Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TV Recap: Parenthood 4x06: "I'll Be Right Here"

Photo courtesy of tv.com

ML- This was an incredibly strong episode that juggled many emotions and storylines perfectly... until the last act, when some balls were dropped.

Kristina's struggle was handled with grace, and the inevitable (and foreseeable) conclusion that the cancer had spread resonated greatly.  She put on such a strong face to everyone, especially Max, whose election speech she missed to go in for surgery. She came off as the perfect mother; once out of surgery, the first question she had was about her son, not her own well-being. That's quite an admirable feat for the character.

Then, she resorted to selfishness. As hard as her path has been and will continue to be, the decision to lie to Haddie and send her back to Cornell thinking everything is A-ok was unsettling. Perhaps it's because I'm Haddie's age and see things more from her perspective than Kristina and Adam's, but it seemed like they were treating her like a useless child who didn't need the burden. Haddie has proven herself to be a mature girl capable of helping the family, and perhaps taking the semester off from Cornell would benefit everyone. Now, they've lied to their daughter, which will obviously come back to bite them and strain the relationship once again. Honesty is the best policy, and now they've added even more stress to Kristina's life when they could have gained another set of helping hands.

The scenes of Adam and his siblings in the waiting room were touching and provided some much-needed humor. Everyone offering him tea was a quirky running joke that sent him into a fuss, but reminded us how strong the rest of the family becomes when one link is weakened. I've complimented Krause before and having nothing but good things to say about him again. Brilliant work.

Max Burkholder still continues to amaze as well. Leading up to the election, we all knew Max was in trouble. He refused to recieve any help or admit to nervousness. Kristina and Haddie did their best to get through, but it appeared nothing fazed him -- until he took the stage and delivered his one and only campaign promise: vending machines.

The crowd was silent, holding back laughter. It wasn't until Haddie's comment on his tenaciousness inspired him to keep talking, bringing up his Aspergers and framing it as a positive driving force in keeping his promises. In the most Hollywood of endings, the room erupted with applause and Max went on to win the election.

However sweet this was, it strayed from some of the more realistic handling of issues Parenthood has given us. These kids probably wouldn't have changed their opinions of Max that greatly after one speech. Anything is possible, however, and the moment was a triumph for Max, so I'll let the writers off  more easily here than with Haddie.

The other moment that bugged me was Crosby praying with Jabbar. Crosby proved this episode he's still the least-reliable Braverman, though probably the most eager-to-please. He took on the responsibility of both picking up dinner and walking the dog, which ended in the dog needing stitches and the food arriving late. After his support of Adam, he returned home for Jabbar's only scene and asked him to teach him to pray. Unless this is the start of a major character transformation for Crosby, it was definitely out of character and unrealistic for an agnostic dad to ask the young kid out of the blue for praying advice. Again, it makes for a sweet moment, but my eyes rolled. I'm all for Jabbar being the religious Yoda to Crosby's Luke Skywalker (sorry, the whole Lucasfilm/Disney deal is still on my mind) but it'll need further fleshing out.

I'm all for Ryan and Amber. It was totally realistic for her to invite him in and him to be hesitant, and it speaks volumes for the future of their relationship. This isn't some immature lust-ridden humpathon. Let's see these crazy kids settle down, ensuring all Friday Night Lights actors find steady, fulfilling work. That'd be nifty.

Drew was definitely not being nifty this week, if that is an appropriate use of the word. He complained about his move into Mark's house, refused to pack, threw his clothes out the window and bitched about lack of cable. Watching this with friends, we had differing opinions on his acting out. One friend thought he was being a baby, and that as a high school senior it shouldn't matter where he was living (since he didn't switch schools) and he should be supportive of his mother. I agree he was acting immature, but remembered he had gone through many other uprootings with Sarah and wanted some stability for his senior year, one that didn't involve ridicule from sleeping under the same roof as his teacher. I'm glad he and Sarah and Mark patched things up (pretty quickly, but whatever) and can start settling down.

Hank is still a factor, though, Sarah was definitely unsure about her feelings for him while chatting with Adam at the hospital. Could yet another displacement strain the Drew relationship further? Between him and Haddie, these damn Bravermans need to get their heads straight!

Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: Monica Potter
Original Airdate: 10/23/2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

TV Review: Dexter 7x04: Run

DA- As Deb entered the bathtub all we could think of was Rita. As the water turned red and wouldn’t stop Deb must have too. This leads to Deb instantly questioning Dexter now about season four and if he even loved Rita. He did and loves Deb too. Aww…

Thankfully they got Raymond Speltzer from last week and just need a confession. After a good cop/bad cop routine from Batista and Deb respectively they somehow got Raymond to come out and say “I should have killed you like I killed the other girls.” Woah that was easy. Unfortunately when they originally arrested him the cops beat him and it is unclear if Raymond was conscious or even able to follow his Miranda rights (he never verbally said yes). Because of this his confession is thrown out. Now I don’t know much about the justice system but this seems pretty darn stupid! Good thing we have someone like Dexter out there!

Meanwhile Sirko and his henchmen visit Alex who is a barkeeper at the club. They convince him to take the blame for Mike’s murder and kill himself in exchange for his family to receive a lot of money. This is literally the opposite of a suicide prevention hotline. Miami Metro finds the scene the next day and what happens next surprises me. Out of nowhere Batista becomes a good cop and doesn’t believe it was a suicide. It’s too neat. Who is this and what happened to Miami Metro?! Then again Quinn represents the department well. He wants to just forget this whole thing because this ordeal is “hard” for the stripper he is sleeping with. Oh pobre Quinn. Suck it up!

Dexter tries to take on Raymond only for him to get knocked out in the RV and wake up in a maze himself. The note next to him tells him to run but he says he doesn’t run but makes people run. He walks down the hall like a BAMF until he sees Raymond as a bull chase him with a giant axe. Even Dexter knows no matter how uncool it looks, this is the time to run!

He narrowly escapes and decides if this happens again he has to make sure he has nothing to lose (like he did in season four when chasing Trinity). He sends Harrison to Orlando to visit Astor and Cody (remember them?). Dexter tries again to get Raymond and leads him into a trap of his own. Raymond lets out a final yell and tells Dexter he is going to kill him, which Dexter wittingly responds, “that would be a twist.” The body goes into the furnace to be burned and perhaps the ashes will go to Fisher and Sons for a funeral service. (See what I did there?) Along with the body, Dexter gets rid of his blood slides. Finally Dexter realizes that it is a bad idea to hang on to the evidence of people you killed!

Deb sees the smoke coming out of the crematory and asks if Dexter did this for her. He says no (now this would be a good opportunity to say yes Dex) and asks her how she feels. She says she is glad and wonders what that makes her. Dexter simply tells her that this makes her human but I think he forgot to include this also makes her a psycho that is in love with your step-brother who is a serial killer. But hey, one step at a time.

Episode Grade: B
Episode MVP: Angel Batista (for finally being good at his job)
Original Airdate: 10/21/2012

TV Review: How I Met Your Mother 8x04: "Who Wants to Be a Godparent?"

