TV Power Rankings for the week of 1/16/2012 – 1/22/2012

TV season is picking up quite a bit. Some really great stuff is on and more is on the way. HBO debuts Luck and Spartacus comes back on Starz!
1. Justified – “The Gunfighter”: Welcome back! It’s been way too long. Justified came back swinging! I never wanted the episode to end. Graham Yost has just really nailed down the feeling of the show. From the snappy prose in the first scene between Boyd and Raylan to the look of the new bad guy in Fletcher Nicks. Each detail is just on point. The world of Harlan and Lexington still remain small but we’re starting to uncover more layers. After dealing with Mags it was hard to imagine how they were going to improve. They answer? Make the bad guys bigger and badder. Make Raylan meet his match. Oh and Boyd Crowder is still floating around being awesome and trying to run Harlan now that Mags is gone. This show is just everything I want right now and I don’t anticipate a show more.
2. Shameless – “I’ll Light a Candle For You Every Day”: Well Frank Gallagher is a despicable human being. Not like that’s any revelation but this just took it to a whole new level. He kept Dotty from getting a heart just to try and get her pension. Then he banged her to death. They really pushed it. At least he seemed shaken up about it. Fiona finally sleeps with a married man and it drives her to Steve. I’m for that. I’m also for Kevin buying the door. I’m also for Lip to get with Karen, but I don’t want it to be easy.
3. Parks and Recreation – “Campaign Ad”: Hey look it’s Paul Rudd! That’s a great get for Parks. Leslie’s campaign is moving briskly along as expected and her and Ben find a good compromise. Nothing too amazing there. The gold in this episode was with April and Andy as they found out about insurance and decided to visit a bunch of doctors for “free.” I know it’s a tad juvenile but I laughed really hard when he tried to dine and dash the hospital and ran right into the ambulance. Another solid episode.
4. Suburgatory – “The Casino Trip”: Really nice job of the show developing its supporting characters outside of their normal relationships. George got to spend time with the guys in Atlantic City which gave a chance to see more of Chris Parnell, Alan Tudyk and Jay Mohr. We got less Dallas and Dalia, but that’s ok. Really nice moment at the end when George discovers Lisa’s “Love Box.” George moved Tessa to the burbs after he found condoms in her room in NYC. Curious where they go with  this bit of info. The obvious route is for George to eventually blame and confront Tessa without all the details and kind of burn the trust he built up with her. Maybe it goes another unexpected and hilarious way. Not sure. But it was a good quiet moment from Jeremy Sisto.
5. New Girl – “Story of the 50”: I’d like to go on a party school bus with Schmidt and company. Perhaps some of my greatest joy in this episode was seeing how accepting and curious Schmidt was about the male stripper. Also, bringing back the douchebag jar was great. There were just so many great gags about it.
6. Modern Family – “Little Bo Bleep”: First of all it’s really strange that we never who’s wedding that was. Second of all, the Claire story was a tremendous story for Modern Family. They all sort of admitted that Claire can be a bit of a pill and then used it for comedy. An episode where everyone played their part and it worked out really well.
7. Up All Night – “Rivals”: Really glad to see that they’ve basically just let the show be about relationships rather than a workplace comedy. True some comedy happens at work but for the most part it’s all about how Regan interacts with everyone. Everyone has been in this position with their significant others. Having to wait watch to a TV show because it’s “your” show. Solid episode and Megan Mullaly was predictably good.
8. 30 Rock – “Idiots are People Two!”: Seemed a little less topical since the Tracy Morgan story has been dead for a while now, but I do like the way the show handled it. Basically they just called Tracy an idiot and moved on. Jack’s getting into Liz’s head about her boyfriend and that’s always good for some laughs. Still can’t stand Kenneth. Like at all.
9. House of Lies – “Microphallus”: The crying about Marty’s mom at the beginning seemed very out of place. I don’t quite know how I feel about Marty’s domestic stuff. I’m pretty disinterested. I’d like to learn more about Clyde and Doug than Roscoe.
10. Californication – “Boys & Girls”: If Evan Handler is going to masturbate every episode count me right out! But seriously, I mean, nothing earth shattering going on here. Hank is a bit self destructive while trying to keep his family in tact and happy. Still loving Megan Good and RZA.
11. Alcatraz – “Pilot/Ernest Cob”: JJ Abrams 101. This show is simple and effective. Every inmate on Alcatraz disappeared from The Rock just before it was shut down. Now they’re all coming back one by one, killing again. Sam Neil, Sarah Jones and Jorge Garcia’s characters are trying to figure out where they’re coming from from and why. It’s got a killer of the week procedural element along with the on going questions about the bigger thing that’s happening. Like what kind of beings can keep these inmates who are supposed to be 85 looking like they did the day they were abducted. What’s their agenda? This show can go off the rails really quickly or it’s going to be wildly repetitive. Hopefully it lies somewhere in between.
12. The Finder – “Bullets”: I’m sure I’m supposed to know who Dr. Sweets is, but I don’t watch Bones. Otherwise I’m pretty sure I would have thought his cameo was pretty cool. He’s cool as is but it would have been more compelling. The case wasn’t that interesting but that wasn’t really the point. We were just supposed to see if Walter is crazy or not. Answer? He’s both. The show is harmless and it’s good to have in the background.
13. The Office – “Pool Party”: Um…this was a sort of weird surreal thing. I’ve never seen Caligula, but this felt like a PG network television version of it. That was a strange Bacchanalia. The point was to push the relationship of Erin and Andy. That’s the only bullet the show has left at this point. I didn’t always find myself laughing but rather staring uncomfortably.
14. America Idol – “Auditions 1 and 2: Savannah and Pittsburgh”: There was a random third episode of Idol that aired after those two long football games. I didn’t watch it. However, the only thing I want to mention about Idol is that it finally looks like the producers have caught up with the rest of America and realized that showing all the bad auditions is not entertaining. Rather than crappy montage after crappy montage, we’re getting to meet a lot of the contestants early. Nicely done Nigel Lythgoe and company!
15. Glee – “Yes/No”: Well, uh, most of this episode was pretty bad. I think they purposefully put us all in a wildly uncomfortable place with the Becky story line. Sam and Mercedes is so forced. The Summer Loving number? Predictable and uninspired. Everything to do with the synchronized swimming was dumb. Finn’s army thoughts and the mother crushing his idea of his father was done so poorly. Let’s not forget that Coach Bieste randomly eloped. I hope to forget Mr. Schuster’s awkward dancing during “Moves Like Jagger.” And how absurd is it that Mr. Schuster would ask Finn to be his best man?!?!? That’s a teacher asking his student to be his best man. That’s creepy and probably illegal. However, despite all that, there were still some good moments. Rachel’s version of “Without You” was tremendous. Emma’s take me or leave me monologue was very well done. Even Finn’s proposal was well acted even though I don’t think the relationship has earned the respect of the audience enough for us to believe that.

