Monday, January 13, 2014

Last Week in TV - Week of Jan. 5 - Reviews and Episode Awards

Welcome to the official start of my new Monday weekly column, Last Week in TV. In it I grade and give episode awards to all the shows I watched that week. Hopefully, it will spark great discussion across multiple shows and debate over what awards you think should have been given. This column is longer than most will be because I try to watch each network midseason premieres, and there were plenty to be had this week. Some good, some terrible.

Since I can't watch every show and reviewing the exact same shows every week would get boring, I will also watch one new show nominated by you, the SpoilerTV community. Just fill in the nomination form at the very end. I will choose one of the shows nominated each week and hold the others for summer columns. Every nominated show will be ranked 1- 5. 1 - never watch again / 2 - not likely to watch again / 3 - possible hiatus show / 4 - on the "to watch" list / 5 - now weekly viewing

Nomination Guidelines:

1. I only have basic cable so new episodes from HBO/Showtime/Cinemax, etc. are out.
2. I am not into nudity or excessive language so anything over mid PG-13 is out.
3. If I've never seen the show, choosing a heavy mytharc episode will probably backfire.
4. Shows already reviewed in this column will not be eligible for nomination again until the fall season.
5. No need to nominate shows I already watch: Sleepy Hollow, Teen Wolf, Almost Human, SHIELD, The Goldbergs, Trophy Wife, Arrow, Wonderland, TBBT, The Crazy Ones, Elementary, White Collar, and Grimm.

Overall Awards:

TV This Week - Grade: C

TV was a mixed bunch this week with the best stuff coming from the midseason pilots and premieres. The regular TV week was mostly disappointing. Here's hoping they return to their game speed soon.

Best Show You're Not Watching - Teen Wolf

Yes, I know what you're thinking. I've thought it too: Teen Wolf is a silly supernatural romance that is only popular with the Twilight crowd and mostly because its leads are shirtless a lot. At 40, I was much too old for that kind of nonsense. I thought that for an entire year until I got tired of people bugging me about the show. The DVD was on sale for $10 so I purchased it. Then put it away for another couple months. When I finally tried it during the 2013 summer hiatus, I was shocked. This show was actually good. In fact it is one of the few shows that hooked me right from the pilot, and I raced through 2 seasons to be caught up for the season 3 premiere. It is the fastest paced show on TV right now and by far the best action show. Yes, it does dabble in teen romance, but that is a minor subplot compared to the mytharc and I say this as a staunch anti-shipper. The other great surprise was how non-stereotypical most of its characters are. The most popular girl is also the smartest in the school. The parents are multidimensional instead of foils for teen rebellion and shenanigans. Since these 12 episodes are basically a new season, you can jump right in. Try Teen Wolf and you might just find this show is for you despite its unfortunate title and network. I hope you try it and post your reaction in the comments next week.

Best Midseason Show - Helix

Hands down the most intriguing, creepy new show to date.

Best Episode (that didn't involve a teen wolf) - White Collar - Live Feed  

This episode started out rough as the chasm between Peter and Neal actually got bigger, but no episode wrapped up loose story ends like this one. While the idea that Rebecca was conning Neal was apparent from her initial introduction, the idea that the con is so large scale was a complete shock. This episode revived the season and makes me excited about the road to the season finale.

Best Scene - Elementary - All In the Family

Sherlock and Bell air their grievances at Sherlock's home. It was a hard conversation to watch but it was needed. Sherlock brought Bell to his senses and reminded him exactly why he needs to fight to be a detective. Bell forced Sherlock to be vulnerable before he could accept what Sherlock had to say. Powerful scene with excellent acting.

Funniest Episode - Enlisted - Pilot

I laughed harder in this pilot than I did with anything else this week, even in the second watch. I love the brother element and it had more heart than I was expecting. Too bad the ratings are so low that it's hard to imagine it staying on air for long. Bad News Soldiers is a fun, if limited, concept to work with.

Most Indomitable Cast - Elementary

I got cold watching them play detectives in the snow. Did they shoot this in a polar vortex?

