The TV Obsessed Week in Review – 9/11-12 – 9/17/12 – Revolution, Boardwalk Empire, Alphas, The Mob Doctor, Bones, Weeds, Damages, Sons of Anarchy, Glee

Revolution: Eric Kripke is one of the best showrunners out there. He made Supernatural into a top-tier show (at least before the last two seasons), allowing it to go far beyond its horror roots. Despite this, the pilot of Revolution is pretty bad. It’s all mystery and little else. In fact, I would have guessed JJ Abrams wrote the pilot if I didn’t actually know Kripke was the writer. Revolution is supposed to be about science. All electricity stops working one day, but everything else continues to work. To continue watching, the audience has to accept this despite what real science says. So okay, years after this happens, humans are miraculously still alive, able to form peaceful communities and militias. Again, we have to accept that this happens even if it doesn’t make sense and none of this is explained. Beyond the electricity part of the show are the characters–teenage characters. Teenage characters, by and large, suck. The writing is usually shoddy and the acting isn’t much better. Not all of the characters are teens, but there are enough to be off-putting.The pilot gets off to a bad start with Generic Stupid Teen getting his father killed, and the main objective of characters is to rescue this idiot. Well, it’s up to Kripke to make this work and the ratings started off very high (4.1), so he should have enough time.

I watched the last half of Boardwalk Empire’s second season in succession after a long break from the show and I got more into the show than I had watching it week by week. The dialogue becomes more familiar, and the little things the show does become more recognizable. Months after catching up, the third season premiere came around, which I watched and I was struck by how little I cared about the characters. Stuff is certainly happening–characters being despicable, violent, wistful, people getting killed, deals being made–and yet I’m not eagerly awaiting next week’s episode. I don’t have any problems with the show, and I’m a lot more positive about Van Alden now that he’s crossed paths with Capone, but the show leaves me cold. Maybe I’ll do the same thing I did with the previous season.

Alphas was awesome once again. I don’t think there have been any duds this season which makes the low ratings ever more disappointing. There was tons of Kat this week and lots of her spunky cuteness (and more squabbling with Gary!), but there was also introduction to her past, which was sad and scary. The other part of the episode is Rosen confirming that Dani is involved with Parish which ends with a gut-wrenching scene with Dani in interrogation, asking for a chip in her head. I don’t know how Alphas continues to do it every week, but everything the writers wanted landed squarely in the right place.

There are times in The Mob Doctor’s pilot when it seems like it won’t just be another medical procedural, when the main character, Grace, might actually do something unforgivable and get caught in a deeper mess. But by the end of the episode, everything is fine, the mob boss is dead, and Grace is indebted to a seemingly nicer mobster who knows her well. All signs point to normal procedural stuff in the next episode.

The Gormogon arc is by far the coolest arc of Bones, with an interesting mystery to go along with the crime solving. That was seasons ago, and Hart Hanson is still trying to recapture that, introducing the sniper Broadsky and now Pelant. The problem is, the Gormogon arc was about history with a certain tradition through the ages, bringing a National Treasure vibe to the show along with the murders. The Pelant arc is about computer magic. He uses computer magic and Angela fights back with her own computer magic. And of course the only way to communicate computer magic is through dialogue, which is more or less rubbish. Worst, the fun of Bones is sucked out because Pelant is so dangerous, and an unfun Bones is not something I want to watch.

When Weeds returned to Agrestic, now called Regrestic, in the penultimate episode, I believed the show had turned a corner and would deliver a good series finale. For a show that went cuckoo years and years ago, this was a hopeful, but not entirely unrealistic, idea. As it turns out, the series finale wasn’t great but it also wasn’t awful. It’s way too long, an absurd amount of time spent on Doug’s pointless cult while taking far too long to reach the critical points. Finally, we get to the main point: Nancy is alone by her own doing. Silas has a kid with Megan, who won’t let Nancy hold the baby. Shane is an alcoholic. Andy has finally moved on and has his own life now. And really, Nancy deserved it all, maybe more. This time, Nancy can’t bat her eyes and take a sip from her drink. This is her life now and she has to live with it.

