Friday, September 28, 2012

TV Review Catch-Up: Louie Season 3

ML- My apologies go out for not regularly covering this brilliant show every week like I intended- hopefully this will partly make up for it.

Fans of Louis C.K. know the man doesn't like to do what everyone else is doing or what anyone else tells him to do. Why sell tickets through Ticketmaster when he can do so through his own website? Why act honored and humbled while accepting your Emmys when you can pull off a joke at their expense? This season, and this episode in particular, gave us great insights into Louie's off-kilter frame of reference while providing sincere moments of comedy, drama, horror and awkwardness.

Before getting into the finale itself, let's relish in the greatest triumph of the season- the Tonight Show arc. While rarely funny, these three episodes told the story of a man too scared to even attempt to succeed that he'd rather settle for self-pitying in his ordinary life. We've seen him do stand-up, and it's clear he thinks of himself as a halfway decent comedian, but when the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself, he shuts down. He can't tell a joke on command because he isn't "that kind of funny". Everything about the Tonight Show style of comedy (read: the kind that gets you fame and money for years and years) is the antithesis of Louie's character, and we truly get to see how off-the-beaten path he is. He doesn't want to wear a suit or give in to gimmicks and playful banter. When he does, however, after a betrayal by Seinfeld, and still fails, it hurts.

Sure, the story was inspirational in the sense a small victory attributed to the lengths he went to was good enough, but I don't think thats what made those episodes so great. We saw how painfully unfunny Louie would be if he were like any other comedian you can watch on a Thursday night. In doing so, we gain a greater appreciation for the Louie that he is and are relieved it didn't work out. Louie, too, learned about himself and the things he can do if he sets his mind to them- not only are things like weight loss possible, but he could be a damn good host if he wanted to. The beautiful thing is, Letterman or Ferguson or Leno couldn't dream of doing what Louie does every week on this show.

The episode began on Christmas morning. Louie watched the girls open their presents and saw the sheer joy on their faces, and remembered back to the night before and all the shit he had to go through to give them the perfect Christmas. His struggle with the doll alone should win him an Emmy for next year; he swears, he cries, he pisses on its face and drills into its head. Let's see Jon Cryer do that.

His younger daughter, Jane (one of my favorite parts of the entire show for her consistent reading of the line "Daddy..." and her amazing violin scene at the beginning of the episode "Dad", perhaps the season's best single scene) gets the book The Story About Ping and asks Louie to read it to her. He does, and tells her the story about the duck who lives on the Yangtze River -- a nice place to live, Jane points out. The duck imagery harkens back to the episode "Duckling" from last season, in which Jane snuck a baby duck in his bag for his trip to Afghanistan. I'd like to think this is a metaphor for Louie himself, the perpetual ugly duckling who will never turn into a swan.

His ex arrives and takes the girls off for a trip overseas for a few weeks. Without them, Louie wastes no time roughly dismantling the tree and tossing it out the window, then shutting the blinds and crawling in bed. What wakes him at 3PM is a call from his sister Debbie (Amy Poehler), who invites him to spend New Years Eve in Mexico with her and her husband (who refers to Louie as "the funny man" and bought the ticket at the "left wing Kennedy airport").

A small yet extremely important detail is fleshed out here- they're going to visit their abuelita, or Mexican for Grandmother. So Louie, the biggest ginger on the planet, has a Mexican grandmother, and produced all-white daughters with an African-American wife. Here, CK boils race down to a non-factor in both the creative and casting processes, a crowning achievement in the realm of social equality. Who cares if the mother of his children is black and his grandmother Mexican? You may giggle at the logistics, but in Louie's reality, race is a non-factor, and that's an ideal we should be striving for both in Hollywood and in our hearts.

Louie provided a lot of social commentary this season, but some that piqued my interest were the ways television shows were presented. All we really saw on Louie's TV were crappy reality shows and offensive news broadcasts. For someone as cynical as CK, it's no wonder these are things he chooses to show us, because you can flip to any channel throughout the day and find them. We live in a weird world where getting on TV no longer requires any sort of talent, and the definition of "news" has expanded to cover just about everything in our increasingly impatient society. Louie is an exquisite talent who doesn't mind taking a full episode (or an arc) to make a simple point or joke. He's right to be mocking the things on TV that aren't up to par because he's created some of the most poignant, funny moments of the last year.

Another thing CK succeeds with is dream sequences/exaggerations. I've always been iffy on dream sequences in shows, as they're often too on-the-nose and a cop out for externalizing internal struggles within characters that should be worked out in other ways. However, in the episode "Dad" and here tonight, we got prime examples of the best ways to handle such scenarios. In "Dad", Louie imagined even the GPS was calling him out on his fears and, when he couldn't man up and face his father, dramatically escaped to the middle of the ocean in a speedboat. Was it over the top and completely unrealistic? Yes, but it conveyed an emotion that CK's face just can't express on its own.

The dream of Lily and Jane, "probably in their twenties", focusing on a "career-y thing" and being an artist, probably, while old Louie sits "all alone" just eating pinwheel cookies and continuing to screw up their lives also expresses his fears as a parent in the perfect way possible. He's constantly putting himself and his abilities down, and after Christmas, when expectations are so high, it fits the moment for him to dream about being a lifelong letdown.

Louie packs his bags and heads to the airport. On the bus, however, he catches a glimpse of Liz, aka the Manic Pixie Dream Girl played by Parker Posey in the "Daddy's Girlfriend" arc early in the season. At this point, the audience expects a romantic reunion, that he'll bring her to Mexico to meet the family, and maybe not be all alone after all.

Nope. She sees him and he approaches, and she suffers a brain hemorrhage and bleeds out of her nose.

He follows her to the hospital, where he tells the nurse about her childhood cancer, but she says it's not looking good. Liz asks Louie if she's dying and he tries to comfort her. After an unsure "Bye Louie?" she flatlines and is pronounced dead at 11:59. The rest of the doctors celebrate the New Year with a countdown, but Louie is in shock.

What is there to even say about that scene? CK is a genius and deserves his writing Emmy, no doubt. I guess it all comes down to the idea that shit happens, and there's no rhyme or reason to the bad things that happen to us, or when or why they happen. But they will happen, and they'll happen to Louie.

Instead of going to Mexico to be with family, Louie remembers what Jane said about the Yangtze and hops a flight to Beijing to sit by the river. After having no luck communicating with the Chinese people, he finds a man with a truck full of ducks who offers to drive him to the Yangtze. They get there, only to discover it wasn't what Louie expected it to be. Shocker, right? It's barely a stream of water running through a grassy wetland. I don't know my geography well enough to assume the man brought him to the wrong place or if this actually is the Yangtze, but I think the latter explanation is the most meaningful.

