Happy Friday! It’s the end of the work week, so we’re here to once again present the Best TV Shows on TV. You know the drill by now – we watch so much TV that the neighbors start to spread hurtful rumors, and then we tell you about the best television shows of the week. Why do we do it? We no longer remember, but the inertia is there and we ain’t stopping now.
It was a big week for the best shows on TV. But before we get to it, we’d like to point you to this week’s episode of the great Secret Lover podcast. Our Supernatural recappers Lenny and Katie had EJ over to talk about TV villains, and it was super fun. Weeping Angels, Benry, Gus Fring, the Borg, Lex Luthor, Mr. Burns, and a surprising number of Flash villains, they’re all discussed at length. You can get the episode on iTunes or right here.
We’ve already talked about Modern Family, and a fantastic episode of Parks and Recreation, but there’s still more to discuss. It’s also worth mentioning The Office. This episode had the documentarians appearing on camera for the first time, which was kind of neat. Unfortunately, they appeared so they could console Pam after Jim yelled at her. We’re not sure who really wants to watch their marital discord, but it was distinctly unpleasant. (Are they trying to make sure we won’t miss the show when it’s gone by making all of the characters dicks? Because we don’t care for this strategy one bit.)
Raising Hope – You might think a little Frank goes a long way, but whenever he takes a starring role in an episode, it’s great. This week, Jimmy and Sabrina celebrated their bachelor / bachelorette parties. Jimmy tried to play it safe, since when he gets crazy he tends to do things like get his wang pierced or hook up with a serial killer. (His party actually involved Mad Libs. We can agree that’s not nearly as cool as Settlers of Catan, right?) Frank finally got the party going, which led to a Hangover scene of Jimmy waking up sixteen hours later in a wedding dress. But instead of going the “piece together the missing night” route, a DVD revealed everything that happened (which we are assuming is a Crank reference) – Frank tricked Jimmy into marrying him. Poor Frank was worried about losing his friend, so he came up with this plan to force Jimmy to hang out. And when Jimmy tried to have the marriage annulled, Frank worked up a complicated contract that potentially gave him custody of Hope. (Speaking of, that kid just looks fantastically bored these days. Her career no longer impresses her.)
Jimmy decided to stick with Frank and try to drive him crazy with his bad habit. Turns out, Frank likes the things that drive other people crazy. Like the way Jimmy drinks half a can of soda and lets the rest get flat. (“The only problems with soda are that it’s too bubbly and there’s too much of it!”) It was a funny, fast-moving episode. And there’s this real wistfulness to Frank episodes, where you really feel for the guy. Still, we can’t help but notice that he looks exactly like a live-action William Murderface.
30 Rock – In the second to last episode of the series, TGS closed up shop for good. Liz tried her best to create an episode that would win over Kabletown and not cost anything to produce, but it was all for naught. (Despite some last minute sponsorship from Bro Body Douche. But at least we got Matt Oberg of Ugly Americans and Bunk playing the head of the company.) And after giving up on the sinking ship that was her show, Liz got to the airport in time to join Criss and meet their adopted twins – tiny versions of Jenna and Tracy. And when it fell to Jack to choose the new president of NBC, he returned Kenneth to the page program to help. Like Willy Wonka, he planned to use a tour of the studio to weed out the week and find the best candidate. (And of course, the candidates all resembled the kids from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.) Ultimately, Jack decided to choose the person who loved NBC the most – Kenneth. Yep. Heading into the last episode, Liz has two children and Kenneth is running the network. We’re going to miss these guys.
Suits – Secret Lover’s Lenny and Katie got us into this show over the break, and now we’re kind of obsessed. The USA legal drama returned last week for the second half of Season Two. And as wonderful as David Constabile (Breaking Bad, Flight of the Conchords) is, it’s nice to be done with the long-running “Return of Daniel Hardman” arc. So that means we’re back to Mike being unprofessional and entitled and not really appreciating the amount of work everybody has to do to cover his ass. Which is not really a complaint, even though Mike is pretty dumb. (That’s just something you’ll have to accept.) The season premiere had Harvey Spector on a date, Mike confronting his past (and getting high with worrying frequency), and Louis Litt in a complicated relationship with female Louis (Rachael Harris). Oh, and Mike screwed up a whole bunch of relationships. You really should check this show out – the first season and a half are on USA’s website. It’s got some of the best characters on TV. (We have to run the numbers, but Donna might actually be perfect.) So take a look and then check back in with us, and we’ll all talk about how awesome Louis is.
