Superstore 2.8 The show is in a wonderful sweet spot right now....



Superstore 2.8

  • The show is in a wonderful sweet spot right now. It is still new and firing on all cylinders and there is something new and fun every week.
  • The ongoing love story is playing out exactly like these things always do on sitcoms. But it works. And these last two episode really prove it. We are invested now. We care. And we want Amy and Jonah to eventually find their way to each other and be the perfect couple we all know they can be.
  • This was the funniest Nichole Bloom has been in the series so far. Every scene. Hilarious.

10/10

The Big Bang Theory 10.1 What an amazing guest cast! Can we get...



The Big Bang Theory 10.1

What an amazing guest cast! Can we get a Penny’s family spin-off? They were easily the highlight of this busy and very funny episode. Other highlights include:

  • Sheldon’s reaction to the idea of his mother having a romance.
  • The vows at the end were really sweet.
  • Bernadette shouting “Howard!” was priceless.

10/10

Superstore 2.7 There’s a lovely twist in this one. Pulling the...



Superstore 2.7

There’s a lovely twist in this one. Pulling the rug out from under us. And poor Amy.

  • All the storylines are strong. The pairing of Dina and Glenn driving the silliest plot, while we learn something serious about Mateo. The romantic pairing of Amy and Jonah is always cute. And this is where we meet his new girlfriend.
  • Realistically this is a standard twist, to be expected in romance-heavy sitcoms. But it is well done here, and really works.
  • Really enjoyed Marcus.
  • Garrett has all the best lines.

10/10

The Big Bang Theory 9.24The a-story doesn’t really go anywhere,...



The Big Bang Theory 9.24

  • The a-story doesn’t really go anywhere, but the b-story provides big laughs. Especially the bit where the guys think there is a car following them.
  • Great to see Judd Hirsch on the show. That man simply does not age.

9/10

The Tick # 008 An departure-from-formula episode full of...



The Tick # 008

An departure-from-formula episode full of wonderful ideas.

  • The best running gag here is the idea of the dimension-spanning super-villain having a surly roommate. Their odd relationship is the source of many good laughs over the course of the half-hour.
  • Other humour is drawn from a successful parody of a that sci-fi/fantasy staple: the clone.
    Both Arthur and the Tick have evil doppelgangers in this story.
  • The lengthy battle at the end is good fun, too. While the Tick fights, Arthur runs around looking for a crucial device to help him and - then - for an extension lead to power the device up.

9/10

NewsRadio 5.1 A remarkable episode which finds a tasteful way to...



NewsRadio 5.1

  • A remarkable episode which finds a tasteful way to deal with off-camera real-world tragedy, and write a beloved character off the show.
  • The comedy is understandably strained, but there is humour here.
  • Mostly, however, it is just a sad episode. These characters - these people - are grieving. And - laughs or not - that can be difficult to watch.
  • I deliberately took a two-year break from the show because I wasn’t ready to move on the season without Bill. I just wanted to keep the character alive a little while longer, I guess.
  • But now I’m watching it again. So, season five… here I come!!

8/10

Seinfeld # 034 This one won the Emmy that year for Outstanding...



Seinfeld # 034

This one won the Emmy that year for Outstanding Writing.

  • It’s interesting to see how underused Kramer is. He doesn’t appear until well into the episode, and all of his appearances are brief, yet he pretty much steals the show.
  • Those two fights that Kramer breaks up are my favourite part.
  • But it’s a terrific story. Takes ages for anything to happen. The characters are so strong, the build-up is just as good as when the action actually starts.

10/10

The Big Bang Theory 9.23 Great use of Stuart in this one, hiring...



The Big Bang Theory 9.23

  • Great use of Stuart in this one, hiring himself out to do minor tasks for everyone.
  • Sheldon’s quirks are used to (successfully) generate the laughs in the queue storyline.
  • Comedy in the other storyline comes from character, as the writers pair Penny with Leonard’s mother. Good pairing.

9/10

Peanuts # 005 He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown. This one...



Peanuts # 005

He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown.
This one works really well because it is story-driven from start to finish.

  • Snoopy has been misbehaving, and driving the kids crazy, so Charlie Brown arranges for him to return to the Daisy Hilly Puppy Farm for re-training. Snoopy, however, hides out at Peppermint Patty’s.
  • The story is always moving forward and there is always something funny happening.
  • The biggest laugh for me was when he climbed on top of the bed’s headboard to get his night’s sleep.
  • Snoopy gets all the screentime and that works really well, even if he’s somewhat out-of-character at the start.

9/10

Famous Five 1.11 The good elements and the bad elements balance...



