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Archive for February 2012

TV Diary | Luck: “Episode 3”

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TV Diary | Luck – Episode 1.03 – “Episode 3” – Original Airdate: 2/12/12

Episode Grade: A-

I’m not sure whether it’s because Luck’s getting easier to understand by design or that immersion into the world of the show is starting to take hold but I felt significantly less confused after the conclusion of “Episode 3” than I did at any point during either of its first two episodes. Again, it’s becoming clearer that there are three major threads in the show: Ace’s pursuit of revenge, the Four Amigos [1] and their foray into the world of horse ownership, and Walter’s attempt to prepare Gettin’ Up Morning [2] for big money races, so we’ll continue to look at the show from those standpoints. “Episode 3” introduced a new player in Ace’s pending confrontation with his former partner Mike [3] Suits’ Patrick J. Adams as a smarmy derivatives expert who works for a firm that Ace owns as part of his legitimate business pursuits. Beyond the fact that it was surprising to a degree to see Ace running a legit enterprise, Adams registered an immediate impression when his David Israel was the lone member of a board meeting that Ace was running who had the gumption to speak his opinion, leading Ace to abruptly exit the meeting and then ask for a private audience with Israel. Later, after meeting with Israel and Gus in his hotel room, Ace takes a liking to him almost solely because – as he remarks to Gus – “He’ll irritate the shit out of Mike.” The shading of the Israel character isn’t anything that hasn’t been seen before – the savant who’s really good at what he does but is lacking in any type of social grace – but it establishes Israel as yet another cog in Ace’s expanding plan for revenge. “Episode 3” also marked the first appearance of Michael Mann vet Joan Allen [4] as Claire Lachay, a woman who runs a non-profit organization devoted to rehabilitating horses and who it would appear – based on Ace’s lingering glance at her – could end up positioned as a love interest for Mr. Bernstein before too long. While two new players were introduced into Ace’s orbit, the Four Amigos (or 4A) continued on in their quest for ownership of Mon Gateau, Escalante’s former horse who was claimed in “Episode 2” after Escalante’s con of making it appear that the horse was injured while entering him in a claiming race backfired. Lonnie’s near-death experience with the would-be-murdering hookers seems to have galvanized the entire group’s resolve as Jerry in particular looks much less haggard than we’ve seen him at any point in the series thus far. He’s enlisted by the rest of the group to meet with the winning claimant, played by W. Earl Brown (probably best known as Deadwood’s Dan Dority). After securing ownership of Mon Gateau from Brown, Jerry is then able to convince Escalante to stay on as Mon Gateau’s trainer, news that’s seen and received as a gigantic victory by his three partners. The scene where Escalante gives them the rundown on what his services entail [5] is marked by the wonder on the 4A’s faces when Mon Gateau is brought to them up close and personal. Again, just as in the pilot, Luck takes great care to show its audience how majestic these animals really are and the reaction of the four men shows that that majesty is enough to strip away any negativity present in that one moment. It’s a great scene as played by all four actors [6]. And as in “Episode 3,” the least traction comes in the Walter thread where the biggest development is that Walter loses Ronnie as a candidate to ride Gettin’ Up Morning after Ronnie takes a spill in a race and breaks a collarbone, sidelining him for a good period of time and for long enough that Walter ponders bringing Rosie back from Portland to be his jockey. Nick Nolte is great but of Luck’s three major threads, this is the one that’s moving the needle the least for me, but we are only three episodes in. There’s plenty of time for Walter’s story to find its groove and prove that it’s just as strong as the rest of Luck is shaping up to be.

[1] Since this is what Renzo suggests they should call their stable, this is how I’m going to refer to them beginning… now.
[2] Hell… I even managed to learn the names of the two principal horses thanks to this episode. Hooray for progress!
[3] Who I’d expect to be introduced very, very soon.
[4] I’d completely forgotten the pivotal role that Allen played in Mann’s 1986 classic Manhunter until Alan Sepinwall pointed it out in his review of “Episode 3.”
[5] And good damn… it costs a shitton of money for upkeep on horses. Holy shit.
[6] The contrast between Renzo’s childlike wide-eyedness and Lonnie’s scared reluctance to approach Mon Gateau is a nice touch, too.

