About Last Night…

April 13, 2010

I feel like something bad is about to happen...

Alright, I’m just gonna jump right in on this one. Last night’s 24 had an ending that I 100% didn’t see coming. But, before we talk about the ending, let’s talk about what took us there. We opened the hour with everyone involved recovering from last week’s shocking Hassan murder.

President Taylor was preparing to abandon her peace treaty, as she was staunchly told by the Russian douchebag emissary that they would be withdrawing from the talks. Jack was all wounded and apologetic to Taylor, as he felt he’d let her down. (You think this was bad, Jack? You ain’t seen nothing yet.) And in a stunning twist, the ineffective and downright idiotic Brian Hastings (I mean, seriously, how did this guy get this job?) was removed from command over CTU, in light of all the failures.

But, wait! Things could be repaired! Taylor and the IRK Prime Minister were able to talk Dalia Hassan into assuming her freshly dead husband’s role. Chole was given provisional command at CTU (finally!). And Jack could finally go get it on with Renee, but, this being 24, it all fell to shit again.

The Russians still won’t talk, leaving Taylor no choice but to look to Charles Logan for help. (What is this leverage he has over the Russians? Doesn’t sound good.) Samir, barely clinging to life from Jack’s gunshots, is poisoned by a Russian goon posing as a paramedic, before Cole and Chloe can get any information from him. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the Ruskie recognized Renee from her undercover days and decides she and Jack need to be eliminated before she can link him to anything.

So, he follows the lovebirds back to Jack’s, watches them, you know, do it (ick), and pumps Renee full of lead. Jack tries to get her to the hospital in time, but to no avail; she’s a goner.

These last six hours should be exciting stuff. With Jack in revenge-mode and Logan muddling the peace talks with his wicked ways, 24 looks posed to go out with a bang.

Will Tom's death be in vain?

Another show looking ready for a dynamic conclusion, last night’s Damages. The penultimate episode was chock full of twists and turns; so much so, I can hardly think of a proper way to summarize them. So, I won’t.

But, by the end of the hour, we’d learned: Tom leaked his financial information to the judge, specifically to have him removed from the case, so he could publicly resign from the firm, so that he could earn the trust of Leonard Winstone once he’d successfully flipped him against the Tobin’s. Terry met with Patty, casually letting her know of Frobisher’s near-admission of guilt of murder, which led Patty and Ellen to Gates, who now plan to look into the cop Frobisher hired, who was killed, but was once partnered with Wes (Timothy Olyphant), which leads Ellen to call Wes (!), which leads to next week’s preview of the finale showing Wes visiting Ellen (!!). Ellen delivered Joe Tobin the evidence they’d found that Leonard wasn’t who he said he was, prompting Joe to go ballistic on Leonard, effectively turning Leonard against the Tobin’s, leading him right into Tom’s trap.

Phew.

I don’t know where this show is going. And it’s only got 90 more minutes to get there. But what a hell of a ride it’s been getting there. I only hope it’s not the last ride we’ve got with Hewes & Associates.

Where is the love?

After so much heady drama, I desperately needed to end my night with some laughs. Luckily, one of my favorite comedies, How I Met Your Mother, had returned from hiatus. Boy, do I love this little show. A sitcom that relies less on the snark and more on the heart and romance, HIMYM is always a winning half-hour when it’s focusing on the show’s core mythology, i.e. Ted’s pursuit of The Mother.

Maybe that’s why last night felt like such a letdown. One of those in-between episodes that steps away from the central storyline, probably to give the writers a chance to figure out where to go next, last night was kinda boring. The A-story centered on Marshall having been mugged, which led Lily to want to get a gun, which led Marshall to lie and say he was actually mugged by a monkey. Or was he? When Robin wanted to interview him on that bunk news program she anchors (the B-story being that she felt like she needed to find a good story to salvage her wasted career), Marshall balked, saying he’d made it all up because he didn’t want Lily to get a gun and didn’t want to lie about it on TV, but didn’t want Lily to know he’d actually been mugged because she was finally feeling safe and not as worried.

Things only got worse when Marshall showed up for the taping and learned that the monkey he’d (maybe) falsely accused would be sent to a wildlife sanctuary and separated from the love of his life. Marshall couldn’t stand for this, being the big, lumpy romantic he is, and just left, never telling anyone the truth (including us, the audience). It all led up to a fantastic sequence with the monkey getting loose in the studio, stealing a whackjob’s doll (don’t ask), and scaling Ted’s model of the Empire State Building. To complete the King Kong visual, the cameraman threw paper airplanes at it. Pretty inspired bit from a pretty lame set-up. I’m hoping next week gets back to the romance, which is really this show’s bread and butter.