For a comedy, Louie is a sad, sad show. He never gets what he wants. He has no luck with women, and the ones that like him die. He gets very little respect, or gratitude, or admiration, or fame, or money, or good fortune. And while we often laugh at characters like these, CK has a quality that transcends the general schadenfreude we feel towards sitcom characters and really allows us to empathize with Louie. We have his same pains, and insecurities, and struggles, and minimal triumphs. While our girlfriends don't die and we don't have disappointing trips to China, we all know what he's going through. He appeals to the masses by showing us how worse off things could be for us by making all the bad stuff happen to him. He's basically the Jesus of dramedy.

The episode ends with Louie wandering into a house and bonding with a bunch of Chinese strangers. Other people end their holiday episodes with the main character in the presence of family and loved ones. Louie disregards what other shows do. For someone like Louie, he's as out of place among his own family as he is with the Chinese strangers. He might as well enjoy the food.

Season Finale Grade: A
Season MVP: Louis CK 
Season Grade: B+ (88.92, mostly because of the episode Looking for Liz/Lily Changes, which I gave a C+)
Original Airdate: 09/27/2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

TV Review: Survivor 25x02: Booty Blinded By Booby Traps


You don't have to call out the showmance
Subtly sew distrust,
It'll be more effective than freaking out at Tribal Council and alienating everyone by speaking in tongues

Okay, I may have botched that song a little bit, but I haven't had a lot of water today... so...

Matsing (aka Tribe 1 for either arbitrary or spoilery reasons), fell apart even further this week as a showmance splintered trust and nobody stepped up to lead in the challenge. Worst of all, the tribe doesn't even have cookies.

The tragic thing is, Roxy was completely right about Malcolm and Angie. A pair, especially an athletic relationship, is either the most dangerous or the most vulnerable position in the game. In a tribe of 5, everyone needed to unite against Malcolm/Angie, which was never going to happen thanks to my winner pick, Sex Therapist Denise. I assume she saw Malcolm and Angie as potential clients and the subjects of her next book, Love in the Wild: How to Survive Being Backstabbed By Sea Snakes and Get Crabs Out Of Your Buff. She also astutely pointed out that, despite Malcolm being her main ally, being the odd-person out in a threesome is what the sex therapists refer to as the worst. But the timing wasn't right to betray her only ally, so Roxy had to go.

Roxy's pre-challenge behavior was elimination-worthy on its own. After a terrible rainstorm, Roxy began speaking in tongues and praising the lord like Jameka from Big Brother 8. Nothing against her religion, but speaking in tongues can be a red flag that someone's head may not be 100% in the game of Survivor. Take Dr. Denise, for example. She says that anything that gets her to the end of the game will be of her own doing, not God's or anyone elses.

Over on Tandang, Lisa further distanced herself from her tribemates by sitting alone at the well and crying, which has made the majority alliance go from 4 to 5 with Artis now included. If Tandang loses, Lisa is in trouble, unless she can pull some type of Holly Hoffman maneuver and turn her sorrows into strength. Meanwhile, Abi-Maria and RC Became the most dysfunctional alliance since Russell & Parvati. All RC wanted was to trust Abi-Maria with her idol clue, but Abi-Maria was so threatened by RC's bond with Skupin that she threatened to kill her if ever betrayed. Healthy stuff right there. Abi-Maria is a little too crazy for this game, but makes good TV and I'd love to see her blindsided!

At Kalabal, Jonathan used his brain and figured out the clue meant the idol was under the nose of the bull pendant wedged in their welcome basket. Now he's got an idol, which he'll probably have to use at his first tribal considering we haven't seen any other strategizing by him yet. He better keep those glasses on, because he'll need another hidden immunity idol after this one gets used.

Tribal Council was entertaining with all the bitchy back-and-forth between Roxanne and Angie, whose cookie comment wasn't as dumb as Probst made it out to be. Malcolm's "little sister" comment about Angie was, however, pretty dumb, unless it's comparable to Kat and her cousin from last season.

In the end, two dangerous pairs remained in the game with Malcolm smack dab in the middle of both. I had high hopes for Roxy but she quickly fell into paranoid craziness way too soon. If there's any indication that God isn't invested in Survivor, her ousting from the Matsing tribe is all the proof I need.

Episode Grade: B
Episode MVP: Denise
Original Airdate: 09/26/2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

TV Review: New Girl 2x02: Katie

DA- In tonight’s second episode Jess is still free from “boob jail” and her job. She is happily cleaning and painting “abstract” portraits of the guys. In hopes of stopping Jess Nick brings her down to the bar to socialize and drink. Here she meets Andy and Bearclaw, (the latter of which is played by Broadway-star Josh Gad). Like in the episode before, Jess loves to role-play and becomes Katie after a handsome stranger looks for her as his online soul mate at the bar.

While it was easy to pretend to be Ivy this new falsehood creates a string of lies for Jess. Katie is a dancer who does something with puppets. (No really. I am not forgetting the actual term. Jess who is Katie cannot even remember!) This even forces Nick and Schmidt to pretend to be powerful dancers and leapers. (Sorry Nick but I do not think you are ready for So You Think You Can Dance but I heard Dancing with the Stars is calling). However the biggest lie she does tell is probably having seen Creed a painful 42 times (just a few shy of her new boy). Can you even imagine a lie bigger than that?!

However Jess must have forgotten she asked Nick to give her number to Andy moments before. At least she meant Andy but Nick thought she meant Bearclaw. As she texts “Andy” to come over to cook dinner and to see her “meatbar” (an auto-correct fail) she has no idea that Bearclaw is on his way to show her his claws and back tat.

After some awkward emotions and situations Jess lies to save her from hurting Bearclaws’ feelings. She says he is sick and that even Bearclaw’s anal thermometer will not help her. However all of Jess’ men meet when Katie’s handsome stranger arrives and wants to make out with Jess inside the men’s room stall of the bar. Despite all these sitcom shenanigans and situations, the handsome stranger decides to keep spending time with Jess as her and not as Katie. He says he does not “care anything about [her]…or [her] caring about [him].” He just wants to be “torn apart.” She says yes and jumps into his Prince Charming-like arms.

Meanwhile in a side story that does not really finish Winston’s family visits and Schmidt tries to impress Winston’s sister to bring her on a date. Winston’s mom hates it and tries to get him to stop or she will not pay for his cell phone bill. Schmidt then decides to take the sister on in a game of one-on-one basketball with painful results. Back at the bar Nick meets a future version of himself who is really just a drunk patron who knows quite a bit about Nick and his relationship with Jess. He does offer present Nick some important advice and tells him to be ready to apologize to Jess over something bad he is going to do to her. What will this be and when did this show become How I Met Your Mother? We have the flashbacks but we need some flash-forwards now for the complete transformation. As long as we do not get a flash sideways I’ll be yelling with Jack that we have to go back – to New Girl each and every week.

Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: Nick and dramatic leaping ability
Original Airdate: 9/25/12

TV Review: New Girl 2x01: Re-Launch

DA- Who’s that girl? It’s Jess! The new girl is back (which I guess makes her the old girl at this point) with two new episodes last night. Since there is so much to talk about without further ado…

As soon as the first episode begins Jess probably wished she never came back. Not only did she get laid off from her job due to cut backs, she had to scratch Schmidt’s “undercarriage” due to old and scratchy groin cask. On the bright side though she did get to take a lost and found item out of the box so there’s that.

