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Nightfly's TV Week in Review #19 (11/14/10) - Human Target, Fringe, DCC & more!

Written by Nightfly on Thursday, November 25 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 #19 (week of 11/14/10)
written by Nightfly

Action and the FOX network dominated this week with FOX not just owning the most Scripted slots, but totally owning the Top Three.  Human Target blasted its way back onto the schedule and straight to the Top of my List!  As usual, CBS claimed the majority of my Sitcom spots, this week taking half that category for itself.  In the 'better late than never' arena, MTV's Bully Beatdown breaks into my Reality Show section where it's sure to find a home throughout the rest of its hard-hitting third season.  I expanded my Scripted List to seven slots this week because there were just so many deserving shows.
A change has been made to the Trivia area this week: though two questions appear, each awarding the answerer a medal, a single poster can only answer one question.  This won't be an every week thing, I don't think, but I'd like to give it a try.  I sometimes worry whether my trivia questions are too hard or too easy, so by having two of them I'll unburden myself of that fret.  Two medals this week!!  w00t!
* Potential Spoilers Below *

7. Stargate Universe - "Malice" (SyFy)
Alliance prisoner Simeon takes killing two birds with one stone to the next level, ending both Ginn's and Dr. Amanda Perry's lives with a single bloodless murder.  Simeon's ruthless escape from Destiny was intense, and his taking Dr. Park hostage led to Jennifer Spence's most compelling performance yet.  Series co-creator Robert C. Cooper writes and directs riveting moments for Brian J. Smith, Jamil Walker Smith, and Alaina Huffman, with heartbreaking grief for Rush and Eli.  Numerous 'redshirts' fall by Simeon's hand and Chloe's alien knowledge saves the day in this astonishingly brilliant transition point.  As a lifelong fan of space sci-fi I'm honestly grateful for SGU.  Episodes as exceptionally acted and helmed as this one reinforce just how stellar this series is!  Ginn and Amanda were well-drawn, endearing characters whose loss is an emotional blow.  I can only assume the answer to Scott's final question is "Yes",... but now what lies ahead for Earth?!
Stargate Universe
Robert Carlyle & Julie McNiven in "Malice"

6. Boardwalk Empire - "Belle Femme" (HBO)

Brad Anderson (Fringe, The Machinist) outstandingly directs the D'Allessio brothers (backed by Rothstein and Luciano) finally identified as the party warring against Nuck's empire.  Margaret comes into her own, entertaining Senator Harding's lady and saving Madame Jeunet's shop, while Jimmy returns to Nuck's fold on the condition Harrow can join the war too.  Gillian delivers Lucky Luciano to Jimmy, naked and unawares in her bed, though he escapes Jimmy's gun thanks to the timing of Agent Van Alden.  Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) reveals his plans to enter the scotch whiskey business, and his intent to remove Nucky (via 'monkeys').  Angela's friendship with her girlfriend's photographer husband suddenly dissolves once Jimmy returns home.  Jimmy decides he wants another baby shortly before getting arrested, leading to an implacably defensive interrogation scene between he and Van Alden.  Agent Sebso (Erik Weiner, Unscripted) proves his worth to Nuck, murderously making sure Jimmy won't stay behind bars.  An intense and bold episode marking the distinct end of sentimentality.

5. Dexter - "Take It!" (SHO)

"This is all much easier with a partner", Dex says.  Cole (a.k.a. Suit and Tie) meets his plastic sheeted demise in this transformative episode directed by Romeo Tirone (True Blood) and co-written by Manny Coto.  Despite Deb doing absolutely everything right, Laguerta lays all blame on her for the nightclub shooting debacle.  Batista's speech to Deb was touching; if he does really back her to Matthews that'll spell the end of Laguarta's career and their marriage, for sure.  Peter Weller, Jonny Lee Miller, and Chris Vance add to the drama as Jordan Chase is revealed to be Lumen's wristwatch tapping torturer.  Lumen's ex-fiancé Owen shows up, giving her a door to take free of vengeance, but her [damaged] dark passenger chooses to help kill Cole instead.  A new blood slide collection is born as Lumen and Dex take Suit and Tie's last breath.  Jordan Chase is next on their list...his merchandise may not be around too much longer. (hehe) You can purchase one of his limited edition t-shirts here, Take One Now!

