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

Friday, January 20, 2012

Last Week in TV #16

In addition to everything below, I did watch the first episode of Alcatraz, but not the second, so I declined to write about it. But if you watched it, feel free to sound off in the comments (in brief, for the first episode at least, I was intrigued by all the mystery stuff and surprised by the downplayed case-of-the-week stuff. We'll see if that holds up in later episodes, or if it just becomes another Person of Interest).

The Simpsons: The D'Oh-cial Network


If last week was The Simpsons at its latter day satirical best, this episode seemed to be phoning it in (pun intended). The satire here, in a loose parody of The Social Network, was much more toothless than last week's, and by the end the whole thing got a bit muddied as the episode seemed to suddenly switched gears from lampooning Facebook to lampooning modern cell phone usage. Nothing here was bad, and the episode was plenty funny, but especially after last week, the whole thing seemed rather tame. There's plenty to mock about both Facebook and modern internet culture; this episode tried to mock both but didn't go nearly far enough.

Other Thoughts
The longer lead time on The Simpsons (as opposed to live action sitcoms or animated shows like South Park) works against this episode; when it was written (probably just over a year ago), The Social Network was one of the awards season's buzziest films; now, this parody feels stale and dated (heck, The Simpsons already made a Social Network crack earlier this season, and I dinged it then for how dated it was). Then again, when someone watches this episode in syndication years from now and remembers The Social Network, they'll probably have no idea this episode aired a year after that film faded from the pop culture zeitgeist and just assume it was a timely episode.

I was also terribly distracted by the fact that Lisa's SpringFace social networking site was clearly intended to be a parody of Facebook, yet in the world of The Simpsons, Facebook exists, as Lisa met Mark Zuckerberg whilst trying to entreat Nelson to stay in school in last season's "Loan-a-Lisa". Yes, I realize I'm complaining about continuity on The Simpsons, but here we are.

That Edward Gorey-esque short at the end of the episode was delightfully random. I'm curious if the episode truly did come up short and they devised the short to fill the time, or if it was something planned entirely on its own and slotted in here.

Lisa: I kinda want to create my own thing; do you sell any just plain set.
Blocko Employee: No, we do all the imagining for you.
Lisa: Well, I'll just buy one of these and build something different
Blocko Employee: You do and you'd better build yourself a lawyer.

Mapple Employee: The lightest, most desirable computer in the world, for the next three weeks: the Mapple Void
Homer: I'll take it! Provided you charge me for services that Google offers for free
Mapple Employee: I already have!

Winklevoss: They're fat, they smoke, they started training a week ago, why can't we pull away?
Winkelvoss: Because we can't stop concentrating on that 65 million dollar Facebook settlement that somehow wasn't enough for us, even though we were rich in the first place!


Family Guy: The Blind Side


Brian episodes tend to be pretty good, and this was no exception. We've gotten plenty of "Brian dates a random woman" stories before, but this one worked especially well because it never lost sight (pun intended) of the fact that Brian can be kind of a jerk sometimes, especially if it means making himself look good. The fake mugging and fake Eiffel tower scenes were great examples of this. Along with that were some great sitcom-y hijinks involving Brian keeping the fact that he was a dog a secret, culminating in that dinner scene that applied Family Guy's trademark over-the-top-ness to the classic "the truth comes out" sitcom trope.

The B story was pretty slight, but I'll be damned if I didn't laugh every single time Peter fell down the stairs, no matter how predictable it was. Maybe I'm just an easy mark (well, we all know that I am...).

Stewie: Batman, Batman: they built a Lazy Susan for your nuclear car. That's something they consider conversation worthy.


How I Met Your Mother: 46 Minutes


For the most part, the Marshall/Lily side of recent episodes have been the strongest, but here, the Ted/Barney/Robin hijinks were the clear highlight. Though their reactions to Lily and Marshall moving out to the burbs was extremely heightened (I mean, what would they have done if the couple moved to LA or something?), I suppose that's what sitcoms do, and it did lead into the episode's best material, including two fantastic alternate renditions of the show's theme song. Meanwhile, the Marshall/Lily story was kind of a dud, due largely to the extended presence of Chris Elliot, an actor who's never done much for me playing a character that's always managed to fall right into the void between "too weird" and "not weird enough" to be funny. There were a few good moments here and there, but for the most part, it'd be nice if Lily's dad went back to being estranged.

Other Thoughts
Maybe it's just because I've always lived in the suburbs and you had to drive somewhere just about anytime you wanted to hang out with friends, but Marshall and Lily moving away doesn't seem that terrible to me. I am glad the show addressed their moving out to the 'burbs though. That said, I kinda hope, moving forward, the show just falls back on conventional sitcom logic that allows the characters to be hanging out as much as usual, with perhaps an occasional absence from the group thrown in.

Stripper Lily is always a welcome addition to the cast.

Loved Ted's "We Built Chip City" song.

Ted: It's like they cancelled Party of Five for the second time … I mean, like they cancelled sports.

Barney: Let’s declare our independence with an on da peen dance.


Glee: Yes/No


For a Will-centric episode, this could have been a lot, lot worse. And for the most part, his material was pretty bad. From "Moves Like Jagger", which was just an excuse to let him dance (and it's always creepy when Will dances) to him asking Finn to be his best man (he seriously has no adult friends? Even Burt would be better) to him actually asking Emma's whack-a-doo parents for permission, to his whole douchenozzle speech to Emma before her ended up proposing to her, to the stupid top hat when he did propose (the white suit was fine; the top hat, too much), it's amazing that this episode didn't suck more, and won't go down in history as one its worst.

The saving grace, as it has been most of this season, is that all the stuff with the kids was pretty good, and here, Glee's overstuffed nature worked in this episode's favor, as enough time was spent away from creepy Will to balance everything out. The Becky/Artie subplot was suitably random, but sweet and well-handled, and I'm glad that more wasn't made of it (when Becky sent Artie that picture, I feared we were going down some awful road where Artie gets hauled into Figgins' office because a spurned Becky accused him of taking advantage of her). It's nice to see Mercedes in a storyline that doesn't involve her being a diva.

