FTW vs. WTF: The TV Week in Review (May 25–31)

By TV.com Staff

Jun 01, 2014

You'd think a three-day holiday weekend/four-day work week following the end of the traditional fall-to-spring TV season would yield less to love and hate about television, and you'd be right WRONG. The trick is to punish your eyeballs and look harder until you find something good! FTWing isn't for the faint of heart, it's a real workout. And we here at TV.com have hunted far and high and wide and low for the esoteric gems concealed beneath the crust of a television schedule that currently includes I Wanna Marry Harry and Bet On Your Baby. So sit back and watch the masters at work as we look back on the last seven days' worth of small-screen shenanigans, then add your own in the comments!

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't finished watching this week's new episodes (of Orphan Black, Mad Men, LouieFargo, etc.), we suggest that you hold off on reading this story until you do. 


The Normal Heart wowed us with its powerful performances

In tackling such a terrible series of events in American history, Ryan Murphy's The Normal Heart was probably always going to be a tearjerker. But the HBO telefilm about the early years of the AIDS crisis exceeded our expectations thanks to a relatively subdued approach from Murphy and a cavalcade of great performanes from an awesome cast. Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, and Matt Bomer got much of the meaty material, and all of them were definitely up to the challenge. But the best part? Jim Parsons, who provided a less showy but no less affecting turn as Tommy. 


Mad Men's season finale delivers everything we wanted, and more

Even though we're still smarting over AMC splitting the final season of Mad Men in two, if that's what forced Matthew Weiner and company to build toward more of a finale vibe at the midseason break, we'll take it. "Waterloo" managed to both top the emotional wallop of the previous week's "The Strategy" while delivering yet another satisfying "breaking up the agency" story. Time and time again, the series manages to build to these small yet unbelievably powerful moments, from Sally's smoking posture exactly mimicking her mother's to Bert's muted celebration to the moon landing to that final, shoeless, and utterly amazing song-and-dance send-off. 


Louie killed LeBron James!

The FX "comedy" has been doing great things in Season 4, and this week's pair of episodes were no different, with highlights both big and small. Louie screaming out the window in the middle of a therapy session. Amia helping Jane with her violin technique while simultaneously playing chess with Lily. The extended flashback featuring Young Louie and Young Janet. But we're still chuckling over the recurring Hurricane Jasmine Forsythe gag, which ultimately claimed the life of LeBron James... and the rest of the Miami Heat... and 12 million other people. 


The Wil Wheaton Project gives The Walking Dead a '80s-themed makeover

For its series debut, Syfy's Wesley Crusher-hosted pop-culture program that's been dubbed "The Soup for geeks" decided to lighten up one of television's grimmest shows with a catchy new theme song.


Fargo's advent calendar of murder

Lorne Malvo's beautifully filmed, one-man assault on the Fargo mob's HQ in Tuesday's "Who Shaves the Barber?"—which took place while Key & Peele's hapless FBI agents Webb Pepper and Bill Budge obliviously bickered nearby—was nothing less than a masterpiece.


Time recognizes Orange Is the New Black's Laverne Cox, transgender folks everywhere

The fantastic actress from Netflix's excellent prison-set dramedy was one of the subjects of this week's Time story about transgender rights, and the first trans person ever to appear on the magazine's cover. A year ago, few people knew who Cox was, and now she's an exemplary representative for an underserved community. Also, there's less than a week week until the second season of Orange is the New Black!!!


Seth Rogen and Snoop Dogg got high and recapped Game of Thrones

Someone give these two an aftershow! 


What History's The World Wars lacked in detail and accuracy, it made up for with sexy casting

Sure, let's just not mention the entire North African campaign and only talk about the political climate in Japan when we *sigh* absolutely have to. Condensing two world wars into a drive-by three-night mini\series may've had hardcore history buffs tearing their hair out with the "chapter summary" feel of each segment, but hey, at least Young Patton (Matt Dearman) was a total stud and Hitler the EmoKid provided plenty of unintentional humor.


50 Cent may have botched his first pitch to drum up publicity for his new Starz series Power

Fiddy has a new show debuting on Starz pretty soon, and at least one news report alleges that he believes in the old adage, "There's no such thing as bad publicity." When the rapper-cum-EP took the mound to dispatch the inaugural toss at a recent New York Mets game, he chucked a wild one that even embarrassed that kid you knew in elementary school who threw like a girl. "He did it so he could get press," claims "an insider." Not cool to mess with the sanctity of the holiest game in the world, Mr. Cent. 