Shameless Frank and Carl Summer Lovin

TV Power Rankings for the week of 1/9/2012 – 1/15/2012

I didn’t LOVE any episode this week. So the rankings are going to be sort of closer than they might be on other weeks. Alcatraz debuts next week. Glee and New Girl come back. So there’s that.
1. Shameless – “Summer Lovin”: For me, this was way too much Frank. I know that they tried to work on him being a human that we can appreciate but I just don’t find him compelling. His rant to Carl about being grateful was just plain mean. And normally when people on screen do incredibly mean things you can say, well at least the acting was good. Part of my problem with Frank is that I don’t love William H Macy in the role. Aside from that, I didn’t mind the rest. I kind of wish I just got a whole episode of Kevin and Lip in the van selling drugs.
2. Parks and Recreation – “The Comeback Kid”: Not my favorite Parks episode because it just felt like a little bit of filler. Essentially they needed to get Ben to be Leslie’s campaign manager by episode’s end. I didn’t so much love Anne’s failures as manager but more watching Ben be depressed. Those scenes with Chris about Claymation and Calzones were on point. “Stand in the place where you live!”
3. Suburgatory – “Out in the Burbs”: I thought the episode was perfectly decent except I just hate the sitcom convention of “someone thinks they’re talking about one thing and the other person thinks they’re talking about their secret.” In this case Tessa thought the cop was gay and the cop thought she had found her out. It led to some pretty funny moments from Allie Grant but sometimes those situations are just too obvious and it’s hard to believe the two parties would go on with thinking the wrong thing for so long. I like what they’re doing with Dallas and George. They’re both sort of see-sawing for power in the relationship.
4. House of Lies – “Amsterdam”: Amsterdam. The safe word between Marty and his wife during rough sex. That was a bit of an uncomfortable scene. This was basically the pilot all over again. Marty and his team got a job and they did it. What set this episode apart for me obviously was the presence of So You Think You Can Dance’s host, Cat Deeley. I thought she did a great job playing against Doug who is probably my favorite at this point. There was one moment that gave me a glimmer of hope for some more characterization in the future. It was at the end when Roscoe asks Marty what a “fudge packer” is and he looks at him very concerned and says, “Did someone really call you that?”
5. Modern Family – “Egg Drop”: Another episode that I found perfectly acceptable. Maybe I just needed that hiatus during the holidays to sort of hit reset in my brain. I was really glad to see the human side of Phil. He’s always one of my favorite characters because of how silly he is but it was really nice to see him get angry when the girls let him down. Also, seeing him work was a good change of pace. We normally just hear about his work but in this case it was good to see his passions. I’m also glad to see they’re not rushing in to giving Cam and Mitchell another baby. It’s going to take some work.
6.  The Office – “Trivia”: I’m always in favor when The Office sort of flips the script on status in the office. It was good to see characters like Jim, Darryl, Andy and Dwight get a helping of humble pie. A great built in joke machine in this episode was that each trivia question was the set up for a joke for somebody. The tag at the end of the episode was perfect when it showed Kevin and his team just getting every single question wrong.
7. Up All Night – “New Year’s Eve”: Aside from airing a New Year’s episode on January 12th I thought the episode to be very funny. It looks like they’re really starting to figure out how to keep it from being two separate shows. Jason Lee is a good addition to the cast because he helps ground Ava and I’m always in favor of when Missy is on screen.
8. 30 Rock – “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching”: I haven’t watched 30 Rock in about three years I’d say so it was nice to see that the show can still make me laugh. Liz as a WNBA dancer seemed like a great idea. The show brings laughs but I still just can’t stand Kenneth. Like at all.
9. Hell on Wheels – “God of Chaos”: After a really strong penultimate episode I thought the finale kind of ended with a whimper. There wasn’t a whole lot of tension and a lot of things played out exactly like we thought they would. Seemed like they were caught in between on whether they wanted to wrap up season one nicely or leave these same stories open for season two. They sort of did the latter. Either way Mr. Bohannon is on the run for murder with the Swede on his case. Still seems like they’re going to focus too much on the railroad in the future.
10. Californication – “The Way of the Fist”: Have all the supporting characters seemed this marginalized before? It’s possible, but it’s as if Charlie, Marcy and Karen aren’t even a driving force in the show anymore. Becca still has only kind of been because of her boyfriend. Her boyfriend that’s now in the hospital because Sam Apoc jumped him in an effort for Hank to write his movie. Seems as though Hank is going to write the movie but along the way has to battle for his daughters affections and will try not to sleep with his boss’s girl. Sounds familiar.
11. The Finder – “An Orphan Walks into a Bar”: I’m not always into police procedurals like this but I thought since it looked like it had a quirky lead with some heart I thought I’d give it a go. It is pretty much exactly what you would expect. It’s fun and easy to watch. Walter plays well with Michael Clarke Duncan and they solve a case in the episode. It’s fun but I’m not sure I’ll keep up with it religiously. It’s from the creator of Bones so if you like Bones you’ll probably like this show.


TV Power Rankings for the week of 10/17/2011 – 10/23/2011

Due to the World Series NBC decided to run a lot of repeats. So no new Community, The Office or Parks and Rec this week. Also, Glee and New Girl have been pushed back due to either baseball or X Factor. Speaking of X Factor, all of those baseball playoffs rain delays really did a number on my DVR and getting the right thing recorded. I’ll have to pick it up again once the final 12 are revealed. Also, my professional courtesy has run out for 2 Broke Girls. Some weeks I’ll watch it, others I won’t. This week, I didn’t and didn’t miss it.

