Monday, February 6, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Gossip Girl', 'Hart of Dixie', 'The Lying Game', 'Castle', 'Hawaii Five-0', and 'Smash'...

TV Talk for Monday, February 6th 2012

Gossip Girl
(The CW, 8pm) - S5, Ep14: "The Backup Dan" - After last week's big reveal-- about Blair (Leighton Meester)'s choice and the show's title character-- how could I not tune back in to watch the aftermath!? I mean, I won't lie, I mostly tuned in to watch how Georgina (Michelle Trachtenberg) does her job. Not that I feel like *I* need tips or anything-- I refuse to write gossip-- but after years of watching the secrets spill out with no real indication of if or how she worries about proof-- it was nice to get some insight. I never for one second thought Georgina was Gossip Girl the entire time, and it doesn't seem like she'll have the title for long anyway. Chuck seemed to be sniffing out the truth already based on what was being posted and when. It's an interesting misdirect-- a nice distraction-- and it only leads me to believe that the real Gossip Girl, the original Gossip Girl, was someone within the inner circle the whole time anyway, only going on "hiatus" because of a sudden and surprising hint of a conscience after Blair's accident. It was also nice to hang with Dan (Penn Badgley) and Blair at the airport. You know how I love anything that takes place in or around an airport! I'm not a full-on Dair shipper, but I enjoyed their old married couple fight (ironic, no?) in the hotel room tonight. I enjoyed the fact that he's always there for her, even to a fault. I'm sure it hurt him to ask her if she walked out of her hour-old marriage because of Chuck (Ed Westwick), and really her constant "I just wanted the car" reminders didn't help. He's a masochist just like she is-- always picking the wrong person, the one who will only hurt him. You can't have two of those in a relationship. You shouldn't even have one. That's a personality type that evolution should have eliminated by now. Survival of the fittest and whatever. I can't get behind Chair-- or Lair?-- considering how abusive he (and now they) have been to her in the past for a similar reason. She's your typical girl who falls for the bad boy-- there's always a good guy just under her nose who will treat her right, but she either doesn't notice or doesn't care. In the case of Blair, it's the later; she wants the thrill, the excitement, and yes, the decadence of guys that have private jets or are literally royalty. It worried me how quick Chuck was to say he'd pay her dowry (though I have to agree with him on one point: what century is this!?) and how Blair didn't have much of a problem with his willingness to. Did she seriously not consider the implications of him LITERALLY OWNING HER? I mean, she still turned down his offer, but she may have wanted to grow a pair and tell him to eff off; no one will own her rather than be all "That's so sweet that you'd do that for me..." As ridiculous as Blair's problems are, though, I am finally starting to see why so many people are more annoyed by Serena (Blake Lively). The whole "you knew I liked him!" routine was too juvenile for words. And being revealed as the video leaker even before her BFF betrayed her with the boy she liked? That's unforgiveable for other reasons. After five years of dealing with the wrath that unfolds when Gossip Girl reveals people's secrets, Serena knew better than to believe she "did it for Blair." And Chuck. Or whatever lame excuse she gave. There was no excuse. It was a move for dramatic effect and to push the plot along, but it was not justifiable for the character in any way. I'd much rather learn about the exploits and motives of the real Charlotte (Ella Rae Peck) and what effect it will have on everyone once its revealed who she is. She even manages to make Nate (Chace Crawford) a little more interesting simply for being in his vicinity. It's something new, something different, and yes, something a little more real. I can't keep watching Blair and Serena make mockeries of their lives. They should have everything, and they squander it, and it severely pisses off someone like me-- someone who would actually kill for some of the opportunities they have wasted. Maybe I *should* become Gossip Girl.

