Tune In/Tune Out: March 30-April 6, 2014

Welp. I’m watching something now that’s pretty fun, but it’ll have to wait till next week’s installment. In the meantime, anger about a certain series finale aside, there was actually a lot to watch this week. Onto the picks! (For some reason, I wanted to put ‘tally ho’ just now, but I’m going to ignore that urge.)

TUNE IN

 

The Walking Dead: The finale was amazing, and kept the audience at the end of their seats. It is great to see about 84 percent of the group coming back together, but it still leaves so many questions to be answered in season five. I can’t wait to see what stuff and things happen in season five.  – Becca

NCIS: The second half of the backdoor pilot for the bayou-flavored spin-off could have fallen completely flat, but it managed to do two important things in the space of an hour. It successfully built a world for the spin-off to inhabit, and it set forth an interesting ongoing mystery to give the real pilot (presumably next fall) something to draw from when it gets going. – Moff

The Mindy Project: It’s back in a big way, and it’s better than ever. Next week also promises two new episodes, so catch up while you still can! –Kerry

Grimm: SO MANY THINGS ARE HAPPENING. It’s terribly tempting to draw comparisons between this show and ABC’s own fairytale-inspired Once Upon a Time, but it’s ultimately unfair. NBC’s show has successfully built a reputation for compelling storytelling, moments of jump-in-your-seat, and awkward humor, and this week’s episode managed to set up a breakneck race to the season finale. – Moff

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The show gave me a pretty good idea on what would be happening with Captain America: Winter Soldier when I watched it. The episode was intense, and left you constantly questioning who you could trust. – Becca

 

TUNE OUT

How I Met Your Mother: This is probably unfair, since I literally tuned out of the series finale, but it effectively ruined the mythology of the entire show. It deserved a better ending than that. –Kerry

 

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Tune In/Tune Out: March 23-30, 2014

I need a new word for ‘oops’ because that word? It’s not cutting it, but here we are at the end of another week, and as the self-appointed person doing these posts, I am back on schedule. On the other hand, one of my mad compatriots here has lost her mind – but, y’know what? I’ll let her tell y’all about it, below in the lists!

TUNE IN

Marathon of The Walking Dead: Due to me being susceptible to ships, I fell down the rabbit hole this past week with Daryl Dixon and Beth Greene, and I am now obsessed with this show. It is great to marathon, especially since the finale of season four is upon us. The character development is amazing. – Becca

Psych: The series finale was perfect. Everything was perfect. I’m only sad that it’s over, but I’m definitely not sad about how it ended. –Kerry

Brooklyn 99: I’m sad this show has wrapped its first season so early, but I’m curious now the next season will open now that Jake’s been fired from the NYPD. His confession to Amy was glorious. –Kerry

NCIS: I don’t know whether it was the addition of Scott Bakula or that the production trucked out to Nawlins for the actual filming, but I was actually really into this episode as a back-door pilot for a spin-off of this long-running crime procedural. – Moff

TUNE OUT

Arrow: It pains me to do this, and I hope this show never lands on the “Tune Out” list again, but this week’s episode had odd beats, an odd placement, and inconsistent characterization. Hopefully they recover next week. –Kerry

Tune In/Tune Out: March 2-9, 2014

Geez. OK, well so much for the rerun hinterlands of March. ABC has been packing in a string of high-profile episodes and premiering several new series, while other networks have been slipping in new episodes, considering they no longer have to contend with the Winter Olympics. And, as Kerry said earlier today, “so many duds, so many great ones.” Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

TUNE IN

NCIS: I’m a fan of Robert Wagner’s portrayal of Anthony DiNozzo, Sr., mainly because he often serves as comic relief. But I especially liked his guest spot in this week’s episode because his reason for being in town put his son’s new-found enlightenment to the test. – Moff

Brooklyn Nine Nine: I love when this show gets to be action-y, and the tactical village was a really cool way to see the characters in a true police setting. Jake seemed primed to take a big step forward with Amy, only to be beaten to the punch, while Rosa finally found out the true reason Boyle didn’t invite her to his wedding. I never thought I’d say this about this show, but it looks like we’re ramping up for an emotional conclusion to the season! (And congrats to this show and <i>The Mindy Project</i> on their renewals!) –Kerry

Trophy Wife: Two words: Bert Day. It’s as amazing as it sounds. –Kerry

Joe Punjsd

You know the rhyme.

