Still catching up, but thanks to some pre-February sweeps re-runs, I'm not too far behind.
The Simpsons: Changing of the Guardians
It's kind of impressive that, this far into the show's run, the writers occasionally come up with a family issue the characters haven't yet tackled, but that's essentially what this episode does, as Homer and Marge try to find guardians for the kids should anything happen to them. The ensuing episode is perfectly cromulent, and while the resolution (that both the parents and kids have gained a greater appreciation for each other) is sweet and legitimately earned, the conclusion Homer and Marge take from it (there's no need to name legal guardians) doesn't exactly follow.
While it makes sense that Homer and Marge wouldn't want to turn to any of their family members and that nobody in the town would want to take in any kids that include Bart, the extended sequence in which the town rejects Homer and Marge was not funny enough to deserve the time it got.
I wouldn't mind seeing Uncle Herb again for real.
Homer: What women really want is a guy who’s confident enough to go completely downhill after a marriage and she’ll still love him.
Marge:The kids could end up wards of the state!
Marge: No, our state.
Bart: You’re trying to find a couple of saps to take us when Dad has a coronary in the middle of the night, rolls over, and crushes Mom.
Bob's Burgers: Broadcast Wagstaff School News
While Tina's plot was another hilarious examination of her unique character, the real standout in this episode was Gene as Mini Bob. The way he fully embraced the role and brought out Bob's weariness and Linda's excitement was fantastic, and it was a clever upending of the cliche in which the kid, realizing how much like a parent he is, rebels and does everything he can to not become the parent.
This episode featured another great "everyone's in one room together and yelling" scene, which is quickly becoming a trademark bit for this show.
Bob: Stop following me!
Gene: Stop following me in front!
Bob: This is incredibly insulting.
Gene: Think about how I feel – you really let myself go!
Family Guy: The Giggity Wife
This was kind of a gross episode, and not because of the gay panic stuff, but rather because of Quagmire's new wife. And while that was obviously the point, it doesn't make me enjoy watching her any more ("I bet she’s what happens if you put a Hooters girl in the microwave on high" was pretty funny though). The first act, however, was hilarious, especially everything at Harvard and especially especially Lois and Peter's argument over having breakfast for dinner.
I generally don't get too bothered by the occasional gay panic joke (Family Guy pretty much tries to offend everyone) but an entire episode that builds towards it doesn't do much for me. While probably not intentional, the implications of this story are pretty damning, and overall, the whole thing felt kinda lazy.
Peter: She’s also mad because I shook Stewie too hard and now he’s walking weird.
American Dad: Blood Crieth Unto Heaven
Well, that was an episode of American Dad. Though I'm not entirely sure I liked it. Don't get me wrong: I applaud this (and any) show trying new things and experimenting, and as an off model episode, I liked this a hell of a lot more than the "Brian & Stewie in a bank vault" episode of Family Guy. The show should definitely be applauded for its ambition and the execution of the premise. It's just a shame the end result wasn't funnier. There was humor to be found (mainly in the subtle mocking of the conventions of theatrical drama and staging) but the bulk of the episode was, essentially, a rushed 20 minute play. And while the conceit of American Dad spending an episode doing that is, in and of itself, pretty funny, it's not funny enough to carry through the periods of time where we're left with nothing but cliche drama on the screen.
The biggest laugh-out-loud moment was Patrick Stewart's last interstitial, in which we thought he was sleeping but he was just ACTING! (though he was pretty great throughout, as always).
How I Met Your Mother: Ring Up
This one plays pretty broad, and that's clearly the intent of the producers. And it's probably for the best in this case. Think about this one too hard, and it becomes pretty creepy (Ted sleeping with Barney's sister) but give it a surface glance and it works, especially, as Ted suggested, as a form of karmic retribution for Barney. The Lily/Marshall story, meanwhile, was pretty standard fare for them (and plenty funny), while the Robin subplot didn't quite take the Lord of the Rings allusions far enough, but we're probably the better for that.
If you haven't heard, the show has been officially offically renewed for a ninth and final season (the previous report wasn't official enough, apparently), though in interviews Thomas and Bays have said that this season will still end with Robin and Barney's wedding (though perhaps not the entirety of it), as planned, and seemed to hint that they may not be taking the title so literally after all, and that we may meet/get to know the Mother in some capacity prior to the final episode/moments of the show.
While I appreciated the callbacks to Barney's relationship with Ted's mom, this would have been a good time to also bring up the fact that Barney explicitly didn't sleep with Ted's sister once upon a time.
