My TV Blog Small Screen Chat on Common Room

In December I began writing TV posts for Common Room, a website and series of podcasts on pop culture, beauty, fitness, and more. My segment, Small Screen Chat, is a weekly segment where I talk about some aspect of TV, whether that be trends, a specific show or episode, or what I am watching in general. Take a look at what I’ve written so far-

A look at new shows that have premiered over the year:

  • The End is Near – Intelligence, The Assets, Killer Women, Chicago PD (I also talk about the spring premieres of Community, The Crazy Ones, and Big Bang Theory.
  • What Else Is New? – Enlisted, Helix, Bitten, Spoils of Babylon, and True Detective (I also discuss the spring returns of The Originals, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Switched at Birth, and Shameless, as well as my decision to stop watching The Michael J. Fox Show and Community.)
  • Just Getting Started – Star-Crossed, Growing Up Fisher, and About a Boy
  • The Start of Something New – Crisis, Mixology, Believe, and Night Shift
  • Let’s Get It Started – Bad Teacher, Friends with Better Lives, The 100, Faking It, Sirens, Playing House, Deadbeat, and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge.
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The Long Term Issues

Television has changed a lot since its inception. Shows started out simple, but with the advances in technology and advancement of acting, story telling has drastically changed. Shows started dealing with challenging topics such as homosexuality, diseases, unwanted pregnancies, violence, etc in ways that they never had before. But even as they dealt with these issues, they mostly dealt with these issues in quick sweeps. In one episode we would learn that a girl’s parents were having a divorce, she would be upset and angry, and by the close of the episode her parents would have her convinced that it would be all right. In a single episode a boy would find out that his new friends do drugs, they pressure him into joining them, and by the end of the episode he stands up to them. But like so much else on television, these rushed are changing. Some recent shows are paving the way for more in depth looks at tragedy and character struggle:

Glee– Glee has gotten a lot of attention for its story about Kurt coming out, being bullied in school, connecting with his very “manly” father, and finding a boyfriend. This has been a continuing storyline almost from week one and now into the second season, it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, another semi-major character has revealed that she is gay and has only just begun to deal with it.

Private Practice– The rape of Charlotte King has been a major story of this season and it was weeks before the character could open up about her experience, much less be intimate with her boyfriend.

Grey’s Anatomy– the show ended last season with a shooting that left the hospital staff reeling but what it allowed the show to do is spend time looking at how each of the different characters dealt with PTSD. (Christina’s story in particular took a look at how traumatic the experience was, though she was not the only one.) The result was a completely revitalized show.

Parenthood– It is not common to find a character with disabilities on a show. The Secret Life of the American Teenager has a supporting character with Down Syndrome though mostly as comic relief and Grey’s had a doctor with Aspberger’s for about two weeks. Actually seeing these issues play out and how it affects the family is a rarity. One of the most unique elements of Parenthood is that we get to see Max, Christina, Haddy, and Adam deal with all aspects of Max’s Aspberger’s. The most touching moments of the show almost always come out of these families struggles.

Make It Or Break It– A recent plot line of the show has been one characters anorexia. This is the perfect example of a story that typically gets an episode’s worth of time but instead, every time we think Kaylie’s problems are about to be fixed, we learn that more is to come. (If the show is really smart, we will see Kaylie have some very serious side effects, beyond fainting.)

I can only hope this new trend of spending time on issues and letting them be a part of the larger story remains. It adds a new depth and sense of reality that shows were lacking until now. What shows do you think have taken this step in dealing with their character struggles in depth instead of hurriedly? Are there any you feel should have done this and instead have had missed opportunities for relatable, strong stories?

Parenthood

Now that we are well into the second season of this show, I need to take the time to show it the appreciation it is due but sorely lacking. (EW seems to think the show is too realistic and therefore not “happy” enough, but I love its realism and find it has a great deal of hope and joy, even if it has more serious parts too.)

