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Nightfly's TV Week in Review 12/5/10 - Boardwalk Empire, 30 Rock & more!

Written by Nightfly on Wednesday, December 15 2010 and posted in Features

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

Nightfly's TV Week in Review (week of 12/5/10)
written by Nightfly

Marking a fairly uncommon occurence, no network appeared twice on my Scripted Show List this week!?!  Not uncommonly FOX took half the slots in my Sitcom category.  TNT's Leverage returns for the back half of its third season tonite (Sunday), and, even though it seems like it barely came back Burn Notice wraps its fourth action-packed season with a two-hour finale this Thursday.  This column, as per the season, is crammed with holiday offerings I'm hoping you enjoyed half as much as I enjoyed reviewing them.  Now to the Lists...
* Potential Spoilers Below *

6. Nikita - "All The Way" (CW)
Director Terence O'Hara (NCIS, The Unit) stunningly helms this affective mid-season finale, seeing Alex graduate for killing her friend Thom, and, Nikita tortured so cruelly it effectively wounds her spirit.  The cast fuels the drama compellingly, though it's Fonseca and Maggie Q that take it to the level beyond.  Birkhoff's discovery of the shell program was a logistical hit but with Alex outside now it doesn't seem so very great a loss.  Maggie Q's assault on Division was stupendous and Thom's death scene was shocking and sad.  Will Thom still appear to Alex in visions or flashbacks?  It sucks someone had to die but I'm frankly glad it wasn't one of the 'adults', this ensemble is too excellent to break up.  Robin Givens cameos in what I rank as the best mid-season finale aired this week.  I highly recommend checking it out when it hits the web sometime in the next day or two.  Niki's freshman season returns Janurary 27th.

5. Dexter - "Hop a Freighter" (SHO)

Love, Dexter style.  With each step towards normalcy I grow more fearful of Lumen's demise.  Based on her level of physical affection (much less intimacy), this 'therapy' is clearly producing miracles. Stiles and Jennifer Carpenter, individually, are remarkably engrossing and most responsible for this epi making my List.  Liddy's choice to kidnap Dex was the worst (and last) mistake he'll ever make, ending his guest starring run for this season.  Jordan "I've never had to do anything before" Chase abducts Lumen and kills Emily Birch in front of her; if there's any hope for Lumen's ultimate survival it rests with Chase's lack of hands-on experience.  Is the only kind of love Dexter will ever find, the kind that ends in blood?  It's no doubt seriously complicated, but the building crescendo is kind of beautiful too.  John Dahl brilliantly directs this lead-up to tonight's finale, capturing the development within Dexter and consummately utilizing Daniel Licht's enthralling score.  Jonny Lee Miller brashly impresses as well.  I wouldn't bet on Lumen surviving the finale, but I'm hoping her (and most likely Quinn's) death will open a new chapter for Deb's and Dexter's siblinghood.  Bravo to Peter Weller for contributing a lot to this season, Liddy will truly be missed!
Julia Stiles & Michael C. Hall

4. Human Target - "The Return of Baptiste" (FOX)

Indira Varma, Mark Valley, and Lennie James bring some elegance to the game in this week's roucous thrillride primarily set in South America.  When Ilsa's journalist friend Sarah (Wendy Glenn, The L Word) is kidnapped by Don Miguel Cervantes (Jorge Montesi, Caprica) she pulls out all the stops to rescue her.  Baptiste returns on a two day pass from Siberian prison, aiding Chance but mostly aiming to retrieve his beloved Bulgari ('Heritage Collection') watch.  Jonathan E. Steinberg (Jericho) combined with Lennie James has never disappointed and this entry mightily proved that rule.  Janet Montgomery's presence is missed however Pucci's additional scenes, particularly with Capt. Harmen (Cameron Daddo, 24), fill the void of her absence nicely.  I wonder if we'll see Harmen again?  Keeping Baptiste's watch guarantees Chance will see him again - I hope he'll accept Chance's offer.
Human Target
Lennie James as Baptiste

