November 2010

No Ordinary Family: No Ordinary Anniversary

At the end of this week's episode of No Ordinary Family, Stephanie tells Jim "I think I'll leave the crime fighting up to you from now on." I've never wanted a character to go back on their word so badly. "No Ordinary Anniversary" took some major steps toward making this show what it needs to be. It finally paired up Jim and Stephanie to fight a super villain and it was more exciting than most of the series has been thus far. Once again, it seems like the only way to get the Powells to use their abilities for the kind of action-oriented programming viewers want is to make their comfortable, suburban lives impossible. Facing them with villains who know about their powers and inching them ever closer to a confrontation with Dr. King, CEO of GlobalTech, pushes the show to be the super hero adventure it's cut out to be.

Glee: Special Education

I've never been entirely certain about what all of the romance plots on Glee are supposed to do for the series. Are they shameless attempts at fan-baiting, do the writers think they're actually compelling stories, or are they unusually dedicated depictions of the brief, capricious love lives of teenagers? To an extent, I think they've been all three at one point or another. The only pairings that actually work on the dramatic level are those that aim for the latter category. It's just too hard to invest in the short-lived romances of the increasingly incestuous glee kids because few relationships last longer than an episode or two, nor do most of the frequent break-ups get the benefit of ironic framing. It's realistic in that high schoolers actually do fall in love easily, screw around with their friends and have very public fallings out, but Glee rarely ever treats its own predictable, soapy turns like the inevitable hearbreaks of adolescence. Instead, they just weigh down the show.

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2010

Are you ready for some sexy, lingerie fashion? Stay tune tonight on CBS at 10 pm for the new premiere of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2010! Featured guests include Katy Perry and Akon as musical guest performances ready to rock out the runway action! The runway stage will certainly be tuning into rocking music by these smoking hot musical guests. Katy Perry and Akon are extremely talented and can rock any stage in style!

In Treatment: Sunil and Frances, Week 6

Sunil

Sunil's sessions have been the heaviest emotional rollercoaster of this entire series. However deeply traumatized some of the other patients have been, they've all had a sense of fatalism to them. Patients like Alex and Oliver were always destined to be lost and any time we spent with them was just a tour through their troubled, final days. Others, like Sophie and Mia, seemed like they were making progress no matter how many bumps in the road they experienced. Sunil's fate is so much more in the air. He began as a sad but respectable man, transitioning into an individual who clearly had some buried secrets that had been corroding his mental health for decades. Now he's just plain scary.

The Event: Everything Will Change

 

Is the title of this week's midseason finale of The Event another not-quite-accurate thematic summation or is it a promise from this shaky show's writers? I sure do hope everything really will change by the time The Event returns to the air in February because this episode hinted at a show I'd actually like to watch. I'm not joking when I say that a secret, high-tech war between aliens and a shadowy organization of humans to either protect or exploit alien/human hybrid children sounds genuinely exciting. The Event took its sweet time getting to this point but now that it's here I'm interested in whether the now unified plot will improve the show or just stumble in the same ways the series has since it premiered.

In the Beginning: Dexter

So, we’re wheedling done the bad guys, huh? It’s getting’ close to completion. Thing is, though, the coppers seem to be running just about parallel to Dex and Lumen’s plans. Deb’s gone so far as to figure out that whoever’s responsible for knocking these guys off was at one point a victim herself. True.

What’s weird is that when Lumen goes and speaks with the women functioning as the first victim, but doesn’t seem too troubled by it, the whole thing reveals that Jordan Chase still has his hooks into just about everyone. And being able to witness his managing of various potentially disastrous situations only points to the weird power he possess over people. It really won’t be too surprising when at the end of the season, the character uses up his entire entourage to escape.

The Walking Dead: Wildfire

For a show that was only given a six-episode order, The Walking Dead sure does move slowly. I'm not saying I want the show to be a mile-a-minute thrill ride, but it hasn't taken long for the whole "human toll" aspect of its plot to become a drag. Far too much of "Wildfire" lingers on the agony the living feel whenever somebody gets overwhelmed by the dead. Sometimes this pays off and other times it's a mill stone. Is it too much to ask for more zombies in my zombie drama? It seems like the intensity and the giddy gore of the first two episodes just couldn't be sustained. Those thrilling set pieces are becoming less frequent as the series progresses. Now that we're finally out of the forest camp, maybe The Walking Dead will become the tense action-horror show it promises to be in those early stages. There's only one episode left in the season, so let's hope for a little honing between now and when Season 2 airs.

Boardwalk Empire: Paris Green

The most basic form of drama is two characters having a conversation. In one way or another, all drama plays and replays this concept. Even in large ensemble pieces, much of the intrigue comes from the various possible pairings of characters. Boardwalk Empire hasn't really started mixing and matching its cast yet but it has pushed each original pair to their extremes. "Paris Green" is about watching various partnerships dissolve. It's a ceaselessly brutal hour of television and it definitely leaves next week's finale open to a lot of unpredictable developments. Like any good serialized drama, this show would rather send everything into chaos than maintain a comfortable status quo.

Bridal-Plasty

Are you ready for some interesting brides-to-be transformations? E! Online is now featuring a brand new show every week with Shana Moakler (once married to Travis Barker), in this intense, thrilling, and dramatic showdown between 12 new contestants battling it out to win a dream plastic surgery makeover and a celebrity dream wedding. Can I say……what the heck?? What are they seriously thinking?? I can understand that a wedding is one of the most important days of a woman’s life. But why waste time and energy on winning ridiculous competitions to go under the knife?

