I haven’t been posting a lot on my blog these days other than the 50 Day Movie Challenge prompts, and even then I haven’t been posting those all that regularly. Thought I would buck this trend and start posting about what I’ve been up to lately, whether that be film, television, comics or video games.
My Week In TV: Dec. 5-11
I’ve still got to write up that wrap up for Terriers, so expect that soonish. In the meantime, here’s the scoop. Two shows ended their seasons this past week and one had a Christmas special. All were pretty good this week. Shame that Fringe will be gone for another six weeks. SERIOUSLY, FOX, what be the hell, yo?!
Fringe: S3 x 09 – Marionette ★★★★☆
A really good episode dealing primarily with Olivia’s return to the regular universe. She copes with the damages caused by Bolivia while trying to solve a mystery of organ theft. Yet another example of why you shouldn’t watch this show before or during a meal. The effects were pretty good and the creepy factor was raised to eleven. I mean, seriously, rebuilding someone just to have them dance around for you? Oy!
Community: S2 x 11 – Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas ★★★★☆
Community is easily my favorite comedy show since Arrested Development. Lots of fun in each episode with just as much meta humor as one can stand. This time, the students of Greendale find themselves stuck in a winter wonderland via Abed’s altered reality. They play out his fantasy, which finds them galavanting about in humorous stop motion versions of themselves. Jeff is a jack in the box, Troy is a little drummer boy and Pierce is a teddy bear. While I’m not a huge fan of musical numbers, the ones in this episode are humorous and poke fun at holiday specials. Props to the Cave of Frozen Memories.
No Ordinary Family: S1 x 10 – No Ordinary Sidekick ★★★★☆
The sidekicks get the story in this episode as George gets credit for Jim’s rescue and Katie struggles with not getting the respect she needs from Stephanie. It’s a good episode with some nice character moments. Daphne starts to suspect Katie’s boyfriend and gets a rather shocking visit from him while the rest of the family is away. It’s nice to see that the Powells are finding out their weaknesses as the show progresses, and J.J.’s is particularly creative.
Boardwalk Empire: S1 x 12 – A Return to Normalcy ★★★☆☆
It’s election time in Atlantic City and truces are called. There’s some nice “mobster stuff” near the end of the episode and it’s nice to see Capone again after a few episode absence. Nucky and Margaret work through their issues and we get a really nice moment between the two in regards to their deceased children. Jimmy Darmody and Eli start plotting against Nucky and that’s pretty much where things end. A little on the underwhelming side in terms of finales, but considering the show has been great so far, it’s a small complaint.
The Walking Dead: S1 x 06 – TS-19 ★★★☆☆
The season finale to The Walking Dead was good, but a few things bothered me. The first thing that didn’t quite sit right was the CDC storyline. While it was nice to see everyone get a reprieve from the apocalypse, the reprieve didn’t feel earned from a thematic standpoint. Can’t really explain it better than that other to say that them getting to safety felt too easy, especially since going to the CDC in the first place was not very well planned out. The bits with patient TS-19 were really well-done, however, and are what drew me to this episode the most. All in all, The Walking Dead was a fun and engaging show set in a zombie apocalypse. I think the TV format suits this genre well.
My Week In TV: Nov. 28-Dec. 4
Fringe and Community came back this week, which made me very happy. Terriers ended it’s first season, which made me sad. No Ordinary Family once again rose to the challenge and Boardwalk Empire brought us a little of the old style. I’d say don’t take my word for it, but if you didn’t watch any of these shows this week you will probably have to. Let’s get into it, shall we?
Terriers: S1 x 13 – Hail Mary ★★★★☆
Terriers finished up it’s season with a solid episode. It didn’t have as much of the punch of the Tim Minear episode awhile back, but it saw it’s main arc through and wrapped up all the loose threads in a satisfying manner. I was reminded to some extent of the first season of Dexter. Both shows’ first seasons could stand on their own and didn’t feel incomplete should they be canceled. Hopefully Terriers sees the same fate of Dexter and gets many more seasons.
