The Past Week in TV

April 27, 2007

This week has been a little crazy for me and I haven’t had much time to write so I’m going to instead give some quick hits on what I’ve watched and what I thought.

24 – That’s it.  Despite writing last week that I was likely going to stick it out for the last few episodes of the season after this week’s borefest I’m done.  There is nothing redeeming remaining about this show and there are enough good shows to watch that I don’t have to distract myself with this crap.  Avi’s Episode Rating: C-

Heroes – The reason I don’t feel a need to waste cycles on 24.  After way too long a hiatus (that felt even longer because of the amazing previews) Heroes finally returned with death, action, answers and another crazy cliffhanger.  As a comic geek I have to admit that I let out a “cool” when I heard Linderman give us his Watchman-esque plan to save the world.  I followed that with a “wow” as Linderman and Mrs. Petrelli alluded to their time as heroes likely in some form of Golden Age Justice League (or Justice Society for you fellow comic fans).  The death of Isaac, Claire meeting her father, Nathan as the future president – all great moments that set us up for the final scene of Hiro in the future and next week’s glimpse into the future.  Avi’s Episode Rating: A

The Sopranos – I liked the first 2 episodes of the season better but I enjoyed Tony and Paulie’s amazing adventure although it does sadden me to see Junior’s story really coming to an end.  I’m still going to stick with my prediction that Tony is going to retire before the season ends.   Avi’s Episode Rating: B+

American Idol – I didn’t watch the performances this week and only saw part of Wednesday’s telethon but I have to question the decision to bring back Kelly Clarkson.  Backed by the legendary Jeff Beck she pretty much puts all of the contestants on this season (and most of the previous ones) to shame.  The only one with any commercial potential to be the next Kelly Clarkson is Jordin.  End rant.  Another good moment was the Simpsons scene where they judge Simon which had me crying I was laughing so loud.  Annie Lennox was pretty good too.

I’ll get back to writing more regularly for the next couple of days.

The Office – Season 3, Episode 20 – Product Recall

April 27, 2007

Here’s what I learned from this week’s The Office:

  •  Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery unless except when it’s identity theft.
  •  A day can be bananas – b-a-n-a-n-a-s.
  •  You can’t let threat level midnight eliminate the need for a “that’s what she said”.
  •  If OJ had only contacted the media before he entered the Bronco he could have controlled the story.
  •  Tomorrow I’m going to wake up, shout “I’m not a loser” and give myself a round of applause.
  •  There is a risk that when you ask someone about music in the car they may start singing.
  • “Beer me” is equally effective at dinner and in prayer.
  •  It is unlikely a part-time frozen yogurt chef is also a guidance counsellor.
  •  It is possible for every client to be the most important client even the unimportant ones.
  •  Dwight grew up on an interesting farm.
  •  Devotion to one’s job can mean fighting a SWAT team.

Overall a pretty good episode.  Some definite laugh out loud moments and as you can see above some great learnings to take back to your office tomorrow.

Avi’s Episode Rating: B+

Drive Cancelled After Four Episodes

April 27, 2007

I finally sat down last night to watch the 2 hour premiere of Drive and I was all prepared today to write a pretty good review (probably a B+).  I thought it had a lot going for it – an interesting concept, large mysterious cast, a big mythology and character actors who I like (specifically Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker and Kristin Lehman).  But alas this morning I read that the show has been cancelled so it seems I wasted 2 hours last night and can now free up space on my PVR.  I think it’s a shame but truthfully I’d rather have a show quickly cancelled before I get attached then become a die hard fan and then see it on the chopping block.

Click here to see the Variety article about the cancellation.

Grey’s Anatomy – Season 3, Episode 20 – Time after Time

April 20, 2007

After another lackluster episode I’ve come to the conclusion that I only watch this show because my wife does and I like watching TV with her.  I seem to care less and less about the characters on this show every week.  At first it was just that I hated Meredith.  Now I’m starting to hate almost all the characters.  George and Izzy – yuck.  Burke – can’t get past his offscreen self.  Alex – lost his edge.  Callie and Bailey – haven’t been around that much.  Derek – still can’t understand why he would be with Meredith.  This leaves the couple of people who I do like – Addison and McSteamy.  Not enough.

I might be able to get over the detestable characters if they had good storylines but Christina’s mentor, Izzy’s daughter, the search for Chief, Alex’s patient who doesn’t remember who she is.  I’m surprised I stayed awake long enough to write this entry.

I’m still going to watch the rest of the season but next year I think I’m going to be dropping this show in favour of its spin off.  Taye Diggs, Tim Daly, Paul Adelstein and Addison who is the best character on this show.  I’m in.  As for Grey’s Anatomy I think my wife and I are going to have to find another program to share.

