Monday, February 14, 2011

The Week in TV

30 Rock (2/10)
I believe everybody will do the right thing and agree with me that this was the best 30 Rock of the season. RIGHT? I don't know how it took five seasons to get Liz Lemon stuck on a tarmac or Jack Donaghy into Canada, but I'm glad it finally happened. If I have one complaint, it's that I wish they'd have just junked the loser Tracy/Jenna plot and just gave the remaining time to Jack and Liz. I'm not even going to bother counting down the dozens of great laughs, but I do want to shout out some outstanding guest performances from John Cho ("Where are my manners? Do you wanna try meth?") and the hilarious Jeff Hiller (who I was just recently raving about in Broadway's "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson") as the flight attendant who studied dance at Carnegie Mellon.

Parks and Recreation (2/10)
Not to be nitpicky, but I had the slightest sense of diminishing returns with our second trip into the breach with Ron and Tammy. I think because so much of the punch of the first episode was the shock in seeing Ron Swanson go so far head-over-heels, plus the shock of seeing Tammy turn out to be such a nightmare. Then again, Ron in cornrows and missing a portion of his stache due to friction was worth quite a lot. And I like everything that got set up with April temping for Chris -- I'm a sucker for people seeing the hidden worth in April.

Community (2/10)
I swear to god, I WANT to like Community more than I have been. But then they give me an episode like this one, which strands Jeff on an island with Ken Jeong and John Oliver, then adds Andy Dick to an already unlikeable Pierce (with a tonally bizarre closing moment that suggests Pierce has an addiction problem because THAT is totally what this show needs), and I suddenly am not given much choice. I did think the Troy/Abed plot was funny and sweet, and I was totally into the setup with lezzier-than-thou Britta and her homophobic friend Annie. But all that promise got paid off with some by-the-numbers follow-through. It's one thing to feel left behind after not getting all the hype around something like the Christmas episode. It's another thing altogether to watch the show fail to clear a significantly lower bar.

Top Chef: All-Stars (2/9)
I know most people don't share my deep hatred of Richard Blais, but I would hope that anyone watching this week's episode could at least see where I'm coming from. The poutiness. The arrogance. The insistence on his own brilliance. The smug notion that he could make a chocolate-and-bananas fondue that would be so awesome as to make Padma eat her words. The giant side-cocked Muppet mouth and stupid hair. If I ever decided to count all the instances of me yelling "Fuck off" at Blais during a given episode, I'd be counting for a long time. Anyway! Really enjoyed the Jimmy Fallon challenge, LOVED Carla's weirdo enthusiasm as usual, was not sad to see Fabio go, and wish Mike Isabella could have gone with him. The narrative throughlines are getting pretty clear, though, right? Richard, Antonia, and Dale seem to be getting the Top 4 edit for sure, to be joined by (hopefully) Carla or (God forbid) Mike.

Glee (2/8)
Beyond that great "Thriller"/Yeah Yeah Yeahs mash-up, the Super Bowl episode wasn't worth a whole hell of a lot. And while "Silly Love Songs" wasn't any great shakes in terms of memorable performances (I actually couldn't bring myself to look at Darren Criss singing Robin Thicke at The Gap), it was a complete triumph of the show having a laugh at itself and at its increasingly ridiculous characters. And not in a way that felt cheap either. No, I don't like Finn and Quinn inching back together any more than you do, but how great was Santana this whole episode? From her tearful "I'm just trying to be honest about how people suck" breakdown to "That's how they do it in Lima Heights Adjacent," she absolutely killed.

Big Love (2/6)
It's been a rough start to its final season for this show that I used to love so passionately, but this episode finally brought me back onboard. We've finally gotten back to the version of the show that I love best: the three sister-wives trying to navigate the interpersonal ins and outs of their strange family. Yes, it does seem like we've had these conflicts before -- even prior to Margene's revelation that she was 16 upon getting together with Bill, the tension between Margene and the other wives was that she was Bill's jailbait midlife crisis. But the wives' relationship is what matters to me. I still hate Bill, as everyone does, and I think the show became irrevocably weaker once it stopped being about the Henricksons trying to make their own small family work in a world that didn't understand it to now being about capital-P Polygamy. But between the re-introduction of Rhonda and Kevin Rankin as her husband (whose lingering glances with Alby suggest a delicious backstory I can't wait to get explored) and the tragic story of Lois's VD-caused dementia, I'm invested in the landscape of the show again. I can't say as I loved the tonally discordant dream sequence (too Sopranos-y), but a) it felt right to see Grace Zabriskie get her David Lynch on again, and b) I think the song was the same one from Girl, Interrupted when Brittany Murphy hanged herself.


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. It seems like every other person I read who writes about Top Chef loves themselves some Blais, and while I do not hate him quite as much as you do, you have NAILED the reasons that I do dislike him so. Thank you. I will just point people this way next time I need to explain.

It was the best 30 Rock of the season, and I really liked seeing Ben do something right for the Parks Dept., even if it was predicated on years of Knope legwork.

Nicole said...

Would it be rude of me to inquire about your thoughts on the last few episodes of Fringe?

Joe Reid said...

I know, I have been grossly neglectful of "Fringe" coverage here since its move to Fridays. I've been bogged down with work and I want to give the episode its due attention so I haven't been able to find the time. Hopefully tonight/tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

"The giant side-cocked Muppet mouth and stupid hair."

Sing it. I feel like he wasn't nearly this repellent in his original season, but I groan every time he opens his yap to spout some deluded nonsense about how clearly superior he is. SHUT UP, RICHARD. GOD.

Karen said...

I get your point about the impact of Ron & Tammy being diminished the second time around. But Ron Swanson in cornrows? Love.