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Friday, April 6, 2012

Last Week in TV #27

I didn't get a chance to watch last night's Community yet, so that'll have to wait til next week, unfortunately. But here's what I did find time to watch.  

Bob's Burgers: Burgerboss


A marvelous episode, one of the show's best, which gave everyone something to do and highlighted the show's strengths. From Bob's "peeing race" with Jimmy Pesto to his wrist braces ("Please tell me they shoot webs!") to a fantastic guest appearance by Aziz Ansari as DRL to Linda's random obsession with sailing which dovetailed perfectly into the episode's climax and finally the great 8-bit style closing credits, this episode was pretty much a laugh a minute, and perfectly showcased the show's whacky, crazy, hilarious world.

Louise: He had sex then we happened. Deal with it!


Family Guy: You Can't Do that on Television, Peter


While I appreciated the way the A and B plots came together in the end (something that doesn't often happen on Family Guy), neither plot was terribly exciting. Peter's children's show lacked a strong concept on which to hang jokes, and his confrontation with Lois was pretty standard stuff (I did appreciate the sheer randomness of doing "Who's on First?" with a puma, though). The typical Meg jokes aside, the B plot worked a little better, mainly because I enjoyed how utterly inept Dr. Hartman was, but in the end, this was a pretty unremarkable episode. I certainly laughed a few times (I also liked the Evite cutaway gag), but there wasn't much here to get too excited about. 


American Dad: The Kidney Stays in the Picture


AD once again goes for heartfelt, and thanks to a hilarious third act involving time travel, manages to be pretty damn funny as well. This show has gone to the time travel well before, usually with good results, and this episode is no exception, allowing Stan and Francine to interact with their younger selves ("I should have just said like Back to the Future") as well as the Roger of 1996 (which sets up the great payoff at the end of the episode). Along the way, Stan asserts his love for Haley, regardless of whether she's his biological daughter, and I appreciated that the show didn't undercut the sentiment by revealing, either to us or Stan, whether he actually was Haley's father.

Other Thoughts
Setting the time travel in 1996 means that in the present Haley can only be, at most, sixteen, despite being married (and Jeff was seen at her bedside in the hospital) and drinking at the bar with Francine. I have to think the writers realized this and decided their 90s-era jokes were worth the continuity headaches, but as much as I enjoyed some of the gags, I don't know that they were (the best jokes from the time travel sequence had little to do with the 90s setting).

The disconnect between Stan's words and his body language was a pretty funny gag ("You big whore. I don’t know why I’m holding you like this. It must be very confusing."). I also enjoyed the not-so-super computer ("Up... updating iTunes").
  

Once Upon a Time: The Stable Boy 


Another very good episode that finally answers the question of what Snow did to make Regina hate her so much. I'm of two minds regarding the reveal: on the one hand, I think it works very well, tying it in with the show's overarching thoughts regarding the importance of love, and fitting in nicely with the characteristics/previous actions of the characters involved (ie it had to be something Snow did innocently and without ever knowing she'd done it). On the other hand, this episode offers no good explanation for why Regina pins all the blame on Snow, instead of, at the least, splitting it between Snow and her mother and at best, forgiving a young girl an innocent mistake and taking revenge on the person who, you know, literally ripped out the heart of her lover. Hopefully, we'll get another episode that depicts the fate of Regina's mother, and offers a possible explanation for why Regina continues to hate a woman for an innocent and well-intentioned mistake she made as a child.

Other Thoughts
As little sense as it made, considering her mother was still around, the moment where Regina realizes what Snow did and sucks in her fury, becoming in a moment the Regina we know, was a great bit of acting from Lana Parilla.

Similarly, the casting department knocked it out of the park with the girl who played young Snow.

Regina mentioned that once her mother was simply the daughter of a miller; I believe that in most tellings of the Rumpelstiltskin story, it is the miller's daughter whom Rumpelstiltskin helps spin straw into gold.

I enjoyed the chemistry between Emma and Mysteriously Sexy Writer. I'm not sure if they're setting up a romance between them, but I wouldn't mind it.