And the Finn material was the best stuff of the night. Though it would have been nice to see his decision to join the army leading to the revelation of how his dad truly died leading to his proposal to Rachel play out over several episodes, that's Glee, and each of those beats was well-handled in this episode. Here's the thing about that proposal: it's beyond ridiculous, but it's exactly the kind of thing some lovestruck kid in Finn's situation, especially one as dopey as Finn (and I mean that in a good way), would do. It fits Glee's aesthetic of presenting a heightened reality because to teens, reality is heightened. I'm not advocating the two get married and settle into a life of domestic bliss, cuz that would be stretching reality too far, but compare the two proposals in this episode: Will deciding to propose to Emma felt like it came out of left field, a writer saying "well, I guess that's the next step for the characters" without us having seen any real development of their relationship towards that point. Finn's proposal, while ludicrous and doomed to failure, felt like the kind of thing that character would do in that situation. Despite being ridiculous, it felt genuine, whereas the Will/Emma proposal felt crafted. And that more or less illustrates the difference between how Glee handles its adult characters versus the teen ones these days.  

Other Thoughts 
The whole "Bieste eloped" reveal was the kind of random swerve that made this show insufferable in season two; that said, I can't say I'm sorry to see the potential "Bieste and Sue fight for the affections of the catcher who always overthrew the pitcher in Major League II" plotline nipped in the bud.

For all my beefs with Will proposing to Emma, the actual proposal was sweet and delightfully over-the-top in the best fashion of TV (I'm a sucker for TV and movie proposals). That said, while Mrs. Teebore didn't read it this way, I thought it was funny that the kids were singing that Will and Emma "found love in a hopeless place", when the hopeless place in question is the kids' school.

Speaking of that proposal, I wouldn't mind if the glee club decided to join the synchronized swimming team, as the gals were all particularly fetching in their old-fashioned halter top swimsuits. I'm just saying...

This was a good Sue episode, featuring the more reined in version of the character from the Christmas episode. Her scene with Artie was a great example of how the character should be handled: she offered genuine, helpful advice, but still snuck in a few snarky comments. Still, I won't stop expecting her imminent return to maniacal super-villainy until we've gotten at least three or four episodes in which she's consistently portrayed this way.

I thought bringing in Helen Mirren as Becky's voiceover was hilarious and added a nice poignancy to her story. I wouldn't want to see the show manipulate its gimmicks like that too often, but for Becky's character, it definitely worked. 

I appreciated Finn's offhand remark that he got a credit card in order to buy the ring for Rachel; it's a little "reality"detail the show probably would have overlooked in earlier seasons.

Mrs. Teebore and I both abhor Grease in general and "Summer Lovin'" specifically, so it took everything we had not to turn off this episode entirely as soon as it became clear they were heading in that direction... 

Favorite Song: "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face" was probably the best performed and directed song of the night, but I'm not terribly familiar with it (this was the first time I heard it) whereas I rather liked Rachel's slightly downtempo rendition of "Without You".


Top Chef: Fit For an Evil Queen


Just as the food suddenly got better, we got one of the best episodes of this season when all the team-oriented, Texas-inspired BS was put aside in favor of giving the chefs a theme and letting them cook, with minimal constraints. Tom seemed surprised at how good all the food was, and he shouldn't be: every season, the show reaches this point, where the number of contestants is small enough that the show can do away with all the gimmicks and just let the chefs do their thing, and suddenly the food is better. Not surprisingly, the contestants can turn out good food when not forced to work on a team with specific ingredients all night long.

I pretty much rolled my eyes at the idea behind this episode during last week's preview, and while the extended commercial for Snow White and the Huntsman got a little annoying (as well as the judges' hamming it up along those lines, and I'm a guy who appreciates a good pun), the chefs seemed to take to it with gusto, and we ended up with much more well-constructed plates than I was expecting. I'm still not terribly interested in any of these contestants (Paul remains my default favorite), but at least this episode was fun to watch.

Other Thoughts
It was tough to see them send anyone home for this challenge, since everyone seemed to be raving about everything, but I'm still surprised Beverly got sent home, just because, in Heather's absence, she's the closest thing the show has to a villain now, inasmuch as the other contestants, especially the women, don't like her (but I know a lot of people watching are probably bummed that she's gone).

That quickfire was a lot of fun, and it's nice to see them coming up with new ideas this late in the show's run. I especially liked the way someone was clearly dicking around with Chris. I'd like to see this one used again, maybe even earlier in the season.

I have never liked Eric Ripert's appearances on this show, and this one was no exception. I have no doubt he's a phenomenal chef, but he has this stuffy French air about him such that he finds no humor in anything food related. Which is fine if he's going to judge one of the finales or a fine dining challenge, but to ask him to judge this goofy ass Quickfire or a challenge where the chefs are asked to be especially creative brings out the worst in him in that regard.

Tom kinda looks like he's losing some weight, doesn't he?


30 Rock: Idiots Are People Two


This is, of course, the episode based off of Tracy Morgan's infamous anti-gay rant from last summer. 30 Rock has always been a show that's not afraid to be inspired by the reality surrounding it, and while the notion of Tracy Jordan organizing a protest of idiots after Liz blames his rant on his being an idiot (and while this plot line will seemingly be continued in the next episode), the stronger material here surrounded Jack and Liz. Following up on the revelation of Liz having a secret boyfriend last episode, Jack proceeds to get in her head, forcing her to see all the little faults that ordinarily would have driven her from such a guy, and watching as Liz's blinders were forcibly removed was lots of fun. The Jack/Liz relationship remains the core of this show, and as long as it's clicking (as it was this episode), everything else seems to fall into place.