DA- After realizing that death is all around them, Lily and Marshall go to create a will but are unsure of who the godparents for Marvin should be. After speeding through arguments about each other parents (and allowing only a one second discussion about Lily’s dad) the rest of the gang wants to be considered too. Gifts start pouring in including giant teddy bears and even a stroller with a boob cam (any guess who created the latter?) Finally they decide there is only one way it can be decided; a cheesy 1970s game show! But first a word from our sponsors…

Robin, Ted, and Barney participate in “what-if” scenarios of parenting issues like delivering the news about their demise or the birds and the bees talk. Flashes are shown of how each would handle each situation. One flash not shown? How they would explain how their father met their mother because as we all know that is not a simple or short story! While each may be hilarious, Lily and Marshall are unsure they understand what it is like to be a parent. However they all retort that they are unsure they know how to be friends anymore.

This is due to the fact Lily and Marshall put in a rule that they could not be bothered with their problems unless it was an 8 or higher. While they say they do not have time to deal with their problems, they are going to name one of them as a godparent and they do not even know their lives anymore. They revoke the rule because everything they do is an 8 or higher to them.

Now going into this I thought Barney had a clear advantage. I mean he once thought Bob Barker was his dad and was very successful on The Price is Right in one of their best episodes ever. However in the end to no real surprise all three become godparents and Barney still tries using his boob stroller in the bar. Slightly predictable but still a solid episode that plays with the unique formula and situations this show has been known for.

Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) for zinging Ted every round about his parenting skills.
Original Airdate: 10/15/12

TV Review: Dexter 7x03: Buck the System

DA- Dexter came back full of built up rage and excitement with another action-packed episode.

After dream sequence after dream sequence of Dexter losing his dark passenger, he finally lashes out on a criminal in Miami Metro. While I knew Masuka was never going to bite the dust it would have been interesting to see what lie Dexter could come up with it to cover that up!

Dexter’s next target is a cemetery groundskeeper named Raymond Speltzer. Deb of course follows him at every moment to try and stop him. Since he knows he is being followed, Dexter lures Deb to the bar to let her be a part of his stalking process with this kill. Deb tells him to let the legal system take care of this but Dexter zings back that if the legal system worked he wouldn’t be this busy. Oh Dexter you got her!

The destruction of Louis Greene came to a quick and sad ending for me. First Masuka fires him when Dexter mysteriously sends the missing hand back to him for “not being mint.” Next came Jamie. Dexter sets up a video for her to find that involves him with a hooker. Louis tries to pull a Dexter with a crazy lie (it’s not cheating if you pay for it). Louis turns then turns the lie to Dexter (which is actually the truth) but this is absurd to her. Dexter would never do such a thing! What’s next Louis? Are you going to try and tell her that he kills people?! Yeah right!

Somehow the GPS on the bracelet that Viktor had only marked three places (the three of which Dexter was with him for). They trace it to the marina and to the exact boat (don’t ask me how) where they see Louis trying to sink Dexter’s boat. Since he thinks it is security he says it is his boat. After the classic misunderstanding is settled and they learn about Dexter, Louis is shot. Wow! While I was excited for this increased action I was sad to see this character go especially since the show was leading him to be so much more.

After being turned down for a search warrant on Raymond Speltzer, Deb tries to look into Raymond herself. It turns out that Raymond likes to create Saw-like mazes where he chases his victim in a gimp-like costume while wearing a Viking hat (to each his own!) Deb breaks in and begins to be chased herself. Dexter saves the day but unfortunately did not arrive fast enough to save the dead girl.

Will this be the final straw and will Deb give in to Dexter’s unique justice system (since the real system is certainly flawed in this case)? Perhaps we will find out next week in another exciting and fast-paced Dexter.

Episode Grade: A-
Episode MVP: Louis Greene (R.I.P.)
Original Airdate: 10/14/2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

TV Review: Survivor 25x05: Everybody Loves an Underdog

ML- The Matsing tribe is no more! Malcolm and Denise were randomly absorbed into Tandang and Kalabal, respectively, but not before Malcolm discovered the Hidden Immunity Idol on the Matsing beach. He and the Tandangs cruised to victory while Kalabal struggled in the challenge due to Katie's ineffectiveness. In the end, it was dirty girl Dawson who got sent packing from the dwindling girl alliance. She may have given Jeff Probst a hug and a kiss, but she went out without ever revealing the dirt on Jeff Kent.

The MVP of the episode was definitely Malcolm, who found the idol as well as acceptance on his new tribe from everyone, including poor bullied RC and naive Pete, who divulged his own idol to Malcolm. He's in a great place and is a major threat to go deep into the end, and could ride his wave of favorability to a win.

The LVP, if thats a thing, belongs to Dana. Having never been on the island playing Survivor, its easy for me to say there would be no conditions that could take me out of the game. However, her severe pains and chills weren't alleviated in the pounding rain, and the tiny country tomboy opted out of continuing, even though the doctors gave her a go-ahead. Not only did she screw over herself, she ruined things for Katie and Dawson on Kalabal. If the red tribe loses again, Katie is in some hot water.

That's all for this week. Kalabal is so divided that it made for a less-than-interesting Tribal. I'm hoping Tandang heads to TV soon so the Abi-RC battle thats been brewing can come to a head.

Episode Grade: B-
Episode MVP: Malcolm
Original Airdate: 10/17/2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

TV Review: Parenthood 4x05: "There's Something I Need to Tell You"

ML- Many people proclaimed this episode as one of the series' best, but I don't think it even matched a season-high. My biggest problem was with the ending -- Kristina's initial disclosure of her condition to Adam was a poignant moment void of any dialogue. It worked because we knew what they were saying and we still got to see the emotion. It was fresh and honest.

By using the same device again here when Kristina told everyone made it seem like a cop-out. If I were watching this as her Emmy tape, I'd want to see her force out every last word to these people. They're not her birth family, remember. She married into them and has never wanted to be a source of pain in their happy charming lives. So for her to drop a weight like this on all of them is a character-defining moment, and just this once I didn't want it to be glossed over with a musical montage.

The other thing that bothered me was Julia's decision to quit her job. How stressful was one extra kid to her routine, really? In actuality, not much, but the psychological toll was obviously enough for her to burn breakfast and miss an important deadline on a rookie assignment. She expected the partners to cut her loose, and when they didn't she should have counted her blessings and tried to give them her all. If it didn't work out, at least she'd get a severance package when they fired her! Quitting, while more dramatic, puts her and contractor husband Joel in a tough financial position.

How great was it to see Victor pull a Raul Ibanez in the big game (playing for the Panthers, naturally. Nice touch Katims) and Zeke get justified in his annoying grandfatherly efforts. The game also introduced a couple that has me incredibly excited- Amber and Ryan. After a bunch of questionable lays, could this war vet be the right guy to sweep her off her feet? Now we just need Haddie to hook up with Zach Gilford and Drew to get with Aimee Teegarden and the Friday Night Lights spin-off will be essentially completed.

