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Archive for March 2012

Quick Review: Missing

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Grade: C

Imagine the 2008 Liam Neeson film Taken with the gender roles reversed and you’ll basically have the exact idea for ABC’s new Ashley Judd-starring thriller Missing. Missing follows Judd as Becca Winstone, a retired CIA agent who travels to Europe after her college-aged son Michael (Nick Eversman) goes… uh… missing after accepting a position at a prestigious architecture program in Rome. Becca is initially reluctant to let Michael go as she’s held tightly to him since the shocking death ten years prior to Missing taking place of her husband Paul (Sean Bean, Game Of Thrones), a fellow CIA agent. After Paul’s death, Becca retired from the Agency to raise Michael and became the epitome of an overprotective mother but eventually relents and gives her OK for Michael to go overseas. So when Michael, who’d been in constant contact with Becca, suddenly stops being heard from and Becca receives a phone call saying that Michael had moved out of his dorm three weeks prior and hat been kicked out of the architecture program for missing lectures, she travels to Rome to investigate his disappearance, only to end up swept into a vast conspiracy [1] while being simultaneously being tracked by the CIA for as-yet-unknown reasons. Despite the action and jet-setting nature of its plot, Missing is actually fairly rote most of the time but that’s not to say that it isn’t without at least a modicum of intrigue. Bean is solid in almost everything he’s in and he seems to be developing a habit for being killed off unexpectedly in television shows as we see Paul blow up really nice via car bomb within the first five minutes of the episode and then he isn’t seen again for the rest of the hour. ABC insists he is still part of Missing’s cast so either we’re just going to be seeing Paul through flashbacks or (more likely) he’s part of the conspiracy somehow. One of the (only?) other factors in Missing’s favor is that Judd does still possess an obvious screen presence thanks to her two decades in film, which helps elevate Missing a bit from the predictable action/drama territory but in the end, that’s all it really is. It’s clear why ABC wanted to get this on the air [2] and it’s possible that there could be something interesting in here somewhere, but I don’t think I’ll be sticking around to long enough find out if it’s able to get there.

[1] As so many shows like this are wont to do.
[2] Recognizable star, easy premise to grasp, and it fits into (as some have said) ABC’s demographic of upscale females.

Miscellany:
*Missing’s cast is rounded out by Cliff Curtis as Agent Dax Miller, the CIA agent assigned to shadow Becca in Europe; Adriano Giannini as Giancarlo Rossi, a European agent with whom Becca shares a past; and Aunjanue Ellis as Becca’s best friend Mary. None of them really register much of an impression except for perhaps Ellis, and not in a good way. As some have noted, the scenes of Becca and Mary hearken back to the most awkward parts of Alias when Sydney Bristow would have to pause the high-stakes nature of her profession on occasion in order to try to be a normal person with normal friends. It didn’t work there and it doesn’t work here, either.
*Why is the CIA so intent on not allowing Becca to cross the border into France? Could the coded “I love you” message between Becca and Michael have been any more obvious that it would end up serving as a clue at some point? These are just some of the questions raised by Missing that I don’t particularly care about.
*The cliffhanger of Becca being shot and falling into a river in the pilot’s final scene, however? A little more effective.
*Intentional comedy alert: The scene where Becca is meeting with a contact at a European club while dressed as a middle-aged mom is pretty hilarious.
*Episode below courtesy of Hulu.

Written by jeremylikestv

March 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm

TV Diary | Community: “Contemporary Impressionists”

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TV Diary | Community – Episode 3.12 – “Contemporary Impressionists” – Original Airdate: 3/22/12

Episode Grade: B

I’m normally loathe to give NBC credit for anything as it relates to their treatment of Community. From putting it in the unenviable position of leading off one of the toughest television nights of the week against a monster (though inexplicable) hit like The Big Bang Theory to the unceremonious removal of the show from its schedule back in December, it’s easy to make a case that NBC hasn’t often done right by Community. With that in mind, it’s kind of surprising that NBC actually did the right thing in laying out Community’s return by airing its first two episodes out of order. “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” was definitely an easier doorway for newcomers to walk through if they’d decided that they wanted to sample the show after hearing all of the hubbub from Community fans about its return and the ratings bore that out, as the show notched a season-high in both total viewers and in its rating in the 18-49 demographic. “Contemporary Impressionists,” on the other hand, is a much more esoteric installment that likely would have perplexed newbie viewers had it been the one to hit the air first. And it’s not bad, but it’s just not up to Community’s usual high standards. Opening after everyone has returned from semester break, the initial scene sets up the two main storylines that “Contemporary Impressionists” is to focus on: Abed running afoul of a celebrity impersonator service [1] after developing an addiction to hiring the impersonators to help him re-enact movie scenes, and Jeff’s declaration to everyone that the new therapist he’s seeing has prescribed anti-anxiety meds which make the narcissistic Winger even more confident in himself, much to budding psychologist Britta’s dismay. As any sitcom worth its salt is wont to do, the two plot threads intertwine as the episode ambles on with Troy enlisting everyone to work a party for the impersonator service [2] in order to help Abed, while Jeff’s ego is fed by his positioning as a Ryan Seacrest stand-in [3]. Both provide laughs but neither are anything close to what the show is capable of when it’s at its best. Perhaps the most intriguing thing to come out of the episode is the potential fracture of the Troy/Abed BFF relationship after Troy expresses his frustration with Abed when, after expending considerable energy in keeping everyone in the study group on task at the bar mitzvah as a means of keeping Abed’s legs intact, Troy comes home from the event to see Abed with yet another celebrity impersonator [4]. The two friends have a heart-to-heart [5] that ends with Abed declining Troy’s offer to go hang in their Dreamatorium room and the re-appearance of the Abed from the Dark Timeline from “Remedial Chaos Theory.” As The AV Club’s Todd VanDerWerff theorizes in his review of “Contemporary Impressionists,” Troy’s trying to hold onto the childlike whimsy of his friendship with Abed in the face of the reality of having to grow up and likely reluctantly embrace his “skill” for air conditioning repair [6]. Do I think it’s likely that Abed and Troy will grow too far apart during the remainder of Community’s run? Not likely, but Community has shown itself to not fear breaking up the status quo so I suppose anything is possible. And, frankly? That’s one of the marks of a great show – one that’s unafraid to take chances and risks. That’s one of Community’s hallmarks and is why it has the immeasurable respect of so many. It’s also why it’s easy to excuse a “lesser” episode of the show like “Contemporary Impressionists.”

