Happy Friday! It’s the end of the week, and we’re here to get you through these last hours of work with a look at the Best TV Shows on TV. You know the drill by now – every week we watch so much TV that can only be described as “mathematically unsustainable”, then we pick out the best television shows of the week and tell you about them. It is an honored tradition that stretches back to the old country, where our ancestors watched marionettes in a box.
And before we get to this week’s best shows on TV, we’ve got something for you to read…. with your ears! On the Secret Lover podcast this week, 90210 was the topic. It’s not a show that turns up on our list, and if you listen to this episode, Lenny and Katie will explain exactly why that is.
Also, we really wanted to include The Office this week, since the first of two episodes had appearances from James “Doc Venture” Urbaniak, Chris Gethard, Mike “Creator of Parks and Recreation” Schur, and “Tim and” Eric Wareheim, but given that the actual B plot of one of tonight’s episodes was “Jim is an inconsiderate a-hole”, it was really hard to enjoy. And let’s not even start with the Pam / Boom Mic Guy scenes. Still, James Urbaniak!
Finally, we weren’t able to watch FX’s The Americans in time, but EJ’s friend Brad says it was really good. We’ll watch it over the weekend and report back next time!
30 Rock – This week was the final hour of 30 Rock, and we already miss it. The finale had everybody dealing with the cancellation of TGS – right up until NBC President Kenneth brought them all back for one final episode. Tracy’s contract guaranteed him 150 episodes of TGS, and they only made 149. If NBC violated the contract, they had to pay Tracy 30 million dollars. So while everybody scrambled to put together one last half-assed episode,Tracy did his best to stop them (Including bribing Al Roker to declare a weather emergency. Which means that “Snowicane White Lady Name Like Dorva or Something” was localized to one block of NYC.) And in a plot that got a surprising amount of screen time, nobody agreed with Lutz’s decision to get lunch at Blimpie’s. Why not end the show with some anti-product placement?
It’s going to take a rewatch or two to get all the quick jokes in the episode, like Kenneth’s list of programming no-no’s, but there were some great payoffs. Jenna admitted that she’d never met Mickey Rourke (after referencing the details of their relationship for years), the finale had Liz and Tracy in a strip club (just like in the pilot), and Jack very nearly told Liz that he loved her (but he put so many qualifiers on it so as not to give her the wrong idea that he never quite got around to it.). There was a big musical number from Rural Juror (oh, how we’ve missed the references to Jenna’s unpronounceable movie), and it all tied up with a reference to one of the most famous series finales ever. If we may quote the theme from Rural Juror – “These were the best days of my… flurm”.
Archer – Remember Brent? The guy who always gets hit by the stray bullet whenever a gun goes off in the ISIS offices? He was back this week! And, you know, he got shot again. Also, Conway from Season One’s “Diversity Hire” had a cameo, because this show uses every part of the buffalo. This week, Krieger offered to give Ray bionic legs (after an opening segment that was both sad and hilarious) so he could walk again. But Archer has a fear of cyborgs (thanks to Bionic Barry killing his fiancée, and then said fiancée coming back as a cyborg herself), so he vowed to put a stop to the operation. As expected, he made a mess of it, damaged his already fragile ears, and passed out naked in an air duct. Carol kind of stole the show as she expanded her list of turn-ons to include emotional abuse and surprised us with a Blade Runner reference. (Seriously, every other character on this show seems like they’d be more likely to know the Voight-Kampff test. But then, Archer himself mentioned Maximum Overdrive, which rarely comes up.) Ballistics, carnage, and an ill-fated luau – we love it!
Also, we didn’t get to include last week’s episode because of technical difficulties, but Timothy Olyphant guest-starred as Archer’s best friend, Lucas Troy. Archer tried to prove his friend’s innocence, Lucas tried to make his feelings clear to Archer, Lana and Cyril tried to bring them both in, and Archer worried about a Predator attack. We’re on record as being way into both Archer and Olyphant, so this was kind of perfect for us.
An Idiot Abroad – This week Karl and Warwick went to India, a country where Karl had negative bathroom experiences back in Season One. They attended a Laughing Yoga class (which, amazingly, is exactly what it sounds like), got roles in a Bollywood movie, and tried to work up a circus act. In that last one, Karl was afraid of just about everything and really tried to sell the idea that keeping a soccer ball in the air was a legitimate skill. We’re enjoying having Warwick as a foil for Karl – it’s always great when somebody can actually react to his bizarre statements. The best thing in the whole episode came when Karl had the chance to meet conjoined twins, and Warwick tried to explain that he couldn’t use the old term anymore and Karl disagreed. KARL: “That’s all it’s known for. Cats and twins, Siam. And yet you’re happy to take one of the things away from the country.” HEE! Actually, the entire twin sequence has to be seen to be believed, with Karl asking the exact same questions you’d expect from a child. (“One of you eats the main course and the other gets pudding?”)
