Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: 4/5/15 – 4/11/15

Better Call Saul: Season 1, Episode 10

I wish I could pull scams like this

Where: AMC
When: Mondays at 10:00 PM
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.

Olympus: Season 1, Episode 2

Acting is hard

Where: SyFy
When: Thursdays at 10:00 PM
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.

Mad Men

It is like they are having a Scooby Doo off

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

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
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.

China, IL: Season 3, Episode 1

Everyone loves you baby cakes

Where: Cartoon Network
When:  Sundays at 12:00 AM
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.

The Big Bang Theory: Season 8, Episode 20

Everyone hates you, WIl Wheaton

Where: CBS
When: Thursdays at 8:00 PM
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.