Saturday, March 10, 2012

TELEVISION: Top moments in entertainment (Week of March 4, 2012)

It was a down week in a lot of respects for television.

To be fair, the first week after February sweeps ends usually is.

That being said, there were two news stories that seemed to garner some attention in the television realm.

The first is the news that FOX’s ‘Terra Nova’ has been cancelled. This is bad news for fans of the high concept show. I have to admit that I was only a sporadic watcher – mostly because I found the show emotionally vacant at times – I’m not sure why.
The performances on the show were always solid – and who doesn’t like dinosaurs – but there was just something missing for me. The good news for ‘Terra Nova’ fans is that reportedly Netflix is considering picking the show up. This could be another avenue for quality television shows that the networks might not give their rightful due to. Of course, we have no idea what this will mean for the ‘Terra Nova’ budget either. I guess we’ll just have to wait this one out to see how it goes.

The other interesting news was that Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto and Sarah Paulson would be joining Jessica Lange in the second season of FX’s decidedly muddled ‘American Horror Story.’ All three actors appeared in the first season of the show, and reports say that Lange will be the central figure in this year’s haunting. The interesting thing is that none of the actors will be playing the same character as before. Instead, they’re setting up ‘American Horror Story’ as some sort of anthology.
Here’s the thing, this will either turn out to be a brilliant move (Lange, Quinto and Peters were three of the strongest actors on the show this season, along with Connie Britton and Francis Conroy) or one of the quickest “jump the shark” moments in show history. This is another case where we’ll have to wait and see.
Without further ado, though, here’s the list of the top television moments of this week:

5. Desperate Housewives: This is the final season of a show that’s been pretty much silly from the beginning – this season’s mobsters doesn’t break from that pattern – but the heartfelt moment between Susan and Lynette when they were dealing with their future granddaughter’s room and the two realized they had more in common than they thought was a throwback to when the show was really about great friendships and not silly and over-the-top big events. Bree's verbal jousting with Orson was also a welcome moment -- mostly because Bree has been practically unrecognizable all season. That being said, a beloved character bites it this week (spoiled in court no less) – so fans of the one of the husbands should have their hankies ready.

4. Psych: In one of the show’s funniest theme episodes ever, Santa Barbara’s top cop Carlton Lassiter moves into a new apartment in what can only be described as a building that looks a lot like the Overlook Hotel in ‘The Shining.’ In short order, Lassiter starts to believe he’s being haunted by certain elements in the building, so he hires Shawn and Gus to find out what’s going on. The outcome of the mystery isn’t important (it’s often not on ‘Psych’) but the nods to old school horror, like little Tony riding his Hot Wheel (in place no less), Lloyd the caretaker (played by a feisty Louis Gossett Jr.), a pregnant and pixie haircut wearing Rose Marie and a subsequently unhinged Lassiter gave the show a fun and nostalgic feel. ‘Psych’ is really at its best when Shawn and Gus are allowed to just be as silly as they want to be – and that was certainly the case this week.

3. Justified: It’s been a rough couple weeks for Raylan Givens. He got shot. He found out he was going to be a father. He got dumped. He moved. All this pales in comparison to a Detroit thug trying to set him up as being “in the pocket” of sometimes mortal enemy, sometimes begrudging cohort Boyd Crowder. Raylan has never been one to follow the rules – and in general I find the Winona character to be boring and worthless – but seeing Raylan’s face as Winona took off (after delivering him the planted gun that killed her current husband) was heartbreaking. That being said, the noticeable absence of the fiery Ava has been a problem this season. She needs more airtime in what is fast becoming an all boys club.

2. The Big Bang Theory: This show is consistently funny, so it might not get the attention it’s due. However, the best thing the show has going for it is the sweet romance between Sheldon and Amy (aka Shamy). This week’s episode, where Amy wanted Sheldon to meet her family and prove he wasn’t imaginary was a fun romp that had Sheldon miss the point of Amy guilting him (I purposely did that to my mother as a teenager) and opting to skip her family get together to play video games with the boys. While Amy’s verbal smackdown of Sheldon later in the episode was funny (as was her reaction to his special coupons) it was Raj’s meltdown about being the only of the guys without a girlfriend that hit just the right emotional notes. I can’t believe Sheldon has a girlfriend and he doesn’t either. Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

1. The Walking Dead: The show has gotten a lot of (unwarranted) flack for being too slow this season. Personally, I’m a fan of character development and not just throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks (see: American Horror Story), but no one could complain about last week’s episode when the group’s moral compass Dale was literally gutted alive by an errant walker. Jeffrey DeMunn gave a tour de force performance from beginning to end in the episode, first arguing for the group not to execute a captive (I smell a Ben Linus) because it would rob them of their humanity, and then falling victim to the walker that young Carl had been taunting earlier in the day. This opens up a lot of avenues for TWD cast. Reportedly two more deaths are coming this week – but I doubt they’ll be as shocking or emotionally wrenching as Dale’s. Once again, though, the most notable thing was that something hard has to be done, it’s Rick or Daryl that do it. Tough guy Shane, per usual, was nowhere to be found.

Honorable mentions:

One Tree Hill: I think I still watch this show out of habit, but the chilling final scene of a psychopathic Xavier holding one of Brooke and Julian’s infant twins while the couple slept in the next room made me hope that the show had (at least) one more crazy beat down coming before the end.

Blue Bloods: This show is a low key winner. All the performances are impressive and true to the characters. That was really true this week when Bridget Moynahan’s Erin took on Donnie Wahlberg’s Danny in a courthouse showdown. At first the onscreen siblings were trying to protect each other and then, under tireless questioning, Danny lashed out at his aggressive sister. The duo made nice at the end, though. I’d expect nothing less from this underrated CBS gem.

The River: This show had promise when it started, but I think it’s essentially going to be a one season wonder now. That being said, this week’s episode ended on a high note when we were led to believe that Dr. Emmet Cole was dead (thanks to film of his final hours) only to find out he was most likely alive (and not too far away conveniently). Of course, when they rushed to the scene where he was left he was still missing – but this was the most action packed episode of the show since it premiered.

Army Wives: In the two-hour season finale, three of the wives almost died and one was suffering from exhaustion. I would harp on this if the show hadn’t become synonymous with overkill in the past few seasons. That being said, it was Terry Serpico’s quiet performance as a distraught Frank – sitting by his stricken wife’s bedside – that stole the show. Frank has been portrayed as many things throughout the years, but his best role is that of a loving husband and devoted father. 

What do you think? What were the top television moments this week?


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