Senior TV Columnist Nightfly recaps & reviews his preferred picks from the previous week of primetime programming.
TV Week in Review (week of 4/3/11)
For the week of April 3rd both CBS and ABC made strong showings, with each appearing thrice on my Lists - each twice on one list and once on another. ABC earned two spots on my main Scripted (hour long) List and CBS takes half of my Outstanding Sitcoms slots. All in all it was a very solid week of TV. This week ain't too bad either. In addition to Alyssa Milano guesting on tomorrow's Breaking In (Wed 4/13), this Friday (4/15) brings the return of Smallville, Supernatural, and Sanctuary to TV's primetime schedule. This Sunday (4/17) ushers in the debut of HBO's long awaited Game of Thrones as well as the world premiere of USA's made for TV (Burn Notice prequel) movie The Fall of Sam Axe, starring Bruce Campbell. Tonight (4/12) don't miss the series premieres of Eat St. (on the COOKING Channel), Sports Show with Norm Macdonald (on Comedy Central), Sinbad: It's Just Family & Braxton Family Values (on We), as well as the second season premiere of one of my favorite shows Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution produced by Ryan Seacrest for ABC!
Now onto my picks of best shows from last week's offerings...
* Few Potential Spoilers Below *
6. Desperate Housewives - "Everything's Different, Nothing's Changed" (ABC)
The repercussions from Beth Young's shocking suicide play out this week as Paul acts to block Susan from getting the kidney Beth wanted to give her. The issue of suicide touches a nerve for Renee, Bree intervenes to identify and stop Andrew's burgeoning alcoholism, and Tom learns his true value in the employment market. A showcase episode for Lynette and a surprisngly fitting tribute for Beth (Emily Bergl). Great performances by Mark Moses, Teri Hatcher, Vanessa Williams, and Felicity Huffman make this one movingly memorable.
Felicity Huffman & Doug Savant in "Everything's Different, Nothing's Changed"
5. CHAOS - "Song of the North" (CBS)
The first non-pilot episode of this new series upheld its promising potential! Not only did Rick and the Chaos team winningly entertain again, Kurtwood Smith was engrossingly featured as well. Though their missions routinely seem impossible, this week was extraordinarily difficult as North Korea and its Pyongyang Film Festival take center stage. Comely Adele Ferrer (Christina Cole, Casino Royale) debuts on the series as Higgins' assistant, quickly proving to be a significant, well-written character. Eddie Shin (Royal Pains) and Joy Osmanski (Grey's Anatomy) impressively guest as imperiled husband and wife.
CHAOS agents in "Song of the North"
4. Camelot - "Guinevere" (Starz)
Another first non-pilot episode and another that didn't disappoint. Wasting no time telling Guinevere's story, Arthur's romance with her and her marriage to Leontes are sublimely depicted here. Arthur gains another ally thanks to Kay and Leontes in the form of Clive Standen (Robin Hood), and, Morgan bespells as ever. Lovely Tamsin Egerton is captivating as Guinevere and inhabits the role convincingly. Though the episode is named after and largely revolves around Guinevere, for me the scenes between Green and Fiennes were inarguably most superlative. Surely an excellent episode all-around!
Tamsin Egerton is Guinevere in "Guinevere"
3. No Ordinary Family - "No Ordinary Beginning" (ABC)
What may very well end up being the series finale of NOF took it to the next level for all involved. Familiar faces return, Lucy Lawless (as Mrs. X) gets more screentime than in any previous epi, and Dr. King (Stephen Collins) cuts loose like never before. Here, the Powells work together as a team to rescue JJ, Joshua reenters Katie's life (just in time), and George unwillingly takes a trip that will likely permanently change him. The fate of this awesome series is undetermined: of course I'm hopeful it gets to come back for a second season. I'd still love to see the Powells don costumes someday!
* Watch the Powells use their powers to the amusement (but eventual dismay) of Guest Star of the Week Lucy Lawless in the thrilling clip below.
