Two guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Last Week In TV #9

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.

Other thoughts:
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.

Other thoughts:
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.

14 comments:

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

We were discussing how Walking Dead, in just two epsiodes, has already...well let's call it "payed homage", to 28 Days Later (waking up in a hospital), Sean of the Dead (pretending to be zombies) and Dawn of the Dead (grabbing a truck, backing it up and loading everyone in)

Also as a family (including our parents)we straight up agreed that we would have shot Merle in the head and been done with it. This is the apocalypse, you don't add a Bigoted asshat to your team.

Haven't watched FG yet, will catch it tonight

Glee was the first episode, i felt, in a while that reminded me why i like the show, though i still can't stand Will. And though i do think the bully being Gay was a bit cliche, it was clear to me it was where it was going, a case of "me thinks one dost protest too much". Also talk on Jezebel was that it surprised many people and even though it is a cliche, it's a very true one and happens quite frequently in real life. Also, i believe one of the writers straight up said Larry was based on a real person in his life

The talk around the interwebs is that Pastry Chefs are the crazy people in the culinary world because they have to be so precise all the time and measure everything and memorize recipes and not have to make things a la minute. That said, Seth was insane. Still, the rest of the season is full of weirdness and unlikeable people. Just makes me want Top Chef All Stars that much sooner

Phantomas said...

I was reading the comic monthly back when it first started and I remember Robert Kirkman got a LOT of letters regarding the 28 Days Later similarity. As Kirkman explained it he had written that part before 28 Days came out and by the time it had come out the comic was to far along to change it without being a major problem. So he just decided to go ahead with it and chalk it up to great minds think alike. I imagine now with the TV show out he is having to re-explain that all over again. :)

I agree that Merle was a little too stereotypical as well. They went WAY out of their way to make him not likable and they could have toned him down a little bit and still achieved that. Seems like they have more in store for him though.

Based on the preview for next weeks episode it looks like they are adding a bit more than was in the comic. I for one am kind of glad that they are veering a little from the comic, that way it makes it less predictable for those of us who are familiar with it.

One thing that as a reader of the comics I am having a hard time with is not spoiling things that are coming up, because while they are straying a little bit from the path of the comics certain beats are sure to be hit I am sure. It's just going to be hell waiting for those things to happen in the 3rd or 4th season!!! :)

Teebore said...

@Falen: Yeah, Walking Dead is definitely acknowledging the genre, we shall say.

This is the apocalypse, you don't add a Bigoted asshat to your team.

Agreed. I'm hoping future episodes (heck, the one that aired last night that I haven't watched yet might have) address that. I mean, if he's like the best hunter the group has, or something, I can buy it. You can put up with a lot if he's bringing a special skill to the group. Otherwise...

Glee was the first episode, i felt, in a while that reminded me why i like the show

Yeah, me too. Going off the 3 Glees theory, I definitely like the Falchuk episodes. They can get a little after school special-y, but they're also the ones that feel closest to the core of the show, and actually end up furthering some of the ongoing plotlines.

And really, most of the problems I had with this episode were minor and, for the most part, are endemic to Glee. I mean, I know I'm not going to get carefully reasoned, fully measured themes on this show, and I watch it knowing and accepting that.

Also, i believe one of the writers straight up said Larry was based on a real person in his life

Hmm, well, assuming that's true (and I suspect it is; I know a lot of Kurt's stories come from the writers' own experiences), I guess I can't begrudge going that route too much, then. I guess I'll just have to blame the countless other shows and movies that go that route WITHOUT having a personal experience on which to base it for making it cliche. ;)

The talk around the interwebs is that Pastry Chefs are the crazy people in the culinary world

That makes sense, I guess I just didn't know it until this episode made it clear.

Teebore said...

@Phantomas: As Kirkman explained it he had written that part before 28 Days came out and by the time it had come out the comic was to far along to change it without being a major problem. So he just decided to go ahead with it and chalk it up to great minds think alike.

That's good to know. I think that happens in fiction a lot, more often than some people like to believe.

They went WAY out of their way to make him not likable and they could have toned him down a little bit and still achieved that. Seems like they have more in store for him though.

Agreed on both points. I definitely think the idea of a bigot in post-apocalyptic society is an interesting one worth exploring, but they could have got that ball rolling without making Merle an out-an-out caricature.

