Outhouse tvphile Nightfly reviews his favorite shows from the previous [holiday] week of television.
Nightfly's TV Week in Review (week of 12/19/10)
written by Nightfly
If it wasn't for the weather, at least by my Lists, one might think it was summer. For one thing, the sole Big Three network program to appear anywhere in this column is an already cancelled series showing up in my Guilty Pleasure slot. Also like summer TNT dominates, claiming half my six Scripted spots, two taken by Leverage's spectacular season finale alone. Every Scripted series mentioned this week, including Undercovers, boasted amazing guest stars with numerous series having more than one (or two) great guests. This WiR column was unique in a way I mention in my closing comments, nevertheless, the shows honored by these Lists were genuinely deserving, to be sure. Whether or not there'll be a WiR next Sunday is still up in the air, hopefully enough series will air new stuff througout the week to warrant one. Now onto this week's Lists...
* Potential Spoilers Below *
6. The Closer - "Living Proof Pt.1" (TNT)
A knifefight in front of a crowd of Christmas shoppers opens this exciting epi full of surprises and intrigue, suspensefully delaying Capt. Raydor and Priority Homicide from their non-refundable holiday plans. Brenda's parents show up with news they're moving to L.A. from Atlanta, and a young boy is caught in the middle of a blood feud claiming the lives of his mother and grandfather. Michael Aronov (Cold Souls) and Aaron Refvem (General Hospital) dramatically guest star in this engaging first part of a two-parter written by Leo Geter (Close to Home) and directed by Rick Wallace (Men In Trees, Women's Murder Club). Part two of this stirring, unrelenting murder spree airs tomorrow (12/27) @ 9p.
5. Leverage - "The Big Bang Job" (TNT)
This epi Nate and Co. "steal the Dept. of Defense", Elliot confesses to a past association with Damien Moreau (guest Goran Visnjic), and 'The Italian' (Elisabetta Canalis, Fratelli Benvenuti) reveals herself to be an undercover agent. Parker and Hardison gracefully hop some railroad cars and Elliot engages in a seriously ridiculous gun battle spotlighting an unusually long kneeslide amidst crazy (but pretty) bullet-time crossfire. The ensemble excels and Visnjic brings suave villainy to one of the best stories of the season; A must-see for Elliot, Nate, and Sophie fans. Moreau is prevented from getting the battery he sought but, after shooting 'The Italian', manages to escape to San Lorenzo. Marc Roskin, who also directed the first half of Burn Notice's finale last week, impressively helms this epi replete with beautifully composed & framed camera shots. Check this one out if you're even remotely a fan.
Christian Kane in "The Big Bang Job"
4. Leverage - "The San Lorenzo Job" (TNT)
Sophie (Gina Bellman) knocks this third season finale out of the park as San Lorenzo's beloved First Lady helping defeat sitting President Ribera (Alastair Duncan, The Batman) and taking down Damien Moreau in the process. As if stealing the Dept. of Defense wasn't ambitious enough (from the first hour), this hour they merely steal a country. Nate teaches a master class in American political campaigning, a lesson ultimately sending Moreau to prison and leaving San Lorenzo with a new (widower) President - elected by the people. Without question my favorite Bellman & Hutton entry, this super-slick season ends with Sophie and Nate together in bed! :P Next season can't come fast enough. No doubt one of the best installments (and/or finales) from this series' entire run! Sophie fans would be crazy to miss this showcase of her skills!
Gina Bellman in "The San Lorenzo Job"
3. Human Target - "The Other Side of the Mall" (FOX)
I often praise this action series for being "fun", I don't generally think of it so much as comedic... this week, however, guest funnyman John Michael Higgins (Kath & Kim, Arrested Development) changed that dynamic, even highlighting a bit more humor from Chance, Winston, and Guerrero (Ames is always adorably amusing to me). Chuck writer Zev Borow and director Peter Lauer, crank up the danger, bring out the laughs, and revealingly highlight the disparate approaches of Winston and Chance to the yuletide season. Endearing guest stars Rebecca McFarland (Two and a Half Men), Taylor Boggan as hacker Joel, and comely Marie Avgeropoulos (Hunt to Kill, Supernatural) as object of Joel's affection 'Jamie' hugely add to this entry's excellence. The corporate espionage story is a little convoluted but the fights, fun, music, and stunts surely make up for the pretzeled construction of the story! I highly & happily recommend this charming holiday installment! :)
Jackie Earle Haley in "The Other Side of the Mall"
2. Psych - "Yin 3 in 2D" (USA)
Concluding the Yang Trilogy, this week's exceptional (fifth) season finale featured dynamic guest appearancs by Peter Weller, Cybill Shepherd, Ally Sheedy, Mena Suvari, and Jimmi Simpson (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) via VHS. Yang (Sheedy), it turns out, never actually killed anyone but rather was the victimized daughter of serial killer Yin, brashly played by Peter Weller. Strong performances are delivered by all in this suspenseful thriller co-written by James Roday, deftly directed by Mel Damski (Charmed). Sheedy, Suvari, and Weller are especially compelling, with Roday, Hill, and Bernsen remarkably impressive as well. Shawn's & Juliet's romance is not only deduced by Yang, but discovered (somewhat curiously) by Lassie. Since rules against romantic fraternization cost Carlton his girlfriend Lucinda (Anne Dudek) thanks to Shawn's outing their relationship in the pilot five years ago, one can only guess how Lassie will use this potentially damaging information now. This was easily one of my favorite Psych epis ever!! And, as of this writing, one of only three honorees from this Scripted List currently viewable online for free.
