I've fallen behind on Top Chef and Last Resort, so we'll hopefully get to those next week. But no time for jibber-jabber! Onward!
The Simpsons: Gone Abie Gone
This was a perfectly cromulent episode; it had decent hook, a solid structure, and a mildly entertaining subplot. Too bad it wasn't terribly funny (see the two best exchanges below). I am mildly curious to see if Grampa's newly revealed love interest will ever show up again, but otherwise, this was the very definition of a thoroughly average episode.
Lisa's poker playing subplot was decent, though I question her decision to go all in at the end (instead of betting, say, half her nearly half-a-million winnings). Also, if Lisa was that good a player, she probably could have won back all the money she lost easily.
Rita: Life isn’t all major chords. Sometimes you got to hit the minor keys.
Marge: What does that mean?
Rita: I got super-addicted to heroin.
Bart: No gambling story has a happy ending. Except Seabiscuit, but you never hear about the ruined lives of the people who bet against him.
Bob's Burgers: Mutiny on the Windbreaker
This was, perhaps, an episode that was whackier than the show is normally (which is saying something), but the change in scenery paid great dividends, giving every member of the family at least a handful hilarious moments. Most of all, it let Bob do what he does best: react (hilariously) to the insanity around him (with Frenchman Duvall serving as a particularly great foil).
I love that Louise's freakishly long nails never merited a comment from any member of her family. It's Louise, and that's just what she does.
Duvall: That's it... hummmmmm like normal people!
Gene: It felt like I had to pee the whole time but I didn't.
Tina: Don’t worry Gene, there’s plenty of manatees in the sea. But there’s not really, because they’re endangered.
Family Guy: Yug Ylimaf
Most of Family Guy's high concept, Brian-&-Stewie episodes usually turn out pretty well, and this one was no exception. The animation, in particular, was spectacular, unfolding some great visuals in reverse (like the exploding plane or the Peter/Chicken fight). That said, this particular high concept had me questioning things a lot more than I should have been, like the fact that, technically, everyone should've been talking backwards, in sentence structure if not actually speaking each word backwards (something the writers clearly were aware of, based on the title of the episode). Or the fact that there was no "present" Brian and Stewie as time moved backward, forcing the version of the characters aware of the time change to inexplicably fill in for their "past" selves. Obviously, the former prevented the show from being incomprehensible while the latter was an attempt to mine humor from Brian and Stewie having to knowingly throw-up in reverse, and neither discrepancy really detracted from my enjoyment of the episode, but what can I say? I still noticed them (I did appreciate that the cutaways ran in reverse: cutaway, then setup).
The half hour behind-the-scenes episode which constituted the second half of the hour long Family Guy "event" was pretty lame, simply rehashing the show's history and telling us things we already knew like how the controversial episodes weren't really all that controversial. I frankly stopped paying attention towards the end.
Stewie: You know, that chicken’s kid is in my pre-school class. I don’t really
want to be friends with him, but he knows a lot of chicks.
Stewie: Oh my God, we’re getting closer to the beginning! You’re Lacey Chabert!
Brian: Come on, math, you dick.
(Biggest laugh of the night for me; math is totally a dick...)
Once Upon a Time: Child of the Moon
Given Meghan Ory's elevation to series regular, we were destined to get a Ruby/Red-centric episode before long, and while the Storybrooke side of the story took advantage of the idea that everyone in Storybrooke has now lived two lives in ways that no episode before really has, the end result felt like a waste of time. A perfectly pleasant, perfunctory one, but still a waste. Nothing in either story really featured any new or interesting takes on standard werewolf stories.
Even while this episode took advantage of the whole "dual identities" premise, I still would have liked it to have gone further, perhaps juxtaposing the propensity for denizens of FTL to form mobs behind a charismatic leader compared to a greater understanding of due process they may have gleaned from their curse-inflicted Storybrooke lives. I'd also like to see some reaction from the humans who were once animals.
Credit is also due to the show for being smart enough not to drag out the "did Ruby kill Billy?" story beyond this episode, as it was pretty clear Charles Widmore orchestrated the whole thing to discredit David from the get-go.
Once again, the effects budget lets the show down; those wolves were just laughably awful.
I'm hoping that in future episodes, Charles Widmore isn't still wandering about. I mean, he straight-up killed a dude, nothing magical about it or anything.
For whatever reason, Ruby's look has softened this season (likely a sign of her two personalities merging), and I'm starting to find both iterations of her character equally attractive.
How I Met Your Mother: Splitsville
Though we're still getting dicked around, narratively-speaking, as the show plays the "how much was serious, how much was a joke?" card with Barney's little speech at the end (complete with a conveniently-timed phone call interrupting a maybe-kiss), it isn't nearly as bothersome as long as the episode is funny. And this one was, thankfully, pretty funny. Some of the "Nick's so dumb" jokes were a bit broad (and it would have been nice if they'd been setup in some of his earlier appearances), but everything else was pretty good, particularly Lily's simmering sexual tension, Marshall's obsession with exercise, and the always-golden "Ted's a big architecture nerd" material.
"Force Majeure"? Nicely done, Marshall. Nicely done.
Ted's architecture-inspired basket (which was later correctly ruled out of bounds) seemed like it was based more in geometry than architecture.
Revolution: Ties That Bind
We're back to our main objective, and while the flashback was entirely superfluous (imagine how much more intriguing Nora and her sister's conversation about Nora lying about their mother's death would have been without the flashback), the main narrative was enjoyable enough, with a clearly stated objective and obstacles, along with some intriguing political developments surrounding Monroe. Even though I know the show is gearing up for its mid-season break two
episodes from now, I was still surprised to see Monroe get ahold of one
of the pendants so soon - I could very easily have seen that being the
thing that leads into the break. Hopefully that means some even bigger
developments in the plot are in store.