Schmidt begins to plan his rebranding event after the cask is finally removed (mostly to tell women he can have sex again). Jess begs him to let her be a shot girl for the party but even with her boobs free from “boob jail” Nick says she does not have that level of sexiness. While Jess may not have that level, Ivy (Jess’ new alter ego who is studying to be an actress) may.

At the event “Ivy” tries her best to win over the crowd while at the same time Schmidt and Winston tries to convince Nick to make his girly fruity drinks from college to loosen up the girls for the party. Nick agrees but Schmidt has moved on as soon as he sees Cece walk in with a new boyfriend. He realizes he needs to step up his game and show how dangerous he can be. After some fire stunts and nearly burning down the bar many of the partygoers leave. While Cece stays behind he says they would never work out anymore anyways. They are too similar and while he is “dangerous” her new boy Robbie is just a simple and good guy.

However back to Jess she realizes she is not a shot girl and unable to shake her “plywood ass.” Nick tells her that she does not need to be and that she can just be herself. He explains that life gets better and then sucks moments later. That is just what happens to everyone and she just needs to accept it. Unlike Schmidt she has no reason to rebrand herself. She will always be the “adorkable” Jess to us.

Episode Grade: B
Episode MVP: Schmidt
Original Airdate: 9/25/12

TV Review: Parenthood 4x03: Everything is Not Okay

ML- Parenthood has a way of taking the characters I can't stand and really humanizing them. I didn't like Crosby, but knocking him down a few pegs made me root for him again. I didn't like Julia, but her fiasco with the adoption (and subsequent crying scenes) made her one of my favorite Bravermen. Now Kristina, who has always been perfect for an off-hand random comment but nearly unbearable in her persistent nagging, is now front and center in a vulnerable, Emmy-worthy story arc for Monica Potter.

As she and Adam wait two long hours for an appointment with the oncologist, a Stage 2B patient named Gwen Chambers approaches and pitches herself as a friend and mentor in this tough time. The scene between Kristina and Gwen was fantastic and real; they don't really know each other, but in a way, Gwen knows Kristina better than anyone else. Gwen advises Kristina to stay with the doctor that seemed to be dismissive and distant because he's actually making himself available to every patient he has. This isn't what Adam wants, but Gwen instills in Kristina a newfound confidence and a voice that prevents her from being a victim and starts her on a path to survival.

Adam handled the news about as any of us would expect -- displacing his frustrations and fears onto Amber's burnt coffee and scheduling conflicts at work. While the show does a great job of humanizing characters, it also allows them to be annoying, irrational and just plain unlikable sometimes, when the story needs it. His later confession to Amber that Kristina is "sick" was honest, and his reaction to Kristina's cry for a husband that can let her feel scared without drowning her in pleasantness shows what a well-rounded actor Krause is. It's hard to imagine sometimes he went from the Nate/Brenda relationship on Six Feet Under to this one, but you have to marvel at the transition.

Not every character has increased their place in my heart after this week. Hank is obviously the guy Sarah is going to end up with, at least for awhile, and that pisses me off. The past few seasons have really painted her and Mark into an unlikely but functioning pair that are different but still make it work. Yet tonight, when she couldn't rant about Hank's ego preventing him from taking a wedding gig, there was nothing else for them to talk about. Yes, couples evolve into stagnation and her underlying feelings for Hank are attributing to her distance already, but I feel cheated to suddenly see Mark get pushed out of the way after all the progress made in their relationship.

Max also is a tough character to swallow, for understandable reasons. His obsession with the Skittles in the vending machine and how it alienated even his best friend shows the extent of his condition, and the decision to channel that energy into a run for Student Council President was an obvious but welcome one. It's an election year, so expect a rise in campaign-themed plots on different shows. Here, there's the potential for Max to be bullied and ridiculed as he takes the spotlight, but also the chance for a great underdog story if Max wins (which I hope and predict he will, though as the recent Emmys proved, my predicting of winners is often spotty!)

The Zeek plot was pretty anti-climactic but allowed us to actually see Nelson and Bedelia act and gave Crosby an opportunity to spill about the heart medication his father is taking. This is going to come into play later in the season in a big way, methinks.

Next week (I think) is the beginning of Matt Lauria's run on the show! He played Luke Cafferty on the last two seasons of Friday Night Lights and will be playing a war veteran who bonds with Zeek. Yay for all the cross-show love!

Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: Monica Potter
Original Airdate: 09/25/2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TV Review: How I Met Your Mother 8x01: "Farhampton"

DA- Big things happened last night in the season premiere of How I Met Your Mother. Barney and Robin worry that they can not go through with their marriage ceremony, Marshall and Lily spill the beans about how Barney once dated Robin to Quinn, and Ted finally runs into the titular mother- well sort of.
The episode begins with Ted sitting at a train station in Farhampton again telling a love story to anyone willing to listen. (Let’s see how many seasons this story within a story lasts). Flashback to Robin and Barney's marriage ceremony. He explains to Robin her hesitation over the wedding by using his own story about Victoria’s wedding to explain this situation. Cue the flashback within a flashback!
Ted being the "gentleman" that he is tells Victoria he must leave a note before she can leave her fiancé at the altar since it is "common courtesy." Ted of all people should know this because he remembers how depressed he got when it was him left at the altar a few years back. While he tries to sneak the note in for Victoria, Barney tells the gang not to tell Quinn about him and Robin dating in the past. Barney has already erased the evidence on his end but it was of course tired, delirious, and new parents Marshall and Lily to spill the beans immediately after almost spilling the beans seconds before. (They caught the baby monitor but forgot that five minutes before that they invited Quinn into the room!) Quinn worries that they still have feelings for each other and after explaining the last seven seasons in 52 seconds and how that can not possibly be true, Quinn still tells Barney it’s over.
However to make a long story short (something Ted and the show never does) Barney and Robin convince Quinn that they are over each other with the help of seeing Robin's new boyfriend Nick and his “situation.”(His abs guys! Get your minds out of the gutters!) While Quinn is convinced it may not be that clear anymore for Robin and Barney. Barney hands Robin a key to the storage unit probably adjacent to Walter White’s meth money to where all their relationship memories are stored. As she beings to cry Barney is in a cab with Quinn starring out the window probably thinking of a special someone. Who is he thinking of? Quinn? Robin? Bob Barker? Only time will tell.
In a last act twist we find out that Klaus (Victoria's fiancé) is also running away at the altar because she is not “the one” or whatever the German translation of that is. This reverts current Ted into season one Ted asking himself is Victoria really “the one" for him. Klaus reminds him you never know where or when it will happen but at some point it eventually will. Finally good old Mr. Saget comes in at the end to reveal while Ted does not yet know when he does know where. On a rainy night at this same station a young woman with a yellow umbrella and guitar will exit a cab and Ted will finally meet his wife. As for whether this meeting is this May, next May, or May 2024 the showrunners are still leading us down the same road we started eight years before. While we still do not know how long this journey may be (the showrunners are under the assumption this is the last season) we are one step closer in wrapping up one of the longest yet funniest love stories on television.
Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: Neil Patrick Harris (mostly for reciting the entire series in under a minute)
Original Airdate: 9/24/12

Monday, September 24, 2012

Podcast Episode 23: 2012 Pilot Rankings

In this week's episode we rank ten new network pilots for the fall 2012 season. Ranked shows include 
666 Park Avenue, Animal Practice, Ben & Kate, Go On, Guys with Kids, The Mindy Project, The Mob Doctor, Nashville, The New Normal, and Revolution.