[1] Business name: The Doppel Gang.
[2] Since its owner, a former French Stewart impersonator who’s played by French Stewart himself, threatens to break Abed’s legs as repercussion for the $3K debt that Abed’s racked up with The Doppel Gang unless Troy gets the entire group to work a bar mitzvah as impersonators and the event goes off without a hitch.
[3] Any time someone compares him to the diminutive Seacrest, he hears in his head, “You’re more handsome than the guy who’s famous for being handsome.” That Joel McHale gets to play the impersonator of his real-life E! Network punching bag is a delightful meta touch.
[4] He apparently got a two-for-one deal on a Robin Williams stand-in, getting to do Patch Adams and then Popeye. Abed was to play Olive Oyl, naturally.
[5] Or, as much of one as a character like Abed can have.
[6] By all accounts, we haven’t seen the last of John Goodman or his Vice Dean Layborne’s attempt to pull Troy into Greendale’s air conditioning repair program.

Miscellany:
*Just for completion’s sake, here’s who all of the major castmembers were stand-ins for at the bar mitzvah: Shirley (Oprah); Jeff (Ryan Seacrest); Annie (Judy Garland); Abed (Jamie Lee Curtis); Pierce (Fat Brando); Troy (Michael Jackson – Before); Britta (Michael Jackson – After).
*Jeff Winger is a giant douche. Although we’ve seen him come through for his friends on more than one occasion, he’s still a douche. But in “Contemporary Impressionists,” his douchiness was on steroids and it’s a credit to the inherent likeability (and considerable talent) of Joel McHale that we still invest in this guy and actually like him. Britta’s wannabe psychological methods to try to keep Jeff’s ego in check throughout the episode were inspired – “When you do too many push-ups it looks like you have boobs! You have an unusually high butt crack!” – and the climax of the b-story (Jeff morphing into an ego-driven Incredible Hulk) was humorous. There were funny spots but, again, this isn’t Community at its best. It’s easily Random Other Show best, but we’ve been conditioned to expect a bit more from Community.
*And the less that’s said about the c-story, the better. I’ll be completely honest – I didn’t even realize until he showed up within the first few minutes of “Contemporary Impressionists” that Chang had been absent in “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” and you know what? I didn’t miss him. At all. Ken Jeong is a talented comedic actor but everything that Community has done since removing him as a professor at the end of season one has felt like an attempt to shoehorn a valued actor into spots that just aren’t working, and this season’s attempt to make Chang a security guard is even weaker than last year’s Chang-as-wannabe-group-member. I hate to say it because I do like Jeong, but it might just be time to cut bait on this character.
*It’s easy to contrast the Chang character with Dean Pelton, another supporting player who’s usually found in ancillary positions. However, unlike with Chang, it’s impossible to imagine Community without Pelton and that’s a credit to the immense talent of Jim Rash. Now, having a school administrator to play against makes much more sense than whatever the show’s tried to do with Chang but Rash is just so damn good in the role that he’s indispensible. His orgasmic collapse at the sight of Jeff in aviator sunglasses – “Oh my God… even his shadow! Look at his shadow!” – might have been one of my favorite moments in series’ history. It was complete perfection. Rash is the most overlooked member of the cast in general, but he’s one of the best without question.
*I’m assuming that the Tommy Lee Jones impersonator in Abed’s scene from The Fugitive in the episode’s first act isn’t supposed to be pretty good. Because if not? Yikes.
*Don’t think we didn’t see how into Jeff ripping off his shirt Annie was, Community. We saw it.
*Didn’t catch this myself, but Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall noted that the music that was used when Jeff awoke from his Hulk-esque rage on the side of the road was the same music used in The Incredible Hulk TV series when Bruce Banner found himself in similar situations. Very nice touch.
*”I’m very psyched for the new semester. Or should I say, “Intro To Human Psych-ed?'”
*”I’m an *exceptional* narcissist, Britta.”
*”We’re broke, Ben. We now get 80% of our electricity from that apartment building across the street.”
*”I don’t know who told you that pouting was an option for you, but all you’re making me feel right now is hatred for Renee Zellweger.”
*”Thank you, sir. You won’t regret this unless I rise up against you. I have no idea why I said that.”
*”Oh, that thing about Danny Thomas? I looked it up too. Weird.”
*”Thank you, Leonard. For that compliment and for your service to this country.”
*”Final boarding call, Beefcake Airways.”
*”What do I look like? A sucker?” “French Stewart.”
*”Pierce, who came over in the middle of the night that one time that you forgot how to fart?”
*”Oh zip it, White Jacko.”
*”Britta – stop talking. If you have anything else to say, say it in a high-pitched voice while walking backwards.” “Jeff is in grave danger. Hee hee!”
*”I’m Brando? Could be under ‘Fat.'”
*”Can you believe some jerk brought a scalpel to a bris?”
*”Boogie Nights. You’re Fat Burt Reynolds, right?” “I’ll take it.”
*”Nooo. Diagnostically, you’re way out of my league. I’m gonna go with someone a little less complicated. Like Abed.”
*Episode courtesy of Hulu below.

