So because I am apparently incapable of watching The Walking Dead without hiccups, it appears that the recording I had set for Sunday night never actually recorded, something I didn't notice until Mrs. Teebore and I sat down to finally watch the episode last night. Thankfully, like most cable networks, AMC is not dumb and re-airs episodes a lot, so we'll be able to watch it tonight, but that unfortunately means we'll have to wait until next week to discuss it alongside the finale (and while I haven't been spoiled on it yet, I do know that apparently there is much to discuss, adding to my disappointment over missing it).
Anyways, here's thoughts on the stuff I managed to NOT screw up the recording of.
The Simpsons: How I Wet Your Mother
I think it says something about my expectations for The Simpsons at this point that when it became clear this episode was an extended Inception parody, my first thought was a sarcastic "once again, we're hitting these things at the height of their popularity". Yet later in the night American Dad riffed on The Hurt Locker, and no such sarcasm bubbled forth. Maybe I hold The Simpsons to a higher standard (which would be odd, since American Dad, at least these days, is consistently more funny) or maybe in this day and age of internet bitterness towards latter day Simpsons, I'm more inclined to find the negatives in the show (even though I don't necessarily agree with all that bitterness).
At any rate, the premise of this episode seemed to exist simply for the extended Inception parody, and while the riff probably wasn't clever or humorous enough to justify the amount of time spent on it, I'll give them credit for sticking to it, and the ending made up for the time spent on the parody. I'm admittedly a sucker for Homer's relationship with this mom, but any excuse to bring her back is usually worth it, and her scenes with Homer always manage inject a bit of old-fashioned and appreciated heart into an episode.
The end, in which Homer's mom says she was alright leaving because she knew Abe would take care of Homer doesn't quite gel with her backstory, but I know better than to quibble with continuity on this show.
Yellow Pages: The Internet for Old People
Homer: Why can’t I cork my wang wine?
Bob's Burgers: The Belchies
I was pleased enough to have Bob's Burgers back that I probably would have enjoyed this episode regardless, but then they stacked the deck by making it an extended Goonies homage, complete with a parody of "Goonies R Good Enough" sung by Cyndi Lauper herself. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, from Jimmy Jr. Footloosing through the abandoned factory to Bob's always-offscreen, chemically-induced boner (as well as the hilarious sex dice: "Lick Foot/Not again!") to Louise's budding friendship with Taff. It was also good to see the supporting cast get some extended time; Stan and Ollie always make for humorous foils/accomplices for Louise, and this show already has a pretty strong bench of supporting characters waiting for more time in the spotlight. In the end, any Bob's Burgers is good Bob's Burgers, but I'm nonetheless glad they came back strong.
Family Guy: Killer Queen
A recurring theme in this week's animated shows is that all showed marked improvement from their episodes in the previous week. In this episode, Family Guy returned to a more familiar A/B plot structure, with the B plot more or less a silly recurring gag that nonetheless worked thanks to Stewie's extreme reactions to the sight of Queen's "News of the World" album and Brian's glee at terrifying him with it (thus featuring two of my favorite iterations of the characters: Baby Stewie and Jerk Brian). The main story meanwhile, did a nice send-up of suspense films, complete with the "guy you think is doing it turns out to not be doing it" beat, and even though (or perhaps because) the real culprit turned out to be rather obvious, the whole thing held together well and managed to work in some decent jokes.
American Dad: Dr. Klaustus
Klaus is the most problematic character on the show (aside from maybe Jeff, but he's barely around much), adding one oddball character too many to the cast and being limited in what he can do by the fact that he's, well, a fish (Roger is an alien, but that doesn't stop him from going out in the world and engaging in stories; in fact, his alien-ness, and the various personae he adopts to cover it up, is what more or less drives the character).
Which is all a long preamble to say that the idea of Klaus-centric episode didn't exactly fill me with confidence, but in the end, it turned out to be surprisingly good. Revealing that Klaus has psychology training gave him a way to engage the other characters despite his physical limitations, and having the rest of the family be so screwed up that Klaus' actual, competent approach to their problems didn't work was both funny and consistent with their characters. The Roger subplot was slighter, but worked largely because of the strength of Roger's conviction to his army persona.
Once Upon A Time: Red Handed
This episode succeeds by once again contrasting the two different iterations of a character. While in Fairy Tale Land Red is confidant, assured of herself and skilled before ultimately having her life upended, in Storybrooke Ruby is aimless, unsure what she wants out of life, and lacks confidence, before ultimately finding a place for herself by the end. The FTL story contained some genuine surprises (I had Granny pegged as the wolf, but Red's involvement came as a complete surprise) while the Storybrooke plot continued the show's attempt at serialized storytelling in that world, as Kathryn's disappearance and David's involvement in it continued to unfold.
Megan Ohry, who hasn't been given much to do yet, was very good as both Red and Ruby in this episode. Though I still find her much more attractive as Red than I do Ruby, though I'm not sure why.
I liked that Ruby was able to unknowingly tap into Red's (presumably wolf-derived) tracking skills. Possibly a sign that the curse is weakening (we seriously need some forward momentum on that plot) or possibly a sign that another way for characters to realize their true selves (besides kissing people/Emma) is to act more like they did in FTL (ie as Ruby became more self-confidant, she became more like Red).
Having Red's cloak stop her transformation was a nice little detail.
It's fairly obvious that Regina is behind all this David/Mary Margaret frame-up business, but one of the reasons it works despite its obviousness is that she's largely been in the background for the last few episodes, popping up only occasionally. Regina as a behind-the-scenes schemer works better than when she's a raging bitch and obviously evil while no one but Emma cares.
