Friday, April 19, 2013
Last Week in TV #30
Hey, we've got a decent slate of things to cover this week. And it's not even May yet!
Also, Monday's Revolution was pre-empted by the President's speech, and as far as I know, didn't re-air at any other point this week (I'm assuming they're just pushing everything back a week and will eventually double up some night), but if you know it did, let me know.
The Simpsons: What Animated Women Want
This episode was trying to say something, what with it's narration and thematically similar A and B plots, but for the most part, I just found myself thinking "the last thing we need is yet another 'Homer has to repair his marriage' story." The Milhouse/Lisa material was much stronger, what with its examination of the bewildering trend of women inexplicably falling for bad boys who treat them poorly and its callbacks (both subtle and overt) to the classic "A Streetcar Named Marge" episode, but it was all second fiddle to what was really just another Homer/Marge plot (something of which this episode was clearly aware).
Honestly, I think my favorite part of the whole episode was Milhouse's note on A Streetcar Named Desire, that the "musical version starring Flanders was better". Also, that the cabs in Springfield are "Skin-Colored Cabs".
Martin: Why doesn’t Blanche go for that delightful Karl Malden?
Narrator: And so Homer and Marge’s marriage was saved for another week.
Bob's Burgers: Family Fracas
Maybe I'm just a vengeful person, but I really wanted Jimmy Pesto to get more comeuppance in this episode. Yes, we all know he cheated to win, and yes, Bob got the moral victory by knowing how to change a tire, but I wanted more (this also felt like an episode that came dangerously close to one of Dr. Bitz's sitcom pet peeves, in which the main characters come close to ridiculous wealth only to have it snatched away at the last minute, though at least in this case it was only a minivan they kept missing out on winning).
As a child of the late 80s/90s who frequented watched Nickelodeon, I appreciate what the Fracas Foam brought to the proceedings. The whole game show was very Double Dare.
Chuck and Pam, from "Beefsquatch" returned, and while Chuck does little for me, Judge Pam cracked me the hell up.
Tina: Hi! I'm Tina! I like horses, music, and boys. (Hi, boys. I'm Tina.)
Gene: I never forget a camera that feeds me!
Family Guy: Bigfat
It's been awhile since we've had a good Peter-centric episode ("Turban Cowboy" was Peter-centric, but not very good), and in fact, this season has been surprisingly light on Peter overall. For the most part, I enjoyed this episode, as it had a ton of great bits, though Meg-bashing being the vehicle for Peter regaining his humanity isn't the way I'd have ended it (aside from me not being that big a fan of the Meg-bashing, it's also terribly predictable).
As a big King of the Hill fan, I loved that opening. It warmed my nostalgic heart.
The Predator gags were also pretty good, as was Peter's singing of "We Didn't Start the Fire" ("Yelling really loud at me!").
American Dad: The Missing Kink
Man, between this and The Simpsons, the kinky sex stuff was all over the Fox animation block. This episode started strong (including all the various things Francine blamed on Steve in order to get spanked) but dragged a bit towards the end (though Stan's attempt to cram as many kinks as possible into things was pretty great), with a resolution that felt a little too pat (pun intended).
The less said about the B plot, the better. It hit pretty much every beat you expect a storyline like that to hit, adding nothing to it along the way.
Roger as a bartender passing off piss and garbage as pretentious beer and food served the A plot well, integrating him into the story without allowing him to take it over.
How I Met Your Mother: Romeward Bound
This episode felt very much like a placeholder. While the Ted/Robin/Barney plotline (particularly the conversation between Ted and Barney) is obviously leading to something (presumably the cold feet we know both Barney and Robin will have on their wedding day), the whole "Lily and Marshall move to Italy" feels like a non-starter. It's possible the show has something clever in mind, like a one year jump forward between seasons, or is legitimately going to try and tell stories about Lily and Marshall living in Italy, but I find it hard to believe they're going to split up the cast for any serious length of time (and we know Lily and Marshall will be at Robin and Barney's wedding). And maybe it's an attempt to make a bigger story out of Lily's frustrated career ambitions, but this seems like an odd point in the season to fire that off. So in the end, the whole thing feels like an exercise in killing time. As a one-off plot it could have worked, but now I'm just confused about where this is going.
