A Week in TV / A Week in TV - April 2012

A Week in TV (16th April – 22nd April 2012)

It’s been quite an eventful week in TV this week. So much so that I can easily talk about every single episode I’ve watched in this post, but from fear of typing till my fingers bleed (not a pretty sight I can imagine), I shall keep it to a a minimum, as difficult as that may be!

THE GOOD WIFE – PANTS ON FIRE 

Matthew Perry, you rotten scoundrel. If his last appearance in the previous episode didn’t demonstrate just how nasty and cruel Mike Kresteva can be, you haven’t seen anything yet. As he enters the race for governor, against Peter Florrick, he promises Alicia’s spouse that he may not regret entering the race against him, but his wife certainly will. I don’t know how Peter refrained from slamming him against the wall at that point but it’s clear the man has more tolerance for arrogance than any normal human being.

As I have said before, Matthew Perry is an inspired casting for this role. Kresteva is a fantastic enemy for both Alicia and Peter to come up against, one that will break the membrane of morality and do whatever is necessary to win, whether that means trampling all over an innocent party in the process. Once again, the casting department on The Good Wife have demonstrated a brilliant choice in hiring Matthew Perry for this role. Undoubtedly they could have found somebody else to play the role with as much malice and smugness as he does but as far as I’m concerned, they’ve already got the perfect candidate.

Elsewhere this week, Alicia and Jackie’s much-anticipated showdown finally occurs, and although it’s not of the violent kind (probably wise – Jackie is getting on in age after all), the confrontation between the two is certainly a memorable moment. Jackie would like nothing more than to completely push Alicia out of her children’s lives and replace them with Peter, but it would seem that her son doesn’t share the same views, as he promises he will cease contact with her permanently if she does not retract the sneaky bid she placed on the house Alicia wants to purchase.

The entire scene is memorable for the simple reason in that it’s clear that Alicia and Jackie completely loathe each other, yet both are reluctant to display that hatred and instead choose to pretend to have some degree of liking for one another. Peter knows that the only way to get his mother to see sense is to threaten to take away the one thing she desires most in this world – himself. It was quite a brutal scene to see him threaten Jackie with such a heavy-handed warning but it clearly made her see sense, even if she had to have a stroke in the mean-time.

It’s also interesting to see Alicia back in the same-ish position at the end of the episode as she was in at the very start of the show – playing ‘The Good Wife’ to her husband as he enters another political race with a cloud of scandal hanging above them (courtesy of Pinocchio Kresteva). It’s clear that Alicia does not want to be Peter’s wife and I doubt that very few feelings still remain for him, but she would rather deal with reprising her role than allow Kresteva’s lies to derail her husband’s political efforts. She said it herself that although she doesn’t like Peter for the things he has done, she has always respected his skills in office.

Once again, The Good Wife pushes forward another fantastic episode, which seems to be the norm for this show in recent weeks. The downside is that there are only two episodes remaining before the end of the season, and whilst it may have already been renewed, we will have to wait till September for the next season to begin. I am not a man who carries much patience, and less so when it comes to one of my favorite shows being off air for almost five months.

Oh, and by the way, I am a firm supporter of Florrick for Governor 2012.

REVENGE – DOUBT

Seven weeks. That’s how long it’s been since the last new episode of Revenge. For most TV shows, going on such a long and out-of-the-blue hiatus is not something to be welcomed but for Revenge, which moves at a breakneck speed and gives you plot twists every ten minutes, going off air for that long makes you want to pull your hair out. It’s lucky that it returned with a stellar episode or I would be bald by now.

Things pick up not far from where they were last at. Daniel is awaiting trial for Tyler’s murder on the beach of his engagement party, a crime he nearly committed but didn’t complete. As Victoria and her motley crew try to find a way to get him out of prison, they deduce that giving the prosecution another suspect would cast doubt on Daniel and therefore stand a chance at getting him released. Jack will be that scapegoat and as he was already on the beach that night, it’s not hard to begin the frame-job. Emily doesn’t like this and still wants the real Amanda Clarke to be the sole suspect and she’ll do anything to make that happen.

Daniel fails to make bail and would have to spend the entire period before now and his trial in lock-up. Only a life-threatening injury would get him out, says Victoria’s lawyer. It’s no coincidence that Daniel later receives a pummeling in jail, an act requested by his mother. Seriously, with parents like these, it’s no wonder that Daniel sits rotting in a jail and Charlotte sits high on various pills she’s copiously taken. As far as dysfunctional families go, the Graysons are high atop that list.

As we also see this week, Victoria is still the wicked witch that the show would have us believe but it’s also apparent that she’s not totally devoid of loving somebody else other than herself. She can, and does, care for another but her wealth and family obligations get in the way of any possible relationship she can have with her artistic lover. Madeleine Stowe is a wonderful actress who can portray both faces of Victoria with such brilliance – her hardened, manipulative face that is unveiled most of the time and her softer, caring face that is reserved for private members only. I’ve said time and time again that a good villain needs to have something that defines them more than just being evil and Victoria has that.

Revenge certainly has a tendency to become soap-like in the twists it presents and the nature in which it presents them but you’d be mistaken for believing it is an inane and dull as a soap can be. Even on its slowest week, Revenge still moves at a super-sonic speed and barely leaves you enough time to pause for breath, which keeps the momentum going well beyond the end of the episode and into the next. There have been rumors of the second season featuring a whole new cast and story and whilst that may sound exciting to some (and it did to me at one point), the current roster of characters have become too synonymous with the show’s concept. I have grown attached to these characters, the actors/actresses that portray them and I’d be lying if I said I’d like to see a new cast. Please don’t take them away from me, ABC lords. Pretty please.