Famous Five 1.11

The good elements and the bad elements balance each other out in this one making for a middle-of-the-road episode.

  • A lot of the dialogue is stilted and unrealistic.
  • The villains are cartoonish. Silly. Lacking menace.
  • The climax is muddled. It’s not always clear what’s going on, so there’s never a sense that the youngsters are in danger.

But there is good stuff, too.

  • The story is good. The Five are camping inside a deserted cottage, but some crooks are trying to scare them out for some reason.
  • The plan the Five have (leaving and then sneaking back) is clever, and makes for some tension when Dick and Julian are inside the house with the crooks.
  • The location filming looks wonderful.
  • The opening scenes - staying in the cottage on a stormy night with three strangers standing outside - are a great hook for the story to follow.

6/10

Gargoyles 2.39 Avery Brooks, John Rhys-Davies. Lots to enjoy...



Gargoyles 2.39

Avery Brooks, John Rhys-Davies.
Lots to enjoy here. Plenty of action and two very exciting stories, smartly told.

  • In the b-story, Elisa has amnesia. Something which causes her to run from Goliath in fear when he finds her. It also clouds her judgement for most of the episode, until her instincts kick in near the end and she joins forces with the gargoyles.
  • The a-story kicks off when the travelers arrive on Easter Island and something mysteriously starts attacking them one-by-one. Elisa is first, and she is then released with her memory wiped. The gargoyles are not so lucky. They are captured and - by the end - are facing execution.
  • But there’s no real villain here. Instead they face a powerful opponent whose goals are actually honourable. He is, however, wrong about the gargoyles and they are forced to fight for their very lives.
  • Long before the ending arrives, it has become clear to us what a lonely, tragic figure their opponent is. The conclusion brings that into even clearer focus, but - at least - offers him some companionship for the future.
  • Bronx took quite a beating in the early scenes, so I was delighted to see him get his own back in the big battle at the end, with some vicious moves.

9/10

Rude Awakening 1.10 Very witty script. Relentless one-liners....



Rude Awakening 1.10

  • Very witty script. Relentless one-liners. Delivered at rapid pace by polished cast.
  • Always love seeing Joanna Cassidy in anything and she is terrific here as Billie’s TV mom (from the prime-time soap she used to star on).
  • This is a story about Billie doing the 9th step of the 12-step programme. She is making amends. Or, at least, trying to.
  • It’s a good story because it comes easily from the situation that drives the series.

9/10

Frasier 9.8 Utterly delightful. This is one of those episode...



Frasier 9.8

Utterly delightful.

  • This is one of those episode that pits Frasier against Niles and it’s a delight from start to finish. Fast, funny, witty. 
  • It starts when recurring character Kirby shows up at the radio station looking for a job. Frasier could help, but doesn’t. And then, being the guy we all love, he later feels guilty about it. When Niles sneakily keeps some good wine to himself, Frasier cons him into hiring Kirby as revenge…
  • It’s great to see Brian Klugman back on the show for a 5th time as the dim-witted Kirby, and the script uses him very wisely, making sure the brunt of the comedy comes from the bickering brothers.
  • Some of their dialogue is exceptional.
  • There’s an enjoyable b-story about Martin having to wear an blood pressure monitor. Very funny moments in this, too.

10/10

Scooby Doo 1.5 Departs from formula by having no ‘ghost’ for...



Scooby Doo 1.5

  • Departs from formula by having no ‘ghost’ for ages. And when the ‘ghost’ shows up, it doesn’t really fit into the story in progress.
  • It’s a story about kidnapped dogs. Scooby is used as a decoy and when he’s taken, the gang go after him.
  • About a third of the way in, the ghost of an Indian suddenly shows up! But the script never explains exactly why the dognappers are doing this. Or why they are using an ancient Indian village as their hideout.
  • Definitely the weakest episode so far. Starting off in daylight, and the lack of supernatural hook at the start, makes for a story unlike any other in the series.

5/10

Very sad to learn that Mary Tyler Moore has passed away. An extraordinary woman I’ve adored...

Very sad to learn that Mary Tyler Moore has passed away. An extraordinary woman I’ve adored all my life. I was watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show only last Sunday. Aside from that series (which changed how sitcoms were made ever-after) her company MTM (under Grant Tinker) pioneered quality television no company had before or since. Shaping the way ALL stories are told on television. The shows that shaped EVERYTHING we watch now - Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, etc. - passed through her hands.

But I suppose I’ll always see her as Mary Richards walking through the snow in Minneapolis.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show 3.23 Herbie Faye. The comedy highlight...



The Mary Tyler Moore Show 3.23

Herbie Faye.

