So...what's been going on in the magical world of television while I have been gone?
- The return of Justified. Haven't watched last night's episode yet, but sweet tomato on a cracker, it is great to have Raylan Givens on my television again. Love the new "bad guys" (which includes two LOST cast members, most notably Jeremy Davies in a very non-Faraday role), and of course the dialogue and acting were as top notch as ever.
- Last week's episode of Raising Hope. I didn't enjoy this week as much (too much Granny, who is the Pierce F'ing Hawthorne of this show), but last week was certainly a triumphant return. Garret Dillahunt and Martha Plimpton are simply amazing, the rest of the cast holds its own (with the exception noted earlier), and Hope is possibly the cutest baby currently on television.
(included the picture just because I think it's hilarious)
- Last week's Chuck episode. This past week was just a'ight for me, Dawg, but last week was...you know what, I don't remember anything about why I liked it, except for this.
Honestly, I think that is enough. I know Bernie agrees with me.
- The return of the Alt-Universe on Fringe. For the past two plus seasons, the writing staff and showrunner Jeff Pinkner have been conducting a master class on how to compose a serialized sci-fi procedural. A big part of their success is how they have handled the Alt-Universe stories. The amount of time spent swapping episodes back and forth between the "Red" and "Blue" worlds went on just long enough to be intriguing without getting tiresome, and now I think they waited the exact right amount of time before sending us back for an episode. I had not even realized how much I missed the "Other Side" until I saw that gigantic Zeppelin cruising past the Empire State Building. And the case of the week was Fringe at its creepy best. Love this show.
- Shawn Ryan does it again with The Chicago Code. As much as I loved the pilot episode, this past week's was even better. The characters are already getting so much deeper, particularly Jason Clarke's fantastic performance as Jarek Wysocki. I seriously can not wait to see where this show is going, as we are already seeing the shades of grey and line-blurring that Shawn Ryan likes to do and does so well. This show has quickly become a must-watch for me.
-GROUP NIGHT, GROUP NIGHT, GROUP NIIIIGGGHHHHTTTT!!!!!! Ah....one of my very favorite things in the whole wide universe....it's Group Night on American Idol!
Here is how Jacob over at Television Without Pity previewed it (with some editing for family-friendly reading):
"Ridiculous people: Shake out meaninglessly into Popular, Unpopular, Other. Turn on each other in the middle of the night, splitting up and forming new groups halfway through rehearsing that will never be as tight, as strong, as complete. Wander the halls, looking eternally for your group, like a hotel ghost; never find them. Crying jags in stairwells and hallways, frantic calls home in the starry smoggy night.
This is your only shot, your only chance, this is the bigtime. This is your Ambling Alp, your Waterloo, the Clare Quilty that stands between you and superstardom. You don't want it bad enough, you want it too badly, you are not a team player, you are not standing out. Turn in early and get a good night's sleep, while your competitors rage on. Stay up all night watching colors roll down the walls.
Choose absurdity. Work the accompanist's and vocal coaches' last f'ing nerve. Fight about minor details while letting major s**t fall through your hands. Start crying halfway through when you realize you can't do this, live and onstage. Ditch a girl, then ask her at breakfast where she went.
Get pissy about the choreography, discuss the choreography at length, make friends over choreography, lose friends for no real reason, they were never your friends, this is summercamp for borderline hysterics. "
Yeah, that pretty much covers it. Group Night could be nine hours long and I would happily watch every single second. And last night lived up to my expectations for the most part, other than the fact that there weren't any groups where one guy/girl decides to go to bed at like 11 while the rest of the group stays up all night, and then they meet up at that deliciously awkward breakfast. Those are always a highlight.
Oh, what were the highlights? So glad you asked!
- The cherubic 15-year old Jacee being heartlessly booted from his group in the middle of the night, only to be scooped into the arms of the carrot-topped anti-bullying hero Brett Lowenstern, culminating in a tear-filled passage into the next round, at which point poor little Jacee is going to be eaten alive by the pressure and endure years and years of intense psychotherapy.
- I hated the stage mothers of the 15-16 year old group "The Minors" (wonder if the producers forced that name on them to keep Steven Tyler away from them?), but that didn't mean I didn't take joy in how much frustration they were causing everybody around them.
- "I have a GREAT idea...let's all of us attractive females pull Steven Tyler on stage with us and sing and dance around him, and let him pull faces and randomly sing into the mic and have a blast. It will be so much fun that there is no WAY they won't let us through!"
"Lauren - you stay, cause we said after your audition that you were probably going to win. The rest of you? Your journey ends here."
- The absolute joy of watching the horrible Tiffany Rios wander around the auditorium full of people that she completely dissed earlier in the day, begging for someone to take her into her group.
Tiffany: Do you want me in your group?
Random awesome dude, totally straight faced: No.
Tiffany: Are you serious right now? ?
Random awesome dude, still totally straight faced: Yes.
This was followed by some poor attractive blond girl making what she is surely ruing today as the worst mistake of her life and joining up with this no-talent delusional horror show, which meant she was of course eliminated after about two lines of their doomed duet.
Oh, Group Night....I miss you already.
- The season premiere of the Rob-Russell showdown on Survivor. As I have said before, last season of Survivor was the first one that I actually watched from start to finish, and I was completely unimpressed. Watching last night, however, I can see why the show has lasted 22 seasons. It's amazing what having actually compelling people who seem to have an idea as to how to play the game can do.
And, yes...the show confirmed my suspicions. I do in fact hate Russell.
What about you guys? What are your favorite things that you are watching?