Biggest Crime - Trophy Wife - The Big 5-0

I watched a lot of crime dramas this week but by far the worst crime was Hillary and Warren telling Bert where bacon comes from. They ruined bacon! Bacon!

Most Disturbing Moment - Helix - Pilot - Rat Frenching

No lie, the entire Helix episode was disturbing. While the monkeys made me jump…twice, it was the rats that brought home the "watch with the lights on" terror. I will never get the picture of the one rat jumping another one, forcing it down, and then vomiting black goo into its mouth. Nasty. Just nasty!

Biggest Conundrum - Bad guys can't shoot….ever (Intelligence, Killer Women, etc.)

It's a TV law. When surrounded by superior forces, 1-2 people will always prevail mostly because the other side can never shoot straight. This is doubly so if they are trained or an elite team.

Biggest TV Trope Currently - people going headless (Sleepy Hollow, Elementary, Chicago PD)

Nominated / New Show Reviews:

Nominated Show: Sherlock - 1.03 - The Great Game

Grade: C+
Ranking: 2

Review: I'll be the first to admit that I never really liked Sherlock Holmes as a literary, movie, or TV character. His inherent douchiness puts me off terribly. In fact, my favorite Sherlock is still from the movie Young Sherlock Holmes.  I find Sherlock from Elementary tolerable only because of his drug addiction and how many people are around to tell him how badly he's behaved.  When this show first came out to all kinds of hype, I watched the pilot but was not impressed. This episode was vastly improved strictly because of the intricate plot, where Sherlock is on a deadline to solve crimes or a random bystander gets blown up. It's an ingenious story framework because it adds tension even into the less exciting parts of the narrative. Plus it gives Sherlock a chance to show his expertise in a variety of ways. The problem comes in that Sherlock is still a huge douche, and I just can't get into shows where I don't like the characters. Plus Moriarty comes off as more moustache-twirling than interesting, more braggart than genius in this one. I am told that season 2 is an improvement, but for right now Sherlock is off my list. Besides because of its short "seasons" it feels less like a TV show and more like a series of TV movies, comparable to Jesse Stone TV movies.

Best Reason to Watch - the intricate plot (clock ticking down on Sherlock solving the cases)
Funniest - Sherlock shoots at the walls
Most Annoying Plot Point - Sherlock keeps leaving Watson locked outside the crime scenes
Best Acting - Sherlock acting broken up about the second dead guy just to get info
Best Moment - Watson finds out the there was a bomb by their apartment
Best Quote - Lestrade: "Why is he doing this, the bomber? If this woman's death was suspicious, why point it out?" Sherlock: "Good Samaritan." Lestrade: "Who press gangs suicide bombers." Sherlock: "Bad Samaritan."

Killer Women - 1.01 - Pilot

Grade: D-
Ranking: 1

This episode committed the cardinal sin of TV watching. It bored me. Considering I figured out the plot twist in the first 12 minutes, it screamed typical police procedural. There is the domestic abuse twist and the two leads have chemistry but the plot was ridiculous and plodding. I know that pilots aren't always the best and awesome shows can have rocky starts, but there's too much good TV around to waste time on this. Tell me if it improves. Otherwise I'm already forgetting this show aired.

Best Scene - Molly tells her ex to sign the divorce papers or she's going to tell everyone about the abuse
Most Ludicrous - 2 cops take on an entire drug cartel and win
Best Reason to Watch - You can go directly from other police procedurals to this one and never even know you changed shows. Perfect for half braindead marathons.

Intelligence - 1.01 - Pilot

Grade: B-
Ranking: 4-

Intelligence is a fairly standard spy drama. The human machine angle gives it an interesting twist and I really liked the Riley character. Plus it has the requisite snark and an acceptable level of action. The doctor and Gabriel relationship could be very interesting to explore as well. However they need to get rid of its more convoluted scenes to make it more plausible and my guess is that the computer file scenes get old quickly. Intelligence is not going to replace any show I currently watch, but it is intriguing enough to put on the "to watch" list.

