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: 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: 8/4/13-8/10/13 (late)

Not included because it made me sad

Late.  Really sorry about that.

Good
Falling Skies: Season 3, Episode 10

Sort of how the show makes you feel

Where: TNT
When: Sundays at 10:oo PM
Why:
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.

Bad
Pawn Stars: Season 7, Episode 18

This isn't even Top Gear

Where: History Channel
When: Thursdays at 9:00 PM
Why:
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.

Good
Impractical Jokers: Season 2, Episode 17

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

Where: TruTV
When: Thursdays at 10:00PM
Why:
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.

Bad
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
Why:
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.

Best:
Top Gear: Season 20, Episode 6

I guess... Spoiler?

Where: BBC
When: Sundays at 20:00 GMT
Why:
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.

Worst:
Paranormal Witness: Season 3, Episode 9

BTW, they admit this part never happened

Where: SYFY
When: Wednesdays at 10:00 PM
Why:
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: 7/7/13 – 7/13/13

Free Runner Vs. Trial Bike. Thanks Top Gear

For some reason not that many shows decided to return last week.  I don’t know if we are in a weird summer period in which people are afraid to put things on TV because they think that the horrible shut ins that watch will care that it is nice outside?  Do people watch TV live anymore?  Someone had to remind me the other day that mine still got channels and did things besides hook up to my computer.

Good
Warehouse 13: Season 4, Episode 20

Don't judge them. They have... stun guns?

Where: SYFY
When: Mondays at 10:00 PM
Why:
I have spoken of this show before, and if I am honest this wasn’t the half season that I wanted.  If I am going to speak freely about the series I don’t even know what the hell anyone involved was thinking when about 90% of it happened.  I know for a fact that the timing basically implies that it only ever came back to push DVD sales; something that was released the day after the season concluded.  There was this interesting story arch that seemed developing this time ‘round, with a chunk of the cast of Buffy, but at several times devolved quickly into “I don’t know, magic” which while a viable excuse for the series still seems super lazy when the cast just shrugs and goes with it.

The last half of this season, or if we are being honest “mini-season”, involved the crew at the artifact hunting emporium getting caught up in the middle of a bunch of immortals and the petty feuds.  This, of course, all managed to tie back to the older versions of other Warehouses and deep secrets that no one disclosed for… I am going to say plot reasons alone.  For a show about mystical items being able to do whatever for any reason with minimal explanation they do seem to have an entire host of reasons that it is acceptable to use them some times but not others.  If memory severs me correctly at one point I believe that they even hunted artifacts with other artifacts. Pretty much the only reason they get away with it is because after four season they have managed to convince me this is a live action comic book, and I am ok with this leave of stupidity for some awesome reason.

Bad
Pawn Stars: Season 7, Episode 12

Beard = Expert

Where: History Channel
When: Thursdays at 9:00 PM
Why:
It is really hard to hate the concept of the show.  People bring in the most random things that they can find—possibly from a culvert or neighbors potter’s field— and try and get money from them, basically confirming my long held suspicion that all pawn shops are half junkyard and half of the worst department store ever. The good part of the show is when you get people talking about something that they know about, explaining why it is either worth money or not, and then watching the person get disappointed.  I throw that last part in there because the moment that anyone on the show finds out that what they have is worth a good amount of money they instantly become more entitled than a teenager that suddenly became a reality TV star.

Pawn Stars is wonderful background noise, at best.  It is the best kind of disposable media; when it is done well you walk away feeling like you learned about how much a four hundred year old shovel is worth when it has no historical value and how people used to dig holes before we invented child labor and the third world.  The problem becomes that the programmers think that they can have plot lines so the viewers start to know the people behind the counter through a series of zany events.  That would be great if they either really happened or the people there could act at any point beyond a level of a middle school drama class.  The recent episode was flush with examples of this, mainly of trying to get Chum-lee to be less lazy by sending him on several fools’ errands.   All this taught me was that I guess I can buy dry ice at a custard place, and that I hate old people when they think they are being funny.

Best:
Top Gear: Season 20, Episode 2

It does not end well for the limo

Where: BBC
When: Sunday at 20:00 GMT 
Why:
Top Gear is a show about people who have a deep and caring understanding for how cars work, lasting ideals on what empowers some to rise to the top over others, and the all-important notion of value.  All of those things are true in much the same way that the Today Show is a hard hitting news organization that covers topics that really matter and can polarize the world.  Sort of like a variety show based around automobiles and dry British humor. Several series ago they raced to the North Pole between a car and a dog sled, because no one had done it before and they thought it would be fun.  At one point they wanted to see if they could make a space shuttle out of a terrible car, simply to make space travel cheap and cost effective.  It should also be noted that most of these projects end up failing in much the same way that Chris Brown fails to understand women’s rights.

This episode, aside from the standard vehicle reviews, contained a competition to see what nation had the best taxi in the world.  Entries ranged from buses to limos to the standard New York City yellow cabs and somehow became less about the best time around the track and more and more about how close they could make the event into a destruction derby without having to change their insurance paperwork.  The show is basically what happens when you give teenage boys free reign to pretty much do whatever they want, they crash copious amounts of cars into it.  I have to say that after all of the years that the show has been on the air there really isn’t much out there that does this better, and it ends up being the highlight of my week pretty much every time it is on.

Worst:
Shipping Wars: Season 4, Episode 9

So... Where the women at?

Where: A&E
When: Tuesday at 9:00 PM
Why:
Some days I am pretty convinced that my wife hates me, and because she is married to me she knows that the formal ways of showing her disdain—such as poisoning or clown attack—are simply too good or ineffective.  I am pretty sure that is why we watch Shipping Wars now.  It is the story of how people took every single human beings least favorite task, moving something from one place on the planet and placing it at another, and made a living off of it.  Sure, they are more the stories about shipping oddities like statues of horses with working genitals than some guys house, it is still a show about people who decided that they wanted to make the least enjoyable task man has ever known their career.

Honestly I don’t know if this show is actively trying to get me to want to hire people to move my crap by making it look worse on a weekly basis, or if they are trying to make me understand that everyone that I would hire to do it is just such a failure at life that I should probably just suck it up and keep buying beer and pizza for my friends.  The “highlights” of this week involved a cake traveling up the east coast and cat caskets.  The only interesting thing about the cake delivery was the fact that the guy doing it basically seemed to go out of his way to do anything other than drive the thing he was being paid hundreds of dollars to drop off.  The cat casket thing was fun because it basically started and ended with everyone being as insane and creepy as you would expect when the words “cat casket” are used.