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Monday, May 23, 2011

Last Week in TV #35

Crazy busy last week, so let's take these real quick (like, one sentence quick in some cases).

American Dad: Flirting with Disaster
A pretty standard episode (which is to say, funny but not terribly groundbreaking). Roger's usual craziness in the subplot was the highlight, but I also enjoyed the randomness of Steve's birdhouse building hobby and raunchy Patrick Stewart is always appreciated.

Steve: That's why I wasn't surprised to read in the papers that he OD'd not 10 seconds later.

American Dad: Gorilla's in the Mist
Oddly enough, the Roger subplot kinda fell flat, but the Roger/Steve stuff was fun (I especially liked the discussion of bros vs. hoes and the cracks about Francine faking it, but the stuff the gorilla did with Steve probably elicited the biggest laughs from me.

Dick: What's wrong Stan, you didn't like it?
Stan: Actually, I thought it was very well crafted, the perfect combination of dirty and smart. It was really quite elegant.

The Simpsons: 500 Keys
The more memorable/unique episodes of later day Simpsons tend to be the ones where they play with form and structure, even if the result isn't wall-to-wall laughs, and this is another such episode, as the premise (the family finds a bunch of keys) leads into four separate plots that cross paths with each other at various times. 

The Simpsons: The Ned-liest Catch
Look, I have no problem if Simpsons wants to do another summer-spanning, audience-interactive "event", especially since the last one occurred when the internet barely existed. But could they at least kick it off with a decent episode that does more than setup that event? I mean, "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1" is pretty great on its own, and no one watching it now would even care that, at the time, it kicked off a whole summer of speculation and carefully-timed clues intended to keep the show in the public's mind during the summer. Other than a fairly strong first act and some good lines from Marge, this episode doesn't really do much other than set up an online vote.

Marge: Just leave the crust on their sandwiches. They'll get the message.

Homer: What? My doctor said 'don't walk!Marge: That was a traffic signal.

Marge: Just vote! It's your duty as a citizen of TV!

Bob's Bugers: Lobsterfest
More of the same, which is to say, my favorite show of the current animation block.

Louise: We should be out there in the wind and rain. Looting!

Bob's Burgers: Torpedo
A strong season finale that showcases what this show does best: elevate standard sitcom tropes on the strength of its characters. Nice to see Gene (whose own mania often rivals Louise') get the spotlight. Bob's anguished cries in the background as Gene forgets the name of his restaurant was a riot, as was Tina's burgeoning, creepy sexuality. 

Bob: Are you kidding? I wish I could afford urinal cake ads.

Gene: Well, I call you dad. I think of it as Dad's Burgers.

Family Guy: Foreign Affairs
I'd have liked more of Peter teaching and less of Bonnie and Lois in Paris, though I did enjoy their Muppet style sightseeing and the French guy comparing himself to Pepe Le Pew. Also, playing the extended "Dancing in the Streets" video was...something.

Bonnie: Joe hates to fly cause they put him down with the dogs.

Family Guy: It's a Trap
For the second season in a row, Family Guy ends its season with an episode that's been available on DVD since December, which I continue to think is a massive copout, and lame. As I watched this shortly after Christmas and not last night, I don't remember many of the specifics of the episode but recall having the same reaction to it that I did the other Star Wars spoofs: enjoyable enough, too much devotion to recreating specific shots without adding to or commenting on them, and the usual rapid fire approach to jokes in which some missed wide and some worked very well.

The Cleveland Show: Hot Cocoa Bang Bang
This show is usually pretty bad, but I have to give props to an episode that features Cleveland Jr. (the show's best and most underutilized character) leading a horde of geeks to take back ComicCon from the Hollywood studios and TV producers.

How I Met Your Mother: Challenge Accepted
Seriously, HIMYM, I love you, but don't ever use special effects again. That Arcadian explosion was awful.

