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Sunday, June 15, 2014

2014 Weekly TV Recap (June 8 - June 14)


Sunday June 8

Game of Thrones (HBO), Episode 9 "The Watchers on The Wall"

Brief Description: Historically, penultimate episodes of seasons of Game of Thrones have been the best episodes the show has ever done, and that includes the show's best episode, "Blackwater" (the second to last episode of Season 2). The penultimate of season 4, "The Watchers on The Wall" had a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, it failed to meet those expectations. While having a giant action sequence set in one location is normally the key to a fan-fucking-tastic Game of Thrones episode (see: "Blackwater") there's a second part to this equation. The action has to involve characters we care about. The star of "Blackwater" was Tyrion Lannister, the show's best character. The star of "The Watchers on The Wall" was Jon Snow, a character I wouldn't shed too many tears over if he died. For the past 4 seasons, the scenes involving The Wall were always some of the least compelling parts because the danger never seemed immediate. We knew The White Walkers and The Wildlings were a threat, but certainly aren't even close to the threat that Stannis Baratheon was to King Joffrey in Season 2. Even if Mance Rayder's army did win the battle this week, so what? It would still be another season before they took over Westeros (if they could). The stakes felt significantly lower in "The Watchers on The Wall" then they ever felt in the prior penultimate episodes, which in turn affected the overall quality. That's not to say this episode was complete garbage, Quite the contrary. It was an action-packed episode that gave us wonderful little moments (Sam reuniting with Gilly, Ygritte's death) along with incredible and mind-blowing action sequences. It was a non-stop thrill ride that ended too quickly and didn't feel like an hour had passed. Hence the "A-" grade. However, it should have been more. Especially considering Game of Thrones is currently the best show on television.

Halt and Catch Fire (AMC), Episode 2 "FUD"

Brief Description: Halt and Catch Fire already has the reputation of being one of AMC's vastly inferior products and being a show that feels reverse engineered from other AMC shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men. In fact, it seems like you're legally not allowed to talk about the show without mentioning that the Lee Pace and Scoot McNairy characters are analogous to Don Draper and Walter White, respectively. But for all the AMC comparisons, no one seems to be mentioning Halt and Catch Fire in its own right. I really like this show a lot, and I'm going to continue watching for the rest of the season. We find out here what Joe MacMillan's play actually is- to engineer a computer that's twice the speed for half the cost. That notion didn't really appeal to me all that much, as it doesn't feel, as Joe puts it, "The thing that gets you to the thing". Building another computer doesn't seem all that revolutionary and I sided with Cameron about her anger towards the project. On the other hand, Joe's idea at the end of the episode, to build a portable computer IS revolutionary, and we obviously know from history and living in 2014 that that truly is the future of computers. That does feel like "The thing that gets you to the thing". However, what really sucked me in and the reason I want to stick around for the entire season is the corner "FUD" immediately puts itself into. Instead of attacking Cardiff through the courts, IBM attacks their wallets. IBM steals almost all of Cardiff's clients in one fell swoop that it leaves the company with almost nothing, and thereby will stop the production of Joe's new computer. It's a ballsy and daring play to create a status quo of this show and then immediately destroy it. You have to assume that Cardiff or Joe or somebody soon will find money to keep this project going, but this move IBM just pulled seems like the type of move that would immediately destroy a company, and I have no idea just how the show will pull Cardiff out this mess. 

Tuesday June 10

Fargo (FX), Episode 9 "A Fox, A Rabbit, and A Cabbage"

Brief Description: Admittedly, this episode was probably an "A" or an "A+" but it's only an "A-" because of my own personal viewing experience. For starters, I normally watch Fargo as one continuous episode, but I watched "A Fox, A Rabbit, and A Cabbage" On Demand, which means commercial breaks and this episode works better when you watch it during one continuous sitting. Also, I watched the first half doing other things, and watching anything distracted goes ruins your enjoyment of the show. That's my fault because I missed a tense filled episode. It goes to show you that a little music can go a long way. Sometimes it worked to the show's disadvantage (once Lester was at his home in Minnesota I knew he was safe) but often times it worked to its advantage (when Lester and his wife initially get to the Las Vegas elevator/ Malvo and Keith Carradine's conversation in the diner). But really, there is only one thing to talk about in this episode, and that's what a fucking horrible human being Lester Nygaard is. Despite his arrogance testing Malvo and later Deputy Solverson, sending his wife in to die at Malvo's hand is unforgivable. Lester has done some pretty terrible things during the course of these 9 weeks, but he still remained a protagonist in some respects, analogous to Jamie Lannster in Season 3 of Game of Thrones. But after what he did to his wife, here's hoping he dies in the series finale next week.


Orange Is The New Black (Netflix), Episodes 2-6 of Season 2

Brief Description: Due to the distribution of this show and the fact that every episode of Season 2 was released all at once, how I normally review Orange Is The New Black doesn't do it justice here. These 2014 Weekly TV Recaps was supposed to be an easier way for me to review every show I watch without writing individual posts, however, I need to make an exception for Netflix shows. Therefore, I've actually written individual posts regarding specific episodes of the show, So without further ado, here are my Orange Is The New Black recaps:

Click here for my thoughts on Episode 1 - "Thirsty Bird"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 2 - "Looks Blue, Tastes Red"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 3 - "Hugs Can Be Deceiving"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 4 - "A Whole Other Hole"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 5 - "Low Self Esteem City"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 6 - "You Also Have A Pizza"


Masters of Sex (Showtime), Episodes 6-9 of Season 1

Brief Description: Throughout the first five episodes of this show, I was just lukewarm on it as a television series. There were a lot of sex scenes, and some good acting, but as an audience member, I wasn't really connected to the story. But then two things changed in Episode 6 which caused me to believe Masters of Sex is one of the six best television dramas of the past 12 months. The first thing that changed is that Dr. Masters and Mrs. Johnson started using each other in experiments- they started having sex. It added an extra layer to their relationship that actually caused me to care about what happens to these two characters. The second is the addition of Allison Janney's character/ adding her and Beau Bridges's character into prominent story lines. Having a show and a discussion about sex was sort of interesting, but actually seeing the consequences about how important Dr. Masters sex study is via the Janney/Bridges relationship was just great television. Plus, a focus on their relationship meant less scenes with Masters and Johnson in it, which again, improved the show. Allison Janney won her Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Emmy with her reaction to being rejected from Dr. Masters sex study, but her character's arc as a whole turned a fine show into a damn good one.


Bob's Burgers (FOX), Seasons 1-3
Service Available to Stream: Netflix

Brief Description: It was a relatively slow week for me in terms of actually watching TV shows as the Emmy nomination ballots were released on Monday, so I spent more time writing about television than actually watching it. Therefore, I'm using this section as a public service announcement about hidden gems on Netflix. This week is Bob's Burgers. It's Loren Bouchard's (Dr Katz, Home Movies) version of The Simpsons. It's first three seasons are available on Netlfix and they're freaking hysterical. Just trust me, you need to check it out for yourself.



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