Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'The Big Bang Theory', 'Vampire Diaries', 'Parks and Recreation', 'The Secret Circle', and 'Up All Night'...

TV Talk for Thursday, January 19th 2012

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8pm) - S5, Ep13: "The Recombination Hypothesis" - Inherently I don't like shows that suck you in, get you invested in a story development, and then go "Psyche!" It makes me feel like I've just wasted my time and makes me distrust any big development I see occur later. Will it all just be another lie? So I was SEVERELY disappointed to learn that this episode-- a landmark 100th for the comedy-- was exactly that. I felt like it was the writers' way of saying "We've come this far; we're tired; we may even be running out of ideas." It bummed me out more than you may ever know. But I have to admit I saw it coming. The minute Leonard (Johnny Galecki) started gazing longingly at Penny (Kaley Cuoco) in the hallway as Sheldon (Jim Parsons) babbled on about yet another topic I'm not a good enough actor to feign interest in, I knew what was about to follow would be all in Leonard's mind. A character on this show has never held a gaze for so long, and it seemed to be eerily reminiscent of the olden days of sitcoms when a camera would push into an actor's face in order to signify and thought sequence a'comin'. What we saw go on between Leonard and Penny was not real, but what very clearly was were the feelings Leonard had for her-- both the interest in dating her again, as well as the fear of 'what if this doesn't go well?' And since what we saw of Penny was not real, either, we can't assume her response is the same-- but we were privy to the information that Leonard thinks/hopes/fears hers will be, as well. In hindsight, I did actually enjoy the dinner, and then later the bed, exchange between Leonard and Penny more knowing that it was just Leonard going back and forth in his mind over how such a conversation could go and what the options for such a re-relationship might be. For us over-thinkers, it's a common occurrence, and it always looks better when you assign someone else's face to the counterpoint to your point. But while Leonard actually mustering the courage to give it another go with Penny was something I've been waiting for for a long time, the next few episodes if and when he tries are going to feel cheapened by this fake-out first.

The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8pm) - S3, Ep12: "The Ties That Bind" - Every time Bonnie (Kat Graham) dreams that she's trapped in a coffin I can't help but think that when the fourth coffin finally does open, what's going to be inside is some doppelganger type ancestor of her own-- a witch so powerful she can take down every other supernatural being. I guess I'm kind of picturing Evil Willow from Buffy. I don't know why, I just do. All of the other witches couldn't hold onto their magic, but Bonnie has managed to. She seems stronger than most, not unlike Elena (Nina Dobrev) herself. She's certainly strong than stupid Jamie (Robert Ri'chard). Perhaps because all of the other guys on this show are so alpha male, but he was just the wimpiest boy I've ever met on The CW. Especially when juxtaposed by ripped Tyler (Michael Trevino) trying his damnest to fight his bond to Klaus (Joseph Morgan). I'll admit that a little part of me 1) figured there was no real way to break the bond and 2) even if there was, Tyler wouldn't figure it out. Not right now, not with the drama of biting Caroline (Candice Accola) looming so close to him. He wanted to make amends to her, sure, but he hadn't fully earned her forgiveness, and if suddenly he was bright, shiny, "normal" Tyler again, their pairing would feel forced. I'll admit that I was also hoping he'd kill Caroline's dad and then have to run off into hiding to try to "fix" himself so that when he finally returned there was a question of whether or not he actually had. Also, I just don't like what Bill (Jack Coleman) did to Caroline! I also didn't like what Dr. Fell (Torrey DeVitto) did to Damon (Ian Somerhalder)! I guess I've come a long way if I'm sympathizing a bit with him. But mostly I just don't trust her motives. I don't know if she's trying to frame vampires for terrible crimes or hunt them in her own weird way or simply expose what's going on in Mystic Falls. I don't think it's anything as deeply secretive as having her own ties to the Originals, but then again, I wouldn't put anything past Julie Plec! She clearly has an agenda above and beyond just using the blood to cure the sick and dying (because if she doesn't, she is a wasted addition), and everyone in this town are more than meets the eye... except maybe Stefan (Paul Wesley). He certainly thinks he's big and tough, but I really find no reason to believe he, in his current state, could ever defeat Klaus. He responded so predictably-- so woundedly-- with Elena and then with Damon. Vampires may not be able to physically age, but they should mature in all of their hundred years on Earth. Stefan was still just a broody, bratty teenager tonight. Seriously, no match. Not when his equal in the brothers stand off is Elijah (Daniel Gilles) who came back with more vengeance than I ever expected.

