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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Last Week in TV #9

Still catching up, though I didn't have a chance to watch last night's animated shows yet. 

The Walking Dead: Cherokee Rose


Another strong episode that still did very little to advance any kind of overarching narrative (other than setup a likely conflict between Rick & company and Herschel when the former want to stay on the farm), but it did have some nice character moments. The fact that pretty much everyone has more or less given up on finding Sophia (even her mom, to some extent) but, what the hey?, let's look for her anyway is a nice, subtle touch. Darryl is continuing his transformation into TV's new Sawyer, and the scene between him and Carol, from which the episode gets its title, was genuinely touching. Shane continues to be hella creepy (those overalls really help), and there was some truly disturbing subtext to his conversation with Andrea. And, we even got the start of a romantic subplot (Maggie can talk about "one time" all she wants, but we've all watched enough TV to see where that is going).

But let's talk for a moment about the episode's only real action sequence: hauling the bloated zombie out of the well. Did that scene serve any purpose, beyond showing off the show's (admittedly good) effects, and to make Glenn look heroic to Maggie? Because it seemed pretty pointless, and made pretty much all those characters involved look pretty stupid. Even if they did get that zombie out, would you want to drink that water? Especially since it was just one of five wells (and thus not necessary for survival)? That thing looked pretty oozy even before it split in half; I wouldn't trust that water. And they had enough sense to not try and loop the rope around his neck (and risk popping off the head) but they never considered the same thing could happen with a rope around his middle? It's okay for characters to do occasionally dumb things, especially if it's in service of a particularly cool or significant scene, but other than the gross out moment, this whole sequence was neither.

Other Thoughts
And, let's be honest here, Maggie was going to jump Glenn's bones whether he went into that well or not.

I'm not sure if it was intentional, but their drugstore quickie was a nice nod to Stephen King's The Stand, when Nick knocked boots with that crazy ass chick in a drugstore while looking for pepto bismol for Tom.

I like the idea of Shane developing into a crazy-ass bad guy, because zombies are a fine antagonist in a Mother Nature kind of way, but it wouldn't hurt the show to have an actual conscious villain hanging around. Though at the rate narrative seems to develop on this show, it'll probably take a few seasons for Shane to become that overt a villain.

The whole "Lori is pregnant" cliffhanger was pretty obvious. Mrs. Teebore and I spent half the episode wondering what she wanted Glenn to pick up for her, since "pregnancy test" seemed too obvious and well known for Glenn to be all like "where do I find this?". I'm no doctor, so someone tell me: is there any possibility this could be Rick's kid, or has he been back with Lori for such a short time that she wouldn't have any reason yet to suspect that she was pregnant if it was his kid (the timeline isn't real clear, but I get the impression that Rick's been out of his coma for not much more than a month; could she start feeling "symptoms" that early)?

What's the over/under on how long before Shane and/or Andrea breaks Herschel's "no guns" rule, and that's the catalyst that gets them kicked off the farm? And then Glenn and Maggie have to make a tough decision about staying/going in light of their budding romance?

Maggie mentions five wells as well as generators, so that explains how the farm has power. I'm still unsure as to how it's remained so zombie-free. Even the small town Glenn and Maggie visited was zombie-free. The impression I got from the first season was that zombies were everywhere, with the largest concentrations being in the big cities. But now it seems like it would be entirely possible to stake out a relatively normal, albeit old-fashioned and highly-vigilant, life in a quiet spot off the beaten path and live out your days. Not saying that's good or bad, just different from the impression of the situation I got from earlier episodes.


How I Met Your Mother: Tick, Tick, Tick


Oy, that was...not very good. I'm on record as being behind the idea of getting Robin and Barney back together, but making the catalyst for that a random one night stand they both regret does not do their characters (or the relationship redux plot) any favors. The taxi cab kiss was one thing; full on cheatin' is another. Even the end, when this didn't turn out to be the moment that brought them back together, wasn't much better, as instead, it just set-up another iteration of the "will they/won't they?" plot that this show, and these characters, have already done (let alone pretty much every other show on TV). For a few episodes this season, we had Robin pining for Barney; now we'll presumably spend a few with the reverse. It's narrative water treading at its most obvious, and it just means that when Robin and Barney do get back together, the writers had really better make it worth sitting through this crap yet again, and not screw it up this time.

The Ted/Marshall plot was fine. The pair of them wandering the arena in a pot-induced haze didn't do much for me, but I did laugh pretty hard at the two minute security cam footage that showed the truth of their "evening" ("it's a sign, man!"). I'm not sure it was worth how long it took to get there, but it was funny.

