Tuesday, April 24, 2012

4/17/12 - 4/23/12 Reviews

I complain all the time about Glee and how terrible it has become, but if there's one thing it has over Smash, it's the ability to make the viewer have an opinion, good or bad. With Smash, everything kind of just passes by. Eileen and her boyfriend, boring rehash. Ellis being evil, boring rehash. Leo not being a teenage boy, boring rehash. Karen being overly enthusiastic, boring rehash.

House ended with a major bombshell, Wilson having cancer. We get it, Wilson is the only one House has left after Dominika found out the truth, and this is supposed to signal big changes. The problem is, the show is ending soon and it's not like this twist will do much in terms of character development. What would be funny is if this turned out to be a big joke, like Wilson getting back at House for faking his son. The rest of the episode was of stuff we've already seen- plenty of times before-debate over relgion--and more of this weird obsession over Park and sex. Park and Chase are actually pretty funny, but the writers have pigeonholed her character badly.

I forgot to say anything about Girls in the rush last week, so I have some thoughts this week. First off, there is some negative buzz surrounding the show regarding nepotism. Well of course there is some nepotism--this is Hollywood, the one place that makes Washington D.C. look saintly. Maybe there could have been better actresses, maybe not--I don't see serious flaws in the casting. Second, there is backlash over the lack of minorities. Again, this is Hollywood and they don't add minorities unless they serve an explicit purpose. (Glee has minority characters but has never focused on minority culture, which seems to be in opposition to the super-liberal, accept everything theme. Instead, minorities are used in a generic sense, like Asian guy and Asian girl--diversity! And when there was a semblance of Asian culture, Mike's father wanting him to go to a good school, Glee essentially tossed that under the bus, emphasizing how much better Glee culture is.) I think these two themes about Hollywood--consciously or not--are perfectly reflected by the show. The characters are direct and we as the audience get to see everything they do. They rarely interact with minorities and they're spoiled rich girls. That's Hollywood in a nutshell. So when people want to complain about Girls, they should appreciate that Girls is upfront about things, not deviously exploitative like Glee.

Now that that's over with, I think the show is great. It's an amusing show with amusing characters who say amusing things. It isn't laugh out loud funny, nor is it trying to be. We follow around the characters to random places and hear the things they have to say, and if the writing is good enough as it has been, the show will be good.

Veep doesn't exactly feel like an HBO show, but it's a decent satire. I didn't find it particularly funny or as endearing as Girls, but I'll check the show out again if I have time.

This week's episode of Game of Thrones moved the plot, and the characters, quite a bit. There is Dany in front of the gates of Qarth, Arya moved to Harrenhal, and Robb fighting in the west. At King's Landing, Tyrion continues to get a leg up over his sister while Joffrey goes off the deep end. The episode, juggling many characters, manages to put characters in new situations and give us a little insight into how far they've come.

Book spoilers ahead: Again, major deviations from the book. I like how the show focuses on characters who don't get their own chapters in the book. It's necessary to keep tabs on all characters so we can see them change. It sure would be awkward if we never saw Robb again until the third season when he comes back with a wife. One thing I'm confused about is the shadow in Renly. The chronology in the book is that Catelyn and Brienne are there when the shadow kills Renly. Then, after Stannis takes over Renly's army, he splits his forces and joins the siege of Storm's End. When that doesn't work quickly enough, then Davos takes Melisandre under the castle to kill the guy in charge. My assumption is that, in the show, Renly is in Storm's End, and the birthed shadow will kill them inside while Catelyn and Brienne are also there. Another change is how Joffrey acts, showing his real sadistic side. My impression from the Tyrion chapters is that he's not super-evil but a puppet. Here, we see him going crazy with power.

Newly added (sorry): Mad Men once again proved it can be a innovative, diverse show, presenting the characters in different way than usual. It's one of those episodes where we see three different characters--Peggy, Roger, and Don--through the course of a day, and since this is Mad Men, the episode turns out to be utterly fascinating. The writers, never being ones for hand holding, approach this in a manner you wouldn't see on network television, immediately starting with Peggy's day and jumping right into Roger's day afterwards. What's weird about the whole thing is that each story fastforwards a bit towards the end from the afternoon to nighttime, making the experience a bit uncomfortable The three go in vastly different directions--Peggy staying in the office, Roger to an LSD party, Don to Howard Johnson's--but the common theme is that their days sucked. It's a testament to how great these characters are, when you can split them up into three completely separate parts and let them do their thing, it turns out great. The punchline of the episode is that these characters are in flux, unsure of what their futures hold. Their struggles through the episode are not transient events but something more structural about them as people. It's summed up at the end of the episode with Bert verbally pimp slapping Don, and the audience comes to the realization, as the office continues to bustle, that Don might not be the advertising guy he used to be.