Also, we should point out that Louis compares himself to Batman in this episode. Given that Harvey and Mike both referenced the Dark Knight multiple times in Season One, we’re putting Suits creator Aaron Korsh in the Batman Fan Hall of Fame. He and Ben Wyatt have much to talk about…
New Girl–This was a divisive episode on the internet, but we liked it. Jess was excited that she had someone in her class (Nate Corddry) excited about writing, but when she read his disturbing story to the roomies, Nick was concerned, and decided to do a little recon by attending her class in disguise. He came in wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, and introduced himself as Julius Pepperwood from Chicago. Jake Johnson laid on his native accent really thick, to hilarious effect. Worried this guy was trying to kill Jess (Nick’s a pro now, he could see this amateur writer’s fonts!), he and Jess stalked the guy to his home, where it seemed they saw his mother living with him. Madcap mistakes happened, and Nick got busted in the guy’s shed, while Jess got mace in her (enormous) eyes. It turned out the guy was just really bad at drawing eyes, and didn’t want to kill Jess at all, but that still doesn’t explain why the deer in his stories had bangs. Plus, that lady was most definitely not his mother. Back at home, Winston accidentally grazed a visiting CeCe with his, ahem, morning wood, which the gang calls his “pogo.” That’s not a euphemism, but rather something the others talk about when you leave the room. They’re still not sure how Winston didn’t notice he did it to a pizza one time. Jess’ is that she’s a perfectionist, Nick’s is his poor-ness (they take turns putting change in his pockets before he does laundry) and Schmidt’s is his barnacle toenails, or “clickety clacks”, if you prefer. Though his newly shorn eyebrows were probably almost as disturbing.
An Idiot Abroad – The travel series wherein Office creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send their friend Karl Pilkington around the world returned for a third season this week, and it’s as much fun as ever. This time, the premise is that Karl is going to retrace Marco Polo’s voyages, grumbling all the way. And just to make it interesting, he’s traveling with Warwick Davis. Davis recently starred as himself on Gervais and Merchant’s Life’s Too Short, and he’s best known for playing Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi and Willow in Willow. (Also, he is in most of the Leprechaun movies, but he’d just as soon not bring those up.)
Davis adds a lot to the show – we’ve seen two seasons of Karl traveling now, and it’s nice to see somebody who’s actually enjoying the experience. (Of course, he’s also enjoying watching Karl make a fool of himself.) And as in Life’s Too Short, the humor doesn’t come from the fact that Davis is a little person. On the scripted show, the joke was that he was a faded star who was never quite as famous as he thought he was, and here he’s just another source of irritation for Karl. Warwick legitimately enjoying things like “the pleasure machine” (don’t ask) just makes Karl even more baffled. It’s a lot of fun, and as in the past two seasons, the photography is gorgeous.
We also have to mention how much we love the fact that Karl clearly doesn’t know why Warwick Davis is famous. He says multiple times that Davis “played a bear in Star Wars”, and knows he was in Willow but doesn’t know what that is or who he played. (A running joke on Life’s Too Short was that nobody Davis talked to had seen Willow.) Luckily, real Warwick is a better sport than the fictionalized version.
Newsreaders – Adult Swim launched this Childrens Hospital spinoff last week. Essentially, it’s a regular series based on the fake news show that does the “behind the scenes” episodes of Hospital. Hosted by Louis La Fonda (Mather Zickel, who is much funnier than Man Up would have had you believe.), Newsreaders is a fake news show that brings you all the hard-hitting investigative journalism you need. On the plus side, the deadpan delivery is great, the premise of the first episode (an investigation in to “F*ck Vans”, which is essentially a service that promises women will have sex with any man who drives one of their vans) is suitably bizarre, and the premiere boasts a great performance by Brian Posehn as the guy suing the van company. On the minus side, though, the report felt more like narrative storytelling than a news report. That might be a side effect of the eleven minute runtime, though. And the fact that there’s only one story means that if you don’t care for the premise, the episode won’t do much for you. Again, eleven minute runtime. Basically, it’s not a home run. But it’s a solid triple and the people involved have us hopeful for future episodes. (Yes, it’s awkward when we use sports metaphors. We’ll try to avoid that in the future.)