Other Thoughts
At least this (presumably) gets rid of Nora, with whom the writers seemed incapable or disinterested in doing anything. And I am warming up to Kevin, who should be sticking around a bit longer even if his days are numbered, so that's good. Though dude, "I love you" already? Who are you, Ted?

This also pretty much means Barney has to be marrying Robin in the future, right? Or are they going to try to shoehorn in another potential love interest for Barney between now and then? Because, please, don't.  

As frustrated as I was by what this episode did to Barney and Robin's characters and where it left their relationship, I can't deny that Barney's look of excitement, followed by his crashing disappointment after Robin's little head shake at the bar wasn't a little sad. Give NPH credit: he really does make the most of his material.

Ted: Groovapalooza: all the smug hippie bands from the '90s in one big concert. Even the tickets smell like cloves and mediocrity.

Barney: Suits, laser tag, I say "wait for it" a lot.


Glee: First Time


The best thing to come out of the offseason switch to a writers room for this show has been consistency. While Glee hasn't been quite as wacky (and arguably, hasn't reached as high) as in the past, it has been remarkably consistent this season. Plot lines are consistently followed through, whereas last season episodes ricocheted from plot to plot each episode (sometimes dropping or adding plots mid-episode). The school musical is a great example of this: last season, it was just an excuse to do a Rocky Horror cover that had no connection to any of the ongoing narratives, the idea was introduced and executed in one episode and that was that. Whereas this season, we've watched the musical unfold over the course of several episodes, and it's tied in to several major character arcs, from Rachel and Kurt's dreams of stardom to Mike's issues with his dad to Sue's whacky congressional election plot (granted, other shows could have built an entire season around the execution of a school musical, but for Glee, this is huge progress). This consistent, even temperament suits the show well; the characters will always be a bit wacky, the musical numbers unrealistically extravagant, but giving those characters and their corresponding plots room to grow makes for a much more well-rounded and, frankly, better show.

This episode also had a remarkable focus as well, zeroing in on Rachel, Finn, Kurt and Blaine, with everyone else moving in and out of their stories as supporting players. Everyone got something to do (except Mercedes, but I'm all right with that) but the focus was clearly on that foursome. Again, giving these characters room to move about within the plot instead of trying to cram in a big moment for everyone makes it easier to appreciate what's happening. This season has been all about the transition from high school to real life, of trading childhood dreams for more realistic goals, of, as this episode said, growing up. There were several little moments in this episode which played into overarching narrative, like Finn's breakdown over being good but not good enough to escape of Lima, or Blaine hinting at staying in Lima, or even Karofsky's determination to just get through high school and then seeing where life takes him. In either of Glee's previous seasons, I'd worry that these little moments would get lost in the zany hijinks, but this season, I have more confidence that they truly are part of a growing tapestry, and will payoff down the line. That's a good feeling to have with Glee.

Other Thoughts
I liked the intercutting of West Side songs with the character interactions; it was a clever way to feature more songs while using the juxtaposition to comment on the events in each scene. 

No Sue this week, and precious little Will (he did what he does best: look on in awe of his students). It's not even a question any more, is it? The episodes without Sue are just better, period.

Despite having no big moment this season, Finn has really been making the most of what he's given. His aforementioned breakdown scene this episode was quite good.

Dalton really is Tolerance Narnia, isn't it? "Hey, look, there's Blaine, the key to all our past successes, who jumped ship and joined our rivals. Let's invite him to sing along with us on this catchy Billy Joel ditty!"

On the subject of Blaine, the fact that he was a virgin seemed a little odd/forced. All of last season, he was presented as being worldly and seasoned as compared to Kurt, and it seemed like he would have had sex already. Then again, he's apparently a junior now, so there's clearly some retconning going on with Blaine. 

That scene with Mike and his dad was awful. I loved the scene between Mike and his mom a few episodes back, schmaltzy and cliche as it was. But this was terrible. Way to hit the easiest, laziest cultural stereotype, Glee. "I don't have a son!" Did he really just say that?

I'm bummed we didn't get to see Kurt as Officer Krupke. 

Things I Shouldn't Worry About: For as unpopular as the glee club is, they sure managed to rope a fair number of singing and dancing extras into the school musical (I know that Biest strong armed a bunch of football players into it, but still). And for a program that is constantly fighting for economic survival within the school, a school which apparently resides in a congressional district where a candidate running on a "no arts funding" platform is a serious contender, they sure managed to pack that auditorium (remember last season when the glee club had a recital that literally no one, including their parents, attended?).  

