Happy Friday! We’ve reached the end of the week, and that means it’s time to take a look at the best TV shows on TV. Every week, we watch a backbreaking amount of TV, and then we find pick out the best television shows we saw and tell you about why they made us happy. It is something we do because we don’t know any other way to live. We’re heroes, really.
Before we get to this week’s best shows on TV, we suggest that you download the new episode of the Secret Lover podcast. (Either here or on iTunes.) Our own Myndi was a guest on Lenny and Katie’s Galentine’s Day Extravaganze. She does an impression of Claire Huxtable and everything.
And get ready, because this week’s list has a double dose of Luke Perry!
Parks and Recreation – We’ll have our weekly collection of Parks quotes next week, because we had a full hour tonight and we’re still a little teary from the wedding. Following from last week’s episode, Leslie and Ben tried to put together a ceremony at the Pawnee Commons gala. This meant finding rings, a license, a minister, and a dress with no warning. It was funny and sweet and romantic, and really just a lovely episode of television. Every single character got to contribute and they all got great moments. (We really laughed at Councilman Jamm trying to disrupt the wedding with stinkbombs, and the way Ron Swanson dealt with him.) It was amazing and hilarious and just perfectly nailed the emotion. And man, Donna can sing. Oh! And a Li’l Sebastian impersonator! So good.
In a bonus episode (directed by Nick Offerman!), Ben started his new job with the Sweetums Foundation, while Leslie found herself in a phone-hacking scandal. Ann decided to ask Chris to father her child, and she asked him in the best possible way – with Perd Hapley standing right there. Andy, depressed after failing his entrance exam, found what might really be his calling, and Chris Pratt did a great job with it. We’ll run our favorite quotes next week, but trust us – it was a great night of TV.
Raising Hope – The Chances celebrated Arbor Day this week, in an episode calculated to warm our hearts. Not only did Luke Perry (star of Beverly Hills 90210 – the show the family watches on every holiday) play a magical spirit of Arbor Day named Papa Woody (Jimmy still doesn’t get it), but Barney explained the true meaning of Arbor Day while wearing the exact same outfit as Linus in the famous scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas. He was even clutching a blue blanket! It was a really cute Christmas Carol-style episode that let us get a peek at Sabrina’s childhood, gave us plenty of “Papa Woody” jokes, and as previously mentioned, Luke Perry. (Look, he can’t touch your breasts unless you sign this waiver.) Oh – we also loved the Chance’s traditional holiday meals, like LBJ sandwiches for President’s Day and “Six More Weeks of Weiners” for Groundhog Day. Hee!
The Jeselnik Offensive – We like Anthony Jeselnik a whole bunch, but we couldn’t imagine how Comedy Central would build a show around him. In terms of format, it’s actually almost an exact duplicate of Jeffrey Ross’ The Burn. But while that show was often disappointing, Jeselnik was really funny and winning. The man is charming enough that he can get away with saying horrible things, and that charm was in full effect throughout the premiere. He did a “Who Wore it Best” segment, which after one normal round turned into match-ups like President Obama and the Virginia Tech killer or Guy Fieri vs. a self-immolating monk. (And every time, Anthony proclaimed one of them to be the “Belle of the ball”, which just got funnier with repetition.) A filmed bit had Anthony performing stand-up for an audience of cancer patients – given his usual approach, this had the potential to go horribly wrong, but it turned out to be surprisingly sweet and it seemed like his audience really appreciated him.
And then he introduced his panel for the week, Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari, both of whom we love. More structured than Ross’ panels that just served as mini-roasts , this segment let Jeselnik have much more interaction with his guests. Also, and we can’t believe nobody told us this earlier, he and Amy used to date. And maybe we’re just romantic at heart, but it kind of seemed like he had little tiny hearts in his eyes whenever he talked to her. (Fine! We’re shipping them! Get off our backs!) This whole segment had great bits like “Justify Your Tweet”, where Anthony read his guests past Tweets of theirs, and they had to, well, justify them. But the best was “Latino Voices”, which was just the panel talking in Hispanic accents. Amazing! (And Jeselnik’s accent was so ridiculous that Amy didn’t even seem to realize what was happening at first.) The episode closed out with some rare Jeselnik-ian physical comedy, and we’re totally smitten. Between this and Kroll Show, Comedy Central’s been knocking out some great premieres lately!