Community: Visually, it was weird, and the story was a lot more depressing than it seemed on the surface, but it was still a fantastic episode. It left me really excited to see where the rest of the season is going. – Moff

Lereyo

How have we never had an ‘Andy = Kool-Aid guy’ joke before now?

Parks and Recreation: Ron Swanson hangs out with his newborn son for the entire episode, a swarm of bees attacks mostly Eagletonians, and everyone is insanely quotable. (“Hey Ron, cool baby.”) –Kerry

Elementary Gifed

So many dirty jokes, so little time.

Elementary: If you don’t tune in just to see roosters hanging out in the Brownstone, then maybe the case of the week, which is twisty with a weird conclusion, will appeal to you. Ears to you! –Kerry

Sherlocked Mind Palace

Arrow: Comes for the abs, stay for the acting

Arrow: Slade Wilson hangs out at the Queen mansion, freaking out Oliver as he charms his mother and sister, while back on the island, Oliver goes and lets the bad guy monologue. Never let the bad guy monologue! But it still made for a seriously good hour of television. –Kerry

Multiprises

And this drawing is actually *less* creepy.

Grimm: We got a little bit of the larger, Royal-related arc, and we got a creepy new creature. And Sgt. Wu finally got a first name and some back story! Of course, it didn’t end particularly well for him, but it’s been a long time coming. – Moff

TUNE OUT

How I Met Your Mother: this week’s episode made me regret recommending this show to everyone who would listen. Even if the show ends with a miraculous (spoiler), the entire narrative of the show has been cheapened. My instinct is to tune out the show for the rest of the series, but curiosity may get the better of me. –Kerry

Suits: The stakes have never been more… the same as ever. Louis re-realized Mike was a fraud, Rachel walked around two apartments in lingerie, and Harvey bickered with Scotty over her contract and buy-in at Pearson Specter. The episode <i>is</i> worth the precious few scenes we get of Donna and Jessica (they both get two separate scenes, each) but since it amounts to about seven minutes of screentime, just skip this one. Maybe tune in next week, though it’s possible nothing will happen then, either. –Kerry

About a Boy: I really wanted to like this show, because the premise is right up my alley. The kid is unbelievably cute and hits all his marks like a veteran, but there’s still something missing from the show as a whole. While the pilot was fine, I didn’t expect the second episode to be so formulaic (guy doesn’t want to watch kid, kid really likes guy, guy has to watch kid, guy takes kid to grown-up party, guy neglects kid, guy learns exact same lesson he just learned in the pilot) and the whole thing ended up feeling flat to me. Hopefully the third episode’s the charm! –Kerry

Tune In/Tune Out: Feb. 23 – March 2, 2014

Wow. So, that was an awfully long week, wasn’t it? (Why, yes, I am pretending to ignore the rules of space and time. Thanks for noticing!)

While not all our shows are back yet – and we’re heading into the hinterland of March reruns, which means I’ve queued up a bunch of IFC movies from the last two years – but there were some real stand-outs this week. And a couple stinkers, too. But lets not dally any longer, shall we?

