Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Switched at Birth', 'Cougar Town', 'Ringer', 'Raising Hope', 'Parenthood', and 'Southland'...




TV Talk for Tuesday, February 14th 2012


Switched at Birth (ABC Family, 8pm) - S1, Ep17: "Protect Me From What I Want" - Hey Regina, (Constance Marie), hot artist guy is hot. You should date him. He even appreciates your art! But do it soon. Before Angelo (Gilles Marini) shows up at the worst time once again. He's as good at that as Kathryn (Lea Thompson) is at shooting off about things that upset people without her realizing it. Emmett (Sean Berdy)'s face when she spoke of Bay (Vanessa Marano)'s ex was heartbreaking. Though in some ways I feel it shouldn't have been. Sure, Bay didn't tell him about her ex, but that easily could be because she's over it now so why harp on the past? He concentrated on the wrong things. Ty isn't even around anymore to be an obstacle for Emmett. I think he's just projecting his anger about everything else into this one situation that he can actually control. But I was happy to see them actually talk it out and how he could move past it and still do a wonderful thing for her family. A lot of guys his age would allow something like that to drive a much more permanent wedge between them, and that would have been a shame. Especially because those family portraits were too adorable for words. I may have to print one and put it in a frame in my house. My family never took portraits like that (I'm an only child, so it's not that weird), but even if we did, they wouldn't have been as cute as Emmett's. But poor Bay-- things get rough with her boyfriend; she has no other friends and her sort-of sister is palling around with her frenemy; and her mother inadvertently steals her art gallery gig. All in one episode. Marano was not kidding when she told me Bay is going to lose everything! It's a wonder she isn't suicidal; this is a lot for any teenager to handle, and this is ABC Family, the home of Cyberbully... I wonder about Simone (Maiara Walsh)'s motives. I know she's dating Toby (Lucas Grabeel), but she's so invested in Daphne (Katie Leclerc)-- like past just want to hang with the interesting kid who was famous for five minutes. I feel like she's going to use her as a patsy when she gets caught stealing something. I know we haven't seen her steal anything in a while, but I'm not entirely convinced she paid that famous basketball player she hired anyway. I'm sure she gave the woman Daphne's info for when invoices need sending. Kick her ass, Daphne! Not just on the basketball court. She's a manic Regina George. I'd be okay if she got hit by a bus.

Cougar Town (ABC, 8:30pm) - S3, Ep1: "Ain't Love Strange" - Tonight I couldn't help but be struck with all of the similarities Grayson (Josh Hopkins) held to Chandler on Friends, which was weird because Jules (Courteney Cox) really isn't all that similar to Monica. But sure enough, I found myself ticking them off on a list that certainly made it seem like an intentional drinking game. First it was in the way he responded when Jules asked him if he knew they'd fall in love when they first met. I half expected him to flash back to Fat Jules. Even though I know Jules was never fat. Of course that was just the tip of the iceberg; everything about his proposal-- from his throwing her off with distractions to her own speechlessness-- held shades of her former TV relationship. I even found myself yelling "There's a reason why girls don't do this!" when Jules was trying to find the words to respond. But comparisons aside, it was such a sweet, unique way to pop the question. Normally I never think it's a good idea for such an intimate moment to be done in a group or public setting, even if it's what the girl claims to want, but this one just worked. I know the couple still has a lot to get through in order to make this relationship work long-term-- namely the kids issue since Grayson still wants them, and Jules still doesn't (I doubt she could love another one the way she unhealthily loves Travis), but I am rooting for them full-force. The cul-de-sac crew (and Tom) have to be involved in everything in each other's lives! And that's why I'm intrigued by this green screen scenario in Travis (Dan Byrd)'s new house-- I thought Bobby (Brian Van Holt) and Andy (Ian Gomez) had fun with it "flying through the air", but I can only imagine what Laurie (Busy Philipps) would use it for. Oh, and by the way, I was convinced Laurie was behind the car-sharking, but regardless, I hope toilet-papering stuff becomes the new on-going game for this gang. Penny Can is cool and all, but there's another level when pranking is involved. And if nothing else, maybe they can just wrap little baby Stan up like a mummy in order to keep him still. He's grown up so fast, and Ellie (Christa Miller) was right: he's a devil baby. But that shouldn't really be surprising given her snarky attitude toward everyone and everything. Little kids can't discern sarcasm, but they can sense and pick up and emulate negativity in their own ways. Stan seems like he'll be a point of contention going forward-- especially because the one character who should be able to get through to him is his mother's nemesis, Laurie, because she understands the plight of a troubled child first-hand. Stan is just so cute, though, and I want to see him turn it around so he can be the ring-bearer at the wedding. Without them having to put vino in an on-deck sippy cup to get him to be mellow and well-behaved...

