FTW vs. WTF: The TV Week in Review (December 8)
That 130" plasmatic bifocal 4D Ultimate-High-Def viewing pleasure screen that you picked up on Black Friday has been your baby for over a week now. So what if you trampled an old lady to get it? Her grandkids hated her anyway. So what if you butchered that dirt-poor family who needed to buy a new communal fork? Cry me a river, you said. So what if you curb-stomped that doe-eyed orphan with the dimples and that delightful lollipop smile? Just five minutes with your new television and you know it was worth it to be the first one into the Best Buy. And now that you can see every follicle on Judge Judy's head, you can also see what we see: the true good and bad things about television. You understand. You're one of us now. Here's the best and worst of the week that was the week that just ended. In television. It's FTW vs. WTF.
The Good Wife celebrated its 100th episode in a fine fashion
Apart from the Damian and Kalinda silliness, one of TV's best shows continued its great fifth season with its 100th episode. It included warring mothers at a holiday party, an Eli spittake, the show potentially trolling us with Marilyn's assertion that she's naming her baby Peter, John Noble, and an emotionally gripping look inside Will's head. The grief that Will's been coping with has been driving all of his actions for the past five episodes, but we got to see that grief dramatized in a way that took some of the show's best visual elements and upped their emotional ante to new levels. And the episode's winky opening shot of the "100" on Kalinda's speedometer was great, too.
"Root Beer Guy" was bingo-bango on Adventure Time
In another episode highlighting a Candy Kingdom subject, "Root Beer Guy" blended a kid-friendly film noir homage with adult-targeted middle-aged ennui as Root Beer Guy attempted to unravel the mystery of why Finn and Jake kidnapped Princess Bubblegum. The entire mix, from RBG assuming his own Milkshake Joe persona to his wife Cherry Cream Soda's demand to have her needs met—"I'm a cherry cream soda and I have the same needs as any other cherry cream soda. Or even diet cream soda!"—to Finn and Jake having a ball playing the bad guys, it was a good time in a stellar season.
Barry Allen and superpowers arrive on Arrow
The gradual introduction of superpowers on Arrow has helped to make the Lian Yu flashbacks more relevant while continuing Season 2's expansion of the show's narrative universe—and all without breaking it, an impressive feat for a show that eschewed powers in Season 1. Equally well done was Barry Allen's introduction to the series. Grant Gustin did a fine job of establishing Barry as a fun and lighthearted counter to Oliver's more somber approach to crime-solving and -fighting, and again without feeling out of place with the show's tone.
Elementary's Sherlock questioned his methods and his attitude
Despite "Tremors" being a little clunky due to its flashback structure, the result proved significant for Elementary's progress. Sherlock's arrogance in dealing with suspects and his less-than-legal ways of gathering evidence have resulted in some serious consequences in Bell's potentially career-ending injury, and now Bell doesn't seem inclined to cut Sherlock any breaks, even with gestures of free medical expertise. The breaking of this partnership represents another step in rattling Sherlock's world as he grapples with his burgeoning empathy for those around him, including a detective who he considers "several standard deviations above the norm."
Castaways lose their minds, draw rocks on Survivor
For the last few weeks, it's looked as if the Tyson-Gervase-Monica alliance had the final three spots on lockdown in Blood vs. Water. But as these things go on Survivor, Hayden worked unbelievably hard to put a chink in the previously impenetrable armor. Seemingly out of options, the former Big Brother winner
chirped all through this week's Tribal Council, eventually convincing Ciera
that she was number four in a three-person alliance, and it worked... at first. Two tie
votes in a row led to one of the first rock draws in a long time
(and one of the few ever), ultimately leading to Katie's departure. It
was an unlucky ending to Hayden's big move, but now he's got Ciera
thinking and the previously strong trio reeling a bit. He probably won't
win, but after this week—and considering his previous resume—it's time to
start talking about Hayden as one of the better reality competition show
Thank goodness Birkhoff isn't a double. Even better, "Set-Up" revealed that his previously shifty behavior was a response to Amanda doubling up his father. It was the kind of last-ditch quasi-big reveal that entertaining spy shows like Nikita can pull off with aplomb, and this new wrinkle gives Aaron Stanford, long one of the show's best performers, great material to work with as the series comes to a close.
The WGA nominations are kind of amazing
There's so much good TV out there that it's hard to get too worked
up about which show or performer gets snubbed by a given awards body,
but this year's Writer's Guild nominations are really strong: A drama
series nomination for The Good Wife, comedy series nods for Parks and Recreation, Veep, and Orange Is the New Black, and a lot of love for Breaking Bad and Masters of Sex? Well done.
The Blacklist had quite the great week
Television's most popular new show ended 2013 on a three-tiered high. The fall
finale finished off a surprisingly entertaining run of episodes and raised the proper number of questions to keep us coming back in 2014 (and, having learned its lesson with from Revolution, NBC will bring the Spader-starring drama back in January instead of giving it a long break for winter).
