With the exception of some shows that are premiering in October, most new shows have been on for three or four weeks by now, so let's take a minute to evaluate which shows are worth sticking with, and which shows you can probably drop from your no doubt jam-packed TV schedule...
Here are the top TV highlights from this week in television:
#5) Minutes 3-6, 32-34 of Glee - The Brainiacs made it to the Decathlon finals! Thank God they bribed Brittany with Dots, because one of the categories was "Cat Diseases," and she dominated it. Sue formed her "League of Doom," which included Sandy "The Pink Dagger," and "Sergent Handsome." Like any good legion of evil, they have beepers. Later, Kurt, Blaine, and Santana were confronted by an angry Karofsky. After Blaine got all hot and shove-y with Karofsky, Santana stepped in and threatened to crack one of Karofsky's testicles, and mentioned that she has razor blades hidden in her hair (what a great self-defense technique, by the way). Blaine was right, they could have handled it, but it was more fun with them doing it together.
#4) Tom Hanks on 30 Rock - This man can do no wrong. He is a cultural icon. And in this week's 30 Rock, he appeared as himself at the very end of the episode. And he was crocheting. (Or possibly needlepointing, or some equally hilarious activity.) He then called Clooney on his emergency A-List phone line to tell him to take Tracy Jordan off the A-List, also mentioning that Brad Pitt is the group's webmaster. And this cameo came at the tail end of an episode that poked fun at movie actors who return to TV (like Alec Baldwin). But really, Tom Hanks could decide he wanted to play a rock in an elementary school play, and it would still be epic.
#3) This quote from Troy on Community: "You can yell at me all you want. I've seen enough movies to know that popping the back of a raft makes it go faster."- This was during the flashback to the gang's camping trip, one of the many exciting adventures I wish we could have seen all of, including their field trip to a ghost town and their battle with Mercury poisoning.
#2) Salvatore brothers smackdown on The Vampire Diaries - Who doesn't love a good brawl? Especially when it's between brothers. Who are vampires. In love with the same girl. My only complaint was that Elena broke up the fight too quickly. And the fact that both Salvatore brothers were fully clothed.
#1) Double Cougar Town - Okay, ABC, I forgive you for putting Cougar Town on hiatus while you tried to make Mr. Sunshine into a thing. You made it up to me with two fantastic episodes this week. Monday's episode followed Dancing with the Stars, so the cheeky title card for the show read, "Hi Dance Fans, please still be there." Monday's new episode also brought us the commercialization of Penny Can! Needless to say, it's the next big bar game. Darts are so history.
DISHONORABLE MENTION: Minutes 16-29, 36-38 of Glee - As much as I loved the bodacious alliance of Mercedes and Lauren (which came with the bonus of a rare moment of humility from Rachel), since when does Mercedes need lessons on how to demand respect? From what I remember, she demanded respect on the first day of Glee Club, when Rachel got up in her grill, and she declared, "I am Beyoncé! I ain't no Kelly Rowland." What happened to that Mercedes? (What am I saying? Since when are any of Glee's characters consistent?) Later, Mike Chang showed off his dance skills with a dance solo to a Jack Johnson song. (Full disclosure: I hate Jack Johnson.) I know he's really talented, but honestly, if you can't sing, maybe Glee isn't the right place for you. Maybe take the popping and locking over to So You Think You Can Dance.
Everything was back this week! Well, maybe not everything, but a good portion of my shows returned from their annoying hiatuses this week. There were so many wonderful moments on TV this week, I'm not even sure where to start...
It was not a huge week in television by any means (mostly due to the fact that many shows are still on hiatus...slackers), but the few new episodes that were on were big enough to make up for all the reruns and reality show "talent" competitions. (I'm sorry to say I've grown tired of American Idol and its tedium, though I am very amused by Steven Tyler.) So let's review the top five highlights from this week that were worth watching. (Warning: SPOILERS ABOUND)...
Oh what a week it was. Even without new episodes of How I Met Your Mother, Top Chef, or Modern Family, this week's TV was full of win. Here are my Top 5 moments from this week:
#5) Why Isn't "The Real Transvestite Hoarders of Orange County Penitentiary" a Real Show? - Somewhere an executive from TLC is thinking, "Damn! Why didn't we think of that?" As always, 30 Rock was spot-on this week with its clever jabs at its own network and the state of television in general. Jack's plan to prerecord a telethon for an as yet undetermined disaster (a plan he nicknamed "Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning") was executed surprisingly well, despite the fact that the disaster for which they aired it turned out to have only affected Mel Gibson and Jon Gosselin. You can't say Jack wasn't prepared, though. He took into account every possible combination of disasters, including floods, devastating fires, floods that put out devastating fires, and super intelligent sharks. Not to mention he got Robert De Niro to film a piece for the benefit. Other wonderful tidbits from this week's 30 Rock included Liz and Tracy arguing to the tune of "Uptown Girl," and Tracy's reference to Charles Widmore (from Lost, for you sad people who haven't seen it).