Miscellany:
*I mentioned in my review of “Episode 2” that there was a palpable childlike quality to Gus but that label could just as easily be affixed to Renzo. His telling everyone within earshot that the 4A are thinking of buying a racehorse is proof of that, but so is his instinctive need to take care of people. It’s clear that he views the purchase of Mon Gateau as something that can keep the Four Amigos together but he’s just as insistent that Goose, the man who helped guide him through the claiming process in “Episode 2,” is given 5% of all of Mon Gateu’s winnings as a token of his appreciation for Goose’s help. Renzo is quickly turning into the kind of guy you root for, even as Richie Coster often plays him as if Renzo just smelled a fart. Just an observation.
*”People make adjustments.” Liked seeing Ace’s parole officer parrot this “Episode 2” line back to him after he shows up at Ace’s hotel for a routine urine test only to find that Ace has the hotel’s gym all to himself.
*Between Ronnie’s accident, Leon taking a header onto a tile floor and cracking his head open after a weight-loss-inducing sauna session, and the near accident on the track as Gus watched Ace’s horse almost collide with another animal coming the wrong way, Luck is doing a fine job of showing us the inherent dangers of the horseracing industry. Not to mention that Ronnie’s descent (or relapse) into drug abuse is clearly a coping mechanism for the stress and eventual emptiness of the sport being taken away, even if only for a brief period.
*To that end, the scene were Ronnie hands over a bill to a liquor store clerk to buy some booze that he’d used as a coke straw not five minutes earlier? Classy move.
*I wouldn’t be surprised if Luck is setting up some competition for who gets to ride Gettin’ Up Morning between Leon and the returning Rosie.
*That Escalante and his veterinarian are fuck buddies makes perfect sense in retrospect. The scene earlier in the episode where he offhandedly accuses her of leaking sensitive information on Mon Gateau that lead to the horse being claimed was fraught with sexual tension.
*The staging of the scene in the hotel after Israel shows up for his meeting with Ace stood out in a very positive way as Ace, Adams, Lachay, and the hotel’s concierge all walk to the elevator as Massive Attack’s “Angel” plays on the soundtrack might have made it one of my favorites in the show’s three episodes thus far.
*”Mr. Late For Me Is Prompt.”
*”Jesus Christ you fucked this up. Every part to every damn aspect.”
*”I break this fucking collarbone more than I get laid.”
*”You think this comes from a job at McDonald’s?”
*”Define junk more precisely.” “A Chinese sailboat.”
*”I’d like to use the lavatory.” “America, kid.”
*”Don’t be poaching my ketchup. You’ve got ketchup of your own.”
*”My guess, honey, if that ain’t a week’s work and something to put in the basket on Sunday you better call me a greedy motherfucker.”
*”I know you’re not gonna flunk him on account of me being fresh?” “No. That would make us both unprofessional assholes.”
*”Oh… put on your to-do list? Go fuck yourself.”
*”Go home. Come back tomorrow tell me every fucking thing you did between now and then. If I like what I hear I’ll give you a million dollars for the next twelve months you work for me.”
*”I’m out looking for fun.”

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Morning Links: 2/29/12

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Welcome to the Morning Links. Each weekday, I’ll provide you with some interesting television-related news items culled from the various TV websites I frequent on a regular basis with a slight bit of commentary attached. Pretty straightforward – no fuss, no muss. Today’s a bonus February day but the links are here for you every weekday, not just every four years:

*FX officially announced the return dates for the brilliant Louie (Jeremy Likes TV’s number one show of 2011) and the OK-ish Wilfred on Tuesday. Both will return on Thursday, June 28 in their previous homes of 10PM and 10:30PM ET, respectively. What’s different is that they’ll be flanked by Charlie Sheen’s new sitcom, Anger Management, at 9:30 and Russell Brand’s talk show Strangely Uplifting at 11:00. Anger Management will be the first pre-10:00PM show to air regularly since FX’s original foray into original programming so it should be interesting to see how it fares against stiffer network competition but remember – there’s a provision in FX’s contract with the show that if it meets certain ratings requirements, a whopping 90 additional episodes (beyond the 10 already ordered) will be produced. (Via Hitfix)

*If you’re like me and already thinking about the 2012 NFL season, note that this year the season opener will be on a Wednesday night instead of the traditional Thursday night extravaganza so as to not interfere with President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. Seems like the Office of the President does still carry more weight than football in America despite the 2011 season’s mammoth ratings. (Via TV By The Numbers)