TV Diary | Justified – “Guy Walks Into A Bar”

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TV Diary | Justified – Episode 3.10 – “Guy Walks Into A Bar” – Original Airdate: 3/20/12

Episode Grade: A

Wow. HOLYSHITWOW. It’s pretty clear by now that I’m completely in the tank for Neal McDonough. As I’ve mentioned before, I was thrilled when he was cast as season three’s main antagonist but even in my fandom I wondered if he’d be up to the task of following Mags Bennett, a character who had become instantly iconic. “Guy Walks Into A Bar” not only completely allayed those fears but it went a step further – Robert Quarles is now a better character than Mags Bennett. And I don’t say that lightly. As I posted on my Facebook after watching the episode, if McDonough doesn’t win an Emmy for his performance this season then they should just dissolve that awards show altogether because they will have failed miserably. He’s that mind-blowingly good this season. After scaling back on Quarles in its last installment, “Loose Ends,” Justified went all in on him in “Guy Walks Into A Bar” and, as The AV Club’s Scott Tobias pointed out, this episode both humanized Quarles more while simultaneously making him even more of a monster than we’d previously seen. There were three dynamite scenes – all involving Quarles – in “Guy Walks Into A Bar” that really (finally?) gave the audience a sense of who this Detroit carpetbagger [1] really is. Indulge me by allowing me to discuss them one-by-one. The first occurs post-election after Sheriff Napier has emerged victorious and Quarles attempts to foist himself into the Harlan sheriff’s office [2] only to have the county clerk that he’d bought and paid for via Limehouse inform he and Napier that, due to the fact that Napier’s sister was on his payroll [3] and Kentucky’s stringent anti-nepotism laws, Napier has been disqualified from the election and Shelby (as the runner-up) is to be installed as sheriff in his place thus rendering all of Quarles’ plans to control Harlan’s drug trade through its law enforcement office worthless. As he exits the building, defeated [4], Boyd and Johnny are waiting outside to turn the knife even further. Quarles’ response is to silently give Boyd a sinister smile and leave. To see this is to witness a man about to crack completely before our eyes. After being pulled even tighter thanks to the failure of his election plans, Quarles retreats to the, as Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall has dubbed it, “The Wynn-ebago” to chomp down on even more oxy and lick his wounds. While doing so and listening to Duffy advise him that perhaps it’s time for him to pull up stakes and exit Kentucky, Quarles receives a visit from Donovan (a friend of the hustler that Quarles allegedly killed back in Detroit) who’s seeking revenge for his murdered friend. In an absolutely killer monologue, Quarles reveals that his heroin-addict father pimped him out at the age of fifteen to score more drugs/money for drugs and it was only when Theo Tonin (head of the Detroit mob and Sammy’s father) took him in and eventually gave him the opportunity to KILL HIS OWN FATHER that he found purpose. Of course, there’s still that nasty habit of working out his own baggage through torturing and killing other young male hustlers to deal with, something that Donovan experiences first-hand in the episode’s chilling conclusion. As many have said this past week, if FX can get McDonough an Emmy nomination, without question this is his submission episode and this particular scene is what they should place the focus upon. Again, Quarles is at a breaking point – that much is crystal clear. Last but not least… the scene that gives this episode its title. I repeat – HOLYSHITWOW. Quarles and Duffy find their way into Raylan’s bar [5] where Quarles begins by chiding Raylan about his side job – “Oh, that’s right. He’s the bouncer now.” – and ends by balls out, 100% threatening Raylan’s life in full view of both Duffy and the bartender [6]. Raylan’s response? To clear the bar via gunshot into the air and challenge Quarles right then and there, since it’s already well established that Raylan wants Quarles just as dead as Quarles wants him in the ground. However, we still have three episodes to go so Quarles and Duffy eventually retreat but both men’s cards are on the table now and it’s not gonna end until one of them is dead or wishing they were [7]. The tension was so damn thick and to say that this may have been one of my favorite scenes in Justified’s three seasons thus far is no overstatement. It’s a damned shame that the season’s certainly going to end with Quarles departing [8], but in the meantime, Neal McDonough is making the most of his opportunity to establish himself as one of television’s best actors. And goddamn if it isn’t a blast to watch.

[1] Or, as Tobias pointed out in his review, “conquistador.” Boyd calls Quarles this at one point (following one of the scenes I’m about to discuss) and Tobias notes that the use of “conquistador” shows that Boyd no longer thinks that Quarles is merely in Kentucky to profit off of the locals – he’s now willfully destroying everything in his path as well. And something tells me he isn’t quite done yet.
[2] “Tillman, it’s going to start to get a little… crowded in here. For the both of us, I mean. And I’ve noticed that you have an empty office down the hall that you’re using for storage? You think you could have your shit moved into there by the end of the week?”
[3] In an incredibly deft play by Boyd earlier in the episode, he visits Napier’s sister under seemingly sinister means only to ultimately offer her a job with the clerk for this express purpose. Boyd = smart criminal.
[4] And after calmly and frighteningly folding up information and documents from Napier’s desk and excusing himself from the office. This man’s gonna snap something huge. And right quick.
[5] First time we’ve mentioned the good Marshal this week. That tells you something.
[6] Who herself is loaded for bear with a shotgun. Apparently almost getting killed/almost killing someone is an aphrodisiac because she and Raylan jump into bed immediately after Quarles and Duffy make their exit.
[7] Need I remind you of my Winona theory again? No? Good.
[8] Not only has Justified already established that its big bads (Bo Crowder, Mags Bennett) only last until the season finale, but this news (as pumped as I am about it in general) does not bode well for Mr. Quarles being the first villain to break this pattern.

