Outhouse tvphile Nightfly reviews his favorite shows from the previous [holiday] week of television.
Nightfly's TV Week in Review (week of 12/12/10)
written by Nightfly
With so many shows absent from the primetime landscape, CBS had an easy time dominating this week's Sitcom and Scripted List categories, as well as claiming my not-so coveted Guilty Pleasure Award. The McCarthy cousins, Melissa & Jenny, both appear in my column again this week, both acting on CBS comedies. Bravo claims two thirds of my Reality category with superior offerings in the arenas of fashion & cuisine. I'd like to guarantee there'll be a WiR column next week, but, I wonder if there'll be enough new shows aired to support it? I kinda doubt it, but we'll have to see. I hope you all have a safe rest of the month and I'll keep in touch on this board and in my daily tweets. Now onto the Lists...
* Potential Spoilers Below *
6. CSI: Miami - "Blood Sugar" (CBS)
Legendary TV director Rod Holcomb, whose prolific career dates back to The Six Million Dollar Man and the original BSG, this week helms what I consider to be one of the best directed epis in this series' nine year run. During Emily Procter's pregnancy David Caruso has been more featured this season and the series' action quotient has noticeably benefitted from it. Here he and Adam Rodriguez captivatingly investigate a fatal sugar refinery explosion, supported with magnificent guest performances by Leela Savasta (Cra$h & Burn), Ramón Franco (Weeds), Julie Mond (General Hospital), and the always gripping Gregg Henry (Firefly, Payback). Horatio's intensity and compassion ground the acting in this entry, while the bullet-time gunfire ranks as my favorite visual effect in this series' entire run. A heartwrenching story, keenly reflective of our times.
Adam Rodriguez in "Blood Sugar"
5. Psych - "The Polarizing Express" (USA)
Of the two primetime It's a Wonderful Life homages I reviewed this week, this one was inarguably the most surreal. Shawn's ruining a well-planned sting gets PI and Henry fired in this Christmas episode directed & co-written by James Roday. Tony Cox (Epic Movie) guests as Shawn's guide through what could've been, and Keshia Knight Pulliam cameos in Gus' sitcom scenario as his ridiculously materialistic wife. All the alternate personas are amusing, and, the courage of the victimized community prevails thanks to the poignant words and mournful bravery of Jacob Vargas (as busines owner Juan). Next to Eureka's special last week, this is my second favorite hour long Christmas epi of the season. Kirsten Nelson is especially adorable in this one!
* You can hear/download Curt Smith's moving "This Is Christmas", featured at the end of the episode, for free at the Psych website here. I recommend this emotional tune highly.
4. Desperate Housewives - "Down the Block There's a Riot" (ABC)
Paul Young's long-plotted revenge finally comes to fruition, ravaging the lane and possibly costing Susan her life. After Paul cunningly acquires the eighth and final house needed to finalize his Second Chance Community Correctional Center (re: halfway house), Lynette desperately recruits ten different streets' homeowners associations to protest the Center's Mayoral neighborhood ceremony. Keith's father Richard (John Schneider) crosses a line with Bree causing a violent father-son confrontation, Juanita reads a cathartic letter Gabby wrote to Grace, and Susan tells Tom she knows of his past with Renee and strongly suggests Renee move away. The lane has been building towards this clash for weeks and the result was more violent than I would've expected. This insightful examination of who defines the "wrong kind of people" ends with Paul surprisingly shot in the heart? Bree seems the obvious suspect but I really don't think it was her. Will Susan survive being trampled in the crush of the crowd? We'll have to wait till next year to find out.
Teri Hatcher in "Down the Block There's a Riot"
3. Human Target - "Dead Head" (FOX)
Roger Bart (30 Rock, Desperate Housewives) turns in one of the strongest performances of the week, guest starring as 'The Laundryman' and sharing fun screentime with Ames. Nick Chinlund (Ultraviolet) also guests as the corrupt cop Winston lost everything trying to bust back in the day, including his marriage to lovely Michelle played by Tracie Thoms (Death Proof). Shows with stunt teams will always rank high on my Lists and this series uses its stunt team fantastically! Kickfights, gunfights, and explosions are on the menu as usual, but this week's return of Ames (Janet Montgomery) made this epi extra special for this fan! Pucci's delightful scenes with Guerrero also made this a notable favorite too.