*Now this sounds cool. HBO is partnering with Luck producer Michael Mann on another project – a four-part documentary series on war photographers called Witness. Mann has one of the most unique visual styles in film/television today so taking subject matter such as this and lending it his visual flair is something I’m definitely interested in. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Adult Swim has released a trailer for the upcoming Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All sketch series, Loiter Squad. Oh, boy… (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Obligatory Community link. (Via The AV Club)

*George Lopez and Perez Hilton both got TV shows yesterday. Let’s hope that future generations will not come to refer to it as The Day That TV Died. (Via Warming Glow)

TV Diary | Justified – “When The Guns Come Out”

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TV Diary | Justified – Episode 3.06 – “When The Guns Come Out” – Original Airdate: 2/21/12

Episode Grade: B+

“When The Guns Come Out” was a continuation of a season of Justified that, on a technical level, has been a rousing success yet is one that I’ve had trouble fully connecting with on an emotional level. “When The Guns Come Out” moved the season’s storylines forward in fine fashion, introduced some more conflict into the Raylan/Winona relationship, and delivered a fairly satisfying self-contained storyline. So why is it that I’m having trouble embracing this third season? I completely expect the show to right itself by the time we get to episode thirteen but for now there’s something – that I’m not entirely able to put my finger on – that’s keeping it from taking the final step towards greatness like season two did. Perhaps I’m impatient or maybe I’m expecting too much because season three has its fingers in a lot of pies, something that was evident from the way that “When The Guns Come Out” played things out. It continued to comingle the various principals of this third season as Limehouse’s number two went into business for himself by ordering the ransacking of Boyd’s oxy clinic, an act that Boyd ultimately attributed to Quarles. That the clinic was being run out of Helen’s house [1] eventually brought Raylan into the mix and ended up allowing the story to coalesce quite nicely. The episode gave us a further look into Limehouse, particularly the scene where he’s paid a visit by Boyd and displays his thorough knowledge of the white community of Harlan whereas Boyd has little to no insight into Noble’s Holler. He later brings up a fascinating – yet completely logical – fear after his second-in-command confesses to being behind the raid on Boyd’s oxy clinic, pointing to the fact that race relations between their community and Harlan at large are tenuous at best and that striking at Boyd in such a selfish way could end in deadly repercussions for Limehouse and the African-American community in Noble’s Holler. Limehouse deals with the situation very pragmatically [2] and introducing the powder keg that is racial politics in a place like Kentucky is, outside of some passing instances with a minor character like Rachel, a subject that Justified has shied away from in the past but a show as intelligent as this can do a whole lot with it and it’s a topic that I’d be anxious to see more of. Limehouse also seems like the type of character who could easily become a part of the world of this show in future seasons [3] as a wild-card for Justified‘s writers to use for either side of a conflict when necessary. As for Mykelti Williamson’s former Boomtown castmate, Neal McDonough continues to turn in a terrifyingly great performance as the sadistic Quarles. While some have criticized McDonough for portraying Quarles as a modern-day moustache-twirling villain, I see him as someone who’s so casual and nonchalant in his menace that he makes a sociopath like Wyn Duffy not only look tame in comparison but makes Duffy himself tremble in fear as he does in “When The Guns Come Out” after Duffy walks back into Quarles’ headquarters to hear him torturing the homeowner that he’s keeping tied to a bed in the home’s back bedroom. Later, his request to Duffy for more information on Raylan included the ominous line, “If the marshal keeps coming back and it becomes necessary to apply pressure, I want to know exactly where to squeeze.” And I have the sinking feeling that spot to squeeze? Winona. Can’t be a coincidence that in the same episode where Quarles issued this threat, Raylan was preoccupied with Winona’s exit and the seeming end to their relationship. “When The Guns Come Out” established that she’s his blind spot and I fully expect Quarles to exploit that blind spot by season’s end. If Raylan and Winona are no longer a couple, you have to wonder where, exactly, she fits in the universe of the show if not as the means for Quarles to strike at Raylan. I mentioned last week that my heart was pounding at the end of “Thick As Mud” thinking that Raylan was going to come home to find that Quarles had struck at him through Winona. I’m starting to realize that perhaps Justified was merely testing the waters for that move to be made later in the year. I’m still not sure if Justified is capable of making such a move but one thing is certain – if Justified goes down this road, it’ll damn sure evoke that emotional response that’s been lacking for much of this season thus far.

[1] That Arlo really is a special kind of asshole, though there could be another explanation for his involvement. More on that later.
[2] And this is another thread from the previous episode that’s expanded upon here.
[3] Assuming he survives this one, of course.

