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TV has been back for two weeks and I already want to give most of my shows a football to the groin. STOP IT. STOP DOING THINGS WRONG.

The Middle, Sleepless in Orson + War of the Hecks

Mind you, last week was no picnic, delivering close to zero laughs and adding a heaping helping of GROSS DO NOT WANT with the Glossner kisses that made a wave of nausea rise each time they happened, which only intensified when Sue started to like it. (I just. The kid not only looks all of about 13, but I'm pretty sure there's actual dirt and grease rubbed into his skin.)

BUT THIS WEEK. This week, which started out so promising. Sure, it started with Mike delivering a cruel ultimatum that Frankie had to try harder to find the dog's owner -- I'm sorry, where the hell did that come from? I thought we settled this weeks ago. I uploaded a screencap -- but I assumed from the episode summary that this meant he would fall in love with the dog by episode's end (more on that later) and we would never raise this question again.
Meanwhile, Axl and Sue's physical fight was HYSTERICAL, especially the way they could be seen chasing each other in the background of Mike & Frankie's close-up conversation scenes. I LOVED seeing Sue finally get to unleash a lifetime's worth of rage and just dive on him. Physical revenge is very satisfying, but their escalating prank war was also pretty glorious. In fact, between that and the increased focus on Colin Firth, I thought it might even be my favorite episode of the year.

And then these things happened:
-Sue accidentally sets Axl's signature-loaded shirt from some important game on fire, the point being that it not only has sentimental value, but is more or less irreplaceable. That alone made me sick to my stomach on principle. The face Axl made when he saw it is not a face that belongs on a sitcom.

-Immediately after Mike and the dog bond, Frankie not only finds Colin Firth's owner, her owner is that obnoxious-as-hell buck toothed freak formerly known as Kenneth the Page, or Jack McBrayer, or here, Dr. Goodwin.

-Sue tries to make up for her horrible mistake by destroying something of hers with equal sentimental value.

-The thing she is going to destroy is an old but relatively realistic and obviously once super-cute doggy stuffed animal

-And then she ACTUALLY RIPS IT APART. Eden Sher, actress on set and probably doing more than one take, physically tears this sweet and probably only pretend-roughed-up little toy to pieces and it is like watching someone take a dagger and/or lit match to an original Monet. (and because it's me, it's actually way more upsetting than that) I can't even explain why this hit me so hard, but my face was a mask of anguish and I actually had to choke back a sob at the horrifying imagery.

-Meanwhile, Frankie turns the dog over to Kenneth The Freak, breaking her heart in the process, and secretly bruising Mike's heart even though he'll never admit to it.

-AND THEN THE DOG DOESN'T EVEN REALLY BELONG TO HIM, IT JUST LOOKS LIKE HIS LOST DOG. Except it's too late, she already gave him the dog. The Hecks lose their dog for nothing, we as viewers are tortured with having the best thing that has happened to this show since they cast the parents taken away, and in case losing the real dog wasn't bad enough, we also lost an adorable plush dog.

Conclusion: No. Too many last straws at once; I am angry and walking away. Probably not forever, but for a couple of months, at least. That might be harder to do than with Raising Hope considering I still consider it Appointment TV to watch the hour of reruns each weeknight. But I feel like digging in some heels. The only way to rectify this appropriately is to either show me Sue's stuffed doggy stitched back together good as new, or have the Hecks pick out a new and cuter dog  for keeps.

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The Mindy Project

"Danny Castellano is my Personal Trainer": Hah, hah, hah! That was delightfully glorious in so many ways, mostly the way in which they consistently exploit how traumatizing Danny's naked body is for Mindy's eyes and/or Mindy accidentally ending up naked in front of him. Also, Mindy the Never-Nude (In Front Of Lovers) sounds like she might be on to something. Betsy "that's the ultimate!" agrees with me. These are smart, smart women.
Negatives: as always, could happily have done without the entire stupid Peter-as-boss storyline, which was 99% percent pointless, but at least it was also 1% OH MAN THERE IS A WILD OWL LOOSE IN THE OFFICE! (a/k/a dollsome's nightmare)

"LA": a/k/a WHO GAVE YOU THE RIGHT, SHOW? WHO GAVE YOU THE RIGHT.