Peter Weller as Yin in "Yin 3 in 2D"
1. Doctor Who - "A Christmas Carol" (BBC-America)
Stupendous guests Sir Michael Gambon and Opera Diva Katherine Jenkins (in her worldwide TV acting debut) help Moffat and Smith put their unique Whovian spin on Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with Sir Michael crushing the (analogous) role of Scrooge. Miserly Kazran Sardick (Gambon) is every bit as cruel as Scrooge, if not moreso, not just letting people die uncaringly but even separating people from their families to be stored frozen in his home as "loan security." Mezzo-soprano Jenkins is sublime as angelic Abigail Pettigrew making an impression that'll surely last generations, while, Pond & Rory anxiously hurl towards doom on a ("Galaxy Class") starship Captained by guest Pooky Quesnel (EastEnders, Criminal Justice). In the parlance of reviewers, I'd hoped this Uncut special could make me both laugh and cry... suffice it to say, it did. Moffat's magic enchanted as well as I've ever seen and Matt Smith's Doctor was all heart, as always. I can't recommend this wonderful episode strongly enough. In my book Gambon's one of (if not) the finest actor(s) alive today, his magnificent talent is in full, awe-inspiring force here!
* the DVD & Blu-ray of this epi will be released Feb. 15th, 2011 with a bonus 'Inside Look' featurette as well as the Doctor Who at the Proms concert at Royal Albert Hall. Be the first on your block to pre-order a copy of your own direct from the BBC store here. :wink:
Sir Michael Gambon, Matt Smith, & Katherine Jenkins
Guilty Pleasure Award - Undercovers - "Funny Money" (NBC)
This week's explosive action, murder, and sexpionage were augmented with a melancholy sibling theme penned by Tracy Bellomo (Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Dollhouse) and subtly directed by Jonas Pate (helmer of SyFy's upcoming BSG: Blood and Chrome pilot). After US Secret Service agents are attacked and US Treasury plates stolen, the Blooms are assigned to track the plates internationally before they can do harm to unstable economies or American national security. A bit of a Dollhouse reunion occurs as guest stars Enver Gjokaj (Stone) & Harry Lennix (The Matrix Revolutions) speak Bellomo's lines, both as brothers in dire straits with their siblings. Henri Lubatti (Sleeper Cell, Felicity) guests as baddie Goran Hincir in this deadly mission ending with Lizzy (Mekia Cox) leaving Bloom Catering to tour Europe with her boyfriend. It obviously would've caused issues for Sam, still, I've been hopin' all this time that Lizzy & Leo would eventually end up together. Only three (3) new episodes remain. :-(
* Boris Kodjoe is reportedly vying for a role in The Walking Dead's second season. Several strong actors are in competition for the part but I'm hoping Boris wins it.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw in "Funny Money"
Guest Star of the Week: Sir Michael Gambon on Doctor Who (BBC-America)
Trivia Question of the Week: Psych guest actress Mena Suvari shared credits with Dulé Hill previously in a film written by David Mamet, starring William H. Macy (of Showtime's upcoming Shameless). Name the Macy movie Suvari & Hill (plus Leverage's Aldis Hodge) co-appeared in? [answered]
Mena Suvari as Allison in "Yin 3 in 2D"
Current Medal Standing:
~ Last week's answer: Mad Dog and Glory (Winner: avengingtitan)
* Reality Shows *
3. Top Chef: All-Stars - "Advantage Chef" (Bravo)
Carla Hall mans up this epi, cutting her finger badly, defying doctor's advice to stay in the fight, and ultimately winning the Elimination Challenge and its bonus prize of a five day trip to Italy. Perhaps my favorite entry this season, this fun epi entertained from start to finish and featured Spike sent home for an unwise and horribly executed gameplan. Chicago Master Chef Tony Mantuano fills in for Bourdain this week overseeing a toolless Quickfire Challenge and a head-to-head team Elimination Challenge scored tennis style on the court of the US Open. Freshly retired tennis pro Taylor Dent also appears as a guest judge. Topping off this entertaining installment, at judging table Gail declares their Elimination dishes to be the "best we've been served across seven seasons"! I don't think Spike should've been the one sent home, but his attitude leaving was oddly petty and conspiratorial?! This season has been a lot better than I expected and seems to be growing more enjoyable with each epi. Tre Wilcox, btw, earns a bonus twenty thousand dollars just by winning the Swanson stuffing Quickfire Challenge. :shock:
Carla Hall cooking towards victory in "Advantage Chef"
2. American Chopper: Sr. vs. Jr. - "Chicago Blackhawks Bike pt.2 & Carolina Carports Bike Pt.1" (DSC)
This week Senior finally agrees to see a therapist at Mikey's behest, yet footage of Senior's session won't air till next episode. Take it as you will, but, it's actually the amputation of Senior's dog Gus' cancerous leg that inspires him to think about doing right by his human offspring for a change... considering how messed up he's let it get between he and all of his sons. I'm not a pet person myself but I'll at least give Senior credit for letting his animal companion's misfortune remind him that his human sons exist - seems plenty of folks just go ahead and let their pet relationships replace human ones (re: calling their pets their kids & treating them better than they treat people, etc). Though his sons never got health coverage at OCC, Gus gets only the best; naturally including a custom wheel cart by Eddie's Wheels, whom Senior calls "the best in the business." [read their writeup of Senior's visit here]. A deal made between Senior and PJD to exchange fabricator visits, Brendan to OCC and Rick to PJD for tours, is shockingly reneged upon by Sr. allowing Brendan a great glimpse into the way Senior does business. Vinnie's and Rick's phonecall about the incident is one of my favorite highlights from the season so far. Paulie begins a corp. build for Carolina Carports this episode, while OCC completes and unveils the World Champion Chicago Blackhawks bike at a packed United Center, benefitting the Special Kids Network and Chicago Blackhawks Charities. Props to Gus and his sad sacrifice for accomplishing what no other righteous force in Senior's universe could (i.e., getting him to reevaluate his relationships with his children)! I'm eager to see Senior get professional help.
Chicago Blackhawks Bike by OCC
1. Bully Beatdown - "Bring out the Boar" (MTV)
One of the youngest and douchiest Bullies ever to appear on BB also happened to be one of the toughest, even landing a clean headshot against his plainly over-matched MMA Pro. High School twins Austin and Micah, brutally and ruthlessly bullied by son of a cop Jordan 'The Boar' a rowdy punk who can squeeze at least two references to his dad's being a cop into any sentence, take their problem to Mayhem who always knows the solution. Perhaps tellingly, unlike past dads who've accompanied their thuggish sons to the show, Jordan's cop ain't in the house on fight day to support his son. Multiple Champion Joe 'Diesel' Riggs dishes out brutal punishment of his own, winning the full ten grand for Austin & Micah and sufficiently adjusting Jordan's attitude such that he sincerely apologizes and even embraces his former victims. This may or may not've been the season finale episode (I'm not certain either way at this point), but since MTV teased another new epi for next Thursday I'll definitely be tuning in to find out. Jordan really gets pummelled, like most bullies, it's clear he wasn't used to being physically man-handled himself... the kid's obviously got some issues but at least now victimizing Austin and Micah so relentlessly won't be one of 'em. All the basic elements of what this series does and is about are on display in this epi, a great introduction for newbies.
This week every Scripted show I watched made my list,... with so few Scripted series airing fresh episodes there wasn't a single screened show left over. No new Sitcoms aired which is why that category is absent from this column, however, in the Reality category there were a couple honorable mentions most notably The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection and Meteorite Men. Stacey & Clinton strutted to their new night this week, now transforming Tuesdays instead of Fridays; And for those still hanging in there, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk became the new fastest Big Star in a Small Car on this past Sunday's Top Gear-US.
Stacy London & Clinton Kelly of What Not to Wear
Hope you all had a great X-mas weekend and get to relax this week as much as possible. The number of new shows airing, or not, will determine whether I post another WiR next week. There's a better than average chance that I will. I look forward to seeing you again next Sunday or perhaps for some Daily Update action throughout this week. Be Well & Happy Viewing!
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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