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Friday, October 26, 2012

Last Week in TV #6

Between baseball and presidential debates, a lot of shows took this week off. Which is good, since I had a busier than usual week. Here then is a shorter-than-usual post.

Once Upon a Time: The Crocodile


Judging from all the pre-season hype, the show intends to poise Hook as this season's Big Bad, or at least one of them. This episode served as alright introduction to him, though we have yet to really see OUAT's take on the character (most of this episode he was Almost Hook). I prefer my pirates with a little less angsty eyeliner, but I suppose that's the world Johnny Depp has created. The climatic moment when Hook picks up the, um, hook, would have resonated more if we didn't already know he was Hook thanks to all the ads/interviews/press releases, etc. I don't even go out of my way to look at that stuff and I still knew he was coming. That said, as the show continues to soften the edges of Regina and Mr. Gold, more villains is not a bad thing.

Other Thoughts
Similarly, I'm not sure if the Smee reveal was meant to be shocking or not; it seemed pretty obvious to me.

I was, however, honestly surprised when it turned out Hook had pocketed the bean, and I like the idea of the bean being the means of getting to Neverland (I wouldn't object to seeing the show's take on Peter Pan).

Also, making Rumpelstiltskin the crocodile who took Hook's hand was a nice touch, the kind of tweak to an existing story this show does well (it was also a nice use of Rumpel's scaly skin).

The business with Belle's father was kind of muddied; I wasn't entirely clear why he was doing what he was doing, or why Belle hadn't at least said hello after she was released from Regina's secret asylum. Her father just seemed to jump to the "wipe her memory" solution awfully fast.

I'm not sure if it was made explicit before, but we find out that Rumpelstiltskin created the Storybrooke curse as a means to get to the world to which his son was transported, which feels like an important part of the show's mythology. 

Emilie de Ravin remains very fetching, especially as a brunette.


30 Rock: Stride of Pride


While the "women aren't funny" plotline was clearly intended to be the A-plot (and, with this being the show's last season, could be viewed as a microcosm of Tina Fey's mission with the show as a whole, though really, that isn't even a question that needs to be asked because women can be funny and anyone who doesn't seriously believe that is an idiot), I was much more amused by Jack's storyline involving his coterie of women (and coming to terms with his place within a similar coterie of men), though I'll freely admit that could just be due to the presence of Ryan Lochte as Zarina's sex idiot. I love pop culture's continued depiction of him as an idiot man-child.

Other Thoughts
Love that Tracey had sent his "women aren't funny" tweet to Stephen Hawking.

Jenna's plot was the usual Jenna wackiness, though I did like the way it sweetly intersected with Jack's plot, and the notion that middle aged actresses are cursed with playing “Kevin James’ mean wife who he’s sick of having sex with.”


Parks and Recreation: Sex Education


For whatever reason, this episode didn't click with me as much as the previous three this season had. It was still plenty funny (even an average episode of this show is a cut above most shows, and this certainly was an above average episode), but it felt like it never quite reached its potential. Leslie taking on the morally-superior Langmans (who are absolutely a parody of Michelle Bachman and her husband, or am I reading too much MN bias into that?) over, of all things, sex ed for the elderly (because if old people learn about safe sex, it's only a matter of time before we get babies with condoms), is the kind of politically-based whackiness this show excels at making funny, but for whatever reason, the material just wasn't as transcendent as usual. So, you know, an "A" instead of the usual "A+", which is a testament to how good this show is.

Other Thoughts
Still plenty of funny material here, especially the image of the congressman for whom Ben and April work literally staring at the wall until he's required to issue homespun aphorisms or practice his stump speech.

The Tom/Ron plot was a little "been there, done that", but I did enjoy Tom's complete listlessness when cut off from his screens, including his inability to find his office without GPS.

Perd Hapley is also never not-funny, and there was tons of Perd in this episode. "Perd-verts"? Classic.

