Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Once Upon A Time', 'Shameless' and 'GCB'...

TV Talk for Sunday, February 26th 2012

Once Upon A Time (ABC, 8pm) - S1, Ep14: "Dreamy" - First of all, can we talk for a second about the fact that dwarfs are freakin' hatched from eggs? That's just nutty! But if dwarfs never fall in love, then it actually does make perfect sense-- about something I don't think I would have ever really stopped to consider. In fact, we never even see any females in their mine shafts, so how could they have babies even if they wanted to? The idea of a dwarf and a fairy ultimately being the same size was also kind of trippy. This show is playing with the boundaries of the fairy tale worlds I know and love more and more with each episode, and it's beginning to make me a little uncomfortable. I don't like change! No offense to Lee Arenberg, but I also didn't really like the idea of Dreamy/Grumpy with Nova (Amy Acker). In the fairy tale world, she was clumsy; she was flighty; she was not really good at her job. She admitted everyone kept telling her she should maybe give up, and from her deep desire to see the world, she probably should have-- so she could have gone off and had fulfilling adventures. Now, I am not one to tell someone to stop following their dreams, but it seemed like her dream was not actually being a fairy. So it made me uncomfortable with how her eyes lit up when Dreamy told her she was so great at it. I get it, you haven't heard that much in your life, so you react strongly, but if a guy is just telling you what you want to hear, should you forgo everything to run away with him? Um, no! That seems to defy the message of love and relationships that this show is working so hard to set up in other areas. But I did like learning how and why Grumpy got his name, and I really enjoyed watching him try to fix the wrongs of a past he didn't even remember in present day. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the sense of whimsy in tonight's episode. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but it seemed to be the tone that the show should have been striving for all along. Everything about the show, even the Storybrooke side of it, is fantastical, and they have definitely embraced the old-fashioned, hopeful side of things, but they can push it even farther. I guess that whimsy was inherent when you team up Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and one of her dwarfs, only he's leading the show, but I would have thought it could have come sooner, when the unlikely friendship of Snow, Cinderella (Jessy Schram), and Ruby (Meghan Ory) first began. Still, Arenberg and Goodwin had a great rapport-- from the "How much more unavailable could you pick 'em?" dig from Mary Margaret (I love that she's getting such a backbone; she was so meek in the pilot!), to them as drinking buddies having a surprisingly sober heart-to-heart. But Goodwin had some really fun reaction shots, too. As much as I don't like Snow or Mary's story taking the backseat, I did enjoy getting to see her in a new light. Candlelit. Heh, get it? Okay, that was bad; it's been a long week! I felt like Emma's (Jennifer Morrison) investigation into David (Josh Dallas) could only be immediate because it's what's most common, but will easily prove to be only temporary, too: with her focus turning to Mary Margaret instead. We already know Regina (Lana Parrilla) hates her, and we are about to find out exactly why and the extent to which she wanted to do away with her in the fairy tale world. What better way to ensure that extends into the Storybrooke world than to put her on trial for harming her boyfriend's wife? This small town is about to be turned upside down! Oh, and how great was it to see that BOTH fairies were played by past Supernatural guest stars? The minute Keegan Connor Tracy appeared in the school, I had to hope she'd be used more, and learning she was the blue fairy boss who might have had her own "evil stepmother" hold on Nova, well, that set up the potential for another fun female dynamic.

