Senior TV Columnist Nightfly recaps & reviews his favorite shows from the previous week of primetime programming.
TV Week in Review (week of 3/6/11)
This week FOX takes a prominent role in my column claiming half my Top 6 Scripted List and half of my Outstanding Sitcoms List as well. The Science Channel tops my Reality Shows List, and, the USA network snags its first appearance on my Scripted List since Psych's season finale. Olyphant's Justified brings FX back to my column for a second week in a row, while the fifth epi of FOX's Traffic Light breaks onto my Sitcoms List (the series first WiR appearance) earning the number one spot easily. Fans of the Meteorite Men will enjoy my closing paragraph, do the Logical thing after reading it and go read Geoff's blog next.
* Potential Spoilers Below *
6. House - "Bombshells" (FOX)
The conundrum of why some series routinely make my list and some don't is directly addressed in this episode featuring unconventionally entertaining scenes via Cuddy's dreams. The award-winning quality of this series and its lead star is well known, yet it was my fandom of Lisa Edelstein that brought me to the show originally. I started noticing Lisa here and there throughout the 90s but it was John Landis' little known Dying to Get Rich! ...Susan's Plan that put me in her corner henceforth. With so many shows absent this week the odds were high this episode's subject would've garnered List placement anyway, but the brilliant dream sequences presented here guaranteed it. Augmenting Cuddy's dreamlife are fun vignettes such as House & Wilson raising Rachel in a My Two Dads like sitcom, Greg wielding a badass Ax-Cane-Shotgun combo weapon vs. zombies, her and Greg in the ill-fated last scene of Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, and a sublime musical-dance sequence choreographed by Mia Michaels. Lovely Paula Marshall returns as Lisa's sister Julia. I spent so much of this story preparing for one negative outcome that when the alternate tragedy was revealed it effectively blindsided me. I'm not happy with where the writers took it - I believed Greg was better and stronger than that, but... well, it is what it is. The next episode should be unruly.
Hugh Laurie & Lisa Edelstein in "Bombshells"
5. White Collar - "Under the Radar" (USA)
Since this was my first full season as a fan, it's not a bad sign that the only two epis to make my Scripted List were the mid-season finale and now the (second) season finale. In the mid-season finale Neal disobeyed Peter to confront Fowler believing he was responsible for Kate's death. Gorgeous Alex (Gloria Votsis) aided Neal's plan back then. This week Alex returns again as Neal finally faces Kate's true killer played by Brat Pack alum Andrew McCarthy (Royal Pains) as Vincent Adler - Neal's former mentor and friend. The season ends with Peter knowing Neal betrayed their trust big-time, it's hard imagining how they'll get past this one. Beautiful Hilarie Burton enchants as always; Sara & Neal end up romantically coupled (I approve). Showrunner Jeff Eastin penned another fiercely compelling finale, consummately helmed by John T. Kretchmer (Burn Notice, Veronica Mars). This epi is still available OnDemand, I highly recommend you see it.
Matt Bomer & Gloria Votsis in "Under the Radar"
4. Fringe - "Os" (FOX)
Engagingly written and directed, this multilayered epi fits a lot of storytelling into one hour - including a mystery of the week guest starring Alan Ruck (Greek) and a massive discovery by Walter about William Bell's soul. Blair Brown gets slightly more screentime than usual, a welcomed change as she's one of the finest actresses of her generation. Peter shares the knowledge he's gathered from the various shapeshifters he's killed with Olivia, as well as admitting how he got it. Ruck delivers a typically strong performance, here as a scientist at the end of his rope, while Lost's Jorge Garcia is introduced as Walter's friend and employee Kevin. Additional evidence of our universe's collapse mounts, while Peter's and Olivia's relationship takes on a whole new dimension (in more ways than one). My favorite scene of the story features Cream's "Strange Brew", John & Yoko are referenced in the same scene too. Bell's list of theories was certainly intriguing: Viral Dreaming , Animal ESP, Morality Detection, and Powdered Water (what would you add? air?). As an aside, I bet Fauxlivia liked the "burrowing" (just sayin'). This episode's surprise ending is the main reason it made my list - the questions it raises and places it can take the series boggle my mind. Did Bell feed Olivia the soul magnets or did she not even need them? And where is Olivia's soul now? What is the "mystery element"? Only the fate of the world is at stake. Torv doing Nimoy makes me smile, I can't wait to see more of it next episode. Imagining the taste of Baconberry makes me uncontrollably smile too.
