Are you aware that we’re currently in one of the best weekends in the history of weekends? Are you aware that Doctor Who and Game of Thrones both return this weekend, alongside The Walking Dead’s season finale? Are you aware that this much excellent television in such close proximity to each other is an event rarer than that of a full planetary alignment? Well you should be, ye ol’ misinformed person.
Anyway, because this is a weekend worthy of celebration–and because it’s also an extended weekend (yay Easter!)–I decided I’d make a return to my Week in TV series, choosing the best or worst episodes of the week and writing my thoughts on them for consumption. It’s been a while, but as we are approaching the end of the season, I’ll try and dedicate more time to not only watching TV but discussing it.
Once Upon a Time – Selfless, Brave and True
After enjoying a three-episode run of fairly decent quality, Once Upon a Time inevitably had to return to its inconsistent ways eventually, and this week was the week chosen to do so. Selfless. Brave and True wasn’t a good episode, it wasn’t a demonstration of what is good about this show and it most definitely wasn’t something that makes me happy I continue watching week after week.
Why did I dislike this episode so much? Two reasons: the focus on August/Pinocchio, a character I neither dislike nor actually care about, and a series of sloppy script choices that made the combined experience feel more inconsistent than I’m used to with this show, and that’s an achievement.
It introduced a new villain in the form of Tamara, but it was done so in a way that felt haphazard and too forced by use of coincidence. That same coincidence connected her subplot to that of Owen, the formerly-mysterious stranger that rode into Storybrooke several episodes ago and has been iPhone-ing it up since. However, Selfless, Brave and True’s major problem was how it didn’t allow these new elements of the story to flow in a way that felt natural–and considering they formed so much of the episode, it affected it irreversibly.
Also, any episode that chooses to have Pinocchio as the character of focus is going to suffer due to the embarrassing special effects employed by this show. Fairies, giants and dragons I can deal with; characters made of wood that look like they belong in an episode of Archer I can not. And let’s not even talk about the ridiculous ending for the character.
Once Upon a Time can be a great show when it wants to be, and it’s demonstrated numerous times that when the script is right, it can provide the goods. But when an episode like this comes along, it doesn’t provide the goods; it makes the goods already stored up look paltry.
The Walking Dead – This Sorrowful Life
If there are two things The Walking Dead is exceptionally good at amongst other things, it’s making Rick look foolish and killing off characters. This Sorrowful Life marked the penultimate episode in the show’s third season and it had both of the two aforementioned elements running through it in abundance.
Merle was the central character for this week’s zombified outing, and considering this doesn’t usually happen, it was to be expected that it would come with a gruesome death at the episode’s conclusion. Nevertheless, the episode marked a significant transition in Merle’s character from the beginning to the end, with his remarks about handing over Michonne to The Governor (with confusion as to why Rick was even considering it) and then taking it upon himself to kidnap her and attempt to complete the hand-over, before setting her free mid-journey and making one final valiant attempt to put an end to the life of the tyrant threatening the group.
I had never actually appreciated Merle that much before this week’s episode. I’ve never particularly disliked him, even when his actions seemed slightly archetypal, but the character has mostly just seemed to ‘be there’. As such, the modicum of character development featured in This Sorrowful Life came appreciated, even if the ending was somewhat inevitable. His demise also gave Norman Reedus the opportunity to provide a crushingly emotive performance at the end, which he had been deprived off up until that point.
Rick, on the other hand, became a character I almost disliked in this week’s episode. We know he’s bordering on the edge of insanity and that his sense of judgement may have been compromised, but even considering the idea–rather foolishly–to give Michonne to The Governor felt very uncharacteristic and incredibly stupid considering they had absolutely no reason to believe that doing so would save their lives. I find it hard to empathise with characters doing stupid, foolish things and although he eventually decided against the plan further into the episode, the fact it was even on the table to begin with irritated me more than it perhaps should have.
In the end, This Sorrowful Life wasn’t a bad episode of The Walking Dead. It did feel like a stepping stone between last week and this week’s season finale, but I appreciated how it finally gave Merle something to do besides being menacing, even if he had to be mutilated by the end of it.
Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate how fantastic The Governor’s post-apocalyptic dental hygiene must be to be able to chomp down through solid bone without snapping his incisors into pieces?
The Good Wife – Death of a Client
Any episode of The Good Wife promising an appearance by John Noble (please find a show to become a series regular on), Stockard Channing and Matthew Perry would automatically receive an increased amount of appreciation from me simply for the immaculate casting, but as it turns out, the episode had nothing to be concerned about even without the aforementioned guest cast. I find it difficult to genuinely dislike any episode of this show, and Death of a Client was no different.
