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

Friday, November 16, 2012

Last Week in TV #9

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.

Other Thoughts
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).

Other Thoughts
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).

Other Thoughts 
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.

Other Thoughts
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. 

Other Thoughts
"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.

Other Thoughts
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.

Other Thoughts
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.

Other Thoughts
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.

Other Thoughts
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

7 comments:

Matt said...

Agreed that "Come on, math, you dick" was the funniest line in Family Guy.

I'm also curious to see, whenever you eventually get around to watching Breaking Bad, what you think of Ben's dad over there. Having seen him in BB first, I found his character even funnier than I normally would have.

(Yes, I know that Jonathan Banks has been in tons of stuff over the decades, even stuff I've seen such as an episode of Modern Family just last year, but I never took notice of him till BB.)

Teebore said...

@Matt: Having seen him in BB first, I found his character even funnier than I normally would have.

I've seen that sentiment expressed elsewhere as well, from cross P&R and BB fans.

Blam said...


Once Upon a Time: Child of the Moon

I wondered why nobody stops to think that Ruby wakes up in the woods completely dressed, but it turns out that I'd forgot her clothes apparently just magically vanish when she's a wolf and then come back.

Even while this episode took advantage of the whole "dual identities" premise, I still would have liked it to have gone further

Yeah. Ditto to most of your analysis as usual, in fact.

it was pretty clear Charles Widmore orchestrated the whole thing to discredit David from the get-go

I'm willing to admit that at first I suspected the werewolf fella she met, then her mom (or "mom" — Did we get confirmation via Granny that she was telling Red the truth?), before the story ruled them out. And I still don't get why nobody asked whether there were, and/or offered up knowledge of, other werewolves in Storybrooke.

I mean, he straight-up killed a dude, nothing magical about it or anything.

Not just killed, either, as if murder isn't to a great extent a ne plus ultra. He mauled and tore the guy in half.

So when Henry sleeps he's in the netherworld of the sleeping curse and so is Aurora. I figured they'd be able to communicate this way. Given the whole magic thing, it's hardly a cheat, and makes a nice way for the sides to potentially communicate "believably" while also setting up a mysterious larger threat.

How I Met Your Mother: Splitsville

I liked this episode perfectly well, especially the Barney/Robin stuff at the end (despite it being, as you say, sitcom-tease), but I don't have much to say about it other than I swear Alison Hannigan's boobs are getting even bigger.

Blam said...


Glee: The Role You Were Born to Play

Finn is the dude whisperer!

What you say about the show's use of Sue is true in general and also in particular here if we're supposed to take what she said at face value. At least before they went in front of Principal Figgins, however, I took her antagonism as a way of goading Wade into auditioning for Rizzo after all — supporting him through the veil of contempt. The way it ended up playing out, I got confused, but I suppose that we are left with her really being against the move for altruistic reasons and the show just needlessly muddying things through presenting her character in so many different lights.

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.

Based on what Will said, it makes sense. My high school didn't have a show choir, but the theater program was led by teachers, a professional director, and parents at various times. That was an after-school, extracurricular thing, however; Glee has presented the glee club as awfully like a class, meeting in-between bell rings during the school day and having week-to-week assignments that really only make sense either if there's grading involved or if the idea is purely to have fun together as opposed to preparing for the competitions that are periodically all anybody cares about.

I love "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and Darren Criss did a fine job with it, but seeing Blaine walk blithely and unscathed amidst the football players reminded me of (and was almost as silly as) Derek Jacobi as Narrator walking through the battlefield in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V.

The Pink duet between Wade and Marley was pretty awesome except for the necessarily ridiculous watering-down of "shit day" to "bad day".

I know Brittany can dance best, which factors into the role, but I thought for sure Queen Bitch Kitty would be Cha-Cha (or, the way these things go on TV shows, that she and Marley would split Sandy).

Blam said...


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.

Very true. Even as I love how farcical it is at times, the emotions and the characters are mostly grounded — not always obviously, in terms of the broader ones, but we're shown what we need to see when we need to see it.

That's a spot-on observation about Tom, as well, although I struggled with the show having him realize and reject how Jean-Ralphio was holding him back; on one hand, it was a winning point for Tom, but on the other hand, it was awfully predictable. Similarly, Jean-Ralphio is a complete turn-off for me, not just to the extent that he's obviously presented but in terms of I don't find him funny or even tolerable at all, so I'd have liked to see a way to do this without him actually taking up as much space in the episode as he did.

Glenne Headley being Ben's mom makes me feel ollllld.

"We're a Twizzlers family" was funny, except Red Vines and Twizzlers are both disgusting.

