Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Once Upon A Time', 'The Good Wife', 'Shameless', and 'House of Lies'...

TV Talk for Sunday, January 29th 2012

Once Upon A Time (ABC, 8pm) - S1, Ep11: "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" - I am continuously impressed with the ambitious scope of this show, and this episode certainly feels like the one with the most occurring since the pilot. The first fifteen minutes went super fast, but admittedly, everything after that slowed considerably and almost disappointingly. Going into it, it was obvious we were going to learn more of Regina (Lana Parrilla)'s backstory as the Queen, through her relationship with Sidney (Giancarlo Esposito), but just how much we learned about him was unexpected. I knew the show was taking liberties with fairytale characters, but I didn't expect the Magic Mirror to have started out a Genie in a Bottle! And now I'm curious as to whether or not this Genie is *the* genie from Aladdin-- and whether or not his last remaining wish still exists in Storybrooke times... I also didn't expect to learn how unhappy Regina was with Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin)'s father (Richard Schiff). Maybe it was a mistake on my part, but I always assumed the reason she hated Snow White was because she loved her father so much but didn't get his full, undivided attention because his daughter was around. But now we're seeing that she not only felt trapped in her life in his kingdom but that he literally locked her in her chambers-- which makes her a much more sympathetic villain. And to realize she was planning to take her own life rather than off the king? Well, I severely underestimated her because I kept looking for signs she was manipulating the Genie into doing the deed for her, but she seemed pretty damn sincere. Tortured but sincere. Maybe she tricked me, but I really don't think so. When she told him to flee the kingdom because she didn't love him, she had tears in her eyes and had to steel herself before she turned around. And she accepted his wish and kept that mirror close when she could have chucked it. Maybe there was always a bit of perverse pleasure in trapping him the way she had once been trapped (it was a precursor to trapping her whole world, after all), but being stuck for so long will make a person that way, though-- the moment they get a taste of power and can break free, they may act out of fear of someday being right back where they started and so they do whatever it takes not to allow that. She had been hardened by her time in the kingdom, so it was an easy road to slide down, and it is exactly what she did. Her relationship with Sidney is much more complicated than we are allowed to know at this time. And I'm okay with still having some questions as to Regina's motives in the "real" world because having a henchman just made her a lot more interesting. She was already a fascinating study on her own, but relationships always draw me in faster than a single character. Along those lines, I was thrilled to get even a little taste of Mary Margaret (Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas)'s relationship in this episode, too, though I have to admit, only one scene isn't going to be enough in the episodes to come. They are the only real relationship story, and fairytales are supposed to be able love and positivity, not anger and constant one-upping of each other. The love story is one that I am deeply invested in; in many ways I want this show to center on their romance even more than on the continuous back and forth between Regina and Emma (Jennifer Morrison). And to know that in this modern world, Snow White is not as "pure as snow" because she is committing adultery is adult and complex all on its own. I want to watch those two (re)fall in love, and one measly scene wasn't enough!

Oh, and Henry (Jared Gilmore) is right; you can write anywhere, so get ready, Regina; I'm moving to Storybrooke! Emma in a bright yellow Beetle? Not so good at being covert for Operation Cobra. I'm much more stealth!

The Good Wife (CBS, 9pm) - S3, Ep14: "Another Ham Sandwich" - I'm just going to come out and say it: Will (Josh Charles) is way more interesting when there's suspicion that he might be corrupt. And though I don't like the negative attention it is bringing to Lockhart-Gardner, nor the petty way the investigation started in the first place, I like that he was scrutinized and studied. He has always had a sense of entitlement around him indicative of most lawyers but which I felt he needed to shed to be worthy of Alicia (Julianna Margulies). I'm not saying this "wake up call" will do it, especially because he cockily maintained his innocence throughout, and there were no indicators that that would chance, but it made the story much juicier nonetheless. Watching Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) play the other side to stand by her (professional) man was Kalinda at her best, always coolly at least one step ahead of the opposing side. Watching Alicia take the stand was equally cool; she has come a long way since the first few episodes of the series, just trying to find her footing back in this legal world, and she retorted to Wendy (Anika Noni Rose)'s first few questions with pointed answers to show those strides-- to show she couldn't be walked all over. So when she still managed to be surprised by the personal questions, it was a moment that felt incredulously false, as if it was a device simply to show Cary (Matt Czuchry) stand up and be the good guy (no pun intended). Especially because then she stood up, walked out, and went back to projecting the same sense of entitlement Will has been exhibiting. "You're out of control"-- absolutely, Wendy was. But walking out of the courtroom because you disagree with a line of questioning? That is not how the law works, and just because Alicia is a lawyer, too, doesn't mean she gets to throw an (admittedly calm) diva fit when she's not getting her way. The truth, plain and simple, is that Alicia panicked. She sat in the stand and couldn't remain two steps ahead of Wendy's questions the way she thought she had been prepared to do, and she slipped on equal parts mama bear coat and loyal girlfriend hat and flailed. She really should have spoken to her kids sooner, and she really shouldn't spend so much energy focused on protecting Will when clearly he hasn't been extending her the same courtesy. Can Carrie Preston stay? She is a bright light (not just because of her hair) in what has become a stuffy firm with the defection of Blake Calamar (Scott Porter) to the south. I'd also like Amy Sedaris to stick around. The sexual chicken Eli (Alan Cumming) played with her was kind of adorable, especially when neither one of them caved but it was clear she was still playing him nonetheless. The dance they do is wry and witty and ripe with tension, and I think they make a good match for each other professionally, as well as with the potential for personally. I'd like to see how it all plays out. It took half a season, but I finally think The Good Wife is back to where it was at the end of season two-- strength and tone-wise. So welcome back, The Good Wife I knew and loved (and missed)!