Miscellany:
*We learned that this isn’t the first time that Winona has run out on Raylan after Art confirms to Raylan that he put out a BOLO alert on Winona at the end of season two after Raylan’s shooting in the Bennett showdown. Much as I love Natalie Zea, it’s apparent that the show’s use for the Winona character has waned considerably. I do like how this action showed, regardless of how frustrated Art can get with Raylan, that he still continues to have his back.
*It also looks like Justified is setting up Arlo to be going through some sort of Alzheimer’s/dementia-like condition after he allows Boyd to use Helen’s house as an oxy clinic and then later has a very disoriented conversation with Raylan where he speaks like Helen is still alive and Boyd is just “a boy.” As Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall notes, Raylan being stuck with taking care of the senile father that he’s always despised could be a fruitful road for the show to explore in the future.
*Even as I like how “When The Guns Come Out” continued this season’s theme of introducing a thread in one episode and then expanding on it greatly as the next episode’s standalone story, revisiting the stolen evidence money (that Raylan initially pins on Winona) via Charlie the evidence clerk’s theft isn’t one that I’m particularly looking forward to in the next episode, assuming that’s where things are headed.
*That Quarles initially thinks that Raylan’s dirty and is working with Boyd is a nice illustration of the fact that he immediately looks for the worst in people. Pure villainy right there.
*Lost’s William Mapother, perhaps best known as Tom Cruise’s cousin, shows up for the first time as Delroy, a pimp/oxy freak who mentions to one of his… um… charges that he was raised in a commune of sorts. Dharma Initiative, anyone?
*Liked seeing Ava continue to take on an active role in Boyd’s criminal enterprise while simultaneously playing off of her season one past with Raylan when it became convenient for she and Boyd to use Raylan for their own purposes. Unlike Winona, Justified has found a clear and successful use for the Ava character.
*Anytime Stephen Root decides that he wants to return as Judge Mike Reardon – even if it’s only for a quick scene like in “When The Guns Come Out,” I’m all for it.
*Raylan popping Delroy twice in the face was a pure Dewey punishment.
*”I don’t mind asking the FBI for favors on your behalf but I’m not gonna read the thing for you, too.” Tim after getting Raylan a file and reminding us that he does, in fact, still exist. And that he still has no use for Raylan.
*This might be my favorite quote of the season thus far: “The next time you set up any operation in this county or anywhere else it better not have my goddamn family name on the deed or so help me God I’ll lose this star and the dance we do subsequent to that will not end will not end with you finding Jesus in a hospital bed.”
*”Oh, shit… did she at least leave you a note?”
*”But why you don’t know us is a question you are welcome to ponder.”
*”The people who bank with me are the ones who have access to the things I know.”
*”Sneak up on a man like that it’s a good way to get yourself shot.” “By you in your boxer shorts there? I think I got the drop on you this time, Arlo.”
*”You know the position you’re putting me in here?” “Missionary.”
*”Please tell me you’re here for a job because I forgot to play the lottery this week and you, right here, are the winning ticket.”
*”Everybody, the next round is on me.” “You gonna pay for that with the money you made selling oxy at my aunt’s house?”
*”Taliban got you down?”
*”Shit. I didn’t bring a knife.”
*”Hold up… are you a bearded lady?”
*”I saw that Kenny Chesney on your computer, I thought you were capable of anything.”

Morning Links: 2/28/12

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Welcome to the Morning Links. Each weekday, I’ll provide you with some interesting television-related news items culled from the various TV websites I frequent on a regular basis with a slight bit of commentary attached. Pretty straightforward – no fuss, no muss. Let’s do this thing:

*That was certainly quick. James Spader will be leaving The Office at the conclusion of the current ninth season. According to showrunner/Toby Paul Lieberstein, Spader had only wanted a one-year arc from the time that he signed on as Steve Carrell’s ostensible replacement but audiences have been, to be kind, lukewarm to this season of the show and some of that comes from Spader’s character, Robert California, being rather non-descript. I haven’t had time to keep up with this season of The Office but, from everything I’ve heard, I haven’t been missing much. And now I guess I’ll never have to warm up to Spader, either. (Via Hitfix)

*Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito has been cast as the villain in the NBC pilot Revolution from JJ Abrams and Eric Kripke. Esposito has undeniable experience as a bad guy – maybe one of television’s best of the last decade – so yeah… you could say that I’m in on this one. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Fox has shifted its Kiefer Sutherland-starring series Touch from its previously announced Monday night slot to a comfier post-American Idol Thursday night perch. After seeing its ridiculous pilot when it previewed in late January, believe me when I say the quicker this show ultimately goes away, the better off we’ll all be. (Via TV By The Numbers)