Also, I was a little hazy on the timing of everything: was the football game Cooter (awesome name btw) scouted the same night as the opening of the musical? If so, how the hell did that work? There was football game, Cooter gave a handful of speeches, then attended the play with Bieste, while Puck and the other football players went from the locker room to the stage, got into costume and warmed up before performing the musical (which was apparently enough time for Finn to get mad in the shower before going to watch the play)? Did the play start at midnight? 

Favorite Song: I loves me some Billy Joel (even/especially "Uptown Girl") but that was just ridiculously superfluous. So I'll go with "America", which was really good (though I wish we could have seen Glee's take on the full cast "Tonight" reprise that precedes the rumble; that's my favorite WSS song).


Top Chef: Quinceanera 
Well, this was the first real episode of the season, back in the familiar format, and not surprisingly, with most of the chefs still ciphers, it was pretty unexciting. We got some nifty drama thanks to Beardo's buying pre-cooked shrimp, but it didn't exactly make for riveting TV. I'm of two minds on the subject: on the one hand, dude, have you never watched an episode of this show before? Never buy pre-cooked anything, unless you absolutely have to (like the tortillas). On the other hand, he clearly had a ton of people around him when he said he was buying them, so why didn't someone stop him? I know this is an individual competition, but it was a team challenge, and he wasn't even buying those shrimp for himself, so anyone who thought "let the dumbass buy the shrimp" was hurting other people, and the team as a whole, more than Beardo. But I'm sad to see him go. He was one of the few contestants so far that had actually made an impression (other than Self Help Girl, Annoying Intense Blond Girl, Ty-Lor of the He-Man name, and the Working Buddies. And Rick Bayless' Protege, who is probably the favorite to win at this early point).

Other Thoughts
From now on, whenever Self Help Girl fails to win a challenge, I'm going to say that she must not have believed in winning it hard enough.

Padma's motherfucking snakes line was a bit forced, but I wouldn't mind letting her swear more often. Also, I'm pretty sure she was slightly loaded later in the episode, at the Quinceanera.

No individual winner this week, just the winning team. Judges' Table was all about the losers. Odd. I think that's the first time that happened.

Jury is still out on Hugh as a judge. So far, he's fallen into the new judge trap of shouting out a criticism without being very constructive with it.

So here's what I've learned about this Last Chance Kitchen deal. Apparently, the eliminated chef competes against whomever is in the Last Chance Kitchen. Whomever wins will then face the loser of the next episode, and so on, until whomever is in the Last Chance Kitchen gets brought back into the main competition. So if you get eliminated and then win the Last Chance Kitchen, you have to keep winning to get back in the game. Kind of a neat idea, but I'm not exactly rushing to Bravo's website to watch the challenge.  


Saturday Night Live: Emma Stone & Coldplay


When they came back from the first commercial break with that stupid "Secret Password" sketch in which Kristen Wiig does the same thing every time, I turned to Mrs. Teebore and said, "ugh, if they're leading with this sketch, we're in for a rough night." Unfortunately, I was right, as things didn't get much better after that (and they buried the best sketch of the night, "We're Going To Make Technology Hump", at the end; in fact, all the best sketches were in the later half of the show).

After "Secret Password" we got the Herb Welch sketch, another sketch that hits the same beats every time. Sure, I laughed when he banged his mic against Kristen Wigg's boobs and crotch, almost forcing Bill Hader to break, but that was about it. Even the digital short was a let down. It wasn't terrible or anything, but that Jack Sparrow song is a tough act to follow.

Weekend Update was solid, as it usually is (we fast forwarded through Garth and Kat as soon as they appeared, stopped when Chris Martin showed up, then resumed fast forwarding), and Jason Sudeikis' Devil, who is always a welcome Weekened Update guest, got a great rant in about the Penn State scandal.

Then we finally got to some solid stuff. The Adele/crying sketch was pretty blah (I did like the guys returning and sadly proclaiming that wing deal ended at 5:30) but I liked the return of the weird french dancing sketch (Napoleon's appearance in particular busted me up) and the baby shower sketch was the one sketch of the night that gave Emma Stone the most to do with her bizarre Wallace character. Yeah, it got pretty repetitive (the funniest gift was the first one, the used anal gel), but she made the most of it, and I'd much rather see stuff like that than "Secret Password" for the umpteenth time. And of course, it all wrapped up with the hilarious "Technology Hump" sketch.

Favorite Sketch: "Technology Hump", dur. I had that little ditty stuck in my head for days.

