Monday, September 27, 2010

TV Week in Review: Premiere Week

Running late with the reviews, and I still didn't get a chance to watch everything thanks to spending most of Saturday watching college football with PigPen and going to the movies with Li'l Brother this evening.  


How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 7:00): An okay enough episode -- I enjoyed the imagined consequences of Ted ignoring the importance of Barney's dibs -- but I'm leery of the new wedding flashback/flashforward framing sequence, which felt a little forced.

Chuck (NBC, 7:00):  As glad as I am to have the show back, I felt that the season premiere was really uneven; while I appreciate some of the show's goofier moments, the whole "globetrotting Chuck and Morgan" plotline was a bit much for me.  I did like the idea of the BuyMore being an actual CIA base of operations if for no other reason than it will remove the need for Chuck to keep coming up with excuses for why he's gone all the time -- although I suppose that aspect will still survive in the relationship with Ellie . . .which is a shame, because I'm burned out on the constant deception angle. 

The Event
(NBC, 8:00):  Man, there was a lot going on in the pilot, wasn't there?  Some might be tempted to say there was too much going on.  I can see how the rapid-fire introduction of characters and constant time-jumps could be off-putting -- to be honest, I can't say I felt very connected to the majority of the characters by the end -- but the twists and turns of the plot did keep me intrigued enough to tune in again.  

Lone Star
(Fox, 8:00):  The premiere episode of this "con-man yearning for redemption" drama was very well done, but sadly not very well watched -- its abysmal ratings mean that it might not be too long for this earth.  I hope that Fox will give it a chance to grow, but if the past is any indicator, that hope is a slim one.   

Castle (ABC, 9:00):  I have to admit, as predictable as Castle's appearance at the second crime scene was, it still cracked me up -- not sure if that speaks more to the quality of the gag or the ease by which I am amused.  I also enjoyed the cold shoulder Castle got from Ryan and Esposito.


Glee (Fox, 7:00): Once again Shue shows himself to be just a stellar role model to the kids by immediately being swayed by Sue's insane troll logic. I don't know why I'm still surprised by such logical lapses on this show -- character consistency is far from its strong suit.  On a more positive note, Sue's rants were as entertaining as ever, and Finn's tryout for the Cheerios was one of the funniest things I've seen this week. 

Raising Hope (Fox, 8:00):  Far and away my favorite new show of the season; had me laughing out loud more than most of the returning sitcoms combined.

Running Wilde (Fox, 8:30): I was a bit apprehensive going into this new sitcom from Mitch Hurwitz, the creator of Arrested Development.  As much as I loved Will Arnett's role as Gob on AD, I don't think it was the sort of character that could have carried an entire show by itself, and from the initial previews Arnett's role on Running Wilde seemed to be too close to Gob for comfort.  However, I found the series premiere to be, if not excellent, then at least enjoyable and entertaining, which is more than I can say about a couple of other series I tried out.  Still not sure if there's enough here to sustain a weekly series, but I'm willing to give it a whirl.

Parenthood (NBC, 9:00):  I want to like this show, I really do, but they make it so hard sometimes; honestly, often the drama of each episode feels like drama for the sake of drama, and not something that's grown organically from the characters.   

Sons of Anarchy (FX, 9:00):  Things I liked about this week's episode:  the Stephen King cameo.  Things I wasn't too happy about:  most everything else.  Not a bad episode, per se, but between Opie losing his cool and ruing the deal and the unfortunate series of events surrounding the hostage situation, I just felt like there were too many dumb decisions being made.


Undercovers (NBC, 7:00):  The first episode of the new spy series from J.J. Abrams didn't wow me like many of his other series premieres have, but I did find it to be some nice, light escapist fare, and believe it or not, that's actually a compliment. Whether the show can maintain this light-hearted spirit and still hold my interest is the big question.

The Middle (ABC, 7:00):  While I usually enjoy The Middle, I wasn't a huge fan of this particular episode, largely due to the assumptions made by Brick's teacher about Frankie's motivations -- "people making erroneous assumptions and then refusing to let go of them" is one of those plot points I have a low tolerance for.

Survivor (CBS, 7:00): If the best tribal councils are the ones where someone loses their mind and stops filtering their comments, then this episode's tribal council had to be one of the best of all time.  In post-show interviews, crazy-man has claimed that the apparent non sequiter questioning of Sash's sexuality actually had some context to it that was left on the editing floor, namely that he was trying to prove that everyone lies because obviously Sash's claims to be straight were false . . . and while that context might have made the sequence less bizarre, it wouldn't have made him seem less off-putting.  Glad to see him go, and looking forward to the next time the young'uns get sent to tribal, because you know that none of those yahoos have learned their lesson about biting their tongues.