*Jim Rash, better known as the insanely funny Dean Pelton on Community, won an Oscar on Sunday night. He is also awesome. (Via EW)

*South Park returns for its 16th (!) season on March 14 and, frankly, it’s a testament to the show that it continues to remain this relevant and this biting 16 years into its run. (Via TV By The Numbers)

*Lucy Liu is joining CBS’s Sherlock Holmes adaptation Elementary as the first woman to play Watson. Intriguing. Just might be intriguing enough to… nah… Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock is still a horrible idea. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Oh boy… Adult Swim has picked up a series from the entertainment collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (featuring Internet lightning rod Tyler, The Creator) called Loiter Squad that will premiere later in 2012. This should be… interesting, to say the very least. (Via TV By The Numbers)

*So John McCain says he’s not going to watch HBO’s original movie Game Change about the 2008 election? Remind me why we’re supposed to care about what John McCain thinks about anything again? (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

TV Diary | Parenthood: “Politics”

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TV Diary | Parenthood – Episode 3.15 – “Politics” – Original Airdate: 2/7/12

Episode Grade: B-

“Politics” was the weakest of Parenthood’s 2012 episodes by a fairly large margin so my thoughts are going to be somewhat brief in part because there really isn’t a whole lot to say about it and also in part because Parenthood has been so good lately that I have no real desire to slag on it too much despite a feeble effort such as this. Torpedoing relationships was the theme that ran though much of “Politics.” From Amber moving forward romantically with her boss, Bob, to Zoe’s living situation with Joel and Julia becoming untenable, to Crosby betraying his feelings for Jasmine to Lily, to Sarah realizing that the age difference between she and Mark may be as insurmountable as the mountains he’d dreamed of one day climbing, “Politics” was marked by these types of difficult decisions/realizations and perhaps it’s the uneasy mood of much of the episode that made it so much lesser than the rest of Parenthood’s 2012 outings. The most prominent of these is Amber’s seemingly inevitable hookup with Bob. From the moment that she’s promoted to be his new assistant early in the episode, it was evident that Parenthood was going to go down the Amber/Bob road after all [1]. Bob tasks her with deciphering and organizing his crazy notetaking system on the people he’s met, a request that gives him the opening to throw out the ultra-cheesy line that she’s not in his notes because his system is only used for people he’d otherwise forget before going into a detailed recollection of the first time they met. A kiss, of course, follows as does no small amount of my concern about where this storyline is headed. While I can appreciate the fact that Sarah ended up getting involved [2] and that Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall points out that Parenthood’s creator Jason Katims has an up-and-down history of pairing teenaged characters such as Amber with older partners, too much of this Amber/Bob coupling feels a little too skeevy to me. While I enjoy the shading it’s given Amber – she wonders whether she got her promotion on merit or whether it’s simply because Bob wants to bump uglies with her – the only way that I see this ultimately playing out is with Amber either screwing up a good situation or with Bob doing a 180 into complete ass-jerk territory. I don’t have a desire to see either of those. True, here Bob plays things expertly when Amber confronts him about her suspicions on the promotion [3] but ultimately I can’t see this ending up anywhere in the neighborhood of good. Maybe I should have more faith since Parenthood seems to have turned a corner from “frequently good” to “frequently excellent” late in this third season but I just can’t shake the feeling that this is going to end in a very bad way. Just as troublesome is the latest development in the “Joel And Julia Buy A Baby” storyline. Zoe has frequently looked like the most human and realistic person in this thread of the show and I’ve praised – and will continue to praise – Rosa Salazar’s work as Zoe. Realistically, the setup at Joel and Julia’s house isn’t ideal for Zoe’s mental health, what with the constant reminders of the child that she’s going to be giving up haunting her at every turn, but having cute/annoying little Sydney ask her about her “baby brother” seems to be the final straw as Zoe abruptly quits her job and bails on the Graham household for her old cramped, roommate-laden apartment. Julia is understandably shaken about what these developments mean for the chances of the adoption going through while Joel attempts to remain more zen about them, although he does ultimately confront Zoe at her apartment for an explanation only to have Zoe (unconvincingly) tell him that she’s just looking for space and emptily reiterates (again) that everything is going to be OK. Much like the Amber/Bob thread, I can’t help but feel this is headed down a bad road. Again, 2012 has been very strong thus far for Parenthood so it’s possible that “Politics” was nothing more than a blip. However, with three episodes left, my hope is that the show is able to shake off this bump in the road so that it can end its season in strong fashion.

