Still getting caught up, but lots to cover.
How I Met Your Mother: The Stinson Missile Crisis
We return to the Robin/Barney/Nora triangle, but while I was mildly amused by the metatextual commentary on the show's format afforded by having the story unfold via Robin's discussion with Kal Penn's psychiatrist, I preferred the B story that found Ted struggling to fit himself onto "Team Baby" with Lily and Marshall. Oddly enough, given that damn near every sitcom to ever feature a pregnant character has done this kind of scene, my favorite part of the episode was Ted and Marshall in the birthing class together. And of course, the recurring gag of poor, sad Ted insisting famous duos were actually trios was classic stuff (my favorites were, not surprisingly, "Batman, Robin and Alfred", as well as "Romeo, Juliet and the Apothecary").
I believe Kal Penn is slated for at least one more appearance, so apparently Robin will be going back to the psychiatrist.
The birth class might have been my favorite scene, but I always enjoy getting a peak at Barney's various schemes. Posing as a fake doctor and a fake lawyer to sue the fake doctor was pretty ingenious.
Marshall: It’s fascinating how little I know about vaginas
Barney: For some women, it was the ashes of my parents; for others, the trophy from Wimbleon; and for one amazing dullard, it was both.
2 Broke Girls: And Strokes of Goodwill
A much improved episode which succeeds by strengthening Max and Caroline's friendship instead of breaking it down and rebuilding it again. It was also a much more focused episode, with minimal involvement from the one note characters at the diner, no sign of Max's ex boyfriend, and no trips to Max's second job. A definite step in the right direction. And for as much as the logical part of my brain still won't shut up about the horse, I can't deny there's something hilarious about Max walking him like a dog, as well as Max's Chestnut voice.
Terra Nova: Genesis (Series Premiere)
Going into this, there had been a lot of talk about the family elements of the show vs. the sci-fi, plot-based elements. Some critics were saying "thankfully they make you care about the family, because that's the key to success for a show like this" while other critics said, "thankfully there's dinosaur fighting in this, because that family is pretty boring."
My initial reaction is to side with the second critic, but I'll freely admit that could be because, to me, dinosaurs > family drama, and always will be. That said, the family isn't terrible; I've liked Jason O'Mara since Life on Mars, and while the rest of his family is, at the moment, just basic archetypes (nurturing mother, rebellious son, brainy daughter, insufferable moppet) there's outright annoying about them. Mainly because the rebellious son, the one element of the show I was most dreading, wasn't as bad as I feared (rebelling by sneaking off to drink moonshine with a hot girl is a far cry better than rebelling by stupidly swearing loyalty to murderous aliens; plus, at least this dumb ass kid got a haircut). The family stuff wasn't great, but it could have been a lot, lot worse.
As for the plot, well, there are people out there who inexplicably watched Lost just for the characters, but that was never me (Lost didn't truly hooked me until Locke was pounding on the hatch and a light turned on). The characters on Lost made the show more enjoyable (and I did love some of those characters), but I never would have stuck with it just to watch those characters hang out on an island. So Terra Nova will sink or swim depending on how well it balances its characters (which are so far pretty basic) with its mythology (which so far is intriguing enough). As soon as the bad guy from Avatar mentioned that his son was missing it became blindingly obvious that he was out in the jungle somewhere, but it was legitimately surprising to have him connected to the rock markings so quickly. The Sixers have an Others-esque quality to them, and hopefully we'll get a better sense of what they want and why they're doing what they're doing than we got with the Others (hell, we already know more about the Sixers than we ever did the Others).
I'm not saying this show is or even could be Lost done right, but at least in the pilot, the characters are enjoyable enough and the hints of mythology intriguing enough to suggest it could be lots of fun. Plus, you know, the dinosaurs.
