Jeremy Likes TV

I like TV. Probably more than any human should.

Posts Tagged ‘Alan Sepinwall

“Yeah, Bitch!! Magnets!!” | Review: Breaking Bad 5.01

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TV Diary | Breaking Bad – Episode 5.01 – “Live Free Or Die” – Original Airdate: 7/15/12

Episode Grade: A-

Ed. Note: Yeah… so it was my intention to shelve TV Diary, as I’d said in my last post way too long ago. And largely, it still is, except that I kind of made my bones last year on this site with my reviews of Breaking Bad so, with its return for the first half of its fifth season spanning over the next eight weeks, I felt compelled to run these shorter reviews because it’s, you know… Breaking Bad. I’m a lying liar, I know. Anyway, enjoy.

To those who are criticizing “Live Free Or Die,” Breaking Bad’s triumphant fifth season return, I have but one request. Shut up. No, seriously. Shut up. What? That’s not fair? Ah… you might be right. I apologize. Let me phrase it like this: Shut the fuck up. This is the second-to-last season opening summer premiere we’re going to get [1] and I’m not going to have your entitled whining ruin it for the rest of us. So just keep your mouth shut, OK? For the rest of us, “Live Free Or Die” may not have lived up to the tension-filled heights of Gus murdering Victor by SLASHING HIS THROAT WITH A GODDAMNED BOX CUTTER in last season’s season-opening “Box Cutter,” but it still had more than enough goodness to let us know that Vince Gilligan and company have slacked exactly zero percent over the past year. After the now traditional puzzling season-premiere cold open [2], much of “Live Free Or Die” finds Walt, Jesse, and a reluctant Mike scrambling to tie up some loose ends in the wake of Gus having half of his face blown off. Walt realizes that the security camera that Gus had trained on them every minute that they were in the superlab could theoretically have been recording footage that could now serve as the smoking gun (lab?) that could bring all of them down, so the unlikely trio hatches a scheme to destroy the laptop that contains the footage, which is now in the possession of the Albuquerque Police Department.

What results is one helluva good caper episode, with the impetus for the scheme hatching from Jesse’s brain [3]. Suffice it to say that it involves an industrial strength magnet, an abandoned truck, and Walt and Jesse getting close enough to APD headquarters to erase the contents of Gus’s laptop via said magnet. Maybe I’m a sucker for a good caper, but watching this unholy trio put their plan into motion and execute it seemingly perfectly [4] was a blast. That the chaos caused in the APD evidence room allowed the police to uncover more information about Gus’s dealings that they otherwise may not have thanks to a broken picture frame caused by Walt and Jesse’s intervention was just the icing on the cake. I appreciated Gilligan’s approach in bringing the three men together because, although Mike can barely contain his disgust for Walt [5] at this (or any) point, the possibility that Gus may have recorded all three men in the lab at one point or another served as an organic reason for them to be forced to team up. Plus, Jonathan Banks’ performance as Mike is a treasure and I’ll take more of it any time Breaking Bad wants to give it to us. “Live Free Or Die” also served to further illustrate that Walt’s descent into pure villainy (as per Gilligan’s stated goal for the series – to show how a good man can be corrupted into an unrecognizable version of himself) is in full, glorious effect. From Walt telling Skyler, “You don’t think I rate a ‘hello,’ at least?” after she returns home following his confirmation of his involvement in Gus’s death, to answering Mike’s question about why he’s so sure that leaving the truck behind at APD wasn’t a bad idea (“Because I say so.”), to his chilling “I forgive you,” to Skyler after learning about her attempt to pay Ted Beneke off in season four and the subsequent unfortunate events that befell him, Walt is a full-on villain now. The only question left is how deep he will go, which is something I’m beyond anxious for Breaking Bad to answer over the next two months. Breaking Bad is back, everyone. And that’s for damned sure nothing to complain about.