What do you think? Did you see Renee’s murder coming? Are you as breathless watching Damages as I am? And was How I Met Your Mother kinda lame last night, or am I totally off-base? Sound off below!

Advertisements

Treme: A Gut Reaction

April 11, 2010

New Orleans was always a city I’d wanted to visit. Beyond the simple appeal of Mardi Gras, I’d always been fascinated with the vibrant culture associated with the gulf city. The food, the music, the history; it all seemed so spectacular and so wildly different from my Southern California suburban upbringing. But, then a few years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit and I selfishly lamented the fact that I’d never get to experience the city the way so many had before the levees broke.

But, tonight, watching Treme on HBO, I couldn’t help but think that maybe I want to see the city even more now. The show, created by David Simon (The Wire), is shot on location and takes place three months after the flooding. The city and the its inhabitants are beginning to rebuild and that indomitable New Orleans spirit is strong as it ever was. People are searching for family members, trying to salvage business’s and homes; and yet, a sense of celebration permeates throughout, as if the city is singing “We’re still here! It’s gonna take more than this!”

Which isn’t to say that the show diminishes the devastation. No, there is still a very palpable sense of loss and frustration, a layer that is hidden directly beneath the celebratory skin. But, these are a resilient people.

The show itself is terrific. While it would have been foolish to expect anything less, considering its pedigree, Treme does not disappoint. The writing is superb, incredibly naturalistic and authentic. With a subject matter that could have easily led to political showboating and righteous indignation, Simon and his team eschew this for a more pared down focus.

The cast is brilliant, with three TV favorites back on our screen. Khandi Alexander is poised to be a revelation, finally unshackled from the prison that was CSI: Miami; this is a woman who can act and deserves this sort of material. John Goodman, a personal favorite of mine long since the days of Roseanne, plays the only character who speaks on a political level, but he handles it with his typical humor, so as to make it palatable to even those who don’t agree with him (though, for the record, I echo all of his character’s sentiments). And, finally, Kim Dickens, late of Deadwood, is back in the HBO wheelhouse, where she firmly belongs.

A show about a culture and a community that can’t be stopped, with some really outstanding musical performances, Treme looks to be a true joy. I can’t wait to make my weekly visits to the neighborhood. How about you?

About Last Night…

April 7, 2010

Last night’s TV was a night all about conclusions. Whether it was the true beginning of the end on Lost or an end that was meant to only be a middle on Southland. Uh, let me explain…

Yea, I'm gay, but I can mess you up.

The truncated second season of Southland ended last night on TNT. This handful of episodes that were aired were only the first six of an abbreviated 13-episode order from NBC, before NBC cancelled the show early last fall. This sixth episode was in no way meant to act as any sort of finale, season or otherwise, and it was evident. There was nothing spectacular about the episode; the two cases were rather rote and the attention paid to Sal and his insufferable daughter Kimmy (possibly the worst characters on this show) felt lame. We were provided with a little closure regarding Regina King’s Lydia and Tom Everett Scott’s Russell, luckily. It was rather unsatisfying on the whole, though.

I’m hoping TNT gives this little show another chance and orders at least six more episodes to really wrap things up. Too much of this season’s focus was placed on Shawn Hatosy and Kevin Alejandro’s characters, and the true heart of this show, the triumvirate of Michael Cudlitz, Ben McKenzie, and King, fell by the wayside. If the season had been longer, it probably wouldn’t have been as noticeable. But, as it stands, what we got felt rather stilted. On a happier note, though, how awesome is Michael Cudlitz’s Officer Cooper? Probably the best gay character on television, who’s just shown as a real guy and not a caricature. If this is the end of Southland (and I fear it is), he’ll be missed.

Did you miss me?

But, on to the the main event of Tuesday night, Lost. Wow, what an episode. With only six episodes left including the two-hour season finale, I feel like last night was the night that truly set everything into motion. For weeks now, we’ve been wondering how these Sideways stories came into play. Are they examples of what could have been? Is it an alternate universe? Is there some connection to the Island story? Hell, is there any connection to the Island story?