Crossbones' booty is a treasure trove of joyful madness

Self-acupuncture, visions of ghosts, and a plot to overthrow the Crown? Yup, sounds like the dumb, delightful stuff of summer television. Throw in Academy Award-nominated John Malkovich, the scribe behind Luther, and a historic island setting, and you've got a recipe for some goooood—and super mindless—viewing. Entertainment, ho!


Dumb media outlets making a story out of Bryan Cranston's coy comments about Walter White's survival

The Breaking Bad star dropped by CNN for a lighthearted interview about acting, his new Broadway play All the Way, and his summer blockbuster Godzilla (in theaters now!). And when reporter Ashley Banfield mentioned that she wasn't totally sure that Walt had died in the series finale, Cranston played along and said, "You never saw a bag zip up or anything." That was enough to generate WALTER WHITE MIGHT STILL BE ALIVE headlines, even though Cranston was clearly having a goof. Give it up, people, he DEAD. 


Fox boss Kevin Reilly is leaving the network

It's always big news when a network prez departs, but Reilly's resignation (or "resignation," depending on what you believe) just a few weeks after Upfronts was about as shocking as these things get. The guy is one of the more respectable figures of the TV executive ilk (he allegedly pushed for the renewals of Almost Human and Enlisted but was vetoed), and it will be fascinating to see what Fox does to his plan to blow up pilot season now that he won't be around to see it through. 


OMG, Donnie! What did you DO?

For most of this week's episode of Orphan Black, we were a bit conflicted over the Dyad Group's apparent plans to off Leekie. So we were pretty happy when Rachel decided to spare his life, because, as she put it, "You raised me. Nurture prevails." But then Donnie came along and threw a fit about being lied to, and the next thing we knew, he was yelling"I quit!" and punching the steering wheel... and Leekie's brain matter was dripping down the car window. Dammit, Donnie!

What's on YOUR list of TV loves and hates this week? The series debuts of Undateable and The Night Shift? The latest episode of The 100 or Penny DreadfulThe Bachelorette's ridiculous strip show? Share your own FTWs and WTFs in the comments!

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  • Whedonrules Jun 02, 2014

    FTW: 'DaVinci's Demons' ended an exceptional second season run of episodes with a good old fashioned cliff-hanger that was awesome. (This wasn't the reunion with mom DaVinci was considering!) Best part of the entire episode, with Lorenzo DeMedici off in Naples with Leo and the fake Pope, and hey how've you been - Lucretia Donati (Laura Haddock) preparing for war against the Turks... and wife Clarice Orsini (the awesome Laura Pulver) hightailing it out of Florence after she got screwed literally and figuratively by that bastard Carlo (awesome new addition to cast Ray Fearon.) - the one left in charge is Vanessa, thanks entirely to Nico's smart thinking and the baby she is carrying. This show is getting good.

    When considering Best Actor options people need to consider Tom Riley this year. Great supporting cast as well, but this is his show and he is the main reason why this show hit the 'Holy Grail' of benchmarks for a Starz original drama - a third season.

    FTW: 'Orphan Black' for introducing my first favorite twins from my television viewing history to the show. How awesome to see Michelle Forbes pop up in the credits and to see her introduced as, Marian Bowles. Very cool. First time I ever saw Ms. Forbes was as the crazy twins 'Sunny and Solita' on 'Guiding Light' and she was so good. (If you could believe that was 1988) Hopefully she'll be around for a while.

    FTW: 'Salem' - this crazy f'in show just gets better and better and crazier each week and that's what summer shows are suppose to do. The plot from last Sunday's episode which saw Cotton (Seth Gable) and Alden (Shane West) for all intent and purpose, became hunters would have been the perfect plot for a Supernatural spin off. Also, in the past two weeks episodes if we've learned anything its that we've learned Elise Eberle is a pretty damn important part of the cast. Mercy has always been interesting but Mary making her a full blown coven member has been awesome and the actress has done wonderful work.

    FTW: To Lifetime for doing justice to one of the most twisted book series of the '80s. VC Andrews 'Dollanganger' series. The VC Andrews books that you bought the paperbacks and hid 'em on the back of the bookshelf - are being adapted pretty well on Lifetime. This week came the 2nd book , 'Petals on the Wind' and it was done just as well as 'Flowers in the Attic'. In this one they recast 'Cathy' with Rose McIver (Kiernan Shipka played her in the first) getting to take on ' Cathy' for the revenge part of the story. So shocking remembering what actually went down in those stories and this was disturbingly good. These movies both have had a feel of how tv movies used to be and have been a lot of fun to watch. Surprised how good this one was with how fast it got produced after 'Flowers' became somewhat of a hit. Can't wait to see how it continues.