TUNE IN

 

Person of Interest: This week’s ‘number’ wasn’t part of a larger arc, but it was still poignant, tensely paced and gripping: All the things POI does best and has done since the latter part of season one. – Moff

Brooklyn Nine Nine: – Did you know Jake and Gina have known each other since grade school? Neither did we until this week’s episode! Their storyline gave the department some surprising depth, while the self-evaluations held by Holt and Jeffords were downright hilarious. Poor Santiago. –Kerry

image

Arrow: The ensembles on Arrow were amazing in this episode. The Diggle and Felicity friendship gives me constant feels, and I hope this was the beginning of a wonderful friendship between Felicity and Sara – Becca

Community: I’ve liked Britta for a long time, even when she was The Worst. As much as this episode was about Abed finding his footing post-Troy, and Jeff and Ian Duncan’s friendship, Gillian Jacobs shone in this episode, fleshing out Britta’s character in bits and pieces. – Moff

 

Grimm: It’s fun when a show has finally established enough of its world that it can spend time character building, which this week’s second-half of the pre-Winter Olympics cliffhanger did. But it also managed to add new elements to Adalind’s pregnancy arc, and the resolution of Monroe’s falling out with his father even hinted at what the season’s remaining episodes will bring. – Moff

Psych: – This show really is firing on all cylinders as it heads into its last block of episodes. If seeing everyone in sixties costumes doesn’t appeal to you (notably Tim Omundson and Dule Hill, with Maggie Lawson as my favorite) then the last scene between Lassiter and Juliet is sure to tug your heartstrings. (What are we going to do without this show?) –Kerry

TUNE OUT

NCIS:LA: It’s difficult not to feel like the writers were simply scraping the bottom of the barrel as they tried to prolong the ‘Kensi in Afghanistan’ storyline. While it was an unexpected – and clever – way of throwing a wrench into the Kensi/Deeks partnership, it’s starting to feel confusing and unnecessary at this point. After all, the writers aren’t taking the same tact as they did with Tony/Ziva on NCIS, so why continue to keep Kensi and Deeks apart? – Moff

Saturday Night Live: Admittedly, I only tuned in to catch Weekend Update, as I was excited to see Cecily Strong anchor the desk on her own. But, in the grand tradition of SNL setting high expectations and then failing to meet them spectacularly, Strong is now partnered with a newer member of the cast, who I have spent the last 12 hours referring to as ‘Generic White Dude.’ Strong was clearly picked to take over from Seth Myers because she had the chops, and I’m disappointed the show isn’t going to let her show it. – Moff

Tune In / Tune Out: Jan. 26 – Feb. 2, 2014

I’d be lying if I said we three of WWFTP weren’t spending some portion of this Sunday watching the Seattle Seahawks take on the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey. I grew up in Seattle (Well, in one of the suburbs, anyway.) and Kerry has a familial connection to Washington state, so interpret our allegiances as you will. Still, a week of TV can’t be watched in a day, so here are our picks for the shows that ran for the end zone this week, and the ones that came up short.

TUNE IN

How I Met Your Mother: Finally, an episode worth watching! The story of “How Your Mother Met Me” was so reminiscent of the first three seasons of this once-great show that one has to wonder why she didn’t get more material in this final season. In only 22 minutes, she managed to capture our hearts with her cheeriness, grief, and perfect-for-Ted quirkiness (she made her breakfast food sing showtunes!) Here’s hoping we see more of her before the finale! — Kerry

Bones: Sometimes, introducing a heretofore secret sibling is a desperate attempt to reignite interest. Just think of all the times characters had babies on sitcoms because the existing kids were aging out of their cute/funny or high school years. But this episode was heart-breaking and sweet, and the introduction of Hodgin’s brother gave all the characters a chance to show their best selves. – Moff

Enlisted: Keith David continues to steal all of his scenes, and we got to see more of the squadron as they faced off against the Marines in a flag football game. The brothers share a very sweet storyline about surprise homecomings between fathers and sons, and Pete runs around in a ridiculous half-shirt for most of the episode. –Kerry

Community: A slightly weird structure aside, there were so many things to love about this episode. And who doesn’t love a chance to Fat Dog for Mid-terms? – Moff

Elementary: I really liked how the non-case part of this episode focused on Sherlock being a sponsor, and seeing him deal with that. – Becca

TUNE OUT

Nothing from us this week. There were episodes that were only so-so, and there were an awful lot of reruns this week, but nothing that felt like a complete waste of time. And the second quarter started a couple minutes ago, so excuse me while I go pay more attention to football than I do the rest of the year. (GO SEAHAWKS! LOUDER!)