Ringer (The CW, 9pm) - S1, Ep13" "It's Easy To Cry When This Much Cash Is Involved" - Maybe Bridget (Sarah Michelle Gellar) should have asked Sean Patrick Thomas if he dropped her off or picked her up from the marina. Because she is coming so close to the truth that her sister is alive and yet she doesn't seem to know how to ask the important follow-up questions. She'd make the world's worst reporter. Or detective. Plus, the whole "one sister spies on the other" thing is really creepy. It was bad enough when Bridget was in the shower, but now that it's constant, it's very The Roommate. Except the one spying probably should just want her old life back. And by old life, I don't mean with Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd) or even Henry (Kristoffer Polaha); I mean with that little boy who Bridget most likely got killed. I still feel bad for Henry, and not just because suddenly he's being blackmailed. He's still being lied to; now he's being dragged into a mess he doesn't have all the facts about; and I'm starting to believe that kid isn't even his. Ugh, just move out to the Hamptons and go into business with the Graysons, Henry! I was eager to see the Juliet (Zooey Deutsch) story play out; that was a story I was legitimately interested in, and once again the show's utter disrespect for its audience lost me. Nothing about the way it played out served the story itself but instead only occurred to trick the audience-- to pull yet another red herring over our eyes. That's just rude, and I'm legitimately offended. Every time they allow us to get invested in someone or some plot point, they reverse it with a "ha ha" that makes me feel stupid for falling for their bullshit tricks. This was especially true tonight by "summing it all up" with a flashback. There was no need to stage a big scene in the bathroom if all they wanted to do was set up a canceled trial. If they were telling the story honestly, organically, there were a million other ways to still have a reveal but without the unnecessary, time-wasting fakeout. Nothing we learned until the last scene with Juliet and Carpenter (Jason Dohring) was real, and therefore the information was negated; it was as bad as if a character had waken up and learned it was all a dream. Between that and the double time watching Bridget (and the audience) work out what it all means that Siobhan was friends with John/Charlie and then once again not asking the right questions when Andrew said she was distant "earlier," man these people are dumb. The problem was, the audience got there before the flashback, and certainly before the phone call to Malcolm of which we never got to see his side. Le sigh, show. You have all these pretty people; use them; you have all of these interesting ideas, flesh them out; you have all of these twisted, complicated characters, allow us into their world, not just let us stand as spectators on the sidelines.
By keeping us at such an arm's distance that they literally lie to us as the audience, we can't sympathize; we can't connect; we can't even like these characters. We're not seeing the show through anyone's eyes; each individual scene gives us a spectator point of view and only the spectator POV. It's so frustrating to not be brought into the confidence of the characters. We get a teeny bit of it with Bridget, but she's so inherently in the dark that we're kept there, too. And so help me, if what Siobhan let Andrew listen to was some kind of tapes proving involvement in terrorist attacks, I'm going to scream. And commit an attack of my own. But upside? Serendipity reference! And more seriously, Guy Norman Bee directed this episode, and everything did look very pretty, and the performances were on point. I just want this show to be something it's not and really never pretended it would be.

Raising Hope (FOX, 9:30pm) - S2, Ep14: "Jimmy's Fake Girlfriend" - I just found a way that a show can continually psyche me out, and yet I don't find it annoying: when the characters are simply performing improve scenes within the scenes! I would love to take improv with Burt (Garret Dillahunt) and Virginia (Martha Plimpton); I would love to eat Mexican food with Sabrina (Shannon Woodward) in tiny sombreros, and I mostly want to watch stage plays about the Chance family all of the time. I mean, I guess that's effectively what I do when I tune into this show every week, but whatever. The energy's different on stage. And any time an amazingly talented actor plays bad acting gives me the uncontrollable giggles, so kudos to Plimpton tonight. Jimmy (Lucas Neff)'s play was adorable, but I have to admit, about the time they got to the Halloween scene, I started to get cringe-y feelings. It was a little creepy, too. For one thing, that is a REALLY public way to express feelings for someone. For another, it was a really detailed and specific way, and in looking at all of the history before the lie, Sabrina also learned about a lot of Jimmy's actions-- and his family's actions-- that before had happened behind closed doors. It's a lot of information to get so quickly. The threat of losing her as a friend is very real-- because even if she saw how much he cares, and even if she had a thing for Drakaar Noir years earlier, the pressure to live up to his expectations of her is bound to be great. I want those two to be a happy little family with Hope (Baylie and Rylie Cregut), but I don't think it's the right time for that just yet.