Hart of Dixie (The CW, 9pm) - S1, Ep13: "Sweetie Pies & Sweaty Palms" - Remember how Carrie Bradshaw chastised her boyfriend's book for having his main character-- a New York City girl-- wear a scrunchie? Well, maybe it's just indicative that Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) has been in Bluebell for too long, but she didn't correct Rose (McKaley Miller) for wanting to watch the Sex and the City movies. That's blasphemous. And yet kind of small town cute, just like all of these throwbacks to youth with the town dance. Seriously? A town dance!? I didn't go to my high school dances because I felt too old for them, so to watch actual adults wander around town buying dresses with their daddies, buying corsages for their girlfriends, and slipping notes into creative hiding places in order to ask said significant others to the dance? I had to agree with Wade (Wilson Bethel) on the boresville part. I mean, it was fun to watch in that "staring at zoo animals in replicas of their natural habitats" sort of way, but I wouldn't be able to live through it in person with a straight face. I don't know if this says more about me than it does about the show, but I have to admit that week after week I fall more in love with the guys of Bluebell (it's true that Southern men are gentlemen!) while finding the girls more and more immature and grating. Lavon (Cress Williams) with the pie was one thing but then his hurt puppy dog eyes when he heard about DeeDee (Nadine Velazquez)'s still-not-over-at-least-from-one-side relationship set me over the edge. And Wade's own hurt puppy dog pranking? Could have been juvenile-- should have been juvenile-- but it worked for me. Maybe because it so clearly worked for Zoe, too. Even if she still couldn't admit it. But what really made my heart melt was Wade's paternal vibe kicking in to help Rose, tracking Zoe down to bring her home to help out like they were a surrogate family. Actually, they might as well be a surrogate family; Rose's actual parents are never around as it is, and both Wade and Zoe could use the mature, stabilizing influence that is young Rose. She called Judson (Wes Brown) out on his weird muteness; she called Wade out on his sophomoric antics. Other than Rose, the other women of Bluebell are stuck in the middle school mindset, unable to really speak about their feelings-- whether its because they believe precise girls don't (Lemon) or because they're just emotionally stunted (Zoe). The women are beyond flawed; they're broken. But thankfully have a few good men who can pick up their pieces and teach them to be better, to be stronger. I'm sure that's not doing wonders for feminism, but it makes the soap opera loving child buried somewhere inside me so happy anyway. The men-- from George (Scott Porter) to Lavon to Brick (Tim Matheson) to Judson, who apparently can use his words and does so when it matters most-- bring up the tough topics because they're actually ready to, not because they get provoked and act out of anger (again, Lemon). Who says men can't communicate? The men of Bluebell can teach us all a thing or ten! I just worry about Wade because as much as I am Team Wade when it comes to Zoe, if he doesn't find his own words and courage soon, I won't be able to root for them much longer. Right now they are too similar when it comes to their shortcomings, and that does not a successful relationship make.

The Lying Game
(ABC Family, 9pm) - S1, Ep16: "Reservation for Two" - I never expected to get more of a backstory on Ethan (Blair Redford) than what we already knew: wrong side of the tracks kid living with his brother. I assumed that meant his father had skipped out and his mother was dead, so to learn he actually has a dad out there-- one who may just be stern or may actually have given up on him-- was some nice insight. I wish we had learned about it alongside Emma (Alexandra Chando) instead of Sutton. In fact, it felt like Chando felt the same way because at times-- especially the scene in the horse stable-- she seemed to be playing Emma more than Sutton. She softened. And then for, like, two seconds at the cemetery Emma hardened like Suton. The two are overlapping more and more as this major lying game plays on. I didn't like it. Mainly because I do NOT like the idea of Ethan softening towards Sutton in their little fugitive playing house, and of course that's the direction the show seems to be heading in in order to complicate the relationships even more and even perhaps to pull the wool over our eyes to the point that there's really only one mystery, and they're not any closer to explicitly explaining it. Dancing around the topic that Ted (Andy Buckley) is probably a rapist is not a good way to win supporters, show. I bitched about Ringer's constant red herrings, but in truth, the no answers are just as bad, in a different way. We got answers about Ethan-- answers to questions we never even realized we had about him-- but the emotional weight of it all felt watered down when on the backdrop of the larger picture. He let her into the truth about his family-- even after everything Emma shared with him, he could never muster the whatever to reciprocate. Thayer (Christian Alexander) is growing shiftier by the episode, isn't he? He must be his father's son, after all, while his sister "Mads" (Alice Greczyn) is growing more useless by the episode. Her nickname annoys me, and her petty "we're not friends anymore" b.s. annoyed me, too. She can join Char in the land of off-screen banishment. I cannot believe that of all people Emma would reveal herself to Mads. That was SUCH a disappointment. But I do have to say I'm glad that Laurel (Allie Gonino) has a new guy in her life. He may have a stupid name (and he suggested iHop to a rich girl, so he's not the brightest bulb...), but he is heads and shoulders (and literally!) above Justin (Randy Wayne).
I hope he doesn't turn out to be Rebecca (Charisma Carpenter)'s kid, too, or something. Justin is becoming more and more manipulative by the episode and who always had that shifty abuser look about him anyway. Boy next door, my ass!

