Happy fall, everybody! It's the most wonderful time of the TV! But just like the transition between summer and fall can be filled with both chilly temps and beautiful, sunshine-dappled afternoons, so too can the last week before the "official" start of fall premieres include quite a range of good and bad boob-tubery. The past seven days have offered a master class in walking the line between FTW and WTF on the small screen; let's break it all down, shall we?
The welterweight contender to the massively over-hyped Under the Dome Must-See Summer Event ended things with a finale that was either a desperate bid at a second season or evidence that the series' funding was cut off one episode too early. The contestants were finally reunited, only to be captured by black-clad soldier-types... though they they eventually found some sanctuary in an abandoned town. The real jaw-dropper came when Jonathon—the presumed-dead host—showed up, and was just as surprised to find the contestants as they were to see him. "You're not supposed to be here," he said. WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?! The surprise joy of the summer season, Siberia was something pure and rare that we may never see again... but we're crossing our fingers that we do.
"The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award," while extremely thinly veiled and perhaps a little too on-the-nose at times, was still a wholly enjoyable sendup of the FX(X) sitcom's lack of Emmy recognition. There was a Louie reference: “There’s that bar that just moved in down the street and they’ve already won a ton of awards.” There was an FXX dig: "Maybe it's our location..." There was an astute discussion of the "black best friend" stereotype: "What’s with the black friend that no one is acknowledging?” “It’s strange to have one black friend and not be constantly talking about it.” There was even a direct acknowledgement of one of Sunny's most oft-heard criticisms: "He's been to Paddy's and he says it's just a bunch of people yelling over each other." Yeah, the show IS just a bunch a people yelling at each other and we wouldn't have it any other way.
The comic made an appearance on Conan this week, and what started as a conversation about parenting and kids having cell phones (d)evolved into Bruce Springsteen impressions and a pretty prolific discussion of the impact of smartphones on the human experience. This guy is the best.
Sons if Anarchy's Jax Teller was reunited with his boo after she lived Orange Is the New Black, and their celebratory coitus was an unenthusiastic chore, reflective of their deteriorating relationship. That's two episodes in a row that we got to see Jax's back tattoo undulating wildly on top of a woman to close an episode, but it's this one that hurt.
From the biting opening sketch about Trayvon Martin to the Of Mice and Men twist on a rap battle—"Steinbeck, y'all!"—to the Les Mis parody, it was a welcomed relief to have these two humorists back on our screens. The only lackluster segment was, surprisingly, the Obama-and-Luther bit about the NSA and porn. Also: Please oh please, more Metta World News. MORE.
Annie faked her death to get to Wilcox who is, inexplicably, still BFFs with the CIA. Calder is a good guy after all and the Campbells are having a boy. Sucks to be Auggie, but see you in four weeeeeks!
Who cares if he came in last? The Science Guy's cha-cha was full of charm, and the dude is downright hilarious. Here's hoping he overcomes his low scores and sticks around for at least a few more weeks.
Any series whose plot involves George Washington's magic bible, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, witchcraft, time-travel, Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and a murderous Headless Horseman is just begging for our side-eye. But the two main characters are charismatic, the pilot was well-crafted and compelling, and the plot involves George Washington's magic bible, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, witchcraft, time-travel, Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and a murderous Headless Horseman. And hey, how about those great ratings for the series premiere? We may be in for quite a so-WTF-it's-FTW trip.
It was an excellent episode full of excellent performances... and it ripped our f*cking hearts out.
Bravo to the New Girl writers for turning into the skid with regard to giving Winston interesting things to do. In the (overall very good) Season 3 premiere, with Nick and Jess trying to figure out what happens after you go all-in and Schmidt freaking out over the two women he loves, Winston took his pants off and started a puzzle. Lamorne Morris made it work, because he makes every dumb thing about Winston work. But don't just make Winston the crazy one, okay, New Girl?
There just wasn't a good way to resolve the ridiculous situation Bones put itself in at the end of Season 8—with Booth calling off his and Bones' engagement because Pelant threatened to kill a bunch of people if he didn't—but the premiere basically just erased all that tension at the end of the hour. Way to undermine the dramatic tension, show.
While The CW's Whose Line Is It Anyway? revival turned out to be a nice addition to the summer TV schedule, the show's use of guest stars has been mixed bag. Things hit a new low this week when two women from the Legends Football League (formerly known as the Lingerie Football League) stood in as props in the Living Scenery game—and viewers were encouraged to tweet about the proceedings using the hashtag #PrettyProps. Oh, haha, scantily clad ladies as the object of sexually suggestive humor from male comics. HI-larious. For our own sanity, we're pretending that host Aisha Tyler was annoyed by the whole thing.
Who cares? After bumbling through the hurtful revelation that he'd once purchased a fake engagement ring to hurt Mac, the host of News Night turned things around and proposed to the woman he loves to hate/hates to love most. Uh, okay. Hooray? There will definitely be two things going on at the Fourth Estate's most opinionated wedding: tissues and issues.
In the Season 1 finale, the dome turned black, then it turned into an egg, then there was a pink fireworks show, then a butterfly spazzed out, and then Barbie was almost hanged. In the end, we didn't get any answers. Hardly a shock, though, given what a dud the show turned out to be.
A week after canceling The Killing in the wake of the show getting good again and confirming the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul, AMC figured eh, what the hell, let's dilute our network just a little more. Mad Men's final season will now unspool in two seven-episode chunks over two years, but THANKFULLY, there's a Walking Dead spin-off coming to fill the void. At this point, it wouldn't shock us if AMC announced a Talking Dead-style chat show that recapped Talking Dead. Talking Talking Dead. Tonight's hashtag is #DeadHorse.
There's failing to stick the landing, and then there's careening toward the ground at a glacial speed, with no urgency or substantive drama. Seriously, the final season of Frasier felt more dangerous. It's fitting that this season's big villain was called the Brain Surgeon, because every character is acting like they experienced a lobotomy gone wrong.
Regardless of whether you found the pilot offensive, we should all be ashamed to know that we live in a society where crap like this can still make it to air.
The Mindy Project continues to be one of the more confounding comedies on TV. Despite a great cast and solid creative team, the show has yet to find any real consistency outside of Chris Messina being awesome, and the Season 2 premiere didn't do anything to change that. James Franco's guest turn was predictably Franco-y (kind of amusing, a little self-aware, mostly shrug-inducing), and the episode ran away from the finale's big stories as quickly as possible. It's not time to stop watching Mindy, but it IS time for the show to give us a really good reason to stick around.
What's on YOUR list of TV loves and hates this week?