Best Scene - The doctor shoots the Chinese terrorist with help from Gabriel
Best Reason to Watch - Riley
Best Action - Real gunfight in the day-glo paintball place
Best Moment - Jumping through the Jeep to escape
Worst Plot Twist - The Chinese human computer woke up (of course she did - ho hum)
Best Quote - Gabriel: "Come on, I thought that this was the part where we share and bond." Riley: "It seems like the part where I find out how much of a pain in the a** you are."

Chicago PD - 1.01 - Pilot

Grade: C
Rank - 5 (for one week only - I have to make sure the kid is okay.)

This is your archetypal police procedural with typical pros and cons. I expect a hideous, sensational crime and someone important to the team to die in the pilot. Drug cartels are a given too. The clich├ęd mostly good cop who is not afraid to break the rules to get the job done is the head of the unit in this one, but the only person who stood out was Crazy Recruit Guy. He made me laugh, so bonus points for him. Really the only edge this show has is that it doesn't underestimate the power of a good cliffhanger, even before any of the characters engage my interest. It's a bold choice. Who isn't rooting for the sweet bakery kid to pull through? His cop dad can die or not, but I sure hope he makes it out alive. Smart move PTB.

Best Reason to Watch - cliffhanger / Crazy Guy
Biggest Shock - Female officer shot (not that she got blasted/died but the blast itself made me jump)
The "Hey It's That Guy" Award - Patrick John Flueger, aka Shawn from The 4400, is in it as Crazy Guy
Best Quote - Erin Lindsay: "My hero. You're still not driving."

Enlisted - 1.01 - Pilot

Grade: B
Ranking - 4

Best Scene - Pete shows his brother pictures to Derrick / the group gets a motto and head hugs
Funniest Scene- training montage
Best Reason to Watch - brother wars
Funniest Moment - Derrick kicks Randy at attention / SM Cody intimidates his daughter's date
Best Music - Thunderstruck / dramatic music when Pete decides to get the dog instead of win war games
Best Quote - Derrick: "There's no such thing as man flowers."

Helix - Pilot

Grade: B+
Ranking - 5

I do not like this show. It squicked me out to no end and made me feel like bugs were crawling over my skin even after it was over. Instead, I am intrigued, even fascinated by it. Set in a sprawling, yet still claustrophic research center in the middle of an ice wasteland, the CDC rushes to the response of a mysterious outbreak. People's blood are turning to black goo and nothing is straightforward, especially character motivations. There's the typical reaction to an outbreak situation, which I expect will only get worse, and a manhunt through narrow ducts, which adds suspense and action. However the real thrills come in seeing how something that tiny can completely consumer someone. It's interesting and disturbing and hard to forget all at once. And kissing? Forget about it. No kissing. Ever. Again.

Best Reason to Have a Heart Attack - monkey freak out
Best Reason to Watch - VetLady, and she's not dead yet so that's a real plus
Worst Pep Talk - CDC guy - Your life will suck and any mistake will kill millions. Awesome!
Most Riveting Visual - frozen dead monkey garden
Best Reason to Fast Forward - sudden past relationship discussions that just randomly crop up

Weekly Shows:

Almost Human - 1.07 - Simon Says

Grade: C+

This wasn't up to usual Almost Human standards. It had a plot that I had basically just watched the day before on Sherlock and the idea of people rooting to watch people die is no longer shocking, just depressing. The constant computer voice, handheld camera shots, and pathetic loser villain didn't help either. Dorian's personality glitches which were amusing in the beginning got a bit one-note and stale in the middle. On the plus side, the interaction between Kennex and Dorian is still fabulous and Paul's trying to adjust to Dorian's mood swings is the funniest that character has ever been. However, the best part was the end with Kennex taking out the bomb and Dorian using the last of his charge to take out the bomber.

Best Scene - Kennex reaching for token / Dorian almost runs out of juice while climbing the building
Best Twist - Dorian becomes Rudy's roommate
Best Reason to Watch - Paul having grudging respect for Dorian
Biggest Reason the Future Sucks - Dark net, which means most of the internet is patrolled
Funniest Moment - Dorian falls asleep during Kennex's glory days monologue
Best Dorian Quote - "Humans. Off."
Best Kennex Quote - "Hey I feel for you pal. I mean where's a psychopath to get a bank loan these days?"

