It's finale time, but unfortunately, due to Mothers Day and SpringCon setup (if you're in the neighborhood, swing by the Grandstand on the State Fair grounds this weekend and say hello), I didn't have as much time to watch TV as I'd have liked. But we soldier on nonetheless!
The Simpsons: The Fabulous Faker Boy
This almost the perfect example of a cromulent episode: neither good nor bad enough to get too worked up over. It shows up, does its thing, and leaves, with little lasting impression. I honestly don't have much to say about it. It's always nice when Bart goes nuts for a girl (though such stories would work better if he was a scootch older). The tie-in to Mothers Day was nice, I suppose, though nothing we haven't seen before. That's about it. Oh, there was the Justin Bieber cameo, which like much of the episode, was hard to get too worked up over either way.
Bob's Burgers: The Unnatural (Season Finale)
Linda and Gene are, arguably, the show's two weakest characters (relatively speaking), so centering an episode on both of them is something of a risky proposition, but this show has found its groove and is firing on all cylinders (and other similar metaphors) to such an extent that it pretty much succeeds in whatever it wants to do, and so the season ends with another strong episode that finds Gene ironically gaining confidence in himself from a confidence man.
Tina hepped up on Espresso (and her subsequent equally funny withdrawal) might be my favorite Tina storyline of the season, and this was a season filled with phenomenal Tina storylines.
Also, Regular Sized Rudy might be my new favorite supporting character; the combination of sheer enthusiasm and wheezing in his voice as he tries to say or do anything just absolutely cracks me up every time.
Gene's glee at the protection afforded to him by a nutcup is nothing new, but I did love his additional excitement over his spiky shoes and Capri pants.
Bob and Gene playing catch in the alley is pretty much Bob's Burgers in microcosm: taking an ordinary, sitcom-y moment and devolving it into something hilariously weird.
Once Upon a Time: And Straight On 'Til Morning (Season Finale)
Even for a Once Upon A Time finale, this one was filled with some pretty dodgy plotting. Emma randomly deciding to use her underdeveloped and still questionable magical abilities to augment Regina and save the town is fine, I guess, and Neal turning up alive in another land was so expected that I don't think anyone involved was even trying to pretend that it was a surprise, but Hook absconding with the bean, then having an abrupt change of heart in just the right amount of time required for the Charming family to come up with an alternate solution to the problem while still providing them with the means to chase after Henry was downright laughable in its transparency.
Why did Hook leave when he did? Because the plot needed Emma, not the bean, to help save the day (and transporting everyone back to the Enchanted Forest wasn't an option). Why did he return when he did, ready to help? Because the plot needed a way for everyone to follow Henry. Similarly, Gold's decision to suddenly tag along in the search for Henry smacked of little more reasoning than "because I am a main character on this show" while Belle getting left behind was "because I am not a main character on this show". There was lip service paid to both Hook and Gold's decisions (the later because of Neal's apparent death, the former because Emma goaded him into it, and the words took a while to sink in, I guess?), but it came about so abruptly and with such little development that it's hard to view the characters as being motivated by anything other than the plot, which is, unfortunately, a frequent problem on this show.
Similarly, did I miss the scene where Greg and Tamara somehow learned/were told that Henry was important? At one point, they're packing up their trailer, ready to flee the town, then the next they're grabbing Henry and leaping into a portal.
Also, considering how quickly that portal closed, I doubt there would have been enough time to get everyone in town through it.
The head of the Home Office is going to be Peter Pan, right? While it would make the whole Greg/Tamara/Shadowy Organization less Initiative-y, I'm not sure how I'd feel about the group trying to eradicate magic being led by one of the fairy tale characters.
At least Belle got her memories back, so we can be done with that storyline (and the fact that the dwarfs showing up with a magic memory-restoring potion whipped up by the Blue Fairy off-camera isn't the worst deus ex machina this show has ever used is pretty remarkable).
Hey, Philip, Aurora and Mulan found Neal! I'd frankly kinda forgotten about them. I'm glad the show didn't. Phillip apparently got rescued from the Wraith at some point, which we'll presumably see in a flashback next season.
As with last episode, the fairyback was pretty decent. I particularly enjoyed the creepier-than-usual Lost Boys, and the idea of Peter Pan as a Big Bad is intriguing, even it does threaten to keep Henry front and center.
How I Met Your Mother: Something New (Season Finale)
Welp, that's how we met the mother...
