Most Anticipated Top 5 Mid-Season Premieres

Happy 2015! I am incredibly excited for the mid-season premieres, but there is a part of me is filled with sorrow at the same time. Two great shows are taking their final bow, and will be greatly missed once they are finished. However, let us rejoice the fact they get to end the way they want to end.

The first show is Parks and Recreation. It is the last show from NBC’s golden Thursday night comedy left (still on NBC). They decided to make a time jump into the year 2017, and I have faith this show has been able to handle the transition. The rest of the world is slowly finding out this cast is amazing, but we have already known this for at least six seasons. It is time to ‘Treat Yo Self’ to final season of some of the greatest characters on TV. – Premiering: Tuesday, January 13th, 8 P.M. – 9 P.M. on NBC (two shows/per week)

 

 

The other show ending after this season is Justified. I know without a doubt this show will end with a bang. My only fear is either Raylan Givens, Boyd Crowder, or both will finally die. These two are the definition of frenemies. Two boys who grew up together to dig coal with each other, only to be on opposite sides of the law now. It was always great to see them play for the same team, but it wouldn’t be a final season without seeing them pitted against the other. – Premiering: Tuesday, January 20th, 10 P.M. on FX

 

 

Then we have new and upcoming shows I wish all the success for. They show promise, and I deeply hope I will not be disappointed with them.

The first is Marvel’s Agent Carter. Someone at Marvel studios is showing intelligence by creating a show about Peggy Carter. Marvel has many great female characters who all deserve to shine, and I hope this show proves they need to focus on the female characters in this universe just as much as the male characters. Women are heroes. They are intelligent people who can kick butt. (I also jumped for joy when I found out the Russo brothers were directing a couple of episodes) – Premiering: Tuesday, January 6th, 8 P.M. on ABC (two hour special; will air at 9 P.M. in the weeks to follow)

 

 

Galavant. The one thing that made the finale Psych hurt a little bit less (it still hurts) was Timothy Omundson coming back to my TV screen. What makes it even better is seeing him turn from a goes by the book detective to the evil king (If you haven’t watched Psych, I would suggest watching a couple of episodes before watching this show.) What makes it even better is Vinnie Jones plays his henchman. Also, Magnitude Luke Youngblood will say more than “Pop! Pop!” in the show. And let’s face it, you will probably see ‘All about that Sasse (Joshua Sasse plays Galavant)’ at least once before the show is half way through. – Premiering: Sunday, January 4th, 8 P.M. on ABC

 

 

iZombie. How is it The CW is becoming the network most of my favorite shows are on? The number has gone from only one show I watch (Arrow) to three thanks to the premieres of The Flash and Jane the Virgin. I will admit the number one reason why I am so interested in this show is because Rob Thomas is the creator. The man gave us Veronica Mars. It also doesn’t hurt I enjoyed Rose McIver when she played Tink on Once Upon a Time. Premiering: TBD

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Sperm, Lies and Polygraphs

I still remember where I was when I heard Dan Harmon had been fired from his own damn show following season three: At a table on the patio of a bowling alley with two friends from college, watching my college crush at the next table over while also trying to avoid eye contact with the retiring professors for whom we were all gathered at the aforementioned bowling alley. One of my friends came back from the bar with drinks, the setting sun turning her curls gold, sat down and said, “You were at work all day, so you probably didn’t hear about Dan.” Confused, I looked to where another of our former classmates, named Dan, stood, and looked back at my friend, blinking like a tiny puppy. My friend explained she meant Harmon, and the three of us spent the next 20 minutes wondering how it could even be possible.

WYSIWYG

As goes the Dean, so goes my nation.

Then we had the Oct. 19 Debacle, and, finally, season four premiered in February. And, sure, it wasn’t the same Community we’d all fallen in love with: The rhythms were different, the focus wasn’t as sharp, and not all the jokes landed properly. I didn’t love season four, but I love the cast, in character and out, and I was simply happy to have them back on my screen. I only missed one episode, last April, when Yvette Nicole Brown came to my city and was part of a panel discussion at the public library. (Yes, I got to meet her. Yes, she is as charming and lovely and gorgeous in person as she is on screen. And, yes, this is the only time I will ever consciously name-drop.)

Now, I don’t know how many of you watch the show because you love it, warts and all, and how many watch because they believe Harmon can do no wrong. I think tough love – that is, looking critically at things you value and expecting more from them – isn’t something you do only when you’re unhappy with that thing you value; it’s something you do all the time, even when you’re happy with the thing. After this week’s episode, it’s time for some tough love, so if you’re looking for rainbows and glitter, go ahead and skip this post. I won’t take it personally.

This post contains spoilers for episode 5.04 of Community, “Cooperative Polygraphy.”

