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Sunday, May 25, 2014

2014 Weekly TV Recap (May 18 - 24)


Sunday May 18

Game of Thrones (HBO), Episode 7 "Mockingbird"

Brief Description: "Mockingbird" is the bridge between the excellent "The Laws of Gods and Men" (aka the Trial of Tyrion Lannister) and whatever bombshell the show decided to drop upon us soon during the Season 4 penultimate episode. So as a result, there was no reason to expect "Mockingbird" to be as great as it was. Was it as good as last week's episode? Not at all, but it doesn't have to be. While this episode mainly exists as a set up to the Trial By Combat between Oberyn Martell and The Mountain, we still get many fantastic moments like the two scenes where Jamie and Bronn visit Tyrion, the monologue why The Hound is afraid of fire, and, oh yeah, the scene where Mayor Carcetti drops Lysa out of the Moon Roof. 

Mad Men (AMC), Episode 6 "The Strategy"

Brief Description: The very ending shot of "The Strategy" was just brilliant. Don and Peggy are sitting on one side of the table acting as the de facto Mother and Father while Pete Campbell sits on the other side of the table, getting sauce all over his face, acting as the de facto child. The camera then pans away from this "family" and the shot looks like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. This shot was so incredible because for all the talk about family in this episode and considering the nuclear family for each one of these characters is either failing (Don) or already dead (Pete) or non-existent (Peggy), these characters are a family. These characters are why we (or at least I) tune in every week. Peggy discusses (over drinks of course) about the idea of what exactly a family is and how it doesn't exist anymore. In 2014, we think back to this area and probably think about Leave It To Beaver. But the family that the advertising world portrays (both then and now) never truly existed. Each family is different and unique. That's what makes Mad Men so unique as well. The 1960's aren't a cliche and they certainly didn't happen the way we think it did to every single person. The counter culture certainly affected many people, but there's always been people like Don Draper who will never change as the culture does. By far and away "The Strategy" was the best episode Mad Men has done this season.

Silicon Valley (HBO), Episode 7 "Proof of Concept"

Brief Description: I have the firm belief that no matter how good a final episode is, it can't change the way I feel about the season as a whole. A great season can have a terrible finale (i.e. Season 1 of Homeland) and a terrible season can have a great finale (i.e. Season 2 of House of Cards). The last episode is irrelevant because you watch a television series as a whole, not just for one episode. It's about the journey, not the destination. With that in mind and having watched 7 of the first 8 episodes of Silicon Valley, I have decided that I will no longer be watching the show anymore. I have seen what the show is and how it works, and it's frankly not for me. I can't stand the main character and there's just not enough jokes to make me want to come back to it. I'll watch the finale of Silicon Valley, and it could be great (in fact, I hope it is), but that will be the last episode I watch.

Tuesday May 20

Fargo (FX), Episode 6 "Buridan's Ass"

Brief Description: Buridan's Ass is a paradox about free will. In the paradox, a donkey is dying of both hunger and thirst. It is placed equidistant between a bundle of hey and a pale of water. Since the donkey can't rationally choose which foodstuff to go towards first, the donkey dies. While this week of Fargo doesn't even remotely make it clear how this scenario relates to the show, I'd like to think that there's just a greater force in this fictional universe that no matter what you think you can do, your fate is already decided for you and you're going to die anyway because of it. However, after thinking about it for four days, the only conclusion that I can come up with is that Molly is Buridan's Ass. She's the only character that has to choose between two needs, in her case, being a damn good cop and making sure Lester Nygaard gets brought to justice. Last week we saw Molly illegally break into Lester's place in an attempt to find the hammer Lester used to kill his wife, and I think that was the last straw. Therefore, with Molly's inability to choose between her two needs, she dies. In terms of storytelling, Molly needs to be the hero to bring both Lester and Molvo to justice. And actress Allison Tolman strongly insinuated to Grantland earlier this week that Molly lives, but I worry that my worst fear has come true, and Gus Grimly did kill Molly.


Arrow (CW), Episode 9 "Three Ghosts"

Brief Description: "Three Ghosts" was the last Arrow episode to air in 2013. It marked the mid-season finale, and was also the episode where Barry Allen officially gets his superpower to later become The Flash. It also introduces to the back story of what I imagine will be the Big Bad for the rest of the season- Deathstroke. Despite it being a superhero show and one on the CW, it's surprisingly not hated by critics. The AV Club ran a piece after this episode aired praising Arrow for being so good at this point in the season. From my own personal and selfish perspective, I'm glad critics like it so that I don't feel so bad for liking it myself. But that being said, I view Arrow as a guilty pleasure because the show has so many flaws, rather than a good show. Arrow still has too many characters (Laurel, Oliver's mom, and most of all Thea are completely worthless) and I'm confident the show has no idea what happened to Oliver on the island. It's the same exact reason Lost become so bad after Season 2. There are some strong things to like in Arrow, mainly Oliver Queen himself, but I still view Arrow has a bad show that I just personally enjoy just because there's so many areas I feel the show overlooks.

Maron (IFC), Season 2, Episodes 1-3

Brief Description: I normally am not the *biggest* fan of Marc Maron. His stopped listening to his "WTF with Marc Maron" podcast, and I couldn't get through ten minutes of his "Thinky Pain" Netflix special. However, I'm a big fan of his IFC show. I think it's because the 22 minute format allows the comedian to tell his jokes, but only the best ones and to do without rambling. I think "Maron" allows Marc Maron to be honest about his life and relationship (which he's never shied away from) but to do it in the best possible medium. 


Deadwood (HBO), Episode 1 of Season 1
Service Available to Stream: Amazon Prime

Brief Description: This week Amazon Prime officially launched all of its HBO content (which is on a three year delay for new shows and no Game of Thrones) which includes classics like The Wire, Oz, The Sopranos, and Deadwood. I've seen The Wire, Oz feels extremely dated now, and The Sopranos has like seven or eight seasons, so I started watching Deadwood. I have to be honest, I wan't impressed by the pilot. It's long, I tuned out halfway through, there's way too many characters, and frankly nothing was compelling about it. But with all of that being said, I'll eventually give it a shot considering its considered one of the greatest shows of all time. However, I think I may take a hiatus on it in favor of another great show, but with an excellent pilot....

The Good Wife (CBS), Episodes 1-7 of Season 1
Service Available to Stream:

Brief Description: The Good Wife has the label of being the best show on network, which is a back handed complement. However, I can see how it got that label. Its focus on only on a centralized few (who all have Emmy nominations) and it takes a page out of the House playbook in the sense that its still a "case of the week" show, but putting the focus on its rich characters. Normally, a serialized show will be weaker than a show on a cable or premium channel because its focus constantly changes. But what makes The Good Wife so good, at least in the beginning, is that while the case changes, the focus doesn't.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I completed Season 1 of Orange Is The New Black, but because the show is so damn great and because I already wrote about it twice, there's just nothing more to say. I also caught up on a few more episodes of Friday Night Lights. It's actually gotten a lot better since the last time I reviewed it, but again, I've talked about it so many times in these posts, I'm giving it a break.


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