Mitt Romney: I want to be President, but… not like this

Andy Samberg: It's never too late for Spider-Man. He can stop time!
Emma Stone: You're actually thinking of Zack Morris from Saved By The Bell.

Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 3/6
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 3/6

10 comments:

  1. Don't forget Merle is out there somewhere still. He will provide the perfect villain for the group. In fact I was listening to a podcast and one of the hosts theory was that Merle is the one that has Sophia. It made sense to me since he is obviously still out there and while Sophia might not like the guy much she would probably recognize him and trust him enough to go with him. Also Merle would probably know how to cover his tracks from Daryl. It would be interesting if it ends up being the case and would give the plot thread a nice payoff since it is dragging on for way to long.

    I completely agree with you about the well zombie. I think they just put it in there so that there was at least one zombie in the episode. But yeah kind of a silly way to handle it.

    About the Lori being pregnant thing. Do you think that is what Jenner whispered to Rick at the CDC? Back when it happened I was sure it was but I am not so sure now simply because now that we all know about it Jenner whispering it to Rick seems kind of pointless. But if so than what did he tell Rick?

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  2. Walking Dead
    Can Darryl get more awesome?! the answer is yes- next episode is even more amazing. He is by far the best character on the show.
    yeah- i was all for shooting the well zombie for the same reason you were- who wants to drink that water or use it for anything after that? better go check the other 4 wells
    Laurie being pregnant- i'm sure they're going to play it up as 'who's the daddy'. I mean- if she and Rick had sex like right when they met up, then i'm betting there could be some confusion as to who's the baby's daddy. But seriosuly- who isn't using protection during a zombpoc? That baby crying is going to bring zombies down on you for like 2 years. I mean- breeding is something you do when you have a stable situation for the rest of your existence
    Phantomas- i am intrigued by your Merle theory...

    Glee
    Has been really great this season. Two episodes in a row of minimal Sue and Will has really helped out (next ep has a little touch of Will being a teacher that for some reason i just REALLY appreciated). I liked the layout of this episode and the songs as well (and now i really want to watch WSS- which has apparently just been re-released).
    I had the same thoughts as you about Blaine. Also- i still really hate Mercedes.

    Top Chef
    i missed most of this episode because i was baking (does that count as irony?). I was sad to see Beardo go, and thought of you when it happened



    you need to watch the next ep!!

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  3. damnit!
    that last little comment was supposed to be for the Walking Dead. I have NO idea how it got stuck all the way down at the end of my comment

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  4. Phantomas: Don't forget Merle is out there somewhere still.

    Ah, good point. I could see Merle being the one who has Sophia. I feel like at this point, the most likely solutions are to either find her dead or just (barely) living on her own, neither of which really justify the dragging out of the storyline. So using it as a way to bring Merle back into things would tie up both threads nicely.

    (I'm also fairly certain Daryl's increasing awesomeness is setting up Merle's return, so that we can see Daryl torn between the people he's come to enjoy taking care of and his brother

    And I have some spoiler-y ideas about Merle as well, based on some vague things I know about what happens in the comics; in the interest of remaining vague, I'll just say that I wonder if the show will make Merle this Mayor character from the comics I've heard about, assuming he's not already that character in the comics.)

    But if so than what did he tell Rick?

    I have no idea. I agree that telling him Lori was pregnant would be a let down after this episode. I feel like it has to be something bad, something that is adding to Rick's despondency. If it was anything cure-related, like, "I think we're lost, but I did hear about this doctor who might have found a cure", then I think Rick wouldn't be keeping it to himself and would be telling people to buoy their spirits.

    So something bad, but I have no idea what, specifically.

    @Anne: i'm sure they're going to play it up as 'who's the daddy'.

    Absolutely. That stuffs like crack for TV writers.

    But seriosuly- who isn't using protection during a zombpoc?

    Yeah, it's already well-established that this people aren't as savvy as we when it comes to zombiepocs.

    ow i really want to watch WSS- which has apparently just been re-released

    Ditto, and it has just been released on Blu-ray.

    i missed most of this episode because i was baking (does that count as irony?)

    I'm pretty sure Gail missed this episode for the same reason. Or, at least, she was busy judging baking...

    that last little comment was supposed to be for the Walking Dead.

    Ah, that explains that. For a minute you had me worried. :) We're not current on much, but I was pretty sure we were current on Top Chef.