4. Hawaii Five-0 - "Po'ipu" (CBS)

Ravishing Emmanuelle Vaugier (Covert Affairs, CSI: NY) ignites a most action-packed installment of this typically high-octane thriller.  Guns are gone to, though 'Bullfrog' (guest badass Max Martini) reveals himself to be a betraying mercenary who rains lead on McGarrett's home.  Kelly Hu reprises her liaison role along with exceptional guest stars Nelson Lee (Blade: The Series) and Ric Young (Alias, The Transporter) in this hour of unbridled excellence that rivals most (so-called) "action" movies.  The attack on McG's house and the knifefight that follows are reasons enough to catch this explosively paradoxical entry.  The SEAL vs. SAD knifefight in the sand was reminiscent of Woo's Mission: Impossible II.  On a lighter note, Danny's Jersey pride rises {musically} with an impassioned defense of Sinatra, Springsteen, and Bon Jovi.  Bombastic action, tropical ambiance, and comedic fun, who could ask for anything more?

3. Glee - "The Substitute" (FOX)

Sue's years long quest for power bears toxic fruit when a virulent flu takes out Figgins and Shuester.  Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow subs for Shue, instantly winning the hearts and minds of New Directions, holding her own alongside Lea Michele, and demonstrating her triple-threatness beyond doubt.  Flooded by supportive emails from parents, regarding her healthily removing tater tots from the school menu, the schoolboard formally offers Sue the full-time position of Principle.  Though her first official act is firing Shuester, of course, she eventually hires him back.  Showrunner Ryan Murphy virtually gift wraps the Best Guest Actress Emmy for Gwyneth with his dazzling direction of her remarkable talents in this series-signature episode.  Harry Shum Jr. & Matthew Morrison honor the late great Donald O'Connor with their painstaking nearly move-for-move reimagining of "Make 'Em Laugh" (from Singin' in the Rain), while Mercedes summons imagery from Norma Rae, in one of the series' most entertaining episodes ever.  As Finn said, "it's really hard not to like this one."  Rihanna and Cee Lo Green songs are joyously featured and Gwyneth Paltrow shines like never before!

2. Fringe - "The Abducted" (FOX)

This week, Anna Torv once again proves why she's one of the strongest dramatic leads on tv.  Focused almost entirely on Walternate's dimension, Chuck Russell (The Mask, The Scorpion King) stirringly directs the youth-stealing return of 'The Candyman.'  This Candyman sprinkles no dew nor covers anything in chocolate, he kidnaps children and drains their pituitary glands for rejuvenating hormones.  Curtis Harris plays Broyles' brave young son Christopher, along with fellow outstanding guest stars Karen Holness (Cashing In), Tristin Leffler (The 4400), and, David Nykl (Stargate: Atlantis) as Reverend Marcus.  Reddick and Torv excel here in one of my favorite epis of this series' entire run.  I'm hoping, through Broyles, Olivia can become a kind of bridge between dimensions - especially if Altlivia decides our dimension's worth saving too.  Peter's cliffhanger ending is superlative.  I literally can't wait till the next episode!!!
Anna Torv (as Olivia) in "The Abducted"

1. Human Target - "Ilsa Pucci" (FOX)

The artistry of Action pervades this magnificent stunner, returning in full force for its second home theater engaging season!  Award-worthy special effects, editing, and music accentuate the premiere's awesomeness, thrillingly directed by world-class stuntman Steve Boyum (BtVS, Supernatural).  West Point mathematician Mark Valley, veteran of Operation Desert Storm, reminds audiences how Christopher Chance gets things done - by walking through fire headlong.  Gorgeous new additions Indira Varma (The Whistleblowers, Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love) and Janet Montgomery (Black Swan) join the team as benefactor-redeemer and expert thief respectively.  Action fans need to be watching this show, but even beyond the mayhem and fisticuffs this series has heart like no other.  Expect to see Chance's saga high on this list consistently.
Human Target
Indira Varma, Mark Valley, Jackie Earle Haley, & Chi McBride