Well, as it seems from last night’s Desmond-centric hour, they are very connected. Without pretending I really understand (because I don’t), it appears that the two storylines are running parallel to each other, with the possibility of crossing back and forth. With Sideways Desmond now on a mission to find all the Sideways Castaways and help awaken them, as it were, it begs the question: Is the endgame of Lost going to be all about each character choosing which reality to live in, with Desmond as their shepherd? And, if so, how the hell do Jacob and Smokey figure into all that?

I get the feeling, though, that however Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have chosen to end Lost, some people aren’t going to be happy. A lot of comments I’ve read out in the Interweb seem to indicate a demand for more answers. While that’s always been the case with Lost, I think loyal viewers will be doing themselves a great disservice if they cry foul over unanswered questions. For me, Lost has always just been about the ride. Speculating on what it all means is a blast, but if I don’t get answers to everything, I won’t let it color my unending love for this show. I trust the creators to steer us in the direction they see fit. So, my advice to fans: let go and enjoy. Accept the answers you’re given and cherish the opportunity to spend years re-watching DVDs, arguing with friend over answers to questions you didn’t receive.

Best Moment: Not really a moment, but just getting to spend some time with all of my favorite peripheral characters last night was such a treat: Charlie, Daniel Faraday, Eloise Hawking, and Penny. The love story between Desmond and Penny has always been a favorite of mine and the opportunity to see Faraday again literally made me squeal. I don’t think I’ve ever loved Jeremy Davies more than I have in this role. And any chance to see Eloise, with that glint in her eye that says she probably knows more about what’s going on than anyone else on Earth, is a real fun. The re-appearance of all these fan favorites is a real gift from the writers to the dedicated fans.

About Last Night…

April 6, 2010

Welcome to 3FING3RS newest TV feature: a daily look back at the previous night’s offerings, or proof that one TV addict really needs to get a life.

Boy, was this week’s Damages a doozy. I must say, I always feel that this show is at

Do you really want to try and fuck with me?

its best when it’s making me totally uncomfortable; and last night was a shining example. With Tessa Marquette’s detention by Ellen’s D.A. boss, everyone was scrambling; like paranoid bees after the nest’s been knocked over. Patty, feeling powerless with the idea that she’s lost her only opportunity to put weight on the Tobin’s, turned first on Ellen and then on Tom, after he confessed that Ellen had covered for him with Patty and it was he who had recklessly approached Tessa in the first place. Meanwhile, the Tobin’s were panicking that Tessa would spill what she knew and Joe was determined to prevent it, at all costs. A shocking reveal came via Leonard this evening. [SPOILER ALERT] As he was pleading with Marilyn to appeal to Joe and ask him to leave Tessa alone, we learned that Tessa was in fact Joe’s daughter, and not his father’s. (I’ve gotta gloat here: I totally called this the minute we learned that Danielle and Joe had a history.) Marilyn later informed Leonard that she’d spoken to Joe and convinced him to call off the goons, but as that final, jarring scene in Antigua proved, she did no such thing. These Tobin’s really are wretched people. I can’t wait for Joe to learn the truth, though.

Still confused on how these two subplots are going to play into the grand scheme of things, but enjoying them, nonetheless: The Frobisher story and Ellen’s botched adoption. It’s always lovely to see Ted Danson anywhere on television, as he’s really enjoying quite a well-deserved career renaissance. And this week, we learned that the dark underbelly of Arthur Frobisher hasn’t gone away. His shadowy almost-confession of murder in the car with Craig Bierko’s Terry was unsettling, to say the least. Like I said, not sure where this is leading or how it pieces in, but I like it.

Now, about the Ellen subplot. We got a little clarification this week, as we learned that Ellen wasn’t adopted by her parents, but almost given away by them, instead. Turns out her mother couldn’t handle kids and an asshole husband and almost gave Ellen away to someone who actually wanted to care for her, but changed her mind at the last second. I don’t even know how to speculate what this means to the season as a whole, but I loved that it provided us with that really nice scene with Rose Byrne and Noah Bean in the snow. Too bad the Damages writers weren’t involved with Grey’s Anatomy when Izzie was dealing with Ghost Denny because this scene with Ellen and Ghost/Memory David is how to do it right.

Only two episodes left (maybe ever!) and there is so much left to learn. Not sure if you’re apprised of the goings-on at FX, but there is talk that a fourth season won’t happen if they have to foot the bill alone. There are reports that the network has reached out to DirecTV to propose something similar to their arrangement with NBC for Friday Night Lights. Here’s hoping something can be worked out, as this show is one of the richest, most engrossing adult dramas in the television landscape currently. It would be a shame to lose it.

