting up there in age and both can relate, so we do feel a degree of warmth between the two. In the end, though, the law must be followed and Art follows through.

The situation with Boyd is explored in the very beginning, with Ava keeping quiet and Boyd lying. Sadly, the two do not return later on so we'll have to wait to see what happens to them.

Score: 8.9/10

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review - Criminal Minds Season 6 Episode 18 Lauren

Looking past the plotholes and inconsistencies, Seaver with the observations no one else can make, and the general underuse of JJ in her brief return, "Lauren" is damn exciting and the episodes flies through the hour. We see the dark side of Prentiss as she tries to take Doyle down, and Prentiss hanging in there as Doyle interrogates her, while the team tracks down leads to find out what happens.

The great thing about tonight's episode is that it dispenses with what held back "Valhalla," the team in the dark about Prentiss's past. They figure out the truth early in the episode, so their actions in the episode are actually productive. The episode maintains a fast pace as Emily's scenes are frequently interspersed through the investigations, always with ramping tension between her and Doyle as more information is revealed.

The ending is kind of lame, but it's a symptom of the industry. The producers and everyone else want Paget Brewster back, but her contract allows her to find a new show. Being a smart person, Paget has been looking for comedy pilots and has signed up for one already. If that doesn't work out, however, the writers didn't want to leave her out in the cold, so they graciously left an opening for her to return. Yes, it takes a lot away the dramatic impact of her death (or non-death) and you can quibble over it as much as you want. But I can't blame anyone besides CBS, because that's just how these things work.

Score: 9.1/10

Review - Mr. Sunshine Season 1 Episode 6 Lingerie Football

Six episodes into the season and I'm a little baffled by the writers' intent. The show is divided distinctly in two. On one side is the sane Ben and the insane/stupid Crystal, Roman, and Heather. Ben and Crystal always interacts; Ben and Roman always interact; and Roman and Heather always interact. In different episodes there are more crossed paths, but the three groupings are standard. And then there is Alonzo and Alice, two sane characters who are supposed to be in a romantic relationship but neither do anything romantic nor interact with the other characters on a regular basis. Frankly, you could cut them out and the main plot would be unchanged.

"Lingerie Football" is perplexing because the writers don't even try to mix the two groups thematically or physically. Modern Family splits the characters into three groups because of location, but Mr. Sunshine is about a single facility where everyone works. Alice and Alonzo don't even see, let alone talk, to the characters.

While the Roman and Heather subplot was cute, the plot about Crystal was too bizarre. The show tries to toe the line sentimentality and weirdness, but the conclusion of Crystal's ex-husband happy and Crystal becoming angry made me not care about her. It's fine if the writers want to make her character more realistic, but she really doesn't get closure in the episode so Ben's time was completely wasted.

Score: 8.0/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 3/15/11

Fox won with Glee (4.2), Raising Hope (2.2), and Traffic Light (1.5). Raising Hope was down quite a bit from last week.

NBC was second with The Biggest Loser (2.7) and a repeat of America’s Next Great Restaurant (1.6).

CBS was third with repeats of NCIS (2.2), NCIS: Los Angeles (2.2), and The Good Wife (1.2).

ABC was last with a repeat of No Ordinary Family (0.9), V (1.9), and Detroit 1-8-7 (1.2). The season finale of V was up .2 from last week. Is that enough for renewal?

Review - Lights Out Season 1 Episode 10 Cut Men

It was a forgone conclusion that Lights would fight Reynolds eventually, but the way the first season of Lights Out has been progressing is 2 steps forward, 3 steps back. Or, more accurately, 1 step forward and 1 step in another direction that's not forward or backwards. Lights manages to get a rematch with Reynolds and starts training, but then there are the trade-offs, sacrifices Lights has to make in order to advance the story. To me, it feels a lot like the third season of Sons of Anarchy, where the characters are led around by the writers throwing in wrench after wrench, but Lights Out isn't a show dependent on forward momentum episode to episode, so it works well.