1. Strike Back – “Season Finale”: What was amazing about this show is that it started out as a show that was full gratuitous nudity and awesome action but it ended as a pretty gripping drama. This final episode was full of tension and some really wonderful acting moments. This show put on a clinic The final bit where Stonebridge was cutting the bomb out of the terrorist, while Damien was infiltrating Latif’s interrogation? Very well done. Got to say, I’m not sure they kill off Colonel Grant if they were guaranteed a second season, but her death makes sense. The on location shooting was tremendous. Really can’t complain about much of anything on this show. If you missed it, they’re replaying each episode every Friday night and you can watch them all online here: http://www.cinemax.com/strike-back/
2. Boardwalk Empire – “Gershwin and Bunkum”: My oh my. That was quite the episode. You have to love all the scenes involving Richard and Jimmy. This episode felt like it took its time in a good way rather than a bad way. The Eli and Nucky confrontation was a solid scene. Some brutal murders here in this episode. A bludgeoning? A scalping? Wow. No Van Alden, Lucy or Chalky in this episode.
3. Homeland – “Semper I”: Of the first four, this was the weakest, but that’s like finishing last in the World’s Strongest Man competition. You’re still strong! This show is doing a great job of developing its characters. I do wish we got a touch more of the terrorist plot rather that the does he know about Mike angle. I was also sad to see the surveilance stuff come down. However, I was begging for another scene between Carrie and Brody.
4. The Walking Dead – “Bloodletting”: More people! More places! Should be hopeful, but Carl is still on death’s door and the group hasn’t found Peyton yet. The Walking Dead has never been a show that stays in one place for too long. I can’t imagine the group staying at the car wreck graveyard much longer. Daryl’s brothers stash of drugs, including meth and X, was pretty hilarious. Sometimes Andrew Lincoln isn’t the best actor, but I suppose it could be worse. Also looks like Shane is going to be staying around for a while. I really like Otis and the vet. Solid cast additions.
5. Dexter – “A Horse of a Different Color”: Aside from the cooky music and LaGuerta’s wretched performance, this was a pretty solid episode. I know that the faith stuff is pretty heavy handed and we haven’t really seen the noose tighten on the investigation at all, but the show is sort of departing from the formula just a tad. Dexter has yet to be a suspect and hasn’t come close to being found out. I kind of enjoyed Quinn and Batista getting high and helping move the case while trying to undermine the new detective, Mike Anderson. Also, Brother Sam is a great addition.
6. Sons of Anarchy – “Fruit for the Crows”:  Just when the show was finally getting ready to give Theo Rossi a lot to do, they go and hang them. Not sure what that means for the rest of the club and the investigation from the sheriff and DA, but maybe it takes the heat off just long enough so the club can handle their internal strife. Bobby challenged Clay’s leadership and Piney is getting ready to tell the club about JT. Unser is also standing in Clay’s way of trying to eliminate Tara from the mix. The best laid plans of Clay Morrow are going up in flames pretty rapidly.
7. The League – “The Au Pair”: Sometimes I wish The League would ditch the fantasy football stuff. I know they can’t completely, but I wish this episode was only about the guys and dating and lying. Matthew Berry wasn’t a terrible actor, but his story line seemed forced.
8. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – “The Storm of the Century”: I didn’t think this episode was hilarious, but I did think it was decent story telling. It’ll be a forgotten episode when the season finishes up, but still entertaining. Sweet Dee was a bit to shrieky, but I always love seeing Charlie try and execute a plan.
9. Boss – “Listen”: A solid series premiere. Kelsey Grammer delivers a fantastic performance as the heavy handed mayor of Chicago that also has a degenerative brain disease. A few too many speeches, but with Gus Van Sant directing the pilot, the show impressed. Kathleen Robertson is also gorgeous.
10. American Horror Story – “Murder House”: Well they tried to explain why they can’t leave the house, the family is broke. I thought eliminating Ben’s affair was a little lazy. The credits are creeping. I wish they would stop introducing more murder house goons and focus on the ones we have. Not quite “so bad it’s good” yet, but close. The show still takes itself a bit too seriously.
11. Suburgatory – “Don’t Call Me Shirley”: OK, Suburgatory, we’ve had four episodes that have been basically carbon copies of each other. Tessa doesn’t like living in the suburbs and her dad is doing his best. We need to progress a few relationships or shake something up. The show is still funny, but it’s getting very formulaic very quickly.
12. Up All Night – “Birth”: A nice little flashback episode to just before the baby was born. It made Ava seem more of a part of the show. I also laughed when Jump Around started playing on the iPhone as her birthing song. This comedy has a lot of charm. It’s the best thing on, but it’s really nice.
13. The Sing Off – “Top 10 Groups: Guilty Pleasure Music”: The Yellow Jackets did “Wannabe” and it was a ton of fun. Delilah performed “Flashdance…What a Feeling” and it was thin and very boring. North Shore was going to do “Mmm Bop” but switched to “Power of Love” and Guy was good in lead but ultimately it was a little dull. The Collective took on “I Will Survive” and it was probably that groups best performance thanks to a clever arrangement. Dartmouth Aires (my favorite group) settled on “Jessie’s Girl” and it took until the second half, but it was really fun once again. North Shore leaving over Delilah was a bit surprising, but Delilah has more upside, I guess. Afro Blue, another of my favorites chose “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”  and put on technically sound and entertaining performance. Pentatonix was going to do “Believe” but they switched to “Video Killed the Radio Star” and what a great decision that was! Easily my favorite of the night. Crazy unique and clever. The Deltones went with “Listen to Your Heart” and it really took off in the later part where they finally went full voice. Urban Method rocked “Poison” and it was solid, but nothing too too special. Vocal Point decided on “Footloose” and it was probably enough to get by. Sending the Deltones home was an easy choice.
14. Modern Family – “Go Bullfrogs!”: I think we kind of know what we’re going to get out of Modern Family at this point. I did like when Claire kind of got her come uppance when she came to the door of the other moms. No Luke in this episode makes me sad. He’s the best part of that show. Manny swooning over another girl? Lame. Seen it. Didn’t buy Jay becoming so engrossed with the soap. Phil really is the best part of the show. I enjoyed seeing he and Haley’s scenes.
15. Survivor: South Pacific – “Free Agent”: Stupid Cowboy Rick made a mistake and sent Mikayla home. Keeping Edna around for “loyalty” reasons is stupid. Though I am excited to see a plan blow up in Coach and Brandon’s face. Doesn’t really look like either Ozzy or Coach will win. Which is probably exactly what the Survivor producers wanted.
16. Project Runway – “Finale Part One”: Lame! They’re all four in??? They should have made it just Joshua and Victor. Those two guys were worlds better. Joshua M agrees with me. Neither of them deserves to go. What happened is that Kimberly’s was better but the producers didn’t want to let Anya go. Victor is my pick to win. And did I just here on the “After the Runway” promo that Anya has a sex tape? Yep. There’s four.