Modern Family (ABC, 8:00):  The "Mitchell is a danger to himself and others" plot was a little too slapsticky for me, but other than that, a good episode. 

Cougar Town (ABC, 8:30):  While it's unfortunate that they decided to stick with this show's horrible original title, that's really the only disappointing thing I can say about the season premiere. 

Top Chef: Just Desserts (Bravo, 9:00):  As someone who can be a tad over-emotional when he's stressed out, I was feeling bad for Seth for a large part of the episode -- especially as the other chefs got on their high horses. But by the end I was just wanting him to learn how to shut his mouth.

Terriers (FX,  9:00):  I liked the unconventional twist on the marital infidelity case overall, although I'm not sure I liked how it ended.  Still, a very well-written and well-acted episode that has firmly cemented this as one of my "must-watch" shows.

Ultimate Fighter: GSP-Koscheck (Spike, 9:00):  Surprisingly, Koscheck didn't annoy me at all this episode; I'm not expecting that to last for long.  Best part of the episode was of course GSP managing to psych Koscheck out in the picks -- can't believe he fell for such a transparent ploy.


Community (NBC, 7:00):  A strong return for one of my favorite sitcoms of last season; I appreciate the way they've managed to subvert the "will they/won't they" relationship of Jeff and Britta.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 7:00):  One of the more disappointing season premieres for me; while I loved every moment devoted to the Shamy coupling, I was less than thrilled with the predictable and forced robot arm subplot. 

30 Rock (NBC, 7:30): One of the things I enjoy about this show is how it manages to bring in actors known primarily for their dramatic roles and let them show their comedy chops; Matt Damon's return as Liz's love interest continues that enjoyable trend. 

$#*! My Dad Says
(CBS, 7:30):  Such a dreadfully unfunny show:  predictable, bland, and forced.  I barely made it all the way through. Not even going to bother giving it a second try.

Fringe (Fox, 8:00):  So glad to have Fringe back; last season the show really found its footing, and the season premiere definitely lived up to my high expectations.  Looking forward to seeing how the parallel universe storyline is going to play out.  

Grey's Anatomy (ABC, 8:00):  Not a fan of the adrenaline-junkie-Derek storyline so far, and I hate that they've yet again regressed Alex to the thoughtless jerk mode, but all of that is almost swept away by the power of the scenes depicting Bailey's breakdown. 

The Apprentice (NBC, 9:00):  Two episodes in and I'm starting to remember why I'd given up on this a few seasons back:  The Donald is a crazy, inconsistent mess who gets on to people one minute for fighting for their lives even before they know for sure they've lost, but then gripes someone else out for holding their tongue until the "appropriate" time. We'll have to see how much longer the investment I have in the contestants outweighs my annoyance at The Donald -- right now I'm not holding out much hope for the contestants' chances.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX, 9:00):  For an episode featuring the gang's lawyer nemesis, this installment was surprisingly weak; I blame Charlie's uncle, who was more off-putting than amusing.

The League (FX, 9:30):  I really, really, really want El Cuñado to disappear from the show muy rapido.  I would have much rather they let Jenny have her own team and explore that dynamic than bring in this horribly annoying character. 


Blue Bloods (CBS, 9:00):  Can you say "heavy-handed manipulative melodrama" boys and girls?  I knew you could. Only made it half-way through


Family Guy (Fox, 8:00):  I was a bit let down by the season premiere's homage to the old "dark house" films; a bit too much homage and not enough comedy, especially at the end.

Rubicon (AMC, 8:00):  I'm glad to see things finally heating up, although I was sad to see the Will/Katherine connection cut short so abruptly.  I don't know what the odds of this getting picked up for another season are, so I'm hoping that we get to find out the motive behind the suicides before everything is said and done.

Mad Men (AMC, 9:00):  The title of this episode really should have been something about excrement hitting fans . . . between background checks, dead rabbits, panic attacks, lost accounts, and Lane's father's version of "tough love" they really piled the drama on.  I'm amazed that Betty didn't blow Don's secret to the feds, although I suspect it was more a matter of self-preservation than actual compassion.

Venture Bros. (Cartoon Network, 10:30):  I love the fact that the boys and their bodyguard's idea of taking pity on Rusty was to kidnap and torture him; I mean, just when you think the Venture family dynamics couldn't be any more twisted . . .have I mentioned that I love this show?