The stabbing at the end of last week's episode propels the show forward, bringing back Brennan in a prominent role. In the face of having no fight whatsoever, Lights must cut deals with Barry and Brennan to keep things going. Meanwhile, we see that his attention is divided as he misses Theresa receiving her diploma, not unlike the extreme case of Johnny taking a call while playing baseball with his son.

Once again, we see the delusional Lights when it comes to financial matters. Is there anything wrong with letting Theresa work? She wants to work and earn a living, and that would at least alleviate part of the current financial problems and possibly prevent Lights from getting deeper in bed with shady figures. If there is one thing that eventually brings Lights down, it is his unwillingness to see financial truth and take the necessary, legal methods to solve the problem.

Score: 8.9/10

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review - V (2009) Season 2 Episode 10 Mother's Day

Well, the second season of V is over and by now, if there's one thing we've learned, it's that the writers are going to drag out the prelude to invasion as long as possible. I wouldn't have a problem with that if the stuff in between plot revelations were half decent, but it isn't. The plots remain unfulfilling, the characters are boring, and the moral issues are dealt in the worst ways possible.

We're supposed to believe that Erica has somehow turned into Anna with her despicable behavior, but the writers have such a ridiculous setup that it's impossible to see it this way. Anna is pure evil, manipulating and killing her way to the top. Erica, on the other hand, wants to save billions of humans from this lizard. Can we blame her for wanting to kill Anna in the easiest way possible?

Diana getting killed is pathetic writing pure and simple. After building her up for a season and finally allowing her to leave the dank cave, she gives this speech about working with happens... and BOOM!... a tail is sticking through her chest. WTF. Why? Wasn't she supposed to be important? Guess not. Again, the writers are pulling their favorite device, shocking just to be shocking. Speaking of sensible deaths, Tyler gets eaten by Anna's next daughter who comes out of an egg conjured from thin air.

The first half of "Mother's Day" is actually pretty good. The episode moves fast and there's actually a plan to kill Anna which is being carried out. Then the writers remind us that they love the status quo and reset everything: Anna is fine and everyone is bamboozled by her.

Score: 7.8/10

Review - Glee Season 2 Episode 16 Original Song

"Original Song" is incredibly cheesy and is designed specifically to pander to the audience, but I liked it. Maybe that's because recent episodes have been scattershots of theme and plot and "Original Song" is relatively better, but I finished the episode mostly fine with what it is. I've never expected much from Glee or liked it in particular, so the episode does its job.

The episode begins with Quinn in crazy mode, spouting off about becoming prom queen. But as the episode progresses, we see that her behavior can partially be attributed to how see feels about herself. In her mean conversation with Rachel, she says how Rachel will be heartbroken and Quinn and Finn will be married, but also that Rachel doesn't belong here. Although her tone is tinted with anger and disdain, she pays a backhanded compliment to Rachel. Really, the subtext is that Rachel is far more talented than her and she'll become a success while Quinn can only settle for Finn and Lima, Ohio. Quinn follows that statement, saying that Rachel will never find that happy ending, and I'm sure the same can apply to Quinn, who has been supremely conflicted in the two seasons.

The end result is Rachel writing her own song for Regionals, which is very emotional and in a way, apology for her past behavior. Rachel is put through the ringer in the episode, and perhaps she had it coming. After acting bitchy for much of the season, she sees the result, Finn and Quinn back together

What the hell, Sue. I don't even know what to say about her anymore. The other characters are teens in high school, so you can explain their erratic behavior for that, but Sue is supposed to be an adult. Are the writers planning to do more with her?

Score: 8.7/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 3/14/11

ABC won with The Bachelor (4.5) and The Bachelor: After the Final Rose (4.7).

Fox was second with House (3.5) and The Chicago Code (1.9). The Chicago Code was down .1, it's definitely cutting it close for renewal.

CBS was third with a repeat of How I Met Your Mother (1.9), Mad Love (2.1), and repeats of Two and a Half Men (2.6), Mike & Molly (2.2), and Hawaii Five-0 (2.0). Mad Love struggles without a new episode as a lead in.

NBC was last with Chuck (1.6), The Event (1.2), and Harry’s Law (1.8). While Chuck and The Event falter, Harry's Law continues to hang in there.

