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

Friday, November 2, 2012

Last Week in TV #7

Things in TV Land should pick up next week with the start of November sweeps, though we did get a lot of good Halloween episodes (I love Halloween on TV because all the costumes are unrealistically elaborate and everyone can trick-or-treat in temperate, not-near-freezing weather). In addition to what I write about below, I did watch the Halloween episodes of Modern Family, Suburgatory, Big Bang Theory and Happy Endings. I don't have much to say about them (other than to say that you should be watching Happy Endings, the best non-Parks and Rec and Community comedy on TV) but feel free to bring them up in the comments if you're so inclined. 

Once Upon a Time: The Doctor


The revelation that Dr. Whale is Dr. Frankenstein (clever naming, by the way) opens a whole new avenue for this show. While it's already dipped its toes into the characters of public domain novels, in the forms of such characters as the Mad Hatter and Captain Hook, most of those dalliances involved characters with some ties to Disney. Frankenstein is the first literary character the show has used without any strong connection to the world of fairy tales and/or Disney. It opens a (potentially) troublingly deep well of characters, but with this episode making clear something the show has hinted at before, that there are all kinds of different "realms" (some a conglomerate of stories like Fairy Tale Land while others represent a specific fictional story like Wonderland or Neverland), each accessible by various magical items (like the Hatter's hat), with Storybrooke/the real world as just one more such realm, I think this expanded well of characters can ultimately work to the show's advantage. So long as the writers continue to find new and clever ways to re-imagine the characters and work them into the ongoing narrative (and in the case of someone like Dr. Whale, explain why he got pulled into Storybrooke by the curse that was placed on FTL), I have no objections to seeing a wide and varying range of public domain characters pop up on the show. 

Other Thoughts
Though the idea that potentially all fictional worlds exist as one of numerous realms further complicates the question of how "our" realm/the real world/the realm in which Storybrooke resides came to depict these other realms as fictional stories, particularly when the events occurring in, say, the Enchanted Forest are happening simultaneously to the events of Storybrooke, while Frankenstein's story is rooted to a very specific time that mimics a very specific time in the "real" world, despite Victor having interacted with Regina just roughly 30 years ago in Storybrooke/FTL time.

Now my head hurts. Maybe time just works differently in each realm?

After being annoyed to hell by her first adventure in FTL, it was nice to see Emma be a little less grating and immediately cotton to Hook's ruse.

Some decent character work with Regina in this episode; I continue to enjoy what the show's doing with her so far this season. I'm kinda jonesing for a Regina/Cora magic showdown in Storybrooke with Regina on the side of the angels.

That said, the whole "Henry gets a horse" and the resultant "Daniel attacks him at the stables" bit was pretty weak sauce. 

I would love for the show to reveal that all the various Universal monsters, like Dracula and Wolf Man, exist inside Frankenstein's realm. 

Rumpelstiltskin mentioned magic slippers, making a trip to Oz seem more and more likely. Was the crystal ball the Hatter brought back instead something from something (if you know what I mean), or just, you know, a random crystal ball? I wasn't sure.


Revolution: Sex and Drugs


This one fails squarely into the realm of "treading water"; nothing terribly bad, but nothing terribly important to the plot either. It makes sense to address Nora's injury, we got a little bit of setup for the show's presumed new big bad (now that Neville's been promoted), and it was interesting to watch Charlie's developing edginess (you guys, she tore up her postcards!!!!), but little of this added to the show's overall narrative. Which is fine, on occasion, but hopefully the onset of November sweeps will bring back some of the momentum established by "Soul Train".

Other Thoughts
Aside from his episode-ending reunion with his mother (which just amounted to a hug), even Danny's story was treading water; after arriving in Philadelphia last episode, in this one he essentially arrived in Philadelphia more. 

I would totally be the Aaron of any apocalypse. Mrs. Teebore says that's okay though; she'd take care of us.

That said, his dispatch of Drexel was pretty awesome (even though, despite what TV and movies have taught us, I'm pretty sure a bullet from that gun at that range would have shredded his flask).