We also discuss Gangnam Style mania, Stephen Colbert joining The Office, and how Les Misérables is going to do live action singing. We also talk about the Survivor: Philippines premiere and the Big Brother 14 finale.

To listen to the episode use the player below or download/listen to the episode on iTunes!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Emmy Voter: Lead Actress in a Drama Series

The final acting category of Emmy Voter is also the only incomplete one. It is...

Drama Lead Actress, and it is incomplete because I'm only on season 3 of Damages and really don't want to watch a random season 4 episode and spoil everything. So Glenn Close won't be included in this ballot, but I doubt she would have won anyway.

Kathy Bates as Harriet Korn in Harry's Law
Submission: "Onward and Upwars"
A.K.A. The One Where... Series finale, where Harry discovers her first husband dies. She also sings and cries and sues the D.A. personally to defend a man considered a "person of interest" in the murder of his wife.

Glenn Close as Patty Hewes in Damages
Submission: "I've Done Way Too Much For That Girl"
A.K.A. The One Where... N/A

Claire Danes as Carrie Matheson in Homeland
Submission: "The Vest"
A.K.A. The One Where... Carrie's bipolar disorder comes out in full while she recovers in the hospital, and Saul, Brody, Estes and Carrie herself must deal with the consequences.

Michelle Dockery as Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
Submission: "Episode 7 (Christmas)"
A.K.A. The One Where... Mary and Matthew reconnect and he proposed marriage, even after discovering the secret about the Turkish diplomat from season 1.

Julianna Marguiles as Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife
Submission: "Parenting Made Easy"
A.K.A. The One Where... Alicia has bad dreams about something happening to Grace, and Grace ends up going missing. Also, Alicia goes to arbitration with Caitlin against former job applicant Martha and Louis Canning over a woman fired for her religious affiliations.

Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olsen in Mad Men
Submission: "The Other Woman"
A.K.A. The One Where... Peggy gets money thrown in her face by Don and doesn't feel respected or appreciated, so she hands in her two weeks notice and leaves SCDP behind.

Notes: Again, didn't get to see Glenn Close, so no input there. Bates has a surprisingly good showing, but it's not enough to compete with the rest of the ladies here. Marguiles gets to be a good lawyer and a good mom, but overall the episode is just good. Moss is not the focus of the episode, but she holds her own with handling the material in a great way.

Verdict: Dockery knocks it out of the park, but nobody can hold a candle to Danes. She received the only perfect 10 rating I gave out, and should win hands-down tonight.


WINNER: Claire Danes
RUNNER-UP: Michelle Dockery
3: Elisabeth Moss
4: Julianna Marguiles
5: Kathy Bates
N/A: Glenn Close

Emmy Voter: Lead Actor Drama Series

Emmy Voter marathon continues with...

Drama Lead Actor!

Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley in Downton Abbey
Submission: "Episode 7"
A.K.A. The One Where... Season finale, where Robert must testify against Bates and finds out about Mary's Season 1 scandal.

Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire
Submission: "Two Boats and a Lifegaurd"
A.K.A. The One Where... Nucky's father dies and he must go to the funeral. He gives up his treasurer position and control of the town to the Darmodys, and is plagued by a recurring dream.

Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad
Submission: "Crawl Space"
A.K.A. The One Where... Walt is tazed and brought before Gus after accidentally accompanying Hank to the laundromat, where Gus threatens to kill his family. Walt tries to check out of the drug game and change the family's identities by calling Saul's contact, but he comes up short for money after Skyler paid off Ted's bills. He ends the episode laughing maniacally in the crawl space.

Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan in Dexter
Submission: "Nebraska"
A.K.A. The One Where... Dexter flees with his subconscious dead brother Brian to Nebraska to confront Jonah Mitchell, who he believes killed the rest of the Mitchell clan in the name of the Trinity Killer. Along the way, Dexter acts out by having sex with a gas station employee, shooting a gun and killing a pot dealer among his crops. Dex lets Jonah live and abandons Brian to return to his normal life.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men
Submission: "The Other Woman"
A.K.A The One Where... Don struggles with the Jaguar pitch and refuses the company allow Joan to sell herself out. What he doesn't know is that she does so anyway, after his rousing pitch session. Also, after treating Peggy like garbage, he must deal with her resignation from SCDP.

Damian Lewis as Sgt. Nick Brody in Homeland
Submission: "Marine One"
A.K.A. The One Where... Brody's plan comes together in the season finale. where he has the opportunity to take out the morally tainted Vice President, but is talked down by his daughter. In the end, he makes a new plan and gives some closure to his affair with Carrie.

Notes: Bonneville is out of his league here, as the overlong episode doesn't showcase his strengths. Hall is so uncharacteristic of the character in this episode it made me uncomfortable. Buscemi submitted well but doesn't pack enough punch- he's still only half a gangster at this point, and he should have submitted the finale. Hamm did some great work, especially with the kiss, but this is not a winning episode.

Verdict: It's a tie for me between Cranston and Lewis, and either winning would be fantastic. I think "Crawl Space" was the best dramatic episode of TV in the season, but "Marine One" should not be counted out. However, over the course of the season, Cranston did more amazing work than Lewis. Cranston has won this award three times before, so we'll see if the streak continues or if Lewis is given a shot at gold.


WINNER: Bryan Cranston
RUNNER-UP: Damian Lewis
3: Jon Hamm
4: Steve Buscemi
5: Michael C. Hall
6. Hugh Bonneville

Emmy Voter: Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Next on the list in the Emmy Voter category is...

Drama Supporting Actor

Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey
Submission: "Episode 2"
A.K.A. The One Where... Carson doesn't do much of anything in this episode and I'm not sure why Carter picked it when he had the great heart-issue episode to choose from as well.

Brendan Coyle as Tom Bates in Downton Abbey
Submission: "Episode 7"
A.K.A. The One Where... Bates is put on trial and charged with murdering his ex-wife, but is given a stay of execution. He also shares some tender moments with Anna.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones
Submission: "Blackwater"
A.K.A. The One Where... Tyrion leads the Lannister army against Stannis' men in the epic Battle of Blackwater.

Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo Fring in Breaking Bad
Submission: "Hermanos"
A.K.A. The One Where... Gus flashes back to when he and his partner approached the Salamancas for a business venture, but Tio ended up shooting his partner and forcing Gus to look into his eyes. This is paralleled with the present, where Gus confronts wheelchair-bound Tio after killing everyone left in the cartel.

Jared Harris as Lane Pryce in Mad Men
Submission: "Commissions and Fees"
A.K.A. The One Where... Don discovers Lane's forged check and fires him. A disgraced Lane returns home and tries to kill himself, but can't even manage to do that right. Everyone returns to the office the next day to find Lane hanged himself on the back of his door.

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad
Submission: "End Times"
A.K.A. The One Where... Brock gets sick and Jesse thinks its because he got ahold of the ricin cigarette. He accuses Walt of giving it to Brock and holds a gun to Walt's head, but Walt convinces Jesse that Gus must have been behind it, and the two reunite against Gus.

Notes: The Downton men, Carter and Coyle, don't stand a chance against these dramatic powerhouses. Harris, while incredibly emotional, actually doesn't have a large amount of material, and most of the episode revolves around how others relate to the suicide. Dinklage had a great, inspirational and funny tape, but he isn't number 1.

Verdict: The Breaking Bad boys are the top 2 here, and it's incredibly close. Paul won this award two years ago, so I'm giving the edge to Esposito, who was brilliant his whole run on the show and deserves recognition.


WINNER: Giancarlo Esposito
RUNNER-UP: Aaron Paul
3: Peter Dinklage
4: Jared Harris
5: Brendan Coyle
6: Jim Carter

Emmy Voter: Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

ML- In all the acting categories at the Emmys, nominees submit one episode (or "tape") they feel showcases their best work of the season. Ive been watching all the submitted "tapes" and reviewing them critically to help determine which actor/actress is most deserving come Emmy night.

Next up is Comedy Lead Actress

Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day in New Girl
Submission: "Bad in Bed"
A.K.A. The One Where... Jess tries to be "erotic" with Paul after discovering porn because she feels she needs to be better at sex, having only been with Spencer before. 

Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath in Girls
Submission: "She Did"
A.K.A. The One Where... Finale, where Hannah goes to Jessa's surprise wedding and asks her gay ex to move in with her, after already giving Adam the green light. Adam gets upset and calls her out on all her bull, but gets swiped by a car. He won't let Hannah in the ambulance, so she takes the train to Coney Island and eats on the beach.

Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton in Nurse Jackie
Submission: "Disneyland Sucks"
A.K.A. The One Where... Jackie checks into rehab, nearly quits, asks O'Hara to bring her daughter to visit and saves the life of her elderly roommate when she suffers a stroke.

Tina Fey as Liz Lemon in 30 Rock
Submission: "The Tuxedo Begins"
A.K.A. The One Where... Liz, fed up with people not following the rules, turns into a Joker-like character wielding a smelly gym bag who must be stopped by Jack's new Batman-like mayoral candidate.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer in Veep
Submission: "Tears"
A.K.A. The One Where... Season finale where Selina is asked not to back the Ohio governor due to her low polling numbers, but after crying on camera he wants her back again. He flips and flops until the last minute, and eventually word gets out that her tears were manipulated, sending the office into a tailspin.

Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn in Mike & Molly
Submission: "The Dress"
A.K.A. The One Where... Molly is determined to lose her last 6 pounds in the week before the wedding to fit into her dream dress. The crash diet makes her wild and an unfortunate encounter at the gym lands her in jail. 

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation
Submission: "Win, Lose or Draw"
A.K.A. The One Where... Season finale, where the election finally arrives and Leslie wins, delivering a powerful speech to the town and the viewers.

Notes: All 7 of these women were exceptionally funny, but there can only be one winner. I'd say the least funny was McCarthy, but I said that last year, too, and she went on to win. Falco gave an impressive performance, but it was more dramatic than comedic, so her placement in this comedy doesn't really fit. Fey was wild and outrageous, but the concept of the episode was better than her actual material in it. Louis-Dreyfus, one of the front-runners to win, didn't have a lot of standout moments, but the ones she did have were hilarious. Dunham had more humor in the episode than I first remembered, really shedding light onto the flaws of Hannah. 

Verdict: That leaves two funny ladies. I think Deschanel was uproarious in this episode, but still falls short of the emotional/comedic punch that overdue Poehler wallops in an election-themed episode. Did we already get a preview of her victory speech?


Winner: Amy Poehler
Runner-Up: Zooey Deschanel
3: Lena Dunham
4: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
5: Tina Fey
6: Edie Falco
7: Melissa McCarthy

Friday, September 21, 2012

Emmy Voter: 2012 Primetime Emmy Ballot

Sunday is almost here! Who will take home the gold this Sunday? Download and print out this ballot to follow along this Sunday (and to see if we are right with our predictions). 

To hear why we choose what we did listen to our latest podcast episode where we dive deep into each prediction. 

TV Review: Big Brother 14 Finale: On Bitter Juries & What Dan Should Have Said

ML- First off, congratulations to Ian Terry, winner of Big Brother 14 and the $500,000 prize! He won a bunch of competitions, made plenty of friends and gave the better jury speech, securing 6 of the 7 votes and going down in history as an extremely deserving winner.

Dan Gheesling, former BB10 winner and the only person to make Final 2 both times he played Big Brother, came up short. His ruthless, "blood up to his elbows" game pissed too many people off. Plus, he already had the money, and the jury wanted to reward a newbie super-fan with college loans to pay off over the slimy, cutthroat book-peddler who stabbed them all in the back.

All that being said, if I were in the jury, regardless of whether he betrayed me or not, I would have voted for Dan. I know, that's easy to say having not been betrayed by him, but his strategic game was absolutely amazing. To me, that's the measure of who deserves to win the game, not necessarily likability or challenge wins (though those things can only help).

I feel as though reality television has evolved a lot since its beginnings, when the likes of Richard Hatch and Dr. Will were rewarded for their strategic masterpieces. I no longer think that reality show juries vote for the most deserving to win the game. In this current reality landscape, everyone expects to become a star from their exposure, or at least get a spin-off/spot on The Amazing Race. As such, jurors are by definition those that cannot win and must choose the winner. By choosing the winner, they, vicariously, "win" if their pick wins. Thus, a bitter vote is a way of stealing someone's deserved win to heal your ego and be a part of the "winning" team and making the runner-up feel your same pain. It's petty and selfish, but it's been happening over and over again on Survivor and Big Brother in ways we never saw during early years.

Imagine you're playing poker with a group of people you've gotten to know at work. You see each other every day, you form opinions, you may gossip about each other and be planning to cut each others' throats (professionally speaking), but you all know each other and decided to play. Now let's say you bluff someone and take a ton of their money, knocking them out of the game. You lied to them, deceived them about your hand. Is it right for that person to hold a grudge against you for being a better poker player? To not invite you to the next poker game because of your lie? Most people, I assume, would say no, it's just a game.