The Big Bang Theory - 7.13 - The Occupation Recalibration

Grade: C+

Not a lot of laughs this time from TV's biggest scripted show. Glad we got more Bernadette though. She was hilarious. I'm also happy they are continuing the trend of mixing and matching characters

Best Scene - Bernadette defends Stuart to the douche comic store owner
Best Moment - Leonard knocks on Penny's door and Sheldon says, "Penny" from across the hall.
Funniest - Sheldon practices deep breathing
Best Character Interaction - Bernadette and Stuart
Best Quote - Bernadette: "Batman got his a** kicked by my curling iron." Stuart: "Don't let the Riddler know that. It's a comic book joke….or maybe it's not."

Community - 5.03 - Basic Intergluteal Numismatics

Grade: C-

This episode had come clever dialogue as usual and it skewered some of the most infamous police procedural tropes, but comedy comes down to 2 things for me. Did it make me laugh? Did it have heart? In this case the answers were both no. What a disappointment!

Best Scene - The group commiserate over Pearce's death / montage of all the suspects
Funniest - the song written for this episode
Best Reason to Watch - making fun of cop shows for always making the partners romantically involved
Words to Live By - Leonard: "We can do better."
Best Quote - Dean: "Abed, you're special. Can't you just stand at the scene of the crime and see what happened?" Abed: "I see a man using social disorder as a procedural device. Wait, wait, wait. I see another man - mildly autistic, super detectives everywhere. Basic cable, broadcast networks. Pain, painful writing. It hurts."

Crazy Ones - 1.13 - Outbreak

Grade: B

Best Scene - Andrew risks the flu quarantine to rescue Sydney's phone / Simon doesn't fire Lauren
Best Moment - Andrew quotes Jane Austen
Funniest - Simon tries to stop the doll from talking
Best Monologue - Sydney dreams her future with a guy she hasn't even dated yet
Best Quote - Andrew: "I see the sexual harassment seminar was more of a how-to workshop for you, friend."

Elementary - 2.13 - All in the Family

Grade: C+

The case was ridiculous and beyond any stretch of the imagination, but it brought Bell back, so all's good.

Best Scene - Sherlock and Bell air their grievances at Sherlock's home
Best Reason to Watch - Bell is back
Best Surprise - Watson is a walking mob encyclopedia
Biggest Douche - Sherlock
Most Ludicrous - a Deputy Commissioner leaves a file incriminating himself for ties with the mob just lying around in his office for someone to find
Best Quote - Sherlock: "I suppose if one must witness a fireball consume a human life, let it be a man who dissolves heads in battery acid."

The Goldbergs - 1.12 - You're Under Foot

Grade: B

Best Scene - Pops apologizes to Murray and says he has done a great job with the store
Best Use of Music - Playing the theme to Bosom Buddies as Pops and Murray hug
Best Conversation without Words - Beverly and Murray argue about taking Pops to work
Best Dedication - Dedicated to Megatron - Bwah!
Funniest - Beverly gathers up all Adam's toys from the neighbor kid until his mom comes out
Best Advice - Beverly tries to explain why Adam doesn't need a girlfriend yet. Erica: "Mom, you're in freefall. Pull the ripcord."
Best Quote - Barry: "From now on you've got to stop playing with toys and start acting like a man. First step, Drakkar Noir. No women can resist its alluring stink."

Grimm - 3.10 - Eyes of the Beholder

Grade: C-

Not Grimm's finest episode. It was largely boring and Juliette's completely inappropriate behavior had one reviewer tweeting: " Serious question: does Juliette have Asperger's?" (Kyle Trembley) It's a great question because her behavior was ridiculous and quite out of character. At least she found some awesome street fighting ninja skills to redeem her character.

