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

Friday, February 8, 2013

Last Week in TV #20



A short post this week, as most shows took the week off in fear of the Super Bowl and to gear up for sweeps (I also didn't find the time to watch Glee, and haven't seen the return of Community yet). But everything'll come roaring back next week, including Walking Dead

Once Upon a Time: In the Name of the Brother


As with the last episode, the flashback in this one was largely superfluous (though it's always a pleasure to see Gregory Itzin, even if he was especially hammy), more or less just filling in details of the larger story we learned in Whale's first flashback earlier this season. Thankfully, the non-Regina events in Storybrooke were interesting enough to carry the episode, focusing on the best way to handle an intrusion from the outside world and featuring some genuinely humorous remarks on the nature of the characters' situation.

Other Thoughts
I'm not sure if this was ever made clear before, but this episode revealed that the curse was also preventing people from accidentally stumbling into Storybrooke, though it couldn't have been keeping everyone out, because there's no way the town was entirely self-sufficient (at least not while still appearing like a totally normal town). I mean, someone had to have ordered something off Amazon in the years they were cursed. Then again, magic.

The Cora/Regina storyline continued to be the most frustrating part of the series, because I still want more than a reversion to villainy for Regina. Her breakdown to Cora in the car was a maddening case of "the character is doing this because the writers say so", not because it makes any sense for the character.

I wonder why no one thought to check Regina's secret crypt for her, as Cora did. If the real Henry had gone there, she probably would have revealed herself. 

I loved Emma's comment about how they can't be sheriff as a family, as well as the reminder of Mary Margaret's history with Whale.

Henry's comment about how Dr. Frankenstein isn't in his fairy tale book was appreciated, simply because it means the writers are aware there's a story to be told in the presence of characters from other "worlds" in Storybrooke.

Similarly, I'm glad the show remembered the debt Emma owed Gold. 

Mr. Mendel's ringtone was the Star Wars theme, thank you Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm. Also, Mr. Mendel was played by former 90s goofball Ethan Embry, whose gotten...puffier since last I saw him, so much so that I didn't recognize him until I read the credits.

Are we to infer from Gold creepily kissing the amnesiac Belle that true love's kiss isn't powerful enough to overcome this particular side effect of the curse, or that Belle/Gold aren't truly in love?


How I Met Your Mother: P.S. I Love You


As a guy who liked Alanis Morrisette way more than he should have in high school, I greatly appreciated the dark turn Robin Sparkles took which dominated this episode, as well as the show reviving a fair number of its Canadian jokes (which are never not funny). Underneath the Tunes was a thing of beauty, from all the Canadian guest stars (including Dave Thomas, one of the McKenzie brothers, as Robin's manager) to the still-hilarious notion that pop culture is slow getting to Canada, leading to the assertion that Robin invented grunge in 1996 (I loved Marshall's sad head shake when Geddy Lee reaffirmed as much). The overall thematic connection to the question of romantic obsession was tenuous at best, but did its job of setting up the Robin Daggers material.

Other Thoughts
I've heard that Dave Coulier doesn't really have a sense of humor about himself, so I was surprised to see him pop up to slyly mock the oft-repeated rumor that he's the subject of Alanis Morrisette's "You Outghta Know", but it was pretty great. The Full House gag was amusing too. 

Nice to see Abby Elliot (my preferred Elliot) again. I'm not sure if she's just a one-off character or not, but I wouldn't mind the show killing some time with her before we get to the Mother. 

Barney broke into Robin's apartment (shouldn't he have a key by now?) using a "property of Ted Mosby drill", which was a nice touch.

Ted: I’m beginning to think you guys didn’t come here to see my new lectern! 

Barney: They’re two for a loonie. Dollar! Whatever!

Ted: Lily never burned anything for you!
Marshall: Clearly you never tried her pot roast
Barney:*rimshot* Brought it for something completely different, but it worked out, right?


Top Chef: Kings of Alaska
Another in the standard "we're in our finale location so we'll highlight the local food" episodes, and, as always, this late in the game, it would have been nice to have a challenge more focused on putting out a great plate of food than in feeding the masses. It's kind of hard to fault Lizzie for not creating a more elegant dish when the setting didn't exactly cry out for elegant food. That said, while Lizzie was a pleasant enough contestant with whom I've never been irritated, her departure wasn't exactly surprising. It's frankly a surprise she lasted this long.

Other Thoughts
For someone who has a seemingly endless supply of t-shirts expressing his love for bacon, Josh sure seems to get tripped up whenever he cooks it. 