I accompanied my girlfriend to an hors d'oeuvres reception at the President's house in college; his wife was her German teacher. There was lots of cold shrimp and, yes, like Ron, I had some in my hand as I left.

Did you catch April reading an issue of Batman: The Brave and the Bold?

Saturday Night Live: Anne Hathaway and Rihanna

Ellen rocked — both McKinnon's Ellen and Hathaway as Katie Holmes.

I liked the song in the monologue, too, particularly for making sense and involving everyone.

Teebore said...

@Blam: it turns out that I'd forgot her clothes apparently just magically vanish when she's a wolf and then come back.

Which is, of course, terribly convenient. But that's magic.

Did we get confirmation via Granny that she was telling Red the truth?

I don't think so, which means either A. it's not meant to be a big deal or B. this isn't the last we'll see of that particular story/characters. I'm hoping for "A".

Given the whole magic thing, it's hardly a cheat, and makes a nice way for the sides to potentially communicate "believably" while also setting up a mysterious larger threat.

Indeed. Well said.

I swear Alison Hannigan's boobs are getting even bigger.

I've noticed that as well. Very strange (not that I'm complaining, mind).

I suppose that we are left with her really being against the move for altruistic reasons and the show just needlessly muddying things through presenting her character in so many different lights.

I HOPE that's the case; the whole thing was muddied I wouldn't be at all surprised if the show was just going back to saying she's a villain who doesn't like different people, but the fact that they at least referenced her previous acts of tolerance/championing of underdogs leads me to believe they're at least trying to present her agenda with some logic/sympathy.

My high school didn't have a show choir, but the theater program was led by teachers, a professional director, and parents at various times.

Ditto my high school program. Our main director was a teacher, but her co-director/choreographer/sometimes director was just a professional who worked with the department, and most of our set/lighting/sound designers were local industry professionals in some capacity, working for hire without being teachers (that was the capacity in which I ended up working professionally with a former teacher).

And like yours, our theater program was entirely extracurricular/after school (the director taught acting and drama classes during school years, but the actual production of the school's plays and musicals was all extracurricular) whereas, as you say, the glee club as presented sometimes seems to blur those lines (though I suppose if the glee club was an actual class, Will wouldn't have to resort to being an awful history nee Spanish teacher).

The Pink duet between Wade and Marley was pretty awesome except for the necessarily ridiculous watering-down of "shit day" to "bad day".

The term "whiskey dick" got changed as well, but I did like the performance too. It almost won "Favorite Song" honors from me.

The Pink duet between Wade and Marley was pretty awesome except for the necessarily ridiculous watering-down of "shit day" to "bad day".

I was honestly surprised at the way it went down, as we got the most expected/least dramatic pairing, with the "heroes" winning the roles they wanted, the "antihero" left as conflicted as usual and the "villain" more or less defeated. I was expecting some kind of mishmash pairing of the four or, as you suggest, contrived, fence-sitting role splitting.

Glenne Headley being Ben's mom makes me feel ollllld.

Me too. Good to see her again, though.

"We're a Twizzlers family" was funny, except Red Vines and Twizzlers are both disgusting.

Ha! I have no strong opinions on the matter (I like both fine but neither is a favorite candy) but your reaction cracked me up.

Did you catch April reading an issue of Batman: The Brave and the Bold?

I caught her reading a comic; I missed what it was (other than it being Batman, which fits, given it was likely Ben's). So thanks for mentioning it.





Blam said...


@Teebore: Our main director was a teacher, but her co-director/choreographer/sometimes director was just a professional who worked with the department, and most of our set/lighting/sound designers were local industry professionals in some capacity, working for hire without being teachers

We had a pretty creatively successful program but it wasn't anywhere near that well-staffed. There was one adult in charge as director running the program — a different one at least every year, while I was there. Other parents, I guess, helped out with some costumes and carpentry, but it was up to the kids to run the lights and everything, knowledge passed down within the ever-shifting (as seniors graduated and frosh came in) small group involved, an even smaller group when it came to crew because the on-stage talent and the crew didn't always mix. Student directors were designated each year, too; I was one of two my senior year, acting in the first play and stage-managing the second.

Me: "We're a Twizzlers family" was funny, except Red Vines and Twizzlers are both disgusting.

You: Ha! I have no strong opinions on the matter (I like both fine but neither is a favorite candy) but your reaction cracked me up.

I'm glad you liked it. And now I wish I'd kept my decidedly stronger reaction in: "If I wanted the sensation of chewing leather with a vague fake-cherry flavor, I'd probably make my own." I took it out lest I offend any Red Vines or Twizzler fans.