The pilot did a pretty job of addressing my (and most of the internet's) main concerns about the show, mainly the time travel stuff. They neatly sidestepped the butterfly effect issues by having Exposition Daughter explain Terra Nova was on the Earth of an alternate timeline from the one in the future, and it seems like the time travel only works one way (though it sounded like the bad guy from Avatar was in communication with the future?) which should do the show a service by effectively keeping all the action centered on the past.
Though I am still curious if they should be able to breath back in the past; wasn't the makeup of the air vastly different back then (too much nitrogen or something), such that humans wouldn't have been able to breath it?
The first thirty minutes of the pilot (basically all the stuff in the future) was more or less pointless, wasn't it? I mean, the important stuff we already knew, and could have been covered in less time. It's still unclear what point, if any, there was in having Jason O'Mara go to jail and sneak onto Terra Nova, especially since he ended up in the one place he was most likely to end up (working security for the bad guy from Avatar) by the end of the episode anyway.
So were those dinosaurs that were attacking the kids at the end made up? I don't seem to recall ever reading about dinosaurs like them, but then, I haven't been keeping up with the latest dinosaur discoveries.
Glee: I Am Unicorn
Another solid episode that gives me hope Glee might be a little less scattershot in its third season than it was in its second. It's nice to see the school play being treated with a touch more realism than it was when they did Rocky Horror last year (God, remember how awful that was?). Anything that works Coach Bieste into the mix more is a good thing, and Artie as the student director because sure why not? It beats stories involving him using high tech robotic legs to walk.
Kurt's plot was strong, as Kurt plots tend to be. His dad's advice, that if there aren't enough parts out there that showcase Kurt's talents then he should create those parts, has an interesting metatextual connotation to it, considering the role of Kurt was created for Chris Colfer after he auditioned. And I really hope that Blaine being the obvious choice for Tony doesn't lead to hamfisted drama between him and Kurt; for one, it's painfully obvious that's where we're headed, and for two, Blaine's pretty much doing everything he can to keep Kurt happy (by not auditioning for the role), so it's not really his fault the directors like him better for the part.
This whole "Shelby Corcoran is starting a rival glee club" seems odd, and runs the risk of spinning the show back into crazy Glee land (assuming it's not completely forgotten next episode), but we'll see where its going before passing total judgment. For now, it was clearly just an excuse to create baby drama with Quinn and Puck, and that's fine.
As for that drama, having Puck work to become a better person so he can spend more time with his daughter is a decent enough plotline for a character who is tons of fun but rarely gets much to do. I was pleased to see that the end of Quinn's nihilistic pink hair phase was just a ruse and that will take more than a stern lecture and a baby picture to snap her out of it, but someone should probably explain to her it's damn difficult to reclaim custody of a child you've already given up for adoption, no matter how much of a model student you appear.
I'm not the biggest Mr. Shue fan, but that smackdown he gave Quinn was pretty damn awesome.
I like the idea of a dancing boot camp, and the scene with Finn was a nice moment, but the intros to those scenes, with Mike and Mr. Shue doing oddly dramatic slow motion dance moves were, well, odd.
Speaking of Finn, after so much drama last season, I appreciate how low key his relationship with Rachel has been so far. I'm still expecting the break-up/pine for/get back together cycle to start up soon, but for now, it's nice that their relationship isn't the focus of the show. The scene between them at Burt's shop was very nice; low key, but with hints at future tension (Finn seems content to live a "normal" life in Ohio while Rachel is still dreaming big and thinks he should be too).
Speaking of Burt, how awesome is Mike O'Malley?
I was kind of surprised to hear that Blaine is a junior; maybe it's just because he started out as Kurt's pseudo-mentor last season, but it seems odd to think that he's younger than Kurt (and that he was Chief Warbler last year as a sophomore?).
I can buy that Sue could build a congressional campaign and run successfully around the idea of cutting arts funding; her new idea that the arts themselves ruin lives and needs to be stamped out is much too close to crazy ass/super-villain Sue from last season, and I doubt any actual real people would buy into that specific idea (even if they did support cutting arts funding). Then again, most people are dumb, so who knows?
