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Monday, March 14, 2011

Last Week in TV #25

The Simpsons: A Midsummer's Nice Dream


I'm not the biggest Cheech and Chong fan; their heyday was a bit before my time, and while I have nothing against their schtick (and have largely enjoyed what little I have seen) I'm not overly familiar with them beyond their their existence as part of the pop culture zeitgeist (I know Cheech best, for example, as Hurley's dad on Lost).

So maybe a greater familiarity with their work was required to fully enjoy this episode, which seemed overstuffed and unsure what it was trying to do, with multiple plots and not enough room for any one to stretch out and find its legs. We had Homer joining Cheech as his new partner Chunk and getting disillusioned with the gig, Chong auditioning new partners and picking Skinner, Marge helping the Cat Lady with her hoarding then becoming a hoarder herself, and then Homer trying to get Cheech and Chong back together. There were a lot of really good lines sprinkled throughout, but with so little room for any one plot to develop, unfortunately, there wasn't much more to the episode.

Or maybe I'm just too much of a square...

Bart: Who the hell are Cheech and Chong?
Homer: Cheech and Chong were the Beavis and Butthead of their day!
Bart: Who are Beavis and Butthead?

Chief Wiggum: Get me a t-shirt. XXL.
Lou: I thought you said XXL was a real wake up call?
Chief Wiggum: That was for pants.

Marge: Remember, on the road the only vice you can indulge in is gluttony. Save lust and rage for me and the kids.
Homer: Honey, don't worry, I'm gonna come back so horny and angry.

Marge: Time to finally return your father's overdue movies.
Lisa: Is it really okay to just drop them into the pit where the Blockbuster used to be?
Marge: You got a better idea?

Marge: I hate to say this about the cat lady, but I think she's crazy.

Homer: Can we at least get some french fries?
Cheech: Too high in trans fats.
Homer: Aw, stop speaking Spanish.


The Event: And There Were More/Inostranka


Yahoo! The Event is back!

Just kidding. No one is really that excited about The Event.

Still, as The Event goes, this wasn't a terrible duo of episodes. I mean, it still did some of the frustrating stuff The Event usually does (more on that below) and had at least one time wasting plotline (I'm thinking of all the Virgina Madsen Senator business, though, hey, good for her for finding work), but we did get a clear picture of exactly what Thomas is up to, and thus, what the stakes are, and all the Mount Inostranka stuff in the second episode was well executed and fun to watch (in fact, it felt like an episode of 24 in a good way: the objectives were clear for both sides, the odds were against the protagonist, the ramifications of failure dire, etc). 

While I was overjoyed to have Sean and Leila find her stupid sister and spare us another half season of them flailing around the edges of more important and intriguing storylines, the show had to go and burn up all the goodwill it had gained by splitting Sean off into plotline limbo almost immediately thereafter.

So the Senator from Alaska plot was pretty lame, from her hilarious line about how she plays poker to the fact that really, all it did was remind us of how the President is both a crappy President and rather toothless. Also, when Virgina Madsen convinces the Sergeant-at-Arms to let her take away sensitive letters, why didn't he at least check that what she was taking were, in fact, letters? You know, tell her she can take them but that he needs to confirm they are not the top secret documents he was specifically sent to confiscate from her? Why even let her go into her office alone?  If she really was just retrieving sensitive letters, he could look over shoulder without reading those letters, and if she's not, well, he should want to know that.

All in all, though, a strong return for the show. Maybe the hiatus has just softened the memories of all the random plots and time wasting from the first half of the season, but it now seems possible for this show to at least go out strongly. The Event will never be a great show, but maybe it can at least end up being an enjoyable one.

Oh, and I have no idea what the hell that ending was, with Hal Holbrook moving rocks around some weird tablet, but even though it's becoming increasingly unlikely that the aliens are actually time travelers (I mean, Leila's dad specifically referenced the name of their planet...) that final scene has me wondering if maybe Hal Holbrook is a time traveler (maybe even a future version of Sean, but I'll freely grant that's just my own personal fascination of such storylines at work...).


Glee: Sexy 


A muddled episode, with a couple of plots running through it that I cared about (Kurt and his dad, Brittany and Santana) and several that I cared less about (the Will/Holly/Emma/Carl business, Finn and Quinn, anything to do with the Celibacy Club...).

The episode's best material came from a surprisingly examination of Brittany and Santana's relationship. What started out mainly as a titillating joke has turned into a moving and intriguing storyline, and I liked that the resolution wasn't as easy as Santana admitting her feelings. While Brittany reciprocates, she can't deny that she does have feelings for Artie. Meanwhile, as is usually the case, Kurt and his dad were another highlight. Burt's sex talk to Kurt was well done, as Burt's talks tend to be, and Kurt reacted to it believeably, not exactly comfortable or happy with it, but appreciative all the same.