Miscellany
*Some really quick bullet points to get to because, without question, the main thrust of the episode was on Robert Quarles but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t anything else to talk about.
*But one last Quarles note first: The moment where he gestures by making a mouth with his thumb and clenched fist as he’s exiting the bar and says, “Night, night,” to Raylan and the bartender is the exact moment when he passed Mags. And it may be my single favorite moment of the series so far. For reals. I have non-sexual love for this man and I’m not afraid to admit it.
*As a huge fan of Jim Beaver’s work (the guy’s been on Deadwood, Breaking Bad, and had a pivotal role on genre favorite Supernatural), I like seeing how strongly Justified is weaving him into this year’s tapestry. After Napier’s goons try (and fail) to set Shelby up as an oxy dealer by planting the illicit drug in his truck, Shelby shows up on his front lawn shotgun in tow and spins a lie about having nothing to lose thanks to a cancer diagnosis. The crooked deputies flee and Shelby later reveals to Boy that he was full of shit the entire time. Keep this man around, please.
*Any time Stephen Root is on my TV as Judge Reardon, it’s a good episode. Here he presides over Dickie Bennett’s parole hearing where Raylan is able to convince Reardon and DA Vasquez to let him testify as a means of keeping Dickie incarcerated but, in the end, Raylan merely gets up and tells the court that Dickie’s gonna screw up sooner or later on the outside so they might as well just release him and let him get to it. Not really the strongest of storylines but the Quarles stuff was just so incredible that I don’t care.
*It’s worth noting that Raylan increasingly looks like shit. Between Winona leaving, his living above a college bar, and his obsession with getting Quarles, Marshal Givens is looking a little worse for wear.
*Ava’s contribution to Shelby’s campaign is to have her girls doling out handjobs in exchange for votes for Shelby. As Boyd notes, “Yes we can.”
*So… Dickie Bennett’s buddy/fall guy Jed’s grandmother’s totally Tio Salamanca, right? Right.
*If McDonough wins the regular Emmy, Jere Burns wins the Emmy for Best Reactions. My God… the man’s a walking clinic this season.
*”It wasn’t two months ago my doctor told me I got cancer in my liver. Two years to live IF I’m lucky. So, if this the way the good Lord wants it to end, I consider myself prepared. How about you?”
*”Naw… I believe I’m gonna take care of this one myself.”
*”I admit my deposits have been lower than I expected.” “That’s one way to put it. Another way is you ain’t gave me shit.”
*”Sometimes you can flush all you want but it’s that one floater that just won’t go down.”
*”Maybe we could ask the crooked guards and nurses. No, wait… we can’t. You killed them.”
*”Hello, Hannah. Well, I’ve just been sittin’ here admiring your tablescapes.”
*”No, he’s not Derek Jeter-black. He’s Wesley Snipes-black. He’s a black man.”
*”What exactly is the origin of that word? ‘Hollers?’”
*”You’re a lucky man, Mr. Quarles. You come all the way down here… a place you got no right being. You get to eat our food. You get to drink our whiskey. You get to look at our women as you try to take it all for yourself. But do you know what you are? You are a conquistador. Only we are not your savages. And now you get to leave with your life. Well, I’m hard-pressed to remember the last outsider in your line of work that could say that. Now, I hope that you’ve enjoyed your stay and you never forget who packed your bags.”
*”The one looks like an albino deer.”
*”I’m just gonna file that under ‘Who gives a shit?'”
*”I’m gonna kill you, Raylan. Maybe not tonight, maybe not tomorrow, but someday you’ll be walking down the street and I’m gonna put a bullet right in the back of your skull and you’re gonna drop.”
*”Why wait?”
*”She just sassed you, son.”
*”Night, night.”

TV Diary | New Girl: “Injured”

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TV Diary | New Girl – Episode 1.14 – “Injured“ – Original Airdate: 3/6/12

Episode Grade: A-

I didn’t write anything about New Girl’s previous episode “Bully” because, quite frankly, it wasn’t very good and I wouldn’t have had much to say beyond, “Boy, this episode of New Girl wasn’t really that good.” Might have been their weakest yet. However, when the show’s able to follow that up by throwing out an episode that’s as strong and impressive as “Injured” was… we’re gonna talk about that one. That it ended scored by Beach House’s “Take Care” was just the icing on the cake. “Injured” takes a very simple set-up – while playing a game of football in the park, Jess tackles Nick and unwittingly causes bodily harm – and uses it to examine the aimlessness that many late-20s/early-30s guys and gals experience in their lives. Took a kind of roundabout way to get there [1], but “Injured” went deeper than the surface farce that many of New Girl’s episodes tend to wind up as. That’s not necessarily a criticism because I’ve found New Girl to be probably the best new sitcom of the 2011-12 season, but it’s nice to see that the show has another voice that it can utilize as part of its arsenal. After Nick receives the troubling news from Sadie, he tries to slough any concern off as most young and seemingly invincible people will, leaving his roommates to begin looking up potential diagnoses on their smartphones [2] only to then spiral into a group crying jag after sufficiently freaking themselves out [3]. Nick, after initially being reluctant to go to the appointment [4], spends the rest of the night getting drunk and wasted on pain pills with his friends while they simultaneously try to convince him to get checked out. Some good-natured ribbing occurs [5], everyone eventually ends up at the beach leading to a poignant scene where Nick tells Jess that he realizes that he needs to start “do(ing) things” while also telling her, “I like you a lot. I’m glad you’re around,” which feels as much like the next step in the inevitable Jess/Nick pairing as it does someone finally opening up and allowing someone to help them. Of course, this being New Girl, Nick is ultimately OK and Jess, Schmidt, Winston, and CeCe foot the bill for the ultrasound [6], but frankly? I wouldn’t have wanted this episode to end any other way. “Injured” was a gigantic step forward all around for New Girl in taking a look at how adulthood has to begin at one point or another whether we like it or not and, although I don’t think it would necessarily be effective for the show to go to this well all that often it’s nice to know that when they do, they’re gonna do it well.

[1] Nick doesn’t have health insurance so Jess calls in a favor and takes him to see her friend Sadie (June Diane Raphael), an OB/GYN. While there, Sadie points out that Nick appears to have a growth on his thyroid and sets up an appointment for an ultrasound. Beyond the heaviness of the situation, there’s a nicely played scene where Sadie and Jess play angel and devil, respectively, on Nick’s shoulder about the pain pills that Sadie “can’t” prescribe to him.
[2] The best may have been the one on Jess’s phone that had a graphic overlay of a skull and crossbones and the word “death” on top of a Wikipedia-esque page.
[3] Self-diagnosis on the Internet – ALWAYS a bad idea, kids.
[4] Leading to a great improv’d scene by Jake M. Johnson where he lists the numerous reasons why he’ll be unable to make the appointment.
[5] Though Nick does fire a shot that lands with Jess when he tells her that she doesn’t know how to be “real.”
[6] Nick is what we call “uninsured.” Everyone paying for his treatment adds to the growing family atmosphere of the show, though.