* Fringe Fact: The images seen leading into each commercial form an alphabet of glyphs that generates a word (clue) each episode speaking to that epi's deeper meaning. The word spelled out this week was "Earth." Learn more about the glyph code here.
Anna Torv as William Bell in "Os"
3. Justified - "Cottonmouth" (FX)
Given this series' laconic core it's hard to praise this explosive epi too highly. On the day of Kyle's big job Boyd figures out Kyle and his friends plan on killing him - as one would expect Boyd stays cool and survives by turning Kyle's own plan against him. 'Hillbilly Whisperer' Raylan kicks a hornets nest and Mags quite literally drops the hammer on (beloved son) Coover. The performances by Goggins, Olyphant, Steve Porcaro, Margo Martindale, and young Kaitlyn Dever do this Michael Watkins (No Ordinary Family, Royal Pains) directed story by Taylor Elmore (Cold Case) proud; my favorite epi from this series so far. Apache Chief Cochise gets a shout-out and the always authentic Jim Beaver (Supernatural, Deadwood) guests as mine manager Shelby. If you still haven't sampled this series yet I happily recommend this episode be your first... Boyd's taut storyline and Raylan's taser battle make this a can't-miss episode for anyone who likes bold TV. Trust me.
* The only non-score song credited for this episode is "Too Much Whiskey" by Craig Erickson, hear a high quality snippet of it here. On another note, Kaitlyn Dever tweeted a link to this praiseful (spoiler free) article written during the filming of this season's finale (ep.213) a few days ago. I found it very informative.
Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder in "Cottonmouth"
2. Glee - "Sexy" (FOX)
This episode was all about relationships. With the exception of Rachel, the primary characters' relationships are all probed. Quinn & Finn are Fabson again, three love triangles get directly addressed, Blaine prompts Burt to have The Talk with Kurt, and Santittany face a landslide of feelings and truth. Effulgent Gwyneth Paltrow returns as kooky Holly Holliday once again hitting all the right notes. Holly rocks Joan Jett's classic "Do You Wanna Touch Me", romances a duet rendition of Prince's "Kiss", and leads a trio including Santittany in creating another must-own cover of Stevie Nicks' "Landslide." Fans of The Warblers are treated to their bubbly fun version of Neon Trees' "Animal" and Emma lovers (like me) get to bask in the glow of her adorable misinterpretation of "Afternoon Delight." Woody Woodpecker, Ani DiFranco, the Indigo Girls, Joan Armatrading, VeggieTales and author J.D. Salinger are all mentioned in this sweet script by co-exec prod Brad Falchuk, winningly directed by co-exec prod Ryan Murphy. Naya Rivera, Heather Morris, Chris Colfer, and Mike O'Malley turn in noteworthy (if not award worthy) performances. FYI, Hulu posts a Sneak Peek behind the scenes video for each epi that gets immediately removed after shows air; check it out sometime, it's different than (but similar to) Behind the Glee.
* Forte Factoid: Warblers fans will soon be able to buy an album of just their songs from the series! The All-Warbler album comes out next month (Arpil).
* Bonus Vids: Here's this week's Behind the Glee (featuring Stevie Nicks) as well as some relevant songs below;
1. "Do You Wanna Touch Me" - Gwyneth Paltrow on Glee (via Hulu)
2. "Animal" - Neon Trees
3. "Afternoon Delight" - Starland Vocal Band
4. "Landslide" - Stevie Nicks & Lindsey Buckingham
5. "Do You Wanna Touch Me" - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
6. "Landslide" - The Dixie Chicks
~ and some picks of mine inspired by the episode;
7. "Love and Affection" - Joan Armatrading
8. "Promiscuity" - Ani DiFranco
9. "Iris" - Goo Goo Dolls
10. "Last Tears" - Indigo Girls
11. "Times Like These" - Foo Fighters
Jayma Mays as Emma Pillsbury in "Sexy"
1. V - "Devil in a Blue Dress" (ABC)
Ryan's decision to spare Joshua last week proved fruitful this week as he saves both Lisa and The Fifth Column after regaining his emotional-memory as Ryan predicted. Though it takes a bloody physical toll on her Anna finally gains the ability to bliss humans who've received or were born of those receiving phosphorus treatments, a trick she successfully applies to Ty. Erica learns the true purpose behind the Concordia structures and endeavors to sabotage the first site's blue energy reactor. Fortunately, Diana learns of the plan just in time to communicate the fact that destabilized blue energy weaponizes and will uncontrollably explode killing thousands. Lisa reaches out to Ryan to get to Erica before it's too late, which leads to Ryan's invitation back into the 5C fold. Ralph Hemecker (The Vampire Diaries, Millennium) directs his first V episode, the first V script by co-exec prod Hans Tobeason (Saving Grace, Birds of Prey) which ultimately puts Diana in the same room with the humans who stand opposed to Anna. Marcus doesn't seem as loyal to Diana as one might've hoped but at least Joshua's back in his right mind. Another audacious episode from a series that keeps its game continuously tight. Remind your friends to watch V live so we can keep its ratings up!
