Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics
The show doubles down on its season-long arc heading into its winter hiatus
I’ve been watching TV all of my life. Growing up, we had a TV in every single room of the house that wasn’t a bathroom. Poor parenting? More like preparation for a life in TV criticism, I say! In terms of writing about the medium, that started about six years ago. In that time, I’ve tried to not only get better at what I do, but also constantly try to reevaluate the medium itself and what about it appeals to me. I look back at articles written three or four years ago in horror, but also fascination. Horror because Lordy, some of those essays were atrocious. Fascination because it often sounds like someone that no longer shares the same tastes as I do now.
'Glee' crashes and burns in its winter finale
No no no no no no.
You don’t get to do that, “Glee.” No way, no how. Even by your standards, that was patently ridiculous.
Which of her impressions was Maya still able to use?
A few weeks ago, I would have been eagerly anticipating the return of Maya Rudolph’s impression of Whitney Houston as part of her hosting duties. Now? Yeah, not so much. There’s just no way to bust that out this soon, right? Not that Rudolph’s a one-trick pony by any stretch. She’s one of the show’s most versatile performers, and part of an era in which the women straight up ruled “Saturday Night Live.” I’ll be interested to see tonight if her presence allows the strong, if often underutilized, female members of the current cast to shine. It’s of course possible that Rudolph’s presence pushes them even further to the periphery, but I hope that’s not the case.
Along for the ride is musical act Sleigh Bells who, from the three minutes of research I just did on them after learning they would be on the show tonight, seem very nice. I bet they call their mothers every Sunday.
Onto the recap!
A strong episode for Anna Torv, but one that also missed some big opportunities
Know what? I like me some Anna Torv. I don’t say it enough, so I’m probably overdue in saying it. But watching her play a cool, calm, suddenly whole Olivia Dunham reminded me just how much I’ve missed that character on my television screen this season. So, do you reward a show for giving you what you want, or curse it for making you wait so long for it? That’s the choice before me with “Fringe.”
An episode that aims for past greatness but only wades through its current muddiness
Look, that wasn’t horrible. Sure, FOX isn’t going to use that sentence as a pull quote anytime soon in its advertising. But “Heart” worked in intermittent spurts, cutting through the narrative clutter and usual silliness to produce some solid musical moments. As an episode of television, it was as bad as the show has been all season. But there were a few things that weren’t intolerable. (Again: not a good pull quote.)
Did a former Oscar winner and a future Oscar winner save the show?
Here’s my solemn promise to you, “Saturday Night Live” fans: Not once during tonight’s recap will I use the word “adorkable” to describe anything related to Zooey Deschanel’s performance as host. Not gonna do it. No way, no how. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of “New Girl,” but that doesn’t mean 95% of the material written tonight for Deschanel will appeal to her manic pixie dust girl persona. Right? Right? (Please say I am right or I’m burning this site down to the virtual ground.) Tonight’s musical guest is Karmin, whom I’ve literally never heard of because I’m old and lame. If “SNL” started booking Huey Lewis and The News, maybe I’d have a shot at having pre-determined opinions on the show’s musical acts. OK, second promise: no “don’t squeeze the Karmin” jokes in tonight’s recap. We good? Good.
Onto tonight’s recap!
A trip to a small Vermont town yields one of the strongest hours of the season
Let’s not bury the lede: I quite liked this week’s episode of “Fringe.” Sorry, should I have told you to sit down first? Apologies. I was in a rush to ensure you didn’t pick up your pitchforks before settling in. Do I think “Welcome to Westfield” solved the show’s problems? Heck no. Problems a-plenty are lurking around each corner. But this was a solid, speedy hour that promised some forward momentum on a topic that’s been stalled for so long it’s almost as if David Robert Jones set up a series of amphilicite-powered devices around its perimeter.
So why did I enjoy this hour, even if I’m still not sold on the season? Three reasons…
Tenure fights, frozen embryos, and Ricky Martin. Just another week in Lima.
There’s a seriously dark, twisted, depressing, and nihilistic heart beating deep within “Glee.” It’s not as aspect of the show that I loath. In fact, I usually like it when it surfaces in the show. It’s weird and jarring when it does so, to be sure. But then again, so were those shoes tonight during the “Bamboleo”/”Hero” medley. A lot of readers here at HitFix have railed in reviews past of both “Glee” and “Fringe” that I apparently talk about what I want the show to be, rather than what it actually is. I wouldn’t keep bringing up “Glee”’s heart of darkness if it didn’t reveal itself every so often.
'SNL' kicks off February sweeps with the star of 'The Vow' trying to bring the funny
First off: a big thanks to Myles McNutt for taking over the recap of a fairly entertaining Daniel Radcliffe-hosted “Saturday Night Live” last month. As such, it’s felt like an extremely long time since last I covered the show here at HitFix. Hopefully that means that I’m as well-rested as the cast/crew of the show is after an extended hiatus. Up tonight: Channing Tatum, a name I will type out as “Carol Channing” at least once tonight. Tatum’s not exactly known for his comedic chops. Or, um, acting chops, if one gets right down to brass tacks. But he’s here to pimp one or more of the approximately 438 movies that he’s inthis year. Along for the ride on the musical front: indie darlings Bon Iver. (I looked it up: apparently “Bon Iver” is NOT a name of a dude in the band. Can you tell I have a lot of history with this band? Yeah.)
Anyways, we’re back to the usual shenanigans here tonight: I’ll watch each sketch and grade it as it happens. This week, I’ll single out sketches that would have been improved had recently departed cast member Paul Brittain still remained on the show. Was it something I said, Paul? I loved Lord Wyndemere. Now I’ll never hear him ask for sweets again. 2012 already stinks as a year.
Anyways, onto the recap!
A strong episode for Jasika Nicole, but she can't overcome the season's fundamental flaws
One of the fun parts about watching a long-running show on television is when a secondary, or even tertiary, character gets a chance to step into the foreground. As a “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” fan, I loved watching an episode centered around Xander or Willow. (Not Dawn though. Blergh.) So when I heard that tonight’s “Fringe” episode, “Making Angels,” would be Astrid-centric, I did a little Snoopy dance. Jasika Nicole has done a lot of great work in a rather thankless role, and I have been in a large chorus calling for her screen time for Astrid. As much as John Noble and Joshua Jackson get credit for their onscreen chemistry, the connection between Walter and Astrid has often been equally as wonderful.