As is increasingly the case, a little Sue goes a long way, and her one scene in this episode was just right. It was especially fun to see Blaine's reaction to her, as well as her slapdash coffee preparation.

Stuff I Shouldn't Worry About: Why is Rachel in the Celibacy Club after her rather thoughtful criticism of it early in season one? Yeah, yeah, she's focusing on her career; seem like a rather thin excuse to get her in there.

If I ever hear Will grunt "uhn" to kick off a song again, it'll be too soon...

Oh, yeah, Gwyneth Paltrow. She was fine. I'm not a Gwyneth hater like some people I know. She sings fine and seems to really enjoy her character, which goes a long way. Her getting involved with Will seems like a stupid way to prolong the whole Emma/Will thing now that Emma's marriage is falling apart, which is tiresome, but that's not her fault. And the whole Emma/Will thing has been handled so poorly anyway I no longer find myself caring all that much about it anyway.

Favorite Song: Easily "Afternoon Delight". Yeah, the Celibacy Club stuff bugged me, and yes, the basic joke was already done better on Arrested Development, but it's still a funny joke, and I love that Carl at least knew what the song was really about. Plus, Rachel and Puck hilariously looked like performers from a 60s folk band a la A Mighty Wind

Puck: I like wooing you. Next to dropping my afternoon deuce, it's my favorite part of the day.

Brittany: The key is to use the curling iron in the bathtub to keep yourself from getting burnt.


Top Chef: Fit For A King


Seriously you guys, we're like one more elimination challenge away from a world where Mike Isabella is a Top Chef. I mean, really? I figured he'd be one of the first one out this season, and now he's looking like a strong favorite to win. It isn't like he's been slinking by, Stupid Lisa-style, either; he's come on strong the last few episodes, winning two elimination challenges in a row and beating Michael Voltaggio, who's generally considered by those in the know to be one of Top Chef's best winners.

Yeesh. Let's just hope Richard doesn't choke again in the final round...

This was a pretty weak episode at a time when we should be getting great episodes. The whole "face off against their seasons' winners" gimmick, which seemed so promising when previewing last week, amounted to very little. Working that into a quickfire is fine, but those secret ingredients were pretty lame, Tom ("Not duck! NOT DUCK!") and the whole thing was over way too fast. Then there was the whole "cooking for royalty" thing (really, not one of the chefs knew/realized there is no actual king or queen of the Bahamas? Really?) that got skunked by the fire and suddenly everyone is talking about de-refining their dishes for "the people", which was dumb because A. "The people" probably like elegant, refined food too and B. "the people" aren't deciding who's going home. By the end, everyone just seemed tired and ready to move on to the next episode, judges included (and what was up with Tom dispiritedly describing each chef's dish instead of the chef? Also, how funny was the sight of Eric Ripert, Gail and Tom wedged into a booth?).

Raw pork is raw pork, but I feel bad Carla was sent home on such a poorly conceived challenge, and for essentially the same mistake that sent her home before (trying a technique unfamiliar to her). That said, maybe she wouldn't have had to do something new if the show had provided them with ovens at least. I mean, those kind of goofy limitations fly early in the season, but this is the finals. Just let the finalists cook some damn food without a bazillion obstacles in their way...

And even though the Quickfire fizzled, I do have a few comments about the match-ups.

Season Four: Stephanie vs. Richard vs. Antonia
This one probably turned out the way the season four finale should have, with Richard barely besting Stephanie and Antonia in third (with Stupid Lisa having been eliminated about ten rounds earlier), so no surprises there.

Season Five: Hosea vs. Carla
Poor Carla, losing to Hosea in the same way again (messing up the execution), and in the same way in which she'll get eliminated. Hosea might think this is some kind of validation against "the haters" but winning by default because your opponent undercooked rice due an equipment issue isn't a whole lot different than how you won the first time.

Season Six: Michael V. vs. Mike
The true shocker, as Mike bests the clearly superior Michael V. Frankly, I don't think Mike should have been able to beat ANY of the season six finalists, let alone the winner.

Seriously, Mike's not gonna win this thing, right? Right? 
 
Season Seven: Kevin vs. Tiffany
Not a big surprise, given that Kevin's win was kinda Hosea-esque, in that Angelo probably would have won if he hadn't come down with Asian Death Flu or whatever he had, and Tiffany almost made it to the finals last season herself.


