Monday, October 31, 2011

Review - House Season 8 Episode 4 Risky Business

It's not surprising that House's eighth season serves up another middle of the road episode. Expectations of a new and improved show are gone, replaced by expectations of the same stuff, represented by Chase and Taub coming back next week.

"Risky Business" has a boring medical case with the CEO of a company sending jobs to China, which Dr. Adams expectedly objects to. (Dr. Park's point about her cousin echoes a point Paul Krugman made a long time ago before he became a left-wing crank.) House solves the mystery and also the solvency problem, buying shares of the company knowing he'll save the CEO and raise the price.

Park's disciplinary hearings aren't exactly interesting, but Park is a fun, quirky character who is different than the other characters, especially Adams, who remains very boring.

Score: 8.1/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 7 Episode 8 The Slutty Pumpkin Returns

Katie Holmes hops into the ranks of other famous women to guest star on How I Met Your Mother and she fits along with them: she doesn't really belong, but the writers don't give her anything demanding. The slutty pumpkin from all the way back from the first season is revealed, and after 10 years of waiting, it's a disappointment for both parties. They both want to make it work after so much longing, but in the end they know it isn't right. Thus, ends another chapter in Ted Mosby's never-ending quest to find the Mother.

Barney turning out to be Canadian was kind of pointless, but the writers laid it on thick and Robin pokes fun enough times to make it worthwhile. I'm a big fan of the Canada jokes, so it had me very amused. Likewise, Lily being crazed won't have any affect on the future, but she eventually realizes the suburbs aren't where she belongs, and the show returns to equilibrium.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Terra Nova Season 1 Episode 6 Bylaw

I'm continually astounded by all the mundane things that happen on Terra Nova. Here are these characters, millions of years in the past, surrounded by dinosaurs, and what do we get? A sci-fi'd Hawaii Five-0 plot with a generic love story backdrop. Really, that's it?

Meanwhile, Skye, for reasons unknown, really wants Josh to get Kara back, and Josh is his douchiest yet. His big mission to talk to Mira turns out to be nothing, as she says two things to him and sets him loose. So what was the point of that again? Malcolm continues to put the moves on Elisabeth while she saves the dinosaur, but things are so fluffy with her family that the flirting is rather pointless (until the writers realize the show isn't interesting and throw in a twist).

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Pan Am Season 1 Episode 6 The Genuine Article

So Maggie's a weasel? Huh... that doesn't jive with her behavior in the previous five episodes when she was a hippie in the pilot and fawning over Kennedy in the third episode. She lied to take a college class, she lied about speaking Portuguese, and now she rats out Dean. Maggie's spunk was fun for a while, but she has to be held accountable for her actions. None of the other characters have done anything as devious as she did, even if they are dicks on occasion.

While Maggie as a person has been taken down several pegs, I do appreciate the increased stakes versus last week's episode in which nothing important happened. Kate's spy story was a bit more interesting than usual, with something beyond the task Kate is given. I thought Niko was going to be on three episodes, but it seems like he left for good.

I'm guessing Pan Am will be canceled. The ratings have been below 2 for a while, which is not enough for Sunday nights.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Dexter Season 6 Episode 5 The Angel of Death

I was going to begin  my review by stating that Brother Sam was wearing thin, but then he got shot and I'm waiting to see what happens with him. While Mos Def has been great, the only bright light in an otherwise bland new characters, the writers didn't give him anything to do other than repeat religious platitudes. It was the doomsday end of the world stuff from Gellar, but the generic statements everyone knows by heart. Maybe Sam getting shot will improve his character--or maybe he'll die and that's the last we see of him.

Generally, Dexter is the smartest character and doesn't do anything stupid other than think the most obvious things during his voiceovers. In this episode, though, it seemed like he was competing with Quinn for dummy of the week. First, Dexter finds it necessary to compare Travis's Bible pages to the rectangle cutouts, when it would be plainly obvious to anyone that they were the same. Even then, all Dexter does is look at the rectangles without even taking them to try to fit into the cutouts. So why look at them in the first place? But Dexter decides to be even more stupid, letting Travis go after he says Gellar's been killing. While that may be true, how about some extra digging. Dexter always gets the truth when he's on the hunt--except when it comes to main villain. Come on, writers.

Score: 7.8/10

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review - Homeland Season 1 Episode 5 Blind Spot

Wow, another impressive episode of Homeland. While The Walking Dead hasn't exactly lived up to be a worthy replacement for Breaking Bad on Sunday nights, Homeland has filled the role nicely. The show has also been renewed for a second season, so we'll be seeing a lot more episodes before it's all over.

"Blind Spot" takes a great focus on the intelligence world than the previous episodes, which maintained healthy splits between the Brody family and the intelligence, and it's thrilling from beginning to end. A prisoner, one of Brody's guards, arrives from Pakistan, and Carrie and Saul are given the opportunity to investigate themselves. Once again, it's fascinating to stare at the characters' faces, trying to see their reactions, trying to figure out what's going on behind the stoic faces.

Eventually, the shit hits the fan, and it's a wonderful moment. The prisoner is dead from suicide by razor and professor, whose email is the one provided by the prisoner, is nowhere to be found. The viewer--and Carrie--instantly realizes it was Brody.

But there's little Saul and Carrie can do about it. Brody was so meticulous that he transfered the razor in the blind spot of the camera. So Saul doesn't want to do anything and lets Carrie go on her own and make her wild claims. In the final act, Saul is dealt two devastating blows as firsthis wife  tells him she wants to put down her own roots--go back to India to run her parents' slums project--and then Carrie shows up and after he tells her he doesn't want to make the Brody thing official, she berates him, calling him a pussy to his face.

While Saul and Carrie have proven to be competent with their jobs, David Estes has been mediocre and drops the ball in this episode. David plays the befuddled CIA superior, representative of those at the CIA who missed 9/11. He's not actively trying to hurt anyone, but he's just has other priorities--like appeasing a hero like Brody.

Score: 9.5/10

There seems to be some opinions floating around on the internet that Saul is the mole, opinions partially motivated by Saul "speaking in Arabic" while he was actually speaking Hebrew. And Saul hasn't shown any signs of being a mole yet. The writers haven't followed the 24 format at all and I don't think they'll do it in the future.

Review - The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 3 Save the Last One

I'm glad Carl is better, because this opening arc of the second season hasn't exactly been exciting. Between Carl getting shot and Sophia still missing, the characters, with the exception of Shane, pretty much stayed in the same locations and talked to each other. Talk is fine, it never felt like the conversations were going anywhere. Luckily, "Save the Last One" is the strongest episode of the first three episodes.

The dialogue and actions in the episode are more specific than the "we're screwed" dialogue of the first two episodes. Lori expresses a troubling sentiment that it would be better for Carl if he died. We know Carl won't die, but Lori thinking these ideas is enough. Then, there's the big reveal of how Otis died. Shane shoots him and leaves him for the zombies as decoy! Now that's scary shit.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - The Good Wife Season 3 Episode 6 Affairs of State

While Eli is great as the funny, charming lawyer, it's nice to see his serious side as well. It rounds out his character and gives him the depth often times hidden behind his hilarious outbursts. This side is in full display when his ex-wife, played by Parker Posey, wants to run for state senate. Her scenes bring up lots of old wounds when it's revealed that she slept with a bin Laden relative while married to Eli--during their two happy years--and Alan Cummings rocks the scenes as expected

The whole diplomatic angle of the episode and the case at large didn't work so well. There are references to the One China policy as appeasement to the Chinese government, but the episode doesn't go much beyond that. Also, the case is hardly complicated and ends with the easy conclusion of the Taiwanese guy running around, for presumably being guilty, and caught at the airport. I didn't like we got to see lots of Caitlin, though. Despite the initial way she arrived, she's certainly not stupid

Will meets Zach in the office and it's a little more than awkward. I'd reckon this is the most flustered we've ever seen Will. He's fine in front of a courtroom when thousands or even millions of dollars are on the line, but when it comes to personal issues, he's quite inadequate.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Once Upon a Time Season 1 Episode 2 The Thing You Love the Most

The pilot set the stage of Once Upon a Time, introducing the two separate worlds and the character counterparts, all in a very broad sense. "The Thing You Love the Most," though, focuses on Regina/the Evil Queen, and gives the audience a real enemy to root against. It's firmly established that the Queen, in both the fairy tale and the present, is heartless and there is little question who the bad guy is at the end of the episode.

By the end of the episode Henry and Emma are on board with "Operation Cobra" and have their targets set. Emma, motivated by Regina's duplicity, is now much more invested than she was last week. What remains to be seen, however, is whether she really believes Henry's stories or is just going along so he doesn't think she thinks he's crazy.

Score: 8.6/10

Preview of Week 10/30/11 - 11/6/11

Covert Affairs - USA, Tuesday, November 1, 10:00pm ET

Covert Affairs return for the last half of its second season. As one would expect, it's the same show as always.

Bones - FOX, Thursday, November 3, 9:00pm ET

Bones is finally back!!!! After the bombshell baby revelation last season, I've been eagerly awaiting to see what's going on.

Burn Notice  - USA, Thursday, November 3, 10:00pm ET

I believe I said in my last review of Burn Notice that I wasn't going to review the show anymore. If time permits, I'll watch the new episodes, stare at the explosions, and keep my mouth shut about the plot.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review - Sanctuary Season 4 Episode 4 Monsoon

"Monsoon" has a pretty cool plot, with a set of bad guys and Magnus battling them on her own, but that's not what the audience will remember the episode for. What they'll remember, of course, is Magnus's kiss with Charlotte at the end of the episode.

I guess it actually makes sense given the theme of the show--a set of different people/beings who should be treated like everyone else--but it really caught me by surprise, and I'm not exactly sure whether the gender made a difference. Yes, television kisses are almost always heterosexual, so that's one aspect of that. But there's also the fact that Magnus has rarely, if ever, been shown in a sexual situation. She's thrown errant pieces of dialogue about her love life, but I can't remember the last time we actually got to see her with someone. So that's another component to my surprise. I probably would have been surprised if she kissed a guy, and that she kissed a woman added to that.

Seeing as Kate is gone (for now) and Abbey is hunting abnormals for the FBI, I have a good feeling she'll be working at the Sanctuary by the end of the season. I'm sure Will will be very happy about that.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Boss Season 1 Episode 2 Reflex

The second episode of Boss reinforces the strong points of the pilot, that Tom Kane is powerful and capable, all while watching his own demise. Meanwhile, within Kane's orbits are the other characters with their own things. None of it is too interesting at this point--and Emma drug plot seems very detached from the rest of the show--but there's potential.