2. Hawaii Five-O - "Hana 'a'a Makehewa" (CBS)
As McGarrett gets ever closer to the case that killed his father, Victor Hesse (James Marsters, BtVS) resurfaces resulting in a quick but engaging end fight between the two. Though the fight doesn't last, Hesse puts up a decent showing for a guy who'd just been sniped. The Governor's refusing McG's request for ransom money necessary to save Chin's life, spurs his decision to take it from the Asset forfeiture locker that caused Chin to be suspended and distrusted prior to joining Five-O. Will Yun Lee (Thief) compellingly returns as Sang Min and world renowned martial artist Mark Dacascos (The Crow: Stairway to Heaven) reprises his role as Wo Fat in this sensational installment penned by H5O Executive Producer Peter Lenkov (CSI:NY, 24), stirringly directed by Chris Fisher (Eureka, Cold Case). "Mele Kalikimaka" finds a natural home here, Dano lovingly maintains his fatherly tradition, and we finally definitively learn who owns the Camaro. Marsters' thick Irish brogue is entertaining, but it's Daniel Dae Kim's and Grace Park's dramatics that placed this epi as high as it is.... Aloha.
* All twenty-two episodes of The Crow: Stairway to Heaven are available for free @clicker! I highly recommend checking 'em out. After originally watching the series I loved it so much I bought its only season on dvd... so seeing it for free's a no-brainer. Mark Dacascos is honestly awesome in it.
Daniel Dae Kim in "Hana 'a'a Makehewa"
1. Dexter - "The Big One" (SHO)
The fifth season finale ended on a (relatively) positive note after such a shocking season guest starring Julia Stiles, Jonny Lee Miller, and Peter Weller. The ensemble impresses in this super-suspenseful closer with Carpenter, Harrington, and young Christina Robinson (Astor) delivering especially noteworthy performances. As I mentioned in my Daily Update, I'm really glad Quinn wasn't taken out - compared to old Doakes his suspicions of Dex are tolerable moreover he's a really good match for Deb. Things might not've worked out ideally for Dex but Lumen was well served for having met him. I should also probably mention that, though I didn't dwell on it in my reviews, I never fully trusted nanny Sonya (Maria Doyle Kennedy, The Tudors) - I'm glad I was wrong about her. Although the guest casting has always been great for this show, I personally found this season astonishing. I already can't wait till next season; I really hope Cody and Astor live with him next season.
Michael C. Hall & Joseph Roberts in "The Big One"
Guilty Pleasure Award - Two and a Half Men - "Chocolate Diddlers or My Puppy's Dead" (CBS)
I know some hate this show's very existence, but I watch 'cause it reliably makes me laugh every week, this week being no exception. All the things some folks hate about it are on full display in this one, highlighting Charlie's continiung drunken state and his utter lack of friends. Courtney Thorne-Smith, Jenny McCarthy & Jane Lynch reprise their respective roles and Desi Lydic (Invasion Iowa) guest cameos as Veronica [at the bar]. This "what's wrong with Charlie?" episode is one of the series' best, answering (beyond merely being a drunk with lots of money) that he's a malignancy on the ass of mankind,...Charlie Harper, that is. The Glee references made me LOL, and a Wang Chung epi would probably be fun! :-) Charlie's "Chocolate Diddlers" dirge cracked me up.
Guest Star of the Week: Dave Foley on Leverage (TNT)
Trivia Question of the Week: This Wednesday Robert De Niro hits theaters nationwide with Ben Stiller in Little Fockers. David Caruso, star of CSI: Miami, co-starred with De Niro in which 1990s romcom gangster movie?
