Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'The Voice', 'Shameless' and 'House of Lies'...

TV Talk for Sunday, February 5th 2012

Shameless (SHO, 9pm) - S2, Ep5: "Fathers Day" - Fiona (Emmy Rossum)'s downward spiral seems to have only really gotten off to a start in tonight's episode. Sure, when she slept with Craig (Taylor Kinney), she knew he was married, but she never knew he was religious and/or whipped enough to come clean to his wife. Being confronted in her own home was one thing, but not learning from it and embarking on yet another terrible lie was something else. Out of all of the Gallagher kids, I'll admit I assumed Lip (Jeremy Allen White) would be the one to follow in Frank (William H. Macy)'s footsteps, but being slapped in the face with exactly that possibility, Lip sees the potential and rejects it every time-- even when it's easy to do the opposite, even when it hurts. Fiona, on the other hand, preferred to dive into a fantasy, even if only for an evening, as a way to run from who she is, which is just another backslide from who she was last season. I feel like the show is setting up that without Steve (Justin Chatwin), she's just a mess, and I don't love that idea because as much as I love Steve, she shouldn't only be strong when she's with him; that makes her dependent on him, which is kind of the opposite of strong. Her reaction to seeing him when returning from the wedding was absolutely priceless-- the best thing I saw all night. Her casual "Hey" could have been left alone, as she marched home and left it at that, but she was stunned into her stance, and she could only stare as she barely processed that he was in front of her anyway. Steve may not be the best guy for her, but clearly he's the best in her mind, and nothing will be right until she gives it another go. Back to Lip, I really do see shades of Frank in him in a number of ways, but one that was most interesting to me was how the West Point situation just fell in his lap. Frank is certainly lucky like that; despite his terrible deeds and his bad intentions, opportunities keep presenting themselves so there is no reason for him to consider getting his act together or changing. Sheila (Joan Cusack) actually apologizing to him for her daughter raping him? While funny, pretty sad, as well; how could she not be mad that Frank didn't come clean to her!? The policewoman (Karina Logue) letting him go Karen herself (Laura Slade Wiggins) thanking him for offing her father (even though he didn't)? Something more has to come of that or I'm going to try to run Frank over with a bus just to see if he peels back off the sidewalk. It sounds weird to say he's been handed an easy lot in life in these last few episodes, but that's certainly how it feels. He is never forced to take any responsibility, and no one even tries to show him the error of his thinking anymore because they're all so used to him, and they know it's a fruitless cause. If he had dead-panned that the best gift you can give a child is neglect to me, I would have beamed him with a frying pan, but Lip didn't even blink. Those two may not be exactly alike, but the desensitization has certainly set in. Thankfully, though, Lip actually earned West Point by using his smarts and being resourceful, so it's not exactly the same scenario, but I saw parallels nonetheless. Of course, Lip wanted no part of West Point and openly mocked Ian (Cameron Monaghan) for the dream, so regardless of how far Karen is pushing him-- and so far, it's pretty far-- I don't see anything ever coming of it. If he took advantage of his connection, he'd basically turn his back on his brother, and then he'd really be like Frank, only looking out for number one. And he'd also have lied to Karen when he told her he wasn't going anywhere. I sincerely hope her baby is his, even though all dramatic signs tell me it will end up being Frank's (considering he doesn't work, his sperm sure seem to!). I'd like to see Lip with some responsibility and always buzzing around Karen to be in the kid's life, if not hers, too. I agree with him that Jody (Zach McGowan) is a dolt, and that is going to get old and boring super fast. For Karen but also the audience. I have to admit I didn't care about the renting a room to a hooker plot point (that seemed to be done for shock value, but really, at this point nothing shocks me about this show), nor Debbie (Emma Kenney)'s crush on the other dolt on the show. Seriously, it's like Jody has a little brother or a bastard child we didn't know about! Though that story did breed a soon-to-be-classic line when Fiona told Debbie to keep her hymen intact. I hope we do get to explore Debbie's rush to grow up further because she pretty much is the only adult in that house a lot of times, and yet there are still things from which she is shielded. Whether or not Malik (Justin Mitchell) asked his father to off the old cult leader or if his father just misinterpreted, I'm glad it happened. Not because it freed Ethel (Madison Davenport) up to date, mind you, but because out of all the "shameless" things done on this show, the worst offense was the one we never saw, and just knowing it was going only partially punished (especially with how glibly Ethel would talk about it) made me uncomfortable. On a much better note, though, the cutest thing in the world was Kevin (Steve Howey) learning to read to be able to write love notes in cards for his wife, even if his idea of love notes weren't Hallmark's. It was so subtle, to point out the failings of the system when a kid who may have some special needs bounces from foster home to foster home, but it's just another way this show is smarter than most. A simple line of dialogue about a character screams so much more about society. And Veronica (Shanola Hampton) pulling her earrings off but then preparing to slip them back on when she realized it really was just about tutoring? Second best moment of the episode.