Other Thoughts
The Jenna/Kenneth/Pete plot was rather inconsequential, worth a few chuckles but not much more (I did enjoy the visual gag of Jenna's bad lighting making her look like Kenneth).

Loved Anne Curry's super-specific comment about Tracy's rant on the Today show: "...annoying co-workers who are perhaps lingering over breakfast this morning with a new lover."

Also, Jack's pie chart showing how idiots form the core of TGS' audience was great, as was Liz's disdain for certain people on House Hunters. "Why can't people see past paint color?!?"

People forming the idiot protest: Parrotheads, frat guys, anti-vaccine activists, people who won’t shut up about scuba diving, and Denise Richards.

Jenna: Imagine what the Internet would do with this. Maroney found in closet with unconscious married man and inbred virgin…again.


Parks and Recreation: Campaign Ad


Leslie's campaign has met its opponent, and he is Paul Rudd. Bobby Newport, heir to the Sweetums empire is one of this show's best new characters, a hilariously clueless and spoiled man child played to perfection by Rudd, and I hope we see more of him as the season progresses. This episode was all about Leslie reconciling her childhood expectations of running a campaign with the reality of running for office, centered around the conflict of whether or not to run an attack ad against the 70-point favorite Newport. In the end, compromise won out, but the larger question remains: can Leslie stay true to her principles and win without becoming the kind of politician most politicians are, even when confronted with the vast resources of her opponent? In reality, unfortunately, I'd say no, but even given the stupidity of the people of Pawnee as presented thus far, I think this show is capable of realistically giving us a Leslie win that doesn't sacrificing her core Leslie-ness. And if that means we get more of Rudd's delightfully dopey Bobby Newport along the way, much the better.

The B story, meanwhile, was played for straight comedy, as April and Andy run a gauntlet of doctors and healthcare professionals in an attempt to fix up the accident-prone Andy once and for all (he broke his thumb on the way to the hospital). There's little substance to it and it's played entirely for laughs, but that's okay when it features things like Andy calling his skull a "brain helmet" and letters on an eye chart "peanuts". In the C-story, Chris is grooming Ron as a possible replacement for Ben, which is a smart idea with lots of story potential. The abrupt transition from the office to lunch, and Ron's bewilderment by it, was this plotline's highlight ("Next thing I knew we were at lunch. Did he drug me?"). 


Saturday Night Live: Daniel Radcliffe & Lana Del Rey


Daniel Radcliffe was clearly excited to be on the show and game for anything, on an almost Melissa McCarthy-like level, but whereas a similarly game Charles Barkley benefitted from some strong writing last week, Radcliffe was let down by some pretty mediocre sketches. His energy and enthusiasm helped keep the episode from being a complete bore, and there was nothing awful here, but it would have been nice if the material rose to the level of the host.

Cold Open: Another talk-to-the-camera, toss-out-some-jokes political sketch. I like Sudeikis' Romney, but like the Santorum open last week, there's not much to these bits beyond a few jokes.

Monologue: A nice use of the cast, as the various Harry Potter parody characters walk on and off stage. Radcliffe was the best part of this episode, and his monologue made his energy and enthusiasm apparent (loved the bit about how Hugh Jackman played him the best).

Ricky Gervais Ad: More screen time for Sudeikis, and his Ricky Gervais was spot-on. 

Target Lady: This is one of the few Kristen Wiig characters I enjoy (mainly because I once worked with a woman just like the Target Lady), but I never want to see this sketch as the first of the night. I don't like the character that much, and this sketch tried too hard to recreate Justin Timberlake's goofy character from a past Target Lady sketch.

“You Can Do Anything”: For some reason, we cut right from a commercial into this sketch, missing the very beginning. The idea behind it became clear enough (and is a good source of laughs), and Radcliffe's Irish jig was hilarious, but maybe because it was cut short for us, I never quite got into it.

Spin the Bottle: One of the better sketches of the night, earning laughs from Radcliffe's reactions, the escalating hobos/homeless bozos, and the various other characters repeated bits (I loved Abby Elliot's frustration that Radcliffe wasn't landing on her).

Delaware Boys: Hey, I love a good dig at Delaware, and there wasn't anything awful here, but there wasn't anything to get real excited about either.

Harry Potter 2020: The promised Harry Potter sketch, and while it's one joke was pretty funny (Harry's life peaked at 18 so now he just hangs out reliving past glories) it was pretty much just that one joke. But I really enjoyed it, mainly because I've often thought the same thing would happen to several fictional characters in the wake of their big climatic battles.

Weekend Update: Seth had some good material here (I liked his opening remark about Romney) and thought Radcliffe as Casey Anthony's new dog was the highlight of the night. Great material, great performance ("Dogs can be sarcastic too. It's not just for cats"). Armisen and Bayer's "friends of a dictator who whisper bad things about him" characters are those rare Weekend Update characters that neither crack me up nor piss me off.

Future Play: Probably the best sketch of the night, and easily the best written, both for the play itself and the audiences' reaction to it. Clever and unique; more of that, please.

Jay Pharaoh Show: That was oddly...metatextual, with Jay Pharaoh hosting a talk show as an excuse to do impressions, which has kind of been his entire role on SNL. I really hope he wrote that sketch, or else some writer is totally fucking with him.

Political Ads: I usually like this recurring political ads, but for whatever reason, these didn't work for me. Maybe it was Kristen Wiig, maybe it's because they were all oddly clustered at the end of the show (instead of sprinkled throughout), I dunno.

Exit Poll: The odd relatively-normal Kristen Wiig character, there was, again, nothing terrible about this sketch, but there wasn't was any of the characteristic whackiness that usually makes the last sketch of the night either hilarious or a trainwreck.

Then there was the commercial for Headz Up, which covered similar ground as this week's Simpsons episode, but felt oddly placed at the end of the show. Did they run out of sketches before they ran out of show?

