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Spoiler Alert Thursday

I worry that the confirmation of a sixth season of “Supernatural” has affected the arc of the fifth season. Going into the season, it was believed to be the last, thus oriented towards a neat wrap-up of the major story lines. This has resulted in too many “monster of the week” episodes such that even Anna the Angel has become a monster of the week. Of course, I don’t lament her death because she was annoying and it seemed like a rather backhanded (“infodump”) way of finally bringing Michael into the story when he used John as his vessel. Turns out the Winchester are, somehow, the descendants of Cain and Abel and it just so happened that their respective descendants are the vessels of Michael and Lucifer. Likely not especially exciting from a theological perspective, but not terrible for a “good bad” television show. This week’s episode–which appears to be another “monster of the week”–has a promising premise: couples turn on one another, Castiel believes Cupid is responsible, but, of course, he isn’t… Lucifer is, no doubt, ultimately to blame. I hope this enters the pantheon of the “really great” episodes, like the one where they kill pagan gods at Christmas, the black and white “monster movie” Halloween episode, or the more recent “TVland” episode.

While not especially good, “Human Target” remains the most entertaining show of the year. Notwithstanding the pleasing violence, “Spartacus: Blood & Sand” remains slow. This week Spartacus learnt an important lesson: the value of begging for your life and respecting your opponents. Turns out the Gaul can fight, much to Spartacus’s chagrin! The obvious bonding relationship between Doctore (who you might have seen as the Black Commander in two episodes of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) and Spartacus is sure to flourish in the coming weeks. “Caprica” is also a bit slow, but I suppose that is to be expected given that there are no spaceships trying to destroy one another. Sam Adama, the mob enforcer who has taken William under his wing, remains the most interesting character–kind of a space-Omar.

We still haven’t been able to bring ourselves to watch last week’s episode of “The Office.” Unfortunately, this means that we will have to watch two episodes tomorrow. This is not promising. While the episode certainly wasn’t memorable, it was nice to Special Agent T.C. “Tobias” Fornell in this weeks “NCIS.”

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February 11, 2010 - Posted by | Spoiler Alert Thursdays

12 Comments

  1. I always enjoy the occasional frame-breaking episodes of House — like this week’s focused on Cuddy and the one from a couple months ago from Wilson’s perspective. (Probably my favorite frame-breaker remains that one from the first season, when Chase was facing a disciplinary hearing.) This week’s was good because it showed how Lucas could actually be a decent boyfriend for Cuddy rather than just positioning him as the only “free” character she could date. I’m still frustrated that they don’t make better use of him — he was great in the first few episodes he appeared and seemed to be a “House has finally met his match” type of guy. Then they forgot about him for a year and a half and parachuted him in at random to be dating Cuddy so House couldn’t. WTF? I realize they don’t want to depart too far from the format, but I think they underestimate how robust their format potentially is.

    AND ANOTHER THING: Why haven’t they changed the opening credits? Or at least the names — Cameron isn’t even on the show anymore, but she gets credited every week!

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | February 11, 2010

  2. Lucas is too Zach Braffy for me to tolerate. As far as showing him as a decent boyfriend, the major Lucas-as-boyfriend bits we got were (1) Lucas initiating quickie-sex with Cuddy as part of a bet with House (and coming prematurely), (2) Lucas barging into Cuddy’s workplace and adorably shouting “you bitch!” at her.

    I did like the Cuddy’s-perspective thing – although for a second I really thought they were going to have her fired and replaced with some other, presumably more hostile-to-House administrator, which I would’ve found more interesting.

    Archer is shaping up to be my favorite show that’s not on hiatus at the moment.

    Comment by stras | February 11, 2010

  3. Johnny Bench called.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | February 11, 2010

  4. Yes, I recently discovered Archer, too. I found it took me a couple episodes to warm up to it, and then I was completely hooked.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | February 11, 2010

  5. Between Archer, It’s Always Sunny and Arrested Development, I’ve discovered that the comedy that appeals to me the most is the kind that relies heavily on the use of sociopaths.