This was an odd episode. It didn't feel like a finale. In fact, if I hadn't know it was the season finale, I wouldn't have thought it was. It felt much more like the penultimate episode of a season, the one which moves the characters into place for the big finale. Part of that, I know, is because, originally, it was very clear the finale of this season (and the show) would be Barney and Robin's wedding, but all that changed once the show was renewed for a finale season. So this wasn't the finale we'd been primed to expect.
But part of it is also the fact that this show usually doesn't trade in season finale cliffhangers. Its seasons end with weddings and breakups and proposals, not the threat of such things happening or not happening. It's simply a weird beat for this show to end its season on, one that (I fear) may very well lead into one of the show's strangest seasons yet.
In the wake of the finale, there's been lots of chatter from Carter and Bays about the Mother and the final season. Most of it makes it sound like the ninth season is going to be some weird experiment where the final hours leading up to Barney and Robin's wedding unfold over the course of the season, leaving Ted's titular meeting with the Mother to occur, as promised, at that train station post-wedding. But I don't want to get too invested in what might be coming; it's impossible to form an accurate opinion on something based just on interviews.
That said, I'm glad the show "cheated" a bit and introduced us to the Mother ahead of Ted. Given that Carter and Bays have always been (stupidly) adamant that Ted meet the mother in the most literal way possible, absolutely anything we get from the Mother from this point forward will be bonus material, so to speak (that is, we've already seen as much of her as the creators ever intended to show us, prior to the renewal, so everything to come is gravy).
I'm glad they went with a relative unknown for the Mother (you may remember her as the Sarah Silverman-esque comedienne in a one-off 30 Rock part, unless you saw her on Broadway in Once). This also (hopefully) should end all the wild speculation about how the Mother will somehow be revealed to be Robin/Victoria/Stella/etc. in the end.
In terms of this episode itself, it was typical plot-based penultimate/finale fare, light on laughs. The biggest of which came from Marshall's extended exchange with the guy offering him a judgeship, both in the length of Marshall's attempts to take the job and go to Italy and the reactions to those efforts from the other guy.
I also enjoyed Ted and Lily getting to spend some together, and if we'd gotten more storylines like the Robin/Barney one in this episode prior to their engagement or wedding, I'd probably be more receptive to the whole thing (though I would probably also like them less, as they were pretty much jerks. But at least they worked well together).
Ted wanting to leave town after the wedding (so as not to have to watch Robin be happily married to someone else) isn't necessarily a bad beat for the character, but I'd like it a lot more if it wasn't following on the heels of all that Ted/Robin nonsense last week, or if that Ted/Robin nonsense hadn't already been so overplayed already.
Also, I find it pretty hard to believe that Ted never once looked inside that pencil case, even in the process of moving it from one apartment to another, in almost six years.
Saturday Night Live: Kristen Wiig & Vampire Weekend
Not that the cold open as written was anything special, but it seemed to suffer from some glitches beyond its uninspiring premise: the name on the placard in front of Taran Killam's character didn't match the name he was being called by Hader, and Hader later referred to Ariel Castro as Mr. Ramsey.
The monologue was your standard "returning cast member sings a song and walks through the studio" fare.
The Target Lady is one of Kristen Wiig's few characters I enjoy (since she reminds me so much of a gal I used to work with at Barnes & Noble), but that's not to say her sketches are outstanding or anything. Just mildly humorous and better than most other Wiig characters.
Word came out this week that Seth Meyers will be leaving next year, and Bill Hader will be leaving after this season. I worry this means the usually-reliable Weekend Update will suffer, but I'm curious to see who gets tapped to replace Meyers, since this is the first time in a long while that an Update successor isn't readily apparent. Hader will probably be missed more (no more Stefon! Or smarmy game show hosts! Or Pacino!), but I really do think there are cast members (like Taran Killam and Kate McKinnon) poised for a big breakout, so maybe we'll see that in Hader's absence. At the very least, it should make the show very interesting next year.
Favorite Sketch: Ugh, I guess that acupuncture one with all the blood. It was very one-note, but I probably laughed the most at it, especially Wiig and Aidy Bryant's quiet horror at what was happening. In the "not bad" category were the flowers-for-mom ad and the Korean water ghost show, just for its specificity and the way it nailed that Disney Channel aesthetic.
Least Favorite Sketch: The Californians. That I'm not picking a sketch featuring one of Wiig's characters is a testament to how much I dislike that sketch.
Daughter: There are never nuts in eggs benedict.
Mother: Well I’m sorry for double-checking.
Daughter: You’re not allergic. Nothing would happen.
Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 5/20
Episodes Featuring TWO Game Shows: 1/20
Episodes Featuring a Talk Show: 12/20
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 10/20