Favorite Sketch: The future play, just for doing something a little different, and doing it well.

Seth Meyers: Target just announced a deal to feature in-store Apple shops. In response, Walmart introduced their new "Dell computer bin".

Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 3/12
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 5/12

21 comments:

  1. i only half watched Alcatraz, so i'll let Sarah comment on it (i was baking).

    i don't watch new How I Met Your Mother, but i think horror of moving to the 'burbs is a New York thing, as Friends did that episode as well when Monica and Chandler made the deicision to leave the city.

    football or something ran over so we didn't get to see the entire FG episode which was annoying. we'll have to wait for it to show up on demand. i do appreciate a 'brian is a douche' episode ow and again

    Glee was no big deal. i don't like Mercedes so her problems with Sam and the bf i really couldn't care less about (and i'm irritated that i'm forced to watch it).
    i LOVED Sue in this episode- this is how she should be! i mean- she's still a human and an educator, so i like when they portray her this way. And Artie bringing Becki on a 'date' to watch him perform in Glee- what a douche

    Top Chef- i loved all their dishes and really appreciated that clearly Tom enjoyed the dinner a lot. I was hoping since they all did so well they'd pull a 'no one goes home this week, but next we 2 wil' but no luck. Also- i was really hoping it'd be Sara going home.
    I wonder when Redemption Island is going to be added back to the show (and it'd be awesome if Beverly is the one who does it)

    I saw through the Target sketch on SNL- seeing Daniel Radcliffe doing an American Accent cracked me up!

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  2. god damnit! that entire comment was actually me

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  3. Dammit indeed, Anne.
    But yeah, pretty much what you said.
    Even though i watched alcatraz, i don't remember much of it other than that i liked the 2nd episode better and i'm willing to give it a shot. Also, POI, while still episode of the weeky, has also grown quite a bit past that. Similar to the way Fringe did.

    Also, apparently Eric Ripert is super nice and supportive of young chefs. He actually has a bit of a feud going on with Gordon Ramsay because he feels yelling at young chefs is the opposite way they should be taught. Once i read all of that, Eric's stuffy air totally disappeared for me and now he seems nice and lovable.

    How can you hate Grease? That's like hating America

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  4. You had all that to say about 30 Rock, with no mention of the awesome James Bond parody song about Kelsey Grammer at the end? That was my favorite part of the episode!

    (But then, I just love Kelsey Grammer. Frasier was the greatest sitcom of all time.)

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  5. I saw both Alcatraz episodes and was relieved to enjoy them. Not that I couldn't do with less TV in my diet, but I'm happy for J.J. and Jorge that it's at least a creative success. A couple of advance reviews started to shake my faith that this would be at best as much of a nonplusser as Person of Interest, whereas instead I found it a solid show with potential that grabbed me way more than POI did. The second episode kept the mythology aspect up more than I expected it to — aside from the fact that even the manhunt of the week is going to be tied to the fantastic premise — and in fact it continued some plot threads on the prisoner from the first hour. I'm sticking with it, FWIW.

    The Simpsons: The D'Oh-cial Network

    I haven't seen the episode, but I can appreciate your observation about the show setting up a parody of Facebook when Facebook itself has already been established as existing in that world. The same thing has bothered me on occasion with comics, where riffs on popular brands are usually used in lieu of the brands themselves. Archie stories tend to reference pop-culture objects from TV shows to clothing stores with obscenely lame parody names whether they're incidental mentions or an essential part of the plot. I understand why writers, editors, and publishers would want to use invented entities for legal reasons or just storytelling freedom if their characters had a lot to do with a given institution, from Marvel's Roxxon Oil to DC's GBS / Galaxy Broadcasting, but when Clark Kent goes to work for the wow-they-didn't-try-nearly-hard-enough magazine Newstime, while both Time and Newsweek have earlier or subsequently been seen to also exist in that universe, it's just stoopid.

    How I Met Your Mother: 46 Minutes

    Chris Elliot and his smarmy, oh-so-ironic persona have always bugged me, whether on Letterman or elsewhere.

    I did like the would-be sappy "your house" moment when he/we flipped over to Lily and she was having none of it, though.

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  6. I thought that this was the best episode in quite some time.

    "Moves Like Jagger" was cringe-worthy just on principle. I'm not the world's biggest Rolling Stones fan, but mashing up "Jumpin' Jack Flash" with that entry on Hell's Jukebox is just wrong.

    Everything you said about "dopey Finn" and his proposal is spot-on, as is how nonsensical and/or just sad it is for Will to inappropriately be discussing his possible marriage to Emma with the glee club and especially asking Finn to be his best man. I've been part of a group of kids that had particularly close relationships with teachers a couple of times, ones that obviously didn't come along for the teacher or for us as students every year, but there were still boundaries. The only silver lining that I see in this is that it paves the way for the show to follow this cast in future years even as the students graduate high school, perhaps with anyone left in Lima (which might be all of them) sticking together to perform at another level; Will could mentor them along with New Directions, allowing for turnover as well — although I'd kind-of like to see the show pick whether it's following the glee club at the school or this glee club as seasons progress.

    I'm glad too that through Burt and Mrs. Hudson-Hummel they at least paid some lip service to Finn's dad's military service being an honorable example — also that his mom had that line about how Mr. Hudson spent the last troubled months of his life not representing the man he truly was. At first it felt like the show was barreling right into a charge of "liberal Hollywood has shat upon our military once more"; I still would've preferred either some revelation that didn't fall back on that kind of trauma or some further emphasis on how pervasive and multifaceted such trauma can be.

    The Helen Mirren voiceover was hilarious.

