Monday, February 24, 2014

Last Week in TV - Week of Feb. 16 - Reviews and Episode Awards

It was another slow TV week, thanks to the Olympics. Good thing there were some great shows. This week's nominated show was Castle, a series I had watched live previously but had since dropped. I was surprised by how enjoyable that particular episode was, mostly due to the Castle and Alexis interactions. As always, if you have a show to nominate please fill out the short nomination form at the end of the column. Also, don't forget to give out your own TV awards for what you watched last week. Until next week when my TV schedule goes from famine to feast, happy viewing!

Overall Awards:

Biggest Awww Scene - Almost Human - Disrupt
- Aaron's picture is made up of smaller pictures of people saying they didn't forget Aaron.

Maybe it's because I have been teaching about internet safety and netiquette all week, but this scene really struck home. To give a mom tangible proof of how her loner son really did touch so many lives made a lump rise in my throat like no other. It was a powerful testament to all the good the internet can do in a time when we usually hear about the bad. It also spoke of how the internet helps introverts make powerful connections, sometimes even saving lives. While cyberbullying is on the rise, the internet can also be a place for connection for a disconnected kid and that's a beautiful thing.

Best Quote - Star-Crossed - Pilot - Roman: "Cheer up. You get to keep liberty and justice all to yourself."

While I usually avoid politics in my teen soaps at all costs, this quote really spoke to me. Let's face it. Humans do not come off well in Star-Crossed. (In fact, they are way too over-the-top evil so it might be nice to see some "good" humans in the future.) The context of the quote is that the head bully is not happy Atrians do not say the Pledge of Allegiance. When Roman, the head alien teen, quips that they aren't citizens, things get heated quickly. It's a great parallel to the Central High integration of African-Americans into a former whites-only school and I hope they keep working this angle. It makes the show stand out from other teen soap fare and has the chance to explore sociopolitical dynamics. That's a whole lot more interesting than yet another pair of "star-crossed"lovers.

Best Action - Teen Wolf - Letharia Vulpina - Scott and Kira fight the Oni in the rain

Teen Wolf has had some spectacular stunt work this season and the action has been ramped up. Still this scene may be my favorite so far. It starts with Scott wolfing out while Stiles tries to get into the vet office. Kira begins chucking animal cages at the Oni, which may be the first time I've seen physical comedy in an actual fight scene. However as the stakes get higher, Kira gradually comes into her own, trusting in her ability to do some damage herself. By the time that Scott gets stabbed in the abdomen with a katana, Kira is taking out the Oni too. With one powerful kick, she scatters the remaining Oni and saves Scott. Not bad for someone who didn't feel she had much to offer just a few episodes ago.

The "Say What?" Award - Helix - Ultra - Why are all these people going out in the Arctic Circle without gloves?

Okay, I love Helix even when the medical staff is unprofessional and the sci fi is way out there. I can take the bizarre visuals and circle of heads. What I cannot get past is how many of these people go out into the snow and wind without gloves on? Seriously, did global warming end the threat of frostbite in the Helix compound? Three characters go out without gloves tonight and many more did before them. One even takes down his hood for reasons I still don't get. No one should have fingers or cheeks left in this series. Forget the virus. These people are going to be taken out by their own stupidity.

Nominated and New Shows:

Nominated Show - Castle - 5.03 - 
Secret's Safe with Me

I found Castle in the hiatus between season 2 and 3 and quickly marathoned to catch up. I liked a lot of police procedurals then and the humor set Castle apart for me. However I am a staunch anti-shipper and in season 4 it became the Caskett show. As season 5 began, I had had enough and dropped it. To be honest, when Castle came up as the nominated show this week, I groaned. Since no one suggested which episode to watch, I decided to start where I left off. I am so glad I did. I doubt many episodes in the season would have been as enjoyable for me and that is due to Alexis. I always liked the secondary characters in Castle the best and frankly I disliked Castle himself because he seemed like such a buffoon…and then I got to see him as a dad. Castle is very similar to Gibbs for me. They are both characters that I didn't really like until I saw them through the eyes of a character that really cared about them. Alexis and Abby made me see beyond the surface of those characters and I liked what I saw. Therefore the episode where Alexis moves in the dorm room was perfect for me. That father and daughter scene was so touching and reminded me of saying goodbye to my parents on that first college night decades ago.

