Monday, April 16, 2012

TV Power Rankings: Week 25


By nature, I am a nit-picker.  I am never satisfied with most things in life.  I always want the things I do, see, or hear to be better.  I give myself the same treatment.  I come by this piece of character honestly.  My father can pick a nit with the best of them.  The entire royal family is a large extension of people who do not rest on laurels; we try to find ways to get more laurels.

It’s in this vain that I approach the Power Rankings every week.  There is a lot of good TV going right now.  Without a carefully maintained nit-picking strategy, this column would become awash in boring platitudes.  Obviously, I dole out my fair share of platitudes, but when you are trying to separate Tyrion Lannister, Don Draper, and Raylan Givens, a little nit-picking is in order.  As it turns out, Mr. Draper had the fewest nits to pick this week.

1. Mad Men (Last Week: 3)

Depending on how you feel about dream sequences, you could have a widely differing opinion of this week’s episode.  Since I was weaned on the strange and meandering dream sequences of The Sopranos (where Mad Men creator Matt Weiner was a writer), I found the Don Draper dream sequence to be quite enjoyable.  Whether it was a dream or not, Don’s attempt to rid himself of a threat to his marriage proved quite effective.

Other elements of the show played out very well, too.  Joan finally kicking out serial nancy boy was both satisfying and fun to watch.  Our girl Joan certainly isn’t without her faults, but she can certainly manage to do better than Greg.  Another girl power shoutout goes to Sally Draper.  When you watch Sally onscreen, it makes you realize how rare it is to find a competent child actor.  She’s a rare pleasure in world filled with overmatched children attempting to convey real human emotion. 

Finally, I would like to reiterate a question that Harry asked Roger a few weeks ago: Why do you carry so much money?  Poor Roger continues to get fleeced by those significantly further down from his station at the office.  Roger’s attempts to remain relevant at the office don’t make me sad, they only make me laugh.  Roger, I’ll be happy to work through the weekend for $410.  Just let me know what you need.

2. Justified (Last Week: 2)

You have to give a lot of credit to the Justified crew.  For the last few weeks, it seemed like they were incredibly overmatched in trying to battle both Mad Men and Game of Thrones.  Despite the mismatch, they managed to keep plugging along and held strong in the top two for its last two episodes.  If not for some structural issues (we’ll get to it), the season finale would have netted it the number one slot.  Still, they deserve a standing O from the crowd for their production.  Let’s start with the good:
  1. Wynn Duffy: No one has ever yelped “Jesus Christ!” better or more effectively on a television show.
  2. From that same scene: Wynn: “You can’t just come in here and shoot me because, you, you, you feel like it.”  Raylan: “Why not?”  I remain baffled as to why my brother doesn’t watch this show.
  3. Limehouse finally got to use his meat cleaver for something beyond a conversation piece.  It wasn’t worth the wait, but it came as a relief.  It’s like a 24 year old finally getting to have sex.  At a certain point, you’re just relieved that it finally got to happen.

Unfortunately, there were those issues I discussed:
  1. The Quarles situation went a bit longer than it needed to.  By the time we arrived at this episode, it was clear that Quarles was crazy, desperate, and his plan had no chance of working.  Still, we were treated to one more episode of Neal McDonough magnificently playing a crazy person. 
  2. The scene where Raylan and Limehouse combine to “disarm” Quarles featured a fired Errol who came back to his boss’s aid because… I honestly have no idea.  Why was he still there?  Didn’t Limehouse tell him to leave “or else?”  The fact that he was there to go down in a blaze of glory was a bit too convenient for my tastes.

Overall, Justified authored another spectacular season of television.  It’s undoubtedly one of the best shows on television.  I can’t wait for next season. 

3. Game of Thrones (Last Week: 1)

This episode was a brief notch below last week’s premiere.  I’m considering writing a full-blown review because this space doesn’t provide for me enough room to adequately comment on the week’s happenings.  Still, let’s give it a whirl:
I ain't mad at ya, Stannis.

  • Don’t you hate it when you feel up a woman that turns out to be your sister?
  • Poor Theon Greyjoy.  That dude could not catch a break this week.  From having sexual relations with an unattractive woman, feeling up his sister, all the way to having his mission being turned around on him must have been tough to swallow.  Let’s hope for a bounce back week for him this week.
  • Tyrion may be far better at the game then Ned Stark ever was, but that doesn’t mean he is great at it.  He’s still learning while politically battling those who have been working at this game for far longer. 
  • Despite the fact that Craster feeds his newborn boys to a monstrous, shadowy figure (Whitewalkers, perhaps?) and marries his daughters, he may not even be in the top five of horrible parents.  Balon Greyjoy tossed his name into the hat this week.
  • I feel bad for Davos in the same way I felt bad for Ned Stark last season.  I don’t think that’s a good thing for his health.
  • Stannis is officially being controlled by a woman.  You wouldn’t think it would happen to a mighty warrior, but at least she’s hot.  I’m sure the Lord of Light approved of their interlude atop his giant Risk board.