Miscellany:
*Since a large part of the episode focused on Nick’s health scare, there wasn’t a whole lot of time for b- or c-stories but the closest thing to one gave a little more depth to the Winston character, something the show has struggled to do ever since he was introduced in the second episode. Here, we saw Winston struggle to let go of a beater of a car that he’d originally acquired as an under-the-table recruiting gift from his college basketball days. In some respects, it dovetailed nicely with the Nick story in that both showed that it’s often difficult for those on the cusp of their thirties to start facing their adulthood – though clearly Winston not wanting to break ties with his busted-ass car doesn’t quite have the dramatic heft of Nick thinking he’s going to DIE – but Lamorne Morris played things well. I’m still not convinced that New Girl has any idea what they want to do with Winston, but every once in a while they’ll stumble upon something that works for the character. This was one of those times.
*Glad to see June Diane Raphael back as Sadie. Good shows make sure to fill out their universes. We’ve already seen repeat appearances by Rachael Harris as Jess’s vice principal boss and now Raphael returns as Jess’s friend. Not only is New Girl populating its world, but it’s doing it with talented comedians. Always a good sign.
*Cutaway humor is often lazy and tangential (I’m looking at you, Family Guy), but New Girl uses it well. Evidence: Winston’s nonplussed look in the flashback to his college days when a hot co-ed asks if the car he’s sitting in belongs to him and, when he answers in the affirmative, she flashes her boobies at him.
*Jess’s Daffy Duck impression is predictably awful. As is Schmidt’s flow while rapping.
*Schmidt is still way too into seeing Nick naked. Nice callback to earlier in the season, though.
*”Probably your lateral sizer.”
*”I can taste my spine right now.”
*”Please don’t do what you’re about to…”
*”I take those too. When I have a heavy flow.”
*”Treat your body like a temple. Treat your body like a temple. But he treats his like a dump. Like a DUMP.”
*”Are you using your best friend’s medical crisis to feel my boobs with your face?”
*”Question: Am I wearing a hat?” | Nick, doped up on pills
*”I’ve done things. I wrote half a book about zombies.”
*”Stop Fredo-kissing me, Schmidt.”
*Episode below via Hulu as usual.

Written by jeremylikestv

March 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm

TV Diary | Community: “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts”

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TV Diary | Community – Episode 3.11 – “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” – Original Airdate: 3/15/12

Episode Grade: A-

If you’ve spent any time on the site recently (or at all, really), it’ll be pretty obvious to you that I’m a huge Community fan. The three month wait for new episodes has been excruciating both in that I wanted more fresh Community and in that the uncertainty of its hiatus was very troubling. Thankfully, NBC finally – FINALLY – saw fit to put it back on its schedule after 30 Rock did no better in the Thursday night leadoff slot and here we are. Despite my excitement over finally – FINALLY – getting a new episode, I was a little nervous to actually do a review. You see, as great as Community is, it can often be a difficult show to write about. Not only did I want to be able to write something that does justice to such a special show, but trying to write about it in general can often be akin to banging your head against a brick wall. It can sometimes be impenetrable [1], so this piece comes with no small amount of anxiety. With that said, the word that can best describe “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” is… “normal.” It was a very intelligent move on either the part of Community’s producers or on the part of NBC to schedule this episode as the show’s return because if ever people who hadn’t ever watched the show were going to sample it… now was probably the time. Between the online furor over its benching, the constant mentions of the show on Twitter, co-star Jim Rash’s Oscar win as a screenwriter of the George Clooney film The Descendants, and the cast’s (most specifically via Joel McHale’s vehicle on The Soup) tireless efforts at raising awareness of the show, Community was in the zeitgeist and this offered a perfect opportunity to capture a new segment of the American viewing public [2]. People love weddings and the re-union of Shirley and Andre (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) [3] served as the backdrop for the episode, allowing for Shirley’s internal conflict of whether to focus on her impending nuptials or her fledgling sandwich business with Pierce, Jeff and Britta’s distaste for marriage as an institution, and Troy and Abed’s struggle to “de-whimsify” themselves in order to act normal on Shirley’s big day. Definitely less esoteric than Community usually goes in for, “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” serves as an easy in for neophyte viewers who wondered what all of the fuss was about while also still featuring some of the weirdness that longtime fans flock to the show to see. After the episode opens in the Greendale cafeteria with the eatery’s in-house coffee stand out of business, leaving Annie to wonder where she was going to get her “cappuccinos and Sarah McLachlan CDs,” Britta suggests that Shirley and Pierce go into business together by opening a sandwich shop in the coffee stand’s place. Shirley is initially reluctant but signs on, only to have Andre show up moments later complete with an a cappella group performing Boyz II Men’s “Motownphilly” as part of a marriage proposal. After accepting, she back burners the small business idea only to be persuaded back into it after Britta offers to plan the wedding for her, feeling that Shirley’s using it as an excuse to not do something for herself [4]. In slightly predictable fashion, Shirley and Pierce’s pitch to Dean Pelton about the shop ends up conflicting with the wedding rehearsal, causing Andre to question Shirley’s commitment to their marriage but they eventually work out their issues through a drunken Jeff and Britta’s attempt to marry each other in Shirley and Andre’s stead [5], ending with the two happily marrying. Shirley’s been the member of the ensemble who’s probably been the most underserved during the series’ run, so it’s nice to see her get a spotlight episode here and run with it. A wedding that comes off nicely is a fitting end to the episode as the joyful tone of the storyline mirrors Community’s fans’ happiness in finally having the show back on the airwaves. Community is back y’all. Long may it live.