If you haven’t been watching, the show follows the Braverman clan (the parents and four siblings who are now grown up with kids of their own) as they navigate through life’s struggles. The families:

  • Zeek and Camillle– the heads of the Braverman clan. Zeek is the kind of guy who likes to “toughen up” his kids, doesn’t really listen to other people’s opinions, and always has to do things his way (the way he’s always been doing it). Camille tends to be caught in the middle, trying to give her opinion but invariably upsetting people and trying to appease them or make peace with them.
  • Adam and Kristina-Adam is the eldest of the four Braverman siblings. This family’s challenges generally revolve around their teenage daughter Haddie’s boyfriend troubles (and teenage angst), Max’s aspberger’s, and Adam’s work. Adam is the person everyone comes to for support and advice. He’s high strung and has a particularly difficult time dealing with Max’s issues because he wants the traditional father-son experience. Kristina is the kind, supportive wife who keeps things together but is sometimes overwhelmed with the Braverman clan as a whole.
  • Sarah-the next sibling in line, Sarah has always been one of the freer spirits in the group. She divorces her rocker husband Seth (an alcoholic) and moves her kids Amber and Drew into her parents’ home. Her troubles tend to be with Drew’s lack of a father figure, Amber’s rebelliousness, and her own financial/employment issues.
  • Crosby (and Jasmine)– Crosby is the consummate irresponsible bachelor who is forced to grow up when he learns that his ex, Jasmine, had his child and never told him. He decides he wants to be a part of Jabbar’s life. Crosby’s troubles tend to be about his fear of commitment and his troubles with raising a son he only just found out about. At current, Crosby and Jasmine are having particular issues with Jasmine being to bossy; she is used to raising Jabbar on her own and therefore considers her opinion to be above Crosby’s when it comes to deciding what is best for Jabbar.
  • Julia and Joel– Julia is a working lawyer while Joel is a stay at home dad for Sydney. Julia is driven and competitive and strongly opinionated while believing that Sydney should be allowed to express herself (so long as they don’t go against Julia’s strong feminist ideals). Joel is a solid father and generally loves being a stay at home dad but he occasionally misses working and being with adults.
  • For me, the most compelling performances in the show revolve around Max’s aspberger’s and Sarah and family’s dealing with Seth’s alcoholism and dead beat dad behavior. Crosby’s current issues with Jasmine are interesting in their own right (it is frustrating to watch them so poorly communicate their sides but completely believable anyway). This show is so full of talented cast and has clever writing.

    I’m hoping that Gaby (Minka Kelly), Max’s therapist, isn’t gone for good. I know Minka Kelly is going to be on Charlie’s Angels, assuming the show gets an order, but I really like her occasional appearances on the show. She’s such a quiet but grounding force. I like seeing how much Max’s situation impacts her as the person who works with him.

    It looks like considering how poorly the rest of NBC shows are doing, Parenthood will likely be back next season, but not because its ratings are fantastic. (In fact, last year it had higher ratings and was even less of a lock for renewal.) If you can handle a show that isn’t happy-go-lucky but moving, this is the show you should start watching.

General Recaps

Dexter– Not much has changed since the last time I wrote about this show. Some people are disliking Julia Stiles’s character, but personally I love it. The relationship that she and Dexter have is fascinating because on the one hand he’s training a protege and on the other he’s trying to shield her. The way he acts with her is some of the most human we’ve ever seen him, even more so than when he was with Rita where a lot of it was about guessing what the right thing to say was. He’s been more honest and open with Lumen than he ever was with Rita (for good reason). Meanwhile, I love the little twist that Deb’s story line has taken. Fired because Laguerta’s trying to save herself! The cop who idolized her turning on her! Can’t wait to see Deb strike back. And with Angel on her side, that should do wonders for the already irritating (and troubled) marriage. I’m still waiting to see how everything comes together between Deb’s story and Dexter/Lumen’s but I’m not seeing how it would. Unless it’s just Deb’s being out of work and her relationship that makes them intersect. Finally, there’s “Quinn’s” investigation and the pictures of Lumen and Dexter dumping bodies. So that’s one more person to kill. Personally, I’m really liking this season though I’m not sure they can really beat the shocker that was the end of last season.

Brothers and Sisters– This week was the first time where Luc’s presence on the show felt like it had a point. Maybe it’s just me, but until now his only point was for Sara to have issues and basically ignore him. For the first time we had an opportunity to learn a little about him and see him have an actual storyline. Justin as sex God was a lamer thing, didn’t he change at all over this series? And what happened to the girl from the hospital? I liked her much better than Scott’s staff members. Kitty’s absence this episode was a definite plus though, I did not miss her at all. I did miss Saul though. Has anyone else noticed that he’s been getting more and more absent as the show continues? Bring him back! Let him have a relationship for once. Meanwhile, I would really like Scotty to get more in the way of storylines. We got a little with the cheating on Scotty and with his parents, but I want more. Also, we get it that Paige is a bratty teenager, but what is Cooper’s story? We haven’t seen him in ages. Nora and her friend/love interest are cute but I’m more excited to see what happens when Sara becomes her boss (finally she’ll be back to storylines that aren’t just about her love for Luc and insecurities because he’s younger).