    For me the episode had some great songs with just the right balance of fantasy and integration into the action. "Summer Lovin'" and Grease in general are favorites of mine, and while I generally don't like Glee slavishly homaging the established versions of songs — What's the point? — here the scenario fit perfectly. The moment that the intro to "Will You Marry Me Bill" started I realized where they were going with this ("Will You Marry Me Will") and laughed out loud. The ladies' rendition of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" was absolutely beautiful and much less sappy than the borderline-kitschy but still lovely original; as soon as they went to Santana after Rachel and Tina, I knew that they'd move on to Mercedes and she'd be thinking of Sam.

    With you not knowing at least one of those songs and hating the other, I can see how our estimation of this epsiode varies so greatly. How can you hate Grease and yet praise Ted's pun on Starship's "We Built This City" (one of the most horrendous pop songs in the known multiverse)?

    Artie: "Don't be alarmed by the disco ball."

    Will: (to Finn — I repeat, to Finn) "I want you to be my best man. ... You've taught me more about being a man than I've ever known."

    I love me some good Easter eggs and choice background props, as noted in my responses to last week's Last Week, but why would a high-school guidance counselor have brochures called "Dying Alone", "Happily Never After", and "So You're a Spinster"?

    Since I haven't seen this week's Parks and Rec yet — and I have other things to do 8^) — I'll leave it here for tonight other than to reiterate that I still can't believe you don't watch Fringe or Supernatural.

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  7. Glee: Yes/No

    I don't know how that got left off the above, but from one perfectionist to another, better late than never...

    VW1: patizzle — Where Snoop Dogg enjoys his lemonade.

    VW2: Mixen — Santa's bartending reindeer.

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  8. SNL

    I too thought that the future theater was the best bit of the night. I think I especially liked it because it reminded me of the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom; which is by far my favorite non-rollercoaster ride now. Oversimplifications, nostalgia and characters that seem to be so happy with their crappy primitive conveniences while seemingly possessing an odd sense of the future to come.

    Target lady gets on my nerves. Maybe it's just because I would be so annoyed if I got someone like her at the check out counter. I thought it was funny that Daniel took off his shirt. It's like he sat down with the writers at the beginning of the week and insisted that at some point during the show he be able to display his six (eight?) pack.

    The Simpsons

    Due to the shifting of the time slots, my DVR cut off the second half of this episode. And you know what? I didn't care. They really need to begin adopting the South Park production model (at least in part) to make their shows more relevant.

    Other
    My two favorite episodes this week came from Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory. Would love to see more about those shows in your weekly wrap ups.

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  9. @ Blam- i hear that a spinoff series of the Glee kids that are graduating and going off to NY just got scrapped
    so looks like we'll be stuck with Will, Mercedes, Artie, and Tina next season- lucky us...

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  10. Yeah, I've heard that the spinoff (to be set, probably, in NYC) has been scrapped, but I got the impression that the graduating seniors would very possibly therefore be kept on the show in some fashion.

    VW: brold — Brave and bold.

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  11. 30 Rock: Idiots Are People Two

    All the groups making up the idiot protest were really funny, as were the other moments you mentioned. Of course I jotted down some of the signs, as I've taken it upon myself to be the unofficial champion of asides, Easter eggs, and other little props here; "This Marker Smell Good" and "I Haz Protest!" were okay, but my favorite by far was "Non't Bnsult Cdiots".

    Denise Richards was a good sport to do that cameo, you know, when "for all intensive purposes" she's probably not an actual idiot.

    The Jack/Liz relationship remains the core of this show, and as long as it's clicking (as it was this episode), everything else seems to fall into place.

    I agree with the added caveat of as long as it's kept in the arena of mentor/mentee and unlikely friends-like-family. The articles that make this out to be another "will they / won't they" situation, are way off the mark. Jack and Liz have tension and chemistry, yes, but none of it comes across as sexual or romantic to me; I'll be very disappointed if the show ends with them together as if they were fated to be.

    Criss: "... which totally supports your theory that the Phillie Phanatic is biologically a female."
    Liz: "Oh yeah. If you watch those games, that thing definitely has a menstrual cycle."
    Criss: "Right?"
    Liz: (pause)"You gonna put on pants today?"
    Criss: "Eh."

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  12. Parks and Recreation: Campaign Ad

    a hilariously clueless and spoiled man child played to perfection by Rudd, and I hope we see more of him

    I love Paul Rudd even when he's going to the same kinds of obnoxious places that turn me off so much when Chris Elliot goes there. He did a great job as, well, just what you say, pinpointing this sweet spot of not exactly stupidity but genuine ignorance — sort-of like if Chauncey Gardner were an entitled jerk with just slightly enough more self-awareness to actually, say, get mad.

    What is it with me noticing how much I love the little things lately and in return getting showered with ever more of them? Not only did I enjoy the fake campaign commercials ("Paid for by Bobby Newport's Dad"), I of course freeze-framed Leslie's to jot down some choice things that she's pro:
    "Legalize Korean"
    "Find Gabe the Toucan"
    "Require flattering mirrors in public restrooms"
    "Free cake when it's your birthday"
    "Rickshaw Wednesdays"
    "Working sewers"
    "Get Pawnee a licensed pharmacy"

    Put that on your Hulu-accessible mobile device and watch it on the treadmill, Mr. T!

    The abrupt transition from the office to lunch, and Ron's bewilderment by it, was this plotline's highlight ("Next thing I knew we were at lunch. Did he drug me?"). 

    I couldn't believe that they actually called attention to that, as the transition was funny enough, but the surreality of it kind-of feeds into what some have said — maybe including you — about seeing the fourth-wall-breaking commentary and mugging as more part of the characters' internal monologue (Don't we all feel like raising our eyebrows at an imagined audience when something insane happens?) than an actual documentary film crew that's always around.

    Andy: "Neither of your asses are that smart, because insurance is for if something bad happens to your car."

    Chris: "Ron Swanson! I want to thank you for being so ruthless and cruel in the meeting the other day."
    Ron: "You'll have to be more specific."

