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)...
#5) The season (and possibly series) finale of Off The Map - With ABC's freshman medical drama Off The Map, what you see is what you get. And what you get is a soapy doctor show set in the rain forest, where there are ample opportunities for the hot young doctors to entangle themselves in various relationship groupings. The season finale (which could very well be the end of the series, as it has not been picked up yet for a second season) certainly delivered, both in terms of the medical stuff and the melodrama. Ailing Dr. Clark (Rachelle Lefevre) got the news that a donor heart was waiting for her in New York for a transplant, which fell through, leading her doctor beau, the ever-tortured Keeton (Martin Henderson) to seek out his slimy former friend to see about getting a heart the less legal way. A teenage tourist let himself get pummeled by a bull rather than confront his mother about changing their wanderlust-y lifestyle. Dr. Brenner (Wonderfalls' Caroline Dhavernas) tried to save her cocaine-harvesting boyfriend who got shot by the policía. And lastly, in a less dramatic but almost equally emotionally charged scene, Dr. Fuller (Friday Night Lights star Zach Gilford) confessed his feelings for Dr. Minard (Mamie Gummer) after she saved a little girl who was injured in a Holy Week float accident. Phew! And just think, that was all in one episode.
#4) Guest stars on The Good Wife - With such an impeccable main cast, you would think The Good Wife wouldn't have the need (or the time) to feature guest stars as great and as they do, and with such frequency. This week marked the return of Michael J. Fox as Louis Canning, the manipulative attorney who wants Alicia to come work for him. Denis O'Hare reprised his role as Judge Abernathy, the super-liberal hippie judge who prefers to practice law with all parties seated and partaking in deep breathing exercises. We also got to see Tim Guinee back as Andrew Wiley, Cary's stay-at-home-dad-slash-private-investigator friend. The real star, though, was Wiley's animatronic lion that attached to his phone, so that when the speakerphone function was enabled, the lion's mouth moved so that it appeared that it was actually speaking. I'm not sure anything will ever be as amusing as hearing the deep, threatening voice of Titus Welliver (who plays State's Attorney Glenn Childs, and who also played the Man in Black on Lost) coming from the mouth of a fuzzy animatronic lion.
#3) The return of The Vampire Diaries - Oh, how we've missed you, Vampire Diaries, with your constant plot twists, your ever-deepening supernatural mythology, and your oft-shirtless male leads. This week's episode included some seriously insane twists and turns, including Isobel (Elena's biological mother) betraying Katherine to Klaus and then killing herself (or was she Compelled to do it by Klaus?), Katherine stealing the Moonstone from Damon's soap dish, Bonnie absorbing a lot of dead witch power, and Alaric apparently being possessed by Klaus. What fun! Also, Uncle John got punched in the face AND thrown down some stairs by Katherine, who used killing him as a distraction at the Lockwood mansion while she traded places with Elena (unfortunately, John's ugly ring brought him back to life after a couple hours). Throw in some blatant product placement for Ford that rivaled Fox's advertising audacity ("Ooh, look at Caroline in her pretty Ford Focus! It has voice dialing capabilities so she can call Matt!") and a gratuitous shot of Ian Somerhalder with his shirt off, and it was a pretty well-rounded episode.
#2) Merge week on Survivor - This week on Survivor, the two tribes became one, which cued the time-honored tradition of naming their merged tribe. This process consists of one castaway lying to the others and telling them that some word or phrase means something in a foreign language (of which they have no knowledge, of course), like "peace" or "victory" or something equally inspirational, thereby convincing them to name themselves something ridiculous without them realizing it. Of course, Boston Rob is the master of deception and mockery, so he stepped up and suggested that the tribe dub themselves "Murlonio," which he said meant, "from the sea, united." He later told the camera, with his usual mix of arrogance and charm, that Murlonio is actually the name of the "ringleader" of his wife Amber's collection of stuffed animals. Honestly, that has to be the most amusingly ludicrous thing I've heard since Phillip's lengthy dissertation on the "Machudo Code" (or something) during the Redemption Island duel earlier in the episode. (Also, give an Emmy to whoever edited that scene, because the fading in and out with the shots of rolling clouds was positively genius.) Matt reentered the game after merge, having won six head-to-head challenges on Redemption Island, and he quickly proceeded to completely screw himself over. (To be fair, he even admitted that he seems to be quite bad at playing the game of Survivor.) He really, really didn't want to go back to Redemption Island, and he felt it was God's will that had brought him back into the game. But when you make the mistake of telling Boston Rob you had planned to vote him out, you're pretty much asking to be sent packing. And just like the Israelites, Matt was sent back into exile.
#1) "Cosmic Love" by Florence + The Machine on Nikita - Nikita wins the award for the second-best use of Florence + The Machine's haunting, moody "Cosmic Love" ever in history. (The top honor goes to this fan-made video of Peter and Olivia from Fringe, in case you were wondering.) I loved this week's episode, mostly because I adore Shane West (who plays angst-ridden Division agent Michael), and this episode was full Michael and Nikita moments, from the flashbacks to their sexy out-of-town mission together five years ago, to the look on Nikita's face when she had to tell Michael that Kasim, the man who killed his wife and daughter, actually worked for Percy, the man who recruited him to Division. Within the episode, Michael went from planning to double-cross Nikita, to becoming her new ally in the fight to take down Division. After years of love/hate sexual tension and not being able to be together, Michael and Nikita were finally on the same side. And "Cosmic Love" was absolutely the perfect song to play during their steamy make-out session. A rule to live by: You can't go wrong with Shane West and Florence + The Machine. You just can't.