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Friday, October 19, 2012

Last Week in TV #5

I was away from the house last night, so no new Thursday night shows this week. But here's what I did watch: 

Once Upon a Time: Lady of the Lake


It's good to know that whether in Storybrooke or Fairy Tale Land, Emma can be an insufferable ass. I know she's lost her bearings and has parental issues, but it's really not the best time or place to question every frickin' thing your mom says, especially when your mom happens to be a former queen of the land in which you find yourself. I really hope the little mother/daughter moment the pair shared at the end of episode means Emma will be a little less grating during her time in FTL.

Other Thoughts
I know this show can move fast, but the transition from Lancelot the fearsome new general to Lancelot the kindly friend of Snow White in the Fairyback almost gave me whiplash...

When Snow first mentioned the wardrobe, my first thought was "they're going to Narnia?" before I realized what she meant.

I honestly kind of felt bad when Henry stood up Regina; she seemed so genuinely happy that he asked her to lunch.

Speaking of which, I wonder who the new mayor is going to be, now that Regina has been asked to leave the position?

Cute moment when Charming gave Henry wooden swords so he can start practicing swordfighting, but where the hell did he buy them? They even had little price stickers hanging off them.


How I Met Your Mother: Who Wants to be a Godparent?


While the end result was pretty funny (Marshall's made up games are always funny), the premise was rather flimsy: assuming Lily and Marshall are going to make one of their friends Marvin's guardian in the event of their untimely deaths, Ted is pretty much the obvious choice, right? And that's even assuming Barney and Robin would be interested in having that job. I can maybe see either one competing with Ted just for bragging rights/to screw with him (and I get that, ultimately, all three were really competing for Lily and Marshall's friendship), but at the end of the day, it seems like a bit of stretch for both Barney and Robin to be fighting so actively for guardianship of a kid when both have expressed little desire in being parents themselves. But once you get past that hiccup, everything else was pretty funny.

Other Thoughts
I'm glad the conflict between the group was resolved relatively quickly (and within this episode) as the fact that Lily and Marshall can no longer close down McLarens should have been a given, while it's also important for them to listen to their friends problems, regardless of the severity.

Lily was looking pretty good in that fancy dress. Just sayin'...

While sweet, legally speaking, I'm not sure how listing three different people with no legal relationship to one another (yet) as a guardian would work. 

I continue to be bothered by the marginalization of Victoria; also, apparently Ted never told her (or her father) about Klaus wanting out of the wedding too, because Klaus is probably just as responsible for paying back Victoria's father as Ted.

Best moment was probably the near-instant flashback to Marshall re-opening the door to hear the end of Barney's "The Boobs on the Bus" song. 

Robin: As the only one here packing a vag, I’ve got a natural instinct for nurturing and crap like that!


Revolution: Soul Train


This wasn't quite the defining "now I'm hooked" episode I was hoping it would be, but it was still solidly entertaining, and consistent with the show's still-developing style. I would have liked to see Miles and Charlie succeed in rescuing Danny, simply because it would have refocused the show away from its most annoying tendencies, but if the end of the episode holds up and this marks the point at which Charlie stops being all whiny and becomes a little more focused and intense, then it can be called a success for that if nothing else.

Other Thoughts
Mrs. Teebore called that Nipples was Neville's grown son fairly early in the episode; good for her. 

There were a couple instances in this episode where characters had an opportunity to kill Neville with little difficulty and failed to take advantage of that opportunity. I get that the show isn't going to kill off one their chief antagonists (and best characters), but then don't put characters in a position where they can kill him but just don't for inexplicable reasons.

The flashback to Neville pre-blackout was interesting, but it probably could have used some more time. As it was, we could infer the transition, but his change from loving family man to "I'm going to teach you how to kill, son" was a little abrupt. Hopefully we'll see more of that transition in future flashbacks.

I do like the sense we're getting of how character on either side of the militia divide were affected by the blackout: for people like Google Guy and Maggie, the blackout was the worse thing to happen to them, while for characters like Neville and Monroe, who were relatively inconsequential people pre-blackout, it made them important.