Up All Night “Mr. Bob’s Toddler Kaleidoscope” Review

Up All Night – “Mr. Bob’s Toddler Kaleidoscope”

When – 7 pm CST
Where – NBC
Story – Liz Cackowski & Alex Reid
Teleplay – Erica Rivinoja
Starring – Will Arnett as Chris Burns
Christina Applegate as Regan Burns
Maya Rudolph as Ava
Jennifer Hall as Missy
Michael Hitchcock as Mr. Bob
Missi Pyle as Kayla’s Mom

Last week, I lobbied pretty hard for a separate sitcom for Maya Rudolph’s, Ava character. I’m probably in the minority, but I’ve always felt Rudolph and her fellow SNL alum, Casey Wilson (Coincidentally, Wilson was hired to replace Rudolph, after she left SNL) are hugely gifted actors in need of the right vehicle to make them super talents; I’m talking “Fey-level” mega stars.

Althogh Rudolph will have to bide her time a little while  longer, this week’s Up All Night, (UAN) seems to have solved, or at least evolved to the point of, “…using tools to make fire, and wheels.” in terms of how to capitalize on Rudolph’s skills.

“Mr. Bob doesn’t really like it a whole lot when parents go off book” – Chris Burns

Chris (Will Arnett) and Regan (Christina Applegate) have decided to take Amy to a developmental play class. If you’ve ever been to a “Gymbo-Kinder-Insert fake Nordic word-here-care” class before, then you know that it may start out as, The Giving Tree but quickly (and horrifically) ends up as Lord of the Flies with sippy cups.

Michael Hitchcock does an excellent turn as Mr. Bob, the leader of the cult/class and practitioner of some of the best non-aggressive peek a boo’s in the greater Los Angeles area. Chris falls under Mr. Bob’s spell and embraces the quiet, flourish of the parachute.

Regan, however, begins feuding with a stay at home Mom (Missi Pyle) who pushes the “working Mom equals baby growing up to work the upstairs of the frat house” button perfectly.

Again, this is UAN’s strength; being able to accurately portray the confusion, happiness and abject terror that goes through a new parent’s head about things that a year ago, they didn’t even know were things.

We’ve all been there, right? The tearful collapse in the frozen food section because the market is all out of organic macaroni and cheese, the toddler seat matrix on your I-pad, repeating every word the baby says with its French equivalent. You see?  That’s’ the kind of stuff a parent goes through. It’s the greatest fear and joy you’ll ever know all at the same time; and UAN gets it as good, if not better, than any show I’ve ever seen.

All the best Amy, I love what you’ve done with your hair” – Ava

While Regan struggles with the idea that her job is preventing her from spending quality time with Amy, Ava struggles with the idea that Regan’s motherhood is preventing her from spending more time with Ava.

Transvestite Bangles cover bands aside; Ava’s hurt feelings result in her offering the job of writing a speech for a Zak Posin event to her assistant, Missy (Jennifer Hall) in a passive aggressive attempt to get back at Regan.

Of course, things eventually work out for the best, and all is well as Regan steps in and writes the speech for Missy to give to Ava. (Although, I think some videos need to surface of Missy in some high school spelling bees)

I was just like Jack Nicholson in that movie, You Can’t Handle the Truth.” – Ava

So, what makes this episode so strong? The writers have finally realized that by using Rudolph in small, concentrated bursts (like a roman candle, or Alison Brie’s breasts) she makes for a perfect foil against the steadier lives of Chris and Regan.  I love when Rudolph is a bit off centre versus when she’s let off the chain entirely. The scene of her trying to figure out how a Town Car worked was another scene stealer.

I hate to say there was a quibble with this episode, but in the 15 or so hours since I’ve seen it, I’ve sung 5 people their names, and I just asked the barista foaming my milk to use gentle wrists.

You can follow me on Twitter at @steveintheKT. You know, purely for the masculine energy.

Bridesmaids (DVD)

Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph
Rating: Unrated

“Gut-bustingly funny. Bridesmaids gets an A!!!” (Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly) From the producer of Superbad, Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin comes the breakout comedy critics are calling “brazenly hysterical!” (Alynda Wheat, People) Thirty-something Annie (Kristen Wiig) has hit a rough patch but finds her life turned completely upside down when she takes on the Maid of Honor role in her best friend Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) wedding. In way over her head but determined to succeed, Annie leads a hilarious hodgepodge of bridesmaids (Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper) on a wild ride down the road to the big event.
List Price: $19.98 USD
New From: $7.89 USD In Stock
Used from: $3.04 USD In Stock

Breaking Bad Face Off I won

TV Power Rankings for the week of 10/3/2011 – 10/9/2011

My list this week is going to look wacky to a lot of people. I didn’t love the finale of Breaking Bad so I just couldn’t put it at the top spot. If I’m not honest in these rankings, what’s the point? I also thought The Office was the best Thursday night comedy this week. That’s sure to shake things up.

