But enough bad news, let's discuss the good news, namely the winning shows of the week...
House - Every couple reaches that point in their relationship where they have to choose between the happiness of their significant other and their hooker masseuse. And when sicking Felipe-of-the-Magic-Fingers on Cuddy didn't work, House was willing to give a non-prostitute masseuse a try in exchange for Cuddy's peace of mind. See, those crazy kids really can make it work.
How I Met Your Mother - Not a very noteworthy episode aside from the return of Ranjit, the best cab driver/limo driver/life coach TV has ever seen. This week's episode also featured a series of absurd cameos by Maury Povich. And we caught a rare glimpse of Barney's softer side as he purposefully let a distraught Robin win their ridiculous cross-city race. Am I the only one growing increasingly suspicious that there's a chance the wedding we saw a sneak peek of in the season premiere just might be Barney and Robin's? It's crazy, I know...
Chuck - El Generalisimo was back this week, and this time his country (and those within reach of its nuclear missiles) was put in danger due to his marital problems. His disgruntled wife decided to take control of the country and its weapons. Luckily, Chuck had been reading a self-help book on communicating with your significant other (suggested by Morgan, of course) and was able to help the lovebirds work out their issues, thereby preventing the launch of any nuclear missiles. And I can't forget Devon playfully smacking the nine-foot marble statue of him on the rump.
Castle - This week's murder involved some turn-of-the-century garb, a 200-year-old lead ball for a bullet, and a DeLorean. So naturally Castle assumed time travel was involved. Beckett wasn't buying it. Seeing Nathan Fillion dressed in steampunk attire was almost as amusing as that time when wore Captain Mal's brown coat from Firefly in the Halloween episode of Castle. Sometimes I wonder if I only watch Castle to help fill the void left by Firefly's cancellation.
Glee - This week's Glee had its strong points and its weaknesses, but overall it was pretty solid, and certainly an improvement from the first two episodes of the season. Titled "Duets," the episode allowed for some interesting pairings that we don't normally see. Some were surprisingly wonderful (Mercedes and Santana's take on Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" was probably the best musical performance we've seen yet this season), while others were somewhat lacking (I did not enjoy Mike Chang's musical debut, though that could be because I don't like the song "Sing!"). We also got a good amount of plot development in this episode, including an Artie/Brittany hookup (I wish the boys on this show would stop giving their virginities away to skanky cheerleaders), and the introduction of Squinn (the romantic pairing of Sam and Quinn, who, I have to say, are quite the cute little blonde, Wonder Bread couple). Squinn was initiated with a so-sickly-sweet-it-hurts-to-listen rendition of Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat's "Lucky." I was glad we finally got to see newcomer Sam (Chord Overstreet) develop a bit, and the fact that he's not just a vapid, big-lipped quarterback, but an Avatar geek who speaks Na'vi and does a terrible Matthew McConaughey impression was a delightful realization. As usual, though, Kurt was the real star of the episode. The brilliant father-son duo of Chris Colfer and Mike O'Malley carried the emotional weight of the episode, and their performances, though not musical, were the best duet of the night.
Raising Hope - This week, it was portrait day in the Chance house, and nothing brings out the crazy like trying to get your family to dress in matching outfits and look not-crazy for just long enough to have a photo taken. Virginia tried to help her son Jimmy stay out of the "Friend Zone" with his supermarket clerk crush (Shannon Woodward), using Friends as reference material. ("That is a real thing! I saw it on Friends...Ross was in hell!") The great thing about this show is how real the family is, even with (or perhaps especially because of) all the insanity they exude. I mean, what family hasn't struggled to come up with that perfect family portrait, with everyone smiling and not a hair out of place? (Or in Jimmy's case, not a hair on his head, because the stress of portrait day drives him to start pulling out his hair and eating it, eyebrows included.) Just when Virginia was starting to accept the fact that hers would never be like those perfectly posed families, she received a photo from a traffic camera of the whole family in their truck, smiling in earnest as they sang "Do-Wacka-Do" while running a red light.
Running Wilde...hasn't been canceled yet! And this week's episode was actually really funny, if you enjoy Andy Richter, daddy issues, and comic misunderstandings. Richter played a surrogate father figure for Wilde (Will Arnett) as he finally felt the thrill of validation from a male superior. Unfortunately, Wilde had so little knowledge of how typical fathers and sons interact (having been largely ignored by his father for his whole life) that he didn't realize it was out of the ordinary for a father and son to kiss on the lips. Nor did he understand that his sudsy, semi-nude car wash in front of Richter only perpetuated his impression that Wilde was hitting on him rather than trying to convince him to let his adolescent son go out with Puddle, the daughter of Emmy (Keri Russell). Needless to say, the unfolding of all the various misconceptions was very entertaining.
Life Unexpected - This week was the Life Unexpected/One Tree Hill crossover episode, in which Hayley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) came to Portland to play at Cate and Ryan's music festival. The scene between Hayley and Cate revealed just how much the two characters have in common: Both were valedictorian, both got impregnated in high school by athletes named Nate (or Nathan, in Hayley's case), and they've both given up the spotlight to work as producers instead. Oh, CW, how you love to recycle plot lines.
The Good Wife - Alicia's brother Owen (an openly gay math professor) came to visit, bringing with him plenty of controversy to stir the pot of Peter's reelection that Eli (Alan Cumming) has been trying so hard to keep placid. I loved the sibling dynamic between Owen and Alicia, and I really hope we get to see more of him, possibly in some upcoming holiday episodes.
