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

No shit. It's back,

Wilfred: Season 4, Episode 9&10

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

Where: FXX
When: Over, forever
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.

Falling Skies: Season 4, Episode 8

Yeah, the show kind of sucks now

Where: TNT
When: Sundays at 10:00 PM
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.

Adventure Time: Season 6, Episode 16

Yeah, do your thing Joshua!

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

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.

The Last Ship: Season 1, Episode 8

This show... Is awful

Where: TNT
When: Sunday at 9:00 PM
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.

Storage Wars: Season 5, Episode 20

You can actively see everyone confused and annoyed.

Where: A&E
When: Tuesday at 9:00 PM
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: 8/4/13-8/10/13 (late)

Not included because it made me sad

Late.  Really sorry about that.

Falling Skies: Season 3, Episode 10

Sort of how the show makes you feel

Where: TNT
When: Sundays at 10:oo PM
It is kind of hard for me to talk about Falling Skies in a positive way and not make it sound like the most over-written, heavy handed, empty gestured show that is on TV at the moment.  In many ways it can kind of feel like that, but in the same instance it is impossible for this to not be a guilty pleasure of sorts.  When the rest of the networks are busy trying to have reality TV and make me notice how sexy and good looking their forgettable spies are, Falling Skies is there to remind me that it is totally cool if we just want to hang out and pretend that aliens invaded Earth for a while.  It reassures me that it would probably really suck and I am kind of lucky that I don’t have to put up with that.

This is the last episode of the season, and as such it makes a passing attempt to conclude some of the conflicts that it started, but if I am going to be honest this entire season seemed more like a show that openly renewed for a fourth season when they had only written enough content for the third.  The best part of the most recent episodes was when Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) had flashbacks of before the world ended and two of his three children looked passingly the same and the youngest, Matt (Maxim Knight), clearly was about four years older in the “flashbacks” then he was in the intro to the episode.  If I am going to be honest nothing happened this season besides a child being born with a terrible excuse for why it was suddenly seven years old—and no explanation at all for why it had Jesus like powers.

Pawn Stars: Season 7, Episode 18

This isn't even Top Gear

Where: History Channel
When: Thursdays at 9:00 PM
I have, honestly, spent the last couple of months trying to explain to friends why I think that this show is a good “get” for the History Channel. It is hard to make 1920’s fly fishing equipment interesting for any length of time outside of five minutes, and that is allowing for someone who is attempting to sell it for a price that is double its worth while two over weight men try not to laugh in his face.  Instead we are given the acting talent that would fit in with an episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo while each one of the employees at the show tries to out character act each other, also that character appears to have the emotional range of the blob from The Blob.  At this point I am only happen when they call in an expert because those people normally seem like the ones that are least interested in reading off of a script and more about promoting both the business they run and how much they know about antique arms and armor.

There was a small story arch that occurred between a couple of episodes, with Rick picking up a car from one of his heroes (Steve McQueen) and then being forced to sell it.  It was kind of interesting as I watched both of those episodes back to back, even though I am pretty sure they were originally aired a week apart, and in one of them there was the forced acting that I hated when the “Old Man” (Richard Harrison 1st) kept acting like he cared either way if his son kept or sold the car.  The highlight, and pretty much best thing that has happened on the show in years, occurred when they went to the auction to sell the car and both Rick and Corey (the son) sort of ended up losing their minds at some of the amazing classic cars just kicking around—no acting, just awkward interactions with people who sweat too much and fidget a ton when they haven’t delivered the same line ten times in a row to a camera.

Impractical Jokers: Season 2, Episode 17

Granted, that is my answer when anyone tries to hug me

Where: TruTV
When: Thursdays at 10:00PM
The concept is a hidden camera show with four people who are, in reality, friends trying to get one of the other guys to do the most insane and embarrassing thing in public.  Basically Candid Camera, but instead of trying to have random people react poorly to having a tank drive over their car they are trying to get their friend to ask a stranger if he would hug him in forgiveness for eating four pounds of pork while staring at his face.  It is basically like someone had given a bunch of college guys money to continue goofing on each other in lieu of never becoming functioning members of the tax base.  It is great that the cast really does know each other so well, as the pranks are starting to become kind of deeply personal and uncomfortable for the “jokers” to do, randomly involving close family members, which just makes it that much more amazing to watch.