Big Brother is just a game, too. It's a televised game with goofy competitions that you can play in your backyard, with people who may as well be coworkers- they're not necessarily friends or family, but they could be one day. And yes, people get their feelings hurt along the way, but only one person can win. Everyone lies to everyone at some point, and the people who lie the best make it far, and then they are punished for lying better than others.

Dan got a lot of grief for swearing on the bible and on his wife's name. Personally, I don't take offense to either of those things in the game setting. If he did so in the real world, then sure, that would be an asshole move if he swore on his wife's name then betrayed her. But if we're playing poker and the only way to get you to play the pot for $500,000 is to swear on my wife's name that I have a worse hand than you, then it turns out I was bluffing, the blame is on you. This is a game for big money, and anything you say should be suspect as a possible lie. Now, Dan is a religious, loving man, so people thought he was telling the truth. Boom, misted. I'll be interested to see if people in the future use the bible/swearing on names as a weapon, or avoid it based on the backlash.

Another reason why Dan lost was his status as a former winner. I think the trend is finally coming around for people to turn against returning players. They've seen Rachel and Rob win, Coach and Ozzy make the endgame. They've also seen the amount of screen time new players get compared to returning ones- barely any. Not only did he get the money already, he got the attention and the "fame". As we saw on Survivor this week, people are sick of the old timers stealing all their thunder.

The main problem I have with Dan was his jury speech. Not only was he obnoxious and sucking up, he failed to highlight the strongest aspects of his game, despite it being so obviously rehearsed. Ian spoke off the cuff, was natural, and played up Dan's betrayal to the jury just like J.T. did re: Stephen in Survivor: Tocantins.

If I were in Dan's position, here's what I would have said:

"When I entered this game I had to check many things at the door. I am a religious man in my real life, but that doesn't belong in a game where you must lie, cheat and backstab to win. I am a faithful husband, but I couldn't let my emotions control my actions. However, I knew that using these qualities would be a strategic way to earn trust. I talked it over with Chelsea before entering, and she agreed I had to do anything to win this game again.

The one huge part of who I am that I was able to bring into this game was my role as a coach. I entered as a coach to three contestants, just like the others, but by the end of the first eviction I was down to only one player left and in grave danger of going home without even getting the chance to fight for myself. At that point, it was me and my player, Danielle, against 10 other people across 3 teams. I went into survival mode, knowing I would do whatever it took to coach my team to the end.

And look what happened: the two of us made it to final 3 and just barely missed out on Final 2. Love or hate what I did in this game, you cannot deny that I was effective in enacting my plans. I'm sorry if your feelings were hurt along the way, but you can't bring your feelings into this game. You wouldn't hate someone for bluffing you out of your money in poker, would you?

In the end, this is just a game, like poker is a game. I hope you guys choose not to be sore losers and Bitter Betties, because you will regret it. If you're voting for the most deserving, I feel my strategic moves have earned that title."

Unfortunately, Dan settled for patronizing the jurors and ultimately alienating them. Ian was likable, and his win made me happy; as I imagined myself as a super fan in his position, beating one of the best players ever, I was finally satisfied.

I'd like to thank everyone who read my reviews this season for putting up with me and my blatant favoritism! In the end, it's just a game, and just as there are no rules about lying, there are no rules about voting. Ian earned his win fair and square, and I look forward to seeing him on the next All-Star season!

Episode Grade: A-
Season Grade: A- (Good strategy, casts, twists, Final 2.)
Season MVPs: Dan Gheesling & Ian Terry
Original Airdate: 09/19/2012

TV Review: Survivor Philippines 25x01: Go With the Game

(R to L: Malcolm, Angie, Russell, Roxanne, Zane, Denise, Mike, RC, Artis Lisa, Peter, Abi-Maria, Jeff, Katie, Penner, Dawson, Carter, Dana)

ML- You take the good
You take the bad
You take them all
And what do you have?
Survivor: Philippines!

The granddaddy of all reality is back, chocked full of good and bad in the 90-minute premiere that I wasn't excited for until I heard Jeff's prologue at the beginning of the episode. This was a summer of Big Brother submersion, and Survivor just wasn't on my radar, but I was pleasantly surprised with the premiere, specifically the cast. For this first week, let's look at the castaways, and see what past contestants they remind me of to get an idea of how they may fare:

TANDANG: (Yellow Tribe)
Mike Skupin: Mike is basically Mike Skupin 2.0 with a hint of Boo Bernis from Survivor Fiji- the guy who kept getting hurt over and over. He has definitely aged (is his speaking voice odd for anyone else? His mouth moves in a weird way), but I remember being such a huge fan of him while he was on Australia, so that "star" factor is still in play. His new "Go With the Game" mantra will probably be the title of his next book.

Abi-Maria: The Brazillian flirt is very Sugar from Heroes v. Villains with her sexuality and personality. Peter seemed interested, but to the audience it came off as very desperate. She's going to have to show some better understanding of the game to translate that sexuality into a Brenda or even Parvati ranking.

Artis: Pretty nonexistent but physically strong black guy. Ibrehem from Palau? Definitely not as ripped, though. We'll have to see more from him to get a better sense of his character.

RC: She's the Parvati of the group. Sexy (a few of my guy friends messaged me to tell me they wanted her to be their winner pick, based on her "strategies", I assume), but also a firm grasp on the game and a good rapport with the camera. I see her going far with the alliance she was quick to form.

Lisa: The celebrity factor of Ashley Massaro with the personality of Tracy from Fans v. Favorites. Isolating herself will not be good, but with Skupin having her back she may be able to outlast Artis.

Peter: Young, athletic and already noticing the hot girl, he reminds me of Alex from Amazon or Keith from South Pacific. He's in the alliance, good for him, but we didn't get any insight from him, so I doubt he'll be taking the money home.

TANDANG FORECAST: Strategically they're well off for now, physically they stand to be unstoppable if they do cut Lisa at their first TC. I'm thinking the winner could come from this tribe, but my actual winner pick isn't wearing yellow.

KALABAL (Red Tribe)

Jonathan Penner: Same old Penner we know and love. I like how humbled he is by getting to play the game again. Great TV and definitely a class act, he's one in a million and I'd love to see him take this game. Unfortunately, he's going to need that Immunity Idol he's so desperately looking for if he wants to survive in his tribe.

Dana: Petite and spunky, definite Courtney Yates from China/HvV vibes from her. She doesn't want to see Penner or any third timer for that matter take the crown.

Dawson: Her last name, not her first name, which puts her in the leagues of Cochran and Penner automatically! Kidding of course, but her ability to spot Jeff Kent makes her the Danni of the season, just as she spotted Gary Hogeboom in Guatemala. It'll take a lot of expert maneuvering to match Danni, though.

Carter: Didn't make a peep but was young and buff, basically the Samoa Brett of the episode.

Katie: Already forgot who she was. She doesn't like Penner's shadiness, so an unmemorable person from a Penner season is the infamous Mary of Micronesia.

