Somewhere between the time this show was announced as canceled and when it took an offensively long 3-week hiatus after Thanksgiving, it either became dull or my enthusiasm disappeared overnight as a coping mechanism, because the last few episodes have felt pretty chore-like.
Was it the random reveal of Rebecca's past divorce? (I just always saw her as too cool for commitment!) Is Angela Kinsey inexplicably not having chemistry with another lady I adore? (impossible! But maybe? Her straight-laced character is not gellin' with the Courthouse of Cuckoos anymore.) Is it my fault for watching this show as I fall asleep? (probably) Lack of sufficient Tedward? (DEFINITELY) All I know is I'm an episode behind and while I still want to catch up, I dunno if I will do so before another new one airs and right now I'm pretty happy there are only 3 left for me to view.
By contrast, this show is one I still adore. Even though I haven't mentioned it for moons, that's because I've spent the past nearly-two-months trying to wrap my brain around how unexpectedly fast the Stalker Perry subplot ramped up and how fantastically the show handled it.
I loved when she started to get genuinely panicky about her compromised identity, especially when the nightmare multiplied before her eyes and she found the duplicate bear and terrifyingly innocuous sympathy card in her mail. We were beside ourselves with squee when Beth FINALLY figured out who her friend's boy toy was, which frankly happened about ten episodes earlier than I expected, and when she went so far as to break into his dorm room and see the drawings all over his wall for herself, I got even more bug-eyed.
I did get tired of her continually telling the team she was "fine" and "nothing" was going on instead of just saying "IT'S PERSONAL AND NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, BUZZ OFF," and I rolled my eyes super hard when she broke down crying in front of Janice (I only learned her name specifically for this review), a person who is probably her best shot at emotional support from the team by virtue of her gender, but still has no apparent emotional bond with. It was particularly weird to watch juxtaposed against her genuine conversation with her friend. I really wanted her to keep working only with the female supervisor, who seemed to know how to handle her in ways I still think none of Beth's team members have any clue about how to do.
(On that front, Tracy's immediate apologies and sense of self-loathing that were met with compassion and "nothing is wrong with you" reassurance from the actual stalking victim were a beautiful thing to behold. The bond between those two, MY STARS.)
However, Janice surprisingly proved worth her salt with her creative digging tactics and her Perry-button-pushing, and her final verbal takedown was a MASTERPIECE. When we'd watched Natalie randomly and masterfully play her idol for someone else on Survivor earlier that night, we had been like "THIS IS THE BEST GIRL POWER MOMENT EVER," but watching Janice successfully goad Perry into making an attack on her and getting himself arrested for it immediately afterward made us declare this an even better moment.
Case-wise, the hockey wife storyline was by far my favorite. I was kept constantly guessing as to who the real stalker/killer was, and I was pretty surprised and delighted by the outcome of the Twisted Dinner Party.
In other news, I am so disappointed in Jack's ex for just, like, giving up immediately after failing to run him out of town. It's like she didn't even try. She could at least brainwash her son by casually mentioning all the times his father disappointed her. If I were her, I'd even run the risk of making my kid paranoid and just flat-out tell him that if you hurt someone a certain way, they can never make up for it or be forgiven. (subtle lesson: so don't disappoint Mommy by breaking any rules...OR ELSE SHE MIGHT STOP LOVING YOU FOREVER. I would make such a great mom.)
NCIS, "House Rules"
It's like they had a contest to see who could come up with the most boring structure for an episode, and the winner was "McGee voiceover! With Dad Drama! And flashbacks! Not good flashbacks, just straightforward recycled footage. And then we will ultimately make it the most depressing Christmas episode you have ever seen. Merry Happy!"
The episode was almost saved by the Ghosts of Hacking Cases Past, only two of whom I recognize, but I loved watching I.T. Kevin valiantly struggle to work with the team while the other two tried their best to sandbag everything. Many comedic results, especially with the woman's smirking and the random bathroom makeout session (Cocky Cyber Terrorist: swaggery as ever). But then it was torpedoed the same way, because watching her fold and break down in tears was laaaaame. This is what I care about: did they get to do the Prisoner Holiday GIft Exchange?? WILL SMIRKY MCSMIRKERSON EVER GET HIS TWO ROLLS???
10x09: Fate: Is it just me, or is this season super boring on the personal front? It's so boring I don't even have the heart to be annoyed with Rossi's Surprise Random (Grown Up) Kid + Grandkid. Although in fairness, that might be due to the combination of him being a nice guy and having a sad and boring life of loneliness that always lends itself so well to having an Insta-Family.
I did enjoy the case on this one, even though I keep confusing the title with the next episode, because the UnSub in this case was the mousy lady from Judging Amy (that's it, that's her name in my head forever). I thought it was really done, with the TBI being responsible for her violent and unpredictable murders plus the bonus tragedy of stabbing her poor husband and taking her daughter hostage in reactionary rage. the girl is having a very bad week.