M. Chestnut, E. Mitchell & L. Vandervoort in "Devil in a Blue Dress"
The Clone Wars Report - Star Wars: The Clone Wars - "Citadel Rescue" (TOON)
Readers of Star Wars novels were most likely shocked to see Even Piell's death in this trilogy's conclusion, as the EU novels saw him live to see the formation of Palpatine's Empire; yet the episode guide unequivacally states his death here "is the character's true fate." Captain Tarkin boasts to Ani that he enjoys close counsel with the Chancellor, and he and Ani amazingly part company as trusted allies (thanks in no small part to Ahsoka). Osi Sobeck dies by Ahsoka's blade, Piell gives her the Nexus Routes coordinates before dying, and Plo Koon graciously validates Ahsoka's claim that he'd assigned her to the dangerous rescue mission in the first place. Tarkin's Jedi question is pondered further as Ani & Obi-Wan discuss what's at stake and what's never to be sacrificed. This action-packed episode filled with droid, beast, space, and Jedi combat is as visually stimulating as any that has come before it!
* As always, I encourage you to visit the show's official episode guide - and for aspiring illustrators here's a step-by-step How to Draw Even Piell explained by SW illustrator Jessica Hickman from the Kids section of Star Wars' website.
Jedi Master Even Piell in "Citadel Rescue"
Guest Star of the Week: Gwyneth Paltrow on Glee (FOX)
Gwyneth Paltrow & Matthew Morrison in "Sexy"
Trivia Question of the Week: Which thesp pictured within this column co-stars in the upcoming 3D film, The Smurfs? [answered]
Current Medal Standing:
~ Last week's answer: Scrubs (Winner: BlueStreak)
* Outstanding Sitcoms *
4. Mr. Sunshine - "Crystal on Ice" (ABC)
The island of Ben gains a castaway this week in the form of co-worker Roman. The subject of homelessness is touched upon as Roman 'temporarily' moves in with Ben, Alonzo collects clothes from fellow employees to give to the homeless, and later Crystal opens The Sushine Center's doors to host a Homeless Skate. Alice happily learns Alonzo isn't as perfect as she feared and Crystal mends a broken piece of her past in the ice-cooled arms of Papa Smurf. Ben's efforts to help Roman and Crystal bond are mostly involuntary but still help to humanize him humorously. The Beach Boys are referenced, and, Smurfette receives a vicious beatdown from Crystal. This one made me Smurf repeatedly.
* With Smurfette & Papa Smurf guesting here I thought I'd mention that (Outhouse fave) Katy Perry voices Smurfette and none other than comedy Grand Master Jonathan Winters gives voice to Papa Smurf in Sony Pictures' upcoming The Smurfs in 3D.
* The problem of growing homelessness in America is both tragic and nearly wholly preventable. One of the best organizations doing work in this field is the National Alliance to End Homelessness. In January they released their first issue of The State of Homelessness in America, you can read their well researched findings here. Go here to learn how you can take action to help!
Allison Janney as Crystal in "Crystal on Ice"
3. Mad Love - "Little Sister, Big City" (CBS)
Brittany Snow (Harry's Law) guests this week as Kate's younger sister Julia in a story of milestones charmingly directed by Mark Cendrowski (The Big Bang Theory, Rules of Engagement). Connie and Munch get lots of time here, first playing wingman for each other and later comedically describing their (fictional) lovemaking to Kate. Broadway's Annie, David Caruso's exit from NYPD Blue, and Dumbo get referenced in this witty script by Jared Miller. The Larry Munch Experience makes Julia's first visit to NYC most memorable and also manages to bring Julia and Kate closer as sisters. Greer is one of the main reasons I watch this series and she's exceedingly funny in this entry, I happily and wholeheartedly recommend.
