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Thursday
Nov032011

From 'Project Runway' Sex Tapes to 'Boardwalk' Bloodshed: The Week in TV So Far

 

 

REVIEWING THE WEEK IN TV (SO FAR): Yeah, it's only Thursday, and there's still a couple nights of network comedies and dramas before the TV gods rest and give way to football and NASCAR. But let's face it: Most of the best small-screen entertainment arrives between Sunday and Wednesday anyway (except, of course, for the wonderful Parks & Rec on Thursdays). More importantly, we want to talk about it. Consider us your ultimate TV GUYdes, and below are our uncensored thoughts on what scripted and reality fare had us riveted since last Thursday, and should be on your DVRs for next week.

By Kenny Herzog and Robbie Woliver (aka TV GUYdes)

Once Upon A Time's Ginnifer Goodwin's new big love is none onther than Prince Charming himself. Seems monogamy is more of a thicket than polygamy. (Credit: ABC/Karen Hill)

 

ROBBIE: Hey, how was your trip to L.A.? How'd you survive, not watching TV for four days?

KENNY: I don't know. All I know is Ernest Borgnine is on Access Hollywood , he's 94 years old, and he just said to Billy Bush and Kit Hoover, "I can't hear you, but you're all punks."

ROBBIE: Hahahaha, that's great. Especially since he's been dead for 10 years.

KENNY: So, basically, as I remarked on Twitter and to my wife, L.A. is a great city, but the people are terrible. And so is the food. Palm Springs is a weird retiree desert for active elders. The smog is ridiculous, and the only celebrity I encountered was a close friend of and former photog for Guns N' Roses. Which was, admittedly, kind of awesome. 

ROBBIE: Well, other than the Big Blizzard, the only other Big News you really missed, even though it dates back to last week, was gorgeous Anya Ayoung-Chee winning Project Runway. Did you see her sex tape? 

KENNY: Ha. I haven't yet. Although I did catch up on most TV. I was weirdly disappointed there wasn't more waiting for me in my DVR. It was like hoping you come home to a ton of phone messages. Haven't seen a ton of reality. Scripted TV is too good. Boardwalk Empire is soooooo good right now. I feel like people are totally missing it.

ROBBIE: Runway was worth it just for Anya. There were a number of particularly obnoxious, arrogant  male designers this year, and Anya, a former Miss Trinidad/Tobago/Miss Universe contestant, was a breath of fresh air, truly likable. (she also won fan favorite). It turns out she and her boyfriend and Miss Japan had a threesome which was filmed. Can Boardwalk Empire beat that? And did I mention she was drop-dead gorgeous?

KENNY: Did I mention Boardwalk Empire has had full-frontal pre-natal nudity, severed fingers, exploded faces, throats slit like cattle, incest and Dabney Coleman with severe, stroke-induced palsy? It's just phenomenal TV right now, and more gorgeous to look at than any Project Runway designs.

ROBBIE: Hey if you want severed hands, exploded faces, slit-up cattle and full-frontal pre-natal nudity, then The Next Iron Chef is for you. If you're a foodie, and a reality addict, this is the ultimate show. Some very impressive participants, and the quality of expertise is so high. Hahaha, that started off a little Stefon, didn't it? 

KENNY: That sounded very infomercial-ly actually. You going to announce the next contestant on The Price is Right too? Never been a food-reality guy. No idea why. Food TV in general rarely interests me. I'd rather just eat.

ROBBIE: That's cause all you eat is kale.

KENNY:  Don't forget my vegan Mediterranean tuna salad for lunch and bowls of multi-bran flakes and seven-grain wheat germ for breakfast. I have the colon of a stroke-victimized Dabney Coleman.

ROBBIE: I'm too busy finishing off the Halloween candy. Talk about a treat, Homeland was pretty solid this week. That show has had some astonishing moments (Brady suddenly praying in Arabic was perhaps the TV "moment" of any show this season), but this past week it was just wholly gripping, well-acted, strongly scripted drama. 

KENNY: Sometimes I don't love the writing, but it was a very strong bounce-back episode after two meandering weeks. And very riveting and entertaining, which is all you want. Sometimes that show is at its best when it doesn't try as hard to provoke, much as it had success on all fronts in its outstanding pilot. A big bounce-back week in general. Shows are finally gearing up to that crucial final third of their season. How to Make It in America, which I love, had a big return to form, and Dexter at least raised the stakes with Brother Sam, even if these are the weakest villains the series has ever had.