It also didn't help that the rest of the episode wasn't terribly funny, and featured what yet another attempt to make something a "thing" (in this case, Barney's notion of "the stank" of desire which prevents single men from asking women seemingly innocuous questions), a recurring trope on the show which is becoming more and more tired the older it gets.
It was pretty ridiculous that Lily would contemplate and reject the Captain's job offer without ever discussing it with Marshall, and just assume he wouldn't want to move to Italy, even if she had her own reasons for turning it down. I can buy Marshall having to drag the truth out of her, but not that she'd consider turning it down without ever even mentioning it to him first.
Marshall not telling Lily about the state of his job was also out-of-character, something done just to setup a sequence of jokes that weren't all that funny. I'm also curious why Marshall, who was in part responsible for losing the case which sunk the firm, is one of the employees left standing. Wouldn't he have been the first out the door?
That scene between Ted and Barney was quite good, and the highlight of the episode. At the very least, it suggests the writers are aware of how problematic the handling of post-engagement Barney has been, and maybe even that it's an intentional part of the overall story and not just the unintended consequence of the show wanting Robin and Barney to get together but being afraid or unwilling to have Barney change his regular schtick accordingly.
Marshall (in Italian): Come on, bro, don’t bogart the Funyuns
Glee: Girls (and Boys) On Film
Far be it for me to disparage a tribute to movies (because, you know, it's me, and I love movies), but while I did like the way it tied in to the Will/Emma reconciliation as they promise to start over with a movie, I couldn't help but be reminded of how the show was, Moulin Rouge aside, celebrating the movies the writers of the show liked, rather than movies these kids would actually like. And hey, I like a lot of those movies/songs too, because I'm (presumably) roughly the same age as the writers (certainly, we have similar cultural touchstones), and, whatever, this is hardly the first (or worst) time that the artificiality of Glee was on display, but I couldn't help for noticing it throughout the episode.
For the record, I could buy that the guys could be into Top Gun, even though it came out roughly ten years before they were born, or that the girls would name drop Beaches, or even that they'd all get a kick out of Footloose (there was that remake just a few years ago); it just seemed odd that pretty much every movie the kids referenced/name dropped/sang a song from, with the exception of Moulin Rouge, was released sometime between 1980 and 1992.
Speaking of Moulin Rouge, it takes all the fun out of a mash-up if you just swing a song that was already mashed-up, complete with the lines that reference the film which mean nothing outside the context of its narrative.
I got a much bigger kick out of Santana throughout this episode than I probably should have, but her bitchiness was assuaged by the fact that she was actually a friend to Rachel at the end there.
I could not care less about the Marley/Ryder/Jake love triangle. Also, I still can't believe that Marley is confiding in Kitty, and that nobody has yet called Kitty on the whole "tricking Marley into bulimia" thing.
The abruptness of the ending, with Finn blurting out that he kissed Emma, was appreciated; I'm glad that they're not dragging that out. While Will's silence was appropriate (and suitably tense), I'm not gonna lie: if he'd just decked Finn, I'd have laughed.
Apparently Bob Seger just made his catalog available to the show; last episode we got "We've Got Tonight", while "Old Time Rock 'n' Roll" was used in a mashup in this episode.
Only in the World of Glee: Apparently, Emma's dad can see through the walls which separate realities, as he believes the teenagers of Glee should be considering and applying for college much like they do in our world, far sooner than they do in the world of Glee.
Favorite Song: I liked the guys' mash-up, but "Old Time Rock 'n' Roll" is probably my least-favorite Seger song. Also, I'm a sucker for Moulin Rouge, and "Come What May" was used in my wedding (it wasn't our first dance song or anything, but still), so I'll go with that.