House– I have to be completely honest, I’m really enjoying Amber Tamblyn’s awkward new character. I’d be happy to see Thirteen return, but I kind of hope we can keep them both. Get rid of Foreman or Taub maybe. I’m sick of them. Even Chase is sort of boring at this point. Maybe it’s time for a new guy. House and Cuddy are still a strange relationship that’s sometimes endearing and sometimes a little irritating. She expects him to tell her the truth, he intends to lie…I particularly loved when Wilson’s new girlfriend/ex-wife says she sees House’s side of things. I’m hoping they do more about them (like the episode with House and Cuddy’s baby, that was great. I can’t wait till the kid is a little older and can have funny/entertaining conversations).

How I Met Your Mother
– We knew that it was only a matter of time before Robin Sparkles returned, but I never anticipated Jessica Glitter. This week had some funny stuff, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite. It was one of those filler episodes where nothing really changes. Still funny, but not quite as exciting as other episodes.

90210– Is anyone else waiting in eager anticipation for the moment when Adrianna is finally outed in front of the entire world? That is all I want. When that happens I will be happy. I’ve realized that the main reason I dislike Naveed is because he LOOKS dirty. Like he hasn’t washed his hair or anything. Silver has been a non-character all season so I guess they’ve decided it’s time to give her a relationship with Naveed which will also bring drama into the girl group. I do wish we’d seen more of Ivy hanging out with the girls (do you think they will get her to be more girly?) but all we got was the precursor. Teddie’s story is one of the most interesting. I like how they’ve finally said that him being gay isn’t just a sudden plot twist (though perhaps some more subtle hints throughout would have been nice) but something from before. On the upside, there was none of Liam’s annoying “girlfriend,” on the downside there was very little of Naomi. No surprise that Aunt Becky and the teacher slept together, it was only a matter of time.

Chuck– There were a few particularly fascinating and excellent things in this week’s episode. For one thing, YAY SUMMER GLAU! Her storyline was pretty hysterical, though I was kind of hoping for a little more. Meanwhile, Chuck was trying to learn how to re-access his intersect and they brought in a specialist who thought fear would be the way to go. He also thought Sarah prevented him from full fear because he could always fall back on her. Why didn’t they simulate a situation that Chuck thought was real rather than actually bring him into a real one? And why didn’t they “threaten” Sarah because if ever there was something to make Chuck afraid, it would be the possibility of losing her. It bothered me that Chuck was insulted about Sarah saying he wasn’t an agent without the intersect. If he can’t fight and defend himself, he can’t be an agent. It’s as simple as that. Maybe there was a better way for her to say it, but still.

The Event– The show has taken a turn for the interesting (aged little girls, man morphing from young to old, the vice president as evil) but it’s still on the slow side. I want Layla and Sean to do something more interesting. Enough running away and crying. Let us see Layla as a three dimensional character. What skills does she bring to the story? (No, abducting a doctor doesn’t really count.) I hate to say it but the president is pretty lame. He doesn’t compare to any of the 24 presidents. He’s involved in things where it doesn’t make sense and yet doesn’t seem to be doing anything. I mean, does he actually run the country? We need more pieces to the puzzle (or even just more things to make us say “what?”). Think of Lost. In the first season, we saw polar bears, the smoke monster, a hatch, a mysterious distress signal, Locke healed, visions of Jack’s dead father, a cable running through the forest/beach, the others, the mysterious numbers, and some other things. So far in the Event we’ve got…stranded aliens with advanced technology, aged girls, and a creepy man. Not enough. Give us more!