Questions I Shouldn't Be Asking Because This is Glee: How does Shelby expect to fill a second glee club when the first can't even find enough members? Is Crazy Girl's father going to pay a bunch of kids to be in the second glee club just like he paid off Figgins?
Favorite Song: In a nearly all West Side Story episode (a show for which I have a fair amount of affection), my favorite song was probably the Shelby/Rachel "Somewhere" duet, mainly because I like that song a bit more than "Something's Coming", even though Blaine really did kill it.
Sue: First of all, smoking kills. Second of all, it really does make you look cooler, doesn't it?
Puck: Turns out Napoleon? Not just a dessert. He was a real dude.
Burt: Dude, you're gay. You're gay. And you're not like Rock Hudson gay, you're really gay. You sing like Dianna Ross and you dress like you own a magic chocolate factory.
Community: Geography of Global Conflict
Annie is one my favorite characters on the show (and not just because Alison Brie is ridiculously attractive). I've always had a soft spot for characters who are, generally, the sweetest/sanest characters in an ensemble but given the right circumstances, can snap and become the craziest ("Lisa's Rival", which features some of the same beats as this story, is one of my all time favorite episodes of Simpsons, and not just for the crazy subplot in which Homer goes insane hoarding sugar). So I greatly enjoyed this episode featuring Annie facing off with her evil Asian twin in a "Model UN Off" that ended with the Model UN of Earth 1 invading the Model UN of Earth 2 and suing for peace. It lacked the strong character work of something like "Mixology 101" or the sheer hilarity of the high concept episodes, but was still tons of fun.
The Britta/Chang B plot had its moments (especially Britta eating the note and, you know, Lionel Richie) but I was kinda surprised Britta got lured away from Model UN, which seems like the kind of thing she'd be all about.
I would like to see more of Professor Cligoris.
The Jeff/Annie pseudo-relationship is kinda creepy, but I also find it somewhat endearing. Maybe it's because I like Annie so much. Or because I'm kind of creepy.
Two of my favorite moments from this episode were Abed's quiet determination throughout the Model UN Off to explore the concept of parallel Earths, culminating in his formulation of the "invade Earth 2 plan" and Troy speaking with a Southern accent despite knowing full well he's representing Georgia the country, not the state.
Jeff: Uruguay kindly requests that Somalia stops pronouncing it Ur-a-gay.
Parks and Recreation: Ron and Tammys
This episode has been billed as an instant classic, and without a doubt, this is the show at its finest, with a hilarious A story centered one of TV's best characters and two delightful B stories (the first Entertainment 720-centric one, being the better of the two). Introducing Tammy One (and Ron's mom, Tammy Zero) could have come off as little more than fan service, but thankfully, their appearance is more than that, completing the picture started by the crazy, inhibition-free Tammy Two of how Ron came to be who he is, from his rugged individualism to his Libertarian principles to his extreme levels of self control. That character work this strong manages to be effing hilarious at the same time remains the greatest skill of Parks and Rec.
Always fun to see Leslie drunk.
April had a couple of great moments in this one: her appreciation of the domineering Tammy One, and the lack of hesitation when tapping in to the drinking contest to help save Ron.
Rob Lowe really needs a haircut.
Loved that Ron's tax audit file included a picture of him making a gentlemen's agreement with someone.
My favorite of Entertainment 720's extravagances was having Roy Hibbert on staff to help Jean-Ralphio dunk for "only" 75% of his NBA salary, and the giveaway iPads.
Leslie: Basically, we're being attacked by Godzilla, and to beat Godzilla, we need Mothra. No offense.
Tammy Two: None taken. Very flattered.
Tammy Two: When Ron left her and we got together...she threw acid on my foot.
Andy: Could we take a peak at it?
Leslie: Why do you have so many guns?
Tammy Zero: This is America, isn't it?
Tammy Zero: Then I don't have to answer stupid questions while standing on my own property.