Fringe: S3 x 08 – Entrada ★★★★☆
And we’re back again with another episode of Fringe. It seems like a year in between each break this show takes. Seriously, FOX. You guys need to cut that shit out. I don’t think I can take much more time away from Olivia and company. This week saw a dual-universe episode, bouncing back and forth between the other world and ours. Even the opening credits reflected this. It’s nice to see the showrunners’ dedication to point of view and to structure. Kudos. One point of contention: Peter HAD to know that Bolivia was not who she claimed to be. If he were genuinely surprised by this turn of events, then what was the point of that flirtatious exchange earlier on in the season.
Writers…you have some ‘asplaining to do!
The Walking Dead: S1 x 05 – Wildfire ★★★★☆
There were a lot of good character moments in this episode, and we finally got to watch someone in this world succumb to the effects of zombification. A very bleak episode, but that’s really not saying a whole lot. The bit with the CDC worker at the end was a great touch and I hope that more of those moments can litter the next season when it eventually airs. Sure, the episode wasn’t without it’s flaws (I mean, really, no backup plan should the CDC not work?!), but it was still good despite it and worth watching. I’m quite interested to see where the last episode of the season takes us.
No Ordinary Family: S1 x 09 – No Ordinary Anniversary ★★★★☆
We get another villain-of-the-week this week and he shoots FIRE! But more importantly than that, Mr. and Mrs. Powell become a super-team. It’s here that we get a glimpse of things to come as the family starts to feel their calling to be heroic. Some of the fighting between Mrs. Powell and Fire Dude was kind of awkward, but they really nailed his creepiness-factor. Kudos on that. Another interesting bit involved Daphne attempting to read Will’s mind. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t scream “DON’T DO IT GIRL!!!” at the screen.
Boardwalk Empire: S1 x 11 – Paris Green ★★★☆☆
This episode should have been titled “Agent Van Alden Goes Bonkers and Kills A Guy!” There wasn’t a whole lot here apart from the scene shown above and a spat between Margaret and Nucky and Nucky and Eli. We find out that Jimmy’s father hasn’t been feeling all that great due to poisoning and that Jimmy’s home life has crumbled way beyond repair. Onward to the finale!
Community: S2 x 10 – Mixology Certification ★★★☆☆
Community seems to bounce back and forth between laugh out loud episodes and character development episodes this season, oftentimes finding a good balance. This episode couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to be and the result was a rather uneven episode. Troy shines through as the main character in this episode, but Annie pops in throughout with her rather abrupt identity-crisis. I think the episode could have been stronger if they had picked a character and stuck with them, but at the same time I still enjoyed what I saw. Jeff? Britta? Please to be getting it on now. Thx. Pierce? You are still wonderful.
My Week In TV: Nov. 21-27
Been playing catch up this whole week, as I haven’t really wanted to watch my shows. I usually get this way around the holidays. And with the whole internet and DVR being a thing, I can always watch my shows later. That said, apologies on this being a later post than usual.
The Walking Dead: S1 x 04 – Vatos ★★★★★
Perhaps the best and most tragic episode of the series yet. There’s one particular scene that plays out fairly matter-of-factly in the comic and is done very well here. The filler has weight and never feels like filler. It’s the kind of episode that makes you take pause after as you digest all the shit that just hit the fan. I can’t wait to see how the last two episodes of the season play out.
Terriers: S1 x 11 – Sins of the Past ★★★★★ & S1 x 12 – # ★★★★☆
Wow. Just wow. By the end of episode twelve I’m on the edge of my seat. Thanks a lot, cliffhanger ending! What a damn good show this has been so far. Episode eleven was written by Tim Minnear, and as such was rather poignant. Episode twelve brought the main arc back in full swing and left me wanting more by the last frame. Here’s a show that’s not afraid to get rid of characters. I always warm to these for some reason.
Boardwalk Empire: S1 x 10 – The Emerald City ★★★★☆
Richard Harrow has the best moments in this episode and manages to teach Margaret, perhaps the most humble character in this tale, some lessons on acceptance and prejudice. That scene alone is worth the price of admission and it really stands out in what’s a rather bleak episode. Agent Van Alden takes an unlikely turn in his holy quest for Margaret’s soul and Jimmy Darmody is finding his own as Nucky’s personal hit squad. It all looks to be building toward an upcoming election, so we’ll see if that factors into the finale any.