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  13. Saturday Night Live: Daniel Radcliffe & Lana Del Rey

    I thought that Radcliffe really came ready to play the game, as you said, and the material just mostly wasn't there.

    Radcliffe as Casey Anthony's new dog was the highlight of the night.

    I'm with you here, and the line you quoted was my favorite. The future-set play was almost the best sketch of the night for me, too, although it did sort-of just end. Lots of folks have called out SNL for not knowing how to end sketches, and perhaps just having a conclusion that isn't a topper punchline or escalation of what's come before is better than just petering out (although it's really sort-of the same thing), but I frequently think that Monty Python had it right by calling attention to the fact that many sketches just can't end well and moving the show along in one of the pseudo- or outright meta ways they often did.

    The Jay Pharoah Show sketch, though, I probably liked even more, because it was basically the opposite of the Chris Farley Show sketch — in which Farely would just repeat lines and scenes to his guest that he thought were awesome — but had the same "yes, this is the whole bit" deadpan humor and because I do think that Pharoah or the writers or both were calling attention to the fact that he was cast because of the impressions he does and in reality, while they're good, they're often better than the scene they're in or the sole reason for the sketch (like that random one last year of Denzel Washington as a baggage handler or returns-window clerk — or maybe they did both; see, the impression is what's memorable).

    Also, I haven't been on top of my pop-culture news this week, but I gather that Lana Del Rey's performances incurred some "WTF?" backlash, to which I can only say, yeah, that was painful.

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  14. @Fake Sarah: i think horror of moving to the 'burbs is a New York thing, as Friends did that episode as well when Monica and Chandler made the deicision to leave the city.

    Yeah, it must be something that only city folks know well, as we 'burbians are just used to driving to get to places.

    Artie bringing Becki on a 'date' to watch him perform in Glee- what a douche

    Ha, yeah, that was pretty douchey. I'm glad Becky called him on it.

    I wonder when Redemption Island is going to be added back to the show

    I believe that when they get down to the final four, whomever is in the Last Chance Kitchen will be reinserted, though they'll probably do something goofy like having a five person quickfire that sends the loser home just so they don't end up taking five to the finals.

    @Real Sarah: POI, while still episode of the weeky, has also grown quite a bit past that

    We just watched an episode (the one where we meet Elias for the first time) that was the first episode to make us go "wow, that was good. I want to watch another episode ASAP". I wouldn't exactly call it a game changer, but it was definitely the best ep yet and left us more intrigued than ever. So I'm glad to hear it gets better.

    Once i read all of that, Eric's stuffy air totally disappeared for me and now he seems nice and lovable.

    That does make me view him as less of a humorless snob.

    How can you hate Grease? That's like hating America

    A. It has a terrible, terrible message, especially for women: if a guy doesn't like you for who you are, change who you are so that he will!! *giggle*

    B. That "Summer Lovin'/Grease Lightening" mashup/remix song was played at every single dance in high school (and we had a dance almost once a month, seriously), and all the girls would go nuts and sing along, and I'm like "have you seen the movie? You shouldn't be this excited about it", and it quickly became obnoxious.

    @Matt: You had all that to say about 30 Rock, with no mention of the awesome James Bond parody song about Kelsey Grammer at the end? That was my favorite part of the episode!

    The biggest downside to moving this post to Fridays is that I don't get to spend as much time (both ruminating on and writing about) the Thursday night NBC comedies, and thus 30 Rock and Parks & Rec get short shrift.

    That said, I did mean to mention Kelsey Grammer and that awesome song, which was indeed a highlight of the episode. I have no great personal affection for him (I know him best as Sideshow Bob), but I love the hilarious randomness of Grammer being Jenna's fixer.

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  15. @Blam: A couple of advance reviews started to shake my faith that this would be at best as much of a nonplusser as Person of Interest, whereas instead I found it a solid show with potential that grabbed me way more than POI did.

    Ditto, to pretty much everything you said about Alcatraz, not just what I quoted. I watched the second episode over the weekend and was pleased at how well integrated the case of the week stuff was with the mythology, as well as, as you mentioned, the fact that last episode's criminal was still hanging around. I don't expect the show to develop an enormous cast of recaptured time traveling criminals, but knowing it isn't afraid to reference past cases is heartening.

    ...but when Clark Kent goes to work for the wow-they-didn't-try-nearly-hard-enough magazine Newstime, while both Time and Newsweek have earlier or subsequently been seen to also exist in that universe, it's just stoopid.

    Agreed.

    I've been part of a group of kids that had particularly close relationships with teachers a couple of times, ones that obviously didn't come along for the teacher or for us as students every year, but there were still boundaries.

    Clearly, Will Schuester knows not of these "boundaries" of which you speak.

    I'd kind-of like to see the show pick whether it's following the glee club at the school or this glee club as seasons progress.

    I see this has been discussed further down, but from my understanding, it sounds like the show's approach will be the latter, mainly because they don't want to let go of Lea Michelle and Chris Colfer (and probably Cory Monteith, to a lesser extent). That said, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Glee tried to do both, this being a show that constantly tries to have its cake an eat it too.

    I'm glad too that through Burt and Mrs. Hudson-Hummel they at least paid some lip service to Finn's dad's military service being an honorable example

    Again, agreed on everything you mentioned here.

    How can you hate Grease and yet praise Ted's pun on Starship's "We Built This City" (one of the most horrendous pop songs in the known multiverse)?

    As mentioned above, my problems with Grease stem from its awful takeaway and bad personal experiences with the music, not from any actual issues inherent to its genre/form nor the quality of its music, as I in general love both musicals and bad pop music more than most people should. :)

    ...why would a high-school guidance counselor have brochures called "Dying Alone", "Happily Never After", and "So You're a Spinster"?

    It's illogical inclusion aside, "So You're a Spinster" cracked me the hell up, on a level not seen with pamphlet-based humor since Dr. Hibbert handed a pregnant Marge Simpson a pamphlet entitled "So You've Decided to Ruin Your Life".