[1] I actually mean that in a very good way. There aren’t many other shows like this one.
[2] And the strategy seems to have worked, at least initially. Community returned to a season high in both total viewership and rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic.
[3] Looking resplendent in a very Bill Cosby-esque sweater, naturally.
[4] This also leads to one of the episode’s best gags: After offering her help, Shirley begins laughing at the absurdity of Britta, of all people, planning a wedding and during the laughter a “Literally two full minutes later” title card pops up. Britta then reiterates that she’s serious, gets a death stare from Shirley as a “One minute later” placard appears, and only then does Shirley accept her offer.
[5] More on this in the Miscellany.

Miscellany:
*Literally the first line of my notes for the episode: YESSSSSS!! I’m kinda happy it’s back, in case you couldn’t tell.
*So… the Jeff and Britta getting married thing. In what was essentially the episode’s b-story, Jeff and Britta find that they share a distaste for the institution of marriage. She thinks it’s an antiquated notion that demeans a woman’s worth (and that she secretly fears she’ll fall into since she “comes from a long line of wives and mothers”) while Jeff, in being asked to give a toast at the reception, realizes that he has nothing of value to say before coming to grips with the fact that his problems with weddings stem from his father walking out on his mother when he was just a wee tot. Community being Community, Jeff and Britta both get drunk at the rehearsal and badger one another into a game of chicken and almost end up married as a result until Andre and Shirley step in and use Jeff and Britta as surrogates for the myriad issues they’re experiencing. As always, drunk Jeff and Britta are funny Jeff and Britta and Joel McHale and Gillian Jacobs have chemistry to spare when they’re in hate-lust with each other. This was a good use of the characters in a non-central storyline.
*Pierce’s idea of portraying a young, hip businessman is dying his hair and wearing a suit, to which Troy responds, “Pierce, why do you look like a wealthy murderer?”
*Flush with Hawthorne Wipes money after the death of his father, one of Pierce’s business ideas to expand Hawthorne Industries is an automatic security camera that can distinguish customers’ friends from intruders. Of course the camera would then identify Abed, Troy, Shirley, and Andre as “intruders.” Jeff: “Wireless racism. The future of the past is now.”
*Pierce’s other money-making idea: the Trouser Bench, an automated bench housed inside a pair of trousers – “For the man on the go who makes frequent stops.”
*However, the trouser bench still has prototype problems. Take it, Pierce: “I had to shelve the Trouser Bench anyway. There are still some parts of the prototype that need to be extracted. Maybe you’re misunderstanding. I mean, from my butt.”
*Is anyone surprised that Annie has a wedding scrapbook… and it’s gigantic?
*Love that Troy’s wearing Pierce’s dad’s ivory toupee from “Advanced Gay.”
*Jeff’s heart is apparently filled with Annie’s boobs and scotch.
*As longtime viewers know, there’s a difference between “Annie’s boobs” and “Annie’s Boobs.” And Annie’s Boobs makes a surprise appearance at the wedding!
*I also love Abed’s “normal” voice.
*The song that everyone dances to after Shirley and Andre exchange vows is totally a riff on The Cosby Show’s theme, right?
*Speaking of voices, according to Andre, Shirley’s Miss Piggy voice is her “sexy voice.” (Shudder).
*”And I would have done away with that give a penny, take a penny nonsense. If the good Lord wanted you to have a penny, you’d have one.”
*”What do you think, Shirley? Should I have my people call your people? I don’t mean, ‘your people.'”
*”Baby… I have loved you since there was a Soviet Union and only one Daman Wayans.”
*”You’re anti-wedding now?” “No, she’s just pro-anti.” “No to everything you both said.”
*”Someone tell Britta what an analogy is.” “I know what an analogy is. It’s a thought with another thought’s hat on.”
*”Just nut up and die alone.”
*”We’ll try not to embarrass you at your community college library wedding.”
*”Will somebody please call all the ambulances?”
*”Oh, did someone say ‘Annie,’ ‘help,’ and something about hydrangeas?”
*”Well, great… flowers look good in a pot. There are people dying in Uganda.”
*”Ugh.. Stop. Webster’s dictionary defines? That’s the Jim Belushi of speech openings. It accomplishes nothing but everyone keeps using it and no one understands why.”
*”Shut up, Leonard. Those teenage girls you play ping-pong with are doing it ironically.”
*”I don’t care if anyone believes it, jackass. It’s a fact.” “Then prove it, ding dong!”
*”What about babies?” “What about ’em?” “How many?” “Pick a number, dick. It’s not like it’s up to me.”
*”I’m a BLAST at weddings.”
*Episode courtesy of Hulu below.

TV Diary | Justified – “Loose Ends”

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TV Diary | Justified – Episode 3.09 – “Loose Ends” – Original Airdate: 3/13/12