Best Scene - Juliette kicks Joe's Wesen butt
The "Is Anyone NOT Wesen in Portland" Award - Zuri, Jared, Alicia, and Joe
Biggest Idiot - tie - Juliette and Jared (seriously, he ran)
Most Disturbing Trend - Nick uses his Grimm status to intimidate people
Most Ludicrous - Wesen still don't know Nick is a Grimm
Best Quote - Monroe: "Oh our shady pasts." Rosalee: "Thank God we survive them. Look, I'm not proud of some of the things I've done but I'm so lucky that I don't have to hide them from you."

SHIELD -1.11 - The Magical Place

Grade: B-

We didn't get any more answers about Coulson than we could have guessed beforehand, but it was great seeing the team work together to rescue him and I like that Coulson now has a piece of the puzzle.

Best Scene - Raina persuades Coulson to dig into the memories of his death
Best Action - Ward and May fight the super soldiers
Smartest Plan - May gets Skye kicked off the plane so she could find Coulson on her own
The "Really We're Not Stupid" Award - Skye reads the guy's license plate to us
Saddest Surprise - Mike Peterson under the control of Centipede again
Best Reward for a Job Well Done - Coulson removes Skye's bracelet
Best Quote - Hand: "You backed my decision to kick Skye off the plane." May: "Seems like it turned out." Hand: "Seems like you played me."

Teen Wolf - - 3.13 - Anchors

Grade: A-

Anchors was an hour of intense drama and emotional fallout that went darker and creepier than Teen Wolf has ever gone before. Suffering from the results of sacrificing themselves to save their parents, Stiles, Scott, and Allison each deal with hallucinations that may get people killed. Right from the opening, this episode sucked me in and kept me in suspense. Kudos especially to Dylan O'Brien, whose portrayal of a teen not sure what is reality and what is dream world was in turn suspenseful and heartbreaking. All in all, this was an excellent episode and a great way to set the tone for the next 11 episodes.

Best Scene - Mama McCall and the "Be Your Own Anchor" speech
Best Awww Moment - Sheriff Dad holds Stiles after he wakes screaming from his nightmare
Best Visual - Allison in the hospital hallway with Delusion Allison in the elevator behind her
Biggest Shock - tie - Allison almost kills Lydia / Derek and Peter chained up again
Funniest Scene - Scott and Stiles vs. the dog
Most in Need of a Spinning Top - Stiles

Best Quote:
Melissa: "Sweetheart, let me tell you something no teenager ever believes but I swear to you is the absolute truth. You fall in love more than once. It'll happen again, and it will be just as amazing and as extraordinary as the first time and maybe just as painful. But it'll happen again, I promise. And until then, be your own anchor."

Trophy Wife - 1.11 - The Big 5-0

Grade - B-

Best Scene - the kids torture Bert about the food he eats
Funniest Moment - Peter tears up the legal brief he's working on when receptionist says a DoJ rep is there
Best Twist - Kate has more trouble with Pete's 50th birthday than he does
Best Interaction - Jackie and Diane
Best Bert Quote - Warren: "What do you think the bibs were for?" Bert: "I thought they were lobster capes."
Best Warren Quote - "That's right, Bert. You've eaten everything that's ever been on your pajamas."
Best Adult Quote - Diane: "You don't have excess lizard spirit. You have eczema. Put some cortisone cream on it. Do you know where to find it? Anywhere, except this house of nonsense. Now give me my money back, Moon Unit."

White Collar - 5.10 - Live Feed

Grade: B+

Best Scene - Peter and Neal find the files in Rebecca's apartment
Most Shocking - Hagen shot / Rebecca's filing system
Best Interaction - Neal and Mozzie
Most Painful Interaction - Peter and Neal
Cheesiest Dialogue - Neal and Rebecca
Best Con - Rebecca, hands down
Best Moment - Peter covers Neal when shots are fired
Best Quote - Neal: "I'm on my own." Mozzie: "No, we're on our own."

So what show would you like me to watch next week? Nominate your choice here and don't forget to give out your own episode awards in the comments:

Screencaps by White Collar Online, Justin Halpern, Languatron, JJ Verse, Hypable, Hufington Post, Character Grades, Sofa King News, BTV Guide, Screenrant, White Collar Obsession

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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