Avi’s Episode Rating – C-

Jericho – Season 1, Episodes 18 & 19 – AKA & Casus Belli

April 20, 2007

I haven’t written a review of Jericho since the 1st episode aired way back in September.  Truthfully the first 1/2 of the season didn’t really wow me.  I enjoyed a few elements like the mystery behind the bombs and Hawkins’ role in it but the pattern of town crisis of the week just didn’t keep me engaged.  I also wasn’t that crazy about most of the characters in particular Skeet Ulrich’s Jake.

When the show returned in February I decided to give it a few episodes before I dropped it for good.  I wasn’t optimistic.

Then the most amazing thing happened, the show actually got great.  The last 2 episodes in particular highlight what the show has started to do right – giving us answers about what happened with the attacks and giving some more cohesion to the weekly storylines.

In episode 18 we found out Hawkins’ role in the bombing and even more interesting that it really was a terrorist attack.  Best of all one of my favourite character actors of all time made an appearance – Daniel Benzali from Murder One – who unsurprisingly is the mastermind behind the attacks and works for Homeland Security.  We also finally had it confirmed that Hawkins is sitting on a nuclear bomb – cool.

This week’s episode focused on the post-bombing world as Jake and Hawkins head to New Bern to find out what happened to Eric.  In a nutshell, Heather is dead, New Bern is running a munitions factory and planning to go to war with Jericho and Jake and Eric get captured and are about to be strung up in front of the town.   This is the kind of storyline I would expect in a show about post nuclear war America.  I expect towns to be fighting for survival, new governments to be popping up and general lawlessness all around.  Throw in some profiteering by 2 of the most weasly and mercenary kids I’ve ever seen and this is now a real show (even though Skeet remains annoying).

Unfortunately given that it’s airing on CBS, isn’t a procedural and is getting its ass kicked in the ratings I don’t have high hopes that it’s coming back next season.  Still, after a horrible start the show has become extremely enjoyable and something I look forward to watching every week.

Avi’s Episode Ratings: A-

24 – Day 6, Episode 18, 11:00 – 12:00

April 19, 2007

I think I’m done.  I’m not sure I can make it through the rest of the season of 24.  I’ve put up with ridiculous plot twists, useless and dropped subplots (Morris drinking or Jack’s 2 years of torture), repetitious storylines (president is going to be impeached, again?) and reappearing and supporting characters who disappear without rhyme or reason (Jack’s father and sister-in-law and the Logans).  Even worse I’ve just been generally bored through a majority of the last dozen or episodes.  So last week the show wrapped up the “suitcase nuke” storyline (I actually dozed off right after Jack grabbed onto the bottom of the truck) and introduced a new storyline with Audrey being captured by the Chinese (I woke up in time for the last scene).

Still this isn’t that different from previous seasons (even last year’s “critically acclaimed” season which I thought was crap) but this week in the aftermath of the change in direction the show officially fell apart for me.  Jack being willing to hand over nuclear devices (even with a plan to not really hand them over) to save one person is pretty much the opposite of what his character has done time and time again – condemning Tony’s choice a few seasons ago to save Michelle, shooting Curtis, etc.   He’s always been about making hard chases for the greater good, yet here he is doing the opposite.  I give up.  It’s not that I need consistency but between my boredom and the abandonment of even the one thing that is consistent on this show, I think my relationship with this show is over.  I may still watch the rest of the season since I’ve come this far, although it will be in far second position relative to next week’s return of Heroes (whoohoo!!!!!), but I think this is coming off my list for next year.

Avi’s Episode Rating: C-

The Sopranos – Season 6, Episode 14 – Stage Five

April 19, 2007

Watching this week’s great episode, I kept hearing Christopher from season 5(?) in the back of my head telling the now departed Adriana “My uncle Tony, the man I’m going to hell for.”  This episode brought the Tony-Christopher relationship front and centre with a surprisingly emotional Tony recognizing that his nephew hates him, even if it is subconsciously.  Even more in true Tony style, he sees it from his self-centred point of view, not recognizing why Chris would harbor any bad feelings.  This can’t end well.

This season has had multiple moments foreshadowing the end of the series despite the narrative moving seemingly slower.  The conversation between Tony and Carmine with Carmine refusing to step up and be boss choosing his happiness over the power.  The amazing Johnny Sack (may he Rest in Peace) wondering what legacy he will live behind in both his families.  Christopher pursuing a new career and staying away from his “family”.  Phil recognizing that despite his proclamations that it’s a younger man’s business he has ignored his obligations.  All of these threads are pushing the show to a conclusion that will never wrap the show up in a bow but will remain true to the complexity of the series.

Last week I made a prediction that Bobby will end up in jail before the season ends and that Janice would try and kill Tony. Like mother, like sister bringing the show full circle.   Other predictions seize on Tony’s statement last week (and in other episodes of the series) that the only ending for someone like him is “in the can or in the morgue”.

After this week’s show I am going to make an additional prediction about the ultimate end.  Tony is going to start to develop his succession plan.  I think between his conversations with Phil and Carmine, his realization that he can’t even maintain his relationship with his mentee and just the plain headache of it all, he’s going to start planning his exit.  Even getting his paper in the morning is ruined.  My guess is the next few episodes will have Tony preparing for his eventual retirement although I’m at a loss for who his successor will be.