Stargate Universe: Visitation

More so than any other iteration of the Stargate franchise, SGU is capable of being funny, terrifying and emotionally moving. It doesn't always hit the right notes in pursuit of this dynamism but when it does it can be pretty compelling television. Season 2 has significantly improved the show's take on its core components, those being the eerie, unfamiliar sci-fi elements and the strong emotions that come out of a desperate survival scenario. "Visitation" really coaxed a lot of great performances out of the cast by giving them all really meaty material, letting the weird science inform the drama perhaps more than it has throughout the entire series.

In Treatment: Jesse and Adele, Week 5

Jesse

Season 3 of In Treatment has had an especially prominent narrative arc. We literally spend more time with Paul and his family this year. Those opening sequences that used to be as short as ten seconds have ballooned to several minutes before the title music even plays. The action, too, stretches far beyond the confines of Paul's cozy office. This week Jesse shows up at Paul's home in the middle of the night, a full day before his session is supposed to take place. He's in a panic and he doesn't even care that Paul is having a private moment with Max. Bad with priorities to the bitter end, Paul allows Jesse to have his session that night. It's a bad idea realistically but it pays off in a big way dramatically.

Terriers: Quid Pro Quo

Nothing has done more to ruin entertainment than bad marketing. I recall seeing promotional material for Terriers this past summer and thinking that it looked like a shaggy buddy comedy with an episodic premise. That's certainly what most viewers were expecting when they went into the show's first few episodes. Though that light, snarky tone is a part of Terriers (and arguably a necessary element of its winning formula), the actual show is far grittier and darker than any of that promo content ever suggested. Tonight's episode, the first half of the season (and hopefully not series) finale, really drives home the true nature of the program. Terriers is paranoid and brutal, not just funny and inventive. Maybe if the show had been marketed as such from the beginning, viewers wouldn't have to resort to emailing FX to beg for a second season.

DWTS Talent Challenged Bristol Palin Eliminated

After milking her all season, on the last show, maybe to keep disgusted viewers from shooting up their television sets, the producers of Dancing With the Stars showed Sarah Palin's daughter, the door. The younger Palin, 20 year old Bristol, was eliminated first from the finals. The elimination of Miss Palin from the competition is being treated as an event, a long over due event to those whom value talent. Of course, DWTS isn't about talent but ratings.

No Ordinary Family: No Ordinary Accident

How much I'm willing to accept a glaring plot hole is entirely dependent on how much I enjoy everything else around it. In the case of No Ordinary Family, I like the show enough to give some of its missteps the benefit of the doubt. "No Ordinary Accident" stretches the limits of this clemency, though. Unless there's some effort to explain the huge problem at the end of this episode next week, inconsistencies like the cause of Jim's temporary power loss will really start to drag down the series. That'd be a shame, too, considering how good the rest of this week's episode is.

Glee: Furt

Wedding episodes are tricky prospects. Personally, I don't think a show really earns the right to do one until it's at least three seasons into its run. Wedding episodes are big, showy culminations of a lot of different emotional developments in a series, especially in ensemble-driven programs. They're full of pathos and catharsis. Glee just hasn't been around long enough, nor has it asked us to invest all that deeply in most of its character threads, to really deliver a proper wedding episode. That's not to say that most of the pieces in "Furt" don't work, just that the emotional payoff isn't nearly as powerful as it's supposed to be.

Jilted?

I flipped through the channels this past Sunday night to see what was on entertainment television. I noticed on the WE channel that it featured a reality show based on potential future brides proposing to their partners. Curious, I decided to watch it anyways. The show was called, Jilted. What a weird, funny name to title a reality show. I do enjoy watching reality shows. I have watched ABC’s The Bachelor in the past, but didn’t expect to be seeing a low-rated reality show based on the woman proposing to her man. Hmmm…it doesn’t really seem romantic. Did I even hear wedding bells ringing inside my head watching this show? Not really.

In Treatment: Sunil and Frances, Week 5

Sunil

More than any other character in the three seasons of In Treatment, Sunil is genuinely disturbing. He fluctuates between outbursts of temper and moments of eerie calm. Those quiet times are made even more unsettling when he starts talking about Julia. His approach to her is either full of repressed sexuality or casual, hidden violence. This week he uses words like "smother" and "disappear", putting Paul more on edge than he's ever been. Television tends not to present us with dangerous people who seem real. They're either villains or somehow justified. Even on procedural crime dramas the average-joe-turned-murderer is usually a player in some overblown tragedy that explains the awfulness of what he did. Sunil is scary because he's not abnormal. He's a thoughtful man with a deep capacity for love and a respectable demeanor. Seeing him circle the possibility of violence, even if he doesn't recognize it as such, is truly frightening.

The Event: Your World To Take

Thanksgiving is on the horizon, which means it's time to reflect on those things for which we are most thankful. Me? I'm thankful that I finally have a new moment of television that I can genuinely call the worst bit of TV writing I have ever witnessed. The final scene in this week's episode of The Event is utterly baffling. It achieves a level of sheer stupidity that few works of fiction outside the scribblings of bored middle school children ever reach. That is why I have decided to dedicate the majority of this article to deconstructing its many, unbelievably ridiculous elements and will, in the grand fashion I have not employed since Heroes went off the air, reduce the rest of the episode to a series of bullet points. Without further ado:

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