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.

Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: 5/5/13 – 5/11/13

Don't worry short round, I want to nail her too

So I would have loved to include Doctor Who on the list, but it turns out that they included one of the most annoying teenage girls ever in the script.  Long time readers of the site will remember that I went off on the pilot episode of the Sarah Jane Chronicles because they also had the world’s most annoying British teen as a co-star.  It is like they managed to freeze that awful child and thaw her out to be a stereotype of some kind at the drop of a hat.  I kid you not, the child walks directly into the middle of an armed military base and yells, “I am bored! Entertain me!” to soldiers that were trained to kill.  Also in the future. On another planet.  That child should be murdered just so it doesn’t ever get the chance to reproduce.

Good
Warehouse 13: Season 4, Episode 12

I know! I am impressed nature is still a thing too!

Where: SYFY
When: Mondays at 10:00 PM
Why:
Warehouse 13 is at its best when it is trying to explain away weird events that happen with everyday items used by special people that somehow produce magic.  It is a world that tries to use science and technology to detect and capture these artifacts by, I don’t know… purple stuff?, but always ends up simply explaining everything as a special kind of juju that people just have and really good dumb luck.  It is like every urban legend that was ever told came to life and it is the job of these unfortunate few to track down the items that are pretty much destroying the world.  In the first few seasons it was odd because it seemed to be more about positive items have negative effects on, IE a pill that makes you really smart but you fall into a coma in under a week, but now it just seems to be focused on jerks getting their hands on items able to destroy some of the fly over states. Sort of like the X-Files doing monster of the week stuff before it became all about black oil and hybrid humans.

This week was about a guy who got a device that could create earthquakes, because I think some guy in the past had a lamp and was way into dirt or something.  Instead of using that for profit he decided that the best use would be eco-terrorism, because if the current climate has taught us anything it is that anything with the word terrorism is treated favorably.  Probably one of the more forgettable episodes, but in all honesty this show is because when it does what it knows, and what it knows is zany excuses to write comedy and not treat the audience like morons.

Bad
The Simpsons: Season 24, Episode 19

No one would blame you, you live in the Simpsons

Where: Fox
When: Sundays at 8:00 PM
Why:
The Simpsons is, at this point, known for having episodes that start with something and quickly use that to move on to forgetting about everything else that has ever happened.  This episode is the worst possible example that that I can think of for that.  It starts with Moe (Hank Azaria) attempting to kill himself, then he decides that since he failed at that he should make whiskey.  You read that correctly, the show opens with an attempted suicide.  Not only do they repeatedly make light of the fact that he clearly has all kinds of unresolved issues, something that the writers attempt to make us think that a new suit will fix, they also go out of their way to make it known that when you are ugly everyone will think you are homeless.

I will honestly go so far as to say that this episode doesn’t end with nothing changing, if anything it is an overall loss for Moe who ends up in a much worse emotional state then when it started.  If telling a person who is actively trying to hang themselves that they have something to live for, only to take it away violently and tell them that they are not worth that experience the next logical step is for them to head right back to the noose. Sure, they try to candy coat that fact with Moe stating at the end that he wasn’t going to follow through with the act “today”, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t emotionally one step away from kicking the chair out again.  This is officially the worst episode since Lady Gaga was involved.

Good
Adventure Time: Season 5, Episode 19

James. Fucking. Baxtor.

Where: Cartoon Network
When:  Monday at 5:30
Why:

James. Baxtor.  He is a horse that rides around on a beach ball saying his name over and over again.  I think the entire reason for him being a thing is to make people smile, which is cool if you are into that kind of thing.  When he done entertaining and calming people down he folds his ball into a hat and trots away.  Guy seems to be pretty cool.  It isn’t even like he asks for cash or a reward or something.   I am pretty sure that is what Good Guy Greg does, but only with more being a bro about it.

Sadly the episode it more about Jake (John DiMaggio) and Finn (Jeremy Shada) trying to figure out how to be impressively happy and upbeat for everyone, just like James Baxtor.  Granted I think that is probably the best use of their time, but who wouldn’t rather just kind of hang out and watch what a horse does for like 15 minutes.  This horse even entertains people.  Just saying, that would have been a cool episode too.

Bad
How I Met Your Mother: Season 8, Episode 23

I would cry too.  This show has gone on for 5 too many seasons.