The Killing proved, definitively, that it is the same show as it was last season. The writers tried, they really did, but in the end, they couldn't drag out the inevitable truth: they suck at writing. The potential red herring turned into a red herring, and now the new potential red herring points to Mitch. And really, who the fuck cares anymore?

It doesn't really feel like The Good Wife is heading towards the season finale next week, as there doesn't seem to be any particularly urgent storylines, but there are big things happening around the office. It seems like the show has branched out a bit too much to make anything seem like a big deal. In particular, Kalinda's plot about Lemond Bishop killing her feels rushed. It surely didn't feel like anything would really happen, unless a massive twist happened to fall on top of the show. It was used as an excuse for Kalinda and Lana to kiss, once again making Kalinda's only purpose to be the foxy lady.

I keep forgetting to comment on Magic City, but not this week! You can tell from Magic City and Boss that Starz wants to be an edgier HBO, with the same artistic qualities, acting, and writing, only juiced up a bit. While this is an admirable goal, something beyond Showtime's aspirations to churn out similar shows featuring well-known actresses, the network still has a ways to go. It looks beautiful and the setting is done nicely, but writing deficiencies are evident. The weakest link lies in an odd distribution of screen time for the characters, mainly Stevie. Why, exactly, is he so prominent? I get it, he's having sex with Ben Diamond's wife, but that's about the only thing we see him do. Why is he more important than Danny? Another enigma is Ben Diamond. He's supposed to be super powerful, but from what we've seen of him so far, he's awfully dense, unable to notice something is up with Lily and Stevie, who is far too jumpy for his own good. On the plus side, Ike is still the main character and he's a far more interesting character than the rest of the them. His relationship with Vera, in particular, is something we rarely see on television.

Fringe has been rolling along this ambiguous path this season, weaving stories of two altered worlds, Peter, and new developments, all of which seem rather pointless on a large scale. Does Fringe even have a large scale? Nothing really fits together so it's hard to say what's going on. It's pretty obvious the writers make things up as they go along, so I guess the last episode wasn't too surprising. Apparently, we got the punchline of the whole show: the Observers, in the future, will travel from the further future to take over, and Peter and Olivia's daughter is a Fringe agent. Now, there was never any indication that the Observers would do this and how any of this relates to DRJ, but it's about par for the course of making stuff up. That isn't to say the show isn't interesting and enjoyable, just the plot isn't coherent.

The episode serves up the usual dystopia tropes--emotionless occupiers, no liquid coffee, etc--and, like all dystopia stories, sets up a compelling world where the audience can root for the characters. It's always fun to enter a new world (one of the reasons why I like TV pilots) and there enough connections to the Fringe we know to make it relatable. While this storyline might not be relevant and will probably never be fully realized, it stood on its own as a standalone episode.

After almost a whole season of ungracefully dancing around the fact that it doesn't want the audience to know jack until the actual reveal, Grimm finally told us the deal with the creatures and their power structure. There are these royal families and a resistance, and the fight has come to America. The "mystery dialogue" hinted that Grimms were helping the royals, though, awkwardly, this was never discussed afterward. Now we're getting somewhere!!!!!!!!

I really don't know what to do with Supernatural anymore. I don't like the Bobby as a ghost or Leviathan story. As such, a lot of these episodes are okay, but has a portion which really bothers me. The problem with Bobby as a ghost is a serious lack of clarity and direction. He's a ghost, he's following the Winchesters, now Dean is pissed, and... ? The best thing to come out of this story is that we actually got to see how ghosts live.

Once again I am forced to lament the end of Awake in the wake of yet another good, albeit different, episode. This time, instead of the breakneck pace of previous episodes, it focused on the Brittons and their relationship. With the solid acting by Jason Isaacs and Laura Allen, the episode felt really nice, before the storm that is sure to come once they move to Oregon.

Community sometimes goes for those weird episodes where it focuses on certain characters in an odd place. Last week, the episode used the dreamatorium to put a spotlight on Abed and Annie. It wasn't the funniest episode, but the use of the dreamatorium was clever and the character emphasis was great as it always is.

One thing The Secret Circle handled poorly through the season (among others) was the parents. They'd be in one episode, scheming and doing really bad things, then gone in the next, as if they weren't threats. The lack of consistency slowed the momentum down (similarly to the Originals on The Vampire Diairies) and they never seemed to fit in. Now, it seems like their role is to provide a bridge between Blackwell and the kids.

The Vampire Diaries went off the rails as soon as Klaus was no longer a villain, and the show seemed more about creating reasons to keep him alive than anything else. Last week's episode brought things back to basics, with focus on characters instead of plot. Not much happened, but there were plenty of those character moments that resonate far more than the recent plot machinations.