Person of Interest: Ghosts
It's been mentioned in several places (including in my first write up of Persons of Interest) that this show is a lot like a superhero show without the costumes, and viewed through that lens, I find myself enjoying more than I probably should. There are moments in this episode that are downright Batman-esque (Reese's initial fight with the hitman in the laundromat was the kind of fight Batman stories thrive on: the foe was credible enough to give Reese a run for his money, but not good enough to actually win, and Reese's intimidation of the crooked cop was the kind of thing I could see Batman doing in a dark alley) with Finch operating as an Alfred/Commissioner Gordon amalgam.
Viewing this show through the superhero lens also helps put aside some of the more dubious moral questions the premise of the show raises (questions, at least so far, the show seems disinclined to fully explore). The kinds of things superheroes do are the kinds of things to which, in the real world, I would probably object (illegal surveillance, obstruction of justice, sidestepping due process, etc.). But in the four color world of comic books, these kinds of concerns are secondary as long as the stories are compelling and the action fun. Carrying that sensibility over to this show, which exists in a fictional world much more grounded in reality than the worlds of Batman and Spider-Man, helps make the idea of "the machine" easier to accept.
Also, pretending Reese is Batman sans costume also helps liven up the by-the-numbers plot; the best stuff in this episode (mainly the background stuff on Finch) all happened on the margins.
Speaking of that background stuff, I was glad to see the show working some mythology in around the case of the week; Finch continues to be an intriguing character (I really liked the idea of him moonlighting as a low level employee at the company he owns) and the scene where Ben Linus was meeting with Goodwin about a machine that spits out numbers elicited a chuckle.
The bust of Goodwin in the lobby of Finch's building listed his death as 2010, suggesting he and Finch's partnership came to an end much sooner than I assumed (and also explains Finch's lack of trust in Reese, the end of his last partnership still being relatively raw).
By the end of the pilot, Reese and Finch seemed a lot more chummy than they are in this episode, so I was surprised to see Finch go out of his way to avoid Reese, but I like the uneasy partnership dynamic much better, and there's something thematically interesting about the guy who built a machine that tracks everyone not wanting to be found.
The opening scene was also very Batman-esque, showing us the resolution of another case before launching into the episode's story; I'd like to see more of that kind of thing, showing us that Reese and Finch are doing this kind of stuff all the time, just not when we're watching.
While I don't doubt the technology exists that would allow the hitman in this episode to tap and trace phone calls, I do question whether that technology would be quite so user/viewer friendly (did someone really create an app so all you have to do is click "trace" to trace a call?).
Saturday Night Live: Melissa McCarthy and Lady Antebellum.
I'll give Melissa McCarthy credit: she was game for anything, and sold the hell out of everything she was asked to do. Clearly, she has the presence and comedic chops to be a good sketch comedian. Unfortunately, most of the sketches in this episode were pretty uninspired, with McCarthy more often than not ending up being the best thing in them based on sheer verve.
"The Lawrence Welk Show" sketch is probably my least favorite recurring SNL sketch. Maybe it's just because I've never watched the real Lawrence Welk show or something, but I've never found it terribly funny, and I always groan when an episode opens with it.
The Digital Short, especially coming on the heels of Lonely Islands triumphant montage at the Emmys, was disappointing and largely irrelevant (I mean, I laughed at the massacre of the Blue Man Group, but the Blue Man group? Really?).
"Gaddfi's friends who talk behind his back" is another recurring gag for which I have little patience, but I love anything that skewers Tyler Perry, so I appreciated that. And I loved the line about the new Kindle Fire:
"It’s expected to sell well among parents who always buy the wrong thing."
Favorite Sketch: Probably the last one, with Andy Samberg trying to pickup Melissa McCarthy while fielding complaints about his lovemaking, though "The Comments Section" had some good moments. But really, the best sketch was one that was cut for time but showed up on NBC's website:
Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 1/2
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 1/2
Tyler Perry (on The Help): It teaches black women the lesson that if you work hard enough and hum loud enough, Emma Stone will come and save you!