I for one am kind of glad that they are veering a little from the comic, that way it makes it less predictable for those of us who are familiar with it.

And conversely, it means that when I get around to reading the comics, they won't just be a retread of the show for me!

Anne said...

i also had the same thoughts about sectionals that you had, pretty sure when i was in a college 'sport' we competed against the same teams everytime until we got to nationals (and a lesser extent regionals- but mostly those are the same teams as well).
I don't think confronting larry in open with Joe Mauer is a good strategy to approach the situation with. Outing a kid in public could've led to his suicide- as gay students they should've known how difficult and private that decision is. It seemed like a slight disconnect.

FG was great. i was just marvelling at the actual animated boxing fights- that someone had to decide exactly how each punch would be thrown/received, and then they had to animate it
However, the milk ending was one of the grossest things i've ever seen on the show

I'm enjoying Walking Dead. But sarah said everything i had to say (get out of my mind!)

Dr. Bitz said...

@Falen, I actually had kind of the opposite thought. I figure in a zombie apocalypse I need every able-bodied person I can find.
Sure you may be a racist asshole with a few screws loose, but if you can help me fend off a horde of flesh-eating zombies...then I'll begrudingly take it.

Which isn't to say he didn't need to be roughed up and restrained until he cooled down. I'm just saying I wouldn't have purposely left for dead or killed him myself.

Also, I'm was done with the love triangle before it started. You're in a zombie apocalypse, get over yourselves.

Teebore said...

@Anne: I don't think confronting larry in open with Joe Mauer is a good strategy to approach the situation with.

Yeah, that scene was problematic too. I mean, what were they expecting to happen, especially in some random public stairway?

i was just marvelling at the actual animated boxing fights- that someone had to decide exactly how each punch would be thrown/received, and then they had to animate it.

Yeah, FG has had some great animation this year since they started broadcasting in HD, and they've always put a lot of effort into their random fight scenes. I love that they put some much effort into something like that.

@Dr. Bitz: Also, I'm was done with the love triangle before it started. You're in a zombie apocalypse, get over yourselves.

Agreed. I'm so done with love triangles on any show (the next one I see that I actually like will be the first), let alone one where each character involved has so much more to worry about (which was also my problem with most of the various Lost triangles/ quadrangles/ angles: how 'bout instead of mooning over Kate you figure out WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THE DAMN ISLAND!).

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

Bitz - i dunno. From all the zombie apocalypse research i've done, general consensus is a wild card can just as easily lead to your death as a zombie can. I only want people i trust to stand at my back with a weapon.
A man like that would never, ever forget or fogive you for roughing him up. He'd just bide his time.

And honestly, sex in the forest during a zombpoc? That's one of the most ridiculous things i've ever seen. I follow the mad eye moody school of thought for a zombpoc - "constant vigilence"

Anne said...

yeah i second Sarah's statement.

I mean, this guy made your group LESS EFFECTIVE to survive the zombpoc- not only emotionally, but physically when he beat the crap out of one of your members

Who the hell needs to add that kind of stress into an already (maximum?) stressful situation?

Teebore said...

@Sarah: And honestly, sex in the forest during a zombpoc? That's one of the most ridiculous things i've ever seen.

Seriously. Sneaking up on people is never a good idea, and certainly not when the person upon whom you're sneaking has every reason to believe they're being attacked by a zombie.

Blam said...


... Glenn informing everyone he was an organ donor.

I thought that was hilarous, given what was occurring.

Your thoughts on HIMYM echo mine. Sitcoms tend to contrive their plots and characters for the sake of artificial drama even more than, well, dramas do — it'd actually be more forgivable in the service of comedy — which is only one reason why I'm generally down on the whole medium. I really like this show's narrative tricks and heart when it's on its game, though, and despite the missteps you noted here I think that this season has been a bit of a return to form.

The clich├ęs that you brought up in "Guts" and Glee, incidentally, had nothing on the ticking time bomb that was that architectural spot of sound-throwing in the museum (a phenomenon I've actually experienced; it's wild). So distracted waiting for it to blow a secret wide open...

Blam said...


I stopped watching The Event the episode before this one (or the one before that), as I never got to see the venerable Hal Holbrook, and despite some curiosity I haven't really missed it.

And why I am worrying about this crap on a show like Glee?