  • The comedy highlight here is undoubtedly the part where Lou has to carry Mary around the office, after she falls and sprains her foot. Several ingenious little touches (chair, telephone, door) add to the laughter. Wonderful.
  • This story takes a long time to get going. It all seems really random for the first few scenes until we figure it out: Mary is having a run of bad luck!
    The second half is definitely funnier, as the catastrophes add up.
  • Mary’s speech at the end is another comedy highlight. Mary Tyler Moore doesn’t get enough of this kind of business to do. She excels.

9/10

Just Shoot Me! # 005 The Maya-Nina a-story tracks a fairly...



Just Shoot Me! # 005

  • The Maya-Nina a-story tracks a fairly predictable course. Jack advises his daughter to be nice to the ex-supermodel on her birthday, which proves difficult until Maya spots a chink in Nina’s armour and they bond.
  • Stories like this are important in sitcoms to establish/illustrate bonds between characters who spend most of their screentime throwing insults at one another.
  • The Elliot-Finch b-story is much funnier.
  • Best gag? In the c-story Jack has been buying gadgets and one of them is a whistle that only birds can hear(!), which causes a bird to suddenly crash against the office window behind him. Very funny.

7/10

The Avengers 155 Is Tara a traitor? This is pretty much a solo...







The Avengers 155

Is Tara a traitor?

  • This is pretty much a solo Tara story. Steed only appears properly in the second half, and even then it is really Tara who still carries the story. Steed shows up at the end to rescue her, at least.
  • The first half is mysterious. The viewer has no idea what is going on.
  • The reveal, when it eventually comes, is both brilliant and disappointing. Brilliant because it is so genuinely devious and scarily plausible. Disappointing because it’s not fantastical. Given that show regularly employs fantasy tropes in it’s storytelling, one is inclined to expect them. Here, however, is a purely espionage-driven script.
  • Several great fight scenes.
  • Great score.

9/10

Midnight Caller 1.7 A hurried and contrived ending, but still a...







Midnight Caller 1.7

A hurried and contrived ending, but still a good episode.

  • This one loses it’s way at the end. Everything happens too fast. The father-son moment doesn’t ring true and neither does the killer just stepping forward and confessing. Indeed, the motive for the killing is highly dubious. Even the script/dialogue doesn’t really explain it.
  • But before we get to that final scene, there is a heck of a lot to enjoy.
  • The story is good. The murder and the kidnapping are really just background action to the real drama: Jack using his show to go up against a powerful newspaper publisher who is trying to bury a story about his son’s arrest.
  • Mykelti Williamson returns for his second of three season one appearances, and his character gets a lot of screentime which opens the story up. By using Deacon we get to see inside the newspaper, and get another perspective on the feud.
  • The issues raised are genuinely thought-provoking. The idea that the newspaper would begin to ruin the reputation of the murdered woman is particularly good.
  • Jack’s character traits/flaws are well documented here. Going after the man who just offered him a lucrative job says a lot about the guy. His willingness to shoot his mouth off, without knowing all the facts, also says a lot about him.
  • Seven episodes in and, with scripts like this, the show has really established itself as wanting to tell intelligent stories.
  • It’s also a show that looks great. The various night scenes, in offices and bars, etc. More than any other show this one really convinces you that the settings are real and that the hour is very late indeed.

8/10

The Hunger 24 Daniel Brochu. A serial killer stalks the...



The Hunger 24

Daniel Brochu. A serial killer stalks the residents of a high rise apartment building.

  • The visuals are great, but sometimes they feel like overkill. The fact that every single shot seems beautifully crafted can be distracting if you just want to follow the story as it unfolds.
  • Anthony Michael Hall is quirky as the lead. Sometimes seeming miscast, he appears absolutely perfect for the role by the end. Maybe because have a better idea of what that character actually is.
  • You could almost imagine that this was a pilot for a low-budget, trashy show about an angel of vengeance. Which, based on this, looks like it could be fun.

7/10

Star Trek: The Next Generation 3.3 Anne Haney. Intriguing...



Star Trek: The Next Generation 3.3

Anne Haney. Intriguing puzzle, worthwhile pay-off.

  • This one opens with a mystery. And a compelling mystery it is. A planet’s population has been wiped out, but there are two survivors… How? Why?
  • In order for this story to work, the viewer has to be puzzled at the start and - more difficult - satisfied at the end. With this as a yardstick, the episode is a success. The reveal at the end is sad and memorable.
    John Anderson
    ‘s performance makes it work. Makes you care.
  • Picard is slightly ahead of his crew on this one. Without guessing exactly what is going on, he is still able to out-maneuver whatever working against them. That’s fun to watch.
  • Troi gets a b-story that goes nowhere. It merely serves to punctuate the actions in the a-story. She is sick, somehow affected by the planet, but other than giving Picard a valid reason to stick around, this storyline serves no purpose whatsoever.
  • “Good tea. Nice house,” says Worf at one point. One of my all-time favourite Worf-moments.

