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: 4/21/13-4/27/13

The real disappointment last week, for me, is that the best things all week seemed to occur on Sunday night; which was wonderful for me the next day when I got around to watching them, but is kind of terrible for the rest of the week when things either sucked or didn’t live up to expectations (both if you are The Office).  Shows that I normally like ended up being kind of terrible runs at ironing out plot or forgettable—even Doctor Who wasn’t great.

Good
Game of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 4

Everyone in this shows has a "shit is about to get real" face

Where:  HBO
When: Sundays at 9:00 PM
Why:
Game of Thrones can just kind of go around being Game of Thrones and end up on the list in a good category.  Sure, there might be some forgettable episodes that are just talk heavily, light on the nudity, and devoid of anything good for the violence.  This was not that episode.  There might have been more talk of nudity then there was actual, but the fact that Tyrion Lannister’s (Peter Dinklage) young squire is amazing enough in bed that whores refuse to take money from him seemingly makes up for that.  I have to admit, the fact that the rumor about his skill continues to spread throughout King’s Landing is one of the more enjoyable side events that could have happened during the series.  If this was Friends it would have been an entire season story arch that would have been referenced more than “on a break”.

Game of Thrones does an interesting job with politics, but to this day I still do not know who is supposed to be trusted in King’s Landing—my theory is no one.  None of that seems to stop Tyrion at all, as it seems that he instinctively knows exactly how to address everyone to get the information that he wants, but if I had any kind of job there I am sure that I would just sit around crying and hugging my knees while worried that my child is not mine and that my customers want to watch a rat eat its way inside of me.  Between how awesome Dinklage performs his role and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) kind of being all of insane, stupid hot, and plotting this show could just run on those two, interestingly it seems that it wants to just follow every person who is ever introduced as a character gets a story arch that follows them until death.  So either this series ends with the world exploding or everyone else just losing interest.

Bad
Bones: Season 8, Episode 23

I know, call in bone people for the virus

Where:  Fox
When: Monday at 8:00 PM
Why:
Bones is a TV series about a FBI agent that teams up with some kind of super anthropologist that can tell anything about any human being from simply looking at the damage done to their bones.  While this concept manages to be completely defeated by any murder or death that caused only internal damage, and nothing to the skeletal structure, it seems like at the very least 24 times a year they find a murder case that can only be solved this way.  At one point, years ago, the show had no issue with murdering major characters in the name of advancing the plot or just making you hate someone, but now seems to have taken a more Simpsons style approach to storytelling and not ever changing anything.

I brought up the “murder characters” thing in the last paragraph because that is exactly what I was looking forward to while watching this episode.  A deadly virus is unleashed on a reporter looking to expose big pharmaceutical for their mega shady practices, like every reporter in every fictional world who write only about scandal and not boring town meetings, and that of course that means that one of the people on the team of investigators just happens to get exposed.  So when the CDC can’t figure out what is causing all this organ explosion they go to a bone expert, because I guess when you can’t figure something out you just seek help from people in very close to the exact opposite field.  The only way that this could have played out in any more of a ridiculous fashion would have been to have one of the tech guys from the FBI figure out the cure through “clever accounting”.

Good
Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 4

That guy doesn't even know how lucky he is

Where:  AMC
When: Sundays at 10:00 PM
Why:
I cannot be the only person that cannot stop staring at Megan’s (Jessica Paré) teeth, right?  I looked her up on IMDB, because if I am honest I know almost none of these people’s real names, and it seems to be a hotly contested issue.  While I might be on the entire, “Please never smile, your large blue whale teeth creep me out,” side it seems sad that the only valid—non-disturbingly rape sounding—argument for her to keep her prostatic donkey grin is so she doesn’t become another “Hollywood Phony”.  If I was going off those comments alone I would probably just stop acting and go into the lucrative business of hiding from all of the world.

