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Friday, December 14, 2012

Last Week in TV #13

The Simpsons: The Day the Earth Stood Cool


These days, its rare that The Simpsons churns out the funniest episode of the Sunday night animation block, but here we are (and in a pretty strong week for all the shows). Granted, making fun of hipsters is like shooting fish in a barrel, but I'll be damned if the end result wasn't still hilarious, and, for latter-day Simpsons, remarkably measured and well-constructed (and yes, I'll freely admit to having some hipster tendencies myself; heck, I read the Onion A.V. Club daily).

Homer: Black-and-white films make me angry. I can’t pronounce ‘artist’s-anal’… Not only do I like Van Halen, but I think they keep getting better.

Lisa: At the Art Walk, we walked into a gallery, and it was just a guy crying. That was the art!

Marge: The kids are a mess! You brought them home exhausted and pretentious!

Homer: What happened to our town? Everyone wears clothes from the past and uses computers from the future.

Mr. Burns: Nuclear energy was a craft before it was a science


Bob's Burgers: The Unbearable Like-Likeness of Gene


This wasn't a perfect episode, nor even as good as last week's (it would have worked better if Courtney had been introduced in an earlier episode and was more of a recurring character, and Linda's diet story really didn't go anywhere), but still had laughs enough to support my "the funniest Belcher kid can change from week to week" theory. It also did a nice job of accurately depicting the pre-adolescent romantic situation in which Gene found himself (I especially liked his inability to break up with her, even before discovering her dad's occupation) while mixing in the unique brand of Bob's Burgers crazy (like Courtney's family punking Gene at the end just for the hell of it). 

Linda: I’m going on that diet, Bob, and when I’m done I’m going to look like Gretchen’s skinny sister!
Teddy: Gretchen’s sister is skinny, Lin, but it’s because she’s on methamphetamine.
Linda: Whatever works Teddy, don’t judge!

Linda: All I’ve had for breakfast is kiwi fuzz. It’s like licking your father’s back.

Gene: My life is harder than any one else’s in the world and I’m including starving children so don’t ask.

Louise: Why don’t you try speaking in words instead of your damn dirty lies!?


Family Guy: Friends Without Benefits


Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of the "everyone hates Meg" trope, but this was a pretty decent Meg episode that managed to be funny without shitting all over her, all the time, while still staying true to the trope. Meg and Chris even got to share a sweet moment that wasn't invalidated by the end of the episode. There were also a ton of great cutaways and background gags, like Peter on the slip'n'slide, the bit about musicals, the women undercutting each other (which was spot-on, in my experience), and the extended scene in which Peter and Brian try to avoid catching Meg's attention in the kitchen, only to have Lois climb down from the ceiling lamp at the very end. Also, I laughed at the potted plant bit WAY more than I should have...


American Dad: Ad-ventures in Haleysitting


Look, a Haley-centric episode! And one which involves Steve and his friends getting involved in raunchy 80s teen comedy-style hijinks? Even better. Roger driving a horse drawn carriage down a freeway, then using lubricant to fling himself back home? Stan telling Francine she looks like that "little slut from Tangled?" A methhead with an obsession over his receipts? Alison Brie as Steve's dying, dead, and ghostly babysitter? All classic stuff. Even Jeff was hilarious! This was a great episode from top to bottom, taking advantage of the show's universe and giving all the characters a moment to shine.


How I Met Your Mother: The Over-Correction


Even moreso than usual, the Robin/Barney stuff felt more unfinished than usual, to the point where I was surprised when the episode ended, because it seemed so abrupt. I know two episodes are airing next week; I almost wonder if they wouldn't have been better served doing two this week, as this felt very much like it deserved a "to be continued".

Other Thoughts
Thankfully, the comedic through-line of the episode, everyone borrowing (and not returning) Ted's clearly-labeled stuff, was hilarious. Those labels are clearly very sitcom-y, but they totally added to the joke.

Similarly, the cutaways to Robin screaming at the increasingly-angelic Patrice shouldn't crack me up as much as they do, but I laugh every time...

Marshall's mom and Lily's dad (ugh) hooking up was pretty obvious from the get-go, even before she started talking about getting back out there, but to the show's credit, they didn't try to act like it wasn't obvious and string us along until the end of the episode.

Maybe I need an intervention, but like Robin, I'm not entirely buying Barney's conversion. On the one hand, this might be the final step towards the Barney we know is going to be marrying Robin; on the other hand, I could see him running a long con, and still having a copy of the playbook stashed somewhere. 


Glee: Dynamic Duets


This was a nice bounce back episode. The idea of any school having a superhero club involving kids dressing up as their own superheroes and patrolling the halls is pretty ridiculous, but it's the kind of ridiculous Glee can pull off. Frankly, the logic of superhero universes isn't all that far removed from that of musicals - I can accept some of the more ridiculous touches of the superhero stuff in this episode in the same way I can accept musicians appearing out of nowhere (as opposed to, say, the ridiculousness of an otherwise normal character not realizing she can't be gaining weight because her clothes still fit). Even better, the superhero stuff wasn't just a one-off gimmick, and actually tied into the plot/theme of the club needing to come together as a team in order to defeat the evil Dalton Academy. The inherent nature of school competition already echoes superhero/villain conflicts; this episode simply made that more overt.

Other Thoughts
Blaine rejoining the Warblers was a pretty obvious setup, but it did feel appropriately comic book-y for the episode. I also liked the acknowledgement of Blaine's "Blaine Warbler" name.

Bravo to the show for having set up the superhero club earlier in the season. Also appreciated Tina's comment about bringing Santana back for Sectionals; at least someone on the writing staff realizes how stupid that was. Sam being the one to talk Blaine out of leaving was also a nice nod to their Wolverine/Cyclops dynamics from earlier in the season, but no mention was made of Blaine leaving a school of which he's the class president.

Sam's Bane impression, via jock strap, was one of the funniest things, ever.

The Batman '66 style punchout title cards as Sam and Blaine ran from Dalton were shipper style amalgams of their names ("Blam!” and “Slaine!")

Marley's weight subplot remains painfully stupid (seriously, how can she not realize Kitty isn't her friend?), but the rest of the New New Directions bits remain enjoyable. The love triangle business is pretty standard stuff, but I appreciate that Jake isn't being a total jerk about it (good use of Puck, by the way - he was incorporated into the story without any head-smashing leaps of logic).

Nice touch at the end there putting the new New Directions in the same red shirt look as the original New Directions at the end of the pilot episode, when they first came together as a group. Even better, kudos to the episode for making it feel like the New New Directions earned that homage, underscoring the whole "team building" theme of the episode (it's not of the same resonance, but I also liked Finn rocking a Mr. Schue-esque sweater vest at the beginning).

Favorite Song: I pretty much liked all the songs in this one, especially "Heroes", but I'll give the honor to the episode-ending "Some Nights", which, like the costumes, nicely echoed the pilot's "Don't Stop Believin'", and because I'm a sucker for the show's end-of-the-episode group sings.   

Artie: Uh, I’m Dr. Y, and my superpower is wheelies

Finn: The glee club doesn’t see me as an adult. Uh, God, is that what coffee tastes like? How do people drink that?

Brittany: I don’t smell raspberry hair gel. Does anyone know where Blaine Warbler is?

Sam: Dalton was like Death Star meets Mordor meets Temple of Doom. I might be exaggerating but probably not.


30 Rock: My Whole Life is Thunder


Again, I have to admit the show's restraint. After resisting the urge to not make a big deal out of Liz's wedding, the show does it again, in the subsequent episode no less, by having Jenna, a character whose wedding could have easily been portrayed as an episode-long, hilariously over-the-top spectacle, get quietly married (well, for her) in the coda of an episode. I'll gladly take the extended sequence of Jack delivering the world's best eulogy over Jenna's wedding; I'm just glad the creators agreed with me.

