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, Louie, Fargo, 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 Dreadful? The Bachelorette's ridiculous strip show? Share your own FTWs and WTFs in the comments!