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

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).


FTW



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?)



WTF



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)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
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.
More+
Reply
Flag
FTW: New Person of Interest killer episode
WTF: Fringe still on hiatus
1
Reply
Flag
Al Jazeera is "unbiased news" now? Seriously?
5
Reply
Flag
SHE'S A GUY!!! (I didn't hear that one in the Portlandia clip.)
Reply
Flag
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.
Reply
Flag
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.
6
Reply
Flag
"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!
2
Reply
Flag
Mind game AHS was awesome!! Love it!!!
2
Reply
Flag
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.
3
Reply
Flag
*sigh* Knee-shots are my favourite.
4
Reply
Flag
And yeah, I'm sad Mazzarra isn't returning.
Reply
Flag
DEFINITELY the American Horror Story name game was a mind-bender. Amazing. The Doctor Special was good, too. I don't know if I found it as good as the editors on here, but I was still very pleased to see the good doctor back and in action.
2
Reply
Flag
agree on American Horror Story's hallucination scene, i geeked out on that one.

I think Buckwild deserves to be in the FTW category, if you ignore the blatantly obvious forced "romantic" scenes, and just concentrate of the kids doing crazy things and having fun, it's an enjoyable show. West Virginia is like that, not much to do...I love this idea.

The Walking Dead's season 4 showrunner shakeup has me worried thats for sure. Season 3 has been beast and I'm not ready for this show to go the way of Ol' Yeller and lose it's traction. Season 3 needs to build up Season 4 to be even better, not overshadow anything this show will ever accomplish, you know?
Reply
Flag
It's ridiculous that Glen Mazzara isn't returning. He has done such a brilliant job this season.
2
Reply
Flag
I think I am the only one that didn't care for the name game. Sure it was a good contrast for the rest of the episode. But I think a big WTF was the presumable killing of Eunice and Ardens suicide. Because Eunice has pretty much been the season for me. And it is just so pedestrian of Arden to kill himself. Granted it showed him as human, and capable of love. But he is a man of science and just found aliens and a potential alien baby. What scientist in their right mind (yes I know he wasn't in his right mind) would off himself after seeing that. Unless he really took the insult from Pepper really hard. I don't know, I feel the whole name game thing kind of cheapened it.
Reply
Flag
When it comes to spoilers, anyone waiting more than a week to see the episode can't be fussy about spoilers. Although it's fair not to want spoilers from a book if the show or movie hasn't show that part yet. Although there are shows such as Merlin which has finished airing in the UK but has just started it's last season in the US. But in that case, I think most viewers would already be familiar with the story and have some suspicion as to where it could go.

The hiatus has allowed me to catch up on Arrow. I didn't feel it worth watching when there was so many other shows to watch, but since there hasn't been anything lately it's been nice to have something to watch. I may hold off on watching the rest of the season until the summer though. I usually like to keep two or three shows to watch during the summer, but lately there's been enough new summer material so I don't really need to do that.
Reply
Flag
It was great having Doctor Who back and having another episode with Jenna Louise Coleman. She's going to be a great companion. I loved the Portlandia clip.
Reply
Flag
For four days I've been ingulfed in Breaking Bad, season 1 and 2...and managing day to day life which is good work (pat on the shoulder). Breaking Bad is WAAAAAY better - even though it's always fantastic - back to back. I almost want to back to being a criminal...noooo, not good.
Reply
Flag
Sorry, engulfed.
Reply
Flag
Loved everything about that Happy Endings episode. From Jane's "Happy birthday Jane...and Jesus" to "What's open on Christmas Day? Drugstores, gas stations, Israel?" to "My parents gave me a bike for Christmas and air for my birthday to pump up the tires. You can't give away air, it's not yours to give!"
1
Reply
Flag
FTW: PERSON OF INTEREST!

I didn't think it was possible, but "2-Pi-R" proved that you don't necessarily need Reese kicking ass and busting kneecaps to have a phenomenal episode of POI. I was so mesmerized by Finch's description of Pi, I believe it (unlike Pi) bears repeating:

"Pi: the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. And this is just the beginning. It keeps on going, forever, without ever repeating. Which means that contained within this string of decimals is every single other number. Your birth date, the combination to your locker, your social security number, it's all in there, somewhere. And if you convert these decimals into letters, you would have every word that ever existed, in every possible combination. The first syllable you spoke as a baby, the name of your latest crush, your entire life story from beginning to end, everything we ever say or do, all of the worlds infinite possibilities rest within this one simple circle. Now what you do with that information, what it's good for, well that would be up to you."