First of all, I have to say that although I was ecstatic about John Noble’s casting in this episode (I practically did backflips when it was announced), I was disappointed with how little they used him. Granted, they were limited with what they could do with him considering his only appearances came in the form of flashbacks, but it felt like they didn’t fully utilise the potential they had with Noble’s acting skills. He shined in the scenes he was in, and it was nice to hear his native Australian accent, but I wanted more! More, damnit!
Also, the case of the week–involving Noble’s character being mercilessly murdered– started off with promise but unfortunately seemed to come to an abrupt conclusion that took all the interesting conspiratorial intrigue that stemmed from a possible police involvement in the murder, and threw it all away in favour of…a guy with a dog. It was almost as though they got bored of the story by the end and just decided to force it to a conclusion, irrespective of what they’d built up beforehand.
Outside of that, I heavily enjoyed the scenes at the party, particularly between Peter and Kresteva, played by a returning Matthew Perry. In fact, Peter punching Kresteva (who didn’t cheer at this point?) and making it look like he’d fallen down drunk was one of my favourite moments from the episode, including Eli and Alicia’s reactions to hearing about it later on. I do wish Matthew Perry would return for a longer arc, perhaps lasting several episodes as the race for the governor’s seat continues, but I suppose his involvement in Go On makes this difficult and unlikely. But I can appreciate the little time we have him on the show in the meantime.
The more The Good Wife continues, the more I love it, and that’s an achievement considering I already adore it. I’m particularly interested in where the subplot with Diane being offered a seat on the Supreme Court goes because it could potentially throw a huge curveball into the mix, and it’s clear that Alicia’s flashbacks of her romantic involvement with Will mean there is unfinished business there. Regardless, this week was no break in tradition of strong episodes for The Good Wife, and this pleases me immensely.
Also, the show was recently renewed for a fifth season by CBS! I know you’re crying with relief so I’ll leave you to it.
Doctor Who – The Bells of St John
I’ll make no secret of the fact that I found the first half of Doctor Who’s seventh series average at best. When it was good–The Angels Take Manhattan–it was great, but when it was bad–Dinosaurs on a Spaceship–it really struggled to find its footing. But, with the promise of a new companion and an uninterrupted eight episode run starting from this week, the show should hopefully find its way back from that. The Bells of St John signalled the start of that run and even though it had its faults, it mostly provided the goods.
Before I get on to the negatives, I’ll make a point to focus on the good stuff first, namely Jenna-Louise Coleman’s interpretation of Clara, the Doctor’s new travelling partner, and how the episode seemed to revolve around the formation of their partnership.
At first glance, Clara has all the makings of a strong companion; she’s confident even with her inexperience, can easily match the Doctor in how fast she can talk and her introduction didn’t fail to make me like her, which is something I look for early on with this show considering how crucial the two main characters are to everything else. I particularly enjoyed her commenting on the Tardis being a ‘snog box’ and the Doctor’s subsequent reaction. Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman appear to have chemistry present which at this early stage is terrific. That being said, there’s still one problem I have.
Since Steven Moffat’s reign as showrunner began, the show has increasingly taken to the use of story arcs often spread across the entire series–and they’ve mostly worked, such as the continued mystery surrounding River Song that dominated the first half of series six. However, the introduction of Clara comes with another ‘Who is she?’ arc that although somewhat intriguing, feels like a rehash of the River Song saga, only with a character less established at this point.
I do like the story arcs employed by the show but saddling Clara with another arc that possibly won’t be concluded before this run of episodes is over doesn’t interest me as much as I would like. A larger part of me wishes Clara had been introduced without a huge mystery floating above her so that we could have her and the Doctor simply exploring time and space, and maybe have the arc introduced later down the line. As it stands, I’m not that interested in just who Clara Oswin Oswald is, but I still appreciate the character nevertheless.
Elsewhere in the episode, I enjoyed the concept of the story, although I felt it was somewhat rushed towards the end (something that seems to happen a lot with this show), but the unfortunate lack of scale dampened its impact. It was nice to have a fun, modern day story, however, that served mostly to get Clara into the Tardis and on her way to grand adventures, so I can forgive its shortcomings in that area.
Irrespective of the episode’s flaws, I’m just thrilled to finally have Doctor Who back for longer than a month, and the recent news that both David Tennant and Billie Piper are returning for the show’s 50th anniversary special in November made me more excited about the show than I have been in a long time.
And that brings this post to a conclusion. As always, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below. And also: HAPPY BEST WEEKEND EVER!