As far as Elena and Damon go, io9 sums it up nicely. Let's face it. Damon has done innumerable bad things in the recent past, like rape bad, and no I'm not trying to be controversial. If you use your powers on women and compel them to sleep with you, that's pretty similar to rape. Now, I know the writers aren't condoning rape. Instead, they're following the characterizations they've always had, characters ignoring everything else for the one's they love. In this case Elena is in love with Damon so she'll excuse his behavior and her earlier proclamations never to associate herself with him again. So blame Elena if you want, she's not exactly the sharpest person.

Revenge: I'm having a hard time believing is Daniel in serious trouble. Didn't Tyler have a gun on him at some point? Wasn't he declared by a doctor to be medically unstable? As long as we accept that, though, the rest of the show flows nicely. Bringing Mason Treadwell back was a good move as well as showing us the darker side of Emily. One thing that was a bit out there was Victoria and this artist. We'll see where the story leads.

Glee actually tackled the problem of what various characters will do after high school, so last week's episode wasn't completely bad and it was a bit unexpected. On the other hand, the show did go the expected route with the message that everyone should follow their dreams. Unfortunately, you can see how that turns out for a lot of people, looking at signs that many OWS protesters have.

NCIS: It seems like my deal as of late has been to criticize overarching plots and I'm beginning to bored even myself... but NCIS's latest attempt with the Watcher Fleet stuff continues to bug me. The biggest problem is that the show doesn't need the story. It's a procedural with plenty of good characters, each with their own personal demons. External problems do little to help with the synergy of the show. What's wrong with solving crimes like they usually do? The second thing is that the Watcher Fleet makes little sense. The writers dole out  small morsels of information, cloaked in the all too abundant "mystery dialogue." There's some nonsense about rogue agents and these chips, but it's all pretty lame when the characters go back to their usual routine after the episode. So is the biggest threat to national security ever or just another thing to fix in an instant? That brings us to last week's episode in which the rogue agents exploited bad wiring to cause fires. Why...?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Reviews 4/09/12 - 4/16/12

I fell behind on television again, so the reviews are a day late.

The Killing continued the inquiry into tattoo guy and the mob. They actually catch the tattoo guy and find his drawing of Rosie. Another red herring? Could the show have been fixed? I guess we'll find out soon enough.

A common complaint non-Mad Men watchers have about the show is that it's boring and just people sitting around talking. Yes, it is people sitting around talking, but have you ever been so entertained by people sitting around and talking? I think not. There's something mystical about the show's ability to do so much with so little. Have Peggy take all of Roger's money--instant smiles--then this week have her exclaim that Lane is beating up Peter--instant smiles. The episode takes a step back and look at four men--Peter, Don, Lane, and Ken. All are very different people in very different places. The episode focuses more on the three who aren't Don, and because of a glancing look at Don, it seems like he has a much better life than the rest of the them.

Game of Thrones: Varys has a great conversation with Tyrion about power (one of the highlights of the book, IMO), and he concludes that power is an illusion. Indeed, despite people's proclamations of fealty or piety, they couldn't care less. What matters is how far up the ladder they can be in the future. We see this illustrated in the next scene, as Yoren and others are killed without a second thought. They're supposed to be the Night's Watch, a group all the kingdoms are supposed to support, and they're supposed to be allowed to make it to the Wall unimpeded. But does Amory Lorch care? Not in the least bit. He's going to help the Lannisters who currently hold King's Landing.

Major book spoilers ahead, read at your own peril: There were again many deviations from the book. There was stuff with Loras, Renly,and Margaery that clearly wasn't in the book, but the additions don't change the plot on a large scale. What really caught my attention, however, was Shae becoming handmaiden for Sansa. In the book, over halfway through, Shae becomes handmaiden of Lollys after Lollys gets rape by the mob after they send Myrcella off to Dorne at the docks. This seemed like a pretty big deal in the book, a culmination of the growing unrest at King's Landing that had been building, setting the stage for an unruly King's Landing before Stannis's assault. Is the show going to skip over this? Another less important deviation was Arya, Gendry, and the others getting captured at that point. They're suppose to run away for a bit before getting caught later, but it's not important.

Although this season of Fringe hasn't exactly been my favorite, I've accepted this new format and I've grown to like it. Yes, the writers threw away three seasons of development--which was part of confusion over Broyles since he did die last season--but it's fine for the most part. It turns out that Broyles was not a shapeshifter but was helping Jones in exchange for saving his son's health. Unlike Walter, though, Broyles mostly owns up to it quickly, turning himself in to the other Broyles. The other big development was Jones continuing to cause trouble, culminating with the revelation that he wants to destroy both universes. OK... I have no clue what that's about...

