Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: 4/5/15 – 4/11/15

Good:
Better Call Saul: Season 1, Episode 10

I wish I could pull scams like this

Where: AMC
When: Mondays at 10:00 PM
Why:
Because Breaking Bad (aside from the title) wasn’t just a great show about someone losing total control over their sanity and actively ruining the lives of those around him.  Better Call Saul, for the moment, is about a man who is actively trying to do the right thing but keeps getting put back into a life that he wanted to escape.  It is like when an ice cream shop opens up between a Planet Fitness and a Weight Watchers, but with more sibling rivalry and less people saying things about a “no judgment zone”.

I would watch anything the lead writer/creator (Vince Gilligan) came up with at this point.  If they announced that they were doing an adaptation of the white pages, the yellow pages boring little brother, I would watch it.  He would find a way to make it about sex, guilt, high stakes something or another, and ending up on the wrong side of the law when all you want to do is find out why so many people have S starting their last name.

Bad:
Olympus: Season 1, Episode 2

Acting is hard

Where: SyFy
When: Thursdays at 10:00 PM
Why:
Not everything that the SyFy channel puts out is pure gold, or even Sharknado 2: The Chronicles of Sugar Ray.  Most of the time the things that they produce end up being less like Battlestar Galaticta, or even Zombie Nation if we are being honest, and more like watching a Sliders marathon where it only shows the second to last episode in the series over and over again.  Olympus leans more towards the later seasons of Eureka (like a normal Sliders marathon, but with everything in reverse order and not from the same season), in that it will probably have devoted fans but manage to be successfully—and rightfully—hated by everyone else, than really expecting it to be good or not constantly on a green screen.  It even has the weird, “none of this will ever matter” feel that was well established as a foothold when SyFy decided that if anything lasted more than three seasons they were completely allowed to reboot their universe, once a season.  Towards the end Eureka managed two reboots in one season, say what you want; not caring that hard what your fans think takes effort.

Take everything you saw in an HBO preview of Rome, or The Tudors or old timey show like that, not watch the show proper, and then make it about Greek Mythology, which you also know almost nothing about—you would get the pilot episode here. If I had to guess I would say that Olympus was cast at a Comicon based only on what people where wearing, then expected to bring that custom as they had no budget to supply anything addition–aside from bedsheets.  The main character’s (Tom York) weapon is a rope, not Michelangelo’s grappling hook from the latter seasons of TMNT, a rope with nothing on the end of it. Not even a knot. No one makes fun of him for this. He also doesn’t have a name.  Not in even a cool way, like he was abandoned traumatically or something else Batman worthy,  it literally sounds like they just couldn’t think up a good one in time for filming, made an B.S. excuse, and went with it.  Things like this really make me wonder if I could just walk into their SyFy headquarters and just pitch whatever and have it picked up for two seasons.  It is like they are in some kind of strange Brewster’s Millions gamble with all their Galaticta money.

Good:
Mad Men

It is like they are having a Scooby Doo off

Where: AMC
When: Sundays at 10:00 PM
Why:
It isn’t that Mad Men tries to outline what manly men should be, or even that it has what an acceptable life in the 60s probably resembled.  I am not even sure about how much of the stuff that they depict on the show is historically accurate after a certain point.  What I am sure about is that the show is just riveting; each of the characters in it are self-absorbed in such a specific way that they have created a little world that only exists for themselves, a place that others only ever really visit.  It is great to see, though, as these people fumble through their own issues while trying to deal with whatever is thrown at them.  Oddly the key to the best writing in the show is that no one ever really seems to know what someone else is doing until they either see it or it is explained to them, because story telling.

There are two shows on TV that are able to take yearlong breaks, mid-season, while not losing viewer ship or even changing the number in front of that series.  That said it is also the most annoying thing to ever have been done, it has only ever been done on AMC, and even the box sets for Breaking Bad refer to each part of that season differently.  It takes Don Draper (Jon Hamm) sized testicles to pull a stunt like that and think that it is “for the best.”  That would be like me trying to explain to my dog that it would be beneficial for it to learn to brew beer for me, because I am not sure which one of us would get less out of that conversation.

Bad:
The Comedians: Season 1, Episode 1

It would have been funnier if Pussy Riot wasn't a real band

Where: FX
When: Thursdays at 10:00 PM
Why:
I don’t even dislike this show that much, but man Billy Crystal got super old.  It is like someone found the least attractive statue made out of miscellaneous gum pieces, of him, and motorized it to act. It is a toss-up on the last thing I saw Billy Crystal in, either City Slicker 2 or some random walk on roll that Robin Williams got him.  If those references make me seem old, just remember that he was in his 40s when he was doing those, and that was probably a good 20 years ago.  It still creeps me out that Hollywood seems to keep people in a Hyperbolic Time Chamber and only allow them to have two set ages ever:  Age introduced and super creepy “what the hell happened to your face and mind Clint Eastwood” old.

Crystal plays himself across from Josh Glad, who before this I think I had a super vague idea of who that was (and am still unsure if I am thinking of him or Jonah Hill). The show is dry, awkward, and about making a series of poor life choices that end up making you committed to a project you hate.  There are also all these subtle nods to the way that the world works inside of “the business”, which I am sure would be way funnier if I was part of that circle; which is oddly a new trend that seems to be emerging in more niche comedies and only makes me want to stop watch to discourage people from doing it more.