Cougar Town – You know a surefire way to win us over? Avengers references. As Laurie explained, everybody in the cul de sac crew has their own “super powers”. Like Andy’s ability to find anything, Grayson’s talent for mimicry, or baby Sammy’s freakish strength. (That kid lifted a couch!) Once again, this episode had so many stories going on – Jules couldn’t figure out why Grayson wouldn’t argue with her, Laurie worried about her Army boyfriend after they lost contact, and Bobbie gave himself the name “Ron Mexico” which suddenly changed his fortunes. (We’d like to see Ron Mexico hang out with Max Powers, actually.) Then there were bits like the outdoor wine holders, everybody pretending to throw things in anger, and Jules and Ellie leaving their options open as a lesbian couple. (“Stay skinny, just in case.”) And they’re definitely taking advantage of their freedom as a cable show – we don’t know what Jules did with her thumb, but Grayson didn’t like it and she probably couldn’t have done it on ABC.
Nashville–The tour took a break to celebrate “Wrong Song” going Number One back in Nashville. This dovetailed with Juliette going to her mom’s parole hearing and giving the least supportive testimony ever. She had to fill in for Deacon, who was weathering some bad PR after his split from The Revel Kings that pointed to him falling off the wagon. He was wallowing in a bad way, threatening to “go off the grid” and generally being all broody and dark. He trashed his house (not the best idea if you want to sell the place, D!) but didn’t take a drink. Instead, he decided to join Juliette back on tour, which pissed Rayna off big time.
She was being wooed by another record label and trying to figure out how to salvage her marriage, all while discovering Liam had been working out a sweet deal for himself while he was flirting with her onstage. She fired him and asked for her own imprint at her current label instead. Scarlett, Gunnar and Avery’s former band all decided to jam together, which Avery stumbled on just as he heard his own tune on the radio.
Go On – This week’s episode was lots of fun. Simone (Piper Perabo), a former member of the group, returned and Ryan couldn’t deal with how much everybody liked her. (She bought everybody scarves!) Simone tried to win over Ryan, and it ended with them kissing on top of a building in the rain, and then hooking up in Anne’s bed. Not that Anne knew about it until she walked in on them, of course. Speaking of Anne, she got some nice moments, first by helping Danny with his divorce and then by confronting her own anger at her late wife. And just to bring thinks back to hilarious, when Mr. K found out that Stephen cut Ryan’s show by fifteen minutes, he sought revenge. (Accompanied by “Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)” on his iPhone.) He slapped Stephen with a glove, duel style (“One slap for every seven and a half minutes you cut Ryan’s show!”), and somehow managed to turn his car upside down. Somehow, they ended up making friends and bonding over the pressures of the radio business, explained to Mr. K using a complicated flow chart. (For some reason, “Carlos Mencia” was a major topic on the chart.) We hope that comes up again. OH! We also learned Mr. K’s first name – “Benjamin”. Simone knows his name, because he “thought she could handle it”. Hee!
Ben and Kate – In the last episode for the foreseeable future (As of Wednesday, FOX pulled it from the schedule. Because they hate joy.), BJ stole the show once again. When a casting agent mistook her for Maddie’s mother, she asked the pair to appear in a commercial. And that meant BJ, entirely lacking in motherly instincts, had to try to fake a maternal connection with Maddie. (Apparently she thinks it’s a sign of affection to poke a child with a ruler repeatedly.) One of the funniest scenes of the week came when BJ tried to teach the child a British accent, and then lectured her about her failures. (“You sound like a northern trollop.”) And then in a sweet moment, BJ dropped out of the commercial when they cast her but fired Maddie. Meanwhile, Ben and Tommy tried to flesh out their Rail Mall pitch. And you can tell they’ve got a solid plan because Tommy’s already figured out business: “The secret to being a creative force is to wear red pants and state the obvious.” We’re hoping this comes back to the schedule as soon as possible, because we’re going to miss Nat Faxon and the other, less Faxon-y members of the cast.