[1] Although, I’ve been warning of the wisdom (or lack thereof) of such a move for the past few episodes.
[2] Via an admittedly nice fakeout where she sends flowers to Amber post-Bob kiss (to display her pride in Amber doing well at her job) only to have Kristina see them first and trick Amber by initially saying they were from Bob. There was also a nice phone call scene later between Sarah and Amber, if I recall correctly. Too many of Parenthood‘s storylines have seemed an island unto themselves this season so it was nice to see some logical co-mingling in “Politics.”
[3] And Bob’s measured and understanding response to said suspicions shows that he’s either the world’s greatest guy (doubtful) or he just a really, really good politician (more likely).

Miscellany:
*Another cause for concern? More headway in the ill-advised possibility of Crosby and Jasmine ending up together yet again. Dr. Joe pushes things forward with Jasmine by asking her to move in with him after showing her photos of a house he’s planning to purchase, telling her that he doesn’t intend to move there alone. Beyond proving that perhaps he’s not as self-aware as I first thought during “It Is What It Is” when it appeared he’d noticed Jasmine’s wistful look in Crosby’s direction during the concert in the park, it shows Jasmine as initially reluctant but she later takes the grown-up step of discussing the potential move with Crosby before committing to Joe’s request. Jasmine and Crosby seem to flip-flop fairly regularly between one being the adult and one being the child in their relationship so since Jasmine was the one taking the mature tack, Crosby is left to be the immature one during the talk by pointing out that although she’s “asking” him, there’s already a house picked out which suggests a final decision has already been made regardless of what he says. He later makes the bigger mistake of drunkenly lamenting the development to Lily – dumb move, that – but in the end ends up giving Jasmine the OK by telling her that if things are serious with Joe, he trusts her. However, unable to let it end there, he gives Jasmine a ballet bar which was a remnant from the house that he bought for her last season. Judging by Jasmine’s reaction to the gesture, there’s every chance that these two are back together by the end of the season which would be a huge shame since DB Woodside and Courtney Ford have added so much in such a short time to the show.
*In a plotline telegraphed from a mile away, the final example of sabotaging relationships came as Sarah began to notice the unmistakable age difference between she and Mark after attending a get-together between Mark and some of his high-school friends, including his former (and apparently only other) girlfriend. Not only did the night draw attention to the gap in their ages but also called into question how little Sarah actually knows about Mark after his old girlfriend off-handedly mentions something about Mark’s old dreams of mountain-climbing. On the way home, Sarah has a panic attack thinking that Mark’s never going to want to have a baby when there are still dreams he hasn’t realized and places he’s yet to visit but he calms her by saying that if they need to have a baby now, then they should do it now because he loves her and doesn’t care about anything else. Although she’s initially pacified, methinks the uneasy tone of Mark’s declaration is going to prove to be trouble before too long. Lauren Graham, pro that she is, did what she could to salvage the material but too much of it seemed gimmicky and convenient and, as I mentioned, it was too easy to tell where this was going from the get-go.
*However, Lauren Graham making fun of Jason Ritter’s ridiculous facial hair at one point? Spot. On.
*Peter Krause was busy directing this episode – not to cast stones but since this was his first directorial effort, was that maybe part of the problem with “Politics”? – so Adam was largely sidelined but was around for an embarrassing storyline where Adam and Crosby attempted to land the band Dawes as a client for the Luncheonette. Frankly, it was pathetically obvious that the only reason for this plot thread was for Parenthood to pander in order to seem hip by booking a band with a little indie cache and then beating said band into the ground by mentioning their name over and over and over ad nauseum. Again, the less that’s said about this, the better.
*They have milkshakes at The Luncheonette? This has to be the only recording studio in the country to offer that amenity, right?
*”It’s a shame about her face… it’s not… pretty.”
*”Is she paying for the time?” “In a sense, she’s paying for the time.”
*”And if we have to have a baby now, then let’s do it.”
*Episode below via Hulu as usual.

Morning Links: 2/27/12

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Welcome to the Morning Links. Each weekday, I’ll provide you with some interesting television-related news items culled from the various TV websites I frequent on a regular basis with a slight bit of commentary attached. Pretty straightforward – no fuss, no muss. Who doesn’t want some links on a Monday morning?