Don't look at me! I mean, I was about to ask you the same question, and yet I feel the same way. I think that it has to do with appropriate suspension of disbelief. Fiction can set whatever parameters of fantasy it wants, as ground rules, but within those ground rules, which usually include something like real life unless we're explicitly told otherwise, the stories need to play fair with both facts and emotion to have any credibility. The example I often use: You say that Superman can fly? Okay. I don't need to know exactly how. You say that he can disguise himself as Clark Kent? I accept that, as long as you yourself don't start poking at the implausibility. You expect me to believe that there's basically just one editor, two star reporters / columnists, and one cub reporter / photographer at The Daily Planet unless the plot demands otherwise? Nuh-uh. Modern stories don't have this problem the way old comics and the 1950s TV series did, but there are variations. I follow Glee's flights of fancy like shared visions of Britney Spears under anesthesia, or even Brittany S. Pierce's entire character, gladly, but expect it to play fair when it sets up drama rooted in the real world.

Blam said...


Speaking of the Warblers, and their lead singer Blaine, apparently I somehow missed the announcement that Joe Mauer was going to be on Glee...

Hello? They're called the Twins.

I'm with you on the kiss, by the way; it was touching and yet not actually meaningful.

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

Wah-wah-wahhh...

All the points on "Larry" are well made, although I've read that the reports that Kurt would get a boyfriend this season didn't necessarily point to Blaine and wondered if the writers were planning a serious turnaround in this guy. Hard to believe? Yes. Something I'd put past Glee to attempt? No. Something I'd put it past Glee's ability to pull off? Not necessarily.

[H]ow 'bout instead of mooning over Kate you figure out WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THE DAMN ISLAND!

I think a friend of mine had it right early on when he called the show The Bermuda Love Triangle.

And I'm sorry for both the delay between these piecemeal comments — I know you're moderating — and the fact that some of them might just as well be applied to newer posts, but I'm having a heck of a time with the WiFi and haven't opened tabs with newer posts of yours for a while.

Teebore said...

@Blam: I really like this show's narrative tricks and heart when it's on its game, though, and despite the missteps you noted here I think that this season has been a bit of a return to form.

Agreed. I think this season has, overall, been moving in the right direction.

Zoey remains a problematic character, though, and I'm worried that the success or failure of this season as whole may come down to her (and I worry because if that is the case, I'm less confidant in success).

So distracted waiting for it to blow a secret wide open...

Ha! Yeah, we're so used to that setup/payoff by now, it just becomes a question of "what's the secret that's gonna come out" rather than whether or not it will happen at all.

I stopped watching The Event...and despite some curiosity I haven't really missed it.

I certainly can't fault anyone bailing on it. I'm still in it mainly because I'm curious about the aliens/time travelers/whatever, and because I like these kinds of overarching, plot-based, conspiracy-laden shows enough that I'll watch even poorly-executed ones.

I follow Glee's flights of fancy like shared visions of Britney Spears under anesthesia, or even Brittany S. Pierce's entire character, gladly, but expect it to play fair when it sets up drama rooted in the real world.

Definitely. And I liked your example of suspension of disbelief with Superman. What I always say is that the show/story/whatever doesn't have to be based in reality, but it has to be true to its reality.

I don't need events in comic books (or Glee) to happen like they would in our real world, but I do need them to happen like they would if the comics' world was real.

It's all about consistency, really, and Glee usually does a good enough job of either adhering to the rules of its reality (you can prepare for Sectionals in like a week!) or shying away from clearly establishing rules in the first place, and thus not having anything to contradict (Sure there can be a tie!)

Hello? They're called the Twins.

*rimshot* Of course! :)

if the writers were planning a serious turnaround in this guy. Hard to believe? Yes. Something I'd put past Glee to attempt? No. Something I'd put it past Glee's ability to pull off? Not necessarily.

Yeah, I had heard about the whole Kurt's boyfriend storyline and the subsequent downplaying of Blaine as that character, but I chalked it up to "yeah, he is the boyfriend, but we're going to try and manufacture surprise by telling you he's not now that you've figured it out quicker than we'd hoped."

But should they be going for a massive turnaround with Karofsky (I learned his name!) I definitely agree with all three of your conclusions.

And I'm sorry for both the delay between these piecemeal comments — I know you're moderating — and the fact that some of them might just as well be applied to newer posts

No worries. As you can see, I've been getting delayed in responding to them. Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated, no matter when they arrive.