FRINGE – LETTERS OF TRANSIT 

The nineteenth episode in a season of Fringe has been a bizarre, break from normality episode for three years now. In season two, it was the musical abomination. In season three, it was the episode with the cartoon segments that was still enjoyable, even if it did break the momentum being gathered. For this season, we have an episode that takes place entirely in the future and it was an adventure that far exceeded any expectations I had of it.

It’s the year 2036. As we’re told at the beginning, via a threatening black screen, the observers ceased to observe human events and in 2015, arrived en-mass to take control of the human population. As citizens revolted against the attack, those who survived became known as ‘natives’ and Fringe division was allowed to continue, albeit in a role that only allowed them to police the natives. The original fringe division, consisting of the agents we know and love, are long thought gone – an urban myth that holds hope but no truth. As is revealed, the original fringe team do exist and they’re encased in amber. In one fell swoop, the battle to thwart the observers becomes a reality.

The first thing noticeable about this episode is how well-realized the future world is. Having a human population under the control of the observers is a much more threatening concept than any alien beast invading and this episode serves to further that idea. The observers may appear to be calm, collected individuals from the exterior but make no mistake of it – they are nasty people that will kill anything that stands in their way. As such, having Walter running around (the only one capable of constructing a weapon to use against the observers) is something that needs to be kept a secret, and our two guest stars of the week are employed with that task.

Amongst the two guest stars this week is Henry Ian Cusick, who is likely to be most famous for his days on Lost, playing Desmond Hume. It’s great to see him on my TV screen again but it makes me eternally sad that he isn’t featured on it more often. He fits in seamlessly and I could easily see him joining the fringe team permanently, but that won’t happen unfortunately. Still, it was great to see him taking such a prominent role in this week’s episode.

Another thing that deserves some degree of recognition is John Noble. Once again, this man has put in a great performance , both at playing the Walter we somewhat know and the crazed version that initially emerges from the amber tomb. Time and time again he has delivered sublime, believable and heart-wrenching performances and received much fewer recognition that he deserves. The man isn’t going to win an Emmy, but that’s not to say that he doesn’t deserve one.

As I said before, this week’s episode of Fringe exceeded the expectations I had of it. I don’t usually look forward to these bizarre-fests and would rather we had a normal episode instead, but this one was fantastic. My main complaint about the whole thing was the fact it ended rather abruptly, with Peter realizing that Etta, the other agent working alongside Simon (Henry Ian Cusick) is his and Olivia’s child grown up. I thought that there would be a second part after seeing it end so bluntly but there isn’t. With only three episodes remaining of this season, it probably wouldn’t be wise to dedicate one to a future that may not even happen.

That being said, Letters in Transit is definitely one of the highlights of this entire season and once again demonstrated how creative Fringe can be, whether it be past, present or an extremely worrying future. Fox, give me another season or I’ll be head-throbbingly disappointed.

Oh, and that opening sequence was amazing. Give me more of that, too.

NIKITA – WRATH

Dear The CW, I am a mighty fan of your show Nikita and I would hereby demand that you renew this fantastic show for the third season it so deserves. This week’s episode could quite possibly be the best of the entire season to date, with wonderful performances put in from all corners, and to cancel it now would be nothing short of criminal. So please, don’t do that. Sincerely, obsessed fan.

In all seriousness, Nikita delivered one of the best episodes that it has ever offered to date with this week’s offering. Basically, mean-man Percy has released a highly dangerous arms dealer that Nikita brought to justice many years ago whilst still doing the bidding of Division. He’s stashing a cache of plutonium away somewhere and Percy wants that, offering him the chance to enact revenge upon Nikita in payment for it. As such, the arms dealer (Brandt) kidnaps Nikita and tortures her, not for information but simply to hear her scream and beg for her life. Instead of giving this to him, Nikita taunts him, telling him that she regrets many things she did under Division’s command but not what she did to him. Realizing that the only way to get to Nikita is to hurt the ones she loves, Michael is drafted in as the sacrificial lamb and used as a weapon to penetrate Nikita’s steely exterior. It almost works until she breaks free and pummels Brandt to an inch of his life.

It’s not the story of the week that makes this episode what it is, but the performances by those working it. I’ve never considered Maggie Q a bad actress as she’s played Nikita but I’ve also never considered her amazing. However, she truly shone this week in a way that I’ve not seen her do before. The anger, the emotion, the way she deals with Michael offering himself to save her. She pulls them off so finely that it’s a wonder that this is the first time we’ve seen her perform to such a capable degree. Where has all of this been hiding?

The ratings for this week’s episode weren’t great, even by CW standards. I’m not sure how popular Nikita is outside of the states and whether this would factor in in the decision on whether to renew or not but as of right now, I can’t help but feel worried that they’re going to cancel this show. Nikita is nowhere near an end-point so to cancel it now would be canceling it prematurely and would probably leave us with little to no conclusion we’ve spent two years progressing toward. Its ratings may be quite poor but this show needs, and deserves, a third season. If you need to know why, just take a look at this episode and what it achieves.

Well, that wraps up this crazy long post for this week! We’re not far from coming to an end for this current TV season so these posts will likely become lessened and maybe less frequent as we move into the Summer months. There are a few shows that air during those months that will provide me with material to write about, such as True Blood and Falling Skies, but not as much as I am accustomed to. Until then, however, you can expect many posts from me in the next month or so that focus on the finales of the shows I watch as well as discussion about the renewal/cancellation decisions made. I have also been watching through the whole of Smallville since Christmas and I’m not far away from finishing the ten season run so I will have a post on that when I have completed it. Believe me, I have a LOT of things to talk about in regards to that.

I will leave you with a video of the awesome opening sequence to Fringe this week. I love these alternate title sequences that they love to do.

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