Sunday, November 27, 2011

TV Report: Weekly Rankings

Many TV shows took the week off either because they were pre-empted by live shows or because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Still a few shows got in there with some new episodes with many getting close to go on their usual winter hiatus.

Last week I commented about how the dramas let me down a bit, but this week, the four that had new episodes stepped up to deliver good solid episodes.

1. Suspicion (Revenge) - This crazy show somehow got even crazier this week and I seriously loved it. The biggest surprise of the episode was finding out that Emily is really The Bride from Kill Bill or perhaps Bruce Wayne complete with a Japanese mentor to teach her in the art of revenge. I wanted to laugh and applaud at that little development there. The other big thing that happened, which I suspected would happen as soon as we met her, was that the REAL Emily Thorne now Kara Wilkins had decided to attach herself to Jack making him believe she's Amanda Clarke, his childhood sweetheart. The look of anger, hurt, confusion Emily had when she discovered this was pitch perfect. Tyler, always the schemer, uses Nolan and Ashley to get one up against Daniel while Ashley finally grew a backbone against a Victoria who is finding herself in need of allies at the moment. Game on, everyone!

2. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (The Good Wife) - Like Revenge, it felt like this episode was all about confrontations. Alicia had to confront Jackie over her overly snooping ways, Diane had to confront Will about his relationship with Alicia, the States Attorney office confronted Diane to get to Will, Eli had to go up against an old ally, and finally the Dana/Kalinda/Cary triangle kept heating up. All of this was foregrounded with a tricky military case of a woman being scapegoated after inadvertently killing a dozen civilians with an errant missile. In any case, at the moment I'm looking for a way for the show to bring it all together. Last week's episode was great, but it's clear it's all building up to something explosive.

3. Kill Shot (Castle) - This was a clear Emmy-submission episode for Stana Katic who impressed as Beckett still not over her shooting from last season's finale. Trying to catch a serial sniper, her issues came to the forefront and she expectantly faltered only to bring herself out from it. The scene with her and Esposito inside the evidence room was particularly affecting as were all the times Castle just let her be to deal with her issues in her own time. My one complaint was that it perhaps crossed the melodramatic line in a few spots and I think they would've been better served pulling it back just a tad.

4. Vs. (Terra Nova) - I have to say that this was a particularly solid episode especially since most of it felt like exposition to the show's bigger mythological questions. We learned about some of the backstory with Taylor and his son, but I wished we had gotten this information a bit more organically. It seemed a little too convenient that Boylan was the one person in Terra Nova to know about the dead body underneath the Pilgrim Tree and the way Taylor just gave all the information to Jim was a bit coming from out of nowhere since it seemed that was more a priority than finding out who the mole was. My theory that didn't pan out (yet) was that Reynolds is the mole.

And now for the comedies...

1. The Rebound Girl (How I Met Your Mother) - I see many people praising the episode for most everything until the very last moment. Before we get to that, the episode overall was pretty great. Ted and Barney's decision to bro-parent was silly, but still believable especially in the situation where they currently find themselves in. I very much enjoyed Robin's freak out about Marshall/Lily's possible move to Long Island and the latter's misconception that their NYC apartment is now too small for them in comparison. Basically, an all-around solid episode with the talented cast. The surprise ending reveal of Robin's pregnancy IS shocking and while many are already complaining about how it's too similar to Friends and how this plot point is completely ruining the Barney/Robin storyline, I'm going to give the show the benefit of the doubt and just savor the shock of it all.

2. Thanksgiving (Suburgatory) - Lots of things to like about this episode, such as Tessa/Dallas working together and bonding, George's resolve to treat Tessa less of an equal, Dalia's vendetta against Yakult, and Lisa's brilliant take-down of her mom's overbearing ways. The latter's conversation with her himbo brother about Eternal Sunshine was also a highlight. What I appreciated also was the continued world building the show did with giving us brief glimpses of previously off-screen family members like Sheila's husband, Noah's wife and kid, etc.

3. Week Off (Up All Night) - This show is really growing on me especially now that Ava seems closer to a real person that earlier on (which was also fine, but it created a schizo tone that the show couldn't handle). Chris' temptation to go back to working worked well with Reagan trying to find ways to occupy her time with a week off from work. I loved that in the end Chris realized that he loved staying at home with Amy, but that Reagan needed to know that he needed to feel in charge there. For her part, her type A personality came out and hilarity ensued.

4. Punkin Chunkin (Modern Family) - I enjoyed this episode, but there was something missing for me. Maybe it was because I expected the show to do more with guest star Josh Gad. The episode revolved around differentiating the realists with the dreamers with the former group containing most obviously all of the adult Pritchetts (and Alex) and I appreciated consistency of the characters in this regard, but it's also nothing new. The end was heartwarming, but they've done better.

5. And the Very Christmas Thanksgiving (2 Broke Girls) - This had the misfortune of coming right after I was still processing the shock ending in HIMYM so I promptly blanked out on the first ten or so minutes. It was an okay episode, mostly because we were back to the two girls with their thing and less about Johnny/Max. I also appreciated Kate Denning's one liners and Beth Behrs acting hopped up on energy drinks. The dual holiday tribute of the episode is a bit annoying because we can't be talking about Christmas already, except everyone totally is so there's that.

6. Full Court Dress (Happy Endings) - A weird episode mostly because you expected a Thanksgiving-centric episode and instead we get one that was pretty scattered by itself. Was it funny? Of course it was since these characters are a damn hoot, but the fact the the story lines didn't really come together made this episode a bit unforgettable. In fact the whole psycho mailman B-plot was actually pretty bad until the very end with the group inadvertently scattering his ashes.

I'm thinking ranking episodes between now and until after the holidays will be tricky with shows going in and out of hiatus so I may discontinue talking about TV this way starting next week. Stay tuned.

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