Monday, January 27, 2014

Last Week in TV - Week of Jan. 19 - Episode Awards

Last week in TV, the comedies were the big winners as well as Sleepy Hollow's finale. What I loved about these comedies is that their best moments were actually the drama. Between saying goodbye to Troy on Community and Randy's speech about soldiers on Enlisted, last week's comedies out drama'ed the dramas and showed us why laughs with a heart is the best combination. Don't forget to comment on your favorites and awards below and if you have a show you'd like to nominate, please fill out the box at the bottom of the article. Thanks and may you have a happy TV watching week.

Overall Awards:

Check This Show Out - Helix

Before recommending this show, I have to warn everyone to go into it knowing that every single character will make the exact wrong choice for their job title. To be frank, Helix makes the CDC look as incompetent as The Following made the Feds. However, if you go into it for the horror/sci fi thrills and jumps, Helix works well. There hasn't been one episode when I wasn't grossed out, although admittedly my gross reflex is set lower than most, and jumped in my chair. All characters have the required emotional baggage with the main leads having been together before she slept with his brother and Junior CDC suffering from a medical condition. Those can be fast forwarded. Helix works best in the mystery and producing one bizarre visual you just can't forget per episode - frozen monkey graveyard, anyone? The show won't be winning any awards soon, but it is a fun way to spend an hour. Definitely worthy of a summer to-watch list at the minimum. Plus, I have it from a writer that the main story questions will be answered in the first 13 episodes while new questions are raised. That's my favorite kind of TV storytelling.

Best Episode / Best Twist - Sleepy Hollow - 1.13 - Bad Blood (season finale)

The only other episode that was even in contention this week was Community, but Bad Blood gets the win for having the very best twist in TV in years. SPOILER ALERT - go watch this episode NOW if you haven't already. Now. Everything about the season finale worked from the opening humor of Ichabod learning about re-enactors and finally finding an outlet for buying his preferred clothes to the jaw-dropping, eye-bugging pronouncement that Henry is War AND Jeremy. I haven't heard of one person who saw both coming in the entire fandom, and yet it still makes sense throughout the context of the other episodes. Well played Sleepy Hollow writers, well played! Kudos also to the casting department for getting John Noble to play Henry. The nuances and shift from him pretending to be a concerned friend to psycho kid with a 2 century old grudge was magnificent. Then to leave everyone incapacitated? Let's just say that hellatus is already too long and I can't wait for season 2 to start. This finale is this year's Sacrifice (Arrow) and one of the best I've ever seen.

Best Comedy Episode - Community - 5.05 - Geothermal Escapism

In any other week, this would have been the best episode. Community works best when it focuses on its characters instead of gimmicks and high concept episodes (see Basic Intergluteal Numistics for an example of a concept episode that failed miserably) so I expected Troy's big farewell to be a winner. It succeeded on all levels with a bizarre twist that could only work in this show. It's no secret that Troy and Abed are my favorite pairing in the group and to see Abed trying so hard to keep Troy around through the guise of a game was spot-on to his character. Who hasn't played Hot Lava as a kid? Of course with Abed the whole thing is taken to another level and I love how Troy willingly follows Abed into their typical madness. The fact that the entire campus plays along was a nice nod to the paintball episodes as well. However it is the heart of the ending that raises this episode into the top 5 rank for me. As Abed realizes that he has to let Troy go and jumps into the lava, Terminator-style, it is Britta to the rescue. An unlikely savior after being so relentlessly annoying all episode, she helps both Troy and Abed say goodbye by inventing their clones. It's a touching moment that few comedies allow and the show is that much better for it. Have there been funnier Community episodes? Of course, but there are few that have as much heart and that is just as crucial as laughs in a comedy for me. I will miss you Troy, but you left on an A+ episode. Besides, if Troy 2.0 can talk to LeVar Burton, I'm sure he can sail around the world in one year and be back for season six. And the movie.

Best Quote - Enlisted - 1.03 - Pete's Airstream

Randy: "I thought the most important thing was hanging out with my brother. Pete's the strongest soldier I know, but every once in awhile even the strongest soldiers will go through some stuff. Right now he may not want us there with him, but we're going to be there for him.