Review - The Event Season 1 Episode 13 Turnabout

After the fairly exciting return last week, The Event was back to its old tricks, underwhelming and spending an hour doing nothing. The end of "Turnabout" is decent, with Thomas getting hold of nuclear material and Martinez deciding to get tough, but the rest of the episode is dragged down by the usual suspects--Sean, Leila, and a randomly inserted Vicky.

If Thomas caused Chernobyl, does that mean the Russians know about the aliens? Yeah, I don't think the writers thought about that.

Score: 7.5/10

Review - Stargate Universe Season 2 Episode 12 Twin Destinies

I rarely have good things to say about an entire episode of Stargate Universe, but I'll give credit where credit is due: I like like "Twin Destinies." It doesn't try to be too ambitious, remaining largely self-contained and doesn't have huge teases which don't pay off.

The episode takes off when Eli has a plan to dial back to Earth and the calculations work out. Normally, this would be stupid because we know the crew won't get back home at the end of the episode. But the writers acknowledge this and instead introduce another problem which scuffles plans to dial Earth. There's a duplicate Rush from the future who knows everything will go badly.

What results is an interesting take on what happened in the other Rush's futures--a number of crewmembers, mostly the main characters, choosing to remain behind to take the quest of the Ancients. In addition, the crew salvages stuff from the other ship, solving their ship problems, and the other Rush accidentally kills Telford after an argument (though the other version of Telford still exists on Earth). However, he sits in the Ancient chair, so he may still be floating around in the cosmos.

One that jumped out was that I found parts of the episode actually funny. We've seen jokes about clones talking and working together before, but the scenes with the two Rush's got me nontheless.

Score: 8.8/10

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review - The Chicago Code Season 1 Episode 6 The Gold Coin Kid

As a singular episode "The Gold Coin Kid" is perhaps the least ambitious of the episodes thus far, but you could also call it the happiest episode of the series. All the good guys get exactly what they want with the small exception of Caleb, who is still on the outside.

The case this week begins with the overdosed son of rich parents, which leads to a nightclub operating as a brothel. There are several twists as usual and suspects, but it's wrapped up by the end of the episode. Everything goes as planned--including Jarek and Teresa's scheme to fool the chief of staff--the nightclub is taken down and the murderer is caught. Teresa gets the radios, Jarek and and unwitting Caleb get a few weeks suspension, but it's perfectly fine for the most part.

Meanwhile, Vonda shows how savvy she can be, covering for Moose's mistake so she stays on the team. It's a little too convenient, but does well in advancing Vonda's character.

I was really missing Gibbons this week. He always adds that punch to the end of the episode, the "I got you" moment with a grandiose speech brimming with hypocrisy.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Chuck Season 4 Episode 18 Chuck Versus the A-Team

The vast majority of "Chuck Versus the A-Team" is so strong I regret that the episode ends with a resolution. Although the events of the episode are nicely tied up at the end, it seems like there was still some untapped potential in the plot. But as it stands, I'm happy the way Chuck has been going.

"Chuck Versus the A-Team" brings back the Gretas, who've been popping up at the Buy More, and continues to ongoing plot about Casey doing his own thing. Demoted to the B-team and couriering animals, Chuck and Sarah break into the new addition to the CIA base, finding Orion's laptop and the Gretas, Intersects with the same abilities as Chuck.

This plot seems like something the writers would drag out for a couple episodes, similarly to the arc earlier in the season when Chuck couldn't flash. The idea that Chuck is obsolete is major to the entire show since he wouldn't be special anymore, and we see Chuck grappling with the thought. However, the plot advances quickly and in a huge reversal with the nuclear bomb ticking away, Chuck disarms the bomb using his own intuition as well as the Intersect knowledge, proving that application of the Intersect requires a special person. The two Gretas are de-Intersected and for the most part, everything returns to equilibrium.

While it wasn't played up that much, Casey is tugged between his loyalty to his former team and his seemingly new and improved team. He openly admits this to Sarah when she confronts him about dissolving their partnership. It makes sense why Casey would join the new team. His loyalties to the country, after all, come before his friends, and he doesn't want to pass the opportunity to help the nation.

