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Nightfly's TV Week in Review #17 (10/31/10) - Private Practice, Fringe & more!

Written by Nightfly on Saturday, November 13 2010 and posted in Features

Outhouse tvphile Nightfly reviews his favorite shows from the previous week of primetime television.

Nightfly's TV Week in Review #17 (week of 10/31/10)
written by Nightfly

This week ABC took two of my six Scripted slots with significantly dramatic medical stories. CBS claimed three of five spots in the Sitcom category for a week in which (literally) every serious contender for Guest Star of the Week was from a CBS show. Great casting guys!  While you're at it, you need to give Eliza Dushku her own show - ideally paired with Alyssa Milano as estranged sisters, perhaps.  Here I go pitching a sitcom (haha).  SyFy's Hollywood Treasure debuts on my Reality Shows list, and I expanded my Sitcom list from four to five this week solely on Elizabeth Banks' behalf.  Shows premiering this week (starting 11/7) include Conan tomorrow on TBS, Isaac Mizrahi's The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection (on Bravo this Tuesday) and Sarah Palin's Alaska (on TLC next Sunday).  USA's Psych resumes its fifth season this Wednesday, with Thursday resuming Burn Notice's exciting fourth season on the network.  Don't miss Eastbound & Down's second season finale tonite.
* Potential Spoilers Below *

6. Grey's Anatomy - "That's Me Trying" (ABC)
Cristina's "easy day" proves to be her last at Seattle Grace/Mercy West in this week's revealing episode of tv's flagship medical series.  Owen's million dollar grant is put to good use uncovering a tenacity in April Kepner that was truly a spectacle to behold [inspiringly written and performed].  Arizona leaves Torres at the airport (crying) for unenthusiastically ruining her African dream.  Bailey, Sloane, and, Hunt impress as do guests Amber Benson (BtVS), Mandy Moore (in corpse mode), and Melinda Page Hamilton as Dr. Jennifer Stanley.  Will Yang's blaming Grey for her condition damage their friendship?  Will April & Alex get closer?  What killed Mary Portman?  All questions I'm eager to have answered.  I've come around to liking April at long last, now let's spend some more time with Lexie, please.

5. Hawaii Five-0 - "Ho'apono" (CBS)

A Navy wife's violent murder launches the tautest, most gripping story from this series yet, with impactful guest performances by Robert Loggia, Kelly Hu, Louis Lombardi, and Adam Beach as a SEAL suffering PTSD.  With the evidence and odds stacked against him Special Operator Wilson (Beach), suffering dissociative fugue states from his meds, takes hostages onboard the battleship USS Missouri.  Director James Whitmore Jr. (BtVS) engagingly steers the action as McGarrett puts his life on the line for a fellow operator's only chance at a fair hearing.  Loggia's evocative story about McG's grandfather, after whom he's named, painted a picture of that infamous date I'll not soon forget.  Eight year old Mackenzie Foy, as young Lily Wilson, gave a multifaceted performance I was surprised to see from one so young (not named Fanning).  One of the very best entries from this spectacular series so far!
Foreground: Alex O'Loughlin, Bkground: Adam Beach

4. Fringe - "Amber 31422" (FOX)

FOX's best show this week was fueled by exceptional acting, impressive special efx, and superlative guest appearances by Shawn & Aaron Ashmore.  Torv scintillates, turning in one of the most subtly nuanced portrayals of the week (if not month) on any channel.  House director David Straiton warmly highlights the comradery of the alternate team with members Seth Gabel and Kirk Acevedo, as well as more time with Reddick (a.k.a. Broyles).  The Ashmore brothers' heartfelt contributions combined with core cast intensity elevated this explosive edition exposing the fact that suspended Amber victims are still alive!  I've enjoyed (and defended) Torv as Olivia in this series from the start, still, since being taken by Walternate I've surprisingly found her the character I now care about the most, with alt+Olivia being the second most!?!  Jackson & Noble have notably impressed within the dual-dimensional context, I particularly dig Peter's energy when appearing in Olivia's head.
Seth Gabel, Anna Torv, Kirk Acevedo & Lance Reddick