Katherine is back, which is exciting mainly because it (hopefully) means the end of the "Mary Margaret: Murderer!" storyline.

Flashing back and showing us that framing Mary Margaret was Mr. Gold's idea was intriguing (and a nice stylistic choice). I'm as curious as ever to learn what game he's playing.


Game of Thrones: The North Remembers


Thanks to my brother's prodding and the recent Blu-ray release of season one, Mrs. Teebore and I powered through the first season of HBO's excellent Game of Thrones over the last month or so, and enjoyed it so much that we actually signed up for HBO so we wouldn't have to wait another year to catch up with the various antics of the denizens of Westeros (well, that, and for Aaron Sorkin's upcoming HBO series about the behind-the-scenes goings on at a CNN-like news network, which sounds pretty much like the show he really wanted to make when he was making Studio 60, because I am a huge Aaron Sorkin nerd). As such, I'm going to take a stab at covering the show each week in this post, in part because at least one of you specifically asked for it and I know a few more regular readers that watch it as well. And because, well, I will be watching it every week.

However, this is a tricky show to write about, for a variety of reasons. First of all, there's the names, which in true fantasy fashion are, the random "Ned's" and "Robb's" aside, ridiculously complicated. Then there's the fact that, at least in its first season, this show was pretty much just a ten hour movie doled out an hour at a time; where other shows, even heavily serialized ones like Lost, would have an episodic focus on a specific character or theme, even while many varied plots occurred, GoT pretty much just tells the next chapter of its story each week. This makes writing anything about the show on an episode-by-episode basis that isn't a straight up recap challenging. But I'll see what I can do.

"The North Remembers" picks up more or less right where the first season ended; we are reminded of what a cruel twit Joffrey is, before touching base with several of the popping-up-like-mad contenders for the crown: Robb in the north, Daenerys in the Eastern dessert, and mentioned-but-never seen Stannis at the new location of Dragonstone. If you wanted to pick a theme for the episode, it would be about the nature of leadership, as the tyrannical Joffrey is contrasted with Bran learning to listen to his subjects, no matter how inane their concerns, while Jon Snow receives a similar lesson north of the Wall. And in one of the episode's best scenes, Cersei comments on the nature of leadership with a show of force against Baelish, underscoring her belief that "power is power." Finally, we see that power put to use, as the episode ends with a chilling montage depicting the the execution of Robert's various bastards.

Other Thoughts
I've yet to read the series of books on which the show is based, so I'm coming to the show completely cold. I plan to read at least Game of Thrones sometime this summer, but will probably wait to read subsequent books until their seasons have concluded.

Peter Dinklage receives top billing in the credits, with Tyrion clearly being positioned as the closest thing a large ensemble cast like this has to a main character.

Poor Sansa is starting to adapt to her surroundings, finding ways to quietly temper Joffrey's more extreme actions. 

The new location of Dragonstone was added to the opening credits, and while we have yet to see much of him, I enjoyed Stannis' editing his letter decrying Joffrey's claim to the throne.

In the first season, the divide between those who worshiped the old gods and the ones who worshiped the new seemed fairly benign; that appears to be changing, with Stannis and Melisandre's religion being more aggressive and less tolerant of other faiths.

For the first time, we got a nice sense of the scale of a full grown direwolf. That was pretty cool.

Tyrion: We looked for you on the battlefield, and you were nowhere to be found.
Joffrey: I’ve been here, ruling the kingdoms!
Tyrion: And what a fine job you’ve done.

Tyrion: You love your children. It’s your one redeeming quality. That and your cheekbones.

15 comments:

Matt said...

Wow, I'm just reading this on Monday and there are no comments yet? Where is everybody?

Anyway, hooray for Game of Thrones! I've never read the books either, and at this point I would rather not so I can just enjoy the show without knowing what's to come (though I did accidentally learn a huge spoiler for a future book while looking up the spelling of a character's name last season).