Shameless (SHO, 9pm) - S2, Ep8: "Parenthood" - It's amazing how fast Grammy (Louise Fletcher) went from fighting stance to cancer's bitch. I'd say it's more than just the natural progression of the disease, though; once her secret was found out, she seemed to lose her spirit. So the time to watch Sheila (Joan Cusack) struggle with the woman who could have been her biggest motivator was cut short, and instead Sheila struggled with watching this tough-as-nails woman crumble. For all of her problems, Sheila really is stronger than the rest-- on this show and in the audience, probably. Her devotion to Jody (Zach McGowan), though bordering on flirtatious, was also admirable, and suddenly, though her eyes, I, too, started to see his worth. He really is a gentle guy and good with the ailing. He probably would make a good dad. But not to Karen (Laura Slade Wiggins)'s baby. As much as Karen is acting like an unaffected bitch these days (um, hello? Give your kid to Kev and Veronica-- they want one!), I'm hoping Lip (Jeremy Allen White) finds his way to her home. Sheila would do him good. This episode was all about the pressure that these everyday people face, well, every day, and Lip finally cracked. More than any of them-- perhaps even more than Fiona (Emmy Rossum), he really does carry a weight because he has everyone's eyes on him. When Fiona turns down jobs that could give her a future, she is only hurting herself long-term to temporarily help her younger siblings. But when Lip ruins his shots at school, everyone else around him tries a little less, too. He is the barometer by which success is measured, and if he fails, everyone else figures what's the point. My hope is that Ian (Cameron Monaghan) steps up. He's the one who wants to be the leader, and he has no distractions now that Mickey (Noel Fisher) cracked under his own pressure and sent himself right back to juvie. Regardless, though, this was the first time this show has made me cry. Not when Sheila snuffed Grammy; that was oddly sweet in its own way, but it wasn't sad-- especially not in practice. When Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) went chasing after his big brother, though, that was it for me. It's the little ones that hurt the most when turmoil disturbs a family, and he may have been looking (up) to Lip most of all-- even if no one realized it. It was touching that he was vulnerable when you least expected it. Now who does he have? Like I said, I'd like it to be Ian, but it looks like it will be Steve (Justin Chatwin). In all fairness, Steve is trying, but it really is too little, too late. And though he certainly gave Carl an outlet with football, he is no Coach Taylor. And his little wife is no Tami! I never cared to see Steve's wife stick around at all, but I honestly am amused by how they are using her. The subtitles are pretty damn funny, even if I hate the racism implied by thinking Liam was a crack baby.

GCB (ABC, 10pm) - S1, Ep1: "Pilot" - Somehow remarkably I got over the fact that this show sounds like a date rape drug. I got over the fact that we're asked to forgive a former mean girl without ever really knowing what we're forgiving (though we hear both sides of the story, we never see flashbacks to see where the truth meets in the middle). I got over the fact that we're asked to semi-hate but also semi-want-to-join the new mean girls, err, mean women who are far too old in number to adopt such a mentality and make it seem okay. I got over the fact that the tone often flits between silly, campy fun and "serious do-gooder message." I even got over the fact that Greg Vaughan was killed off in his opening sequence, relegated only to photos and maybe a flashback or two down the line instead of a hulking, handsome-- though distant-- presence that threatens this new life (Mostly because I am kind of convinced he faked his death and can return later). I will even forgive that they made Vaughan (well, his character) screw over his wife Eddie Cibrian style-- a detail with irony not lost on me. I did all of these things because GCB is deliciously decadent and fiercely fun and seems to promise to provide me with my favorite type of traditional entertainment. If you can suspend your disbelief that these over-the-top Housewives exist in the same world as women like Alicia Florrick and Julia Houston do, you can find yourself smiling and laughing a lot here. I know I did. It's a guilty pleasure, sure, but I am all about watching a relationship show start with a couple already together and the journey be the unraveling, the waiting for them to break up. In this case, it's all about Amanda (Leslie Bibb) backsliding into her old "mean girl" ways. She already started by adopting the passive aggressive prayer during Sunday church services. Sure, it might have been a one-off in order to prove to these other women that they can't rattle her, but really, I think it's an indicator of things to come. People are not chameleons-- not really-- they may adapt their personalities to fit the situation they're in, but who they are is who they are and who they always will be. The interesting thing here will be in watching Amanda try to fight the mean girl behavior that wants to creep back into her life because of the environment she once again finds herself in. She claims she is better than that, but in those claims, she is acting just as holier than thou as Carlene (Kristin Chenoweth). The devil may be in the details, but these hypocrisies are absolutely heavenly. At least from a drama standpoint. I'm already invested in her, as well as Heather (Marisol Nichols) and Blake (Mark Deklin), though I have to admit the other women thus far appear more as cliche caricatures to me. They're so broad at this point, and I can only hope that is because one episode to introduce all of these big personalities is tough. GiGi (Annie Potts) started out just as big and broad, but in learning she was actually her daughter's Secret Admirer, we got a much softer, much more tender and real side to her. Though the same tenderness should not be expected to be sent Amanda's way from the other women any time soon, simply allowing us to see them at home, alone, or with their loved ones will do the trick towards making them feel like real people we should actually care about. It's easy to laugh at their bad behavior and even worse puns, but that won't keep me tuning back in week after week. What will are the complicated relationships-- again Blake comes to mind, as well as David James Elliott's mystery about knowing Amanda's husband-- and the theme of redemption. Whether or not she gets it-- or whether or not she decides she even wants it-- may remain to be seen, but I like the concept nonetheless.

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