Neville's wife looked very put together; things must be better in Philly, especially if you're the wife of a high-ranking militia member.

I appreciated the look at the US map and the discussion of the different nation-states that have sprung up; a nice bit of world building.


Glee: The Break Up
Give it credit: when I heard Glee was doing a break-up episode, I figured we'd get one quasi break-up out of it, not three-ish (it remains to be seen whether Kurt and Blaine are totally kaput, and I'm counting the Will/Emma scenes as a fight). It's especially surprising, considering the break-ups give the show less reason to check in with Finn and Santana, who, if I didn't know better, appear to have returned just to be written out. And give the show credit, too, for handling the breakups with the proper amount of gravity; Glee usually does these moments of heightened teenage emotion really well, and this was no exception.

Other Thoughts
It was good to see Finn back; I didn't realize how much I'd missed the big goofball. I also thought Cory Monteith did a great job of depicting his listlessness.

Similarly, Blaine's reprise of "Teenage Dream" was brilliantly shot and performed, to the point where it was almost painful to watch. 

Rachel and Finn's break-up scene was a great bit of writing, true to both their characters, yet I was still genuinely surprised when Rachel was the one to call it off.

The whole "Left Behind" plot was the episode's one misstep, a subplot that was tonally dissonant from the rest of the episode that made a half-hearted attempt to connect itself to the break ups.

Will, you're an ass; it was one thing to just assume Emma would want to drop everything and follow you to DC, it's another to get mad when she doesn't want to.

I was also surprised at how affecting the flashbacks to past episodes during the closing number were; this show has always had a lackadaisical relationship with it's history, so it's good to see that when it wants to, it can use that history to good effect. 

Oy, Grease. As I've said before, it's not my favorite show, so I'm not looking forward to watching Glee perform it (whereas I was very excited to see Glee's take on West Side Story, a show I prefer more, last season).

Favorite Song: As though to make-up for the last couple episodes, this one had several songs I really enjoyed, from "Barely Breathing" to "Don't Speak", but Coldplay's "The Scientist", which ended the episode, was a fantastic showcase for everyone, gave us a chance to hear Brittany and Emma solo, and fit the tone of the episode perfectly; one of the strongest closing numbers in a long time.

Santana: I mean, I’m not jealous, I just think that it’s insane that all Porcelain had to do to get an internship with Vogue.com was take photos of every ridiculous outfit he’s ever paired with a Cossack hat and a see-through raincoat and then show up at an interview where he is lauded as a visionary because his jodhpurs happened to match his riding crop.

Brittany: Sad songs make me really sad and I don't want to be sad.


Last Resort: Eight Bells


This episode worked a bit better than the last one, in large part because the action scenes aboard the sub were better staged and executed than the action scenes on the island last week. I also appreciate that the show is continuing to make a thing out of the idea of people following orders when their commanders aren't doing the same.

Other Thoughts
Words cannot express how much I don't care about the adventures of Han Solo and the island Gelfling (thanks Blam!).

I get why Marcus did it, and why the show wouldn't want the Terminator locked up for very long, but I still think releasing the COB is going to bite everyone in the ass.

Marcus being late in delivering Julian his box full of MacGuffins, leading to the death of one of the three hostages, was an intense moment that gives me hope for the show; a lesser show would have had Marcus save all three hostages and/or follow through on Sam's desired retribution. This way things are more ambiguous and rife for conflict.
 

Saturday Night Live: Christina Appelgate & Passion Pit


A pretty lackluster episode, with a couple strong sketches, a couple weak ones, and two recurring bits that I could have done without. The Californians returned, and led off the night, and my biggest problem with it remains that it's too long. It not only repeats the same gag each time out, it repeats the same gag three times a sketch. If they just cut it off at the first "commercial break", I'd enjoy it more despite the repetition (the other recurring bit featuring the Booker T. Washington high school, did nothing for me either the first time or this time, though it was probably Christina Appelgate's strongest performance of the night).