Guilty Pleasure Award - iCarly - "iStart a Fan War" (nick)

Funnyman Jack Black reunites with teen superstar Miranda Cosgrove, nearly nine years after jamming with her in School of Rock (2003), for iCarly's first double-length epi of its fourth season. Max Ehrich (soon to be seen in No Ordinary Family) plays Adam, the newest boy unwitting enough to pursue Carly.  Black (as Aspartamay) and Jerry Trainor (Drake & Josh) do epic cosplay battle as natural enemies from the MMORPG 'World of Warlords' game, at this years (fictional) Webicon.  Adam gets entangled in a riotous 'war' between shippers rooting for 'Creddie' (Carly+Freddie) or 'Seddie' (Sam+Freddie), causing Carly to restate the mission of the show; pointless comedic fun, not romance or melodrama.  Jack Black finally falls in battle, by Carly's hand, prompting a tenaciously enjoyable death scene.  Even if you've never checked out the #1 live-action series on television with kids 2-11, and Nick's top show among kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14, check this captivating episode out!  Cosgrove and Black always make an entertaining pair.
Jerry Trainor, Miranda Cosgrove & Jack Black in "iStart a Fan War"
Guest Star of the Week: Gwyneth Paltrow on Glee (FOX)

Trivia Questions of the Week:

#1) Pro MMA fighter Jason 'Mayhem' Miller, host of MTV's Bully Beatdown, numbers his fan club members and calls them "Mayhem Monkeys".  MMs are assigned numbers, with 'Mayhem' Miller having a number assigned too.  What is Jason's own "Mayhem Monkey" number?

#2) In my Daily Update review for this past week's Glee I referenced the year 2000 in regards to Gwyneth Paltrow's singing.  In which musical film of that year, directed by her award-winning Father, did she co-star and sing?  [answered]

Current Medal Standing:
Dragavon: Dragavon

~ Last week's answer: Bad Boys II {Winner: Dragavon}
* Outstanding Sitcoms *

4. The Big Bang Theory - "The Boyfriend Complexity" (CBS)
OMG! Leonard and Penny are back together, or are they?  Penny's visiting Father (Keith Carradine, Deadwood) prompts her to pull the wool over his eyes by claiming her and Leonard are still a couple.  Leonard was her father's favorite boyfriend of hers, so she told him they got back together to make him happy (and get him off her back about it).  After waiting months for time with a telescope, Raj wastes the night drinking with Howard and Bernadette leading to an accidental kiss between he and Wolowitz.  Carradine fit right in with this series, seeing more of him would be lots of fun.  Melissa Rauch (True Blood) is as funny as I can ever remember, her impression of Howard's mom is especially good (so good she could be his mom's voice).  As usual, Star Trek and comics are discussed, this time with an emphasis on Wolverine's prostate.  A favorite from this season, no doubt.  BTW, Howard and Raj kiss but Howard did not touch Raj's telescope.
The Big Bang Theory
Johnny Galecki & Keith Carradine in "The Boyfriend Complexity"

3. $#*! My Dad Says - "Make A Wish" (CBS)

Hail! Hail! The gang's all here!  Cybill Shepherd's guest appearance as motivational guru Charlotte Ann Robinson inspires Vince & Bonnie to quit the job they hate and go into business for themselves.  Dismayed by this development and agitated further by Henry's doing a story on her, Ed accompanies Henry to Charlotte's "Make a Wish" presentation eventually going to bed with her.  Little did I originally suspect that this series would become one of primetime's most heartwarming.  This week Ed charmingly invites Vince & Bonnie, and Root Beer especially, to move in with him (to save money to help launch their new business).  Veteran director Rob Schiller (The King of Queens, 'Til Death) makes the sentimental most out of this unconventional family tableau even Norman Rockwell could appreciate.  My new favorite episode from this series.  Shatner and Cybill Shepherd delightfully compliment each other's personas; It'd be great if she appeared here more often.  Compared to her recent roles in Eastwick and No Ordinary Family, this Shepherd performance was my favorite by far.

