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My mom and I got into a brief conversation wherein she mentioned that she enjoyed watching Big Love a few years back, not for the subject matter, but because a friend recommended it and she thought the writing & acting were really good.
Me: We can't talk anymore.
Mom: Oh, I forgot, you don't like cable shows.
Me: I just think they are generally inferior to network shows in every way.
Mom: Really? I think they tend to better written.
Me: EVERYONE thinks that. That's why it is so imperative that I --
Mom: Think the opposite?
Me: No. That's why it's imperative that I point out how everyone is WRONG.

So saying, let's discuss some of those network shows who had some pretty quality runs this week.

Community:NBC, you can count this as a reason Community should stay. I don't even like Dean Pelton - one might even go so far as to say I mega-loathe him - but I thought this installment was hysterical. His steady descent into madness (taking Stockholm-Syndrome "Script Girl" Annie with him) was insanely funny. Jeff's onscreen imitation also cracked me up from start to finish (and per usual, I will allow the appalling baldness in order to have a visual for the inevitable cancer-patient scenario my brain will run him through). I also loved the horrible 90s commercial (now, you can register by FAX!)

I super-duper-duper do not want any distasteful Britta/Troy things happening, WHAT IS THAT, EW  -- and yes, that's my hatred of relationships in which the guy is younger coming out; my limit on those things is exactly two years before I start crying foul -- so I hated their stupid hug being awkward and/or lingering at the end, but otherwise, no flaws. For one thing, I really approved of shutting Pierce away in a trailer for most of it. Can he censor himself always?

The documentary style worked nicely to change things up, and although Abed's commercial still had some problems (Dunder Mifflin: undefeated in the local ad department), I loved the clip with Annie and the cute behind-the-scenes footage, especially the bit with Shirley.
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The Office, 8x08, "Gettysburg"
Apparently everyone (including my recently-confirmed-traitor mother) disliked this one, and I genuinely don't understand why, because I found next to nothing to hate! I wasn't crazy about the teaser** -- because Pam, you're better than this -- and I'm never up for anything that involves a lot of Robert California unless Mrs. California is in tow, but the office half of the episode paid off really well so it was an acceptable means to an end.

**however, I think somebody like dollsome should probably write the conversation in which Pam & Ryan have a disagreement over True Blood. True Blood is not my thing at all, but for the benefit of other people in the fandom, this should exist.

[December edit: it exists. I am drunk on my own power right now.]

For example, words cannot express my delight with Ryan finally meeting his match. Golden! I loved all the crazy/stupid ideas people pitched in the meeting (the lesson here is: NEVER turn down an opportunity to leave work for a group outing). I laughed forever and ever at Ryan's, "Okay. We are now on a planet where Kevin is the most creative person around, and I am just some good-looking guy." And thus, as much as I was hating the moronic "Kevin is a secret genius!" plot, the reason for its existence became immediately clear when Ryan, driven mad at being knocked off the pedestal he places himself on, seeks swift, subtle, hilarious revenge to out him as a moron.

Never mind the part at the beginning where a) he was stationed at the reception desk (he's the only person I like more than Pam there), and b) Kelly was hanging out there with him looking at something on the computer with him. These tiny things are both a blessing and a curse in that I salivate over them, but then am driven mad myself with desperation to have more, more insight, more focus, where is all the world's fic and/or deleted scenes!

As for Gettysburg, while my favorite thing -- obviously -- was Gabraham Lincoln, my new thing this year is finding Andy very sweet in his fumbling attempts to make everyone like him, so there was a whole bunch of that. I just enjoyed the whole field trip, including the side diversion for the Battle of Schrute Farms history (FINAL REVEAL = EPIC). Also, I may or may not love it when people treat Erin like the six-year-old she is.

Oscar: Dwight, what are you telling this girl?
Dwight: The truth.
Oscar: Stop filling her head with nonsense. She doesn't know any better.

The last conversation with Jim was just the icing on the cake. Even in the endless and awful Michael era, it was my favorite when Jim, after cheerfully being a large part of the problem, would serve as a mediator and lift up his spirits. It's sweeter here. Solid outing, show.
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Via Tumblr: aww, Parks & Rec, you were sort of adorable in this set of "This is how I feel" gifs I'm looking at! And I think that may be the first time I've used my P&R tag hate-free.

While I'm here, Tumblr, why don't I remember this moment from Harry Potter? I honestly can't even place the...oh, it was a deleted scene wasn't it? It was. Who would cut that?? I will cut you. (and now if you need me, I'll be crawling into a corner and weeping some more)
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Private Practice, "THE INTERVENTION"
The promo took itself way too seriously ("LIFE-CHANGING" EPISODE?), but to its credit, it was really good. Possibly my new favorite episode of the series (the first half, anyway). The darker this show gets, the better it is.
Part 1: 3x08, "Who We Are"

Prodigal Doctor's Return: The Addislap (TM) was awesome. I'm a big fan of slapping people, especially out of love. I liked everyone's reactions, really, including her obviously fake but genuine-sounding apology and explanations, but nothing holds a candle to that.