Happy Endings–Two new episodes this week, and they were even in order! In the first, Max vowed revenge after the gang pranked him and Alex kept trying to prank herself. In an elaborate set up, Max ended up effectively blowing up his own limo (his only source of income) and in a beautiful Keyser Soze riff, it turned out that Alex has was the prankster queen. The one thing that wasn’t actually a prank? Pete proposing to Penny, something that ended up happening right next to the burning limo. In the second ep, Jane (aka the scariest wedding planner ever), planned a “gang hang” around a wedding expo that only Dave (once a Bridezilla himself) was excited to attend. Pete wanted to elope altogether, but Penny managed to win him over eventually. Alex and Dave finally reached a bit of a understanding, and Brad and Max enjoyed both the pleasures and perils of “Gay Town” But not Manny Petty’s Mani-Pedis, which is for couples only!
Newsreaders – This Adult Swim show made significant improvement in its second week, and even returned to the Childrens Hospital running gag about an upcoming interview with Kate Walsh. This week’s story had reporter Narge Hemingway investigating Miles Van Cleef, a crooked financier. (“He seemed poised to become the world’s youngest, and oldest, and only trillionaire.”) And since Van Cleef was played by Brandon Routh, he turned out to be too charming to prosecute. Lizzy Caplan played a Wall Street analyst, so between Routh and Caplan this episode had the Secret Lover podcast and spunkybuddy Larry young squealing in delight. Narge fell for Van Cleef, and her report just turned in an effort to get to know him. The jokes worked much better this time, and had more of the Childrens Hospital-style wordplay. Plus, we got to see the great Ray Wise as the Andy Rooney-esque Skip Reming, Dan Rather revealing rejected signoffs from his days at CBS (“Good night, and stay loose in the caboose.”) This show is officially great!
Kroll Show – Before yesterday’s episode, Comedy Central announced that Nick Kroll’s sketch show was renewed for a second season, so high fives all around! This week’s episode was a real treat for those of us who are forced to watch paranormal shows just because we have a friend who used to be listed in the yellow pages under “Paranormal Investigators”, because Bobby Bottleservice and Peter Paparazzo (Jon Daly) presented Ghost Bouncers. In a dead-on parody of Ghost Hunters and its clones, Bobby fell in love with a ghost but then they had to bounce it because that’s their job. (For the record, they just turned on the lights and said “get out”.) Among other great sketches, including a parody ad for a home improvement warehouse that turned into a kidnapping video (with an appearance by Janet Varney of Burning Love), the standout was The Adventures of Young Billy Joel. Kroll played, well, a young Billy Joel. He fought a giant spider under the sea! That’s right – Billy Joel vs. an Undersea Spider. We don’t know what more you want! Unless it’s an appearance by the universally beloved Tim Heidecker. But we’ve got you covered, because he was in this episode, too!
Cougar Town – Another great episode had Jules and Laurie getting suspicious of Tom’s new girlfriend and Bobby constantly emphasizing the wrong words in sentences. But instead of running down all of the plot points (Seriously, this show has like seven plots every half hour.), instead we’re just going to tell you about the best joke. When Laurie started to tell one of her long stories, Ellie interrupted her and told her to “raise your hand when you hit the halfway point”. So Ellie told her story about actually having a job as a Female Booty Inspector, then suddenly stopped, paused, raised her hand while apparently counting the words in her head, and then continued the story. Fantastic! Busy Philipps is just so good with those weird little moments. Well, it’s a whole cast full of awesome, but she was the one who sold this particular bit.
The Joe Schmo Show – The fake reality show got even more insane this week, with a challenge that had the contestants cuffed to convicts for twelve hours. And of course, Chase (the one guy who’s not in on the joke) is the one who didn’t get to be part of a two-person team and spend the day with an attempted murderer named P-Nut. When the time came to run a team obstacle course, Chase’s team needed some extra weight to keep it fair. He was offered two choices for his team – a mannequin or sign language interpreter Stan. (Who spent most of the episode panicking whenever one of the convicts came near him.) This made for a pretty funny bit that continued the trend of treating Stan like an inanimate object. And then things got crazier from there when P-Nut escaped out a window and triggered a manhunt. Of course, the episode ended with the cliffhanger of Chase saying “it’s a set-up”, because they really want us to believe the production is in danger at all times. Still, this episode was pretty hysterical. (P-Nut: “Can you send me a picture of your wife?”)