All of those bullets, and I didn’t even address Dany’s Moses-like walk through the desert with her Khalassar.  Yeah, that’s not going well.  Maybe there is a rally in store for next week.  With Justified out of the picture, Game of Thrones now settles into a show-a-show battle with Mad Men.  It should be an entertaining fight.

4. 30 Rock (Last Week: 7)

The LOLs came fast and furious this week.  Anytime you can get Jack’s mother on the screen, you know you are going to be in good hands.  After all, the woman keeps a list of disappointments in her shoe.  If you don’t want to find yourself on that list, then you shouldn’t be eating fruit like a Frenchman.

The surprising part of this week’s edition of 30 Rock was the genuine heart that came through the episode.  Watching Jenna be disappointed that Paul had moved on with another woman and an anthropomorphic couch, Tracy express that he would be proud of his son even if he went to Stanford, and Jack and his mother have a long overdue talk reminded me that Tina Fey really does have a heart.  It’s nice to see in a show like 30 Rock from time to time.

5. Awake (Last Week: 5)

Look, it’s clear that at the end of the season, we are done here.  Still, a certain cancellation will not stop me from watching the entirety of this season.  This show is really good, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.  Once it officially gets cancelled, I will file it away with Journeyman and Day Break in the “I Will Ask the Creators What the F*** Was Going On If I Ever See Them” file.  Don’t worry, I use the acronym to make sure it fits on the folder tab. 

6. Suburgatory (Last Week: NR)

The Wednesday night ABC comedies returned this week.  Some, like Suburgatory, returned with a bang.  However, others returned with a whimper (more on that later).  Still, we should take the time to praise Suburgatory for a really strong outing this week.  The Malik-Lisa relationship was probably a bit too overdone, but everything else was alternately heart-warming or humorous.  Cheryl Hines’ continues to flex her comedic chops.  Therapy, rich people, or both were served a pretty funny notice during Dalia’s therapy session.  Frankly, I can understand how her dog needed to understand the role it played in the dissolution of her parents’ marriage.  That’s a bad dog!

While most of the episode was perfectly enjoyable, part of the episode couldn’t help put find its place in the Czar’s Stick in the Mud Corner.  Now, my high school days weren’t exactly a scene from Pleasantville, but I have to take issue with Ryan Shea reaching 2nd base after his first official date with Tessa.  Granted, he asked very nicely, but it didn’t exactly seem like something a 16 year old girl should be doing on her first date.  If this episode is the future, I’m doubling my monthly payments into the Adam’s Daughter’s Therapy Account.  If things keep “developing” at this rate, the name of the account could be changed to Adam’s Vasectomy Vault.  I’m perfectly fine with either.

7. Fringe (Last Week: 9)

Enough with the dancing around, let’s do this Jones.  Speaking of Jones, shout out to Jared Harris for being the only guy with two shows in the top ten.  Granted, he’s only a guest star on Fringe, but we have seen enough of him to know that he plays a prominent role in the story.  The show has seemed to drift away from their procedural element so they can focus on the Jones storyline.  I am all for it.  The procedural is boring, the narrative is awesome.   Stick with what works, Fringe.

8. The Borgias (Last Week: NR)

Another week, another show makes its return to our television screens.  I had mixed feelings about the first season of The Borgias.  However, since I am a sucker for period pieces, I decided to stick with it.  My loyalty apparently will be repaid.  The beginning of the second season was some of the better work the show has done in its entire run.  I hope they can maintain it.

9. New Girl (Last Week: 4)

This week’s episode wasn’t the same level of funny as the previous episodes, but it certainly had its moments.  I strongly preferred Real Apps/Relapse to the True American bit, but it’s tough to ignore how hard the actors threw themselves into that scene.  God bless them for making a nonsensical drinking game seem entertaining to a group of sober people sitting on their couches at home.  As I mentioned last week, this show has really hit its stride.  I hope it can close out strong so it can get set for its second season.

10. Magic City (Last Week: NR)

Last week, I complained that it was Jeffrey Dean Morgan, nudity, and not much else.  That remains the case.  Still, the setting is so beautiful, and JDM is so good, that it merited a slot in the top ten. 

Dropped from the Rankings

Person of Interest
The Mentalist

Taking a week off.

House

I feel like they have just stopped trying. 

Others Receiving Votes

Nurse Jackie

Thanks to some solid forward momentum to start the season, Nurse Jackie will have the chance to sneak into the top ten now and again throughout its season.  Edie Falco is really terrific on this show.  I recommend spending the 26 minutes one night just to watch that.

Modern Family

What a disappointing year it’s been.  They’re like the baseball player that you expect to get going, but never gets all the way there.  Oh well, it was a fun two years.

Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23

I liked it.  The writing was really sharp, and James Van der Beek is always worth a look.  I love it when celebrities are in on the jokes of themselves.  From everything I have seen and read, I have no reason to expect that The Beek wouldn’t be a cool guy to hang out with sometime.  James, have your people call my people, and we will set something up.

Week 25 of the Power Rankings is in the books.  Just remember: Sometimes you have to play by the bad guys’ rules to get results.

The TV Czar

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