Miles: Aaron shot Drexel? This Aaron?


30 Rock: Unwindulax


Not surprisingly, 30 Rock eschewed a Halloween episode (and put aside its larger overarching plots) in favor of a two-part political episode, one that mined a fair amount of laughs out of not just the current candidates, but the political system (specifically, the electorate) in general. The climax of which is Jack and Tracy's duel rundown of which states will vote for which candidate (Pennsylvania is going for Obama because the voting machines are sentient and ruling in favor of gay marriage) which was hilarious and (sentient voting machines aside) kind of spot on. Plus, I will never not tire of any reference to Florida as America's penis.

Other Thoughts
I also really enjoyed Jack's mounting terror at the notion that money can't buy all the votes, and his subsequent Romney ad aimed at African-Americans (featuring a hilariously-pained Don Cheadle and Jazz, the "black" Transformer).

Plots involving Frank and/or some combination of the writers usually do little for me, but their attempts to prank Jenny made for a decent B-plot. And the idea that Kellen Lutz is Lutz's nephew was amusing.


Parks and Recreation: Halloween Surprise


To say this was the first character driven episode of Park&Recs' season sounds odd, because this is a show that does a masterful job of grounding even its whackier antics in its characters. But this was the first episode of the season without any major plotline (ie no bill to pass, no outdated law to fight, etc.), allowing us instead to just hang out with the characters while Ben and Leslie struggle with their future together and Ron tries to come to terms with dating a normal woman with little girls, with the idea of organizing a rummage sale for Jerry giving events a loose spine on which to hang. All of which leads up to a fantastic ending, in which Ben surprises Leslie with a proposal, and Leslie, true to character, hilariously won't let him finish until she's memorized the moment. It was a terrific bit of acting on the part of both Poehler and Scott, and a wonderfully sweet moment.

Other Thoughts
Ron's pirate costume is the same one he wore in the show's previous two Halloween episodes.

Loved April bolting out of the office when given the chance, though I wouldn't have minded seeing her and Andy's reunion in Pawnee. 

I love that the joke regarding Chris' costume (that he went as his greatest fear: old Chris) went unstated.

Of all the boxes of boyfriend stuff Ann had, there wasn't a box for poor forgotten Mark. 

I hope the show is setting up Tom's new idea for a rent-a-swag company to succeed; the poor guy deserves a win, and unlike Entertainment 720, this isn't such a bad idea.


Last Resort: Skeleton Crew


Maybe I'm just a sucker for scenes of intense negotiation, or stories where a leader finally wins the respect of their followers, but this was hands down the best episode of the series since the pilot. Even more importantly, it put the conspiracy story front and center, even finding a way to make Marcus more aware of it as well. The show's episode-by-episode narrative and overall goal (beyond the vague "expose the truth") going forward isn't any clearer than it was after last week's episode, but if the show can keep churning out episodes like this, I'm fine just going along for the ride.

Other Thoughts
Nice to see Not Sawyer involved in some non-Gelfling action again.

I also gained a ton of respect for both Jesse Schram's character and the writers for making it clear from very early on that she isn't buying what her lawyer friend is selling.

The constant sniping between Grace and the COB aboard the sub was a lot of fun. I'm glad she gave as good as she got.

I doubt the show can put Marcus in the same room with Washington power players/elements of the conspiracy like it did in this episode very often, at least not without stretching credibility, but hopefully they find a few more plausible ways of doing it in the course of the series.

Things are getting worse in the outside world: the UN condemned the US attack on Pakistan, China is invading Taiwan, gas prices are skyrocketing. I like these little glimpses of the bigger picture.

10 comments:

Matt said...

"And the idea that Kellen Lutz is Lutz's nephew was amusing."

Wikipedia thinks this is true, but since I can't find anything else about it with a Google search, I'm inclined to think it's fake info.

Also -- no mention of Gary Cole's appearance? Even when he's not the funniest thing in whatever he's in, somehow he's always my favorite thing in whatever he's in. If that makes any sense...

"Of all the boxes of boyfriend stuff Ann had, there wasn't a box for poor forgotten Mark."

