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Qualler's Episode of the Month: March 2011

Geeze, I really should do these posts a month later than I do, since I seem to be perpetually a month behind on watching all my fave television shows. Alas, this means I have now missed out on the official first airing of Friday Night Lights' season five (which, as they are premiering on NBC in just one week from today, I will include episodes as a "Sorry, didn't have DirecTV 101 and/or didn't have the time or inclination to procure those episodes via other means" provision for upcoming months.) Likewise, it also means I missed all of the final season of Big Love, which, allegedly, regains some of the dramatic glory that it once had (though, Big Love's highest heights were still not nearly as high as the best shows on TV.)

Regardless, I think I still saw enough television in March to make some snap judgments. One thing is certain: FX is on a roll. Well, not exactly, actually, because their best new show since, well, their last new show Terriers, was cancelled. An absolute shame, as the show developed into one of TV's finest hours as the season went on. (Oh yeah, there's another show that I'm currently one month behind on.) Hoyt McCallany, may you have a great career and be cast in a new TV show where your brooding, hulking presence can be utilized. Alas, here is March 2011's best.

Parks and Recreation had its work cut out for it in March, having concluded its Harvest Festival plot only seven episodes into the season. Of course, now that P&R has moved from its initial "what are we gonna do about this big hole in Pawnee?" plot, they've pretty much gotten the leeway to just be a friggin' hilarious, heartwarming, wonderful show. The post-Harvest Festival episode "Camping", the eighth of the stellar third season, finds our gang out camping, trying to brainstorm what the next big project will be. Hilarity ensues, what with Jerry and Ron fly-fishing, Tom setting up his SkyMall-happy non-tent tent, Andy and April being the most non-cloying adorable hilarious couple on TV while Andy trips on a bunch of bushes while carrying way too much stuff through the forest (I could watch an entire episode of Andy walking around alone in the forest by himself carrying way too much stuff), Chris with his neon blinking running safety gear, and Leslie banging on a pot with a big stick for inspiration. If you needed more proof that all Parks and Recreation needs to do is stick a bunch of characters together and let them do stuff to make the show work, then this is the episode for you.

The Biggest Loser is a show that Brigitte and I watch every Tuesday night, after we go to our Yoga class together. It's the bridge between Yoga and NBC's great scripted drama Parenthood that lets us both take pride in our hard work of trying to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle and be proud of the contestants on this, the most humane competition reality show on television. (Don't judge.) I don't think I could single out a single episode, because we only get home in time for the hour long weigh-in segment, which is by far the most emo hour on television, all tears and hugs and joy and sadness rolled into one big happy gushing moment where, even when someone loses and has to "go home", they still win because they started toward the journey of overcoming their personal demons and started living a healthier lifestyle. (Seriously, don't judge.) That's the last I'll ever say about The Biggest Loser, thank you very much.

Lights Out, rest in peace, continued its strong run with its eighth episode, "Head Games", in which Patrick "Lights" Leary, upon winning his hastily arranged coming-out-of-retirement fight, dropped his Pops as his trainer and hired the more gutsy trainer Ed Romeo (played by Eamonn Walker of Oz, a Chris favorite Unbreakable, and overall a guy who also should be cast on a new TV series.) When Pops makes a play to get back in the training room with Lights, brought upon by a desperate intervention by Lights' brother Johnny, the result is haunting and heartbreaking. OK, so maybe this show actually would have worked well as a 13-episode miniseries structured to end at episode 13. And maybe other shows should follow that type of model in general. And maybe Warren Leight, like he mentioned in this interview, should have taken this show to Showtime instead of FX. Damn, this would have been a perfect show for Showtime. If only...