Anyway, I look forward to reading your thoughts on this series every week. Along with Justified on FX, it's tied as my favorite drama currently on TV.

"Peter Dinklage receives top billing in the credits, with Tyrion clearly being positioned as the closest thing a large ensemble cast like this has to a main character."

I noticed that too... and as much as I love Dingklage as Tyrion, it really just made me miss Sean Bean.

Also, if you get HBO On Demand, they usually have a featurette after each episode where the producers/writers/directors/etc. talk a bit about that particular installment.

Matt said...

Me -- "Along with Justified on FX, it's tied as my favorite drama currently on TV."

It's a tiny thing, but I couldn't let this oversight stand: I forgot Mad Men. So it's a three-way tie between Game of Thrones, Justified, and Mad Men. I would have trouble choosing a clear favorite from those three if there was a gun against my head.

Teebore said...

@Matt: Where is everybody?

That's what I was wondering! Glad you stopped by. :)

at this point I would rather not so I can just enjoy the show without knowing what's to come

Yeah, my plan is to not get ahead of the show; so this summer I'll read the first book (and maybe the second), but then not read the next one until after its season airs, for the reason you mentioned.

it really just made me miss Sean Bean

Sean Bean was pretty terrific.

they usually have a featurette after each episode where the producers/writers/directors/etc. talk a bit about that particular installment

Good to know, I'll have to check that out.

I would have trouble choosing a clear favorite from those three if there was a gun against my head.

Mad Men and Justified are both on my "catch up" list. I'm hoping to start Mad Men this summer.

Anne said...

behind on blogs due to the long weekend.
i am super excited that you're watching GoT now! man alive i love that show.
We had the same problem you did with AD's math- it seriously bugged us the entire episode- totally distracted us which i'm sure wasn't their intention. They must be underestimating the nerdiness of their audience.
And holy crap do i love Bob's Burgers

Sarah Ahiers said...

Yeah, i mean usually i'm away from most the internet on the Weekend, and throw in friday as a day off and i didn't get to this until now. Sorry pal!
Man, GoT is so great. I had read the first book before we watched the first season so i knew all that was coming. But i haven't read any further (and really don't have plans to) so i'm excited to be surprised by what happens instead of just waiting for bad things.
And yeah. I miss Sean Bean too. Sigh.

Bob's burgers was great as usual. Semi related - have you watched a documentary The King of Kong and a Fistful of Quarters? (I think that's what it's called. All those words are in the title, anyway). It's awesome and all about the donkey kong high score.

Yeah, the AD 1996 thing really bugged me. And like Anne said, i really couldn't enjoy the episode because i was too busy thinking about all the episodes in the past that wouldn't work if Haley was only 16. I mean, why isn't she in highschool then with Steve?

Teebore said...

@Anne: it seriously bugged us the entire episode- totally distracted us which i'm sure wasn't their intention.

Sadly enough, I didn't even do the math until after the episode was over, so at least it didn't bother me while I watched it.

@Sarah: throw in friday as a day off and i didn't get to this until now

No worries, I knew you guys were aware. I was mainly kidding.

But i haven't read any further (and really don't have plans to) so i'm excited to be surprised by what happens instead of just waiting for bad things.

Yeah, there's always going to be more to the books than they can fit in the series, so my plan is to enjoy the show as a show first and foremost.

have you watched a documentary The King of Kong and a Fistful of Quarters?

I'm aware of it, but I haven't seen it yet.

i really couldn't enjoy the episode because i was too busy thinking about all the episodes in the past that wouldn't work if Haley was only 16.

Dr. Bitz and I discussed it and there's simply no way we could think of that would make it Haley being 16 work.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Exactly. I mean, i just watched the episode where Haley's a stripper. That makes no sense if she's 16. Or younger, really.
Why they couldn't just say 1994 and make Haley be a legal adult, i don't know. 2 years wouldn't have affected anything in this new episode

Teebore said...