[1] Thankfully, AMC has done the right thing and has decided to split this final batch up into two bite-size chunks to be aired over the next eight weeks, with the ensuing eight episodes airing over another eight weeks this time next summer. I applaud AMC loudly for this because I wasn’t ready in any way, shape, or form for this to be the last summer of the show. I just wasn’t, and you probably weren’t either if you’re being honest with yourself.
[2] Here (DEEP BREATH) showing Walt with a full head of hair and a full beard wielding a fake ID from New Hampshire, celebrating his birthday in a Denny’s while conducting a business transaction with Jim Beaver’s (Deadwood) gun dealer, Lawson, for an assault rifle in the bathroom. As Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall pointed out in his review, the “52” that Walt fashions out of the bacon on his breakfast plate signifies that the rest of the episode takes place roughly a year prior to the open. Whether we’ll know how we got to the Denny’s by the end of these eight episodes remains to be seen.
[3] As shown in a great scene where Walt and Mike argue with one another, all the while Jesse is in the background asking a variation on, “What about a magnet?” four or five times before The Bickersons actually pay attention to him.
[4] Well, almost perfectly. As a friend pointed out, one of the great things about Breaking Bad is that every action on the show causes another domino to fall.
[5] Although he’s clearly developed an affinity for Jesse, as evidenced by the paternal disappointment in his, “Oh, Jesse,” line reading when he realizes that Jesse’s thrown his lot back in with Walt.

Miscellany:
*One of the things that Breaking Bad does better than maybe any show except arguably The Wire is its ability to make being a criminal look like the most unglamorous thing in the world. There are always repercussions. There is stress on stress on stress. And although Walt has gotten away with almost everything to this point in the series, he’s going to go down soon. And he’s going to go down spectacularly.
*Ted ain’t dead, but he’s in a very bad way and his misfortune serves as an object lesson to Skyler on exactly who she’s in bed with at this point. Just as I’m sure that Jesse’s going to be the one to eventually put Walt down, I have a feeling that Skyler’s going to have a big hand in his demise before everything is said and done.
*I wonder how Denny’s feels with the continued product placement as the go-to diner for meth-producing megalomaniacs?
*Toasting himself in the mirror is a very Walt thing to do.
*According to Gomez, teeth do a “popcorn thing” when they get too hot. Who knew?
*The look on the APD officer’s face as he enters the evidence room and sees what’s happening is priceless.
*Very nice point made by The AV Club’s Donna Bowman in her review of “Live Free Or Die”: Walter’s “I forgive you,” to Skyler at the end of the episode is almost the inverse of her “I fucked Ted,” at the end of season three’s “I.F.T.” Gotta love a show that brings things full circle in this way.
*”Keys, scumbag. It’s the universal symbol for keys.”
*”You know how they say it’s been a pleasure? It hasn’t.”
*”If you have any brains, you’ll take that money you saved and you’ll skip town. Now. Today.”
*”What’s wrong with them, anyway? Why would anyone wanna put a metal ring through their prick?”
*”YEAH, BITCH!! MAGNETS!! OOOOHHHH!!”
*”Because I say so.”
*”You’re not Clarence Darrow. You’re a two-bit, bus bench lawyer and you work for me.”
*”We’re done when I say we’re done.”
*”I forgive you.”

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Morning Links: 3/19/12

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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. Hopefully your St. Patrick’s Day hangovers have cleared up by now but just in case… here’s a little hair of the links:

*Want some intel on last night’s finale of The Walking Dead? Click here. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*And here’s some spoiler-riffic casting news coming out of that above item. Again… don’t click if you haven’t seen last night’s Walking Dead yet. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*HBO has an interesting way of promoting the upcoming second season of Game Of Thrones in a new poster. It’s pretty badass but, a word of warning – do not click if you haven’t made it through season one yet. (Via EW)

*In other Game Of Thrones news, the release of the show’s first season on DVD set records for HBO in moving 350,000 units in its first week on shelves. I think people might like this show a little bit. (Via EW)

*Interesting essay by Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall on how the social media age has impacted mysteries on television. Well worth a read.