Best:
China, IL: Season 3, Episode 1

Everyone loves you baby cakes

Where: Cartoon Network
When:  Sundays at 12:00 AM
Why:
I love China, IL.  It is hard to explain to pretty much anyone my depths of love for this show in any manner that doesn’t just seem to be completely insane.  It is a show that is about a public college that has stopped caring so long ago that the only thing that can make most of the professors even feel emotion is belittling and demoralizing every student in their class.  Within the first 60 seconds of the show (intro included) one of the pupil has the nickname “flip flops” forced on them, and while the current week is only the second episode, they have refused to refer to them as anything else since that moment forward.  In my mind that is how roll call is done in the class.  I want to go there.  In my dream they hire me to teach English.  We would only watch subtitle anime.

Did I mention that Hulk Hogan is The Dean, and 95% of the time I don’t know if he is acting or if someone just hung out in the bushes around his house and recorded random things that he randomly states—kind of like what they did for the last couple of years for Ebert.  Side note, I would love to have a computer program that I could make Hogan say anything I wanted.  We would be best friends.

Worst:
The Big Bang Theory: Season 8, Episode 20

Everyone hates you, WIl Wheaton

Where: CBS
When: Thursdays at 8:00 PM
Why:
I don’t even hate The Big Bang Theory for the same reasons that everyone else does; I could care less about them making nerd culture more accessible to the masses, I don’t think that the forced insertion of marketable catch-phrases is either annoying or draws away from the characters, and screw everyone that says it wouldn’t be funny without the laugh track.  Watch 10 minutes of M*A*S*H without the laugh track; it was the greatest show on television and still needed to remind you it was a comedy about tragedy. No, the problem is that the show the people writing it have forgotten what it was about to begin with, becoming so lost that even if they had a map to get back they would probably end up at a Donkey Show with a robotic version of a racist Jerry Seinfeld.

Recently the actress that “played”, I guess, the voice of Howard’s (Simon Helberg) mother (Carol Ann Susi) passed away in real life and the show managed to –for all intents and purposes—respectfully kill off the character so no one else would play her.  The issue is that I think that the people who write the show might be sociopaths who learned emotions from watching monkeys fight over abandoned children at the zoo.  It isn’t situation that is wrong or messed up, but the way that everything is written around it that feels stilted and dumb, as if the showrunner (Chuck Lorre) was hoping an episode of That 70’s Show might break out instead.  Then recently Howard had an unknown half-brother (Matt Bennett) show up for, and this is understating it, very close to no reason.  That doesn’t matter though, since they only share half a genetic code, were raised by two polar opposing people, and had the exactly opposite gendered role models they were clearly destined to end up almost exactly the same.

Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: 8/11/14 – 8/17/14

No shit. It's back,

Good
Wilfred: Season 4, Episode 9&10

Who doesn't want to hang out with a surly dog?

Where: FXX
When: Over, forever
Why:
Wilfred is the story of what happens when Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) decides that his life is just, just awful and that he should kill himself.  Sadly he borks the entire thing up and instead of dying just starts to see his neighbor’s dog as a man in a dog suit (Jason Gann).  From that point forward the series is a constant back and forth with Ryan’s (Frodo Baggins) belief in Wilfred, the dog, is really only an animal or something more.  It is also one of the few examples of an episodic show that truly needs to be watched in order to have even the remotest idea of what is going on at any given time. Did I mention that it was possibly one of the funniest show on TV?  It is.

I love this show, and half of these two episodes would have made one amazingly wonderful ending to a fantastic show, the other half is kind of this middling attempt at explanation of some of the greater mysteries that found their way in with the most mundane and boring ways possible.  The problem with the ending boils down to the show runners trying to leave things open to interoperation on just what Wilfred is or is not, but that premise doesn’t ever work when you lead someone by the noise to one of the destinations, point at it, tell them what it is, and say the choice is yours.   It might feel like a stupid complaint, but yes, after four years I do kind of want what Wilfred is spelled out for me with as little mystery involved as possible.

Bad
Falling Skies: Season 4, Episode 8

Yeah, the show kind of sucks now

Where: TNT
When: Sundays at 10:00 PM
Why:
Falling Skies had one really good season when it first started.  It has now proceeded for three more seasons, each season attempting to distance itself ever further from those that came before it—it has now gotten to the point where it impressive that characters still have the same name, let alone remember interaction that took place more than 10 minutes before. It is like every character in the show is the guy from Memento, but with aliens and the guy from ER.  Seemingly at the end of every season the resistance (humans) find a way to beat back the invading aliens in such a manner that they are sure to win with one final, well placed pushed—hopefully taking place during the next series.  Then the next season starts and three throw away sentences are used to explain why that thing they had only ever worked that one time.  This is just like SeaQuest all over again, down to the fact that Stephen Spielberg was involved until halfway through he managed to make it through a script and put an end to that.

This episode was about… something.  I think the entire point was that you would normally file this under character building, but for a show that is normally so based on the action with the more plotting scenes being done when they aren’t fighting for their lives—although sometimes during—it seems out of place the more slow paced episodes they have; this season has been full of those.  It is weird because the episode before this almost felt like a return to form as a handful of main characters died in a deceive battle, and now everyone has promptly forgotten that they were cast on the show at all. If you wanted to watch of people pretending to be dirty in a torn down city that is totally a set this is the episode for you.  I would try to recount what happened, but I remember about three things and every single one of them seems to be more boring than the last one.