The Voice (NBC, 10-ishpm) - S2, Ep1: "The Blind Auditions, Part 1" - I'm mostly in this show to watch the coaches form a super group and take the stage to show these wannabes and up-and-comers how it's done. The fact that they didn't kick off this season with the Prince medley to show the Super Bowl half-time how it's really done was baffling and disappointing and so, so shortsighted on NBC's part, especially considering how much they are throwing behind the show. But I have to admit I take a sick pleasure in watching the coaches get territorial and taunt each other with pushing their buttons, too, only to then mock each other as they vie for the artist's pick. They legitimately seem like they're having fun every time, and perhaps that's because all of the singers that grace their stage are actually talented and deserving, and I have fun, too, because of it. I will say as much as I love Adam Levine, the "I won last year; pick me, and you'll win this year" schtick has to go. The other coaches brought it up more than he did, but he brought it up a bunch, too. Also what has to go? The emotional journey stories before the auditions. First of all, it's called The Voice, not The Overcoming Hardships. Second of all, spending so much time on them means only a handful of auditions per episode, which basically makes it feel like it's barely begun when Carson's saying good-bye for the evening. I came to hear sanging, and I only want to hear sanging! That means the cutting to the families watching backstage can go, too. Of course, like the coaches, I have some favorites already. Here's who they are: Jesse Campbell (Team Christina), who I think is the Javier Colon of his season's competition; Juliet Simms (Team Cee Lo) who is this year's gritty Vicci Martinez; Chris Mann (Team Christina), although I honestly don't believe anyone will vote for opera on a weekly basis and this show is all about cultivating an artist and his or her own style; and Tony Lucca (Team Adam), who I'm not ashamed to say I remembered from the pages of Teen Beat but was pleasantly surprised to learn he also covered "Devil Town" for Friday Night Lights-- a version I blast all the time on the 101. Lucca is my S2 winner as of this moment. There, I said. Want to hedge bets? I could use the extra cash! And we should all probably get off Christina Aguilera's back about not recognizing him; he looks very, very different from his days on the cover of Teen Beat.

House of Lies (SHO, 10pm) - S1, Ep5: "Utah" - Last week I said that Roscoe (Donis Leonard Jr.) humanized his father, but he managed to do the impossible in this episode and offered insight into his mother, as well-- a woman who the actor who portrays her calls a "psychopath." I've said it before, but I won't say it again: Roscoe makes everyone around him twenty times more interesting to me. The mere fact that he lives with his dad and not his mom-- and that she actively avoids him-- says pages about the characters, so it was refreshing to see her choose to spend time with him tonight, even if she did so in a completely unorthodox way. But that's Monica (Dawn Olivieri): she is a free spirit in the sense that she doesn't do anything anyone would expect a mother to do. She is inappropriate with her son, treating him more like a pal than her kid, which can be unnerving, but he returns the treatment in kind, which is even more unnerving. For me, this entire episode was about the scene in her ex's apartment where young Roscoe wisely compared his mother to the painting. That was where the show was both most interesting and least obnoxious. I would love to watch a spin-off with the two of them not quite trying to relate to each other.

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