That has to be the most eloquent description of a mathematical constant I have ever heard. I believe it may have also shed a little light on how Harold created the Machine (Pi could be a part of its programming). But this episode had more to offer than a delineation of Archimedes Constant. Finch's connection to Caleb, his understanding and empathy for the young genius was a fascinating peek into the enigma that is Harold Finch. I especially thought his talk with Caleb at the end of the episode was beautiful to watch: "The thing about the world is that doesn't have any extra pieces. It's like Pi, it contains everything. You remove a single piece, no circle. Your recklessness, your mistakes are the reason why when they say you can't change the world, you won't listen. The world is better off with both of us in it, Caleb, rather than the alternative." - "Take it from someone who thought that leaving would make it easier on everyone, and then learned otherwise."

That is fantastic writing, pure and simple. It may not have the same phonetic harmony, but this show is deserving of a POI-Fanatic.
More+
14
Reply
Flag
Excellent!
Reply
Flag
I think I love you.
1
Reply
Flag
After reading your superlatively crafted comment on Tim's recent POI review, and then voraciously devouring what is without a doubt one of the best blog entries from a TV(dot)com commenter I have ever seen, I can assure you the feeling is mutual.

I sincerely look forward to reading your future insights into what has become the most dextrously diverse show on TV.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have the queerest sensation that I am being watched ...
Reply
Flag
You're too kind, good sir.

"Dexterously diverse" is such an immense understatement, but I full-heartedly agree. xD
Reply
Flag
FTW: Saying Goodbye to Leverage.what a great series finally
FTW: Finch teaching me to love Pi and to understand it in POI
WTF: Winter Break was way too long
WTF: NBC announces that Grimm returns MARCH THE 8th!?!?!?
WTF: No Bear or Flash backs of a young Finch in POI
Reply
Flag
sorry to break the news but there is no such thing as unbiased news.. not only in the US, but anywhere in the world it does not exist.. so al jeezeria's enterance to US tv world would only be celebration worthy as they will bring an alternative perspective, which I belive will not be appreciated by US viewers, many of whom are pretty islamophobic/xenophobic..

and you celebrate the hideous, awful winter hiatuses? really? and is it really because of the episodes waiting in the dvr or because you are having a pretty easy time with work?
1
Reply
Flag
No such thing as completely unbiased news no, but neither can you simply treat it as a black/white matter, there are countless degrees of bias, and Al Jazeera frankly ranks lower on the bias scale than most of US news.
Reply
Flag
Here's hoping Al Jazeera and Current TV makes it well. It's direly needed in the US.
1
Reply
Flag
Omar coming.
Reply
Flag
The music scene is just too awesome. How can this year surprise me after that?
Reply
Flag
The "American Horror Story" version of a musical scene was one hell of a knock-out ...in an asylum kind of way :D
Reply
Flag
II can't believe you are seriously lauding the purchase by Al-Jazeera saying that the news will be unbiased. While I am sick of biased news myself, I'm not stupid enough to believe3 the source of fair and balanced news is Al Jazeera. WTF!
8
Reply
Flag
Al Jazeera is as unbiased as a news channel can be, which is not a lot but a lot more than CNN. Plus it might teach something to *all the people* who have only watched news with a Ameeerrrrican filter on it.
Al Jazeera is a great way to get "the other side of the story". And they have pretty good journalists too. And they will talk about things other US news channel deem un-important. (You know, like all the news regarding not-US-citizens that happen outside of the US, all the time.)
1
Reply
Flag
Nah, CNN is biased but Al Jazeera at least *was* on a whole new level.

After all, in 2003 Iraq was winning the war towards the end and there were never any coalition forces in Baghdad