I'm surprised the whole "bake your own bread" thing didn't prove to be more dramatic; I expected to see that trip up somebody, but everyone just made their bread and moved on.

This isn't the first time it's happened, but it seemed more pronounced for whatever reason: Padma's attempts at speaking loud and forcefully usually involve her talking slowly, like she's speaking to someone who doesn't understand English and she thinks talking slower and louder will help them understand. It drives me nuts.

Similarly, I'm always mystified by which contestants Padma seems sad over saying goodbye to. Like, did her and Lizzie bond off camera or something? 

Going into the finals, I'd have pegged Sheldon as more likely to win than Josh, but he's really faltered these last two elimination challenges.

In Kristen's absence, Brooke is really cleaning up. Brooke vs. Kristen head-to-head for the title!  

By looks of next week's episode, it seems like they're really waiting til the last minute to integrate the Last Chance and viewer saved winners. More than anything else, I'm really curious to see how that plays out. 

Speaking of, Kristen stayed alive by taking out Stefan and then Lizzie, so my dream of her returning to shove it to the producers is still possible.


30 Rock: Hogcock!/Last Lunch


It's so rare in any age that a TV show gets to end when it wants, how it wants, on its own terms. Even rarer is when a TV show is able to end well. 30 Rock managed to do both.  Most TV show finales do some combination of four things: wrap up existing plotlines, reinforce existing relationships, make the fourth wall slightly less transparent to say goodbye to the fans, or create a setup that allows the audience to imagine what happens next for the characters. 30 Rock, because it went into this season knowing it would be the last, was able to do all four, in part by essentially spreading it's finale across its final three episodes (heck, the show could have ended with "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World", but they came back for two more episodes to hit all those finale beats). The end result was a perfectly fitting conclusion to an excellent series, one which managed to be at once everything the show ever was: satisfying, goofy, bizarre, knowing, satirical, heartfelt and hilarious.

30 Rock is one of the rare shows I watched (time to start talking about it in the past tense...) without starting from the beginning. I picked it up back in the fourth season, sick of watching it win Emmy after Emmy and being left in the dark, and was immediately hooked. Nevertheless, I didn't expect to be terribly moved when it ended, at least not compared to the sadness I feel when a long running favorite departs or the rage when something outstanding is cancelled before its time. Nevertheless, I find myself saddened by the departure of 30 Rock. It was a show that managed to be, at the same time, like everything else on TV and like nothing else on TV, one that skewered pop culture even while embracing it. That's an incredibly difficult tight rope to walk, and even though I haven't watched the show walk it from the beginning, I will greatly miss it.

Most entertainers say that want to exit the stage leaving the audience wanting more. That's exactly what 30 Rock has done, exiting stage left in the midst of a creative peak. While that spares us watching the show's inevitable decline as it stumbles its way through season after season long after it stops being funny, it does leave us without any more 30 Rock.

Kudos for sticking the landing. You will be missed.

Other Thoughts  
Liz and Tracy's conversation at the strip club (the same one from the pilot, which I have seen) was a pretty great capstone to their relationship, while Liz telling Jack she loved him to spare him from actually saying the word was the last in a series of fantastic and touching Jack/Liz moments.

Pete's obvious hints at faking his death was quite possibly my favorite Pete plot ever.

From Alan Sepinwall, the complete list of words on Kenneth's no-no list: Conflict, Urban, Woman, Divorce, Shows About Shows, Writer, Justin Bartha, Dramedy, New York, Politics, High Concept, Complex, Niche, Quality, Edgy, Blog, Immortal Character, Foreign.

Loved the final scene of the tag, with a confirmed-immortal Kenneth entertaining the idea of doing a show about Liz Lemon's adventures writing TGS proposed by her great-grandaughter after gazing at 30 Rockefeller Center inside a snow globe. A brilliant nod to well known series finales from TV's past that left us with the idea that the entirety of 30 Rock is just art imitating life imitating art imitating life, ad infinitum.  

Conan O'Brien: We were going to lose our virginity together! Now I'll never lose it!

Jack: For your information, most of Tan Penis Island was destroyed in Sting's house fire.

Tracy: That's our show. Not a lot of people watched it, but the joke's on you, because we got paid, anyway.

7 comments:

Spithead said...

I'm not sure why, but the Lutz sub-plot was one of my favorite aspects of finale. Maybe cause it was fun to see the guy who's been the butt-end of everyone else's jokes get his moment of glory. Plus they finally confirmed us that he's bisexual.