Kroll Show – The show opened with an ad for Chikk Kiub – a fast food restaurant that proudly proclaims itself to be racist and homophobic, but it’s so delicious that nobody cares. (Fun fact – this sketch was written before Chik-Fil-A made national news – Nick Kroll can add prescience to his list of virtues!) This episode showed a real Mr. Show / Tim and Eric influence with a running gag connecting several sketches. Specifically, a football player would appear at key moments to douse somebody with Gatorade. (Best moment? Dousing a woman right after she gave birth, and then coming back to pour Gatorade on the baby.) Some of Kroll’s established characters showed up this week, with Bobby Bottleservice auditioning a singer over a webcam chat and the Rich Dicks (Kroll and Jon Daly) went to Mexico for drugs. This segment introduced us to the slang term “Shneaf” for cocaine. We’re not sure that’s a real thing, but we are not experts.
Dr. Armond from last week’s PubLIZity got his own spinoff this week, dealing with his heavily medicated wife and bratty son. It was another dead-on Bravo spoof, down to the over-the-top sound effects and poo jokes. (It’s possible that Bravo reality shows don’t embrace poo jokes the way we assume, but it seems like they should.) And one of our favorites, June Diane Raphael, appeared as Nina Bludd of “Bludd Diamonds”. She helped CeCe Armond pick out the new jewelry that the Doctor was exchanging for sex acts. (For a tiara, she had to go all the way to fifth base. AKA “The Dugout”.) Finally, in what might be our favorite product placement ever, Kroll played an incontinent cowboy to endorse Subaru. That was just a short bit, but it was amazing.
Justified – The mystery of the dead skydiver and the goods in Arlo’s walls deepened this week, this week involving a psychic and some crooked Feds. But poor Raylan couldn’t focus, because his girlfriend’s ex-husband (or possibly not even ex-) challenged him to a fight. Like, schoolyard style. And this is a big dude, by the way. But this was a sham, since the couple skipped down while Raylan was distracted. (After robbing him blind. Including the money he’d put aside for the baby, who we’ll probably never see now that Natalie Zea is on The Following.)
And in a separate storyline, Boyd Crowder continued to clash with the snake handlers. In a nice plot element, it turned out that Preacher Billy isn’t trying to muscle in on Boyd’s drug operations or scam anybody – he’s a true believer. (His sister, not so much.) In a tense scene, he put his life on the line to handle a poisonous snake that Boyd brought with him – even after finding out that his sister had been secretly draining the venom from the church’s snakes. It did not go well for Preacher Billy, who ended up with a bad bite. Boyd smugly striding out of the church while the congregation tended to the convulsing man was one of those reminders that even though we’ve learned to feel sympathy for him, Boyd is a bad, bad person.
Parenthood–What we are hoping is just the Season 4 finale and not a series ender, this episode was a tear jerker in almost all good ways. Really about 99%, unless you love Mark & Sarah. She picked Hank over Mark, which seemed like the right choice at this point, but was then floored when Hank said he was moving to Minnesota to be near his daughter. Her decision on whether or not to join him was about the only loose end left dangling. Drew and Amy had a sweet goodbye as they confronted their
awkward situation and were quietly happy for each other as they talked about going to college on opposite coasts. Kristina underwent a PET scan and found herself cancer free (not cured, however; that takes 5 years), though she saw her first cancer friend back for more chemo. The scene where she passed on the chemo fleece she’d gotten from Camille was touching. Ryan and Amber had an awesome and poignant reunion. Those kids are clearly meant to be.
In a nice nod to continuity, it’s been one year since Crosby and Jasmine were married, so it was perfect that they were celebrating their anniversary. Even better was Jasmine’s pregnancy announcement and the way it was used to broker peace between Crosby and Renee. Lastly, even though there was a minor hiccup with Sydney not wanting to go to the formal adoption, it all worked out and Victor even called Julia “mom”, which melted our cold, dark hearts. Here’s hoping that’s not the last we see of the Bravermans, but if it is, they went out beautifully.
We’ll have to save the new Archer and the final episode of Fringe for next week – thanks to some Internet issues, we’re pressed for time and they aren’t going to let EJ stay at this Wendy’s all night. But be assured they were awesome. And we’re always happy to hear about more TV shows to watch, so if there’s anything we’re missing, just let us know. We’ll see you next week!