3. Boardwalk Empire - "Home" (HBO)

Buscemi's brilliance burns brightly this week as he reluctantly goes home again, ultimately burning it down.  Anatol Yusef (O Jerusalem) impressively debuts as Meyer Lansky in an engrossing exchange with Chalky White.  Jimmy's new friend Harrow (Jack Huston) is an intriguing addition I believe will make this great series even greater. Angela Damody's secret lover is finally revealed and Margaret's bond with Nuck is memorably strengthened in this fantastically directed epi by Allen Coulter (The Sopranos).  Michael Badalucco (The Practice) guests, Lucy fumes, and wounds from past wars are redressed.  Four weeks ago BE failed to make this list for the first and only time this season, I wouldn't count on it happening again.
Boardwalk Empire
Steve Buscemi, Michael K. Williams, & Michael Badalucco

2. Stargate SGU - "Trial and Error" (SyFy)

"I don't know if you've met Ginn?" SGU fans have been buzzing about her for weeks.  This week Ginn and Eli (David Blue) share alone time resulting in a tender kiss, thanks to an atypically empathetic Sgt. Greer good-naturedly goading the situation.  Stargate expert Andy Mikita helms a staggeringly good episode, obviously one of my faves, examining the subconscious ties between Destiny and her Captain(s).  The plasma fire pyro pops {I like the pretty lights}, and the whole cast excels!  I love the counseling role Camile's assumed as the voice of (sane) civilian leadership shaping Young's burdened command.  A truly magnificent episode, some of the best space opera I've seen, period.  Justin Louis' A-game is in full effect here!!
* This series is struggling to win ratings.  Fans should spread the word on how awesome this show is or else we'll be joining a 'Save SGU' campaign before too long.

1. Private Practice - "Did You Hear What Happened to Charlotte King?" (ABC)

This week Shonda Rhimes provided the quintessential definition of "a very special episode", spotlighting the aftermath of Dr. King's sexual and physical assault by an attacker who walks away free in the end.  Perennial 'nice guy' Nicholas Brendon (BtVS) breaks type in this one, heartbreakingly immersed in the persona of a psychotic rapist.  KaDee Strickland (The Wedding Bells) delivers a tour de force performance stubbornly infused with commanding grace, unstoppable courage, and a wisdom that defies description.  Caterina Scorsone's firm but delicate touch is appreciated in many more ways than one.  The underlying intention of the episode, an intention I wholeheartedly endorse, is to urge sexual assault survivors to reach out for help.  The highly respected organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest Natl. Network) partnered with the production to raise awareness of the issue and their dedicated willingness to help.

Guilty Pleasure Award - Top Chef: Just Desserts - "Celebritea Party" (Bravo)

Desserts are guilty pleasures, sweet with empty calories, so I've resolved to just let this series live here until something more deserving (er, empty) takes its place.  The cheftestant's edible bouquets were impressive, with the inspiring Quickfire Challenge handily won by Morgan.  The dissolution of Team Diva affects Yigit quite noticeably, yet Danielle's clearly encouraged by being the last remaining woman.  Food & Wine magazine's "Celebritea Party" drives the Elimination Challenge calling for dual treats fashioned for celebrity duos.  Eric Wolitzsky's sent packing for his Oprah/Stedman combination, while Julie Andrews & Blake Edwards usher in a win for Zac.
Shinmin Li
Guest Judge Shinmin Li
Guest Star of the Week: Eliza Dushku on The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Trivia Question of the Week:
Elizabeth Banks and Adam Beach both individually made waves on my Lists this week.
Name the western themed mini-series they shared credits in for three epis?

