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Friday, November 9, 2012

Last Week in TV #8

It's Novembers sweeps, so it's a full week, though I did sneak in a showing of Wreck-It Ralph on Thursday, so I'll cover this week's Thursday night shows in the next post. 

The Simpsons: Adventures in Baby Getting


This struck me as another story which would have worked better if the characters were allowed to age, however slowly. The episode at least acknowledged the idea that Maggie is still essentially a baby, but it still felt strange to watch Marge pine for a baby while Maggie is around. That aside, it was a pleasant enough character-based episode for Marge, with some particularly hilarious act breaks (after Marge declares her desire for another baby, Homer thinking, "I should have fixed the faucet"; imagining twins that look like Patty and Selma, Homer screams repeatedly).

Other Thoughts
Way to learn a dying language, Lisa. Her plot was slight but amusing.

Who was watching the kids while Homer and Marge had their evening away?

Bart: I write stupid stuff on the chalkboard. And if you have any ideas, I’m really running out.


Bob's Burgers: Bob Fires the Kids


While still funny, the antics of the kids while working for elderly pot dealers wasn't nearly as good as the opening scenes reflecting on Bob's lousy childhood and pitting the kids against Bob. Tina as the unknowing "blueberry" delivery girl was also pretty great, as was the return of Mickey, from last season's fantastic "Bob Day Afternoon", but I would have liked more hilarity to come from the elderly pot couple (their "getaway" on the tandem bike was fantastic though). 

Louise: It's like I'm sad... for another person. Is that a thing? AM I GOING CRAZY?


Family Guy: The Old Man and the Big C


Plot-wise, this was a pretty scattershot episode, ricocheting from one to another, and giving the "main" plot (Carter refusing to release a cure for cancer) less space than perhaps it deserves. But the whole thing was also pretty funny, wringing laughs from Carter's villainy ("Are you challenging me to a Brewster’s Millions?") as well as Quagmire's apparent baldness (thankfully, he got a hair transplant so it'll never come up again), along with some better-than-average cutaways (I liked the one with Stewie trying to get Lois off the phone; I still get like that when I'm around my mom and she's on the phone).


American Dad: Can I Be Frank With You? 


The idea of a wife wanting to spend more time with her husband isn't just a standard sitcom trope, it's something American Dad has covered plenty before (heck, even this season). One of the advantages this show has is that all kinds of insane things can realistically happen within the show, so it can dress up these standard ideas in new and different ways. In this case, it dressed Francine up in a man suit, complete with a fart machine, allowing her to hang out with Stan, and ultimately, after Stan believes Francine's alter ego killed her, give Francine what she wants (Stan's confusion as Francine emerged from "Frank" was the comedic highlight of the episode).

Other Thoughts
Meanwhile, Steve was involved in a subplot that pretty much just built to one gag, but when the gag was a spot-on parody of boy bands and how they're marketed, it was worth the time to get there.

Very little Roger this week, but he was used well, and it's in the show's best interests to keep him in its back pocket occasionally.

Roger: I feel like talking to Klaus, that’s how bored I am.


Once Upon a Time: Tallahassee 
Despite my better judgement, I actually found myself enjoying Emma and Hook's banter this episode (illogically stopping whilst climbing a beanstalk to discuss love aside), and for the first time, I found Hook as roguishly charming as his guyliner and the show keep seeming to insist he is. The focus also helped the episode, cutting back and forth between Emma's adventures with Hook and her adventures with Henry's father in a manner so reminiscent of Lost I was expecting to hear "whooshes" as we cut to the flashbacks.

Other Thoughts
More Lost connections: Apollo candy bars at the convenience store, Tallahassee was Emma's randomly selected dream destination, and of course, Jorge Garcia appeared as the giant (he was fine; nothing spectacular, but it's probably tough to act alone against a green screen).

Speaking of, the effects in this episode were particularly dodgy, with most of Emma and Hook's time in the sky looking terrible. Hook banging the bone against the shield was particularly egregious. 

