FTW vs. WTF: The TV Week in Review (September 29)

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[In the tone of Steve Martin's character in The Jerk getting the new phonebook:] The new fall season is here, the new fall season is here! Yes, television is back at its most massive, with the major networks as bloated as they'll be until this time next year. You'll see it's no coincidence that the arrival of the fall season also coincides with one of our largest WTF sections of the year. More television does not necessarily equal better television. But there are some new standouts, and old favorites that returned strong. Heck, one mainstay on the 2012-2013 season's WTF list reversed its fortune and showed up on the FTW list this week! So even though most of the new offerings aren't the greatest, it's still early in the season and anything can happen. See? We're trying to be more optimistic around here. Let's see what was out-of-sight and what we wanted to keep out of sight in this Premiere Week edition of FTW vs. WTF.




The Emmys can still surprise us... and they certainly surprised Merritt Wever

This year's ceremony featured a slew of surprise winners in the acting categories—Merritt Wever! Anna Gunn! Bobby Cannavale? Jeff Daniels?! While some were perhaps more worthy than others, Nurse Jackie's Zoey wholly deserved her win... and her flabbergasted response was a highlight of the evening. 



#Hashtag #abuse #is #a #real #problem, #but #JimmyFallon #and #JustinTimberlake (#and #Questlove) #are #speaking #out


The Late Night host was on a roll this week. Also good: The lip sync battle between Fallon, Joseph Gordon Levitt, and Stephen Merchant



Winston became a real boy on New Girl


Winston finally had a real storyline this week! Who cares if most of it was spent on the many different methods one might employ to kill a cat? Yes, the feline murder plot was nutso (and hilarious), but the storyline that birthed it—Winston facing the facts of his relationship with Daisy—was 100 percent legit. And it didn't once involve him wearing a sweatshirt as pants.



Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is off to a good start


The most anticipated new show of the season debuted to big numbers for ABC, but very mixed reviews. Some people loved it, some people thought it was only mediocre, some people were very confused (and in some cases angered) by the lack of superheroes (which means they didn't read anything that came out before the series premiered). But regardless of what The People thought, it was a strong start for ABC, Marvel, and the Joss-man himself. For the record, we liked the pilot just fine—and we're thrilled to have Whedon back on TV.



Broadchurch concludes its powerful first season with a spectacular reveal


We're not sure how the British drama will continue onward into a second season, but we don't want to thank about that right now. Even though Season 1 hit its highest peak near the middle stretch, the finale, including the reveal of the murderer, was pretty special. For the most part, Broadchurch didn't fall victim to the typical procedural red herrings that plague murder mysteries, and the ultimate reveal gave the show's two leads a lot of great material to work with. David Tennant did wonderful job of reminding us that he's more than Doctor #10, but Olivia Colman was the true star throughout, and especially in that last episode.



Congratulations, Ron and Diane!


Parks and Recreation returned for Season 6 with a surprise wedding—which, sure, it's something the show has done before. But for Ron Ulysses "Standard Birth Control Methods Aren't Usually Effective Against a Swanson" Swanson and his lovely bride, spur-of-the-moment City Hall nuptials were just about perfect. And all around, "London" was a strong, very fun season opener. We couldn't be happier this show is back.



Revolution destroyed everything for the better

NBC's sci-fi saga faced plenty of problems heading into Season 2, and it "resolved" a lot of those by dropping some nukes on the East Coast and obliterating both the Monroe Militia and the Georgia Federation. A six-month time jump put the show in a more fully realized world, providing the characters with a clean slate and challenging them with different, more personal threats. The result was one of the best episodes of the series to date, and a promise that the story is headed in the right direction. But mostly, Norah is still dead and that's the biggest improvement of all. We will watch with cautious optimism.



James Spader!

The Spade is back on TV and carrying most of NBC's new—and largely mediocre—FBI thriller The Blacklist on his shoulders. But the series is worth a look to just to see the actor (who plays a most-wanted criminal who suddenly surrenders himself to the FBI) chew scenery, cling to every pregnant pause, and let lines like "Well I think you're special," slide out of his mouth. Also FTW: That exciting kidnapping scene in the pilot.



The Simpsons is headed to Homerland

Fox has released the opening sequence for this weekend's forthcoming season premiere, and it's a dope spoof of the intro to Showtime's Homeland. Finally, those terrible credits have produced something worth watching.



This reminder of everything bad that's happened to Jesse Pinkman


Poor, poor Jesse. And this video doesn't even include that time Walter smoked some of his pot without asking.



The Michael J. Fox Show is actually pretty good!


The new fall comedies are a generally sorry-looking lot, but there are a few gems among them, and even though Michael J. Fox's new series is a standard sitcom in many ways, the cast is great, Fox himself couldn't be more charismatic, and the humor might even be a little bit... edgy? It shows promise, to say the least.



American Horror Story's bewitching new opening sequence


Can't. Wait.



Downton Abbey is back in the U.K.!


Not like we silly Americans have *any* idea what happened. But let's just say that the question of how the show could possibly go on without Matthew is answered... and quite splendidly too!