    Comment by stras | February 11, 2010

  6. Adam – You wouldn’t believe how prevalent that same assessment of Archer is among TV critics. I think there was some variation of that in each one I’ve read.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | February 11, 2010

  7. Where do I recognize Archer’s voice from? I know he sounds almost identical to some other cartoon character.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | February 11, 2010

  8. H. Jon Benjamin does a lot of voice acting. In addition to the title role on Archer, you may remember him as Coach McGuirk from Home Movies, Ben Katz from Dr. Katz, and Dr. Orpheus’s shape-shifting mentor from The Venture Brothers.

    Comment by stras | February 11, 2010

  9. Ben Katz! My god, how did I miss that? I’d only be more disappointed in myself if I found out it was Patrick Warburton.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | February 11, 2010

  10. So I finally finished watching Dollhouse. It was pretty fucking bad.

    The thing is that the second season of Dollhouse began with some promise. The Topher character – the geeky white boy who is responsible for creating the dolls’ minds and imbuing them with internality – seemed a pretty clear stand-in for Whedon himself. So it was interesting how ready the show seemed to condemn Topher. His job was to turn pretty young people into consumer objects to serve the fantasies of the privileged and self-indulgent, and he was so busy congratulating himself for his cleverness that he was blinded to the moral consequences of his actions. As an allegory for television-making, it had some potential.

    So then what the fuck, when Topher turned out to be the big fucking hero at the end. That was really irritating. Also irritating was the fact that the ending made no sense whatsoever. I mean, of course it made no logical sense – we’re dealing with a science fiction universe whose creators apparently devoted like ten minutes of thought to its development – but dramatically, emotionally, it was completely incomprehensible. Why am I supposed to care about the life or death of a bunch of people I just met for the first time at the beginning of the episode? Also, reassigning one of the main characters (Caroline) to the body of a ten-year-old for the finale of the show was not a good idea, even if the ten-year-old is a way better actress than Elisa Dushku.

    When I saw the finale of Angel, I really thought Joss Whedon was a genius. Buffy was a great show, pretty consistently, but for the first four seasons of Angel, I thought that show was total crap. I slogged through it and complained the whole time about how much it sucked. Then suddenly, midway through season five, it snapped into place and somehow, everything worked. It was amazing how, by the finale, I was so sad to say goodbye to these characters I hadn’t cared about at all before. The televisual emotional manipulation was just masterful.

    In Dollhouse, you can see how Whedon reaches into his bag of emotional tricks to try to ratchet up the intensity in the same way, but it doesn’t work at all this time, and in fact feels kind of embarrassing. Part of the problem is that the acting on the show is terrible, but that can’t be all of it, since David Boreanaz was pretty bad too. Another part of the problem is the Topher/Whedon thing – Whedon takes himself, and the show, way too seriously this time. Whedon just operates better when he’s working with camp. When you’re watching a super-campy show, like Buffy or Dr. Horrible, the moments of emotional sincerity take you off-guard. Dollhouse tried to be serious from the start, but it was way out of its depth.

    On the other hand, I could watch Enver Gyokaj play Topher all day. That shit never gets old.

    Comment by jms | February 11, 2010

  11. Talent wise, love of Archer is a natural progression if you were a fan of Arrested Development, considering they use Judy Greer, Jessica Walter, and even Jeffrey Tambor in that one episode. Come to think of it, It’s Always Sunny also used Judy Greer for Fatty McGoo. Stras, you’re right on that sociopathic humor may be the best kind.

    Take note Doc Kot!

    Comment by ebolden | February 11, 2010

  12. My wife and I had the strange realization this weekend that all the shows we watch via DVR or DVD are either cartoons or about crime and murder. Fringe and Lie to Me are the closest to deviating from that, but they’re definitely at least in the neighborhood.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | February 11, 2010


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