In one instant Randy not only goes from overbearing and obnoxious to fully supportive, but delivers a stirring speech about standing by soldiers when they come home. It's a nice reminder that not all scars and physical and even the toughest people need support. Well done, Enlisted. Perhaps Randy can head to Portland and give Juliette some pointers.

Best Ending Card - Grimm - 3.12 - The Wild Hunt

Usually The Goldbergs wins this one hands down but Grimm takes the win this week. After leaving at a particularly tense cliffhanger, Grimm left its fans waiting for a conclusion after the Olympics with 2 end cards. The first had the requisite "to be continued" but it was followed with this. Brilliant!

Best Use of Song - The Goldbergs - The Search is Over by Survivor

This was especially tough because Aimee Mann's version of Come Sail Away by Styx also made its scene on Community. In the end it goes to Goldbergs because I danced, er swayed, to it at my 8th grade formal. Ah the memories. Plus I really can't stand that Styx song. Now Renegade on the other hand….

TV Trend of the Week - Recapitations - Sleepy Hollow / Blacklist / Intelligence / Grimm

Sleepy Hollow overdoes this every week, but lately I have been seeing it crop up in almost every other drama I watch. Shows have a previously in the beginning and then feel the need to add in clips from previous episodes, or even worse, clips that happened minutes before as if they think the audience is stupid or hasn't been paying attention. Despite the popular saying, people aren't that stupid.  If they have paid attention, it gets annoying. If they haven't, then there is a bigger underlying problem that needs to be fixed.

Nominated Show: 

Vikings - 1.01 - 1.03 - Rites of Passage / Wrath of Northmen / Dispossessed

Note - Technically the nominated show was episode 1.03, but my OCD likes to go chronological whenever possible so this review/grade is for the first 3 episodes with all episode awards coming from the third.

I didn't know anything about Vikings going in except for my limited knowledge through social studies classes. Given it airs on the History Channel, I looked for more historical accuracy than most shows and I am proud to say that these folks are actually "pre-washing machine and indoor plumbing" dirty. The show racks up violence points right from the beginning, giving viewers an idea of how much gore to expect. If you're good with the opening scene, you should be fine for the rest of these episodes. While murder and rape are treated causally here, it doesn't feel as much gratuitous as showing the realities of the age. It was a violent time and the show certainly doesn't shy away from that. Nor does it shy away from sex, although it doesn't have the nudity you'd find on pay channels. They do invite a priest for a threesome though. So there's that.

The cast of characters are the real draw. They are impressively full-fledged even in such short a time. Lagertha, Ragnar's wife, was a Shield Maiden before they married, which pretty much makes her Buffy. She can definitely take care of herself. Rollo, Ragnar's brother, is the hothead mischief maker who not-so-secretly lusts after Lagertha. Yep, even in the 6th century, there's a freaking love triangle. His temper and rashness tend to cause chaos wherever he goes. Floki, the boat builder, is just insane, period. I think he's channeling his inner Barty Crouch, Jr. with all that tongue flickering. Still, the real pull of Vikings so far is the political turmoil between the main character, Ragnar, and Earl Haraldson, the chieftain to whom Ragnar owes his allegiance. Complete with his own Lady Macbeth, the earl seems to fear losing power the most and he takes Ragnar's insistence to go west to plunder instead of east as a personal attack on that power. Instead of pulling together to find riches, they walk a tightrope dance of political volleys with neither winning. When Ragnar returns from the west with riches plundered from a monastery, the earl cannot condemn him for treason in front of the cheering people, although he'd like to. Instead, he tries to bankrupt Ragnar by claiming all the treasure for himself. Smart money says he tries to take the family farm next.