No Ordinary Family: S1 x 08 – No Ordinary Accident ★★★★☆
They should have named this episode “No Ordinary Frustration At Being Unable To Help People” as we dance around the ethics of using powers and what the actual responsibilities of having these powers entails. “With great power comes great responsibility” hasn’t been told so well in television as it was here in this episode. Not only that, we’re starting to unravel the foils to our super heroes, which will no doubt come into play as the villains become more prevalent. Oh look. I see all the haters coming back. How ya been?
Weeds Season Six Recap
Weeds Season Six Overall Score: ★★★ 1/2
I’ve had kind of a hit or miss relationship with Weeds since season three ended. After everything moved out of Agrestic, I wasn’t quite sure if I would be as into the exploits of Nancy Botwin and her family of ne’er-do-wells as I was in their initial outing. True to my theory of three, the show floundered a bit and just was’t all that interesting until about the end of season four, when Esteban became a major player in the Botwin family.
Fast forward to season six and Nancy is on the lamb from her estranged husband, complete with illegitimate love-child in tow. What followed was a very erratic season with brilliant character moments oftentimes being overshadowed by some insanely meandering plots. Richard Dreyfuss was quite underused as Nancy’s smitten high school teacher, and the revelation that Silas had a different father came out of nowhere and felt like it was a thing “just because.” It was nice to see Silas fighting against this criminal lifestyle, but the season ended with him STILL being dragged along by the family and not quite able to break free. Personally, I think Silas’ tipping point had been reached much earlier in the season and it would have been nice to see him try and run off to find himself while the Botwins hit up their side quests in Michigan.
That’s not to say that I didn’t like this season. There were a couple episodes that were really good and gave us some strong and memorable moments. I just wish the show had been a little bit more steadily paced instead of dancing around being engaging. What a finale, though. If there is one thing every season of Weeds has excelled at, it’s their season finales. Every single finale has managed to leave me wanting more, and this season was no exception.
Is this season worth watching? For the most part, yes. The world of Weeds is still rich and full of dark humor that remains entertaining to this day. Mary Louise-Parker is way easy on the eyes with a mother’s ferocity to boot. It’s fascinating watching her evolve from the frappe-sipping suburban mom to the drug-dealing kidnapper and master manipulator she is now. Still, I wonder if some of the soul of this show burned down with Agrestic.
Here are the ratings I gave this show on a weekly basis, whether or not you care. Since my Week In TV posts started five episodes in to Weeds, I’ve gone back and given the previous episodes their proper ratings. Enjoy.
S6 x 01 – Thwack ★★★★☆
S6 x 02 – Felling and Swamping ★★★☆☆
S6 x 03 – A Yippity Sippity ★★★☆☆
S6 x 04 – Bliss ★★★☆☆
S6 x 05 – Boomerang ★★★★★
S6 x 06 – A Shoe For A Shoe ★★★★☆
S6 x 07 – Pinwheels and Whirligigs ★★★☆☆
S6 x 08 – Gentle Puppies ★★★☆☆
S6 x 09 – To Moscow, And Quickly ★★★★☆
S6 x 10 – Dearborn-Again ★★★☆☆
S6 x 11 – Viking Pride ★★★☆☆
S6 x 12 – Fran Tarkenton ★★★☆☆
S6 x 13 – Theoretical Love Is Not Dead ★★★★★
My Week In TV: Nov. 14-20
Still a little behind on getting these posts out, but I think this week I’ll be able to catch up. Here’s a recap of last week’s episodes and what I thought. Weeds finished up season six so I’ll probably write up a recap of the whole season and detail the bests and worsts of the whole shebang. So, without further ado, let’s get through last week’s episodes!
Fringe: S3 x 07 – The Abducted ★★★★★
Perhaps the strongest episode yet this season. Olivia makes an attempt at escaping the other side while trying to solve the Candyman kidnappings that have been plaguing the denizens there. We get to take a look into alternate Broils’ life and get more of his backstory. I kind of wish we’d get that for Real Broils at some point in this season. The taxi man makes a comeback and it’s nice seeing an ally on this side of the universes. The way things are shaping up, we’re getting close to the end of the first major arc this season. I expect we’ll see Olivia heading home at some point. Kind of pissed that I have to wait two weeks until the next episode airs. W-T-H Fox!
Weeds: S6 x 13 – Theoretical Love Is Not Dead ★★★★★
What a finale! Not sure what else I can say other than DO ANYBODY NO WHERE SEASON 7 is?! This show, despite it’s varying flaws, still knows how to wrap up a season and make you want more. I really hope they are able to stabilize the pacing a little bit more next year. But then again, maybe the erratic pace is kind of the point. Am I the only one who noticed that Kevin Nealon backed out of the story way too quickly? I hope he comes back next season as his shenanigans provide a much needed comedic balance to the story.
Boardwalk Empire: S1 x 09 – # ★★★★☆
A solid episode that manages to blend the slice-of-life period-piece aesthetic and the mobster shenanigans well. Michael Pitt’s character returns to Atlantic City on a murderous quest and shows how much he’s grown from the first episode of the show. I’m anxious to see how this plays out, especially given the episode’s rather startling ending.
The Walking Dead: S1 x 03 – Tell it to the Frogs ★★★★☆
This show continues to impress and give us strong character moments. Episode three is an improvement on two and it’s worth watching just for the family reunion alone. If you’ve read the first volume to the comic, you’ll know how things play out overall, but the show manages to keep things surprising with the subplots that aren’t in the book.
Community: S2 x 09 – Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design ★★★★☆
Greendale is a place I want to go to, especially since the world of night classes are straight out of a paranoia thriller and there exists the probability of blanket forts. There’s really not much more I can say other than the multiple shoot-out at the end is hilarious.
Terriers: S1 x 11 – Sins of the Past ☆☆☆☆☆
Missed the episode last week. Will catch up on both this week.
No Ordinary Family: S1 x 07 – No Ordinary Mobster ★★★★☆
The stakes are higher for the Powells now that we get a glimpse of what the Big Bad knows. Even though there’s no real danger to the family in this episode, the sense of foreboding is strong here and it feels like only a matter of time before the family is presented with their first real challenge. I like the character work in this episode as well as the darker tones that permeate throughout. It’s nice to see that these characters are being lightly shoved in the direction of heroism instead of being completely thrust into the action. Given the suburban family aesthetic of the show, it makes sense. Amy Acker guest stars in this episode, although she’s not given a lot to do (DAMNIT!).
My Week In TV: Oct. 31-Nov. 13
So, this week’s My Week In TV is more like “My Two Weeks In TV Plus A New Show.” As you may or may not know, The Walking Dead premiered on Halloween to rave reviews and the following week the second episode got even better reviews. Since I like zombies and dramas involving those inept dead, I thought I would add them to the mix and add this show to my weekly roundup. Also, Fringe is back from a stupid hiatus involving something I don’t care about (sports). All in all, a lot has happened in television while I’ve been off galavanting at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater for AFI Fest.
Let’s jump right in.
Fringe: S3 x 05 – Amber 31422 ★★★★☆ & S3 x 06 – 6995 kHz ★★★★☆
Shawn Ashmore (The X-Men series, The Ruins) turns in an excellent performance as twin brothers in a tragic tale of crime in the parallel world in a very strong episode of Fringe. What a great episode to return with, and it was very interesting to see how yet ANOTHER actor on this show was able to play two roles with such nuance. Major props. The followup episode, 6995 kHz, was also strong and gave us a glimpse of the direction this season is taking. It’s nice to have this show back.
Community: S2 x 07 – Aerodynamics of Gender ★★★★☆ & S2 x 08 – Cooperative Calligraphy ★★★★☆
Abed is perhaps the best comedic character on television currently, and Aerodynamics of Gender proves it. The way he tears into the ladies with terminator-style precision is absolute comedic gold and the deadpan delivery nailed it for me. It was interesting seeing Hillary Duff cameo in the episode, and her subtle turn was about as surprising as Drew Carey’s rather healthy physique a few episodes prior. Episode eight is called “the bottle episode” and when you go look up the definition, you’ll understand why. This is the episode you’ll refer to your friends who are interested in seeing Jeff and Annie sans most of their clothing.
The Walking Dead: S1 x 01 – Days Gone Bye 31422 ★★★★☆ & S1 x 02 – Guts ★★★☆☆
Zombies are awesome, and volume 1 of the comic book The Walking Dead is awesome as well. It’s nice to see an adaptation that’s faithful to the spirit of the comic and one that pulls no punches in the gore department. Do NOT eat dinner (or any meal for that matter) while watching this one. Episode one delved into the tragedy of the zombie outbreak, lamenting the loss of humanity. It was a great way to start the show and really drew me in. The second episode continued the story and introduced more characters, but didn’t have quite the thematic oomph of the first. Still, I anxiously await the rest of this short first season.
Boardwalk Empire: S1 x 07 – Home ★★★★☆ & S1 x 08 – Hold Me In Paradise ★★★☆☆
Episode seven is a Nucky-centric episode, and delves into some of his troubled past. There’s a bunch of good stuff in the episode and it’s nice to see some kind of humanity in the character this show is based on. The last few moments of the episode are particularly poignant, as it’s been with previous episodes. Hold Me In Paradise continues with the poignancy as the turf-squabbling hits a bit too close to home. I’m quite intrigued with the way this show has set up Federal Agent Van Alden, especially in his interactions with his wife. Neither of them during the dinner scene were in the same frame, pointing out the rather significant divide between them. It’s not every day that device is used in television and it’s a nice touch.
Terriers: S1 x 09 – Pimp Daddy ★★★☆☆ & S1 x 10 – Asunder ★★★★☆
Episode nine is a rather straight forward one-off episode involving a trans hooker trying to find out what happened to her friend. There’s not a lot of meat to the episode and it is a little light on the drama, which isn’t a bad thing per se. The moments near the end were good, but I wonder if more could have been made out of the search and what the disappearance meant. The followup episode was much better in contrast, taking us back to Hank’s struggle with his ex’s impending marriage. At the very end of that episode we get a turn back to an earlier story arc to reveal that the case isn’t quite as closed as we first imagined.
No Ordinary Family: S1 x 06 – No Ordinary Visitors ★★★★☆
Not a whole lot to say. It’s a very cute episode with a logical progression of one super power and more family-oriented goodness. Haters gonna hate, but I think this show is solid and fun to watch. I also appreciate that we’ve only been getting villain-of-the-week, as it’s allowed for more focus on the family and them developing a better rapport with each other. By the time the main villain does his thing, I expect this family will be ready. Didn’t care much for the “parents visiting” thing happening so early in the show, but it wasn’t played too cheesy and ended up being integral to the theme of the episode.
Weeds: S6 x 11 – Viking Pride ★★★☆☆ & S6 x 12 – Fran Tarkenton ★★★☆☆
Weeds has had a pretty up and down season. Well, mostly down. The stuff with Esteban in the beginning was strong and gave us strong character moments. Near the end of the season, however, it all became a series of complications “just because.” I’m glad they brought the Esteban stuff back at the end of episode twelve, but I hope all that mess gets resolved. Not sure I could take another season 6.
On Paying For Hulu
Via Chicago Tribune:
One plan under consideration would allow users to view the five most recent episodes of TV shows for free, but require a subscription of $4.99 a month to watch older episodes. Hulu believes it will need at least 20 TV series, both current and those no longer on the air, to make such a pay service attractive to users. A firm pricing model could emerge within six months.
I’ve ranted and raved about this before, albeit with less thought and tact. There’s nothing that Hulu could do to make their services worth a monthly fee. Why should I pay for something I could get for free on television? They already ads, and last I checked that was enough. Google gets by on Ad revenue, so why can’t Hulu?
Well, naturally, the more I thought about it the more my views on this have changed. In fact, since I first heard about this shift to pay-for-content on Hulu, I’ve come to realize that there are certain things I would be willing to pay for. I already pay for Netflix to watch movies instantly online, so in theory I should be fine to pay for television that I watch.
And I am, but here’s a few things that I think Hulu could do to make it easier for me to hand over my money each month.
1) More shows
The first thing that would part me from my money is the addition of more shows. Currently, I can watch a lot of things on Hulu, but I can watch even MORE things on cable. And I don’t just mean more television shows from ABC or FOX, but more shows from Discovery, Food Network and other channels with quality content. I would love to see Good Eats, or Time Warp or Man Vs. Wild on Hulu to shake things up from my usual spy comedy, sci-fi, thriller, prime-time, ooey-gooey goodness.
2) More Episodes and Less Clips
I go to youtube for clips. They have better embedding, period. I can see having clips for some shows for free users, but if I am to pay any amount of money, I want full episodes where there are only clips. This is an issue of volume. Currently the episodes to clips ratio is skewed and I would say in a not-so-good way. I think, “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to see what the Mythbusters are up to these days? Oh crap, it’s only a minute long clip. Bummer.” This isn’t to say that the idea of clips is a bad one. But they definitely seem like something that would be useful for “free” users.
3) Get Rid Of Delays
I will admit that I’m extremely inconsistent with my television viewing habits. There are some shows I will watch religiously when they air (insert Joss Whedon anything here), and there are some shows I build a backlog to before I watch them. For the shows I watch religiously, it pains me to find that they are on an eight day delay, and that the episode I’m currently watching on Hulu isn’t the most recent. It kind of feels like punishment that I wasn’t there to see the show air.
Case in point: House. I love the show. It’s my guilty pleasure, especially after it got good again in it’s sixth season. To know that I’m behind my peers who have normal 9-5 jobs who can get home to catch the show is kind of disheartening. Because I work the second shift, I miss EVERYTHING in the evening time slot. That being said, I would pay to be able to watch the latest episode of House that week, or even wait until the next day. If Hulu can reduce it’s streaming restrictions, consider my money gone.
As I mentioned earlier, my television watching habits are inconsistent at best. It’s quite probable that in the course of a TV show’s run, I’ll be behind by at least 6 to 7 episodes. Some shows are the exception, naturally, but generally speaking, I build a backlog like nobody’s business. Currently, the deals between Hulu and the content providers vary. Some shows have full seasons, while others only keep the latest 5 episodes in the current season. If life or work gets in the way, like it often does, I’m simply out of luck. But if Hulu could offer a more robust backlog of episodes, I feel like more people would be more willing to part with their money. I know that this alone would convince me to switch to a paid subscription.
Could these things ever happen? I’m not really sure. As of right now, it looks bleak. Why would content providers want to make consuming content easier and more cost-appropriate? Why should they have to? There are still enough people paying for their content the normal way that no change ever has to happen. Why change when there’s simply no demand?
I guess that’s still something that needs to be worked out.
On Fall Television
It’s begun. All the fall shows are starting up again. It’s an exciting time for the avid TV viewer as we have a lot of good premieres to look forward to. We’ve already gotten three exceptional premieres from Fringe, The Office and It’s Always Sunny. And this week we’ve got others like House and Dollhouse.
I’m definitely going to try and catch as much of these premieres as I can. What are you anxious for?
Season 1 and 2 of House M.D. were great and kept me on the edge of my seat. There was just the right balance of procedural and character development to make it perhaps the best doctor show of it’s time. And then seasons 3-5 happened and what we got was essentially a parody of itself and some rather infuriating plot arcs. Big things would happen, only to be cancelled out later for the sake of keeping the “hit” formula alive. Well, this preview makes me think that that will be changing in the new season.
All I can say is, “About damn time!”
A major flaw that a lot of these procedural shows have is that eventually they get boring. The well of ideas gets tapped out, if you will. For whatever reason, the characters become stale and we just stop caring. One way that shows can prevent this is by breaking from the formula and evolving, something that the premium cable shows do very well. Here’s hoping that this show can find a new set of legs this season and give us a deeper look into the characters we’ve all drifted away from.