For want of a theme

This post contains spoilers for episode 5.06, “Analysis of Cork-Based Networking,” of Community.

Sometimes, I watch an episode of a TV show and wonder, “What version of this scene ended up on the proverbial cutting-room floor?” Or I watch an episode and think, “That was a strange cut. It totally changes the tone or pacing of the scene.” Most of the time, I know I’m overthinking these sorts of editing choices. (Full Disclosure: I have an awful habit of overthinking things, as Kerry and Becca can attest. They’ve received several early morning emails from me on the subject of my former college crush, stemming from Facebook stalking compounded by me overthinking inconsequential things. My point? Give me a topic, I’ll think way too much about it.)

Last night’s episode of Community was no exception, as I wondered how what was ostensibly the A-plot somehow became the C-plot, the B-plot slipped into the lead, and the C-plot moseyed into second place. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This week’s episode, “Analysis of Cork-Based Networking,” was (relatively) heavily promoted, given its stable of guest stars:

Whedonverse-regular and star of ABC’s Castle, Nathan Fillion; Paget Brewster, alumna of CBS’s Criminal Minds;

ABC Family’s Katie Leclerc, best known for Switched at Birth; and action movie favorite, Robert Patrick. Plus, Jonathan Banks was back as Professor Buzz Hickey, and Brie Larson returned as Rachel the Coat Check Girl. Some of the guest spots were brief – Larson’s was tucked into the final minutes of the third act – while others, like Leclerc’s, were woven throughout the entire episode. Each appearance was a pleasant surprise, and added a new layer to the world of Greendale. (Because herpes transmitted by the water fountains? Sure. But absolutely no porn allowed through the school’s firewall? Say it ain’t so!)

The three concurrent plots were each well-realized and funny, even if their place in the plot hierarchy was a little muddled. In what essentially served as a prologue, Annie is leading a meeting of the Study Group Save Greendale Committee, of which Chang is now a member, and trying to assign tasks to the other characters.

 

Britta and Abed squabble about spoilers for Bloodlines of Conquest (the Greendale equivalent of Game of Thrones), then are tasked with updating the Greendale Community College student census. Shirley, Jeff, Ian Duncan and Chang avoid volunteering to decorate for the Mid-term Dance *until Annie says she’ll head up the group* – then they all agree to help.

Annie then puts them in charge of the dance, instead putting herself and Hickey on bulletin board posting duty.

On paper, Annie’s task is the A-plot: In the course of negotiating Greendale’s bureaucracy to have a new bulletin board put up in the cafeteria, she and Hickey encounter Fillion’s head custodian, Bob Waite; Brewster’s head of campus IT, Debra Chambers; and Patrick’s campus parking director, promising each one some weirdly specific kick-back in exchange for shuffling the bulletin board work order to the top of the queue. (Moving it ahead of “lower flag to half-staff for Reagan’s funeral,” so, really, Greendale could be further behind.) The dance committee had what appeared to be the B-plot, with Chang’s suggestion first confusing Jeff, Shirley, and Duncan, then bringing them together as a team, before finally bringing them together in shared embarrassment. And Abed and Britta’s cross-campus spoiler war, which used Leclerc’s fluency in sign language, should’ve been the C-plot: The shallowest and easiest to resolve.

