Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Switched at Birth', 'New Girl', 'Raising Hope', 'Parenthood', and 'Southland'...

TV Talk for Tuesday, January 17th 2012

Switched at Birth (ABC Family, 8pm) - S1, Ep13: "Self-Portrait with a Bandaged Ear" - I loved getting the last scene of last week's Switched at Birth from Emmett (Sean Berdy)'s non-hearing position, but I'm glad they rounded it out by allowing us to see-- or hear-- it in full at the top of tonight's. The fact that we knew for sure it was not mistaken identity, and that we realized he raised a wrench when he gestured he couldn't hear-- well, things didn't look great for him from the star. Add to it the fact that it was all because of Bay (Vanessa Marano)-- Bay, who, I'm sorry, but still appeared to be dating her biological father (Gilles Marini) when her boyfriend needed her most. Look, I'm not saying she should have known her boyfriend needed her, but she probably should have known he'd get caught as an accomplice in her art eventually nonetheless. He didn't have the experience to know how to stay in the shadows, away from security cameras. Ugh, I just wanted to hug him. I kind of can't blame Melody (Marlee Matlin) for being so annoyed with Bay-- though I'll never understand why she signs so fast. Sure, she was frustrated, but she would be more so to have to repeat herself! Daphne (Katie Leclerc) wanting to know about Angelo (Gilles Marini) warmed faster than I expected. I like the tiptoeing into questioning waters about her own mother-- about how much her mother kept from her out of her own hurt feelings versus how much her father actually didn't care to check in. I worry about Daphne. She has these moments of brattiness-- of embracing her inner child tantrum. She showed it last week by exhibiting zero sportsmanship and trading a "fun" team in for one with trophies. But I get where she gets it from: Joe McCoy. Yeah,I said it! He whined about her not getting to play in that basketball game like someone who didn't understand how you have to earn your spot to play, let alone start. I mean, sure, there were more nefarious things going on that the audience had to be made aware of, but he didn't have reason to suspect that. And I'm glad that when that "diversity hire" truth was made clear, Daphne didn't cry home to daddy to fix it, even if she wallowed a bit. We all need to wallow sometimes. I don't know what Simone (Maiara Walsh)'s deal is, but I don't buy a word that comes out of her moth. She has "mean girl" written all over her. So when she told Daphne she actually wanted her to join the team because she was a good basketball player, I smelled one of those '90s movie moments coming where she just kept setting Daphne up to fail. And I. Don't. Like. That. I'm glad she managed to find her strength in one area, though, because even though there was no way for Angelo to answer her in a way that would satisfy her and make her feel better, at least she should (hopefully) be able to move forward instead of treading in bad feelings. Though I'm sure the bad feelings will return when we learn what Angelo has been up to lately. When John said he had no record from 2009-2011, I assumed he as working under an alias. In porn. This is how my mind works. Oh, and Kathryn (Lea Thompson) writing a book? I would totally read that, and I hope ABC Family takes the initiative to write one from her character's point of view, as Gossip Girl sadly skipped over. Or at least, she should start a blog. I'd link to it...

New Girl (FOX, 9pm) - S1, Ep10: "The Story of the 50" - Any story that starts with a clear indication that Schmidt (Max Greenfield) will be front and center is a great thing. So one where it is not only his birthday, but the douchebag jar also returns? Double the story, double the Schmidt, double the fun! "Honk the nipple!" (The tiny Schmidt nipple-- apparently...) But seriously, any time a show flashes back to see a character young, and um, fatter, it warms my own inner fat girl heart. The way he carries himself-- the way he speaks-- he would be besties with Tom Haverford. And I won't lie; when Jess (Zooey Deschanel) said she was going to invite his friends to a birthday party, I half-hoped Tom would pop up. Or maybe she'd even hire Entertainment 720. And for the record, at my next birthday thing, I expect my face to be on EVERYTHING. A bus, a Gatorade jug, tee-shirts, napkins, whatever. I'm glad "bro juice" wasn't what I assumed it to be. Oh come on, you thought it, too... Also, Lizzy Caplan? She's the Jess I would like to watch week after week. Seriously, if she didn't test for Jess, I'd be shocked. Then again, if she tested and didn't get it, I'd be offended. And Rachael Harris? Need more of her! But the episode did lose points for stealing a line from Happy Endings. Warrior poet is a line from the other king d-bag, Mr. Fitzgerald-- I mean, Alan!

Raising Hope (FOX, 9:30pm) - S2, Ep13: "Mrs. Smartypants" - I had been under the impression that Burt (Garret Dillahunt) and Virginia (Martha Plimpton) had graduated from high school with a teething Jimmy with MawMaw (Cloris Leachman) in the audience. Or at least I had assumed one of them had. But I guess I was wrong, and honestly? I kind of love that there is so much still to learn about the Chance family, who, to an outsider, might assume there is not much more than meets the eye. We see them come together every week in strength, but there was just something extra...tickling that they way in which they did it this time was one of deception. And in order to shove something in an old foe (guest star Fred Willard)'s face. I wish I was still in school so I could yell "WRONG TRIANGLE" at my teacher. I hated math, too. Look, just as much hard work goes into figuring out how to successfully cheat as it does actually learning all they would have needed to (and in what seemed to be a crash course of time), and I was thrilled to see that they hadn't somehow managed to screw up the cheating. There's also just always something sweet about Virginia turning on her inner mama bear. And I know the focus of this episode was very much the competitive nature of the Chance family, but my focus? Jimmy (Lucas Neff) made yet another pop culture reference that shot straight to my heart. Drakkar Noir loved The A-Team, and I may love him even more than Sabrina (Shannon Woodward) does. The two seconds I got of him made me smile hard enough to forget how little actual Hope (Baylie and Rylie Cregut) time we got tonight.