#4) Greek Is "All About Beav." - After three seasons of speculating and wondering about who Beaver really is, where he came from, and what his real name is, we got a glimpse into this complex and mysterious character's true identity... Just kidding! That's Mad Men. Greek's Beaver has pretty much always been a hilariously dumb frat boy, and we love him for it. But this week, for the first time, we got to see almost a whole episode from his point of view! And may I just say, it was glorious. Here are some things we learned about Beaver this week: His mother calls him every morning to wake him up and reminds him that he's the star of his own life; he watches Glee; and he's studying to be a kindergarten teacher. Having Beaver "sing" the show's intro song (which has no lyrics, so he just sang the word "Greek" to the tune of the song) was a great touch, and since Beaver is usually the comic relief, his episode was even funnier than usual. Some notable quotables from The Beav:
- (On his class assignment for To Kill a Mockingbird:) "I'm reading Don't Mock the Killer Birds all by myself."
- ...And his other misconception of the book's title: "Tequila Drinking Bird."
- (To Casey:) "You're my favorite lady I've never had sex with."
- And of course, ever the voice of wisdom: "It's never over, Casey. That's pretty basic."
#3) Parks & Recreation- Sometimes I forget how amazing this little show has become. The addition of Rob Lowe and Adam Scott to the cast has helped Parks & Rec surpass The Office as the second best of NBC's Thursday night comedy lineup (after Community, of course). This week featured such feats of brilliance as Leslie's flu-induced displays of public delusion, Ron and Andy eating "meat tornadoes" and bonding over manly things, and Rob Lowe throwing up in a drawer.
#2) The Return of The Vampire Diaries - I'm sure by now we should be used to seeing characters killed off on The Vampire Diaries (considering approximately 50% of all the characters on this show end up dead, or at least undead), but this week's casualty packed almost as much sting as if it were the first big death, probably because of the huge impact it had on broody bad-boy Damon. I don't know what was more moving: the way he conjured the perfect dream world for Rose to make her as comfortable as possible before she died, the shattered look on his teary face as he plunged the stake into her heart, or his confession that he misses being human more than anything... I mean, OH MY GOD. How does this show manage to be so campy and so profound at the same time? Other memorable moments from this week's episode:
- Caroline's declaration that, "Everyone just needs to stop kissing me!" after locking lips with her ex, Matt, and sexy werewolf Tyler.
- THE RETURN OF UNCLE JOHN (played by former Alias villain David Anders), with or without all ten fingers, TBD.
#1) Castle and Beckett Kiss on Castle! - I must admit, I have not always been the firmest supporter of a Castle-Beckett romance, but this week's episode was so well-done it got me onboard the "Caskett" ship. When you're dealing with a "will-they-won't-they" couple like Castle and Beckett (see also: Booth and Bones, Maddie and David on Moonlighting), it's easy to mess up that first romantic encounter where some outside force manipulates them into a situation in which they somehow have to confront their innate sexual tension and/or one of them becomes aware of his/her romantic feelings for the other one. But Castle and Beckett's impromptu lip-lock was believable enough to not seem contrived, and plenty steamy enough to please the fans. Beckett was eying the security guard that was their target while kissing Castle, and when the guy was sufficiently convinced they were just a couple in love, she went all Karate Kid on him and knocked him unconscious. This prompted Castle (who was sufficiently flustered) to announce, "That was amazing...the way you knocked him out, I mean." But the icing on the cake was Castle's hysterical reaction to the whole situation, which you can see here. Bravo, Castle writers. Bravo.
*Dan and Blair's hate-flirting on Gossip Girl. So adorable and yet so disturbing at the same time...
*Cougar Town winking at its ridiculous name...again. Jules tried to convince Barb she isn't a cougar anymore, saying: "I don't do that anymore. What do I have to do? Change my name?"
*Veronica Mars alum alert! Tessa Thompson guest starred on Off The Map this week.
*Chang playing "Drugs" in the presentation of Annie's anti-drugs play on Community. Nothing scares kids off drugs more than associating them with Chang.
*Ricky Gervais guest appearance on The Office.
The leaves are falling, the temperature is dropping, and the creepy mannequins in the Old Navy commercials have changed out of their swim suits and into their scarves. That's right, people. It's November! And you know what that means: November sweeps. Sure, there were plenty of repeats and sub-par episodes this week (with some exceptions, like the ever-stellar Terriers, and The Vampire Diaries, which somehow seems to maintain the quality and excitement of sweeps every week), but that's just the quiet before the storm, laying the groundwork to pave the way for the wonderment of sweeps, which should kick in this coming week. Until then, let's recap this week's TV highlights (and some medium-to-low-lights)...