Good
Adventure Time: Season 6, Episode 16

Yeah, do your thing Joshua!

Where: Cartoon Network
When: Thursday at 7:00 PM
Why:

For the last, seemingly, couple of months the series has been pretty Jake and Finn light.  Normally that is fine, but that is also normally when they only do one episode at a time without the main characters.  I won’t even go so far as to call this an entire season’s worth of that kind of episode, as we eclipsed that some time ago. Sadly it feels like it has been roughly half the season since I have seen something only centered around the boys and their much better adventures.  I understand that the show itself has grown well beyond the scope of how it originally started, but in the same breath that also doesn’t mean that I am going to enjoy Treetrunks regardless of how many times they try and make seem super interesting.

That all being said, Joshua is the man.  If they decided that entire arches of the show were just going to be devoted to him being awesome and basically a Don Draper Dog that fights demons I would be more alright with that than another episode like the week’s before “Princess Day”.  Every time people even casually reference Finn and Jake’s parents most of the “baddies” in the area just slowly walk away like they just remember they left the stove on in an enclosed area near a child.  It isn’t even the normal “more interesting stuff probably happened in the past” level like Billy, most of the time you get full on Joshua flashback of him casually returning demons to hell while he records a memento for his kids.  This episode is pretty much no different, but instead focuses on the odd series of events that led up to Jake’s birth.

Bad
The Last Ship: Season 1, Episode 8

This show... Is awful

Where: TNT
When: Sunday at 9:00 PM
Why:
The last ship is a show about a Navy vessel sent out days before the true start of the worst plague ever.  Personally I would have liked it if the show had stopped there and just forced the crew to rebuild humanity with the limited means and resources left on the boat—bonus points awarded for them knowing almost nothing about the virus and figuring it out as crew members die, adding tension to the show.  Instead they have a doctor hitching a ride from the word go attempting to create either a cure or vaccine and ruining the pace of an otherwise wonderful, and potentially riveting, end of the world experience.  Did I mention that there are also Russians, and for some reason it appears that the only training videos they ever saw were Rocky IV and the original Red Dawn edited with the Americans dialog either cut out or replaced with a snarling animal.

This episode takes every ounce of tension that has built up since episode one, with Russia V. America, and finally makes everything come to literal blows.  The problem is that instead of feeling like some kind of well thought out Tom Clancy thriller it feels more like middle a schooler’s reenactment, although they only managed to stay awake during the exciting parts of a cable edited version of the movie.  Also all main characters seem to be immune to death and bullets.  The moment that a new member works their way into a speaking part it is a safe, if not assured, bet that they will die in a couple of episodes; if not that one they first acquired a name.  The worst part is that they try to make me, in particular, feel bad about this random person’s death.  Truth be told about a quarter of the way through most episodes I start check my mail on my phone and only look up every couple of minutes.  I guess if it was intended to be the show you watch while you catch up on Facebook or play a handheld game it succeeds fabulously.

Best/Worst
Storage Wars: Season 5, Episode 20

You can actively see everyone confused and annoyed.

Where: A&E
When: Tuesday at 9:00 PM
Why:
Storage Wars is one of the few reality shows on Television that I have yet to decide how fake it is.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that some things that happen in it are faked, trumped up, or randomly staged so that something will happen during the episode—the problem is that I can’t really decide how much of it is a setup is up.  All of that said they do a pretty good job of hiding the production crew during the filming and kind of make you feel like a voyeur.  I have seen almost every episode, and since I have little to do to make my life interesting, I have watched to see if I could find a boom mic or random person with an ear piece in the audience or randomly stepping into show upon, oddly you almost never see it.  The one exception to this is when Barry showed up late, walked through the production crew to craft services where several were actively eating, and then grabbed an intern to help him bid his.  This was also the exact moment that Barry became, and will forever stay, the best member of the show.

This one episode managed to not only shows almost every single member of the crew, but also make me repeatedly question my stance on the realness of the show.

Dave (Hester) has been off of the show for about two years, or seemingly 500 episodes if you follow how often A&E seems to put new ones out there, after he basically decided that it would be a good idea to start spouting out accusations directed at the show that paid him, and then promptly sue the show for “wrongful” termination.  Needless to say he was taken off the cast list faster than a cheetah on Adderall trying to get out of a bad relationship.  That made him suddenly appearing back on the show less shocking and closer to appalling.  This is the man that went out to the media and said everyone he worked with was not only a liar and a cheat, but that the women on the show had fake breasts, breasts bought by the producers to get better ratings.   Even if the show dropped the charges and I was actively getting beers with the husband of the woman I said fake boobie things about, I don’t know if I could show up to work with them with that dumb smile on my face.  This is also only the drama from previous shows, he later started a screaming match with the auctioneer—something that is akin to telling a referee of a boxing match that his mother gives better blowjobs than his wife, but his sister is the real pro.  Even if he lets the match continue the other guy is getting away with stabbing you.

