FTW vs. WTF: The TV Week in Review (January 6)

By TV.com Staff

Jan 06, 2013

Hey, we haven't seen each other since last year! HA we never get tired of that joke because it is the best joke ever created by man. But seriously, folks, it's 2013 now and that means 52-ish more weeks to praise and ridicule the best and worst things about television. So let's get started with what we thought worked and irked in the last seven days (give or take a couple weeks since we were all on vacation).


Doctor Who's purposeful holiday fun

Recent Who Christmas episodes have been relatively solid, but still self-contained. What worked so well about "The Snowmen" is that it managed to combine the show's typical Christmas procedural shenanigans with nice character moments and lots of intriguing set-up for the second half of the seventh season. Oswin's second appearance had just as much pep as the first and it feels like the show is going to be able to move away from all the weight of the Pond era with real zeal. But really, the show would be so much better if Strax were a full-time companion.

Portlandia's spoiler talk

Making fun of spoiler paranoia is becoming old hat, but the rapid cutting and increasingly ridiculous concern over spoilers for things long since past ("Boy Meets World?" "Nothing past Season 8.") makes it fresh and funny. The scene's tag is also a spoilery homage, but we won't tell you to which show. Just in case. (But seriously, you really need to watch Newhart so we can talk about it.)

A potential TV show about Joe Biden

When Joe Biden isn't busy carrying out his vice presidential duties, he seems to spend his time having as much fun as possible. A White House petition is calling for the creation of a CSPAN show featuring the daily life of the vice president. CSPAN? That's aiming a bit low. Biden is a man of the people, so let's show him mixing it up with everyday Americans. Who do we talk to about getting the veep onto the next season of Survivor?

Al Jazeera buys CurrentTV

Wait wait! This is important, we swear! The news channel, based in Qatar, is stepping into the U.S. news market by purchasing Al Gore's network and rebranding it Al Jazeera America. Unbiased honest news in America? Does this mean CNN will have to cut back on water-skiing squirrel videos? This can only be a good thing for a country whose news media has spun out of control. Will McAvoy would be proud.

Happy Endings celebrates Jane-mas

The late-December episode of the ABC comedy was one of its best as Jane revealed she had lied about her birthday because it fell on the same day as Jesus's and was saddled with combo presents and a shared spotlight. The rest of the gang did their best to ignore Christmas and give Jane her b-day due, with mixed results. Max's eggnog addiction was particularly amusing.

"The Name Game" on American Horror Story: Asylum

When you watch a show called American Horror Story you know you're signing up for a certain degree of unrelenting grimness. But despite the "Asylum" season's frequent flashes of brilliance, boy has this been a grim one! Like, occasionally hard-to-watch grim. Fortunately this week Ryan Murphy & Co. brought us a sequence so joyful and madcap and heartwarming that it became an instant-classic: Judy's (Jessica Lange) hallucination of the mental ward's rec room turning into a sort of Beach Blanket Bingo scenario, complete with Kit and Lana as backup dancers. We know it's only the first week of 2013, but the gauntlet has been thrown down: Showrunners, just try and top this TV moment.

Showrunners" a Kickstarter-funded documentary

As the Golden Age of Television has transformed showrunners into household names (among true TV geeks, anyway) and Twitter has led to an unprecedented amount of conversation between fans and the people responsible for their favorite shows, we've become hungrier and hungrier for intel on how these folks work. Which is why we're so excited for this upcoming documentary, a "how the sausage gets made" look at the job featuring some of the biggest names in the business.

So You Think You Can Dance gets another season

This was announced a few weeks back, but we missed mentioning it in the pre-holiday craziness and it's worth celebrating all over again: Fox's perpetually on-the-bubble summer dance competition will indeed be back for another season! Cat Deely fans rejoice: The years hottest months just got hotter!

The Hour's superlative second series

The underappreciated British drama—a richer and steadier show than some other imported period pieces, which shall remain nameless—capped a terrific second year in gut-wrenching fashion: with Freddie thrashing within an inch of his life, Bel’s unaired confession of love hanging in the air, Hector suffering yet another gut punch even as reconciliation with his wife seemed at hand. The second series built on all the strengths of the first—lead performances by Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw, and Dominic West; some of the lushest aesthetics anywhere on TV—while repairing many of the weaknesses. It was more tightly plotted than the first series, more effectively incorporating the themes of geopolitics and an empire in transition as catalysts for smaller, personal stories. And giving intriguing new layers to Oona Chaplin’s Marnie and adding Peter Capaldi’s unfailingly crisp performance to the mix didn’t hurt, either.

Winter hiatuses

Not that we don't miss our favorite stories, but dang was it nice to have a chance to get caught up on those five episodes of The Mindy Project and four episodes of Nashville sitting on our DVRs! We should have schedule-wide TV hiatuses more often!

MTV's Buckwild

Sure, it's not the classiest entertainment MTV could've produced, but perhaps the new West Virginian reality series Buckwild isn't entirely the regressive trash-heap many assumed/hoped it would be. Like Jersey Shore before it, the show was seemingly inspired by certain one-off episodes of MTV's (very good) documentary series True Life, but unlike Jersey Shore, Buckwild is much more celebratory of the innocence, ingenuity, and restlessness of youth. Yes there's the occasional fistfight and drunken meltdown, but these kids are immediately more sympathetic than the orange party monsters of Seaside Heights. It's too early to tell whether time (and fame) will ruin the appeals of the Buckwild cast as quickly as happened to their Jersey Shore peers, but for now we think it's fine to be entertained by the Buckwild kids having the amounts of fun WE wish we'd've had as teenagers with nothing else to do. (BTW does anybody have a dump truck we can borrow?)