With an intriguing storyline and characters that feel fleshed out, Vikings is a good pick for anyone who likes their historical dramas with a little more accuracy and a whole lot more blood. Ragnar is strangely sympathetic for someone who murders unarmed people for a living. His dreams for a better life and inquisitive mind are universal, making it easy to engage with the character. I may not see all the episodes before the new season starts in February, but Vikings definitely makes the summer to-watch list. With only 9 episodes already aired, that's a pretty quick marathon for those who do want to catch-up. Vikings season 2 premieres on the History Channel on February 27 at 10/9 C.

Grade: B
Ranking: 2+

Best Moment - Ragnar invites Lagertha to join the raid in England

Best Scene - Ragnar returns home with the treasure and is called to give account to the earl

Best Quote - Lagertha: "If any harm befalls my children, I will tear the lungs out of your body, priest."

Best Reason to Watch - many of the characters are smart and cunning, which is a rare TV commodity these days

Worst Non-Surprise - Earl Haraldson has the kid from Ragnar's village killed

The "Thank You, I Think" Award - When Ragnar comes home, his wife Lagertha says, "I missed your smell and your body."

The "I'm the King of the World" Award - Floki
-Admit it. You also thought DiCaprio when Floki joyously climbs the serpent boat head.

Weekly Shows:

Sleepy Hollow - 1.12 and 1.13 - Indispensable Man / Bad Blood

Grade: C+ / A++ (truly epic finale)

MVP - John Noble
-He had me believing right up until he healed his own hand and the demons popped out. Then he blew my mind again at the end. Love the subtleties and can't wait to rewatch in the knowledge of who he really is. For the first time I look at Henry and see someone other than Walter.

Best Reason to Watch - all the twists and electrified pace

Best Quote / Best Awww Moment - Jenny: "I have more than faith. I'm a mental patient with a gun. If you're not back by sunset, I will come hunt you down."
-At first the Mills sisters' issues annoyed me, but the writers have done a great job making this one of the highlights of the show. I love how they still bicker like siblings do, but the underlying concern and protection are always present on both sides.

Best Toss-Off Info - Ichabod dated Betsy Ross

Character who will have the Easiest Post-Finale Recovery - Jenny
-She's not dead, you hear me. No one who can snark that well, kick butt, and hold a weapon like Jenny goes out in a measly car crash. My theory is she is the one who gets Ichabod out in the season 2 premiere.

Character who will have the Hardest Post-Finale Recovery - Irving
-Yeah Katrina's kidnapped by her headless ex-boyfriend and Abbie's in Purgatory, but Irving is living in the real world. That's always trickier than the supernatural. How he recovers from confessing to double murder without either the entire world knowing about Moloch or a prison break is one of the biggest mysteries for season 2.

Most Bizarre - Zombie George Washington
-We all know Sleepy Hollow plays in its own Wall of Weird but this is the pinnacle so far. The Father of Our Country was resurrected so he could sneak back info on Purgatory to a guy who's been dead for 20 years for him to use 2 centuries later to stop the Apocalypse. They are smoking the good stuff in the Sleepy Hollow writers' room. I have no idea how they can take the most out-of-there ideas on paper and translate them into TV success. Man, I love this show!

Best Solution to a Fan Issue - Ichabod buys clothes from the re-enactor

Best Continuity - Siri vs. Yolanda
-Oh Ichabod, we all miss Yolanda.

Best Visuals - Purgatory
-Compared to other Purgatory's I've seen, Sleepy Hollow is tops. There is something there to wig out anyone. My personal creepfest was the worm humans crawling out of the ground. The neon dollhouse in the middle of such starkness was another eye-popping visual.

Teen Wolf - 3.15 - Galvanize

Grade: B+

Best Scene - Argent walks in on Isaac and Allison stripping and questions her penchant for werewolves
-Sex on Teen Wolf always squicks me out to be honest. I am way too old to be watching teens get it on so not only did Argent spare me this scene, but he did so in a way that made me laugh. More Argent please!

Best Reason to Watch / Best Awww Moment - sleuthing duo / Stiles encourages Lydia to believe in herself
-Stiles and Lydia are awesome together. I love how they use their combined brains to solve most Team Pack problems. Basically I love how they are both being allowed to be smart these days.