Grimm: Lots of people liked last week's episode and it's quite understandable. Nick's new gang, consisting of himself, Monroe, and now Rosalie, is awesome and with the fast pace and the great humanization of Adalind, the episode had a lot going for it. That said, the overarching plot with Renard and Adalind and the key is awful. The master plan was for Adalind to seduce Hank to put him in a coma to somehow get Nick to turn over the key. Whose terrible plan was this? Why not go after Juliette? Why not provide back up? And we still don't know who the fuck Renard is.

Awake is definitely not coming back for another season, but even in the first season it seems like the show is headed towards a wild conclusion. The Brittons in the red world are moving to Oregon, breaking the locational link between the two worlds.

Up All Night's first season wasn't groundbreaking and it was never a show I watched for laughs, but it had a comfortable, welcoming feeling. Christina Applegate and Will Arnett had amazing chemistry from day one and eventually even Maya Rudolph fit in.

With talk that The Office will be completely overhauled--the current cast reduced to recurring and a new batch coming in--I actually think that wouldn't be too bad. We've seen the show struggle greatly in Michael's last seasons and especially since his departure. Andy clearly isn't a suitable replacement, as he has all of Michael's bad traits without the cluelessness that made Michael a fun character. I wouldn't mind if Creed was given center stage for once.

Psych's season never had a SERIOUS episode, a staple on the show since "An Evening with Mr. Yang" back in the third season, not that it ever needed one. The season finale is mostly a light affair, but it dives into Henry's past and ends with him getting shot. Now, this being Psych, I don't think Henry will die. But if he did, it would fit

Justified: Now that's a finale! Fast, twisty, and of course bloody. Very bloody with the way Quarles left the world. At the same time, the shock of Quarles getting his armed chopped off was tempered by Quarles still alive, reaching for his arm, and Raylan pulling it back--funny stuff we've come to expect behind the mayhem of the show. I was surprised Arlo survived, but with Raylan stating that Arlo shot at person with the hat without recognizing the face pretty much puts him on the short list of people Raylan needs to kill.

Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 was pretty great. There's Krysten Ritter as the eponymous bitch and James Van Der Beek as the Beek himself. Chloe becoming "friendly" with June happened a little too quick, but I'm not sure it would be even possible in thirty minutes to turn someone from total bitch to semi-friend.

I haven't commented on New Girl (or any comedy, really), but I wanted to say how much I like the characters together. We really get the sense that these characters know and like each other a lot and want to hang up.

I feel like I'm beating a dead horse, but, yeah, Glee sucked. The plots were again contrived and the songs overproduced (and for once, badly lip synced). The one saving grace--a big one, I'll admit--was Matt Bomer. His lesson about pointing had me cracking up.

The way NCIS ended last week was a bit weird. It seemed like the episode would end with a raid on the warehouse, allowing the heroes who'd been shot at earlier a chance to shootup the cartel. Instead, we just see Gibbs looking at a news report.

See how pleasant Bones can be when the characters aren't arguing over trivial things? The show will never have a plot as cool as Gormogon, but I hope it keeps up.

Being Human's second season was a big letdown. Maybe it would have been better if any of the three plots were any good but they were all equally bad. None were particularly exciting or interesting or emotional or anything.

Castle staged a Firefly reunion, bringing Adam Baldwin to play a Detective Slaughter. It was cool to see Mal and Jayne reunited, the dinosaur toy, and the brown coat, but the episode stood on its own because Slaughter was such a different character. The episode got bogged down in stupid Beckett drama, but it didn't hinder the episode as as whole.

Smash continues having the problem with too many characters and too many uninteresting storylines. The arrival of Rebecca Duvall was done well, as the first thing she does is sing out of key. From there, we see that she clearly shouldn't be in the role and has an attitude, but also that she could play the part adequately.

House, the show and the character, tried to deceive everyone by bringing in Wilson's son. We're led to believe that this kid is perfect and Wilson will have a son who is everything he wanted. Only, this is House, the show and the character. The show has basically resigned itself to never tackling anything of importance, and the character is a long string of pranks. So in the end it was a big prank and we can all go back to what we were doing before. For a while during the episode, I thought the kid might actually be real, considering this is the last season. Maybe the writers would take a chance towards the end of the series. But no, we should never overestimate these writers, and just assume the lowest denominator to be true.

Interesting, in this week's episode, the writers give a little nod towards House and Donika, with House throwing away her INS letter. Well at least something came about another overwrought discussion of everyone's love life.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Reviews 4/4/12 - 4/9/12

I totally forgot to review Shamless and House of Lies in a rush of things last week, so I'll have a few comments on them, though I won't get too detailed. Their finales were both quite different than the bulk of the seasons, which were pretty wild for the sake of being wild. In contrast the finales really brought out the essence of the characters and framed the story to fit them.