Other Thoughts
Admirable restraint as well in the way Jack handled Colleen's death, keeping it true to their relationship while still letting Alec Baldwin act the hell out of the material. 

Kenneth crying out to Jacob cracks me up every time.

Excellent choice, Tracy, going with the "stuck in an elevator" cliche. I almost expected him to have Florence Henderson fake a pregnancy.

Jenna's reaction to Liz's altered lighting at the awards' show, and her pained, hunchbacked exit, were probably my favorite things in the episode. 


Parks and Recreation: Ron and Diane


I didn't even realize it until watching this episode, but we haven't had a good Ron/Leslie episode yet this season, so I'm glad the show returned to one of its central relationships. Tossing in an appearance by Tammy II, Duke freakin' Silver and the revelation that Jerry's wife is surprisingly hot (and Christie Brinkley), helping to make up for a lot of the grief his co-workers heap on him, just made it all the better. 

Other Thoughts
Ron's out-of-character, giddy reactions to the "celebrities" at the woodworking awards show were expected, but still oh-so-funny, thanks largely to Nick Offerman selling the hell out of them.

The Chris/Ben plot was a nice little C-story, the first in awhile in which I've really enjoyed Chris. I'm glad his therapy is helping, and I appreciated the nod to their original partnership that brought them to Pawnee.

Best random gag of the night: April's apparent complete lack of physical strength. 


Saturday Night Live: Jamie Foxx & Ne-Yo


An odd episode, in that the back half was much stronger than the first half (if you're going to do two game shows sketches, why wouldn't you lead with the second one?). I still can't decide if Jamie Foxx was nervous and flubbing his lines, or confident and ad-libbing on the spot. Given his experience with sketch comedy, probably the latter, but whatever it was, the end result was plenty funny (at least once we got past Weekend Update).

Other Thoughts
It wasn't necessarily bad, but Foxx's opening monologue was especially long, wasn't it? And even though he's also a talented musician, I'm sad he went the song route, simply because he's also a host with stand-up ability.

After going the whole season thus far with no game show sketches, this episode featured two, though the second was far, far superior. 

Making fun of Tyler Perry/Madea will never not be funny, but that pre-filmed Alex Cross/Madea mash-up (literally) was not great.

That Swarvoski Crystal bit that closed the night was a perfect example of the end-of-the-night sketch. Bizarre, a little edgy, but still funny.

Favorite Sketch: A real toss-up between the “Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney?" game show and "Maine Justice". I'll give the edge to "Maine Justice" for being a touch more surreal, for Jason Sudeikis' energy, Jamie Foxx's gator claps, and Bobby Moynihan's excellent straight man work.

Least Favorite Sketch: I'm tempted to say "Bitch, What's the Answer?", but it at least included a William Howard Taft joke ("Come on, that’s the president!"), so I'll go with the Madea/Alex Cross mash-up.

Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 1(!)/9
Episodes Featuring a Talk Show: 6/9
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 7/9 

9 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed Bob's burgers. The part we loved was when bob was diriving the kids to the movie and realizing just how annoying Courtney was, and then he tells Gene just to get in the car. And Gene says "Can we do that?"
    And bob's repsonse i "Yeah, i think so" Which is hialrious because it's such a crappy repsonse, but also, as a n adult, you can totally do stuff like that, just walk away. And then his "Gene i'm so sorry!" Whisper as he's driving away was hilarious.

    AD was great. Though Anne and i have actually seen Cavalia and it is actually really, really great, so i was mildly irritated by them making fun of it because i would totally see it again if it came back.

    Glee is up and down for me this season. Some eps are good, some aren't. Some have good songs, some don't. Marley's general dumbfuckery is starting to irritate me to the point that i don't like her character any more. And also, it seems like the senior Glee kids (except Brittany) are just super assholes this year

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  2. @Sarah: And then his "Gene i'm so sorry!" Whisper as he's driving away was hilarious.