    I'll leave it here for tonight other than to reiterate that I still can't believe you don't watch Fringe or Supernatural.

    If it's any consolation, they're both on "the list", and you're not the only one pestering me to watch them. :)

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  16. @Mr. Shabadoo: Oversimplifications, nostalgia and characters that seem to be so happy with their crappy primitive conveniences while seemingly possessing an odd sense of the future to come

    Well said. And I too love that ride in Tomorrowland. Really, pretty much anything that mocks an outdated view of the future or a skewed, misinformed view of the past, of which that sketch did both.

    It's like he sat down with the writers at the beginning of the week and insisted that at some point during the show he be able to display his six (eight?) pack.They really need to begin adopting the South Park production model (at least in part) to make their shows more relevant.

    I don't know that they ever could, the styles in animation being so much different, but of course, then the answer is to avoid specific "hot button" topics for fear of coming across dated when the episode airs a year after the topic at hand has passed.

    I mean, take out all the overt Social Network/Facebook references, and an episode about internet/smart phone culture would be just as relevant today as it was when this episode was written. It's just some of those specific things that make it seem dated.

    My two favorite episodes this week came from Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory. Would love to see more about those shows in your weekly wrap ups.

    I used to write about Big Bang more frequently, but found myself writing the same thing again and again (Sheldon is too far removed from humanity, the girls are the best part of the show, episodes never conclude, they just end, etc.). Basically, it's a show that I enjoy more the less I engage it critically, because as soon as I do that, it's flaws become more apparent and piss me off.

    That said, knowing someone out there would like to read about it means I'll make more of an effort to cover it, probably not on a weekly basis but at least when a particular episode sparks some reaction from me (for example, last week's episode was alright, but the focus given to the Leonard/Penny relationship was very random and felt like someone in the writer's room saying, "hey, it's our 100th episode, let's return to the closest thing we have to an ongoing plotline for it." Also, I wondered why Leonard's imagining of his date/relationship with Penny included scenes he wasn't in, but whatever).

    Modern Family coverage I can probably handle easier, even if its only a few thoughts and some funny lines to generate discussion in the comments.

    Never let it be said we don't aim to please here at Gentlemen of Leisure!

    @Anne: i hear that a spinoff series of the Glee kids that are graduating and going off to NY just got scrapped


    @Blam: I got the impression that the graduating seniors would very possibly therefore be kept on the show in some fashion.

    This was discussed at the Glee panel at the TCAs, and my takeaway from the coverage I read was that any spinoff plans have been cancelled, but that the show would continue to follow the graduating seniors next season. Hopefully, that means we'll get scenes at McKinley with the remaining kids and then some scenes wherever Rachel, Kurt and Finn end up, with little forced overlap between the two (assuming the graduates leave town), but we'll see. Though Blam, your earlier point about the show needing to focus on either *this* glee club, or the school's club in general, is well taken. The last thing the show needs is less focus.

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  17. @Blam: my favorite by far was "Non't Bnsult Cdiots".

    Me too, particularly as it called back to the earlier, less...idiotic version of that sign seen amongst the earlier protesters.

    Jack and Liz have tension and chemistry, yes, but none of it comes across as sexual or romantic to me; I'll be very disappointed if the show ends with them together as if they were fated to be.

    100% agreed. One of the great things about their relationship is that it's one of the few truly platonic male/female relationships, with no hint of will they/won't they, on TV.

    Put that on your Hulu-accessible mobile device and watch it on the treadmill, Mr. T!

    Ha! I'm glad you're around to point out those things, since, as mentioned above, I have less time to find them for the Thursday shows.

    One of the few I caught the first time around was something about how Leslie wants to cut down on the number of libraries in Pawnee, which I thought was a great callback to the feud between that department and the Parks department, and was great for being one of the few non-selfish and not in the best interests of the town, stances of Leslie's.

    I do think that Pharoah or the writers or both were calling attention to the fact that he was cast because of the impressions he does and in reality, while they're good, they're often better than the scene they're in or the sole reason for the sketch

    If we see that sketch again, then I think we'll know that Pharoah is in on it and poking fun at both himself and the lack of opportunities he's gotten to do more than impressions, and I'll probably like it a lot more (which isn't to say I didn't like it in this episode; it was definitely one of the better sketches of the night).

    I gather that Lana Del Rey's performances incurred some "WTF?" backlash, to which I can only say, yeah, that was painful.

    That's what I've heard as well, though from what I've read much of the backlash is built on the fact that she is a very packaged performer, built by her father and her management to be this great new artist, but that they all forgot to make sure she actually had talent before trying to sell her to the world, and her performance on the show went a longs ways towards validating that hipster perspective on her rise to fame.

    All that aside, while I usually decline to comment on the musical guests because I'm woefully out of touch with popular mainstream music let alone anything even close to the fringes of it (as many SNL performers are), it was indeed awful, in a "I may not know much about music, but I know that wasn't very good" kind of way.

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  18. Yeah, I take it back. Don't write about The Big Bang Theory. I like it more when you're not inside my head. #30RockReference.

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  19. Teebore: [Grease] has a terrible, terrible message, especially for women: if a guy doesn't like you for who you are, change who you are so that he will

    Okay, I hated Sandy's transformation even as a kid, because I've always not only preferred Sandy as her naturally demure self but could relate to her better than I could relate to Danny (even during the years that all boys become horndogs through biological fiat). I must say, though, that Danny was willing to change for Sandy, too.

    What trumps everything, of course, reason included, is that my sister and I watched Grease endlessly in the theaters in the summer of 1978 (at the ripe old ages of 5 and 7, respectively — our mother was a little too cool), then performed to the double-LP soundtrack at home like it was going out of style. My sister had the frickin' photonovel. And no, we didn't understand lines like "the chicks'll cream" or even "lousy with virginity" at the time, but Grease was still totally "the word" with us and always will be.