I fiiiiiinally get over Pastor Casey, I am totally happy in this Casey-free world, AND THEN STUPID CASEY SHOWS UP AND RUINS OUR GLORIOUS NEW RELATIONSHIP THAT HAS BARELY GOTTEN OFF THE GROUND? Who spends that many episodes setting up a thing and then tears it down the same amount of time it took to build? I mean, besides How I Met Your Mother, who as we have already established several times are jerkfaces and should not be emulated. On another show, I might think this was just unresolved enough to maybe revisit at a later point, but when this show is done with dudes, it pretty much chews them up and spits them out, except for when they randomly bring them back to either look weird or ruin current storylines.

I hate the way they went about it, too. It wasn't even a good heartbreak like with Casey. It was just this horrible slow-motion trainwreck with things that shouldn't have been dealbreakers but where it made perfect sense for them to unfold that way (stupid divorce lawyer and his stupid professional talent for recognizing doomed relationships).

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NCIS, 11x12-13, Kill Chain/Double Back

Part 1: ooooh, Holils Mann! THAT'S reaching back. I had to dig way deep into my archives to find my thoughts about her** -- all I actually remembered was really enjoying the cute moment at the batting cages -- and though they were originally negative, they transformed somewhere around 4x22 with

"I can't fight it anymore; they're cute. I like them. Somehow I feel like Holly appreciates Gibbs' handyman skills more than Jen would. At the very least, it's kind of hard to imagine Jen hanging around the sawdust-filled basement with a half-finished boat. So yes. Their relationship makes me happy. I have absolutely no interest in seeing Mann at work (Army OR Navy), but she's welcome to pop up every 6-8 episodes or so to complement Gibbs' downtime scenes. The final scene filled me with warm fuzzies."

**the real reason I write episode reactions every week is I can't remember most episodes of most shows longer than 2-3 years, and I get really upset/frustrated when I can't remember how I originally felt, so thanks for giving me a reason to keep going with this project!

I loved having everyone reference her as "practically the fourth ex-wife" -- I had completely forgotten she was his first major on-screen relationship. I also like how before anybody got any ideas, though, they made sure to shoot them down with "yeah, so I got married a couple of years ago." Having her go over Gibbs' head and later listening to his passive-aggressive comments were both pretty great.

Ellie fangirling Delilah was pretty cute.
(sidebar: the actress's real name is Emily. That plus Ellie = two of my favorite girls' names in the entire world)

A+ on trapping Delilah in the building with the explosion! That's the best part about non-agent signfiicant others, how you can use them as canon fodder and actually make people worry about their safety. I spent a very happy week envisioning what sort of follow-up we might get on that, most of which was better than what we got, but more on that later.

I also really loved the last scene. Born of necessity it may have been, but it was almost sweet how Gibbs grabbed all Bishop's stuff and started making a little workspace nest for her on the floor, just how she likes it, to get her going. It reminded me a lot of something he'd do for Abby when he's sympathetic but needs her to work -- an urgent but more supportive approach, tailored to the way she responds best, rather than the barked orders that work on the boys or the more militarily-inclined Ziva.
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Part 2: Here I was, all revved up for some Hospital Reunion Scenes. To that end, it was delightful that he got to see her, awake and conscious for a minute right away, so at least they can't take that away from me. I started to get worried when she crashed and we didn't see her for ages until McGee showed up, operating at Suspect Level Midnight, wondering if they'd really kill her off. No -- but instead, out of nowhere, she's paralyzed?? Way harsh. And frankly we did not get a super satisfactory post-script conversation to that little bomb, although I guess "I'm sorry I wasn't here before/You're here now" is better than no exchange at all.

My first question is whether this is a Quinn Fabray style paralysis (which unfortunately is what I now assume all traumatic paralysis on TV to be instead of taking it as seriously as intended), and my second is if it's not, how much are we going to get to see of this relationship continuining? Because it's kind of a major adjustment that seems like it would need a lot of screentime, or at least more than an off-screen breakup, if they don't make it through. I can't decide what I think they're going for. On the one hand, normally this is the sort of challenge you would only throw at established soulmate couples, a dealbreaker for anyone else. On the other, because they spent a whole episode establishing how commitment-phobic McGee is, maybe they're using this to cement the relationship instead? It can't just be a one-off. NCIS lives for the long game.

All right, whining over. I loved seeing Kate's sister again, and the fact that she made a point to stop by and have a little chat with Ellie about sitting at The Desk of Great and Powerful Women was a really lovely moment. I like that we are privy to all the meaning and Ellie won't know for a long time, if ever, how significant that conversation was.

