Tuesday, January 19, 2010

NBC Monday Disappoints Me, But Not For The Obvious Reason...

With nothing of note happening on Sunday (because I just can't bring myself to care about 24 anymore), Monday had some big shoes to fill. Fortunately, we had a Neil Patrick Harris-directed episode of How I Met Your Mother to start me off with.

"Jenkins" was a fairly innocuous episode, not advancing much of the plot, but it was a much needed Marshall/Lily episode. Marshall has some of the best bits of the show; tonight it was stopping off at a college bar to defend his 2009 Skeeball title (as "Big Fudge"), and then freaking out over being the Reacher and not the Settler in his relationship. Unfortunately, since NPH was behind the camera, the episode suffered from a distinct lack of Barney. Guest star Amanda Peet (who ruined Studio 60, there I said it) filled in admirably, albeit only as a catalyst for the Reacher/Settler story. The only payoff to the storyline was Lily calmly taking off her scarf and earrings as Marshall and Jenkins relate the story of the kiss, then Lily goes total MMA on Jenkins, making Marshall feel loved...and scared. Very scared.

The other half of the episode was Ted discovering that his students all watch Robin's morning show specifically for the "But,um" drinking game. As someone who knows a "But, um'er", I was more amused by this than I had any right to be. The ending was ripped straight from the "24 drinking game"(where people would drink every time Jack Bauer says "Dammit"), and how Keifer Sutherland discovered the game's existence and made it a point to ad lib a few extra "dammit"s per episode, to help get the kids good and wasted. Decent episode, but a little bit of a letdown after last week.

Now for NBC. I'm man enough to admit it: I liked Heroes this week. Not a lot, and it was solely because they led with their one-two punch: Hiro and Sylar. Granted, the quality was drug down, mostly due to Claire, Samuel, and the borderline stupidity of the Hiro storyline.

Hiro: Passes out in Bennett's apartment and dreams a trial for his crimes against the space time continuum. Bonus points for bringing back Hiro's father and Adam Monroe. Extra bonus points for Hiro's mom and the sword fight with Hiro and Adam. Minus a few points for the deus ex machina of Hiro's mom curing his cancer (or whatever the hell happened...was it surgery, was it magic...I no longer trust this show to answer anything satisfactorily), but I'm just happy that the brain tumor stuff is out of the equation now. Granted, the cynic in me is dreading the next terrible way that they'll de-power Hiro again, but at least we got this one good moment out of it.

Sylar: Only Zachary Quinto can make long scenes with Claire seem interesting, and he deserves a medal and a raise for pulling it off tonight. Long story short, after a heart to heart (and then heart to shapeshifted heart) chat with Claire (and I do mean long), Sylar realizes that getting rid of his ill-gotten powers may be the key to happiness (spoiler alert: it won't), and Claire realizes that she's totally gay for Gretchen (spoiler alert: I still won't care). The last scene with Sylar popping up at Parkman's house was nice, even if it does mean more Parkman.

Samuel: Oh geez, all of this carnival crap was so that he can re-enact Hallmark cards with good old whatshername? Great, now Samuel is finally "all evil", and it's for spurned love? What a steaming pile. This can only get worse now that most of the side quests are ending and we appear to be gearing up for the slow plod to the season (please be series) finale.

Finally, since Castle wasn't uploaded in time, I decided to give Chuck another try. My history with Chuck goes like this: I watched it, was amused for a while, got more and more annoyed by the repetitive storylines, then gave up on it early into season 2. However, with the media blitz (and Seth Meyers had it right, NBC is riding Chuck to success or failure this year), I decided to give it another shot. And guess what, it's right back where it was when I quit on it.

Here's what I didn't like about Chuck:

-The Buy More. The characters there were all fairly unlikeable, and the storylines there just seemed to exist to kill time or to awkwardly dovetail into the main plot.

-Morgan. One of the more unlikeable characters in television history.

-Chuck himself. One of my television pet peeves is the "eternally reluctant hero". Every week seemed like the same thing; he's got these abilities (the Intersect), he doesn't want them, he sucks at using them, then he reluctantly does it by the end of the episode, rinse and repeat next week.

The first episode of this season has Chuck growing a big homeless guy beard after breaking up with Sarah in order to be a spy, then sucking so much at being a spy that he gets kicked out. The conceit for this season seems to be that Chuck doesn't just "flash" on information anymore, he can also flash new abilities, so it's just Season 1 again with the occasional kung fu fight. At this point, it's just Greatest American Hero (nerdy hero with unstable abilities he can't control; love interest and grizzled spy as partners) done badly. Even better, they manage to reboot everybody back to the Buy More too, putting everything I disliked about the show right back where it was in the first place. I may give it another couple of episodes, see if they manage to evolve the concept, but I'm not looking forward to it.

Happily, there's a new Castle to look forward to, plus more Scrubs and Better Off Ted. Also, new Leverage this week (and I've made at least one convert since last week).

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