Blam said...


Once Upon a Time: In the Name of the Brother

I don't know if the sublime Jane Espenson is responsible, but it has to have been intentional that Dr. F's brother's name was a homophone for "Gear-Heart".

Gregory Itzin was too "especially hammy" for my taste. And Ethan Embry rang/rings no bells for me. I'm with the rest of your questions and comments, though; you have to hand-wave a lot about Storybrooke during the curse — or, put another way, trust that the curse has ways of dealing with the problems its existence brings up.

Snow: "Rumpelstiltskin and Captain Hook had a fight, and someone got hurt."
Emma: "We weren't sure if Dr. Frankenstein could fix him but he did."

The matter-of-fact insanity/reality of that exchange cracked me up.

How I Met Your Mother: PS: I Love You

It was nice to get one more Robin Sparkles ep, and that Underneath the Music was great.

But.

If only they'd skipped Barney going through Robin's journals after breaking into her apartment it would've been much sweeter and much less creepy — all relative to Barney, of course. They could've gone right to him flying to Canada and tracking down people from her life there, but instead the quest was launched with another tremendous violation of personal space. Even knowing that the show has made Barney pretty out-there on occasion, when I saw him in her room I figured that they'd have him uncover the secret and then never say anything which would make him heroic — again relative to Barney — while not having to deal with Robin finding out he snooped, or maybe have had Robin plant something in her diaries to one-up Barney. As it stands it just was too much for me to rationalize, despite the ridiculous nature of most of the story, because (like Glee) HIMYM attempts to mix its absurdity with genuine drama and romance. The core emotions are real, so Barney's actions are inexcusable.

30 Rock: Hogcock! / Last Lunch

I'm definitely impressed that the show got to end on its own terms, as you say, almost moreso than that it ended satisfyingly. Say what you will about NBC's treatment of cult gems like this and Community; they're still on the air, with 30 Rock knowing it had a final season to wrap up right.

The last stretch of episodes was really good, particularly rewarding to longtime viewers, and your eulogy was apt.

Matt said...

I disagree about the end of 30Rock. The final stretch of episodes had their moments, but none of it was "must see TV" for me. I kind of stopped caring about the show a few years ago, probably around the time Don Giess died and Kabletown took over.

It's not that I won't necessarily miss it, but since I stopped caring about it a while back, I had already moved on.

On the other hand, I'm disappointed that The Office is ending. So many people say it's not funny anymore, but it consistently continues to elicit the biggest laughs from me every Thursday night, even without Steve Carell. I've always thought it could've been the E.R. of sitcoms, just cycling characters in and out for 20 years or so. But I seem to be in the minority there.

Teebore said...

@Spithead: Maybe cause it was fun to see the guy who's been the butt-end of everyone else's jokes get his moment of glory.

I did really enjoy Lutz getting his moment of glory, though because I hadn't watched the series from the beginning, I think it resonated for me on a more general level.

@Blam: I don't know if the sublime Jane Espenson is responsible, but it has to have been intentional that Dr. F's brother's name was a homophone for "Gear-Heart".

Ha! That's pretty awesome.

And Ethan Embry rang/rings no bells for me.

He was the last Rusty Griswold (in Vegas Griswold) then headlined Can't Hardly Wait, one of the numerous coming-of-age teen comedies that sprouted up in the late 90s round of coming-of-age teen comedies (see also: American Pie).

He also headlined (along with a post-Married with Children Ed O'Neil) the 2003 revamp of Dragnet, a little-seen one season wonder I rather enjoyed, mainly on the strength of the chemistry between the leads.

The matter-of-fact insanity/reality of that exchange cracked me up.

Ditto. That and the line about how they can't all be sheriff together cracked me up for the matter-of-factness/self-awareness, but I couldn't find a good transcription of either online.

The core emotions are real, so Barney's actions are inexcusable.

Yeah, I really should have called that out more, because it was pretty skeevy (and for Barney, that's saying something). I remember watching him paging through her journals and thinking "this isn't right".

And there really was no reason to even have that scene. As you said, it was largely unnecessary, and added nothing to the story.

Say what you will about NBC's treatment of cult gems like this and Community; they're still on the air, with 30 Rock knowing it had a final season to wrap up right.

Yeah, while I'll be bummed when Community and Parks and Rec inevitably end, I can't really blame NBC; they've given both shows (and 30 Rock) more opportunities and episodes than I ever would have expected given their ratings.