2. 30 Rock - "College" (NBC)

Lemon and Jack take center stage in one of this series' funniest episodes of the season.  Liz wins friends by spending her winnings on the crew (after unadvisedly gambling with them) to avoid their resenting her winning.  Guest stars Daniel Sunjata (Rescue Me, The Bronx Is Burning) & Samrat Chakrabarti (The War Within) humorously add to the fun as Liz tries to break type by not remaining a (metaphorical) college RA, and, Jack struggles to accept his promoted reality.  Donaghy tries to break GE's latest microwave, the TK421 (why aren't you at your post?), the writer's room has fun with Jack's disembodied voice used online by numerous websites, and Lemon mentors Jack to 'move on'.  The Pronouncify website depicted actually exists, take the tour and hear Jack here.
Sitting on a park bench...

1. Bored to Death - "Super Ray Is Mortal!" (HBO)

This series' second season finale begins with lovely Nina (Zoe Kazan, It's Complicated) capping off her and Jonathan's incredible first date with a request to move in with him, or else have to move back home with her parents in Portland; kind of a sudden development after previously taking it so slow.  Trim and elegant, George finally quits the (now rightward leaning) magazine and in so doing gets a date with Kathryn Joiner (Mary Kay Place, It's Complicated).  Super Ray's anusless voodoo doll was hilarious, as was his self-made costume for Brooklyn's Comic Con.  Series creator, the real Jonathan Ames, reprises his role as Irwin (entirely clothed this time) demonstrating his unique brand of Parkour and stabbing Super Ray at the Comic Con.  John Hodgman and Jason Schwartzman engage in martial combat, Ames (the character) tackles Ames (the showrunner/creator), Lenny Venito (The Knights of Prosperity, The Sopranos) helps out as Officer Drake, and Leah finally comes back to Ray adding additional healing to his hospital stay.  All in all an amazingly fun and taut half hour of comedy, fantastically directed by Adam Bernstein (Scrubs, Breaking Bad).  Will Jonathan invite Nina to move in with him? (I would).  Will the guys really trek to the Amazon?  I kinda sorta doubt it, but I can't wait till next season to learn these answers and more.
Super Ray
Zach Galifianakis as Super Ray in "Super Ray is Mortal!"


* Reality Shows *

3. Top Chef: Just Desserts - "Finale" (Bravo)
Top Chef's dessert oriented spinoff named Team Go-Diva's last remaining member, Yigit, its first Champion!  Gail has since reported (via tweet) that the selection "was not easy or clear" and "took hours of examination and discussion."  Superstar chefs Sherry Yard, Claudia Fleming, and, Elizabeth Falkner - as well as returning former cheftestants Heather, Tania, and Tim - all act as sous chefs in the delectable creation of this season's final challenge: a four-course sweet & savory dessert meal.  With the help of Sherry Yard and Tim Nugent, Yigit Pura wins Godiva's one hundred thousand dollar prize and earns the prestigious title of Bravo's first Top Pastry Chef!
* Voice your opinion on which finalist should've won here and you may win a cooking lesson from Yigit or a $100 weekly prize.