Even better for NBC, the episode's ratings were the show's highest since its series premiere levels, resulting in a quick Season 2 renewal for 2014-2015.
That probably means we won't learn the identity of Lizzy's father until
like two years from now, but at least NBC has one less reason to cry into its eggnog this holiday.
Sons of Anarchy revs up for the Season 6 finale
The season's most accelerated episode was AWESOME, as several big stories broke their repetitive orbits and careened off into OMG territory. Tara's gone rogue with the kids, the Irish finally relaxed their racism and made a deal with August Marks, and Nero knows. NERO KNOWS. We can't wait to see what happens next in next week's eight-hour finale.
Scandal gets super-crazy in its... wait, that wasn't the mid-season finale?
Where to start with this week's Scandal? Huck got really excited
at the prospect of torturing Quinn—who was nude except for tastefully
applied duct tape—for potentially betraying Olivia, and he even licked her
face before he proceeded to remove two of her teeth. James toyed
with Cyrus about sleeping with Sally's husband, and then just laid into Cyrus for pimping him out and gay-shaming Daniel. Now James wants a
divorce, and Cyrus cried in the Oval Office. Olivia had flashbacks to
her childhood while trying to get Mama Pope out of the country, only to
have it all click that Rowan, despite being a murderer who doesn't actually like
killing people, was protecting Olivia and the republic because
Mama Pope is super evil. Oh, and Sally killed her husband after Cyrus
showed her pictures of Daniel and James having sex, and Quinn's about
to kill Rowan the same way she killed the security guard. Dang.
The Vampire Diaries' Stefan and Katherine finally made with the sexytimes
It only took 77 episodes, Elena choosing Damon, a case of PTSD, and a safe weighing several tons, but Stefan and Katherine finally enjoyed some shirtless fun! Who cares about silly things like Damon being a lab rat and leaving his bestie to die in a fire when Stefan and Katherine are maybe a thing? Whether or not it's just a one-time occurence, we're just glad it finally happened. .
Archer continues to be the best at promos
Ninjas are dangerous, guys.
Nice to see you again, Dooneese!
SNL kicked off its Paul Rudd-hosted evening with a sendup of NBC's live Sound of Music extravaganza, and it was one of the show's funnier cold opens in a while, with Kristen Wiig reprising her role as the large-foreheaded, tiny-doll-handed—and apparently long-lost Von Trapp child—Dooneese. And Fred Armisen swung by for a cameo too! (That the show followed up this opener with the Anchorman cast singing "Afternoon Delight" with One Direction was the icing on the cake.)
NBC comes alive with The Sound of Music Live!
The good: Hey, it's something different, the ratings were insane, and that Carrie Underwood can sing! The bad: Inconsistent and broken accents, a multi-camera comedy feel instead of a grand stage show atmosphere, no one tripped and fell down, and Underwood's terrible acting. Twitter had a field day with the production (and it was mostly deserved), but NBC pulled off its best Thursday in almost a decade once the ratings came in (18.5 million viewers!!!). Was this a one-time flash in the pan or a sign of trends to come?
While Dean was lying to Sam, Supernatural was lying to us
To be fair, we knew something was up with Ezekial. Dude was wayyyy too shifty and weird about not wanting Castiel around. To have it confirmed that Ezekial died in the fall to Earth and this angel was actually Gadriel, the angel responsible for some nonsense involving the Garden of Eden and a serpent, made us feel validated. But then Gadriel went and teamed up with Metatron to reclaim heaven, and his first order of business was to kill poor Kevin Tran. Oh, and thanks to Dean's insistence on lying to literally everyone, Sam is currently lost while Gadriel is wearing him as a meat suit. Nice one, Dean!
Hollywood loudmouth Nikki Finke's ridiculous tweet about Nelson Mandela's death
How do you get to be one of the most informed and despised industry
bloggers? By maintaining a dedication to your beat so relentless and ruthless
that your humanity is replaced with a thirst for scoops and
stats. Minutes after the influential humanitarian passed away, Finke
farted out this stinker of a tweet:
R.I.P. Nelson Mandela, subject of Weinstein Co’s Idris Elba-starrer 'Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom' which opened Nov 29 and has awards buzz.— Nikki Finke (@NikkiFinke) December 5, 2013
Almost Human needs an upgrade
Fox's new sci-fi series has completed its four-episode test, and it'd be tough to give it anything more than a C. What we thought would explore the intersection of technology and humanity has become a police procedural with shiny gadgets. An easy fix-it suggestion: Give us a couple two- or three-episode story arcs so that a single case doesn't overcrowd the more interesting parts of the series.
TNT's Mob City is Blah City
The wiseguys behind this new gangster drama, including The Walking Dead's Frank Darabont, thought it would be enough to reproduce the look and feel of film noir classics. Not so! Though the first episode had its moments, its follow-up was hollow, with a predictable A-HA! moment and a lack of any truly engaging elements. This thing needs to be shaken AND stirred—anything to wake it from its haze of lingering cigarette smoke and noir clichés.
What's on YOUR list of TV loves and hates this week?
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