Happy Breaking Bad Day! Please celebrate responsibly by not doing so much crystal meth that you pass out or feel compelled to steal an ATM before tonight's big return. Might we suggest that while you're waiting, you join us for a spirited discussion of what was awesome and what was stupid about television this week? Here we go:
Like a phoenix rising from some soggy ashes full of red herrings and cliffhanger plotting, the AMC drama rebooted itself nicely in Season 3. While the tighter procedural plot stumbled early on, it allowed for explorations of death row, homelessness, past sins, trust, and—of course—grief. Series stars Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman continued to mine Linden and Holder for new depths, and new cast members Peters Sarsgaard and Bex Taylor-Klaus delivered two of the year's best performances as Ray Seward and Bullet, respectively. We're honestly looking forward to a very strong Season 4.
AND the kids' show used shaggy-haired Jax's look. Amazing.
Flame Princess and Ice King's brawl would've been plenty to make "Frost & Fire" a fun episode of AT, but Finn getting turned on by those battles, and having awesome dreams as a result, elevated the episode quite a bit. Interpret things as you will, but we think Finn's final nighttime vision—which involved seeing himself as a baby-man—signaled that staying with FP is going to prevent him from realizing how physical intimacy can matter in a relationship, and thus growing up as a mature human. Profound stuff, bro.
After several episodes sort of muddled about and focused solely on setting things up via reality competition cliches, "What She Said" gave the show a much-needed kick in the rear. Irene was caught in a trap that put a nasty hole in her leg. The other contestants all decided she needed to go. Showing there's no end to her conniving, Esther tricked Irene, Sam, Johnny, Daniel, and Carolina/Joyce (who'd been outed as a producer ringer) into crossing the self-elimination line by saying a helicopter was waiting. Except there was no helicopter, and the red button to summon one turned out to be just a prop. Also, the producers' base camp was completely destroyed. Also also, Sabina—who has a secret cave full of supplies and ammunition—stumbled upon a creepy forest girl and the skeletal remains of someone with a locket just like hers. What the whuck?! None of it makes much sense, but who cares?
The writers have messing with us a bit as of late, doling out random pieces of information that didn't seem to make any sense. But after the last two episodes, everything is clear and we're finally starting to get a feel for what's going on. Not only do we now know what Lydia is (banshee), we also know the identity of the Darach (Jennifer Blake) and why it's straight-up murdering people (she was Kali's emissary and Kali was forced to kill her along with the rest of her pack, but Kali didn't kill her 100 percent and Derek accidentally sacrificed a virgin in that root cellar, which then gave Jennifer a tiny spark of life and now she wants revenge and has to kill a bunch of people to get it). Okay, it's still plenty confusing, but at least we've got some answers. And sassy Peter Hale is back, too.
While we're just as burned out on all the murder TV as you are, Broadchurch promises to do something that most shows of a similar ilk only claim to accomplish: really explore grief. The eight-part series' first episode kicked things off with conversely haunting and beautiful imagery, great performances, and that important focus on how death impacts not just a family, but an entire little town.
Commenters around these parts sure love themselves some Banshee, but Cinemax's *other* thrilling, action-packed drama deserves plenty of attention as well. Now in its third season (in the U.S.), Strike Back mostly just kicks lots of ass, but does that one thing very, very well. If you've been bummed out by all the lame summer blockbusters at the cineplex, this is the kind of action you're looking for.
This weekend's two-hour premiere was a bit uneven at times, but that opening sequence—with a completely insane Cullen living in a train car, hallucinating ghosts, and yelling at wolves in the snow through a mess of facial hair—really set the stage for what we expect to be a pretty great third season.
Had Colbert simply done a justified takedown of MTV and its president, Van Toffler, after the network poached Daft Punk from the Report so the duo could do a now not-so-surprising surprise appearance at the MTV Video Awards, we'd all be just chuckling along with the insanity of media conglomerates and bureaucracy. Except he went and upped the ante with a star-studded dance party to the tune of "Get Lucky." It was probably far more fun than anything the producers of the MTV Video Awards will be able to plan. OR MAYBE THEY DID PLAN IT? (They didn't.)
Technically, this one's only tangentially TV-related. But we'll watch Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, Will Forte, and Jason Batemen send up earnest troubadours any day.
Where do we even start? With the massive time jump that conveniently skipped the part where the pathetic rag-tag humans theoretically dug the space cannon out of its tomb with their bare hands? Or the part where they then somehow lifted the GIANT ALIEN SUPER CANNON onto a barge? Or how about the question of where they got said barge? To say nothing of that train? Are the Espheni that incompetent that they left vital infrastructure including railways and waterways totally clear for their human captives to use? Are they that distracted that they couldn't just bomb the big ol' doom cannon WHILE IT WAS SITTING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING OCEAN?
But on the plus side: LASERS.
What the hell, Discovery? You start off Shark Week with a "documentary" about the existence of a prehistoric shark that's over 13 Peter Dinklages long, except it went extinct a jazillion years ago. You put the disclaimer in extremely fine print that sped by so fast that it required CSI-style computer enhancements to see, proving that you were aware of your little grift. You used to be a trustworthy source of educational programming and literal discovery that we hoped our children would watch one day, but now you've stained your reputation like tighty-whiteys at a prune festival. And don't think we'll forgot about that terrible and irresponsible mermaids-are-real special you set up, too. Whoever is in charge over there should be fired and made to wear a shame sign that reads "Megalodons do not exist and I chose ratings over the sanctity of knowledge and also I smell."
In this week's episode of CBS's summer smash, the Dome pushed a woman into pregnancy prematurely. Which we could tell because the woman slouched over in pain and told us she thought she was having a baby. But that wasn't enough for Under the Dome, which gave us a high-definition close-up of the lady's water breaking via some splish-splash on her shoes. Do you realize the effort it took to get that shot? A water-releasing contraption had to be rigged. The camera had to be repositioned. A stunt lady was probably hired. Some poor PA had to keep refilling water bottles. Tim the sick fetishist made a .GIF, of course.
While we appreciate the half effort, the green-eyed, light-haired Juan Pablo is whiter than most white people. Que lastima! (Also: Des, you totally settled.)
After Peter Capaldi was announced as the Twelfth Doctor, we expected the usual, "He'll never be my Doctor!" complaints, but weren't prepared for this kind of reaction. Instead of celebrating that the wait was over or discussing Capaldi's acting chops, the Who fandom split into two very vocal, very obnoxious factions: One that insisted the producers should've cast someone of a different race and/or gender in the name of equality, and one that argued that since the Doctor has always been a white male, he should stay a white male. All we know is, the Doctor wouldn't want us fighting each other when there are plenty of other alien races to deal with, so let's all chill out a bit, yeah?
Perhaps you've already forgotten about Sharknado, but after receiving thousands of title submissions for the sequel, Syfy has announced a winner, and it's... Sharknado 2: The Second One. Sure, we see the attempt to be simultaneously winky and totally on-the-nose, but there were probably at least 1,500 better ideas in the queue.
What's on YOUR list of TV loves and hates this week?