I'm still not sold on Hank and Sarah. For him to say the kiss wasn't nothing was expected, but still obnoxious. Her decision to move in with Mark definitely isn't 100% genuine, but at least will giv Jason Ritter more screen time! Give these two crazy kids a chance. All kidding aside, the writers did a great job building Mark's character last year, they can keep the relationship interesting if they really want to.

The best scene of the episode was Adam's phone call with Haddie. Peter Krause is masterful at expressing emotion in his face, and the call with Haddie was realistic and heartbreaking. Seeing Haddie was welcome, and I'm surprised the show hasn't detailed more of her college exploits. Likewise, Max's talk with Amber about cancer was an amazing touch for the character and the episode as a whole. Burkholder is spectacular in the role, as unforgiving as it may be.

Crosby's story was annoying but I'm glad he's getting his due with Adam. Blessings upon all the Bravermans, especially Kristina in her rough time. But writers, please, show us the intimate moments rather than playing for tears with your inspired soundtrack.

Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: Peter Krause
Original Airdate: 10/9/2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

TV Review: Homeland 2x04: "New Car Smell"

ML- The episode opened with Estes' son Kenny greeting Saul at the door wearing a Darth Vader mask and waving a lightsaber. Just a random quirky way to introduce the character? No, the show is too smart for that. This was a well-thought reference to one Anakin Skywalker, whose story parallels Sgt. Brody.

*Warning*: The following is a total nerd-out.

Skywalker was a Jedi Knight during the Clone Wars, a war hero in his own right, much like Nicholas Brody. His mind was distorted by the greatest evil mastermind the galaxy had ever known- Chancellor Palpatine, a Sith lord who went on to proclaim himself Emperor. For our purposes, Palpatine and Abu Nazir are one and the same.

The Jedi discovered Skywalker and Palpatine's involvement too late. The Jedi Master Mace Windu confronted Palpatine and expected Skywalker to follow suit. Skywalker didn't, betrayed Windu and went on to slaughter as many Jedi as possible. It seems as though Estes and Saul are like the CIA's wise, hardened Jedi Masters Windu and Yoda. They've discovered his treason but decided to sit on the information- a bad move that fortunately Carrie was able to undo.

We could call Carrie his Obi-Wan and Jess his Padme (and Virgil and Max are the droids!), but those don't align quite as well. The important thing to remember is that after destroying all the Jedi and running the galaxy with an iron fist, Skywalker was redeemed after being taken down by his son and daughter and restoring balance to the force. Does this mean Brody's story ends in a celebration, with Dana and Carrie working together to turn Brody against Nazir and free the ewoks from Imperial captivity? Hopefully so, except for that last part. Homeland is no place for ewoks.

"New Car Smell" represented a fresh start for Carrie as she settled back into the groove of the CIA, a more worn vehicle in which she must sit shotgun to newcomer Peter Quinn. Quinn was brash and aggressive, but likable in his own way. He didn't trust Carrie more than we'd expect anyone briefed on her history to do, despite the video backing up her story. In a show already packed with several strong characters, it'll be interesting to see the trajectory the writers have planned for him.

Another lesser character who drunkenly stumbled his way to the forefront tonight was Lauder, Brody's marine vet "buddy" who has been spitting out conspiracy theories left and right. He barged into Jess' house and she needed Mike to haul him out. It was to Mike, not Jess, that Lauder shared his craziest theory- Brody and Walker were working together. Mike humored him, yet another weak link in Brody's armor that, by episode's end, is shattered completely.

Carrie is a badass Honey Badger frickin' rock star from Mars. Not only can she knock out Lebanese extremists with cinder blocks to the head, she can hold her own against a proven terrorist in an unprotected hotel room. Were her actions best for the CIA? No, but as she and her father chant, "F*** the CIA!" They were best for her, and after all the horrors she went through, she needed and deserved this victory.

So where do we go from here? This was one of the best season finales I've ever seen, and there are still 8 episodes to go in the season. Saul and Estes' plan of sitting and waiting on Brody is foiled. He's in custody. His VP campaign is screwed, which will be a minor setback for the budding relationship between Dana and her Walden beaux. Mike will probably share Lauder's theory with Jess soon, and Dana will connect the dots, too. If I were Damian Lewis, I'd be on the lookout for new job offers, just in case.

Episode Grade: A+
Episode MVP: Claire Danes
Original Airdate: 10/21/2012

TV Review: Homeland 2x03: "State of Independence"

photo courtesy of npr.org
ML- There is so much good about this season of Homeland, it literally hurts to point out the scattered flaws. This week, I'd say 75% of the episode was near-perfection. Claire Danes, Morena Baccarin and Mandy Patinkin all were flawless and had story lines worthy of their credentials. It was the stuff given to Damian Lewis that made me hesitate to label this episode as highly as TV critics out there.

To recap, Roya called Brody and told him the Gettysburg bomb maker who created "The Vest" would soon be the subject of government focus and needed to be coerced into escaping to a safe house. Brody was the only man applicable for the job because the tailor apparently trusted him more than anyone else.

I call B.S. on this. Brody and the tailor met once, as far as we know, so he could get the vest. Wouldn't the tailor be a little skeptical of Brody not actually following through in blowing himself up? Weren't there other Nazir contacts who could escape to Gettysburg, especially ones who were less high-profile than a Congressman expected at a fundraiser that night? Either this was a terrible stretch of our suspension of disbelief on the part of the writers, or Roya is not to be trusted. If that's the case, bravo, this episode could end up being perfection. Maybe she knew how crazy it was and wanted Brody to take the fall? That's the only way to justify the logic behind sending Brody through a wild goose chase in the woods.

The scene where he killed the tailor was also ridiculous. Did he have to answer his phone? Couldn't he have let Jess go to voicemail while he dealt with the injured man rather than answer it right next to him and force his hand into snapping necks? Just doesn't add up for me.

The tagline for this season of Boardwalk Empire has been "You can't be half a gangster", and I think a similar idea applies to Brody. Brody can't be half a terrorist. He needs to fully submit himself to the will of Nazir and be willing to drop everything at any cost for the man. I'd say he's close, but his problem is his family. Unfortunately, he can't be half a family man, either. Eventually, something has got to give and he will need to choose. Until then, I hope we aren't subjected to more bad writing.

Everything about the episode was top notch. The Saul scenes in the beginning and end were spectacular. Of course Saul was smart enough to hide the chip! It would have been much funnier if he hid it in his beard. When he showed it to Carrie, the acting by the two of them was show-stopping. Danes killed it throughout the whole episode, especially in the long, wordless scene where she took the pills and crawled into bed to die. It proves that even though the dialogue in this show is top-notch and the actors' delivery is equally so, they can convey just as much emotion with the light of their eyes.