@Sarah: Why they couldn't just say 1994 and make Haley be a legal adult, i don't know. 2 years wouldn't have affected anything in this new episode

Right. Or set it in 1991 to make her 21 (since the whole point of the time travel was that she blew out a kidney drinking at a bar with her mom). There just wasn't enough about the 1995 setting to make all these headaches worth it.

Matt said...

Funny, I barely did any math on the American Dad episode. I recall my train of thought being something like, "1995? That doesn't sound right. Oh well..." Then I continued watching.

Sarah Ahiers said...

I can't ever ignore dates like that. I always do the math immediately. Usually it's not an issue, because the writers care or something

Blam said...


Once Upon a Time: The Stable Boy

As little sense as it made, considering her mother was still around, the moment where Regina realizes what Snow did and sucks in her fury, becoming in a moment the Regina we know, was a great bit of acting from Lana Parilla.

Yeah. Her voice changed; everything changed. I'd almost forgotten that Parilla could play something other than scheming / conniving / mad at the world, but well before her turn on ABC's burned-off Swingtown — she could've eaten all the ladies on Wisteria Lane for breakfast — I was introduced to her on NBC's brilliant-but-cancelled Boomtown as a young paramedic flirting adorably with Donnie Wahlberg's beat cop. Once Upon a Time still mostly pigeonholes her as a bitch, so it's really nice to see her get to play younger, more innocent Regina.

Similarly, the casting department knocked it out of the park with the girl who played young Snow.

Did they ever! I watched the ep with my mom and neither of us could get over how much the kid looked like Ginnifer Goodwin.

Like my friends, by the way, my family (a bunch of cousins live in the area and we're all close) is pretty split between Grimm and Once Upon a Time. I'm looking forward to catching up on Grimm eventually, but at this point I'm not sure it'll happen before the season's over.

I enjoyed the chemistry between Emma and Mysteriously Sexy Writer. I'm not sure if they're setting up a romance between them, but I wouldn't mind it.

I wouldn't mind it as long as the nagging potential plot twist in the back of my head of him being Henry grown up doesn't come to be.

Did any of you hear them refer in the FTL flashback to Regina as "Regina Hunt"? I could've sworn that I heard it, I think when she was being introduced to the Richard Schiff's King, but it wasn't in any wiki, etc., when I looked after the episode aired.

And how the heck is Alan Dale's King George a DA in Storybrooke? I don't think that towns as small as that have district attorneys — by that name, serving only them and/or seated in the town, versus a local county prosecutor — but he can't exist outside of the town unless there's something we don't know.

Blam said...


Game of Thrones: The North Remembers

I enjoyed Stannis' editing his letter decrying Joffrey's claim to the throne.

That was a great scene. I actually played it back.

I'm sorry that I don't have more to say, but I'd probably only be reiterating what I said at Nikki's and I've already seen this week's episode, so...

Matt: Wow, I'm just reading this on Monday and there are no comments yet? Where is everybody?

I can only speak for myself — Passover seder at one cousin's house Friday night, Passover seder at another cousin's house Saturday night, Easter dinner at another cousin's house Sunday night, and mock Passover seder at my grandmother's residence Monday night, all during the start of baseball season. I've wanted to comment for a few days now, but I've also been trying to get ahead on some projects to take a little time off.

Matt: it really just made me miss Sean Bean

Agreed. The shock effect was perhaps valuable from a storytelling perspective and fairly inevitable without changing things too much from the book, yet it feels weird to me as a viewer not to have at least one main protagonist to ground the story and for whom we can root pretty much unreservedly.

While Ned Stark cheated on his wife, and in fact did not just his family but arguably his principles a disservice by hewing to those principles so openly that he got himself killed, he was still basically Season One's "Big Good" as it were. I can root for Arya as a hero in the making, but she's just a small part of the clockwork plot; I can root for Tyrion simply because he's so much fun and because even if his morals are necessarily mercurial given whassup in Westeros he's pretty grounded, but he doesn't have the traditional heroic impetus of Robb Stark or even Jon Snow.

