Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Community', 'The Vampire Diaries', '30 Rock', 'Parks and Recreation', and 'Scandal'...

TV Talk for Thursday, April 19th 2012

Community (NBC, 8pm) - S3, Ep16: "Virtual Systems Analysis" - The Duali-Dean (Jim Rash) was the most disturbing thing I've ever seen. He DID go too far today! I usually love his costumes and want to know the backstory behind how he picked them, but tonight...I'm just going to pretend he went back to his office and changed. And we will never speak of it again. And I'm going to have to side with Abed (Danny Pudi) in this one-- not necessarily in how he didn't like Annie (Alison Brie) meddling in the group's chemistry, but how he didn't agree with how Annie played Inspector Spacetime. He was right; she was doing it wrong-- even before she made him think about other people and broke him. I used to tell my friends they were playing wrong when I was a kid, too. I never quite grew out of the judgment, but I did grow out of saying such things aloud. I don't like that society makes us filter ourselves as we mature. I respect Abed's astute observations and willingness to share them. I think we'd all be happier, lighter people if we had our own Dreamatoriums, and had I won the Mega Millions, I would have built one for myself. We all need a place we can imagine different scenarios and use our imaginations to help guide our decision-making. Seeing potential outcomes and weighing the consequences and rewards of each means you're making informed decisions. Abed's my hero. I was in love with how he put all of their friends into formulaic television tropes and how Annie got into it, even if just to help her friend in a way very similar to how they all tried to help during his Christmas claymation breakdown. And um, Troy's (Donald Glover) rapid-fire truth bombs? More please! I know he adlibbed a bunch of gems. It's moments, and episodes, like these that make me wish I had a DVR so I could watch it again immediately after it ended the first time.

The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8pm) - S3, Ep19: "Heart of Darkness" - Oh Caroline (Candice Accola), it's your turn: Have some self-respect! No girl should have sex in a dungeon. It's one thing to hide Tyler (Michael Trevino) from the rest of Mystic Falls until you know for sure he has broken his sire bond, but it's another to hide along with him. Having sex in the woods would have been a less depressing choice! Of course, no one should have to deal with dirt and twigs in sensitive places, either... This episode was really all about the return of Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) for me, though, even though the actor himself squashed my dreams that he was already dealing with side effects of the ring and may have been on his own violent rampages in Colorado. He's still the "aw shucks" type, it seems, not even realizing his new friend was someone to keep an eye on. But he definitely does seem like he has matured a bit in his time away. He knew enough not to draw attention to Rose's (Lauren Cohan) quiet remark about Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and his sister-- though, again, a part of me had visions of murderous Jeremy seething inside and just waiting until night fell to attack. I'm super curious to see what happens with his mental state, and if he's strong or smart enough to take some preemptive measures (though maybe not quite as drastic as the ones Alaric (Matt Davis) took by caging himself in). And let's talk about Alaric for a second: his ring had to save him yet again, so that can't bode well for his future! I did love how Stefan (Paul Wesley) was stuck baby-sitting him, and Damon couldn't help but needle him (or turn the stake in his heart, if you will) about having to hang out at the motel with Elena (Nina Dobrev). It was another simple, in passing comment that you know was pointed simply because of out of whom's mouth it came. I don't know; I like Damon more and more these days. And am I slow or didn't Esther (Alice Evans) turn her children in the first place? So she's THE original in that sense, and if she died, shouldn't they, along with everyone they turned, also shrivel up? And I get it, she didn't die; just her body did and she switched forms (reminded me of Lucifer on Supernatural), but I'm still a little fuzzy on the details and all the rules of the Originals, I guess. Better bone up before sweeps!

