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Monday, June 23, 2014

2014 TV Weekly Recap (June 15 - June 21)


Sunday June 15

Game of Thrones (HBO), Episode 10 "The Children"

Brief Description: As amazing as Game of Thrones has been this season, and its fourth season was easily its best season to date, there are still plenty of story lines within this story that I just don't care about. Many of those story lines were prominently featured in "The Children". I absolutely don't give a shit about Bran, and now the fact that there's a magical addition to his story makes it even worse, Stannis should be a character I care about but I don't, and Khalessi's story arc in Season 4 was terrible. But with that being said, the ending of "The Children" was incredible- first with the fight and then death of The Hound, and then of course everything with Peter Dinklage is fan-fucking-tastic. That moment where he kills Shae, and then his father is one of the best of the series, but it still wasn't as good as when he was on trial this season.

It actually worries me that Tyrion is still alive, but will now be in Essos. Of course we all wanted Tyrion to live, but I think I'd rather have him die than have him be boring in another country. A huge chunk of what makes Tyrion great as a character was how he was perceived in Westeros and the Lannister family dynamic. He loses both while in Essos, and that could be a recipe for disaster.

However, despite the fact that that Season 4 ended as somewhat of a stumbling block, that doesn't automatically discount the amazing eight episodes that preceded it. Season 4 ended up shrinking the cast and we ended up spending more time with characters we care about. The arc of Season 4 was different, for the better. As opposed to building one giant arc for the entire season like 1-3 did, Season 4 created many mini-arcs, making the middle sections of the season much more enjoyable. As opposed to dragging their feet around Episode 5, we got great episodes in Season 4 like "The Laws of Gods and Men" and "Oathkeeper". Game of Thrones doesn't get a full "A+" in my book, as I only reserve that grade for mind-blowing, game-changing seasons like Season 4 of Breaking Bad and Season 2 of Justified, but when the year is done, I'm confident I'll have Game of Thrones as my #1 show of the year- a thought I never thought I'd have 2 or 3 years ago. 

Halt and Catch Fire (AMC), Episode 3 "High Plains Hardware"

Brief Description: After two strong episodes, Halt and Catch Fire comes out with a huge dud in "High Plains Hardware". While Cardiff Electric realistically deals with the fall out of IBM essentially poaching all of their clients by trying to raise capital, they are still going forward with their idea of trying to build a personal computer. However, like Cardiff themselves, there seems to be no plan in place for this show. The stakes don't feel all that great building this personal computer, and while Cardiff itself is in jeopardy, we haven't spent that much time with it to really care if the company folds or not. Our three main characters didn't do a whole lot this week as well. Gordon is forced to fire most of the company, which should have felt like a bigger deal than it actually was, Cameron has writers block which is not remotely compelling, and Joe acts like a whiny baby and kisses a dude out of nowhere like Frank Underwood in House of Cards, and like House of Cards, this was solely for shock value with no true character development. It felt like homework to watch this episode, and it's starting to feel like homework to catch up on this show.

Tuesday June 17

Fargo (FX), Episode 10 "Morton's Fork"

Brief Description: It's easy to see why American television is trending towards mini-series', because it's great to have a short season with a definite end. After a few status quo setting episodes in this inaugural season of Fargo, we got a set beginning, middle, and end. And Boy Howdy did this season finale of Fargo end with some great resolutions as we got to see a finite end for the arc for Malvo, Lester, Molly, and Gus. Despite professional hitman Mr. Numbers being the closest person to ever get to Malvo, it turns out that Malvo's two "protege's", Lester and to a lesser extent Gus, are his downfall. Malvo is a man who refuses to believe in the social constructs we have built up for ourselves and he does his best to destroy them. He fully knocked down those walls for Lester, who traps Malvo in his room- literally with the bear trap, and Gus, a meek weakling, who lies in wait in order to kill Malvo in cold blood. As good as Fargo's season was, it had some stinkers in there, so the highest grade I can give it is an "A'", but it would take the best Fall season in television history in order to knock out Fargo from my top 10 at the end of the year. 


Orange Is The New Black (Netflix), Episode 7-10 of Season 2

Brief Description: As we near the end of this season, we are heading towards a war between Vee and Red. The problem, is that we should not be NEARING the war- we should be fully entrenched in it. The huge cast has worked in Orange's favor in the past, but as Season 2 comes to a close, it has become a disadvantage. We should be weeding out minor characters to bring the main ones to the forefront, but instead the show is just meddling in the dramatic waters. After the first 6 episodes, I had Orange Is The New Black as the best show on 2014, but after these episodes, I moved it unequivocally #2 behind Game of Thrones. 


Masters of Sex (Showtime), Episodes 10-12 of Season 1

Brief Description: This post is filled with season finales as I also finished Season 1 of Masters of Sex this past week. Alan Sepinwall and Hitfix ranked Masters of Sex as the 5th best show of 2013, and Metacritic ranked it as the 8th best show. I had Boardwalk Empire's weak 4th season as my tenth best show of 2013, and I'd have Masters of Sex a tick behind that. It was good, but it wasn't great. At its core, this show is about a scientific study, which makes for a lot of boring and non-compelling material. There are some great things within this show about the realistic consequences of dealing with the mores of sex during the 1950's in America, but the heavy focus of the specific sex study overall brings down the quality of the show. Now with that being said, it's still in my top 6 drama shows of the past 12 months, and it's still a lot better than shows like True Detective, House of Cards, Downton Abbey, Homeland, and The Americans.


Breaking Bad (AMC), Episodes 1-3 of Season 5b
Service Available to Stream: Netflix

Brief Description: The Emmy nominations are coming out shortly, and I'm confident Breaking Bad is going to get a shit ton of nominations. I decided to re-watch the final, final season of the show so I can expertly discuss individual episodes. Plus, this show is just so fucking good, I'm really just using the Emmy's as an excuse to watch the greatest show ever made. The very first episode of this half-season, "Blood Money", was directed by the show's star Bryan Cranston has earned a lot of nominations prior, including a DGA nod, and after re-watching the episode, I can see why. While I'd personally nominate other episodes, I can see why others would want to nominate Cranston outside of his name. By the way, I know where this show is going, and the tense scenes are still tense and the humor is still funny. If for some reason you STILL haven't seen Breaking Bad, stop everything and watch it all RIGHT NOW!



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