Current Medal Standing:
~ Last week's answer: The Walking Dead (Winner: avengingtitan)
* Outstanding Sitcoms *
4. Mike & Molly - "First Christmas" (CBS)
Celebrating their first Christmas together becomes more harrowing than expected when hunting for the perfect gift causes undo amounts of stress instead of merriment. Mike's total lack of a clue leads to some amusing shopping at a lingerie store with Carl, while Molly has to exchange her present for Mike at the last minute after he unwittingly buys himself the item she'd already gotten him. Katy Mixon (Eastbound & Down) and Swoosie spice up the humor, with extra laughs supplied by Vince (Louis Mustillo, Joan of Arcadia) and Samuel (Nyambi Nyambi, William Vincent) collaboratively making this a favorite epi of the season. I enjoyed this series' Thanksgiving episode a lot but I liked this exceptional entry even more - I truthfully LOL'd repeatedly.
* Behold Chuck Lorre's special holiday card here.
Melissa McCarthy & Billy Gardell in "First Christmas"
3. The Simpsons - "Donnie Fatso" (FOX)
Goodfellas met The Simpsons this week, as Homer gets out of a ten year prison sentence by turning undercover snitch against mob boss Fat Tony (Joe Mantegna, Criminal Minds) befriending him along the way and ultimately causing his death. Jon Hamm (Mad Men) guests as Homer's FBI handler in this epi that begins on New Year's Day. Mantegna does a predictably great job voicing both verions of Tony, contributing to this being one of my favorite Homer stories of all-time! Homer's undercover name (Nicky Bluepants Alto Saxophony) and ChimpanMoe were a couple of my favorite things in Springfield's first crime story of its new year. Bluepants Power! Great music in this one too!!
* Joe Mantegna fans should consider signing up to hear news about his favorite cause here. Heifer empowers millions to go from poverty to self reliance via gifts of livestock, seeds, trees & training, providing a multiplying source of sustenance. Check it out 'n see if you'd like to help.
2. The Big Bang Theory - "The Justice League Recombination" (CBS)
Unlikely friendship and lingering love are issues raised in this week's rousing episode, as reuniting with entertainingly dim Zack (Brian Smith, A Good Knight's Quest) makes Penny realize she has deeper feelings for Leonard than (maybe even) she knew. The "science dudes" openly mocking Zack's lack of intellect angers Penny prompting Leonard to make amends by befriending him and even inviting him to join their annual New Year's Eve tradition. Aquaman is also ruthlessly mocked in this hilarious entry highlighting a different side of "bullying" and a LCS costume party Wonder Woman fans aren't likely to forget. Sheldon's super-speed run to the grand canyon was sublime! One welcomed holiday gift is seeing Cuoco comfortably back on her feet again!
* Kaley's recorded "Over The Rainbow" with her boyfriend (and member of [url=http://twitter.com/ANNIEAUTO]Annie Automatic[/url]) to benefit The Humane Society, currently available at iTunes for $0.99. Champion her cause and brighten her holidays by spending a buck to purchase her heartfelt track.
Cast of The Big Bang Theory in "The Justice League Recombination"
1. How I Met Your Mother - "False Positive" (CBS)
After Lily and Marshall announce the positive results of a pregnancy test, the gang spends the next thirty-six hours pondering what's most important to them in this outrageous It's a Wonderful Life inspired allegory. Ted solidly comes through for his friends, and, the whole cast charmingly shine in one of the funniest Christmas themed episodes this year,... one that admittedly brought a tear to this fan's eye. Ben Vereen's guest appearance, Barney's "Favorite Things", and Robin's Worldwide News badge all winningly combined to earn this sweet story the #1 spot on this List. One of the greatest stories from this series ever! Radnor really steps up in this one.
* Neil Patrick Harris' fierce protectiveness of HIMYM took a smile-inducing turn the past couple days on twitter. If you follow him you know what I mean (hehe). If you're not following him yet turn in your late pass and start reading his tweets here.