Another pleasant surprise was Jess, who salvaged her fundraiser from becoming a career-ending blunder for her husband into a call for better psychological support for families of veterans. It was a call to the masses, but subtextually a cry for help. Baccarin played the moment with grace, even the awkward joke about car trouble in the beginning, and made an extremely unlikable character very endearing. Her scene with Mike was well-placed, I thought. These two were days away from moving in together and Brody's return forced them apart, it's no stretch that residual feelings exist. When she finally told off Brody in the house, I cheered, perhaps because I was so angry at his story line, but more likely because it paints him further into a corner.

I have literally no idea where this show goes from here. We see in the preview Carrie and Saul briefing Estes on the tape. So the CIA knows. There goes Brody's chance at a political career. Do they try turning him into a triple-agent of sorts to take down Nazir? If so, how will Brody be able to fit another personality into his wheelhouse? A Hawthorne quote featured in an episode of The Sopranos speaks to his condition: "No man can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true."

Episode Grade: A-
Episode MVP: Claire Danes & Morena Baccarin
Original Airdate: 10/14/2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

TV Review: Survivor 25x04: Swan Prince or Ugly Duckling?

ML- Returning players risk a lot when they sign up for Survivor a second time. Jenna Morasca won season 6 and agreed to return for All-Stars despite her mom being sick with cancer (She ultimately quit and made it home in time to say goodbye before her mom passed). Those blessed with golden edits their first time around like J.T. and James open themselves up to be portrayed in completely different lights; as bumbling idiots and sore losers.

I think the worst thing to happen to a returning player is to be disappointed by an early elimination. Did anybody really enjoy the first half of All-Stars, as Tina, Rudy, Rob C, Jenna M, Hatch, Colby, Ethan and Jerri ALL went home pre-merge, while the likes of Alicia, Jenna L, Shi-Ann, Amber, Lex and Big Tom took the top spots? Same goes for Fairplay and Yau-Man in Micronesia, and Cirie and Tom in Heroes vs. Villains. Going home early is a hit to your confidence, as if maybe the first appearance was the fluke and this is your true measure as a player.

For Russell Swan, however, he doesn't even get that comparison. His first outing he failed on the physical level. This time he failed again, even worse, on the social and mental level. He wasn't by any means "All-Star" worthy to come back to play, and a second shot at the title affirmed he is just another mediocre competitor. His post show interviews have been painful to read and listed to -- the man clearly loved the game, he just had no understanding of his position in it or, most unfortunately, how to play it well.

Granted, he wasn't blessed with the most skilled competitors, but I'd choose Denise and Malcolm over any of the other blokes (minus Penner) any day. Tribes like Koror in Palau have been stacked with misfits and gone on to dominate under proper leadership. As much as he wants to be, Russell Swan is no leader. He was the ugly duckling of Survivor hoping to finally get his break, and this wasn't it.

Denise and Malcolm are in trouble. If the tribes stay the same, eventually they'll have to compete head-to-head in a fire building challenge for who gets to stay. If there is a tribe dissolve, they'll be separated without an idol and left to fend for themselves against the former six Tandang or Kalabal members. Chances are that they'll have some trouble fitting in.

The challenge was incredibly close, and one of the best finishes the show has had in a while. Many things about the episode were great; I mostly loved the wordless opening of Matsing members seated in the rain just trying to cope with their existence. Once upon a time, this was a show about real people taken out of their element and most of the episodes focused on camp life and cultural discrepancies. Today, everyone has either played before or is a D-list celebrity or aspiring model/actor and the episodes highlight the drama and cut out the "reality". Hearing Russell's story to Denise about punching someone as a kid was almost awkward for today's Survivor, but would have fit in nicely in season 1. As much as I love strategy, this was a welcome escape.

Tandang is full of strategy. Pete has surpassed my expectations and become the troublemaker of the tribe. He's got Abi-Maria, Artis and possibly Lisa under his wing and has successfully framed RC as a liar. RC is too dumb to suspect foul play and fails to adapt to the changing dynamics of the tribe. Abi-Maria is not your friend or ally, RC. The sooner you get that through your brain and figure out where the true power lies the better chance you have at avoiding elimination.

Kalabal has some strategic rumblings as well, mostly on the part of Jeff and Penner. The Hidden Immunity Idol-bearing Veteran and the wounded baseball legend have teamed up along with the most invisible player in recent memory, Carter, to form a boys club. Dana, Dawson and Katie are rightly suspicious and formed their own posse. It'll be interesting to see what happens if Denise or Malcolm is absorbed into this tribe and if the gender battle continues.

So which tribe is better positioned now? It'll be hard to pick a better twosome than Malcolm/Denise for challenges, but it makes more sense that there will be a dissolve. Honestly, whichever tribe acquires Malcolm will probably be the one to succeed. With tribes even again, there's nowhere to hide your weak players, so the manpower will prevail in the increasingly physical challenges of recent seasons. Shame, because I, like Russell, am willing to write over a check to Denise in the off chance she makes the finale.

Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: The Editors, for including the slo-mo shot and the nostalgic scenes
Original Airdate: 10/10/2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

TV Review: Revenge 2x02: "Resurrection"

ML- Revenge has gone through a cycle of life, death and resurrection since it began. The pilot was fun and full of life, and things kept getting good until the big Fire & Ice mid-season reveal. After that, however, the show ran out of steam and slowly became the kind of show you'd watch while doing other things (like how I'm writing this while "watching" Fringe from the other night). However, the season finale last year was outstanding and breathed new excitement into the show.

I fear the show is losing the signs of life it showed last year at too fast a rate. Emily's icy disposition used to be commanding and hot, now it's gotten monotonous. Nolan's one-liners are lacking in effort on the parts of both the writers and Gabriel Mann; he's just phoning it in, and I don't think it can be attributed to the character's personal struggles. And Daniel's hair cut makes him look awful.

Amanda and Jack do not interest me. I was hoping the baby really wouldn't be his, but instead it was Emily just being a bitch to the woman who changed her whole identity for her. Was I surprised? No. Nothing has surprised me these past two weeks, except how little my investment has become. Declan's storyline with his new "friend" Trey lending him his step-mother's expensive bracelet for $500? Predictably going to lead to some mediocre drama.

There was one thing that surprised me: The White-Haired Man's unexpected death at the hands of Emily's Revenge buddy, who I believe is still unnamed. He had the potential to be a lasting malevolence in the show's mythology, but they cut him out once he hinted to Mrs. Clarke still being alive when Victoria signed her out of the mental hospital. RIP, WHM.

Nolan's scenes with his company were awkward and didn't quite fit the tone that the show has established. Yes, it's a campy soap, but the humor was a little too light. Maybe it was just the terrible acting by his prospective CEO? Between her and Charlotte, this show needs to step up the casting.

Sorry to be such a spoil sport this week, but there was one bright spot to the episode: Victoria. Her plan to get back at the WHM by using Conrad to Chris Brown her was smart and dark, and in the meantime got Charlotte back in her good graces. Madeline Stowe is the most committed to the show, for better or worse, and she was particularly fun getting punched in the face.