Survivor - Oh, Marty, don't you know you should never brag to the cameras about being fully "in control" or "everything going according to plan" on this crazy show called Survivor? You're just asking for things to get shaken up, and indeed they were (thankfully). This week, Jeff uttered those fateful words every survivor dreads: "Drop. Your. Buffs." Finally the Old Tribe/Young Tribe rivalry is over (not to mention that dreadful Medallion of Power), and things can start to get interesting. So far, Fabio's idiocy is getting increasingly annoying, NaOnka whines like a little kid at the opera, and Marty gets cockier and stupider by the week. He decided it was a good idea to reveal that he had the Immunity Idol about five seconds after the new tribe had entered their camp. As Brenda pointed out, that's about the dumbest move you could make. Meanwhile, NaOnka, the big bad bully, met her match: rain. Sure, she'll push over a girl with a prosthetic leg to get a clue to the hidden Immunity Idol, but once it starts pouring, all she can do is rock back and forth and cry like a baby. As great as it was to finally see Chase get some face time, I was kind of hoping he wouldn't talk her out of quitting the game, although his inspirational story about his dead father and a rainbow had me staring intently at my TV. The quote of the night went to Jane, though, who introduced a new expression to the Survivor lexicon: "Tight as ticks." Could she be the next Bobby Jon? (The survivor who brought you such gems as, "There's another bear in the woods now," and "Sometimes you gotta mash the gas to get the car to go, you know?")
Modern Family - Mitchell and Claire couldn't figure out how to tell their significant others the truth about their embarrassing habits (wearing Spandex biking shorts and telling bad jokes), so they came up with a plan: they'd switch! This would have sort of maybe worked if Cam hadn't started crying when Claire told him about the shorts, and if Mitchell had actually been able to go through with telling Phil his jokes weren't funny. Little did we know, his jokes actually are funny, at least to the real estate community. Who knew?
Cougar Town - This week we finally had to deal with the fallout from the brief affair between Grayson (Josh Hopkins) and Laurie (Busy Philipps) last season, before Grayson and Jules were dating. First, Jules got mad at Ellie, who hadn't told her about their liaison, despite her promise to always tell Jules the "harsh truth." Jules turned her shunning of a friend into a Survivor-esque reality show, which was positively hilarious, especially when Grayson licked his palm and "extinguished" Ellie's wine glass as she left. Later Laurie confessed to having known that Jules had feelings for Grayson when she slept with him, so Jules shunned her as well. Bobby, meanwhile, was waiting impatiently for a street performer to "eat the sword," (which became the latest in a series of catchphrases coined by this brilliant show) while trying to get Smith to open up about his feelings regarding Laurie (his girlfriend) having slept with Grayson. Smith realized his feelings for Laurie weren't that strong, so he broke up with her, leaving her bawling in Jules' yard. (Busy Philipps gave an amazing and heart-wrenching performance during this scene, by the way.) Jules, being Jules, couldn't watch her friend be alone in such despair, so she put the past aside and went to comfort her. After all, as she'd said earlier, what she'd felt with Smith was real, deep, "keep the baby type of love."
Terriers - This week marked another great episode of this freshman drama on FX, managing to portray deeply flawed and complex characters while still keeping an interesting crime case going each week, with a smart sense of humor sprinkled throughout. The underlying theme of this episode was the joy and destruction of marriage. Hank (Donal Logue) attended the engagement party for his ex-wife (whom he's still in love with); Britt decided to get serious and ask his girlfriend Katie to marry him; and a dying woman hired them to find a ring that her cheating husband had given to his girlfriend. I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Watch this show.
Community - Just what do community colleges have to compete about? The quality of their brochures, of course! Why would anyone go to a community college with nothing more than foosball to tout on their brochure when they could attend an equally inadequate community college with a space simulator? This was the pickle Greendale found themselves in this week on Community, resulting in a hysterical episode ripe with references to Apollo 13, Star Wars, and the space race. The gang got trapped in the KFC space simulator Winnebago, and despite some initial obstacles (Pierce's space madness, the fact that the radar positioning system was actually, yup, a sticker), they were able to complete the simulation, thanks to some radio assistance from Abed back at ground control (think Billy Bob Thornton in Armageddon). Between the Herbs and Spices thrusters and Atari graphic Colonel Sanders giving the crew directions, I'd say the KFC space simulator was the best (and certainly most creative) example of product placement I've ever seen.
30 Rock - This week, 30 Rock took a bold risk and aired a completely live episode. Well, two, actually: one for the East Coast and one for the West. Having watched (for your benefit, of course) both the versions, I'm prepared to state that while both were hilarious, the West Coast one might have been just a tad better, if only because Jon Hamm (reprising his role as Liz's ex, Dr. Drew Baird) did an even funnier version of his hand frankensteining awareness PSA. (See the West Coast version of Jon Hamm's commercial here.) Other notable guest stars were Matt Damon, Bill Hader, Rachel Dratch, Chris Parnell, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as flashback Liz. (When asked why she looked prettier in her memory, Liz replied, "My memory has Seinfeld money.") The whole episode was wonderfully executed and very meta, which is what we always expect from the smartest comedy on TV. (Big Bang Theory doesn't count, even though its main characters are geniuses.)
So that's about it for this week. Other shows that were good but I didn't feel like talking about were Hawaii Five-O, Bones, The Office, The League, and Better With You. Until next week, thanks for reading, and "Eat the sword!"