Thoughts on what I watched on TV last week.
The Walking Dead: Guts
A lot of people were down on this episode, and while it wasn't quite as good as the first, I didn't think it was that bad, either (maybe all the negative buzz beforehand lowered my expectations).
Yes, Merle was terribly one-note and cliche, and that is a fault of the episode, but the episode is just one in a series, and while the preview for the next episode made it clear that Merle will appear at least once more, I'd also like to think that the producers aren't going to hire Michael Rooker and then ask him to play one cliche beat, so I expect we'll see more of Merle and, hopefully, Merle doing more.
The "eulogize the dead stranger before doing something extreme/gross with their body" scene has been done plenty of times before, but I liked this one, from Rick noting how much money Wayne had in his wallet in lieu of any other information, to Rick's promise to tell his family about him, and finally Glenn informing everyone he was an organ donor.
It seemed significant that Rick found a grenade in the tank before leaving, but it didn't come up again. Is that setting something up for a future episode, or a failing of this one (to show it and then not use it)?
More differences between Rick and his former partner, as Shane is quick to wash his hands of the people trapped in Atlanta while Rick goes out of his way to get everyone out safely. Of course, Shane's been living in this world longer than Rick, but I suspect their different approaches to post-zombie life will remain.
The Simpsons: Lisa Simpsons, This Isn't Your Life
As overexposed as Homer has become in the last half decade (decade?) or so of The Simpsons, I wonder if episodes which relegate him to a B-story or merely on the fringes of the main story end up the better for it. In this episode, Homer got to be Homer (impulsively buying gas to get Maggie the toy she wanted, playing card tricks ("The seven of clubs?" "Tada!")) but he didn't dominate the episode, which left his antics more amusing for their brevity and left room for a pretty solid A story involving Lisa's perception of Marge's success in life and an equally good B story involving Bart accidentally upending Nelson as the school bully (which worked because both Bart and the show acknowledged from the beginning that it was all the result of ludicrous happenstance. And also because I will never tire of Marge's complete ignorance of the pecking order at Bart's school ("It's not Milhouse!")).
Nelson: Look at you, struttin' around like you're Toad of Toad Hall.
Nelson: You'll crack like one of those chicken turds rich people eat.
Bart: You mean an egg?
Family Guy: Baby You Knock Me Out
This was an odd episode, as Family Guy rarely does an entire episode with just one plot, and I wonder if another "Peter gets Lois involved in something that she ends up being good at" plot was worth an entire episode, but it worked well enough. It probably helped that they weren't parodying any one specific boxing movie, but rather a hodgepodge of them. Also, it featured foxy boxing.
Quagmire: I just like watching her box.
Peter: That means two things.
Joe: You knew cuz of my globe, you dick!
Peter: This is crazy! Is no one really making me flapjacks yet?
And, as you can expect, I laughed pretty hard at the "Daily Growler" gag.
How I Met Your Mother: Natural History
Quite a good episode. Ted was actually funny without also being a douche, and while the Barney/Robin touchin' stuff plot was pretty one note, it did lead to another great "Barney is a real boy" scene that NPH absolutely nailed (as he so often does). Zoey still isn't working for me, but at least we got to see her not wearing one of those stupid hats.
It wasn't perfect though, largely because of the Marshall/Lily plot, and the problem boils down to the writers not making Marshall's point clear enough. Choosing to take a five year contract with GNB (and actually enjoying the work he does there) doesn't mean Marshall is abandoning his dreams; he's just being pragmatic. He recognizes that with a mortgage to pay and a family looming, he can't just toss away a lucrative job in the name of his principles, and that, perhaps, there might be other ways to help save the environment than as a dirt poor lawyer.
However, at least up until the very end, Marshall (via the writers) didn't do a very good job of elucidating that point, instead making Lily's accusation throughout that he was outright abandoning his youthful principles seem more valid. I think the point this story was trying to make wasn't that everyone sells out eventually (which doesn't really fit HIMYM's aesthetic), but rather that as we get older, it becomes necessary to balance our dreams with our realities (which does). Unfortunately, that point seemed to get lost (until the end tag, with extinct Corporate Marshall, helped circle the story back around to it).
Robin: I wish I knew you guys back then. You know why? Because you can’t kick a story in the nuts.
Ted: (on monocles): It’s a great look, I think it could come back. One question: Does it cost half as much as glasses?
Finally, "Galactic President Superstar McAwesomeville" is the best name, ever.
The Event: I Know Who You Are
During Sterling's character-development flashback in this episode, I was reminded of something about Lost (yes, I'm talking about Lost in regards to the The Event again; whatever, they asked for it). For all that people raved about its innovative use of the flashback device to develop characters, there was a time somewhere around the end of the second season and the introduction of the flashforward where the flashback device was becoming tedious for most of the main characters (ie the infamous secret origin of Jack's tattoos flashback). Yes, at first, the flashbacks were an intriguing and riveting way to introduce us to these characters, but once we got to know them, I found myself thinking "the time spent on this flashback could have been spent telling us something cool about the island".
Which is my rambling way of saying that while Sterling was discussing wine in his flashback, I was thinking "gee, I could be learning more about the plot right now". Which isn't to say this show couldn't use some more character development, or that the flashback isn't a captivating device for providing it, but I've said from the beginning that I'm in this for the plot over the characters.
Hal Holbrook showed up as the apparent head of the anti-release the aliens conspiracy and the man behind the presidential assassination attempt/Leila's kidapping/Sean's fugitive status. He's looking rather...old, but I'm not complain about having him as part of the show.