Also loved Tom's post accident tweet: “Just hit a fire hydrant, but I survived. #Unbreakable #What’sMrGlassuptothesedays #Whynosequel”

Andy: Do pubic hairs get longer the older you get? Because that’s happening to me, what do I do?

Ben: Why would a robot need to consume organic matter?


Last Resort: Voluntold


I'm still not entirely sure where this show is going - it's clearly trying to develop some mythology, at least in terms of what happened in the pilot/what's going on in the government, yet it never seems terribly concerned with delving too deeply into those concerns (even though you'd think it'd be Chaplain's number one priority). Thankfully, this episode's self-contained adventure of the week was interesting enough to more-or-less distract from those overarching questions, while still hinting at the development of the unfolding mythology and taking some large strides towards addressing some of the logistical questions central to its plot. 

Other Thoughts
The stay/go list was a clever way to tackle the issue of authority in a situation built on ignoring authority, one of the central questions of the show. It was also fun seeing Marcus and Sam working behind the scenes to keep the "stay" list as long as possible. I hope the show follows through and actually does allow those people who are still planning on leaving to leave. 

Fake Sawyer's involvement in the events that led to the nuking of Pakistan? Color me intrigued (why did it take anyone on Chaplain's crew this long to make that connection?). Fake Sawyer getting in a fight over his dead friend's body? Not so much.

I have no idea what the hell Sophie was doing with the dirt, nor what the Mayor was expecting of her. Moreoever, I'm not sure if the audience is supposed to be in the dark, or if I just wasn't paying close enough attention. Was she testing the soil for gold or something? Her episode-ending conversation with Sam clearly had a double meaning, but I have no idea what it is (insert your favorite Smoke Monster/Golden Pool of Light/etc. Lost joke here).

This whole "lawyer friend seduces Sam's wife" plot already has my eyes rolled back into my head, but it's always nice to see Jesse Schram, and her going off on the reporters was awesome. That's exactly what I'd do: go on every media outlet and point the finger at the government. They already took everything away from her. 


Saturday Night Live: Bruno Mars


Give Bruno Mars credit: he didn't slink into the background of the show, emerging only to perform his musical numbers. Unfortunately, the end result was, the return of Stefon notwithstanding, another thoroughly average one. Mars did his best (his standout sketch was clearly the Pandora one, in which he not only did a series of impressions, he did musical impressions), but most of the sketches lacked a strong central idea and standout jokes.

Other Thoughts
Always happy to see a Stefon appearance, and I appreciate both that the show resists the urge to trot him out every other week and that Hader always tweaks the formula slightly. The biggest laugh from me this time was that Jewish Dracula is called Sydney Applebaum.

I also appreciated Seth Meyers referring to the Winter Olympics as "48 different kinds of sledding".

The recurring Brad Pitt parody commercials were amusing enough, especially if you've seen the original, but like most of the other sketches, they failed to develop a strong hook and never really went anywhere.

With the show off next weekend, this was ostensibly the Halloween episode, though only one sketch played that up.

Second episode in a row to feature a song in the monologue, though this one was more understandable. 

Favorite Sketch: "Merryville Halloween"; it's pretty much the same sketch every time out, and it's certainly not as uproariously funny as it was the first time, but they haven't overdone it yet so I'm still pleased when it pops up, this was a pretty weak night overall, and Bill Hader's creepy robot smile cracks me the hell up every time. 
Least Favorite Sketch: Haters, which had a weak premise and didn't end so much as stop. It would have been terrible closing the night, let alone leading it off.

Obama: The best thing about my plan is, you can sit on it and spin.

Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 0/5
Episodes Featuring a Talk Show: 4/5
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 3/5

7 comments:


  1. Once Upon a Time: The Crocodile

    I very much liked the scene of Ruby and Belle talking about what to do next, how things have changed in Storybrooke — right out of our pet-peeve discussions from last week.

    What I didn't like? It would've made a lot more sense for Sheriff Charming to search for Belle without Gold hanging around. Nobody had to know that he was looking for this woman on Gold's behalf.