Parenthood (NBC, 10pm) - S3, Ep14: "It Is What It Is" - This is the most I've ever liked Courtney Ford. Which is something I'm pretty sure I said when she guest starred on The Big Bang Theory but which carries so much more weight here because she's playing a fully formed woman and finally giving Crosby (Dax Shepard) some much deserved happiness. What I don't love is how much Drew (Miles Heizer) reminds me of Mark (Jason Ritter). They have the same intonations and voice, and it makes Sarah (Lauren Graham)'s relationship creepy because he's young enough already on his own, but now he actually reminds me of her on-screen son for other reasons. It was so interesting to watch the dichotomy between Drew and Haddie (Sara Ramos) while both were dealing with the same issue of looking at potential colleges and being thwarted by their parents. Haddie had such an articulate way of responding to her mother's ridiculous request for her not to be annoyed that they can't afford the school she wanted to go to (but um, didn't she think to apply for a scholarship?), while Drew was as silent as always. I think it said more about the development between teenage girls and boys than it did the households in which they were raised, but either one could be interesting studies. I mean, look at how "grown-up" Adam (Peter Krause) couldn't stand up to his own kid at this stage in his life either. It bummed me out how absent Sydney (Savannah Paige Rae) was throughout all the "readying the baby's nursery" scenes. Julia (Erika Christensen) sitting alone on the floor surrounded by boxes would have had so much more life to it with that little girl by her side. And riddle me this: is this supposed to be a closed adoption? Because I don't see why Julia has to give the kid the watch. They work together, so I assume they'll be in each others' lives in some ways, even if it's not like communal rearing. Because if there was communal rearing I would get in on hanging with Jabbar (Tyree Brown). I bribe with ice cream and am bored by classical music, too! His little face lit up so adorably at the music, though, and I just wanted to keep him. I do not want to keep creepy Councilman Jonathan Tucker, though. I love Tuck as an actor, but he seems increasingly predatory every week. I sense a scandal coming when he inevitably makes advances toward Amber (Mae Whitman). On the page, it's clear the flirtation is supposed to be mutual, but I don't know, I get a stalk-y, rapist vibe. Maybe I've just seen him as the biggest name in one too many procedurals... Or maybe it's his hair.

Southland (TNT, 10pm) - S4, Ep1: "Wednesday" - This is the only show on TNT that I truly believe fits their slogan of "knowing drama." It's the only show that continually raises the stakes and shows some gritty scenes and grizzly situation. I have never seen anything worse on this show than the video of Jessica Tang (Lucy Liu)'s assault. I kept thinking the jokes the cops were making about her being on YouTube were going to be about a petty video-- something embarrassing like getting slapped by a tranny hooker she was trying to arrest, not something so serious and painful. It was the perfect way to show how de-evolved the brothers in blue still sadly are. Though the executive producer of The Closer and Major Crimes said that he doesn't like to show corruption within the LAPD on his shows because he doesn't feel that cops actually are dirty, this show has the balls to go there and call out the few bad apples we know are souring the rest of the bunch. Lou Diamond Phillips was eerily good as that foible for Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie)-- he's the worst cop since Denzel Washington in Training Day. I wanted to chuck pennies at his face, instead of stand alongside him, trying to toss them into a can. Seriously, he is single-handedly undoing all of the good will and good work officers like Ben, Sammy (Shawn Hatosy), and even Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) have been doing this whole time. And yet I find myself loving to hate him because I know it's the push Ben needs to shoot for more with his life and career. He and Sammy are having too much fun as partners, joking around in the car together, and in order to be fulfilled, he's going to need to climb the ranks. Personally, at the end of the episode when he was standing over the slain man, dealing with blow-back from Ferguson's attitude and trying to calm the people, I saw a city council position looming in his future. I'd vote for him! Well, I'd vote for him now, but I'm sure all the fun he and Sammy are having are going to get them into trouble. Their guards will be left down, and someone's bound to get hurt. And I won't lie, though, a part of me misses the dynamic of two strong females partnered up, but the sentiment about how other women seem to constantly disappoint Lydia (Regina King) was certainly echoed in her absence. Though she may have come off uncaring to some when she told off her ex-classmate, I felt there was no stronger moment to show the kind of woman she is and the kind of crap with which she has to put up. Her life could have gone either way, and now that she made something of herself, others have their hands out. But more than that, she has to toughen up and keep them at a distance, lest they barrel over her, sure, but also because she can't save everyone, and to let herself get too close is to jeopardize her own life, her partner's life, and the job itself when she inevitably breaks down out of frustration at not being able to save them.

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