The TV Obsessed Week In Review: Mad Men, The Good Wife, Fringe

I’m no longer busy and I’m beginning to catch up on all the shows I’ve missed. There are still a lot of episodes I need to watch, but I’m getting there.

True story: I haven’t watched a complete episode of Mad Men since the season four finale on October 17 of 2010–a year and a half ago–so my memory was a little hazy on what happened back then. Luckily, Matthew Weiner eases viewers into the new season. We get a glimpse of each character at the beginning of the season premiere, they’re living situation, what they’re up to, and a hint of the conflicts. The biggest change, of course, is Megan. The decision to have Don propose to her was really abrupt during the end of the last season, especially with all the other things that were going on. But I’m happy with how they deal with her character in the first two hours. There’s nothing immediately obvious about her character–unlike season four Betty who’s just a pain–but there are indications at the beginning of the episode of how opportunistic she is, how she doesn’t really know Don. Her enthusiasm about Don’s party soon devolves and as the premiere heads into the second hour, it’s clear that neither Don nor Megan is having an easy time. The episode ends with the two together, but sex is what’s holding them together. Without Betty in the episode, it’s impossible to say that Don has other options, but his marriage with Megan will surely not be smooth.

While introducing Megan was a big part of the premiere, there were several other interesting stories. Pete and Sterling are doing battle, the young guy with the accounts versus the old guy with nothing left. Pete’s always been ambitious and Roger represents the next obstacle in his way. Joan eventually made it into the office, after mistaking a personal ad towards a rival firm for the firm looking to replace her. She wasn’t the only one to mistake the ads, as the episode ends with blacks in the lobby with job applications. Kind of out of nowhere is Lane’s story. He’s unhappy with his marriage and while returning a wallet, gets a bit too friendly with the “girl” of the man’s wallet. There really is not indication whether this will be an ongoing thing or just a deeper illustration of a marriage on the rocks like Roger’s.

I’m not sure if I’m going to watch the third season of Shameless. The show is a lot like Karen–it can turn on a dime. All the money was stolen last week, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem, and this week pretty much a potpourri of people being ridiculous.

The Good Wife has been drilling in this idea the whole season that it’s better not to know the truth–or at least let it out into the public. Alicia begins her role on the panel seriously questioning the veracity of the witnesses, and uncovers some serious injustices. The others on the panel don’t want this to escalate, but she keeps pushing and pushing. She is Alicia, after all. But then the uncomfortable truth comes out–that not only was her husband involved but also Eli Gold. To her, some things are better left hidden–even if there will always be a wronged victim.

Considering how great Supernatural just two seasons ago, it’s really disappointing to see what’s happening now. No Cas? No problem. He’s reintroduced, without memories, then swapped with Sam. Now he’s the one with Lucifer in the head and in the mental ward. What a cheap, easy way to wrap up two stories.

Fringe is supposed to be a science show. Not really hard science fiction, but a show where people on the show, namely Walter, did real science with chemicals and whatnot. The villain of last week’s episode was a science guy, trying to find the right blend of pheromones and ultimately failing. This was supposed to parallel Peter and Olivia, two people undeniably attracted by something unseen by the eye. But if the plot was about pheromones–a scientific concept–why would the Observer talk about love–an abstract concept which is being used as an easy fall back? Is there something scientific about love which brings Peter and Olivia together regardless of other circumstances and Lincoln forever relegated to unrequited feelings? And what about the memories?

At this point, it feels like The Vampire Diaries is just spinning around in circles. The ring stuff is okay, but it’s obviously was inserted to finally get rid of the most egregious plot device. Bonnie’s plot was stale once again, although the acting contributed to that. And the supposed main story–the Originals–was pretty tepid until the end. Without Klaus or his hybrids menacing the town, there really doesn’t seem to be much urgency.

Behind Community’s outright cartoonishness during the impersonations episode, Abed and Troy’s friendship is going through some problems. Yes, Abed is really cool and knowledgeable, but Troy is beginning to realize that Abed he wants is someone who can also come back to the real world. That’s not the Abed in the present.

Given NBC’s treatment of Bent, burning it off in a competitive timeslot during the spring, it’s clear the show won’t last. Indeed, the ratings sucked, and less than three million people watched it. But given NBC’s treatment of Whitney at the beginning of the TV year, it is a bit confusing. Bent is not bad at all, featuring a good cast and an overall pleasantness. It’s never particularly funny, but definitely not cringe-worthy like ABC’s Tuesday crop of comedies or Whitney.

Justified: Quarles completely unhinged is truly a sight to behold. I wouldn’t say he’s better than Mags–yet–but he’s one of the most exciting villains on television right now.

Well, that’s the end of The River. I’d be very, very, very, very surprised if Netflix somehow scrounged up enough money for it. The end of the season/series was a wild mess, with some really crazy scenes. In the end, not much was explained except that the Bouina doesn’t want them to leave. In an age where most science fiction on television is shoehorned into a procedural format (Alcatraz, Warehouse 13, etc), I appreciate what The River brought. It wasn’t always coherent and the characters were boring, but it wasn’t afraid to be crazy and unconventional.

Alcatraz ends its first season tonight and the show likely won’t be returning. The good thing is, the last episode ended with Lucy waking up, hopefully a development which spurs the show ahead. Maybe the mythology will actually be expanded.

Househad yet another good episode this season, pulling back the layers on House’s parentage, before ending it right there. There are always going to be things about House we don’t know about and why he ended up the way he is. Park’s hallucinations were pretty fun and Michael B. Jordan really sold his lines, as cheesy as the story was.

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