Lots of TV and lots of socializing don’t really fit well together, so I had a lot of catching up to do this weekend. A quick rundown:
Sleepy Hollow: This is a show that says that the reason Benjamin Franklin was flying a kite in a rainstorm with a key attached to it was not to experiment with electricity, but because he wanted to destroy the key because it opened a demon realm. If you like Sleepy Hollow, you’ll just whoop and jump on their bandwagon. As it happens, I love Sleepy Hollow. This week, those 30 pieces of silver that Judas was paid to betray Jesus are actual, cursed currency and at least a few of them are in Sleepy Hollow.
Scorpion: Since I read the pilot script, I’ve described this show as “if Michael Bay directed Chuck.” I stand by that. There’s explosions and running and fast-action sequences and it’s about smart people, but really, we have to take them at their word. They’re never going to sit down and have a conversation about string theory, and that’s okay. Sometimes at the end of a Monday, you just want to see big things go boom.
Agents of SHIELD: You know what we never see, that this show did and I think deserves kudos for? You never see the reveal, when the main team sees their member acting as a double agent, and immediately gives her the benefit of the doubt and realizes she’s undercover. Coulson never needs to say it. They see where she is and who she’s with and immediately are like, “Simmons is here! How do we not blow her cover?” Nobody needs to tell them. Good job, show.
Grey’s Anatomy: Please. Stop. Screeching. This week everyone tried to have a conversation with their loved ones or family members and was rebuffed. I swore I was going to stop watching at the end of last season when Sandra Oh left, and then this season sucked me in but this was one of those episodes where absolutely nothing fun happens. And contrast the case-of-the-week with the absolutely soul crushing “Into You Like A Train” from season 1. Look where Bailey is. If you’re talking with someone who started watching in the last few years, try explaining to them that Bailey was introduced as The Nazi because she expected only the best from her interns (she had interns!) and the reason the “va-jay-jay” thing was so funny was because it was Bailey, who was having a very hard time being vulnerable in front of her coworkers and tried to be in charge while delivering a baby, who said it. Now we expect her to say it because she’s nervous and cute and sputters a lot. I miss the Bailey who demanded that everyone around her rise to her standards.
Reign: The plague is done! That was fast. I liked when Mary forced what she wanted from that asshole noble last week; I don’t like that it’s framed as a mistake this week (even though it probably was). It’s nice to see her finally using her marriage to her advantage. Oh, and Francis’ father is Ghost Dad! Maybe we’ll see a new Hamlet! Hey, if Sons of Anarchy can do it, why can’t Reign?
How to Get Away With Murder: The reality of the legal system is a completely different thing than how it’s presented in the show, but I kind of don’t have a problem with it? I can understand if you do. To me, the bigger problem was Michaela going batshit on her fiance because when he was 16 at boarding school he dated another 16 year old boy. Which is mildly unfair of me, screaming at the TV that teenagers often don’t know themselves yet and you should forgive the vast majority of teenage transgressions, because her actual approach to the argument was entirely narcissistic and that is completely in keeping with the character. She’s not afraid in the slightest of her marriage being fake, only of being publicly embarrassed if he decides to leave her. This show is REALLY not afraid to say truly terrible things about the characters of lawyers.
Modern Family: I like the reveal that everyone watching the video is only watching themselves, but I feel the need to point out that wedding videos are not embarrassing simply by being. (Shout-out to my parents, who shoot wedding videos from time to time.) Of course, this family is embarrassing simply by being, which is why there is a TV show about them (and also, they are fictional). The “Lily isn’t really gifted” storyline was a nice counterpoint to the Asian joke from last season that still sits sour in my mouth, so maybe lessons have been learned.
Black-ish: Congrats to them on their pickup! Something I’ve thought quite a bit about is the concept that every single one of us has some sorts of privilege. The types and degree are not at all equal – saying that there’s such a thing as “black man’s privilege” does not mean that racism is over or that black men have it nearly as good as white men – but the community of recognition and reliance that they’re talking about falls into this category. And I like the expansion that Junior has “nerd privilege,” and what that means.
Cristela: This is a funny show, but I just can’t deal with laugh tracks. The patterns in tone of voice leading up to a joke, then the pause and the laughter is like water torture to me. But that’s my deal. If you do not have a similar deal, you should give this show a try. It really is funny.
Boardwalk Empire: Nucky’s been building a plan based on the simple fact of trade with Cuba. Sally’s death (I’ll miss you, Sally!) is just the first part unraveling. And holy crap, Sigrid’s just giving up on society completely at this point, hasn’t she?