We especially want to praise Nikki McKenzie, who plays overachieving Allison. She’s hilarious, and we love the way she gets so intense for the challenges. More than anybody else in the cast, she seems like an actual reality show contestant. And we’ll never get tired of her just flipping out on her teammates.
Dallas–The Ewings are back and things are pretty much never as they seem. Christopher and Elena are happy, but who knows how long that will last with John Ross constantly trying to sabotage them and get things at Ewing energies to be done his way. He’s got the best tutor in villainy, of course; J.R. It was bittersweet seeing Larry Hagman being awesome, knowing our time with him is limited. The real Rebecca Sutter showed up and proved to be in cahoots with Pamela Rebecca Barnes, who revealed her true identity to a shocked Chris and Bobby and seduced John Ross. That relationship will be completely nutso. Amidst all the oil rig talk and big business espionage, there was Ann and her personal tragedy. We learned that her child had been kidnapped from right under her nose at a county fair almost 20 years prior, and was never found. But, Ryland showed up to say he’d found their daughter, and a DNA test proved it was her. Ann’s joy turned to horror when the girl, Emma, admitted she knew who she was but hoped she’d never see her again. Bobby went to set the record straight and met the girl’s grandmother (Ryland’s mother), and discovered Ryland himself had been the kidnapper, whisking his daughter away to Europe to be raised by his mother instead of Ann.
Justified – This week’s episode was a break from the ongoing skydiver storyline, as Raylan went after Lindsey and her ex-husband after they took off with his money. Turns out, Raylan had managed to put away twenty thousand dollars for the baby, which Randall ripped off for his cockfighting start-up. We are not making that up. But when the guy that Lindsey divorced because he was a violent a-hole started acting like a violent a-hole, she panicked and called Raylan. Raylan and Randall finally had it out, with Raylan getting the upper hand thanks to a 12-gauge full of beanbag bullets. It still wasn’t easy, and Raylan took one heck of a beating. In the end, he was left with no money, no girlfriend, and a van full of gamecocks. And yet, he was kind of OK with it. Raylan is used to disappointment by now. And he managed the best comedic use of a beanbag we’ve ever seen.
Meanwhile, we learned in a surprisingly offhand reveal that Preacher Billy died from the snakebite last week, which we did not see coming. Ellen May, the prostitute turned convert, tried to go to Boyd and Ava for her old job. Ava makes arrangements to get her out of town (supposedly), and tasks Colton with giving her a ride to the bus station. Except actually to shoot her when they stop for gas. But while Colton snorts Oxy in the restroom, Ellen May disappears. Whether she figured it out (not likely), or somebody’s helping her out isn’t clear yet, but Boyd Crowder has a loose end to deal with. This was a really strong, mostly standalone episode, but it looks like we get back to the main plot next week with Arlo showing up to be creepy.
Suits – Some wise podcasters once told us that Louis Litt was the best character, and they were right. This episode had him torn between Harvey and Jessica, tending to Mike’s wounds (after Mike got beaten up for being dumb), and explaining his relationship with Harvey by going deep cuts with Looney Tunes references. (Like Ralph and Sam, they go at it all day, but then they punch out and leave it behind. Only lately, Harvey hasn’t been punching out.) Oh, also Louis has his own first-aid kit because he doesn’t want to share his anti-bacterials. Rick Hoffman does so much with the character, bouncing from cruelty to tenderness in just a few scenes. He’s sympathetic despite being manipulative and berating the associates at every opportunity. And this episode had him trying to quit Pearson Hardman in the aftermath of Daniel Hardman’s failed coup. It was only when Harvey indicated that he’d like him to stay that Louis felt appreciated. (In a nice, wordless scene.) Suits is at its best when it concentrates on the characters (On USA, we’re told, they are welcome.), and this was a great look at the Louis/Harvey and Harvey/Jessica dynamic. And next week, Wendell Pierce guest-stars as Rachel’s father. Bunk!