Other Thoughts
Like the James Bond cut scenes last week, The Expendables 2/Taken 2 spoof was classic SNL, featuring some great impressions, especially Bobby Moynihan's Steven Seagal.

The cold open was pretty great too, but I've always loved Sudeikis' Biden.

The knock-off Muppets version of the Swedish Chef is Dane Cook. Love it.

Jean K. Jean is one of those random "Weekend Update" characters for which I have inexplicable affection. Maybe it's because he reminds me of Batroc ze Leaper by virtue of being stereotypically-French. "Zut Alors!"  

The Odyssey sketch almost won "Favorite Sketch of the Night" honors; it was one of those oddball sketches that worked because everyone sold it, despite a flimsy presence on paper.

Favorite Sketch: Tech Talk, in which bloggers nitpicking the iPhone 5 are confronted by the Chinese factory workers who make it. “Let’s see, what does America make? Does diabetes count as a product?”
Least Favorite Sketch: Probably the last sketch of the night, with Christina Appelgate as a Fosse-obsessed dance instructor. More than anything, it was boring.

Liam Neeson: I have a very particular set of skills. Like fighting and growling. And I speak un poco Spanish.

Denzel Washington: Are you a shark or a turtle? It’s a simple question, are you a porpoise or a narwhal?!?

Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 0/4
Episodes Featuring a Talk Show: 3/4
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 2/4

9 comments:

  1. Glee: (since it's the only show i watched on your list) I really enjoyed Santana's version of Mine (also, i like that song). And yes, Will is an asshole. I mean, why is it a big deal that you're leaving her for a few months? But also, Emma, would a sabatical actually hurt all that much? I wish they'd just act like the effing adults they're supposed to be.

    Our thoughts are that Will will be off the show for a bit and that Finn will actually stay on as the Glee leader while he's gone. But we'll see how that plays out.

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  2. @Sarah: But also, Emma, would a sabatical actually hurt all that much?

    I took it that Emma was objecting less to the idea of taking a sabbatical and more to the fact that Will just assumed she'd want to. If he had offered it as a suggestion and gave her time to think about it, she might have decided it would be fun to take a break. But he was all "Well, here's the plan!"

    Will will be off the show for a bit and that Finn will actually stay on as the Glee leader while he's gone

    That's...that's kind of genius. Why didn't I think of that? I could totally see that happening. Especially since the idea of Finn coaching glee club despite being neither a teacher nor accredited/licensed in any way would totally fit the logic of a universe where Will can just hop from teaching one subject to another and kids can transfer schools willy-nilly.

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  3. Once Upon a Time: Lady of the Lake

    Hey! While Charming's mother is at the brink of death, let's pick some flowers and decorate an arch for the impromptu wedding ceremony!

    I had that same Narnia thought, leading me to wonder if the use of wardrobe as a transportation device was in fact a winky homage. Did they not call it a wardrobe last season or did I/we just not notice then?

    The fact that Grandpa John Charming David had obviously bought the wooden swords struck me as weird, too — as does much of what follows from Storybrooke going back to small-town Maine life. I kind-of want to see folks thinking, "I'm a centaur and a champion archer. Why the @#%$ am I running a greeting-card shop?" And do they feel like they've been stuck in a pattern for the last 28 years or is that part, at least, kind-of a wash? 'Cause I'm all for the kids going back to school, especially since for all they know they're stuck in this world, but those 6th graders must have read "Walter Mitty" and "The Lottery" a couple dozen times now. Which has just made me wonder if we've seen any older kids in Storybrooke; there are adults and younger kids, but teenagers — perhaps because of the "source material" — seem totally absent.

    How I Met Your Mother: Who Wants to Be a Godparent

    once you get past that hiccup, everything else was pretty funny

    Agreed. Like the previous episode, this one revolved around a predictable and repeated (albeit less common) sitcom trope, but it was solid anyhow in the ways that I excuse HIMYM for the ensuage of zany hijinks because it usually does things so well.

    While sweet, legally speaking, I'm not sure how listing three different people with no legal relationship to one another (yet) as a guardian would work. 

    Yet another way Obama is destroying America!

