Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Switched at Birth' and 'Southland'...

TV Talk for Tuesday, January 24th 2012

Switched at Birth (ABC Family, 8pm) - S1, Ep14: "Les Soeurs d'Estrees" - There was something really poetic about the opening of this episode. It appeared pretty clear from the beginning-- what with the very typical teen drama music that is so atypical of this particular show-- that what we were seeing was not actually happening in life but instead in Daphne (Katie Leclerc)'s head. Then to come out of it so abruptly by turning the music off and instead being sucked into yet another silent argument with Emmett (Sean Berdy) and Melody (Marlee Matlin)-- that's just this show at its best, at its most poignant. It gives me chills every time. I have to admit I'm glad something finally derailed Daphne tonight, though, because the path she was on, although a very realistic one for a teenage girl and a nice way of not martyring her, was annoying as all hell. And she was such a horrible liar it made her minor comeuppance all the more amazing. I know she is lashing out now after all of the upheaval in her life lately-- from having to move, to finding out her parents weren't really her parents, to losing her best friend because he's quite co-dependent in his relationship, to having the father who abandoned her come back into her life-- but I just wanted to slap some sense into her. Giving a boy money is not going to make him fall in love with you, and if it does-- well, he's not the kind of boy you really want in love with you anyway. And using another boy to get her the money or use for favors when she knows he likes her? NOT COOL, Daphne. Though, you should probably take on Hollywood after you graduate because you'd fit right in here. I would say she needs a hobby-- something to throw herself into-- but she kind of has that with basketball, doesn't she? This is one moment I wish John (D.W. Moffett) had more Joe McCoy in him so he would get on her and stay on her about practicing, allotting for more father-daughter bonding, and also keeping him busy enough to stop snooping. Yes, Angelo (Gilles Marini) probably can't be trusted, but digging around with malicious intentions is only going to push Bay (Vanessa Marano) further away. And Bay really needs all the friends she can get right now. Who does she even hang out with besides Emmett (Sean Berdy)? According to Marano, no one. That makes me sad. Then again, who are her options? Wilke (Austin Butler) is a dumbass and a jerk, typical teenage boy. Toby (Lucas Grabeel) certainly has his own distractions, hobbies, and issues. I would hang out with her! She says what I'm thinking, and she may just be the smartest one on the show. How DO you "accidentally" text someone? And how are Emmett and Regina next to each other in Daphne's phone? What does she have them listed under? BFF 1 and BFF 2? She and Daphne really do need each other, and I wish they'd make more of an effort to hang out past the obligatory "sister bonding" scene in each episode. They compliment each other. They may not have much in common in terms of interests, but they connect on a deeper, more meaningful level. They can certainly help each other out in a lot of respects. Oh, and speaking of-- going back to Melody for a second-- I'm really hoping she starts to come around to Bay soon-- even a little bit, even if all it looks like is her not cocking her head almost mockingly when Bay stumbles through trying to keep up with her signing. Or, you know, Melody could slow down because Bay is trying. OR Melody could use her words once in awhile. She has them, and Bay is trying so hard with Emmett, with Daphne, and with Melody; it would be nice if they would meet her half-way. The problem is, if Melody makes the effort to change now, it's going to be seen as just a last ditch attempt to keep her son around, and kids as smart as Emmett can see right through cheap ploys like that. Emmett is the best. HE is my Top Five (TV) moment.

And does anyone else totally not trust Craig (Sam Page) strictly because of how he stepped into Desperate Housewives and came thisclose to ruining everything for Bree (Marcia Cross)? Ah well, guess we'll see soon enough!

Southland (TNT, 10pm) - S4, Ep2: "Underwater" - I kind of wish this episode hadn't started with Ben (Ben McKenzie) and Sammy (Shawn Hatosy) breaking up the parking lot dance party. Because the minute the screen froze for a minute after Ben had been shoved, slapped, and spit on, I knew he was about to react out of provocation and slap the girl back, setting up the newest viral video in the Cops Gone Bad category. But by starting the episode there and then flashing back, I spent the entire episode just watching for the clues that would tip Ben toward that boiling point when he was usually the level-headed one out of the uniforms, instead of just focusing on the story to be told. And there really was so much story to be told! The first case Lydia (Regina King) took on, where she found a woman's head stuffed in a truck's wheel-well, well, that alone should make a number of us think twice not only about drinking and driving (never okay) but also driving tanks around Los Angeles city streets (increasingly less okay; we don't need to prepare for battle on these streets; only the cops do!). I wish I hadn't been eating during that scene. Honestly, I should have put down my chips and dip the minute they pointed out the rest of the body was nowhere to be found because at that moment I exclaimed "I bet it's being dragged by the car that hit it" (but the dip was just sooo yummy!). The 227 was everything I wanted it to be, and since that was one story element I didn't see coming in this particular episode, it was that much more powerful when it happened. Ah, Brenda! But really, I found it fascinating that two separate cases dealt with the competency of older women and how it affects the way cops treat the situations and their investigations. In Lydia's case, her point was valid: if the woman was not competent enough to process what Lydia was saying to her, she couldn't be a valid alibi for her grandson who was a suspect in a murder. But when her grandson ultimately got arrested for the murder, I couldn't help but wonder how 1) they can make the evidence they obtained stick when the incompetent lady was the one who granted them access to it and 2) what would happen to her if he was convicted and put in jail again, given that he was her care-taker now. Though the morality of just "losing" evidence was raised, the morality of using this woman was glossed over-- and that is the thing that ultimately could get the case thrown out in the end. But as Lydia pointed out, that's not something she has to worry about because she is not the judge and jury. And that was fascinating in itself, too, because it made her attitude toward her job seem flippant and lazier than I expected. On the flip side, there was the "Granbo," who clearly had a few screws lose, too, but was smart enough to wear a bullet-proof vest when she started shooting at the cops who came to her house to check on a complaint about her cat shitting everywhere. And she was smart enough to arm herself twice to still keep the element of surprise. They said she was just off her meds, so that's a different kind of batty, but I kind of liked the balls her "clear head" provided her. I did not like that the new Captain took her down with an army rifle. He's no-nonsense and that's how he should be in such a position, but I feel like we're going to learn he's not as clean as he should be, and that's going to reflect badly on everyone and trickle down to create a huge mess. Before we go back to Ben, I just want to point out that I felt short-stiffed on the Cooper (Michael Cudlitz)/Tang (Lucy Liu) stuff tonight. They handed over the case of the hit-and-run, which they're required to do since they are not homicide detectives, but the meth-head who was set on fire was an interesting case on its own, only we weren't allowed to spend any time with it. I know the show is easing us into the new partnership dynamic-- and to Tang in general-- but I don't need to see much of them in the car, chatting and obviously building a strong, if somewhat sexually tense rapport, to know they will work well together. I need to see them out on the streets, taking down perps to know they work well together! With so many strong characters, though, every episode features one partnership taking a backseat to some other more front and center storylines, so tonight just happened to be Cooper and Tang's turn. I just hope that changes next week! Anyway, back to Ben and Sammy: Sammy was so insistent that Ben needed to move somewhere where he could have a long drive home to clear his head and decompress, but I realized at the end of the episode that where he lives is not the problem: it's that when he finally does go home-- wherever his home is-- he's alone. So he ends up taking his work home with him and stewing in anger or upset longer because he has no one to distract him, take his mind off things, clear his head and decompress for. Maybe that will change this season and maybe it won't, but the bottom line is: this mistake Ben made is going to haunt him deeply on the job and at home. I only hope he can shake it off and move on, rather than let it define him in his squad.

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