A Week in TV / A Week in TV - April 2013

A Week in TV – Winter is Back (7th April 2013)

If anybody knows me even remotely well, they will know that I am very excited right now. Why, you may ask? Because Game of Thrones, aka the show I love, adore and would marry were it a person, is finally back in my life for ten straight, beautiful weeks. Ten weeks of murder, betrayal, dragons, hating Joffrey and more dragons. Who wouldn’t love that? Anybody?

Anyway, putting that to the side for a moment, it’s time for another outing of me discussing what I’ve loved and possibly hated from the past seven day’s worth of television. Please feel free to get involved in the comments and let me know what you think about the episodes mentioned here or otherwise.

The Walking Dead – Welcome to the Tombs

The words ‘season finale’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ intertwine with each other effortlessly. The show rarely needs an excuse to go all out with who it kills, how it kills them and how it’ll affect the overall narrative but the season finales are typically a chance to throw all the pieces on the table and dramatically rearrange what order they’re in. As such, you can imagine my excitement and gleeful anticipation for this week’s finale, especially considering how impressed I’ve been with the show’s third season on the whole. However, what I was not expecting was to go away feeling underwhelmed, incomplete and frankly disappointed, which unfortunately I felt all three of this week.

First off, let’s discuss Andrea’s demise and how much it angered me (yes, angered). I’ve had my issues with Andrea this season, mostly to do with the direction they’ve taken her character that’s polarized so many people, but I’ve always held a liking for her. After her attempt at rejoining the prison group two episodes ago, I was hoping, and expecting, that she would finally get back on track either before the finale or next season, and subsequently used for stories that would’ve benefitted from her presence. But that was before this week, when they decided it wasn’t enough to have dragged Andrea through the dirt but let her die there, too.

twd-image-01Andrea’s death causes many problems for me because it makes an entire season’s worth of material feel pointless. We’ve seen her slowly realising The Governor was incapable of being reasoned with and finally, after weeks of trying to flog a dead horse, she made a move at escaping him. Killing her in a completely undignified way is regressive and makes all of that seem pointless. Andrea is a strong character, who’s been there from the start, and they killed her like a dog, and for seemingly no reason other than shock value. It basically just felt like they’d run out of ideas on how to screw the character any more than what they already had and decided to cut their losses, and if I were Laurie Holden, I would feel insulted.

On top of that, the finale had an incomplete feel. We had the assault on the prison that we’ve been expecting for weeks, but other than that it really didn’t feel like a season finale the majority of the time. The biggest reason for that is The Governor’s unexpected survival, and inevitable return in season four.

Not killing off the main villain at the season’s conclusion isn’t something that bothers me too much, but the fact it makes the season–and the story arc–feel incomplete and unfinished does. The move of the Woodbury folks to the prison signals a seismic shift in his power for sure, but most of season three’s material has revolved around him and the threat he’s posed to those around him, and having him killed would’ve made the arc complete, ready for something new in the fourth season. But that’s not the case anymore, and instead we’re likely looking at another year of Rick vs The Governor, and as a result the finale seemed more like a stepping stone than anything else.

After The Walking Dead’s second season finale that brought about plenty of surprises and gigantic shifts in the story, one can’t help but feel that this season’s finale was relatively low-key and small in scale. After a season that’s been quite the opposite, that wouldn’t have been much of a problem if not for the fact that it felt a little too low-key. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t fantastic either, and ultimately the inability to properly wrap up several of this season’s bigger stories made the episode feel unfortunately disappointing.

Grade: 3.2/5

The Good Wife – The Wheels of Justice

I seem to be saying this a lot recently so here I go again–The Good Wife was utterly brilliant this week. It didn’t shift any particular plots forward by any measurable amount, and it was a relatively straightforward outing, but what succeeded the most was how much fun it all was to watch. This show excels when its dramatic core is exposed but when it wants to be hilarious, and even silly, it shines just as much as when it’s travelling in the opposite direction, and this week highlighted that fact once again.

This week saw Diane–a character who, along with Cary, doesn’t get nearly as much focus as I’d like–taking somewhat of a centre-stage position, particularly in regards to her professional and romantic dilemmas. Her on-off-whatever-it-is romance with Kurt McVeigh made a return, conveniently at a time when it poses a threat to her Supreme Court ambitions, but if the end was anything to go by it seems she’s leaning more towards the man rather than the job, and I’m just fine with that.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Diane. She’s a strong, multifaceted and ambitious woman who knows what she wants but rarely manages to get it. Any episode that increases the spotlight on her character will always go down well with me because of this, and I genuinely believe she’s one of the strongest assets the show has, and I loved how integrated she was with this week’s episode.

tgw-image-01But if there’s one thing this episode really excelled at, it was the amusement factor. I mean c’mon, Kalinda and Diane discussing Vampire Diaries fanfiction is one of the most hilarious scenes I’ve ever seen from this show, or any show for that matter (the link to the clip will be at the end of this post). Also, the “And what were you doing there?” “Anal” line, simply for how Morena Baccarin delivered it so effortlessly and hilariously. And, if that wasn’t enough, there was also Alicia’s summation at the end of the trial, and Robin’s facial expressions–or lack thereof–during the interview with the arrogant prospective lawyer.