The CW was on a roll this week, with two gasp-inducing moments of epicness on two of their biggest shows: Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries. Oddly enough, both episodes had the word "rose" in their titles. (The Vampire Diaries ep was called "Rose" and GG's "War at the Roses.") Lovers (and sometimes haters) Blair and Chuck finally reunited (in the coital sense) this week, after Blair's birthday bash, followed by some verbal sparring over who hates the other more. I think we all knew where it was headed when Blair told Chuck, "every nerve ending in my body is electrified by hatred." Then Chuck (sexily) tore up their previously agreed-upon peace treaty and suddenly they were ripping each other's color-coordinated clothes off on the piano. Any Chuck and Blair scene is usually enough to make the otherwise mediocre show worth watching, but add formalwear, slow motion, and Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" playing in the background, and it's pretty much mind-blowing. (You can watch the scene here, if you're so inclined.)
Meanwhile, over on The Vampire Diaries, the Salvatore brothers saved Elena from some new vamps that kidnapped her, and as usual, Stefan got all the glory. (Though Damon did get a silent "thank you" from Elena while she was hugging Stefan to undeath.) Then later Damon came to Elena's room to return her vervain necklace, withholding it until he could say what he needed to say. Which was, wait for it..."I love you" (!)
Jaw, meet floor. Even though you knew it was coming, it was still impossible not to let out a gasp upon hearing Damon's confession. And you barely had time to recover from the initial shock before Damon was telling her that he doesn't deserve her...but his brother does (which is more brotherly affection we've seen from him in one and a half seasons). He kissed her on the forehead, told her "I wish you didn't have to forget this," and then came the clincher: A closeup of his piercing blue eye with a single tear streaming down as he used his vampire powers to wipe her memory of their entire exchange.What is it about bad boys showing their vulnerability that is so attractive? This has to be some kind of evolutionary flaw. In any case, I think that scene served as something of a last meal for fans of the Damon-Elena romance, (SPOILER ALERT!) since new vamp Rose (for whom the episode was named) is supposed to be a new love interest for Damon. Speaking for myself, I think that scene was hearty enough to sustain me until at least the end of the season. (You can watch or rewatch the scene here.)
As for which of these two scenes should win the most-replays-on-the-DVR award of the week, I'd say it's a tie. Either way, a big congratulations to The CW for surprising me once again with their deliciously entertaining television. Even if they did cancel Veronica Mars.
This week brought good news for some shows and ambiguous-but-probably-foreboding news for others. CBS surprised everyone by ordering full seasons of all five of their new series, including the critically scorned Twitter-based sitcom $#*! My Dad Says, Tom Selleck's new hit Friday night cop drama Blue Bloods, and Hawaii Five-0. The CW also announced which shows they'd be picking up for a full season: the eight season wonder One Tree Hill (the show that won't die), and freshman series Hellcats and Nikita. Notably absent was Life Unexpected, whose hopes for a full second season are not looking good. But let's move on to some recaps of this week's noteworthy shows, only two of which were mentioned above (yes, that was a shot at all the stupid shows that got full season pick-ups CBS and The CW)...
First of all, let's have a moment of silence for a fallen TV gem: Lone Star, Fox's critical darling slash ratings vacuum, was canceled this week after airing only two episodes. Meanwhile, Outsourced and three Chuck Lorre sitcoms are still at large. Is there no justice? Let's not dwell on the negative, though. There were plenty of entertaining moments in television this week...
It's May, and you know what that means: Sex! Death! Excessive guest stars! Expect an extra dose of excitement on your favorite shows in the coming weeks, as sweeps are upon us.
*WARNING* SPOILERS AHOY! Seriously, don't keep reading if you aren't caught up on the most recent week of television.
Best Karaoke Performance of the Week: House, Chase, and Foreman on House - Watching this unlikely trio sing "Midnight Train to Georgia" was one of my favorite moments of this show to date. Who knew that, in addition to being ridiculously attractive and having an adorable accent, Chase can actually sing! Sometimes life just isn't fair for the rest of us.
WTF Guest Appearance of the Week: Buzz Aldrin on 30 Rock - Frankly, I was a little disappointed by the former astronaut's appearance on 30 Rock as Liz's mother's coulda-been husband. I guess the yelling-at-the-moon bit was mildly amusing, but I would much rather they have poked fun at his recent stint on Dancing With the Stars.
Best Fake Mustaches: Travis, Bobby, and Andy on Cougar Town - It's the pure randomness of this show that delights me so much. As long as these guys keep pulling shenanigans like this (and adding new rules to Penny Can), I'll keep watching.