Saturday Night Live, Terra Nova, X Factor and Strike Back were shows I just couldn’t get to this week due to my weird work schedule and preparations for my brother’s wedding. Which means this next week will be even more crazy as I take my brother to New Orleans for his bachelor party. I won’t get to watch near as much TV, so next Power Rankings could be light. But in honor of my brothers pending nuptials, here’s a music video he and I shot about 6 years ago. It’s to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
1. Homeland – “Grace”: Another great episode after a great pilot. The show is complex in its simplicity. What we know is so little, but there’s so much going on underneath. Watching Brody go through all his agonizing lonely silence while no one is home and then seeing him react to everyone at home is so interesting. The show is obviously pointing us to the fact that Brody is a terrorist. I’m anxious to see if the point of the show turns out to be that mystery or how Carrie is perceived by the CIA as she tries to get them to see what she’s talking about.
2. Breaking Bad – “Face Off: Here’s the thing. I liked the finale, but I didn’t love it. Breaking Bad had me feeling like I was going to be in for some incredible “ah ha” moment or some gasping for breath scene, but it never came. It all felt too easy. So contrived. Everything worked out so perfectly. It was still shot very well, edited, scored…the performances were outstanding, but I just felt like I was left wanting a bit more. Hard to be selfish when the show gives me so much, but dang it if I didn’t just buy every single bit of it. It gave us that great image of Gus. Buttoned up and fastidious until the end. But no risk. No Mike in the finale. Really played like a series finale. Season five wasn’t a given when they finished filming. The transformation into Heisenberg is now complete. Walt is now the baddest guy on the block.
3. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – “Sweet Dee Gets Audited”: This episode escalated quickly. The cast brings up the idea that this may be the darkest thing they’ve done. That thing is fake a baby’s death in order to dodge the IRS that’s trying to audit Dee who is scamming the government by claiming a baby as a dependent that she was only a surrogate for. Is it the darkest thing they’ve done? They’ve got hooked on crack to get on welfare before. The pickle party was silly, but seeing Mac and Charlie argue is always good. Sweet Dee crying blood was also a nice trick.
4. The Office – “Lotto”: Very solid episode. Genuinely funny with some heart mixed in. There was a clear task and both story lines converged to accomplish it. Senor Loadenstein was great. Really nice seeing the team of Dwight, Jim, Erin and Kevin working together to make a sort of comedy power team.
5. Parks and Recreation – “Born and Raised”: A solid episode. Not an all time classic, but one that had a lot of good moments for a lot of people. I think they found a decent way to get Ann involved. They sort of admitted that she’s a bit of a nag and used that to their advantage. The scene where she describes the gory medical story was well played by her, NIck Offerman and Aubrey Plaza. Chris Pratt got to do his slapstick Bert Macklin stuff and that’s always nice. Tom is eventually going to need to leave Entertainment 720. It doesn’t work as well when Jean Ralphio isn’t around. Chris even found a way to be himself and be funny. The moral was nice. It’s not where your born it’s where your from. It was a good and sort of unexpected way to fix the chief problem of the episode.
6. The League – “The Lockout”: Crude, vulgar, crass…hilarious. The show didn’t really even need to revolve around football to be funny. These character’s antics are plenty great. Andre the floutist was money. Taco as the Algerian soap star was really funny. “Bang Bang what’s the hang?” The porno stuff seemed to come out of nowhere, but was sufficiently gross and filthy so it worked. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Seth Rogen but it was great to see Rafi back. Shiva Bowl shuffle was fine, but who the heck is Brent Grimes?
7. Glee – “Asian F”: Everything that’s good and bad about the show rolled into one episode. The stuff with kids was great. Mike Chang had an especially great episode, but everything with the ginger supremacist parents and Will was terrible. Not surprising that a really strong episode barely featured Sue.
8. New Girl – “Wedding”: I thought this episode was right nice. I laughed and smiled and I thought there was chemistry. I didn’t so much care for the moments when homeboy was crying over his ex, but I thought it brought out a good moment where Jess got to be honest. The slow motion chicken dance was perfectly done. I’m glad they haven’t blatantly started shipping Jess in a romance with any of the three guys. That shouldn’t happen for a long while, if ever.
9. Boardwalk Empire – “A Dangerous Maid”: This episode fell somewhere between the first and second episode. The politics make a return, but so does Al Capone and Richard Harrow. I really like this new Owen Slater character. He’s going to be Nucky’s new Jimmy? I think the soldiers with something to prove are so much more interesting then the made men. Lucy an Van Alden are back, but I enjoyed their story even it really had nothing to do with anything. Jimmy is facing massive conflicts going forward and I’m interested to see how they play out.
10. American Horror Story – “Pilot”: This show drew a lot of critical backlash and I can see why. The show is self indulgent and ridiculous, yet it’s sufficiently creepy. I don’t know where the show goes from here. It’s already so bizarre. The problem is that I don’t really care about the characters, I’m just curious what happens to them. This show is unlike anything on television. I’m certainly curious. I’ll be sticking around for a full season. This show could be the greatest show ever or THE WORST and I’m ready for both. It is weird seeing Mrs. Coach have sex with a thing in a gimp costume and have a potty mouth. I’ll have to get used to it.11. Sons of Anarchy – “Brick”: Another catch your breath episode, but I already caught my breath from last week. I’m getting a little tired of all the JT stuff. I need the heat turned up. I do like that they’re focusing on a lot of conflicts inside the club, but the stakes don’t seem high yet.