    Barney: "Ted, Neither you nor Cleveland knows how to get over someone leaving them."

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  4. Glee: The Break-Up

    I'm with you on just about everything — Finn, the Left Behind plot, Will's reaction to Emma, the flashbacks, and especially Blaine's reprise of "Teenage Dream". Frankly, I wasn't sure how far they were going to take that frenetic near-breakdown; I half-expected someone to stop him.

    We have to continue to agree to disagree on Grease, however. Although because of the (largely but not entirely nostalgic) affection I have for the movie, rather than despite it, I'm not sure I want to see Glee ape it; I have seen Grease on stage, but the movie is what most people think of when they think of Grease and almost certainly what the show will be playing of off (or has done, since it's already been shot). When Glee or any cover version sticks to close to the original — and when you're doing an entire musical, in high school for sure, giving audiences what they expect is pretty much the mission statement — it tends to feel pointless no matter the technical prowess. Then again, I admit that the rendition of "Summer Lovin'" in last season's opener, balancing mimicry with a purpose within the show's narrative that provided a satisfying extra reason to be, so I'll stay optimistic.

    Grace notes:

    Duncan Sheik's "Barely Breathing"? That was a random one to pop up. If we weren't into the 4th season already, I'd wonder if it wasn't partly a nod to the show's Spring Awakening alumni.

    We already knew that Chris Colfer has a beautiful voice, but I'm happy to be reminded.

    Maybe it's because the sequence was cut like an '80s music video, but halfway through No Doubt's "Don't Speak" I got the sudden feeling that I was watching a John Hughes movie.

    When Santana is singing really intently she looks like a Romulan — a surprisingly hot Romulan.

    My big problem with the Kurt/Blaine situation isn't so much with the situation itself as with the Kurt/Blaine dynamic since maybe the middle of last season. Blaine seemed older than Kurt when they met, certainly more secure in being out but also more mature overall, and I apparently wasn't alone in being surprised to learn that he was a year behind Kurt when he transferred to McKinley. I don't mind him being revealed as more vulnerable as Kurt and viewers go to know him, and long-distance relationships — heck, love in general — can wreak havoc on even people who seem like they have it all together. It's just felt less a lot more like one of Glee's about-face plot reversals than a natural character progression.

    Kitty: "It's a fact that the Book of Revelations predicted Twitter. It's one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse, along with porn, unexplainable weather anomalies, Martian rovers, Barney Frank, the Middle East, and MSNBC."

    I forgot to write this up at first, but I had the same thought that Sarah did about Finn stepping in for Will, and, Teebore, I love your assessment of its logic.

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  5. Last Resort: Eight Bells

    This continues to be the nuttiest idea for an episodic TV series since Hogan's Heroes. I almost don't feel comfortable enjoying it.

    Words cannot express how much I don't care about the adventures of Han Solo and the island Gelfling

    Ha! Anytime, Teebore. Dude ain't no Han Solo, though; more like a poor man's Tom Cruise (not that I'm a big fan of the actual Tom Cruise) — he actually looks like a strange cross between Cruise, Cruise's cousin William Mapother (Ethan on Lost), and Fran Krantz (from Dollhouse and The Cabin in the Woods).

    Eight Bells, by the way, is an 1886 painting of Winslow Homer's depicting two sailors attempting to determine their position. You all might've known that, but I had to look it up.

    Were parts of this episode missing? I heard that Special-Ops Dude and Gelfling had dinner plans, but we never saw them made or heard what they were until they were motorboating, then the next time we saw them she was arguing with Lou Albano and dinner was apparently over.

    Am I the only one surprised by the number of potential love triangles, including the frickin' married guy? The XO has a wife at home and an obviously mutual interest despite themselves with the French geologist whose boyfriend just left, and he also seems to have a not-merely-protective relationship with Grace, whose scenes with Special-Ops Dude hint at romantic tension even while he has this thing starting up with the Gelfling.

    COB: "You didn't write, you didn't call..."
    Lt. Shepard: "You didn't hang yourself with your shoelaces."
    (There was another line in the exchange after that one, but to me it undercut the humor rather than added to it.)

