Robot Television Roundup November 22-28th, 2012 [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.
Image via sciencefiction.com
Once Upon a Time – Into the Deep
Jim: No show on television is hurt more by crappy effects than Once Upon a Time. Snow and Charming’s dramatic reunion was undercut by laughing at the flaming disco they were standing in that was meant to be some hell dimension. Cora seems far more threatening when Rumpelstiltskin and Regina are talking about her than when she’s parading around with a plastic heart (she totally stole that from the display at my doctor’s office!). The return of magic and time spent in fairytale land has really brought this problem to the forefront with the need for more frequent special effects on their limiting budget. Nothing can kill a fantasy series quicker than destroying the sense of disbelief.
Ben and Kate – Guitar Face
Jim: By leaps and bounds the best new comedy on television, Ben and Kate continued to impress me by confidently integrating one of the main character’s significant others into the series so effectively. Kate and Will’s relationship has been much more convincing than I expected when he showed up three weeks earlier. The emotional stakes when Ben cost Tommy his dream job at the country club were sold so wonderfully that I pretty much forgot that this was a sitcom and the fight would be resolved within the hour. And more of milk pong and BJ abusing support groups please!
Dexter – Helter Skelter
Jacob: Week in and week out the Dexter writers are making me thankful that I decided to come back to the show this year. Although far from perfect, the series has truly been back to what I would consider a high level of quality that had been missing since very early in the series’ run. Whereas last week we saw the surprising acknowledgement of Deb’s love for Dexter (that I thought was a horrible plot point), this week we continue to see them milk the situation for good and realistic drama. With Dexter in love with Hannah, Deb full of self-loathing over her love of Dexter, and Deb’s hatred of Hannah coming to a head after Hannah’s escape attempt, we see how sometimes crazy plot threads can actually come together in satisfying ways when the characters deal with these situations in somewhat realistic and grounded ways. If I have one disappointment with the whole Dexter/Hannah story, it is that the writers are going back to the “Can Dexter love?” well. Yes, yes he can. Over the past several seasons we’ve been told that Dexter can love Deb, can love Rita, can love his kids and can love Lumen. It seems like truly well-trod territory for the show and a focal point that would be better left on the back burner.
Homeland – Two Hearts
Jim: While this wasn’t the best episode, “Two Hearts” was probably still better than anything else on television this week. I was utterly enthralled watching the investigation into Quinn’s background thanks to another great interrogation scene for Saul, a nice break-in and tracking him on the bus. For how little they actually learn this week it was fairly riveting. All that without even mentioning Brody or Carrie, who were pushed to the side a bit as the second season again seemed to burn through two or three episodes of plot in the raid of Nasir’s known forces. I also discover that Jessica is a much more happy and better adjusted person when she’s with Mike, as the diversion to a safe house (with awesome big screen tvs) really highlighted how much Brody himself has been a destructive force for his family.
How I Met Your Mother – Twelve Horny Women
Jim: So what exactly was the point of the last episode? Was the only company secret Brad learned from those secret files that he was more attractive than Marshall? Why would that have been listed in a secret file? How was there not a mistrial declared in the first 10 minutes? Shouldn’t Brad be enjoying brunch after being disbarred? The attempt to structure the story with Marshall talking to the judges was meant to make us think Marshall would get into some serious trouble, but the trial and side stories were too phony and distracting to build up any real tension. The episode just leaped wholeheartedly away from any semblence to reality. I don’t want to get into the time wasted with Ted, Lily and Barney trying to look like badasses. Sorry Lily, but you’re no Omar. Not even a little.
Billy: Don’t get me wrong, I love a good The Wire reference, and HIMYM has had its fair share of great Wire jokes, but when it’s literally the only time I laugh at the episode–it’s a problem. And don’t even get me started on the issues surrounding the narrative device. (So, let me get this straight: Future Ted is telling the story of Present Day Marshall who is telling the Judges panel the story of the trial and all of his friends trying to be badasses? Uh…okay.) I mostly just want this show to die. It’s a parody of itself these days and though I still like all of the principal actors involved, I just don’t find any of the things they are saying all that funny. I suppose it’s my fault for continuing to watch, but after eight years I guess I’m in for the long haul.
The Walking Dead – When the Dead Come Knocking
Billy: Jim will have a full review of this up on the site, but I thought I’d chime in separately here. I think I’m in the minority when I say that I don’t think this season has been all that great. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no Season 2, but I just find myself bored to tears with this series. I’m willing to admit that my familiarity with the comic books might be the reason–I’m always on the lookout for characters, plots, and places from the book and so I’m not terribly surprised or excited by any of it. That’s on me. But, when the show does try something new–like the crazy guy who magically doesn’t know about zombies DESPITE having lived in a damned infested forest for nine months or so–it tips it’s hand as being a program that is written by idiots. That being said, Steven Yeun’s work here is tremendous and Glen’s escape from chair AND zombie were thrilling. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Lauren Cohen’s performance as Maggie. Scene stealing. In a season where Andrew Lincoln has already set the bar high with his wordless anguish over Lori’s death, Cohen proves that she’s every bit the performer and an asset to the show. But despite the strong performances, I’d be lying if I said I was happy with the show. And in a year where Telltale Games has produced a spectacular Walking Dead game, the bar has been raised very high and the TV show just doesn’t match it.
Jacob: The Walking Dead is another series that has kept me pleasantly surprised throughout this season. Ramping up to next week’s mid-season finale keeps the tension ramping up as Glenn and Maggie get interrogated while Michonne meets the group back at the prison. Although Maggie and Glenn are my favorites I found myself more looking forward to how Michonne worked things out with the group back at the prison than what was going on in Woodbury. This was all until the interrogation scene ramped up. Getting the prison group into position to attack Woodbury is great, but nothing in this episode trumps the quality of Glenn’s scenes resisting Merle and Maggie’s mixture of fear, disgust, and stoicism at the Governor’s command for her to strip (and then the threat of rape that came too close to actuality for comfort). The disgusting actions of the Governor in these scenes make the actions of Andrea even harder to stomach. It isn’t the actor or even the character’s fault that we see her this way; she seems to be naïve, but she has not come even close to seeing the Governor as he is around Merle or prisoners of the group. That being said, I can’t help but feel like she should know better and should be doing more. Hopefully next week’s episode will give us enough closure to deal with the hiatus between halves of the season while giving us enough to look forward to.
Sons of Anarchy – Darthy
Jacob:With only the two-part season finale left in this season of Sons, I’m on the verge of making a very important decision about whether or not I’ll be coming back to the show next year. Three or four weeks ago I said that I was going to ride out the remainder of the season and then call it quits until the show wrapped up completely and I could marathon the remaining seasons. Now, however, the show is beginning to give me the glimmer of hope I need to keep me somewhat invested. With the airing of most of the character’s dirty laundry as well as the apparent removal of Clay (at least for some decent amount of time) the show might have a second life in it after all. This isn’t to say that I believe it has a chance of reaching to new heights – I think Kurt Sutter has decided to write a hugely popular lowest-common-denominator series and not a niche award piece – but if it is able to address several problems like it seems to be, and can maintain a level of quality slightly higher than this season’s average, I’ll probably stay with it. The lynchpin in this line of thinking, though, could fall apart as quickly as it came together if Sutter & Co. go back to the well from the last several seasons that has included 11th hour Deus Ex Machina saves to all of the character’s problems.