Joan (Christiana Hendricks) takes a friend out on the town whoring.  The only thing that separates the actions of those two that night and my ability to use the word “literally” in the previous sentence is that they don’t accept money at the end.  Granted, I think that if I was the one that was lucky enough to end up with Joan I probably would have attempted to tip either way. There is some really interesting inner-personal relationships that have developed over the years that are starting to bite people in the ass, mainly because the show has been going on long enough that characters are starting take jobs that aren’t all at the same business, and companies are losing rather large accounts over people talking.  Also, when reading the recap on IMDB for this episode I love how people will be completely no biased about 2000 other words, but when they mention that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) cheats on his wife they spare no time in calling him a scumbag.  Good reporting internet, that was the only underhanded thing that he or anyone else did recently.

Bad
The Office: Season 9, Episode 20

Andy's screams of terror are the best part of this episode

Where:  NBC
When: Thursdays at 8:30 PM
Why:
Because it could have been so much better.  The entire Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim (John Krasinski) having marriage issues it just stupid and not being dealt with well.  There was roughly one line that made the entire experience seem like it was even based on a real relationship and that was three episodes ago.  Everything about this, from the delivery of the lines to the gags that are implied, feels tired and like something they copied from an old episode of Seinfeld and swapped the word masturbation for marriage.  This entire season has felt like the first couple of seconds when you see a car driving the wrong way down a one way street, you know something is terribly wrong and out of place but it is hard to say what.

There is a paper plane contest, because this is a paper company that this is the first time that has happened in the 9 seasons that this show has been on the air.  This kind of thing seemed like it would be an annually event, or something you do on lunch when you only carry paper and paper products, but here we are experiencing it for the first time.  Andy (Ed Helms) has gotten an acting gig, because he is so terrible at everything else he does I guess it is just time for him to fail at something else.  I have brought this up before, that there are moments that the show almost hits the same feel that it had so long ago—it just never seems to get there.  Aside from a couple of exceptions most of the cast simply seems to have been demoted to background characters at this point, either that or they came to their senses and just collect their checks while waiting for this train wreck to end.

Best:
Bob’s Burger: Season 3, Episode 20

Children, sailors, KFC guy... Seems legit

Where: Fox
When: Sundays at 8:30 PM
Why:
The title of the episode is “When kids run the restaurant,” and the solution to that puzzle is, “they open a basement casino. There just seems to be a point in every show that Bob’s Burgers make a choice to either be normal or go off the rails; the more times that the “go off the rails” ability check passes the better that an episode seems to turn out.  Keep in mind that this isn’t the same kind of randomness associated with an American Dad or Family Guy, this is weird juxtapositions that simply make my heart happy when I hear H. Jon Benjamin (Bob) make them.

So it turns out that Bob can’t stand the site of even the most trace amount of blood, because that doesn’t seem like it should ever be an issue with someone who actively plays with sharp objects for a living.  This leads to a hospital visit with the world’s worst Doctor that uses stitches the way that serial killers use roadside ditches, keep throwing stuff in there until it is either full or someone says something.  The aforementioned casino is interesting in its own right simply because it seems that all of the adults in this world just accept that, yeah, this is something that happens from time to time.

Worst:
Big Bang Theory: Season 6, Episode 21

Funny that Penny isn't even "the hot one" any more

Where:  CBS
When: Thursdays at 8:00 PM
Why:
I sort of feel like I have been one of the only Big Bang Theory supporters for a rather long time now.  When it first came out I was the person running around and telling everyone how clever it was and handing out USB sticks with episodes on them.  For a while now I have ignored the mounting roar against this show, but this weeks’ was almost too much for me to sit through.  The show that I once enjoyed that was about awkward, smart, people doing fun and interesting things that I could totally see myself doing is now seemingly more about someone’s impression of what a geek probably acts like.  This has gone from a show that seemed to be written by geeks to one that is written by people who are only vaguely aware that they are part of a social structure.