Saturday Night Live: Miley Cyrus & The Strokes


The idea of Miley Cyrus hosting SNL wasn't exactly met with much enthusiasm, but the episode actually turned out to be pretty good. While the back half had its usual smattering of clunkers (especially that weird cream/rockabilly ad with Kristen Wiig and Miley Cyrus and the sketch where Miley was a lounge singer insulting her audience) the front half had several funny pieces, from the talk show hosted by the Black Eyes Peas who aren't Fergie or Will.i.am ("and I'm from the Matrix!") to the hilarious Disney Channel acting class ("the pause then dis"). While the show seemed careful to give Miley material she knew (ie singing, and on that subject, is it just me or has two out of every three monologues lately ended with a song?) she handled what she was given well (I particularly liked her Justin Bieber impression, which captured his aura of carefully caculated image well; probably because Miley herself is used to that...).

Weekend Update was also particularly good this week, with some great Charlie Sheen material (Tigers: "why is he dragging us into this?") and a nice crack about the announcement of the iPad 2 and how it's like Steve Jobs is introducing you to a really hot girl the day after your wedding.

Favorite Sketch: I do love the "Miley Cyrus Show", but this week it's narrowly edged out by the "Disney Channel Acting School."   

9 comments:

Hannah Kincade said...

I have seen none of these, so I cannot bring anything constructive. Although, reading this I feel like I have. ;)

I do have The Simpsons recorded though...all in good time.

Anne said...

yeah Top Chef is starting to freak me out- why is Mike doing so well?!

Sad to see Carla go- and while i understand why i'm still bummed that Mike and Tiffany beat her (i mean, honestly, why is Tiffany still here?

i swear to go Richard better win this thing. Also, he's too freaking hard on himself- which makes him kind of a downer.

Glee was good- because i liked the way they went with Brittany and Santana (from just hints about their relationship in season 1 to full on acknowlegement). And i like the Burt/Kurt stuff the same way you do (though felt put off by the whole 'Blaine tells his dad to do it' thing. Blaine's sliding into unrealistic character zone for me)
Can't wait for next week when we finally get to regionals

Teebore said...

@Hannah: Although, reading this I feel like I have.

Thanks!

@Anne: i mean, honestly, why is Tiffany still here?

Because she's always one better than the worst person (which isn't entirely fair, since this round it seemed like she did better than Carla and Antonia, but still).

though felt put off by the whole 'Blaine tells his dad to do it' thing. Blaine's sliding into unrealistic character zone for me

Oh, I hear that. Blaine was unrealistic from the beginning, then become a bit more well-rounded with the whole "crush on the Gap guy" and "kissing Rachel" plots, but was back in Saint Blaine mode in this episode.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

i might freak out a bit if Mike wins. But then i'll feel a little guilty because he's clearly stepped up his game.
I'm still rooting for Richard and maaaaybe Antonia too, since she's been doing well the whole season instead of just the last few weeks.

Teebore said...

@Falen: i might freak out a bit if Mike wins. But then i'll feel a little guilty because he's clearly stepped up his game.
I'm still rooting for Richard and maaaaybe Antonia too


Yeah, I'll freak out a bit if Mike wins (inasmuch as I'll freak out over a TV show...) but, as much as I want Richard to win, I'd be okay if Antonia won.

Blam said...


As I've mentioned here before, I gave up on The Event maybe a half-dozen episodes in. Yet I'm still kind-of curious about it, and in fact I have a post about it lingering; it strikes me as... not quite a parody of the kind of series it is, exactly, but rather like a show-within-a-show that was cobbled together and we're actually seeing in its entirety. I don't know if that feel is still there, since I'm not watching anymore, but there you go.

I have no idea what the hell that ending was, with Hal Holbrook moving rocks around some weird tablet, but even though it's becoming increasingly unlikely that the aliens are actually time travelers (I mean, Leila's dad specifically referenced the name of their planet...) that final scene has me wondering if maybe Hal Holbrook is a time traveler

Ooh... Could he be Mark Twain?

VW: avocci — Silent.

Blam said...


I think we've established that we're on the same page re Glee. The scene between Kurt and his dad was superb — only spoiled a bit by some of the show's trademark continuity screwiness, as Kurt is (literally) all "la-la-la" when just a couple of episodes ago he basically charged his dad with finding out about this stuff and then sitting down with him like a father should, gay son or straight. So a minor "WTF?" but still a major "Bravo!" for such an incredible monologue from Mike O'Malley and the writers.