Where: CBS
When: Mondays at 8:00 PM
Why:
You know what would be entirely wonderful if this show could do?  Move on past the entire Ted (Josh Radnor) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) thing and just come up with anything else.  I get it, you based the entire premise of the show on a handful of plot ideas and have had trouble changing it into anything else.  It is hard to do a show about your cast growing up and growing old because most people don’t think that is any way funny, unless you have the guy from Superbad writing and directing it—that would be too awesome for TV though.

This is the episode that Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) becoming BFF’s with Robin’s father (Ray Wise).  I think that it is great that TV still thinks that people can marry into a family and just instantly become fast friends with their in-laws.  I have been married to my wife for five years and I am just now starting to think that her father doesn’t think I am going to either murder her for life insurance or lead her into a life of destruction and heavy metal.  Who knows, maybe he just thinks that I am playing a long con and is starting to act nice so he can discover my secrets.  My point is that I don’t think that anyone, ever, is or can be fully comfortable with in-laws as you are basically stealing something from them that they hold dear (or should).  But I guess no one ever said that How I Met Your Mother was realistic.  I mean, those kids haven’t aged at all; I know for a fact that the daughter is like slammin’ hot now too.

Best:
Community: Season 4, Episode 13

From what I gather this is everyone's reaction to Chevy Chase

Where: NBC
When: Thursdays at 8:00 PM
Why:
So this was basically filmed as the last episode ever of Community and as far as anyone knew, until the morning after it aired, it was.  All of the weirder lose threads that had been kicking around the show, from alternative time lines to Chang, managed to wrap themselves up in some of the most psychotropic colored paper mankind has ever seen. Also Pierce (Chevy Chase) actively manages to be used so little and cast in such a negative light that it is almost as if the writers of the show wanted everyone to know that he had left production.  To say that his inclusion in the episode felt bitter and vindictive is an understatement.  One of the lines basically was along the lines of, “Why didn’t you include me?!?” “You said you didn’t want to be included!”

So Jeff (Joel McHale) manages to finish college a semester early by taking every single blow off class known to man, he also ends up getting a degree in Education which seems like something that they don’t let you be a lawyer if you have.  He then claims that he is going to start a private practice, which just seems like something that most people would avoid going to given a choice. That would be like me choosing a Doctor that decided it would be easier if he got a degree is juggling instead of surgeoning.  Also, I am pretty sure that as long as you pass the bar you don’t even need a degree.  This entire story seems to be falling apart on me.

Worst:
The Big C: Season 4, Episode 2

She is only smiling because other are unhappy

Where: Showtime
When: Sundays at 10:00 PM
Why:

Please note that I am not even going to fain an attempt to be nice:

Fuck this show.

No really.  Cathy (Laura Linney) seems to be completely unhappy with anything in her life if she isn’t dying.  So it is no surprise that she opts to stop doing chemo.  Look, everyone knows that you feel like a steaming pile of shit that was just vomited by some kind of neo-nazi after having massive amounts of cancer killing drugs dumped into your system—that isn’t my problem.  My problem is that the show acts like she is the only person in the world that has her life together and the only person that can put everyone else’s idea of things straight.  Her brother is an unemployed, homeless, bipolar lunatic that I think has a drug problem, and is well fucking round compared to her. I am almost entirely positive that the only reason this character is happy when she is dying is because people feel obligated to listen to her completely stupid and self-centered ideas.  This isn’t, “I am going to die, so breakfast for dinner always.” this is, “I am dying so my husband needs to find a replacement wife while I am alive.” kind of stupid and unfounded pushing.  This is the kind of stuff that I would be thankful if this last season was simply her son putting a bullet in her head and the trial after where he is found to have done man-kind a favor.

Andrea (Gabourey Sidibe) is basically bullied into making the world’s dumbest dress for Cathy to be buried in, which is not only creepy but is the kind of thing that you carry around with you for the rest of your life and tell someone when they are getting too close and you want space.  Not only is this girl clearly eating her pain away while she watches the family that took her in and supported her fall apart, she is watching a woman who has tried to step in for her mother ask her the most terrible and inappropriate things you can think of over and over again.  It would be like Stark asking me if it was cool if I hung out and watched while he took a dump in a bag to save for later.  Sure, there are probably an endless list of terrible things that I owe him for in my life that he could almost force me to do that, but I am pretty sure that not only would our friendship never be the same and I would have something I could tell my wife that would make her leave me.