    I prefer my pirates with a little less angsty eyeliner

    Every time I saw him, I thought "It's not quite Nestor Carbonell!"

    The climatic moment when Hook picks up the, um, hook, would have resonated more if we didn't already know he was Hook thanks to all the ads/interviews/press releases, etc.

    You're right, although with my EW coming late or going AWOL so often lately I hadn't actually seen the actor; I just read their OUAT cover story last night. I was actually prepared for a bait-and-switch within the episode itself because it was so clearly telegraphing who he was — at least, for those of us who like you say had seen the promos (or heard anything about the season), in the context of knowing that Hook was going to show up. Likewise, I wondered if the guy in the red hat was actually a red herring for Smee given that the traditional Smee is white-haired. The show could stand to do a little more of that, if you ask me, stuff like the sheriff turning out to be the Huntsman rather than the Big Bad Wolf. I've read that we're going to find out who Dr. Whale is; his name would indeed point to him being an actual whale from Pinocchio or some other story, along the lines of Ruby or Archie Hopper, but interesting as that would be I'm sort-of hoping for something out of left field.

    making Rumpelstiltskin the crocodile who took Hook's hand was a nice touch, the kind of tweak to an existing story this show does well

    I have a love/hate relationship with some of the crossover stuff between the legends, but I agree that this one was neat; I especially liked Rumpelstiltskin's winky "Tick-tock, Dearie! Tick... Tock!"

    Emilie de Ravin remains very fetching, especially as a brunette.

    Holla!

    I agree with you on the stuff with Belle and her dad, too, although it was neat in a weird way to see one of those elaborate 1960s Batman / James Bond traps actually have a point — they needed to tie Belle up in that mine cart and let her go because they didn't want to risk crossing the city limits themselves.

    Belle's father's shop, by the way, is a florist's called Game of Thorns, which is funny but only funny in the context of Game of Thrones being a thing, so it's a little iffy for Storybrooke — unless Westeros is a dimension adjacent to Fairy-Tale Land!

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  2. 30 Rock: Stride of Pride

    This was a good one. It seemed to fall right in the show's odd wheelhouse of vast mix o' comedy styles — dry wit, broad humor, absurdist plot line, running jokes, throwaway gags. As always that meant jokes that fell flat as well as a few genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, but I'll put up with a bit of preciousness to get the latter.

    Liz: "Since Criss and I have been... 'trying'... Liz Lemon has had a little awakening in her bathing-suit area."
    Jack: "Lemon, I've seen your bathing suits; that could be anywhere."

    Jack: "There are no bad ideas, Lemon — only great ideas that go horribly wrong."
    Me: "Amen to that..."

    Parks and Recreation: Sex Education

    FYI: The "producer's cut" of the latest episode, "Halloween Surprise", is up on Hulu and the NBC website. I only watched that, so I couldn't tell you what was extra or different.

    Perd Hapley is also never not-funny

    So true... I feel like the writers must love scripting his exacting meta-descriptions; I know I would.

    Leslie: "It's amazing what a few old guys can do with a little bit of charm and a lot of crabs."

    Last Resort: Voluntold

    I'm still not entirely sure where this show is going

    Right? I almost feel like I'm watching myself watch this show to figure out how it's balancing all this this crazy stuff in a way that appeals to me, but it's impenetrable.

    I'm with you on Fake Sawyer and Sophie's Magic Dirt. As far as the former goes, even though he's been presented more as a withdrawn but charming-to-Gelfling rogue than an out-'n'-out bad guy, it seems like they're trying to ennoble him too much. In terms of the latter, hell, I probably wouldn't be surprised by aliens or the Fountain of Youth on this show; if it has me taking insane real-world stuff in stride, Why not?