Marshall: While I’m out maybe daddy will pick up diapers and some mild salsa because we’re looooooow.
Top Chef: Wolfgang Clucks
Honestly, after the last episode, I probably could have left this season behind (if not the show), but what the hell, the DVR recorded them, so I may as well see how this plays out (and hope Kristen comes back and wins it all, to show just how flawed the approach to judging is). Having Josie finally get kicked off certainly helped, as did seeing Tom's obvious disdain for her. I'm still irked at how the whole Kristen thing played out, but it's just not worth the energy to care much more.
While Tom's disdain for Josie is hilarious and apt, Padma's clear dislike of Stefan is odd. She's seemed especially bitchy this season.
While I liked the straightforwardness of the elimination challenge, especially this late in the game, it probably would have resonated with me more if I was a bigger fan of fried chicken. I mean, I like the stuff fine, but I don't get as gaga about it as most of the diners did, and I don't feel boneless chicken is the sin against nature they all do (I don't understand the sentiment that bone-in chicken has more flavor; all bones in chicken add for me is more work and awkward eating - I'll take a boneless fried chicken breast or boneless wings over their boned counterparts most any day. Also, I barely tolerate dark meat. But I'm weird like that).
I figured out what bugs me about Josh: if he's not familiar with something, then it's clearly not worth knowing about at all (like sushi) and anything that is a nontraditional take on a traditional food isn't ___ "where he comes from" (like fried chicken). He's just this infuriating blend of hipster and good ol' Southern boy.
Josie's elimination was way overdue. Per Keith Law: she won one Quickfire, never won an elimination challenge, and finished in the bottom seven times in eleven episodes, avoiding elimination in week 3 because she had immunity. That's just awful.
Chefs at Sea
I should probably be more upset by Stefan's exit, as I was generally amused by him, but he definitely seems like he's been skirting by all season. Not in a "always one better than the worst" Josie kind of a way, but in a "never quite the best, but good enough to stay" way. And Padma clearly had him in her sights. So this was probably inevitable. Oh well.
Not much to say, otherwise. This was a pretty blah "let's get to the finals" episode (though it did make me want to take an Alaskan cruise, so, you know, episode long commercial: successful!).
Curtis Stone's painful small talk about all the things you could do with iceberg lettuce, then only listing two (one of which was "eat it raw" aka how everyone eats it, always) reminded me of The Simpsons bit about how wax lips are the candy of a thousand uses, such as a humorous substitute for your own lips, and...
So that got a laugh out of me.
Glee: Sadie Hawkins
This was an okay episode, the kind of low stakes filler high school shenanigans/"let's pair everyone up" episode the series does every once in awhile (and which it usually pulls off). But man, was it confusing in parts. For one thing, I greatly appreciated Rachel and Kurt's conversation which clarified Kurt and Blaine's relationship, because through the first half of the episode I kept thinking "aren't they back together?" I guess their reconciliation in the Christmas episode left them just as friends? That could have been clearer. Also, I was very confused throughout the episode at Tina going after a boy who's not only gay but is, like, the poster child for gay, then confused by her sadness at being rejected by someone she knows for a fact isn't attracted to her, and finally confused when she got angry at Blaine for running off when she believed they were going to kiss even though he's, you know, gay.
Also mystifying: Rachel's extreme rage at Brody being late. I mean, jeez, it's New York. Shit happens. I guess he could have called, but he did have flowers. Simmer down Rachel (that whole plot was clearly just a forced attempt at getting them living together ASAP for whatever reason).
Also, why was Finn drinking coffee when he hilariously rejected it previously? While it was great to see Lauren again, why was she suddenly wilting and waiting for guys to ask her to dance when Puck was all about her forthrightness last season? Weren't Artie and Sugar already a thing once?
I'm not sure how I feel about this Puck/Kitty thing, but I would like to see Finn and Puck interacting now that they're both back in town and, you know, friends.
As anticipated, we're heading towards a loophole that will get New New Directions back in the competition game, but I don't mind too much. It does lend the show much needed structure, and the fact that they toyed with their disqualification at all is promising.
I also think the method of disqualifying the Warblers (PED use), along with the terrifying decline of that organization as relayed by what's his face, hits just the right tone of believable and ludicrous for this show.
Only in the world of Glee: That said, I'm also confused by the logic there. New New Directions got disqualified. If they prove the Warblers were doping, they'd be disqualified. So wouldn't that Amish choir win?