3. No Ordinary Family - "No Ordinary Sidekick" (ABC)

Josh Stewart (a.k.a. 'The Watcher') is at his most gripping in this sidekick oriented episode filled with season best performances and the introduction of Katelyn Tarver (Big Time Rush) as J.J.'s new brainy friend Natalie.  Dr. King (Collins) continues applying pressure on Will, using him to kill Dr. Chiles (Reggie Lee, Life as We Know It) and rob Daphne of her memories [and development] from the previous three months.  Lee (as Chiles) dies movingly and Kay Panabaker's pleading scene is heartbreaking; both should be proud of these evocative & intense portrayals.  Of course, sidekicks George and Katie enjoy prominence both declaring the need for some time to themselves, and, Guillermo Díaz (as Det. Cordero) steps up for some extraordinary screentime as well.  I missed Comic Con '06 but I'd love to see what a metrosexual Wookiee looks like?!  Wendy Stanzler (The Middle) engagingly directs this suspenseful epi, co-written by Tru Calling scribes Zack Estrin (Charmed) & Jon Harmon Feldman (Reunion), literally keeping me on the edge of my seat.  Not since the film by the same name has a 'Money Train' story so entertained - I especially enjoyed Jim's stopping it.  Once again the best offering from the big three all week!  FYI, for the younger guys among us, thinking about baseball is useful in a number of interpersonally-related (opposite sex) interactions. ;)

2. Eureka - "O Little Town" (SyFy)

I'm usually not a mark for Christmas "specials" but this one really hit the right note.  Guest stars Matt Frewer and Chris Parnell transcend yuletide merriment to offer a master class on the subject of Santalogy.  Though unique problems are a mainstay of this series' winning formula, the threat's never loomed so large nor the townsfolk themselves been so small as in this heartwarming tale of [forced] togetherness gone a-right.  Vincent's ultra-savory miniature fruitcakes cause havoc from their density subjecting the entire town to an uncontrolled shrinking effect.  Luckily, Sheriff Carter finds the key to the problem that the three wisemen of Taggert (Frewer), Drummer (Parnell) and Deacon are eventually able to reverse.  Through 'Secret Santa' Jo, Doctors Drummer & Taggert, and magical mom Allison rare is the special with as much true Christmas spirit as this lovely one.  I can easily predict watching this meaningful "special" will become a new annual tradition!  To my mind, Parnell has never been better.
Salli Richardson-Whitfield in "O Little Town"

1. Boardwalk Empire - "A Return to Normalcy" (HBO)

Margaret finally meets the real Enoch Thompson in this pitch perfect finale, and rather than face the fate of the rag, decides she can live with his sins.  Speaking of sin, God's (asked for) sign to Van Alden was surprising, as was Eli's conspiring with the Commodore to undermine Nuck.  Buscemi's overall performance is a grandslam homerun; the story of his baby is as award-worthy acting as I've seen from him [or any other male on any show] this season.  The D'Alessio brothers' elimination and the one million dollar deal with Rothstein collectively add to the greatness of this episode penetratingly directed by Tim Van Patton.  I can't wait for next season already!  This first one was all that I hoped for and more.  I can't recommend this series highly enough!
Boardwalk Empire
Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire

Guilty Pleasure Award - The Walking Dead - "TS-19" (AMC)

I initially begrudged Lori's romance with Shane more than some, but she surely didn't deserve what he did to her here.  All this season I hoped she'd get bit by a zombie yet what Shane did gained her my sympathy immediately.  Simon Pegg (a.k.a. Scotty) wondered, via tweet, if Shane's interaction with her was Jenner's secret whispered to Grimes at the end.  Jenner's presentation of Subject 19 was one of this series' strongest perfomances since Lennie James played Morgan Jones in the pilot.  For a show so far on my bad side (based on its misery qoutient) I rank this finale 8 out of 10 - primarily for the ensemble's magnificent acting.  Guy Ferland (Sons of Anarchy) does a riveting job realizing this gutwrenching script by Adam Fierro (HawthoRNe, Dexter) & Frank Darabont.  I eagerly await this series' provocatve return!
The Walking Dead
Noah Emmerich & Andrew Lincoln in "TS-19"
Guest Star of the Week: Chris Parnell on Eureka (SyFy)

