Tuesday, January 31, 2012

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

TV Talk for Tuesday, January 31st 2012

Switched at Birth (ABC Family, 8pm) - S1, Ep15: "Expulsion from the Garden of Eden" - Oh, Regina (Constance Marie), no. But oh Emmett's dad, yes. Your girlfriend may be hippie-dippy, but she's a fast talker, and she says inappropriate things when she gets nervous, and suddenly I understand where Emmett (Sean Berdy) gets his attraction to Bay (Vanessa Marano); he learned it from watching you! But that also means he learned his tolerance toward speaking people-- or people that are otherwise different-- from you, too. Every high school relationship needs to be mature enough to have the "vegetable" conversation that Emmett and Bay did-- hell, every relationship needs to be able to talk about intimate, touchy subjects. The older we get, the less of a chance of encountering "vegetables," but other issues come into play, and we need to have that inhibited ability to talk openly about them. Daphne (Katie Leclerc) has it in drips-- mostly when she's angry-- which I guess is a start. Wilke (Austin Butler) may not be a man-slut, but he is less than imaginative. Daphne calling him out on his recycling of dates was a start, but we've seen her clam up, pouting, and unable to better express herself when the situation is more serious. John (D.W. Moffett) and Kathryn (Lea Thompson) are going to encounter that soon, it appears. This reporter seemed to be a passing problem-- not really an obstacle but a mistake John may have made once upon a time. The fact that she physically resurrected in this episode was worrisome, even without the P.I. digging into the Kennishes' lives. I know parents are human, especially on TV, but this plot point felt like it came out of nowhere. There were literally no indicators that John was as douchey as Joe McCoy, and I don't want to believe that will change. I don't think he's still having an affair with her, but it seems pretty evident he once did. That whole "killing a book" story? Meh, seemed too easy. Especially because the girls have one crap dad in the mix with Angelo (Gilles Marini) and his terrible inflectioned-kiss-assery but very real fugitive status. Nothing is ever Angelo's fault, right? Ugh, I'd deport him. Simply because he can't deliver one sincere line in a believable way. I'll forgive a lot of things when a package is pretty, but that-- let's just say I'm glad Grandma had him deported.

New Girl (FOX, 9pm) - S1, Ep11: "Jess & Julia" - Oh man, I've always loved Lizzy Caplan but putting her on a couch next to Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and having her judge Jess' "cupcakes and breaking for birds and little birdies helping you get dressed in the morning" made me love her even more. When Caplan got cast, I was concerned it was just going to be Nick (Jake Johnson) trying, perhaps subconsciously, to mask his attraction for Jess by dating a girl who looks a LOT like her. You know, the whole Russ/Ross situation. But I'm glad she called out Jess' behavior because it's something that has been bothering me from day one. Jess is a cartoon character. No, it doesn't automatically mean she's not smart or strong or complicated, but she certainly doesn't feel real. Or smart or strong. She still feels like one of those girls who puts on a voice and puts on an act to get attention-- to get boys to like her or whatever. And I end up wanting to slap those girls. She maybe an acquired taste for some, like Julia, but for me? No bueno; it's just another case of a show where I dislike the protagonist and therefore can never full get into/enjoy watching because episodes are bound to be centered on her. Though Jess did have one valid point: not being a dessert person is fundamentally strange. I think Julia is a good match for Winston (Lamorne Morris), though. Somehow the quiet guy we know next to nothing about has emerged as the most mature in that apartment. He made his mistakes, but he owned up to them (and his shortcomings) on his own. He took a step in the right (growth) direction. If he hadn't, there literally would have been no use for him, so I'm glad he finally got to do that-- or at least, do something. And Schmidt (Max Greenfield) constantly just being Schmidt was perfect. And I would love to listen to him and June Raphael (good job for introducing her as Jess' friend before the big stunt-y plot point with Nick becoming her OB-GYN patient, by the way)-- about anything. Something tells me those two can riff off each other for hours and make it twisted and hilarious.