Episode Grade: C+
Episode MVP: Madeline Stowe
Original Airdate: 10/07/2012

TV Review: Homeland 2x02: "Beirut is Back"

ML- The most heartbreaking moment of "Beirut is Back" was Carrie's panicked breakdown to Saul on the roof of their Lebanese hideout. Despite risking her life and potential for recovery to ship out and help Saul & David Estes extract information from Fatima Ali, Saul admitted to not wanting her there in the first place. All Carrie ever wanted was to do her service to America, so much so that she put her own health on the back burner and focused 100% on Nazir. So when she cries to Saul that she had never been so sure and so wrong about Brody and how much it screwed her up, we, like Saul, gain a greater appreciation for her character.

Yes, she's obsessive and unconventional in her methods, and frankly her handling of her condition was unprofessional and completely deserving of her termination. There would be no issue, and all of us would be on the same side as Saul, if the audience didn't know how right she was. She's struggling to find the answers to a test she already aced, and her quest for someone to believe her is one the audience will be deeply invested in.

Has she found that person already? The episode ended with Saul going through the bag that Carrie foolishly retrieved from Fatima's house, searching for helpful information in the files and documents. Nothing. He notices, though, a stitch in the fabric of the bag itself and tears to reveal a chip. On the chip is the video we saw Brody make in last season's finale, where he stood in the storage unit and explained his forthcoming terrorist actions. The last shot we're treated to is Saul watching this video, aghast, and coupled with Carrie's confession from earlier, the episode packs an unexpected punch into the gut of anyone doubting whether this season would live up to the first.

Nobody expected this season to reach this critical point yet. It surely spells bad things for Saul and especially Brody, but also gives Carrie a new lease on life she may not have expected. Does Saul go to Carrie to begin comparing theories off-the-record? Does he go to Estes without involving Carrie at all? Does he keep it to himself and do some private investigating of his own? Saul is now involved in the scheme as much as Carrie is, and who knows what Brody will do when his back is against the wall. Mandy Patinkin is much more expendable than Claire Danes.

Brody already has plenty of conspiracy theorists in his midst. His old Marine buddies, Mike included, ask him to check the confidential files on the Tom Walker case to see if there's any information on who his real killer was or if any other suspects were involved. Brody lies and explains the files say nothing, which everyone expected him to do. The congressman can not catch a break, as now even his friends are turning their eyes his direction. He's going to have to be much more careful in the coming weeks.

Careful, as in not sending text messages from situation rooms in the Pentagon. He tips off Abu Nazir in one of the tensest moments the series has had so far, but it seemed kind of unrealistic. When the Vice President thinks someone tipped Nazir off, wouldn't it be protocol to search everyone in the room before they exited? Brody is lucky to have gotten away so easily there, but I suppose that's now the least of his worries.

Nazir did survive, despite Carrie and Saul's best efforts. The character truly has transformed into a force of nature; when he stepped out of that car, I gasped as if I saw a ghost, or even a real-life terrorist. I suspect he'll go into hiding for a while, as his trust in many has been compromised.

The second unrealistic thing that kept me from giving this episode a perfect score was Carrie's retrieval of the bag. Sure, it was an exhilarating scene and led to Saul's ultimate discovery of the chip, but the whole thing was too much of a suspension of my disbelief, even with Carrie in her fragile state. Putting everyone's lives in danger of the Lebanese civilians was too risky even on her part, manic or not.

Carrie returns home, considering her mission to have been a failure. The woman in the car with her mentions Carrie must have heard it from everyone and their brother, but thanks her anyway. From what we saw, nobody thanked her. It's always been a thankless job for Carrie, and she's never minded, but this time it wasn't a job, it was a favor. Not to be thanked for a favor that big is going to make her even further re-evaluate her stance on the CIA, which could be trouble once Saul approaches her with his intel.

The only other development this week was Dana with her new non-moronic boy toy, Finn Walden, aka the one she called out during her "Muslim Dad" rant. Could the congressman's daughter coupling with the Vice President's son be a match made in heaven or yet another political complication, especially if things don't end well or she spills some secrets? Time will tell. By the pace that the show is traveling at right now, for all we know that time could be tonight.

Episode Grade: A
Episode MVP: Claire Danes
Original Airdate: 10/07/2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

TV Review: New Girl 2x04: Neighbors

DA- Who wants to start an Arcade Fire? It’s a TGIF marathon on New Girl tonight, well for Jess at least. But in the end thank god it was Tuesday because we got another consistently funny New Girl episode to discuss.

Instead of working on her resume to get a new job, Jess instead has been “practicing” dropping things as Steve Urkel from Family Matters. This saddens Schmidt. He liked the old Jess. You know the one that was inspiring and did not work at Casserole Shanty. However after a group of “hipster” millennials move in across the hall, Schmidt wishes both types of Jess stay away as he proves he is still the cooler one of the group.

One of the reasons why Schmidt wants to prove he still has it is because the guys call him old. Although he says he is going to live forever. At least that is what his $49.95 real lifetime expectancy service says. Even though Schmidt will be alive for robot sex, according to the site Winston only has a few years left to live!

After an awkward evening hanging with the youngins it looks like Jess wins.  She is similar to them and is still figuring her life out while Schmidt on the other hand is a like a lame parent who ruins a movie like Top Gun. At first it looks like Jess may lose it all when she spills popcorn but thankfully with the help of a famous Urkel line they have never heard of she wins them over. While I find this hard to believe (I am their same age and could understand all the TGIF references) we still feel happy for Jess because it is nice to see her get along and casser-roll.

Meanwhile Nick decides to start pranking Schmidt to make him think he is getting older. He shaves down his shoes a 1/8 of an inch, makes Schmidt’s pants longer, pretends he is deaf, and switches his fiber pills to make him constipated. He also goes above and beyond by taking a picture of the wall where Schmidt keeps track of his height shrinks it down and plasters the reduction back up.

Sound like a lot? Well Nick has been up since five for this new goal. Someone has to do it because his partner in crime Winston can never find the prank sweet spot. He either goes too far or too little. Then again maybe Nick is wrong. He wants to sprinkle the shoe shavings by Schmidt’s car outside to really mess with him. What do you think? Sounds crazy and prank-like to me.

Despite the signs, Schmidt will not admit that he is growing old and uncool so he decides to ask visor-wearing Jess for help. Unfortunately he didn’t listen to a word of her advice. From wearing a scarf and t-shirt combo and performing parkour, he is considered the opposite of cool (which I guess would be hot). However again here is where the kids are wrong. Schmidt can perform all the parkour he wants in my apartment (but if he ruins Top Gun that is where I draw the line).

But after realizing these are not the people to impress, Jess comes clean about her impressions and how she cannot hang out with them anymore. They try to get her back only for them to realize she is friends with the old cranky man from the stairs (Nick).