Game of Thrones is still in the building up stages of the season, so there wasn't too much going on in terms of big plot developments. The big developement was Theon going back home to a chilly welcoming and a hilarious joke by his sister. Mainly, the characters stayed put with smaller developments like Tyrion scheming, Davos hiring Salladhor Saan, Arya telling Gendry her real name, and Jon finding out what happens to the baby.

Major spoilers for the book, so don't read ahead if you don't want to be spoiled. There were quite a bit of diversions from the book, notably Stannis and Melisandre. Having just read the book, I can clearly remember that not happening. If they indeed did have sex which Melisandre claimed would bear a son, that would explain events later in the book, when Davos brings her under Storm's End and she births out the shadow. In his monologue, Davos says he knows where the shadow came from, and I had thought he meant that the shadow was cast from himself (since during the boat ride they were arguing over light and shadows). One of the things the writers seem to be doing is differentiating Littlefinger from Varys. They seem pretty similar in the books, gathering information and the like, but in the show Littlefinger is more willing to physically harm people and is far more brutal. The biggest change I don't understand is the naming of Asha to Yara. Maybe people would confuse Asha with Osha, but in context nobody should be confused.

The Killing is now turning towards Stan's mob friends and the mysterious tattooed person. More red herrings?

I'm having a hard time deciding what made me most happy about Mad Men last night, the Peggy getting $400 from Roger and counting it, or Greg the rapist leaving for good. While Peggy finds out that Dawn is fine and not a thief and Joan finally frees herself from Greg, Don's plot ends with far more uncertainty. Andrea, a former flame whom he and Megan see at the beginning of the episode, serves as a reminder of who Don is. He isn't a great guy. He's smooth and interesting, sure, but certainly not trustworthy. And we even see those darker impulses of his which sometimes come out, when he strangles Andrea to death, before it is revealed to be a dream.

Fringe: Lincoln has been the odd man out since he joined the show. He joined late and all his pining for Olivia was all for naught. So I was very pleased to see how the writers dealt with him. They gave him his own episode, leaving Peter and Olivia back at home, allowing he to operate individually in the other world alongside his counterpart. And then the writers gave themselves an opening for the future, killing off the other Lincoln, so our Lincoln could replace him, at least temporarily, which frees up time in the next episodes to focus on Olivia and Peter.

Fairly Legal is one of those shows that doesn't require a comment every week. Mainly, the show depends entirely on how Kate acts. And her behavior is very predictable--she's crazy. One something doesn't go the way she exactly envisions, she throws a fit, and does anything, says anything to get things the way she wants to be. We don't even know why she wants the things she wants, like why she hates Lauren so much, but we have to roll with that.

The Finder was moved to Friday and its ratings were far worse than they were before. So now it's even more likely to be canceled. I like what the show tried to do in an age of science procedurals where random science terminology is bandied around by the actors. There is mention of Walter doing a Fourier transform, but the procedural element is Walter's mystical ability to find things without any strict rules.

Aside from the cliches from all directions, Scandal has a very workable formula. The Shonda Rhimes style works in DC, with quick pacing applied to high-profile cases and people.

Awake once again proved it can be pushed further. Britten is beginning to lose himself between worlds and we realize that his situation may not be tenable. This is really interesting stuff for a show certain to be canceled.

The conclusion of Community second blanket fort episode was perfectly executed. In the Ken Burns PBS documentary style, the show allowed us to see how the war transpired and gave us a funny look at how the auxiliary characters acted during it.

Justified has built up so much through the course of the season that the second to last episode of the season went as one one might expect--with pure uncertainty. Everyone has so many secrets that no one really had a clear grip on what everyone else was up, so even when they tried to make deals, the whole thing blew up, leaving the sheriff dead and Quarles, Boyd, and everyone else on the loose.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ratings/Cancellation Comments

I've been meaning to make this post for a while, but never got around to it. I have time now, so here it is, before networks announce their decisions. This list is not exhaustive, but of the shows left out, you can figure out whether they will be renewed or canceled. So a show like Suburgatory, while not officially renewed, doesn't need to belong on the list because everyone knows it'll be renewed.


Body of Proof: It bared squeezed by last season, getting low 2s. Now it's getting mid 1s, sometimes close to 2. I don't see it coming back.

Once Upon a Time: Safe for renewal.
Castle: Its ratings are pretty low, but it's close to syndication, which means lots of money.

Pan Am: Crashed and burned.

Missing: Ashley Judd brought the star power, but it's a goner.

The River: I guess the Paranormal Activity message never got out. I don't see a second season in the future.

Cougar Town: It may gotten a reprieve last year, but with the rest of ABC's comedy block in the 2s or higher, I can't see it getting another season.