Bob’s Burgers – Another just about perfect episode had Linda taking a part-time job at a grocery store. Bob and Linda were miserable not being around one another, but neither of them could admit it. (And nobody could set the thermostat the way Mort and Teddy wanted. They’re very particular!) Linda’s new co-workers took advantage of her generosity, leaving her the only one at the store, while Bob couldn’t figure out Linda’s system and failed to pay their beef guy. Things collapsed into anarchy at the grocery store, but Bob realized how much he depends on Linda, and it was the second sweetest thing on TV this week. There was a really nice musical number, with Bob and Linda dueting from afar, and Tina’s wonderful subplot where she found love in the dairy section. “I’m writing down some numbers. They seem random, but they’re my phone number.” This is another episode where we’d just like to run a transcript of the whole thing to explain why we love it. It is the best.
Once Upon A Time–While Cora continued her plan to kill Snow and Charming, capture Rumple’s dark powers and getRegina off scot-free for all of it, Emma, Rumple and Henry were of to NYC in search of Baelfire. To no one’s surprise, he is one and the same as Neal, Emma’s ex and Henry’s father. Their reunion is as odd as you might expect, but the one between Neal and Henry is sweet. Too bad his grandfather pledged years ago to kill him. This family’s getting more confusing each week!
Kroll Show – We’re immediately on board for any episode with Gil and George (who played pickup basketball with JB Smoove and Hannibal Buress this week), so Kroll as a Guy Fieri/Adam Richman style food reporter was just icing on the cake. (Especially when that segment presented onscreen fun facts like “Tortilla means ‘little cake’ in another language”.) There was also yet another spinoff for Dr. Armond, this time focusing on his son, Roman (“Roman’s Empire”). And this spunoff yet again, with Roman’s friend C-Czar getting his own show. (An new C-scon of “C-Czar’s Palace”!) At this point, the PubLIZity franchise has more original programming than HBO!
What we’re really enjoying are all the callbacks and development we’ve been seeing over the course of the season. All of the Dr. Armond shows really just tell a single story. This episode had multiple people eating food from Chikk Klub (the homophobic chicken franchise from the second episode), and the chef in the “Dine and Dash” segment was named “Elon Faizon”, which probably means he’s related to Gil Faizon. The San Diego Diet seems to sponsor a lot of segments, and if there’s a sporting event, Ref Jeff will be there. We haven’t seen a sketch show attempt this kind of continuity in a long time. (Every once in a while, Mr. Show made a stab at it, but that’s as close as anybody’s come.) We’re going to end up having to marathon the whole season just to look for callbacks that we missed. (Or call-forwards. The incontinent cowboy from the Subaru promo will be appearing on the show proper before the end of the season, for example.) Kroll Show is turning out to be even better than we expected, and we were in the tank for Kroll from day one!
Cougar Town – This episode had Grayson lamenting that he and Jules don’t have a “meet cute” like all great romantic comedy couples. (Bobby and Travis have a great meet cute, though!) And that got everybody reminiscing about how they met, which kicked off some hilarious flashbacks. Back when they first moved to the cul-de-sac, Jules was, well, not so refined as she is now. And Ellie hated her. There were all sorts of neat moments detailing the fist meetings of various characters, including Bobby catching Andy after a fall off the roof (it was love at first sight!). And while it wasn’t a first meeting, Flashback Bobby shared spaghetti with a dog, Lady and the Tramp-style. In the present, Laurie’s military boyfriend came back and she almost immediately started to feel like he was crowding her, and Andy revealed his greatest fear (cats walking on two legs). And if you like slang terms for vaginas, this is the episode for you!
Community – Hey, this was right up our alley. The study group went to an Inspector Spacetime comvention (for a variety of reasons) – Abed made a new friend, Troy needed his girlfriend’s advice to get his boyfriend back, Jeff was mistaken for a villain and Number Six hit on him, Annie got to be Mrs. Jeff Winger for a day, and Pierce and Shirley ended up in a focus group for an American Inspector Spacetime. (Thanks to Pierce, it stars Luke Perry as the Inspector and Jennie Garth as his companion with a tennis racket.) It seems like we’ve gotten to the point where we can stop worrying on a weekly basis – the new season isn’t as dense with jokes as the Dan Harmon years, but it’s still smart and funny and entirely enjoyable. Plus, Abed had a pretty solid analysis of Doctor Who. Well, Inspector Spacetime, but you know what we mean. (And for the first time we got a look at past Inspectors and Constables!) And we’re also happy to see that Troy is treating Britta better. He’s still torn between having a girlfriend and taking care of Abed, but he’s handling it better. Yes, this would have been the perfect place for former Doctor Who companion and Community fan Karen Gillan to make an appearance, but you can’t have everything.
