Sunday, March 11, 2012

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

TV Talk for Sunday, March 4th 2012

Once Upon A Time (ABC, 8pm) - S1, Ep15: "Red-Handed" - Can someone explain to me why Little Red Riding Hood (Meghan Ory) is the one character to look way less severe (aka more like an actual person) in fairy tale land instead of Storybrooke? I'm sorry, but I just can't take her seriously with her sharp eyebrows and bright red streaks in her hair. She's so much more ethereal, and yes, pretty, in the cape and ringlets. I guess it makes sense that she looks so young and innocent in the fairy tale world; that is what Granny (Beverley Elliott) claimed to be trying to protect, wasn't it? But if she was as "bad ass" as Henry (Jared Gilmore) believed back in the fairy tale world, she should have had the look to match. In Storybrooke, she's so meek. She relies on her looks and doesn't think she has any skills. It's kind of ridiculous that answering a phone was such a big deal. Meanwhile, then there was Granny, who I just didn't trust at all. Maybe because she was inherently bad ass in a way that none of the characters in Storybrooke should have remembered they could be. For a minute there I thought she was the wolf, using her transformation (not unlike a werewolf, I would imagine) to keep her loved one locked away inside, safe but scared. I think I would have preferred that in some ways. The show started to go dark with it's re-telling of Red, but where it took a risk by showing the bloody bucket or bodies strewn across the snow, it then backed off ten-fold by showing such a cutesy, schoolgirl relationship with Peter (Jesse Hutch). We didn't even get to see what it looked like when she transformed in front of him! For a split second I didn't believe him crying out her name to try to reason with the wolf before him. Seeing is believing, and though I didn't need a full-on Vampire Diaries' Tyler transformation, I was expecting a little bit more. I am so glad the wolf didn't turn out to be stupid Peter, though. No offense to Hutch, but it would have been so lame to introduce a love interest for Red and have him turn out to be a dark, supernatural being she couldn't quite tame. "Tell him?" Oh, Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin), if he didn't know he's the wolf yet, telling him wouldn't do anything. Where a normal person should have been in denial or at least gotten angry, he just fell into the fairy tale trappings of accepting what he heard the minute he heard it and wanting nothing more than to simply be with her. No pun intended, but there was your giant red flag that a terrible fate would befall him. Life is never that easy! The stakes should have been higher since he was Red's love or whatever, but since we only first met him in this episode, we couldn't attach to him as emotionally as she did; we met him at a time when he really seemed to have no purpose other than to be the misdirect for the big, bad wolf they were all hunting. Even when it was revealed that Red was the wolf (well, duh, how else could she track so well in Storybrooke!?), and she killed the one she supposedly loved, I felt a whole lot of nothing. Maybe it says more about me than anything else, but I don't think so. If we had been given time to get to know them as a couple, I would have connected-- I connect with just about every TV couple in one way or the other-- but with so little time, such wildly conflicting tones in scenes, and then so many misdirects (David's included), I was along for the ride but the simple flirtation did not imply true love, and so I was disconnected. Additionally, what I've always loved about this show is the sense of hope it instills, but there is very little hope in a story where a woman has been lied to her whole life about what she really is and she ends up killing someone she loves because of it. Sure, Granny and Ruby made up in Storybrooke, but that doesn't erase what went on in the fairy tale world. The little step their relationship took forward tonight is bound to be thrown backwards when the curse breaks and they get their memories back. Also, unless there's a head in the box, it's just not worth it, am I right?? Mary Margaret is a nun; I in no way believe she could have ripped someone's heart out. But I do think I'll enjoy watching Regina (Lana Parrilla) try to convince everyone otherwise. At least that storyline has its roots early enough in the season that it's not going to feel like a "one and done" episode like tonight's.

