The TV Obsessed Week In Review: Homeland, Hell On Wheels, Dexter & More

Weekly reviews again! Again, I’ll go backwards in the week and I’m not covering everything I watched–just whatever comes to my mind (and, yes, that means shows later in the week will have a greater chance of being remembered). No, I still haven’t caught up on Boardwalk Empire or watched Luck, but I will have a post on them when I do, hopefully later this week.

Homeland: Claire Danes has been very impressive thus far, but I suspect last night’s episode will be her Emmy submission. It begins with her going right off the edge of the cliff–after being on the edge for most of the season–before she mellows out during the middle part of the episode. It is at this point when everything hangs in the balance, and then she calls Brody, which leads into everything going into ruin and the brilliant final scene where everything explodes. If Carrie had just been manic in the way she was the first minutes of the episode, Claire Danes probably wouldn’t have gotten as much praise from me. But as the episode progresses, so does her behavior once she starts coming to grips with herself and the medication kicks in. One of my favorite parts of the episode is how people react to her: they treat her like a normal adult, not someone who needs to be locked up, despite her erratic behavior. The sad thing about all this is that Carrie is right–Abu Nazir has a huge plan brewing.

Hell on Wheels continues to be weird and infuriating. This week it featured a bunch of cookie cutter Native Americans and religious people, while sidelining Bohannon, easily the most interesting character on the cast who isn’t cut from the same stereotype cloth most other characters are. Worst is these awkward spectacles in each episode. Last week, it was the fight lasting half the episode and this week was the John Henry moment where the Native American on a horse races the train. What is that supposed to tell us? That trains are faster than horses? That machine prevails over nature? Duh?

Dexter: I think most people would agree how horrible Travis is. But take a moment a think about the other plots potentially worse than Travis. Deb in love with Dexter, video game/hand guy, LaGuerta being a bitch for the 100000 time.

I liked how Leverage let the girls have an episode for a change and brought back Tara. Fun stuff as usual.

The Good Wife has had some interesting cases as of late, and last night’s episode was no exception, with the plot about potential jury tampering. On top of that, Wendy Scott Carr using her position as special prosecutor–appointed by Peter–to investigate Peter played out nicely.

I haven’t said anything about Once Upon a Time on the blog, so I’ll repeat what I said about it on Twitter last night. I like the tone of the show–the grand, majestic sweeping fairy tale kind versus the humerus fairy tale. There isn’t anything overtly funny, but it has enough charm not to be depressing. Each episode moves along quickly, and is enjoyable to watched, granted you don’t think too carefully. My biggest problem with the show is the lack of nuance with the characters. Sure, these characters’ origin stories are different than the ones we know them by, but that’s all that’s different. Their characterizations are generic and what they do is as expected.

I haven’t said anything about Grimm, the other fairy tale show, so here are some thoughts as well. The twists on fairy tale characters combined with the police work is turning out pretty good. What stands out on the show is its use of darkness and shadows, which provides a tone the show wouldn’t otherwise have. I’d say Grimm gets the most value added from its lighting than almost any show out there. The Pied Piper violin episode was good as was Friday’s episode, but I have a small quibble about it. It seemed like Nick was more lenient towards Angelina than the pig.

Boss’s first season ended, and while it has already been renewed for a second season, I’m not exactly holding my breath for it. It seems like producers and directors were far more interesting in a distinctive visual style than telling a good story. Kane’s wife was barely developed–at least not enough to explain her devotion to Kane–and his daughter, a plot device.

I like this season of Chuck so far. Sure, the plot still makes zero sense, but that’s been the case since day one. What has changed, though, is that Chuck and Sarah are firmly together and it doesn’t diminish how likable they are, as individuals and as a couple. Quite impressive, considering how painful Bones has handled Booth and Brennan.ly

The Office’s Christmas episode wasn’t as painful as previous weeks’ episodes, because Robert California seemed almost normal in the episode. That said, it was as aimless as ever, with Andy being a dufus and other people do what they usually do.

Now on to the good Christmas episodes! Both Community and Parks and Recreation, while vastly differing in styles, were awesome. Community had the musical episode poking fun at Glee, and Parks had a very heartwarming episode with all our favorite characters pitching in for Leslie’s Christmas present.

American Horror Story continued with the “a bunch of crap happens each week” format, but I actually liked the way they revealed Violet’s death, making it overwhelmingly meaningful to Violet, even if viewers had already figured it out.

Suburgatory’s Christmas episode was another strong episode, compared to Modern Family which was again pretty bland. Suburgatory has rather simple formula–put likable, recognizable characters in awkward, semi-realistic situations–and it works well.

Sectionals on Glee wasn’t that bad, but it’s clear that some moves, like bringing back Mr. Trouty Mouth, was purely to placate the fans. Okay, fine, I’ll admit it. It was crap, especially Mike Chang’s resolution. I’ve actually thought of some ratios Glee sticks by. 1) Every conflict must be resolved in three scenes or less. 2) For every good episode, there must be seven bad ones.

I think Syfy should stop doing these holiday episodes. The ratings were below what the shows would normally get and the episodes aren’t that good themselves.

I’ve been watching Covert Affairs, but nothing has really stood out about its second season. I really liked the first season, which had Annie stepping into a huge, unknown world and trying to make her way in it. The second just had Annie doing her spy thing, with some boring office subplots thrown in.

The biggest disappointment–and I think everyone else’s too–was the season finale of Sons of Anarchy. It started badly with the hilariously bad deux ex CIA, and promptly plunged into Plotdeviceville, where Potter saves Charming through sex toys.The episode ends with Jax taking over, the implication that Tara is becoming Gemma, and Clay alive and kicking.

Castle and Beckett handcuffed together made for a fun episode. The writers could have turned this into another one of those episodes where they almost kiss in the face of imminent death, but instead made it funny.

Enlightened took a delightful turn when it focused on Amy’s mother, Helen, in the same way an episode would focus on Amy. We get to learn about her backstory and her reflections on her daughter.

How I Met Your Mother was widely talked about on Tuesday, and for good reason. The episode was heartbreaking in many ways, as we learned Robin would never have children. It was, however, a very uneven episode. It fluctuated wildly, from “wow, this is really sad and Cobie Smulders is a great actress,” to “fuck you, writers, for playing around with us again.” There was the sex twist, then the pregnancy twist, to the no kids twist, and many in between. How long until there’s a new twist, destroying the one before it?

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