Sunday, December 03, 2006

TV Week in Review

With November Sweeps over with and certain shows at or near their fall finales, this might be a good time to fit in a little TV commentary before we're bombarded with reruns. Overall, I'd say the winners this week were Prison Break, Jericho, Men In Trees, and surprisingly, Survivor and The O.C.

(Note: At first, I was determined to be brief with this TV commentary. But, it's hard to review a show without summarizing it at least a little, and with each episode having multiple subplots, it's hard to summarize briefly and not leave something out.)


Desperate Housewives: Not a memorable episode (I've already forgotten much of it). As a disturbing twist, Lynnette tries to apologize to new neighbor Art for mistaking him as a pedophile and turning the neighborhood against him, only to find out, after the death of Art's sister, that he really is a pedophile afterall. I continue to "Sookie" (fast-forward) past any scene with Gabrielle and/or Carlos, and the show is still more enjoyable that way (although this week, even that didn't help much).

Boston Legal: On a special night, this was the first installment of a special two-parter. Unfortunately, the focus of this two-parter was on Lincoln Meyer's fascination with Shirley Schmidt with the episode ending with her abduction. The episode also dealt with a friend of Jerry blacking out and wondering if she murdered her lesbian ex-lover who allegedly committed suicide.


Prison Break: This was the fall finale. The show is supposed to return sometime between January and March of 2007 (can't remember exactly, and I think it's supposed to be earlier than originally planned). In the continuing story of T-Bag's missing hand, he has now stolen the prosthetic hand of a war veteran. Then, he seduced a postal worker, killed her, and got the new address of his old girlfriend to whom he paid a terrorizing visit.

Sucre parachuted safely across the border, Sarah has cut & dyed her hair in an attempt to disguise herself, and Bellick has returned to Fox River not as a guard but as an inmate with no special treatment except the kind he doesn't want, considering his cellmate is the notorious Avocado.

Michael & Lincoln narrowly escaped a prison tranport van thanks to a traffic obstruction staged by Mahone, and in an unexpected twist, it was Kellerman, not Mahone, who changed sides to help Michael & Lincoln escape at the last minute. This show continues to stick to preposterous twists & coincidences that I should be tired of (and some people probably are), and yet somehow, I love coming back for more.

Heroes: This episode was more insightful than it was exciting. Except for the last minute or two, the episode took place six months in the past when Chandra Suresh was still alive and the "heroes" were just beginning to discover their powers. We also find out:

  • Hiro, having time travelled six months in the past to save the sweet waitress with superhuman memory, falls in love with her only to realize she has a blood clot in her brain and that he can't save her no matter what he tries.

  • Claire joined the cheerleading squad only six months ago and discovered her invulnerability after cutting her hand in a squabble with her friend.

  • Matt's now-shaky marriage was actually good only six months ago, and he keeps failing his detective exams because he's dislexic.

  • Nathan's wife Heidi was still walking six months ago, and his first time flying was during the car accident that crippled her.

  • Niki, D.L., and Micah were a happy family six months ago, and Niki's aggressive alter ego is that of her long dead sister Jessica who was killed by their abusive, alcoholic father.

  • Eden was a rebel using her power of influence for mischief (and she looked better with long hair six months ago).

  • The mysterious and murderous Sylar is one of the first special people to be found by Chandra. A rather nerdy watch-maker with a temper, Gabrial Gray takes the name Sylar after he kills a person with telekinesis and discovers by accident that he can absorb the powers of those he kills.

I believe this was the next to last episode of 2006 with this coming Monday's episode being the fall finale, hopefully the episode when most, if not all, of the heroes finally cross paths.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: This was a boring transitional episode about the whole cast, except Harriet, getting sick on Friday night and still trying to perform the show with fevers. The episode had a few amusing moments here and there but hit a new low during a scene of the cast members spitting water on each other for fun. Scratch that, the low point was when Matt decided to fill in an unexpected gap of time in Friday night's show with a sketch filled with spit-takes--and acted like it was an ingenious idea.

At least, this episode toned down the political & religious overtones and didn't try to make the comedy sketch show seem more socially relevant than it possibly could be (has the real life Saturday Night Live ever been that politically or religiously controversial???). Plus, Jordan revealed she's pregnant, which is good since Amanda Peet is pregnant in real life and they haven't done a great job of hiding Jordan's/Amanda's recent weight gain.