The fourth episode of Community‘s fifth season picks up sometime shortly after “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics,” with the study group returning from Pierce’s funeral and shucking the sky blue robes and beehive hats of the Church of Neo Reformed Buddhism. Chang enters and asks if Pierce’s funeral was fun, but the Study Group tell him they’ll all miss Pierce. Chang calls shenanigans, recalling all the times they complained about Pierce and even tried to evict the older man from the Study Group.

Up to this point, the episode is funny, if a little slow, joke-wise. And, after rewatching earlier today, I like to think the episode could have handled the inevitable fall-out of Pierce’s death in a variety of ways: A visit from Gilbert sparks questions about Pierce’s will, or even his legitimacy as one of the Hawthorne Wipes heirs; or perhaps the remaining members of the Greendale Seven would have returned to Pierce’s home. Maybe even a group project that would have highlighted the role Pierce played in the group dynamics. Instead, we watch as Pierce posthumously throws one more wrench into the works, engaging a professional to administer a group polygraph, ostensibly to determine if anyone in the Study Group (or Chang) murdered him.

As a concept, the group polygraph is a slightly less clever premise for a bottle episode than the search for Annie’s purple pen in season two’s “Cooperative Calligraphy,” but it’s not as far-fetched as some shows. (For instance, this week’s Person of Interest took place in the course of one plane ride and was as thrilling as ever, but the story has been done in the last several years by shows as varied as Human Target to Covert Affairs. It wasn’t bad, but it felt a little flat, as far as bottle eps go.) And, unlike season four’s “Paranormal Parentage,” this bottle episode was rather elegant in the way it drew parallels with “Cooperative Calligraphy.” Jeff and Britta’s abortive romance in season two; Annie’s need drive to succeed at all costs; Abed’s inability to understand appropriate boundaries;

Unknown Pleasure

Using a friend’s bathroom? OK. Secretly using a friend’s shower? Not so much.

Shirley’s desire to be seen as selfless and peaceable; Chang’s peculiar relationship with the Greendale campus; and Britta’s government-related paranoia are all referenced.

Unknown Pleasure

Britta, I have a Libertarian friend you would *love.*

Like the previous three episodes this season, the tone of life being darker is prevalent, as the group’s revelations are harsh and uncomfortable, even though the study group’s delivery was spot on for much of the action. In particular, Shirley had a couple particularly good lines, which is nice to see as hers is a character written into a box more often than not.

Series Maniac

*So* many reactions on Twitter. Was it the tone? The words? But people loved it.

And Danny Pudi’s delivery “Your faces are changing” was reminiscent of some of Abed’s season one and two scenes, before his defining characteristic became the isolating behaviors that always set Abed apart from his friends.

It's a love story

At some point, asking why Danny Pudi’s never been nominated for an Emmy becomes redundant – and painful.

Plus, while I’m not generally a fan of Ken Jeong’s broad comedic choices as Chang, his ‘confession’ was so daft but still serious I was surprised into laughter.

I am the one who knocks!

This whole bit was gold.

However, the Study Group’s confessions were a sliver that irritated me as the episode aired Thursday and again when I rewatched, and were part of why I wish now the episode had handled the aftermath of Pierces death differently. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t love season four, but I felt one of its redeeming elements was the attempts, however clumsy, to give the characters legitimate growth. For instance, as much as Joel McHale acted the hell out of the scene in which Jeff confronts his absentee father “Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations,” using Britta as a catalyst for that confrontation never sat well with me, nor did the show’s ham-handed attempt to illustrate how little Jeff really missed given that Bill Winger’s other son was shown as a total disaster. Likewise, Abed’s epiphany that Troy would always find him, in “Conventions of Space and Time,” was unnecessary given Annie had already helped him to that conclusion in “Virtual Systems Analysis” in season three; but Britta’s confirmation of Troy’s fear that another man was trying to steal his best friend was a sweet nod to her knowing Troy well enough to respect Troy and Abed’s friendship. And for all the problems involved in “Heroic Origins,” it was nice to finally see a sliver of Annie’s backstory and to discover the rehab group she mentioned back in season one’s “English as a Second Language” was not a fabrication on her part, but a reality, further reinforcing the importance of the Study Group in her life given her abandonment by both her biological family and her fellow recovering addicts.

As the confessions came during the rounds of questioning during the polygraph, learning that Shirley still blindly put her own preferences over her friend’s (the substitution of tofu for ‘meatfu’ to save money); that Britta wouldn’t automatically guess Troy and Abed putting themselves first in case of the zombpocalypse; that Abed would overstep the boundaries of privacy and bodily autonomy by implanting trackers in all his friends; Jeff was still as hell-bent on collecting proof of his own importance (the box of sexual trophies being akin to the get well cards he collected after his faked appendectomy);

Spirit Desire

Ugh. Adrian Grody

and, perhaps most troubling given her comments in “Repilot,” that Annie has had access to methamphetamines for years, but also still sees them as a legit route to success, were all troubling. The confessions felt less like seeds for future storylines and more like Harmon flipping the bird at the thought that his characters might be capable of growth and change.