Lie to Me– this show is missing the personal interactions and storylines. Think of Bones. Each week there is a unique case, but we also have a ton of relationships going on as well. Cam and her sort of daughter, Bones and Booth, Booth and Hannah, Sweets and Daphne, Hodges and Angela, and the random techs. In every episode something happens with a couple of these relationships so that it feels like someone has moved forward in some way. In Lie to Me, it is that progression in character that I feel like we are missing. Yes, we have Lightman and Foster flirting and Loker and Torres have their moments, and of course Lightman and Emily, but that’s about it. And we don’t really progress much (at all) with any of them in each episode. Get into the interpersonal relationships more.

Gossip Girl– As much as I hate Chuck, I do like him and Blaire together. This decision of hers to remain apart is interesting (and unlikely to stay this way permanently). Dan and Nate act less like bros and more like a couple. Vanessa is a little bit delusional. While it’s true that Serena gets away with things and her friends help, Vanessa has yet to actually be a victim of this. Her friends have always stepped in for her when Vanessa was trying to screw Serena for no good reason. Still not clear on how Ben got in jail. Even if he and Serena had an affair while she was in school. (Is that the real reason she left? This seems like a really delayed address of the issue.) If he’s in jail for statutory rape then Serena’s mother would know about it. I’m okay with a bit of Jenny here and there just to help with the sabotage (since Vanessa and Juliet are clearly awful at it) but I hope she’s not making an official comeback. What I really can’t wait for is when everyone realizes they’ve been scammed. What do we think they’ll do then? And what will happen when Serena wakes up in Juliet’s place?

Castle– After those excellent episodes where Beckett was being targeted, the show has slowed down a bit. I get it, Alexis has a boyfriend and it’s cute, but we need more. Is anyone else expecting Alexis to get kidnapped at some point? It feels like it’s only a matter of time.

Weeds– This show is not what it used to be. The only interesting thing happening is that Nancy has just fallen into the clutches of Guillermo and Esteban and then turns herself into the police to get away from them. It sounds like there is one season left to this show. We’ll see what happens then, but I miss Aggrestic and the other characters that they’ve eliminated.

Glee– Gwyneth Paltrow! She may not be the best singer ever, but I think she was excellent as Holly Holliday and I hope they bring her in more now that they’ve left the door open for it. I’m fine with Teri not coming back and I notice Emma has been a bit absent of late. Fine by me, the EW recapper may not agree, but I don’t care for the adult storylines (except for Sue vs Will which took an interesting turn this week as Sue realized he was better than the alternative). I like Kurt and the idea of him having a boyfriend (and I particularly love the secretly gay football player) but I’m not the biggest fan of Blaine. I’m not sure why, something about him just rubs me the wrong way, talent and all. It feels like the Glee kids for the most part have fallen in the background (Brittany, Tina, Quinn, Puck, Santana) and I would like more episodes to focus on them. Some people are probably thrilled to hear that Mike the Other Asian has been upgraded in cast status. I don’t particularly care, just because we already have so many characters to explore that I’m not sure we need another at this point. Otherwise, the music is still excellent and I am completely happy with the show.

No Ordinary Family– watch this show people! It needs to build more of the mythology (more hints about who the mom’s boss is for example and bring in some more supervillains), but I think this week’s episode with the parents and JJ were excellent. Daphne’s powers have got to become more dynamic (mind control!) to give her some more active storylines. Somehow they’ve made JJ’s super brain more interesting than mind reading. Maybe Daphne mind reads someone who wants to kill themselves or get revenge by shooting up the school and intervenes somehow? Something. Save this show! (tvbythenumbers.com say this is a bubble show so let’s push it back to renewal!)

Life Unexpected– Well, we know this show is done for. Unfortunate since it just got back to a particularly interesting plot (an abusive foster family). Anyone else wonder what the deal with the recent obsession with student-teacher relations is? Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, Life Unexpected, 90210 (though it is obviously different in this case because he’s a rapist)…enough already. The question is, will Lux ever come clean to get Tasha out of trouble? What will happen when they find out.

Parenthood– another show to save. How are people not watching this? Everything about it is compelling. The best story this week was definitely about Christina trying to get Max invited to a birthday party (though I enjoyed the Sarah-Amber college story too). Never has a TV show addressed Aspbergers as in depth as this (well, I can’t say never for sure, but from what I know of) and how it affects the rest of the family is so compelling. Haddie could stand being a little more interesting (maybe it’s time for her to go through a rebellious stage, just as Amber is bettering herself because then who better to help her back?), but otherwise, I’m thrilled. It seems Parenthood is moving nights. Let’s hope this isn’t a too little too late measure to save the show. If you haven’t been watching yet, it’s time to start. This is one of the better family dramas on TV.