*Everyone who watched the return of Community on Thursday… you are awesome. The show hit a season-high in both total viewers (4.89 million) and the 18-49 demo (2.2), improving upon what 30 Rock had done in the same timeslot all season. This is a great, great sign for Community’s chances of getting a fourth season this fall. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Speaking of… The AV Club’s got a great interview with Oscar-winner and Community co-star Jim Rash. (Via The AV Club)

*TNT has set the premieres of both the second season of Falling Skies (June 17) and the reboot of Dallas (June 13) that I’m way too excited for. Oh… and also a bunch of other shows that I don’t care about at all. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

Morning Links: 3/5/12

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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. Hello, Monday. Let’s get to the links:

*Despite the weak pun by EW, I was pleasantly surprised with the premiere ratings for NBC’s Awake on Thursday night. I reviewed its exceptional pilot here and said that I really had no expectation that anyone was going to watch it, so that it drew over six million viewers to a difficult slot on NBC (and managed to be its highest rated show in terms of viewers and was second in the 18-49 demo to The Office) was very encouraging. I can’t imagine anyone watching that pilot and not wanting to see more so I’ll be really anxious to see how it holds up next week. (Via EW)

*New Game Of Thrones trailer. And. It. Is. BAD. ASS. (Via EW)

*Animated Community webisodes? Yes, please. In related news, Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall moderated the Community panel at PaleyFest in LA on Saturday night and creator Dan Harmon and producer Russ Krasnoff both stated that they feel slightly optimistic about the show’s chances for a fourth season thanks to 30 Rock’s struggles in the Thursday at 8PM timeslot that Community will be reclaiming in a week and a half. People still need to watch it when it comes back so watch it. Or I’ll come find you, and you don’t want that, do you? (Via Hitfix)

*Southland was renewed for a fifth season by TNT on Friday. This is really good news. I’m in the process of catching up on it right now and, all things considered, it might be the best cop show (Justified is about the marshals service so it doesn’t count) on the air right now. Kudos, TNT. (Via Warming Glow)

*Jeff Goldblum is joining comic Sarah Silverman’s pilot for NBC playing a character loosely based on an ex-boyfriend. That is one wonderfully weird pairing right there. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Yikes. Hawaii Five-O star Alex O’Loughlin is taking a hiatus from production on the Hawaii-set police procedural to address an addiction to prescription pain medication. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Julia Stiles is the latest interesting name to join NBC’s Midnight Sun, the crime drama centering on a cult that’s also cast Titus Welliver (Lost) and Michael Raymond-James (Terriers) in recent weeks. Really starting to look forward to this one. (Via TVLine)

*Fox’s The Finder is moving to Fridays. A nation yawns. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Kirk Cameron is kind of a giant douche. (Via EW)

*Oh, FFS. (The AV Club)

TV Diary | The Walking Dead: “Triggerfinger”

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TV Diary | The Walking Dead – Episode 2.09 – “Triggerfinger” – Original Airdate: 2/19/12

Episode Grade: A-

After seeing “Triggerfinger,” I’m convinced of one thing [1]: Shane isn’t making it out of this second season alive. The devolution of the Shane character – which one could argue began with his brutal beating of Carol’s abusive husband in season one’s “Frogs” – has been one of the most intriguing things to watch play out in this bifurcated second season. Watching Shane alienate one person after another [2] even as Andrea and T-Dog, to a lesser degree, seem to have his back has put him out on an island and his decision to abandon Virgil to a fate as walker food was the first completely clear sign that he was cracking and becoming The Walking Dead’s villain but – and here’s the interesting thing that the show’s done – both of these dickish decisions were made for ostensibly noble reasons. In “Frogs,” he was meting out punishment for a lowlife wife- and child-abuser. In “Save The Last One,” he sacrificed Otis in order to get back to Hershel’s farm in time to save his surrogate son, Carl. And that’s what’s so interesting about the way The Walking Dead’s second season is playing out – the moral ambiguities of life in an apocalyptic world are coming to the fore. On almost any other show, Shane would be a villain without question. But here, he’s trying to spare victims of abuse and trying to save a child wounded by a gunshot, albeit through excessively brutal means. That’s not to say that some of his actions this season (and last for that matter) aren’t despicable because they are. But there are humanistic reasons behind many of them. Contrast that with the final scene of “Triggerfinger” and the turn that Lori seems to be taking. After surviving the car crash in “Nebraska” [3], Lori returns to the farm after being told by Shane (in a lie) that Rick had arrived safely back at the farm as a way of securing her own return because of Shane’s worry about her and the unborn child that he believes is his. Upon realizing she’s been lied to, she makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with Shane, a fact that’s picked up on by Dale and leads to his sharing his theory about Otis’s death with Lori. This possibility seems to spur something in Lori because, in the episode’s final scene, she confesses Dale’s theory to Rick as well as paints Shane to him as a dangerous person who’s still in love with her. She seems to be hinting – none to subtly – that Shane needs to be dealt with. Permanently. Positioning her this way is fascinating thanks to her status as the de facto female hero of the show yet she’s now, to use Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall’s characterization, “gone all Lady MacBeth on Rick.” And as we’ve seen, Rick can be pretty malleable so a lethal showdown with Shane seems to be in the offing. While some critics feel the show hasn’t done a good job with regard to character development over its 16 episodes [4] which is a fair assessment in some respects [5], I’d counter that the show has in fact done an effective job of developing the essential characters (Rick, Lori, Shane, Glenn) and uses the others to fill in when needed. I’d also argue that the way the last two episodes have played out, I’m more excited to watch how the rest of the season develops than I was since maybe the pilot. And that’s no small thing.