He really is forgotten, too. I forgot he was ever on the show till you mentioned him just now.

Teebore said...

@Matt: Even when he's not the funniest thing in whatever he's in, somehow he's always my favorite thing in whatever he's in. If that makes any sense...

Ha! I follow you. I did enjoy both him and Amy Sedaris. I should have mentioned them both.

MOCK! said...

Dr. Whale is Dr. Frankenstein (clever naming, by the way)

Neither I nor my wife get why....clue us in?

Maybe time just works differently in each realm?

That's what we've been thinking. My son and I keep talking about making a character chart and timelines to keep things straight.

My wife also thinks Baelfire will end up being Henry's father....

Teebore said...

@Mock: Neither I nor my wife get why....clue us in?

James Whale was the director of the original Universal Frankenstein in 1931 (as well as Bride of Frankenstein).

I didn't make the connection (nor never would have) until the episode starting hinting that he might be Frankenstein.

My wife also thinks Baelfire will end up being Henry's father....

I've seen that idea discussed in a few places. I could see it (at this point, Henry's father has to be SOMEBODY, so unless it's going to be a new mystery character they haven't introduced yet, Baelfire seems a logical choice. And it adds some thematic resonance to everything).

Blam said...


I love Halloween on TV because all the costumes are unrealistically elaborate and everyone can trick-or-treat in temperate, not-near-freezing weather

Ha! You're right on both counts. It sucked so bad having a great costume (or any costume, really) and needing to wear a coat on top of it.

Once Upon a Time: The Doctor

I got it when he said that the procedure was "experimental". His Storybrooke identity nodding to James Whale is a real head-twister when you think about it, because the curse would have to know that Whale had directed the 1931 Frankenstein as opposed to just consider a synonym or character trait like Ruby / Red and Archie Hopper / Jiminy Cricket.

The fact that his world was black-&-white was awesome. One potential nitpick is that Mary Shelley's Victor Frankenstein was renamed Henry Frankenstein in the 1931 Universal film — which like the Universal Dracula movie was actually adapted more directly from a stage play based on the book than the book itself, although I don't recall if the play used Victor or Henry — so the Whale name and the stagey laboratory setting mix allusions a bit. Despite Universal having merged with NBC, however, I would love it if some licensing detente could be reached such that the trademarked Universal Monsters versions of the characters could be fairly explicitly referenced and, as you say, all be shown to reside in that realm.

One more potential nitpick, I guess, whether meta with script or in-story with character I'm not sure, is that I gotta disagree with Victor. It was magic. If what he's saying is more powerful than magic is science as we know it then, yeah, sorry, introducing magic to science to create a hybrid procedure is magic. And if the way science works in his realm is more fantastic than it does in ours then it's just basically a different kind of magic, too (at least from our perspective, so maybe he gets a pass there).

Blam said...


Revolution: Sex and Drugs

*cough*gratuitousnudity*cough*

Yes, I've caught up with Revolution. A lingering cold left me more useless than usual last week so I had time to burn through some TV.

I did read your intervening entries on the show but decided not to comment in past posts. My only specific comment about previous eps is that the last one was a major bummer in terms of having our heroes catch up to the train only to neither stop it nor rescue Danny nor even surreptitiously ride it to its destination. They got aboard, then got thrown off. You can't bring the opposing sides or the seekers and object or whatever face-to-face just to separate them again, especially with no loss and no real gain. I appreciate that Charlie got a greater resolve out of it, but I feel like there was a way to have her get Danny within her sights without the total climax followed by frustrating return to status quo.

even though, despite what TV and movies have taught us, I'm pretty sure a bullet from that gun at that range would have shredded his flask

Well, I'm considering it a victory that he was even breathing hard due to the impact. On the other hand I really wish that there had been a character savvy enough to call him Flask Gordon and confuse the hell out of Charlie.