Meanwhile Schmidt still cannot understand why Jess gave up again but she explains to him that she did not give up teaching but she got fired. He understands but begs her to not give up teaching even if it is only a smile class (which I would get a straight A in if offered at Ithaca). In other Schmidt revelations, he learns that the kids do not hate him because he is old but because he is an “asshead” with a terrible personality. This excites him. He cannot change his age but his personality, that’s fixable! (Don’t change for them Schmidt. They do not even know if a dish dryer exists or not!)

In Winston C-story news, Winston runs in to a meeting at work and begs to have a new job. His wish is granted and he becomes a producer of a sports talk show…at 2:35 AM! In other words he will have about the same number of viewers Dual Redundancy had on ICTV! ZING!

But that is all for this week. As Stephanie Tanner would say (and later have her quote stolen by Jess) “how rude!” But don’t get mad at me. I will be back casser-rolling next week recapping another funny episode of New Girl. Until then watch out for people pranking you by hitting you with a ski. (Winston, I’m watching for you!)

Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: Schmidt (Max Greenfield) for parkouring in a scarf like only a grown man could.
Original Airdate: 10/9/12

Monday, October 8, 2012

TV Review: How I Met Your Mother 8x03: "Nannies"

DA- Oh why wasn’t this episode called Bangtoberfest? What’s Bangtoberfest you ask? Instead of not being the name for this episode it is an event Barney decides to throw for himself where he will learn to get over Quinn by of course banging some girls in the month of October. Even though the gang tells him he is not ready for any new relationships, with $7000 spent in merchandising and a T-shirt cannon Bangtoberfest and this episode is happening!

Besides Barney’s bangs there are two main stories this episode. The first involves Ted and Robin competing to show which couple is clicking between Robin and Nick vs. Ted and Victoria. Despite already signing for Nick’s package, Victoria keeps tampons at Ted’s apartment, so advantage Mosby! As for Marshall and Lily they need a nanny and will not choose their dad who recently came to live with them after his house burned down. Where is Mrs. Featherbottom when you need her? After interviewing many weirdos they finally find one that works and is in their price range. The only thing standing in their way is of course…bangtoberfest!

Barney, who was running low on creative pickup lines, decided to start holding nanny interviews to help raise Edgar as his new move. I would introduce you to him but he is currently asleep and he also doesn’t exist. Marshall and Lily’s perfect nanny decided to go work with Barney before she ran away from him disgusted by this ruse. Despite Marshall jumping for joy by having Hot Wheels in Barney’s apartment, this angers Marshall and Lily who just need someone to watch little Marvin on Lily’s first day back to work.

Even though Barney is a womanizing con, he is no monster. He pays the large salary required for their top nanny choice but perhaps money was never the issue. Lily has a hard time letting little Marvin go. However Marshall does not care because the transaction included his Hot Wheels so all is well in the world of Mr. Erikson.

Unfortunately for Barney all the nannies come together to attack him in the street and put a pacifier up a hole he cares not to mention. As for Robin and Ted, both agree that their relationships are not perfect (Nick is a sensitive guy that cries over football and Victoria is just a plain slob). They both agree to make them work but as we all know (and as Mr. Saget reminds us) neither will last.

In the end Lily cannot let Marvin go and decides just to stay and nap with him. The only problem is that she wakes up to find a stuffed monkey in her hands! After a brief moment of panic and a break in the fourth wall, Lily’s dad, as it turns out, decided to take care of little Marvin for the day. (After first replacing him in Lily’s arm by a sub and later the monkey once he got hungry).

Lily is then reminded that he was once a stay at home dad before his gambling addiction and that he is capable of raising a child. He will even run into a burning house for a child photo album (and for potato salad of course). While he may have been missing in the past he is here now and that is what counts.

One person that I am surprised to still see around at the end is the nanny Barney bought for Lily and Marshall. To perhaps get every bang for his buck, Barney after first hiring her to help coach him in his creative pickup lines, sleeps with her. Not just once but five times! Talk about a deal!

While we all know this will not be Barney’s wife, could this new character be the woman we all have been waiting for? Is she perhaps Ted’s wife and thus the mother?! Only time will tell…but I’m seventy-five percent sure she isn’t.

Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: Mickey Aldrin (Chris Elliot) who always delivers in every performance. 
Original Airdate: 10/8/12

TV Review: Dexter 7x02: Sunshine and Frosty Swirl

DA- Put yourself in Deb and Dexter’s shoes (one of each I guess). Your sister just found out you were a serial killer so what do you do? Of course chase her at full speed out of your apartment at night. Nothing scary about that! However I can see why Dexter did what he did. He is already running out of options and it is only episode two.

Within minutes Deb gets hit with more bomb shells. Dexter is the Bay Harbor Butcher, Harry taught him everything he knows, and that he has even given his darkness a name. Deb admits that she is the worst detective in the world to not see any of this but Deb you’re not. At least you found out unlike the entire crime team at Miami Metro. With emotions running high Dexter asks what she is going to do now and she does what I believe any woman finding a serial killer may do, punch him and get out of his apartment!

While Deb goes to research why serial killers do what they do (with her information coming from her once fling Frank Lundy), Dexter sees the hand from the Ice Truck Killer murders. Deb dragged it out and he wonders how did it get to him. After looking through the evidence locker Dex is told by Masuka that it was sold online to an unknown buyer. Not even whiz-kid Louis could find the name. Then it hits Dexter…oh yeah Louis.

Cut to Deb leading a meeting about Mike’s shooting. “Remember him?” she asks. Nope. But continue on Deb. Dexter volunteers to go investigate another crime scene only to be told no by his boss sister. It is all part of her master plan to fix Dexter and his “addiction” in her homemade rehab program. Dexter argues that dad tried this and it will never work but Deb reminds him he does not have any choice (because she is a lieutenant and can arrest him remember Dex?)

Meanwhile in other Miami Metro news, LaGuerta has had a private lab analyze the found blood side. It does belong to Travis Marshall. She later requests Bay Harbor Butcher evidence from the FBI only to see what could have been seen from a photograph that yes the slides he used is just like the slide she analyzed. Quinn also puts his great skills to the task and talks with the strippers at the club about the death of the prostitute and Mike. The stripper gives some information and asks Quinn to find the man and put a bullet in his head. He says that they do not technically do that. Well almost everyone…

Inside the Deb rehab program she decides to spend every waking moment with Dexter. Now Deb is this just an excuse for you to get closer to the guy you recently said you had growing feelings for? She probably will not want to after Dexter describes his dark passenger and how the blood trickles behind his eyelids becoming a black flood throughout his body. The pain is so intense that it feels like his head will explode. Oh come on Dexter. That’s just a migraine. Take some Advil. As for the black blood thing yeah you may want to get that checked out.

Unable to sneak out to investigate Louis’ apartment at night, Dexter tries to take over for Masuka in the field. He has to clear it with sister first who says of course but she is coming too. Thankfully tweedledee and tweedledum (Batista and Quinn) arrive to pull Deb away so Dexter can break into Louis house. What Dexter finds on Louis’ computer even scares him and he is a serial killer. Not only does he have a video exclaiming how he wants Dexter to suffer but he also has one where he talks about toys and gets interrupted by a prostitute to give him a blowjob! I have not been this confused by a computer video in Dexter since this from season five.