Episode Grade: B

It was kind of inevitable that after the kinetic rush of “The Man Behind The Curtain” and “Watching The Detectives” that Justified would need to take a step back to reset itself before ramping up for the finale (just four episodes away). In that respect, “Loose Ends” definitely served as a palate cleanser and moved some pieces around the chess board in preparation of the season’s final showdown. Quarles is suddenly down one henchman after Dodd went boom courtesy of a landmine. Ava has made a play to become a more active member in Boyd’s criminal enterprise, a decision with which Boyd doesn’t seem to be completely on board. And Limehouse has definitively thrown his lot in with Quarles, and thus finds himself squarely in Raylan’s crosshairs. “Loose Ends” really was true to its name in clearing up some loose ends and moving out some dead weight. Justified has shown in the past that it likes to utilize a large roster of criminal henchmen and, if you register an impression the show is more than willing to keep you around for future use in the right situation. Just think how characters like Wyn Duffy, Dickie Bennett, Emmitt Arnett, Wade Messer, and the criminal lowlife MVP, Dewey Crowe, have been used throughout the series’ run. Hell… if you want to extrapolate it out a step further, Boyd Crowder is the ultimate example. Walton Goggins was supposed to simply be making a one-off appearance in Justified’s pilot but his performance was so strong that Graham Yost and his writing staff kept Goggins on and I think most would agree that Justified wouldn’t be Justified without Boyd Crowder in the mix. However, the other side of that coin is that if you DON’T really register much of an impression you’re as good as gone. And, more than anything else, that’s why Dodd and Delroy are no longer drawing breath in the Justified universe. Dodd never really rose above the level of generic henchman so his death didn’t really resonate above, “Oh, yeah… goodbye, indistinguishable grimy lackey.” While he’d been used as Quarles’ in into Boyd’s operation and was also tangentially associated with Limehouse, Dodd was never really anything more than a simple plot device and now he’s gone. Whatever. Delroy, on the other hand, perhaps doesn’t deserve to be lumped into the same category with Dodd because – all due respect to Brendan McCarthy, who played Dodd – William Mapother’s quite a bit better actor than McCarthy is, but again Delroy never felt like an essential (or potentially essential) part of the show running his little harem, but at least his death had a purpose and that was to nudge Ava even deeper into Harlan’s criminal underbelly. After Ellen May [1] ends up involved in a fatal robbery-gone-bad at Delroy’s behest, she seeks refuge at Boyd’s bar where a sympathetic Ava takes her in as a means of keeping her safe from Delroy. But after Johnny informs her that Delroy pays Boyd protection money, thus necessitating Ellen May’s return to him Ava draws Delroy to the bar under the pretense of delivering Ellen May back only to gut him with a shotgun blast and then pitch to Boyd her idea to take over Delroy’s prostitution ring herself. Boyd seems uneasy with Ava essentially going into business for herself, but ultimately does grant his approval. While we already knew from season one’s “Fire In The Hole” that Ava’s well-capable of wielding a shotgun, her play against Delroy shows that she’s learning from Boyd’s influence and opens up a whole host of options with the character going forward. And the last (but certainly not least) of “Loose Ends’” chess moves was Raylan taking the temperature of Limehouse to see exactly where he stood in the heightening conflict between Raylan and Quarles. In a dynamite final scene, Raylan shows up at Limehouse’s barbeque joint to cast a line to see how strong Limehouse’s ties to Quarles actually are [2] and whether it’s just that Limehouse is naturally distrustful of lawmen, that he’s actually placed his faith in Quarles as the ultimate winner of the Raylan/Quarles cage match, or that he legitimately believes he’s doing what’s best for Noble’s Holler. Whatever the reason, he gives nothing away and instead takes little digs at Raylan by admitting that he does remember him from the Arlo incident back in the day before chillingly adding, “If you like, I can tell you what I remember about your momma.” Damn. That line clearly hits Raylan hard and he eventually leaves empty-handed while Limehouse has positioned himself as yet another Raylan adversary. The war is coming… and it’s coming soon.

[1] The meth tweaker/hooker seen earlier this season in “When The Guns Come Out.”
[2] In perhaps his most declarative statement about Quarles yet, Raylan tells Limehouse, “I’m either gonna put him in prison or in the ground.”

Miscellany:
*Not a ton of Boyd in this episode as early on he’s still dealing with the frame job re: Sheriff Napier’s patrol car blowing up, but towards the end there’s one helluva scene where Boyd walks into a town hall meeting – run by a moderator bought and paid for by Quarles to favor Napier – between Napier and Shelby and takes over the entire proceeding like some Southern preacher, completely swaying the collected Harlan citizens towards his… er, Shelby’s side. I especially appreciated the callback to season two by mentioning Black Pike, which is still apparently a sore subject among Harlan-ites. This was Walton Goggins at his best.
*Raylan… why the hell are you keeping Quarles’ gun that was used to kill Gary in your apartment? Nothing good can come of this.
*Art does his best to try to shut Raylan’s vendetta against Quarles down after seeing the turn (and attention it brought to the Marshals’ Office) it took in “Watching The Detectives.” He tries to get more information on the hustler-beating angle while asking what concrete evidence Raylan has against Quarles at that moment, before letting Raylan know that nothing else is to be done until there’s Marshal business to be had. Anyone think that’s actually gonna stick? No? Good.
*Drunk Raylan still has a thing for Ava, it would appear. He also tries to warn her of the dangers of her association with Boyd – “You do know what Boyd is, right?” – making me wonder if, with Winona seemingly out of the picture, season four could see a bit of a tussle between Raylan and Boyd over Ava’s affections.
*Not a whole lot of Quarles this time around (Booooo!) but Neal McDonough predictably killed in his scenes, especially after being summoned to Noble’s by Limehouse to discuss election strategy. Condescending Quarles = Awesome Quarles.
*That Raylan Givens… he even sets up TVs for old ladies.
*”You been checking up on me?” “Yes. Duh.”
*”I hope you had a pleasant time. But not too pleasant.”
*”How is Devil? I haven’t seen him.” “Well… he’s calmed down a good bit since last you saw him.”
*”You ever had shoofly pie?” “No. But judging by the name I’m sure it’s delicious.”
*”Mr. Limehouse, I’m sure you didn’t invite me up here to discuss the sociology of baked goods.”
*”I don’t know. That’s an acceptable answer if I ask you why the sun come up each day. Or why God chose to give man dominion over the animals. But if I ask you if your friend Tanner left any loose ends that can point probing fingers back at this holler, you should know. You understand me?”
*”Social awkwardness is often the curse of genius.”
*”Believe me now?”
*”And — although I haven’t done forensics yet — I’m pretty sure that’s a dead body at your feet there.”
*”Mr. Napier, I’d like to think that if I was behind an attempt on your life that at the very least I would have messed up your hair.”
*”No, he’s right Cousin Johnny. Harlan County elections ain’t over until the dead have voted.”
*”Well, Ava… I appreciate your thoroughness.”
*”I see to it myself that my kitchen’s so clean, the Virgin Mother herself would eat off of it.”