Dallas–This week was focused on Ann’s trial for the attempted murder of Harris Ryland, which allowed viewers to see inside Ann’s incredibly troubled first marriage. She’d been victim to a controlling husband and his even more controlling mother and not ready to become a young mother. She’d lost Emma at the fair while hopped up on postpartum meds. It was easy to see Chris was able to get to Emma a little bit when trying to get her to testify in her mother’s favor, even though she stayed true to Harris for now. Ann’s conviction came quickly, but we believe Bobby when he says he’ll figure it out. J.R. made another brief appearance, and the release from prison of Vicente from last season makes us worry that a big set up for a murder in a couple weeks.
Archer – Thanks to a series of mistakes on a mission, a cobra bit Archer. Right on the taint. We got to see a lot of Archer’s backstory thanks to his hallucinatory flashbacks in which he was accompanied by the late James Mason (voiced by Peter Serafinowicz!). Lacrosse was surprisingly important! Outside of Archer’s subconscious, he had great comedy partner in Ray and Cyril. Those three play so well off of each other with their varying degrees of professionalism and competence. (And Ray got our favorite line of the episode, when Archer asked him how he could have forgotten about his bionic legs. “Are you constantly aware that you have regular leg bones? No!”) We’d write a lot more about this if it didn’t air so close to our deadline, but be assured that this show is consistently awesome.
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon – In sexy scheduling news, Alison Brie (our favorite!) made the rounds this week to promote Community. She appeared on The Daily Show to talk smack about John Oliver, which was pretty great. (Also, she and her friends perform cover songs at various venues. This is an event we would be interested in attending!) But she really made our week when she visited Jimmy Fallon. Not only did she talk about scaring coyotes and her neighbor who can’t be convinced that she’s not on The Office, but she also plugged Community with a freestyle rap.
New Girl – This week, Nick and Jess dealt with the aftermath of the kiss heard ‘round the Internet. It all came out when the loftmates fought over a new parking space. Nick, who can’t find it in him to care too much about things, had to cast the deciding vote between Schmidt and Jess. No matter who he chose, he felt guilty. Giving it to Jess meant he was being a gentleman, but the only way to prove his decision was above board was to give it to Schmidt. (“This city can’t afford another scandal!”) This gave us some great physical comedy, and the mystery of Schmidt’s nipples. (They aren’t where they’re supposed to be!) Meanwhile, Winston searched the city to find a condom for a surprise hook-up with Daisy. It’s the sort of thing that really shouldn’t have been funny, but the oft-neglected Lamorne Morris really sold it with his reactions. The whole thing was a delight, topped off by Nick’s pronunciation of “Barack Obama”. We don’t even want to try and spell it out, but it was great.
Revenge–The best episode of this show in weeks saw The Graysons disposing of Helen Crowley’s body and covering their tracks while Amanda and Jack sailed to Nantucket with the villainous Nate onboard. It wasn’t long before he was discovered and the confined cat and mouse game began. Jack and Amanda got Nate trapped below deck, but in trying to shoot his way out, he got Jack right in the gut. Amanda shoved him into the life raft and stayed back to fight Nate. Nolan and Emily got there and rescued Jack, while Emily hopped on The Amanda to save her friend.
After a big fight with Nate, a leak in the propane tank provided a dying Nate one last hurrah. He flicked his bic and blew up the boat, killing Amanda in the process. She didn’t die immediately, rather in Emily’s arms as they waited on the half-sunken raft for Nolan to return. It was an emotional scene that was unexpected given the character, but great nonetheless. Oh, and back in The Hamptons? Conrad Grayson announced that he’s running for Governor.
Suits – Best moment of the week? Hardman’s face when he saw that his name is no longer on the wall. Fantastic. This week, the big sexual discrimination lawsuit intensified, with Harvey getting ready to take one last desperate stand. But as ever, the character dynamics took center stage. While there’s plenty of Harvey/Scottie, Mike/Katrina, and Harvey just wanting his name on the damn door, it was (once again) Louis who made the biggest impact. When Rachel’s application to Harvard was rejected, Louis assumed the Sheila had pulled strings to make it happen, all to get back at Louis. It turns out that wasn’t actually the case, but Louis’ first reaction was to go in there and try to be a hero (and scoring in the process), and that was nice to see. If you’re ever unable to remember whether Louis is awesome, the answer is always yes.