Standoff: Neither bad nor exceptional, this episode was about a group of teenage geeks getting revenge on the bullies that tormented them by taking them hostage and attempting to broadcast their revenge to the whole student body over a webcam. The twist was that the new kid in the group of outcasts was the only one to have a loaded gun, so he eventually replaces the head geek as the leader of the situation and shoots (not fatally) one of the bullies in the process.

It turns out that the new guy was the sole care-taker of his mother who had died of breast cancer. He wanted to go through with the hostage situation as a way of punishing himself for not keeping his mother alive. The complexity of the plot didn't leave much room for character development of our regular characters except for the fact that Emily was once picked on a lot in high school and Matt regrets having some experience as a bully himself.

Gilmore Girls: Overall, this episode was not too funny or exciting until the end. The time devoted to showing Christopher as being out of place in Stars Hollow is slow & boring but leads up to the satisfying moment when Chris pays off the town's bridge re-building fund making the rest of the knitting fund-raiser pointless. It was good to see Chris's throwing around of money to finally get him in trouble as the quirky Hollowites secretly preferred to finish the knit-a-thon because they like their quirky activities and working for their money

Even more satisfying was Luke finally standing up to Anna, insisting that if she moves to New Mexico (or was it Arizona?) with April that they have some kind of arrangement where he can still have time with his daughter. With Chris starting to falter and Luke becoming more vocal and a better parent (and an uncle for the 2nd time, with Liz & T.J. having their baby in this episode), this episode most likely marked the start of Luke & Lorelai's gradual re-connection.

House: Detective Tritter continues to tighten the reins on House, indirectly, by freezing Foreman and Cameron's accounts. It was very sneaky of him to not freeze Chase's, forcing Chase to pretend his accounts were frozen or else it would look like he squealed on House.

House's medical case this week was a little girl who seemed to be allergic to everything. Her divorced parents fought over how she should be cared for, leading House to pursue legal help from a judge. One day he convinces the judge that the father should make the decision because the mother isn't acting rational, then he has to ask that authority go to the mother the next day after the father starts acting stupid. Ultimately, the judge gives medical authority over the child to Dr. Cuddy. When Cuddy plays it too safe with the girls' treatment, House yells that she would make a lousy parent, and the little girl has to be prepped for surgical amputation of one arm and one leg. Cuddy reveals to Wilson that she's been trying to get pregnant after he realizes House must have said something to her that hit too close to home.

It was an interesting twist in the end when the girl turned out to be allergic to light (a condition for which both parents had to be carriers--so in a way they're equally at "fault"). Chase figured it out and got House to stop the amputation surgery just in time but not before getting punched in the face by House for his diagnosis. Despite Chase being enraged over the punch and his accounts finally getting frozen by Tritter, it was an even better twist when Wilson went to Tritter to give up the dirt on House.

Boston Legal: A continuation of Sunday night's "special" episode. As much as I like the neurotic Jerry, it seems like he's in almost every episode now. At least this time he was the one helping someone instead of the one in trouble, and he actually handled his part of the trial well, with a little assistance from Allan. There was a nice subplot in which Denny gets jealous over Allan & Jerry's friendship, giving Allan another opportunity to philosophize out loud over how close he & Denny are as friends.

So far, this season is bugging me. I'm tired of the running Lincoln Meyer storyline and was disappointed to see he was only injured and not killed by his own crossbow bolt. I also don't see the point of bringing on two new regular characters when they still under-use Mark Valley and Rene Auberjoinois. And while Denny dating a "midget" who he later discovers may be his daughter was good for a laugh, it's still hard to to believe she would date him considering how disgusting she thinks he is, and I'm not crazy about the storyline where her mother, played by Delta Burke, still pines for Denny.

In general, this show is better when it's more The Practice and less Ally McBeal or vice versa, but riding the line 50/50 has watered down these last few episodes.


Jericho: This was the fall finale and one of the best hours of TV this week. The episode mostly centered around Jonah getting shot by one of his own men and seeking help from his daughter and Jake.

Jonah is suspected in the murder of Gracie which happened at the end of the last episode. It turns out to have been Mitchell, one of Jonah's "men" (are they like a gang), that killed Gracie. In one of the shocking final moments of the episode, Dale, who inherited Gracie's store and her problems with Jonah's men upon her death, takes revenge and secures his authority over the store by shooting Mitchell in the chest.