    Schram has been a favorite of mine in parts here and there since Veronica Mars, and hers is just about the only off-Island / US story that's interesting me in more than a theoretical sense. You're right about the eye-rolling manipulation of her lawyer "friend" but I'm glad that we saw her speaking out about what's happened — even though when government-conspiracy plot lines get to that point it usually means that whomever's speaking out is about to be embarrassingly discredited, so I fear that my pride/affection for the character is about to be knifed in the spleen. I've also been impressed by how consistently tired and unkempt Schram / the show has allowed the character to look.

    (The above was written before I watched Thursday's shows last night.)

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  3. Saturday Night Live: Bruno Mars

    If you're gonna have a song in the monologue, that's the way to do it.

    Even though Mars didn't have much up his sleeve other than singing ability and being game enough, and while this might not be saying much, I thought that it was the best episode of the season so far.

    My favorite bit about the Pandora sketch was Mars's impression of Billie Joe Armstrong, so even though it was quality stuff it was all downhill from there for me. I have a tremendous knee-jerk hate on for that affected throaty petulant faux-punk whine, to the point where I can't objectively assess Green Day's song quality in the least.

    The Yeti sketch actually went somewhere, kind-of, which surprised me. Even though it took a mite too long to get there and the Yeti-buggering wasn't exactly hilarious, I'll always give bonus points for an actual conclusion or added dimension like that.

    "Sad Mouse" was a pretty good Not Officially an SNL Digital Short, too.

    Like you said, it's always fun to see Stefon, who's used just sparingly enough and whose material is just flat-out weird enough to keep working.

    The Merryville animatronic sketch was just about the best it's ever been, I thought. All the guys were spot-on with their movements. Plus, Homicidal Barbershop Robot Tom Hanks!!!

    Under-Underground Records at a "KFC in Syria" made the episode for me, the perfect capper to a pretty good outing.

    The biggest laugh from me this time was that Jewish Dracula is called Sydney Applebaum.

    You and him both. 8^)

    Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 0/5

    Madness!

    Seth Meyers on Weekend Update: "Do speak loudly and clearly. You're in Boca Raton, Florida. Their city motto is 'Say It in My Good Ear'."

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  4. Sorry, don't watch any of these. Well i watch 30 rock, but on netflix instant, so i'm behind a season or two. And Last Resort is still sitting on my DVR

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  5. @Blam: I very much liked the scene of Ruby and Belle talking about what to do next, how things have changed in Storybrooke

    Ditto. I meant to point that out.

    Nobody had to know that he was looking for this woman on Gold's behalf.

    Exactly. And you'd think Gold would have realized this and never set out with him in the first place.

    Also, I get that Gold/Rumpelstiltskin can be a dick/evil, but there's still a girl missing. Priorities, people of Storybrooke!

    unless Westeros is a dimension adjacent to Fairy-Tale Land!

    It just might be! Was the Game of Thorns shop shown last season? I feel like we'd seen that before, but both you and Mrs. Teebore pointed it out. Maybe I just appreciated the pun so much I'd assumed it had always been there...

    if it has me taking insane real-world stuff in stride, Why not?

    One the one had, a turn towards the fantastic would be a HUGE swing for this show; on the other hand, I could totally see them doing it.

    've also been impressed by how consistently tired and unkempt Schram / the show has allowed the character to look.

    Ditto. And my fear would be that the government would just kill her to shut her up, but I suppose her role on the show merits her some protection, at least for awhile.

    I'll always give bonus points for an actual conclusion or added dimension like that.

    Good point. Of all the weird end-of-show sketches this season, that was probably the best and easily most well-constructed.

    Under-Underground Records at a "KFC in Syria" made the episode for me

    I should have mentioned that. I love those sketches.

    Madness!

    I know, right?

    @Sarah: Sorry, don't watch any of these.

    You should be.

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  6. @Teebore: Was the Game of Thorns shop shown last season?

    I kind-of feel like it was even though the name only jumped out to me in this episode. So, ?!?!?

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  7. @Blam: I kind-of feel like it was even though the name only jumped out to me in this episode. So, ?!?!?

    Ha! That was exactly my take on it as well.

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