These have been up on the sidebar for a few days, but if you missed them, or if you're a slave to the RSS, or if you just want a place to comment. Nothing about Sunday night's shows yet. I haven't had time to catch Rubicon yet, though I marathon caught up on it on Friday (making Myles McNutt's marathon blogging over the weekend a serendipitous event and great reading) so I'm SUPER psyched for it. As for Mad Men, you can catch my thoughts on the season finale on the next Extra Hot Great podcast, which should be up by tomorrow.
Clearly, this episode was trying to do for Armageddon what "Contemporary American Poultry" did for Goodfellas, but whether it's because the source material isn't as strong or because these gimmick episodes don't pack as much of a punch the second or third time around, I found a lot of this episode kind of boring. And nonsensical, at least with regards to the whole Annie/City College nonsense. I appreciate that Community takes big swings, but despite some typically hilarious Donald Glover business, this felt like a miss.
30 Rock (10/14)
I actually laughed quite a bit (the Jon Hamm commercial and Julia Louis-Dreyfus's first appearance, especially), but the whole episode seemed too tonally off to feel like anything more than a weird experiment. Which I guess it was, but I wonder how much better the material would have come off as a Classic 30 Rock. That said, Tina Fey's showmanship is awfully infectious
Cougar Town (10/13)
Okay, everybody who's suddenly jumping on the Busy Philipps bandwagon after this week's spotlight of an episode. It's but and all, and I'm sure she appreciates your support, but I was clearly here first, so let's all recognize that fact. Busy-ness aside, I thought Dan Byrd was the laughs champ this week; he's really perfected Travis's oh-so-easily burstable bubble of collegiate self-confidence.
Modern Family (10/13)
First great episode of the season, thanks to episode MVP Jesse Tyler Ferguson (watching him struggle to tell Phil the hard truth and then totally caving was amazing and all too relatable), and the best use yet of Alex. That scene where her aloof coolness crumbles around her and she and Hayley freak increasingly out was a delight.
The season's been pretty much a total dud thus far, but the tribal shake-up has injected a tiny spark of life into it. It's certainly made semi-intriguing characters of people we have seen almost none of thus far (hello, Jane and Benry!), it brought NaOnka down several pegs, and it's showing the chinks in Marty's armor. Am I the only one hoping for Brenda to take him down?
Ah, HERE'S an episode that lived up to the online hype, and one which made me reevaluate the way I enjoy the show. I'd kind of built up a defense mechanism to the thin characterizations by thinking this would be a show that I enjoy despite hating most of the characters (I managed to do just fine with Lost that way, after all). But this episode really went a long way towards making me like pretty much every character on the canvass. The overarching theme seemed to be empathy (Rachel and Kurt; Quinn and Sam, even Brittany and Artie), which ... you're not going to see that on too many TV shows. And most importantly: it remembered Quinn Fabray! I loved every second of Quinn and her bottle-blond would-be paramour; I'm totally rooting for them as a potential couple now, and their duet on "Lucky" was really sweet. And Mike Chang singing! What a fun moment. AND some really funny moments (Diana Agron's delivery of "I really want to punch both of you") and a healthy smattering of subtexty naughtiness (note how Sam goes from towel to jeans in the span of a cut-away, all while Finn is sitting with his face at crotch-level). Wonderful episode.
I caught up on the second and third episodes of the season on Hulu today. That's because I've dropped it from the DVR rotation. I thought last season was a real slog, and I didn't have high hopes for it to reverse course. But watching "Counseling" and "Andy's Play," I realized that while I don't have much hope for the show to find its footing narratively, there are still more than enough elements to make watching worthwhile. Kelly will pop into the frame out of nowhere and quote from "Pretty Woman" (Mindy Kaling still gives the best talking-head spots on the show), or Ryan will continue his ever-evolving d-baggery (no one mentions this, but Ryan has been the most successful character development of the last three seasons), or Andy will lead the cast in a group-sing of Macy Gray's "I Try." Throw in Pam and Gabe's non-frontation over Pam's made-up job, and I'm so happy I didn't miss out on those moments.
I'd like to thank Weeds for fulfilling a dream that had been dormant for seventeen years: seeing Zack Morris naked. I can't imagine my 13-year-old self reacting to the news that Zack would one day be having anger-sex on a bartop with Ruth from Fried Green Tomatoes, but life works out in weird ways. In other news, Doug is still a waste of time, Silas and Andy are still keeping my thin emotional investment alive, and I'm actually curious how this season will end on the Shane front. Something's gotta happen to knock the smirk off that murderous little shit's face, right?