TV Diary | Archer: “Crossing Over”

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TV Diary | Archer – Episode 3.10 – “Crossing Over” – Original Airdate: 3/1/12

Episode Grade: A-

When you think about it, it’s almost surprising that Archer hasn’t thought of putting Archer and Pam together uh… sexually before “Crossing Over” but after watching how the episode and the pairing played out, it’s obvious that the show held this unholy union off for just the right opportunity. That Archer’s addictive personality (and raging alcohol habit) would lead him towards a night of torrid sex with the – let’s face it – repulsive Pam and then continue to draw him back due to his assessment of said love-making as “the best sex he’s ever had” makes perfect sense. However, that it simultaneously lead to his shirking his ISIS duties, ultimately leading to the death of the man who may be his father is generally a heavier weight than the show is used to carrying. But damned if, like almost everything else in this note-perfect third season, the show didn’t pull it off like gangbusters. Archer has experimented with story arcs in the past [1] but the show’s largely been one-off storylines with little or no carryover from episode to episode, save for numerous running gags. From a pure storyline standpoint, though, there aren’t often repercussions nor does the show usually get much into weighty issues like death and loss so “Crossing Over” is a bit of a departure for Archer and it’s a look that the show wears well. Predictably, the Archer/Pam pairing was aces. After getting trashed at the wake for a deceased ISIS agent where Archer drunkenly hits on the widow and eventually ends up downing chicken and waffles [2] while imbibing Green Russians (absinthe and milk) with Pam at a strip club, he does the unthinkable and brings Pam home and bangs her. Worse? He LOVES it. Calls it the “best sex he’s ever had” before opening the bathroom door to find Pam on the can taking a dump [3]. The fact that Archer entered into [4] a sexual relationship that he’s desperate to keep secret – “If anybody ever finds out about it will literally – Pam, look at me – I will literally murder you.” – with someone who’s been well-established by the show as the least secret-keepingest person in the show’s universe is note-perfect. As is the two of them jumping each other in the elevator on the way to work the next day, along with Archer’s amazement at how good Pam is in the realm of the sexual arts [5]. The plot that dispatches with possible Archer daddy Nicolai Jakov [6] is a little more intricate than Archer usually goes for, but it works well and seems to be something that’s going to impact future episodes which is always welcome. Just a completely solid episode all around – the Archer/Pam scenes were constant gold and the jokes that came out of them landed hard and with purpose, while Archer both directly and indirectly being the cause of his possible-daddy’s death [7] is going to resonate, which is evident from the somber note the end of the episode strikes… until Pam chides Archer for “pushing rope” in bed, of course. “Crossing Over” is yet another highlight in a white-hot run of episodes for Archer.

[1] Speaking specifically about the Katya storyline from the end of season two that lead into the three-part mini-season (or beginning of the third season, depending on your outlook) that was “Hearts Of Archness.”
[2] In a nice little callback to his hangover food of choice from “The Limited.”
[3] After checking with Woodhouse – whose heroin he’d promised his conquest – and finding that she was still in the apartment (and not realizing yet that it was Pam), he yells through the door trying to back out of the heroin teaser, only to recoil at the sight of Pam on the toilet as she says, “Heroin? That’s the last frickin’ thing I need. I’m bound up tighter than Dick’s hatband.” Archer passes out. Pam farts. Classic.
[4] Haha… “entered into.”
[5] As she notes, she *did* grow up on a farm. No, I don’t want to know either.
[6] Cyborg Barry somehow assumes control of the KGB and stations Jakov to a Siberian outpost as punishment, only to have Jakov defect to the US with the help of his manservant Boris. This then sends Barry to New York where he worms his way into the safe house where ISIS is stashing Jakov thanks to Carol’s indiscretion and blows the place up.
[7] He bails on his post at the safe house watching Jakov in order to get home to sleep with Pam. Again.

Miscellany:
*Gotta hand it to Barry – it’s kind of ingenious how he decides to kill Jakov by turning the gas up in the safe house while simultaneously putting a fork-in-block-of-ice in the apartment’s microwave. Not only does it make Jakov go boom, but it also destroys the chance of any DNA test to prove the validity of his Archer paternity. And THAT’S not even his master plan, or so he says. Looking forward to seeing that play out (and likely fail) in the next episode.
*I’m a sucker for storyline continuity so I loved the mention of how Malory is still apparently dating Burt Reynolds. That Archer and Lana already forgot about it was perfectly meta, too.
*Nice little touch: The way Aisha Tyler actually sounds hung over when she delivers Lana’s opening line in the scene where she and Archer are talking with Malory about how much they’d had to drink the previous night at the wake.
*Another great line reading? The way Jessica Walter delivers the, “Mmmmmmmaybe,” line when Jakov mentions that they possibly share a son.
*Carol apparently gets false memories. “Like, a lot.”
*We got even more voicemail jokes, a gag that keeps on giving and giving and giving. Frankly, this kind of ongoing joke stream is one of the things that Archer does best.
*”For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary, full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails.”
*”Some dry toast?” “Yeah… or you could just skip a step and feed me some dried vomit.”
*”Lana and Cyril bailed… triflin’ bitches.”
*”That’s 150 gallons… of Pam’s hot, dirty, ball-slappin’…”
*”And also possibly Archer’s father.” “How do you know about that?” “Because I’m part of everybody.”
*”I’m sorry but if anyone ever found out I’d die of shame.” “Well how do you think that makes ME feel?” “I don’t care, Pam. Now having said that, would you please come in this dirty toilet stall and have sex with me.”
*”Et tu, Brutus?” “Et me, buddy.”
*”Who hunts dogs?” “Orientals! Duh!”
*”I promise myself I not cry. Promise broken.”
*”Well, I assume he’s in New York with those shitbitchingassbastard Archers.”
*”I’m serious… you are literally draining the life out of me.” “Come on… you make me sound like some kind of chupacabra. But for dicks.”
*”But, like, it has to be your place because mine reeks like ocelot piss.” “I have no response to that.”
*”Pam, don’t take this the wrong way but you’re not nearly as stupid as you look.”
*”Hahaha… leave it.”
*”And this? This is your master plan?” “Huh? Oh, no, no. This is a whole other awesome thing. This is just a goof. Later, tater.”
*”But then he strangled me which at first was hot because he is, like, super-strong but then I was floating towards this really bright light and some guy with a beard…” “Jesus Christ!” “Or Richie Havens.”