Honestly, if I was to try and find a negative to discuss about this episode I would be hard-pressed to find one off the top of my head, because any flaws present were surely so miniscule that they’d be practically undetectable, and certainly not detrimental to the overall episode. This is how utterly fantastic ‘The Wheels of Justice’ was. .

‘The Wheels of Justice’ will most likely go down as one of the show’s most amusing episodes ever, but it also served to do some terrific character work with Diane that I always sorely miss. I could–and probably would–continue to express my appreciation for this episode indefinitely were I not adhering to a self-imposed word-count restriction, but you get the basic gist of it I hope.

Grade: 5/5

Game of Thrones – Valar Dohaeris

YES, IT’S BACK! After what seems like an age (it always feels like an age), Game of Thrones is finally back for its third season, and if the premiere was any indication, we’re in for some terrific stuff (as if that’s at all surprising).

If there’s one thing Game of Thrones is always so exceptional at, it’s setting up the foundations for what might happen next for the characters or the show and then unleashing absolute chaos in the process of getting them there. ‘Valar Dohaeris’ was essentially a foundation-setting episode whose main purpose was to remind us of where everybody is, what they were doing the last time we saw them and what might happen to them next. Significant advances in the story were far-and-far-between for the majority of the episode; instead, the starting lines were drawn for the rest of the season.

got-image-01It’s no secret that Game of Thrones sometimes spends entire episodes–even consecutive ones–not even returning to some of its characters and that was also the case this week. Because the show has a cast so large and a story so vast, more time is spent on certain characters over the others. This week, for example, we didn’t see anything of Bran, Arya, Brienne or Jaime, yet their absence wasn’t felt because as mentioned earlier, this was an episode seemingly dedicated entirely to building the foundations for the rest of the season, and to expect a single hour-long episode to be able to do that for all of its characters would’ve been extremely unwise.

Whenever you watch an episode of Game of Thrones, you always get the distinct impression that there really is nothing else like it currently on television. The fragmented storytelling format works superbly to cover all angles of a much larger tale, the world is so fantastical and yet so believable and rich in detail, its characters are multifaceted and utterly fascinating to watch, and even when miniscule plot advancements are made, it still feels gargantuan. ‘Valar Dohaeris’ hardly moved most of its characters anywhere from where they last where, yet the knowledge that the shit is literally going to hit the fan is enough to make that irrelevant.

It always occurs to me when watching this show whether those who have already read the books will be able to enjoy the show more or less the same as those who haven’t, and therefore have no foreknowledge of what’s going to happen. In my case, I have read the books and yet my enjoyment of the show is arguably more than what it would be if I hadn’t, simply because seeing scenes I loved and adored on paper visualised on-screen, with the gravitas of the actors carrying them out, is an experience I couldn’t imagine being without. Scenes such as Davos stranded on the rock in the water, Tyrion and Tywin’s confrontation (seriously amazing stuff, by the way) and Dany’s meeting with the slave trader are made even better because of it, although anything involving Dany and Emilia Clarke’s exquisite performance needs nothing to make it superb.

Above all, even on its slowest week, Game of Thrones still manages to be one of the strongest, most compelling television shows on the air. It feels good to have it back after all this time. Very good indeed.

Grade: 5/5

Scandal – Molly, You in Danger, Girl

I occasionally get excited for a television show. I will eagerly await the next episode, and then find myself feeling fulfilled once it’s finished, before repeating the process for the next. That particular scenario occurs very frequently. However, there are rare occasions when a show will make me feel almost breathless in anticipation, either while I’m watching it or beforehand. Scandal, and its particular brand of excellence, is one of those shows, and this week’s episode was a sublime example of that.

Scandal always moves at a breakneck pace, rarely letting anybody take a pause for breath and running the dialogue off at a pace that some would find impossible to keep up with.–and sometimes there are episodes where more plot progression occurs in forty minutes than some shows cover in a dozen episodes, with some that could easily be reserved for a cliffhanger season finale finish.

scandal-image-01It’s this particular format that keeps Scandal as utterly compelling and unmissable as it is. It’s never a slow-paced show, yet the speed in which it flows doesn’t come at the expense of adequate character development. To some outsiders, Scandal would probably appear to be a show that revolves around Olivia and Fitz’s forbidden romance, and while that plays a big part, it’s by no means Scandal’s biggest success.

This week’s episode perfectly demonstrates what Scandal is most good at: taking the story arc of the moment, drawing all the characters close to it, and then blowing it the fuck up. Most shows would reserve this kind of activity to the season finale, but Scandal simply doesn’t seem to care whether it’s finale time or not with how much chaos it wants to cause. It keeps the viewers on their toes, their interest completely encapsulated and the wait between installments as gruelling as you can possibly imagine.

With so few episodes remaining before Scandal’s second season draws to a conclusion, it’s hard to predict where the heck things are going to head next for both the characters and the story arc. Regardless of that, as long as Scandal remains as captivating, embracing of its outlandish nature, consistently fantastic and one of the most exciting shows currently on network television, it’s going to enjoy a long life on the screen. And that means a long time spent pining for new episodes, which I am begrudgingly prepared to deal with.

Grade: 5/5

I’d love to hear what you think about what I’ve discussed above so feel free to comment below!

Also, as promised, here is the flawless clip of Kalinda and Diane discussing Vampire Diaries fanfiction.

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