Robot Television Roundup January 17-23rd 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 were not able to review.
Supernatural — LARP and the Real Girl
Billy: Starting right from the title (a play on the Ryan Gosling comedy-drama Lars and the Real Girl), this episode of Supernatural was downright spectacular. I wasn’t too jazzed about the conclusion of the last episode that saw Sam breakup with Amelia and Dean…er…breakup with his vampire buddy Benny. If that’s the last we see of Amelia then the Supernatural team has completely wasted half of this season on that side plot. I don’t necessarily think it’s the last we’ve seen of Amelia, but I would bet more on Sam grieving for Amelia’s death later this season –which would be just as bad and more cliche. With regards to Benny, his character and relationship with Dean was one of the more interesting things Supernatural has ever done, and to just throw it away is a huge bummer. And, I can see them returning to Benny … to kill him … that would be just as disappointing.
But this episode mostly ignores the previous episodes pathos in favor of a little more fun. Felicia Day returns as Charlie, now living the good life as the “queen” of a group of LARPers. The boys run into Charlie while investigating the mystery of the phantom LARPer deaths. The episode was great fun with Dean, especially, learning all kinds of fun things about gaming. The scenes with Dean in full armor were hilarious, and when he finally met his limit of being able to handle the role playing and brandished his gun to scare the orcs, I was laughing very loudly. Felicia Day makes for a great addition to the Supernatural universe (though I wish she would be more of a recurring character), and it was fun to see her return. Also, the last scene with Dean in full LARP regalia reenacting the “freedom” speech from Braveheart was the perfect cherry to top this great episode.
The Following — Pilot
Jacob: This week I watched the pilot of The Following. I won’t be watching any other episodes. Coming into the pilot, I had heard a whole lot of mixed reviews. Some people seemed to really love it and touted it at one of the better shows premiering this month, while others detested it. Although my feelings don’t move too close to detestation, I’m much further along that side of the spectrum. The Following seems to be the story of Kevin Bacon’s character, a former FBI agent, who will track down and capture “followers” of an infamous serial killer Bacon’s character arrested years earlier. To set this up the pilot sees the serial killer character (James Purefoy) escape from maximum security prison to hunt down and kill the only victim of his that survived. Throughout the episode we learn about his ability to attract damaged people and turn them into killers. He also loves Edgar Allen Poe. His love of Poe comes up a lot; it is poorly written and executed. If I talk about his Poe love any more I might feel the need to ram an ice pick through my eye. At the end of the day this pilot came off as a violent procedural with clunky dialog and an over-reliance on “followers” hidden in plain sight. I did not actively hate the pilot, but after it was over I found myself feeling unsettled by its depiction of violence (especially towards women). With no active commentary of its subject matter and a poor product to boot, I find it hard to say anything positive about the show. Count me out from here on.
Parenthood — Because You’re My Sister
Jacob: The season of Parenthood ended this week, and the end of the season came with a nice bow for many, if not all, of the main threads this season. Many of the storylines worked for me, especially the culmination of Kristina’s cancer arc with some much-needed good news. The adoption of Victor, though not my favorite story, also wrapped up with a very touching scene in the judge’s chambers that helped cement how tight-knit the Braverman clan is. We also had an incredibly watchable reunion between Amber and Ryan. I loved that Amber broke it off with him earlier on in an attempt to overcome the problems of her mother, but I can also see how the chemistry between the couple may have been too hard to truly overcome. That being said, her plea with him to respect her and her love for him by being the kind of man she needs him to be was just so touching. I was already a big fan of Mae Whitman and Matt Lauria but the scenes they had together rose beyond anything I’d hoped. My one problem with the episode was Sarah’s choice to stay with Hank instead of Mr. Cyr. I don’t like the choice, but in the end the character of Sarah is one that constantly impedes her own progress. The fact that Hank decided to move away after Sarah already made her choice was likely an unnecessary contrivance but the choice by itself was also completely earned. I wish we would have seen the season end with her making a positive choice by going back to Mr. Cyr, but I can respect the writers for keeping her in the kind of cyclical self-destruction a character like her would really find herself in. All-in-all, the season ended well with a lot of hope for the future. Not to mention a baby on board for Crosby and Jasmine.
How I Met Your Mother — Ring Up!
Billy: We here at GFBR tend to be very tough on How I Met Your Mother, and Ring Up isn’t going to make us change our minds on the subject of HIMYM’s best days being well behind it. But, with that being said, Ring Up was a fun half-hour of comedy. I don’t care one iota about Ted’s dating life any longer, but his woes surrounding his inability to relate to his younger girlfriend were very fun. Though Barney’s gross need to have Ted sleep with the girl so he could experience the one-night-stand by proxy was, well … gross. It didn’t help the situation when it was revealed that Ted’s girlfriend was Barney’s half-sister. And, it super didn’t help when Barney tried to marry the two off. But Barney’s cartoonish silliness aside, the episode was pretty funny. Robin’s worry that she wouldn’t get preferential treatment now that she wears an engagement ring was kind of awful, but it lead to a fantastic Lord of the Rings joke. HIMYM has been much worse, so I enjoyed what was here.
Shameless — The American Dream
Jacob: When it comes to this week’s episode of Shameless, and nearly all episodes for that matter, I really have to agree with the sentiments from Jim in the last roundup. A lot of the scenes with the kids are great, but whenever Frank is around the show tanks tonally. In this episode I found 95% of the Frank story-line to be complete garbage. It is one thing to have an unlikable character and quite another to have a character on the level of Frank, especially when the rest of the show can be so damn good. This week I thought that the only aspect of the Frank story that worked was near the end when Debby went ballistic on him. This worked because Debbie has become such a great character, and I think the scene gives us an insight into what likely occurred a decade ago in this universe with Fiona. At a certain point the hopefully little girl who wants her daddy needs to turn into the cold and emotionally damaged woman who can fend for herself and her siblings. The other highlight of the episode was the really interesting friction going on between Lip and Fiona. In the past, we have mainly seen these siblings working together where money and the family’s well-being is concerned. I like the idea of a conflict between them that makes sense and has the kind of emotional grounding that this plot seems to be starting with.