Kitty once again has sex with Zajac, in an even more public place than last week's stairwell. I'm curious to see how much Starz will up the ante with the sex. I mean, they did it in partial view of Zajac's wife and kids, and this was only the second time. Spartacus level by the end of the season? About the actual plot, their activities obviously spell trouble whether or not they becomes public knowledge.

Score: 8.8/10

Friday, October 28, 2011

Review - Supernatural Season 7 Episode 6 Slash Fiction

Okay, now I'm worried. The major, season long villains of Supernatural always had a greater agenda than what they were doing week to week. Whether implied or explicitly stated, the various demons and enemies we've seen through the years had something up their sleeves. This drove the seasons forward as the Winchesters dealt with their internal problems.

This season, however, there's little of that. The Leviathans are formidable enemies, to be sure, but they lack the deviousness of the demons, the long-term planning that leads to great arcs towards the end of the season. While they've proven themselves very capable of causing havoc, the consequences of what they do don't seem to be adding up. Who's to say the Winchesters would be fighting less if the Leviathans weren't around?

The problem with "Slash Fiction" is that it begins with events so shocking the writers had to hit reset at the end of the episode. The Leviathans pose as Sam and Dean and start slaughtering people on camera. This leads to a nationwide manhunt, which puts the brothers in crisis mode. This leads to a sticky situation where the brothers are arrested at the police station. However, the writers decide not to have Sam and Dean chased by police for the whole season, so they create an easy solution involving Bobby's sheriff friend who stumbles upon a way to combat Leviathans with borax. So Sam and Dean are declared dead, the actual brothers escape, and they're fine except for Sam knowing about Dean killing Amy. All too convenient if you ask me.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - Chuck Season 5 Episode 1 Chuck Versus the Zoom

Somehow, Chuck has reached its fifth season. Through all of NBC's recent and continuing tribulations, it was able to survive due to not-awful ratings and a small but fervent fan base. I can't say the show is nearly as good as it was in the second season, but it remains a fun show.

"Chuck Versus the Zoom" represents a new start to the show and the features both the old and the new. Chuck and company are still spies so main plot is a mission. The specifics for missions have never been strong and it seems like the writers have gotten lazier over the years. What's great about the missions is all the fun that can be packed in it and the season premiere has a fair amount of it.

The most obvious change is Chuck not having the Intersect anymore and Morgan having it. Compared to the season one Chuck, the season five Chuck is much different, more mature and sure of himself, able to do spy tasks without special powers. In fact, Chuck without the Intersect is about on equal footing with Morgan, who doesn't have a good grasp of his powers yet. But the writers make sure that Chuck does feel something about losing the Intersect. After all, he had it for years and without it, it makes him feel inadequate.

On the character side of things, lots of good stuff with Chuck trying to buy a house for Sarah. She eventually tells him what she wants--a cozy home with a white picket fence--and unfortunately, the CIA freezes their money. The show that sets off in a new direction: Chuck still has the spy company and the Buy More and he endeavors to earn enough money through both. With this, the show now has a goal and the Buy More will be relevant once more.

Chuck's mythology has never been its strong suit and it's a glaring problem in the episode. Decker and the CIA in the background are basic plot devices. Decker takes away the Intersect from Chuck and then takes his money, both game changing twists. But why? It's all shrouded in mystery, so we have no clue why Chuck is in the position he's in now.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Grimm Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Grimm is a procedural with supernatural elements, not a fantasy show with procedural elements. This distinction is actually pretty large, as the majority of the pilot is spent on stuff you'd see on numerous other procedurals through the week--CSI, Criminal Minds, NCIS, etc. And even then the procedural aspect of the show isn't that strong, mainly generic strings of clues leading to the ending.

What sets the show apart from other is the fantasy elements that show up from time to time. They aren't seamlessly molded into the show as they should be, but they're there, if that counts for anything. The main character Nick is in the lineage of Grimms, who hunt down storybook characters like big bad wolves. It's a concept that will get the writers lots of mileage within the procedural format. Beyond that, though, the show doesn't have much else in terms of characters or writer.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 5 Episode 7 The Good Guy Fluctuation

The most generic Halloween plot is when a character gets scared and spends the rest of the episode getting back, and that's exactly what half of "The Good Guy Fluctuation" consists of. Sheldon is turned into a stock "Halloween character," who makes himself into a fool trying to scare others.

The other plot was a bit better since it dealt with a serious matter and was funny in its own right. Still, it didn't negate how useless and dumb the other plot was. Hopefully Priya and Leonard are done for good. Leonard made out with a girl and Priya slept with her ex. The story has gone on far too long already and needs to be over. I'm not confident it is over, though.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - The Secret Circle Season 1 Episode 7 Masked

The characters on The Secret Circle seem especially dumb compared to average television characters. Enemies have been in their midsts since the first episode and after 7 episodes they are none the wiser. Cassie even finds Jake's big knife and does nothing. So, while the new witch hunters are cool enemies, the tension is less than it could be because can't figure out anything on their own and are getting by through sheer luck. "Masked" has both stronger villains than usual--far better than Faye and Diana's parents--but it also has a lot of the near-sightedness that plagues all the characters.

Score: 8.6/10

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review - The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 7 Ghost World

The first 5 episodes of this season were spent focusing on Stefan and Klaus, as their roles represented the major shift in story. The ghost plot hung in the background, never occupying much time and also never really going anywhere. And since Jeremy was the only one seeing ghosts, there wasn't much involvement with other characters. With Matt having to get rid of Vicki last week and Klaus gone, the plot ramped up a lot and now it's over seemingly before it began.

My problem with the episode is that people were missing and it was wrapped up too easily. Where was Tyler, especially since Mason was around? And why didn't Jenna show up? It seems like the writers could have stretched this out at least another episode and added more. The tomb vampire ghosts attacking people was a threat for all of 10 minutes before the spell was done.

But if we treat this episode as a standalone episode without bigger implications, it was generally fine. Mason returning to haunt Damon was plenty of fun, and Lexi's return was very satisfying. I thought the writers killing her off was a misstep, so seeing her again was great. The final scene hammered home the sense of loss everyone has experienced, as all the ghosts disappear and with them the dream of being with them once more.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - The Office Season 8 Episode 5 Spooked

If there ever was an episode which you could describe as "stuff happens," it's "Spooked." Stuff happens. There are some ideas floating around--Pam believing in ghosts, Erin and Andy, Robert California being there--but there is no story, just people doing small things here and there. As with all Office episodes, there are fun moments in the episode with the vast array of characters, but there has to be something more than that, and at this point it seems like the writers aren't even trying.

Score: 7.5/10

Review - Parks and Recreation Season 4 Episode 5 Meet 'n' Greet

Tom is usually self-centered guy, taking everyone else for granted and making himself look much better than he actually is. But he can be a normal guy at times, sympathetic even, so he's still likable. He's probably at his least likable moment yet in "Meet 'n' Greet," when he completely takes advantage of Leslie and hijacks her campaign to promote Entertainment 720, his mismanaged, misguided business. Leslie notices this immediately and it surely took great restraint for her not to hurt him.

The writers salvage Tom's character with the reveal that Entertainment 720 is broke, which makes us feel bad for him and the predicament he's in. Still, it feels a bit like the boy who cried wolf. Tom has been a dick, especially when it comes to his company, like when he invited Ben to look around. How will Tom act the next time he's back in a corner? Probably the same way he's always acted.

Completely divorced from Leslie and Tom was a Halloween episode which had a little of everyone. There are good moments when Ron and Ann fix up Andy and April's place, but the rest of it just played up the usual character beats.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Community Season 3 Episode 5 Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps

"Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps" would have appeared to be a much stronger episode had it not aired after "Remedial Chaos Theory,” both featuring different stories told from different perspectives, but it's another strong episode nonetheless. Scheduling does weird things sometimes and this was one of the instances.

The core of the episode is the characters telling a scary story. Most of them are not good storytellers, with only Annie and Troy telling remotely interesting stories, but the stories are very funny because we can immediately recognize the personality behind the stories and there is plenty of gruesome images throughout the episode

Like most Community episodes, "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps" ends on a positive note, as the fighting which spread until the end of the episode is resolved. There's no psycho in the group and everyone is happy with each other.

Score: 8.9/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 10/26/11

ABC won with The Middle (3.2), Suburgatory (3.4), a repeat of Modern Family (4.5), Happy Endings (3.5), and Revenge (2.7).

CBS was second with Survivor (3.5) and repeats of Criminal Minds (2.8) and CSI (2.0).

NBC was third with repeats of Up All Night (1.1), Whitney (1.1), Harry's Law (0.8), and Prime Suspect (0.8).

FOX was last with repeats of Glee (0.7, 0.7).

Review - Revenge Season 1 Episode 6 Intrigue

Thus far, Revenge has ridden on a wave of revenge plots, Emily getting back at people in satisfying ways. This week, however, the Emily revenging plot is stretched broadly and instead the episode focuses on the characters. Intriguing they are not.

The love triangle of Emily, Daniel, and Jack is bland at best, with Jack telling Emily what he feels before she turns him down. It puts some stitches into Emily's plan, as she considers what she feels versus what she's obligated to do, but there really aren't any imminent consequences. Unless Emily somehow tells Jack about her plans, I don't see how he could get too involved in the overall plot.

Then there's Nolan, hanging around Emily and Jack as usual. The problem with his character is that we only see him in relation to Emily and Jack, not as a person doing his own thing.

Most bizarre is Tyler. I no clue what he's up to, stemming from his initial lie to Daniel about Emily a few weeks back which was easily figured out. I would hazard a guess that he's gay for Daniel based on the way he straddled him, but then what was the creepy head bashing thing into another lie to Amanda? Hopefully things come together eventually, because his character is just a whole bunch of randomness right now.

The worst character is easily Declan, whose incessant whining isn't doing favors. It also doesn't help that he's a moron who's fine poaching and destroying the livelihood of other non-rich people so he can have some extra money. Tip: ultra-rich girl doesn't care about the difference between $0 and $200.

On the revenge front, Nolan sends the video to Conrad and creates the expected dissent. Frank is out, but he manages to get Amanda thinking about what role Conrad had in this. The audience knows Conrad receive the video from an anonymous source, but Amanda, based on prior experience, isn't fully trusting.