How I Met Your Mother's Season 9 premiere proved how kinda-awful the show can be—and also why it's still great


In the double-shot opening to its final season, HIMYM turned in an at-times frustrating episode full of terrible Marshall subplots, lots of yelling, and mostly annoying couple behavior from Robin and Barney. And yet, there was Cristin Miloti, bringing all the charm and warmth to the Mother that longtime fans have been hoping for, particularly in that scene near the end of the second episode with Ted and the Mother talking one year into the future. No show on TV can be as ridiculous and broad in one scene and so totally moving six minutes later quite like HIMYM. If the first two episodes are any indication, the final season is going to be a bumpy—but ultimately worthwhile—ride. 





Dexter Morgan, despondent lumberjack


The final season of Dexter went off the rails somewhere around Episode 4, so it's no surprise that the series finale was one big mess defined by historically stupid scenes (the whole sequence with Dex arriving at the hospital on his boat was something "special") and boring inaction. However, we have to give credit where credit is due: Capping the show with Dexter driving into a hurricane and somehow ending up in the Pacific Northwest acting out his best Brawny Man fantasies is about as dumb as dumb gets. 



Did The League really just kill off Rafi?


Wednesday night's "Rafi and Dirty Randy" was an extremely manic departure for the fantasy football comedy—most of the principal cast was completely absent!—and while the episode was still filled with plenty of FTW (and very specific fetishes), if Rafi's really dead, he'll be sorely missed. 



The Sister Wives finale

If you're anything like Lily, your week began not only with the penultimate episode if Breaking Bad but with the two-episode finale of TLC's Sister Wives, wherein the Browns sat down for some polygamous marriage counseling with a woman in Sedona wearing $90 sport flip-flops and an honest look of incredulity. It's pretty hard to get to the heart of this family's troubles when they refuse to hear anyone who even remotely questions their wacky marital configuration. Then we got a Sister Wives Tell All where they revealed that, although they'd clearly informed college-bound Mariah that money was tight and there were no funds for the school of her choice, they're planning a fancy recommitment ceremony where all of them will wear formal gowns and host a reception. Good job making these people villains, TLC!



Clay's life was spared AGAIN on Sons of Anarchy... and Tig's is up in the air


Let's be honest, Clay Morrow should have died a hundred billion times by now. This week, just when it looked as if Clay had reached is end for real, like there was no way he could escape his fate, Kurt Sutter found a way to spare him, vis-a-vis Jax making a deal with Pope's men to keep Clay alive until the gun stuff with the Irish is settled. Of course, in order to do it Jax had to hand over Tig. We're beginning to think Bobby and Tara have the right idea putting Charming in the rearview mirror. At some point or another, everyone's going to die a bloody death in that town. Except Clay, obviously. He's going to live forever.



The Emmys in general

It's easy to complain about the Emmys every year, but that's the Academy's fault, not ours. While this year's ceremony wasn't without its pleasant surprises, the telecast spent WAY too much time on death; tributes are nice, but that time could've been much better spent. And of course Modern Family somehow managed to win its fourth straight Outstanding Comedy Series title. The show is fine. But it's not Outstanding, and everybody knows it.



South Park's Season 17 premiere wasn't the show's sharpest work

In response to the NSA privacy scandal—a topic that Trey and Matt should've had a field day with (the NSA privacy scandal)—Comedy Central's raunchy 'toon came up with a new social media app called Shitter, which transmits its users' thoughts directly to other users. But in the end, it was really just a joke about Alec Baldwin's fondness for pussy sandwiches. There were a few good moments (like the NSA "spying" on people's mundane activities), but for the most part, "Let Go, Let Gov" was bogged down with too much sophomoric humor, and lacked the biting satire South Park is known for.



Breaking Bad's Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz

These two jerks went on television to disparage Walter White? Claiming he had nothing to do with the rise of Gray Matter Technologies other than contributing to the name of the company? Oh, I'm sorry. Do you not remember telling me how important I was to the company earlier in the series? Remember that ramen I bought for us because WE were too poor to afford it? Well F*CK YOU GUYS I'M GOING HEISENBERG ON YOUR ASSES! (This blurb was submitted anonymously by one "W. Lambert" from New Hampshire.)



Glee clearly isn't even trying anymore

After all that build-up around the school-shooting episode, Glee hastily slammed the door shut on that particular storyline with a convenient admission from the emotionally compromised Becky—which resulted in a whopping one-month-long suspension for the troubled teen and a full reinstatement for Sue Sylvester. Because that totally addresses... nothing. It addresses nothing. Stop wasting our time, Glee. Man cannot survive on pop-rock covers alone.



Scheduling an important meeting on your first day of work... at the FBI

In the pilot of NBC's The Blacklist, newly minted FBI agent Elizabeth Keen scheduled an incredibly important meeting with an adoption agency for about 1pm on the same day that she reported to her first day on the job. With that kind of foresight, you don't deserve any kids, lady.



CBS's The Crazy Ones is one big commercial


We're not saying the show doesn't have a great cast (though of course your mileage may vary when it comes to Robin Williams). And yes, product placement will always be part of the TV landscape. But if the sitcom continues serving up manipulative marketing for billion-dollar corporations and calling it scripted TV, that's not just bad business, that's false advertising.



A&E has canceled Hoarders


Our lives are about to get a little bit grosser: After all, without wall-to-wall rotting food and the occasional dead cat, how will we ever be traumatized into cleaning all the things?


What's on YOUR list of TV loves and hates this week?


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