Homeland: Whew. So after Carrie’s family brow-beat her into having the baby last season, promising they would take care of it, now her sister is only interested in guilt-tripping her for not being a more present mother. Sweetie, take one look at how she thinks you’re supposed to put babies in the car and tell me again about how her only problem is not being there often enough. (Other people would point out the bathtub scene, but I consider that someone verbally asking for help after watching them spell SOS in rocks on the sand for45 minutes.) Just accept that she’s your kid now and let go of how you thought your sister would be different once the baby arrived. That’s not on her. Besides, she just watched a man get beaten to death in front of her and then had to start campaigning for his job. Maybe give her a minute?
Next on the list: Madam Secretary. Hahahaha no. I am going to watch, but not immediately after Homeland. I need something a little lighter.
Doctor Who: I could go on for hours about Davies vs. Moffat, and in the end I actually think Moffat is listening to the criticism and getting better (even if he publicly denies it), but Capaldi just isn’t resonating with me. On paper, this should be an excellent episode: the Doctor is solving a mystery, exactly the kind of mystery he loves, and he’s actually having a brand of fun. But he’s still mean and joyless and Clara feels like she’s there for the plot and not because she wants to. She was literally “born to save the Doctor,” because she engineered her own birth from inside his timeline but she hasn’t spent any time thinking about what that means for her as a person – if she’s able to leave him and have her own life and legacy apart from him. That could be an amazing character arc, but instead it’s just this uncomfortable elephant in the room.
Gotham: I am really hoping this show starts building its own world soon instead of relying so heavily on the comics. I’m frustrated that the premise of this show includes the notion that Gotham is already corrupt, because it can’t get better. We know the story it leads to, so this show cannot solve the corruption. And that means the city itself will be static. I thought this show was going to be about how Gotham becomes corrupt, but apparently not.
Saturday Night Live: This is my favorite show to DVR and then watch on Sunday morning as soon as I get up. Bill Hader was an above-average host, as expected, and they even brought back the puppet sketch which is my favorite thing ever. I was unfamiliar with the musical guest, Hozier, although I think I had heard their single before. I had actually fallen asleep on my couch before SNL came on but I woke up for this song, then stumbled to bed after Weekend Update. Now it’s stuck in my head. I was trying to figure out what the song was about by dissecting the chorus and the “deathless death” bit was what made me say, “oh, by ‘church’ they mean sex.” And then I watched the video and it means gay sex. It’s a haunting song and I really like it and now I’m afraid that it’s going to be the next overplayed song and I’ll be forced to hate it. That would make me sad. (UPDATE: I saw a comment that this song was on The Leftovers, so I’ve definitely heard it before.)
Once Upon a Time: Along the same lines as Sleepy Hollow, this week on OUaT: Little Bo Peep is a mafia don. I laughed. A lot. One of my problems with them incorporating Frozen into their story this season is (aside from the sellout factor) that they can’t reimagine the fairy tale. They have to take the movie as literal truth and go from there. I know that Frozen is a reimagining of The Snow Queen, and as it happens it’s a good one, but it’s been done. OUaT can do no more to it. It feels like the writers are handcuffed. That said, that’s not the type of transgression that will make me stop watching, especially when they continue to do things like make Bo Peep mafioso.
Nashville: I loved a couple of weeks ago when they had their episode with “live performances” spliced in and a thin Juliet stands in front of a microphone and then the camera cut to her performance, where they never showed her below the neck but she clearly had baby weight. Anyway, yes, now their actress is very, very pregnant and they’re trying to pretend Juliet’s in her first trimester. So there’s that, and Daphne continuing to brat around because she’s 14 and thinks she has something that will get her attention, and Layna, which I don’t understand but they seem up for it and are promising us a fabulous TV wedding, so fine. And, of course, everyone pretending that Zoey isn’t more talented than Scarlett in exactly the same way that little girls of all races think the blonde Barbie is prettier.
Madam Secretary: So, are all the episodes going to be about American citizens doing something stupid and having to arrange to get them released back to the U.S.? I liked how they tied the ethics bit in and around everything and hung a lantern on “is spying okay when we do it?” when “we” might mean the U.S. and might mean parents spying on their children. The show has a great pedigree and I’ll be interested to see where it goes.
Good Wife: This is such a good show. You can tell the writers LOVE the law, not just the fact of it but the insane minutiae of it. I had a chance to speak (in a group setting) with Erica Shelton Kodish and asked her about that. She said that they have four writer/lawyers staffed on the show so they can draw the arguments and differing understandings of the law from real life. It’s a genuinely smart show with engaging characters and real moments of humor.