Jeff Kent: The Gary Hogeboom/Jimmy Johnson/Brendan Synnott of the season. Hiding something big from the rest of the castaways is always a thorn in your side, and soon people will figure out he's not a motorcycle salesman like he claims. With his messed-up knee, too, I don't see him making endgame.

KALABAL FORECAST: The only thing they're unified on is taking out Jonathan. Jeff and Dana are a pair to watch, but once Dawson opens her mouth, who knows what will happen. I don't think the winner will come from here, either.

MATSING (Blue Tribe)

Russell Swan: Obviously, same old Russell. Wasn't the best leader of Galu, not the best leader of Matsing. His "reign" will definitely be short lived. Bossing people around will get old, and Malcolm proved he has the survival skills to provide for the tribe.

Angie: Former Miss Kentucky, former track star, definite threat with her alliance with Malcolm. She's like a personable Amanda, aside from the fact she's bad at puzzles, and I can see her making some big moves if given the opportunity. She wanted to switch things up already by day 3!

Zane: Poor, poor Zane. He was like Brandon Hantz with his creepiness and Chicken with his ability to self-destruct himself out of the game without even trying. His bold move was a stupid one, as was his making alliances with everyone. Production probably saw him as the next Hantz, but he holds the rare honor of actually being dumber than a Hantz. His 5-1 elimination was his own damn fault, despite Russell's best efforts to dig his own grave.

Roxanne: Really, really liked her. Obvious Francesca vibes as being an un-"crazy" black woman on this show, but her military background and physical prowess should hopefully send her further into the game like Alicia.

Malcolm: Ozzy but with strategy. Ladies are going to love him, guys are going to love him. Fan favorite material already I think. Could he win? Absolutely, he's got a keen eye. But he's not my pick. That honor goes to...

Denise: The sex therapist did a great job of summing everyone up with ease. She aligned with Malcolm, another strong player. To me, she is an older Sophie, eloquent and intelligent with a good grasp on the game and human interaction. She may not be the most obvious or conventional pick, and she didn't necessarily get the best edit, but I think she's absolutely the one to watch going forward, for me at least.

MATSING FORECAST: They need to cut Russell loose, stat. Getting rid of Zane was okay because he really did screw up his part of the challenge, but Russell is toxic in camp as well. The other four need to bond together as a cohesive unit to stand a chance against the other tribes, especially once the inevitable "dissolve" twist comes into effect.

Overall, I like the premiere because we got to get to know more people than the 5 that have been beaten over our heads in every CBS preview. The cast seems like a good crop for the most part, and the returning players don't have humongous egos like Ozzy, Coach, Rob or Russell Hantz.

Winenr Pick: Denise
Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: Malcolm
Original Airdate: 09/19/2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Emmy Voter 2012: Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

ML- In all the acting categories at the Emmys, nominees submit one episode (or "tape") they feel showcases their best work that season. I've been watching all the submitted "tapes" and reviewing them critically to help determine which actor/actress is most deserving come Emmy night.

Next up today is Comedy Supporting Actress

Mayim Bialik as Amy Fowler in The Big Bang Theory
Submission: "The Shiny Trinket Maneuver"
A.K.A. The One Where... Sheldon isn't excited about Amy's publication in a scientific journal, so she gets angry, forcing Sheldon to take Penny's advice and buy her some jewelry: a tiara, which Amy flips out over.
Notes: Bialik only appears in two scenes, one at the beginning and one at the end, and the one at the beginning isn't funny. Her excitement when she sees the tiara is funny, but hardly enough to pass as a well-rounded acting performance.
Verdict: Apparently Bialik has many better episodes and is a fan favorite, as well as a veteran actress. I would hate to see her win this year, but Big Bang has defied my predictions before.
Grade: 4.5/10

Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy in Modern Family
Submission: "Go Bullfrogs!"
A.K.A. The One Where... Claire has a free night and, rather than watch Gone With the Wind with the other moms, goes out on the town with Mitch and Cam's friend, who isn't gay like she assumes, making for an awkward, inappropriate night.
Notes: Bowen lets loose in this one, for once not being the uptight one, and its a relief. Her scenes with Gilles Marini are farcical and fun and the payoff with the other moms at the end is a fine comedic moment.
Verdict: Bowen won last year and should take this again. While I'd rather see someone else win, I can't deny she was the best.
Grade: 8/10

Kathryn Joosten as Karen McKluskey in Desperate Housewives
Submission: "Finishing the Hat"
A.K.A. The One Where... Karen asks Bree to find her a specific record (and record player) before she dies. Later, Karen succumbs to her cancer while listening to the record.
Notes: Joosten passed away just a few months after this aired of the same cancer as her character. Joosten, who was beloved in Hollywood, may receive the Emmy posthumously. Unfortunately, like Bialik, she has only a couple scenes in the episode before her death, and they're more sad than funny.
Verdict: Joosten is given little material of merit, but outside forces could give her another Emmy for the role, which she won Guest Actress for twice in the past.
Grade: 3.5/10

Sofia Vergara as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett in Modern Family
Submission: "Tableau Vivant"
A.K.A. The One Where... Gloria is jealous of Jay's friendship with a waitress at the restaurant where he has a sandwich named after him. She also refuses to eat the sandwich, upsetting him.
Notes: Gloria is likable and funny here, a solid tape for Vergara who, like Ed O'Neill, had little to do this season. Her jokes land better than usual and her jealousy makes her more relatable.
Verdict: Good episode, but probably not going to sway enough voters to give her the win.
Grade: 7/10

Merritt Wever as Zoey Barkow in Nurse Jackie
Submission: "One-Armed Jacks"
A.K.A. The One Where... Zoey looks for a roommate but has her posters torn down by Cruz. Later, Jackie lets her stay with her while Kevin has the kids, and Zoey does a happy pancakes dance.
Notes: Wever in Nurse Jackie seasons 1 and 2 was one of my favorite comedic actresses ever. Season 4 marked a return to form for the show, but I feel this nomination comes too late for Wever. Her pancake dance is incredibly charming, but it probably won't be enough to send her dancing up to the podium Sunday.
Verdict: Wever deserved this nomination a few years ago, and good for her for getting it now. Will she win for her body of work rather than this episode? That's the only way I see it happening.
Grade: 6.5/10

Kristen Wiig as Various Characters in Saturday Night Live
Submission: "Mick Jagger"
A.K.A. The One Where... Kristin has her emotional farewell to SNL, and acts in sketches like Secret Word, the Lawrence Welk Show and The Californians.
Notes: Wiig is a love-her-or-hate-her force on the show, but personally, I love her. Even Secret Word and Californians make me laugh. Plus, the farewell at the end where every cast member and Lorne Michaels all dance their goodbyes and sing with Arcade Fire was really moving.
Verdict: McCarthy won last year thanks to her Bridesmaids affiliation. Will Wiig ride that success wave to her last chance at an Emmy? It's highly possible.
Grade: 7.5/10

How My Ballot Would Look:

Winner: Julie Bowen
Runner-Up: Kristen Wiig
3. Sofia Vergara
4. Merritt Wever
5. Mayim Bialik
6. Kathryn Joosten

Emmy Voter 2012: Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

ML- In all the acting categories at the Emmys, nominees submit one episode (or "tape") they feel showcases their best work that season. I've been watching all the submitted "tapes" and reviewing them critically to help which actor/actress is most deserving come Emmy night.

