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In case you were wondering why Ben Affleck was randomly tapped to host the season finale of Saturday Night Live despite the post-Oscar glow of his Argo victory having long since worn off, the almost immediate disappearance of his Terrence Malick adventure To the Wonder from theaters and the absence of any new projects in his career pipeline, the answer lies in the fact that this episode marked the departure of Bill Hader and his popular Stefon alter ego from Studio 8H. (Also Fred Armisen, but c'mon... he shoulda left three seasons ago.)
My least favorite Modern Family episodes are the ones that reveal just how awful the Dunphy-Pritchett-Delgado adults are deep down -- and that was the running gag in "Games People Play." Not to mention that the pattern this season has been that for every tiny step Lily has taken to improve, Manny just gets that much worse. Making him a whiny sneak with an unsubtle Oedipal problem did not do him any favors. While we've seen Jay and Gloria realize how obnoxious they are, with Phil and Cam accidentally (and unbeknownst to them) publicly shaming themselves and Claire functioning as a wet blanket, this episode wasn't a complete waste. There were still some pretty funny moments, so let's focus on those:
Selina's European (non-)apology tour took her to Finland on last night's Veep, resulting in the funniest episode of the season and perhaps the all-time funniest episode in the show's young history.
With his first HBO series Family Tree, Christopher Guest becomes an active participant in the ongoing small-screen mockumentary boom he helped lay the groundwork for through movies like Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show and the granddaddy of them all, This is Spinal Tap. (Ricky Gervais has been very vocal about Guest's work inspiring him to go off and make The Office, which in turn led to the U.S. Office, as well as Parks and Rec, Modern Family and so on.) Guest's movies are hysterical (well, except for the last one before his apparently self-imposed hiatus, For Your Consideration), but it was an open question as to whether he'd be able to translate his skills to TV's long-form storytelling model as opposed to the 80 to 90 minutes his movies run.
In the immortal words of T.S. Eliot, "Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over." Or maybe, "This is the way
the world Community ends: Not with a bang but a whimper" would be more apropos. Whichever Eliot line you chose to go with, Community's fourth season (and, potentially, series) finale "Advanced Introduction to Finality" was a definite off-note on which to end a season that was already often out of tune.
Modern Family does well with backstories -- especially when it includes adding insult to injury. "My Hero" may have had a contrived and predictable framing device with Manny's school assignment, (though I like that Luke had the same essay to write) and the Phil-Gloria subplot was pretty much a huge waste until its genuinely hilarious conclusion, but it was a solidly funny and sweet episode. I credit that in no small part thanks to the writers getting the entire ensemble of "jumpy Protestants" together in a believable way (even Cousin Pete!) and to Eric Stonestreet's physical comedy. Before we get to the highlights, I do want to point out that Happy Endings had a similar storyline in its recent Season 3 (and perhaps series) finale this past Friday, "Brothas & Sisters." If you enjoyed "My Hero," I definitely recommended giving that episode a whirl -- you don't need much context going into it, either. Now, let's get to it:
Despite having pretty high expectations going into Newlyweds: The First Year, I wasn't disappointed by last night's series premiere. Bravo is essentially trying to do to marriage what MTV did with teen pregnancy via Teen Mom: show viewers what "actually" goes down once the initial afterglow fades away and reality sinks in -- a concept that isn't entirely original, but still generally unexplored in the low-budget TV landscape.
It's comedy night in DC as Selina Meyer prepares to sing a rousing satirical song at "The Vic Allen Dinner." That's both the title of the episode and the grand fête where she performs a version of the Paul Simon staple "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" that targets her nemesis, Kent Davison, who has already royally pissed her off by releasing a photo from last week's daring hostage rescue that displays her in a less-than-flattering light and makes her an Internet meme
ma'am in the process.
Question: What does a show do when it can't decide how to move forward? Answer: It looks to the past. That explains Community's penultimate Season 4 episode, "Heroic Origins," in which Abed pieces together the group's shared pre-Greendale history on a flowchart he labels the
Loom of Fate Crazy Quilt of Destiny. On the one hand, this gimmick allowed the cast to have some fun playing earlier incarnations of their characters, from Alison Brie's brace-faced Annie to Abed's Phantom Menace-trolling scarer of small children. At the same time, though, the whole thing felt kind of... well, pointless, since this trip to the past wound up shedding very minimal light on who these characters are now and what the future -- which may or may not last beyond next week's finale -- might have in store.
They got me, y'all. All season long, we were thrown little hints about possible Parks and Recreation pregnancies, and then in the season finale, the tension builds beautifully up until the moment I found out that I guessed the damn red herring. Aside from being incorrect and thus not getting the bragging rights, Ron Swanson being a father-to-be is more than I could have hoped for. I legitimately clapped at the end of the episode, and later had a brief nightmare about Tommy's Closet. It's probably a good thing that I'm getting a break from this show -- and, for the record, I'm pretty optimistic about a renewal.
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