Trivia Question of the Week: Composer Bear McCreary scores many of my favorite shows including two that appear in my column this week.  Name either of the two shows from this WiR that he scored? [answered]

Current Medal Standing:

Dragavon: Dragavon

~ Last week's answer: Beautiful Girls (1996)  (Winner: avengingtitan)
* Outstanding Sitcoms *

4. $#*! My Dad Says - "You Can't Handle the Truce" (CBS)
Clearly aired out of order, the origin of Root Beer the bulldog pup is finally told in this week's touching installment, one of my favorites from this series' award-worthy first season.  Nicole Sullivan portrays a humorously frank, if bittersweet, look at the void in her & Vince's life and the pacifier they seek to fulfill it.  Charles Robinson (The Game, Night Court) is introduced as Ed's ex-marine neighbor Mr. Campbell, and, Kali Rocha (Grey's Anatomy, BtVS) guests as insightful adoption inspector Roberta.  Gail Mancuso serves up her signature balance of hilarity and sentiment again as she's so winningly done on shows such as Rules of Engagement & Scrubs.  I really love the ways this series tackles honest, real life issues in its own (Shatnerific) comedic way.

3. Raising Hope - "Toy Story" (FOX)
Virginia fans will surely rejoice as the Chance family spend their Christmas earning a new reputation for Hope.  When the local church's Living Nativity scene denies Hope's application based on her rep as "a murderer's baby" Virginia's resolve is steeled to get Hope a new label as the charitably lucrative baby Jesus.  Burt and Jimmy split profits from selling this year's impossible to get toy, Baby Sneezes, on the black market for 5x the suggested retail price.  Barney, Maw Maw, & (manger fan) Sabrina compliment the humor along with guests Jonathan Slavin (Better Off Ted) & Jennifer Irwin (Eastbound & Down).  Any remotely casual fan will love how the Chance family rocks this badass nativity scene!!  Sabrina's yard reindeer faceplant inspired my loudest laugh all week.
Raising Hope
Martha Plimpton as Virginia Chance in "Toy Story"

2. The Simpsons - "The Fight Before Christmas" (FOX)

The Christmas Special for this Simpsons season, its twenty-second, was exceedingly awesome with an unexpected live action appearance by guest Katy Perry!  In dreams, Bart rides a psychadelic Polar Express to Krusty Claus' North Pole (scored by Run–D.M.C. & The Doors), Lisa sees her mom as an Inglourious female soldier in WWII, Marge undos a dream makeover from an emotionally chilly Martha Stewart, and Maggie brings muppet-like 'fluppets' to life alongside popstar/fashionista Katy Perry (er, Katy Brand).  When I wasn't smiling or chuckling, I was laughing out loud so it's a no brainer I recommend this Special.  Marge's fiery "Auf Wiedersehen" and the Nazi version of Dumbo were outrageous on multiple levels.  Of the original unabridged thirty-nine days of Christmas, "twenty-two rats a-plaguing" was my favorite,... and the Sesame Street styled sponsorship via U-umlaut and the number e was surprisingly & laughably informational.
The Simpsons
Katy Perry in "The Fight Before Christmas"

1. 30 Rock - "Christmas Attack Zone" (NBC)

King of the namedrops and shout outs, this week's Christmas Special mentioned too many to list but The Mentalist unquestionably comes out on top.  Lemon accompanies Jack, Avery, and Jack's secret father Milton Greene (Alan Alda) to a horrible Christmas dinner at Colleen's so Jack can tell her about his & Jessup's secret (unmarried) pregnancy.  Tracy struggles with being serious since earning his nom for 'Hard to Watch', eventually cheering up a battered women's shelter with his unreleased Christmas sequel to The Chunks, despite what it'll do to his Golden Globe chances.  I hope "Body Language expert" Liz becomes a new running gag, as it offers a world of unimaginable possibilities.  Jenna's and Paul's Black Swans are ridiculous and Jack's "Christmas Attack Zone" is a memorably comedic blessing!  My favorite Christmas special of any sitcom this year, and a poignant reminder that since Christmas is inherently a drama-filled horror, one might as well endure said horror amongst family.  Happy Whatever You Believe In!  Habitat for Humanity gets love from hippy pacifist Greene. :)

