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Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 TV Weekly Recap (May 11 - May 17)


Fargo (FX), Episode 4 "Eating The Blame"

Brief Description: Since I missed watching last week's Fargo, I'm going to move up the "Mid-Season Catch Up" section so I can discuss Fargo in chronological order. I thought "Eating The Blame" was a slight step back from the previous episode "A Muddy Road". After spending a week focusing on Malvo, Lester, and Deputy Solverson, we get an episode that focused more on some of the secondary characters like Stavros and Gus Grimly. Plus, this episode spent much of the time having characters do the opposite of what makes them great. Malvo spends most of the episode pretending to be a minister, Lester actually does something smart by outwitting the Fargo gangsters, and Molly spends much of this episode on the sidelines. "Eating The Blame" also confirms that the TV show is in the same universe as the movie as Stavros in 1987 finds the briefcase full of money left behind by Carl. I'm not sure how I feel about that. On one hand, I loved the nod to the movie, and the car driving down the long, snowy road was perfect, but at the same time, Fargo the TV show had just spent 2 episodes distinguishing itself from the movie and then goes ahead to remind you, "Hey! this is totally based upon the movie."

Arrow (CW), Episode 8 "The Scientist"

Brief Description: Episode 8 of Arrow is the introduction of a character named Barry Allen. If this promo or this promo didn't give anything away, the name Barry Allen is pretty well-known in the superhero universe. We still need to "see what happens" with the S.T.A.R. Labs experiment that I imagine will happen in the next episode, but as far as an origin episode for The Flash in a series about Oliver Queen goes, it was solid. I obviously knew this was coming and I know the show will soon add another well-known name in the DC universe to the show. I don't mind this detour Arrow is taking because filling a 23-episode order can be tough to do. What I am looking forward to is the aftermath of Slade taking the magical elixir in "The Scientist" and having him transform into Deathstroke.


Sunday May 11

Game of Thrones (HBO), Episode 6 "The Laws of Gods and Men"

Brief Description: After I criticized Game of Thrones last week for being dull, it shoots me in the foot and brings us not only one of the best episodes of the season, but of the series. But even before I get to the Trial of Tyrion, I thoroughly enjoyed everything that came before it. We got to see a magnificent short scene of CGI with Dany's dragon swooping over the canyon to eat the goat and the wonderful fall out from that as we see how hard it truly is to be a beloved leader. Hell, as Machiavelli says, it's better to be feared than loved. We also got a great battle scene of Yara trying to free her brother. But of, course, the highlight of the night was Tyrion. Peter Dinklage is such a great actor that even though we all rooted for Sean Bean's Eddard Stark, we would not have Game of Thrones as we know it without Dinklage's Tyrion. As I paused my computer when the trial started, I saw that there was still half an episode left for us to watch the trial. I grew giddy with excitement as I knew GoT was giving us another formatted version of the great "The Lion and the Rose". The best Game of Thrones episodes have been where we have spent prolonged scenes in one location. We got that with Season 2's "Blackwater", with Season 4's "The Lion and The Rose" and with this episode. The trial was magnificent and Tyrion's reaction at the end was so amazing that if Peter Dinklage doesn't win the Emmy, then the system is completely broken.

Mad Men (AMC), Episode 5 "The Runaways"

Brief Description: Another episode seemingly devoid of obvious themes, and yet an episode I enjoyed quite a bit. I'm probably watching Mad Men for all the wrong reasons and I'm sure Matthew Weiner would look down upon me for what I think is good about the show, but I enjoy the simple story lines and arcs where characters are behaving in engaging activities. We get our second Betty sighting of the season, and she proves once again what a childish bitch and a horrible mother she is. We get Don doing what he does best, and being the best damn salesmen in the room, and we get the great Peggy/Ginsberg moment at the end. Michael Ginsberg was always a wild and out there character, and seeing his character's arc finally come to a close was just great television.

Silicon Valley (HBO), Episode 6 "Third Party Insourcing"

Brief Description: I think "Third Party Insourcing" might be the first episode I enjoyed where the humor of Richard's meekness really made things better. Maybe I just enjoy little kids saying dirty, horrible things and this episode gave that to me in spades. This episode also seemed to really focus on Kumail Nanjiani's Dinesh, as he gets to fight and banter with Erlich as opposed to his normal banter compatriot Gilfoyle. I think Nanjiani is a really funny stand up, and I enjoy his performances of the "You Made It Weird with Peter Holmes" and "Doug Loves Movies" podcasts. He's not really acting or doing anything "Emmy-worthy" per se, but he is playing a version of himself that I can't stop laughing at. Lastly, "Third Party Insourcing" gives us the first episode post Christopher Even Welch's untimely passing. The show deals with the actor the way I expected it to- everything Peter Gregory says will just be said through other characters... and maybe a voice he used in an earlier episode will be looped in post.

Tuesday May 13

Fargo (FX), Episode 5 "The Six Ungraspables"

Brief Description: I'd like to think I'm a fan of Fargo. If you randomly stopped me on the street and asked me if I liked the FX mini-series, I would say to you, "Hey, quit bothering me while I'm listening to my iPod!" Just kidding. I'd tell you I do really like the show and it's one of the best in an extremely weak year. Yet I'm finding myself not enjoying these latest episodes like many other people are. Maybe it's because Malvo isn't acting this the Agent of Chaos as much as he was earlier in the season as he's giving 110% of his time to this blackmail plot of Stavros or because the investigation of the former Chief's murder isn't as much in full swing as it should be because there's a still half a season left to do, but I wish it was better. It's also difficult having characters finding out and repeating information that that audience already knows as that's one of the challenges of creating a mystery show on television.


Orange Is The New Black (Netflix), Episodes 4-8 of Season 1
Service Available to Stream: Netflix

Brief Description: As I mentioned last week, Orange Is The New Black is so great, that there's very little I'll be able to discuss about it, so here's what I'll say: a) the second season of Netflix's prison drama starts June 6 and there's still plenty of time for you to watch the excellent first season before the second season starts and b) Tastyee's and Poussey's conversation and one-liners during Episode 6's "WAC Pack" of the daily routine of upper-middle class white folks is one of the funniest things I've seen on television all year (sorry for the extremely poor quality).

Seinfeld (NBC), Random Episodes
Service Available to Stream: Crackle

Brief Description: Seinfeld is the single greatest sitcom of all time, and for a "cord cutter" like myself (a cord cutter is someone who watches TV without having cable), having the ability to watch Seinfeld is a treat. I get that's it's syndicated on about 12 different networks, but when you don't have any television whatsoever, watching Seinfeld is excellent. I just wanted the opportunity to promote a different, not as well known streaming service 



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