Score: 8.0/10

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 10/25/11

FOX won with The X Factor (4.4).

CBS was second with NCIS (4.1), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.7), and Unforgettable (2.5). Unforgettable was reward for its stable ratings with a full season pick up.

ABC was third with Last Man Standing (2.8), Man Up! (2.0), Dancing with the Stars (2.6), and Body of Proof (1.8). Man Up! took a fairly precipitous drop from the premiere and Body of Proof continues to get less than 2.0.

NBC was last with The Biggest Loser (2.0) and a repeat of Prime Suspect (0.9). I still can't believe how low TBL has gotten.

Review - Psych Season 6 Episode 3 This Episode Sucks

Another fun episode of Psych, this time a Halloween episode. I like that Lassiter has been mored inclined to work with Shawn this season--whether it's because he may have killed someone while drunk or because he's initially believes the vampire story. While Lassiter isn't quite himself in the episode and Juliet is the only person with a clear head, we can immediately see the Lassiter traits that make him a good character.

With the recent glut of "Man" shows from ABC, I noticed that these kind of men--like Casey from Chuck, Ron for Parks and Recreation, or Lassiter--are much better characters when they are off to the side rather than the main characters.

Score: 8.9/10

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review - NCIS Season 9 Episode 6 Thirst

Come on...

The first three-fourths of "Thirst" is a snore, with little investigating and tons of commenting on Ducky's love life. We get to know Mary and she seems to be a wonderful person until the writers spring the trap. She's a psycho! That explains why the rest of the episode was so boring and uneventful.

I would probably like it more if the twist were any good, but it's awful. For the hundredth time, the love interest of a character turns out to be a bad guy. That Mary is completely crazy makes it worse. I know it's the ninth season and the writers may be getting short on ideas, but some creativity would be nice. How about happy relationships once in a while instead of the constant stream of dysfunctional ones?

Score: 6.5/10

Review - Sons of Anarchy Season 4 Episode 8 Family Recipe

Clay killing Piney could be seen from a mile away, but man was it sad. After all Piney's done for the club--described numerous times during the episode--Clay ends his life just like that. We know Clay is a bastard, but it's been a long time since a character was killed (the last, I believe, was Half Sack back in the second season), which amplifies the impact of the killing. Then again, one could argue that Piney doesn't do anything and wouldn't be a big loss, and that Clay killing him wasn't shocking based on a pattern of behavior.

"Family Recipe" dangles a bunch of disparate threads with no resolutions, and we get a good sense where the last part of the season is headed. Tara is headed out of town, Charming may be wrested from Hale with help from Roosevelt's wife, and Chibs now knows about Juice's suicide attempts.

Most important, the cartel violence is a daily part of their lives. Everyone is scared of what may happen, and I can't blame them considering the level of brutality. It does seem a little convenient, however, that no one in SAMCRO has been touched yet. And, given that Piney just died, it's unlikely any of the principles will be killed. Clay pinning Piney's murder on Lobos Sonora seems like a big catalyst, but the characters should be able to sniff out that the murder was not in the same style as the other murders.

Score: 8.7/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 10/24/11

CBS won with How I Met Your Mother (4.3), 2 Broke Girls (4.5), Two and a Half Men (5.5), Mike & Molly (4.2), and Hawaii Five-0 (3.1). Great numbers for CBS again.

FOX was second with the World Series (4.2 average including past 11 which is why CBS beat FOX).

ABC was third with Dancing with the Stars (3.2) and Castle (2.4). Wow, DWTS heading lower and lower.

NBC was last with The Sing Off (1.5) and a repeat of Prime Suspect (0.7).

Review - Castle Season 4 Episode 6 Demons

I hadn't expect a Halloween episode this soon, because next week's episode, after all, airs on Halloween, but I'm always game for Halloween episodes, especially on Castle. We get a decent ghost story, full of Castle wanting it to be true followed Beckett's usual denials, and some good scares along the way. This is the kind of Castle episode I want to see each week, one that can balance the humor with serious issues.

Score: 8.8/10

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review - Enlightened Season 1 Episode 3 Someone Else's Life

The focus in "Someone Else's Life" was something we hadn't seen in previous episodes, and I liked the episode more than the first two. Although there is still little dramatic force from episode to episode, the things during the episode are quite enjoyable. Amy is on the verge of breaking down after being trapped in the soulless pit of Abaddon's basement, and while she doesn't get a new job, just seeing the homeless people and those working there gives her a new perspective. She blows off Krista and proceeds to lunch with Tyler. Very nice.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 7 Episode 7 Noretta

Maybe this is just me being lazy on a Monday, but I don't really feel like reviewing How I Met Your Mother on a weekly basis anymore. Aside from big things happening--like Robin and Barney getting back together, or Ted on the hunt for the Mother--I'm not really interested in whatever random thing is going on. This is mainly due to the fact that I don't care about Kevin or Nora. I don't find them funny and I continue to think they're plot devices being used to comment on the characters.

That said, "Noretta" had some funny moments when the parents replaced the significant others. It's a subject broached on plenty of shows, but HIMYM is a visual show and isn't afraid of putting the characters in very awkward positions.

Score: 8.6/10

Reivew - Pan Am Season 1 Episode 5 One Coin in a Fountain

"One Coin in a Fountain" has a very lax quality to it, proceeding as if nothing is important. Plenty of things happen--Kate meeting a guy on her next assignment, Dean meeting a girl, Ted and Laura getting closer--but there are zero consequences afterwards. They fly around, things happen, and it's all good. The way it plays out right now is fine, but the show could have a lot more meat--something it proved it could have with Colette's episode.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - Homeland Season 1 Episode 4 Semper I

After four episodes, I'm ready to declare Homeland to be the best new show of the season--nothing even comes close. Carrie's scene with Brody at the end of the episode is quite fascinating. She spends the episode lamenting the loss of her surveillance after following Brody for weeks, and now she actively finds him out to insert herself into his life. Following with her history of sexual behavior with David and her advances on Saul, it's hard not to think something will happen between her and Brody. It brings into question her state of mind, whether she can control the crazy when with him.

Since her warrant on Brody expired, Carrie moves on and actually tails the professor for a while. When we think she's going to stumble on something big, however, there's an awesome twist in which the professor's wife gets a call telling her to ward the professor away from the house. She quickly puts an American flag outside the window and the prof drives past and to his listed address.

In the Brody household, the turmoil comes to the top when Brody shoots a deer with people at their home. After acting weird the entire episode, Brody really goes over the top and we have to wonder exactly how clearly he's thinking. If he has been turned, is it a conscience decision?

Score: 9.2/10

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Review - Dexter Season 6 Episode 4 A Horse of a Different Color

The religious theme for this season of Dexter is very broad, and I guess you could say that about any show that randomly drops in on religion six seasons into its run. The previous seasons of the show had themes that were intimately tied to Dexter whether it was a serial killer with a family or a serial killer someone could accept. All the conceptualizing more or less pointed directly to Dexter, much like the religious themes on Big Love would point to the Hendricksons. Here, though, characters are talking about religion, but none of it is particularly relevant to Dexter's religion The writers contrive an entire scenario surrounding Harrison in order for Dexter to pray, and it feels really, really cheap.

The useless Dexter subplot may have hit a new low with Batista and Quinn smoking it up. It's kind of funny, but they're supposed to be cops, not Harold and Kumar. As an aside in last week's review, I said that Ryan might have stolen the Ice Truck Killer stuff to for serial killer black market, and it actually turned out to be partially what happened. It's one of the most boring things that could have come from the theft--that Ryan needed money and thought no one would notice its disappearance.

Travis and Professor Geller continue to do what they've been doing. It's obvious Geller is the one in charge while Travis dutifully follows, even if he harbors some initial reluctance. There was some evidence indicating that Geller is a real person rather than a ghost, as he binds the woman while Travis is sleeping, but Travis could also be doing things unconsciously. I'm hoping Dexter spotting Travis, who is stupid enough to hang around, will lead to more answers about them next week. Even though we don't know much about them, I have to say, the way they stage bodies has been pretty cool.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2 Bloodletting

As much as the writers want us to care about the characters alongside the zombies, it's not helping much. After two episodes with great focus on the characters, I still don't care too much about them. It surely doesn't help that most of the dialogue is a variation on "look around us, we're fucked."

The plot this week revolves around Carl getting shot at the end of last week's episode. We meet the Greenes, and luckily Hershel is a doctor... of animals. Rick and Lori fight, Shane and the new guy Otis go to get medical supplies, and the rest of the people meet Maggie, who's riding on a horse, then make it back to the highway. There's okay stuff in there, like Rick and Lori's conversations, but nothing exceptional.

The cold open of the episode was Lori talking with a friend about her marital troubles before Shane pulls up to tell her about Rick getting shot. It mirrors the conversation Rick and Shane had at the beginning of the pilot, and doesn't add anything particularly new. It's not exciting like a zombie opening would be and it's doesn't shed light on anything either.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - The Good Wife Season 3 Episode 5 Marthas and Caitlins

The case in "Marthas and Caitlins" is paper thin, featuring a problem with plane, and is mostly an opportunity to revisit an old character in Colin Sweeney, played by Dylan Baker, who recently finished up a stint on Damages as, you guessed it, a creepy guy. Sweeney, who we haven't seen since the first season, remains a creepy guy who is also indispensable. He likely killed his wife and probably has tendencies along those lines, but he has useful assets, though may be a stretch that he just happened to have the key information for the case. In any case, he proves himself very capable of getting information out of prison thugs for his own release, and then testifying for the case.

Alicia's conflict with David Lee is great stuff, showcasing her place in the firm--both as the low man of the totem pole and as a Caitlin, the one who got in not by merit but by connections. Seeing all of this puts things in perspective for her: no matter how great she thinks she, she's still a lowly third-year associate; and more, she'll always carry the stigma of being in the firm because of Will.

From what I've read, that was Lisa Edelstein's last episode on the show as Celeste. Although she isn't critical to the show, she represents a foil for Alicia, a woman who is different but also feels something for Will. It gives Alicia a great deal to think about, wondering what makes her similar to Caitlin to have the same tastes in men.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Once Upon a Time Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Much of Once Upon a Time's pilot is spent setting up everything, because it's actually pretty complicated despite the friendly nature of fairy tales. Even at end of the episode there are tons of questions left at the end of the episode, but we get a decent idea what happened. What the pilot doesn't answer, however, is how the show will proceed in later episodes.