  • MiroslavaRakiov Jun 02, 2014

    I don't feel as blown away by Da Vinci's finale as most people, but I loooved the entire season so much. I think it was the most fun I had watching a tv show for a long while. I dislike Lucretia (the character) so much though that it pains me when I see her on the screen, especially near Leo, but what can you do... :)

  • _Toni_ Jun 02, 2014

    FTW: The weakest episode since the premiere, yet had one of the biggest turning points for a character. Clarke kicked the Grounder in his bad knee, slit his throat, leaned into him with her hand over his mouth, shhhing him while he died. Never once losing eye contact. Clarke FTMFW.

  • ludoTV Jun 02, 2014

    From now until the fall it is pretty much WTF: Summer programming (sucks for the most part) & FTW: Time to catch up on network shows that fell off one's viewing schedule & to discover gems like Rectify (thanks tv.com readers for the recommendation)

  • coutterhill Jun 02, 2014

    WTF: no Game of Thrones
    WTF: Masterchef skipping the audition footge, I thought I had missed somee episodes, very unsettling.

  • vampman87 Jun 02, 2014

    Didn't really watch much TV this week due to my shows being over and the only show I'll watch this summer is Suits and maybe Degrassi, but Arsenio Hall getting cancelled is a FTW/WTF. The fact that CBS brought him back was a stupid decision in the first place, since his core audience at the peak of his career are now in their 40s with kids who never heard of him. Also, reneging on the show after renewing it makes CBS kind of look like a-holes now.

  • MarlboroMagpi Jun 01, 2014

    I really agreed with the WTF of Donnie killing Dr. Leekie. I wanted Dr. Leekie to survive and help the clones. He would have been a fantastic asset as the new evil lady !

  • Taccado Jun 01, 2014

    WTF: Penny Dreadful. I enjoy the show, but it is kind of confusing. They are not revealing much or giving answers. Three episodes in, and mysteries just keep piling up. Maybe it doesn't deserve a full WTF, but a mini-WTF, or a semi-WTF.

    Louie is another strange case. I like it very much, but at the same time I keep wondering what Louis is trying to tell us. After all, he has complete control of the product; he writes, directs and even edits the show, and no one at FX has anything to say about it. He just hands in the episodes and FX airs them. This means that whatever we see on screen is something that Louis really intended for us to see. It is completely his vision, what his mind is dealing with, not a compromise. So what is the show about? Simple answers would be Louis dealing with his mid-life crisis or his neuroses. But is it about something else, that's what I always think about. Is it, for example, a love song to New York?

  • MarlboroMagpi Jun 01, 2014

    Read this review I found on AVclub. It explains quite a bit about Louie


  • Savvytvfan91 Jun 01, 2014

    You say WTF Dammit Donnie but I say FTW, that was awesome!!!! And the song playing and his face it was amazeballs!!!!!!!!

  • DesolaKazeem Jun 01, 2014

    The unexpected but wonderful CCA nominations for Albert Tsai, Hugh Dancy, Chris Messina, Bellamy Young, Wendy McLedon-Covey, Adam Scott, almost the whole cast of Masters of Sex, Laverne Cox, Uzo Aduba, the Americans' leads, Annet Mahendru, Tatiana Maslany, Walton Goggins (twice!), Amanda Abbington, Chiwitel Ejiofor, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ellen Burstyn.... It's good to see Tv award voters finally getting it right

    Mads Mikkelsen still not getting awards recognition

  • vicbjones Jun 01, 2014

    FTW: Santa's magical pubes

    WTF: A whole segment on Hardball critiquing President Obama's commencement address at West Point for its "lack of vision" with regard to U.S. foreign policy. First off, it was a commencement address, not the State of the Union. Second, part of Chris Matthews' excuse for this exercise was a New York Times editorial criticizing the address. Any discussion of the Times' views of U.S. foreign policy that doesn't mention Judith Miller and her role in drumming up support for the Iraq invasion is suspect in my book. From the same media that thought Bryan Cranston's joke was headline worthy, along with Superman dying, Superman getting a new costume, and ultimate Spider-Man dying and being replaced.

    If the news is based on what people are interested in, what's the value of a journalism degree or journalistic judgement?

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