How many times to we have to say “Hardware Store”?
“Deep Water” takes Deadwood from good to great in only its second episode, most notably for the superb way it makes use of its supporting cast. “Supporting” is probably a misnomer. While the show’s central conflict is still being framed as Bullock vs Swearengen, the fact of the matter is that Deadwood‘s a thoroughgoing ensemble piece. It’s difficult for any series to balance a cast of this size but what’s remarkable about this one is that it pulls off the balancing act with such BIG characters; for all the show’s grit and realism, there’s something epic about the personalities clashing here. Much of the credit for making this work needs to go to the show’s cast, and this week’s honours belong to Robin Weigert. Continue reading
Oh, and the show’s got that going for it too
The sophomore slump has become a virtual certainty of modern television as creators feel compelled to remind the audience of everything that was explained in the premiere. It’s actually not was dumb as it sounds, as even I haven’t learned everyone’s name yet, but it’s still a drag on the story and, as this one wasn’t all that brisk to begin with, it’s one I wish could just be dispensed with. Not that this episode is bad per se, just that the show’s more generic elements have been pushed to the foreground. That sounds worse than it actually is as I still found this an entertaining hour, but the characters aren’t yet developed enough to make me care about the proceedings as more than popcorn. Continue reading
House of Cards’ second episode delivers more of the same. Which isn’t a bad thing, though it’s still not a great one. Things still feel pretty flat whenever Spacey’s not on screen, and that’s got more to do with his performance than any dynamism in Underwood’s character. This world is still sprawling without much apparent purpose, as we follow characters without much caring where they’re going. The one exception at this point is Zoe Barnes, whose fall has come quicker than I’d expected and left me wondering where her story will go from here. Continue reading
While not as strong as the premiere, “The Blind Banker” is still a very good episode. The journey from some office graffiti to a Chinese crime syndicate is certainly a twisting one, but the strong writing and characterization keeps it from feeling convoluted. Well, not too convoluted. The episode’s brisk pace kept me immersed but, during the rare lull, it occurred to me that things were looking a little trackless. They come together in the end, aided by the syndicate general mis-connecting the dots to conclude that Watson is Holmes. On the one hand, it’s a very deft piece of exposition but, on the other, it’s unfortunate that it was necessary. Continue reading
Why are we here again?
A few good laughs aside, “Lonely Hearts” does a pretty good job encapsulating what’s wrong with Angel’s first season. The need to “connect” is certainly a universal theme, but the episode spends so much time trying to be all things to all people that it ends up feeling aimless. We have the aforementioned comedy (which is actually pretty good), procedural elements, the noir pastiche of “big -bad city,” and a heavy dose of the super hero. It’s all meant to be blended together in a Buffy-esque metaphor made flesh but, unlike its predecessor, Angel just can’t seem to successfully blend its genres. Continue reading
You can trust me, seriously
“Ladies Room” opens just as the series premiere closed, with the enigma of Donald Draper. Roger and Betty ask some of the questions we were left thinking about last week, though they’re unable to bring us any closer to answers. The fascination with “who is Don Draper” is, at this early stage, rooted in how well he seems to navigate the fascinating world of Mad Men without quite fitting into it. Where last week saw him worried that people would discover he’s not as brilliant as they all think, this one sees his genius setting him apart from the rest of Sterling Cooper. Continue reading
The dead witness, a near-afterthought in the last episode, is a central focus in this one, though everyone but McNulty wishes he wasn’t. Cops and criminals alike would much rather pretend that there’s no story here, but, as McNulty points out, a state witness being killed “should mean something, even in Baltimore.” Continue reading
You know a show’s incredible when it can still surprise you on your 5th time through. What struck me about “Crocodile” was just how much Dexter likes his job. That’s always been the case, but I’d never really taken notice of it before. Dexter’s at his most animated when talking about blood spatter, and his forensic assessments never receive any snarky internal commentary. Continue reading
What was, in truth, a very good episode still feels like a disappointment after the awesomeness of the premiere. “Jesus, Mary and Joe Cocker” doesn’t really advance the “present” storyline, with Ellen still in the interrogation room but no one, especially the audience, getting any new information. Continue reading