How do you think the show will end?

Avi’s episode rating: A

The Office – Season 3, Episode 19 – Safety Training

April 13, 2007

Not my favourite episode this season but as with all Office episodes there’s something to learn.

Here’s what I learned from this week’s The Office:

  • Nothing says “I have a new attitude” like giving yourself a new name.
  • 3 years of shunning can be an appropriate punishment for misbehavers of all ages
  • It is not a good idea to try and set up a joke with the punchline “How’s it hanging”, particularly when it involves a ladder.
  • Between eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome and circulation issues working in an office can be a dangerous place.  It’s nothing a 1/2 hour break every hour won’t cure though.
  • There is a connection between vomiting and boredom.
  • Depression can be scarier than a bailer especially when you use visual aids and props
  • If anyone give you 10,000 to 1 odds on anything, you take it
  • Jumping on a bouncy castle is the opposite of safety
  • You can bet money on anything.

Avi’s Episode Rating: B

Friday Night Lights – Episode 22 – State

April 13, 2007

Let me start by saying it’s a sad world when this amazing program gets beat in the ratings by garbage like ‘Til Death and ties with back to back episodes of George Lopez.

That being said I can’t see NBC walking away from a show of this quality no matter the ratings.  With so many perfect moments throughout the episode I defy any fan of the show to admit they didn’t get teary multiple times.

Beginning with Tami finding out she’s pregnant (with assistance from Smash’s mother) to the sense of awe perfectly conveyed by the entire cast when they walk into the stadium.  From Landry and his entourage’s hysterical car ride to the Tyra-Lyla confrontation.  From the team’s sense of betrayal over the coach leaving to Buddy’s uncharacteristic response to the news.  Throw in the coach’s response to his wife’s news and his speech after the losing first half (zooming in on all the characters we’ve come to enjoy watching week after week) backed up by “one of the greatest comebacks in Texas football”, Jason Street’s new found calling and finally Eric rediscovering his dream.

I’ve written about the greatness of this show so many times that I don’t feel the need to say anything else about it.  Friday Night Lights was not only the best new show of the season but maybe my favourite show this year, period.  As much as it pains me to say it even if there isn’t a second season, like Freaks & Geeks before it, Friday Night Lights will deservedly make my TV Hall of Fame and I know the best ensemble cast on TV will all go on to great things.

Still NBC it’s really not much to ask for another season, is it?

Avi’s Episode and Season Rating: A+

American Idol – April 10 – Top 8 Perform

April 11, 2007

I haven’t done a live blog on American Idol for a few weeks but tonight I’m back.   The special guest is JLo who in my estimation is probably one of the biggest stars the show has had in terms of modern mainstream appeal.  Without further ado here’s my 2  cents on tonight’s performances.

Melinda – I thought she was marginally better tonight in terms of demonstrating at least some ability to move beyond show tunes and torch songs.  Still, as much as I like her voice my opinion on her ability to produce a mainstream album hasn’t changed.  She won’t be able to.

LaKisha – Finally some personality from LaKisha.  Like Melinda she moved from her standards based self.  The first time in my opinion that she’s shown that she might actually have a little bit of an album in her.  Not sure why Paula and Simon are calling it safe the first time she does something slightly more upbeat and fun instead of showcasing her inner Broadway self.

Chris – A good performance but I thought his singing was off.  The voice lacked some edge or passion.

Haley – She really is hot and a good performer to boot.  Her voice isn’t as good as the others and I’m not sure she is going to be selling albums any time soon but she’s got personality and actually looks like she has fun up there.

Phil – I still don’t get how the judges even tolerate Phil.  This guy has a terrible voice.  He’s painful to listen to and I cringed with every high note.  How can they call Haley bad and give this guy a pass week after week.  He’s far, far, far, far worse.

Jordin – By far my favourite female in the competition.  Consistently great voice, great performances and she brings a cool, modern vibe that says “I will sell albums on an actual pop chart” unlike early favourites LaKisha and Melinda.

Blake – My favourite guy in the competition.  Same exact comments as I have about Jordin – great voice, great performance and a cool modern vibe that will sell records.

Sanjaya – Well he embraced the theme – good for him choosing to sing in Spanish.  His young girl fan base will love it.  He wasn’t as painful as usual because he didn’t really sing but rather spoke in a tune.  He’s not going anywhere this week.  I agree with Randy – he knows how to play the game.

After watching tonight’s episode, I have to say that I’m still shocked and dismayed that this is the best they could find in all of America out of tens of thousands of prospective singers.  Maybe it’s time for some new judges because these ones don’t seem to be able to sniff out talent any more.

So without further ado, my picks for bottom 2 are Phil and Haley with Phil most deserving to go home.  I’m done picking Sanjaya.

My choice for the final 2 are Jordin and Blake.