Shameless (SHO, 9pm) - S2, Ep4: "A Beautiful Mess" - Fiona (Emmy Rossum) may have once been a track star, but what really saved her hide was her dad, Frank (William H. Macy), willing to take her in and hide her from her affair's wife-- and who would have ever thought it would come to that, right? Certainly not me. What I always loved about Fiona was how she managed to be the moral center of the Gallagher family-- the proof that you don't have to give into your nature or your nurture. But her hiding under the table with Frank was TV gold, even if it wasn't the wake-up call she really needed before she set even farther down her self-destructive path. So far everything always seems to work out for Frank, even though he in no way deserves it (seriously, I was so happy to see how well Sheila was doing, yet I know that with the plane crash she will be way worse than ever before), so Fiona's bad behavior will probably be rewarded, too. I'm less annoyed about that since I believe hers is just a temporary lapse in judgment; she has worked so hard to not give in to what she fears is inevitable because of the Gallagher blood and name, but when you squeeze so tightly, you break. I'm not sure how to feel about Kevin (Steve Howey) pushing Ethel (Madison Davenport) and Malik (Justin Mitchell) together, though. It's cute that he wants her to be a normal kid, but hanging out with a teenage father is hardly normal, and clearly Malik has some baby mama drama coming with him. On one hand, clearly she and Debbie (Emma Kenney) need to pawn the babies off on the adults-by-numbers and have a girl's night. Not a full-on sleepover as Fiona suggested because clearly that wasn't exactly stress-free. It was so sad to see Debbie trying to fit in with a girl she is heads and shoulders above-- especially after she pointed out that Fiona has a small social circle (and Fiona's expanding of it is proving just as detrimental). I guess it's true that insecurities and desire to be the cool kid-- or at least seen as such-- can strike everyone, but it hit harder to see young Debbie as such a typical tween-- chasing the "bad boy" with no interest in her, blind to the affections of her loyal friend. She would have been better off just going about her young adult way as head of the daycare, scratching at the stress rash on her arm. She has friends; aside from Ethel they're just not her age. It could be worse. She could be conforming, which she will be doing if she follows in Fiona's footsteps. Fiona was always marching to her own drum, when compared with Frank, but she, too, seems too willing to go along with Jasmine (Amy Smart)'s hair-brained sugar daddy schemes. After last year's Eddie suicide, I've come to expect a death per season on this show, and I'm putting it out there now: it better be Jasmine ODing. And everyone's talking about Karen (Laura Slade Wiggins)'s bombshell reveal at the end of the episode, but I'm not so sure it's shocking. I was wondering why she was so eager to turn over a new leaf, and a pregnancy is the only thing other than an STD to wake someone up to the consequences of their promiscuous behavior. In the British series Karen is married with a kid, so clearly this one's just playing catch up. But the real question is: is Frank or Lip (Jeremy Allen White) the father?? Either way, I don't think Lip can handle it right now-- the way he is going after Jody (Zach McGowan) is borderline obsessive with no markers to suggest Jody really is anything other than a messed up man. Messed up does not inherently mean suspicious, and if Lip doesn't dig up something real soon, he's going to shatter; he has already exhibited cracks in his own downward spiral.

House of Lies (SHO, 10pm) - S1, Ep4: "Mini Mogul" - The duo of Clyde (Ben Schwartz) and Doug (Josh Lawson) is always mocking and fun, and in a lot of ways I want to just watch these two at work-- well, not their actual work but going out, trying to pick up women (I can't see past the Jean-Ralphio in Schwartz to believe his Clyde really gets as many women as he claims), ribbing on each other (or at least the former ribbing on the latter), etc. I love them playing off each other so much I am even willing to look past the ridiculousness that the ENTIRE pod always travels together for these meetings that really only one or two people are needed for. This particular "case" especially seemed light on the work and more on the billable hours for fluff. While I think it was terrible judgment for Marty (Don Cheadle) to bring his son along on a work trip, especially with guys like Clyde talking about his "numbers" with bedding women openly and crudely, I absolutely love any interaction between father and son. Young Roscoe (Donis Leonard Jr.) saves this show for me, and if it weren't for him, I wouldn't find anything human or relateable about Marty, pilot realization of potentially not being a good person aside. There was something sweet about him seeing past the loser label his dad gave Doug to trust him for some advice, even if it was kind of generic and useless advice. I also don't particularly like Jeannie (Kristen Bell). Who wouldn't want to marry Michael Rady!? And that's coming from someone who loves Nick Stahl. If she doesn't, she should have the balls enough to break it off with him like a mature person, instead of just pulling her ring off her finger and be just another fast-talking scumbag at any turn. She certainly straps on the balls when she needs them professionally, anyway. Personally I think Jeannie may be harboring some girl-on-girl tendencies anyway; I don't buy she's just "one of the guys" when it comes to talking sex and looking at nude photos/videos on cell phones. She is clearly messed up about her life, so who's to say she's not questioning her sexuality? Or maybe I just want to make her more interesting because right now she's kind of a cliche. And I am kind of a moron when it comes to music, but did Nick Stahl have Jeannie strip to his own music? Because that is a loser move. Even if he did peg her (no pun intended) to a T.

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