Flashbacks: Extremely effective and well done. I normally hate split-up flashbacks, but this way it felt like we were earning a little piece of the puzzle at a time. The shaky, washed-out, filmstrip-quality image set the tone perfectly, I loved all the actors (excellent work choosing McDreamy Sr.!), and in addition to Amelia's point of view, I really appreciated an actual visual of the robbery Derek described so well last year. Someone should get the word out to the Grey's fans who spurn this series that they're missing an important clip.

Intervention 101: Very much liked everyone's Semi-United Front threats to make her get off the elevator. Namely Pete's extremely hot, no-nonsense tone of voice while threatening to call the police. I really liked Leni presiding over the whole thing and her badass "Oh no. You do the drugs in front of EVERYONE" stance, but also really like Jake being there as the one person who works there but who doesn't really know her, talking straight to her.

Addison: I loved Amelia tearing her apart, while Addison took the endless barrage of insults while refusing to take the bait. I love that, despite generally sucking at the intervention and undermining it every turn, she did get in a couple of impressive turns between "I will fire you" and "I will change the locks," because "I love you but I will not love you to death." Oh, oh, and all the backstory about how she wants Amelia back and not the monster in the room, about Amelia being her little sister and how she even did her hair for Prom? GIANT TEARFEST, HERE. (and also, a recipe for a resurgence of feeling like Meredith Grey should GTFO; why did Derek And Addison not last forever!)

Insults, Open Season: Following Addie, it was like the Olympics of Cruelty out there, which of course brought me ENDLESS amounts of mean-spirited pleasure. It built on the amazing platform Glee laid out for me earlier in the week with, shots cheerfully meant to hit hard & hurt. Addison, the only thing you're more addicted to than booze is having a baby; too bad you're frickin' barren and have driven away all the men in your life. Violet, you attention whore, you're aging and your husband hates you! (Pete has some very noisy protests in response to this, and you should cherish them because this hot display of coming to her defense is pretty much the last time he will be non-horrible for the foreseeable future.)

Pete, you're kind of a tool and it seems like saving your life wasn't worth it; maybe you're better off dead and/or should go ahead and kill yourself. Spare Violet the misery, even though she'd probably love that, since that's kind of her thing -- raping her personal experience for attention. Oops, did I say rape? Sorry, Charlotte!  [RS note: Charlotte's sullen glare is wonderful. And Cooper's hand on her leg is part of that 2% of the time I don't hate them.]

Sam, as an aside, you suck at commitment! And by the way, Sheldon? I will never love you back.
(BURN! Awesome! And also, unfortunately, a guarantee that at some point she will, which is stupid and ridiculous because she's extremely attractive and he is not, not even in that intellectual, older-and-wiser-and-smitten-with-you way that age-difference ships sometimes get to me)

To Drug Or Not To Drug?: Kudos to Caterina's impressive acting in her "What do we want? Drugs!" temper tantrum, but count me in on Sam/Cooper side of the equation this week. Maybe addiction's a disease. But you still can't get it unless you make a conscious decision to take drugs in the first place, so, none of the sympathies. And now that you mention it, Jake, I would not be opposed to institutionalizing drug addicts if that came back into vogue.

But On The Other Hand: Jake Reilly, sir, you are my favorite. Pete is a tool (more on this later); I am more than happy to have you slide in here with your graveside talk of stepdaughters at college and wives you couldn't save from themselves. (though on that note, man, this show is obsessed with drug addiction.)

Almost There...: The one point at which I will admit to tolerating Sheldon was when her extremely high self morphed into sniffly little-girl mode at the idea of rehab. "Will come you too?" Of course, I'm only saying this to hammer home how extremely paternal his relationship is to her. That cheek-cupping thing? Totally platonic! Don't test me; I have a lot of evidence to back up my point stored among my various fandoms. First place I'm looking is NCIS.

The Watch: Can I just say, all of the credit in the world to Addison for her indescribable reaction to seeing it on Ryan's wrist. Disbelief and judgment and a whole host of other things all at once. High five for brushing off Ryan like dirt on the bottom of her shoe. "I'm talking to my sister." And the way Amelia flips out and when Addison starts to explain the significance...wow. ("Stupid ignorant monster bitch" may become my new favorite insult.) More props to Caterina's acting, while we're at it. Remember how Grey's used to get nominated for Emmys? She's right on par with Kadee last year in terms of deserving one, and I don't think I've said that about anyone yet this TV season.