Her Universe
* Reality Shows *

3. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team 5 (CMT)
Though last episode left Stephanie Heymann hanging, this week we learn all thirty-four remaining girls make the final squad.  Highlights of this fifth finale include Squad Photo Day, the four hour dance marathon that is Game Day, swimsuit fittings for veterans, the swimsuit calendar shoot in idealic Riviera Nayarit, the unveil and party for the calendar, and a dazzling Showgroup performance for the Countdown to Superbowl XLV Party live from Cowboys Stadium simultaneously celebrating fifty years of Dallas Cowboys history.  Though the calendar excludes rookies, gorgeous newbie Olivia Stevanovski performs with the Showgroup at the Countdown Party calling it "probably the best night of my life" - Brooke Sorenson calls the event her "favorite performance as a DCC."  Veterans Michelle Keys, Kelsi Reich, and Evan Anderson offer informative insights into events as do rarely heard from rookies Ann Lux, Lauren Williams, and Kaitlin LeGrand.  Watching this series, season after season, has clearly shown me what special ladies these Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders really are, they inarguably earn the title of America's Sweethearts of cheer.  You can support their ongoing legacy of excellence by giving one of their four fantastic calendars to the dance or cheer (or Cowboys football) fan in your life this holiday season available for purchase here.  I'm getting this one.
2011 DCC Squad

2. Bully Beatdown - "Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow" (MTV)

As tormenting bullies go, armpit-puncher Kevin 'The Natural' is far from the worst of 'em.  Offensively conceited and inspired by 50s "greaser" culture, he's one of the few that seems to almost have half a brain.  While interviewed, Mayhem challenges Kevin to cut off his pompadour if he loses the whole ten grand to his two victims - a challenge Kevin accepts as an inclusion to his (so-called) "apology package".  Two time All-American Wrestler and MMA rising star Tyron Woodley degreases Kevin, winning nine of the ten thousand bucks for The Natural's victims.  Tyron messes up Kevin's do every chance he gets and pounds his face in the kickboxing round.  East L.A. can be proud on this day though, as Kevin magnanimously still offers his pomp as part of the 'package' after losing by T.K.O.  Anthony & Sam get nine grand and a sense of justice, while Kevin gets beaten up, $1000, and his profile profoundly recast.  Fun epi, check it out!

1. American Chopper: Sr. vs. Jr. - "Fallen Heroes Bike and Bling Star Bike Pt.1" (DSC)

If anything ever finally drives this family to therapy, it'll likely be Senior not attending Jr.'s wedding.  Junior extends an invitation to Sr. but his attendance was just not meant to be.  Bling Star becomes PJD's second paying client commissioning the customization of an extreme All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV quad runner).  Gold Star Mother Deborah Higgins, President and Founder of Natl. Fallen Heroes Memorial requests OCC honor her son and all Fallen Heroes from all five branches of America's military by building a museum piece 'tribute' bike.  As young quad racer Odie oversees the Bling Star project (while Junior's on honeymoon with Rachael), the crew at OCC put everything they've got into saluting the Ultimate Sacrifice made by so many of our brave men and women in war and various unsung conflicts.  With season seven returning, I'm hoping this family feud will sooner than later come to completion.  The season began with promos of Senior and his sons on a therapist's couch seemingly working it out, I hope that's how this season actually ends.
American Chopper
Natl. Fallen Heroes Memorial Bike by OCC

I typically use this space to give honorable mentions to shows I enjoyed that came close to making my Lists.  This week I'd additionally like to mention a show I didn't watch but which made itself noteworthy nevertheless; Community.  NBC's fan favorite laugher went all stop-motion this week mirroring the look of the classic Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, so perhaps even non-fans will want to make time to catch this one (see it here).  Sitcoms on my viewing schedule almost making my List included The Big Bang Theory, Better With You (once again available online), How I Met Your Mother & Running Wilde.  One hour scripted shows nearly making my List were Fringe, Castle, Psych, The Closer, & CSI: Miami.

I appreciate your readership, feedback, and recommendations so please feel free to comment on my opinions.  I Hope you come back for my Daily Updates and try answering my weekly trivia question.  Be Safe and Happy Viewing!  See ya 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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