There is a small subplot about Morgan staying loyal to Casey under extreme duress which was cute. The other subplot, the laptop reaching Ellie, is the next big thing, and the laptop seems to already have had a huge effect, causing Ellie to spend hours in front of it without realizing the time. Kind of sounds like me playing computer games.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - House Season 7 Episode 16 Out of the Chute

It's a little late in the season, with 2/3 of the episode already done, but House has taken a pleasant turn these past couple episodes. Now that House and Cuddy are no longer together, House is back to the antics which made him so fun in the first place, and there's no worry he'll go scampering back to Cuddy, who acknowledges that she and House will never work.

And at the same time, there's a dark underpinning to House's actions, exemplified by the final scene where he jumps on whatever high floor he's on into the pool. It's more a fun gesture and not suicidal, as it turns out, but it's clear House is willing to throw himself into more dangerous situations than he would before.

The patient this week is a bullrider, and we're treated to a very cool cold open (both the beginning and end of the episode were done well). The main subplot is Meg trying to contain her irrational feelings about him while the team jockeys for position in House's absence. It's not particularly compelling, since the conflict lies in House, but it's not bad either, which is all you can ask for these days.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Breakout Kings Season 1 Episode 2 Collected

Okay, I thought this wouldn't be a deal big, but why do the Marshalls need the convicts? The only convict who seems crucial is Lloyd who apparently has an IQ of 210 and basically does all the thinking. The rest, however, stand around and do nothing, showing that they either don't have useful skill-sets or are average people. Erica does have the final answer, but it seemed like something a Marshall could figure out.

Speaking of Erica, she replaces Philly, who is tossed away in a line of dialogue. Apparently, Philly checking her bank account also entailed some kind of escape plan. You could argue that Erica is better looking than Philly, but the character is a walking cliche--tough chick who loves her child.

Score: 7.8/10

Review - Shameless (US) Season 1 Episode 10 Nana Gallagher Had an Affair

Following on the exceptionally strong ending to last week's episode, "Nana Gallagher Had an Affair" continues with the dilemma of Monica and Bob wanting to take Liam. The episode doesn't really have "the scene" as last week's episode did, but reinforces the emotional backbone of the show.

Fiona, after gathering with the rest of the kids, gives an impassioned speech about how Monica should leave Liam behind if she loved them, and at the end of the episode, Monica complies and leaves Liam behind. Now, I'm sure everyone has different opinions on who bares the blame. I say it's almost solely Frank. There are some compelling reasons why Monica left. Monica clearly isn't a strong person and as much as she loved her children, Frank must have been the worst husband ever. If she hung on longer, Frank might have gotten her killed. And then we see Frank, who is not only not apologetic, but almost boastful, taking claim of Fiona's hard work. There's a distinct discrepancy between Monica, who is bawling at the end of the episode, and Frank, who is drunk and being an asshole.

This isn't a big deal, but the plot to take Liam turned Bob into a dumb character. On the British version, I remember her being dykish and brusque, but she didn't have a "cause" other than protecting Monica. But now that she wants Liam, she becomes utterly strange and illogical. However, compared to the whole thing about Liam being the biological child of two white parents, it's actually pretty normal.

Karen's subplot was great this week, funny when describing her sexual behavior in front of the prudes and emotionally potent once Sheila comforts. Simultaneously, it allow Sheila to go outside and maybe her agoraphobic is solved.

The Monica arc is over, but there is still a lot going on. Tony has a close eye on Steve, Ian has to figure out what to do with Mikey, and who knows what Karen will do next.

Score: 8.9/10

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review - Big Love Season 5 Episode 9 Exorcism

I've been wondering exactly how Big Love would get through the remaining time with such little time left, especially when there seemed so much unresolved at the end of the last week's episode. "Exorcism" is the answer to that question, burning through several plots while keeping the family conflict at the center of the episode. Although there is still plenty that needs explaining and probably won't be explained, it's clear that plot isn't a priority, and to me that's a positive.