Amelia/Ryan: I was not really giving this relationship much credit. Appealing as he was, and I am a definite sucker for "I will never leave you" (o hai, Owen Hunt), when he proposed that marriage might be a fun thing to do for kicks, I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for him to turn into a super creep instead of simply high and saying silly but well-intentioned things. I certainly never dreamed he would voluntarily suggest rehab or, really, do anything other than lead her down an even darker path of drugs.

But I was very fond of her running to him for comfort (duly given; Ryan wins like 500 respect points from me here, pillhead and all), breaking down in tears and begging him to take her away from the intervention. Post-intervention, all drying tears and cuddling, they become my new OTP for the show. I start to believe he actually has feelings for her beyond "hot piece of ass." He wants kids! But they have to be clean! Let's get clean together! Hear that? It's the sound of him getting ready to be Dell 2.0. Theoretically, I mean. These still seem largely like naive ramblings of a person high as a kite, with no hope of sticking through actual sobriety, but whatever.

I was still trying to figure out how this nonsense was going to work when we got to the end of Leni's speech about her kidnapped child, and only then did I realize Ryan was our sacrificial story lamb. Yep. Awww, darn. However, I'll allow it for the purposes of dramatic angst, because I'm pretty sure Amelia's hysterical reaction and subsequent numbness to his death are more emotionally satisfying than any continuation of their relationship could ever have been.

Plus, I can't recall any instances of people other than crime show teaser characters waking up next to a dead loved one, so I appreciated having that option to tuck in my bank.

Part 2, 3x09, "The Breaking Point"
Loved Amelia in rehab, specifically their choice to have her bond with a delightful 18-year-old. They're my new favorite friendship, and I think I would like to see Hailey back on the show sometime. Yes, probably as a patient, but I think we could make that work. I love unlikely age-mismatched friendships, too, and Hailey had everything from the cute teasing to calling her out on her crap to force a cathartic breakthrough when necessary. Choosing not to focus on her relapse. The One Big Happy Thanksgiving among the practice doctors & family was a good way to end. Minus that one ugly thing. (see last paragraph)

I was less enthused with the Cooper antics of the week, but I really appreciated the Addison/Violet bonding, and THUMBS UP for
Addison collapsing and being rushed to the hospital. Good on you.

Also less enthused by Pete/Violet: The Bombs Fall. Dear show, I'm remaining very, very calm on this front because I currently refuse to believe that you are doing this. But I had best get some spoilers in this joint, and they had best paint either a fast incline or a promise that you are building to an epic reunion, because my ship does not do this. My ship does not gradually dissolve for no goddamn reason; no ship in Shondaland does that. I JUST added a proper PP icon featuring them - I even picked the cute, happy one over my natural inclinations for the sad comfort one (although, how great would the "there for you" irony of the text on it have been?). Fucking Charlotte and Cooper do not get a breakup only to come back with a happy ending hurrah while my marrieds-with-a-kid self destruct for, again, no goddamn reason.

So now, all that's left is for me to stew in reasons like, why did Violet have to leave her own house? I mean, he moved in there. Why didn't she just kick Pete out? That way he still wouldn't have had to take responsibility for leaving, but she could simultaneously retain her own property and punish him as he deserves.  I keep looking for the spoilery post-episode interview that talks about the choices made and what's coming up in 2012, because obviously this is a pressing issue that everyone is desperate to have some kind of inside info about, right? Apparently not. The internet's gone dark on this show.

I guess I'm going to shut down the corner of my heart reserved for them and go into the mental utopia that is an improbable AU in which Amelia & Ryan work out. That's where I'll be until next time or when I get bad news on the P/V front. Either way.
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NCIS, "Engaged"
Part 1: This was a good episode, I distinctly remember it being a good episode (by the way, have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy the new SecNav? this seems like a logical place to drop that fact), but honestly, everything just sort of went by in a blur after those FLIPPING AMAZING first two minutes post-theme song. I'm not even going to try screencaps, because I would need one about every ten frames; I couldn't even novelize it properly for my archive because I could not capture every perfect movement, emotion or slight change in facial expression. [edit: this was a lie meant to trick myself. obvs.]

Just -- Gibbs & Shannon, they are my favorite romantic relationship across the series, and so to have them not only in perfect clarity as opposed to grainy flashback, but cuddling in bed was, oh, I don't know, enough to even to eclipse Abby coming over about three episodes back? YEAH. Not by much, obviously, but this is one of those rare instances in which a happy thing can surpass a comfort thing in my warped world view of romance. It is my new favorite of all bed scenes -- across all of fandom -- and Medium alone has like a hundred entries in that contest.

More to the point, while this episode has been busy bucking all the trends, have we ever seen dreams? We've gotten Gibbs' flashbacks, but I think dreams are brand-new territory (loved seeing him jerk awake on the couch). And this, in particular, is my favorite side of Gibbs: can I show this to all the people on TV Line who foolishly voted him down under Tony, citing his emotional void?