I also thought this case was interesting. There's something about a treasure hunt that makes things exciting, even more so since the twist was actually a twist. The bracelet side story was a nice red herring to the hit and run motive. Plus, the butler actually did it. How many times does that happen? I also loved Beckett telling her stick man story. I never expected it but it made a lump come to my throat. Overall all this was simply a beautiful episode about fathers and daughters and family relationships as a whole. Now that's a concept I can get behind. Mostly though the reason why this episode got a B was the first thing that attracted me about it…the humor. I laughed throughout the episode while at the same time it had lot of heart. The only problems were the dearth of Esposito and Ryan, who were always my favorite characters, and of course the shipping moments.

Grade: B
Ranking: 1 because it is not available on streaming anywhere / 2 if it ever is stream-able again

Best Scene - tie - Castle and Alexis talk in her dorm room / Beckett tells her stick man story

Best Quote - Esposito: "Who knew Gates had a softer side? It's, uh…" Ryan: "Creepy. Very, very creepy."

Best Awww Moment - Castle looks under Alexis' dorm room bed for monsters

Funniest Scene - Sir goes gaga over a creepy doll, even cooing over it and talking to it

Best Reason to Watch - the humor

Best Reaction - Ryan, Esposito, and Beckett all draw a blank when Castle starts talking about the Wonder Twins

Most Bizarre - Sir reading Castle's book and generally being nice to him

The Stupid Criminal Award - Angelica leaves the supposedly stolen bracelet in her wall safe. She had no other place to put a stolen bangle than the place it was stolen from?

Classiest Dorm Room Furniture - Alexis. Seriously my dorm furniture looked like it came out of a Wal-Mart box and was held together by 6 screws and a handful of nails.

Biggest Twist - the butler actually did it

New Show - Star-Crossed - 1.01 - Pilot

Star-Crossed has a lot of potential, and that's part of the problem. This could be an excellent show if they concentrated on the Atrian integration issues. If they showed some humans, besides Emery, as being less than complete evil, they could really explore the gray sociopolitical aspects. However it could also be your typical CW teen soap, complete with love triangles, overly emoangsting yet not earned drama, and wait for it…star-crossed lovers destined to be torn apart by the world's hatred. The pilot doesn't make it clear which the show will lean towards, but Star-Crossed won't make it to season 2 if it's the latter, silly fandom boycotts or not. I'd like to think it would go beyond surface drama. The bones are there. Roman, the show's Romeo, is a snarky, complex character with lots of potential. Having his father die should open up real possibilities, as long as it doesn't end up primarily being yet another hurdle for the lovers since Emery's dad shot him. All the typical teen pressures are there in Roman but magnified by his situation and family standing. To reduce him to one part of a love triangle would be a huge mistake. Emery, the Juliet, was far more bland in the pilot, mostly because the plot didn't give her a whole lot to do. She's new to the situation, so she is our stand-in and most of the episode was built upon creating the show's context. I hope she has a lot of backbone and they show her strength of spirit in future episodes because if she vacillates between Grayson and Roman like an alien TVD, I will have no use for her. Basically, Star-Crossed is in a wait and see holding pattern for me. It will get the typical 3 episodes for every new CW show. Let's hope by that time it will know which show it wants to be.

Grade: B-
Rating: 5 (for the next 2 episodes, then we'll see)

Best Scene - Roman saves Julia while Emery's dad shoots and kills his dad

MVP - Roman, mostly for his snark but also for the heroism

Best Reason to Watch - This show has a powerful opportunity to explore the sociopolitical struggles of outsiders. If it continues in that vein, it could be an exciting, fresh TV show.

Best Reason Not to Watch - tired love triangle and overall Romeo and Juliet vibe

Biggest Evil - Humans. Seriously we come off as the biggest douches in the entire universe. We suck in 2014 and 2024.

Cutest Little Alien Ever - Move over ET. Mini-Roman with the huge eyes is adorable.

Healthiest Looking Dying Teen Ever - Jules

Worst Security - the sector - two girls just walk in with a stolen badge into some random door

The "Some Things Never Change" Award - the new girl always gets the social clique 411 speech

"The Future Sure is Different" Award - Not one kid took a picture of the fight with a cell phone.

The "What the Heck?" Award - even the lunch program discriminates against Atrians. Are you kidding me?

Weekly Shows:

Almost Human - 1.11 - Disrupt

This was the best of the out-of-order episodes. Maybe it was because the relationship between Kennex and Dorian was less off. Maybe it was the cyber hacking crime of the week with its Anonymous-like uberhackers. Maybe it was the guest stars. Either way, it was a big improvement from last week.

Grade: B

Best scene - Hacker vs. hacker
Not sure how they did it, but this virtual hacking battle was riveting. Kudos to the young hacker actors. They did a great job.