First things first, the plot--Alby finally going down. The episode begins with Alby on the run and the authorities completely behind Bill, so there is no questioning of him. As much as everyone hates Bill, Alby is certainly worse and no one backs Alby to get back at Bill. Alby goes into crazy mode and decides to march up to the capital and kill Bill, but Alby is no Uma Thurman, not even hitting Margene before Bill shoots him. I assume this is the end of Alby, including his ownership of the Home Plus buildings, which makes sense because Alby isn't a character to have a meaningful resolution. The plot is fairly tense and provides a loose structure for the rest of the episode. The only thing left unresolved is Adaleen, who was willing to follow her son off a cliff and now has criminal charges against her.

Like Alby, Greg Ivey is quickly taken care of, with Nicki telling Cara Lynn that she and Bill confronted him and told the authorities. Nicki adds that he was a predator, not  a love-sick fool. Just like that he's gone--if we are to believe Nicki. She says this during a mean-spirited, hurtful speech in the middle of night, telling Cara Lynn directly how terrible she is, which is why I have a feeling she may be lying. It's possibly that Nicki was lying just to make Cara Lynn feel worse. We know that Nicki is saying this because she sees so much of herself in Cara Lynn--being a manipulator and liar, etc--but it's horrible nonetheless and eventually Cara Lynn breaks down and burns her books.

The strength in the episode lies in the ongoing family conflict which I was afraid would dissipate because the wives would band behind Bill. Instead, with the pressing concern that Bill may be in prison for decades, issues such a Barb holding the priesthood comes to a head. Every wife has at least one wonderful scene with Bill. Barb is holding firm to her beliefs and to the family, two incompatible traits according to Bill. Margene, cheerful as always, wants the family to go to Honduras but that's not an option. Nicki really comes off as a bad person in the episode, trying to ship off Cara Lynn and openly stating how she doesn't want another statutory rape in the family. But I still felt bad for her when she burst into tears after Cara Lynn burned her books. Maybe it's Chloƫ Sevigny's acting, but damn did Nicki look beaten down. In the end, though, the three wives and mostly behind Bill and visit him at the office.

Ben just can't seem to get anything right. He turns down Rhonda's marriage offer and is ready to commit to Heather, but Rhonda, in her sociopathic ways, has to say that she had relations with Ben. At this point, Heather is outrage, but the situation is still salvageable, until Ben says he'll be with both of them. Heather tosses her milkshake on him and stalks off like any reasonable person would. Good try, Ben.

Frank and Lois are off somewhere again while Bill is looking for them. Yeah, it's pointless to talk about them anymore.

It doesn't really feel the final episode of Big Love is here, but there is undoubtedly only one episode left. Even though lots of plot was resolved this week, there are still the ongoing charges against Bill and the question about the family sticking together. After "Exorcism" I am back on board and feeling upbeat about how the series will end, and hopefully we won't be disappointed.

Score: 9.0/10

Preview of Week 3/13/11 - 3/19/11

This is a little late, but remember to set your clocks ahead an hour if you haven't already.


The cliffhanger from the end of last season is finally having some effect with the alien invasion on Earth's doorstep. Maybe things will finally pick up.

Criminal Minds

Now that Paget Brewster has joined a pilot, it's even more likely we won't be seeing her next season. Let's hope the second part will be as good as the first.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Review - Fringe Season 3 Episode 16 Os

As I'm writing this, "Anna Torv" is trending on Twitter and has been for a few hours (though there are sporadic patches when she isn't). That's saying something because when the series began, I remember loads of people attacking Torv, criticizing her wooden acting and lack of personality. It was a valid criticism, magnified by the fact that J.J. Abrams had earlier cast the ultimate kick-ass heroine in Jennifer Garner. But as the series progressed and Olivia's role expanded, Torv was able to show she could do more, which partially puts the burden on the writers to trust that she can handle the responsibilities.

Olivia doesn't really do that much in "Os," the most notable thing being her mood change due to being with Peter. It's the final twist everyone will remember, a near-perfect rendition of William Bell's coarse voice, because William Bell is now inside her body. As ridiculous as the soul magnet sounds, it actually works.