Jason Segel, Neil Patrick Harris & Josh Radnor in "False Positive"
* Reality Shows *
3. The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection - "Reel to Genteel" (Bravo)
East beat West as the Housewives of New Jersey and The O.C. clashed this week on fashion's combative arena of the catwalk. I've never watched Bravo's Housewife shows but I assume they're about homemakers displaying quirks relevant to their regions while being sufficiently "bitchy" or "catty" to grab audiences... well, pretty much none of that surfaced here as both Housewife groups behaved about the same as all other non-model models do on shows such as these. One lady was particularly hard to fit, one wife came with her own sketches,... the usual. I was surprised by the NJ win (by House of Nami) because I personally liked the O.C.'s looks a lot better, but that may just be my inherent left coast bias talking (being a Cali native). Frankly, the bitchiest tantrum of the epi, unsurprisingly, is thrown by Tran. Susan Fales-Hill guest judges as Eduardo garners another individual win, House of Nami scores the team win, and, Cindy's other half Golnesssa is told she's no longer in fashion and to go home.
2. Top Chef: All-Stars - "New York's Finest" (Bravo)
Chefs, chefs, chefs,... there was surely no shortage as the last sixteen competitors performed in front of guest Master Chefs David Chang, David Burke, Michael White, and Wylie Dufresne, as well as Food & Wine's Kate Krader [guest judge for the Elimination Challenge]. An entertaining mise-en-place team relay Quickfire Challenge leads to an engrossing Elimination Challenge forcing the cheftestants to impress the Master Chefs in their home restaurants in the styles of those chef's establishments. Fabio's totally convinced he'll be packing his knives (as it were) but the swan songs eventually belong to Dale Levitski and Stephen Asprinio when the judges surprisingly decide to send both All-Stars home. All the judges make this one entertaining, and I've been decidedly pleased by Tom Colicchio's rejuvenated energy and engagement this season - I could be wrong, but he seemed as bored as I was by last season & it's nice seeing his infectious enthusiasm back again this go around.
1. Bully Beatdown - "Creatine Rage" (MTV)
An exhibition of real vs. fake exposes the difference true muscle training and fight technqiue makes over creatine bulk and simple rage. It's Philly vs. The Bronx in this madcap episode big on laughs and submission holds, as Bronx short stack Mike (a comedic treat to hear speak) insults Mayhem's "strip of doom" and pays a harsh price for bullying Lorenzo & Joey. Fifth in the world lightweight Eddie Alvaraz holds a submission clinic in the first round and scores a K.O. without even throwing a punch in the second. I almost feel bad for these bragadocious bulldogs ignorantly squaring off against (trained) Terminators - it's stunning how thoroughly they fail to grasp what the term 'Professional Fighter' means until after their bodies are being tossed 'round Mayhem's cage. All ten grand is lost to Mike's victims, and after being ragdolled quite a bit Mike thankfully (as usual) displays a hard-earned new respect for how to properly treat his fellow man. Another fun episode I highly recommend! The Monkey Spirit is strong in this one. :)
MMA Superstar Eddie Alvarez
Before I close this column I want to encourage my readers to donate (if you can), or at least spread the word (like I am) to help Alyssa Milano fulfill her charitable birthday wish. In my book she's one of the twitterverse's true compass points, and her noble goal is so closely within reach donations made now may be the ones to finally get her over the line. Go here to learn more, and watch this video to see what she helped accomplish last year.
Today's her Birthday... Happy B-Day Alyssa!!! :-)
As to shows nearly making my Scripted List, The Good Wife, The Closer, and Psych's bear epi came the closest, while Rules of Engagement and $#*! My Dad Says both came closest to making my Sitcoms List. I intend to post Daily Updates this week as often as I'm able and whether or not there's a column next week is as much a mystery to me as it is to you.
For my fellow TV addicts out there, undoubtedly bummed by the dearth of programming the next couple weeks, take comfort in this handy Mid-season schedule (I recommend bookmarking) compiled by the good folks @TVOvermind. And just in case this becomes my last WiR column of the month I want to give a shout out to Jude for all his help and support, and to Derek Flanzraich @clicker for all his invaluable encouragement! Thanks also to my celebrity twitter followers who've inspired me just by heeding my tweets. The support of my regular readers and those I named (above) have helped end this year on a very positive note for me! Happy Holidays to you all, and Happy Viewing!
Written or Contributed by: Nightfly