Best Moment:  “I see you. You’re a climber, a parasite, and you’re ruthless. I want you out of my apartment. I want you out of my life.” – Patty, to a visibly stunned Ellen.

That boozy confrontation between Ellen and a noticeably drunk Patty, with the latter’s paranoia on full display; wow. This is what viewer’s of this show have come to love: the small, but meaty scenes between Glenn Close and Byrne. Their bizarre relationship (mentor/student/mother/daughter/sister/friend??) is tempestuous and rife with tension and has always kept us clamoring for more.

I'm Jack Bauer, motherfucker!

Meanwhile, a show that we’ve just learned is, for sure, leaving us this season finally stepped up its game tonight. I must admit that I’ve never watched much of 24 before this year, save for a handful of episodes of season two that Jordin made me watch, like, five years ago. So, with that, I feel unqualified to comment on the show’s quality level when compared to prior seasons. The Internet is rife with commentary that the show has been particularly snoozy and/or ridiculous this year, but, I’ve gotta say, as a newbie, I’m loving the ride. Sure, the early scenes dealing with the Dana Walsh subplot were terrible, but I feel like turning her into the mole really turned it around. I know that this is, like, CTU’s eightieth mole, but it was still fun. And it’s continuing to be enjoyable, as I feel like Katee Sackhoff is finally being given some material and direction to work with.

Tonight’s two hours sped along, mostly focusing on President Hassan turning himself over to the terrorists and Jack and all of CTU attempting to rescue him. The stuff with President Taylor learing that General Brucker and Rob Weiss had betrayed her was fascinating. (Fun Fact: I once met Chris Diamantopoulus, who plays Weiss, when I was working front desk at the Sheraton Universal. He was really gracious when I complimented him on an episode of Nip/Tuck he’d appeared in. Plus, he’s a total babe.)

[SPOILER ALERT] The climax of the second hour was particularly heartbreaking. To find Hassan dead, and for the satellite feed to have been a recording, was intense and a twist I didn’t really expect. I’m not really sure where we go from here, though I guess the rest of the season will be dedicated to President Taylor grasping to maintain her peace treaty, as we’ve already learned that the Russians won’t play ball now that Hassan is gone. It should be fun to see Gregory Itzin’s Charles Logan, though I can’t imagine that anything would be bad enough for President Taylor to actually turn to him for help.

Best Moment: The final words between President Taylor and Ray Weiss. Just an awesome moment that finally let Cherry Jones bring a little bad-ass to her mostly subdued role. The slap across Weiss’ face led to a cheer in many homes tonight, no doubt; or, at least it did on my couch.

You know, I didn't believe it before, but now that we have video evidence, I can't deny it. Everyone is right, we are totally awful.

This week’s Gossip Girl played out like some game of The Good, The Bad, and The Boring. Let’s tackle The Good, first. The Chuck/Blair storyline was pure vintage G.G., if Indecent Proposal-lite. Jack approached Chuck and told him that he would give him his hotel back, if he allowed him one night with Blair. It seemed like Chuck rebuked the offer, so Jack tried another avenue, appealing to Blair herself. Blair dismissed the truly disgusting proposal at first, but as she continued to see how distraught Chuck was over the loss of his empire, err, The Empire (subtle, Schwartz), she relented. So, she went to Jack, having drafted a contract (!) that stipulated that he could never tell Chuck. After signing and only kissing Blair, Jack announced that he got what he wanted and it wouldn’t go any further. Blair was understandably baffled, so Jack further explained: Chuck knew about it all, and had actually agreed to “hand” Blair over. Blair was repulsed and hearbroken. That final scene between Chuck and Blair was devastating, though, I’ve gotta admit, I’m a little excited to see them apart. I’ve got a feeling Chuck is going to realize he made the colossally wrong choice and try to win Blair back. If so, that cat and mouse game should be a delight.

As for the bad, this whole Serena-Nate-Jenny thing is almost as ridiculous as that “game” they played at Nate’s party. (Seriously, did you believe for a second that any of these UES-ers would willingly participate, sober?) I don’t believe for a second that anyone in their right mind would even consider heinous J over Serena. This story seems like a fast train to nowhere and I want off.