30 Rock (NBC, 8:30pm) - S6, Ep17: "Murphy Brown Lied To Us" - I'm not going to lie, I had high expectations for this episode from the title alone. I mean, it's Murphy freakin' Brown! She's still an inspiration to me! And I admit, I couldn't wait to see the trainwreck that followed when TV bloggers pointed out they are "too young" to know what Murphy Brown is. That's so poetic when you think about it-- in the pilot episode of Murphy Brown she dealt with the de-evolution of journalism in the face of sensationalized news and inexperienced reporters "breaking" just because they were young or good-looking or had "the right energy." Well, in this episode of 30 Rock, Murphy may have disappointed the single mother who didn't have her own Elton, but it is the next step of that de-evolution that really disappointed the memory of Candice Bergen's show. If you don't know Murphy Brown, chances are you missed a great theme in this episode. And all I can say is: do your research. Not just because it's your job (because for most of you reading this, it's not), but because the show is amazing. And more than holds up over time. But let me get off my soapbox for a minute and focus on the episode overall. Another step forward for Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), another step back for Jack (Alec Baldwin). Just last season I never would have expected to write that! Kev was the perfect Dennis Duffy douchebag (but successful) that Liz may have actually fallen for a few years ago. Especially because he had an awesome mini-Liz for a kid. But I'm glad that this time around she just bonded with the kid, though I'm reluctant to consider this proof that she would make a good mom in the way she seemed to. Sure, she got along with the kid really well-- almost too well-- but there's no guarantee her own kid would have so much in common with her. And though she told Kat what she needed to hear, it was more from a no filter best friend type of place than a maternal one. But she does have her own Elton-- just like Murphy. She has Criss (James Marsden). She may just be able to have it all, the way Murphy taught us we could, after all! ...And then there was Jenna (Jane Krakowski) who broke down after thinking she lost Paul (Will Forte). How do we know she really broke down and didn't just fake it? Not because of Tracy's (Tracy Morgan) sudden insight or perception; not because she jumped through a glass window; not because she pulled a Kanye-- at a time when pulling a Kanye actually means dating a reality star s****; but because she didn't recognize Paul being her nurse the whole time she was in the hospital (!?). I feel like all the energy went into the A-(Liz) story this week, and the other suffered a bit (The outdated Kanye reference, but also come on, we all saw the torture couch thing coming, right?). But because hers was so great, I didn't care. Life was happening for Liz indeed! And since I identify so much with Liz, maybe it will for me, too.

Parks and Recreation (NBC, 9:30pm) - S4, Ep19: "Live Ammo" - What could be better than getting a glimpse inside Tom Haverford's (Aziz Ansari) killer apartment with his artisanal cheese plate and super soft throws? Maybe a taste of Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) mastering meditation? But mostly April (Aubrey Plaza)-- not because she finally applied herself but because I realized she does have a soft spot, and it's just like mine. We hate people for a reason (they cut funding for animal shelters and drop off their "unwanted" pets with strangers), but we love puppies! Okay, so this is a little more about me than it really is the show, but whatever; there were puppies! And there was Tom's funny way of saying the word "puppy" again. If I had a house like April and Andy's, I would rescue all the puppies, too. But this was the first time I really felt Leslie (Amy Poehler) had a handle on her campaign. Sure, it was born after a misstep and only half an idea, and sure, she doesn't know the flip side to things-- that if somehow the positive press helps Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd) win the campaign, Chris (Rob Lowe) will most likely be fired, trading one friend's job for another's-- but it really was a slam dunk. Getting one up on Jennifer (Kathryn Hahn) while doing so was just the whipped cream on Leslie's waffles. There's really no way they'll need to use that alternate ending they shot where Leslie doesn't win now, right!?

Scandal (ABC, 10pm) - S1, Ep3: "Hell Hath No Fury" - This show just keeps getting sharper and sharper. I don't really know if its the nature of knowing you have such a short amount of time to tell really tight, really snappy stories, so you're able to sprint and then rest later, rather than have to pace and still get burnt out just before the end. I don't know if it's just the nature of the world Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) lives and thrives in. I don't know if it's just that the ten o'clock hour has been dead for me all season long, so I'm just excited to have something with which to continue my evening. But what works so well for me is how Shonda Rhimes can expertly weave a "case of the week" with an on-going thread and neither misses a beat. I'll admit that when I first read the summary for this episode, I rolled my eyes. Some rich brat being accused of rape? Why would Olivia take the case, regardless of any relationship with his family? He's most likely going to be guilty, and I was hoping she would fight for the underdog-- that her embrace of Amanda Tanner (Liza Weil) wasn't just because she felt a personal connection, or a personal slight by the same man. But what I loved was the complexity that unfolded and the moral dilemma it put upon Pope and Associates. You may have done your job in protecting your client's image on this accusation, but when you learn he has another skeleton in his closet, you can merely do damage control, or you can correct the situation. Olivia has great power-- more so than just about anyone we see on TV today, I believe-- and I like that she has a conscience about things, even when she's speaking in short, seemingly dismissive clips. She's busy, but she's not a bitch. Now the President's wife on the other hand...

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