Most Mind-Blowing, Bawl-Inducing Episode Possibly in the History of Television (Excluding Joss Whedon Shows): "The Candidate," Lost - Now that was an intense hour of television. This week's episode included three significant and heart-wrenching deaths, and as much as it killed me (no pun intended...really) to see some beloved characters bite the dust, their deaths could not have been more fitting or more poignant. Not to mention the Sideways World Jack/Locke story was pure brilliance, painting them both as broken men trying to let go of the past.
Most Awesome Rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" Possibly in the History of Music: The cast of Glee - When you take a song as over-the-top as "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and put it in a show like Glee, that really knows how to make fun of its own over-the-top-ness, there's no accounting for the explosion of awesomeness that will result. "Turn around briiiiight eyyyyyyes!"
Best Swipe at Glee: Jeff Winger on Community - This week's hilarious episode of Community parodied every dystopian, battle-for-earth action movie made in the last thirty years. The study group's biggest rivals in the apocalyptic paintball war were their community college's Glee Club. As the enemies were singing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," Jeff shouted at them, "Write some original songs!" These clever shots at other shows are one of the reasons Community is starting to remind me more of 30 Rock every week.
Most Veronica Mars Alumni Guest Starring in One Episode: Castle - Oh, how I've missed seeing Max Greenfield (Leo) and Julie Gonzalo (Parker) on my television since the unjust demise of Veronica Mars... Featuring two VM alum is enough to make any episode of any show more than great (except maybe Two and a Half Men- there's no saving that train wreck), but throw in Rocco DiSpirito, molecular gastronomy, and a hidden engagement ring, and you've got yourself a top-notch episode.
Best Non-Veronica Mars Guest Stars: Swoosie Kurtz and Fred Willard on Chuck - If Fred Willard keeps up this guest star streak (last week he was on Modern Family), I really don't think I'll ever get tired of him. Paired with the perfectly prickly Swoosie Kurtz (you might know her from Pushing Daisies or Lost), the two played a jaded CIA spy couple who give Chuck and Sarah a sobering glimpse of what their future could be.
Best Chuck Norris Impression: Frank Lapidus, Lost - Sawyer said it best last week when he said Lapidus "looks like he stepped off the set of a Burt Reynolds movie," and this week's episode only further enforced that impression of the scruffy pilot. While the castaways were trapped in the Hydra cages during the Smoke Monster attack, Lapidus took the proactive approach and began trying to kick open the door of his cage. Then Jack ruined all the fun by showing up and opening the cage door with the guard's key. Lame.
Best Immunity Idol Ruse: Rupert on Survivor - As much as it kills me to say it, Rupert has really been annoying me this season, but this week he's starting to win back the lovability he once owned back in his original season (in which he was voted Fan Favorite). When he realized he was on the chopping block (because he was bold enough to try to reveal Russell's truly evil nature), he used his resources (namely, a rock) and his brain (a tool that has been underutilized by many Survivors lately) and came up with a plan. Creating a suspicious bulge in his pocket with the rock, he made it appear as if he had found the hidden immunity idol, thus leading Russell the Troll-Man to split the Villains' votes, saving Rupert from the wrath of Russell.
Role-Reversal of the Week: Sawyer and Jack on Lost - This Freaky Friday moment has been at least a season and a half in the making, but this week's episode left Sawyer in exactly the same position Jack was in at the end of season five. His lack of faith and his determination to be the hero led him to make a bad decision that got other people killed. The good news? New Zen Jack is three for three this season in terms of his loony, death-cheating "plans." (Calling Dogen's poison-pill bluff, his little dynamite standoff with Richard Alpert, and now it looks like he was right to think that the bomb wouldn't have gone off without Sawyer's attempt to disarm it.) The moral of the story? Jack is back.
Best Spin Class Instructor: Dwight on The Office - Dwight was in peak form this week, tailing Michael's new girlfriend at the gym and attempting to seduce her to test her loyalty (naturally). In the last scene, Dwight is taking a spin class, or, more accurately, taking over a spin class. As the instructor directs them to cool down as they approach a gentle hill, Dwight shouts, "No! The hill is a trap! Let's take the dirt road off to the side!" Did Dwight miss his calling as a spin class instructor?
Best Fake Church Name: Our Lady of Reluctant Immigration, 30 Rock - It makes total sense that Jack's hardass Irish-American mother would play Bingo at a church with such a ridiculously xenophobic name, and it really does roll right off the tongue.
How I Met Your Mother Reference of the Week: Damon on The Vampire Diaries - Almost as good as Andy's mention of the CBS sitcom on The Office a few weeks ago was Damon's passing comment on how Stefan (who is very in tune with his humanity, unlike most vampires) "wants to feel every episode of How I Met Your Mother." Way to be relevant, HIMYM!
Best Torso: It's a tie between Jeff (Joel McHale) on Community and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) on The Vampire Diaries - Is it just me, or does the amount of semi-nudity on TV go up during May sweeps? I guess it makes sense. You know what they say: April plot devices bring May hook-ups.