12. Community – “Competitive Ecology”: Not my favorite episode. The two story lines were so different and they pointed out all the things that people don’t like about the characters. Weird article saying that this was Dan Harmon’s way of getting his thoughts about NBC and their scheduling and Whitney. I think it’s a reach, but Community is a show that reaches.
13. Dexter – “Once Upon A Time”: This episode felt like a soap opera. Deb gets proposed to and gets a promotion. Drama! Dexter has a change of heart. That was a bit surprising, but his conversations with Brother Sam were well done. I don’t care for one second about anything involving Batista, LaGuerta and the captain. Snooze. Not as good as the premiere. Not close at all. Colin Hanks and Olmos are on a different show right now.
14. Suburgatory – “The Barbecue”: Yep, still funny. Jane Levy is tremendous and has chemistry with everyone. Try and avoid the thought that Libby Hill from the TV on the Internet put into my brain. That thought is that Tessa and Jeremy Sisto’s character are actually together and they’re living out a long form roll playing fantasy. It just makes it very odd when they cut away from them  and you think that the next they’re doing is having sex. If you can overcome that, there’s lots of great comedy. All of the supporting characters have a lot of good stuff going on, except for Allie Grant who you probably know as Isabelle Hodes from Weeds. She’s just acting real hard and it looks like she’s always smelling a fart.
15. The Sing Off – “Radio Hits and 60s Classics, Part 1”: The opening number was pretty dull and cheesy and I mistook a guy for a girl on multiple occasions. Vocal Point’s “Never Say Never” was fun, but sounded a touch thin to me. Still pretty good. Delilah really impressed me last week, but this week left me thinking that they could have outsmarted themselves. Their version of “Whataya Want From Me” was so-so until Amy-Lynn stepped in. I actually thought the rap in Urban Method’s song brought the number down. The drama was already there. Afro-Blue’s “American Boy” version was so interesting. The bass work was great. Very smooth. The Yellow Jackets are tackling “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz. The choreography was on point, but the guy who sang third, Aaron(?) should be singing the entire time. Kinfolk 9’s version of “Price Tag” was pretty dull. Jessie J’s original had more drama. That and they kept their best singer, Moi, in the background.///Delilah’s 60 hit is a motown joint. It’s a bit off style for them. Cute. Nothing special. Urban Method’s “Dance to the Music” was inventive and charged full of energy.  Awesome work. Vocal Point’s Sinatra was good only because of the background vocals. Decent choreography. Sinatra is boring to me in general. Afro Blue takes on “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” and it was smooth and effective. The Yellow Jackets tackle “Can’t Take My Eyes off You.” Aaron’s voice is smoth, but I feel like he was overshadowed by the backing vocals at points. Kinfolk 9 lets Moi take the lead on “Let it Be” and it pays off. An emotional and effective performance. Kinfolk 9 is sent home largely because of their hit song performance. Tough night.
16. Modern Family – “Door to Door”: Another not so good episode. Gloria screams and yells and it’s funny because of her accent! Phil acts like a buffoon and Claire gets bitchy and forces the kids into a weird family moment. Manny tricking Jay into buying the wrapping paper? Lame. Luke was naturally great. Well, all the actors are good, they’re just not getting anything good to work with. Everything felt contrived and it didn’t really have a payoff. Another dud, but let the record show that I did laugh at points in the episode. So it’s still funny, but it could be way better.
17. Up All Night – “New Car”: Again, two very different shows going on here. The one involves Reagan the parent and wife, the other involves Reagan the worker who gives way to Maya Rudolph. They don’t do a tremendous job of mixing the two shows. It still has heart and I think Applegate and Arnett hook us enough that we still enjoy it. It should be noted that Arnett and Applegate are a happy couple. Lots of people say you can’t depict a happy marriage on TV,  it’s boring. We’ll find out won’t we.
18. Survivor: South Pacific – “Survivalism”: Snoooooze. Papa Bear loses the duel. Stacey, the next logical choice to go home in Upolou, gets voted off. No major moves. No blindsides. Just a cautious game. Someone needs to shake something up! Cochran, you’re our only hope!
19. 2 Broke Girls – “And Strokes of Goodwill”: Definitely not my favorite of the first three. They’re still establishing the relationship between the two girls so it’s all kind of the same. Odd that they would reference The Strokes and Nelly so much in this episode. That’s a little dated. Lots of critics crying out on Twitter how racist the show is. Stereotyping? Absolutely. Negative stereotyping? Probably. Racist? No. It does feel like it’s privileged white people writing for every ethnic group. The Russian short order cook is the worst.
20. Project Runway – “This is for the Birds”: A nice runway challenge. Most all of the looks were pretty decent except Bert’s and he went home. You could really feel them crafting the narrative to set up potential between Bert and Laura. It was obvious that the judges preferred one to the other. To me, Laura, Victor and Kim were very tightly bunched in the middle. Anya’s dress was far and away the best. They talk a lot about the styling and we often never get to see that process. I wish we’d see a bit more. I also don’t have a problem with the fact that Anya has to sew in her models and cut them out of the dress. It’s a runway dress. They don’t have to be practical. That garment is not being sold. Anya is selling her point of view, her design.