* Here are a couple bonus videos for your viewing pleasure. First a Backstage Pass to the filming of this particular episode, and, second (most helpful to those still deciding if they should sample this series) An Inside Look at the show's concept.
B. Snow, T. Labine, J. Biggs & S. Chalke in "Little Sister, Big City"
2. The Simpsons - "The Scorpion's Tale" (FOX)
On a school field trip to the desert Lisa discovers the mood altering properties of a local flower that once given to geezers makes them happier and much nicer to be around. With the help of Augustus Gloop (from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory fame) the flower's essence is pharmacologically refined but before it can be adequately tested Bart illegally sells it to all the old folks of Springfield. Eye-poppingly, the flower's essence has the side effect of lubricating one's eye sockets "to the point of popping." Grandpa Abe is well featured in this entry, laughably contrasting the googly-eyed geezers of the Greatest Generation versus the output of Homer's 'Generation Awesome!' Guests Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show, The Knights of Prosperity) & writer-director Werner Herzog lend their voices to this super-fun epi referencing Apocalypse Now, Star Trek, Snoopy vs. The Red Baron (via Santa's Little Helper), and Looney Tunes' Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote..
* Since Augustus plays a significant part in this story, and because Deep Roy's Oompa Loompas don't creep me out as much as the old orange ones, I figured I'd include this video of the Augustus Gloop song from 2005's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. It features his traumatic tubular experience as well as one of my most glamorous & beloved twitter followers, Missi Pyle.
Lisa Simpson in "The Scorpion's Tale"
1. Traffic Light - "Breaking Bread" (FOX)
Since this was another week with about ten fewer hours of primetime programming I decided to give this new series a try (via Hulu). I didn't know it at the time, but it turns out this was this series' fifth episode since premiering; all four former epis I now soon plan to watch. In this laugh out loud entry Alexa visits Ethan's "invisible friend" Phil, Mike meets his new neighbor Jason, and Callie feels the Touch of the Gypsy after Adam takes undue credit for the rescue of a dog. The musician in me couldn't help but love the very first scene of this epi in which the guys discuss music theory and the qualities that make an artist legendary. Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Beach Boys, Pixies, Nirvana, Elvis, Dylan, as well as Flea & The Red Hot Chili Peppers score mentions, and the musical opinions shared were amusing. Mishka's pulling at the bag of bread had me rolling on the floor laughing - actually the whole Gypsy Bread drama was my favorite part of the show! :) I'm glad I decided to sample this episode, it'd made a fan of me before even airing its title card! Plus I've got a crush now on its three leading ladies, especially Aya Cash.
* Wondering if this series is for you? Take a minute to hear (hero) Nelson Franklin out & see if he can't change your mind here.
Aya Cash as Callie in "Breaking Bread"
* Reality Shows *
3. Top Shot - "Quickfire Face-Off" (History)
A couple incredible handguns are spotlighted this week and tumultuous team dynamics are displayed. Champion shooter Kyle Frasure deals with the backlash of Maggie's departure, as she was a well-liked world class shooter and he hadn't hit anything until surviving elimination. Speed shooters J.J. Racaza & Blake Miguez from season one return to coach both teams on race firing with the American classic .45 cal Colt 1911; only Jay and Eric were unable to learn the speed shooting techniques. The Blue team has the advantage in being able to sit down one of the Red team, they take the opportunity to sideline 1911 expert Brian 'Gunny' Zins. Despite claiming confidence and talking smack about Kyle, Ashley Spurlin succumbs to the pressure and (along with Eric) can't seem to hit his targets. Sheriff's Lieutenant Daryl 'The Banshee' Parker shoots with RoboCop like accuracy, however (disliked underdog) Kyle brings Team Blue victory on this day. Based on initial poor performance in earlier weeks the Red team send Navy firearms expert Jamie Franks and former 'Top Shooter' Eric Anderson to compete against each other in the Elimination Challenge. Simultaneously, the pair fire the 2011 RazorCat Race Gun (sporting greatly reduced recoil), described by Eric as "probably from Star Wars." Unfortunately The Force isn't strong with Eric as he's handily defeated by "Pride of the Navy" Jamie and sent home (to get his mind reevaluated) having fired his "last shot."