I appreciated the connection made between Aurora and Snow over their shared experience with a sleeping curse (though who sleeps in broad daylight draped awkwardly over a log?).

So as many suspected, the guy from the opening of this season was Henry's father (and August is the one who sent him the postcard, somehow), but the question remains as to who he is (because he has to be somebody, right?). Baelfire remains as likely a suspect as ever, but mainly because I can't think of anyone better who wouldn't just be a random character whose importance hasn't been established yet.

Speaking of, it was fun to see August again. What was in his box that showed Neal the light, so to speak? I doubt it was his typewriter this time.


How I Met Your Mother: The Autumn of Break-Ups


Oy, this was not very good. I appreciate that Victoria 2.0 departed on a stronger issue than "messiness", but didn't we address this whole Robin thing last season? Granted, the audience is operating with the benefit of hind-futuresight, because we know Ted doesn't ultimately end up with Robin, but Victoria's repeated insistence that he truly wants Robin almost comes off as being a little insane. She deserved better.

Other Thoughts
The less said of Marshall channeling a sassy black woman, the better. Jason Segel did his best, but even he couldn't save it.

The Robin/Barney plot was probably the best of the night, not that it was terribly funny or as poignant as it wanted to be, but it wasn't poorly thought out or ridiculously unfunny.

Not surprisingly, I did enjoy the idea of "Squirrelock Holmes", the alleged-trained squirrel member of the Mosby Boys. In fact, I appreciate any mention of the Mosby Boys. 
 

Revolution: The Children's Crusade


Another side quest, and though I rolled my eyes at the beginning when Charlie suddenly decided it was time for another ill-advised mission of mercy and Miles suddenly discovered his conscience and backed her up, the end result was a pleasant diversion, thanks to the surprisingly-effective moment when the lighthouse turned on and watching Charlie's edges continue to harden (she's been branded, and she killed another guy). Plus, the flashback provided some more info about the blackout and Grace and Randall popped up again, allowing the overall narrative to peter forward slightly.

Other Thoughts
The flashback also taught us that Rachel has always been a sellout when it comes to her son. At least she's consistent.

I enjoyed Aaron playing the "this is insane, why are we doing this card?" this week, and his confrontation with Miles over the pendant was one of the show's best scenes yet.

The two brothers leading the group of kids were named Peter and Michael; I'm pretty sure those were the names of Wendy's brothers in Peter Pan

I seem to recall that what little we saw of Randall when he captured Grace was more hulking than Colm Feore, but I'll let it slide because Feore is suitably creepy and I'm intrigued by the idea of someone (particularly someone who worked in the DoD and presumably played a role in turning off the power) working against Monroe.

I really hope Miles and Charlie took the opportunity to sink or otherwise damage that boat, so as not to just allow the militia to move back in and resume using it as a base for indoctrination. 

Miles: It’s irritating when a dumb kid tells you what to do, isn’t it?


Top Chef: The Ultimate Chef Test


As "picking the contestants" methods go (which is apparently what this show has decided to do moving forward), this method of having each judge pick from a small pool of candidates based on whatever criteria they prefer worked a lot better than last year's "cook for a panel of judges and get selected based on a simple vote" (it was also reminiscent of The Next Food Network Star's retooling this last season to feature the contestants grouped into teams led by an established star; it'll be interesting to see if Tom, Wolfgang, etc. develop a rooting interest in the contestants they selected). It still leaves this premiere episode feeling more like a "zero" episode than a premiere, as we really only get an idea of which contestants will actually be on the show at the very end of each segment.

Other Thoughts
Still too early to have many thoughts on the actual contestants, but it's almost painful how hard the show was setting up John, the first guy Tom sent to Seattle who is an "asshole chef", as the season's villain.

How much would it suck to land in Tom's group? While the other three judges put their contestants to pretty standard (albeit deceptively simple) Top Chef-style challenges, with clear delineations of what they wanted, Tom was pretty much like "go to work for me and we'll see what happens". I love Tom.