Not only was the screaming match awkward and possibly the least scripted thing ever produced on the show, but you could tell that it had been going on longer and longer as more and more people with ear pieces started making their way actively into the shot.  At one point the camera starts to shake and the boom falls into view and you can just tell that they are asking if they should really be shooting this or just calling the cops before actual violence breaks out.  It was wonderful and terrible and I kind of think everyone I know should totally watch this.

Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: 9/15/13 – 9/21/13

Note: None of this looks rape-yI am not going to lie to the dozen of you that bother noticing it when I do post this article, Grand Theft Auto V came out last week and I ended up being rather distracted.  If it wasn’t for the fact that I had already kind of started this, got a large chunk of it done, and was thinking of posting it ahead of time it might have been later than it already is.  Hopefully I have learned my lesson and will stop entertaining people and playing games where killers get to run around and save people from muggers.  I guess I will just go on watching that instead of interacting with it.

Good
Aqua Teen Show Show

Guess who's back! Back again!

Where: Adult Swim
When: Monday (Sunday kind of) at 12:30
Why:
Did you know that they are still making episodes of Aqua Teen?  Don’t worry, because the way that Cartoon Network operates I am pretty sure that everyone involved with the project was blindsided by getting a call to come in and start recording again as well.  I remember when this this first aired and it was a big deal that the voice actor who played Master Shake (Dana Synder) jumped on Xbox Live for a couple of promotions and just did the voice while he actively lost.  Keep in mind that is also when the system launched. The year 2005. There are children who were born when that happened and are now old enough to be on Live annoying you with racist slurs and completely unaware, and will probably continue to be, of any culture touchstones of our lives.

So, somehow after 10 seasons, the team finally hits the point in their life when they need to find a job to continue having electricity and cable. Granted, I believe it was mentioned at several points that they are pretty much living off the system—as sentient food items are known to do—and something around 10 years sounds about correct for the government stepping in and starting to question if they really want to advance themselves in anyway or not.  The turn that both the writers and, I believe, the audience has taken on Master Shake being a totally hate-able character as it appears that in more and more episodes it is either expected or implied that the end result of things is that he is just going to die from his actions is rather enjoyable, as I have kind of hated him all along.

Bad
It’s Always Sunny in Philadephia

I do kind of want that drink

Where: FXX
When: Thursdays at 10:30PM
Why:
Not every episode of one of the best shows on TV can be great.  The Dave and Buster’s episode clearly had product placement in a building that was both clearly not Dave and Buster’s and some where that I am pretty someone might have been murdered the week before.  The episodes when Dennis (Glenn Howerton) was married was preachy and annoying, as well as very clearly also being sponsored by Subway (screw them they gave me the worst case of food poisoning in my life), and this isn’t even mentioning a ton of the first season when Charlie (Charlie Day) didn’t have several learning disabilities mixed with music writing super powers, and “the gang” hadn’t really formed into what they are today.  Also the show just got way better when Danny Devito (who plays Frank) joined the crew as a crazy millionare/bum/pistol wielding gremlin.

The root of the issue with this episode is that it feels like they have kind of done this script before, and after 9 seasons I can get going back on some of the same ground, but this ground was the boring episode when they tried to get Paddy’s Pub recognized as a historical land mark.  This time they try to win an award for being the best bar in town.  I am not saying that I don’t think that a dive bar shouldn’t be allowed to win awards, in its own category of low lights and hiding your depression in an ever increasing sea of watered down drinking, but I do think that you probably aren’t going to get anything when the staff either is kidnapping a guy—normally the wrong one—or randomly stabbing/shooting/setting ablaze someone in their establishment.  Call me old fashioned but I am pretty sure that most people want a sense of safety when they are disrespecting their body with fire water.

Good
Adventure Time

Sneak Sneak Sneak

Where: Cartoon Network
When: Monday’s at 7:00 PM
Why:
Adventure Time likes to drop hints about things way before it talks about them.  Lady (Niki Yang) speaks entirely in Japanese, but if you translate it—or understand it—there are all kinds of crazy and interesting things that she will randomly spout out.  I would love to think that this is just the wondrous mind of Pendleton Ward who has planned this from the start, but since I have gone back and started watching from the beginning again I kind of know that isn’t the case; at the very least it mostly isn’t the case.  When the show does manage to drop a knowledge bomb, or at the very least a reference to a previous episode and its importance, it does make the keen eyed observer feel all the smarter for seeing it before it happened.  It must be a wonderful time to be a kid.  All I had when I was younger to look forward to is Gargoyles, and looking back that show is kind of hot garbage at this point.

This week we are treated to the world of the past, when humans roamed the landscape uneaten by Rainicorns and for some reason Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch) was still exactly the same age even though it was like hundreds of years ago.  I don’t really know if this story was meant to give the viewers more of a taste of what the world was like when it was still being established or if they really just wanted to write something about Finn (Jeremy Shada) and his past lives, either way it was ended up being effective story telling the same way that grandparents war stories wind up being way better when you realize how many people they killed and that they are also true.

Bad
Bones

Why... Did that work?

Where: Fox
When: Mondays at 8:00 PM
Why:
There is a certain point in my life when I have to admit that I am not even sure why I watch some shows anymore.  I know that I have seen pretty much every episode of Bones, some twice, and some in my sleep, because my wife thinks that David Boreanaz (Booth) is pretty much the definition of dreamy—she is wrong as that would be Emily Deschanel (Bones) and her ever increasingly amazing rack upper torso boob area breasts. Boobs.  I am sure that if I could stop looking at her long enough to follow or care about the ever increasingly boring and nonsensical plots, then lose 20 IQ points, I might enjoy the show.  I am pretty sure that when this series started it was about catching killers through nifty uses of science, and has since become what wacky way they can skate around doing hard work in favor of getting the job done quicker and possibly and probably entirely unscientifically.

