A special visitor (my mother) kept me away from television this week, so I've been catching up this weekend. After a much-loved break from the screen– spending full days out at museums, restaurants, cafes and shops– I'm happy to take some time to munch in front of the familiar computer screen.
Here's what I watched so far:
The season finale of Justified
A satisfying close to a very intense and thrilling season. I love(d) the criminal family of the Bennetts, as well as the continually developing relationships. The relationship/friendship/enemy-ship that comes straight to mind is the one between Boyd Crowder, played by the amazing Walton Goggins, and protagonist Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant, ever showing off his acting chops). They're an amusing species of criminal/lawman dream team from which you never know what to expect. There is a special entertainment value in that Givens's ambiguous contempt for his adversary stems mostly from knowing he's met his match.
Then there's Mags and her sons, especially the idiosyncratic, unpredictable but oddly clever Dickie. What a family portrait! Great acting all around. Not enough praise can be given to Margo Martindale for an outstanding portrayal. You simply cannot keep yours eyes off of her. She is sharp, calculating, and merciless–yet tender and maternal, drawing you in despite knowing the evil of which she is capable. She has a knack for finding the words that will achieve the fullest, most devious effect. Yet when things go awry, Martindale perfectly captures the doubt and panic on her otherwise grinning, confident face.
So, the show is over, and there is little to expect plot-wise from the next season. I only hope it continues to grow as a series and the writers don't stop creating some of the most interesting and complex dramatic characters on television.
CLICK HERE to read my blog post on last week's episode.
Continuing to kill it, the show has not slowed down in its opening up of the Rosie Larsen case, which is led by two very distinct detectives who do not fail to grab our interest, individually or as a team. It moves slowly, but it makes use of a dynamic mix of plot angles and characters – further mapping out the slew of secondary characters, adding/substracting villains, and complicating the moral scale. I'm strarting to like Linden more as we see her actually struggle to maintain a personal life in the midst of an ever-intensifying homocide case that she needs, despite what it may cost, to see through to the end.
Game of Thrones
I love this show. I'm not exactly sure why, or how it pulls me in, but its smart writing and long, well-developed sequences (some of which have just enough "action" to create great suspense) are really doing it for me. Everything about it is very exact and calculated, which adds to the severity of the plot lines and the characters themselves, few of which have any sense of humor. I'll want to write more about this show later on, especially after I've seen more than just three episodes. But I'm really glad there's something like this one television right now. I love dramas with a little fantasy thrown in, and there hasn't been anything good in that respect since SyFy's Battlestar Gallactaca (which was of a completely different tone and production value than this show). It really goes all out on the dramatic level. "The winter is coming" is a threatening, serious warning that nonetheless beckons us, the viewers, to stick around for the dark(er) times to come.
A not bad job of moving along without Steve Carrell. I hardly missed him, to be honest. And mostly because the show had (has) been falling apart for me. His absence gave some of the other office dwellers opportunity to shine, such as Kevin (whom I've always loved) and Andy (Ed Helms, whom I've also always found exceptionally funny). Pam had her moments as well, as did Darryl. Now on to Will Ferrell. He was doing his thing, more as the SNL funny guy than a castmember of a half-hour sitcom, but it still kind of worked for the episode. I still miss the more situational-funny element of The Office. Now it's more of just general craziness in the office space. The "inner-circle" idea was funny, but didn't get pushed to its full potential. But this is certainly better than many other of this season's episodes.
Parks and Recreation
Amazing comedy series and probably the best currently on television. Ron and Leslie are still two of the funniest television characters. And guest stars continue to shine, as does Parker Posey, in this last episode, as Leslie's snooty ex bestfriend and co-worker who now works for the high-income neighboring town of Eagleton.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
The further down on this list I get, the more I realize how much television I actually watch. I loved Sheldon's three-person chess idea. For me, that was the funniest part of the episode. Putting Leonard in a serious relationship outside of the group (meaning not with Penny) has given the show opportunity for some new comedic situations, but none of them have been too effective. I like that the show is extending itself by, for example, giving more importance to two more females and creating a kind of separate female "clique" away from the boys. But for me, it remains the funniest when the guys are all together with Penny, sharing their dinners at home. And, of course, with Sheldon in the middle of it all, controlling, complaining, giving lessons, aiding, or just "observing" as a proper scientist does. Still a funny show that makes me want to keep watching.
Back to its extended-spoof roots, the episode threw its cast in a comically intense school paintball game. There were some laughs to be had – mostly from the visual spoofs on classic Westerns and more modern gangster films – but the focus on Annie and her "complex" relationship with Pierce took the show off its game, yet again. Watching it this season has rather made me more sad than given me the urge to laugh. It had its golden age, which now seems to be far gone. I did appreciate the "cameo" from Lost's Josh Holloway (as the "good-looking" – then average-looking – "Black Rider").