    Saturday Night Live: Christina Applegate & Passion Pit

    I like Kate McKinnon's stuff. I'm always happy when someone, especially someone who deserves to be there, gets to say "Live from New York..." for the first time.

    The VP-debate opening was pretty good in general.

    You're dead right about The Californians. It was overdone before the first installment ended. I agree slightly less about the Booker T. Washington HS sketch, only because I like Jay Pharaoh's principal and the one where the teachers got drunk on the spiked punch was pretty golden; then again, I kind-of think that it should've been the final one, too.

    "Dane Cook" was both a hilarious linguistic knock-off of "Swedish Chef" and a great impression (all the more so since I pretty much can't stand Dane Cook), but the biggest laugh-out-loud line of the night had to be "Joining us now are three peasant laborers..." in that Tech Talk sketch.

    I suspect that the Fosse sketch has been hanging around for awhile, as some sketches apparently do. Applegate stepped right into what could easily have been Kristen Wiig's shoes with that one.

    How do we not have a game-show sketch yet?

    Seth Myers on Weekend Update: "Police calmed the brawlers [at a Philadelphia wedding] by encouraing everyone to shout a little bit softer now"

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  6. @Blam: While Charming's mother is at the brink of death, let's pick some flowers and decorate an arch for the impromptu wedding ceremony!

    Even if she wasn't dying, the speed with which they assembled that arch was eyebrow-raising. I'd say "magic", but I don't think there were any magic users around.

    Did they not call it a wardrobe last season or did I/we just not notice then?

    I think they did, and we just didn't notice it, but I could be wrong.

    I kind-of want to see folks thinking, "I'm a centaur and a champion archer. Why the @#%$ am I running a greeting-card shop?"

    Or, it'd be interesting to see more about folks deciding which of the two lives they like more, which has been touched a little bit, but not much.

    there are adults and younger kids, but teenagers — perhaps because of the "source material" — seem totally absent.

    Huh. I hadn't noticed that. Good point.

    When Santana is singing really intently she looks like a Romulan — a surprisingly hot Romulan.

    Ha! I never noticed that before, but now I can't unsee it!

    It's just felt less a lot more like one of Glee's about-face plot reversals than a natural character progression.

    Agreed. I should have mentioned something about it, because I too was reminded of that changed dynamic during this episode. It definitely seems like there was conscious decision, once Blaine transferred to McKinley, to "de-age" him a bit, and it went a lot further than suddenly revealing he was a junior while Kurt was a senior (really, it probably had a lot to do with them wanting to hang onto Darren Criss for as long as possible, but it's still annoying).

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  7. he actually looks like a strange cross between Cruise, Cruise's cousin William Mapother (Ethan on Lost), and Fran Krantz (from Dollhouse and The Cabin in the Woods).

    While I agree with your analysis of his physical resemblance(s), my likening him to Han Solo was less about his physical look and more about the role he serves on the show: the charming rogue with a mysterious and dark past, as well as a heart-of-gold buried deep inside that leads him to (reluctantly at first, less so as time goes by) help out others against his better judgement. "Sawyer" could be another name for him (though I realize that I referred to Dichen Lachman's character w/a nickname born of a physical resemblance, so the confusion is pretty much my fault for mixing metaphors, or something like that... :) )

    You all might've known that, but I had to look it up.

    I did not know that, but merely failed to take the time to investigate. So thanks!

    ...we never saw them made or heard what they were until they were motorboating...

    Heh.

    ...then the next time we saw them she was arguing with Lou Albano and dinner was apparently over

    A. I totally missed that was Lou Albano, and now feel ashamed that I did so.
    B. I was under the impression that dinner had yet to start, and that Han and Gelfling took off before they ate, but I'll freely admit their scenes together didn't get my full attention, so I could be totally wrong.

    Am I the only one surprised by the number of potential love triangles, including the frickin' married guy?