I'm also excited to have Wolfgang Puck on the show more regularly; I always picture him as this fiendish imp bouncing through kitchens. He cracks me up.

All of those omelets looked terrible.

Best line of the night: Mrs. Teebore, when Wolfgang Puck came onscreen. "He should make them all cook a pizza."


30 Rock: There's No I in America


A suitable ending to the election two-parter, with most of the election-based humor coming at the front of the episode during Jack and Liz's debate (I particularly enjoyed the stream of nonsensical buzz words that constituted Jack's closing argument), with the back half, appropriately enough tying things back to the idea of this being the final season, handed over to a depiction of just how much Jack and Liz have rubbed off on each other during their time together.

Other Thoughts
Kenneth's subplot was pretty good, with the usual hillbilly jokes landing for me more than they have lately.

Pete's subplot was also a nice bit of subtle political commentary, and surprisingly poignant (Pete's sadsack nature is usually just played for straight laughs).


Saturday Night Live: Louis C.K. & Fun


I think I went into this one with too high of expectations. I've never watched Louis C.K's show on FX, but I know it's supposed to be fantastic and that he's an accomplishment comedian, plus, I enjoyed his brief turns on Parks and Rec. Add in this being the last episode before the election and the first episode post-hurricane and I figured the show was poised to knock it out of the park. But the end result was a letdown. It wasn't a bad collection of sketches, just not an especially good one, with pretty much every sketch after Fox & Friends feeling like it could have been slotted in as the last sketch of the night in other weeks. I was expecting a home run, and got a double instead. Still good, but not, you know, a home run.

Other Thoughts
Not surprisingly, Louis C.K killed the monologue, which he essentially turned into a stand-up bit. Predictable, but when you've got an actual professional comedian as the host, it's the way to go.

It seemed like Louis flubbed his lines in a few sketches; not sure if he was nervous or just wasn't used to cue cards, or what. 

With both the cold open and Fox and Friends handling the hurricane, "Weekend Update" had to do all the heavy political lifting, with the end result feeling very rushed. I'd have cut the "girl you wish you hadn't talked to at a party bit" (which is usually okay as far as recurring "Weekend Update" characters go, but felt like a time killer in this episode). We got Mitt Romney, but it's hard to believe Obama never showed up on the episode before the election.

Favorite Sketch: As I said, I've never watched Louie, but even still, I loved the mash-up of it with Abraham Lincoln. I'm a sucker for anything that points out how batshit insane Mary Todd Lincoln was. I also enjoyed the always-reliable Fox and Friends and the bit with Bobby Moynihan checking out of a hotel "Sixteen cubic meters of Argon, $65. Argon, sir, it’s a noble gas."

Least Favorite Sketch: The thing with the Australian actors was pretty awful, and someone clearly thought the sketch with Louis C.K. blowing a ram's horn was funnier than it actually was.

Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 0/6
Episodes Featuring a Talk Show: 5/6
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 3/6 

4 comments:

MOCK! said...

As soon as we saw the wanted poster on "Once" we learned "neal", as a verb, means:

To be tempered by heat.


Heat. Fire?

Not able to find a good meaning of Baelfire....

Blam said...


Once Upon a Time: Tallahassee

I do kinda think that Jorge Garcia was wasted here — not used to potential, that is, as opposed to drunk. 8^)

So if the curse was broken on her 28th birthday, the "11 years ago" flashback would make her 17.

Emma has a weak spot for brown-haired guys with scruffy beards — the Sheriff / Huntsman, August / Pinocchio, Hook (maybe), Neal.

the effects in this episode were particularly dodgy

Yeah. All the giant stuff was CGI and/or green-screen. Watching Emma run through that treasure room I flashed back to Valley of the Dinosaurs on Saturday mornings, and not in a good way.

Baelfire remains as likely a suspect as ever, but mainly because I can't think of anyone better who wouldn't just be a random character whose importance hasn't been established yet.