This is where it gets tricky: Each of the three plots was funny and clever in its own right, letting us spend time with the characters as themselves, rather than as the extreme versions of themselves we often see in the heavily themed or homage episodes. Jeff and Duncan were their usual responsibility shirking selves. Abed exhibited a dedication to avoiding spoilers typical of his usual compulsions. Annie’s ambition was matched only by her deviousness, and both are traits that should come as no surprise to anyone who remembers season one’s “Social Psychology.”

Yet, Annie and Hickey’s plot, despite both Alison Brie and Banks bringing their A-game, lacks the charm of the other two.

 

It seemed unnecessarily convoluted and repetitive: For want of a looser firewall, a work order was delayed. For want of a closer parking space, a looser firewall was denied. For want of a bulletin board posting supervisor, a closer parking space was refused. For want of a toast, a bulletin board posting supervisor went unapproved. For want of a toast, a wall remained blank. And all for the want of a work order. Perhaps if the cameos had been spread out more equitably, this particular plot wouldn’t have felt as incidental, as created to provide a structure into which the guest stars could easily be inserted.

Abed and Britta’s task provides them a reason for roaming Greendale’s halls, but their plot instead focuses on Britta’s insistence on spoiling Abed for Bloodlines of Conquest. She goes to absurd lengths, matching Abed’s steps to avoid hearing or seeing anything she tries to tell him.

In the course of them avoiding each other, Abed meets Leclerc’s lip-reading and signing student, who peaks his interest. Their interactions are funny and sweet, as Abed quickly learns enough sign language to have a conversation with Leclerc.

As much as Abed’s made-up signs have all the indicators of being offensive, he almost immediately apologizes to Leclerc for not actually knowing sign language.

Meanwhile, Gillian Jacobs gives Britta’s mission to spoil Abed for BoC a gleefulness and dedication that speaks to the state of Abed and Britta’s evolving friendship: They aren’t – and may never be – besties, but her desire to annoy him isn’t done out of spite or ignorance. (Cougarton Abbey, anyone?)

Instead, Britta is poking at Abed the way she’d poke at any of the others in the study group, and, finally, without the assumption of Abed being some thing she needs to fix. I think it’s a layer that’s a result of Britta doing her best to ‘help’ Abed at the end of last week’s Lava World game, in that she finally seems to be accepting Abed needs someone to ground him, as Troy did, rather than someone who’s primary goal is ‘curing’ him. If that’s the tact the show takes, with Britta filling the same role for Abed, albeit in a different way, I think I could finally get behind her pursuing a career in psychology.

Finally, somehow the Mid-term Dance Committee plot took center stage, and in an unexpected way. The dance itself is less important than the decorating, as it’s not unexpected for Greendale to have a dance for any and every event. Chang, who has always been treated as unwelcome hanger-on by the study group and an object of derision and/or pity by his colleagues at Greendale, offers a suggestion for a theme for the dance: ‘Bear Down for Mid-terms.’ Jeff, Duncan, and Shirley are all, understandably, confused and mock Chang, as he repeats his suggestion without elaborating on what he means but grows visibly more frustrated. In an inspired choice, Ken Jeong explodes in a tantrum that is typical of Chang’s earlier behavior, but with an edge of mingled desperation and frustration as he says he knows he’s a joke and they think he’s crazy, but he genuinely wants to contribute.

It’s inspired because Jeong voices, in one brief monologue, what Community – both the show and fandom – have been saying since 2009: This show is unusual and may be best known for spurts of bizarre behavior, but it is as capable of contributing something real to the world as any other comedy, drama, network show or cable masterpiece.

Of course, there sight gags in abundance: Annie’s structurally unsound wall of success; the custodians’ enormous garage versus the IT’s department crammed into a large closet; Abed taping cans over his ears; and Neil bringing in a couple of 24-packs of soda (budget cuts?) as refreshments for the dance.