It was nice seeing Stanley and Mimi become a couple but hard seeing Stanley's deaf sister Bonnie getting ticked off about it and hooking up with one of the local skater punks. Even harder was seeing Gray Anderson win the mayoral election over Johnston Greene who had been mayor for 25 years. While Johnston's style of leadership looks almost too cautious in comparison, Gray's impulsive leadership style is sure to lead to disaster later on, hopefully enough to see Johnston returned to office.

Two other big twists: Just as Emily & Jake are about to hook up, Emily's fiance and other plane crash survivors show up in Jericho; and after lying to his colleagues about being compromised so he can spend more time with his family, Hawkins's co-conspirators call him on his lie and say they'll see him soon.

Day Break: It's hard to summarize this episode, as the conspiracy embedded in this show seems to be very complex after just three episodes. Brett Hopper continues to investigate why he's getting framed for murder on a day that keeps repeating itself. He constantly has to modify his routine to compensate for the new knowledge he gained in the prior iteration of the day.

This episode never showed him saving the lady from getting hit by the bus, so we have to assume he does that off-camera or focuses on his own problems in certain iterations. However, in this episode, he's more distracted by the problems of his police partner who is in hot water of her own, both with the dept. and an ex-boyfriend, and she always seems to get killed for it. It was impressive storytelling to see Hopper almost give up on her as it seems he has no chance of saving her no matter what he does.

In the end, he discovers during one iteration of the day that his partner does something different that day, and Brett starts to wonder if anomolies can occur in his repeating day or if minor differences per iteration eventually add up to bigger changes.


Survivor: This was one of the best episodes of the last two or three seasons of Survivor. I am really happy with my four Aitu underdogs and how they are owning this game. However, as the game progresses, I am seeing more and more lacks in judgment.

I'm not sure it was smart of Yul to reveal to everyone that he has had the hidden immunity idol, but he already told his allies, and if his enemies were smarter, they'd have figured it out already anyway. I also wonder if it was going too far not sharing food with Candice, Parvati, and Adam, but if they're not going to work at all, they probably need a wake-up call. It was also stupid for Jonathon to get cocky about winning all the food at the reward challenge. You'd think people would learn not to gloat in this game. While his attitude about the food was annoying and his brain is constantly strategizing, I'm not sure he's earned the curse of being so reviled.

I was happy to see Candice get sent to Exile Island (again) and get voted out of the game, continued punishment for disloyalty during the opporunity to mutiny a while back. It's a shame; I like Nate's personality, I think Parvati is hot, and I'm glad that Candice & Adam are so close, but they just made the mistake of being unfocused & of feeding off each others' laziness and lack of strategic thinking.

Since this season started with four ethnically-divided tribes and has a larger jury than usual, with only three episodes left, my theory is that the final decision will be over a final three or four instead of the normal final two.

Ugly Betty: It's odd that after the last episode's visit from immigration that Betty's father's citizenship problems are barely mentioned in this episode. The focus is more on Christmas and Daniel's "love" for Sofia. Considering that Daniel & Sofia's relationship went from disdain, to lust, to whatever is now in just the course of two or three episodes, it's hard to believe Daniel is truly in love with Sofia.

More believable is Daniel's feeling that Betty should work for Sofia, not because he wants to get rid of her but because she's so good that she deserves a better position. I like the boss-employee relationship that Daniel and Betty are developing. They're almost like brother & sister, and it's one of the better plutonic relationship on TV right now (maybe not quite as good as Allan Shore & Denny Crane on Boston Legal, yet).

The O.C.: Taylor Townsend is the new reason to watch The O.C. Because of her, The O.C. had one of its best episodes in the last two or three seasons. All the ways Taylor chased after Ryan, both direct and subtle, were very well written. They don't seem like they would fit as a couple, but the writers even address that. One of the other characters, I think Sandy, comes right out and says they'd make an odd couple. Then, they show Ryan and Taylor thinking each others' thoughts, and it all seems more plausible.

It's good enough just having Marissa gone, but having Taylor take her place is even better. Christmukkah should be just around the corner, and that's usually a bonus.