This week Penny (Kaley Cuoco) is depressed because all of her, now only, friends are super smart and have passions, while she –the dumb one of the group and possibly of a group of disabled people—doesn’t seem to have one.  The argument is made that the reason everyone else is smart is because of their passions, possibly being smart allows you to be very passionate about things, but this feels like the argument that dumb people make about “everyone is smart in their own way”.  That is not true.  Having a working knowledge of the social structure of Gossip Girls isn’t a way to be smart, it is a terrible party trick and flag that denotes that people should stop talking to you and start stabbing your genitals.  Also, choosing the people around you as your passion doesn’t count as most three year olds can accomplish that as it is called “making friends”.

Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: 4/7/13 – 4/13/13

No, a week will not go by that I don't bring her up

Last week was a weird time when nothing was really on.  That led me to being entirely harsher on shows that I am normally pretty favorable with, probably out of the thought that I need to make this article at the very least seem symmetrical.  This kind of had the effect of the bad not being as bad as they normally are and the worst being more of a disappointment than anything.  Don’t worry, the good shows where still amazing.

Good
Community: Season 4: Episode 9

I wish all drug memories were like this

Where:  NBC
When:  Thursdays at 8:30PM
Why:
It is a puppet episode, where everyone is puppets. I have mentioned before my love about how Community is just willing to commit to a bit so well that it makes it magical.  This is one of those episodes.  Not to be outdone in anyone’s mind as the best one of these types of episodes, this show continually amping up how increasingly good it is getting, Jason Alexander (George from Seinfeld) makes an appearance as a former Greendale Student/Mountain Man.  Did I mention that everyone is puppets?

So the plot of the episode is that everyone took a handful of hallucinogenic berries and started telling all of their deepest, most terrible secrets.  As puppets.  It is kind of hard to take anything as dark and terrible when you have a puppet version of that person talking about how they abandoned their children in a fit of unfounded Cosby grade jealousy. Also, I don’t know if it is just me knowing that Chevy Chase annoyed the show runners a ton in the down time and actively noticing that he isn’t in the show as much or if I am just digging in my mind to justify some of the useless knowledge that I keep locked in there.  Did I mention Puppets? PUPPETS!!!

Bad
Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 2

Nice rack...  Of breasts?

Where:  HBO
When: Sundays at 9:00PM
Why:
Exposition.  This show loves the stuff.  Normally it is done over the course of well nuditied women or people talking while they cut each other apart with swords.  This was more one of those “sit down and talk” episodes and not the other, more breasted one.  I don’t know if it is the conversation itself or the mixture of fear that it seems that everyone has during the simplest of questions that can make this stuff boring.  When you spend three minutes dancing around the fact that you think someone is a torture making, monster breathing, masochist who also is fond of eels (natures evilest creatures), regardless of how well the line is delivered you have stopped caring at the fifth “he is my king”. Don’t get me wrong, this is the best kind of “bad” episode because it probably means the next episode has twice the topless murder.

Also, Margaery (Natalie Dormer) looks creepily like Michelle Trachtenberg in this show.  To the point that while I was writing this article I started looking up here name by going to “Buffy” on IMDB because I was pretty sure it was Trachtenberg, who played Dawn on that show, who was in Game of Thrones.  Turns out that I was entirely wrong.  Who knows, I guess we can hope for some of the good old fashioned ultra-violence with a touch of Penthouse and pretend it counts for both actresses.

Good
Archer: Season 4, Episode 13

"Unless I am misreading you..."

Where:  FX
When: Thursdays at  10:00 PM
Why:
Because it is Archer.

This is the second part of a two part episode, Sea Tunt. Basically involving Cheryl’s (Judy Greer) brother (Eugene Mirman) and his entirely botched attempt to save the world from an eco-friendly underwater lab, which is also filled with deadly nerve-gas missiles capable of hitting every major city.  Part 1 was a reunion of Bob’s Burgers voice actors taking place on Archer.  That and the entire thing ended by basically not only leading into SeaLab but also making the captain from that show voiced by Jon Hamm.  I don’t know if I could make fan fiction that would be better than that.