 There’s added humor in clever dialogue: Dean Pelton’s insouciant “Easy peasy, lemon squeezy”; Garret screaming “IT’S A BEAR DANCE!”; Duncan’s exasperated, “You can’t just repeat it but louder”; Jeff awkwardly trying to sell the new dance theme, ‘Fat Dog for Mid-terms’; and Annie’s “EV-ERY-THING!” (It’s been a while since we heard Annie’s Loud Voice, hasn’t it?)

These all added up to a funny, strange little episode, but I’m still wondering how the plot packed with guest stars wound up the least compelling. Did it happen in editing? Was it a matter of trimming the episode down for time? Or was it intentional, some sort of meta commentary on the propensity for stunt casting? But what do I know? I overthink everything.

Tune In / Tune Out: Jan. 12-19, 2014

Welp. Here we are: Another week, another batch of episodes behind us. As I put together our picks for ‘Most Likely to be Rewatched’ and ‘Most Likely to be Forgotten Until We See It Listed On the DVD,’ I’m watching the NFC Championship game, and holding out hope my hometown team will come back from their slow start and finish strong. (Typing with crossed fingers is tough, folks, but it’s worth it if the Seahawks make it to the Super Bowl.) And so, without further ado, here are our thoughts on the week just ended.

TUNE IN

Natalie Morales

Trophy Wife: Jackie and Pete had to work together in order to spend a day with Bert, while Kate finally had to learn how to be a parent capable of discipline. It’s so great to watch these characters evolve. –Kerry

[h/t to our Trophy Wife guest blogger, Mary, for the GIF and for saving me from the #trophy wife tag on Tumblr. Geez. – M]

 

Brooklyn Nine Nine: I’m only a casual fan of Jake/Amy, but I think I can turn into a real fan if they use this episode as an endpoint to the “children on a playground” trope. Boyle’s one scene with Rosa was great, but my favorite was Captain Holt, who couldn’t seem to stop putting his foot in his mouth. –Kerry

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: I love that this episode took us back to Jemma’s and Fitz’s academy, and having Bucky Barnes’ name on the memorial wall was icing on the cake. – Becca

Psych: We got some great character growth for Lassiter! It came at the cost of dealing with an annoying police chief, but at least this sets up a good arc for the former head detective. Here’s hoping we’ll be rid of Trout soon… I miss Chief Vick. –Kerry

Downton Abbey: After a plodding season premiere (episodes 1 and 2), the third episode had the more familiar pacing of earlier seasons. Of course, it also had an emotional wallop that I’m still unsure was necessary, though it certainly made for a couple compelling performances on the part of Joanne Froggatt and Phyllis Logan. – Moff

Modern Family: I mostly watch this show out of habit, late on Wednesday nights after I’ve watched all my other shows, but I was surprised and pleased at the storyline for Alex in this week’s episode. Her character is frequently pigeonholed as a straight-man foil to the antics of her siblings and cousins, so it was nice to see that she has her own set of issues, and that when she’s on her own, she’s actually an appealing character to watch. –Kerry

The Crazy Ones: I haven’t been watching this freshman series as regularly as I might have – and I’m not happy CBS has seen fit to bump it a half-hour later this week for another helping of, ahem, a certain “sitcom” – but both the A- and B-plots were strong this week, with a clever means of tying them together and another sweet father-daughter moment between Robin Williams’ and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s characters. Plus, Josh Groban with a quasi-mullet and an office/dressing room in a grungy men’s room: What more do I need? – Moff

TUNE OUT

How I Met Your Mother: If you don’t find the blatant stereotyping to be offensive, then you’ll definitely be offended by the lack of payoff… and the lack of storyline… and the lack of anything compelling happening at all. It was all-around the worst episode of the series. Way to besmirch the fourth slap, writers. –Kerry

Person of Interest: As lovely as the denouement was, bringing Mr. Finch and Mr. Reese back together to continue their work, I’ve seen the ‘protect the young tech wizard who’s invented a world-changing Internet thing’ story done better on other shows – and with a more interesting young tech wizard. – Moff