Justified – Fun fact: Less than a week has passed since the beginning of the season. That’s nuts! Anyway, Raylan turned Jody (from the season premiere) over to Sharon, so she could return him to jail. But thanks to Paul Kinsey from Mad Men, Sharon and her partner were both killed and Jody escaped. (In the space of six days, Raylan was betrayed by one ex and another was killed. It’s been a long week.) Most of Raylan’s story this week was spent tracking down Jody, and killing him in the bar where he lives. (Raylan’s life is kind of sad when you think about it. You don’t even have to think about it that much.)
In other news, Johnny Crowder knows Colton’s not telling the whole story about Ellen May. Which is nice, because the two guys with the shortest fuses should definitely be in conflict with one another. Then, Boyd and Ava managed to get into a high society swinger party – the town’s elite want him to kill the mine owner, and they revealed that they’ve been helping him out all along. They backed his father, and now they’re pulling the strings for Boyd and he owes them. Boyd didn’t take this well.
And back in the Drew Thompson story, Raylan finally went to Arlo for information and offered to cut him a deal to serve out his sentence in minimum security. Arlo didn’t want to play along, so Raylan told him they’d just check in with Mosley then, and we got to see a rare sight – Arlo looked scared. This is just going to keep getting weirder!
Cult – This new CW drama doesn’t deserve “Best TV Show on TV” status, but we’re in love with the premise. It’s about a disgraced reporter investigating his brother’s disappearance, which seems to be tied in to a CW drama called Cult. The only way that could be more meta is if you watched the show in the Dreamatorium. The execution leaves something to be desired, unfortunately. The characters aren’t terribly compelling, and they don’t do enough to delineate the show within the show from the actual show. (And yes, that is a sentence we just wrote.) Basically, the tone doesn’t really change – if you have a show within a show, it either needs to be ridiculous (like the crimefighting stripper drama Expose from that episode of LOST), or else the actual show needs to be very naturalistic. But both Cult and Cult seem like kind of the same show. And neither one seems all that good, you know? And for being a TV show, Cult seems to be charmingly naïve about how fandom and TV production and entertainment reporting work. However, there are some things we liked a whole lot.
First off, the advertising campaign for the show within the show seems to be based around black billboards and posters emblazoned with the CW logo and the words “Don’t Watch This Show”. Which, let’s be honest, is like a hundred times better than the way the actual CW advertises their shows. (Join us for a sing-along: “TV Now. TV Now. TV Now. TV Now. TV Now. (repeat)”) The L.A. Complex would be alive today if the CW had given the show that much promotional effort. Also, the portrayal of fans of the show is really interesting – there’s a thin line between being a passionate and engaged viewer and being obsessed. And, well, what we saw of Cult fandom hit a little close to home. Especially the guy with his notebook of observations. We recapped LOST! We had those notebooks! That’s the more interesting part of the show, but instead we’re mired in mysterious disappearances.
Still, it was kind of fun. Robert Knepper (who will always be T-Bagg in our hearts) plays Billy Grimm, the cult leader on the show within the show. We don’t remember then identifying the actor this week, but we kind of hope it turns out that Knepper is playing himself. And they have a good hook with the phrase “Well, hey. These things snap right off” repeating throughout the show and the show within the show. And then the show within the show is run by the reclusive Steven Rae, who’s credited as the Executive Producer of the real show, only he doesn’t seem to exist. (IMDB redirects to Cult creator Rockne S. O’Bannon). This could lead to some brilliant use of social media (which doesn’t seem to have happened yet – at this point, the first Google result for “Steven Rae” is “Did you mean Stephen Rea?”). The premise has so much potential, but the pilot itself is just frustrating. Unless that’s what they want us to think!
There was plenty more to watch this week. The new season of Amazing Race is off to a good start, The Americans is getting steadily better, and Arrow was not exactly good but it featured a lot of Felicity Smoak. We’ll be back next week with more TV talk – in the meantime, if there’s something we should be watching, let us know! We’ll check it out and send you a fruit basket. (Note: The fruit basket is only a metaphor.)