[1] Beyond the fact that The Walking Dead is developing into a more confident show by the episode.
[2] Rick, Lori, Hershel, and Dale are the ones that immediately come to mind.
[3] And the resulting tangle with walkers, only to eventually be found and taken back to the farm by Shane.
[4] What basically amounts to a little more than a full cable season. The Walking Dead was rushed into production and only produced six episodes in its first season, which is half of what’s usually seen with other cable drama series.
[5] Too often characters seem to be introduced with little to no warning and then we, as an audience, are expected to immediately care about them. Witness Hershel’s apparent other daughter in “Nebraska.”

Miscellany:
*Theory: For all of the hand-wringing over series creator Frank Darabont’s exit, is The Walking Dead actually better off without him? By all accounts, the first half of the season was the last swath of the show that he had any involvement in, making “Nebraska” and “Triggerfinger” the first episodes post-Darabont. Coincidentally, they’ve been two of the best installments of the season. Might be worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
*The sideways shot of Rick in the bar in the aftermath of the shooting gave a palpable visceral and disorienting feel to the situation. Kudos to director Billy Gierhart for that choice.
*Nice tension built into Rick, Hershel, and Glenn’s escape through the back alley of the bar. The Walking Dead is really beginning to get these pressure-cooker set pieces down to a science.
*So we all agree that this Daryl tough-guy act is a complete façade, right? Perhaps the first cracks were evident when Daryl joins the (ultimately unneeded) search party for Rick, Hershel, and Glenn after initially wanting nothing to do with it.
*I’m eventually waiting for Hershel to crack even more than he already has, particularly after watching the disappointment on his face when he, Rick, and Glenn return to the farm and Maggie comes rushing out… only to go directly to Glenn and not to him.
*Speaking of the Glenn/Maggie relationship, I liked the turn that it took this week when Glenn mentioned that his feelings for Maggie are affecting his ability to be a functioning member of the group since he fears dying and is putting others in danger because of his concern for her should anything happen to him. I’m looking forward to seeing where this is heading and I’ve enjoyed Lauren Cohan’s addition to the cast this season.
*This week’s Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment: A walker disgustingly forcing its head through the broken windshield of Lori’s totaled car. (And source of the above banner photo.)
*This week’s Bonus Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment: Lori yanking the turn signal rod off of her steering column and jamming it into said walker’s eye.
*This week’s Bonus Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment 2.0: Rick popping the impaled leg of a fallen adversary (Damien from Rescue Me, if you’re playing at home) off of the fence upon which it was hanging.
*After the Shane faction of the camp strongly objects to Rick’s decision to bring Damien Leg Guy back to the farm, is there any doubt that Damien Leg Guy’s crew is going to end up finding him? Maybe this is the spark that’s going to proffer the ultimate showdown between Rick and Shane.
*Loved Jeffrey DeMunn’s delivery of this line to Carl after Lori confesses that she and Rick never had the sex talk with Carl: “Don’t look at me. That’s your father’s job.”
*”They drew on us.”
*”Let’s just chalk this up to what it was. Wrong place, wrong time.”
*”I can shoot. I just don’t like to.”
*”Maybe if you’d spent your time worrying about your daughter’s business instead of sticking it in everyone else’s, she’d still be alive.”
*”You just can’t stop lying, can you?”
*”Whatever happens, it’s yours.”
*”You killed the living to protect what’s yours?” “That’s right.” “Shane thinks I’m his.”