The setup in a nutshell: Familiar fairy tale characters, like Snow White and Prince Charming, get their memories wiped by the Evil Queen and are sent to present-day Storybrooke. The mayor the town is the Evil Queen, who also had her memory wiped unless there's a twist later on. The mayor's adopted son, Henry, is biological son of Emma, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming who is supposed to save everyone. Henry tracks Emma down in Boston, and Emma brings Henry back to Storybrooke where she decides to stay.

With the rest of the fairy tale characters sans memories, there are lots of pieces the writers can work with. But the pilot doesn't offer much in terms of a story. Things happen, but it's all introduction, showing viewers the fairy tale characters and modern counterparts. We don't get any idea how the fairy tale affects the modern world or how Emma is supposed to save everyone. Given that the show is written by Lost writers, clear answers may be hard to come by.

Score: 8.5/10

Catching up on A Gifted Man

My schedule has been very busy this year, so I haven't been able to watch certain procedurals on the day or day after they air. I got a little extra time this weekend and watched the three episodes I hadn't watched.

Mainly, the show has its moments, but is nothing spectacular and is sometimes mind-numbing. While it's clear Michael gets more involved with the clinic each week, the writers find it necessary to have him declare how he's never touching the clinic again, only to have Anna pop up and convince him otherwise. With no subtlety, the writers desperately try to drill into the viewers' heads that Michael, with Anna's help, is fighting these impulses to be self-centered.

One thing that really caught my attention, the gunshot in the last episode. I've heard plenty of guns shot on television, but for some reason that one was loud enough to shock me.

Preview of Week 10/23/11 - 10/29/11

Once Upon a Time - ABC, Sunday, October 23, 8:00pm ET

ABC dips into the fairy tale realm with Once Upon a Time. The pilot is charming enough, cutting between the fairy tale world and the present time without ever becoming too dark, so I'll definitely be watching more episodes.

Chuck - NBC, Friday, October 28, 8:00pm ET

Chuck is back for its final season, after a major twist to end the fourth season. The series began with Chuck becoming the Intersect and now he doesn't have any special powers. I'm not sure how this will work out.

Grimm  - NBC, Friday, October 28, 9:00pm ET

Less than a week after Once Upon a Time, NBC airs its own fairy tale with a twist, though with a much greater emphasis on procedural. Considering it's going right up against Supernatural and Fringe in the timeslot, I don't think it'll do well in the ratings.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review - Sanctuary Season 4 Episode 3 Untouchable

Man, why can't the Sanctuary writers just get back to the usual capturing abnormals plots? "Untouchable" introduces us to possibly the biggest douchebag in television history, this UN guy who is incessantly smug and rude, calling abnormals monsters as he arrives. He tries to convince Will to take over the Sanctuary, but there are no dramatic moments where we actually believe anything would happen. He's so unlikable and his argument so flimsy that Will would never help him.

And indeed Will does not, and the misdirects are explained in full afterwards. So in the end, nothing happens expect Magnus gives the middle finger to the UN, which has been wholly unhelpful through the course of the show.

Score: 7.5/10

Review - Nikita Season 2 Episode 5 Looking Glass

As Alex prepared to go to Belarus and cross paths with Nikita once again, I thought to myself how contrived it was that Alex would continually meet Nikita in random places despite the many things that go on in the world and the number of agents Division has. Nikita and Alex are now doing their separate things, and for them to continually meet the ways they do--like in "Looking Glass" where they are in the same place but don't see each other--is completely farfetched. I wouldn't mind if there was Nikita or Alex in an episode just so we could see them doing something without the influence of the other, a more realistic scenario that would also bring focus to the episode.

The plot of the episode was also contrived a fair bit. The stuff with Michael's former asset was pretty good but the way in which she and her son almost died--in a car explosion, the exact same way Michael's wife and daughter died--was ludicrous. Finally, the soap opera reveal, the son is Michael's and Nikita knows--but will she tell?

Score: 7.9/10

Friday, October 21, 2011

Review - Supernatural Season 7 Episode 5 Shut Up, Dr. Phil

On its own, "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" is a funny episode, featuring two funny Buffy alums, Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters, as a feuding husband and wife witch couple. Their murders to get at the other are all very grisly and were stimulating to say the least, and the final bit where they reconcile was great. Even though Cordelia and Spike didn't have too many scenes together (and once again I have to wonder what the fifth season of Angel would be like if Cordelia was in it), it's cool to see both of them together.

Viewed, however, in the context of what Dean did to Amy, it doesn't make too much sense. Dean's exact words were that she'd kill again so he had to kill her. Excuse me, Dean, but didn't the two witches just kill four people? Why is this different? Normally I would be fine with something like this because the funny parts of Supernatural are often cordoned off from the rest of the show. But the writers use Don to deal with the Leviathan, bringing the two worlds together. I'm not sure I really want to make a big deal about this, but the writers don't seem to care about these obvious contradictions, which is troubling when the brothers try to talk about morality and stuff like that.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Boss Season 1 Episode 1 Listen

While Boss may not be immediately compelling, it has a lot going for it. Starz has thrown all its weight behind the show, already renewing it for a second season, gotten a solid cast surrounding the very famous Kelsey Grammer. This goes along well with the first, 8 episode season, which is long enough for plenty of happen, but short enough to quickly get into the meat of the show.

Boss begins with a bang, the revelation that Mayor Tom Kane (Grammer) has a terminal, degenerative disease. This start, much like that of Breaking Bad, sets the show in motion with this impending constraint. We see Tom in all his power and he shows everyone who's the boss, and Grammer is nothing short of incredible in these scenes. But throughout the episode, even right after Kane delivers a grandiose speech, Kane cracks just a bit. He sways, becomes flustered, and at one point blurts out a random word. Kane may be the boss of Chicago, but certainly not of himself.

Alongside Kane's plot is a bevy of plots which seem fine but not anything special. There's Kane's wife, Meredith, who is very distant from Kane, his aide Kitty who sleeps with the gubernatorial candidate Kane supports, and his daughter Emma who is attracted to a drug dealer who later gives her some drugs (are we to assume she has a drug problem?). As the episode finishes, we get a good sense that Kane has plenty on his plate but not enough time, something that will surely haunt his conscience as the season proceeds.

Score: 9.0/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 10/20/11

FOX won with the World Series (4.0).

CBS was second with The Big Bang Theory (5.1), Rules of Engagement (3.6), Person of Interest (2.7), and The Mentalist (2.5). Good return for Rules of Engagement. I'm expecting a full season pick up for Person of Interest one of these days, since it's been holding steady.

ABC was third with Charlie's Angels (1.2), Grey's Anatomy (3.6), and Private Practice (2.3). Charlie's Angels has been canceled and is being burnt off.

NBC was last with repeats of Community (0.9), Parks & Recreation (1.1), The Office (1.5), Whitney (1.1), and Prime Suspect (0.8). NBC on the bottom with or without repeats.

Review - The Secret Circle Season 1 Episode 6 Wake

The aftermath of Nick's death is fairly interesting, as his brother Jake heads into town and we learn later that he's part of a witch hunter group. His arrival stirs up old feelings for Adam, who resents Jake for stealing his father's things, and Faye, who apparently was treated badly by him. These feelings come out in various ways, most notably as Adam reacts to Jake and Cassie being close, which in turn pushes Diana over the edge. I still don't really care about the characters and Thomas Dekker remains as stiff as ever, but the story is beginning to shape up.

Score: 8.5/10

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review - The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 6 Smells Like Teen Spirit

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" is the first episode this season that had more than one wobbly plot. While the main plot relating to Elena and Stefan was great, the other plots got shafted a bit and weren't really able to develop.

The Vicki plot went from Matt being able to communicate to Vicki to Vicki gone. In many ways, it felt much like the way Vicki died the first time, a death which, I believe, came about too fast. She became a vampire--analogous to moving into the physical world--and then dies quickly afterwards, giving us little time to process what happened or even let Vicki get to do anything.

The way the Tyler business was really off. In one moment, everyone's concerned about how Tyler is sired, Damon explaining how Tyler has extra devotion to Klaus; in the next, Tyler is left alone with Caroline and no one checks on him again. Unless Damon hitting him in the back of the head did the trick, I don't understand why they didn't keep a closer eye on him considering his allegiance to Klaus. Now, Tyler is ripping bodies apart and no one knows.

Those two plots were the big problems I had with the episode. The rest--awesome. Turned-off Stefan is funny to no end and he's way more likable than the old Stefan. The episode ends with Mason returning--not in ghost form hopefully. Since he's able to knock Damon to the ground, he's probably not a ghost.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The Mentalist Season 4 Episode 5 Blood and Sand

The third season of The Mentalist began in a dark place, with the Kristina Frye stuff and Jane's past coming back to haunt him. In contrast, Jane has been pleasant and easy-going this season, a state clearly evident in "Blood and Sand." Alongside the ocean, Jane seems to be in a much different place, which is odd since he's convinced Red John is still out there. But that's how he is now and we'll see if he continues to behave like this.

Van Pelt continues to have problems. She combative, even getting into it with Rigsby, and is actually causing a lot of harm by pissing people off. The more she gets entangled with people the less people want to get involved with Lisbon's team. There will obviously be a breaking point some time during the season, something that should be interesting. It's nice to see payoff from the events of the third season, especially compared to Criminal Minds which has all but forgotten what happened in the previous season.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 5 Episode 6 The Rhinitis Revelation

Character growth may or may not be possible for Sheldon--who may or may not have learned certain lessons in the episode, as the show tends to reset back to equilibrium--but his mother, played by Laurie Metcalf, is guaranteed to by funny as she is in "The Rhinitis Revelation." With her around, Sheldon is still crazy but kept in check, making him more endearing than obnoxious. Mary herself is very pleasant, with her Texasisms coming off rather sweet.

There was a surprising amount of continuity in this week's episode. Howard going to the International Space Station is still on, Priya is mentioned several times in the episode, and Sheldon's weird relationship with Amy is at the forefront. Alas, when Mary talks with Raj, the writers already forgot about Raj's relationship a couple episodes ago.

Score: 8.7/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 10/19/11

FOX won with the World Series (4.2).

ABC was second with The Middle (3.0), Suburgatory (3.1), Modern Family (5.7), Happy Endings (3.0), and Happy Endings (2.5).

CBS was third with Survivor (3.3), Criminal Minds (3.9), and CSI (2.6).