    They definitely are tossing a lot of stuff out, presumably to see what sticks. For what it's worth, I wonder how much the scenes between the XO and the French gal are truly setting up a love triangle, and how much it's just us reading that into their scenes because the actors have good chemistry together, whereas I don't necessarily see a love triangle emerging between the XO, his wife and Grace (even though the show may be intending for there to be one) in large part because the actress playing Grace comes off as a bit stiff and wooden more often than not.

    I like Jay Pharaoh's principal and the one where the teachers got drunk on the spiked punch was pretty golden

    It was indeed, I simply questioned bringing it back. And there were certainly bits within the sketch that made me laugh (like the note of two students humping inside a Mufasa costume); it just seems largely formless other than as a vehicle on which to hang some amusing one-or-two liners/characters.

    all the more so since I pretty much can't stand Dane Cook

    Ditto, on both the "can't stand" part and the strength of the impression.

    Applegate stepped right into what could easily have been Kristen Wiig's shoes with that one.

    Agreed. And as David Sims, the AV Club reviewer, noted, had Wiig been around to headline it, it probably would have led off the night instead of being the "whackier-than-usual last sketch of the night" sketch.

    How do we not have a game-show sketch yet?

    I know, right? I can't believe it.

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  8. @Teebore: my likening him to Han Solo was less about his physical look and more about the role he serves on the show

    I wasn't being clear, obviously — nothing new. 8^) "Han Solo" is a shorthand, true, but a particular enough kind of rogue charmer that I didn't think that the Revolution guy stacked up, even as I realized that you (especially as a big Star Wars fan) clearly weren't imparting all of Harrison Ford's perfect Han Solo pitch to the guy, so I equated him more to, say, a Han Solo sort of character as played by Tom Cruise; that, in turn, got me musing on the fact that he kinda looks like Cruise smooshed together with those other fellas. "Sawyer" works just fine, "early Sawyer" in particular if one is prone to thinking of the totality of the character, although one could also argue that post-flash James wasn't even really Sawyer anymore.

    @Teebore: Heh.

    But... But... They really were motorboating!

    @Teebore: I totally missed that was Lou Albano

    No you didn't. This was just me being visually associative again, continuing the Gelfling theme and the distraction that I fell into with Special-Ops guy. Seriously, I know almost nobody's names on any new shows — not Gelfling or Special-Ops Sawyer or Gelfling's Dad (who, granted, was only seen briefly and may not have been referenced other than as Gelfling's dad). I do know Grace's names, mostly because everybody keeps calling her Grace despite the fact that in the first episode or two Chaplin and the XO made a big deal out of the crew needing to respect her by calling her Lt. Shepard rather than Grace.

    Digression: Even though Chaplin is a common enough name (Charlie Chaplin; someone I knew in high school), I kept thinking the captain's last name was "Chaplain" until I got a good look at his ID patch and wondering if there was a chaplain assigned to the sub unit named "Captain".

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  9. @Blam: I equated him more to, say, a Han Solo sort of character as played by Tom Cruise; that, in turn, got me musing on the fact that he kinda looks like Cruise smooshed together with those other fellas.

    Ah, gotcha. I follow you now. Just took me a minute to catch up. :)

    Seriously, I know almost nobody's names on any new shows — not Gelfling or Special-Ops Sawyer or Gelfling's Dad

    I usually do okay with character names, certainly better than I sometimes let on with the blog, where I tend to refer to characters via visual description or association for either humor or as an indication of the manner in which I feel their character is impacting the narrative (or failing to do so), even if I have managed to pick up on their names.

    Which is my long-winded way of saying I have no idea what Special Ops Sawyer's actual character name is. I think Gelfling is Tani or something like that, but the fact that I haven't learned/can't be bothered to learn their actual names is an indication how little I feel their story has impacted the show as a whole (and "Gelfing" is a heck of a lot funnier than just referring to the character by the actress' name).

    I do know Grace's names, mostly because everybody keeps calling her Grace despite the fact that in the first episode or two Chaplin and the XO made a big deal out of the crew needing to respect her by calling her Lt. Shepard rather than Grace.

    Yeah, it does seem like that entire subplot is now down to just the sniping between Grace and the COB, which is unfortunate.

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