Last season ended with Pelant (Andrew Leeds) telling Booth that if he married Bones five random people somewhere would die, a threat both so vague and easy to pull off it is akin to me saying that if more people don’t start reading this article I am going to eat a snack after work—shit is probably going to happen, I can blame it on what I want. In a series where named characters and interns at the lab most of the stories are shot at are as disposable as tissues in a teenage boy’s room it is hard to put any value on any human life in this show.  It turns out that Booth has been really struggling with the fact that he can’t marry the woman that he adores like a teenage boy adores locks on his door, and this entire episode is not only with his struggle to not marry Bones but her struggle with him rejecting her just completely amazing fun bags.  If it had been anything other than dragged out or boring it might have had something, but it was both of those things with the thin wrapping of a stupid and solvable under normal means murder trying to make it watchable.

Best:
Breaking Bad

While singing "so you had a bad day"

Where: AMC
When: Sundays at 9:00 PM
Why:
At this point bashing my head against the keyboard to make hundreds of random letters appear filled with spaces would be a better argument for why you shouldn’t be watching this show than anything that anyone could ever come up with.  It is just really, really, really good.  I have a job, that I go to on a somewhat frequent basis, and while we might talk about Game of Thrones or Walking Dead in passing with feigned interest. That is not the case with Breaking Bad; we stop what we are doing and start talking about it the moment every last one of us has watched it.  Yes, we are that large a collection of nerds that we refuse to even start the longed for conversation of the week until everyone around us can partake in the enjoyment.  I think the only sad part of this entire paragraph is right here where I happily admit that it is the highlight of my week.

Last episode ended with a massive shootout that Walt (Bryan Cranston) sort of not really instigated and managed to start at the wrap up of that event.  There are entire movies that would be based off that chunk that they casually skipped, probably because of standards and practices, as the selling point—Breaking Bad just treated it like a matter of course. The show likes to start off by doing flash forwards with the impression that things have gone south for Walt, even though always work out in such a way that his friends should seriously start wondering if he owns a genie.  This episode basically goes out of its way to explain, in great detail, how badly things went for him and how quickly they went that way.  It is weird thinking that just a couple of episodes ago things probably seemed like they were looking so far up for him.

Worst:
Paranormal Witness

It is exactly as dumb as it looks

Where: SYFY
When: Wednesdays at 10:00 PM
Why:
I poke a ton of fun at the people that run this show.  I honestly believe that if you spend enough time talking to someone they can tell you some kind of ghost story or spooky story from their life, like a run in with Honey Boo-Boo mother or seeing a car drive the wrong way down a one way street.  There are things out there that kind of break your brain when you see them, and while not all of them are true (I am sure we will one day explain the congealed mass that is Honey Boo Boo’s mother) there are some of them out there that we just probably won’t have enough information to explain for the foreseeable ever.  With all that said, I think that what most psychics do should be considered fraud and many of them should be beaten with sticks until they admit how giant douches they are in their personal life.

This is the story of a murder case that was “solved” by a psychic helping two police officers along, and if the show is to be believed one of them was studying to be chief Wiggum and the other one was clearly trying to decide if he wanted to be Enos or Cletus more.  All it took to prove that that woman was feeding them information that they, literally, already knew is simply asking them—although not with cameras or saying that you were from anywhere investigating the incident as that would make them double down on the lie, just causally asking the cops over a beer or as an interested part and they admitted that she totally had access to all the files.  Now this case was 30 years ago, and I understand that everyone is retired and has long since forgotten some of the finer details about things that happened the year I was born; nothing mentioned is really an excuse to try and defend the practice of using psychics for real work.  Also even the show admits that she didn’t solve the case, the guy basically turned himself in, although it does insist that she used her super pals to stab him with the power of her hate.  I wish I made that up.

Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: 9/8/13 – 9/14/13

I give you, a joke five years in the making

This article is a little later than I wanted it to go up, mainly because my PS3 managed to die on me earlier yesterday morning.  This normally would have been a regular sized tragedy as I rather enjoy some games that have been coming out on it over the last year or two, but considering that GTA 5 and Tales of Xillia came out this month I got to spend most of my free time last night figuring out how to transfer files from one system to a bored one.  Don’t worry, I am still watching the same insane amount of TV.  My computer is still, oddly, just fine.

Good
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Seems legit

Where: FXX
When: Thursdays at 10:00 PM
Why:
If this was any other show I would complain about it attempting to take a hot button issue and make an episode about it, the problem is that because of the filming schedule is so far in advance that most of the stuff happened about a year ago—like how The Simpsons talk about the election that happened so long ago they are talking about people that dropped out during the primary.  Always Sunny finds a way around that by being completely polarized in the most amazing directions one can imagine and then riding that course until they hit something, which is normally Cricket (David Hornsby).  It isn’t even that they attempt to make the topic seem relevant, all they really do is take the worst possible stance on something and go from there—it is like putting magic in a bottle with lightening and waiting for the science to start appearing.