Louis comes in of course and since this is probably the only time Dex can get out of the house, he decides to push Louis against the wall and scare the crap out of him. It turns out he sent him the hand because Dexter hated his game. Oh go cry me a river. He tells Louis he never wants to see him again and Louis agrees but then again I would too if Michael C. Hall was screaming in to my face.

Back at the crime scene Deb asks where he was but Dexter reassures her that he didn’t kill anyone so she doesn’t need to worry. Hey Dexter word of advice to not get caught you and Deb need to tone it all down. Between talking here and at the station about your serial killer addiction it may raise some red flags. Then again you are at Miami Metro so…

In “killer of the season” news, they think someone in the brotherhood of the Ukrainian mob tried to send a message to them about killing Viktor. They jump to conclusions and think it was an ex-employee. In a game of role-playing, the head of the organization pretends to hold an exit interview which really just involves getting a screwdriver to the eye. Don’t screw around if you want a better severance package I guess.

After Dexter is shocked to see Louis later that night at his apartment telling him he will see him at work tomorrow. He decides to put a sedative in his sister’s steak (like any good brother would do) and sneak out to send another message to Louis. When Dexter sees the blood from the sedative mark in Louis neck, he begins to feel his dark passenger. However perhaps due to Dr. Deb’s program, he calls her for support. She calls this a victory because unlike what their dad said, he does have control. He does leave Louis on a random park bench to send a message once Deb leaves the guy who just snuck out of the house and almost killed another person.

At the end back at the crime scene, Dexter talks with a convict who is helping the police locate bodies he buried many years ago. Dexter wonders if he grew a conscious but he said it was always there and that he just gave up over time. Dexter wonders if he should just give up too. But before he can decide for sure the convict just jumps in front of a truck. He did not have a conscious and he never changed. He never wanted them to find the bodies. He just wanted a few more days in the sun and some ice cream. Who could really blame him? Who doesn’t like ice cream?

As a slow motion Deb hurries back from the ice cream stand we all have to wonder if she thinks Dexter pushed him to help release his dark passenger from the night before. However we should be able to find out quickly next week in another fast paced episode of a show that has stopped fooling around and created some real life stakes for our serial killing friend.

Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: Louis Greene (Josh Cooke) Finally some character development for this guy!
Original Airdate: 10/7/12

Friday, October 5, 2012

TV Review: Survivor 25x03: The Four-Finger Plan

ML- Big props to Malcolm this week, who was able to put the good of the tribe as a whole (and himself in the long run) ahead of his sexual desires and boot out Angie. It was no surprise to the audience watching that Angie was going, especially after her opening confessional where she boasted "each and every one of my tribe mates trusts me and I trust them". Yeah, okay. If I ever went on Survivor, I'd be in a Jamie Newton-level constant state of paranoia, never telling the camera I was confident about anything so they could never use it against me in the edit.

Pete emerged as a threat tonight as he formed a tentative alliance between himself, Abi-Maria, Artis and Lisa, alienating RC and his eventual threat, Skupin. Abi-Maria is in the best place of everyone on that tribe, having positioned herself into 2 alliances and holding the Hidden Immunity Idol she found about thanks to RC's clue. Unfortunately for her, she's in a Natalie Bolton-level constant state of batshit craziness. I don't see her or Peter, who now reminds me of Gregg Carey in Palau, taking this all the way to the end.

On Kalabal, Penner was still on the outs. I have to praise him for managing to say the phrase My Ass!, though, while mentioning how his aforementioned body part was hurting from the shelter. When Jeff and Dana noticed the bull emblem was gone, they alerted the tribe that he probably had a hidden immunity idol. Jeff was respectful, not angry, noting how Penner as a returning player was playing smarter than everyone else.

When Penner later approached Jeff, it was a good move for the veteran to try and gain favor, but unfortunately his new "alliance" didn't feel the same way. A four-fingered shake, as it seems, is not a real binding handshake because men need to use all 5 fingers to shake for real. The logistics behind this baffle me and I can only come to the conclusion that Jeff is an idiot.

Matsing continued their bad-luck streak by losing their boat, as well as the Immunity challenge and accompanying rewards. Momentum is probably the most important factor in Survivor, as it affects morale and contestants' mindsets in unbelievable ways. Matsing is in deep trouble, even without Angie to keep the average IQ down.

It's hard to pick a favorite to win in the game right now. Statistically, it doesn't make sense to put money on any of the Matsing members. Kalabal just isn't getting the screentime or story lines they need to signify a late-game surge. Tandang gets a lot of strategy, so the best winner bet probably comes from here. Is it Pete? Skupin? RC? Abi? Lisa? Definitely not Artis.

My money is still on Denise, despite the odds. She kept Malcolm in line, dominated the challenge and keeps me interested in her as a player despite her negative attractiveness. She needs to stop mentioning her practice and the money she makes back home, however, or else people will never give her the vote based on lack of need.

Episode Grade: C+
Episode MVP: Abi-Maria and Pete
Original Airdate: 10/03/2012

TV Review: Parenthood 4x04: "The Talk"

ML- Yup. They went there.

Crosby's recording session with some... verbose rappers was interrupted by a curious Jabbar, who was subjected to his very first utterance of the "n word". As the whitest guy you'll ever meet, I probably would have handled the situation similarly to how Crosby did- compare the word to that of "Voldemort" in Harry Potter. It took Jasmine, who stepped up to the plate as an incredibly powerful, likable character and mother this week, to share her personal perspective on the word and its history with her son, teaching an important lesson to Jabbar, Crosby and the audience alike.

The story about how her mother had the same conversation while Jasmine was Jabbar's age struck a chord with me- this issue has been passed down from generation to generation for as long as anyone living can remember. Sure, there's the "we have a black president" argument of universal tolerance, but racism still exists and is strong in many parts of the country. The fact that, as Jasmine says, the world has gotten better with every generation is a comforting thought, but it's ignorant to expect Jabbar's life as a half white, half black child to be nothing but smooth sailing.

Crosby's reaction to The Talk was a great moment as well. It's a word that will never, ever hurt him but carries so much weight and anger against the people he loves most. He can never relate to Jabbar in this scenario, and that scares him and makes him feel inadequate. As Jasmine points out, though, there are a bunch of issues associated with being a boy that she can't tackle. As irritating as these two characters have been on their own and as a couple, they always, always knock it out of the park when they focus on being parents.

Speaking of knocking it out of the park, can we talk about Sam Jaeger? Not only did he direct last week's awesome episode, he got to shine as an actor this week as well. Victor was destined to fail at baseball, mostly because he'd never really played before as far as we knew. Watching baseball, he quickly found, was not the same as swinging a bat. He put in the effort, though, as did Joel as a team dad, but he couldn't follow through and stormed off the field in an angry rage.

