Friday, December 9, 2011

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Chuck', 'Grimm'...





TV Talk for Friday, December 9th 2011

Chuck (NBC, 8pm) - S5, Ep5: "Chuck Vs The Hack Off" - There was so much anticipation surrounding this episode (at least for me), that I was sure it would disappoint me. Zachary Levi is an extremely talented director, and Danny Pudi was my favorite TV discovery of two years ago, but let's face it: any time I build something up in my mind so much, there's no way it can live up to my own personal expectations, let alone surpass them. But this time around, I was wrong. Perhaps it's because I was actually on set for a portion of filming of this episode (and I'm suuuper bummed that they cut Levi's "Nam-nama-nama" adlib when he couldn't say namaste in the cult) that I didn't completely raise expectations by my own imagination: they were so high because of what I witnessed in the "jungle" of Warner Brothers that day. Perhaps it was because this episode took the series back to what it was when I first fell in love with it: an action-comedy with the best covered nudity I have ever seen. Perhaps it was the addition of the guest stars, and all of the different personal storylines mingling, keeping the mission kind of secondary. You know how I love me some juicy relationship stories! Casey (Adam Baldwin) and Verbanski (Carrie-Anne Moss) aside, though, I can't get enough of seeing Chuck back behind a computer and the look on his wife's face when she really just how much of a nerd to whom she is now matrimonially bound. It makes me wish he was getting a flashback episode so that we could see him in his early days again. He's come along way as a man and a spy, but he just had such a pure youthful excitement about him in this episode, and that is something of which I want to see more-- a lot more! It certainly makes me wonder why he wasn't doing that when Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) first found him. But there was a lot to pack into this episode, just like there's a lot to pack into this last season in general, and I hold out hope we'll see a brief return, especially considering the Omen virus comes back to bite Team Bartowski in a big way in at least one future episode. In fact, there was so much to pack in, scenes often seemed like they ended abruptly, undoubtedly because the last few seconds of adlibbed lines or comical looks had to be shaved off to make the time. That's unfortunate. I think Levi does best in those moments, and when you lose them, you lose a little bit of the flavor that makes this show so special. But what made this particular episode so special, and so absolutely fun to watch, were the moments that he could keep, like pointing out having Verbanski around is like having Casey himself (That grunt! Priceless!), or taking a second to cover Eric Lange with the shorty part of his robe, Lester (Vik Sahay) actually thriving in prison, Danny Pudi playing a role tailor made for him as the "other" brown guy, and ESPECIALLY the surprise cameo by Yvette Nicole Brown! All of these lighthearted moments served to sweep the fans up and bring them along for the ride, which was the perfect distraction for what's going on behind-the-scenes against Carmichael Industries. It's not Verbanski Chuck and Co. should be worried about, as they previously thought. It may not even be Decker (Richard Burgi) who is the biggest threat after all. And we've all been too caught up to notice, so when the chips finally fall, the impact will be that much larger because they'll have the element of surprise.

Grimm (NBC, 9pm) - S1, Ep6: "Three Bad Wolves" - I was so cocky going into this episode. I was all 'I finally caught up! I took a day this week to sit down with the episodes I missed, marathon them on Hulu, and I won't feel like I'm missing anything when I tune back in live.' But I was wrong. Thanks to some fancy holiday scheduling, a new episode aired just last night-- one I didn't catch because I am already committed to far too much Thursday night television. In truth, this isn't a show where it is necessary to watch every episode to know what's going on: Nick, the young detective (David Giuntoli) can see the true face of criminals who are actually characters from the famed Grimm's fairy-tales and fables, but he can't tell anyone about it, and he has to solve the cases he stumbles upon using real evidence, not, you know, his special gift. But his gift seems increasingly less special since it appears Nick was raised under a rock and never read these stories as a child. So he doesn't have as much inside information as one might think-- perhaps as much as the audience even has. This particular episode felt oddly similar, despite special guest star Jaime Ray Newman, to an early season one that told the three bears version of the classic Goldilocks tale-- if, you know, the bears decided to reprimand Goldilocks for breaking into their house by torturing, chasing, and intending to kill (and probably eat) her. Bears, wolves, they're all a part of the animal kingdom, and not too far from each other on the food chain, am I right? Who would have thought that bears were the more violent-- and that pigs would prove second on the list? I don't know; I want to like this show more than I do. I want it to have half the magic of Once Upon A Time or half the mythology of Supernatural. I watched because my regular Friday night programming was on hiatus, and I wanted to give this newb a fair second chance, but in all honesty, it's just the kind of thing I'd put on when I need background noise but wouldn't go out of my way to watch-- live or marathoned later, online or otherwise. Giuntoli has certainly come along way from the pilot episode; he is not nearly as stiff, and I no longer see him trying to remember his next line or mark behind his eyes, but he still has a long way to go toward "dynamic lead." Silas Weir Mitchell is a delight-- a refresh breath of humorous air that makes me wish he were actually Nick's partner because Russell Hornsby is still, sadly, undervalued and underappreciated. But adding Brad Henke into the mix was a bit too much humor for a show with sketchy, scary monsters "zooming" at humans the way vampires do on The CW. And Blumbot (?) or however you spell it is just a laughable term in itself. "Huff and puff days" Whatever happened to good ole fashioned metaphors? Also laughable? That not-at-all #sexytime romp in the woods. I know it was supposed to mimic how animals do it, but no, just-- have some self-respect! And an actual pig being a cop? A bit too on the nose, don't you think? I'm sure it was supposed to garner a chuckle, but I don't like to laugh at moments shows clearly want me to laugh with. It's hard for me to take this show seriously-- weird comic morphing of faces and scents and all. I feel like it's doing things The Cape tried last season, and since that show was much more mythology based, it grabbed me easier. Tonight Grimm just didn't grab me at all; mid-way through I zoned out and started thinking about upcoming episodes of Chuck instead.

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