And, the boring. Danessa. Vaniel. Whatever. This is the worst coupling in the history of the universe. And now we get to watch these two pretentious blowhards compete for the same spot at Tisch? Joy. Honestly, if Dan Humphrey were real, I would punch him in the face. Hate.

Best Moment: Eric is back! Though in desperate need of a haircut, our favorite little G.G.G. (that’s Gossip Girl Gay, duh) returned from his heretofore unmentioned trip to Japan (seriously, does anyone else remember ever hearing about this?) and it looks like he’s gonna get a new BF! Bonus points for the new boy being 150% cuter than that mess that was Jonathan. Excited for this. Also, what the hell was Eric up to in Japan? That first scene where he was talking about his Japanese rebound being into group sex and pictures! I want to hear more about this, and fast.

After a week off, Modern Family was back with a new episode tonight. And what a good time it was. What I’ve come to love about this charming little show is the nimble way it balances slapstick, wit, and heart. On a lot of other shows, any attempt to fuse these elements together often comes across muddled or stilted. One aspect always rings untrue. Thankfully, this isn’t so with Modern Family. I don’t know if it’s owed to the writing, the direction, or the performances (or, even more likely, all three), but this show never feels false or forced.

At the Dunphy’s, Phil and Claire were butting heads over which parenting technique ruled supreme: Claire’s tendency to hover or Phil’s insistence to just let the kids be. Phil was tasked with monitoring Luke’s work on a Van Gogh project and Claire was helping Haley make some cupcakes, while Alex insisted that Luke had ADHD. Some of my favorite bits came from this story line tonight, between Alex reading the indicators of ADHD between cross-cut clips of Phil in the garage exhibiting them all, Claire and Phil fumbling over that one faulty stair, and the family reacting to Haley’s finished cupcakes.

Meanwhile, Mitchell was impatiently awaiting the arrival of his father so the two could embark on their yearly meteor shower watch. When Jay arrived with Manny, Mitch was a little put-out, which was only made worse by Manny’s constant ribbing of his step-brother. Mitch gets skunked and winds up having to wear Gloria’s dress, a gag I saw coming, but enjoyed nonetheless. Back at home, without Mitch, Cameron decided to take Gloria out to dinner. Cam was determined to repair their relationship after a series of faux pas (the scene of which was the single funniest thing all night), so he readily agrees to Gloria’s suggestion of dinner in her old neighborhood and insists on eating the same Carnitas Diablas as her. As they were walking to the car after the disastrous meal, Gloria is telling Cam that the neighborhood is poor, but the people are nice. They arrive at the car and she is instantly proven wrong, as the car is on blocks.

Funny, funny stuff all round, but let’s get to the good part, the best lines of the night:

You never hear of anybody being sfathered to death. – Phil, to Claire, while explaining that smothering is in a mother’s nature.

It’s where the planet Geek passes through the Nerdy Way. – Cam, about Mitchell and Jay’s meteor shower

Every year, Mitchell and his father go out and enjoy one of these showers together. – Cam, not quite explaining it properly.

I mean, look at us: one spicy, curvy diva– Cam                                                                          …and Gloria. – Mitchell

Honestly, I wish that tart would go back to Columbia and take her little Brown friend with her. – Cam, about Mitchell’s snobby friends, unknowingly in front of Gloria and Manny

Hey Dad, it kinda looks like Uncle Mitchell. If Uncle Mitchell were insane. – Luke, holding up a picture of Van Gogh.

Oh, were you there Mitchell? Cuz I think I would have recognized the only other white or gay person. – Cam, when Mitchell accuses him of over-exaggerating the mess of the restaurant Gloria took him to.

I’m just saying, if you were that type of a gay, you’d probably do alright for yourself. – Jay, failing miserably at making Mitchell feel better in Gloria’s dress.

Why did he paint A Starry Night? Maybe because the sky is beautiful and everybody likes looking at it. And it reminds us that something’s up there watching over all of us. Aliens who could be here in a second to liquify us and use us as fuel, so, wake up people, we’re next. – Luke, practicing his Van Gogh presentation with a horrified Alex.

My mouth is asleep, like at the dentist. – Luke, after eating one of Haley’s cupcakes.

Well, there you have it. Any lines you loved that I missed? Sound off below!

So, I know it was only a week ago I was on here droning on about how much I missed Glee and how I’d exhausted my DVD of the first half of the season already, resulting in a bizarre YouTube video search. Well, this weekend, the withdrawals kicked up again and when I wasn’t spending time drunk in West Hollywood or my backyard, I was watching the first half of the season all over again.