This week it seemed to be left up the gang to solve the hot button issue of gun control whatever means they felt was being most neglected at that particular moment.  I would like to think that the key to the show is that regardless of what side of anything that you fall on you really don’t want any of the characters from the show siding with you, mainly because they seem to have the ability to switch everyone around them, including each other and themselves, to the opposite side of the issue simply by how insane and out of control their theories are—clearly there is no middle ground in Philadelphia, there is only Zuul. Oddly enough the best part of the show was settling the age old argument about what is best in life, guns or swords (the answer is guns).

Bad
The League

Sadly I know people like this

Where: FXX
When: Thursdays at 10:30PM
Why:
Last week I made a joke about Ruxin (Nick Kroll) screaming “no” and throwing a tantrum like a small child that he claims to be raising.  This week that exact thing happened.  The point of humor is to exaggerate (something I am good at) and make a normal circumstance seem crazy or unlikely.  It takes all the wind out of my sails filled with attempted jokes if they just go ahead and do it, poorly, pretty much as I am saying it.  In my head when I was making that analogy it was entirely funnier and possibly with him wearing some kind of bib or something, when he did it he was all in man clothing and it was just disappoint and kind of upsetting for what I assume was everyone watching.

This show is going the way of Always Sunny really fast, in that it wants to be about the worst people ever and less about the core thing that started the series to begin with.  The problem is that the more that the show becomes about them just being completely terrible to each other the less relatable that every single one start to be and the less enjoyable that all of their “pranks” are.  Pranks are only funny when you are doing them to someone you care about, like when I take a shit in Stark’s milk, because at the end of the day I don’t want him dead or unable to walk. It was one thing two season ago to watch as they filmed a porno in one of their friends apartments because it seemed like they were just doing something that would bother him and weird him out, in this episode they pretty much actively destroyed Andre’s (Paul Scheer) life and stood by laughing as it fell apart.  This wasn’t funny and prankster filled, this was people on a slow decent to murdering each other over a fucking trophy.

Good
Adventure Time

BMO does look really cool

Where: Cartoon Network
When: Monday’s at 7:00 PM
Why:
Adventure Time is a show about what the world would be like thousands of years after a nuclear holocaust, but for children.  It slowly constructs an environment where anything is possible and candy is people and people are pretty much extinct due to being amazingly delicious.  Trying to describe it to someone is like listening to a stroke victim tell a chair about the dream they had last night, half of it sounds insane and the rest sounds like something you should probably drop what you are doing and investigate at this very moment.  It is like combining two of the best things in the world, the wonder of youth and doing things for the first time and really dark and messed up things that you kind of shouldn’t think about, and getting something that proves to be even better than you thought it would be—because of the transitive rule of animation.

This episode deals primarily with Jake (John DiMaggio) and cooking, which is a topic that I wish the show would bring up more—which sounds like someone complaining about an episode of good eats now that I am going through and proofing this.  That guy really loves his food, and whenever he is unable to eat something due to a series of events his tragedy is like fuel for my amusement heart.  Jake manages to make possibly the world’s greatest sandwich, one that I hope to eat a replica of at some point in my life, but it is stolen by Magic Man (Tom Kenny).  As a point of order I really want to bring up the fact that Magic Man is possibly one of the greatest villains of all time due to the fact that he deals out completely random and unfounded punishments and demands that people learn stupid and pointless lessons before continuing with their lives.  He is my personal hero.

Bad
Paranormal Witness

paranormal witness 9-21-13

Where: SYFY
When: Wednesdays at 10:00 PM
Why:
I think the only other show I have managed to bag on more than Paranormal Witness is Dual Survival, and that is only because for most of this shows run I didn’t publish many of the articles that I ended up writing.  One of the main problems of the program is that most of the time it lacks anything that would ever be considered a credible witness.  It is hard to take a ghost siting seriously when the guy telling you about it is also the first guy that you would ask about getting you both illegal fireworks and possibly a gun with no serial number.  The list of things that I would believe from those people is so short it pretty much normally ends at my first question of “what is crystal meth like?” because how can you not want to know.

This week they fixed that silly problem by having the dean of a college appear as the person that was haunted, because people with higher educations are never wrong or mistaken.  There are two things that the show just simply loves to do that I completely hate; use things that can easily explained away as solid evidence (such as the wind blowing or “old house noises) and use stupid special effects in places where the witness was saying nothing because the story would be boring in that moment without them (also known as the “I went back into the house to get my keys…” and the silence is filled with exploding wall ghost semen).  This episode was entirely those two things.  The root of the problem is that the show needs to be half an hour long and SYFY keeps trying to drag it out to an hour; all this is doing is making it boring and unbelievable.  It is the reason that everyone tries to cut as much as they can from a Stephen King novel, because it isn’t creepy when you learn about the guy taking a giant dump and how much he likes to masturbate.

Best:
Breaking Bad

Coward

Where: AMC
When: Sundays at 9:00 PM
Why:
Sometimes the show leaves me wondering if Walt (Bryan Cranston) is really a criminal mastermind or just kind of bumbling super-chemist that thinks way to highly of himself.  Sometimes he pulls of these amazing exploits that simply manage to crush everyone that may one day turn on him, sometimes he just kind of falls into this massive and explosive shoot out over some money that he has buried in the desert because he thinks that Jesse (Aaron Paul) is plotting to get him, and sometimes he just sort of seems like a whinny little girl.  Maybe the lesson that I should take away from all of this is that being large and important as an outlaw is difficult work and always requires Bob Odenkirk in your corner.