OK, maybe one screencap. WANT.
Or three. Bear-hugging Gibbs = this is like when you watch people play with full-grown lions and know you could never do it yourself, but you are in awe of the people granted that privilege.

And then the dark shift - How are you going to get what you need if you don't let me go? (I like how I didn't realize that was a literal as well as a metaphorical statement at first. It was about my fifth repeat before I realized, 'Oh, right, he was talking about supplies from the hardware store a second ago.' The heartbreaky metaphorical way is just so much more effective.)


More!

On second thought, too sad. Go back to this part:

(I think at this point it might actually kill me if I ever attempted to watch "Hiatus" again)

But if I force myself to mention something else, it would be the chaplain. It drove me nuts trying to figure out if we were supposed to have seen her before until I realized, no, she was last seen kicking around playing Mac Taylor's wife. Not sure I'm ready to have her blast into another closely-related fandom so soon, but apparently it doesn't matter, because I'm really fond of her. It's hard not to love people (namely women) to whom Gibbs takes an instant shine. Plus, she has a nice blend of self-confidence, but not like she has something to prove (*cough* EJ) -- she just seems very comfortable with her position.

+ "A daughter is a precious thing."
+ Ziva headslapping Tony

BONUS: I found some nice discussion on tvfanatic.com containing this bit of insight in the comments: I think we already knew that there was an ongoing issue from Gibb's POV with Shannon. Firstly, it was a nice resolve to the fact that every time we've seen Gibb's lounge room he's had a blanket and pillows on the sofa, and also at the end of Rule #51 when he was going through the memory box, it was clear that he was in the master bedroom which was 'dismantled.' This ep confirmed that Gibbs has been uncomfortable in his own skin/home since she died.

I will cop to having never noticed a blanket/pillows on the sofa before. If true, that makes this extra interesting. Dear Future Me: do you or do you not love how often I go the extra mile to supplement this blog?
~~~~~~~~~~~
Part 2: Continued on its strong deliverance of the promised emotional powerhouse, but is it OK if I was a lot more interested in the Gibbs flashbacks than the missing soldier? I just didn't connect with Gabby, and since it was obvious from the minute we met her that Gibbs' friend was going to die overseas, I enjoyed watching that friendship build up to its inevitable tragedy. Particularly loved Gibbs lost in thought on the plane ride back, and Ziva catching him at it. I still haven't quite figured out the point of including Shannon in the first flashback, though*, so I'm even more grateful for its existence.

(* if it's for later use/in an arc, please know that I don't particularly want to go through another "team leader finds ultimate closure on dead wife" thing like with did with CSI: NY. Because that dramatically lowers the chance of her being referenced again, and I can only do one of those per year.)

The one thing I did love was the idea of Gibbs & Ziva on a rescue mission overseas (they're my favorite two on the main team, after all). If that mission happens to involve them interacting with a pair of adorable little girls**, that just makes it the best overseas thing the show has ever done, and I am including the time Ziva was tortured and held hostage. I need some sort of container to collect my thoroughly melted heart after seeing him kiss them both on top of the head.

**I am normally not that affected by war stories in fiction. The idea of burning 10-year-olds or blinding people, however, whips up a fair amount of disgust, so while it was still too over the top to watch Gibbs flip out in interrogation (I still haven't decided how much of that was just for show, but only Mac Taylor is allowed to go nuts on suspects in my world. apparently.), the sentiment was good, and I could definitely get behind that vindictive punch in the face at the end. Not weak. Just better.

Comments

muzzy_olorea
Nov. 21st, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid that I'm with your Mum on this one .... at least I think I am. I should say that I think cable shows do the overriding show-long arcs better, like 'Burn Notice' and 'White Collar'. Individual episodes, yeah, Cable's writing is usually stronger procedural-wise but I don't think it's fair to judge as they have shorter seasons / more hiatuses.

However, 'Covert Affairs' is on cable and its quality changes from season to season, nay even from episode to episode.

Then again 'Nikita' is on The CW (the lowest of the low or so I hear) and that is the only show that consistently surprises me and they know a thing or two about story arcs. Also, Friday Night Lights .... oh no, wait, that ended up on Cable (its best seasons too imho).
rainbowstevie
Nov. 23rd, 2011 04:19 am (UTC)
*ramble*
Fair enough. I've always thought it's because I'm less concerned with narrative arcs than with the simple existence of a side universe in which we get to watch appealing characters live their lives. TV is a creative playground first, storytelling device second. That, and I am incredibly stubborn about PG-13 language regulations.

As for FNL, from my perspective, shows that start on network count as network for life (especially as episodes still aired on NBC afterward). Network picks out good people with good pitches...cable has trouble coming up with shows that interest me enough to actually try watching them, except on ABC Family, and nobody would argue those are high quality scripts.

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