NBC was last with Up All Night (2.1), a repeat of Whitney (1.2), Harry's Law (1.3), and Law & Order: SVU (2.2).

Review - Psych Season 6 Episode 2 Last Night Gus

"Last Night Gus" is an incredibly fun episode, starting with the premise--Shawn, Gus, Lassiter, and Woody waking up in the Psych office without any clue what happened the night before. As one would expect, a lot happened, so as they solve the murder, they always piece together what happened the night before. In reality, the case and what happened wasn't too complex, and it's mostly the silly stuff that makes the episode work.

Score: 9.0/10

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review - Revenge Season 1 Episode 5 Guilt

While "Guilt" is probably the strongest Revenge so far, I have to question an evident plotting problem. The series began in future with Emily's fiance Daniel being killed, before going back to the present and beginning the story of how that got there. Already, I was wondering how well the decision to show that would turn out, as it could have been a potent twist down the line. We almost certainly knew for a fact that Daniel will die, likely in the season finale. But there was always the possibility that how the events eventually played out wouldn't be what we expected. Emily may not have been involved at all as we were led to believe.

However, "Guilt" begins with Lydia dying, much like Daniel did. We are inclined to believe that Emily planned it, because she's been the one causing trouble. In a way it sucks the energy from the later twist of Lydia discovering Emily in an old photo since we can easily reason that because Lydia dies she won't reveal the secret, and indeed that's what happens. Then, there's a twist to Lydia dying, that it was not Emily who did it but Victoria's security guy Frank. So now, if the writers want to play a trick with Daniel's death, the audience will have already seen the Lydia trick. I'm hoping they pull out something really exciting, but it seems like the writers have put themselves into a box.

But other than that, a very solid, satisfying episode with plenty of Victoria vs. Lydia action and all the attitude that comes with it. It's also the first time we've seen cracks in Emily's plan. She's not exactly a ghost, as the picture shows. Who knows where else she'll show up next.

Score: 9.1/10

Review - Up All Night Season 1 Episode 6 Birth

"Birth" is a little weird, airing over only a fourth of the way through the season and being entirely set in the past. The episode has some good moments with Chris and Regan, less Ava than usual, and their lives before the baby, but it's a birth. How funny can a birth be, and how complete can a plot about a birth be? Up All Night isn't a show where things quickly spiral out of control and go crazy, so there's no much going on other than the birth, which goes along with a few snags but otherwise is normal.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Suburgatory Season 1 Episode 4 Don’t Call Me Shirley

Each episode of Suburgatory can exist in is own bubble if viewed in a certain way. As the show has progressed, the characters have remain largely the same, even though there are recurring characters that filter through various episodes. Tessa is still the same, hating the suburbs and wanting to return to New York, George is still the dad trying to put up with his daughter, and the other characters, Dallas, Dalia, and Lisa, are the same people are they were in the first season.

So the show acts like a spotlight, using the same characters each week to draw attention to an issue in the suburbs. This week, the issue was how there's normally no criminal element and when there is, everyone goes crazy. While I'm not entirely enthused by what seems to be a reset every week, the show is good each week regardless. Jane Levy has been a great surprise as Tessa, playing the multifaceted role very well.

Score: 8.6/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 10/18/11

FOX won with The X Factor (3.9).

CBS was second with NCIS (3.9), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.4), Unforgettable (2.5).

ABC was third with Last Man Standing (3.1), Man Up! (2.4), Dancing with the Stars (2.6), and Body Of Proof (1.9). Last Man Standing dropped quite a bit from is premiere, but is still doing good. Man Up! premiered okay and needs to not drop a lot.

NBC was last with The Biggest Loser (1.9) and Parenthood (2.0)

Review - Man Up! Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

MAN!!! That's about enough to describes Man Up! The word 'man' is uttered way too many times through the episode, as it seems like that's all the male characters are fixated on. The show is plain obnoxious, with a slew unlikable,  forgettable characters and nothing else.

Score: 6.0/10

Review - Sons of Anarchy Season 4 Episode 7 Fruit for the Crows

The deal the Sons made with the cartel earlier in the season is definitely paying off in spades. The Sons always had a way out, even in the third season when they could fly over to Ireland and handle business. But now that they are deep in bed with the Galindo Cartel their window is as small as it can get. Galindo's enemies showed themselves perfectly capable of retaliating over the border, shooting and almost killing Alvarez. To add to that, Uncer's stalker note has everyone on edge, even if they don't believe it's related to the cartel business. There doesn't seem to be a good way out.

Whatever one may think of the Juice plot and the motivations behind how he got where he is now, he has actually done things he can't turn back from. He's killed Miles, and now Potter, through Roosevelt, has him by the throat. Juice killing himself would be a chilling and haunting ending for an episode which painted all the characters into a corner, but there is the distinct sound of a branch snapping as the episode fades away. Unless Kurt Sutter is pulling a double twist on us (which I actually wouldn't mind), Juice will be alive next week, albeit in a massive predicament.

Score: 9.0/10

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 10/17/11

CBS won with How I Met Your Mother (4.2), 2 Broke Girls (4.4), Two and a Half Men (5.3), Mike & Molly (3.9), and Hawaii Five-0 (3.1). CBS continues to blow the competition away

ABC was second with Dancing with the Stars (3.3) and Castle (2.5).

FOX was third with Terra Nova (2.8) and House (3.1). Both Terra Nova and House rebounded from last week, but we'll have to wait until the ratings stabilize.

NBC was last with The Sing-Off (1.6) and a repeat of Prime Suspect (0.8).

Review - Enlightened Season 1 Episode 2 Now or Never

Two episodes into Enlightened and I still don't know what to make of the show. It's pleasant enough, but it seems kind of stagnant, even though Amy did get a job. She's sitting into her little bubble, trying to get by when everything around her is so bad, and this separation doesn't lend itself to anything particularly pressing.

Score: 8.3/10

Monday, October 17, 2011

Review - Castle Season 4 Episode 5 Eye of the Beholder

I haven't reviewed Castle lately because I haven't had time (and if I did have time, I'd much rather review Hawaii Five-0), but I found "Eye of the Beholder" to a pleasant episode worthy of a review.

In general when I watch Castle, I'm bored by the case. The immediate details like how the person die may be interesting, but that quickly descends into lots and lots of expositional dialogue in which the characters say everything that's happening. I don't know about everyone else, but I'd listen to an audiobook if I wanted someone to tell me a story.

"Eye of the Beholder" is far less complicated than previous episodes and didn't have as much dialogue explaining what's going on. Or least the stuff on the side--the Drive reunion of Nathan Fillion and Kristen Lehman--was entertaining enough to push the dialogue away. The episode keeps a fast pace, as Beckett scowls in disapproval and Castle leers continuously.

Bringing up the Beckett and Castle relationship issue is a moot point, but it's something that continues to bother me. It's obvious what the endgame is, but the writers are taking sooooooo long that it doesn't even matter. Beckett has pushed her feelings down so much that she can't even begin to express what she feels in words. It feels like no progress is being made and it's very repetitive by now.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - House Season 8 Episode 3 Charity Case

The whole "character quirk as medical problem" plot has been done so many times on House that it's no surprise that the patient (played by Wentworth Miller) actually has a medical problem which makes him want to give away his things. The added twists is that instead of House being his usual dickish self, he wants the guy give away money, to fund diagnostics so he can get the whole team together. While this didn't last the entire episode, the episode as a whole felt very streamlined and flowed nicely, as there weren't any random side-stories like there were in several episodes last season. We get to see some interplay between Dr. Adams and Dr. Park, and they seem like good characters.

The episode also marks the last episode for Olivia Wilde unless she returns for the series finale. Her exit is rather understated, as she shows up in only a few scenes, blurts out some lines of medical jargon, and then is out the door forever. I like it this way, given how little attention the other characters have gotten through the years, and her departure didn't add an extra burden onto the rest of the episode.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Terra Nova Season 1 Episode 5 The Runaway

The plot of the young, orphaned child showing up at the characters' doorstep is a fairly common sci-fi plot, but I'd say "The Runaway" is a step forward. I mean, it's not as common as angry birds or amnesia. Maybe the writers will get down to ancient artifacts by the end of the season.

Through the story of Leah showing up, the audience learns a couple new pieces of informations: Mira kept a mysterious container buried and wanted it back, and she made a deal with the people in the future so she can get her girl back. Now, none of this information is particularly useful since we still essentially know nothing, and the dialogue is shrouded in Mystery, but it's a start.

Score: 8.1/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 7 Episode 6 Mystery vs. History

While "Mystery vs. History" didn't get many laughs out of me, I found the episode to at least have interesting subject matter. There's the issue of mystery vs. history--whether Ted should search online for information about his date, whether Lily and Marshall should find out the gender of their baby--and then the idea that the group is very dysfunctional, seen from the outside by Kevin, Robin's boyfriend/former therapist. It was fun to see Ted's dates in the past along with Kevin's diagnosis of the group which included the aside that at least they aren't violent--followed by the violence montage.

One thing that bothered me in the episode is that I still don't find Kevin funny. He's kind of just there, poking in to make comments. Without physical humor or a wacky plot, he hasn't done anything to justify him being there.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Homeland Season 1 Episode 3 Clear Skin

After last week's episode, most people could have expected Lynne to die at some time during the season, as she couldn't be undercover forever and not get caught/leave. The writers one-up this by killing her off before this week's episode is even over, a twist that showed what was at stakes and propelled then show forward narratively. Through the course of the episode, we actually get a good look at Lynne and Carrie, and Lynne's death isn't  a flippant killing as one may expect. Carrie cares about her job and she cares about Lynne. For Lynne to die so abruptly is a big deal and the viewers can feel that.

Alongside the spy story, Brody and his family remain very interesting, with the normal home life punctuated by odd behavior from Brody. We can see that there is something off with Brody, but besides from the more explicit flashbacks, we don't really know what's up with him. On top of that, Jessica is now trapped between her past and present--what she had with Mike and now her husband being miraculously alive.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - Pan Am Season 1 Episode 4 Eastern Exposure

The backstory of Colette in last week's episode worked great, because it fit with the context of the episode. They stopped in Berlin, giving her a flood of childhood memories, so the focus on her seems entirely appropriate in the context. And since she was already a likable character, it only reinforced our feelings about her.