Future Me should not even bother attempting to remember what the plot of this episode was about, because pretty much all I remember after "reprogrammed drone" is "something about terrorists" (it's always terrorists) and "Middle Eastern Ray Romano uses his fruit delivery route to smuggle people to new locations." I can't even remember if Mr. MERR was helping innocent people or bad people or both, and it aired a week ago. NCIS and its complicated international crimes are beyond my feeble brain's ability to interpret with more than a vague understanding.

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Criminal Minds, 9x12, "The Black Queen"
I still haven't seen the previous episode, even though I was really looking forward to Blake's backstory, because the in media res sufficiently pissed me off that I just went "fuck it, I'm not wasting time on the first half of an episode where I already know the exciting part that happens in the middle." I just showed up today not knowing a thing about what was coming up in the back half of season 9, not even having seen a preview for this episode.

Post-viewing, I think it was actually a pretty good Garcia-focused episode, except I spent the whole time being super cheesed off by
a) the apparent elimination of Baby Girl/Chocolate Thunder and similar terms of endearment for the foreseeable future. Even if they go back to using them on the show, I won't be able to enjoy them because I'll be hearing accusatory echoes of "sexual harassment!" and "infantilizing!" that make it sad and not fun and cute anymore. Thanks for tainting the only thing that makes Morgan bearable*, show.
*besides his abs

b) Garcia's backstory, because apparently the year before this show started she was a sullen goth hacker criminal roped into this job against her will. (although I like the part where she was all about protecting animals) I am not sure if this is Brand New Information for everyone or just me, but I am sullen and displeased at this pall that has been cast over my impression of her as a lifelong Abby Sciuto. I don't want there to be a time when she was at odds with everyone and had to overcome her inherent hostilities one by one. I don't like it at all.
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Intelligence, 1x02
I am not accustomed to being that wrong, so I am Gabriel-blind in my levels of "NO U R WRONG SHE IS NOT REALLY DEAD." Because while that would be an impressively bold move to make so early, that would also be rude. Rude and cheap and possibly make me be done with this show before I get off the ground.

YOU CAN'T JUST GIVE ME SUPER-BEAUTIFUL FLASHBACKS SHOWING THEIR AMAZING/SEXY CHEMISTRY AND THEN KILL HER IN FRONT OF HIM, SHOW. THAT'S NOT HOW THE LONG GAME WORKS.

Ugh. UGH. Imma go rewrite that about 37 different ways now, kthnxbai. (although at least this week I'm not the kind of sad that invites me to imagine characters committing suicide. I have been making people kill themselves a LOT over the past year or so. It always just seems like the most reasonable solution to heartbreak.)

In related news, I am really fond of his name being "Gabriel." Hot. It's like the opposite problem Sleepy Hollow is having with naming its main character.-
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How I Met Your Mother, 9x14, "Slappointment in Slapmarra"

As alluded to in my cut text, the internet can shut it. Just shut the holes. Zip its face. I laughed from beginning to end at how ludicrous and over the top everything was. Each fancy name and familiar-faced Asian character reveal delighted me more, as did the slapping tree and the gang solemnly agreeing with everything Marshall said at the table, no matter how blatant the bald-faced lie, to Barney's sputtering indignation ("You were not in China! You were not in China for a year!")

I especially enjoyed Asian Ted's prolonged death throes, especially having recently caught part of a terrible kung fu movie on the local Channel of Terrible Old Movies. They are so bad, y'all. I think the one I saw featured Bruce Lee, and all I can say is How I Met Your Mother was not so much parodying as actually writing one of those scripts, but better.

Then, of course, there was the glorious missed slap, followed by the slap itself and that awesome setup with four women, a willow tree and a tiger, as prophesied. Honestly, the only second of the episode I didn't enjoy was Boyz II Men, whose remix of You Just Got Slapped put me to sleep. Fortunately, that comes at the very end and thus is skippable. Also I will probably like it more the more I hear it.

in conclusion: there is no greater HIMYM than Wacky/Slapstick HIMYM

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Also 2 Broke Girls continued its routine of sucky boredom, as illustrated by the following plot summary: Max finds herself wanting to be more than just friends with her pastry school partner, Deke. Meanwhile, Caroline is "hot for teacher" - the married Chef Nicholas.
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And finally, in not-a-specific-episode sad news, Glee's plan for the rest of the year:

Apparently Glee has decided that now is a fine and dandy time to randomly and almost without warning switch over to the New York side full time, dropping Lima and McKinley out of the blue for the rest of the season. The rest of the season. They're gone...maybe forever. Yeah, it's great that Kurt and Blaine will be back together again both geographically and romantically, but here's the weird part: I don't want that as much as I was holding out hope for Ryder and Marley to finally get together. On screen. Hell, I don't even want that as much as I just want the opportunity to see Ryder and Marley, period.