I sort-of feel like I'll be disappointed if Neal is Baelfire, since he's as you say the obvious choice for speculation, and I'll be disappointed if it isn't Baelfire for the same reasons. Of course if he's someone cool the way Dr. Whale was, not even in terms of being an FTL character but just a neat misdirect, all would be forgiven, especially if Baelfire's own story then unfolds interestingly. Yet I also don't want Neal to be Baelfire and just plain don't want him to be Henry's dad (arguably too late, although there could be a misdirect going on there too) for the same reason I don't like him being Emma's on-the-lam lover in general (definitely too late), which entirely has to do with distaste I bring with me from the actor's role on True Blood. And despite the guff that we give Emma for having a stick up her ass I definitely feel sympathetic towards her.

Speaking of, it was fun to see August again.

I agree. With the lack of facial hair, too, he reminded me more of Paul Rudd than ever.

Blam said...


How I Met Your Mother: The Autumn of Break-Ups

I love that Robin actually took her dogs to a farm upstate — but there was still a cliché euphemism involved (her aunt's "special friend" that she's lived with for... oh).

Otherwise: What you said.

Revolution: The Children's Crusade

Another side quest, and though I rolled my eyes at the beginning when Charlie suddenly decided it was time for another ill-advised mission of mercy and Miles suddenly discovered his conscience and backed her up

I think that the show has gone once too many times to the ping-pong between Miles telling Charlie to toughen up, Charlie resisting, Charlie telling Miles that there has to be room in this world for charity / humanity / clemency, Charlie resolving to toughen up, and Miles giving in. At least they were basically on the same page this time, yet it was also one time too far too soon after the last episode.

The rest of the plot I can't really comment on because I petered out halfway through this episode and haven't yet been moved to go back. Despite catching up on the series to date a couple weeks ago, it's way back in my queue given that I fell behind on all my shows again.

30 Rock: There's No I in America

It's funny how overall the episode was kind-of meh for me yet lots of lines really stuck out.

Kenneth: "The Parcells have been in this country since we went berserk and murdered everybody at Roanoke, but I never felt like a true American until today."

Jack: "Ms. Lemon, I know Scottie Pippen, I own a Fuddrucker's with Scottie Pippen, and you, sir, look like Scottie Pippen."

Tracy: "Columbus thought he was in India. And did he worry about being wrong? No! He just called everybody Indians. And we still do it today! Why? 'Cause!"

Liz: "Deviousness? I guess two can play at that game — just like most games."

Saturday Night Live: Louie CK and Fun

I'm with you all over this one. Louie is on my list of things to see, and I really think I'll get to it with the next season not scheduled to hit until over a year from now; I knew just enough to get what Lincoln was as he walked up out of the subway as the opening credits and theme song hit. I've only ever seen CK's stand-up in snippets, but what I have seen has been phenomenal. Other than Lincoln, though, and the more absurd moments of that hotel check-out sketch, it was pretty flat, especially for the last episode before the election.

Teebore said...

@Mock: Heat. Fire?

Hmm, good catch. That certainly seems like the kind of word play these writers are fond of.

@Blam: So if the curse was broken on her 28th birthday, the "11 years ago" flashback would make her 17.

I don't know what it is about Jennifer Morrison; I certainly don't see her as "old" (however you want to define that loaded term), but at the same time, have always had a hard time buying her as 28. Which then made her attempts to pass off as 17 in this episode fairly laughable, no matter how long her ponytail, how hipster-y her glasses or how traditionally-youthful her petty crimes and feelings for Neal were.

Of course if he's someone cool the way Dr. Whale was, not even in terms of being an FTL character but just a neat misdirect, all would be forgiven, especially if Baelfire's own story then unfolds interestingly.

Agreed.

And despite the guff that we give Emma for having a stick up her ass I definitely feel sympathetic towards her.

Agreed again.

Tracy: "Columbus thought he was in India. And did he worry about being wrong? No! He just called everybody Indians. And we still do it today! Why? 'Cause!"

That's quite possibly my favorite line of this TV season, so I'm glad you posted it.