The writers try to emulate this in "Clear Skin," but it's not the same situation and it ends up not being as good. For starters, Ted (and the other male characters, for that matter) hasn't been a very good character thus far, and "Clear Skin" doesn't really change that. We get his backstory--how he was a Navy pilot and wanted to be an astronaut, how his father allowed him to be booted out for a defense contract--proceeded on the fact that Ted is mad at Dean for being younger than he is. It's fine material, but nowhere near as compelling as Colette's story.

The other plots this week were very weak, with Kate trying to do her spy business while Laura almost ruins things. It leads to a big argument between them, but it's kind of meaningless since Kate is hiding so much from Laura. Kate can't say what she really wants to say, so their conversation isn't exactly what they're feeling. The traveling to Rangoon and Jarkarta plot was very generic--exotic locale, etc.

Score: 8./10

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Review - The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 1 What Lies Ahead

First and foremost, people watch The Walking Dead for the zombies. There's something about them that frightens and intrigues, as they slouch along the ground, hunting for human flesh. When zombies are on screen, The Walking Dead is practically unmatched in terms of tension and I think the high ratings for the first season can attest to that.

However, it is a television show where characters are supposed to be integral, and thus far they've been more distractions between the zombies than anything else. Most of "What Lies Ahead" is spent on the characters instead of the zombies, trying to balance the two and it doesn't quite work completely. We get introduced to new dynamics--Carol angry at Rick, Lori mad at Shane for ignoring Carl (and not for the attempted rape incident?), Shane planning on leaving, Andrea being mad at Dale and wanting to leave with Shane--but I'm not sure I care about the characters anymore than I did before. None of the character work seemed particularly significant.

Beyond the characters, there was plenty to like about the episode. The zombie herd coming down the highway was fantastic, easily matching the zombie attacks from the first season, including the pilot. Even though there aren't zombies throughout the episode, there is still plenty of tension. There are long stretches of silence, an uneasy stillness, which permeates each scene. The lack of zombies indicates something potentially greater than a zombie--that a zombie can be hiding around the next corner.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Dexter Season 6 Episode 3 Smokey and the Bandit

The implication at the end of "Smokey and the Bandit" is that Dexter will end up being a lame, old man like the Tooth Fairy, without anything left besides the desire to kill and no physical ability to carry out the act. Then, Dexter drops his slides and they scatter over the ground, some broken and all in the wrong place. OK, fine, so Dexter in 30 years might have a bad life. But what does this have to do with the present? Looking at what's been going on this season, there's a clear answer: religion--more specifically, Christianity. If there was ever a dead end plot, it's forcing religion onto a character. I can't imagine anything remotely interesting the show can do with this idea.

The rest of "Smokey and the Bandit" is standard fare. LaGuerta is being a bitch yet again, Quinn is mad at Deb and getting back at her by hooking up with different women, and Ryan is revealed to be a possible psycho obsessed with the Ice Truck Killer. Either that or there's a black market out there for serial killer wares.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - The Good Wife Season 3 Episode 4 Feeding the Rat

The case started off better than most this season, with the audience seeing the client being innocent before he's suspected of the crime. The entire case, however, is pretty boring. At first after there is a witness that positively confirms the client's identity, I thought Kalinda would dig into the witness's background which would then lead to something deeper. Instead, only after most the episode is spent finding nothing, then Kalinda looks into the witness and finds out he actually the shooter. Well that was easy...

Diane's plot, while solid, needed to be extended a little further. There have been money problems this whole season and the previous seasons, so when Diane wants to stop pro bono work, it makes perfect sense. But when Diane finds her roots, helping Alicia,  talking to the legal aid guy, and deciding to move him and his people into the office, it rings false. The quick turnaround makes the money troubles seem not as significant. At the very least, it should have gone into the next episode so we'd actually wonder whether Diane lost part of herself. I guess we'll learn more since Romany Malco will be on the show for more episodes.

This is the second week with Celeste and we see just how slimy she can be, deliberately making things awkward between Will and Peter. While the move might seem inappropriate for someone courting a legal partner, she seems to know how to push Will's buttons. She busts out the potential for Will to become baseball commissioner, and this ploy really grabs Will's attention until he realizes what he has at the present.

I'm sorry to say this, but the episode felt a lot more streamlined without any detours into the Florrick household--no Zach and whatever he's up to these day and no Grace and her weird tutor. There was still personal drama to be found--Will's "love you" to Alicia--but it didn't interfere with the episode nearly as much as kid drama does.

Score: 8.6/10

Preview of Week 10/16/11 - 10/22/11

The Walking Dead - AMC, Sunday, October 16, 10:00pm ET

The zombie scenario will always be interesting, but it remains to be seen whether the characters can be anything more than the side show.

Man Up - ABC, Tuesday, October 18, 8:30pm ET

ABC's Tuesday comedy block seems intent on focusing on "Man." I don't think these shows will work in the long run.

Boss - Starz, Friday, October 21, 9:00pm ET

After the disastrous Hank, hopefully Kelsey Grammer's next show will be an improvement. Given that Starz is getting ambitious with its dramas, Boss should be more watchable.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Review - Nikita Season 2 Episode 4 Partners

The first season of Nikita had two sides--Nikita and Alex on one, and Division on the other. Their roles were clearly defined and it was already evident what they wanted. In the second season, things are much different. There's still the story of Nikita vs. Division, with Michael and Birkhoff joining Nikita's side and Alex leaving, but there is also the increasing reach of Ari Tasarov and Gogol, and Sergei Semak and Zetrov. There are so many competing interests and secrets that every plot gets tangled in a web of lies.

"Partners" shows us the fleeting bonds of partnership, as Nikita's former partner could only be loyal for so long before helping Gogol. While Nikita may have saved Alex this time and will continue to do so, Alex is deadset in her objectives and is a threat despite Nikita's goodwill.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Sanctuary Season 4 Episode 2 Uprising

While I've been confused by Sanctuary before, the decision to air "Uprising" after "Tempus" really had me scratching my head. The way the two episodes did play out left little mystery. From "Tempus" we knew Magnus was perfectly safe and would reappear shortly after disappearing. Indeed, she shows up at the end of the episode, as expect, and saves the day. There's nothing surprising about that, and it's actually a bit boring.

On the other hand, if the episodes were flipped, there would be plenty of confusion over Magnus's whereabouts, and her arrival would actually be a twist. Then, the next episode would be "Tempus," explaining how Magnus got back. It would allow the cliffhanger at the end of the third season to be stretched an extra episode.

As for "Uprising" itself, it's the usual Sanctuary resolution to a big problem. First, there are the implications that it will be the end of the world if the characters don't save the day, and then the characters do save the day. There are some deaths and disruption, but the world is not changed irrevocably. At this point, we can expect Sanctuary not to go for any major game changer.

Score: 8.1/10

Review - Fringe Season 4 Episode 4 Subject 9

I don't know about everyone else, but this season hasn't been doing it for me. Hopefully this changes with Peter's return, though the first four episodes give me little confidence.

My biggest problem has been the lack of momentum in this opening arc. There's no urgency. Now that Peter isn't in this world, what has changed that makes it so necessary for Peter to return? Nothing. Olivia is doing fine, Walter is a bit kookier but Olivia is there for him, and the two worlds aren't at war anymore. Peter could be taken out of the show completely and it'd be a lot like the first season.

I think point this out every week already, but the third season had a much better start with the immediate predicament of Olivia trapped in Earth-2. That was a human struggle where both sides were understandable. In this season, though, there just a big mystery hanging over the season regarding Peter's disappearance. And really, we have no idea what's going on because only the writers know how the sci-fi mechanics work on the show.

"Subject 9" is a pretty slow episode and not much happens, but like the rest of the episodes this season, it has stellar scenes of Olivia and Walter. We get a look back at the Cortexiphan kids and the harm Walter caused in the past. The episode ends with an expected twist, the return of Peter, which should bring some much-needed excitement to the next episode.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Supernatural Season 7 Episode 4 Defending Your Life

Eh..... I'm not entirely sure what that was about, but "Defending Your Life" definitely wasn't a normal episode of Supernatural and not in a good way. Although I liked the scenes with Jo, the episode tries to aim for something complex and misses, generating a patently artificial situation which feels unnatural and forced.

The central motivator for the exploration of guilt is the Egyptian god Osiris randomly popping up, and he's a one-note character bent on carrying out his form of justice. Again, Jo and Alona Tal are awesome, but it's a quite arbitrary what Osiris does and this allows the writers to create any dialogue they want without fully addressing the major issues of the season.

But there are a few worthwhile things to come out of the episode--Sam revealing that he has no guilt, in great contrast to Dean. Trying to quantify amount of bad things each brother has done won't go anywhere, so it's best to chalk it up to mindset. Sam doesn't really care what he's done in the past while Dean still carries the weight of each action.

Score: 8.0/10

Friday, October 14, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 10/13/11

FOX won with The X Factor (3.7).

CBS was second with The Big Bang Theory (4.6), a repeat of The Big Bang Theory (3.7), Person of Interest (2.8), and The Mentalist (2.5). A repeat of TBBT blows out How to be a Gentleman. Person of Interest should be a getting a full season order even if it's not doing great.

ABC was third with Charlie's Angels (1.3), Grey's Anatomy (3.6), Private Practice (2.3). Charlie's Angels stunk again and was canceled earlier today.

NBC was last with Community (1.7), Parks and Recreation (2.1), The Office (3.3), Whitney (2.0), and Prime Suspect. Whitney and Prime Suspect continue to drop.

Review - The Mentalist Season 4 Episode 4 Ring Around the Rosie

It looks like Jane has a new adversary in the forms of his new boss, a young guy who claims that Jane is a clinical psychopath. While Jane probably isn't a full-blown clinical psychopath, he obviously has some mental issues and this new guy will be a big problem. After displaying Jane-esque observational skills at the beginning of the episode, he turns out to be a normal person, as Jane is able to soundly trick him into helping with the case and reveal the criminal.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - The Secret Circle Season 1 Episode 5 Slither

A lot happened in "Slither," but I still feel like The Secret Circle is missing key ingredients. For one, we never really got to know Nick and Cassie didn't either. His death, while a big event, doesn't carry too much weight because he was just a guy in the circle. We saw some of his personality, but he never did anything of note (and for that matter, none of the other characters have either).

Another problem is that we see all the parties and what they're up to, and there's little mystery in terms of characters. We know exactly what Dawn and Charles are up to, and what the circle is doing. Aside from the twists at the end of each episode, there is little in the middle of the episodes that is actually surprising.