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  5. I actually mostly forgot about this episode of walking dead since the next one kind of overshadows this one.
    I don't know why Glenn wouldn't know where to find a pregnancy test. And while the whole part where he was trying to justify the condoms was cute, it was a little stupid too. I mean, hell yeah he should grab those condoms. He should grab every condom he can find and pass them out to every person in his group. ESPECIALLY since he knew there was a possibility that Lori was pregnant.

    It's hard to judge how long it's been since Lori and Rick slept together in the tent last season so I really have no way of even guessing if they'll pull the whole "who's baby is it" crap on top of the already drama filled "I'm pregnant in a zombie apocalypse" mess. Seriously, if she was smart, she'd ask the vet to see if he knows of any natural remedies she could take to terminate that pregnancy. Though he seems pretty religious so who knows.

    Also, I still love Daryl. TV's new Sawyer is spot on.

    Glee has been refreshingly good this season, huge strides over last season, which just goes to show how much I appreciate a smoother plotline and flow. I've also been very glad of the limited Will this season.


    I was also bummed about beardo going, but I couldn't really complain because dude clearly fucked up. I have no clue why he thought cooked shrimp was the way to go. And I was pissed that everyone blamed him when there was clearly a crowd of people around him who should've corrected him. But what can you do. It's the first episode and he was just one of those chefs that was easily recognizable, therefore we all liked him. Clearly he wasn't the best chef.

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  6. @Sarah: He should grab every condom he can find and pass them out to every person in his group. ESPECIALLY since he knew there was a possibility that Lori was pregnant.


    Indeed.

    Though he seems pretty religious so who knows.

    Yeah, he probably wouldn't be down with that. And neither, I suspect, would Rick, but it would definitely make for an interesting discussion.

    Glee has been refreshingly good this season, huge strides over last season, which just goes to show how much I appreciate a smoother plotline and flow.

    Yeah, I honestly feel like you could just cut out season two and go straight from one to three. As Blam pointed out once upon a time, the plot threads that opened this season seemed very much like they could have picked up right where season one left off, and the tone/pacing/characterization now feels more like where season one was heading than the chaotic, all-over-the-place second season.

    I have no clue why he thought cooked shrimp was the way to go.

    Heck, *I* don't even buy pre-cooked shrimp (unless I'm buying, like, a shrimp cocktail platter) and I'm nowheres near a professional chef or contestant on a cooking show

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  7. It's interesting to read your Walking Dead commentary after having seen the following two episodes. Some of the stuff you mention as being apparently pointless does eventually come to fruition. I've come to accept that this show will just move very, very slowly!

    The pair of them wandering the arena in a pot-induced haze didn't do much for me..."

    Please -- sandwich-induced haze. There could be children reading!

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  8. @Matt: Some of the stuff you mention as being apparently pointless does eventually come to fruition.

    Yeah, that's the trap I fall into when I get behind on stuff. Still, it's good to know some things are going somewhere.

    I've come to accept that this show will just move very, very slowly!

    Me too, though that doesn't mean I still won't vent my frustrations with the pace. :)

    Please -- sandwich-induced haze. There could be children reading!

    Haha! Fair enough.

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  9. Having read the comics, and knowing where (generally) the story is going, I was very impressed that they used the "Walker in the Well" as an obligatory Zombie-of-the-week that nonetheless set up plotlines that would be paid off in coming weeks. (Spoiler - he's not in the comic, but the stuff he sets up is.) Casual questioning of the zombie's presence may lead some people to conclude that it was lazy writing when in fact it was very effective clue-planting.

    Still, I fully agree that trying to get him out of the well was a huge waste of time. Nice to see that T-Dawg points this out afterwards. People in extreme situations sometimes make stupid mistakes, and I'm glad the characters are allowed to realize it.

    I just wish the show wouldn't take sooo daaang looong to get where it's going. The 90 minute season premiere could've been cut down to an hour, and the following two episodes should've been condensed into one. Unless Sophia is with Merle, I don't see any way she could possibly survive some six days on her own in the woods during a zombie apocalypse. If she can do it, what's everyone always so anxious about?

    --mortsleam

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  10. @mortsleam: Casual questioning of the zombie's presence may lead some people to conclude that it was lazy writing when in fact it was very effective clue-planting.

    That's good to hear. Having the walker in the well turn out to be setting up something would do a lot to mitigate the seeming-superfluousness of the scene.

    I just wish the show wouldn't take sooo daaang looong to get where it's going.

    Ditto. I get that this show is never going to be headed towards some kind of final showdown with a villainous adversary or race against time to find a cure or something like that, but some forward momentum towards something would be appreciated at this point.

    If she can do it, what's everyone always so anxious about?

    Ha! Good point.

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