The Good Wife– this week was a particularly fantastic episode. Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly) guest starred as a pop icon trying to shed her Disney image by over-partying. But the interesting thing was how clearly it was actually an act and not the reality of who she was. And when does it become a reality rather than an act simply because of how long she’s been doing it. Cosgrove in real life seems to be one of the teen stars (though Nickelodeon not Disney which might be part of what’s helping her) who has not gone crazy, but she did a great job of acting the part. I’m hoping the show will further explore Kalinda as well as Peter and Alicia’s relationship (which has been pushed to the background), but otherwise I just can’t believe it took me so long to start watching this show. If you haven’t, this is yet another show that should be saved from cancellation.

Survivor– This season has been a weak one (seriously Producers, Old vs Young is 9 out of 10 times going to be lame, why risk it?), but this week’s did take an exciting turn as Holly instigated a push to get Brenda out. I am surprised that Naonka is still around just because she’s so awful. I would think that Fabio would have tried to make a push to get rid of her (though I guess he has not really made any moves on his own). But the odds of Naonka winning are so slim that I guess everyone is hoping she’s the next Russel.

Bones– I’ve already mentioned some of the things I like about the show, but I am hoping that they kick things up a notch. I loved the gravedigger episodes because there was a bigger picture to decipher. I’m hoping they bring in a new big picture villain sometime soon.

The Big Bang Theory– I’m glad Penny is back. She seems to be walking normally (or normally enough). Not everyone is happy about Mayim Bialick’s promotion to series regular, but as long as the show actually explores her character rather than just use her for comic relief, she will be a good addition. (Though Bernadette has yet to be more than a prop so we’ll see.)

The Office– The show hasn’t been garnering the laughs and compelling storylines of former seasons. I’m still watching but I’m a little ambivalent about it of late. Hopefully it’ll find itself again soon.

30 Rock– I want them to give Jenna a new, bigger story. She’s been comic relief but I think it’s time to explore her background more. We got a little about her mother, but I’d like to see more. Kenneth too, would be nice. The show has still be pretty funny, but not quite as strong as it was in past seasons. I do appreciate the way they dealt with Jack needing to move on (though it wasn’t quite as awesome as the episode where Jack was supposed to walk away from his mentorship with Liz).

Outsourced– The show has definitely gotten better since the premiere. I particularly appreciated getting a sense of Tod’s family, which we haven’t really gotten to see until now. It’s still not the best show out there, but it has some interesting things (especially when it comes to Tod and Asha) that make it enjoyable.

Grey’s Anatomy– I am glad Christina’s bartending stint was only a one episode deal. It’s funny, but not the kind of thing I’d want to go on for a long period of time. I particularly like how Teddy’s taking Christina’s issues so personally. It shows there really was a bond and they’d gotten beyond Hunt. I’m more annoyed with the way Derrick is dealing with these things since it doesn’t feel like he’s doing anything to help but rather is keeping her from being able to deal with things. Avery’s also become more interesting now that he has his own survivor’s guilt issues to work out. Bailey drunk though, was awesome. I love Bailey and really hope she gets more air time.

Private Practice– this show has just reached some of its best point since it started. Charlotte dealing with the rape is intense but compelling (though Violet is really starting to bug me). I also love the little bit of Amelia that they finally gave us and hope they can find a way to make her more of a character on the show. I really liked seeing Pete deal with his family, that was probably some of the best we’ve seen of him.

Burn Notice– this was one of the stronger episodes lately. There’s something about the team being caught and forced to work with someone else while also stopping them from doing anything bad that makes it much more interesting. Plus it sort of followed the show’s general procedure while also disrupting it, which makes it interesting. It’s time for more unexpected things to happen. Take the control away from the players for a bit.

Smallville– I love that Tess is finally a good guy with a past to explore. I was over her self-righteous evil. It would be nice if Louis could start being more of a solution to some problems than the damsel in distress since she’s supposed to be so strong. I was happy to see Supergirl back and really hope we haven’t seen the last of her. (Though she was a little too “perfect” this time around, which is never fun.)

Well, that’s pretty much everything in one of my longest posts ever. Thoughts?

