The TV Obsessed Week In Review: House Of Lies, Luck, Chuck

Luck isn’t exactly the easiest show to get into. The audience, from the very beginning, is tossed into another world–horse racing–without much guidance and it’s a lot like swimming for the first time Characters are using obscure terms and we go from scene to scene without much semblance of structure. The first half of the pilot is a bit uncomfortable to watch, as it’s not exactly clear what’s going on. That’s David Milch’s style. But despite being tossed into this great expanse, everything starts jelling around the halfway point. We may not know characters’ names or the details, but we get a general sense of who’s who and what they’re doing. What really shines are the horse races, the one thing that connects all the characters. They are pure beauty and generate a sense that a lot if riding on it, for the random spectators in the crowd, for the gamblers who stand to earn millions, and for the audience at home.

I wonder what Shameless would be like without Frank and I think it would be better. He’s mostly deadweight as a character, much like he is to his family. He’s a mean-spirited drunk who interacts with few people other than Sheila. Unlike all the other characters, he has no intentions of changing and instead does whatever it takes to keep drinking. There’s nothing redeemable about him nor is there any insight from his character. I’d be perfectly fine without him. Aside from the usual Frank mess, I like where this season is headed. All the characters have their personal problems and it wasn’t overly dramatic or wacky in this episode.

I said I wouldn’t review House of Lies again until it changed, so I’ll say it did change this week. With Roscoe coming with the team, the job of the week was pushed to the background, and we got to hang out with the characters much more than we usual do.

The culmination of The Good Wife’s “Will might get indicted” arc came to an end, with both triumph and a sense that everyone got off too easily. After all the wrangling and Wendy Scott Carr coming back, beating her proved to be pretty easy, as she wasn’t on top of everything and Kalinda had actually been on Will’s side the entire time. Still, if Will and the firm did get off easy, the inquiries did shake the actual tenuous foundations of Lockhart Gardner and we know more trouble is coming.

Now the big ticket item, Chuck. In my mind Chuck was a happy show. It had its ups and downs, but mostly it was a happy show. Thus, I always envisioned the series finale, or at least the last 10 minutes, to be happy all-around. As any who watched the final episode can testify, it was anything but happy. Bittersweet maybe, soul-crushing even. We watched Sarah grow over the course of five seasons, from when Chuck was only a mission until she was his wife. And what happens in the last two episodes? She loses her memory and isn’t the same person. We didn’t get to see the Sarah we’ve come to know one last time.

Rationalizing, we can, with much optimism, presume that Morgan’s kiss theory was right and that Sarah did regain all her memory. (In fact, I thought it would be really cool if they took all 3600+ minutes of the show and quickly played through it to show fans that we did remember). Or maybe Sarah would eventually remember everything, as she did remember some things from her past. But the alternative, Sarah remembering nothing or very little, and having Chuck tell her these stories, is incredibly sad. It just wouldn’t be the same.

I began thinking afterwards and realized that Chuck was really sad, once the fun and humorous tone was taken away. The further into the spy life any character went, the more their personal life got destroyed. Casey, Stephen and Mary, Volkoff, Jill, Sarah, Bryce, Chuck, and everyone else. The highs of the show were really high and the lows were really low, and the final moments of the show captured this perfectly. There is hope that Chuck and Sarah will pull through and there’s a chance they might not. Like the final scene of the pilot, they are on the beach and the future is unknown, except the roles are reversed this time.

The substance of the two final episodes was mostly a mixed bag. Quinn was one of the worst villains of the show, in his lack of menace, action, and gravitas. Beyond that, though, the recalls to the first episode were great, bringing everything full circle before the end. It rekindled my interest in Chuck, which has be waning for some time, and I want to go back and rewatch the show. All in all, the final two episodes were fantastic.

Spartacus is in the midst of big changes. On a story level, the gladiators have escaped, but they, and Spartacus, aren’t sure what to do. Quintus is dead and Lucretia is miraculously still alive but damaged. Nobody is sure of what’s coming next. On a production level, Andy Whitfield’s tragic death means that his replacement, Liam McIntyre, must be able to fill in big shoes. The second season premiere sets up the situation and then ups the stakes by killing off Aurelia, so there’s the vengeance that will carry through the season.

Fringe: In the middle of Peter showing up in this other world, I don’t want to see even more elements introduced. Unfortunately, there is a new plot about the Observer telling Olivia she has to die and it’s not a one-off thing. Olivia’s fears came to a head in last week episode, where they find a girl who can see people’s future deaths. This is important to Olivia, of course, but we still don’t get a good idea of what anything has to do with the overall picture. It’s clear the writers are making stuff up as they go and with the show possibly coming to an end this season, it’s hard not to be wary of these new developments

Fox previewed Touch after American Idol, and it was pretty bad. I described it as “a bunch of pointless, transparently manipulative threads tying together,” on Twitter. You can imagine how quickly the show devolves into a procedural. Each week new people are introduced and we see how they are interconnected by the end of the episode. Meanwhile, Jack Bauer hangs out with his son and restrains himself from beating others into a pulp.

Art got lots of actions scenes in Justified for a change, Carla Gugino’s character was introduced, and the other bad guy from Limehouse was also introduced.

Southland: With the badass new captain who wants to get things done, there was lots of talk about the proper way to go about police business. Ben crossed that line, possibly motivated by the senseless shooting in the season premiere, while Lydia tricked the granny in order to get evidence, which she thinks was ethical.

Alcatraz continues to play out like an average procedural, which is probably not what people were looking for in the show. The big thing of the episode is that the doctor looks the same as he did in the past. Spooky…..

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