GCB: If the ratings are any indication, GCB won't replace Desperate Housewives. Maybe ABC will try to pair if with comedies during the weekday--if it gets renewed.

Private Practice: Its ratings continue to decline, but that's been the case for all networks. I would be surprised if it were canceled, but not completely.


Terra Nova: Canceled and it's highly unlikely anybody else--another network, Netflix, DirecTV, what have you--will pick up up.

Alcatraz: If it maintained the same ratings it was getting at the beginning of the season, it would be safe. As it stands now, it is on the canceled side of the bubble.

The Finder: Almost certainly a goner. Its backdoor pilot wasn't well-received and the ratings for the actual pilot weren't great, following the winter finale of Bones. But the episode airing after American Idol didn't do well either. I'm quite surprised by that.

Touch: Ratings have remained good since the premiere, it should stay around.

Fringe: I'd like to see a final season, but the ratings have been really low. Maybe a final 13 episode season for the fans?

Breaking In: I'm not sure what Fox expected from it, but the ratings have been bad.


Community: Could go either way, but I'm fairly certain it'll be renewed Critics like it, fans like it but few watch. Syndication is on the horizon, however, and the ratings have been good since its return so that could push it to be renewed.

The Firm: Started off bad, moved to Saturday, and is still bad, so pretty much canceled

Whitney: It started off fairly strong, but the move to Wednesday hurt it. Still, with NBC's low standards, it has a fighting chance.

Are You There, Chelsea?: Whereas Whitney is more or less in the center of the bubble, Chelsea will likely be canceled, never getting decent ratings except for the premiere.

Bent: I don't know why, but NBC basically gave up on it before it even aired and burned it off in 3 nights.

Harry's Law: It was miraculously renewed last year, but that surely won't happen again.
30 Rock: NBC will likely bring it back, even if it is for a final season.

Awake: The show is pretty awesome, in my opinion, but the ratings definitely are not. I don't see it getting another season.

The Office: Normally, I wouldn't have to say anything about the show and just assume that NBC is bringing it back. But with cast members and writers leaving in droves, it less than certain what will happen in the future. That said, I'm sure the show will be renewed and will likely be retooled. It's still an excellent performer and NBC is in desperate need for any kind of ratings success.

CBS (completely left it out before, lol)

CSI: Miami/NY: I think it's more likely one of these is canceled than both renewed or both canceled. It's hard to tell which one, however.

Rob: It's doing well, but CBS likes to jettison comedies that aren't doing extremely good, so it's up in the air.

Rules of Engagement: CBS has kept it around this long, but it's hard to tell what they're going to do with it.


Ringer: Sarah Michelle Gellar's return to television hasn't turned out that well, and the ratings have been low enough to warrant cancellation.

Hart of Dixie: Its ratings have also been low. It probably closer to getting renewed than Ringer, so there is somewhat of a chance.

Secret Circle: I can't imagine the CW not giving it another season, even if it is moved to a less populated night like Friday.

Supernatural: I haven't liked this season at all, but the CW should be committed to the show

Nikita: This one is probably the trickiest out of the CW's action-y shows. Its ratings are around the same as Ringer and Hart of Dixie, but it's on a Friday. Like with Hart of Dixie, it isn't looking great, but a renewal is not out of the picture

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reviews 3/26/12 - 4/2/12

I finally caught up on the shows that I missed, so I have reviews for most things I've watched, in addition to shows from last night, so I have thoughts and two Mondays worth of shows.

Southland's ratings this season have been even lower than the last, and the last renewal was already a surprise for TNT which regularly gets much higher ratings for original, scripted shows. The ending this season didn't provide too much closure, as there were plenty more places the show could have gone, but through these four seasons, I think we got a lot out of each character. I think a large part of this season's success was Lucy Liu. While it may have seemed like stunt casting initially, she quickly proved her worth

Awake's ratings have been the toilet, but it's a far better show than Touch, which airs on the same night, has similar vibe, and almost three times the 18-49 ratings. The show does what few are able to do--bring out poignant, meaningful moments without seeming forced. Detective Britten's problems with his wife or son, in alternative realities, blend nicely with the crimes he's solving.

Grimm hasn't exactly broken out of its formula yet--and the scenes with the captain and the Hexenbiest blonde remain out of place due to their serial infrequency--but the greater usage of Nick's girlfriend actually puts some things at stake. Now, it is a bit late, considering the fact that Nick's aunt warned him at the beginning of the show. But it's better than nothing...

The second season of Breaking In, oddly enough, isn't about breaking in. With the Megan Mullally and Erin Richards, it's primarily about the office where lots of funky stuff happens. It seems like there isn't anything central to the show anymore, just a bunch of characters hanging around doing what comes to their minds.

