Shows Watched this Week: 33.
22. “Weeds” 21. “Archer” 20. “Survivor” 19. “Raising Hope,” 18. “The New Girl,” 17. “Persons of Interest,” 16. “Awkward,” 15. “Sons of Anarchy,” 14. “Doctor Who,” 13. “Pan Am,” 12. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” 11. “The Good Wife.”
10. “Revenge”: Joanna wrote about “Revenge” on Friday, and next week, Sarah will deliver an official review (after a couple more episodes, to see if it holds up). I thought it was deliciously fun. It’s a weekly revenge tale, and there’s little sweeter than a good tale of revenge, especially when it involves those who deserve it, like Madeline Stowe’s icy bitch character. I don’t see this show holding up as well over a full season, but I’m hanging in there until it exhausts all its joy.
9. “Up All Night”: Moviefone’s Christopher Rosen nailed my thoughts on this week’s episode: “If you were wondering when ‘Up All Night’ became a fixture of our DVR rotation, it was Will Arnett’s Train ringtone.” I am still not won over by Maya Rudolph’s Oprah-like character (though, the diva-like behavior was toned down a little in this week’s episode), but Christina Applegate and Will Arnett may be the sitcom world’s best married couple right now.
8. “Prime Suspect”: I’ll have a more extensive review of this show up later this week, probably on Thursday, but I really sank my teeth into the pilot episode. Maria Bello is perfect here; she’s not quite Helen Mirren, but she doesn’t do a disservice to her, either. I also appreciate that NBC didn’t completely sell out the original British series. With a network show, I expected that Bello’s character, by the end of the episode, would be strutting to Neil Finn’s “She Will Have Her Way,” but they didn’t give her an easy victory. I expect procedural murder of the week story lines going forward, but I hope that it follows the “Friday Night Lights” template: Minor victories leavened by constant setbacks.
7. “Modern Family”: There were two episodes this week, and while the show is overly repeating themes, I liked the guest appearance of Tim Blake Nelson in the first one, and the adoption story line in the second one. Four-year-old Lily is a goddamn terror, and I kind of hope she continues to be. It’s a great comedy, but it is not — in my opinion — the one that deserved the Emmy. It does, however, deserve the nominations.
6. “Parenthood”: What the hell are they doing with Vince Howard’s character? Now he’s got a record for armed robbery? Stop it, Jason Katims. He’s the best character on the show, save for Adam, and you’re tearing him down. And Julia! You can’t ask the coffee girl for her baby (though, I admit, in the same situation, it might have been tempting). But the biggest reasons that “Parenthood” ranks so high this week are 1) the speech between Adam and Zeek about how irresponsible Crosby is, and 2) Jason Ritter. He is the perfect Jason Katims character: An earnest, kind-hearted good person.
5. “Community”: Did you know that there are people (besides Figgy) that watch “Community” and don’t like it? That find that the show tries too hard, that it comes off oftentimes as desperate? I could sense that a little bit in the opening number. But, the characters are so much fun to be around each week that it almost doesn’t matter that the storyline will, inevitably, revolve around the dysfunctional group dynamics (again), I really find that I want to be around them no matter what they’re doing. The greatest thing that I can say about these characters is that I’d watch spin-off shows dedicated to nearly each one of them, as long as Troy and Abed were paired in one, and Annie and Annie’s boobs were paired in another.
4. “Parks and Recreation”: As I wrote last week, the season premiere offered a strong template for the rest of the season, one that will revolve around Leslie’s city council campaign, Andy’s need to grow up without losing what makes him Andy, and Ron’s ongoing feud with Tammy #1. This show, even after three seasons, still doesn’t quite know what to do with Ann, and Rob Lowe’s Chris is falling into that same aimless hole. His character doesn’t have much purpose, except to provide exercise tips and say “literally” a lot. The show needs to find a better way to involve them, and going forward, it may also prove difficult finding room for Tom Haverford now that he’s left the office. I have faith that Greg Daniels and Michael Shur will find a way.
3. “The Office”: Ultimately, Andy was the obvious choice to replace Michael Scott both because his character was more like Michael’s than any of the other characters, and because Ed Helms is now the biggest star on the show (sorry, Krasinski, but your movie career is a wreck). I hope that he becomes the show’s Leslie Knope: Earnest, hard-working, and a little naive, but so likable that the rest of the office will want to rally around him. In the meantime, there’s huge comic potential in James Spader’s character: I think he’s going to needle the insecurities of the staff all season long. I feel a second-wind coming on with “The Office.”
2. “How I Met Your Mother”: The first show of the week also happened to be my favorite comedy this week: These two episodes highlighted everything about the “HIMYM” gang that we’ve loved about them from the beginning: Beercules/Marshall’s sweeping declarations (and a nod toward his nude scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall); Ted’s notoriously bad wedding speeches; and the whole Robin/Barney shipping thing. Is Barney marrying Robin or Nora at the beginning of the episode? It’s gotta be Robin, right? If he marries Nora, Courtney Enlow will burn down the Internet.
But it was the cupcake girl that sent a dagger into my heart at the end of the second episode. The cupcake girl is the reason I didn’t give up on “HIMYM” after a middling first half of the first season: That romance between her and Ted sucked me in, and seeing her reminded me of everything about this show that — even when it’s off — compels me to watch every week.
1. “Breaking Bad”: Watching Walt laugh maniacally while looking up through the floor panel from the basement the only thing I could think was: Damn. It wasn’t that long ago that Walt White was a high-school teacher with cancer who was trying to sell a little meth to make sure his family was OK after he died. How did his life spiral out of control so fast? Check out Dan’s full review of the episode.
I also finally reached the end of my rope on “Castle.” I quit. I love Nathan Fillion, and really like Stana Katic, but they cannot overcome the show’s terrible writing. The murder mysteries are weak and predictable. I typically like the first five minutes of the show and the last five minutes. That’s where the show’s personality resides. The middle section is a tedious slog through murder-mystery templates. It’s not fun for me to watch anymore.
On the Season Pass Bubble: “Fringe,” “2 Broke Girls” “A Gifted Man,” “The Amazing Race.”
I say that about “Fringe” every week, and I have yet to give up on it, although I don’t like it very much. The season premiere didn’t provide much hope that it would get better. I didn’t care for the “2 Broke Girls” premiere, either, especially the grating laugh track (see my review), but I liked Kat Dennings in it enough to give the show another week or two. It has a favorable time slot at the beginning of the week after “HIMYM,” which is before my DVR fills up. “The Gifted Man,” I did like, but I doubt it will hold up. Plus it’s a Friday show. No one watches Friday shows.
As for “The Amazing Race”? It’s gotten tedious. I tuned in to last night’s premiere only because of Marcus Pollard (the former tight end for the Indianapolis Colts), but I can’t wade through the weekly travel reservation slog anymore. But more than that, the challenges are poorly developed: Take the dragon boat challenge last night: It wasn’t a challenge so much as a “task.” There’s too much of that on “The Amazing Race.” Bungee jumping? There’s no skill or intelligence involved: It’s just a matter of completing it. You can’t gain or lose time on challenges like that; you just wait your turn and do it. Almost every week it seems to come down to something as random as the choice of cab driver. It’s simply not compelling anymore.