Monday, September 20, 2010

TV Week in Review -- Picking Up Steam

I feel like I'm still easing back into this blogging business -- coming up with cogent analysis of last week's TV fare was often like pulling teeth.  I'm hoping things go more smoothly this week, as the Fall season starts in earnest; in the meantime, take a gander at my thought on last week.


As of last week, there was still nothing new playing on Monday nights; that will change drastically tonight.


Parenthood (NBC, 9:00): The season premiere kept this show going firmly in the "I like this show, but . . ." mode that typified its first season.  I like the continuing story of dealing with an autistic son, and I like the new dynamic between the grandparents, and I really liked the son-in-law finally standing up for himself -- but I disliked most every other plot point, especially Adam's treatment of his sister.  Honestly, playing the "When did I ever ask for anything but thanks?"  card on her is definitely in the running for "Jerk of the Year" moments.

Sons of Anarchy (FX, 9:00):  With my 2nd favorite character gone -- R.I.P. Half Sack -- and Jax falling down the rabbit hole of revenge, right now I am only really enjoying the show when it's focusing on Gemma and Tig. I am looking forward to the upcoming guest-appearance by Stephen King, however.


The Ultimate Figther:  GSP vs Koscheck (Spike, 9:00):  If I had been harboring any fears that this new season might temper my dislike of Koscheck by humanizing him -- much like Tito's first tenure as coach did for him -- the season premiere and its upcoming episode teaser seem to have laid them to rest.  Honestly, this is going to be a hard season to make it through, especially if Koscheck's team starts winning -- don't know if I can handle an even cockier Koscheck. 

Survivor (CBS, 7:00):   The first post-Russel Brand season of Survivor got off to a slow start for me; the inclusion of former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson is an interesting gimmick, but I have a feeling that the "old vs. young" segregation will lead to some more lop-sided victories, which is seldom entertaining for me.

Top Chef: Washington D.C. (Bravo, 9:00):   Can't say I was super-excited to see Kevin emerge as the winner; didn't have anything against him, but it's always odd when someone who never won a single challenge winds up winning the whole thing. 

Top Chef: Just Desserts (Bravo, 10:00):  I'll say one thing about this Top Chef spin-off:  the odds of the dishes prepared here inspiring food cravings in me each week will probably be much higher than on the parent program. 

Terriers (FX, 9:00):  Two episodes in, and I'm hooked.  Sadly, it sounds like its ratings have been dismal so far -- hoping FX sticks by it and allows it to find an audience.


Nikita (CW, 8:00):  I'm afraid this looks like it might be my first casualty of the season.  Not because I didn't like it -- the 2nd episode did a good job of maintaining the momentum of the premiere -- but because starting next week it will be up against Fringe and Grey's Anatomy, and my DVR can only record so many shows at once.  And while I can most likely catch each of those other series online later, I don't know that I'm invested enough in Nikita for it to be worth the hassle.

The Apprentice (NBC, 8:00):  I haven't watched The Donald's reality series for several seasons, but I have to admit that I was a sucker for the "all contestants are people affected by the recession" hook. Always interesting to watch the Alpha Males butting heads in the early days, but right now it's hard to say if there are any personalities engaging enough to keep me watching all season.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX, 9:00):  For a series where the main characters' actions rarely have any lasting consequences for themselves, I was surprised when Dennis's impromptu marriage wasn't nullified by the end of the episode; wondering how long his union to Dead Tooth will last. 

The League (FX, 9:30):  I was hoping that the "wife wants her own fantasy team" would turn out a bit differently -- I think the trash-talking between the couple would have been entertaining. 


Batman: The Brave and the Bold (Cartoon Network, 6:00):  I often wonder how enjoyable this show is for the casual Batman fan, since so much of my enjoyment is tied up in seeing all of these great lesser-known characters like Ultra the Multi-Alien and B'wana Beast come to life

Sym-Bionic Titan (Cartoon Network, 7:00):  New animated series from Gendy Tartakovsky which focuses on a group of teenage alien refuges who have traveled to Earth to hide.  Character design owes a lot to anime, but it also still holds Tartakovsky's stamp.  I enjoyed the first episode, and am curious to see if it will follow the same formula each week or mix things up.


Rubicon (AMC, 8:00):  I have to admit it took several episodes for this show to grow on me; as many critics have remarked its pace is glacial at times, but patience and perseverance have paid off. Sure, the overall conspiracy plot is still unraveling slowly, but the character bits along the way are making it a worthwhile ride.  I'm not sure I like the turn with Will and his neighbor, but I'm willing to wait and see where it leads.