Favorite Song: "Tell Him", because any song off the Big Chill soundtrack is aces in my book.
Puck: Amateurs have threesomes, professionals have foursomes.
Brittany: The music usually starts when I say something like “It’s Britney, bitch” or I do one of my magical turns.
30 Rock: A Goon's Deed In a Weary World
Maybe it's knowing we're so close to the end, but while 30 Rock has certainly had it's fair share of touching moments before (usually involving Jack or Liz), I've never been been quite as moved (in a non-funny way) by the show the way I was by the end of this episode when everyone quit TGS so Liz could meet her kids (and Liz's subsequent reaction to her kids, Janet and Terry, being mini versions of Jenna and Tracy being perfectly played). I didn't burst into tears or anything, but I was definitely touched and a little moist-eyed.
Most impressively, this episode was also, like most this season, ridiculously funny.
Loved the Willy Wonka pastiche/sight gag in the Jack/Kenneth story, and while Kenneth being named head of NBC is patently ridiculous, it works in the world of this show, and is a fitting end for Kenneth.
I would totally watch Tracy and Jenna's movie, directed by Michael Baio.
Loved Jack's shot at Animal Practice when admitting he was no good at running the network ("I mean, the monkey was funny, dammit!").
Alan Sepwinwall pointed out that the one-man-band was played by Jeff Richmond, Tina Fey's real life husband and the show's music composer.
Jack: Women who try to do things sure do get killed a lot...
Liz: You’ve got Lemon, make lemonade!
Parks and Recreation: Women in Garbage
It sometimes feels like Ann
I'd think watching/reading about basketball and/or playing a basketball video game would have been a better route to teach Tom what he wanted to know about the sport, but I suppose that's not nearly as funny as Tom complaining about the players not being the same size or Andy slamming into the mats after a failed dunk. Chalk it up to TV Logic, I suppose.
Loved Leslie posing for a photographer who wasn't there, as well as Diane's girls immediately rejecting Jerry.
I'm also glad it was revealed the garbage men couldn't move that fridge either, and that they were just setting up Leslie. Cuz I immediately said "I don't think any two guys could move that fridge either..."
Ron: I LOVE NOTHING!
Andy: Can I borrow $1500, and you're not allowed to ask what for... Fireworks.
Saturday Night Live: Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar
Another lackluster episode, with several dud sketches and quite a few that never managed to evolve beyond a central gag, though I suppose a less disappointing one than last week because Adam Levine is no Jennifer Lawrence, and thus it didn't feel like we were missing out on something really good. As a host, Levine mostly traded on the fact that he's apparently got a hot body, and man, he needs to get better at reading cue cards.
Generally speaking, I get very irritated by hosts who are musicians but then also aren't the musical guest. That said, I'd be okay if Justin Bieber wasn't participating as either next episode.
That said, I was beyond impressed at the restraint shown in not having Adam Levine sing at all during the monologue (which was probably the funniest bit he was in all night, thanks mainly to Andy Samberg, who "was in 100 digital shorts and 3 live sketches").
The highlights of the night were pre-filmed ones, both the return of Lonely Island and the great Rosetta Stone ad ("So I can go to Thailand for…a thing" or learning German, "so I can pretend to be German when I’m in Thailand.”).
I'll freely admit that I laughed my ass off at the increasingly-manic screams of Bill Hader's fireman, but that was a prime example of a sketch built around one funny bit but with zero premise beyond it and no idea how to end the sketch. Similarly, the Maroon 5/Train/Jason Mraz/John Mayer sketch was funny enough in its mocking of those musicians, but never really developed a strong enough central idea or a way to end things well.
For the record, I probably would have loved the Sopranos Diaries sketch if I'd ever actually, you know, seen The Sopranos. As it was, it was pretty much just a bunch of standard mafia/80s jokes strung around some of the stuff I recognized about The Sopranos because I was aware of TV in the 2000s (like, I get that Kate McKinnon was doing an Eddie Falco impression, and that her and Tony's relationship is very love/hate). I did enjoy the references to Ewoks as "Space Bears" though.
Favorite Sketch: "You Only Live Once" wasn't the best Lonely Island song/digital short ever, but it was easily the highlight of the night.
Least Favorite Sketch: So many contenders. The gay talk show. The screaming fireman. The one with Janet. Take your pick.
Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 1/12
Episodes Featuring TWO Game Shows: 1/12
Episodes Featuring a Talk Show: 9/12
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 8/12