First off today we have Comedy Supporting Actor

Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy in Modern Family
Submission: "Lifetime Supply"
A.K.A. The One Where... Phil goes to the doctor and thinks he is going to die, especially after his lifetime supply of razors he won on a game show runs out.
Grade: 8.5/10

Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett in Modern Family
Submission: "Leap Day"
A.K.A. The One Where... Mitchell tries to plan the perfect Wizard of Oz themed birthday party for Cameron, which he must cancel because of a tornado hitting Cam's hometown. He tries to throw together a last-minute boat party, which also falls through, and Cam thinks he waited until the last minute to start planning.
Grade: 7.5/10

Max Greenfield as Schmidt in New Girl
Submission: "Control"
A.K.A. The One Where... Schmidt stops being Schmidt-like and gives up all the things he loves, like cleanliness, cooking and organization. The rest of the apartment must deal with the fallout and get old Schmidt back.
Grade: 8/10

Bill Hader as Various Characters in Saturday Night Live
Submission: "Katy Perry"
A.K.A. The One Where... Hader portrays such characters as Stefon and Clint Eastwood.
Grade: 6.5/10

Ed O'Neill as Jay Pritchett in Modern Family
Submission: "Baby On Board"
A.K.A. The One Where... Jay has to take Lily to her dance recital, but when Lily is too scared to dance, Jay must get on stage and help her.
Grade: 5.5/10

Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker in Modern Family
Submission: "Treehouse"
A.K.A. The One Where... Cam pretends to be straight to prove Mitchell he can land attractive women, but things go too far when the woman wants to come over to the house. It turns out she knew Cam was gay and just wanted to be friends, but pretends to be in love with him for Cameron's sake.
Grade: 7/10

How My Ballot Would Look:

Winner: Ty Burrell
Runner-Up: Max Greenfield
3. Jesse Tyler Ferguson
4. Eric Stonestreet
5. Bill Hader
6. Ed O'Neill

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

TV Review: Parenthood 4x02: "Left Field"

ML- Tonight's episode was called "Left Field", an apt description of the ending, where we found out Kristina has breast cancer in a scene that came out of nowhere. I don't know if the scene was perfectly handled here, as it was so out of left field that it felt out of place in the episode. Of course, one might argue it's not like breast cancer is convenient or pops up at opportune moments. I just wish the show had made it either more surprising (just one scene rather than a few in a row) or devote more time and less to the business of getting a dog.

Kristina wanted a dog to deal with her Empty Nest and fill the void left by Haddie's absence. Adam pointed out the first dog even looked like Haddie. Instead, they settled for a Golden Retriever, Max's newest animal obsession, but the breeders with the desired dog were snobs and, worst of all, pricey. Adam nearly broke down and bought the dog based on their attitude alone, but the $1,200 price tag was worth sleeping on.

By the time they reached a decision, the dog was gone, and Max was furious. He didn't want another dog, he wanted that dog. Adam has to leave because of a meeting, after which Max yells for another 45 minutes. Later, Adam comforts Kristina and decides they should get a dog, and that maybe it will help them from missing Haddie. (How can they miss her when they have cute little Nora there? My favorite part of the episode was her yelling "apple", which Kristina had to angrily correct to Adam mid-fight as a tomato).

It's before they go to buy the dog that Kristina has her mammogram appointment and gets the bad news from the doctor. We don't actually get to hear the bad news; instead we're treated to "Naked As We Came" by Iron & Wine, but the lyric "one of us will die inside these arms" is pretty clear. This will be a major story of the season, and hopefully one that will humanize Kristina the way Julia has been humanized with her baby search.

Julia's story was absolutely my favorite from this week. I can't imagine the struggle of taking in a young child of Victor's age and handling the transition smoothly. That's not to say I wouldn't, but I wouldn't know how to best help the boy, and Julia and Joel are struggling with the same issue. Victor feels sick on the first day of school- do you let him stay home so you can earn his trust, or force him to go to school as they did to Sidney? At first, Julia picks the first and asks Joel to stay home with him. Joel doesn't agree, and notices Victor is probably just faking it to get what he wants- to stay home and play video games.

After two days of staying home, Julia drives him in. He doesn't want to go, and she sees the fear in his eyes. With no regard to all the honking moms, she gets in the backseat with him and promises him it will be okay, and that she'll even stay in the parking lot all day while he is in class. This comforts him, and he goes after a pinky promise.

And Julia waits. When Victor comes out for recess, she is there. As ridiculous as this would be for someone to sit in their car in wild California heat, it shows a side of Julia willing to compromise and go the extra mile for this boy, who she seems to be growing to love. I would feel bad for Sid, but she has been really annoying in the past, so it's nice to see Julia interact with a different kid. I will say, though, that she's handled the addition of Victor with grace thus far.

Julia tells Joel what she did and expects him to think she screwed up by staying, but instead he kisses her. These two started off the show as the fringe couple without a big name star, but they've become one of the real beating hearts in this beautiful family story. When Victor asks her why she did it, Julia says people in their family keep their promises. Victor thanks her, and the seeds of their bond have been planted. I've grown to love Victor more from last week already, so I expect he'll soon join the ranks of Braverman elite.

Speaking of Braverman elite, one of them was forgotten this week: poor, little Jabbar. Crosby and Jasmine served as the foil to Adam and Kristina this week: the latter were planning appointments for everything from doctors to "Funkytown" (sex), while the former kept living spontaneously, having Sunday night floor sex and, much to Jasmine's chagrin, bailing out on nice salmon dinners for pizza. The consequences of Crosby's immature ideology came back to bite him when he forgot it was his day to pick up Jabbar. He and Jasmine stormed to the school, bickering over who was more right, but in the end, seeing Jabbar's disappointed face was all Crosby needed to realize he needed to compromise a little bit. He synced his and Jasmine's calendars (and even included "Funky town"), and she agreed to put up with his childish self for at least one more week.

Lastly we had the inevitable breakup of Drew and Amy. Sarah was unable to comfort him and could only spout her hate at Amy and ask Mark to keep tabs on Drew at school. She tried confiding in Hank, who bragged about his high school conquests and advised Drew to sleep with Amy's best friend as revenge. Sarah, disgusted, left, and didn't expect Hank to actually give Drew some good advice.  I'm still not loving Romano in those role, especially in comparison to Jason Ritter's Mark, but he is doing some good acting work. Plus, he got Drew to get over Amy pretty quickly, so props to him for keeping the Bravermen all happy.

Before I go, I'd like to thank my friend Brett Snyder for actually Photoshopping me into the Braverman photo as I mentioned last week! I'll post it below.

Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: Erika Christensen
Original Airdate: 09/18/2012