Now that Nick is dead, I hope this is a turning point for the show, to let go of the limitations of the first four episodes and tell a story without getting caught up in exposition about the past, most of which should have been drawn out through the course of the story.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 5 The Reckoning

When I think what True Blood would have done with a twist like the one at the end of last week's episode--Stefan and Klaus back in Mystic Falls--it makes me appreciate even more what The Vampire Diaries did this week. True Blood would have started the episode dawdling around, skirting the issue of Stefan back in Mystic Falls and there would be a lot of filler before Stefan sees Elena only at the very end of the episode.

The Vampire Diaries, however, jumps into the action, as there are twists abound in the opening minutes of the episode. Not only do Stefan and Elena reunite less than halfway through the episode, Tyler is fed Klaus's blood and is killed--the first twist of the season that really made my jaw drop. To top off the episode, Klaus orders Stefan to turn his humanity off and Stefan is staying in town.

Let's see what we have: Tyler as a hybrid, ripper Stefan staying in Mystic Falls, Matt being able to see Vicki, Katherine and Jeremy uncovering Michael's tomb. Yeah, things are going to get more difficult and interesting.

Score: 9.3/10

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 5 Episode 5 The Russian Rocket Reaction

I think this is going to be the last time I review The Big Bang Theory on a regular basis. It's a lot easier to watch the show without thinking too much. Take "The Russian Rocket Reaction, " a decent episode by TBBT standards. Howard and Bernadette dealing with their problems together and Sheldon vs. Wil Weaton actually getting a resolution--all more than what's usually in an episode.

But while those things happens, I can't help but notice how unlikable the characters are half the time. Howard's yelling mother has been completely oversaturated at this point, and the yelling, by Howard, his mother, or Bernadette, is quite off-putting. Finally, there's Sheldon, whose supposed intelligence is overshadowed by the fact that he's stupid at times, like when Leonard is haggling. If he's going to be so annoying and arrogant about everything, he should also back it up by never being dumb.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - The Office Season 8 Episode 4 Garden Party

Watching the previews for "Garden Party," I assumed the episode would be light fun at Schrute Farms. Well, I was wrong. The episode is bogged down by Andy, who is revealed to have major daddy issues. Every step of the plot is riddled with groan-worthy content and the general sentiment of "Please, Andy, stop being dumb." I guess it makes sense now why Andy desperately wants Robert California to accept him, but there is very little that's human to this story. Rather, it the writers cobbling together inhuman behavior to get an explanation.

When the A-plot of The Office isn't good, we can usually rely on the subplots. Not so much this week. It's a compilation of character traits--Kevin eating all the food, Mose being weird, Jim tricking Dwight, Angela being weird and calling her baby Phillip as well, Ryan being a dick--and could hardly qualify as plots.

Score: 7.7/10

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review - Parks and Recreation Seaosn 4 Episode 4 Pawnee Rangers

Ron and Leslie are such different characters that putting them at odds pretty much ensures a funny outcome. On the trip into nature, there are the obvious differences--Ron's pack eating beans from cans while Leslie's group eats Korean food. Then there's the puppy party which everyone, except Ron, loves. (And by everyone, that's including every viewer in the world.) Like every Leslie vs. Ron story, there is always a good ending: Leslie's group may have had the amenities to draw in all the boys, but Leslie makes it up by getting Ron a group of true outdoors kids.

Tom and Donna's treat yo self plot was fun, as they go on a shopping spree for random things that aren't useful. Of course, Ben is disturbed by this behavior, and I'm sure he was wondering more than once where all this money came from. But even he gets in on the action, getting a Batman costume, which was very funny. In addition, we see that Ben hasn't been doing great since he broke up with Leslie, a condition temporarily relived by the shopping, but sure to come back.

The writers squeezed in a subplot for Jerry and Chris, with Chris beginning to date Jerry's daughter. There isn't much to the plot, but their roles are well-defined and funny so it works.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Community Season 3 Episode 4 Remedial Chaos Theory

Well that was great, wasn't it? There have been comments online about how Community hasn't had the break-out episode yet this season, and indeed I would concur that there hasn't been a super-amazing episode yet on the level of a bunch of season two episodes. Community turned that sentiment around with "Remedial Chaos Theory," an episode easily rivaling the best of second season. It's a high-concept episodes, with multiple timelines and whatnot, but the characters are immediately recognizable in all their quirks and it feels very familiar.

I'm not going to go into the plot summary of each timeline since that would take forever, but what made the episode come together was the final timeline, when Jeff goes to get the pizza. He doesn't say no to Britta, allowing for her to start singing and then everyone to start dancing. There is no chain reaction of Britta getting high into all the hijinks that occurred in other timelines. This puts "Remedial Chaos Theory" along the same lines as "Biology 101," in which Jeff is placed as the outsider. I'm interesting to see what happens to Jeff this season.

Score: 9.5/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 10/12/11

ABC won with The Middle (2.9), Suburgatory (3.1), Modern Family (5.9), Happy Endings (3.2), and Revenge (2.7). Suburgatory and Revenge are still doing well and got full season orders.

CBS was second with Survivor (3.2), Criminal Minds (3.8), and CSI (2.6).

FOX was third with baseball (2.4).

NBC was last with Up All Night (2.1), Harry's Law (1.2), and Law & Order: SVU (2.1). NBC has perpetual lows, so extra script orders to Harry's Law don't mean too much.

Review - American Horror Story Season 1 Episode 2 Home Invasion

I wasn't planning on reviewing an episode of American Horror Story, but I wanted to comment on the part I liked, the three murder reenactors who almost kill Vivian and Violet. For an extended period of time, the episode doesn't have totally random, supernatural things going on in the house. The enemies are instead regular humans who don't disappear and reappear, or the various things we've seen.

Other than that, the episode was similar to last week's episode. One thing that caught my eye was the title sequence which is pretty interesting. It's a lot like the show itself--loud, intrusive sounds surrounding flashes of weird images. I guess it kind of works.

Score: 7.7/10

Review - Criminal Minds Season 7 Episode 4 Painless

The criminals on Criminal Minds are often supremely crazed individuals, people who have little sense and reasoning and just kill people. This is fine for the most part since it allows the writers to let let their imaginations run wild with whatever sick things the unsubs are doing.

"Painless," though, has a case which makes a lot of sense, and we get a good idea where the unsub is coming from, however crazed he may have become. In the aftermath of the school shooting and bombing, it is revealed that those in the "Top 10" lied, telling the press that one of their members, not the unsub, was the one who looked into the bomber's eyes. Already an outcast and then robbed of the attention he could have gotten, he disassembled and became a killer, specifically targeting the 10. Yes, it's still not realistic, but there's more backbone to his motives than in most episodes.

What's interesting to me is the 10--that, after a tragedy like the shooting and bombing, they would blatantly lie to the media in order to promote someone's status. What does it say about their characters? Certainly nothing good.

This episode had a bit more on the side, with Jack in the episode, Morgan pulling a prank on Reid and Reid getting him back, and Prentiss telling Hotch about playing online Scrabble with JJ. Moments like these are rare, especially Morgan's prank in the middle of the case, since it is a bit distasteful to be joking while there's a killer on the loose, but the show is so depressing most of the time that I'll take it.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Revenge Season 1 Episode 4 Duplicity

Each episode, Emily circles her next victim--an act that can seen in two ways: either the writers are being way too obvious when it clear who the next target already, or Emily is mentally disturbed in some way. With the emergence of Emily's therapist and flashbacks to her childhood in which she was institutionalized, I'm more inclined to believe the later. Emily is completely stonefaced when she pulls her gotchas, and then perfectly normal  in public. Then, she's scheming in her home and we see how little she cares about people.

The revenging this week took more victims this week than usual, as Emily manages to nab the doctor, force Victoria and Charlotte apart, and embarrass various other Hamptonites. On top of that, the mystery of the email from last week still remains and Tyler is trying to keep Emily and Daniel apart for whatever reason. Again, there's a flashback of Victoria and David seemingly in love--predicated on the fact that Victoria just handed her security David's laptop.

Four episodes into the show and I still don't get why Jack, Declan, and even Nolan are around. I get that Jack and Declan represent the normal people and Nolan is the only other person who knows what Emily is up to, but they're always on the outskirts of the actions, never involved in the plots in a substantial way. They're isolated in their own world which, frankly, isn't that interesting.

Score: 8.7/10

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 10/11/11

CBS won with NCIS (4.0), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.3), and Unforgettable (2.3). Unforgettable continues to sink.

ABC was second with Last Man Standing (3.6), Dancing with the Stars (3.3), and Body Of Proof (1.8). Great premiere for Last Man Standing and bad night for Body of Proof.

FOX was third with baseball (2.5).

NBC was last with The Biggest Loser (2.0) and Parenthood (2.1). How the mighty have fallen. TBL hits the 2.0 mark.

Review - Modern Family Season 3 Episode 5 Hit and Run

I was a big Modern Family fan in the first season and looked forward to every episode. Now, I would be fine missing an episode here or there or, if I were forced to, not watching altogether. My general apathy towards the show extends to "Hit and Run," which is not a bad episode, just nothing special.

There's Cam and Mitchell at odds, Phil's well-intentioned screw ups, Haley getting trouble, and a lot of Gloria (in more ways than one). It's amusing, but I didn't really find myself laughing. What's more promising is Claire's run for city council. She's not only running against David Cross, who's great as the smug politician, but it also gives her something more to do for multiple episodes.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Suburgatory Season 1 Episode 3 The Chatterer

Three episodes into Suburgatory and we have a better idea of what the show looks like. There's surprisingly little continuity over the episodes, some recurring characters but overall static behavior. Even Tessa and George seem the same as they were towards the end of the pilot. But this format seems fine as there are still plenty of things for Tessa to do, and each episode gives us more characters, "KKK" in "The Chatterer," for instance.

The plots this week had the humor we seen in previous episodes, but without any plot intricacies. They are both operated like on-off switches, with changes happening rapidly and then reverting back. Tessa joins the lame school newspaper, turns it into a popular gossip rag, then turns it back. George joins the PTA, becomes leader, then quits. It's times like this when you wonder what would happen if the writers spent more time developing the transitions and stretched the arc out a couple episodes. As it is, we only get a small slice of what's going on before going back to the original.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Psych Season 6 Episode 1 Shawn Rescues Darth Vader

Without James Roday, Psych probably wouldn't be around today, canceled only after a couple seasons. Listening to the dialogue, it's quite surprising how much of the dialogue is either nonsensical or unfounded teasing. But when James Roday says these lines, Shawn seems like a reasonable, nice, charming guy. He may be blabbering about something completely random, but it's hard not to like him.

