Robot Television Roundup Oct 12-18 [Spoilers]
Welcome to the Robot Television Roundup. Sometimes there’s just too much television to cover, but the Robot Television Roundup is here to help. Inside you’ll find quick thoughts about episodes of our favorite television series that we just weren’t able to review, and maybe some quick news.
The Vampire Diaries: Growing Pains
Jacob: They did it! They actually did follow through with Elena’s turning. The Vampire Diaries has hardly ever let me down on following through with things like this in the past, but if there was going to be one time they backtracked, this would have been it. When the episode started off with Elena choosing not to complete the transition, I was worried because I thought that it would be used as an acceptable reason for them to be in such dire need of an answer that the witch spirits of old would grant Bonnie the power to reverse the whole thing. Now in retrospect, however, the whole setup makes the reveal of Elena running at super speed out to tackle Damon and protect Matt that much better. Here is Elena, she’s strong enough to hurt Damon (a little), and that small action sequence really brought things home. As for the Big Bad of the episode, it seems as though he was being used both as an obstacle for Elena’s transition as well as a portent of the season villain or group of villains to come. His mass suicide of the townspeople in that house was too strange and “big” for it to be simply putting a bow on the character; someone had to be behind that.
How I Met Your Mother: Who Wants to be a Godparent
Billy: Whew. That three episode stretch prior to Godparent was a scary time. I was scared that this season was going to be completely devoid of big laughs and/or the show I fell in love with. Thank goodness for Godparent, because it was a genuinely funny episode that brought back my favorite character trait from my favorite character: Marshall. I make no bones about season one’s Game Night being the episode where I really fell in love with HIMYM. I actually got to test screen the episode for CBS, and I remember writing the suggestion for “more Marshall, more Marsh-gammon.” Godparent didn’t bring back Marsh-gammon, but the fake gameshow that Lily and Marshall used to test their friends was close enough (and pretty damn funny). I still don’t understand why these new parents don’t just suggest to their friends “let’s hang out upstairs instead of the bar” where they could take care of the kid and see their friends…but it’s a moot point: I just want more funny episodes like this, please.
Beauty and the Beast: Pilot
Jacob: I should probably start off by apologizing to all of the people who watched Beauty and the Beast last week. I said some pretty nice things about it a few months ago based on the short teaser and my hope that the CW would take a look at how well The Vampire Diaries and Nikita are doing critically and use them as a template. It turns out I was wrong, very wrong, and whether or not you used my recommendations as a reason to tune in, I feel sorry for my recommendation anyways. This show was quite simply horrid. From poor acting all around and dialog that could be considered terrible even by CW standards, there was honestly nothing in the pilot that I found redeeming. Short of a complete retool of the characters, character dynamics, and behind the scenes creative, I just can’t continue to watch. There’s just so much good stuff out there and better roles and jobs ahead for everyone involved.
Dexter: Buck the System
Jacob: Another week and another episode that makes me glad I jumped back in to the Dexter waters. This week even had the introduction of Yvonne Strahovski as Hanna McKay who, though she only had a little screen time, will definitely be back. It seemed to me that there was a ton of sexual tension when Dexter was taking the mouth swab from Hanna, which had me thinking back to early on in Dexter with the Dexter/Rita/Lila storyline that was less than great as I remember it. Jamie Murray’s Lila and Strahovski’s Hanna both seem to be women with dark urges/pasts that feel a connection to Dexter. Although the thread is a loose one now, it is something I noticed in the moment, and I’m hoping that the show pulls away from the similarities moving forward. In other Dexter news, this episode saw us get further into Deb’s head as she attempts to work through Dexter’s serial killer antics. Although it still seems that she won’t be getting onboard with it all, this week gave her reasons to maybe choke down her disgust and live with this terrible thing that someone she loves does, at least until the show is even closer to the end.
Billy: Like Jacob, I’m really glad I got back into Dexter this season. I officially “quit” Dexter after the first episode of season five, but my heart hadn’t been invested since the dreadful season three. It wasn’t a show that was interested in having the characters really change, and Dexter would always get away at the last moment. It’s not that I want a Dexter with the main character behind bars or anything, but some consequences would be nice. The twist of having Deb know Dexter is a killer and trying to help or cope with that issue was just the shot in the arm that this show needed. This episode seemed more like a piece mover than the last two. Deb’s not happy with Dexter’s lifestyle, but it looks like it’ll be returning to normal (well, as normal as Dexter can be) soon. For what it’s worth, I really liked the idea of Deb as Dex’s “sponsor” trying to keep him on the straight and narrow, and I’ll be sad if this thread is entirely abandoned.
Homeland: State of Independence
Jacob: Homeland is a show of two minds, and that was as evident this week as any. First is the show that allows Damian Lewis, Claire Danes, and Mandy Patinkin to work through some of the greatest performances on television. The other is one that uses idiot plot devices and nonsensical contrivances in order to get to a place where those performances can happen. The problem this week is that Brody goes on a wild goose chase no one in their right mind would send him on. On the positive side, it gives us an excellent sequence from Damian Lewis and a surprising opportunity for Morena Baccarin to give a strong performance throughout, concluding in a great speech. Also, although Saul’s interaction with a possible Hezbollah agent made me nervous, the payoff at the end with Carrie and Saul watching the video of Brody really brought it home. Hopefully the series will move away from the nonsense and towards a more grounded drama, but if not, it remains a series with enough good to outweigh the bad.
The Walking Dead: Seed
Jacob: Sunday saw the return of The Walking Dead on AMC. In the interest of full disclosure I should say that I almost didn’t come back to the series after what I thought was a fairly atrocious second season. With that out of the way, I can honestly say I’m glad that I did tune in, because if this is a sign of things to come I believe that the show will actually come in to its own this year as a solid drama. The amount of zombies and zombie action in this episode cannot be expected to be maintained throughout the season—I don’t think it’s cost effective—but it will be nice to see this level return once or twice a season as a reminder of the situation they are in. That said, I think that with the prison as set up, and the possibility of Michonne intersecting with them sometime soon, there seems to be plenty of room for character drama. That happens to be about as cheap as anything you can put on TV and, if done well, will keep people around between zombie attacks. Now let’s see what happens next week when our gang interacts with the newly discovered prisoners.
Billy: I hate–hate–hate–hated the second season of The Walking Dead. Which really made me sad. I love zombie stories (I totally saw Night of the Living Dead when I was four and was hooked for good) so there’s literally no way I will abandon this show, but during season one I used to tell people that the show was better than the comic book (which had long stagnated and become boring for me to read) and the second season didn’t continue that tradition. Unlike Jim and Jacob, I’m still not entirely thrilled with this season. I remember the prison from the comic books (hey, people who hated the long stretch at the farm…spoiler, they’re gonna be at the prison for a looooooong time) and it didn’t thrill me. Still, the small differences, the awesome makeup effects for the zombies and…well…the zombies will keep me coming back. But, if I’m being honest, it’s not the show that’s better than the comic–it’s the Telltale Games Walking Dead game that’s better than all of them.