My Ongoing Quest to Critique TV, Part 1

Dudes. Lady Dudes. It’s been about a week since my last post, so I figured I’d review some of the shows I’ve been watching this season. So let’s cut the chit-chat and just dive in, shall we?

How I Met Your Mother
I’m not sure what it is, but I’m just not enjoying this season as much as I should. Maybe it’s that I caught up on the previous five seasons in the span of a couple weeks, and this whole “waiting for new episodes” thing goes down like broken glass. Actually that’s probably it. But there’s also the issue of feeling like the show is stalling. I know, I know, that could be true of any season of this show. But ever since they announced that the show will end after it’s seventh season, it feels like things should really be happening. What things? I don’t know. Part of me wants to say Ted should meet the mother now, so we have time to fall in love with her with him, to see their amazing synergy, etc etc. Another part of me thinks that’s how the show should end, leaving the rest of their relationship to our imaginations (and what we’ve learned from Ted’s narration). The risk with the first option is that the show pulls a Zooey, and that everyone hates her. I mean, how does an on-screen relationship compete with Future-Ted’s rose-colored glasses? The problem with the second option is that nothing Ted does until the last episode will matter, so why bother? Of course, the hope is that we’re invested enough in Barney, Robin, Lily and Marshall that we’ll stick with it. And by-and-large I am.

Honestly, I enjoyed this week’s episode. I loved the return of Kal Penn to television. I loved getting an episode mostly from Robin’s perspective, and the gentle mocking of the show’s very premise [“Robin. Serial killers have led me to shallow graves faster than you’re telling this story.”] Barney and Nora are precious. I had quite a few laughs.

But nothing feels consequential, and for me, that’s a problem.

Community
So far there have only been two episodes of Community this season. And while they’ve both been good, neither has lived up to the absolutely stellar precedent set by season two. This latest episode was, however, substantially better than the largely underwhelming premiere. The show kept things simple, with just two plots: Annie vs. Asian Annie in a Model U.N. battle royale; and Britta vs. Chang. Basically, Our Annie has met her asian evil twin, who steals her idea for a Model U.N. at Greendale. She runs to Jeff, who rushes her defense. To settle the matter, both Annie’s start their own Model U.N.s, who then race to solve world crises and achieve world peace. Unfortunately, when a real-world problem occurs (a fart), the group falls apart, Annie throws a tantrum, and storms off. This leads to the real pay-off for me, which was Jeff explaining to Annie that he feels strongly for her, but thinks it’s creepy and wrong, so he treats her like a child. It was just nice to see Jeff actually vocalize the feelings that have only been hinted at for so long.

Britta’s storyline was where the humor was. After learning that a former protester friend has been locked up in a foreign country – and worse, has her own Facebook page – Britta begins to wonder if she’s sold out. Meanwhile, Chang discovers that being a security guard means virtually nothing. So when he tells Britta not to do something, she of course does it, badly. It’s a match made in heaven, as evidenced by “Hello” by Lionel Richie playing every time they encounter each other. Britta’s attempts at rebellion are pretty hilarious, and Gillian Jacobs really committed. It was great.

I’m looking forward to the apparently noir-style episode this week, and the Halloween episode later this month. I’m excited about the journey Jeff will be on this season. I’m just ready for this show to hit its stride again.

Revenge
Ok, I’m officially hooked on this show after only two episodes. Out of all the new shows I’ve seen this year, this is easily the one I’m enjoying most. Victoria continues to be an evil bitch. Collin continues to be smarmy and awkward. Emily/Amanda continues to be equally engaging as charming socialite and driven life-ruiner. I like that this latest episode broadened the focus, and began to develop some of the other characters – namely her childhood sweetheart and his family, as well as her future fiance. While I’m not entirely convinced the show can continue to be good after the first season, I’m pretty sure this season at least will be great. So hopefully it gets renewed, AND avoids pulling a Desperate Housewives or Heroes (excellent first seasons, intensely crappy all other seasons).

The Playboy Club
I like this show, despite myself. I still think Nick Dalton was chosen largely because he sounds so much like Jon Hamm, and that the show is trying to make him Don Draper. But I love Carol-Lynne. The whole ice-queen/aging beauty dynamic makes her alternately truly despicable and completely relatable. I like Bunny Maureen too, if only because I feel like there’s more to her than we’ve seen so far. The other bunnies are varying degrees of interesting. Bunny Alice – the Lesbunny – annoys the hell out of me, but without her there’d be no Sean Maher, who is adorable and also FIREFLY. I love Bunny Brenda, the black bunny. I think Naturi Naughton is a good actress, and her character has a lot of sympathy. Bunny Janie doesn’t really do it for me, despite her tragic past, but I don’t actively dislike her.

Of course, none of this matters, since NBC canceled the show today. But still.

Supernatural
I enjoyed the premiere, I really did. I was conflicted how I felt about Castiel being the big bad, because he’s my favorite character. But I liked Sam’s ongoing insanity, and the Leviathans seemed like a cool villain that fit well in the Supernatural universe.

But then they killed Castiel. Again, my favorite character. So I’m upset about this. But at the same time, it pushes the characters to some cool new places. I mean, when was the last time the boys faced death. Not Death. And definitely not “death.” I mean actual, final death, for someone they truly loved. Their dad? How many seasons ago was that? Four? Five? Cas was Dean’s best friend, maybe even as much a brother to him as Sam, and now he’s gone. Add to that Sam’s insanity, and poor Dean is going to have a rough year. Which sucks for him but is good for us as the viewer. And there being so many Leviathans, in so many potential places, reinvigorates the story. So I’m excited.

Fringe
The fourth season premiere was good. Not amazing, but good. It was from Lincoln’s perspective, which gave the show an excuse to re-cap the past three seasons – although in this case it was more just “capping” them, since the show’s history changed. So we needed an outsider’s view. But it left me wishing for more Olivia. Well this episode I got my wish.

Guys, I know none of you watch this show, but you really should. How many other shows on television get to explore two versions of the same man – one where he became a serial killer, and another where he met a woman who taught him to overcome the darkness?

How many shows parallel that with an incredible lead actress, playing two versions of herself – one where she was beaten by her step-father growing up, who was experimented on my mad scientists, who trusts no one and is somber; one where none of that happened, where she grew up to win an Olympic medal in sharp-shooting, where she is a highly decorated agent in an agency that saves the world, consistently, who is in a happy relationship? Come one guys. This is deep. This is nuance. This is fantastic story-telling and phenomenal acting. From everyone. This show is so well-done it breaks my heart that more people don’t watch it.

Well guys, it’s been fun. I have way more to talk about – the season six premiere of Dexter, the premiere of Homeland, Glee, Ringer, Raising Hope, New Girl, and Modern Family – but I have school in like two hours and still haven’t done my homework. So I need to GTFOffline. But hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow or Thursday!

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