Loved the lingering look at the new map of the country; I'm a total nerd for stuff like that.
The pendants are surprisingly durable. Not sure what that's all about.
I get that Monroe is in control of the bridges, but it shouldn't be that hard to get across a river. People figured it out during the American Revolution (the era the show likes to espouse the most) all the time.
I'm unclear what the ending is meant to signify. Randall is operating out of a big...metal...place? Is that some kind of super collider? Is this suddenly FlashForward? Are we supposed to realize it's powered on?
Glee: The Role You Were Born to Play
It's really aggravating how this show seems unable to do anything with Sue other than to ping pong her back and forth into supervillainy. Even worse is when her motivations for doing so are so muddied. I *think* I understand what her position is in this case (though I don't agree with it): after watching Kurt go through what he did, she'd rather stop Unique from painting a target on herself because, as an adult and an educator, Sue feels she has a duty to protect students, even from themselves. But if that's truly her position (and I could be interpreting it wrong), the show did a terrible job of making it clear, it large part because everything she says has to be couched in insults for everyone around her, making it difficult to ascertain true sincerity or a desire to help. And, at the end of the day, no matter what her stated reasoning, the real truth is that the show is so determined to cast Sue as the villain that they're going to do it, consistency be damned, and it's ridiculously frustrating.
Issues with Sue's plot-mandated return to villainy aside, I loved that she had no insult for Marley, and the ending of her showdown with Finn was effective (though it would have been more effective if Sue was written more consistently).
I also liked her description of Grease: the already oversexualized minstrel show featuring teen pregnancy and the ridiculously unnecessary lubrication of lightning.
Good call, Sarah, on Finn becoming the new glee club coach following Will's departure. And kudos to the show for establishing how it's possible for Finn to do so despite not being a teacher or certified in any way.
Also, kudos to Will for finally acting like an adult in his relationship with Emma, though it took way, way too long.
It was nice to get a break from Rachel and Kurt (because the show needs to be able to function independent of them), but Mike and Mercedes' return illustrates the unreality of the Glee universe extends beyond Ohio and New York, because I'm pretty sure Mike couldn't just leave school to help choreograph a high school musical, even if he could afford to fly home (also, I think it's hilarious that Mike and Mercedes came back just so they could continue to get overshadowed by the leads).
I remain mildly interested in Glee: The New Class, at best, with most of the characters hitting the same story beats as their predecessors and Kitty in particular such a raving bitch that she's very little fun to watch. Also, I'm not sure if it was intentional on the part of the writers, but I love that Finn pretty much recruited himself, right down to Ryder being a big dopey galoot.
I'm also digging how hilariously maudlin Blaine is following his break-up with Kurt, so much so that he can't "play the truth of Danny Zuko".
I had the opportunity to work with a couple of my teachers from high school in a professional capacity after I graduated, and it was very difficult to start referring to them by their first names.
Favorite Song: We all know I'm not the biggest Grease fan, so I'll go with "Juke Box Hero".
Sue: The glee club is being run by a strange weeping man-child who has lotion in his hair but no adult friends.
Parks and Recreation: Ben's Parents
It's an odd thing to say, but one of the (many) great things about this show is its restraint. It's certainly a show featuring some zany, larger-than-life characters, and a town that's been aptly described as a live-action Springfield from The Simpsons, but the writers have never allowed the setting or its characters to spin too far into extreme cartoonishness for too long, and this episode is a good example of things being reigned in. After all the build-up, Ben's parents were just as bad as he said they'd be, but at the same point, they were over-the-top bad in very believable ways. It would have been very easy to portray their behavior in broad, exaggerated ways, but the writers restrained themselves, and instead mined humor from Leslie's struggle to defeat decades of simmering resentment.
Similarly, Tom is a lot more enjoyable when he grapples with his more cartoonish excesses, and I tend to enjoy stories where he's forced to act like a real boy.
Chris, meanwhile, once again headlined the weakest plot of the night, one that was pretty much a rehash of every plot he's been in this season. I really hope the show has something in mind for him, and that they'll get there before too much longer.
Loved that Ron was eating shrimp throughout Ben and Leslie's party.
Also nice to see Pamela Reed as Leslie's mom, who looks downright June Cleaverian next to Ben's parents.
Saturday Night Live: Anne Hathaway & Rihanna
Confession: I have a huge crush on Anne Hathaway, and I lost bits and pieces of this episode due to an unseasonable thunderstorm that rolled through the area last Saturday night (I missed most of whatever that McDonald's sketch was, and the beginning of "Weekend Update"). So I really can't speak all that intelligently about this episode, and any opinions I express are born of an incomplete episode.
Loved that Taran Killam played all of Mitt Romney's sons. So long, Sudeikis' Mitt Romney. At least he still has Joe Biden.
We all know I tend to roll my eyes at monologues featuring songs, but I dug this one, in part because it was a parody of my favorite song from Les Mis, in part because it fit the host (and thus wasn't random) and in part because it was BIG, with the whole cast involved.
Nice to see Hathaway's Katie Holmes impression again. It's always appreciated when good hosts recur enough to have signature bits.
I liked the "Legend of Mokiki" more than "Sad Mouse".
I haven't seen Homeland, so I can't really appreciate the nuances of the sketch, but I did like Bill Hader as Mandy Patinkin.
Favorite Sketch: I honestly don't know. While I really liked pretty much all the sketches I saw (even the weirder "American Gothic" one), I didn't really LOVE anyone in particular.
Least Favorite Sketch: See above.
Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 0/7
Episodes Featuring a Talk Show: 6/7
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 4/7