Three-fourths of the way through Damages’s series finale, I really wasn’t feeling it, as the case never interested me. The last part of the finale, with the rush of the reveals, is nothing short of brilliant. The ominous shot of a bloody Ellen on the ground is actually her miscarrying and Patty looking worried at the police station is because of Scully killing Michael. Ellen also manages to beat Patty at the custody trial, giving her two big wins over Patty, which would seem to be good news. There is this lingering tension, however, about who Ellen has become, how she betrayed Chris and got Rutger Simon killed. It seemed as though she would become Patty in the end. Then the coda, a lovely 5 minutes of television–some of the best I’ve seen–that manages to exactly define what Damages is about. Ellen has a daughter, is with Chris (the VA comment being the hint), and is no longer a lawyer. Patty has a job, possibly the Supreme Court one (as implausible as it is), and is sitting in her car. Ellen comes up to talk, even thanking her, and introduces Patty to her daughter, with smiles all around. But it’s one of Patty’s visions. Ellen is still in the store and Patty has no one to talk to. The show ends with the camera lingering on Patty’s face and we all understand: Patty is alone. How the writers handled Ellen’s conclusion was great. There were immediate parallels between Ellen and Patty regarding their fathers and childhood and their approach cases. In the end, however, Ellen turned out different, because, as Patty’s vision suggests, Patty taught Ellen important lessons. Ellen was able to see who Patty really was and the path she was on. Patty never had that and she never learned. Sometimes all it takes is a lesson to get on the right path before it is too late.

Sons of Anarchy certainly grabs me more than Boardwalk Empire, with its visceral nature and more explosive storytelling. It’s also a more flawed show, while it’s hard to nitpick at Boardwalk. The greatest problem is that the show still feels the same as it has in previous seasons even though lots of bad shit has gone down inside the club. The club members are more or less the same after all this time and Clay is still around. Meanwhile, there’s this new big bad this season, Pope, who’s as vicious as they get. We can already see that he’s going to be the guy the club bands together to fight even if they should be at each others’ throats.

NBC has given us comedies like Parks and Recreation and Community in the not too distant past and The Office and 30 Rock further back. Was it all a fluke? The latest batch of comedies, including the awful Guys With Kids, indicates a shift in philosophy. Comedies like Whitney, The New Normal, Go On, and Guys With Kids confront broad topics with characters of certain types. They’re supposed to have a “point” to tell, usually something obvious, and the characters and story lag far behind.

Glee would be a much better show if it weren’t so schizophrenic. The show is about so many different things that every episode is all over the place with the plots and the songs. Sometimes it seems like the show wants to have a lesson about something, but then it veers off into another galaxy. This happens with a multitude of plots as well. Something seemingly important happens but is forgotten in the next episode. Remember Karofsky and the bullying episode? The characters don’t. Lately, I’m beginning to wonder if there is a reason beyond bad writers to explain why Glee has become so terrible. iTunes. “Born This Way” coupled with Autotune and makeup. Or Rachel telling Tina to wait for her turn the next year before Blaine takes the spotlight. Or “Call Me Maybe” being Rachel’s song (with all the people not in Lima, the writers couldn’t even use the song properly?). At some point, one could wonder whether the bad writing of the show is due to the commercial interests of the show. Maybe the writers aren’t so bad after all and are slavishly tailoring the show to hit certain songs. If that’s the optimistic way of looking at things, then we could also face reality, which is that Glee has become a bad show–not a flawed but overall enjoyable show as it was in the first show, but simply bad. There’s the guy singing in the shower again, tough love teacher, new characters with their notable problems, Unique awkwardly moving to McKinley, and Sugar and Tina, still not doing anything. The one thing I liked: Rachel and Kurt at the end of the episode.

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