    That whole sequence in the car was pretty brilliant.

    Glee is up and down for me this season.

    This season? I've felt that way for, like, 2 1/2 seasons. :)

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  3. oh, well, Glee last season was pretty much just down for us, so the up and down is actually a bit of an improvement

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  4. @Sarah: Good point. I know what you mean. For me, I think season 2 was mainly down, with last season showing a slight rise in quality in that at least it there were some ups to go along with the downs - and this season is mostly considering that trend.

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  5. "Similarly, the cutaways to Robin screaming at the increasingly-angelic Patrice shouldn't crack me up as much as they do, but I laugh every time..."

    Me too. Every single time, it's a laugh-out-loud moment for me.

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  6. How I Met Your Mother: The Over-Correction

    Ew. Also, I can't get over seeing K'Ehleyr (not the spelling I would have guessed) this old.

    Glee: Dynamic Duets

    The idea of any school having a superhero club involving kids dressing up as their own superheroes and patrolling the halls is pretty ridiculous, but it's the kind of ridiculous Glee can pull off.

    Agreed. Not wholeheartedly, I have to admit, but mostly because the part that rings false is (per your comment about real-world stuff vs. the obviously weird, something we bring up frequently) only the characters we know ever showing up in these clubs. Plus I didn't remember the show setting up the superhero club earlier, so even for Glee this seemed pretty out there.

    I never cared for — kinda hate, actually — "I Need a Hero" but this rendition kinda rocked.

    Lunchroom poster: "Water — Just Drink It!" (Clearly it was made the same place Emma gets her pamphlets.)

    30 Rock: My Whole Life Is Thunder

    I haven't verified this with the collective wisdom of the Interwebs, but after the bondage-suit officiant undoes his mouth latch it's Lorne Michaels' voice. Just a little Easter egg...

    Parks and Recreation: Ron and Diane

    Ron's out-of-character, giddy reactions to the "celebrities" at the woodworking awards show were expected, but still oh-so-funny, thanks largely to Nick Offerman selling the hell out of them.

    Yup.

    Saturday Night Live: Jaime Foxx and Ne-Yo

    After going the whole season thus far with no game show sketches, this episode featured two, though the second was far, far superior. 

    It's crazy-making, I tell you.

    On my hard drive somewhere is a post I never finished with a Dylan McDermott / Dermot Mulroney gag that also included Megan Mullally and Dana Delaney.

    I was surprised to see Kate McKinnon at the end. She was missing from the entire show except for popping up in the "Tree Pimp" video sketch so I figured she had to be out.

    Episodes with Two Game Shows: 1

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  7. @Blam: Also, I can't get over seeing K'Ehleyr (not the spelling I would have guessed) this old.

    Ha! I totally missed her.

    mostly because the part that rings false is .. only the characters we know ever showing up in these clubs.

    True, though while Glee is can be particularly egregious about this, it's certainly a problem shared by lots of TV shows.

    after the bondage-suit officiant undoes his mouth latch it's Lorne Michaels' voice. Just a little Easter egg...

    Crazy! I didn't catch that. Thanks for the heads up.

    Episodes with Two Game Shows: 1

    Ha! I might need to add that to the tally. :)

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  8. @Teebore: Ha! I totally missed her.

    Did you never realize that Mrs. Erikson was K'Ehleyr — Worf's mate, Alexander's mom? I watched a little-remembered sitcom called Love & War that Suzie Plakson was on, and realized (or learned) then that she was K'Ehleyr, so I'm used to seeing her without the makeup; 'til How I Met Your Mother, though, I hadn't seen her in much lately.

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  9. @Blam: Did you never realize that Mrs. Erikson was K'Ehleyr

    Yeah, I totally missed that.

    I haven't seen Suzie Plakson sans makeup very often, and, as you said, there's a fair amount of distance between the two roles, so I never made the connection until now. Crazy.

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