Walter White Breaking Bad End Times

TV Power Rankings for the week of 9/26/2011 – 10/2/2011

TV is really in full swing. And when I think there’s respite in sight (Weeds, Awkward, Breaking Bad ending) there’s just more shows coming in (American Horror Story and Homeland). The best moment on TV though had to be the final game of the baseball regular season. Two amazing comebacks finishing within moments of each other capped off by Evan Longoria’s walk off home run over the Yankees.
1. Breaking Bad – “End Times”: No surprise, another fantastic offering. It was a sort of “catch your breath” episode, but they managed to keep the tension extremely high and have us on the edge of our seats despite not giving away much of the narrative. It looks to be a showdown between Gus, Walt and Jesse. What I’m curious to see is if any one else gets caught in the crossfire. What’s the fate of Hank? Mike? Skyler? Who makes it out alive? I’ve never anticipated a season finale more than this one.
2. Homeland – “Pilot”: What an amazing pilot! Claire Danes gives a great performance as a CIA agent who has a mental disorder who believes that the POW/ex marine returning to America is actually a person who has been turned by the terrorists. She thinks he’s been communicating with the terrorists through a series of hand signals when he’s on camera. Damian Lewis plays the CIA/POW and he’s brilliant. His performance is understated, but has so much going on beneath the surface. Mandy Pitinkin is great as the CIA mentor to Claire Danes. I think the idea of post 9/11 complacency is very interesting. While we feel safe, the terrorists continue to move. A great new show.
3. Parks and Recreation – “Ron and Tammys”: A classic episode. I was on the fence at first because I don’t like Patricia Clarkson as Tammy 1. It’s just too negative and abrasive and it made April unlikable. Also, Ron under a spell is not as great as Ron Swanson with a man’s mustache. There’s nothing better than drunk Leslie, nothing. Also, anything inside of Entertainment 720 is pure gold. The party switch? Love it. Even the Chris and Anne stuff made me laugh. Such a fantastic episode. The show is still on fire.
4. Awkward – “Fateful & I Am Jenna Hamilton”: A good end to a good first season. I expected a Disney ending from this show, but instead I got some real emotions and things kind of unsettled. Jenna has chosen Jake despite Matty’s like of her. He was just too slow. Jake is ok being with her in public and has fun with her. Jenna also figures out that it could be her mother who wrote that letter to her. At least she owns the same stationery. Also, Sadie gets her comeuppance. When explained in its simplest form the show seems cheesy, but the emotions are real on the show and it’s anything but trite.
5. Boardwalk Empire – “Ourselves Alone”: This was a much better offering than the pilot. They really focused the narrative. This is quite simply Nucky versus everyone else. They dropped a lot of the complicated politics. Also, I was particularly happy to have a lack of Van Alden. I don’t really find him compelling. The bootlegging seems to be taking a backseat. And I’m fine with that. So there’s no need to have Van Alden around. Nucky used to be king and now the show is making him out to be the underdog. I like that story. The old dog needs to break out some new tricks or else he’s going to be put out to pasture. Margaret Schroeder seems to be more than willing to help.
6. Community – “Geography of Global Conflict”: Old School Community. Just the study group being silly. Community has pushed itself into the top comedies on TV conversation by being high concpet. However, it’s nice when they get back to basics and just let the people be silly. Martin Starr was very good and I quite enjoyed the Lionel Richie slow motion protest stuff with Britta and Chang. I could use a little more Troy and Abed, but I won’t complain too much because I certainly laughed pretty hard during this episode.
7. Sons of Anarchy – “Una Venta”: This was one of those “set up” episodes. Seems like we’re looking towards a bigger payoff later. Lots of conflicts were starting up. Gemma is hot on the scent of Tara and Piney. Ray McKinnon and crew are back in on the cartel. Clay’s grip is becoming a problem. And it’s clear Bobby isn’t ok with the drugs. The whole crew was startled to look at 30 kilos of cocaine, but they’ve looked at way worse. I was a little confused why Opie and Kozik weren’t around. Usually it’s because of some contractual thing with the actor, but their absences were noticed. SOA does a job of paying off when they take the time to set stuff up, so this episode doesn’t concern me.
8. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – “Frank Reynolds’ Little Beauties”: Of the first three that have aired this season, this was my least favorite. It felt a little forced and I didn’t laugh all that much. Quite simply, I think that the gang is funnier than the kids. There was some potential to be hilarious with the creating of songs, but it all sort of fell flat. It’s not that I hated it, but I found the kids stuff to be less than great. The stuff with Samantha was pretty funny, but the other kids weren’t as good. The Frank over the PA stuff was a little lame but his explanation to the crowd was pretty funny. The Yankee Doodle Update song was nice. The gang talking about someone needing to wear shirts was spot on. I just didn’t leave this episode thinking it was great.
9. Glee – “I am Unicorn”: I thought this was a really nice episode that made me want to see more. Idina Menzel as Shelby really proved that adults can work on the show. It led to some really emotionally sweet scenes with Rachel, Puck and Quinn. The Kurt stuff was pretty good. I’m glad his dad straight up told him, “you sing Barbara Streisand, you’re not getting the lead.” Blaine is proving to be valuable to the show. I’m curious how West Side Story and the second Glee club will come into play. Sue Sylvester? I couldn’t care less about her.
10. New Girl – “Kryptonite”: I got to say, I really enjoyed this episode. I think they made Jess more real. She was still dorky, but not a complete idiot. Honestly, I couldn’t stop laughing at Schmidt. His thumb ring? The way he said “fown-nicate.” They lost Coach and that sucks, but Winston was really funny. He fit right in. It was a simple episode and it moves the story. Jess is starting to move on and her relationship with the guys is getting stronger. I’m really happy with the direction the show took. A good follow up to a decent pilot.
11. Dexter – “Those Kinds of Things”: First things first. I used to love Dexter, and now I only like it. It’s basically Showtime’s version of a police procedural with a dynamic lead. I think the show is spinning its wheels. There’s only one story they have left to tell that’s interesting and that’s Deb finding out about Dexter. This season appears to be focusing on religion. Last season was about Dexter becoming a father but this about finding religion for his boy. This episode was pretty decent as far as Dexter’s go because it allowed itself to be a dark comedy. That’s when Dexter is at its best.  I can’t believe we still have to see anything surrounding Laguerta and Batista. They are so uninteresting. It’s beyond me why the writers still think we care about them. Who couldn’t see Quinn asking Deb to marry him? Not sure how I feel about that. The images for the season seem to be pretty striking, so we’ll see how the season plays out. I’m not sold on Colin Hanks and Edward James-Olmos as the big bads just yet.
12. Strike Back – “Episode Seven”: What made the previous two episodes so great is that it had some heart. There were really only five people involved in the story and we got to know them. This beginning was a lot more action. Not that it’s a problem, because the show is always action oriented. I kind of want to start seeing some end game.
13. 2 Broke Girls – “And the Break-Up Scene”: I don’t know what the backlash was all about. Apparently people thought this episode was appreciably worse than the pilot. I thought it was totally similar. I laughed a little and enjoyed the two girls relationship. Sure, it’s awfully punny, but that’s the Michael P King way. He was in charge of Sex and the City for a while. C’mon, Chanel No. 2 was a great joke. I do hope that they don’t keep getting into fights. I want see these two girls work together for a bit.