Bones: Booth and Bones have been insufferably stupid the whole season and last night was no exception. It was actually the worst we've seen them, Bones refusing to go to a hospital and walking around--even wading into a crowd of inmates--minutes before going into labor, and Booth being stubborn as usual. It's sad to see them like this, arguing unreasonably now that they are together.

Game of Thrones: I've read a tad more than half of A Clash of Kings so I think I have a pretty good idea of what will happen for most of this season and what's going to happen to the characters. Like the beginning of the book, the second season of Game of Thrones doesn't have too much action or wild twists. It sets the situation up, with all the intricacies, and lets it all hang there. So here's where we're at. There are four people in Westeros who've declared themselves kings: Robb, Joffrey, Stannis, and Renly, who we've yet to see. Stannis we're introduced to in a couple scenes, along with Melisandre, his priestess/sorceress. Daenerys also thinks she's king, and is following the comet out into the wasteland, Jon Snow is beyond the Wall along with Mormont and the rest of them, and Tyrion shows up at King's Landing. In terms of plot development, not much happens, mostly threats and insinuations, but there is the richest and dept to the world that we've come to know

Potential spoilers for the book ahead, so if you don't want to be spoiled, skip ahead. About the differences between the book and show, I realize that the place where I'm at currently in the book may cloud my impressions. Certain characters, Cersei and Joffrey mostly, in the first episode are more prominent--and more dangerous--than I'd remember; however, this may be because they become marginalized as the book progresses and that's what is most fresh in my memory. Or perhaps these traits are actually more important at the end of the book, which is why the writers on the show are emphasizing these traits now. In terms of easy comparisons, the Melisandre scenes are reversed in the book and Craster parts are more dense. I don't know if they'll be staying at Craster's Keep in the next episode, but I liked the part where they talk about how Craster stays safe and what he does with his sons. Perhaps the biggest part added were Robert's children being killed on screen (well, maybe a hair off screen), versus the dialogue in the book where it's revealed. The visceral effect is much needed in television and was a great way to end the episode

With no Betty in Mad Men's season premiere, the second episode of the season spent quite a bit of time on her, using January Jones's pregnancy for a plot about Betty becoming fat. Now, I can imagine this not being the original plot envisioned, but it fits well into the episode. Betty relents at the end of the episode and eats Sally's sundae, indicating that she has changed and accepts it. Likewise, Don comes to terms with his age and age difference with Megan. We also got lots of Peggy, who is more awesome than Betty, and it was fun to see her navigate between Don, the potential new hire, and Roger.

The Killing got huge backlash at the end of its second season and for good reason. The series began with two detectives investigating a murder. This would if fine--if they didn't have a new suspect each week with irrefutable evidence of guilt. Inevitably, these suspects were all cleared at the beginning of the next episode without much being learned. Instead of layers of new evidence, it was mostly just irrelevant information placed beside each other. Then at the end of the season, after cycling through numerous people, they came upon Richmond, who was a big figure through the course of the season, but never a prime suspect. They got him with a photo--later revealed to be faked by Holder--and then Richmond got shot. In actually getting to the bottom of what happened to Rosie, the entire season, all 13 episodes, was pretty much a wash.

The second season of isn't that much different and the premiere felt like a breather before heading back into the same pattern. There's this new angle of a larger conspiracy at work and someone leaving Rosie's backpack at the Larsen's doorstep, but any of these things could have happened in the first season. There is nothing to indicate why this had to happen at this time, no real sense of progression. Instead, it was the same resetting we saw numerous times last season.

Spartacus ended its season with a total bloodbath much like it did the first season. Everything that happens demands a new setting and characters in the next season. Capua isn't even anymore, and it's time for Spartacus to turn to Rome. All the villains from the first season--Batiatus, Lucretia, Ilythia, Galber, Ashur--are dead, and some good guys--Oenomaus, Mira--are dead. Shockingly, Lucretia was actually batshit insane the entire season, hiding her true intentions for Ilythia's baby. She cuts the baby out, grabs it, and leaps off the edge of the cliff.

You can always count on Supernatural for good acting, and that's what DJ Qualls brought in his second appearance as Garth. The Bobby ghost stuff was again awkward at best. The writers kill him off rather randomly, give him an entire episode, constantly hint at him being a ghost, and finally show him as a ghost. What's the point?

Fringe took a trip into a past--going diagonally back in time, I would say--to revisit a case that happened in the season one, but never in this world. By the end of the episode, we get a whole new group of people, cultists who want to advance mankind through mutations. I'm again wary of yet another new development, but the episode was interesting enough.