Parenthood (NBC, 10pm) - S3, Ep16: "Tough Love" - It's time to play "Stray Thoughts" because this show is so chock full of a lot of little moments that garner strong reactions, that I feel remiss when I don't mention them. Bob Little (Jonathan Tucker) asking Amber (Mae Whitman) to go away on a "work weekend" with him was too soon. The pharmacist really couldn't get on a high horse after handing Crosby (Dax Shepard) the wrong pills in the first place. Max (Max Burkholder) is quite the opportunistic young man using Asperger's to get out of gym the way girls his age use their first periods to do the same. Drew (Miles Heizer) worried about being replaced by a baby at this stage in life was a little disconcerting; he should be more concerned about not getting his own girlfriend pregnant. Sarah (Lauren Graham) saying the next logical step for people that love each other is to have a baby together spoke volumes about her, and the way her son saw it as a huge deal spoke volumes about him; they're all a little bit more messed up than I may have realized. Julia (Erika Christensen) micro-managing Zoe (Rosa Salazar)'s pregnancy, in addition to her post-baby future, was deserving of an intervention; who knew someone with a kid under ten and a high profile job would have so much free time to devote to insanity? Adam (Peter Krause) and Crosby's weird huddle conversations are so much more playful now that they work together and have a deeper understanding of each other, but the protective vibe over their father was just adorable for other reasons; Crosby is such a dad now, and he's so not the one you'd expect to adopt that mentality! Adam, on the other hand, makes more parenting mistakes every week, and yet I love him more for each one, even though Kristina (Monica Potter) was right and he should have used a different adjective for those kids who called their kid a loser. Max nerd-bonding with that other kid was the best moment I saw on TV tonight. Haddie (Sarah Ramos) going to her mother with concerns about Bob Little was a little bit ridiculous; considering the things she has kept from her parents in the past, you'd think she could be cool about this! Drew and Mark (Jason Ritter) attempting to bond over dinner was the best awkward moment I've seen on TV in a long time. But then a few minutes later, there was Kristina barging in on Bob's hotel room, and that was suddenly the best moment on TV in awhile. She's such a mom-- to everyone. In fact, she should probably parent Sarah a little. Oh, Seth (John Corbett), if you're sober, why does your hair look like that?

Southland (TNT, 10pm) - S4, Ep5: "Legacy" - There is something so poignant about these officers' cases offering indirect, "coincidental" commentary on where they are in their personal lives. Yet when it's the third episode in a row to play so heavy-handed with that type of story-telling, I have to raise my eyebrow a little bit and wonder if they're doing it just for those who may not be tuning in every week. Lydia (Regina King) can't keep seeing parenthood at every turn, can she? I know the old saying is that the minute you make a big decision in your life-- to get married, have a baby, etc-- you suddenly find yourself bombarded with all of those similar images coming at you from all over your life. But to go from a woman who would claim to kill for her child to a man who literally killed his own, well, that's just extreme(ly dramatic). I won't lie, a part of me kept saying "it can't be another commentary on how children test a person" and assumed that the father (Joe Regalbuto) was actually lying about what he found in his son's room, using his son to be his own patsy. But that's clearly because I watch too many flashy procedurals on networks that rely on over-the-top twists and gimmicks to keep an audience. Southland is just about the reality of the job, the crimes, the people met along the way. One of the best scenes, perhaps ever, was Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) pulling over that stupid SmartCar (and resisting the urge to make fun of the guy driving it) simply because it's a situation we've all inevitably been in, and yet since we have come to emphasize so much with these officers, we received new respect by seeing it through his eyes. In a way, I even felt new respect for Sammy (Shawn Hatosy) for, though unintentionally, getting a guy on the wrong side of the tracks to finally speak up about the atrocities done in his neighborhood. I know it can't end well for him-- the bullet he took tonight was probably just the warning shot-- but it's nice to see that even as Sammy and Ben (Ben McKenzie) get so comfortable with each other they start their own (prank) war, some real work is still being done. I kind of worry about those two. The more they mess around, the more of a mess I think they'll find themselves in. Crashing into one of those plastic car wash dancer things, again, was just a warning of how serious things can get. All in all, this season has given me so many partnership dynamics I really love and want to see much more of-- for years to come-- that it makes me sad to think about just how real this show plays it. And the reality of officers in big cities like this is that they don't keep their post, let alone their partner, for that long. They move around a lot in their decades-long careers. So a little part of me can't help but wait for the other shoe to drop on all of these guys. I'm the type of viewer that gets ahead of myself, and often the story; I think ten paces or two episodes ahead at times to try to anticipate where it's going so it cushions the emotional blow when it finally gets there. But with Southland, this season, I don't want to think too far ahead because I don't want to imagine it's ever going to be different than it is right now. Additional notes: Murphy Brown lives on! Naked Sammy is always a good time. And honestly? I kind of thought Cooper was going to claim to be lying to the kid on the roof, too, when he said he was gay. It just seemed too opportune, and obviously he would do anything to keep the kid from jumping. But it adds a nice layer to his character and his dynamic with Tang. He has kept secrets on the job before, but this is one that he is actually sharing with his partner now-- intentionally or not, for better and for worse. She has trouble trusting people and letting them in, but hopefully she will be inspired by his own bravery to do the same. Rather than what I fear might happen and she "outs" him, causing all kinds of friction for the duo, and within the squad in general.

1 comment:

Nate said...

Cooper has been gay from episode 1, season 1. I mean, I guess the show is a bit subtle with it but it's always been out there as fact. He was in bed with another man last season...