Shameless (SHO, 9pm) - S2, Ep9: "Hurricane Monica" - What a difference a year can make, right? That was never more apparent than with seeing how the Gallagher brood reacted to their mother Monica (Chloe Webb) suddenly popping back up in their lives. The little ones were excited to see her last year, weren't they? At least, that's how I remember it. But she hadn't burned them yet. Now she has and now absolutely no one wanted her around. Yet by the end of the episode, they were all starting to come around. Me no likey. It's only a setup for heartbreak. I'm not even sure what Frank (William H. Macy)'s motives are. He had a good thing with Sheila (Joan Cusack), and he needed to go back to her to hunt for the money he thought his mother stashed in that house anyway, so why drag Monica into it? He's just that f-ed up. And how f-ed up is it that so many bad mothers on Showtime share the same name of Monica? Two pregnant teenagers on one show, by the way, is too Secret Life of the American Teen for me, but how Sheila is finally becoming her own character is phenomenal. I loved her idea to open a hospice simply because she helped one old lady go into the light in the most untraditional way ever. More and more I'm starting to see why Frank hooked up with her; she and Monica are kind of similarly crazy. But Sheila's more fun. Much. Especially when she tries to confront ghosts. If I were Fiona (Emmy Rossum), I never would have let Monica stay home with my baby sibling, either, especially after the shit she pulled the last time. I guess short term memories really are just short around those parts; they have a lot on their plates as is. There's something so interesting about this show: there are so many characters, and we often have more information than many of them do (like about what happened to Grammys money), yet it's always a fun ride to watch the characters catch up to us. It never feels forced or expositional in any way; it just feels real. Sometimes sad, but very real. Kevin (Steve Howey)'s little moment with the reading DVD ("Circle doesn't start with an S?") took the prize for best line of the week-- something I usually award to his better half. Lip (Jeremy Allen White) going to everyone he has helped in the past and getting doors slammed in his face was poignant in a whole other way. On one hand, that's what happens when you're acting stupid and looking for a hand-out or to cut corners or get a leg up based on who you know. On the other, there's a part of me that wanted someone to take him in just to give him a break. He has had it tough, and he has made his mistakes, but he's trying, and it's not like he dropped out of school because he wanted to go get hammered under the train everyday. Also, Steve (Justin Chatwin)? It was bad that you told Fiona to calm down and read a book and let Monica have her moment. You have no idea what's at stake or what mess she'll have to clean up when the party ends. Because the party will always end; Monica said it herself: it's the rush she's chasing, and the rush is only there when something is new. Right now being with her family is new, but in a few weeks when the routine settles, she'll take off. Maybe Fiona should have settled for Tony (Tyler Jacob Moore). But it's way worse that you made fun of Friday Night Lights. It is not "eyes, hearts, some shit," you jackass. It's Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't loser.

And I was severely disappointed to learn there was no tag tonight! Those are my favorite parts, and I always stick around to watch them. So basically, I just watched full end credits for no reason. I feel cheated.

GCB (ABC, 10pm) - S1, Ep2: "Hell Hath No Fury" - I'm not sure if I can take Kristin Chenoweth singing in every episode, though I did get more than my share of kicks out of watching the other women-- especially Miriam Shor's Cricket-- respond to her church solo. If this episode is any indication, than the advertising materials are not false at all: the show, and the network, wants Chenoweth to be the star here. But Leslie Bibb's subdued Amanda Vaughn is so much more interesting, and yes, real, so the emphasis on Carlene and all her over-the-top, immature glory is beginning to really worry me. This show is a bit bipolar. In some moments, it's tone is so fresh and funny and farsical that I say 'Okay, for those who thought Desperate Housewives is too down to Earth, GCB will be a winner.' But then in the next beat they deliver something heartfelt and genuine and sweet. I can't lie: I prefer the latter moments all the time, all the way, especially in a one-hour program. I'm all about Amanda and her relationship with her mother, Heather (Marisol) and her relationship with Amanda's mother, and Blake (Mark Deklin). In fact, if I'm being really honest, I'm mostly watching for Blake. His is a story never before seen on television and so natural and under the radar now it feels like it belongs in its own show. So much respect is paid to his character, and his on-screen relationship with Cricket, but it often feels like it comes out of the blue when followed by (or following) a scene in which they force-feed Jennifer Aspen while she's delivering dialogue, for example. I want to like all the women because I like all of the women who are in the roles, but right now they're so loosely drawn.

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