While I loathe smushed-together couple nicknames, by the way, "Brittana" is apparently a thing, and a report from PaleyFest on the EW website said that one of the producers is instead pushing for "Santittany". Love it!

[A] little Sue goes a long way, and her one scene in this episode was just right. It was especially fun to see Blaine's reaction to her, as well as her slapdash coffee preparation.

Yeah. I was a little torn, because having someone respond to her realistically only highlights how cartoonish she is, but at the same time it actually worked, with Kurt sort-of bridging the insular McKinley wackiness and the outside world.

Why is Rachel in the Celibacy Club after her rather thoughtful criticism of it early in season one?

And how come nobody else from the entire school is in the club, even ironically as a way to meet chicks? That seems like something Glee (and other shows) would do, be it a football player — I think that the show actually needs someone outside New Directions to fall for Rachel and distract her without getting caught up in any of the singing groups — or even that ├╝ber-nerdy kid I can't stand who went way too far in the infamous orgasm scene.

[Holly Holliday] getting involved with Will seems like a stupid way to prolong the whole Emma/Will thing now that Emma's marriage is falling apart, which is tiresome, but that's not her fault.

I resented being asked to root for Will's marriage to fail so that he could be with Emma, despite the fact that Terri was a total shrew, but I resent even more having the crescendo of the Will/Emma kiss occur during the first season only to have the characters totally backpedal to the point where now we're rooting for Emma's marriage to fail if we want to see her and Will together.

Favorite Song: Easily "Afternoon Delight".

Meh. 8^)

VW: inginmon — Where a Rastafarian suggests one drowns one's sorrows.

Blam said...


While I can't get enough of Brittany's one-liners, now that she's been seen in genuinely emotional as well as physical relationships with both Santana and Artie I find myself straying dangerously close to asking rational questions like how Artie is still alive, let alone how he and/or Santana privately deal with her more bubble-headed beliefs.

Speaking of survival, I was really surprised by how solid Miley Cyrus was on SNL. I'm aware of the argument that she must have a certain degree of work ethic given her career, regardless of what one thinks of her relative talent, but honestly given her gum-smacking lack of poise in the fleeting glimpses I've had of her as herself on TV (up to and including the Oscars last year, when we both called her out for slouching), I was expecting something either perilously close to Vanessa Bayer's parody or studiously avoidant of appearing that way; after all, look at the debacle that was January Jones in live skits.

I particularly liked her Justin Bieber impression, which captured his aura of carefully caculated image well; probably because Miley herself is used to that...

She did a particularly good job there, agreed. He's also one that confounds me, because he seems genuinely musical and self-aware enough that he doesn't take his fame too seriously, yet I just can't wrap my head around the phenomenon.

VW: inair — Flying.

Teebore said...

@Blam: but rather like a show-within-a-show that was cobbled together and we're actually seeing in its entirety. I don't know if that feel is still there, since I'm not watching anymore, but there you go.

I think I know what you mean, and that feeling is definitely still there. You're right, it feels like it's almost parodying shows like Lost and 24, but takes itself too seriously to actually be a parody.

Ooh... Could he be Mark Twain?

That would be so awesome it would single-handedly salvage the entire show.

So a minor "WTF?" but still a major "Bravo!" for such an incredible monologue from Mike O'Malley and the writers.

Well said. It's a testament to how good writing can easily gloss over character inconsistencies.

And how come nobody else from the entire school is in the club, even ironically as a way to meet chicks?

Another good point. I could definitely see some guys joining up thinking it was an easy way to score chicks. Heck, what happened to all the people that were in it when it first appeared?

I think that the show actually needs someone outside New Directions to fall for Rachel and distract her without getting caught up in any of the singing groups

I'd love to see someone in the club develop a non-confrontational relationship with someone outside the club.

now we're rooting for Emma's marriage to fail if we want to see her and Will together.

Great point. I hadn't put that together, but it is pretty lame that TWO marriages have to fail for them to get together. At that point, who could possibly be rooting for them?

@Blam: I was expecting something either perilously close to Vanessa Bayer's parody or studiously avoidant of appearing that way

I was really surprised at the apparent sense of humor she had about herself, between the opening monologue song and her participation in the "Miley Cyrus Show" sketch. Beforehand, she struck me as the type of person who would be super serious about her image and unwilling to lampoon it, so it was nice to see her be relaxed and easy going about it all.

He's also one that confounds me, because he seems genuinely musical and self-aware enough that he doesn't take his fame too seriously, yet I just can't wrap my head around the phenomenon.

Tell me about it. He's this odd mix of genuine talent and humility with a focus-group crafted image.