*New Game Of Thrones season two trailer. I really don’t need to say any more than that, do I? (Via EW)

*Late Night With Jimmy Fallon will be doing a weeklong tribute to Bruce Springsteen starting tonight with two performances by The Boss himself a week ahead of the release of Springsteen’s new record, Wrecking Ball. Thursday night will see Elvis Costello playing “Beautiful Disguise” while backed by The Roots and you can be sure my DVR will be set for that one. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall has an interview with the co-creators (Kyle Killen and Howard Gordon) of NBC’s ambitious new drama Awake, debuting this Thursday night. Awake’s been called the best network pilot of the 2011 fall season which is clearly why it’s debuting in MARCH. Jesus, NBC. Regardless, the pilot has been available via various platforms for the past week so I’m hoping to check it out within the next few days so that I can have something posted by its debut on Thursday night. Keep your eyes peeled.

*The UK’s David Morrissey has been cast in the pivotal role of The Governor in the third season of The Walking Dead. Seeing as I’ve never read the comic series that the show was based on and I’m pretty spoiler-averse, I have no idea who The Governor is but people seem excited about his upcoming appearance. So… there’s that. (Via TVLine)

*Martin Lawrence has booked a role in a sitcom about a fortysomething man who decides to go to the police academy on a whim. That this stars Lawrence and comes from two men with heavy involvement in Shit My Dad Says and Just Shoot Me means that I’ll avoid this like an STD. (Via EW)

*Gregory Peck’s grandson Ethan Peck, best known for his role in the ABC Family adaptation of 10 Things I Hate About You, has been cast as the male lead opposite Friday Night Lights’ Aimee Teegarden in The CW’s Hunger Games-ish pilot The Selection. Wasn’t impressed by Peck in 10 Things for the most part but I do like me some Julie Taylor. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Someone’s got their panties in a bunch. (Via TVLine)

TV Diary | Parks And Recreation: “Operation Ann”

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TV Diary | Parks And Recreation – Episode 4.14 – “Operation Ann” – Original Airdate: 2/2/12

Episode Grade: B

Parks And Recreation has long had an Ann problem. Don’t get me wrong – Rashida Jones is a talented, talented actress and I’d watch her in almost anything. Whatever the problem with the way Ann’s been drawn, it’s not Jones’s fault. With that said, if there’s been one character throughout the run of the show [1] who the writers have had trouble pinning down, it’s Ann Perkins. Going from concerned citizen/Andy’s girlfriend to becoming Leslie’s best friend and sounding board to a failed relationship with Rob Lowe’s Chris to being shoehorned into a job in the Parks Department as a way of explaining why a nurse was always at City Hall, Ann has been rudderless for most of the show’s run. As such, she’s become the character that Parks And Recreation’s writers test things out on to see if they’re going to stick and in “Operation Ann” they’ve played an interesting gambit with her – romantically pairing Ann with the id of the show, Aziz Ansari’s Tom Haverford. One could argue that the seeds for such an unlikely coupling have been sown in previous years as Tom’s never been particularly shy about his interest in Ann but following up on his interest in this manner had to have been the most unlikely of possibilities. However, after seeing how “Operation Ann” played out I’m going to reserve judgment for now on the development because, surprising as it most certainly was, there were a lot of notes that did ring true to the characters as we know them. Much of the episode was based around Leslie’s attempts to find Ann a date for Valentine’s Day, including setting up a speed-dating session at a City Hall couples event and tasking all Parks Department personnel with finding potential suitors for Ms. Perkins which admittedly did lead to more than a few laughs [2] but, more than that, allowed for an angle that made sense within the show’s universe and that also provided yet more growth for one of the show’s characters. First, the angle. “Operation Ann” did manage to set up the Ann/Tom rendezvous organically with some genuine conflict from Leslie beyond Leslie simply being Leslie. After all of Leslie’s attempts to match Ann up failed, Ann begged out of the event claiming exhaustion in saying that she just wanted to head home but Leslie follows her out into the parking lot and sees Ann primping herself in her car, presumably because she has other plans. This angers Leslie because she thinks that the reason Ann lied to her was because she was meeting someone that Ann knows she shouldn’t be seeing, which leads Leslie to jump to the conclusion that she’s meeting with and attempting to rekindle her relationship with Chris. Obviously, this bothers Leslie because of the consequences of her relationship with Ben and Chris’s seeming hypocrisy, so she enlists Ben to help her tail Ann instead of enjoying their Valentine’s Day dinner together [3]. Once they arrive at the restaurant and watch Ann through a window, they’re both shocked to see that Ann is spending time not with Chris but with Tom, and they’re even more shocked when they find out that the date was facilitated by April, marking the second consecutive episode where the sardonic April selflessly helped another castmember. When Leslie doubts her sincerity, April tells her that she saw Tom and Ann having fun at the event and pushed them together because Tom was the only man that made Ann smile that entire night. I really like this new shading of April and it should be interesting to see where Parks And Recreation takes her newfound maturity. It should also prove just as fun to see where the Ann/Tom relationship is headed and, although it may seem unlikely for these two characters to get together, Mike Schur and his writing staff have earned the benefit of the doubt here. If nothing else, it should be a fascinating experiment.