10x10, Amelia Porter: now THAT was a good case, keeping me on the edge of my seat. Making my skin crawl a little, but not too much. Giving the killer interesting motivation, adding twists, creating a murdery road trip, and throwing us a semi-happy ending because hey, at least both kids survived! Good job, would watch again. Not least because I really liked that actress playing the teen girl. I like her style.
Lastly, I finished Raising Hope over the holidays so I have a bunch of thoughts on season 4:
+ The quasi-vacation/boat-towing episode was SO GREAT. First of all, I absolutely want to visit a Stuffed Animal Museum, cuddly plush version OR terrifying taxidermy edition. In the absence of a child, that latter twist would not throw me. But it was great fun to watch Jimmy flail about in a blind panic to get out of there and keep Hope's eyes covered. Also exciting, watching Sabrina go all Angry Momma Bear in defense of her family's vacation being preserved, stolen car or no stolen car.
But then to top everything off, YOU PUT SABRINA IN THE HOSPITAL and I got a better wake-up scene than Glee gave me, which is to say it existed, and it was the most wonderfully sweet thing ever. Jimmy, sir, your face: I like it.
+ I thought "Adoption" was going to be terrible, and except for the awesome Burt/Virginia plot it was -- mostly full of secondhand embarrassment -- but it had SUCH a sweet ending. I think what season 3 kind of lacked was a lot of sweet Jimmy/Sabrina interaction, and he was just so earnest about wanting to make her happy and that kiss after his accidental success in the matter was so lovely.
+ I also really liked the one where we learn that Jimmy and Sabrina get all hot and bothered after successful completion of home repair/cleaning projects. That is the correct attitude to have.
+ I liked Burt & Virginia accidentally getting undercover white collar jobs. That was fun; they're really good at bluffing through things. For the same reason, I liked the latter grudgingly accepting the supervisor promotion and finding out she's actually good at it.
+ I know this is season 3, but I have to say, the Christmas episode featuring Virginia preparing for the End of Days in 2012, and the happy and heartwarming ending of how all her hoarding supplies actually proved useful, was really wonderful.
+ REMEMBER THAT TIME HILARY DUFF GUEST-STARRED AS JIMMY'S EX.
+ Jimmy & Sabrina wanting a kid of their own = THRILLING. I plan to dream about that happening.
+ I loved the maid, who is apparently on Downtown Abbey (I agree with the Chances' pronunciation of that show, because sometimes I am low prole). I wish they'd gotten to keep her. Is Jimmy's stupidity rubbing off on Sabrina? Surely she could figure out a compromise between "fire the maid" and "teach Hope how to be respectful/not be too lazy to clean her own ears"), even if that worked out for the best.
+ The episode where Burt O'Malley comes back as a ghost (except not really! BUT ALSO MAYBE) was super spookily well done, and I love that even though it seems 96% certain he simply faked his own death for some confusing reason at the end...are you sure? What reason could he have possibly had? And also HOW DID THE PIGURINE GET REBUILT??? Aw, look, all the hairs on my arm are standing up again.
There have also been some lowlights:
-NOT HERE FOR JEFFREY TAMBOR, EVER.
-You know how when Community breaks the mold, it's always exciting and fun? When Raising Hope does it, which seems to be happening with increasing frequency, it just turns out horrible. I barely got through the repetitive Rear Window one (spoiler alert: the crazy house is a Witness Protection program location, and the latest Weird Neighbor is a mafia dude known as the Hand Surgeon for his habit of keeping thumbs as trophies), and the Christmas one's recycled clip show footage was so obnoxious I just gave up and quit halfway through.
-I'm still not clear why Sabrina is still working at Howdy's, because I thought she was only doing that part time while attending college? And since she grew up well educated, she really should have no trouble acing white collar job interviews. Unless I missed this explanation?
-I think I'm glad they didn't recast Hope, but I'm not sure I like that it was done at the expense of using more and more flashbacks to Young Jimmy for kidlet scenes. He's a pretty annoying child and also not a great actor.
CONFUSION: what's with the different company logo for season 4? What went down behind the scenes?? WHERE ARE MY SPANISH SIGN-OFFS.
Final thoughts: Having finished the series, I now feel like it's okay that it ended when it did. The focus was definitely shifting to a strong take on Burt and Virginia, and as fun as they are, they are still better as supporting players. I felt like it was also morphing more and more into My Name Is Earl in overall tone, and I dunno...I could feel my energy and enthusiasm starting to flag by the last twelve. I also never wanted to hear about Virginia's father again, so all things considered, I'm not too sad about it end.