Saturday, February 10, 2007

What's Alan watching on a long delay?

Weekend catch-up post, with comments on, in order, "Grey's Anatomy," "The O.C.," "30 Rock," "The Knights of Prosperity" and "House" coming up just as soon as I get dressed for my pylon-lifting class at the gym...

Back when ABC did a "Grey's Anatomy" press conference shortly before the Super Bowl bomb two-parter, we weren't allowed to see the episode in advance (part of Shonda's quest to stamp out all spoilers), so all we had to go on was a vague trailer that looked an awful lot like an ad for one of those Very Special "ER" sweeps episodes where a tank crashes into the emergency room while the Symbionese Liberation Army holds Peter Benton hostage and forces Carter to perform elective surgery on their leader. Somebody asked Shonda whether she was comfortable with her show entering territory so close to "ER," and she flashed her usual Cheshire grin and said that, while the stakes were higher, it would still clearly be an episode of "Grey's," with the focus on the emotional journey of her characters more than on pyrotechnics.

She was true to her word then, and she's been largely true to her word on the sweeps disaster episodes since, but this week's episode felt exactly like something "ER" would do, with one exception: "ER" would have done it better. Whatever morbid problems that show has suffered in its decline phase, they still produce the hell out of all those plane crashes and train crashes and kielbasa stand crashes, to the point where even if I hate every single character remaining on the show, I still get excited when stuff starts blowing up real good. "Walk on Water" felt like it was trying to quicken my blood in that way, but it never got there. Even Alex's rescue of the crush injury woman (and bravo to the makeup department for their work on her) came and went too quickly.

Now, if the emotinal journey stuff had been more interesting, I could have let the lack of goosebumps slide, but I didn't really care what was happening to any of the regulars this week, with the possible exception of poor Chief Weber. That scene in the elevator where Addison dressed down the male attendings was priceless, and the only part of the hour that actually felt like "Grey's Anatomy."

The third-to-last episode of "The O.C." had me wondering: if the Internet is for porn, then how much of it is for clown porn? After the furries gag a few episodes ago, what's next? A rusty trombone joke? (Oh, wait: that's "The Loop" territory.) This was another fairly aimless episode, with the Seth/Summer plot feeling particularly strange. Summer complains that Seth doesn't feel passionate about anything, when Seth's defining quality is that he feels too passionate about things: comics, sailing, Summer, Asian cinema, video games, comics, emo music, comics, etc. Those may not be worthy enough subjects for the worldly new incarnation of Summer, but the guy does care about things.

"30 Rock" has been on a real high of late, so I suppose it was inevitable they'd put out an a'ight-blah episode right about now. There was some hilarious Jack stuff, notably the sequence of him getting progressively drunk (loved the way it was edited so he would always be holding his new drink in the final shot of the old scene) and he and his ex getting hot and bothered while arguing about their Arby's franchise in Telluride, but the rest of the episode fell flat. Tracy was too sane, Pete's story didn't have an ending, Liz seemed trapped in her own subplot, and outside of Jenna's brilliant Vagina Day monologue, I didn't like her storyline with Frank. Even Kenneth didn't make me laugh (outside of the "16 Candles" shout-out with his underpants, and what's with two shows on at the same time doing "16 Candles" refs?), and he's usually the show's secret weapon.

I've had some requests for "Knights of Prosperity" commentary, and I really wish I could say kinder things about the show, as I'm usually a fan of the comedy stylings of Burnett, Beckerman and Logue. But each episode inevitably fades into background music for me after five minutes or so, and I only feel really compelled to look at the screen whenever Rockefeller is talking. (Kevin Michael Richardson is proof that voice actors don't get enough respect in this business.) The cover version of "Cats in the Cradle" was a nice touch, but it's also typical of the way "Knights" uses pop culture references as its dominant source of punchlines. I don't feel like the characters are clearly established enough for me to laugh at them for their own sake, as opposed to when they're name-checking some heinous '80s movie.

"House" gets back to basics, and I couldn't be more pleased. Loved that he was so insistent on winning the bet with Cuddy that he rolled his chair down a flight of stairs. Foreman's always been my favorite of the three sidekicks (he's House's favorite, too), so I'm glad anytime he's the lead on a case. Raise your hands, anyone who doesn't believe House and his pretty new wheelchair-bound rival will get involved, however briefly and disastrously.

What did everybody else think about any of these?

19 comments:

LV said...

Do you not watch My Name is Earl anymore? If not, that's a damn shame because the last few episodes have been awesome.

bebe said...

I laughed so hard and long at the underwear moment that I missed the whole next scene. It was the high point of my Ugly Betty/Office/30 Rock night.

Alan Sepinwall said...

LV, I still watch it, but I don't always feel moved to write about it.

Katie V said...

I agree about ER doing it better--I thought the superficial banter sounded even more so in light of the huge tragedy that was unfolding as they spoke. It wasn't a good fit. I did get a chuckle out of Meredith falling into the harbor, though. Kind of like the chuckle I got during Lost last week when the evil ex-husband got mowed down by the bus...Not to say Meredith is evil by any means, but she is rather whiny and annoying all the same.

Anonymous said...

I thought this week's 30 Rock was still pretty great. One moment I loved that you didn't mention was Liz's coversation with the flower shop. I actually tivoed it back immediately so I could rewatch it.

