Sunday, May 20, 2012

SNL - "Mick Jagger"

Season 37, Episode 22

I don’t want to make it seem like I have something against host who pull double duty by also serving as the musical act. I mean, do you remember when Justin Timberlake did that – you know, before he began only serving as host? That was always pretty enjoyable. However, do you remember when Taylor Swift did the same? And what about Elton John? That was certainly a weird one, wasn’t it? These are the fears that are bouncing around my head as I prepare for Mick Jagger to host SNL tonight – that he’ll be awkward, and that the sketches will have to try really hard to cover up his lack of acting ability.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Community - "Curriculum Unavailable"

Season 3, Episode 20

Hey, do remember when Community decided to do a second (well, technically two more) paintball episode at the end of the second season, no doubt because the first one had been so well received? And remember how nervous everybody was about the show chasing past success? Most importantly, do you remember how that two-parter was good, but maybe not as good as the original, that it lacked some of the general surprising first-timeness of “Modern Warfare”? It had seemed as if the writers had learned their lesson with that episode, since it was let known fairly early on that the show wouldn’t be going for a third paintball episode. And even though the show would return to some of the themes that it had also explore in its third season, the show at least avoided any superficial similarities between its concept episodes (well, except it’s Glee and Law & Order spoofs), and that kept things feeling fresh.

That is, until this latest episode.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

SNL - "Will Ferrell/Usher"

Season 37, Episode 21

Will Ferrell is hosting tonight, which makes for his third time hosting the show, and the third time that a SNL alum has hosted this season. Those numbers don’t really mean anything, other than the fact that I don’t have much to say about Ferrell’s hosting ability going into tonight’s episode. He’s obviously familiar with the show, and as with most hosts, it generally means that the show will bring it’s A-game and/or some of Ferrell’s previously recurring characters. Let’s see which one(s) it is.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sherlock - "A Scandal in Belgravia"

Season 2, Episode 1

“And you believe in a higher power. In this case, it’s yourself.”

About 2/3 of Sherlock’s first season was good. The first episode had a strong emphasis on getting Sherlock and Watson together, and generally introducing this version of the Holmes world. The third episode has Sherlock going up again Moriarty, in a brilliant plotted game of cat-and-mouse that was just as much about the dueling personalities as it was about the mystery at the center of it all. The second episode meanwhile, was a boring and borderline racist affair, a straightforward case that failed to do anything beyond tell a mystery tale, which it told quite poorly. I would hate to lay down such a blanket generalization as “serialization trumps standalone”, because that doesn’t always have to be the case, but it does appear as if this is going to be the case for Sherlock. Take witness tonight’s episode, which put the case itself behind everything else, and was all the better for it.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

SNL - "Eli Manning/Rihanna"

Season 37, Episode 20

Let’s face it: The only real reason that Eli Manning is coming on SNL tonight, is because Payton Manning hosted an episode, and that one was fairly well-received. The only reason that Payton Manning appeared on the show was because SNL likes to trot out star athletes every once in a while. And SNL likes to have athlete hosts because…hell, I don’t know why. So can Eli Manning clear the incredibly low bar that’s set out before him? Let’s find out.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Parks and Recreation - "Bus Tour"

Season 4, Episode 21

There’s always been a disconnect between the politics of Parks and Recreation and that of the real world. Since this show is a comedy, and comedy tends to thrive on comedic exaggeration, this isn’t exactly a problem, and it becomes easy to just sort of roll with whatever the show decides to do. It also helps that the show is so strong and consistent in the characterization department (I don’t care what others say) that the show is able to take on an air of realism even when it’s doing something that are patently ridiculous.

Community - "Course Listing Unavailable"

Season 3, Episode 18

Have I mentioned how much I love callbacks in comedy? Or, to rephrase the question, you know that I love Arrested Development, right? For the longest time, I though that callbacks were the Old Faithful of comedy, one of the true ever-reliant sources of humor. They combined my two favorite things in television shows, well-told jokes and a sense of continuity, and I loved them for that. “Course Listing Unavailable” had these things in spades, and on that account this should have been one of my favorite Community episodes of the season. Yet somehow it all ended up falling a bit flat.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mad Men - "At the Codfish Ball"

Season 5, Episode 7

“It’s not the end, it’s the beginning.”

As I’ve said many times already, this season of Mad Men is all about watching how these once formerly powerful characters react to the changing decade around them. Okay, these show has always been about that to some extent, but as the show begins to depict more and more stereotypical events of the 1960s, those that deal with change and upheaval. Taking that theme one step further, “At the Codfish Ball” asks the all-important question: won’t somebody think of the children?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fringe - "Letters of Transit"/"Worlds Apart"

Season 4, Episodes 19-20

“I find it’s best just to go with it.”

It looks like my prediction in my last Fringe review was right – we have entered the next leg of storytelling for the season/show, one which has mostly dropped the frustrating “Peter was erased from the universe” storyline in favor of something more straightforward and easier to connect to. I only have to wonder if this was the sort of move that was planned out all along – you know show runners, always saying that they “have a plan”, a statement which is only true about a third of the time – or if this is a reaction to all of the criticism that was lobbed against the season late last year. Me, I have to think it’s the latter, but I’m not really sure how I feel about the show turning so fully away from the angle they were working it. In contrast, suddenly dropping what had originally been the main theme is quite jarring to watch, and I’m not sure that the show’s new bit of serialization is going to do it any favors either.