Grey's Anatomy: This was a strong episode. I think I just realized that it helped that the episode had nothing to do with Grey & Derek as a couple, or Izzy depressed over Denny, or Addison getting upset or jealous over Derek or Mark, etc.

This episode was more about the medicine and about the trouble that Burke & Yang got into. I liked Miranda's reaction that if they don't get punished, then Izzy shouldn't be punished any longer over what happened to Denny. The situation with George's father is also interesting, but George's anger at everyone seemed over-the-top, so it was good to see that subside a bit by the end of the episode.

It was pretty harsh at the beginning when Meredith's mother said to Meredith (not knowing it was her because of the Alzheimers) she should never have had children so she could have run off with Chief Webber during their affair years ago. So, it was nice to see at the end of the episode Ellis actually recognized Meredith for the first time in quite a while, showing maybe they still have a connection afterall.

Shark: Woops. Was that a new episode this week? If so, I haven't gotten around to watching it on TiVo yet.

Men In Trees: After a hiatus of several weeks, this show is back on a new night and time, where hopefully it will pick up a bigger audience. It was probably one of the three best episodes they've done so far, including the pilot episode and the power-themed episode (I think the third episode).

In this episode, the first of a two-parter, Marin returns to New York for Thanksgiving and to choose a publisher for her new book, the town finally convinces Jack to read the first chapter of Marin's book (it's all about him but she didn't get around to changing the name before Jane sent the chapter off to be published in the New Yorker magazine), Annie is stranded in Elmo for Thanksgiving where she feels like a fifth wheel among Patrick and his new extended family, Ben and Theresa re-connect as they organize the "orphans" Thanksgiving meal, and Plow Guy surprises Jane with a visit to New York.

All the things wrong with Marin's NY apartment and the dove outside her window being away from home are both nice metaphors for how she now belongs in Alaska more than NY. I like that we got to see Marin's sister without the episode being all about her. The exclusion of Annie at Thanksgiving dinner felt a little forced. Even if Patrick's mom Celia doesn't like her, surely Buzz, Mai, or Patrick himself should have had enough common sense and courtesy to make sure Annie got in one of the family photos and got a piece of pie. I mean she's not invisible, and a pie can be cut five ways.

There was a nice twist at the end. We see Marin leaving to return to Elmo. Then we see Jack waiting for the plane to dock and expect Marin to get out. Even though I knew Justine Bateman was guest starring on the show soon, I wasn't expecting her to get off the plane, playing Jack's ex-girlfriend Lynn, who broke his heart just a few months ago.

And speaking of the plane, how is it that the weather kept Buzz from flying Annie out of Elmo, but Plow Guy still got out of Elmo and Lynn still flew into Elmo?


Battlestar Galactica: This was probably the worst episode of an otherwise impressive season. The episode involved the Galactica officers engaging in boxing matches to get out their aggressions and get grudges behind them.

The next-to-last fight was between Admiral Adama & Chief Tyrol. Apparently, Adama felt betrayed for Tyrol and Callie wanting to move down to New Caprica to raise their baby. After getting his older body torn up by Tyrol, Adama gave an awkward speech about how he let people get too close and too comfortable with each other instead of acting like soldiers, that they paid the price for his mistake with lives, and that he wouldn't make that mistake again. After that, Tigh tried to shut down the fights, but Starbuck insisted on one more fight, her versus Li Adama (she refers to him as Major; is he not a Commander anymore, or was she just insulting him???).

The scenes of boxing were intercut with flashbacks to 17 months ago when things were still good on New Caprica and the Cylons hadn't invaded yet. The flashbacks of Li & Starbuck show them burying their feelings for one another as they each try to make lives with Dualla and Sam, respectively. Then we see a flashback where Li & Starbuck have sex in the desert and yell out--with apparently no one around for miles--that they love each other (awkward, badly written scene). The next flashback shows Li looking for Starbuck the next morning only to have his father tell him that Starbuck married Sam that morning. Confused and angry, Li retaliated by solidifying his relationship with Dualla.

In the present, the boxing match between Li & Starbuck gets ugly with kicks & leg-sweeps, then turns into them hugging each other. Dualla & Sam look on at their respective mates, knowing what it means. Sam was already having marital trouble with Starbuck, but I'm guessing the next episode or two may spell a messy break for Li & Dualla.

Justice: I TiVo'ed this, and I've only watched about 15 minutes of it so far.

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