Current Medal Standing:
Dragavon: superman
BlueStreak: mvpmvp
Fintan: mvp
GOSD: mvp
misac: mvp
Psivage: mvp
Punchy: mvp
~ Last week's answer: Jawbreaker (1999)  {Winner: Dragavon}
* Outstanding Sitcoms *

5. 30 Rock - "Gentleman's Intermission" (NBC)
Comedy legend Buck Henry guests in this week's remarkably engaging installment as Jack's mentorship of Lemon stands on the brink of dissolving.  The ensemble amuses, as always, but this fifth entry exists because of the gorgeous & talented Elizabeth Banks (Meet Dave).  Avery's been a favorite character since her introduction and she especially shines here.  Her interactions with Liz have always made me laugh, never moreso than in this crossroads epi in which Avery finally understands the symbiosis between Lemon and Jack.  Jessup's "crazy hormonal mood swing" captivated.  Tracy and "unfixable" Jenna were zany as ever, though it was Kenneth's reaction to Tracy's obituary that made me laugh the loudest!  Jack's DIHC requirements are certainly met by Liz.
* Actress Charisma Carpenter tweeted about Jack's "shoulders back" Frankenstein line (haha)...leave it to a former dancer/cheerleader to key in on posture humor.
Avery Jessup
Tina Fey & Elizabeth Banks

4. How I Met Your Mother - "Canning Randy" (CBS)

Wharmpess beer's origin story is humorously chronicled featuring SNL guest star Will Forte.  Jennifer Morrison (Star Trek) returns as Zoey, attending and swaying Ted's class against him.  Lily's educator-advice proves handy by giving Ted the secrets to controlling his students.  Becky's asinine boat ad motivates Robin to follow suit, appearing in an incontinence ad [rockin' a nurse uniform] that runs for seven years.  Forte's wild antics, Morrison's comedic vehemence, and Lily's stuffed horse-head threat made this entry one of the best programs of the week, of any type.
Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Neil Patrick Harris, & Cobie Smulders

3. The Big Bang Theory - "The Apology Insufficiency" (CBS)

Eliza sparkles electric as primetime's most anticipated guest star of the week!  Dushku plays Special Agent Page, tasked with investigating Howard's background by interviewing the guys about his history.  Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson (NOVA ScienceNow) cameos and takes grief about Pluto in this first episode back for equestrian star Cuoco.  Star Trek gets love and Sheldon becomes the first genius to drink at Penny's bar in one of the best, most highly rated episodes of this fan favorite ever!!  I LOL'd a lot!  Penny's win at the end was sweet.  Welcome back Kaley!!!  Your fans (myself included) are so happy to have you back!
The Big Bang Theory
Kunal Nayyar & Eliza Dushku

2. Rules of Engagement - "Mannequin Head Ball" (CBS)

The notion of man as wild animal pervades this roucous laugher when Jeff and Adam invent a stress relieving game of "Mannequin Head Hockey."  Little do they know that Audrey and Jennifer tune into their play, via security camera, with the girls providing wildlife narration.  Timmy and Russell take part in the game after an awkward double date featuring accidental {homoerotic} touching.  Too bad the camera's destroyed at the end because "Dumb Animals Do Stupid Things" was a show I'd loyally watch and review! ;)  Segregating the sexes made for unusual fun in this especially hilarious entry.  I support the writers doing it more often.

1. Eastbound & Down - "Chapter 12" (HBO)

David Gordon Green deftly directs this final chapter of Kenny's adventure in the "exotic wasteland" of Mexico.  As Kenny prepares to head north Pat Anderson (Adam Scott, Party Down) convinces him to play one more game with the Charros so a Texas scout can see him throw.  Matthew McConaughey (as Roy McDaniel) guests, inviting Kenny to spring training at Myrtle Beach for a chance to play in AA ball.  Stevie and Maria marry, Kenny makes peace with all his Mexican friends (accept Aaron), and together the trio drive off into the sunset finally ending Kenny's war against Mexican swamp ass.  Adios Mexico!  Having moved past adversity, Kenny arrives in America tonight to hopefully win April back and dominate spring training in the season finale of this utterly outrageous series.
*Reality Shows *