So I had this theory forming as I mini-marathon'd the show that perhaps Miles was initially the power behind what became the Monroe Republic but Monroe made a better face for it or Miles just had no stomach for the politics. This is partly drawn from Miles being so much more active than Sebastian in the flashbacks of them together but largely, I admit, from the lingering shots of the M sigil that I feel practically beg us to consider whether the M didn't stand for "Miles" or "Matheson" rather than "Monroe" — although we did see Monroe, at least, with a tattoo of it in the earliest flashback of them on base; I don't remember if we're supposed to know whether it's a reference to their Marine division or just something Monroe got for himself or whether it was a bond between Sebastian and Miles.

Blam said...


30 Rock: Unwindulax

I like that they called it a Jimmy Buffett rip-off straight out of the gate.

Alec Baldwin has been looking pretty good this season, but his hair in this episode was unbelievably, distractingly brown.

Jack: "I needed to unite the room around a common enemy and Ed Bagley Jr. was unavailable because the sail on his car broke."

Parks and Recreation: Halloween Surprise

Leslie dressing as Rosie the Riveter is brilliant. Of course she can't go as Hilary Clinton for meta reasons, and Doris Kearns Goodwin is hard to pull off, so it was probably Rosie the Riveter or the 19th Amendment.

It was a terrific bit of acting on the part of both Poehler and Scott, and a wonderfully sweet moment.

That it was.

April: "Shhhhhh..."

Perd Hapley's book: The Thing About Me Is, I'm Perd Hapley

Last Resort: Skeleton Crew

I'm with you that this was another confoundingly solid episode, particularly in terms of how the chaos of the outside world is being sketched, but I have questions.

What's Magic-Dirt Lady's boyfriend doing back? (Or is this a different guy?)

Am I really supposed to believe that the NATO crew didn't think to mention that those batteries were overdue to be changed?

How does Bruce Davison get on a primetime network TV drama playing a respected admiral without somebody trimming his eyebrows?

I also gained a ton of respect for both Jesse Schram's character and the writers for making it clear from very early on that she isn't buying what her lawyer friend is selling.

Me too.

COB: "Interrogative, Ma'am: Why is there a French girl on my boat?"

Anne said...

apparently we've gotten to the point where we really don't watch any of the same tv- other than Sunday cartoons and Walking Dead

Teebore said...

@Blam: His Storybrooke identity nodding to James Whale is a real head-twister when you think about it

I try not to. :)

If what he's saying is more powerful than magic is science as we know it then, yeah, sorry, introducing magic to science to create a hybrid procedure is magic

Agreed.

*cough*gratuitousnudity*cough*

Sideboob!

I feel like there was a way to have her get Danny within her sights without the total climax followed by frustrating return to status quo.

That was my frustration with that episode in a nutshell.

I don't remember if we're supposed to know whether it's a reference to their Marine division or just something Monroe got for himself or whether it was a bond between Sebastian and Miles.

I think we're not supposed to know what it's a reference to at that time, but I could totally see Miles having been the real power behind the throne, so to speak, at one point.

so it was probably Rosie the Riveter or the 19th Amendment.

I would love to see what she came up with for a 19th Amendment costume...

What's Magic-Dirt Lady's boyfriend doing back? (Or is this a different guy?)

Different guy. That's her co-worker, who was at the station with her in the first episode. Her boyfriend/husband/whatever left shortly before the US blockade went into effect.

COB: "Interrogative, Ma'am: Why is there a French girl on my boat?"

French jokes are beyond cliche at this point, but I have to admit, I did enjoy some of Robert Patrick's in this episode, in large part, I'm sure, because of Robert Patrick.

@Anne: apparently we've gotten to the point where we really don't watch any of the same tv- other than Sunday cartoons and Walking Dead

Sounds like you should be watching better TV. Now that House is gone, what's your excuse? ;)

Seriously though, we've also got Top Chef and Glee again.

Blam said...


@Teebore: Different guy. That's her co-worker, who was at the station with her in the first episode. Her boyfriend/husband/whatever left shortly before the US blockade went into effect.

I thought that her co-worker was her boyfriend/husband/whatever — i.e., the same bearded French guy with glasses all along — hence my confusion at him being there after he left when the episodes clearly didn't air out of order.