2. Nikita - "Covenant" (CW)
Picking up right where the series left off, Michael and Nikita confront truths from their past and Michael makes a staggering discovery. Shane West seethes in this vengeance-fueled performance, that unquestionably changes the path for his character (Michael). Maggie Q keeps the intensity high while Alex (again) does the opposite of what she's supposed to. After forty-two days feeling its absence this badass return was well worth the wait. Even more than usual, this episode represents a profound turning point for Percy's enemies. I strongly recommend this entry!
Shane West & Maggie Q in "Covenant"
"Justified is the perfect show! More people should watch it."
1. Justified - "Brother's Keeper" (FX)
On its sixth straight week making my Scripted List (a first for any FX show) Justified earns the Top of the List spot for an episode I can easily call my favorite. Intriguingly, while this entry serves as a climactic end to a tumultuous chapter, the larger story relentlessly continues unfolding. Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) & Carol Johnson (Rebecca Creskoff) get down to business while Boyd's involvement takes an unforeseen turn. Raylan and Coover (Brad William Henke, Shameless) clash again but under dramatically different, more deadly, circumstances. Olyphant, Martindale, Goggins, Creskoff, Henke and Kaitlyn Dever all deliver award-worthy performances. My favorite installment from this series ever!
Olyphant as Raylan Givens in "Brother's Keeper"
Teen Beat Pick of the Week - iCarly - "iOMG" (nick)
As the ads all said, "Sam's in love." Brad the [fudge making] intern applicant Freddie wanted to hire (in "iHire an Idiot") returns to take the position just in time to help Freddie with his "mood face project." Gibby teams with Carly to abuse Spencer in a sensory stimulus chamber, invoking the phrases "fire up the stink hose" & "releasing the stink." You've probably seen the epi's outcome by now but I won't spoil it, just in case. The main questions raised are if unrequited love will be the order of the day and, as always, what will Carly think about this? A pretty epic epi for iCarly fans - certainly one of my favorites from this series.
Guest Star of the Week: Lucy Lawless on No Ordinary Family (ABC)
Lucy Lawless as Helen Burton in "No Ordinary Beginning"
Trivia Question of the Week: Thesps Christina Cole and Clive Standen separately gained mention in this WiR column for their current roles on CBS and Starz respectively. In recent years past they both guest starred, in separate seasons, with a tenth mysterious someone in which globally popular adventure show? [answered]
Current Medal Standing:
~ Last week's answer: Sara Ramirez (Winner: avengingtitan)
* Outstanding Sitcoms *
4. The Big Bang Theory - "The Herb Garden Germination" (CBS)
One of my favorite entries from this season, I felt this charming episode (again) utilized the whole ensemble admirably. This week Priya (Aarti Mann, Today's Special) also gets in on the fun and for the first time, like ever, I actually started appreciating the existence of Mayim Bialik's Amy Farrah Fowler character. Beautiful Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch) becomes the central focus of a social experiment conducted by Sheldon & Fowler that humorously ensnares all of their friends. Bernadette fans would most definitely be unwise to miss this epi and so would fans of Raj (Kunal Nayyar).
Nayyar in "The Herb Garden Germination"
3. Rules of Engagement - "Beating the System" (CBS)
A satisfyingly funny episode that made me laugh out loud repeatedly. The well publicized big news was that recurring guest character Brenda (Sara Rue) finally gets pregnant. Jeff predictably hates life when Brenda (he and Audrey's surrogate) moves in with them, motivating him to stay away from home. Adam surprisingly gives Jeff some useful advice, while Timmy and Russell plan Jennifer's & Adam's upcoming nuptials. I'm glad Sara Rue will finally be around more often, she's super-cute, crazy-talented and adds a new kind of humor to the show.
* Bonus Video: Extra footage of Flat Timmy.
2. Mr. Sunshine - "Ben and Vivian" (ABC)
After Ben has an incredible one-night-stand with beguiling Vivian (played by Lizzy Caplan, Party Down) he soon after learns she's been hired as Crystal's new assistant. Their casual relationship twists and turns and leads to Ben gaining more emotional self-awareness. Alonzo (James Lesure) finally reaches the limits of his serenity, Vivian befriends Roman, and Crystal tries again to be a better mother. A fun and funny episode that made me laugh repeatedly. This is only the second time this series has placed so highly on my Sitcoms List!