9/10

Benched 1.12 Yvette Nicole Brown. Terrific season-ender....



Benched 1.12

Yvette Nicole Brown. Terrific season-ender. Terrible series-ender.

  • When a show you love gets cancelled, it’s unrealistic to hope that they will tie up all their storylines the way you want.
    Instead, you have to expect cliffhangers. Things going badly for characters you care about, because the intention was to keep telling the story.
  • So it is here. Nina does some major growing, makes some major decisions, but bad luck gets in the way at the very end and our last shot of her is an unhappy one.
  • Aside from that… this is a very funny and very satisfying episode. The jokes come thick and fast, and the plot is busy and fast-moving.
    There’s a great b-story with Phil and Morris that really brings the guard into the ensemble in a meaningful way.
  • This was a good show. It got better and better as it went on and really found it’s feet. It’s just a pity more people didn’t find it.

10/10

Orange Is The New Black 3.13 Delightful season-ender. Brings...



Orange Is The New Black 3.13

Delightful season-ender. Brings lots of closure.

  • This is a great episode for Piper, whose storyline had a low-key start this season. All her scenes here were excellent, as she goes after suspects in the theft of money belonging to her illegal business. The resolution was cold-blooded. And awesome.
    Absolutely love the ongoing character arc where she gets darker - and more dangerous - every season.
  • Other storylines which had a stealthy start this year came to fruition here, as well. Cindy, Morello and Caputo are examples of three characters who end the season in a very different place to where they started. And the writing all season was so subtle you didn’t even realise they were on a major path to change. In each case, it seemed as if their goals/destinations were something else. Very impressive writing.
  • Healy had some big scenes, too, but he has been on a journey since day one and these pivotal moments were just the latest markers for this likeable but deeply flawed man.
  • The ending at the lake was a bit overlong and self-indulgent, but it undeniably gave the viewer a warm and fuzzy feeling.

10/10

The Incredible Hulk 3.4 Sandra Kerns. Enjoyable...



The Incredible Hulk 3.4

Sandra Kerns. Enjoyable middle-of-the-road Hulk episode.

  • A lesser-example of something the show normally does really well: create a fully-rounded ‘world’ with interesting people for David to interact with. When the show does this properly, you honestly feel as if these character will have a life after David moves on. As if it’s a crossover with another television series.
  • For some reason, this particular ‘world’ that David is temporarily part of doesn’t have the ‘spark’ that so many others do.
  • It’s not the cast. Both L.Q. Jones and James Crittenden are good as mismatched brothers on the rodeo circuit: one a cowboy, one a clown. There’s a lot tension between then, and the actors make it work perfectly. One of the best scenes in the episode is a fight between them.
  • And it’s not the story: David discovers that one brother has been stealing cattle to pay off gambling debts, which makes him a target for the rustlers. Cue: plenty of drama some entertaining Hulk action.
    Meanwhile the other brother is hiding a serious illness. The good drama there, too.
  • The episode probably falls down when it comes to creating a believable rodeo environment. The opening minutes are a stock footage montage, and the same generic stock footage (from the 60s!) pops up a lot throughout the episode. Now, I understand that it’s hard to fake a rodeo with some big sheds and a horse, but this constant use of old documentary film leaves me cold.
  • On the good side, the story zips along and it’s another instance of David being a great TV hero: coming into people’s lives, really caring about them and setting them on the right path before moving on.

6/10

Tour of DutyPictures used in the end credits for season one.



Tour of Duty

Pictures used in the end credits for season one.

Mike Hammer 11 Uninvolving murder-mystery. It starts off with...



Mike Hammer 11

Uninvolving murder-mystery.

  • It starts off with Mike trying to save a model from a fire and failing. He then takes on the case of finding out who killed her and why.
  • Turns out her father was a master counterfeiter and the murder might have been an attempt to bring him out into the open. Or something.
  • There are quite a few twists and turns in the story and, after a while, it is genuinely hard to care. Especially as we get further and further from the dead model (which was our original hook).
  • Part of the problem is the casting of Shannon Tweed as the dead girl. We see her picture everywhere and - having seen her name in the opening credits - we know that she isn’t really dead! And when the script reveals her to be alive in the final act… all element of surprise is gone.
  • The opening paints Mike in a heroic light: taking on a case with no client just to see that justice is done, etc. But, as soon as it switches to being a story about ‘perfect’ counterfeiting plates it seems less interesting.

5/10