Has there ever been a more adorable sight on Parks and Recreation than that of Ron Swanson cooing at his adorable infant son John Middle Name Redacted Swanson? What's that, you say? Ron has a son? Yes, that ever-so-secretive Ron and his wife Diane had their baby and Ron, much to the horror of Leslie, told no one. Unfortunately, it wasn't all cute mini-Swansons: there were also mass bee stings and Leslie getting a black eye. That said, all those instances (as well as an oft-repeated Tom storyline that might actually work this time) lead to something positive in the end… which is probably the first and last time I'll ever say bee stings did anything good for anyone. Damn you, bees. Here are the highlights from last night's light, but effective episode "The Wall":
In case you hadn't noticed, I wasn't the biggest fan of the episode "Dead Inside". I thought it was cruel and ugly and unfunny and used a death as a way to challenge viewers who don't like these characters. I understand not wanting to conform to what's expected of you, but rubbing everyone's face in their heartlessness seemed like a surefire way to turn off even the most fervent supporters. (See: me.) Since that fateful episode, in which Hannah whined more about the fate of her book than the actual passing of her editor David and all of her (female) pals talked about loss and death with nothing more than eye-rolling boredom and snark, things have been on the upswing of late. Both "Incidentals" and "Beach House" began to make these characters human, and even likeable again. But, if like me, "Dead Inside" still leaves a bitter taste in your mouth (I'm still convinced that Hannah is a sociopath), "Flo" probably remedied that. Instead of a detached, mean-spirited look at loss, "Flo" was sensitive and personal and was reminiscent of Season 1 depth.
It should be stated, first and foremost, that Steve Zahn really should be in just about everything. The underrated, scene-stealing actor is the best part of anything he's in (see: That Thing You Do!, Rescue Dawn, Joy Ride, among others) and always seems to be the missing link that improves a movie or TV show. The goofy, but lovable Zahn is, without a doubt, the best thing about the new dramedy Mind Games, but even his talents can't save this from being an ultimately ridiculous -- but most notably, boring -- slog.
By all accounts, The Michael J. Fox Show should have been good. It starred television treasures (Michael J. Fox, Betsy Brandt, Wendell Pierce), it had a primo time slot and it did not shy away from Fox's real-life battle with Parkinson's (in fact, that was a prominent part of the show.) But throw some annoying kids in the mix, sitcom-friendly problems (all family squabbles are fixed within the half-hour and no one ever holds a grudge),and the uneasy feeling that Parkinson's is being used as a comedy crutch more often than it should be, and well, you've got a major disappointment.
Boy, when Girls gets something wrong, it gets it so wrong, but when it gets something right, it gets it so right. Case in point: the soaring feeling you can get breezily walking through the streets of downtown Manhattan when everything in your life briefly, inexplicably falls into place and/or the crushing defeat that can surprise the hell out of you during what was supposed to be a routine trip to get frozen yogurt. Life in New York City changes on you on a dime, and sometimes you're zipping through Times Square having just heard the best news of your life, and other times you're carrying a pizza with you after having been dumped in Brooklyn.
I must admit something right off the bat: I've never been the biggest fan of Jimmy Fallon as a late night talk show host. I know, I know, that's like saying puppies are overrated and ice cream is a sub-par dessert. I'm of the minority and I realize that. Let me clarify that I actually thought Fallon's Late Night was a fun, hip (The Roots rule all!!) and modern (the guy knows his viral-friendly audience) show, but Fallon's interviewing style of fawning and giggling over every single guest always hit the wrong nerve with me. Again, I realize that Fallon doesn't have the gravitas as Letterman, nor the politics of Stewart and Colbert, but I like my hosts more edgy and daring than agreeable and starstruck, and the squeaky-clean Fallon most certainly ain't that.
Vacation is good for everyone. It's good for me, it's good for you and it's definitely good for TV shows stuck in a rut that it desperately needs to get out of. A change of scenery doesn't just physically take you out of your elements, but it mentally does, too. Destination/getaway episodes are nothing new, but rarely are they used to re-set the course of a series. Typically it's just an excuse to have the characters get into whacky shenanigans in Hawaii or meet Mickey Mouse. But Girls went a different route with "Beach House" and didn't use their getaway as a break from the norm, but rather as a device to have a lot of underlying issues come to a head. Vacation episodes are usually a fun distraction, but this one felt like the first truly authentic, funny, interesting, and -- believe it or not -- emotional episode of this rocky, thus-far-unlikable third season. Girls has had success with getting the characters out of the city before. Case in point: "The Return" and "Video Games." Last night's "Beach House" makes them three for three. (Maybe they need to leave New York more often?)
Kids… meet your new mother. With the unexpected announcement that indie darling Greta Gerwig would be anchoring the upcoming How I Met Your Mother spin-off How I Met Your Dad, HIMYM/HIMYD creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have pulled off their biggest casting coup since the Britney Spears cameo a few seasons back. Even more interestingly, the Frances Ha co-writer and star will be a writer/producer on the new series as well, suggesting that she'll at least have some say in the way the series unfolds. With that in mind, here are the five things we'd like to see Gerwig incorporate into her first network television venture.
This wasn't the worst episode of this show -- we've seen how truly awful it can get -- but the utter pointlessness of this outing was hard to top. Also, it was so forgettable that I watched "iSpy" last night, and this morning when I woke up, I could hardly remember any of the details so I had to watch it again. It didn't improve on repeat viewing. At all.
Usually if the Super Bowl is disappointing, at least the commercials are a highlight. This year, it felt like a failure all around with only a handful of ads leaving even a remote impression on us, while some of them were just awful. And it probably didn't help matters that the majority of the spots were released a few days early, taking the anticipation factor out altogether. Instead, the only real highlight of the night (unless you were a Seahawks fan, in which case, congrats!) was Bruno Mars (with the Red Hot Chili Peppers) and the calming ticking of the 24 teasers that made us excited for that show's return. Here's what you missed if you (wisely) opted to watch Downton/Sherlock instead of the big game.
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