Plot-wise, the episode features a standard case about people floating. While it's not particularly exciting, we once again see the significance of the father-son relationship as well as the lingering effects of Walter crossing those years before. Apparently, now that the universes are unstable, the physical world no longer functions as it once was, and the two heaviest elements can combine to be lighter than air.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Fairly Legal Season 1 Episode 8 UltraVinyl

Were the previous episodes this cheesy and sappy? "UltraVinyl" is practically a walking cliche, throwing out every predictable plot device out there--band member who went crazy, fathered a child with a woman and ignored the child, is now well and wants to reconnect. As always, Kate gets things done by pushing the issue far more than she should and comes out looking great. And Justin is back on her side after one episode, which is disappointing.

Why was there even the stuff about gamers in there? What were they even fighting about? Real hardcore gamers don't role play like crazy people.

Score: 7.0/10

Review - The Mentalist Season 3 Episode 17 Bloodstream

Count me very impressed by this season of The Mentalist. After the great episode last time with Hightower running away, the show returned with a slightly different format and plenty of funny moments. Somehow, LaRoche becomes the interim head of CBI and the unwitting Lisbon mouths off to him, resulting in Cho being placed in charge of the team.

Naturally, we'd expect Lisbon to be upset, but she's actually relieved. Years of stress, having to deal with Jane and other aspects of being team leader, is on hold, and Lisbon quickly makes use of her new underling position. She still has certain impulses to lead, but she knows the Cho is in charge and is perfectly happy to hand off responsibility of Jane. The change in roles allows for a Lisbon and Van Pelt bonding scene and plenty of scenes where Lisbon shows her support for Cho.

The above average case is centered at a hospital, with Jane doing most of the work, playing the trick at the end and messing with a Russian criminal in the process. Jane also takes the religious medal at the end of the episode--possible acceptance of religion or just the courteous thing to do?

Score: 9.0/10

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review - Bones Season 6 Episode 15 The Killer in the Crosshairs

Hannah who? Now that Bones is past the latest pointless roadblock, it's actually digging into deeper themes that it could have been explored earlier in the season. "The Killer in the Crosshairs" features the return of Jacob Broadsky, the sniper who killed the Gravedigger, and he's killing other evildoers who have escaped serious punishment.

But the episode goes far beyond the usual plot of catching criminals, with Booth question his motives and mindset. Always looking for answers, Brennan wonders if Booth is somehow similar to Broadsky, which causes Booth distress. While there are similarities between the two--both being snipers, having a strong sense of justice--there is clearly a major difference in the way the two do business, and Brennan clarifies her positions, perhaps too cleanly, saying that Broadsky is bad and Booth is good.

Vincent isn't featured much in the episode but like the other interns, he's reversed course on his quirk and active attempts to have conversations instead of blurting out factoids. The other subplot is Hodgins and Angela getting the right to name their child--but only after Hodgins agrees to have Angela's father's face tattooed on his arm.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 4 Episode 18 The Prestidigitation Approximation

By now, it's clear that The Big Bang Theory is heading back towards a Leonard-Penny relationship. The pieces are set in place--Leonard who rarely gets women and Penny who realizes how great Leonard is--Priya is in the way.

The writers try to set up Priya as a inadequate, bitchy girlfriend, but from my perspective, it reflects badly on Leonard as well. Priya might have been bitchy when she told Leonard not to be friends with Penny anymore, but not all the blame lies on her. Leonard is a wimp who'll do practically anything because she's a girl who has sex with him, so he cows to her every whim without ever pushing back. Once Priya sees how easily Leonard bends to her, she's willing to go as far as telling Leonard to break off ties with Penny.

Sheldon knows how to use the internet, right? A simple search for "magic tricks" would have pulled up many variations of the trick Howard used, and it seems like Sheldon was only curious how the trick was done. If he's willing to outright ask Howard how he does it, what's wrong with the internet?

Even if the plots aren't jelling, I usually find something funny about every episode. "The Prestidigitation Approximation," however, didn't have anything that really made me laugh or even smile.

Score: 7.8/10
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