"Shawn Rescues Darth Vader" is mostly a standard episode with the fake psychic stuff, the attention to detail, and the other staples. What's interesting about the episode, though, is that the writers actually acknowledge the fact that Shawn blatantly lies to everyone's faces about his powers. This is a big deal, after all, not something that can be shelved. Under interrogation and hooked up to a polygraph machine, Shawn gets out of it unscathed, lying directly to Lassiter and more importantly his girlfriend Juliet. I have doubts whether the writers will continue these ideas this season, but it's a start.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Sons of Anarchy Season 4 Episode 6 With an X

I was already bothered by Juice's reasoning and stupidity in last week's episode, so the constant pans over to his face were bothersome. All the members of the club are supposed to be very competent, and indeed they've outsmarted their adversaries numerous times before. But Juice looks like a fool in these episode, both incompetent and unable to keep a straight face. To add to this problem, the black issue still isn't convincing. Chibs, in response to a question about his wife, responds by saying that rules have to be followed, which doesn't make sense considering how ridiculous the rule is.

On the plus side, there are definite consequences in the episode, as Miles is shot to death by Juice. It's a big deal which Juice will have to live with, especially since he's keeping the sample, implying that he'll continue working for Roosevelt and Potter.

Romero visits the warehouse and we get another significant twist, Clay wanting Romero to deal with Tara. I highly doubt Tara will actually die from all this, but obviously some bad shit will go down. Considering how Jax dealt with Ima, slamming her face into the dresser, I don't think it'll be pretty.

Score: 8.8/10

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review - Last Man Standing Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot / 2 Last Baby Proofing Standing

"Last Man Standing" has two modes--confoundingly bad when Tim Allen is ranting about something, and bland the rest of the time. The second episode is actually better than the first episode, by virtue of more bland than bad, but still carries no promise for the future. Tim Allen is a good actor who can be very funny, but when he's there screaming about things and coming off as a dick, enough is enough. We don't need that.

Score: 6.5/10

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

CBS won with How I Met Your Mother (4.0), 2 Broke Girls (4.3), Two and a Half Men (5.9), Mike & Molly (3.9), and Hawaii Five-0 (2.7). CBS still going strong.

ABC was second with Dancing with the Stars (3.0) and Castle (2.1). Ouch for Castle; we'll see if it rebounds next week.

FOX was third with Terra Nova (2.5) and House (2.7). House squarely in the 2s.

NBC was last with The Sing Off (1.5) and a repeat of Prime Suspect (0.7).

Review - Enlightened Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Is it just me, or did the pilot Enlightened feel incomplete? We see the main character, Amy Jellicoe, break down, go to Hawaii to get better, return, talk to the other characters, and that's it. I'm not asking for a complex plot from comedies, but I'd like a semblance of structure, an idea of how the show will operate beyond talking (unless, of course, the show is only about Amy talking to the people she knows). I'll watch next week's episode first before deciding anything.

Score: 7.8/10

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review - House Season 8 Episode 2 Transplant

House back at Princeton‑Plainsboro! Inevitably, House would have made it back into the hospital with a team of doctors to bully around. "Transplant" serves as the bridge between prison episode and the rest of the season, and it's generally a smooth ride, better than the stilted premiere at least. There's nothing too big going on, as we're introduced to Dr. Chi Park (Charlyne Yi), who's seems quite innocent, and led through a normal case. I have no idea why, but Foreman is now Dean of Medicine, which will obviously be a large point of contention for House.

The show essentially resets itself at the end of the episode. House has his stuff back, his office back, his job back, and Wilson back. Yes, there are potentially snags in the way, but it's looking good for him. At the end of the day, the writers like who House is and don't want to change him. Viewers seem to like him and that's enough. They probably couldn't stand him in real life, but watching from from a television screen breaking rules and playing tricks is what people have come to enjoy.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Terra Nova Season 1 Episode 4 What Remains

Last week it was flying reptiles. This week it's memory loss. Yep, that's the best Terra Nova can offer. Once again, I'm astounded by the lack of creativity from the writers, dipping into the most generic science fiction plot to give us a dud. The episode plays out like most other memory-wiping virus episode: problem, solution, and then no consequences. The only thing to come out of the plot is that we learn some of Taylor's backstory and interesting tidbits from the future.

Back at home, it isn't much better. The Maddy and Mark "drama" continues to go on, awkward and stale. The biggest development in the episode when Skye shows Josh to someone who can get Kara to Terra Nova. I don't understand why Skye would do that, but at least there are consequences, as the guy is shown to be working with Mira and the Sixers.

Score: 7.3/10

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 7 Episode 5 Field Trip

How I Met Your Mother often has a degree of surrealism nestled among more serious issues, "Field Trip" was really, really weird. Barney spends the episode deciding whether to get rid of Nora because she might be older than she claimed--simply because she didn't follow Barney's rule of Ewoks. Ted takes his architecture class on a field trip and ends up wandering the city aimlessly instead of just looking at a couple of New York's many, many, many buildings. Garrison Cootes turns out to be a horrible environmental lawyer, taking a bad deal, rambles about the end of the world, and then Marshall gets him back on board saving the world. Robin also dates her therapist Kevin for a while, which even the characters in the show considered creepy.

The episode didn't come together around a central theme and the plots didn't converge into anything substantial. There are funny parts to be found, but a lot of it felt useless in comparison to the numerous issues the episode could have tackled.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - 2 Broke Girls Season 1 Episode 4 And the Rich People Problem

The problem with multi-cam sitcoms and, more prominently, CBS sitcoms is that they get tied down to one location. For 2 Broke Girls, that location is the restaurant. This wouldn't be the biggest problem if the restaurant setting was good in any way, but it's not. The restaurant is there to throw around stereotype jokes, from Han, Oleg, Earl, or the various customers. Even Max and Caroline are pretty bad in the setting with their snarky one-liners. Nothing has happened at the restaurant that provides a semblance of characterization. Nothing. Han likes karaoke, Oleg is creepy, Earl... points things out--so what?

Like the previous three episodes, the fun parts of the episode lie in the second half, when Max and Caroline aren't at the restaurant. They visit Caroline's old home where Max discovers the wonders of rich people. She gets to immerse herself in the world for one moment, realizing what Caroline had. It's also not depressing when they leave, because they make off with a whole bunch of clothes, and I'm assuming the cash total will shoot up next week.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Pan Am Season 1 Episode 3 Ich bin ein Berliner

The person who has impressed me the most after three episodes has been Karine Vanasse, who plays Colette. She got more to do in last week's episode than she did in the pilot, and was very charming in the episode. This week, she gets a much more serious plot and is outstanding. From the onset of episode, it's clear Colette has some issue with Germans and landing in Berlin. This culminates when she sings the Nazi part of the German anthem in the embassy, sending a message to everyone in there.

It's refreshing to see the writers not shy away from these issues when one would expect them to amidst the arrival of JFK. The sixties are a turbulent time, after all, and while the Cold War is going on, there are still deep wounds from World War II. Colette embodies this, as a victim of the German occupation. The joyful, almost-naive attitude towards Kennedy's arrival are not going to wash away old wounds.

The rest of the episode is a little bizarre, with Maggie going crazy over JFK. Christina Ricci is very good, but the scenes felt too wacky.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Homeland Season 1 Episode 2 Grace

There aren't any huge, game-changing developments in "Grace," but the episode proves that there doesn't really have to be any each week. The second episode maintains the same atmosphere of the pilot, that constricting feeling of each scene as the characters go about their business. We definitely know something is up with them--Carrie going to her sister for pills, Brody praying to Mecca and then going out in his uniform--but these events serve to reinforce the tone rather than hurriedly advance the story.

The biggest plot development was the introduction of Lynne, a member of a prince's harem who is also one of Carrie's assets. There's obviously something sheevy going on since it is a harem, but Lynne also takes a picture of the prince with Abu Nazir, the man Carrie's been looking for for years and the one who potentially turned Brody. As with most television asset-handler relationships, this one probably won't end well.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Breaking Bad Season 4 Episode 13 Face Off

Breaking Bad episode titles always have multiple meanings, but "Face Off" has to take the cake. I mean, Gus literally with his face off. It doesn't get more visceral with that. And there's plenty of symbolic meaning to the shot as well--the good side of his face representing his public image, the owner of a chicken chain, and the other. mangled side, the drug lord who kills without remorse. So long to Gus and his cold calculations, and especially Giancarlo Esposito, who has been amazing on the show.

Gus's downfall ultimately came about because he cared about something. Critically, he wants to talk to Tio, look him in the face before killing him. Sure, he could have sent any goon to get rid of him, but he wanted to be there when his quest for vengeance was fulfilled, to really throw it in Tio's face. But Walt saw the opening and capitalized on it. One small slip-up and Gus dies. Applying this to Walt, it's not pretty. Walt is someone who cares about a lot more than Gus. He has a family and often berates Jesse for no good reason. Walt doesn't think clearly all the time and from Gus's example, not thinking clearly just once can have deadly consequences.

"Face Off" is another mind-blowing episode, coming after a bunch of episodes of the same quality. It's crafted brilliant, slowly unveiling all the pieces--Tio and the DEA--before unleashing a torrent of plot development which works like gangbusters--Tio ringing the bell and blowing Gus up, Walt and Jesse laying waste to their workplace, and Walt revealed to have poisoned. Brock. It's classic Breaking Bad and it works perfectly.

The revelation of Walt owning the plant (I believe the one which the gun pointed to in last week's episode) which poisoned Brock was just about perfect. It fits with Walt's character and it's a less elaborate scheme than Gus poisoning Brock for his purposes (though the logistics behind Walt giving Brock the berry do seem improbable). After Walt defeats Gus, declaring to Skyler, "I won," this revelation brings everything together. This is Heisenberg at the top of his game. He's saved himself and he doesn't care who the fuck is in his way, innocent or otherwise.

This then leads into the fifth season which will obviously deal with Jesse and Walt  That handshake may have sealed things for now, but it is also framed as a face off between the two and they are sure to clash again. A season of Breaking Bad has never disappointed me and the fourth was no exception. After a slower start, without the typical action/tension episode, Walt hit his low point and then rose to the top in the amazing last half of the season.

Score: 9.6/10
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