As much as I love Glee, I will be the first to admit that it’s far from the perfect show. It’s always a little pitchy; sometimes wry and sarcastic, sometimes gooey and cheesy, always over the top. But, every episode is an undeniable blast. Today’s video isn’t anything homemade and cultivated on the internet. No, it’s a clip from one of my favorite episodes, “Hairography.” My favorite because it includes: 1. The first guest appearance of Eve 2. A performance of “Bootylicious” and 3. The following.

This clip is probably one of my favorite moments from Glee, thus far, and always leaves me crying by the end. It’s sweet and touching and everything I love about TV. Enjoy.

[On a technical note: Avid fans of Glee may notice that this clip is shown as some weird mirror image of the actual show. I can’t even begin to understand how this is so, but it was the only version I could find on-line. So, get over it.]

Tonight’s 30 Rock was a really terrific episode. Liz and Wesley tried to uncover what led them to declare each other “future spouses” while under anesthesia. Tracy’s world was rocked by a former nanny’s tell-all book that revealed him to be a faithful husband, betraying his piggish public persona. And Jack readied himself to bury Don Geiss, while dealing with the reality that Kablevision was a company that didn’t produce anything, an idea that went against every fiber of his being.

It was a pretty prescient episode, touching on the ridiculousness of celebrity reputation and the media frenzy that occurs when such reputations are challenged or tarnished, while also making some pretty insightful statements regarding the consumerist economy currently dragging America down. Oh, and it had a ton of funny lines. Here’s the ten best:

1. I had a thing where I kept running into Michael Douglas, but then I realized it was just some old lady who lives in my building. – Jenna

2. I feel like I’m back at school, learning about the dangers of book-reading. – Kenneth, reacting to a mess of text on Jack’s desk

3. I got a lot of flack after I ate the pig that played Babe. – Jenna, relating to Tracy’s current PR fiasco

4. Settling Soulmates? That is grim. And I’ve played Monopoly alone. – Liz, after Wesley suggests they just get married, though they hate each other.

5. It’s a Lizaster. – Liz

6. I wish I could help you, but I can’t sleep with a black guy. I’d lose my endorsement deal with Nascar. – Jenna, who’s not unsympathetic to Tracy’s need to bed a floozy, but her hands are tied

7. You know what I have? A Sims family that keeps getting murdered. – Liz, to Tracy, explaining why he should be grateful for his family

8. These are all hookers. Pick one. – Don Geiss’ first words to Jack

9. Are you ready to settle and become Mrs. Snipes? – Wesley, who argues that it’s truly the name for the pale English guy.

And 10. All the spoof porn titles on the Kablevision channel guide:

– Ass-Atar

-The Lovely Boners

-The Hind Side

-The Pert Knockers

-Sherlock Homos

-Horny With A Chance of My Balls

-Fresh-Ass Based on the Novel ‘Tush’ by Assfire (my personal favorite)

What did you think of tonight’s new episode? Any lines you loved that I left out? Tell me, below!

Also, best promo art. Ever.

There’s a lot to choose from out there. We’re here to help you know what’s worth your time – and what totally isn’t.

The Five Shows You Need To Be Watching:

1.Damages

Easily the most under-watched show on television, this dense law thriller (currently airing its third season on FX, Mondays at 10) is desperate for viewers. Not that it’s too surprising: the show employs flashbacks and flashforwards to ooze out drops of information regarding each season-length mystery. This is television that makes you think, requires you to recall. Not something most people look for on the tube. But, for all your hard work, you’re rewarded with the sublime performances of Glenn Close and Rose Byrne. I’d take any homework assignment given, if it meant I could watch these two. Their tenuous relationship is approached with Close’s trademark ferocity and Byrne’s smoldering cool. Watch this before it gets cancelled, or I will hunt you down and slap you in your face.

2. The Sarah Silverman Program

Sarah Silverman is one of those personalities that people either really love or really hate. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground with her and that’s a shame. Though, I would say that, as I fall into the camp of “really love.” Her eponymous comedy (now in its third season on Comedy Central, Thursdays at midnight) is hysterical. It manages to be both very smart and very stupid, usually within the same frame. It’s weird and bold, but I find myself laughing hard every episode. Give it a shot, maybe you will too.

