Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Week in TV: Tara, Jackie, Justified, and more...

United States of Tara (3/22)
I wrote about this show a couple of times throughout its first season, and it's not like I didn't already think it was a pretty great show, but when I finally caught last night's season premiere, I was deliriously happy to have the Gregsons back in my life. I mis-recorded and so ended up watching the S1 finale before the S2 premiere, and I was quickly reminded why I love this show so much. Vivid, challenging, ultimately lovable characters who -- Diablo Cody haters take note -- feel more real as the quirky dialogue settles down. And if Monday's place-setting episode showed anything, it's that the alters leave a void when they're not around. I welcome them back as much as I welcome Tara, Max, Marshall, Charmane, and okay, Katie too.

Nurse Jackie (3/22)
By contrast, my enthusiasm for Jackie has waned ever so slightly. Part of it, yes, is that my beloved Momo is gone. Part of it is that some of the conflict hanging overhead in last season's finale (ditching O'Hara in her hour of need, for example) have evaporated in the offseason. And I admit I'm having a hard time latching on to Jackie's central premise, which at this point still seems to be "how do I maintain my addicted, secretive lifestyle as long as possible." But I still love the actors, Edie Falco and Eve Best and Merrit Wever are so funny, and I ultimately want Jackie to make it all work for herself, even if I am impatient for her to want it too.

Breaking Bad (3/21)
I'm recapping this season on TWoP, so check out my thoughts here!

30 Rock (3/18)
Probably my favorite episode of the season. Giving Jack renewed purpose was totally necessary, and I loved his determination to bring back American ingenuity, even if the idea behind Porn For Women seems...well, warmed over, to be honest. But that great Philly/Boston/Los Angeles segment at the beginning killed me. And the Liz/Michael Sheen plot was a total winner too. Please please please keep bringing up Liz's hatred of British-isms.

Parks and Recreation (3/18)
Probably my least favorite episode of the season, and the first time 30 Rock has bested it all season. I'm not an Andy Samberg hater, by any means, but he stuck out like a sore thumb here. And while I do love April and Andy together, the inclusion of Ann in there feels typical. And, maybe this is beside the point, but I hate the idea of poor Rashida Jones having to be the hated third side of a love triangle on another NBC sitcom.

Justified (3/16)
Because I'm weird, I had been resistant to this series (despite my Timpthy Olyphant love) despite (because of?) the avalanche of critical praise for it. There's a scene at about mid-episode where Federal marshall Olyphant makes his first casual-but-not interaction with the white supremacist terrorist played by Walton Goggins; he heard Goggins go on about the Bible and the Jews and lays out an alternate theory: "I think you just use the Bible to do whatever the hell you like, [and] you like to get money and blow shit up." I sometimes think that way about TV's most acclaimed dramas, constantly finding ways to write about straight whitle males talking tough and acting violent. But I'm happy to say I liked the Justified premiere so much that those concerns fall by the wayside. Olyphant's protagonist is complicated without being despicable, and the show isn't so in love with its own violence. And the supporting cast is great. I'm somewhat crestfallen that Natalie Zea is playing a character who is so grounded -- after Dirty Sexy Money, I was hoping she'd get to continue being outrageous, but again, I like her too much to complain. As for Goggins, who I understand was beloved on The Shield (another one of those Big Strong Man shows I didn't care to watch), he was absolutely magnetic, and I can't remember the last time I was so happy to see death cheated so brazenly.


JA said...

I was so happy watching Tara last night! Just to have them all back. I'm a little wary of the Joey Lauren Adams storyline though just because her baby-voice makes me want to stick flaming q-tips down my ear canals.

DuchessKitty said...

Olyphant's protagonist is complicated without being despicable, and the show isn't so in love with its own violence.

I too was hesitant to try out Justified despite my Timothy Olyphant obsession. But boy am I glad I did. It was amazing. Your comments above perfectly capture how I felt about the show and the character of Raylan Givens in particular. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.

I had sort of worked myself into a tizzy over the 2nd season premieres for Tara and Jackie and was met with mixed results. I loved getting the Gregson family back in my life; it was truly like putting on an old pair of your favorite jeans. And while I share J's anxiety over Joey Lauren Adams, I can't wait to take the ride with this show again.

But boy was I disappointed with Nurse Jackie. I mean I know it's early and I'm not giving up on the drama, but it fell flat in several big ways for me. I hope that my love for Anna Deveare Smith and Peter Facinelli can overcome my ennui for this second season.

Joe Reid said...

Oh! I forgot to mention my other favorite thing about last week's 30 Rock: Don Geiss frozen in carbonite!