Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics
Former housemates return as coaches as the hamsters are split into teams
It’s summer again, and that means “Big Brother.” Do you remember a time before “Big Brother”? It has to have been a long time ago, because Mike “Boogie” from season #2 looks like he’s retirement age. When he comes into the house, I expect him to be dragging his walker with him. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we introduce the old (really old) but new twist, it’s time to meet the new hamsters!
A long-awaited return and a dramatic exit?
Nelsan Ellis is a lonely Lafayette on "True Blood"
Is it wrong to feel a little bit excited we may have lost one member of the absurdly large "True Blood" ensemble tonight? Probably. But only because with the amount of fake outs and close calls on this show it's less likely someone was killed than just seriously injured.
Whoever did or didn't die this week, it was a typically busy, busy, busy episode with lots of movement on all story fronts, but little in the way of standout moments. Let's break it down...
Also, Jason and Andy visit fairy land and Pam and Eric reunite
Between "Magic Mike" and finally hooking up with Sookie, it was a big weekend for Joe Manganiello
After last week's commendably focused episode, "True Blood" returned to its usual scattershot ways this week in an all-over-the-place installment. It was a hour heavy on vampire blood ties (the ways in which vampires consider themselves "family" were stressed throughout) but low on real thrills or surprises.
If it wasn't for Kristin Bauer van Straten's continued excellence as a suddenly dramatically dominant Pam, this week would've been a total wash. But let's break it down:
Also, Salome gets busy and Jason gets schooled in a solid episode
We got to know Valentina Cervi's Salome a little better this week. But not as good as Bill and Eric.
Well that was another solid episode of "True Blood." And the best of the season so far in terms of balancing the large cast of characters and giving a variety of actors room to shine. There's not a whole lot of momentum building after three episodes, but we still saw advances in several major storylines and got a better understanding of both a new addition and an old favorite.
Let's break it down...
A surprising (and surprisingly strong) end to an uneven season suggests interesting possibilities next season
Amber Riley and Lea Michele of "Glee"
Having an ensemble can be an asset for a television program. Ostensibly, the more onscreen talent you have, the more diverse a set of stories you can tell. On “Glee
,” perhaps less would have been more as a general rule. The show hasn’t narrowed its scope of storytelling over the years, but rather expanded it to the point where everything has become diffuse. It’s hard to focus on any one particular aspect of the show when it keeps shining flashlights into the corner of your peripheral vision. “Goodbye” was probably one of the best episodes of this uneven third season because it turned “Glee” into what it’s always truly been: the story of Rachel Berry. One can argue the relative merits of that focus. But having that focus tonight really did make a difference.
Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters and other guests close the 'SNL' season
Mick Jagger and some musical friends on "Saturday Night Live"
Here we are at the end of another season of “Saturday Night Live
,” aka “the latest season that just proved for most people the show isn’t what it used to be, even though that particular version of the show only lives in selective, imperfect memory in the first place.” Pulling double duty tonight is host/musical guest Mick Jagger. Accompanying Jagger musically will be Jeff Beck, The Foo Fighters and Arcade Fire. That’s like “The Avengers” of guitar-based rock. And yes, I just saw “The Avengers” tonight for the second time, so I might accuse a lot of sketches tonight of lacking conviction. Just thought I’d preface that up front.
Once more unto the recapping breach!
Tina bumps her head, and then the show bumps into an inevitable result at Nationals
Jenna Ushkowitz of "Glee"
There’s a shot halfway through the second hour of tonight’s two-episode “Glee
” gauntlet in which the camera zooms in tight around Finn Hudson’s face. He and the rest of New Directions have just finished their set at Nationals
, ending in a lengthy performance of Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”. His face is triumphant, but more importantly, his brow is sweaty. For the first time I can remember in the show, performing seemed like actual hard work. It’s an easy thing to forget in “Glee,” a program in which flawless numbers seem to fall out of the sky only to disappear into the ether.
Which old friends would join the 'SNL' veteran?
Usher and Will Ferrell of "Saturday Night Live"
We’re here near the end of another season of “Saturday Night Live
.” Can you feel the warm breeze, hear the sounds of birds, and fear the prospects of months of reruns? Me too! Tonight’s host is no stranger to the show. Will Ferrell
will probably go down as one of the show’s all-time best players, and seeing him back in Studio 8H should make for some fun sketch comedy. While a lot of his characters were famous as part of a pair, he also had plenty of solo characters that will undoubtedly make an appearance tonight. (Also probably making appearances? Some of those old cast mates with whom he created so many memorable moments.) Along for the ride is musical guest Usher
. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! OK! (Sorry, he probably won’t perform that tonight.)
My hopes are high for this one. Let’s get to it!
Let it never be said the show took the safe path this season...but where has it led us?
Leonard Nimoy of "Fringe"
So, yeah, that happened.
By “that” I mean a few things. Primarily, I mean the second half of the two-part finale
“Brave New World.” But I also mean the fourth season of “Fringe
” in general, which I think will go down as a case study in how following one’s muse sometimes allows you to lose your way. I’ve been watching a lot of the reaction online the past few days to announcements of renewals, pick-ups, and cancellations of various television shows. And it strikes me just how much people feel invested in those programs. Sure, I’ve always known about that investment, but it’s felt particularly acute over the past 48 hours. But there’s a difference in feeling invested
in them and actually owning
them. None of us watching these programs own them. It might feel that way at times, but it’s just not true. So when I say that “Fringe” bitterly disappointed me for nearly an entire year, I want it clear that I respected the decision of the show to go this route even as they took it further and further away from what I used to love. They had no obligation to make any show other than the one they wanted, and they absolutely achieved that goal.
The show forgets about last week, and suddenly remembers about four other plots instead.
A scene from Tuesday's "Glee"
It’s not surprising that “Glee
” dropped the Coach Beiste storyline like a hot potato, at least for this week. After all, who has time to deal with the serious issue of domestic abuse when there’s a dinosaur-themed prom that needs attention? “Prom-asaurus
” is another unfortunately hyphenated title, but unlike “Saturday Night Glee-ver,” this one didn’t soar so much as lurch along. It wasn’t offensive, it wasn’t awful, it wasn’t good, it wasn’t coherent, it was just…there. It existed. This episode of television absolutely, positively existed.