    Teebore: I did mean to mention Kelsey Grammer and that awesome song, which was indeed a highlight of the episode.

    So did I. The ep was actually one of two (from different shows) that I watched this past week where I spent precious worrisome moments afraid I'd missed the previous one, due to the in medias res start, but the flashback-declaring title card popped up soon enough. I didn't realize that Grammer was actually playing "himself" until the end, though, and I'm looking forward to the second part.

    30 Rock, Parks and Rec, and especially Community all have tend to have awesome kickers, which is one of the funnest (yeah, I said it) parts of the half-hour sitcom format.

    Teebore: I wouldn't be at all surprised if Glee tried to do both, this being a show that constantly tries to have its cake an eat it too.

    An excellent point...

    Teebore: "So You're a Spinster" cracked me the hell up

    Don't get me wrong — I think I literally laughed out loud. I just wish we saw the brochures often enough that, like, the show could make clear that they sort-of magically change with Emma's mood, no matter how inappropriate to the high-school setting, instead of me having to rationalize that that's the case (or whatever word applies better than something with a root of "rational").

    Me: I'll leave it here for tonight other than to reiterate that I still can't believe you don't watch Fringe or Supernatural.

    Teebore: If it's any consolation, they're both on "the list", and you're not the only one pestering me to watch them. :)

    I'm aware of that, which is why i don't bring it up more often. Nor am I actually casting stones, having still not seen The Wire; I didn't even get on the Buffy train until the series was more than halfway done its original run. When great shows are still airing, though, and likely about to conclude, I can't help but wish that all my TV buddies would be up to date on them for the best possible conversations in person and online.

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  20. Teebore: Modern Family coverage I can probably handle easier

    I'd be happy to talk Modern Family since I watch it too, although given how I watch almost everything delayed anymore it'll be one more thing to feel pressure about, along with the Thursday shows, in terms of being caught up enough to engage in discussion here by Friday or, more realistically, Saturday.

    Teebore: I'm glad you're around to point out those things, since, as mentioned above, I have less time to find them for the Thursday shows.

    I'll just go on record and say that I wouldn't feel horrible if you ended up a week behind on Thursday shows; heck, it is called Last Week in TV and not This Week in TV. 8^)

    Also, I cannot stop smiling at "Rickshaw Wednesdays". I cannot get "Moves Like Jagger" out of my head, either, but that's not a happy thing.

    Teebore: from what I've read much of the backlash is built on the fact that she is a very packaged performer

    I've since read some of the back-and-forth on the performance and while what you say is true there's also been quite a bit of mention about how she was just nervous (uh, yeah) and that the SNL stage is apparently notoriously unfavorable to live musical performances. That latter point isn't something I've read before, and I'd have expected to, although if true it does make me feel better about how goshawful The Ting-Tings sounded when they were on; I fell for them on the basis of hearing "That's Not My Name" on the radio one day, got their debut CD (other hit singles: "Great DJ" and the Target-ad classic "Shut Up and Let Me Go"), then just cringed at how bad they sounded on SNL a couple of years ago.

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  21. @Mr. Shadaboo: Don't write about The Big Bang Theory. I like it more when you're not inside my head. #30RockReference.

    Ha! Great minds. :)

    @Blam: I must say, though, that Danny was willing to change for Sandy, too.

    Yeah, except in the end, he tosses that aside (literally, in the case of his Letterman's...sweater) once he sees that Sandy has changed to what he likes.

    So yes, he was willing to change, but in the end, they settle for the guy's preferred identity. I always thought it would have been better if they'd ridden their flying car off into the sunset with Danny a geek and Sandy the tough girl, to highlight the importance of compromise.

    But that's just *my* issue with Grease. I certainly can't begrudge anyone with affection born of childhood memories, as most of my all time favorite movies reached that status on the back on childhood memories. :)

    30 Rock, Parks and Rec, and especially Community all have tend to have awesome kickers, which is one of the funnest (yeah, I said it) parts of the half-hour sitcom format.

    Indeed. And little irritates me more more than when the timing gets screwed up and my DVR cuts them off or misses them entirely...

    I just wish we saw the brochures often enough that, like, the show could make clear that they sort-of magically change with Emma's mood, no matter how inappropriate to the high-school setting, instead of me having to rationalize that that's the case

    I have to say, that's a pretty good rationalization.

    I can't help but wish that all my TV buddies would be up to date on them for the best possible conversations in person and online.

    I hear ya. I'm just happy right now I managed to get my brother hooked on Community.

    given how I watch almost everything delayed anymore it'll be one more thing to feel pressure about, along with the Thursday shows, in terms of being caught up enough to engage in discussion here by Friday or, more realistically, Saturday.

    I know I've said it before, but there truly is no rush in terms of commenting on these posts. Heck, I tend to stray from the computer, over the weekends, so usually I'll wait to respond to any comments that come in over the weekend until Monday anyway (and with "Last Week in TV" posting on Fridays, that means most of the discussion, except for anything that comes in early in the day, will wait until the following week anyway). And if comments come in after other things have posted, well, you know I'm up for discussion no matter what. :)

    I'll just go on record and say that I wouldn't feel horrible if you ended up a week behind on Thursday shows; heck, it is called Last Week in TV and not This Week in TV. 8^)

    Well, you'll get your wish this week, at least, as I have to work Thursday night, so I won't get to watch any of them 'til the weekend, and they'll appear in next week's post.

    ...that the SNL stage is apparently notoriously unfavorable to live musical performances. That latter point isn't something I've read before, and I'd have expected to, although if true it does make me feel better about how goshawful The Ting-Tings sounded when they were on

    I actually have read that before, in a couple different places, but I've never read exactly WHY it's so notoriously unkind to live music. At any rate, you probably can take solace for The Ting-Tings performance from it. :)

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