General Recaps

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Tod Margaret– I had the chance to finally check out this new show and I wasn’t impressed in the least. It was basically just watch an ill-qualified idiot be given more responsibilities than he can handle and see him fail. There wasn’t really anything funny about it and much as I love British accents, that wasn’t enough to draw me in. None of the characters were compelling or made me want to watch more.

Glee– Before I even mention this week’s Grilled Cheesus episode, I wanted to talk about the Britney/Brittany episode. TV guide complained that Heather’s vocals are weak, but if we’re honest with ourselves, so are Britney Spears’s. I remember when Baby One More Time was popular, we got one of our teachers to listen to the song and she said: “well, it’s fine, but why does she whine so much?” What the episode did showcase was Brittany’s awesome dancing, her body (which is better than Spears’s ever was), and her awesome stupidity. I didn’t really expect more out of the episode, though I do agree with the assessment that I prefer songs directly related to what is happening and given the number of songs Britney’s put out, it shouldn’t have been all that difficult to manage. On to this week, I really liked the conversation about religion though it would have been nice to hear about the actual Jewish side of things (Rachel for example who cares enough about Judaism to want her kids to be raised Jewish though not enough to date/plan to marry a Jew). As always, Kurt was fantastic. Anyone notice that Rachel is much more stylish this season?

Running Wilde– hasn’t gotten any better really. One of the faults of the show is the daughter’s voiceovers. She’s just got no comic delivery (though she doesn’t have much to work with)

Raising Hope– It’s starting to grow on me. I’m not sure why though. I did like the baby getting lost in the Hoarders’ closet. Interesting that the mom kept all that stuff because she hoped for something better, I don’t think that’s what it’s about for most hoarders.

Parenthood
– Continued solid performances by all involved but I don’t like how Amber has been mostly MIA lately. Bring her back! I liked seeing Gabby get stuck dealing with Crosby and I actually kind of hope they bring Gabby in more. The kid who plays Max is fantastic and the episode about Adam trying to bond with him was really one of the best.

Brothers and Sister– I still think this is some of the best writing for TV dramas. Thank you college roomie for insisting I watch it. (If you haven’t watched it, start from the beginning and give it a couple episodes before you decide.) Not a huge fan of Sarah’s bangs and the daughter’s haircut is pretty awful. I surprisingly don’t mind Tommy being gone but I do miss Saul and Rebecca.

Chuck– I never thought I’d say this, but I really enjoyed Nicole Richie’s performance. Her dynamic with Sarah/Jenny is fantastic though from what we’ve learned of her past I can’t imagine her as a punching bag. I would love to learn more about her. I don’t really get this ever changing agent Greta thing, but that’s ok. I do miss Elie and Awesome.

Outsourced– I’m ready to cross this one off, now that I’ve given it a second episode. This season’s new comedies are just not doing it. How did they get so many great shows last season (Modern Family, The Middle, Cougar Town) and have so many blah ones this season?

No Ordinary Family– I didn’t love this episode the way that I loved the pilot, but it was still enjoyable. I particularly liked the mom tripping over a bicycle while running at superspeed (didn’t anyone ever tell her to watch where she’s going?) and it did help us discover that she has a Wolverine healing factor (or a cheerleader’s). EW talked about JJ’s ability as cheating, but I have a different take on it. Aside from the fact that I’m not sure he can turn his ability on and off, is it cheating to use his own abilities?

Life Unexpected– it’s unclear to me why exactly Lux didn’t want Tash to stay with her newest foster family (was it because the woman was awful or because the woman had been a mother figure?) I miss Cate on the radio but I suppose this woman does bring new drama. My question is how the listeners feel about it. The decision to fire Cate seemed almost arbitrary, like it was a personal vendetta and not a business decision.

Nikita– learning what we did about Alex was really interesting (and even better that Amanda recognized that she was lying despite an excellent acting job). I really like the flashbacks and wish we could learn more about Nikita and why we should really feel for her vendetta (not in the sense that I don’t think Division is bad and needs to be brought down, but in the sense that I don’t buy the love story).

Dexter– There’s something fascinatingly disturbing about Deb’s blindness when it comes to Dexter. How can she, being so close to him, think he is the strong, supportive older brother? Can anyone with so little humanity really fake it that well? Seeing Dexter with Cody was great though I can’t pretend I’m sorry to see Astor go. There’s only so much pre-teen melodrama a person can take.