3. Southland

Southland premiered last season on NBC in the coveted Thursday-at-ten slot, after ER took its final bow. It garnered much critical praise and did pretty well in the ratings. And then NBC ate a bomb and imploded. Among their many heinous decisions this season, they cancelled the show after filming six episodes of its second season and before one had even aired. Fans (read: me) were distraught as this was a really smart, adult drama that we were losing, in a time when there aren’t many left. TNT stepped in and picked up the show, replaying the brief first season and premiering the truncated second. No new episodes have been ordered yet, giving TNT an opportunity to see how the show performs with its audience. The show has gotten even better in this new batch of episodes, but ratings seem to be getting worse. Watch this show before it disappears, again.

4. The Good Wife

Perhaps the only show on this list that could be classified as a hit, this freshman law drama on CBS (Tuesdays at 10) is largely watched by the graying set. But the youthful TV enthusiast would be unwise to miss out on this incredible show. The show manages to balance a case-of-the-week procedural element upon a serialized storyline with the greatest of ease. Not one side of this show ever feels forced or rushed in favor of the other. Julianna Margulies is dazzling as Alicia Florrick, the scorned wife of an unfaithful politician who, in need of an income, returns to work as a junior associate at a law firm. Deserving of the accolades she’s received from this comeback, Margulies offers a prime example of the beauty of restraint in acting; which isn’t to say she isn’t a powerful presence on the screen. She just proves that playing small often shows a greater strength. Her supporting cast, particular Christine Baranski and Chris Noth, are terrific as well. Check this one out and don’t be afraid just because your mom likes it, too.

5. Caprica

This prequel series to Battlestar Galactica (aka, the greatest sci-fi show, like,  ever) more than holds its own when compared to its source material. The show is grounded in the 12 Worlds, rather than up in space, and concerns itself with the origin of the Cylons. The show has less action than BSG did, but I’m pretty sure the action wasn’t what drew fans in to the original series. I know it’s not what appealed to me. Caprica continues BSG’s look at the power of religion and politics and that’s what’s so intriguing. Plus, Paula Malcomson (Deadwood) is just frakking awesome in everything. She’s worth the price of admission alone.

And The Five You Should Stop:

1. Gary Unmarried

The CBS comedy that makes Two and a Half Men look like Seinfeld. Paula Marshall is more shrill than usual. Jay Mohr is atrocious, per usual. The writing is dreck. Avoid, at all costs.

2. Law & Order: SVU

Before you riot, yes, I fully admit that Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni are awesome. In fact, I used to think this whole show was awesome. But, lately, it seems to have gone so far off the rails. The writing is so stilted. The direction frequently veers into melodrama. Everyone just winds up standing around, screaming at each other. At a time when the original L&O is experiencing a creative renaissance, this spin-off is struggling. I suggest you watch the flagship and skip over this mess. Besides, Meloni is leaving next season anyway.

3. NCIS: Los Angeles

The most unnecessary spin-off. Ever. I love NCIS proper, and this is no NCIS. While I get a kick out of seeing Linda Hunt on television, the show’s lead, Chris O’Donnell is a wet fish. His character, G Callen (Yea, G. And it’s not short for anything. Just G), was promoted as the greatest undercover operative NCIS has; a man who could be come anything and anyone. So far, we’ve O’Donnell struggle with accents a couple of times, but not much else. If you really want to see a great undercover agent, watch Burn Notice on USA. If you want to see a better television show, watch nearly anything else.

4. The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Easily the most laughable dialogue in the history of television, this hamfisted melodrama from Brenda Hampton (the woman who also wrought 7th Heaven upon the world) is truly putrid. It’s preachy, obnoxious, and horrendously acted. This show is like the plague. Run.

5. Desperate Housewives

This last one truly pains me to write, as I’ve been a die-hard DH fan since the beginning. But, I now find myself watching, wondering what happened to my beloved show. What once used to be sharp, witty, and mysterious is now broad, trite, and boring. The writers, who used to craft fine season-length mysteries, seem to have completely forgotten how to write a compelling story. I watch now only out of some misplaced feeling of obligation. If you still watch, I suspect you may know what I’m talking about. If you don’t watch, I do not suggest you start.

Well, there you have it. Five to start and five to stop. Agree with me? Disagree? Think I’m a total jerkface for bagging on your favorite show? Think I care wayyyy too much about TV? Tell me about it, below.