Best Action - Dorian vs. Sambot

Best Quote - Stahl: "Do we look like cops?" Hacker: "Yeah actually, with makeup."

Funniest scenes - Kennex keeps making up wild stories for why Detective Paul is away

Worst Idea - enclosable swimming pools, even when your android manservant is not on the fritz

The "Say What?" Award - Dorian is now getting flashbacks like Kennex did. Are they catching?

Best Moment - Rudy has a hard time letting go of his uber laptop

Best Accessory - Nico's computer chip protruding from his forehead

The "You Crazy" Award - Security lady goes right by the android instead of giving it wide berth

Character Who Most Needs to Recur - Nico

Sweetest - Officer Halverson who raised money for Paul's donut pillow

Teen Wolf - 3.19 - Letharia Vulpina

Teen Wolf was largely an exercise in confusion this week. Very little made sense but the character interaction made up for it. I was particularly fond of letting Argent and Derek bond more. Of course, the Scott and Stiles scenes were still the most intense and the best reason for watching the show as a whole. Probably the most shocking thing about the episode was just how much I loved Scott in it. Generally Scott is fine but nothing spectacular for me, but this episode really let his character shine. I love how protective he was of Stiles and how much he was willing to give of himself to others.

Grade: B- (A- for characters, C- for plot)

MVP - Scott
My Theory - Allison is also part of the nogitsune, hence the trickster thing. Her phone mystery, she was there when Scott took away Isaac's pain, Stiles keeps saying "we", and the fact that she hasn't been in the presence of the Oni is very suspicious to me.
Best Quote - Parrish: "Jared, it would be very helpful if you could resist throwing up on the potential explosive device."
The "They've Come a Long Way" Award - Derek and Argent
Most Sadistic Moment - DarkStiles goes all piano fingers on the katana protruding from Scott's abdomen
Funniest - Coach (in both scenes)
Worst Surprise - Peter the father
Best Surprise - those beginning filler scenes weren't actually filler after all
Worst Secret Identity - Kira, sucking electricity from the wire in front of everyone
Best New Addition - Kira, although Parrish is rising up fast.

Intelligence - 1.07 - Size Matters

The problem with police procedurals is that we've seen the same story over and over again with different details. It's gotten so most of us can guess the real killer out of the red herrings 95% of the time in the first 10 minutes. Intelligence may have a sci fi element to it, but it has the same predictability. That makes it a great show for marathoning but not necessarily for reviewing. Given how many shows are back next week and throughout March, this show is probably going to summer marathon instead of weekly review next week.

Grade: C

Best Quote - Nelson: "Just think I could have gone my whole life without seeing something this disturbing. Thank you for this, dad."

Best Scene / Biggest Aww Scene - Dr. Cassidy's death speech to Nelson

Best Teamwork - Nelson and Gabriel

Biggest Non-Surprise - Grayson is the victim; Bryce is the perpetrator

The "Say What?" Award - What kind of personal assistant puts on headphones at work and can't hear the phone right next to her ring? The fired kind I suspect. Nope, the dead kind.

Helix - 1.08 - Ultra

Helix continues to be a fun romp that alternately surprises me and grosses me out. It's a perfect Friday night show because if you think too hard on it, the whole thing unravels. If you take it for intriguing sci fi camp, the show gets better and better. I am shocked they killed off Constance in her second episode. Not sure why they chose this because she brought new life to the show. Similarly, I don't like Anana leaving the base so soon. There was a lot to explore with both characters and now my dream of them facing off is literally dead. Answers are coming more frequently at this stage but so are the piles of questions. I am hoping that it does not stumble under the weight of its own mythology but that is my typical genre show woe.

Grade: B

Best Scene - Anana and Sergio fighting over the sled

Best Quote - Alan: "What you're saying is impossible." Sarah: "Right because nothing else around here strains credulity."

Best Action - Hatake kills Constance

Most Improved - Alan

Best Surprise - Hatake is actually becoming sympathetic

Most Evil - Julia for pretending like she was choking and scaring Alan, Sarah, and me to death

Biggest Aww Moment - Anana hugs Daniel goodbye

The "Promises, Promises" Award - Hatake: "Please Julia, I promise to answer all of your questions but now is far from the time." Me: "Yeah right."

Biggest Mystery - Why did the vectors steal Peter?

Best Gadget - Hatake's watch complete with garrote

Best Visual - Hatake adds Constance's head to the Dead Head Circle

Screencaps by Entertainment Outlook, Todoseries, Variety, josepvinaixa, and Wormhole Riders

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" and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group, and guests on ArrowCast for DVMPE. Right now she is creating a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."

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