Truth be told I only ever started watching the show because one of the actors (Brian Quinn) is on a podcast that I really like and kept going on about how the comedy troupe he was part of had gotten their own TV show.  I didn’t even know that he did standup comedy, let alone that anyone thought he was funny enough to be allowed near a camera; I am glad that I started watching though as the show is quickly becoming about revenge from pranks that were pulled on episodes years ago and they are nothing if not well thought out and amazing.  They are the kind of thing that you would only be able to really know to do to someone if you spent vast amounts of free time hanging out with them.

Burn Notice: Season 7, Episode 9

Oh! You have never done this before! Yeah, you are totally in charge

Where: USA
When:  Thursdays at 9:00 PM
Mike Weston (Jeffery Donovan) used to be a spy until there was a burn notice on him and he was black listed.  It is hard to hate a show that starts with a line that manages to resonate with fans stronger than almost anything that was said in any of the Star Wars movies, yet after seven years of continuously being on the air Burn Notice has managed to make those words feel more like someone being introduced to the Price is Right than Darth Vader relieving the parentage that would rock a generation to the core.  While writing this I kind of came to terms with the fact that, if, the viewers had a child when this show started airing that child would be more concerned with how badly they were going to be bullied in high school then they would clearly remember their first day in school ever again.

I would love to enjoy this show as much as I did even two years ago, but it less trying to show me what happens to James Bond when he retires and more trying to show me what he does when he wants to drag all of his normal life friends into his insane spy life; thanks, I am pretty sure that the Borne movies have that pretty well wrapped up.  The group is forcefully introduced to a new player Ben (David Meunier) who from the onset is described as this “being his first live field assignment”.  I don’t know about the rest of the world, but if someone asks me to castrate a dog I am probably going to freak out and do it poorly and wrong.  Sure, I am aware of the basics of how that works but I don’t really know that I would trust me with the moment to moment operational supervision of blood in that situation.

Top Gear: Season 20, Episode 6

I guess... Spoiler?

Where: BBC
When: Sundays at 20:00 GMT
Regardless of what people think I pretty much write this article every week, it just never gets done on time or gets half done before work starts to get busy leading up to the weekend/I start drinking a ton at night. All of those lost articles, that I still have somewhere, contain mention of this season of Top Gear.  It wasn’t just a pretty good run of episodes, it was one of the best that I have seen.  Most series they straddle the line between being a hardcore automotive show and irrelevant show about blowing stuff up and making things that work so poorly it is a wonder that man ever climbed down from the trees with their hands attached.  Years ago it seemed that you would either get all adventure/invention or all “look at the new voxel beetle airfoil!” with very little overlap.  This season mixed the two in a manner that feels like people who have achieved the mastery of their art, and I sort of hate them for that.

There really wasn’t anything that special about this episode, for most of it.  There was even this heartwarming part at the end where the three guys Richard (Hammond), Jeremy (Clarkson), and James (May) went around England showing off all the things that the country makes and why it is still and industrial powerhouse.  It was hockey and probably the kind of thing that if I lived in that country I would have either loved twice as much or hated thirty times as much.  There were some funny parts in the section/skit, but in truth the best came from Richard.  When they were driving to the meet-up where everyone who makes someone in Britain was to gather and show up the product, he turned the corner to the street and all expression left it, “There are quite a bit more than I thought” was all he said.  It was an honest moment, and it was hysterical.  It pretty much said everything that needed to be said in that one moment.

Paranormal Witness: Season 3, Episode 9

BTW, they admit this part never happened

Where: SYFY
When: Wednesdays at 10:00 PM
I watch this show because it is about all of the “Scary” that my wife can handle in her day to day; which is to say not at all.  Normally watching this show consists of my wife listening to people talk about how they saw three weird things happen in their house, assumed it was a ghost, then allowed a producer and special effects artist change their –once probably easily explained—story and turn it into 23 minutes of lies with commercials bookending it.  This episode was literally about a family that was held captive inside their own comfortable house by, maybe, rabid dogs for the latter part of one night.  They later tried to claim they were werewolves.

At the very least most of the episodes of the show involve people who seem like they might have been legitimately scared by some of the things that were happening around them, I was kind of hoping for the death of every single person in this episode.  The events that transpired took place over the course of a single night and was resolved by the family going to bed.  There was seriously a member of the family that slept through the entire thing, if that can be said about an event it really can’t have been that major or impactful. That isn’t a crisis that is a child who is having abandonment issues.  Sure, the creatures prevented the father from getting to his car to drive away and… I don’t know, get milk or something at midnight.  If they are going to start doing shows on mild inconveniences I am sure they could do a season on me not wanting to stand up and get myself another beer, it is kind of just as intimidating.

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.

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
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.

Futurama: Season 7: Episode 16