Granted, that's largely because NBC is in such dire straits that they keep these shows alive because they need to air SOMETHING, and I know that if they had any better shows they'd have cancelled these low rated cult favorites in a heartbeat. But still, I blame the majority of TV viewers for not watching those great shows more than I blame NBC. If more people watched them, then they wouldn't have to exist on constant deathwatch...

@Matt: I kind of stopped caring about the show a few years ago, probably around the time Don Giess died and Kabletown took over.

Which is right about when I started watching - I'm aware of Don Geiss, but I don't think I've ever seen an episode featuring him.

On the other hand, I'm disappointed that The Office is ending.

I completely missed the boat on The Office. I mean, I've seen a handful of episodes and am aware of at least the main characters because I own a TV and read about television shows on the internet, but I've never watched it regularly. One of those things I just missed out on and will have to catch up with down the road sometime.

Blam said...


@Matt: I kind of stopped caring about the show a few years ago, probably around the time Don Giess died and Kabletown took over.

I'm not actually that far apart from you in my feelings on 30 Rock. Often during the last couple of seasons I've found myself nonplussed by an episode and admitting that I wouldn't mind if it were over. Just recently right here I commented that I basically wondered why I was still watching the show... right before a huge laugh. I never warmed up to Criss, and I've often found myself appreciating the show rather than really grooving to it, but I stand by my assessment of liking how the show progressed this season as it headed into the final stretch. The fact that 30 Rock combined so many kinds of humor, often right on top of one another, has always impressed me too; while, again, I grant that being impressed isn't the same thing as passion, I enjoy the wide-ranging "mythology" of the show and I wouldn't have wanted to miss the end.

@Teebore: He was the last Rusty Griswold

I did IMDB Ethan Embry just to confirm that this was simply my '90s blind spot in action. Hard at work, out of college, newly married, TV was a precious leisure activity for me but very targeted; obviously there was some stuff in the movies too and pop culture at large that just didn't register at my age/stage of life. I've been seeing all this breathless coverage of Girl Meets World which will seriously are you ready for this OMG reunite the cast of Boy Meets World and I'm, like, "Huh?"

@Teebore: I couldn't find a good transcription of either online.

I'm actually in the habit of watching stuff that you and/or Nikki post on with my laptop at hand, if not watching on my laptop itself since I time-shift so much via Hulu anyway, so that I can take notes. While I've backed off the intensity somewhat, because it got to be intrusive, when a really good line lands I type it up.

Jeff said...

30 Rock made me realize that a dishwasher with a clear door really would be a fantastic invention.

Teebore said...

@Blam: The fact that 30 Rock combined so many kinds of humor, often right on top of one another, has always impressed me too; while, again, I grant that being impressed isn't the same thing as passion, I enjoy the wide-ranging "mythology" of the show and I wouldn't have wanted to miss the end.

As much as I enjoyed this final season, the finale itself, and everything that I've seen of the show, I would definitely say it's a show that has always impressed me more than it has inspired passion in me. Perhaps because I came to it late, I always appreciated it critically (even while finding it hilarious) first and foremost, often without the kind of passion and fervor I feel for something like Community or Parks and Recreation, which, while I also appreciate on a critical level, are shows and characters I LOVE first and foremost.

I've been seeing all this breathless coverage of Girl Meets World which will seriously are you ready for this OMG reunite the cast of Boy Meets World and I'm, like, "Huh?"

I just missed the boat on Boy Meets World. I watched it, at least the earlier seasons, and was aware of it past when I stopped watching, but it came about just as I was growing out of the TGIF-style shows and into more traditional adult sitcoms, and thus it never fully imbedded itself in my formative pop culture zeitgeist the way something like, for good and bad, Saved by the Bell and Full House did.

All of which is a lengthy preamble to say that, as a result, I've been following all this Girl Meets World news less with any passion or personal interest in the project and more with curiosity and amazement of what crazy stuff can happen in this modern TV landscape.

While I've backed off the intensity somewhat, because it got to be intrusive, when a really good line lands I type it up.

Yeah, I try to at least make a note of good lines on my phone as I watch, even if I don't take the time to make a transcript and just hope I can find it online later, but you're right that it becomes intrusive and often I just get so sucked into a good episode I completely stop taking notes.

In the realm of "everything should be available on the internet, why isn't this?", I firmly believe that every episode of every scripted TV show should get its scripted posted somewhere online within a day or two of its airing. :)

@Jeff: 30 Rock made me realize that a dishwasher with a clear door really would be a fantastic invention.

Indeed. Jack's not wrong.