Alcatraz: Sonny Burnett
This was the second episode of the two-parter from the Monday before last, and while "The Ames Brothers" was a bottle show, this one was a little more sprawling. Once again, a sprinkling of mythology in the present day events (more Hauser/Archer interactions, some of the 63er's blood has healing properties, which accounts for their relative youth and vigor) along with a more personal "mission" for the criminal-of-the-week were the best part of that story. The flashback was more routine, though Burnett was fun to watch as a nerd who gets pushed too far (even by the nerdly Deputy Warden).
Top Chef: Reunion
Not much to these, so just some quick thoughts.
I'd really enjoy these episodes more if Andy Cohen, professional Douche Nozzle, didn't host them.
I had heard during the show about the pictures of Ty-Lor, Master of the Universe, that had appeared online , but I have no idea what the deal with Sarah telling a judge to eff off is about. I really want to know, though.
It was funny to watch Paul's hair grow in the clips showing his run throughout the season.
So Heather totally owes Beverly an apology, unless she's trying to say she's not sorry she was a bullying bitch, in which case, well, she's a bullying bitch.
The shirt that Bravo produces each season featuring a catchphrase or recurring gag was especially lame this year.
This whole "watch Douche Nozzle's show to find out the fan favorite" business is dumb. I'm fairly certain I saw online that Malibu Chris won it, which is also dumb (he wasn't around that long, and other than be pretty, didn't do much).
Community: Urban Matrimony and Sandwich Arts
Community returned this week with an excellent metatextually-straightforward episode. No high concepts, few winking references to sitcom tropes (aside from the obvious one), this was an episode that, plot-wise, could easily be ported over to another more traditional sitcom. Yet it was still Community, and showcased the show's two great strengths: the characters, and being damn funny. Every character got at least one moment to shine, both comedically and in terms of deepening their characters. It was a strong indication that this show is confidant in its characters and perfectly capable of just letting them be themselves without needing one of the high concepts the show has become known for to hang an episode on.
This was probably the best episode for Shirley, ever (well, this or the foosball one). She got to be funny, but not at her own expense, while still being inherently Shirley. The bit where she first laughed and then stared at Britta for minutes on end was hilarious.
Also, the fact that her high-pitched Miss Piggy voice is apparently her sexy voice is both hilarious and unsettling.
In terms of "everyone getting something to do" Annie suffered the most, though she did get a nice moment with Jeff and then delivered my favorite line of the night, about how the "Webster's dictionary defines..." intro to a speech is "the Jim Belushi of speech openings: it accomplishes nothing, but everyone keeps on using it, and no one knows why."
Nice to see Malcolm Jamal Warner back. He always bring a unique energy to the show.
Annie's Boobs returned! Also, not a bad night for Annie's boobs (sorry, had to go there).
Dean Pelton: That's me! But where did I get those sacks of money? (for whatever reason, that cracked me the hell up).
Saturday Night Live: Jonah Hill & The Shins
A thoroughly average, lackluster episode. Jonah Hill brought a decidedly low level of energy, resulting in an episode that lacked few truly awful sketches, but, aside from a couple high points, few truly inspired ones either. I'm honestly having a hard time remembering much about this episode.
Cold Open: Nice to have a non-Romney cold open, but this was just a one gag premise. Some of the sponsors were funnier than others, but that's all there was to the joke.
Monologue: Probably Hill's best work of the night, as a filmed bit showcased his growing ego in the wake of his Oscar nomination (I loved how his glasses kept getting smaller while his scarves got larger), culminating in a walk-on by Tom Hanks in which he refused to let Hill touch his Oscar (honestly, I love this pseudo-character of Hanks', which has popped up in a few places, in which he plays someone much more full of himself than he actually is).
Adam Goldberg: I'm not a huge fan of this character, but the sketch wasn't bad, and it's always nice to see host-specific characters (JT, in particular, has a lot of those). This was also the most energy we got out of Hill all night.
Digital Short: Look, I'll freely admit the vast majority of humor in this sketch revolved around Jonah Hill getting hit in the nuts with tennis balls, repeatedly, and that's pretty lowbrow humor. But I can't deny it was hilarious. As Homer Simpson once said, "Barney's movie had heart, but "Football in the Groin" had a football in the groin." Can't argue with that.
J Pop America Fun Time Now: Nice to see them tweak the sketch a little bit and introduce some new bits, but it's still essentially the same (albeit consistently funny) thing. Also, I can't decide how much of Hill's unintelligible dialogue was intentional.
Weekend Update: A strong Paula Deen impression by Kristen Wiig (I love that she referred to the "N word" as "nutrition") and a better-than-usual (and it's always good) appearance by Stefon. Hoombas (Human Roombas, or “when you put a midget on a skateboard and it slides around on your floor eating garbage”) are clearly the takeaway from this episode). The Andy Samberg-as-Sarah Palin bit worked for me, because he was supposed to be awful, but it did go on a bit too long.
The Ape Sketch: One of the other sketches I can actually recall, built around a pretty solid premise and some great makeup. "He..sex...me".
Liza Minelli Turns on a Light: The kind of crap we apparently have to put up with as long as Wiig is still in the cast, as they always seem to hand over at least one sketch per episode to let her just do her (annoying/not funny) thing.
C U When U Get There: An okay oddball sketch to end the night with. Like most of the episode, it wasn't bad, but wasn't particularly memorable or inspired, either.
Favorite Sketch: Stefon, unless you want an actual sketch, in which case I'll go with the digital short, because watching people get hit in the nuts is funny.
Stefon: It has everything: soda. Purple stuff. Sunny D.
Stefon: New York's hottest club is....Kevin?!?!
Also, Football jellyfish: NFL players with skinny dreads
Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 5/17
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 7/17