Justified, as awesome as it was in its first season, is even stronger than it was a year ago. Perhaps that is because the serialized elements of the show are much more at the forefront, with the procedural material falling into the background a bit. It also helps that the show seems to have evolved from where it left off last season and continued to grow as a swampy, sweaty, humid environment, with all the characters spouting almost Tarantino-esque dialogue (of course, it's actually Elmore Leonard-esque, seeing that he created the characters.) Or, it's Leonard-by-way-of-showrunner-Graham-Yost dialogue. As we re-remembered a month ago watching the Yost-penned Speed, the man has a gift for snappy, self-aware dialogue(*). Anyway, episode five, "Cottonmouth", was where the second season really started taking off, setting off the dominos that were so beautifully put in place in the first four episodes with Boyd Crowder and the new creepy Bennett family as Raylan Givens' biggest nemeses.

"I thought I got that monkey virus, like that movie!" -Dewey Crowe

(*)I could write a separate post on the greatness of Speed, and why I miss action movies of that ilk desperately, but it would just set off another Speed vs. Con Air debate within the Blogulator staff that I don't think any of us can afford to wage one more time.

Archer,
though. Archer! Like I mentioned before, FX is on an absolute creative roll right now, with the second season of the animated spy comedy series just absolutely working beautifully. Working with the absurdity that highlighted the occasionally outstanding Adult Swim series Sealab 2021, one of Archer creator Adam Reed's other creations, Archer also has working for it a delightful office humor vibe. The show got its first sorta-taste of a serialized plotline when the unbelievably-full-of-himself-yet-sorta-has-a-heart title character Sterling Archer found out he had breast cancer (hardy-har, a man with breast cancer, hardy-har.) The result was two episodes of Archer vaguely coming to grips with his life, while also delivering amazing one-liners. Writing about a comedy in general and about why it's funny is inherently not funny, so I'll just end this with a high recommendation to watch this show, which had the March episode of the month, "Stage Two", and enjoy the wicked great comedy ensemble of H. Jon Benjamin, Chris Parnell, Judy Greer, Aisha Taylor, and Jessica Walter.

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  1. Blogger DoktorPeace | 2:46 PM |  

    There was a semester in college when I loved SeaLab. That semester is over, and I passed! Now I can't get through 5 minutes of Archer. I've tried. Never even smiled. It's simply no longer for me.

  2. Blogger qualler | 4:16 PM |  

    ...says the guy who won't watch something if the few minutes he sees are not pleasing to him. Yeah yeah, your opinions are valid...

  3. Blogger chris | 4:19 PM |  

    I also tried watching Archer at some point last year and couldn't crack a smile. But it's better/different this year, yes Qualler?

    P.S. Catching up on Chicago Code and it's still good! Though they have to spell it out a bit too much..."So you're saying he's corrupt?" "Yes, he's corrupt as in receiving bribes from government officials." Ugh. But the characters and overall plot turns are great.

  4. Blogger qualler | 4:24 PM |  

    I wouldn't say it is that different - I have been rewatching season one again and been realizing the greatness there too. More like it is a grower and relies on knowing the characters to find the madcap comedy. Don't expext a laff-a-minute, but more like a series of enjoying the interactions alongside uproariously funny dont-blink-or-you-miss-it humor.

  5. Blogger DoktorPeace | 5:29 PM |  

    I think I can at least get the tone of a comedy show's humor in a few minutes, and it's just not working for me. And I loathe its commercials. Is there a plot I should stay for?

    I've watched two episodes of Louie, a whole episode of Glee, and multiple scenes of Parenthood. The only one I can say my opinion may not be valid on is Parenthood, since I usually flip by near the end of the show when they're moralizing with humorless life lessons. Last time there was a girl telling her friend not to drink, and I got upset because I wanted to do shots with her.

  6. Blogger qualler | 5:42 PM |  

    I would say the ads highlight make it seem like much more of a frat boy show than it really is. Blame the marketing wizards at FX for knowing their audience well.

    There was one part in a recent ep that made me think Doktor would love this - a quick little scene that showed the scientist was planning on marrying a virtual reality anime character he created, only to be crushed when his hard drive got wiped out. But thats ok Doktor...your opinion is valid, I guess.

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