When Joel confronts Victor later to tell him how proud he is, you believe it. Victor has been through so much, most of which we've never heard about but hopefully will one day. To adjust to the big Braverman clan as (seemingly) painlessly as he's done and be willing to try new things shows a strong character. Julia and Joel have another great kid on their hands, and the game of catch at the end shows how both of them realize it.

Hank was nervous about spending time with his own daughter, Ruby, who visits once a month for a weekend. She's changing, he notes; she used to be a quiet, shy girl who needed her dad, now he feels more like an inconvenience to her life. She doesn't help his confidence any, shooting down his attempts to play mini-golf and chat about The Hunger Games. When Hank has to go off on a shoot, Ruby elects to stay behind with Sarah rather than spend time with dad, a crucial blow.

Sarah pulls off a sly bonding caper when she gets Ruby to help her with the lights and discovers the real issue is that Ruby is missing Aubrey Peterson's totally epic co-ed pool party because she has to be with dad, and all her friends are doing cool things while she's being boring. Sarah suggests the classic motto of "When in doubt, lie" and tells her to say she's at a photoshoot... with Justin Bieber. Ruby jumps at this, and Hank arrives later to help Photoshop a picture of them together. Now both officially awesome, Hank and Sarah share in their victory. Sarah later finds photos Hank took before Ruby was born, when he had to give up his dram to be a dad. She offers he hang them up, but they're too hard to look at.

Yes, on paper Sarah and Hank are a better pair than Sarah and Mark, but I'm not happy about the inevitable end to the engagement. Hank is far too much of a curmudgeon to make it work with goofy Sarah in the long run.

I was proud of Max this week. He was able to go up to 29 strangers and state his case for his student council campaign, receiving the 25 necessary signatures. Adam and Kristina were proud, too, but devastated when they saw many of the signatures were fake names and offensive messages to the oblivious Max. The disagreed over whether Max should keep running- Adam thought it would be better to spare him the embarrassment and ridicule, Kristina thought they should support his newfound motivation. I was totally Team Kristina here- harsh words said against Max would probably roll off his shoulders quickly based on his emotional capacity, but being denied something he wanted would grind his gears. If he loses, I think he will understand and be content, but he must at least try.

The underlying subtext of the matter was Kristina's upcoming surgery, which she wanted to postpone until she could get Max's campaign underway. Let's not forget Kristina was a campaign organizer in the past, though the show mostly has, especially the candidate from last year who Amber was involved with. Adam disagreed here, too, siding with the doctor that she should get the tumor out sooner rather than later. In the end they reached a compromise: Max would run, but Kristina would have the earlier surgery.

As great as all of these story lines were (really, all of them clicked), my favorite was that between Zeek and his new friend, Ryan York (played by FNL alum Matt Lauria). Zeek had so little to do that he made a huge deal out of an air sound coming from his sprinklers, a hilarious but totally understandable issue for a retired man his age. Camille suggests he volunteer his efforts at the VA, and he begrudgingly agrees.

At first, he blends into the background to avoid actual responsibility. Ryan strikes up a conversation about burned coffee (which Zeek made) and the two quickly find a common bond -- Ryan just arrived back from Afghanistan and was having trouble adjusting. Zeek advised him that things get better, though for a while you lose your sense of identity.

Ryan seemed genuinely helped by the old man, and Zeek got paid back when Ryan, a former irrigation specialist, pinpoints the problem with the sprinklers. Together they form an unlikely pair, both unappreciated in an ever-changing world they just can't quite adjust to. When Zeek returns to the VA, he asks for a job that can really allow him to make a difference. Zeek has raised such brilliant kids, mentoring another will undoubtedly lead to good things!

Episode Grade: A
Episode MVP: Can't decide between Craig T. Nelson, Peter Krause, Sam Jaeger, Joy Bryant & Dax Shephard.
Original Airdate: 10/02/2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

TV Review: New Girl 2x03: Fluffer

DA- The night starts off with a worried Jess waking up Nick in the middle of the night. What is she worried about? A demon under her bed? A break-in at the apartment? No she is just worried about talking after her casual sex with her new boy toy. She needs some advice from Nick since her first idea was to leave him with crayons and paper as she checks her non-existent fantasy football team. While Nick may not be ready for this episode to start and wants to go back to bed, I’m ready to check my stats so let’s go!

The guys all decide to go on a date with Jess to show her that she can talk with a guy and still have casual sex with him. They do this because it is their duty as friends to help their friends have meaningless sex. Of course Nick is the only one to show up at the restaurant. Schmidt is across town trying to meet his idol Kanye West. He brought along Winston (since he is black) and his Kanye-like whale belt in hopes of being Kanye’s last call of the night.

Jess and Nick still decide to have their date and to help loosen them up Jess snuck some wine in a thermos. Hopefully this never gets swapped with a kid at school (if she can get her job back) or some definite sitcom hijinks will ensue. Schmidt meanwhile cannot get in with his belt on. (Is it just me or do fashion “codes” at clubs and bars never make any sense. So just because it is after nine on Friday I can’t wear shorts in but any other time or day I can?) However next time I get turned away I may bust out Schmidt’s new lie of being Mitt Romney’s kid, Tad.

Inside the club Cece cannot believe anyone is mistaking Schmidt as a Romney. Winston as his security rushes her away when girls begin hitting on now Tad Tuggb Romney (there is a silent b and two g’s, for the correct spelling you are going to have to ask Tuggb). Meanwhile after Jess leaves the date when her boy texts her, Nick begins to feel like an emotional “fluffer.” He is just there to fill the boyfriend role without any of the rewards. When Nick brings this up to Jess she asks if he wants the rewards anyways. Instead of coming out and saying his true feelings, which we know, are there, he says only “sleeping Nick” has thought about that and that’s different. Nick says she needs her to have sex but Jess schedules a date to prove him wrong.

Unfortunately before Tuggb can seal the deal he begins to slip up about his father and family including all the times he drinks with his Mormon dad and how he is not in any Romney family photos (someone had to take the photo!) He comes home and spills to Cece why he liked believing Romney was his dad (Schmidt’s dad left him when he was 8). Cece tells him you have to forgive your dad because not everyone is a presidential candidate. She hugs him into her memory foam-like chest perhaps re-sparking their relationship flame in the process.

On Jess’ date she comes right out and asks him if friends can build someone a dresser (like Nick refused to do) without being in a relationship. He said he would maybe do it for the make a wish foundation or if they were married. By building furniture that implies you will share it someday together. Despite learning this and that Adele is another big no-no, Jess comes back to the apartment where Nick is building the dresser anyways. He is tired of people telling him what to do and he can build anything that he wants. The only condition for him is that he does not go on anymore pre-sex dates. While she agrees I have a feeling this will not be the last pre-sex date between Jess and Nick. The only difference will be how the date ends and whom Jess decides to “build a dresser with” if you catch my drift.

Eww. Not like that. You all disgust me. Tuggb Romney out! 

Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: Jake Johnson
Original Airdate: 10/2/12