[1] Outside of Paul Schneider’s boring and now-departed Mark Brendanawicz character.
[2] Random guy after sitting down with Ann: “You didn’t tell me she was beautiful. Well… not as beautiful as my sister but you know the law.”
[3] Ben: “Screw romantic dinners. Let’s go rub it in their face.” Leslie: “I love you so much.”

Miscellany:
*”Operation Ann’s” B-story had its moments but ultimately has to be put into the “miss” category. Leslie creates an elaborate scavenger hunt for Ben to complete that’s meant to reveal the location of their Valentine’s Day dinner and Andy and – inexplicably – Ron enthusiastically help him with his search. While the fact that the normally staid Ron would be so gung-ho about puzzle-solving was somewhat incongruously amusing, it just didn’t land as well as one might hope other than watching Ron’s giddiness make him oblivious to the fact that The Bulge was, in fact, a gay bar. Beyond that… not much to see here.
*On the other hand, Chris’s depression over his breakup with Millicent Gurgich – love how he almost always refers to her by her complete name – was a new look for the character and one that, frankly, I hope we see more of. Because it’s damn funny. Watching Chris serve as the world’s most depressing DJ was a kick. Anything that includes the following exchange is A-OK in my book: “Can we change up the music? It kind of sounds like the end of a movie about a monk who killed himself.” “It is.”
*Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall in his review of “Operation Ann” broached the possibility that Parks And Recreation could be planting the seeds of a potential April/Andy breakup between her newfound maturity and his… being Andy. Not sure that I’d be on board with that since their relationship is one of my favorite things about the show but it’s worth filing the possibility away at least.
*Nice Party Down reunion between Adam Scott and Martin Starr as an April-esque clerk at Pawnee’s snow globe museum. If the show decided to make Starr a recurring player I’d have exactly zero problems with that.
*I’m always a fan of continuity so I liked that Leslie’s made-up Galentine’s Day holiday made a re-appearance here.
*However, minus points for using LMFAO’s musical STD “Party Rock Anthem.” Why have you forsaken me, Parks And Rec?
*Leslie’s idea of attractive men: Ryan Gosling, Joe Biden, Sam Waterston.
*OF COURSE Jerry would fall for Tom’s “Does she have a little Indian in her?” joke while Leslie spots it a mile away.
*Yachter Otter seems like a perfectly reasonable Leslie dream as does Ben’s decision to have a stuffed animal of said animal made for Leslie.
*Jerry’s ad on Craigslist for a date for Ann: “Man seeking man for night of casual fun.” It ends pretty much like you think it does.
*”Consider this alternate plan. We’ll have a drink, get to know each other, whatever. And then we’ll go back to my place and snuggle up like little bunnnnies.” Great Aziz Ansari line reading.
*”I have several men in rotation. One’s waiting for me out in the car.”
*”It’s really hard to say ‘congrats’ without sounding sarcastic.”
*”You beautiful spinster. I will find you love.” “Did you say something?” “Nothing. I love you.”
*”Millicent Gurgich has literally torn my heart from my chest and replaced it with a thick slab of sadness.”
*”I know what things are.”
*”April hates Valentine’s Day. And brunch. And outside. And smiling.”
*”Did you try ‘fuck’?”
*”I hate riddles and other such nonsense. I want that stated for the record.”
*”Where to begin. I’m an amateur juggler.” “No, stop. You shouldn’t have begun there.
*”Can I just look at your car keys for a second? I just need to see something on your car keys.”
*As per usual, I’ve embedded the episode below via Hulu for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.