RazorCat Race Gun (by Limcat Custom Products)
2. Top Gear - "16.5 or 16.7" (BBC-America)
Whether you choose to call this epi #5 or #7 either way it's funnier and far more fiery than usual. The hosts decide to solve a snowplow shortage problem in Brittain by demonstrating how combine harvesters can be converted into snowplows during the winter (of course theirs has a flamethrower courtesy of Clarkson). With their invention they cause much havoc each time shouting "Run Away" like Monty Python's Round Table Knights (they already so often remind me of). James steers the behemoth beast while grooving to A-Ha's "Take On Me" and in the News segment mentions Sir Elton John's classic hit ballad, "Daniel." Jeremy tests the Audi RS5 against the new sport modified BMW M3, ultimately deciding the best choice is to just go with the (unmodified) standard M3. Stunning Texan Amber Heard guests as this week's Star in a Reasonably Priced Car promoting Nic Cage's 3D hellride Drive Angry. Amber easily charms Clarkson, who pulled for her booking on the show, as they chat about her varied passions, rebellious nature, and time dancing at the world renowned Broken Spoke. The Playstation's Call of Duty is praised, Bruce Forysth's oversized chin is referenced, a man spontaneously combusts, the hosts wear hats, and the Bentley Continental is officially announced as 007's next car! An excellent episode overall, regardless of number, penultimate to the season (er, series) finale.
Gorgeous Amber Heard on Top Gear (series sixteen)
1. An Idiot Abroad - "Karl Comes Home" (SCI)
This uproarious finale featured friends Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant recapping Karl's adventures with choice video highlights and probing questions regarding his travels. In many ways this entry felt like Ricky's animated show come to life, if it were recorded in one of The Matrix's ubiquitously white loading programs. Worzel Gummidge, Michael Palin, Stephen Hawking, Lionel Blair, Amanda Holden, and the shows Lost, I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!, and Britain's Got Talent are brought up as Karl recounts the mostly grim sum of his journeys, after launching the finale with a negative review quoted directly from The Guardian. Ricky's grandiose practical joke, it should be noted, turned into a fitting 'gift to the world' as well as an eye opening gift to Karl. The conspiracy theory of "Graham" is addressed, and, Ricky pitches the next season's premise enticingly. Louis Armstrong's classic "What A Wonderful World" is disputed then ironically used, still much appreciated nonetheless. This finale was a fitting conclusion to the series, easily as funny as I'd hoped it'd be!
* Hungry for more of Karl's unbridled hilarity? Buy "An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington" here.
Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais & Karl Pilkington in "Karl Comes Home"
Of the twenty-six hours of original programming I viewed to compile this week's column, the shows coming closest to making my Scripted List were Bones, CSI: Miami (guest starring Alicia Witt), Off The Map, A&E's pilot for Breakout Kings, Desperate Housewives, and Fairly Legal (guest starring Chris Vance with a cameo by RDA). Comedies almost making my Sitcoms list included Rules of Engagement, Raising Hope, The Game (briefly guest starring Magic Johnson), and The Big Bang Theory (due to Cuoco). Top Chef, Face Off, and, What Not to Wear all very nearly made my Reality Shows List.
Readers strong in the ways of The Force and wishing a fuller knowledge of my WiR column pool should click this inaugural feature to learn more here.
Before saying goodbye for the week I wanted to thank Meteorite Man Geoff Notkin for my warmly signed copy of his new book, Meteorite Hunting: How To Find Treasure From Space, I happily received this weekend. Geoff and his show Meteorite Men were among my column's earliest supporters and helped educate me on the power of twitter. Not to tell tales out of school, but, beyond counting Neil Gaiman among his oldest and dearest friends, Geoff's also worked alongside comics legends Art Spiegelman, Harvey Kurtzman and Will Eisner. Lend him and his Science Channel show your support by reading his frequently updated blog The Logical Lizard, watching the upcoming third season of Meteorite Men, and perhaps purchasing his richly illustrated, comprehensive guide to finding treasure from space. A must-own resource for the aspiring meteorite hunter in your life or for those merely fascinated by the subject (like me).
Meteorite Hunting: How To Find Treasure From Space by G. Notkin
Have a great week! Be Well, and Happy Viewing!!
Written or Contributed by: Nightfly