Reply
Flag
I don't know about 2003 dbh, I just know that they have a lot of interesting news to offer nowadays, if only because it shows another side of the story.
Reply
Flag
They won't be biased, they'll just lack the usual pro-America bias that all American news has. They'll (hopefully) take a more worldly view- one that isn't so squarely focused on American issues and maybe one that'll even dare to be critical of the US. That's a GOOD thing!
Reply
Flag
I take it you have very little knowledge of Al Jazeera to make such a statement.
Frankly it reeks of "islamophobia", as far as news goes, they are one of the better sources for both sides of a story. Something you might find refreshing. Or would you prefer to stay in what you think is unbiased-world and pretend to know all?
4
Reply
Flag
Yes but there's no such thing as unbiased news. Even if it doesn't directly lean towards one party or the other, we're taught in journalism to always have an angle in our stories. All news is trying to get one point across whether you want to believe it's biased or not.
2
Reply
Flag
I agree, I didn't say they are unbiased, I said they are by far closer at being so, than some of the major US news sources (FOX News being the most obvious example) and as such a welcome addition.
Reply
Flag
If there will be bias, at least it will be a NEW bias. They have an outsider's perspective. That can only be good. The usual right-left thing is tiresome. I can predict how any American news channel will report on a story before I even know the facts of the story. It has gotten old. Twitter is a more reliable news source with more in-depth reporting than American television at this point.
7
Reply
Flag
These days I'm under the impression that there is no such thing as 'unbiased' news. Not in Al-Jazeera, not anywhere. Networks, news-websites and newspapers publish what they think matters or what matters to them. If you have to select which news to publish, there goes your impartiality.
Reply
Flag
Anything with an Arab-y name is doomed to this sort of treatment from Web commentors from now until the end of time.
8
Reply
Flag
Let me guess - you've never actually watched Al Jazeera news. Try to move away from American prejudices and give it a go. Careful, though - you might be in for a shock (as in: intellectually challenging) if all you know is US "news".
On a side note - CNN International, as available OUTSIDE the US, is actually a good news channel. But in America, they don't seem to be interested in news, only in propaganda stations reinforcing preconceptions.
10
Reply
Flag
Dude, Al Jazeera is a lot more honest than people give it credit for. It has been a lot more influential in the development of the Arab Spring than the mainstream media want to let on. And Current was always pretty honest before Al Jazeera bought it(The Young Turks has always been good, for example). Do you really think Al Gore would sell his network to a group of terrorist touting loonies?
9
Reply
Flag
Yes, I do.
1
Reply
Flag
(In reply to your comment below) Not all politicians are demons(Abraham Lincoln, JFK & George Washington come to mind. I won't name anyone more recent cos you'll just call them left-wing lunatics and that's a rather circular discussion that'll get us nowhere). I'd like to know what exactly Al Gore has done in his political career that's so heinous?

BTW, there's nothing wrong with having a differing opinion. But when it's not based on reality and is an expression of broad generalisations and beliefs with little to no factual basis, you can hardly expect people to just sit idly by and let you go on a hate rant. If you insist on remaining uninformed, that's entirely your business. But if you don't want to be called on it, then keep it to yourself.
Reply
Flag
smorbie, I'm sorry you feel that way; unfortunately, you set yourself up by dissing Al Jazeera and saying that they're terrorist touting loonies. Now, if you had offered some content analysis of AJ's coverage and actually proved that they're not a good news station, things would be different. I've lived for years in America, Europe, and Asia, and have watched all kinds of news; thus I feel qualified to judge. Even now, my cable carries American, French, British, and German news, plus AJ. Trust me, AJ is at least as good as any of the others.
In context, your comments do make it sound as though you're a Fox supporter, which admittedly opens you up to ridicule. If that impression is unfair, then it's up to you to provide some qualified evidence. BTW: having an opinion is ok IF one is able to support that opinion; being high on opinion and low on knowledge is not A Good Thing.
"Being jumped on" seems to be a by-product of American media; certain talk radio people, for instance, make a living out of "jumping" on people. Must have rubbed off on us civilians... Happens a lot less in Europe ;-)
Flag
My "hate filled rant" consisted of three words, "yes, I do". That's hardly hate speech. It is interesting that you assume I'm a right winger because of my dislike of Mr. Gore. I believe I mentioned that I dislike all politicians. If you can find one of the caliber of Mr. Lincoln today, then you might have a point. However, there doesn't appear to be one on the horizon in either political party.

You have no idea how I reach my political opinions by the way. But no matter how I arrived at my opinion, I am entitled to it, and entitled to express it without being jumped on and accused of wanting to burn down villages. This whole incident, in which I never uttered a rude comment, has really hurt me, and made me rethink my opinion of this whole community. That is unfair, of course, because there were a lot of people who didn't have cruel things to say to me. But there it is.

And I will voice my opinion if I chose, wherever I want, as long as that is legally allowed.
Flag
Then you're an idiot.
Reply
Flag
Explains it all.
Reply
Flag
You have a mob and pitchforks to go with that?
5
Reply
Flag
Wow. All that hate for someone who simply has a different point of view from yours. So much for the tolerant left.
FYI, I hate all politicians. I think there is a special place in Hell for people who are so power hungry they will destroy the people they have sworn to represent.

As for the nasty comments,I must confess I was surprised and, yes, hurt, by them. I just hold a different opinion from you guys. Is that not allowed?
Flag
LMAO , middle aged white folks dancing....no rhyme or reason. Jessica Lange is groovy!
1
Reply
Flag
WTF- Merlin ending, and the way it did. My heart is still broken.
2
Reply
Flag
The way it did is kind of a FTWTF for me. Cause that ending was GOOD and I didn't expect that anymore.
Reply
Flag
Jane-mas has been the funniest episode. It was like a cherry on top of a near perfect season so far.
4
Reply
Flag
WTF - Ignoring pre-Christmas Fringe episode...
13
Reply
Flag
Dude, there aren't enough "thumbs up" in the world for this comment.
10
Reply
Flag
The best thing though on Portlandia was the MTV part. I won't say anything else but wish it came true. :D
Reply
Flag
Staff
The guest-stars for that bit WERE pretty amazing.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook