All things considered, there are very few jobs better than pop-culture writer. You work from home, you write about things you love, and occasionally we can dig deeper into a television show or movie for more meaning. The only real downside to the job is the amount of time many of us feel obligated to devote to television consumption. Watching 25-35 TV shows a week sounds great on paper, but on a weekly basis, it can feel overwhelming, even if you attempt to limit your consumption to only quality television shows.
There’s a lot of great television out there right now.
Last week (Monday to Sunday) was one of the more torturous because I needed not only to watch 30 new episodes of television, but catch up on about 15-20 episodes that I missed the week before while in SXSW. It was one of those rare weeks where the act of watching television actually felt like a job.
Of course, even watching 30 episodes a week, we still end up writing about the same 8-10 shows that people care about, plus a few others that our audience doesn’t show that much interest in. Nothing is more frustrating than the fact that pieces on Justified, The Americans, Hannibal and Enlisted barely register. We understand that there are passionate fans of those shows, like ourselves, but the numbers are so small that we write those reviews not to appeal to the tiny, existing audience, but in the hopes that we can somehow broaden it.
Anyway, after watching that much television this week, I thought it’d be a waste if I didn’t at least convert it into some kind of post, thus justifying the time commitment. Therefore, I give you one-sentence reviews on each of the episodes I saw this week. There were only 30 this week, because there were no new episodes of two shows in my regular rotation, The Blacklist and Saturday Night Live, and I still haven’t caught up on last week’s Parenthood, Archer, or Bob’s Burgers (all three of which I often prefer to watch in multi-episode chunks, usually in rerun heavy weeks.
1. How I Met Your Mother — Pregnancy plotlines, even those that are telegraphed well in advance, never fail to elicit strong emotional feelings from me.
2. About a Boy — The third episode of this series was better than the awful second episode, but despite a good cast and Jason Katims as showrunner, About a Boy is strikingly mediocre.
3. The Goldbergs — I don’t really care about this last week’s episode, but the one before it revolved around Goonies, and it was brilliant.
4. New Girl — The show is struggling to make use of Damon Wayans, and I’m not so sure that making Coach the coach at Jess’ school is the best use of him, unless they plan to feature him yelling at his kids every week.
5. Brooklyn Nine Nine — Nine-Nine may be the most consistently funny and pleasant sitcom of the season, and I am crushing hard on Melissa Fumero (that said, I’m a little tired of the Marilu Henner storyline).
6. Growing Up Fisher — The J.K. Simmons comedy had an excellent pilot, but it hasn’t really lived up its promise, although it’s a moderately amusing sitcom in the way that weaker episodes of The Goldbergs are.
7. Justified — The more Justin Rappaport is in an episode, the worse that episode seems to be, and last week had a lot of Rappaport; it’s been an aimless second half of the season, so far.
8. Trophy Wife — Brooklyn Nine-Nine may be the funniest sitcom on TV right now, but Trophy Wife is consistently the cutest, and this episode — in which the two leads renewed their vows — did not disappoint.
9. Marvel: Agents of Shield — After a couple of episodes in which the series began to show signs of improvement, I thought this one was a complete waste of Lady Sif and overall, kind of dumb.
10. The Americans — Next to Shameless, The Americans is probably my favorite show at the moment and it only continues to get better in its second season.
11. Modern Family — I honestly don’t know why I continue to watch Modern Family, except that it’s pleasant enough background noise while I’m folding laundry.
12. Suburgatory — Love the show, but each week I’m more and more shocked to realize that these two people are the same.
13. Scandal — I very nearly quit Scandal this week because I just can’t anymore, but the cliffhanger in the end assured I’d be back for at least one more episode (damn you Shonda Rhimes).
14. Vikings — The lack of screentime for Lagertha this season has soured me on the series, but I’m sticking around because of the promise that she’ll have a major role later.
15. Parks and Recreation — After showing some signs of fatigue earlier this season, Parks and Rec seems to have found some renewed comic energy, some of which is thanks to Ron Swanson and his new son.
16. Community — Jim Rash should get some kind of Emmy for outstanding musical performance for that amazing, mind-blowing rap.
17. Hannibal — Not one of my favorite episodes of Hannibal, since it’s not a show particularly well designed for the courtroom, but the staging of that gruesome murder scene was outstanding.
18. Enlisted — Kevin Biegel brought some of that whiplash poignancy from Scrubs over to this episode, which may have been the best of an already outstanding season.
19. Raising Hope — Since its cancellation was announced last week, basically every episode from here on out is a gift.
20. Resurrection — The acting is not particularly good, the writing is clunky, and I don’t care about any of the characters, but the mystery is compelling enough that I’m going to stick with it, knowing that I’m setting myself up for a disappointing conclusion.
21.From Dusk til Dawn — It’s basically the movie stretched out into 10 hours with inferior talent, and you’re not likely to find the El Rey network on your cable box, anyway.
22. Shameless — My favorite show currently on air, and this week saw an actual touching moment out of Frank.
23. Good Wife — Loved the diner scene between Will and Alicia, but Jill Hennessy kind of took the edge off of the thrill of seeing Elsbeth Tascioni.
24. The Walking Dead — An absolutely devastating episode, the best of the season, so far.
25. Girls — Just when I thought Hannah couldn’t get anymore insufferable, she sabotages her job, because of course she does.
26. Broad City — It took some doing, but this show is really grown on me, and I absolutely love Hannibal Buress.
27. Suits — Suits is back, and it’s kind of struggling without the power grab plotline at the top.
28. Elementary — A reliably good series, but rarely memorable, the mystery in this particular episode was fairly obvious early on (once we learned that one of the suspect’s husband’s was a plastic surgeon).
29. Cougar Town — On TBS, Cougar Town has become decidedly mediocre, but I continue to watch it out of loyalty to Bill Lawrence, who isn’t even the showrunner anymore.
30. Crisis — This new Gillian Anderson series had a promising pilot (for a network show), but I don’t see how it can remain compelling even as long as its limited run., but I’ll stick with it until it wears out its welcome.