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: 3/24/13 – 3/30/13

Doctor Who is back! Also other shows happened!

Good
Regular Show: Season 4: Episode 20

Baby Ducks FOR THE WIN!!!

Where: Cartoon Network
When:  Mondays in the evening.
Why:
Regular Show is pretty much about every slacker that you know in their 20’s working a dead end job that will never have any options for advancement. Also they are all talking animals.  Also they work at a park that I think is some kind of magic because weird and crazy things keep happening there.  I don’t know if it is the stream of 80/90’s references backed by licensed music that makes this show special, or if it just the fact that the two main characters in it just seem to take random things happening as an everyday event.

This episode is about how big of jerks geese are, and while that is true I don’t know if most of them ever form into a giant Voltron like monster to prove the point of dominance. Regular Show is basically a conversation had with a friend to make each other laugh, then turned into a cartoon to share, because I don’t know how the writing meetings go if it isn’t.  This might be one of those things that has to be experienced to be understood, but that shouldn’t stop you from watching all four full seasons.

 

Bad
Family Guy: Season 11: Episode 16

Because you shouldn't expect any better

Where: Fox
When: Sunday at 9PM
Why:
You know when one of your friends is so far ahead of the curve on something that when they are finally proven to be right it is hard to admit to them?  It is like someone telling you to duck half a minute before you get hit in the head with an iron brick made of monkey poop.  You kind of want to be mad at them because it is entirely easier than admitting that you are a moron for not taking the advice or at the very least looking.  That is kind of how I feel about South Park because they pretty much described perfectly the writing process of Family Guy.

12 Angry men satire.  Mayor West.  Assorted racist cast stereotypes as jurors .  I just described THE ENTIRE EPISODE.

They are either randomly generating as many plot points as they can or the lead writer had a stroke and everyone just writes down whatever non sequitur flies out of his mouth.  Possibly someone has the most interesting case of Tourette’s and only screams out cultural references.  Thinking about the possible methods used to make an episode of Family Guy has proven to be stupidly more interesting than even watching it.  I am pretty sure that can only mean good things for the quality of the show.

 

Good
Modern Family: Season 4: Episode 18

Children make me feel that way too

Where: ABC
When: Wednesday at 9PM
Why:
Modern Family is the closest thing that I have seen to Arrested Development since that show went off the air forever ago.  In the past this would have been called a dysfunctional family, but it is kind of hard to say that because everyone in the family still talks to one another and isn’t accusing one of the other people of some kind of terrible crime that never took place.  Maybe that just speaks to the way that I think everyone’s extended family has at the very least three people that could be a star on either the Jersey Shore or Jerry Springer.

The majority of the episode is based more around Clare (Julie Bowen) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) attempting to flip a house.  Probably a forgettable and kind of simple story arch, I kind of expected the show to pull a Simpsons and forget this ever really began; turns out no, they are better than that.  It is weird; this show taken as a single episode never feels like it is ever that impressive, almost like it is constantly skating around the edge of genesis.  Taken as a whole it is probably one of the best shows on right now if only because it remains dedicated to its characters and plot, even if some of it isn’t nearly as good as the odd conversational responses they slip in.

Bad
Storage Wars: Season 4: Episode 3-4

Where: A & E
When:  I am sure there is a marathon going on at this moment
Why:
I have been told that Storage Wars has started an epidemic of people going to these auctions, spending their life savings and thinking that they are going to be leaving with dozens of boxes full of both cash and gold.  I think that the producers of the show became scared by the prospect of lawsuits and decided to start showing more and more people that most of the money on these auctions are made by the cast stocking their second hand stores with sub-dollar store items.  That might sound fun, but it means that we get to sit through a lecture about how much a used and filthy garage door opener is worth.