2. Bully Beatdown - "Two Girls, One Cage" (MTV)

My late pass shames me, since I only just learned of this cherished series' return, after missing two episodes of its third season already.  Anti-Bullying advocates should take note of this show that reminds us that, for some, bullying doesn't stop after high school (or college).  My luck did somewhat prevail, though, by finding out of its return in time for the landmark first female bully episode.  Comely co-workers Keiko and Amanda don't get along and because of it (self-appointed 'Queen') Amanda abuses Keiko relentlessly.  If you've never seen this series before, this is definitely the one to watch first.  For those that don't know, adult bullies are offered ten thousand dollars to challenge a professional MMA (Mixed Martial Artist) fighter to two *five minute* rounds of (one-on-one) combat.  The first round is for grappling only, with only some bullies able to last to the second round which allows full contact kick-boxing action.  In round one tap outs cost cash, while a K.O. or T.K.O. in the second immediately forfeits the remaining five thousand to the victim(s).  Many victims walk away with the full ten grand.  Here, Muay Tai specialist and Black Belt in Karate, Michelle 'Karate Hottie' Waterson goes to work on Amanda who surprisingly delivers one of the closest matches ever - doing better than most of the guy bullies.  Do yourself a favor and watch this half hour of awesome, anti-bullying fun.  To quote Mayhem from this entry, "let's use less words, and more physical violence, shall we?"  Yes!!
Bully Beatdown
Jason 'Mayhem' Miller hosts Bully Beatdown

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

Valley Ranch becomes the site of a "massacre", as Kitty Carter describes it, seeing three fan favorite candidates sent home.  The epi begins with 'cameo' pics being taken for each girl, which for some, is the last time they'll wear the uniform.  Texan Meagan Flaherty gets singled out by Kitty and is ultimately dismissed from camp leading to the most rebellious exit interview I can remember from this series.  Meagan calls Kelli and Judy 'heartless', which is obviously untrue, but after three unsuccessful attempts at DCC camp I can easily forgive her feelings -- however, her comportment during said interview sorta helped make the case that she's not a great fit for their needs.  Four veterans and a candidate are placed on 'weight probation', including formerly profiled Stephanie Heymann.  I wonder if the weight issues this year are because less time was spent in Jay's bootcamp, or if those sessions just weren't shown?  Typically much more has been made of who makes his Power Squad and who don't.  Brittney Schram stands out this episode, which is nice since most of the candidates we know best have been sent home by now.  Sadly, to the point of making Kelli McGonagill Finglass cry, mostly perfect candidates Courtney Cook and Elizabeth Reuter are let go (each with an invitation to try again next year).  I won't lie,... Buckmaster's composure last week kept my eyes relatively dry, but this week's departures caused me to shed a tear or two.  Kelli's teary-eyed statement, "I'm sick of breaking people's hearts", was genuinely heartfelt & raw ... particularly having just dismissed Liz [whom Kitty declared, "a great dancer"] and sweet Courtney [whom Kelli confessed was, "probably my favorite in the whole audition process"].  Future exiting candidates, in years to come, should model their departures on Courtney Cook's if not Rachel Buckmaster's; both were ambassadors to classiness, and in at least that small measure made fitting ambassadors to the DCC training camp experience.  Dancers, cheerleaders, and fans of either, should consider this series 'must-see'!  Period.

As this week's rare seventh Scripted Slot attests, this was a highly competitive week.  The sitcoms nearly making my column this week were Rules of Engagement (Russell calls Timmy's pad an Outhouse), How I Met Your Mother, and Mike & Molly, in that order.  Dramas almost honored, a tight list indeed, included Lie to Me, House, Castle, No Ordinary Family, Hellcats, and The Good Wife.  My PBS affiliate isn't showing Sherlock again this week, or else I would've given that another look tonight.  And due to some personalized twitter activity (concerning Gale Anne Hurd & Michael Rooker) I'm gonna give The Walking Dead another shot; I skipped it last week but am interested to see where it is now.  If I don't dig it you'll know because I won't mention it again this week.

Sincere thanks to readers who've recently started following me on twitter, and most especially to those who've been with me here since I started this odyssey nearly twenty weeks ago.  I hope you stick around, perhaps leave some comment(s), take a shot at a trivia question, and check out my Daily Updates... otherwise I'd love to see you back next week.  Thanks again for all your support.

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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