Ringer (The CW, 9pm) - S1, Ep11: "It Just Got Normal" - Here's where I am perplexed: everything I enjoyed about this episode, I fear is only temporary. For example? The cliffhanger at the end. It was a HUGE improvement over the constant red herrings, and yet everything the executive producers have said means more red herrings to come. As ridiculous as it was that Henry (Kristoffer Polaha) would literally say the words "Who are you?" to Siobhan (Sarah Michelle Gellar), I also loved that he was being faced with potentially learning the truth. Because then it would actually, finally give him something to do. Additionally, I really enjoyed the integration of Malcolm (Mike Colter) into Siobette's world, though I fear it will lead him to stumble upon the truth of what Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd) is up to and therefore put him in danger. I also was really pleasantly surprised to have an answer about whether or not Juliet (Zoey Deutch) was actually assaulted by her teacher (Jason Dohring). I wasn't thrilled that she was, mind you-- oh, okay, that's not true. I was glad it wasn't just Juliet being a really bratty teenager and making up a story for attention. It seemed pretty clear that something unsavory transpired between the two-- Dohring's mouth-breathing shiftiness aside-- because of Juliet's jumpiness and sullenness during moments she thought eyes were not on her. But even that, judging from what the executive producers have said, may not turn out to be what it seems, and that severely bums me out. I am actually invested in these characters again, but I am completely fearful that the rug will be ripped out from under me. Madchen Amick, as the substitute Gemma, in particular worries me. The one who doesn't is Justin Bruening, whose character's name I have still failed to learn. He may be pretty, but thus far he's pretty damn dull and even more useless, especially considering he's all by his lonesome in Paris now. This episode did get me reinvested enough to tune in again, though, mainly because Siobhan is back in New York, stirring up trouble and actually getting things done. But I think it is one show that would be better suited on a network like Showtime, where it doesn't have to compromise in its darkness because that's where these characters thrive. And also where the network doesn't accommodate for stupidity of viewers by forcing terrible wigs on poor Gellar simply so we can tell the twins apart.

Raising Hope (FOX, 9:30pm) - S2, Ep12: "Gambling Again" - They used to just reference Friends but tonight I am sad to report they stole a joke from Friends. I guess it was bound to happen. Friends gave us ten years of great comic material, most of which was broad enough to be observed by other comedy writers. So when Jimmy (Lucas Neff) learned there was no 4-0-wonk, I couldn't laugh as hard as I wanted to. And then when Hope (Baylie and Rylie Cregut) was coaxed to say "penis," I couldn't help but she shades of the last Modern Family where Lily dropped the F-bomb. It probably wasn't intentional, but it still hurt. What saved it, though, was the dumb-assery of those in Gamblers' Anonymous. If they know they have bad luck and you'd make a fortune betting on the other team from the one they would normally pick, uh, why don't they just do that? It's the opposite of instincts scenario, and of course it's bound to shoot them in the foot eventually, but hey, we could all use a little quick and easy cash, right? And when we get obsessive-- over anything-- we all need friends to reel us back to reality. Seriously, Virginia (Martha Plimpton), pig figurines? How about updated appliances or something else to make your life easier? Or just some more adorable costumes for Hope. Because Hope really IS the best actress around!

Southland (TNT, 10pm) - S4, Ep3: "Community" - I am severely impressed that the viral video of Ben (Ben McKenzie) wasn't just him punching the girl. Maybe I underestimated the youth of L.A., but I assumed they'd edit it down to ignore the provocation and just make him look like an a-hole. That would have gone viral faster. But seriously, how do you get something to go viral? The most hits my videos get are about 15,000-- and that still takes weeks. But I digress. Between his angry outburst and his almost sex tape, though, I guess my original season theory that he was going to climb the political chain of the force was completely wrong. Even if he wanted to now, he's not a good candidate for it. Kind of a bummer. I liked the idea of this young, atypical uniform challenging things. I'm going to admit it: I don't respect a lot of real cops. I've seen too much bad behavior in police squads-- too much entitlement and ego because of the "big stick and big gun" mentality. But I really respect the cops on this show, and fictional or not, I think they're wearing me down on real LAPD. When Sammy (Shawn Hatosy) made the decision to leave an area unprotected even though he knew it was about to erupt in a gang war, I didn't see a lazy cop wanting the bad guys to do his job for him; I didn't even see a guy hiding behind a badge, too afraid of doing any real work. I understood his plight and exactly what about the job is so frustrating and why these guys get so jaded in the first place. I didn't necessarily agree with his decision, but I saw it was the right one for him-- lest he wile out and react in a way that would really explode YouTube. That community took care of itself in the end. It may seem like one thug is in charge for awhile, demanding special treatment, but everyone else around and under that one person is rallying, and the minute he or she exposes a vulnerability, they will seize the opportunity. There's always strength in numbers. You can ask that gang-banger or that child molester. No, wait, you can't; they're both dead now. My point has been proven. I also don't respect procedurals, but this is a complex crime drama-- and tonight it proved that more than ever before with the parallels between Ruben (Dorian Missick) prepping for one family tradition while Tang (Lucy Liu) and Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) found themselves in the middle of a family's clashing over another one, in addition to just the sheer volume of calls we watched the officers take. As usual, some were absurd-- to the point where laughing at the situation didn't feel quite right and yet I was grateful for a lighter moment to break the tension nonetheless-- but all were poignant. This is the sharpest written series on television right now, though I have to say I hope we see a return to some of these characters' off-duty lives soon. We hear snippets when they're in the car with each other, but for example, I just don't buy that Cooper isn't feel residual affects from his addiction, let alone his back problems, and I don't want to see the show ignoring that for an abundance of cool cases instead. If anyone can juggle and balance, I know Southland can!


Jamie C. said...

Damn your spoilers! :(

danielletbd said...

Not spoilers if it already aired!