Castle (ABC, 10pm) - S4, Ep14: "The Blue Butterfly" - Oh Chad Everett, you're wrong: I do need the blue butterfly. All of this-- a handful of murders, decades of living in secret, plots of revenge-- it was all over the blue butterfly, so yes, I needed closure. Even if you are happy to live in your naive "love is enough" bubble. I love that this show is willing to think outside the box of your typical police procedural from time to time. They don't always have a home run (the tigers proved that earlier this year), but when it's good, it's great. And this episode certainly would have been spectacular if they had let us wade deeper and deeper into the 1940s storyline, committing more fully to the noir style, but also allowing the characters to have a bit more fun with alter-egos. I loved every minute of the period pieces-- from the grand costumes to the variations on personalities portrayed to the slightly weird accents adopted. To be very honest with you, when Castle (Nathan Fillion) took Joe Flynn's journal home to read up on the past, I thought that would be it: for the rest of the episode until the final act, we'd see the story play out with Castle's narration, with the players we have come to know and love existing as new versions of their character in a much earlier time period. That may have been a little much in the end, and maybe I had no reason to believe that would be how the story would go anyway, but I wanted more of the period "event" nonetheless. The network made such a big deal about it, and I feel like what we got was lackluster and much less than expected. So every time we sat in the precinct, or the interrogation room, or even a suspect's house in present day, I kept yelling "you have to go back!" I guess it was fitting that Mark Pellegrino was in the episode, even if once again, he was an example of a name guest star who was underutilized. While it was great that he wasn't the bad guy once again-- and actually, it was refreshing that there was no real bad guy, just a case accidents and opportunity seized-- I wanted to see more from him. For an episode that was so heavily focused on the case, the main focus in the case, and suspected perp, was barely in it! That felt oddly unbalanced. I wanted to see more from singing Tamala Jones, too, though. She was amazing, and it was the perfect way to get into the mood of the times. I'd love to see them keep it going, even with just a little nod, like having Lanie hum around her morgue in the next episode...

Hawaii Five-0 (CBS, 10pm) - S2, Ep15: "Mai Ka Wa Kahlko" - I really only have two things to say about this episode, but since I watched it live, I felt like I needed to say them in a timely manner. First: the opening cutesy hiking scene with McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) and Lori (Lauren German) was completely out of nowhere and for no reason. Knowing that McGarrett's Army girlfriend returns in a not-too-distant upcoming episode, it felt emotionally cheap to pull at potential shipper strings this way now. Also, I figured this show's audience was a little above "shipping" anyway. The CBS audience is, uh, an older crowd... And secondly, I'm with Danny (Scott Caan); I don't care what I would be asked to do, if someone was holding the one I loved hostage, I'd kill to ensure safety, too. I'm glad one of these shows finally put a main character in that kind of moral dilemma. Danny swore to serve and protect and all that but moreover, he put this guy away for his own corruption, and now this guy was using Danny to do something much, much worse than he ever did. Still, there wasn't even a flicker of doubt on Caan's face as to what he would do. And Stan (Mark Deklin) basically giving his consent to be shot, not even knowing for sure it wouldn't be fatal, for that little girl? Broke my heart in a way I didn't know could happen. It was perfect.

Smash (NBC, 10pm) - S1, Ep1: "Pilot" - My thoughts were far too extensive, please just click here.

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