It might be easier to hate Walt at this point in the story if the writers weren’t doing such a good job of just making Jesse an entirely irredeemable character.  Granted, I honestly believe that the show has done some of the best work I have ever seen portraying his character actively having a nervous breakdown—at some point you just want to look at that person and pull them out of society and life in general.  The flashes back and forth between damn near being a puddle of self-inflicted urine and trying to violently, and poorly, lash out against his previous life and weird and uncontrolled.  Truth be told I doubt I would ever change a single thing about this show if given the chance, and just long for more people to hold open conversations about it with.

Worst:
Burn Notice

"Remember when this show was good?" "I remember when I was young..."

Where: USA
When: Thursdays at 9:00 PM
Why:
Last article I stated that I thought that episode was the last and was disappointed by that.  Last week the disappointment was because I thought to myself, “this is all going to wrap up” and kept thinking that until the credits hit and it said “next week on Burn Notice!” which is not really what you want to hear when you half expecting the show to either tell you it is a movie or has been some kind of fever dream of a random side character for the last two seasons.  I think that my main issue has been, and continued to be, that this show has basically failed to deliver on the promise that it made to the views a season or two ago—that Michael (Jeffery Donovan) was out of the spy game for good.  Instead it has actively tried to supplant that image with something more exciting and has managed to stop just short of throwing circus clown hacker spies at him.

So, spoilers.  Just stop reading if you care.  I am going to complain a bunch about the ending.

Madeline (Sharon Gless who plays Michael’s Mother) dies in the most meaningless sacrificial death that I think I might have ever seen since the Mayans thought that it would make their drinking water not give them the runs. Her death was more meaningless than most of the stuff that happened during the Twin Peaks movies.  If I had to equate it to a movie I would call it Crispin Glover’s “What is it”, the one with the all mentally handicap cast.  That was the highlight of the episode.  From that moment forward it was a downhill stream of nonsense that was clearly every writer in the building flipping off the rest of cast as they walked out the door.  It managed to be stop be insulting and start being full “Plan 9 From Outer Space” right around the time that you realized that Michael and Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) weren’t dead but the rest of the world’s best spies would never be able to figure that out.  Screw everyone who was involved with this, aside from Bruce Campbell I hope you all never work again.

Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: 6/23/13 – 6/29/13 (Late)

Although cigar jerk is kind of a funny name

Because of last week’s holiday causing a lack of new shows and my general attempt to drink through most of the week there was no article.  I will talk about the shows from the week before, because I feel like I should start doing this article again and that this is a dead time to fill with TV talk.

Good
Venture Brothers: Season 5: Episode 4

When was the last time you saw him smile, ever

Where: Adult Swim/Cartoon Network
When: Sundays at Midnight
Why:
Sometimes years go by without an episode of The Venture Brothers seeing the light of day, those are dark times for man.  2013, despite what the Mayans seemed to have thought, has proven to be a good time for everyone due to the return of the series.  The main theme of the show is failure, and in many ways it is hard to argue.  I love the flash backs to Rusty’s (James Urbaniak) old days as a child when everything was supposed to be perfect and work out to be wonderfully for an older him, only to end up being pretty much the same only more dilapidated and less adventure heavy.  It is almost like the show wants to always remind us that it isn’t just us that failed, the world failed us as well—which is good because I do like blaming others.

Speaking of the aforementioned younger Rusty, this episode took place on a Greek island where he was once treated to Spanakopita—not the pie food thing but instead a local festival that serves to both rob tourists of their money and distract young people from the fact that they were accidentally kidnapped.  Considering that the finer points of describing a Venture Brothers plot is more like talking about a fever dream than it is writing something up I will forgo pretty much the rest here.  For serious though, go out of your way and watch this entire series up until this point.  It is amazing.

Bad
Futurama: Season 7: Episode 16

Because it is poop in his mouth, get it?!?

Where: Comedy Central
When: Wednesdays at 10 PM
Why:
This is the last season of a cult classic.  That announcement was made about a month before this season started airing, they promoted this season as such. They did everything besides directly saying that every stop would be pulled out, thrown away, forgotten about, and higher scores of people for some of the best script writing that mankind has ever seen.  This should have made, “Into the Wild Green Yonder” look like a pile of vomit that vomits Kardashians.  If there was ever a season that you make people regret a show ending it the one that is announced months before hand that it is over, the one that you take all of the scripts that you never used for various reasons that make better and put on the air.  So far this seasons high points have been math jokes.

Lrrr (Maurice LaMarche) takes his child on a trip to take over Earth to earn a merit badge, because I guess that is a thing that happens in 1000 years.  This, of course results in the TV being cut off from the planet and Fry (Billy West) being stranded there.  I could sum this entire episode up perfectly when I say that the best joke involves Fry being unable to stop eating rainbow colored poop; because it isn’t a Mad Lib quality episode of this show without Fry being unable to stop eating something disgusting.  It isn’t even like I am angry at Futurama, I am just really all kinds of disappointed.