Nikita has built up so many enemies that Amanda and Ari's quick fall from grace doesn't dampen the momentum the show has build up. Percy's return to power shows how much more he understands than Amanda, that it takes more than tricks and manipulation to win. The clear difference between the two is that Percy pretends to care about Division and its people. Amanda, on the other hand, showed a blithe disregard for their lives and was never careful with her words. She seems to have forgotten that she is one person and everyone else has guns as well.

Community's return to the blanket fort had a much different approach than the first time. Instead of an event to bring people together, it drove Abed and Troy apart, sparking underlying feelings about their friendship Troy has been harboring. The Subway story reminded me of Better Off Ted and the funny ways a corporation can dehumanize its workers, and of course it means the show is getting good money for the product placement.

The Secret Circle is easily the most interesting when it's dealing with serious witch problems, when there's actually a chance of someone getting hurt. The relationship stuff all feel superfluous, especially when the characters can bust out elixir plot devices whenever they want. Blackwell has gotten more interesting, though, so that's something.

The Vampire Diaries is doing everything it can to keep Klaus alive and it's tedious. I get it, he's a charming guy who can dish out one-liners with the best of them. But as a villain, his time is up. He's menaced the town, menaced Elena, menaced her friends, and hit on Caroline. He's done these things multiple times with the same recognizable pattern. We know about his past, how cruel he can be, but also how persuasive and manipulative he can be. What more is there to him that forces the writers to keep spinning the wheels week in and week out? The new "twist" is that killing one Original kills the entire bloodline he/she sired, so killing all the Originals means all vampires die. And even if they don't know Katherine's bloodline, Tyler is for sure from Klaus's.

The third season of Justified has been pretty hectic with all the different factions vying for control without bringing too much attention upon themselves. Then Quarles snapped, which put more wrenches in everyone's plan. That led to last week's episode in which thugs from Detroit showed up, and they weren't even the ones who dealt with Quarles in the end.

Castle seemingly has these weird, unreasonable rules seemingly set in stone. 1) Episodes can be cleanly divided between serious and non-serious episodes. 2) A potential Castle and Beckett relationship is never explored unless it is a serious episode. So, like clockwork, last week's episode sets up a situation where Castle is ready to spill his guts to Beckett, but--surprise!!!--Ryan interrupts him right before he gets the words out. Then Beckett, in the process of an interrogation, lets slip that, even during trauma, her trauma to be exact, people remember everything, and Castle hears it all. It's gimmicky, awkward, and not fun at all.

This week's episode was a bit different. It was neither funny nor serious. The detective work was put into the background, so Beckett could be silently disgruntled about Castle. In other words, it was a pure relationship episode. And as one might expect, it was a turd. Now Castle has his blond and Beckett goes on a date with Scotland Yard guy. Once again, the writers create some stupid reasons why they can't be together for no apparent reason. It's been four seasons of semi-flirting and SERIOUS episodes--it's time to move things along.

The biggest problem with Being Human this season is that it was no longer a show about three supernatural beings living together. More, it was about three supernatural beings doing their own things and crossing paths occasionally at a central location. While it's too late in the season to fully redeem the season, last week's episode showed how good the show can be when their living situation is put in danger and the characters are forced to make tough decisions.

This week's episode went back to the three separate stories format, but the stakes were heightened in the run up to the season finale next week. Josh's plot, which has been the best this season, was the most potent, combining the aspects of Aidan and Sally's plots. Like Aidan, Josh loses his love and like Sally, he it was a result of his actions. While I liked Julia (and Natalie Brown, who played her), what happened to Josh will make a large impact on him.

Alcatraz ended its first season, and it wasn't terribly impressive. The action was pretty good and learning about Lucy was nice, but it was mainly the same things we've seen before, only with a larger budget. With the low ratings, I'm not expecting another season, nor do I really care. Mainly, the characters never came to life. They were pleasant, nice people, to be sure, but never terrible interesting. We got to learn about them--mainly the facts about them you could write on a piece of paper--but nothing more, no reason why we should care about them.

The thing about Smash that bothers me the most is the makeup of the characters and their likability. There are plenty of unlikable characters--Ellis, Julia, Michael, Ivy sometimes, Julia's son due to his annoyingness--a fun villlain-y type in Derek, Tom and Eileen who are mostly agreeable, and Karen who is written to be absolutely perfect. So the episodes swing wildly from WTF character to WTF character--from Ellis, who is seemingly pure evil yet with no coherent plan at the same time, to the other spectrum, Karen, who is always friendly and never objects to anything. The main thing that has held the show together has been the plot, the Marilyn musical which miraculously kept all these characters. With the musical stalling these past few weeks, however, the show hit a low point, trying to focus on the characters instead. Although some of it worked--Julia's scenes, some of Ivy's--most of it was reinforcement--Michael being a scumbag liar, Ellis scheming--and then the downright awkward--Ivy and Karen singing together.
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