From what I know in my sneak-viewing, she and Jake have FINALLY broken up, which means despite still being saddled with Unique, she was 50% of the way to breaking free of her dullard company and becoming the interesting character the season 4 premiere showed her to be. I was so excited for that. And now it's just...gone, only a few more unaired episodes remain until graduation and then they're gone; at best we can hope to see them next year. Meanwhile, even if Marley was still dragged down by her companions, I could always look forward to Ryder. At this point in time, based on what I know of season 5 Kurt and his increasing penchant for taking risks, trying too hard to be noticed and just generally making an unpleasant cycle back to who he was in season 1, I honestly like Ryder more than him right now.

MEANWHILE: the unconfirmed buzz seems to strongly suggest that Dead Weight Artie will be wheeling his way over to New York, and he's bringing back another dead weight I thought we were well and truly rid of, Mercedes. Meanwhile, we're all but guaranteed to lose Tina. God, I am not ready to lose Tina. She's completely different from the relative background character she was for most of the months she was Mike's girlfriend, and I still haven't quite figured out how I feel about Tina as she changes from year to year, but I do know that Season 4 Tina was my favorite and I am not ready to lose the glorious world that is Blaine/Tina, BFFs.

Yes, once there was a time where all I wanted was Blaine/Kurt/Rachel in the same space and it's possible I would enjoy it again, but that world has been surpassed by how much more solid I find Blaine & Tina's friendship. Blainchel may still be my all-time OTP, but Tina is the better friend for him, and the one I'd rather see. (is it mostly because Rachel & Blaine's friendship, or at least my perception of it, can't ever quite recover from the fact that she had no option but to take Kurt's side in The Cheating Wars, and then made it worse by proceeding to encourage him to find new dudes instead of staying neutral-ish? well yes)

And sure, I am 1000% grateful that Sam & Blaine's Adventures In Bromance will continue uninterrupted, and part of me hopes like hell he & Sam split rent rather than Kurt & Blaine officially sharing a lease because damn it, I have always believed and continue to believe that they should practice living together in stages rather than hurling themselves all-in. (and also because they have the rest of their lives to live together, and so little time to enjoy Kurt living with girls and Blaine & Sam creating whatever kind of awesome dudeville they would create in their living space without parental supervision oh GOD it just occurred to me -- if this happens, please don't tell me they have to let Artie live with them too; that ruins things worse than Santana. Make Artie live in the dorms at his fancy film school. It can have dorms if you want it to have dorms. They're probably more wheelchair-accessible, anyway.)

Plus, I don't know if they're letting Adam Lambert come back or not, but if they do this there's a chance they would. He seems to be basically playing himself, from what I've seen, and I can't even choke him down in .gif form. I am more OK with Dani returning, but that somehow seems less likely, and I don't even know if I want it.

Plus-plus, this just means more opportunities for Santana to talk. I don't want Santana to talk, I want her to fall in front of a subway train.

The people and things I am excited about ditching forever are, in no particular order: show choir competitions (and show choir competitors), Unique, Jake, Kitty, Bri, slushies, Bieste, I want to mention Unique again because ditching that dead weight is even better news than Klaine getting back together, and last but far from least delightful, Sue. Sadly, I'm not sure that last dream is going to come true because there is this weird love affair with both the character and Jane Lynch and I am about 95% certain she'll be at least a recurring character in NY, if not a fixed one.
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Coming in the next post: shows that have not made me angry yet, a/k/a "Revolution, assuming tonight's episode that I haven't watched yet didn't do something stupid."

P.S. Today was a really nice day. Chris used some vacation time to take today off, so despite the fact that it was all of about 10 degrees, we went on a short walk -- between half a mile and a mile on the bike path that goes behind the restored barn/farmhouse, ending at the coffee shop for hot drinks. We talked for a while, then stopped at Half Price Books to look around (and I bought nothing! SUCCESS), on account of how I have been going crazy not being able to get out of the house all month, and went back to my place for a little while. I loaded him down with his choice of books from my cull pile, from which he actually took something like ten for either himself or family members; I was surprised but pleased. Kind of an unexpected way to repay the Christmas gift.

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