Gillian Jacobs

As much as I appreciate Donald’s face – and I really do – I would’ve liked Troy to be more active.

Further troubling was how underused Troy was in this episode, especially given this coming week is his final episode of the season. His confessions – that he didn’t invent his and Abed’s handshake and had not been to Legoland – felt shallow and superfluous, especially as the wedge between he and Abed had already been driven into place in “Repilot.” (Frankly, the wedge has been there since the end of “Contemporary Impressionists,” and wasn’t exactly helped by the antics of “Basic Human Anatomy.”) Similarly, he wasn’t integral to the action in “Cooperative Calligraphy,” so at least it was parallel in that repsect. I hope “Geothermal Escapism” will give Troy the farewell he deserves, but my fingers aren’t quite crossed yet.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Walton Goggins excellent turn as Pierce’s hired gun, Mr. Stone. I’m familiar with him from FX’s Justified as Boyd Crowder, who is arguably my favorite character on the show, despite Timothy Olyphant’s flawless- assets. Goggins’ Boyd has incredibly messy personal ethics, but that messiness is a hell of a lot more relatable than Olyphant’s U.S. marshal, who is troubled but ultimately prone to uphold the law.

Random Windstorm

“Justified” doesn’t have really long seasons. Maybe Walton Goggins can have a sitcom on cable, too?

As Mr. Stone, Goggins is delightfully straight-faced, which makes his carefree exuberance in the tag worth the slog through the ugliness the Study Group trots out during the course of the first 20 minutes.

When it was announced Dan Harmon was returning for season five, it was the icing on the cake of a renewal for a fifth season and even helped soothe the hurt of that fifth season being only for 13 episodes. Rather than a 20 minute discussion, my two college friends and I exchanged a few thoughts on what might happen. I imagine that’s the difference a couple years make: We’re a little older, a little less prone to wild speculation, and a little more focused on becoming the people we’ve tried to be. I guess it’s a shame Harmon isn’t ready to let the Study Group focus on doing the same.

Favorites of 2013: TV Dramas

Merry Christmas Eve, to all those who celebrate! To everyone else, Happy Tuesday! Today is all about the drama, so here are our favorite TV Dramas of 2013.

Arrow

{The CW, Wednesdays at 8}

show_arrow

“After he found out my secret, do you know what Tommy called me? ‘A murderer.’ He was right. My best friend died thinking that I was a murderer, and anyone that I kill dishonors his memory.”

Arrow doesn’t rest on its CW laurels (ha! see what I did there?) by turning in over-dramatic and under-written episodes. After a heartbreaking and thrilling season 1 finale, it’s gotten even better with each progressive week, to the point that it’s even outpacing Agents of SHIELD, which has the backing of a major network and a blockbuster franchise! This year ended with a major reveal, which makes the second half of the season look even more promising than the first. We can’t wait! —Kerry

Sleepy Hollow

{FOX, Mondays at 9}

show_sleepyhollow

This show is a mixture of drama, creepiness, and sassiness all mixed into one. Each passing episode seems to be a competition to see which element they can maximize the most. —Becca

Elementary

{CBS, Thursdays at 10}

show_elementary

“What does it cost us to tread lightly around the people that we work with? I’ll tell you: attention and effort. Which I am not willing to spare.”

I enjoy each new episode more than the last, mostly because the partnership between Sherlock and Joan is unique. This show also takes daring twists, such as making Irene Adler into Moriarty, and we’ve also gotten to explore Sherlock’s complicated relationship with his brother, Mycroft. —Kerry

Person of Interest

{CBS, Tuesdays at 10}

show_personofinterest

“Does survivor’s guilt pass when everything that has happened actually is, in fact, your fault?”

Person of Interest has managed the awkward transition from a crime procedural to a psuedo-scifi examination of privacy and technology. —Moff

Justified

{FX, Tuesdays at 10}

show_justified

Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder are always enjoyable to watch whether they are partners or enemies. The supporting actors are just as great, and Patton Oswalt’s guest stint was amazing. —Becca

Grimm

{NBC, Fridays at 9}

show_grimm

“It’s getting too weird even for Portland.”

Grimm has finally settled into its mythology after three years, and is telling a pretty compelling story about what happens when power, authority and independence intersect without ever losing sight of making its characters funny, relatable and compelling. —Moff

Later today… Favorites of 2013: Movie Dramas