Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics
The show returns with a step in the right direction, but many improvements left to be made
Joshua Jackson of "Fringe"
Welcome to 2012, “Fringe” fans. Did you miss the show? Most likely. Did you miss my reviews? Less likely. But that’s fine: it was probably as little fun to read my frustrations with the show as it was to write them. I’ve gone over my problems with this fourth season week after week this season, so regurgitating them here is pointless and waste of all of our times. What I will say is this: while “Back To Where You’ve Never Been” didn’t solve those systemic problems by a long shot, it was certainly a step towards something better in what may be the show’s final season.
The biggest shift? Using Peter Bishop’s third-rail status as a way to both drive the narrative engine and explicitly comment on ways in which these unfamiliar iterations of beloved characters’ interaction with the singular constant in this show’s universe. If the first few weeks of Season 4 played as a series of “what if” episodes, “Back” gave temporary purpose to this reality by grounding it in some old-fashioned character-based moments that reflected as much on those versions no longer around as much as those presently onscreen. Peter’s presence helps tether these individual moments since his mere presence acts as a type of mirror to reflect what has been lost and bring it temporarily back into the fold.
Could the Round Mound of Rebound and the first Idol start 2012 off right?
"Saturday Night Live" host Charles Barkley
Tonight marks the third time that Charles Barkley
has hosted “Saturday Night Live
.” I completely forgot that he initially hosted the show in 1993 until doing a little digging in preparation for tonight’s recap. I remember his 2010 appearance well, albeit unkindly. So I’m slightly dreading his presence tonight in this, the first “SNL” of 2012. It doesn’t help my confidence that he spent seemingly half of today inside NBC’s “Football Night in America” studio plugging his appearance rather than working on his sketches. He’s a larger-than-life personality outside of this show, but seems to shrink in this particular spotlight. Oh well. If nothing else, the original “American Idol” herself Kelly Clarkson
may brighten tonight’s proceedings.
As per usual, only one way to find out. I grade each sketch, you get mad, and then we all move on with our lives. Deal? Deal.
A strong season finale, but was it worth the lame hours leading up to it?
Stephen Lang of "Terra Nova"
Back in the 1980’s, Wendy’s ran a successful ad campaign based around a single catchphrase: “Where’s the beef?” You could apply the same question to “Terra Nova
,” which we can now safely say was a 4-hour television movie that managed to also have nine inconsequential hours between the season premiere and season finale
. (We might be able to eventually substitute “series” for “season,” but as of the time I’m writing this, that’s still up in the air.) It’s not that there wasn’t another nine hours of story here. It’s that the writers/producers of the series didn’t know how to fill those hours with compelling characters, interesting action, or philosophical inquiry. They knew the starting point, and they knew the ending point. Everything in between wasn’t an opportunity so much as an obstacle.
Surprise guests join an 'SNL' veteran to close 2011 on a high note
Michael Buble and Jimmy Fallon
So putting my cards on the table up front: I didn’t particularly care for Jimmy Fallon
during his run on “Saturday Night Live
.” I thought his impressions were great, and his energy was always on point. But there was a sloppiness to his work that always irked me. Either he was busy butchering the English language on “Weekend Update” or overtly trying to make Horatio Sanz break on live television. Still, his late night show has turned around my impression of him entirely, and he’s truly grown into his own as a confident comic performer during his tenure in Conan O’Brien’s old slot. Will he excel tonight in his old stomping grounds, or will he revert to his previous ways? Will musical guest Michael Bublé stick to simply signing, or will Christmas come early and give us all “Hamm and Bublé II: Electric Pork-a-loo?”
Only one way to find out: onto tonight’s recap!