3. Hollywood Treasure - "Comic Con-quest" (SyFy)

The Comic-Con quest of Joe Maddalena is indeed conquered by acquiring perhaps the most valuable piece of original comic art on the market; page after page of original Fantastic Four no.12 artwork with Jack Kirby's and, most rarely, Stan Lee's blue pencil notes in the margins.  Inside the walls of Comic-Con, Stan 'The Man' Lee lovingly authenticates the historic find which Joe estimates at a value of a million dollars - and I've not seen Joe underestimate a sale yet.  Other Hollywood artifacts featured include a Victor Van Dort puppet from Corpse Bride, a beautifully detailed prop Alien head, and the cap worn by Bruce Lee in 1966's The Green Hornet.  Also guest appearing are Erin Gray (Buck Rogers) & 'Wilson' from Cast Away (2000).  Unquestionably my favorite epi of this series so far.
SDCC International

2. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team 5 (CMT)

This series' fourth installment was literally a dream come true for forty-four year old Amanda Roberts who, thanks to Good Morning America, got to be a DCC member for a day.  Candidate fittings inspire rookie Stephanie Heymann to confess wearing the uniform feels like she's wearing a "princess outfit."  Rookie Sasha Agent is profiled, Elizabeth Reuter works out with Jay, and the first of eight expected rookie's washes out.  Courtney Cook, Rachel Buckmaster, Meagan Flaherty, and Ashley Durandt end up in Kelli's office but only Ashley walks out dejected (yet with an invitation to try out again next year).  I defer to the experts, of course, but I would've kept Ashley another week and sent still struggling, and on her third year trying out, Meagan home.
* Watch more of Amanda's DCC dream fulfilled here.

1. Top Gear (BBC-America)

This fifteenth series finale, the first to be shown here uncut, joyously begins with Jeremy loving the new Ferrari 458 - continuously comparing it to Captain Slow's "now defunct" 430 model.  Clarkson proclaims it "better than a F40" and the Stig nearly beats the Ferrari Enzo's top time with it.  Jeff Goldblum (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) guests as the season's last "star in a reasonably priced car" which he should really attempt again as he spent all but the start of his lap in third gear.  Most of the finale is made up of the multiple tasks and tests comprising the British Sports Car Challenge requiring British cars (purchased for five thousand pounds) survive contact with the hosts.  Somewhat mournfully, the boys tour abandoned factories that once formed the British automotive industry - which they've lost even moreso than we Americans have lost ours.  The Stig is subjected to multiple dangers in this entertaining entry that ends on a melancholy note.  Last season's finale also ended gloomily when Clarkson lamented the impending death of the Supercar. Season sixteen of Top Gear is slated to premiere for U.K. audiences early in 2011.

Readers may be surprised AMC's The Walking Dead didn't make my list, it nearly did and I expect it will soon (especially once Laurie Holden arrives).  Shows nearly making my list included CSI: Miami, Dexter, Hellcats, The Walking Dead, Desperate Housewives, and Brothers & Sisters.  I didn't get to see Better With You because it was suddenly pulled from the net?!?  Sucks for me 'cause that's how I've watched every episode of that show to date.  Numerous FOX shows didn't air due to baseball.  Go Giants!!

Many thanks to those following me on twitter and reading my column here.  I hope you enjoy reading my reviews half as much as I enjoy writing them.  Please return next Sunday for my 18th weekly installment and consider checking in on my Daily Updates for reviews of programs that don't always or usually (or ever) make my Week in Review Lists.  Thanks again for your participation and support.  Super special thanks go to Outhouser Dragavon for successfully being the first to answer five trivia questions correct since I started my Week in Review!  Thanks for playing, D!!  See you all next week.

Written or Contributed by: Nightfly

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About the Author - Nightfly

A proud member of NBCUniversal's and A+E Television Networks’ Digital Media Teams, Nightfly routinely interviews producers, creators and stars of various network programs and films with a concentrated emphasis on the Syfy channel. Formally educated in Communications, Computer Science and Music, his résumé reflects more than a decade broadcasting in the fields of television and radio. With pieces routinely published at ScreenFad and Press Pass L.A., his primary areas of interest include TV, film, music, web series, comic books, fashion, pen 'n paper RPG gaming as well as various other pop-culture topics. An avid Twitter user, Nightfly supports the arts, the entertainment community, numerous charities and crowdfunding projects through his journalistic netizenship and non-partisan, multicultural-centric activism.

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