Best Quote - Aiden: "When everyone we screwed over finds out we don't have a pack anymore, what do you think's going to happen? We're dead on our own." Ethan: "That's still better than being back in high school."

Best Moment Off Screen - Isaac electrocuted by Allison's windows / Argent yelling about werewolves / Isaac attacked by demons

Best Twist - Kira turns the electricity back on Wacky Bomber in a supernatural light show
-We all knew Kira was something. After bringing up her mom's longstanding Beacon Hills family history in the painful dinner scene, it was a given. Still this was a dramatic and intriguing way to show Scott that the supernatural surrounds him, even his love life. Can't wait until Kira tries to explain the light show to Team Pack.

Funniest - Coach, always Coach
-I'm so glad he's back and getting pranked. I don't feel for Coach, but his irritation leads to uncontrollable laughing. How can you not roar with gems like this: Coach: "A man's house is supposed to be his castle. Mine's a freaking omelet." He drags Stiles by his ear and snarks at Kira's volume control. Plus, Greenberg got him a present. Awww. Coach is awesome.

The FacePalm Award - Stiles pulls the fire alarm and STAYS there
-Oh Stiles, the idea is to pull and then walk quickly to the nearest mass of teens to blend in. You don't stick around beaming at your accomplishment. You deserve to be caught. Oh and Beacon Hills may be the only place where pulling the fire alarm is considered a school detention crime instead of a police misdemeanor.

Best Small Moment - Mama McCall tells Scott she didn't change her name back after the divorce because it is Scott's name too. I adore this conversation even if it was a small filler scene.

The "You REALLY Need an Educational Consultant" Award - Has no one in Beacon Hills ever heard of lockdown. If you ever would put lockdown into practice, it would be when a kid-killing bomber was hanging around. Plus, no one would let kids leave the building even if the alarm was pulled unless they actually smelled smoke and they wouldn't be leaving at 3 anyway. Lockdown stays until the danger passes, even if it goes beyond the school hour. Please Teen Wolf, let me be your educational consultant.

The "It WILL Come Back to Haunt You" Award - Derek gives Peter Talia's claws.
-I don't know how but it will.

Blacklist - 1.12 - The Alchemist

Grade: C

While the villain of the week is smart and interesting, the episode itself was pretty blah. I have no idea why we are spending so much time on Tom. If he really is a threat, stop dragging it out and get some traction. If he's not, stop wasting my time. This is the kind of storytelling that made me put Blacklist on hiatus the first time.

Recapitations - black headed lady remember being blonde 20 seconds earlier

Best Scene - Trettel kills her psycho husband

Best Quote - Red: "Just out of curiosity, what number am I on your speed dial?" Liz: "7." Red: "Who's 6?" Liz: "Chinese takeout."

Biggest Mystery - Who is Lucy Brooks (28)? / Why is Tom so interesting to Red and whomever?

Strangest scene - baby shower

Most Melodramatic - Annie Trettel gets shot

The "Are You Kidding Me?" Award - Liz says they can't kill a psycho holding people hostage if they get the shot because he can give them information they want

Sub-plot More Interesting than the Case - Malik is the mole but that can't be the whole story.

Intelligence - 1.03 - Mei Chen Returns

As an avid Teen Wolf and Independence Day fan, I actually already saw this episode. Something messes with our hero's mind and he starts taking aim at his friends. Hello Allison under the nematon's influence. The big scary problem is taken down by a computer virus uploaded into an unsuspecting enemy. Thanks David Levinson. I thought that having Mei Chen wake up in the pilot was rushing things and the kind of typical thinking likely to cause problems later. Add a requisite psychotic personality, since heaven forbid the other side be normal with opposite goals, toss her into the third episode, and suddenly I'm wondering if Intelligence has enough storyline to last even 13 episodes. It's got one more episode and then I drop it.

Grade: C-

Best Quote - Gabriel: "Get out of my head, you crazy b**."