COUNTER ARGUMENT: MTV poops out a show, calls it Buckwild

With Jersey Shore dried up, MTV pounced on another exploitable stereotype (hillbillies) with its new fake-reality show about hard-partying idiots in West Virginia. They drive around in the mud, make swimming pools out of dump trucks, and f*ck like handicapped bunnies in what might be the worst show ever created. We'll give props to the crazy pink-haired neighbor and the doofus charm of superhick Shain, but everyone else should secede from the rest of television.

AMC's showrunner shenanigans, The Walking Dead edition

Though Season 3 hasn't yet concluded, AMC dropped the bomb right before Christmas that showrunner Glen Mazzara—the man who took a great show and made it GREAT—will not be returning for Season 4. Speculation's run rampant, with most concluding that baby network AMC is actively trying to de-emphasize the power of the showrunner, but it's sad news for fans of The Walking Dead. Season 3 has been truly incredible so far; Mr. Mazzara will be missed.

What's on *your* list of TV loves and hates this week? (And if you watched Buckwild, what did YOU think?)

  • Comments (61)
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  • JT_Kirk Jan 07, 2013

    FTW should be dedicated to Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper's CNN New Years show, this year the extreme behavior was comedian Griffin kissing Cooper's crotch while he was talking to camera, then attempting to perform oral on him for another 15 minutes while he kept dropping to his knees to block her pretending she dropped something until he laughingly yelled at her "good god, you're a grown woman, get off your knees!" (her response: "a woman's gotta make a living.") That was better than Psy and MC Hammer just wandering into their show randomly and Anderson Cooper not knowing that was the real MC Hammer, or Carson Daly having Griffin and Cooper up on his stage talking smack about Ryan Seacrest.

    Also I suppose you could give a little FTW nod to the Tournament of Roses Parade having an American soldier on a float surprise his young family on the sidelines with his appearance when they thought he was in Afghanistan, and a couple who won their wedding on an actual float in the parade, and the awesomeness that was Stanford's outrageous marching band.

    WTF, REALLY? You couldn't find ANYTHING to bash other than Walking Dead problems and Buckwild?!? Not the crapfest that was Clone Wars just before the break, or the awesome disaster that was local Orange County CA station KDOC's first live New Year's event coming apart at the seams with rampant unbleeped swearing and horribly missed cues and genuine fistfights thanks to host/producer Jamie Kennedy screwing pretty much every element up, or Leverage getting canceled hours before its season finale? Not you guys sucking Portlandia's teet every opportunity you get now? Not Ryan Seacrest being so callous as to not even bother hosting the 2 hour New Years' retrospective on the late Dick Clark who gave him the "Rockin' Eve" job, instead passing off the duty to Jenny McCarthy and Fergie?!? That one was grotesque.

    Now, as to the stuff that's here...

    What about the 10th Doctor's first outing? Little more important than the nonsense that was Oswin & the Mope. Donna Noble was also a Christmas Special and she went on to save everything.

    I hadn't heard about that Joe Biden show thing, that'd be kinda awesome, he's an interesting guy, charismatic and not the top best whatever, he comes off as an average type of American - his career was borne of sadness to lead him to the office of vice president without getting good grades or being in a rich family.

    Virtually nobody here is going to a channel called "Al Jazeera". Of course, virtually nobody watched CurrentTV either, but now it'll be racially-motivated antipathy.

    Yeah, Janemas, now we're talkin'! "Happy birthday Jane! :-D ... and Jesus. 8-|"

    Showrunners sounds cool, please keep us updated n that one.

  • LytaAlexander1 Jan 07, 2013

    FTW: New Person of Interest killer episode
    WTF: Fringe still on hiatus

  • DinaSut Jan 07, 2013

    Al Jazeera is "unbiased news" now? Seriously?

  • ktfahel Jan 07, 2013

    SHE'S A GUY!!! (I didn't hear that one in the Portlandia clip.)

  • fandomgirl Jan 07, 2013

    WTF: Winter hiatus. Vacation is the only time I can watch TV shows when they air live, so it's kind of a shame that all of my shows decide to take a break during my free time.

    FTW: Doctor Who, The Hour, and Merlin (both the series 5 finale, for those of you living in GB and/or start of series 5). I really got into British television this break.

  • jamesbond Jan 07, 2013

    Al-Jazeera is certainly not unbiased !
    There have been occurrences where the state of Quatar ( a country where people are sent to jail for kissing in the street and that is one of the least important things you can say about freedoms there) who sponsor the channel have directly interfered with its content.

    the use the word Mecca Time to describe Arabia Standard Time (UTC+03). instead of using Arabia Standard Time. which clearly indicates a religious connotation. there is nothing wrong with Muslim using it among themselves but a clear symbol of religion should not be used by a news outlet when an international standard exists to denote the same thing.

    they act as unofficial spokesperson of terrorist groups by airing their video. Those videos of hostages getting beheaded, terrorist leaders making statements about destroying the west and so on... are send to them.

    i am not going as far as saying it is a terrorist network because that would be an exaggeration but to say that it is unbiased is a joke.

    For me this goes to the WTF pile.

  • EsmeBuffay Jan 07, 2013

    "We should have schedule-wide TV hiatuses more often!" Bite your tongue, there are too many hiatuses and they're too long as it is!

  • vcivi Jan 07, 2013

    Mind game AHS was awesome!! Love it!!!

  • bicelis Jan 07, 2013

    FTW: Person of Interest is back! And with a very strong episode, considering it almost had no Reese at all and no people got knee-shot.

    WTF: No Reese on POI.

  • FringeFanatic Jan 07, 2013

    *sigh* Knee-shots are my favourite.

  • smithinjapan Jan 07, 2013

    And yeah, I'm sad Mazzarra isn't returning.

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