Sophia being Thomas' mother makes sense. In retrospect, there's definitely a motherly/scolding vibe during their previous interactions.
My first thought when seeing a room full of little girls with their faces purposely hidden was that they would all be clones of Samantha. My last thought, after seeing their faces? Creepy.
Glee: Never Been Kissed
It's a Brad Falchuk episode, so we get back to the main plot and are reminded that Sectionals are coming up, and that the competition this year includes the all-boys Warblers and the continuing-education old people, the Hipsters.
Which begs the question, why aren't they facing off against the girl's school and deaf school from last year? Did those schools shut down? Did their glee clubs disband after losing Sectionals? I can understand different schools being at Regionals every year (since Sectionals will always cull different teams) but shouldn't the same schools always face each other in the first round of competition? I mean, the Twins have to get past the same four teams every season to win their division and get to the first round of the playoffs. And why I am worrying about this crap on a show like Glee? Next thing you know I'll be asking questions about the geography of Springfield...
I'm fairly certain no school could possibly remove prejudice entirely via the application of school rules (especially one where the tuition is apparently very high, and thus, most of the students would likely come from families that also give large donations to people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman) but Glee has never been terribly subtle, and making one of New Directions' rival schools a paradise for Kurt has some dramatic potential.
Speaking of the Warblers, and their lead singer Blaine, apparently I somehow missed the announcement that Joe Mauer was going to be on Glee...
What is up with Quinn's house? Why is the fire always burning so bright? Who wants to make out on one of those uncomfortable half couches? Oh, and Quinn? If you don't want to have sex with boys, tone down the kink. Saying "say my name" while dry humping creates something of a disconnect...
Artie liking Brittany again, suddenly, was random. But that's Glee, I suppose.
As to the matter of the two titular characters in this episode. The kiss between Will and Bieste was slightly problematic. On the one hand, it was a sweet gesture, and Will's good at those kind of sappy, "you're great just the way you are!" moments (really, it's the only reason I don't mind him still being around). On the other hand, it was a fairly meaningless gesture, seeing as how he has no feelings for her beyond respect and friendship. Her point was that a kiss represents the first step in a journey towards something great, and Will's kiss didn't fit that criteria. That Will would kiss her in that moment didn't bother (or surprise) me. That Bieste was touched by the gesture did, since it didn't quite fit with what she had said earlier in that scene.
Similarly, Kurt's confrontation with the bully (I'm going to call him Larry, because he reminds me of the minor supporting character on Buffy of the same name who bullied Xander and turned out to be gay) was both cheer-inspiring and troubling. Blaine's message of courage and Kurt finally taking a stand were inspiring and entertaining (and I'm glad that they didn't go the easy route and do a story about how Kurt is leaving New Directions to join the other school), but during the compelling scene in the locker room where Kurt went off on Larry, I started to have a sinking feeling I knew where it was going, and sure enough, it went there.
At this point, the "homophobe who is secretly gay" is damn near a cliche. Now, I'm no sociologist, or anything close to it, but I suspect most instances of bullying and homophobia stem from people who are scared, ignorant, brought up that way or some combination thereof, and not because the perpetrators are gay and don't know how else to deal with it (which isn't to say that's not the case sometimes, but it seems like on TV and in the movies, it's ALWAYS the case). I just think that Larry assaulting Kurt because he's an ignorant dumbass rather than confused about being gay makes for more compelling (and less pat) drama.
Still, the showdown between the two was one helluva scene...
Favorite Song: "Start Me Up/Livin' on a Prayer". Dur. But I also liked the boys' mash-up too. I'm a sucker for mash-ups.
Favorite Coach Bieste line: You crap on my leg and I’ll cut it off!
Favorite Sue line: ...who’d rather be dry humping She Hulk. Oh dear God, why did I say that? Now that’s what I’m picturing. you know what kinds of disgusting images I’m going to have to look at to get this out of my head? I’m going to have go straight to the wound care center and stare at some wounds. (loved the way she over-pronounced "wounds").
Top Chef Just Desserts: Lucent Dossier
Mrs. Teebore and I are way behind on this show, so we just watched the fourth episode, which is the one where Seth goes crazy and leaves, Band-Aid Heather comes back and pouts, the other Heather inexplicably goes off on Morgan, and Malika takes herself out of the competition after making one of the judge's favorite desserts.
Seriously, yo. I've watched a lot of Top Chef, but apparently pastry chefs are the batshit insane chefs of the culinary world.
The Big Bang Theory: The 21 Second Excitation
This was another episode that just ended rather than concluding (at least in the main story) but that qualm aside, it clicked nicely. The A story felt like more of an ensemble piece than we've gotten lately, and a Wil Wheaton appearance is always appreciated, while the B story did a nice job of making Amy seem more human and not just a more robotic female version of Sheldon while still maintaining her inherent Sheldon-ness.
Oh, and if you're curious, the submarine controversy Leonard mentioned regarding Raiders (that the extended 21 second cut was supposed to resolve) involves the fact that Indy is seen swimming from the cargo ship to the Nazi submarine and then next appears, wet, inside the Nazi base on the island, with no indication of how he got there, boarded the sub, or otherwise survived the journey (the script, novelization and comic book adaptation all, I believe, have the sub diving only to periscope depth, and Indy lashing himself to the periscope with his whip in order to hang on for the journey).
Sheldon: Even at Star Trek conventions, they only let him in if he helps set up!
Amy: I'm not sure how this is scored, but I believe we may have won.