Best Technology - Contact lens flash drive

Coolest Twist - Gabriel finds out Mei Chen is awake through his rendering

The "Welcome Back" Award - Amos

Best Interaction - Nelson and Jameson

The "Oh, Give Me a Break" Award - Mei Chen wants to use the chip to elevate cyber sex and spawn a generation of evil psycho babies.

Goldbergs - 1.14 - You Opened the Door 

Another great episode with just the right combination of heart and laughs.

Grade: B+

Best Scene - Beverly teaches Adam how to dance

Best Quote - Beverly: "Have fun, baby." VO: "Normally we don't say, 'I love you' in our family. Luckily for me, my mom could read lips."

Best Moment - Murray teaches Barry how to take the top off a bottle without a bottle opener

Biggest Awww Moment - Erica gets misty over the scrapbook Beverly made for her / Pops reassures Murray he's not like his dad

Funniest Moment - Beverly won't leave the dance so they shut out the lights

Trophy Wife - 1.13 - The Tooth Fairy

Grade: B-

Best Scene - Hilary checks on Diane after telling her to leave

Best Quote - Pete: "Where’s Bert?' Jackie: "I lost him but don't worry. I replaced him with an old Asian man that I keep in a box."
Kate: "What's a bag hole? Are you okay? Is this a stroke?"

Best Meta - Canadian penny and Shania Twain CD, a nod to the actress' Canadian roots

Best Aww Moment - Kate gets misty over Warren's first kiss

Creepiest Memento - Pete's box of his kids' baby teeth

Most Embarrassing Parent - Kate tries to talk up Warren but ends up sounding like a pedophile

Arrow - 2.11 - Blind Spot 

Arrow is on a southbound train right now, heading to Funky Town. Ever since they came back from hiatus (minus the Flash episodes, since State vs. Queen), the writing has been off and the plot lines ludicrous. Last week the glimmer of hope was that Laurel was remarkably improved in her investigative role. This week she's more a mess than ever. Team Arrow, which used to be the best part, has gotten toxic. Roy's storyline is interesting but not parceled out in odds and bits so it doesn't have much flow. Thea has zero to do, while Quentin and Diggle seem to come in to say a few pithy words and leave. And Felicity, oh my funny, intelligent Felicity, what have they done to you? You've been technologically incompetent for the last two episodes and relegated to the female love interest the entire season. You're basically Laurel in season 1. The beginning of the season, minus the Felicity fiasco, was amazing. Please get back whoever was making it work then and let's reverse this trend.

Grade: D

Best Scene - Oliver tells Roy he will train him

MVP - Sin
-Every scene she was in was a vast improvement over the others

Best Quote - Arrow (in deep, serious voice): "What color are your shoes?"

Most Ludicrous - Laurel's 50 second withdrawal symptoms
-This beats out all the other competition, and there was lots of competition.

Best Way to Watch the Episode - view it as a comedy

Best Reason to Fast Forward - anything that happened on the island

Melissa and Joey - 3.18 - A Decent Proposal

Grade: B-

Best Scene - Mel fixes Joe eggs to be a supportive girlfriend and he eats them, shells and all.

Best Quote - Lennox: "Mel and Joe are in love. Their souls are entwined forever." Ryder: "Yeah, you've been watching way too much Twilight."

Funniest - Melissa kisses Joe and then shuts the door in his face

Best Reaction - Ryder doesn't know that Joe and Mel are Skyping and thinks Mel is hallucinating/pretending Joe

Verbal Recapitation - Joe recaps the last episode

Community - 5.05 - Geothermal Escapism

Grade: A++

Best Scene - Abed lets go to let Troy go / Troy says goodbye and sails off with LeVar Burton

Best Quote - tie -
Abed: "By the way, when I cloned you, I had to patch some missing parts of your DNA with genes from a homing pigeon. You may notice side effects like a compulsion to come back."

Abed: "I don't think the lava's here because you're leaving. I think it's here because I won't let go. Sorry. Bye."

Best Alliance - Hickey and Britta / Jeff and Annie

Best Hangout - Shirley Island

Best Strategy - Popcorn oil

Best Showdown - Troy and Abed's bubble vs. Hickey's contraption

Best Pacing - After Abed's surprisingly emotional sacrifice to fake lava, Troy's translator won't shut off. Nice comedy break in the drama.