I watched tonight’s premiere of Justified, on FX, with one thought heavy in mind: Timothy Olyphant should never be without a cowboy hat. Ok, not just one thought. But, before I get to the part where I rave about the standout hour of television I just witnessed, I’ve gotta make room for a little fanboy gush. Olyphant is all flinty-eyed man’s man and it’s totally hot. And, seriously, have you ever, in your whole life, seen a man look better in a cowboy hat? Mmm.

Ok. Now that I’ve gotten the gay out of the way…

Justified tells the story of Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshal, who applies his own code to the law he operates within. Now, before you starting thinking “Oh, Western Dexter,” let me remind you that Raylan Givens is the creation of acclaimed writer Elmore Leonard, so, totally different. As the episode opens, Raylan is working down in Miami, where he’s just shot a man in public. You see, Raylan gave the guy 24 hours to get the heck out of Dodge or else, but ol’ SweatyFace didn’t listen. And then he had the nerve to pull the gun on Raylan first, so it was justified. (Ah, now the title makes a bit more sense. Originally titled Lawman, skittish producers changed it after that claptrap reality show Steven Segal: Lawman hit airwaves first.)

While Raylan is able to justify the killing, his boss is only able to, to an extent. And so, Raylan’s forced to return to Kentucky, where he’s from. That, or lose his badge. As the premiere hasn’t aired on the West Coast yet, that’s all I’ll divulge, story-wise. But, know that this first hour is superb work. Olyphant is, as Raylan, everything his Deadwood character, Sheriff Bullock, wishes he could have been. And his chemistry with Walton Goggin’s (The Shield) xenophobic miscreant Boyd Crowder is palpable and exciting. Certainly, one of the stronger antagonistic relationships we’ve seen on TV in a while.

Bottom line: Come for the Olyphant eye candy, but stay for the sharp writing and the brilliant performances. Justified shows great promise. I’m tuning in next week. Are you?

Alright, ya’ll, it’s late and I’m sleepy. So, we’re just going to have to bulletpoint the best moments of tonight’s first new 30 Rock since the Olympics. It was a pretty solid episode. Liz discovered she had met someone while still kite-high at the dentists and was talked into finding out who he was by Kenneth. Avery Jessup (returning guest star Elizabeth Banks) clues Jack in on a potential sale of NBC that totally mirrors the real-life acquisition by Comcast. And Tracy pursues his EGOT with a successful one-man show, much to Jenna’s chagrin.

Let’s do this!

–       Liz waking up to find a waffle in the tray of her DVD player.

–       “You were watching it for about an hour, said Nicole Kidman should get an Oscar for it, and then turned it off.” – Jack, when asked by Liz if she tried to watch said waffle.

–       “It’s so romantic, just like that movie I only saw the first ten minutes of, Fatal Attraction.” – Kenneth, after hearing about Liz and her Future Husband

–       “He could wear a thumb ring!” – Liz, realizing that there are worse things than Future Husband being a murderer.

–       “What am I? A nerd?” – Tracy, after being asked by Liz if he’s prepared for his performance that night.

–       Jonathan stammering “Rhubarb rhubarb golf prostate” when Jack needs him to pretend to be a Board Executive.

–       Liz’s dentist handing her a personalized pamphlet, “Hard Cheeses and Your Root Canal, Liz”

–       Tracy’s Claps-Giving Yay Ha-Rade!

–       “Jenna, could you accept my Tony for me? June is a tough month for me because that’s when I begin lifeguarding again.” – Tracy

–       Jenna revealing that she’s been petitioning the Tony Committee to create a new category, Living Theatrically in Normal Life

–       “Don’t worry, it’s just a donkey spell” – Kenneth, after spasming and braying because his prescription was in the wallet he through out the window.

–       “Yo CNBC! Nightly News rules!” – Brian Williams, as he spikes a Nerf football at Avery’s feet.

–       “If I wanted to see a black guy make a fool of himself, I’d have sex with K-Fed again.” – Jenna, explaining why she didn’t want to see Tracy’s show

–       “Without my wallet, I don’t even have my lucky rabbit spine!” – Kenneth

–       Breadback: (n) the loaf of backfat between an older woman’s bra and her giant underwear

–       And, finally, the episode’s big reveal that Don Geiss has been dead for three weeks. The idea that they’ve been carting him around, a la Weekend at Bernie’s is HYSTERICAL! I guess they needed to figure out how to rid themselves of this character without needing Rip Torn, in light of his recent bout of drunken insanity.

What did you think of the episode?