Barney being the groom at the future wedding wasn't nearly as shocking as the writers probably thought it was, but I long ago stopped caring much about all the future hints and junk. To whom is Barney getting married? I don't really care so long as the road to it is well written and funny (I don't think it's Robin, as I imagine Lily would be wearing something more bridesmaid/maid of honor-y if it was, but what do I know about fashion?). I'm not opposed to Barney and Robin getting back together (their relationship had a lot of potential that never got properly explored) but at this point I'm willing to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Though upon learning that Lily was pregnant, I did remember that episode where they all tried to quit smoking and Future Ted said Lily didn't quit for real until she found out she was pregnant, and now we've reached that point. So no more background smoking for Lily!

Ted: Do you know how many people it takes to replace 50,000 light bulbs?
Barney: Are they Irish, Polish, blondes? What are we talking about here?

Glee: Funeral Music
Another solid and surprisingly good episode, but an episode that will end up being completely pointless if Sue reverts to form next episode or next season, which, given the show's track record for such things, is probably what will happen. We've been down this road before: Sue has a change of heart and seems to grow as a character only to return to her old "destroy the glee club" super-villain shenanigans within episodes. If that happens again, it will completely  undermine this episode, but I really hope the writers are smarter (and better) than that, and that this episode marks a true evolution for Sue's character. Not only for the sake of this episode, but for the sake of the character, who has grown far too stale this season. Sue needs a new direction (I, for one, would love for her desire to run for office turn out to be her next plot line and not just the one-off joke I fear it is); hopefully this episode is truly laying the groundwork for one and isn't just another one-off  "Sue has a heart after all" plot.

Bottom line: if the events of this episode actually carry over to the rest of the series, then it will probably stand as one of the show's better offerings. If this is just another "humanize Sue" turn down a dead end (like the end of last season) then it's just another pointless misstep.

Stuff I Shouldn't Worry About: Really Will? You're going to win nationals with original songs the kids are writing on the plane to nationals? Vocal Adrenaline's 24 hour nonstop rehearsals might be a bit extreme, but there is something to be said for practicing your material SOMETIME before the competition, especially if you have to write your material too. 

Other Thoughts
I still think Jesse is a douche, but he did have a point about practicing a song as opposed to just "singing what you feel" (perhaps this is another explanation for why Rachel seems more successful than Mercedes despite relatively similar levels of talent).

This is giving Glee far too much credit, but assuming Sue's change of heart sticks, I wonder if this episode, which (theoretically) removes Sue as the show's primary villain, was also setting up Quinn to be the show's new villain. I don't like the idea of Quinn as an out-and-out villain, but at least it would give her character something to do... 

I've never cared much for all the romantic entanglements (at least not the ones involving Rachel, Finn and Quinn) but seriously Rachel, how many eggs does a guy need to throw at you before you tell him to cram it? And really show, if you insist on keeping this whole "Rachel and Finn's unrequited love" thing going, can we at least introduce some new obstacles and not just keep repeating the same ones?

Interesting that the bulk of the music in this episode occurred in one chunk. It got a little tiring for me and sapped the momentum from the funeral storyline, but then, I had little personal interest in any of the audition songs.

Favorite Song: "Pure Imagination". I love that song already, and I liked the arrangement that showcased just about everybody at one point or another.

Jesse: You kind of sing and dance like a zombie who has to poop.

Jesse: I'm sorry, I didn't know we were in this to win the good-try ribbon at nationals. We're in it to win the whole damn thing. And there's only one way we can do that.
Brittany: Poison darts?

Jesse: You know what happens in Vocal Adrenaline if someone dies during a number? They use them as a prop, like Weekend at Bernie's.

(I really don't care for Jesse, but man, he had some good lines in this ep).


  1. we are waaaay behind on tv due to brother's canoe trip last week. so i'll probably have a real comment later in the week

    but i gotta say- we are in love with Bob's Burgers

  2. @Anne: Yeah, we're way behind in stuff, too, and loving Bob's Burgers. It's definitely the first show they've added to the Sunday night block that I've liked this much since, well, American Dad, probably, but it took me a couple seasons to really warm up to it.

  3. yeah what anne said. Stoopid canoe trip


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