Written by jeremylikestv

March 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Morning Links: 3/2/12

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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. First day of March is in the books. Let’s get to the links:

*As part of his continuing Thursday feature examining why Community is great until it returns to the air in two weeks (!), Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall takes a look at the show’s secret weapon, newly-minted Oscar winner Jim Rash.

*Entertaining interview over at The AV Club with comedy MVP (and real-life wife of Ron Swanson) Megan Mullally.

*Firefly reunion (of sorts) coming later this season on Castle as Adam Baldwin (in his first post-Chuck) role will be making a guest appearance on the ABC Nathan Fillion vehicle. I’m sure that the show will find some way to give a wink to the Browncoats. (Via TVLine)

*Matthew Perry might be back on NBC Thursdays in the fall? Why not? Nothing else has really worked for the guy since Friends ended. (Via EW)

*President Obama (correctly) thinks that Omar was the best character on The Wire. In related news, I think I voted wisely. (Via The AV Club)

*Former Friday Night Lights star Matt Lauria has been cast in a new Shonda Rhimes pilot for ABC set in an 1895 New York hotel. I’ve said before that I’ll follow Friday Night Lights castmembers almost anywhere but this one’s testing my resolve. Plus, Lauria was only on the show for two years so I think that leaves a loophole open for me, doesn’t it? (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*NBC really does suck. (Via Warming Glow)

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)

Morning Links: 2/15/12

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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. If someone tells you today is Hump Day, punch them. Here are some links to get you started today:

*Another Alan Sepinwall interview over at Hitfix, this time with Cougar Town co-star Busy Philipps. It’s a nice little discussion that also touches on Phillips’ time on the beloved cult hit Freaks And Geeks and how that relates to what Cougar Town itself has gone through over the past six months. Meanwhile, The AV Club’s Ryan McGee speaks with series creator Bill Lawrence.

*According to EW’s James Hibberd, a day after Bryan Fuller’s non-Munsters Munsters reboot was put in cold storage by NBC, they ordered his Hannibal Lecter adaptation directly to series… without ever seeing a pilot. I’m not the biggest Hannibal Lecter fan ever (Manhunter and Silence Of The Lambs are the only Lecter movies that should actually exist) so I’m hardly unbiased but I have to echo what Hitfix’s Dan Fienberg said on his Twitter yesterday. Has NBC already forgotten how hard The Firm tanked under similar circumstances? But I guess that’s why NBC is NBC.

*Chuck star Zachary Levi has landed a new show, this time a sitcom at Fox. Levi is a very likeable presence and Rescue Me co-creator Peter Tolan is running the show from behind the scenes. Chances are good that I’ll be checking this out if it gets a series order. (Via The AV Club)

*Monday ratings news: NBC’s Smash dipped a concerning 26% from last week’s premiere numbers while Fox’s Alcatraz continues to slide just as it gets more interesting. Figures. Damn American public and their aversion to smart programming. (Via EW)

*Per The AV Club, Comedy Central has renewed its new sketch comedy series Key & Peele for a second season which isn’t surprising considering that there was very little drop-off in its second outing last Tuesday night. Still haven’t gotten around to checking it out yet but I have all three episodes on my TiVo and will probably run through them fairly soon.

*John Hodgman and Community go together like, well… every other smart guest star Community has ever booked. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Jon Stewart ripping CNN’s coverage of Whitney Houston’s death from Monday night’s edition of The Daily Show really must be seen. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*So CBS is doing a Sherlock Holmes adaptation set in New York starring Trainspotting’s Jonny Lee Miller as the iconic detective? What’s a better word than “meh”? Because I think it fits here. (Via EW)

*Not that this is really breaking news, but Adam Scott and Lizzy Caplan are awesome. (Via Warming Glow)