Parks and Recreation (NBC, 8:30pm) - S4, Ep12: "Campaign Ad" - I used to be semi-political. I volunteered for the John Kerry campaign in 2004. I drove around with a "Not My President" bumper sticker for four years after that. I papered places with "Hope" and "Yes We Can" stickers. But these days, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is the only candidate I can get excited about for 2012. And I'm not ashamed to say it. I am a little ashamed to say I was totally Team Ben (Adam Scott) all night, pulling for the really mean campaign ad, even though I kind of got the impression that Bobby (Paul Rudd) was a little touched in the head. But no, that's just the mentality of an entitled overgrown child who's had everything handed to him his whole life. I should recognize it well, being in Hollywood, and yet I thought they might uncover a deeper secret about him that would have Leslie even more resistant to attacking him. And how cute was Little Leslie!? April (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy (Chris Pratt)'s sub-plot about going to all of the doctors they could at once, though, was just plain weird, and every time they were on-screen, for the first time ever, I just wanted their scenes to hurry up and end. It wasn't anything wrong with their story, per se, nor them specifically, but it had absolutely zero to do with Leslie's campaign, and in fact, it distracted from Leslie's campaign multi-fold. Screen-time, sure, but also, shouldn't they have been lending a hand with the ad? I don't know, I guess I just wanted more focus on the other failed ad attempts and less on the outside stuff. Though I am glad that Ron (Nick Offerman) didn't dump Jerry (Jim O'Heir) on Chris (Rob Lowe), as I assumed he would. Can it be that Jerry may not be the office scapegoat anymore? Nah...

The Secret Circle (The CW, 9pm) - S1, Ep12: "Witness" - I'm just going to come out and say it: I don't like or trust Jake (Chris Zylka). Nothing he says ever seems as impactful as it should. Maybe it's just because he has such a pretty but motionless face you can barely take him seriously. So his news about the ritual and how John Blackwell died? I barely remember what he said, let alone believed he had the answers Cassie (Britt Robertson) needed. Honestly, I got the vibe that this Jake who had returned to Chance Harbor was some weird kind of clone-robot. But I don't think that was on the page. It's a shame he was the titular witness because it meant I had to endure a lot of him d*cking Cassie around and dumbing her down. Does he really wonder why John Blackwell would let people believe he was dead? Um, PEOPLE WERE TRYING TO BURN HIM ALIVE. Jake! Use your head! And just because there are bones in a grave doesn't mean they are the bones of the person they should be. Oh, show; lose the light-weight kids and give me #MoreEthan! Preferably DarkSoberEthan! Or even more Faye (Phoebe Tonkin). She's the new Tatum Riley, and she will be no one's beer wench! She is so much better than dull Lee (Grey Damon) and his petty, angsty problems. Why are all the young dudes on this show so lack-luster? Maybe it's just that The Vampire Diaries boys set the bar so high, they're a tough act to follow, but really, I think it speaks more to the developmental maturity rates of teenagers. Adam (Thomas Dekker) is out in front by a little bit, since he seems to have basically had to raise himself because HotDrunkEthan was, well, drunk, most of his childhood. But something's gotta give soon. They dropped dead weight once and they have to do it again. I was way more compelled by Jake's memory-parents than anything the modern young people were doing. And back to the subject of John Blackwell? I wasn't convinced he was actually under that mask at first-- because months ago I was convinced he wasn't dead and asked Andrew Miller as much. So tonight I'd just like to say I told you so ;)

Up All Night (NBC, 9:30pm) - S1, Ep13: "Rivals" - I understand that having a baby makes you behind on a lot of things. Catching up with loved ones falls to the wayside; working out becomes a distant afterthought; but there is absolutely no excuse for not finishing Friday Night Lights in a timely manner, Reagan (Christina Applegate) and Chris (Will Arnett)! If people watched it when it aired, maybe it would have been on for ten seasons instead of five. And there is really no excuse for nodding off during it! Seriously, let me come over and watch with you. I'll respond to the scenes so verbally you can't possibly ignore them. But seriously, I love Reagan. I love her even more because she's as confused and slightly annoyed by all of the weird baby group in-jokes as I am. I love her when she's playing mama bear at home-- protective of her daughter and her husband-- and at work, protective of Ava (Maya Rudolph). Though I have to admit I was expecting more from the whole Ava has a blind spot when it comes to Shayna (Megan Mullally) thing. I totally saw Reagan's ploy to do more cooking segments as a way to make Shayna fat again. If she started copying their segments and eating while she cooked on TV, she'd balloon up in no time, right? I guess that would work better if she was a recurring character, not just a special guest star, though. So I guess I'll take the "make nice" moment at the end. But I hope she returns because those two women totally need to have a Barbara Walters/Rosie O'Donnell type feud going on.
But seriously, I need to go back to the Friday Night Lights thread for a second because I feel it greatly overshadowed Mullally's appearance in a truly surprising way. She's such a sitcom queen I didn't think it was possible for her to be upstaged, but my love of Dillon runs deep. Also, it's just nice to see it having a presence on NBC. It's still the best drama they have. Even in that simple, thirty-second clip shown tonight.

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