This week's Grey's Anatomy highlighted everything I hate about the show. The characters are just so incredibly selfish and self-absorbed. People are crushed, burned, and bleeding and Derek and Meredith decide to have a conversation about whether she's mad because he hasn't proposed yet? Wtf? It was like a scene directly from the MadTV spoof of the show (which if you haven't seen you must go watch on Youtube ASAP.) I was also incredibly annoyed at the storyline with Meredith and the little girl. I don't think kids do the mute thing in real life nearly as much as they do it on TV (and if anything, I think a kid in this situation would actually be crying hysterically.) It just seems like a lazy device to create fake drama. As did Meredith's fall in the water. First of all, we didn't see her hit her head or anything, so why are we supposed to think she's in danger? Second of all, are we really supposed to believe the kid would just walk away? What's going to happen next week? Will someone ask the kid why she didn't say anything and she'll tell them "because you didn't ask"? The whole thing had me laughing at the screen because it was so cheesy and stupid.

Finally, I think The OC has gone into lame mode again, but in a different way than in other seasons. In the past, the show became overly melodramatic and lost the funny. Right now it's still funny but the dramatic portion of the show stinks. Ryan/Taylor and Seth/Summer have literally been playing out variations of the same storyline over and over the last few weeks. But I'm finally beginning to understand why we had to sit through the Oliver/Lindsay/Alex/DJ/Zach/Sadie/Johnny parade the last few years. Because when the writers are left with only 2 parties in a relationship they have no idea what to do.

Mac said...

Sudeikis wasn't actually funny in his appearance on 30 Rock, but I'm assuming that they're setting him up for a future appearance. And what are the odds that Kristen Wiig plays his girlfriend?

J said...

>>Tracy was too sane

Pretty small sweet spot you're allowing that Morgan character.

I had no problem with 30 Rock at all, even though it didn't have the farcical build of the last few (something about it continue into the next day hurt it). There was a whole lot to love.

The Pete bit couldn't have ended better than it did. It's great when scripted TV comedy decides to get visual w/o resorting to pie-throwing. Great image.

Loved the tongs during the Baldwin speech.

I never thought I'd laugh at Joy Behar. And now I have.

Lindy said...

One more addition to the complaints about Grey's this week -- George's storyline about looking for the little boy drove me nuts. Why didn't someone tell the mother that she won't do her son any good if she bleeds to death before they find him, and so they're getting her ass into surgery before she dies? We've seen Addison and Bailey and even George dish out tough love to their patients before, but when the plot requires it suddenly all of the surgeons are wimps.

ooda said...

I know I should have loved this episode due to the way it was hyped, but it elicited nary a reaction from me. It annoyed me that as a surgeon, Meredith was walking around doing jack-s**t, especially after Bailey went on about how horrific it will be and how quickly they'll have to work. I mean, she was saying that you'd have to perform triage (is it grammatically correct to say "to triage"?) at a breakneck speed, but none of them were really doing that, but rather just focusing on the one patient.

And god damn it, but why won't they let up with the inclusion of the perky resident? I get it, she is perky to the point of annoying, but has this serious side to her that sees through everyone's ploys. The thing is, why bring her back this time if you're just going to rehash the same point? I'm all for introducing new characters into the show (as it is, this is one claustrophobic hospital), but pushing the limelight directly on them is not required. On a similar note, when's the last time we've seen that black nurse?

On a side note, if Calista Flockhart was cast as Meredith instead, would there even be a difference?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Pretty small sweet spot you're allowing that Morgan character.

He's a character who has to be written just right, or else he's just in the way. Though if I had to choose one side to err on, it would be the crazy side; he's completely uninteresting when he's relatively normal.

Undercover Black Man said...

Yeah, not a great 30 Rock, but still worthwhile. Loved the underpants; didn't recall 16 Candles. Liked Tracy's wife's line: "It's coming from my butt."

Scott said...

Funny, my read on the 30 Rock episode was 180 degrees different. I thought the Jack stuff was the weakest part of the show - the drinking progression was a too-broad-by-half gag. I liked every other part better, especially the Liz subplot (though I do think it was missing a scene or two).

I liked seeing Jason Sudeikis in the show.

Dark Tyler said...

How weird was it that 30 Rock had two references to Greece? I never thought that anyone in the US would know the meaning of the word Heston in Greek, which by the way is something that always amused me. (although it actually means "poop him", not "to poop yourself".) This meaning actually came quite handy whenever I wanted to reference his connection with the NRA. "Eh, Heston!"

Anyways. Nice episode in general, loved Pete's story ending on a meaningless gag, loved loved loved the sequence with Jack getting drunk, didn't care for anything else. Last week's episode was 30 Rock's "Slap Bet", I guess. Nothing could ever possibly compare!

Undercover Black Man said...

Tina Fey's proudly Greek, isn't she? Married in the Greek Orthodox Church?

Dark Tyler said...

She is?! I had absolutely no idea. I think I subconsciously expect every Greek-American to have ridiculously Greek names like Constantine Maroulis or something.

Anonymous said...

Tina Fey's real name is Elizabeth Stamatina Fey.

I'm guessing that's why she named her 30Rock character "Liz."

julie d said...

Alan- I can't remember... have you ever done Prison Break posts? Would love to hear your take.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Juliek, I stopped watching Prison Break a couple of months into this season. You can do a search for my old posts in the box at the top, but the show didn't interest me enough to keep watching once I had conflicts in the timeslot.

dez said...

Despite how many times I saw the promo with the Arby's gag before the show, it still had me laughing my butt off when it finally occurred in context. Something about the way Rosselini said "Big Beef and Cheddar" totally cracked me up.