Undercovers– another show where I found the second episode slightly less appealing that the first. I think my main issue here is that there isn’t any real tension between the main characters. Everything was just a little ordinary. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing either.

Vampire Diaries– if there’s one show that’s really kicked it up a bit (despite a sadly departed Anna), it’s this one. The Katherine vs Elena scene was great and I think I actually believe Katherine loved Stefan. Of course, Katherine’s version of loving isn’t so loving, but that’s a different story. I like Caroline the vampire when she’s struggling with her feelings for Matt, less so when she’s Katherine’s puppets. Why not come clean and get help? I miss the Bonnie of old, this new, moody, vindictive one is tiring.

Gossip Girl– Serena’s storyline is just dumb. I appreciate that she’s meant to be the hot wild child, but really, I prefer her storylines to revolve around her sordid past, fighting with her mom, and fighting with Blaire. And if they must do a love angle for her, perhaps one that brings in a new character. I’m so sick of Dan and Nate. (Nate for his lack of personality and Dan for…liking Vanessa.) I did feel for Dan losing “his” baby. The Blaire-Chuck dynamic has taken an interesting turn. A part of me didn’t think Eva would really be gone or expected him to fly after her or something, but instead he’s decided to go to war against Blaire. Should be interesting. You know, Serena and Blaire fought to get into that exclusive society and now there’s nothing about it.

90210– Adrianna is so dumb that I kind of feel like she’s getting what’s coming to her. But then, her new manager is so slimy that I kind of feel bad. As always I don’t care for Annie so her selling her eggs, besides being stupid and so illegal since she’s probably not old enough to do it (where will she do it?). Silver’s was sort of background this week. All she really did was make situations that allowed for other people’s drama. Ivy’s sex insecurity can only get better now that Dixon has found out that he might be HIV positive. How paranoid will she be when he either doesn’t show or doesn’t want to have sex? Liam and his brother was just eh. Naomi was also sort of a non-entity this week, but she’s been fairly interesting in the last couple weeks so I forgive her.

Grey’s Anatomy– I still mostly don’t care about Meredith, though I will admit that I like how she interacts with Christina. Speaking of, how did anyone think Christina getting married was a good idea or that it was something she wanted/was ready for. I’m guessing the writers will make it work, but I don’t believe it. (I don’t particularly like Hunt so that could be part of it.) Her reaction in the OR was so compelling and was definitely one of the moments of the week. I also liked Lexie-Mark (or lack thereof) for its complexity and Arizona-Callie for its sweetness (even though I had a hard time believing Callie was gay, I like their relationship enough to not care). I’m actually quite impressed with this season so far. I think cutting out some of the new cast from last season was really smart and the fallout of the shooting has been masterfully done. The thing I am most excited for: Amelia’s arrival. Which leads me to…

Private Practice– this show has had its ups and downs and it seems like the Grey’s-Practice writers were murder happy last season. The Violet-Pete relationship is still pretty awful (because though I liked the actress as Amy in Judging Amy, I find Violet grating and Pete so much better than her) but I love the way it interacted with the Coop-Charlotte relationship. I really like Charlotte and she did a great job this past episode of becoming more human while implying that she’d been that way all along. I don’t care for Naomi or Sheldon, but I must admit Addison has grown on me lately. I like Sam though I do hope his storyline doesn’t become all about him and Addison and nothing more. (Same goes vice-versa.) Though sad to see Dell go, I do accept the reasoning, better to get rid of a character than force storylines that are bad. Plus his death was pretty heart-wrenching and unexpected. Finally, I’m thrilled that Amelia has become a permanent cast member, it’s like another link between this show and Grey’s but still natural.

Cancellation note: Huge, Lonestar, and My Generation have so far been canceled.

What do you think? Any shows you didn’t like, shows I should give a second chance, or shows you think I should be watching?

General Recaps

Ghost Whisperer- well, I’m not sure how I felt about this series finale. It sort of felt like things were rushed to a resolution that was all too easy. It was nice to see how Aiden’s powers were important, but it seemed like there was no final battle. Everyone just held hands and then all was well. I wish it had been more of a struggle, that it had felt like they might actually lose Melinda, some sense of danger for Aiden and the rest of the gang. It was like in one moment we got everything we needed to know, rather than learn it gradually like we should have been.