Good
Falling Skies: Season 3: Episode 4

Something exciting.  I don't know.  This show is hard to talk about

Where: TNT
When: Sundays at 10 PM
Why:
There really aren’t that many good science fiction television shows out there anymore.  Sure, you could come up with a list as long as my arm of shows that certain terribly named channels will try and run from time to time—some with even a mild degree of success.  The problem is that most of those shows end up not being that wonderful, were only ever thought of as a mini-series, or were put together by less than experienced show runners that simply don’t know how to hold the connective tissue together.  Falling Skies has thus far managed to avoid all of these pit falls, even if there are random pacing issues towards the middle of most seasons.

You know when a new season of a very plot driven show starts and you feel like you missed a couple huge pivotal points of information; that is basically what is happening this season.  There is rumors going around about a mole inside of the human resistance fighters, and it is looking more and more like it is Hal (Drew Roy) being controlled by the alien invaders.  My problem with that is that he is sort of aware that this kind of thing might happen, with most other people, so instead of turning himself in and dealing with it in a timely and effective manner he decides to just let it go to such a point that he clearly loses control over it.  That is like someone being too busy eating ice cream to get a heart transplant due to excessive ice cream eating.

Bad
Burn Notice: Season 7: Episode 4

He used to be a spy, until....

Where: USA
When: Thursdays at 9 PM
Why:
Burn Notice is the story of James Bond having all of his special toys taken away and being forced to out MacGyver MacGyver.  The show is on basic cable so Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan) has a problem killing people and a heart plated in some kind of magical spy gold; it also has been running for seven years and is very quickly starting to run out of ideas of what to do to push things forward regarding plot.  The show is called Burn Notice but I am pretty sure that the cast of characters has already gone through the process of either killing for destroying every organization responsible, as well as the businesses backing them, for Michael’s burning, and several other secret-er spy type networks backing  everything to begin with.   It has gotten to the point that I really don’t have any idea why anyone is mad at anyone anymore aside from I guess everyone being an active spy again, so… kind of nothing has happened.

This season started with Michael going in for a “deep cover” operation and has proceeded to be the slowest and possibly least interesting series of four episodes I have seen since the show started.  I get that the entire theory for this arch is to take the crew and place them out of their comfort zone while working with people who make that discomfort look like they were getting a Hand Jibber from super models at the beach.  That was a great idea, for two episode that wrapped up quickly at the start of the third.  This is now approaching a fifth with both no end in sight and a promise of even more to be boringly revealed at a leisurely pace that seems like this could have been a special “movie” episode instead of an entire last season.  If it wasn’t for Bruce Campbell (playing Sam Axe) I don’t even know why I would be watching, aside from the fact that I have this thing in my head that tells me I need to finish TV series.

Best:
Mad Men: Season 6: Episode 13

Don Draper rule #80, always leave everyone in the board room confused and angry

Where: AMC
When: Sundays at 10 PM
Why:
I was thinking about doing an article on this season Mad Men, and truth be told I still might.  I think that as a whole it might have been one of the most well-constructed examples of writing that has hit the small screen in a really long time.  I don’t know if I can really stress enough just how wonderful it feels to come home from work and go into a fictional land where every single person is as completely and utterly screwed up as a real human, and I can forget about all the failures of life and just judge other people for being completely terrible while I don’t blame myself because I am totally not cheating on my wife at all.

The season has kind of been leading to this road of destruction as Don (Jon Hamm) has taken his agency down a road of success but pretty much driven his personal life into a ditch, lit it on fire, then walked away in slow motion while continuing to have affairs with other people’s wives. Honestly, if half the stuff he did wasn’t so completely slimy and terribly I would want to start a slow clap for him getting away with it for so long.  The season pretty much ended with Don’s very public, very messed up, very terrible and awful break down in front of a rather huge client.  The only complaint about this episode that could really be leveled against it is that the show has been running for six years and I am pretty sure that people were just expecting this to happen roughly eight years ago.

Worst:
Paranormal Witness: Season 3: Episode 4

Not sure if lying or wrong subs

Where: SYFY
When: Wednesdays at 10 PM
Why:
Every single sane person in the world has a ghost story.  Half of them are things that could probably have been easily explained if the person hadn’t been scared to death, half asleep, or both at the time of the event.  Of the remaining half most of them aren’t worth telling.  That leaves you with a handful of tales that are legitimately spooky when told correctly.  Most of those happened in the first season.  At this point the show has just started taking the spooky stories and hoping that people can’t read between the lines too much.  One episode this season a woman claimed that the devil appeared in front of her.  Not a devil, The Devil.  That is a lie.  This show also doesn’t have very good special effects. It was hysterical.

This week’s episode quickly fell from “that is kind of weird and spooky,” to “that just didn’t happen”, basically meaning that while it was one of the better episodes it was still the worst episode of the week.  It was about a haunted restaurant with scores of employees, most of whom did not natively speak English.  Now I am not saying that the people from Mexico lied about the sightings or anything, but the owners of the establishment seemed to have much more believable sightings and “oddities” than the Spanish speakers who claimed to have a poltergeist repeatedly try to kill them.  I am not saying that the staff members made that stuff up, but since I don’t understand a word that the people they are interviewing are saying and the resolution of the problem came down to using a “local psychic” I am going to learn more towards attempt at odd local ghost attraction and the producers lying.