Teebore: Mad Men and Justified are both on my "catch up" list. I'm hoping to start Mad Men this summer.

I haven't gotten into Justified, despite all the recommendations, but, oh, you're really in for a treat if you haven't seen, or haven't seen much of, Mad Men.

Sarah: I think that's what it's called.

Close enough — The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, colon instead of "and". I suspect that the filmmaker(s) just liked both titles too much to choose one, although put together they do help clarify to those who'd get it that the film refers to arcade games and specifically to Donkey Kong rather than, say, to the King Kong movies. Anyway, I recommend it too. Not only was it a compelling story, if a bit sad the way all tales of monomania are, it was totally up my alley because my videogame tastes haven't changed since the era of the classics shown in the movie; I don't think I've played any Mario game since Donkey Kong's successor Donkey Kong Jr. and the original, stand-up Mario Bros..

Matt said...

Sarah -- "I can't ever ignore dates like that. I always do the math immediately. Usually it's not an issue, because the writers care or something."

I give sitcoms a lot more slack for that sort of thing, because -- especially with regards to the Seth MacFarlane shows -- they don't really take themselves very seriously in the first place. If a drama had made the same mistake, I'd be up in arms.

Teebore said...

@Blam: I watched the ep with my mom and neither of us could get over how much the kid looked like Ginnifer Goodwin.

She even sounded like her, with the same diction and everything.

I'm looking forward to catching up on Grimm eventually, but at this point I'm not sure it'll happen before the season's over.

Ditto.

I wouldn't mind it as long as the nagging potential plot twist in the back of my head of him being Henry grown up doesn't come to be.

Yeah. Hopefully the writers know who he is, just so they can avoid something like that if he is, in fact, someone who shouldn't be pursuing a romance with Emma.

Did any of you hear them refer in the FTL flashback to Regina as "Regina Hunt"?

I did not, but I'll believe you.

Did any of you hear them refer in the FTL flashback to Regina as "Regina Hunt"?

I wondered about that too, and meant to mention it. Mary Margaret was being taken away by county sheriffs at the end there, too, which makes sense, since part of Regina's plan to get Mary Margaret out of Storybrooke so that whatever bad thing happens when people leave happens to her, but if the county is coming to get her, you'd think that means the DA is on the county level as well.

Maybe Alan Dale works for the county but lives in Storybrooke, and...somehow never has to leave the town for work...?

but I'd probably only be reiterating what I said at Nikki's and I've already seen this week's episode, so

No worries. I didn't post anything (since I just read it yesterday) but I did see your comments on Nikki's post.

I've wanted to comment for a few days now, but I've also been trying to get ahead on some projects to take a little time off.

Seriously, no worries. I really was just teasing. :)

but he doesn't have the traditional heroic impetus of Robb Stark or even Jon Snow.

Though Tyrion is clearly positioned as the protagonist this season, and though his morals are, as you say, more heroic in comparison to most everyone else in King's Landing, Robb and Jon Snow are definitely the show's heroes this season (which is nice, since I enjoy both of those characters greatly).

I don't think I've played any Mario game since Donkey Kong's successor Donkey Kong Jr. and the original, stand-up Mario Bros..

There's an arcade in Minneapolis you'd enjoy called Rusty Quarters that features early 80s games like the original Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong and whatnot, all for a quarter a game, just like in the 80s. Dr. Bitz and I spent some time there a couple weekends back as part of a bachelor party. Lots of fun.

Teebore said...

@Matt: I give sitcoms a lot more slack for that sort of thing, because -- especially with regards to the Seth MacFarlane shows -- they don't really take themselves very seriously in the first place.

If it was Family Guy I never would have even given it a second thought, but American Dad is distinctly less random and more traditionally-structured than the other MacFarlane shows, and usually does a pretty good job of establishing/sticking to its internal continuity in ways none of the other shows do, which is why this stuck out to me.

Or, in other words, the Family Guy writers have no issue discarding continuity (or even story logic) for a joke, whereas the AD writers are usually less willing to do so.