14. Archer – “Heart of Archness Part III”: Man, maybe it’s me. I don’t find this show laugh out loud funny. I’m sure there’s some snappy dialogue and funny moments, but people LOVE Archer. I only just kind of like it. The stuff about the Lacrosse team was pretty funny. I did laugh pretty hard when David Cross’s character stabbed Patrick Warburton’s in the eye with the spoon. It was a nice piece of direction and also was one instance where it helped to be a cartoon. A decent miniseries. Now Archer can release a DVD.
15. The Sing Off – “Season Premiere: Pt.2”: This episode was not as memorable as the first. There were no really memorable groups. The Pentatonix have a lot of promise because their beatboxer is sick. Sonos has a cool sound. I wish we got to see them use their effects pedals. Messiah’s Men was eliminated but their swan song, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was awesome. They sounded so much better with a full voice. I have a feeling the show is going to try and ship North Shore because they don’t want the show to become just about being young and hip. Their doo-wap is pretty smooth though. Seeing Soul’d Out go was easy. They were really facing an uphill battle being so young. They just didn’t have the strength. Officially my favorite reality show right now.
16. Suburgatory – “Pilot”: What a pleasant surprise. This show had a lot of heart and clever moments. It reminded me a lot of Awkward on MTV. It has a great cast. Jane Levy is great. She was great as Mandy, the sort of girlfriend of the gay son on Showtime’s Shameless. It has Jeremy Sisto who’s always good. Cheryl Hines plays a done-up housewife who takes Tessa under her wing. Maestro Harrell, Randy from The Wire, has a small role. Allie Grant who played Isabelle Hodes on Weeds has a recurring role. Rex Lee, Lloyd from Entourage, is the guidance counselor. You get what I’m saying here? A great cast. It’s about a high school girl who’s being raised by her single father who has moved her from Manhattan to the Suburbs. That’s basically what happens in the episode. It has clever direction, it looks great and it made me laugh. A perfect compliment to Modern Family which airs after it.
17. Up All Night – “Working Late and Working It”: I got to say, there’s two different shows going on here. The first is the show about the marriage of two very likable characters. The second is a workplace comedy with one sort of one dimensional character and a character we care about from other stuff. Basically, NBC needs to spin off AVA and just focus on the baby and the married life. I laughed when Reagan came to the breakfast table all “fancy” and her British accent. So happy to see Jorma Taccone from The Lonley Island get some camera time on a scripted show. The YouTube videos of B-Ro and Ava were priceless. Will Forte was so-so.
18. Survivor: South Pacific – “Reap What You Sow”: Oh man, I think players are getting a little too smart for the show. They realize that all you need is five people to survive the merge. So these tribes just get a solid group and all of the votes are anticlimactic. The only thing that made me sort of care about this vote is that I happen to really enjoy Cochran. If Upolu would lose an immunity challenge, I think their vote would be more interesting. Rather, I’d just like to see Brandon go, because I can’t stand him.
19. Modern Family – “Phil on Wire”: So the moral of the story is that if you can walk across a tight rope, you’re the best father ever!? Um, don’t buy it. These separate stories were pretty poorly woven together. The dog business with Jay and Gloria was weak. And Manny might as well have not been there. Claire telling off the security guard didn’t have a lot of payoff. Mitchell and Cam on a fast and they get all crazy? How brilliant! Nolan Gould saved the show again. He always makes me laugh. Jew Fast and Connect the dots were great. Not a strong episode, but at least I smiled kind of. And another cheesy voice over? Eesh…
20. Weeds – “Do her/Don’t Do her”: So that was season 7 of Weeds huh? My question, if a Weeds finale happened and no one watched it, did it really happen? Interest has severely waned for this show and I think it’s because of its reluctance to change. There are no real problems and no real stakes. Nancy appears like she’s in trouble, but she never really is. This season is no different. There are a bunch of problems and they’re all solved by the show jumping ahead in time two months to where all the Botwins are living in Connecticut together. There is a cliffhanger though. The final shot is a sniper focusing his crosshairs on Nancy and we hear a gunshot as the screen goes black. Is this the end of Nancy? Is this the end of Weeds? I guess we’ll find out.
21. The Office – “The Incentive”: Last week I had reservations about this show going forward and this week those reservations became fully realized. I just think the show is missing something. Andy is just a less funny, toned down version of Michael. And Robert California isn’t enough of a presence yet. The show is lacking some heart. Maybe go back to using more Erin? What are we rooting for? The Darryl story line just kind of ended and I thought the toned down Dwight was a bad decision. There were just a lot of ass tattoo and vibrator jokes. The show needs to be better than that. The scene between Jim and Andy outside the tattoo parlor was effective, but that’s just one nice scene.
22. Saturday Night Live – “Melissa McCarthy with musical guest Lady Antebellum”: I mean, there were several skits in which I laughed. The ranch dressing tester was pretty excellent. McCarthy also seemed really great at not looking at cue cards. I think her sitcom training has a lot to do with that. The scene where she hits on Sudekis in the office was fun as well. The digital short didn’t really do anything for me. The HPV vaccinated doll was creepy. I’ll be honest I fast forwarded through every second of Lady Antebellum. They do nothing for me.
23. Project Runway – “Sew 70’s”:  I got really upset at the beginning of this episode. One of the contestants dropped their money at Mood and couldn’t find it. So what does the show do? Make her scrounge for change. She ends up borrowing some money from a contestant and purchases her first look for 11 dollars.Why don’t they just have an account with Mood? It’s ridiculous that the competitive integrity of the show was compromised on a stupid technicality. It didn’t matter as that person won the challenge anyway! Also, it seemed like the judges were wishy washy on whether or not they preferred modern looks that referenced the 70’s or 70’s looks that were made wearable. It was a frustrating episode. And they keep talking about how tailored Viktor’s looks are, but when they zoom in you can see a lot of imperfections. So long Anthony Ryan, you were fun while you lasted. Keep rockin’ one in the free world!
24. Terra Nova – “Genesis”: Ok, I couldn’t really stay interested through this two hour premiere. I’m not too interested in shows that have the premise of “We screwed up the world so now we get a new chance at life. This time we do it right. Only, we can’t ever get it right, because we’re humans!” The show didn’t capture my imagination. The story between a father who’s been away and the angsty teenage boy is so played out. I couldn’t help but laugh when they said “OTG” to stand for “outside the gates.” How hip. And the sixers? What a dumb name. Reminds me of the smokers from Waterworld. In fact, a lot of this show reminds me of Waterworld. That’s not a good thing.
25. X Factor – “Auditions #3 and 4”:  When you think a show like this can’t show us something we’ve never seen, they give us J Mark Inman. What a bizarre human being. The dancing to his own rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep.” No way he should have gone through, but I’m all for entertainment. They’re really embracing Paula’s craziness, which is nice. Simon is sending through a lot of singers who aren’t good enough, but he has to cast a next round of the show and why shouldn’t it be entertaining?

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