Raising Hope – This week, we saw the wedding of Jimmy and Sabrina. And in a neat gimmick, this episode was shot with handheld cameras and included talking head segments, all because Sabrina’s mother hired a Modern Family production crew to film the event. They did a great job of setting up shots that looked just like the Family interview segments, with Burt and Sabrina taking over for Phil and Claire. (And a Family-inspired credit sequence.) Meanwhile, the whole ceremony was in danger because Hope’s murderous mother, Lucy, survived being electrocuted and hit by a bus last season (don’t worry, Burt was just as surprised as you) and had not intention of letting Jimmy get married. Luckily Lucy’s dad (Greg Germann) and Burt were on the case. In the second episode of the night, Jimmy and Sabrina went on their honeymoon. Sort of. It turned out to be a trip for the whole family and several members of the supporting cast. It was the first of two parts, and it ended on a non-cliffhanger. The episode ended with the family attending a taping of Hope’s favorite show, and Burt discovering that what they were watching would be a two-part episode. You have to admit, that’s kind of genius.
New Girl–Wow. We’re still reeling from this week’s ending. But how did we get there? Nick, Schmidt and Winston all decided they really needed to get laid (apparently Schmidt can’t even pleasure himself anymore…it’s evidently “like a taffy pull on a hot summer day” and not even the sexy underwear he bought himself helped!). Nick was feeling sassy in the woman’s trench coat he’d begun wearing when it was delivered to the loft by accident and Winston was looking to recover his lost mojo. At the bar (after Nick managed to get them kicked out of the discotheque!), Nick and Schmidt competed over an insanely hot girl, Holly (Brooklyn Decker) who got off on sad sacks, while Winston made a new gal pal, Daisy. Her engagement ring made her easier for him to talk to. They all fled back to the loft to see about a scared Jess (she’d heard an unidentified scratching at the door). She been left alone for the night since Nick considered her his “cooler” with women, not the awesome wingman she thought she was. When CeCe also showed up (from another first date), a rousing game of “True American” broke out: Now with a new sexy “Clinton” rules…pick your intern! Alcohol helped Winston get cozy with Daisy, who admitted the ring was a fake and the two hooked up. Nick and Jess were forced into a True American version of 7 Minutes in Heaven despite Jess’ best efforts to hook Nick up with hot Holly, and even Sam (who showed up after his shift at the hospital) was cheering them on to kiss. After several awkward attempts, Nick fled out the window. Schmidt and CeCe had a moment before he hooked up with Holly, and it seemed like all was done for the night. Until Jess heard the scratching again, and summoned Nick for help. It turned out to be the neighbor’s dog, and they laughed and said goodnight. Then, Nick spun her back around, grabbed her and kissed her with more passion than we’ve ever seen Nick Miller do anything before. Jess kissed back, too. What does this mean going forward? We like Sam (and David Walton) but we can’t deny the heat between Nick and Jess!
Bob’s Burgers – Even by Bob’s Burgers standards, this one was a standout. Tina episodes are always gold, and this week had her, inspired by Holly Hunter in Broadcast News, trying out for the school’s news show. After Tiffany (from “Bad Tina”) sabotaged her audition, she ended up as an intern with only juice-related responsibilities. Our favorite guy, Will Forte, voiced the faculty who espoused the Five W’s of School News – “Wow!, Woo-hoo!, Way Hot, Weird, and What The?” Tina tried to be a real journalist and solve the mystery of the poop tracked through the school, but that wasn’t sexy enough for the news show. (“We do gutter journalism, not toilet journalism”.) Tina teamed up with Louise to solve the mystery of the Mad Pooper (or, as Linda called him, “The Butt-ler”), survived a smear campaign, and ended up proving herself to her classmates. Yay, Tina! (Although the news team gets credit for their hard-hitting report: “Lenny DeStefano: Is There Enough to Go Around?”)
Meanwhile, Gene found out that he takes after his father, which he found incredibly depressing. (Bob: “You could do worse.” Gene: “I don’t see how!”) So he just gave in and turned into a duplicate of Bob – he dressed like him, he had Louise give him a bald spot, he got a mustache of his own, and he started talking and acting like Bob. That’s plenty funny on its own, especially since it irritated Bob so much. But the way he started talking to Linda as if she were his wife and she reacted like he was a younger Bob was weird and amazing.
That’s it for this week, but we’ll be back next time with even more TV coming at you. Next week we’ve got the much-delayed return of Community (Finally, October 19 has arrived!), the Puppy Bowl, and more. We’ve got plenty of TV shows to watch, but if there’s something we should watch, let us know! We’ll check it out and send you a nice thank-you note. See you next week!