ROBBIE: Not sure Brother Sam is a villain. We'll see about that. I like Dexter this season. It's not as thrilling or out-there as previous seasons, but I like the Zen-like  contemplative tone. For some reason, out-of-the-box programming isn't appealing to me this season. I had to give up Luther and American Horror Story because they were just too creepy. I'm liking the escapist fun shows like the so-good Revenge and addictive Once Upon A Time

KENNY: I didn't mean Brother Sam was a villain. My remark about what happened to him was a separate thought. I just didn't want to be spoilery. He's great, and his (spoiler) shooting raised the stakes. But Olmos and Hanks are blah. And you bringing up Luther just enrages me, which you know. You missed an entire first season of intense psychological drama and character study and jumped right into its established world and jumped out. It's akin to diving right into a freezing pool instead of dipping your toes in slowly. And American Horror Story's two-part Halloween episode was unreal. I loved it. And Zachary Quinto was Emmy-worthy. So many shocks and jolts and creepy moments and so much twisted dialogue. Everyone on that show is twisted. Ryan Murphy is twisted. Haven't watched Revenge or Once Upon a Time yet, though I think I could like the latter. You're more into fantasy and period stuff than I am, even if that period is a land before time. Lol.

ROBBIE: I absolutely agree with you about Zachary Quinto. He is so much fun to watch on AHS. Especially since he used to really unsettle me as Sylar on Heroes. (You know how I hate being creeped out.) And I did see the scene in Boardwalk Empire where the dog stole the guy's face. (I liked writing that line.) As for Luther, sorry to bring it up. I know it's a sore point with you that I missed the first season. I do, however, really like the show's second season, but it just really gets under my skin and bothers my psyche deeply.

KENNY: Well, again, that's because you didn't allow the show to demonstrate its human drama first, but I can only bemoan this issue for so many moons and lifetimes. (i.e. forever). And that scene with the dog in Boardwalk is nothing. It's been BRUTAL this season, both in its relationships and in terms of sex and violence. As brutal as the era really was. Although on a lighter note, Modern Family made me laugh a fair amount, though you kind of wonder how many scenarios they can conjure without becoming just another sitcom. Not Luke and Phil's best story. Great Cam episode though.

ROBBIE: The straight-Cam scenario was hysterical, and the faux docu-ending with Phil and his new, black best friend was inspired. But you are correct, the show can easily swerve into generic sitcom territory the second someone's eyes are off the ball. Ed O'Neill is possibly my favorite comic actor on TV. His performance is so multi-layered and full of depth. Consider this the vanguard of the Emmy-for-Ed O'Neill Movement. 

KENNY: Interesting. I do love O'Neill, and felt his character's had a strong season, but sometimes Jay is also a thankless, perfunctory role. Although I have to say that the ending with Kevin Hart wasn't particularly inspiring to me. I actually liked the scene with them in their backyards as a better button. The whole reverse-racism ventriloquy thing on the couch, while clever, still felt a bit like a self-conscious and sort of cliched approach to racial humor on a show that's ultimately coming from fewer perspectives than it would like to think. Which is ultimately fine. I'm OK with the show being white-bread. It's funny. Similar to Bored to Death, which continues to satisfy me and subvert expectations.

ROBBIE:  Your vote for worst whow of the week? Mine is the unbearable X Factor.

KENNY: That's easy for me. Enlightened. Four (four!) episodes in, and it still hasn't gone anywhere, and it's actually shocking how poorly and unconvincingly Mike White's writing possesses Laura Dern and her awful, irritating, vapid, immature character of Amy. Just a soulless, unfunny, cliched black comedy parading as pathos and coasting on the pedigree of its star.

ROBBIE: Your must-watch? Since everyone is already watching Revenge, Good Wife and Once Upon a Time, I'd have to say Harry's Law is probably my fave. The acting is amazing (the insanely great Kathy Bates vs. recurring brilliant guest star Jean Smart is just pure gold), and the plots and writing are always top-notch. Now that House's Cuddy is irritatingly and singlehandedly ruining The Good Wife (and setting back feminism even more than The Playboy Club did), I'd say Harry's Law is the one to follow. 

KENNY: And I know how it enrages you that I haven't caught up with Good Wife. But at least I didn't jump in during Season 3! I do assume I'd agree with you on Harry's Law though.  Your and my tastes tend to meet in the middle on funny, well-acted, crisp procedural network shows like that. I guess I'll give a nod to The Walking Dead, which was as riveting as Homeland, and as gross as Boardwalk Empire, and has really improved this season as basic storytelling. And poor Otis.

 

IN OTHER WORDS: Even L.A. and kale can't get in the way of great TV.

TV GUYDES WEEK IN TV (SO FAR) RATING: 7/10

ROBBIE AND KENNY WEIRDLY DON'T WATCH ANY OF THE SAME SHOWS RATING: That's Why We're So Interesting/10

MISS TRINIDAD & TABAGO/MISS JAPAN SEX TAPE VS. PROJECT RUNWAY SEASON 9 RATING: 10/8

 

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