Mad Men (AMC, 9:00): So many great lines and moments in this episode, from Mrs. Blankenship's observation about the two types of people in advertising to the gathering of all the women in Don's life to Sally's breakfast mistake, but all paled in comparison to the visual gag of the removal of Mrs. Blankenship and her blotter. 

Venture Bros. (Cartoon Network, 10:30): I love that they show Hank as being semi-sorta-capable-kinda in his own delusional way.  I do wish that I'd re-watched the 1st half of the season, as I had forgotten some of the details of Phantom Limb's last appearance.

Monday, September 13, 2010

TV Week in Review: Let the Fall Season Begin

As I stated in my introductory post, I plan on doing my TV posts a little more regularly throughout the week.  However, I have a feeling that a lot of that will be devoted to particular episodes of shows that really spoke to me, so I think I'll probably wind up doing a "week in review" thing each week to do some pellet reviews of everything else.  Still trying to find my sea legs on the blogging again, so bear with me if the reviews aren't quite as loquacious as promised yet.

Mad Men (AMC, Sundays 9:00): I am a relatively recent convert to the joys of Mad Men, having watched the first three seasons on DVD earlier this year.  And as incredibly well acted and well written as those three seasons were, so far this season is blowing them out of the water, especially last week's episode "The Suitcase," which should net Jon Hamm that Emmy that's avoided him so far.  Last night's episode wasn't quite as powerful, but still enjoyable.

Terriers (FX, Wednesday 9:00):  First of my Must See TV Shows to debut, this drama about a couple of low rent Private Eye from the writer of Ocean's Eleven and the creator of The Shield definitely lived up to my expectations. I enjoyed the interplay between the two leads quite a bit. 

The Venture Bros. (Cartoon Network, Sundays, 10:30):  I think Chris Sims of The ISB summed up my thoughts on the return of the show pretty well on Twitter last night

Sons of Anarchy (FX, Tuesdays, 9:00):  I have to admit I was feeling a little let down by the season premiere of SoA; after the crazy cliffhanger last season I was expecting something more engaging than watching Jax and Tara have yet another relationship breakdown or Jemma holing up in a hotel.  True, there was Jemma's attempted car-jacking to add a bit of spice, but as the episode was winding down all I felt was sadness at the squandered potential . . . and then the funeral came around and kicked everything up several notches.  Here's hoping it stays kicked up in the next episode -- I'm afraid this show can't sustain the quiet drama as well as Breaking Bad or Mad Men.

Hellcats (CW, Wednesdays, 8:00): Yes, I watched the new CW drama about college cheerleaders; no, I'm not proud of it.  Mildly entertaining fish-out-of-water fluff that stretches viewer credulity to the breaking point at times. 

Top Chef: Washington D.C. (Bravo, Wednesdays, 9:00):  Earlier this summer I got sucked into a marathon of The Next Food Network Star at Squiggly's house, which reminded me of how much I had enjoyed the first season of Top Chef back in the day.  Having seen several people mention the latest season on Twitter recently, I decided to check it out and discovered that there was a marathon of it running a couple of weekends ago, and got caught up just in time for the first part of the season finale this past week.  I also caught mini-marathons of the 2nd and 3rd seasons; it's amazing how much I enjoy the show considering that almost every dish they make looks completely unappetizing to my incredibly limited palette.  Am now looking forward to the debut of the next iteration subtitled "Just Desserts"

Nikita (CW, Thursdays, 8:00): Let me start off by saying that I have never seen the original La Femme Nikita film or the late 90s Peta Wilson TV show, so I was going into this fairly unhindered by preconceptions or expectations.  Therefore, if you were a huge fan of either of those, then the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed the pilot of the newest version with Maggie Q in the lead role might not hold as much weight, seeing as how I have no clue how closely this hews to any other version. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reviewing the Situation

Welcome to Phase Two of my Reinvention of the Blog.  This will be the replacement for all of the different review posts from Crisis of Infinite Monkeys:  my Movie Mondays, TV Tuesdays, Written Word Wednesdays, etc. That being said, I plan to do away with the former structure -- rather than saving up a week's worth of viewing and doing a massive info-dump, I'd like to spread my reviews out more regularly.  I hope the more manageable size of the posts will make up for their more random placement.

Going along with my desire for more interactivity with the audience, I'd like to put out an open call for suggestions for items to review -- whether it be something that I've never tried before, or something that you'd just like to hear my thoughts on.