This episode focuses mainly on the adventures of, what the show is quickly painting as, the worst any-amount-of-cover spies that have ever been as they go underwater to a better animated, newer, Sealab.  Granted that it seems that anyone who can stand upright for any period of time is capable of passing the field agent exam for this company.  The fact that I would watch this show if it was just two people screaming at each other for half an hour kind of adds to the fact that that is exactly what this normally ends up being.  Also that I guess that ISIS only hires highly emotional damaged people to help the mischief. Did I mention Jon Hamm in this episode?

Bad
The Office: Season 9, Episode 19

I 100% want to do this now

Where:  NBC
When: Thursdays at 8:30 PM
Why:
This is like what watching Casey at the Bat must have been like, but instead of a classic poem we watch all of these perfect set ups go completely ignored.  The worst part is that Dwight (Rainn Wilson) seems to be having this crazy and amazing hijinks filled caper involving a paper sale while the rest of the cast moans and whines about stuff that I am not interested about when people I know and love discuss with me, and the real life people are funnier at this point than any actor on The Office.  If it wasn’t for Dwight and Clark (Clark Duke) being some kind of amazing and psychic comedy due I am sure that this show would be half an hour of weird, dry humor, followed by Jim (John Kraninski) looking disapprovingly at the camera.

The sales call that Dwight makes involves him heavily drugging Stanley (Leslie David Baker) and literally dragging him to the meeting.  There is some really strong banter back and forth between the aforementioned Dwight and Clark, but besides that it is all terrible.  It is like the writer’s idea of comedy has quickly turned into 15 minutes of writing about how dumb Andy (Ed Helms) is with a camera crew filling the rest of the time following some of the cast around as they adlib. I kind of long to drive to the set of the show and just scream out my window how terrible they should all feel about what they did. I guess if they couldn’t come up with that extra 7 minutes they would just fill it with flashbacks and call it “documentary footage” again.

Best:
Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 1&2

The best reason to watch

Where: AMC
When:  Sundays at 10:00PM
Why:
I am not a smoker, but the constant amount of tobacco consumed during half an episode of this show makes me feel like I should pick it up.  Bender was entirely right when he said that it made him look cool.  If the government ever really wanted to understand why young people pick up that terrible and nasty habit they just need to look at Mad Men.  They aren’t Americas greatest generation, as I think some news reported called those that fought in WW2 that, but they are the most hardcore and awesome.  If we could live but a fraction of their glory through the course of our lives it would be a success.  We cannot.

For a show that is about an Ad agency in the 60’s Mad Men oddly gets away with not making any ads.  If this show was used as a documentary on how a standard beans promotion is put together we would all walk away thinking it was done by drinking and cheating on our wives with slightly less attractive women. This episode is basically about catching up with everyone since the time skip that took place between seasons.  For those of us who aren’t really familiar with the period there are vague clues given through news broadcasts as to the amount of time passed, like that really means anything to anyone born after 1975 though.  It basically comes down to an episode that nothing much happens, but it is written so well it doesn’t matter, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is my personal hero.  I would, and have, watched him in anything.

Worst:
Shameless: Season 3: Episode 12

Who hasn't had that day.

Where:  Showtime
When: Sundays at 9:00PM
Why:
I am going to be really petty right now and fully admit that Shameless ended up here because I expect better from it.  Much like a teacher flunking you on a test because you didn’t live up to their impossibly high standards of life, I am doing the same thing to this show.  Why?  Because it seems that the show runners have been slowly pushing us to not only care about Frank (William H. Macy) but want to add a bunch of heartwarming things in an attempt to make us feel emotions, besides “HOLY SHIT!”, about any of the characters in the show.

It seems like there is an active attempt to make anything that happens in the show have a lasting sense of purpose or meaning.  Granted, it has been three seasons of one crazy thing leading directly into another; that doesn’t mean that a single one of them ever really impact any of the characters after it is directly over.  At one point during this season Jimmy (Justin Chatwin) comments that he finds out his father is gay and it doesn’t matter because everyone else is too busy digging up a body from their backyard.  For me this has double meaning as both those things have pretty much been forgotten about as well as one of them not really mattering at the time, even though it kind of should have been huge.  Oh well, I guess you can just kill off some characters and make an impression that way.