Before I continue to talk about how boring it is to watch people get really excited to find power tools in the bottom of a plastic container that is mainly someone’s shattered dreams, I have to say that the added layer to all of this is when someone loses their shirt over the same garbage.  At one point one of the rarely seen guys bids several thousand dollars for a locker that only has old, possibly wet, cardboard boxes and soiled, possibly bedbug riddled, mattresses; later in the episode you see him lose his mind that he isn’t going to make his money back on any of it.  I guess that at that point it almost becomes worth it to watch someone talk about how even cheap plates turn a good profit if you can then watch someone who has no idea what they are doing spend too much money on literal trash and then pay his employees to tell him he is a moron.  It would have been cheaper and more efficient if he had just mail ordered a wood chipper and thrown collectable pewter figurines at it.

 

Best:
Bob’s Burgers: Season 3: Episode 18

Please notice the dentures

Where: Fox
When: Sundays at 8:30
Why:
A while ago Archer did an episode that took place in the Bob’s Burgers world, which wonderfully worked because it had H. Jon Benjamin (who voices both characters) basically doing one character doing the impression of another.  I have talked about the show on the site before, briefly skirting around directly bringing it up, but it was pretty much a weak week allowed this to easily jump to the front of the group.  I am pretty sure that me watching it the morning before writing this problem helped the quality of me judging it as well.

Linda (John Roberts) uses the restaurant being fumigated as an excuse for her to drag the entire family to see her parents that are residing in Florida.  Straight forward enough, but add in the fact that her parents live in a swinger community and she spends the entire episode freaking out and having visions of naked old people having weird and disturbing sex.  It isn’t that this episode does anything beyond the realms of what another episode might in the ways of set up or line delivery, it is just that it seems to sink deep into the pit of what Bob’s Burgers does well and allows it to wallow in all the flavor.

 

Worst:
Once Upon a Time: Season 2: Episode 18

Behold! PLOT!

Where: ABC
When: Sundays at 8PM
Why:
I kind of bring up Once in a roundabout conversation at the very least one time on the occasion that I decide to produce one of these, so it only makes sense that when I have gone out of my way to catch up with the series it was probably going to make the list of terrible things that I hate.  For all of the praise that I lap on any other show for continuing odd story lines, for good character development, or for anything else that even resembles something that is positive, this is the other side of that conversation.  I haven’t disliked a show more since I wrote about the entire first season of the Walking Dead while drunk.

Sure, the entire premise of this show as well as large plot points are entirely stolen from the amazing comic book series, “Fables” but that didn’t mean that it had to be terrible; the show made that choice on its own.  This episode mainly follows the holes in Pinocchio (Eion Bailey) as he fills in most of story shaped holes in his past with his adventures in turning into poorly CG animated wood which is about as dull as it sounds.  There are other plots that are scattered throughout the episode but by large they seem to be more about women pretending to be pretty princesses than something interesting.  The show feels less “fairy tales in the real world,” and more “this is what a five year old girls think adult life is like”.

 

Special Case!
Doctor Who

Look at her, she knows she is slammin'

Where: BBC
When: Saturday 18:15 (Some weird British time)
Why:
It isn’t fair for me to include Doctor Who in the normal weekly update.  It really isn’t.  I have been in love with this show since it came back on the air years and years ago.  I have entire friendships that I am pretty sure are entirely based off the fact that we both completely agree that Doctor Who is an utterly amazing show and that it should totally be on every week, always, and never end.  It is a zany Sci-Fi adventure, comedy, drama, sometimes romance that is done with British accents.  That is the kind of thing you want when people act out your life story.

The director, Steven Moffat is probably my least favorite writer that has taken on the show since it came back.  It isn’t that he is boring, but it seems like if there aren’t seven different kinds of fires that he wants people running around and putting out that he just doesn’t know what to do with his characters.  I am quickly coming to terms with the fact that I don’t really dislike Matt Smith (11th Doctor) as much as I once thought, and just dislike the way that he has been written.  Although I can’t really complain about the choices of companions as Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) is possibly the single most attractive member of the cast ever.  I guess we can all just hope she goes the Bill Piper route and has an entire show just based around her being naked.