The TV Obsessed Week In Review: Hell On Wheels, Once Upon A Time, Pan Am

Part of me wants to believe Hell on Wheels is supposed to be a parody, poking fun at Westerns and the themes that often arise in them. Surely, no sensible, serious writers would serve us what we’ve seen thus far without it being a joke, would they? The opening scene seems to support this, in which the characters get in a big fight following last week’s cliffhanger. It’s a freaking montage, with song playing as the main characters defeat the Indians who have no clue how to fight and the extras die randomly. The fight comes from old action movies where the villains are big but dumb while the main character can’t die despite the circumstances. But the music indicates this isn’t any mere fight. It’s an artsy fight, you see.

House of Lies is about what you can expect from Showtime these days and the perfect show to follow Shameless. The cast is credentialed and charming, the jokes are mostly crude, and it’s about morality ambiguous people doing morality ambiguous acts, in ways people will find funny. There’s no big message to glean other than that consulting has a bunch of douchebags (and who didn’t know that already?).

The second season of Shameless isn’t much different from the first. The Gallaghers break the law, have tons of sex, and drink. There’s plenty of rambunctious fun, to be sure, but it’s a show where nothing too important is going on and you’d probably be fine not watching all the episodes.

Pan Am is almost certainly going to be canceled, but I’m still watching. Unlike with Hell on Wheels, Pan Am rarely bothers me to the point where I question what the writers are thinking. It’s clear what the show is. The gorgeous sets and costumes, Blake Neely’s lush, full-bodied score, and the quick pacing lets the audience indulge in the time period rather than force them to dwell on the plot specifics of the week. And the plot specifics were quite good this week, with Colette and Kate each put in difficult situations.

Once Upon a Time needs to get out of exposition zone. We’re eight episodes into the show and the writers are still setting the backstories of the characters one at a time. Yeah, it’s cool to see where Rumpelstiltskin got his powers and his conniving political mind in the real world, but the plot is going nowhere.

The Good Wife delivers again. Alicia is tugged in numerous directions in the episode and you can tell she’s definitely frazzeled and increasingly disillusioned with this world. She has loyalty to the firm, loyalty to the truth, loyalty to the law, and loyalty to herself. These loyalties aren’t often in conflict as they were in the episode, but she made her choices as she saw fit.

The pilot of The Firm reminds us why television dramas are an hour long. It begins decently enough with two suited men chasing another suited man. Sure, they aren’t running particularly fast, but it’s a chase scene. After that, however, the episode devolves into generic legal drama land. The middle sections, probably taking up an hour forty, are a tedious bore. Other than a few key flashbacks it’s stagnant and uninteresting. Then the end finally comes around and there’s the twist we’ve been waiting for. If the pilot’s going to be two hours long, there should be a very good reason. Either there has been be lots of exposition, because the setup is complicated–as was the case with Terra Nova–or the plot can actually fill the entire two hours. But no, introducing the characters and the backstory could have taken 15 minutes tops while the rest of the hour could be spent on the simply case of a teen killing another teen and a bit of the conspiracy.

Leverage is a fine show, but it should stop having these season-long enemies like Moreau last season or Lattimer this season who show up for 20 seconds to speak two ominous lines and leave. What’s the point? Even worse, why bring back Saul Rubinek’s character from the pilot who no one remembers?

I guess Bobby really is dead on Supernatural. Now, Supernatural is left with the brothers, whose drama has reached its end, and the Leviathan plot which remains boring. I used to be a big supporter of Supernatural–even last season–but Sera Gamble needs to do something to spice up the show soon.

Nikita’s “twist” of Alex’s mother being complicit was really obvious, but it fulfilled its role in bringing Nikita and Alex back together.

It looks like Chuck, after the defeat of Shaw, is taking an extended victory lap(s). There is some drama, but it’s at a bare minimum, as all the characters get to be as happy as possible. Honestly, I don’t really care anymore. The show hasn’t been top-notch for years, so to end with this laxness won’t be a deviation.

The Secret Circle upped the ante by making it abundantly clear that Cassie isn’t just a pint-sized blond who can do magic. She’s powerful and very dangerous–against her will. Good stuff for the future.

The Vampire Diaries again splits its season cleanly in half. Last week’s episode felt like a season premiere, with the characters struggling to figure out what happened in the previous episode. By the end of the episode they realize the new paradigm, and move ahead. For Damon and Elena, that means the kiss everyone’s been waiting for.

Revenge remains awesome. Whatever crazy things may happen, Emily always has an angle to exploit and it’s always very fulfilling to watch.

How many times did Body of Proof bash us over the head with its message about body image?

Work It is simply awful. It’s the third, and hopefully, last in ABC’s line of MAN comedies. Between the unrealistic drag, unfounded jokes about women taking men’s jobs, and general stupidity, there was literally nothing to like about the show. Usually, you can point out something about a show that makes it viable to see the light of being broadcast. Not with Work it. Think about how many steps it takes for a television show to get to air, from conceptualization to writing to casting to filming to editing to being aired. Along the way, no one high up at ABC looked at this atrocity, put his/her foot down, and said “no.” Unbelievable.

Tags: ,

Join our newsletter

never miss the latest news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary for Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games!