Best Moment - Troy falls back into the hot lava to be cloned too

Best Twist - LeVar Burton is assigned to travel with Troy, because Pierce is evil that way

White Collar - 5.12 - Taking Stock

Grade: B

Best Scene - Mozzie takes over babysitting for Teddy after running off the babysitter

Best Quote - Neal: "Motherhood's made you kind of bada**." Diana: "I was always a bada**."

Best Return - Diana, how I have missed you!

Best Response - Neal is utterly unimpressed by the algorithm

The "Say What?" Award - Neal and Peter box up the evidence for Rebecca's trial without using gloves. What happens if the defense want to refute or retest something? Urgh.

Best Bromance Moment - Neal slides wigs across the conference room table while Peter catches them in evidence bags.

Biggest Fan Pandering - crotch shot as Neal is unzipping his pants

Most Ludicrous - Diana allows Neal to steal a crucial piece of evidence that a DA will have to explain in trial

Funniest - Mozzie reads to Theo from a book called Lunarcy. Conspiracist literature for newborns. Who knew?

Least Surprising Twist - Rebecca escapes

Grimm - 3.12 - The Wild Hunt

Grade: B (A for Monroe and Rosalee story line, C for Wesen of the week)

Best Scene - Monroe proposes to Rosalee via a cuckoo clock

Most Smarmy - Viktor
-This guys just oozes up to no good.

Most Disgusting - bloody scalp remnants in the motel tub / scalp coat

Most Apt User Name - Mama Grimm = bheadr

The "Snicker" Award - The Ampersand
-The fancy restaurant where Monroe takes Rosalee before proposing is named after punctuation.

Funniest - Monroe's phone call to his parents

Recapitation - Note Renard left for Adalind, Nick takes away Adalind's powers

Enlisted - 1.03 - Pete's Airstream

Grade: A-

Best Scene - Randy gets why Pete wants to be alone and respects that

Best Awww Moment - The quiet house warming party

Funniest - seminars about things that scare the soldiers' families

Best Non-Verbal Communication - Derrick stirs the pot and it tastes good

Best Reference - Fortress of Solitude / Backdraft

Biggest Perk for Reviewing an Army Show - everyone wears a name tag on their clothing

Helix - 1.04 - Single Strand 

This wasn't the most exciting episode of Helix, but we did start getting answers. Of course those answers came with 10 times more questions. While the disease is still the focus, I think the biggest mystery right now is Julia. My theory - she was the only successful test subject of whatever they were doing. Somehow her memory was scrubbed about being there before and Hatake manufactured this outbreak to make sure that Julia came back. Hence, Peter's being invited to join the team. Perhaps ArmyPlumber is also a previous test subject. Either way, he knows far more than he's saying. I will never forgive him for killing off my favorite character, but his sorrowful reaction beforehand has me suspicious.

Grade: B-

The "Liar, Liar Pants on Fire" Award - Everyone

The "Can't You Die Faster" Award: Peter dies but not until he tells Alan he screwed his wife repeatedly

Most Anvilicious: Dr. Eigem: "That's easy for you to say. You're not the one with a deadly disease."

Most Disturbing - close up of the guys bone breaking

Best Reason to Fast Forward - back story

Biggest Mystery - What's up with Julia's initials being on the wall?

Best Non-Shock - Hatake shoots the guys holding the base hostage at the oxygen scrubbers

Best Shock - Hatake controls the virus zombies

The "Noooooo!!!!" Award - ArmyPlumber kills VetLady, my favorite character

About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she recaps, reviews, and creates polls for Sleepy Hollow, Arrow, White Collar, Grimm, Teen Wolf, and others. She's addicted to Twitter, live tweets a multitude of shows each week, co-hosts the Sleepy Hollow "Headless" Podcast for Southgate Media Group, and guests on ArrowCast for DVMPE. Right now she is creating a Last Week in TV weekly segment for her blog and others. ~ "I speak TV."

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