Grey’s Anatomy- this double episode was both good and bad. On the one hand, there was so much happening. You could really feel the shock and terror of the characters. You felt Lexi’s panic, Christina’s uncertainty, Arizona and Callie’s love…As far as acting goes, it was really some of the best. I even grew to appreciate April here. And Mandy Moore did a pretty good job as a guest star. And I wasn’t sorry to get rid of most of those Mercy Westers (not saying this is how I was hoping to get rid of them…) The episode had it’s downsides too, like some over the top speeches and the question of why the doors weren’t locked anywhere. The gunman seemed to hit every wing of the hospital with unrealistic ease and speed. But, I thought emotionally, the episode hit it right. I twas possibly one of the best episodes (2 episodes) in quite a few seasons.

Bones- Anyone else feel sad at the end of this episode? The case itself was nothing special, but there were so many great people moments. (“I taught you about eye contact, you taught me about evolution.”) I’m not entirely sure where this will lead things to start next season (something going wrong on Bones’s trip and calling Booth in?) but I can’t wait to see how they are pulled back together.

Glee- Talk about an episode of awesomeness. Idina Sings! NPH guest stars! Joss Whedon directs! And the music! They’ve made an obvious play (SPOILER: Idina’s character is Rachel’s mother!) that I didn’t even consider until now and it leaves me to wonder if this is setting up yet another twist (she’s faking it to get into Rachel’s head) or it’s true (and maybe she’ll become a regular on the show–fingers crossed). I can’t remember the last time I was so pleased with an episode.

V- it keeps getting better. No question about it, the show has found it’s footing. It took some time but they’ve finally managed to balance character, story, and action. I’m a little sad we didn’t really get to see the baby and I can’t help but wonder if Ryan is just a really good actor or if he’s really been taken in.

Parenthood- I’m so glad this show is on TV. For one thing, the way they handle all the complex familial relationships is skillful. The adults are like overgrown teens in some moments and true parents the next. You feel for both sides of every argument and every issue. (Julia’s character is the least multi-dimensional and I hope for more from her, but the others are pretty well developed.)

Parenthood: Pilot

Who else caught this show last night? If you didn’t, you made a mistake in my opinion. First off, Lauren Graham returns to TV, how could that be a bad thing? Second, she does not come off as Lorelai 2.0 as some had feared (or at least discussed).

The show is sort of like a more dramatic Modern Family. It follows four siblings in their grown up lives. Sarah is a divorced mother of two whose ex-husband is a druggie, daughter is a smoker, and son who wants to live with his dad. And she has to move back home because she has no money. Adam, the brother who seems to be there for everyone else, is shocked when he discovers that his son has Aspergers (and his daughter winds up at jail for smoking weed in an attempt to be cool). Julia (Erika Christianson) is the workaholic lawyer who finds it hard to connect with her young daughter who openly prefers her stay at home dad to cut her meet, sing her songs, etc. Lastly, there’s Crosby who is afraid of commitment but gets engaged to his girlfriend when he sees her taking steps to have a baby without him (sperm in the freezer). He also discovers that he has a son he never knew about.

Some of the stories come across better than others but considering how early on in the show it is, it’s hard to really say which one will be best by the end. (The Aspergers story is based on real experience so that will definitely have a personal touch throughout.) Erika Christiansen isn’t particularly exciting so far but she seems sweet and I don’t have any big complaints. To me, Lauren Graham keeps impressing me. Sarah comes across as someone very different than Lorelai (though on occasion we do get a throwback to Gilmore Girls feeling–it doesn’t help that she plays a single mother yet again). I’m impressed by how different she has made this character and I think it shows that she has more range than I, and other people, thought.

The toughest thing about the show is that there is so much going on. That happens when each character has a spouse (or ex or fiance), kids, their parents, etc. It’s a big cast and everyone has something going on. I would have liked to see a little more about Drew so we could have related more to his situation (running away to stay with his father but finding out that his father didn’t want him: “it wasn’t a good time”).

I don’t know how much the show has changed because of the cast change (Maura Tierney of ER and Newradio had to pull out for cancer treatment and was replaced by Graham) but they’ve said it is funnier and not as dark. The newer tone is closer to the old tone of the movies that it is adapted from. It would be extremely interesting to see the pilot with Maura Tierney to see how different it is. Overall, I really enjoyed it and I hope it stays on the air.