New Directions splits its attention during the holidays, and HitFix starts a tradition of its own
“Well, tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you!” That line, sung by Bono in “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, has always bothered me. I’m sure it’s bothered a lot of you as well. I understand the meaning the song was probably going for, but it comes off completely condescending at best, and totally tone-deaf at worst. Is Bono sarcastically berating those who have the technology to listen to the song? Is he mocking those in Africa who might not get MTV
, satellite radio, or Spotify? For reasons only Ryan Murphy can probably answer, New Directions sang this song, including that infamous line, AT A BUNCH OF HOMELESS PEOPLE TONIGHT. Essentially, New Directions said, “Look, you’re down and out, but at least you don’t live in Africa.” I think. I honestly don’t know. All I know is that when I heard, “Well, tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you,” I heard “Glee
” singing it at everyone no longer watching this program.
A familiar friend helps us break down why this show was such a missed opportunity
Allison Miller of "Terra Nova"
To call tonight’s penultimate episode of “Terra Nova
” an exercise in stalling would imply that the rest of the season has been chock full o’ narrative momentum. That clearly isn’t the case, as it’s pretty obvious by now that this series has, at best, a 4-hour mini-series worth of story. Why else would the second to last episode of the season (and maybe series) devote 10 minutes on Maddy trying to find a battery for her prehistoric iPad? Sure, education’s important, but I’d wager there are slightly bigger concerns at this moment in the colony’s history. “Within
” set up the fireworks for next week, but it will more than likely be sound and fury, signifying nothing.
A strong Digital Short, some cameos and Stefon boost Katy Perry's episode
Robyn, Katy Perry and Stefon of "Saturday Night Live"
I have to confess my excitement about the possibilities inherent with Katy Perry
hosting “Saturday Night Live
” tonight. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m a fan of her musical output, but she’s certainly shown ample willingness to spoof herself in the past. Her appearance on last year’s “Bronx Beat” sketch was also quite strong, and not just because of her choice of low-cut Elmo top, either. Can she sustain a full show with such energy and aplomb? It’s hard to say. I don’t think anyone’s expected Justin Timberlake levels of success tonight, but I wouldn’t be the least surprised if this turns into a highlight of the 2011 Fall season.
Which pretty much means I probably just doomed the show to being a 90-minute rendition of “The Manuel Ortiz Show,” interspersed between musical performances by Robyn. I sincerely apologize in advance. Onto the recap!
Which model would Tyra Banks crown as most fierce?
The "America's Next Top Model: All-Stars" Top 3
Credit: The CW
We’ve come to the finale
of the very first "Top Model" All-Star edition. It’s down to Allison, she of the big googly-moogly Muppet eyes; Angelea, the bus-depot-sleeping, socially challenged Buffalo girl; and Lisa, who is, well, Lisa.
Sectionals doesn't push the show forward so much as hit a huge reset button
Trouty Mouth! Back on "Glee"
So here we are, near the end of the Fall run for “Glee
.” Next week is the holiday episode, which pretty much exists out of continuity. Well, continuity as far as this show goes. It’s a stop-gap episode filled with holiday sweaters and Artie’s Magic Legs. But let’s not worry about that now, because we have before us the task of analyzing what went down at Sectionals. In the first season of “Glee,” Sectionals provided the majority of the narrative thrust, given every episode some overall context as New Directions tried to get its act together in order to eventually compete. Now? Sectionals is something that “Glee” tries to get through as opposed to strive for. If it could avoid actually having to go through these motions, it probably would.
Could the 'Boardwalk Empire' bring the 'SNL' funny?
"Saturday Night Live" host Steve Buscemi
After a one-week hiatus, “Saturday Night Live
” is back for the first of three consecutive episodes to end 2011. Kicking things off tonight: Steve Buscemi
and The Black Keys
. Given Buscemi’s cinematic track record, I wonder if Adam Sandler might pop by tonight. After all, Buscemi seems to appear in nearly every Sandler big-screen jam. Will Sandler appear tonight? Unlikely, but color me curious all the same. Also, color me curious if “SNL” will attempt any “Boardwalk Empire”-related sketches tonight. Bill Hader as Richard Harrow? Sign me up for THAT, please.
Guess we’ll have to break down each sketch as they air to find out. Onto the recap!