Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tonight's TV Talk: 'The Good Wife', 'Pan Am', 'Homeland', etc...

I watch a lot of TV. That is not a secret. I have a lot of thoughts on what I write. That is not a secret, either. But often I have thoughts I don't share simply because I don't have time to write full reviews of each episode of each series of each season (what can I say? I'm a completionist, and I like consistency). But with the year winding down, I find myself with more time on my hands as show after show takes a hiatus. I also find myself coming into a transition, job-wise, once again, which is resulting in a slight shift in content on this blog. So I am introducing a "Tonight's TV Talk" column, in which I pose just a few short points about the television I watched on any given night-- live television (imagine that!), which means that any given evening may see different shows highlighted, as I choose to watch some immediately and others the following morning, online or on demand. Did I make the right call on what to watch live? You can be the judge!

TV Talk for Sunday, December 4th 2011

Once Upon A Time (ABC, 8pm) - S1, Ep6: "The Shepherd" - Actually, my thoughts were so extensive about this Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) backstory episode, you can read them here.

The Good Wife (CBS, 9pm) - S3, Ep10: "Parenting Made Easy" - I argued a few weeks ago that religion muddies everything on television. Then my point was regarding Dexter, but once again I see it in action in this episode. Special guest star Jennifer Carpenter (two J-Carps; one time slot!), who I had admittedly forgot would even be guest starring in this season at all, was fired for her teaching job maybe or maybe not because she considered herself a Christian, a conservation, and a Republican. The case could have been interesting, but even with such a high profile guest star in the courtroom seats, it seemed to be an afterthought to a much more high profile (return) guest star, Michael J. Fox, and a personal plot point for Alicia (Julianna Margulies) when her teenager daughter was assumed to go missing. Everything went out the window the second it seemed Grace (Makenzie Vega) was hurt or in danger. The show cut the case's screentime, choosing instead to follow Alicia's frame of mind. She couldn't care about her job when her kid was at stake, and therefore, neither should she. It was a little bit of a bummer for a show that just last season so seamlessly wove multiple, often conflicting, stories. But what was more of a bummer was the reason Grace was gone, even if momentarily. She was getting baptized. Yup, religion really does mess with my once-favorite shows.

Dexter (SHO, 9pm) - S6, Ep10: "Ricochet Rabbit" - I live-blogged my thoughts while watching the episode screener prior to Sunday's airing. You can read those here.

Pan Am (ABC, 10pm) - S1, Ep9: "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" - With an episode title as strong as this one, I guess I was just expecting more. A lot more. Though I really don't know why; the show has failed to capture the magic of the pilot in all of the subsequent episodes. I stick around now mostly out of loyalty, but to what or whom I'm not entirely sure. Yes, we got some kissing in this episode-- between Mike Vogel's Dean and Karine Vanasse's Colette, a coupling I didn't see coming initially but have enjoyed watching unfold-- and we even got a bang-- when Christina Ricci's Maggie slept with the politician (I'm glad her spunky, "say and do whatever I feel" attitude is back, and I only hope this time it stays), as well as a much more literal one when Kelli Gardner's Kate took action against a guy named Bulger who clearly couldn't have been Whitey Bulger, since he wasn't captured until years later, in 2011. I was only half paying attention to her storyline, though, so to be fair, there was no reason to assume it was Whitey except I was punchy and trying to keep myself interested. The media hype, perpetuated by the network, was all about special guest star Ashley Greene from Twilight who seemed to have aged a decade just to go back and play in a period several decades prior to this one, but really what was most interesting about this episode was the sexist pilot-- with Dean gallivanting with his girlfriend, a much older bloke stepped in-- one who clearly wasn't as "down" with the rising feminism of the times-- as well as the slow turns the romantic relationships were taking. The flirtation between Ted (Michael Mosley) and Laura (Margot Robbie) may have cooled to appear brother-sister on the surface, but there's something very clear still there. And Dean taking Colette to meet his parents, well, I enjoyed the sentiment that he cares enough about her to take that step, though I wish the show hadn't tried to force more drama there. Dean also having "douchey daddy issues?" That's a bit much, especially since his father wasn't really all that awful; "Where's Bridget?" is a totally valid question considering he had proposed to that girl! Dean came off in the wrong, putting Colette in an uncomfortable situation, and then trying to blame the 'rents. Ted may have grown up with the silver spoon in his mouth, but it was Dean who's actually like the spoiled, petulant child tonight, an unfortunate character inconsistency with everything we've known about him so far.

Homeland (SHO, 10pm) - S1, Ep10: "Sergeant Brody" - I've never really been a patriot. I refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at my high school graduation. I drove around with a "Not My President" bumper sticker in college. I constantly Google loopholes for becoming a Canadian citizen. I would gladly follow Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) into any battle he so chooses, even if that battle is "just" running for Congress. It was pretty clear he was going to say yes from the moment he remembered what happened to his beloved Isa, but I loved every minute of watching him transform from quiet, unassuming, and under the radar to manipulative and cocky in order to get his wife (Morena Baccarin) on board. Those are attributes every politician has. Using his wife's other relationship to seal the deal? Priceless. Absolutely priceless. And I can't wait to see what plans he can set in motion from within. I only hope that by putting him in a power seat within the political world, he starts thinking like a leader, not the good ole boy soldier who just falls in line with Abu Nazir's orders. I want him to start to think of his own plans, especially because he has to honor Isa and still protect the innocent kids of this country. And I'm sorry, but did anyone else audibly go "Whoa!" when the bomb went off in the park? Not because the blast threw Claire Danes back like a rag doll (she weighs like eighteen pounds, that was a given!) but because I simply didn't think the show would go there. Especially so early. I didn't think they would show an attack, even a small one, on our own soil. But they did it. And bonus points for doing so realistically, still tastefully, and completely surprisingly. That's the thing about a successful terrorist attack: it's one you never saw coming. And what's best about Homeland is that even when you see something coming, there are at least three other things that you missed while you were so focused on trying to figure out one element. Carrie (Danes) is bound to miss a whole lot coming up. By the way, if anyone has theories for who the mole inside the CIA is, please send them my way. I think it's one of two people: Virgil (David Marciano), Carrie's "bug" guy or Danny (Hrach Titizien). Virgil is such a small player at this stage in the game, I feel like there needs to be a big thing coming for him or else he's kind of wasted talent. Danny, on the other hand, I feel is the "too obvious" selection (he already talked about his Muslim religion) and therefore might be a target of investigation for Carrie but the show, thus far, has been smarter and more complex than that.

What did YOU watch tonight? Sound off in the comments below!

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