Community: Advanced Documentary Filmmaking
I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. On the one hand, like Jeff, I was certain throughout the episode that Chang was faking it, so having that confirmed was validating. On the other hand, that final scene between Jeff and Chang was so good, I'm bummed it was more or less immediately discredited. I'm also not terribly wild about the idea of Chang being involved in another high concept plot to take over/take down the school, but I suppose we'll just have to see how it plays out.
I know the core of this episode was the return of Abed's documentary device and/or Jeff's persistence that Chang is faking, but what stood out for me was Annie and Troy (or should I say Houlihan and Troy?) as investigative partners. It's a shame that, despite them being roommates, we haven't gotten more scenes of them together.
The McGuffin Institute was a nice touch.
Parks and Recreation: Animal Control
No big character moments or plot developments in this one, just a good old fashioned episode in which Leslie grapples with bureaucracy while Ron is Ron, though Leslie's efforts gained some resonance by showing just how far April has come (and by showing how long Leslie has known April would eventually come this far). It's an episode that covered some familiar ground, but covered it very well.
The Ben/Tom/Andy story was the weakest of the three, though Dennis Feinstein remains one of the show's best supporting characters. I was expecting Andy to ultimately come up with some way to get the donation from Dennis, but in the end, it was just a case of calling a dick a dick, then running.
Ron considers love-making and woodworking exercise. He's also disappointed that the hospital doesn't have mahogany tongue depressors, and has surprisingly low cholesterol. Again, we've seen Ron get sick before, but all of this was great material.
I too have reacted as Ron did to getting the junk from the inside of a banana peel on my hand. The whole sequence ofRon struggling to eat the banana was comedy gold.
It's been said before that the show often struggles with finding things for Ann to do, but I remain impressed with how well she works in stories with Ron.
Saturday Night Live: Vince Vaughn & Miguel
What an odd episode. Vince Vaughn, who turned in a pretty strong monologue, giving me high hopes for the rest of the show, brought this really weird energy to everything. Some of that is just Vince Vaughn's brand of comedy, which usually works for me, but for the most part, didn't really play that well on SNL. In a lot of ways, this was the anti-McCarthy episode; not because it lacked energy, but because Vaughn's odd lackadaisical energy was almost a complete 180 from McCarthy's huge enthusiasm.
Lots of flubbed lines, late entrances and breaking in this episode, for whatever reason.
The political material in the cold open worked mainly from a "funny cuz it's true (and sad)" standpoint.
I'm nearly certain that all the audience members Vaughn interacted with during his monologue were actual audience members, and not just cast members or writers pretending to be audience members (one of my big SNL pet peeves). So kudos for that.
The HBO promo was pretty much just an excuse to give Hader an opportunity to do his Pacino, but hey, that's never a bad thing, and at least it was high energy.
Stormy Skies wasn't perfect, but it had its moments (Taran Killiam and Kate McKinnon in particular really nailed their parts). I wouldn't mind seeing it again. I'd certainly rather see it again than The Californians.
The Margaret Thatcher sketch had some pretty impressive punk rock pastiches, but ultimately went nowhere.
Even "Weekend Update" felt like a let down this week, as it was shorter than usual. Though I did enjoy Kenan's LL Cool J, mainly for playing up his sellout aspects.
Favorite Sketch: Honestly, I think I have to go with the monologue, which was the best thing we got from Vince Vaughn, and for featuring actual audience members.
Least Favorite Sketch: The last sketch of the night, which, aside from an impeccable stream of tequila from Kate McKinnon, didn't work any better this time than it did last time.
Mark Norcross: I predict activity in the high sixties. The highest sixty.
LL Cool J: This is how I answer the phone, Seth: Hello? I’ll do it.
John Tesh: Look, we did not what this to go this way.
NBC Exec: The why did you bring little hammers and a can of gasoline?
Tesh: Cause we thought it might go this way.
Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 4/18
Episodes Featuring TWO Game Shows: 1/18
Episodes Featuring a Talk Show: 12/18
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 9/18