* Lizzy Caplan was credited as a "guest star" but since Crystal hired her I'm hoping we get to see a lot more of her. If Lucy Lawless wasn't so villainously delicious in NOF this week Lizzy would've handily claimed my Guest Star of the Week honor.
Lizzy Caplan as Vivian in "Ben and Vivian"
1. Breaking In - "Pilot" (FOX)
Based largely on the strength of FOX's recent crop of sitcoms - all of which I've liked (including Running Wilde) - I decided to give this premiere a try sooner rather than later. I'm glad I did. Mystery surrounds much of the storyline and my recent mission is to not give too much away... what I can safely divulge is that it's about a high-tech private security company that sells its protection to ultra high-end concerns. The pilot mainly revolves around Oz (Christian Slater) "recruiting" their newest team member, Cameron. No doubt Odette Annable (formerly Odette Yustman) helped inspire me to watch this show, but the story, setting, and cast all won me over quite quickly. Now I just hope it can maintain the qualities that made its well-written debut so cool!
* The pilot episode is free online so make sure to catch up in time for Alyssa Milano's guest starring appearance this Wednesday (4/13)!
Cast of Breaking In (on FOX)
* Reality Shows *
3. America's Best Dance Crew - "Lil Wayne" (MTV)
Randy Jackson's dance competition show returned for its sixth season this week, billed as the Season of the Superstars. The crews are exceedingly talented this year prompting a judge to declare competition had never been so fierce in an ABDC opener before and that to send any crew home would be "heartbreaking." Mario, JC, and Lil Mama are back, joined this season by new judge D-Trix from season three champs Quest Crew. If you missed the premiere featuring the music of Lil Wayne watch it online before the upcoming epi highlighting Ke$ha.
"IaMmE and Phunk Phenomenon were the best of the night."
2. Top Chef: All-Stars - "Reunion Special" (Bravo)
Most Top Chef reunions are interesting but this one, full of All-Stars, was especially entertaining. I'm assuredly biased as most of my favorite cheftestants from the various seasons participated in this All-Star season, and thus were present at this reunion. The look-backs at past dramas and laughs are engaging but the tiff between Elia and Colicchio stands out as most riveting. Blais and Fabio reminisce about their bromance, and Padma imagines motorboating Antonia! What do you think about Elia's criticism of Tom? They both make good points, and while I'd be apt to side with Tom outright - figuring he knows his steakhouse business - Elia's point is well taken too (at least by me). If you enjoy these reunion shows at all you should definitely make time to catch this one; I happily & heartily recommend it.
* Bonus Video: Watch Andy Cohen ask Elia Aboumrad to explain her critical comments to the press about Tom Colicchio.
1. Top Shot - "The 1000 Yard Shot" (History)
The weapon George Reinas has been calling for finally arrives this week as the remaining competitors fire the Barrett M107 .50 cal. Unlike George's prediction though, Jay Limm was one of its best, not worst, operators in the now open competition. Of course, no matter how anyone shot the social club was going to put Jamie and Limm in elimination and naturally they did. I won't spoil the ending, but, obviously one of those two won't be returning next week. I personally liked Jay Limm and Jamie Franks and am sad either one had to go (since both shot respectably in this challenge), not to mention the fact that shooters remain I'd really like not to have to look at again. I guess now I'll be rooting to see them go.
* Learn more about the Barrett M107 .50 cal long rifle in this informative Weapons Rundown clip:
I was really happy with this particular week of TV, it made it extra fun to compile this column. Of the twenty-seven and a half hours of primetime programming I watched to create this week's column the Scripted dramas coming closest to making my list were The Good Wife, Army Wives, and the freshman season finale of Off The Map. I only watched the four sitcoms on my list so there are no honorable mentions for that category. Among the reality shows I watched, the premieres of CMT's Next Superstar and Top Chef: Masters most nearly missed my Reality Shows List.
To see all the shows I viewed this week click here.
Thanks so much for tolerating this column's delay. Hopefully next week's WiR will publish on time on Monday (but no promises). Lots of good stuff on to enjoy tonight and for the rest of the week! Until next time, Be Well & Happy Viewing!!
Written or Contributed by: Nightfly