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Episode Review: STANDOFF (“Peer Group”)

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Holy cow! Don’t tell me the series is actually improving. Second good episode in a row, and I loved this one even more than the last one. Maybe it’s because of the story, which is a mixture of me relating to it and extremely current, when it comes to mirroring real-world events.

Hostage taking based on bullying in school is always a great storyline used in entertainment, and I mostly go into those topics with decency, respect and the sense of meeting and understanding the actions and choices of the characters. Because not so long ago, I left school, and there were days, when I was bullied – not that heavy, like it was depicted here, but I could understand and relate. Which makes the episode in all more relatable and therefore better. And the other good thing about it was that the dramatization of the situation worked well this time. It seemed to be the first time in STANDOFF, that it worked well.

So, it all began with Cary (Josh Zuckerman) and his plan of getting revenge from his bullies, and I must say that the first two acts were really thrilling because of it. You know it was just the first part of the episode and that something had to happen to keep the viewers glued to the television; and you could have known that the mystery surrounding the fourth hostage taker would probably lead to the twist in the middle or at the end of the episode. But until that moment came, the episode really was entertaining and thrilling. When Owen (Noel Fisher) was revealed to be the mastermind behind it, and when it was all about him and how he wanted to be punished for his mother’s death, the writers gave us a second storyline. The first (revenge for bullying) was ended, when Cary wanted to give up, leading to the second storyline (Owen and his mother), when Owen was taking charge of the hostage situation. Yes, both storylines only fit together, because Owen was one of the hostage taker, and even though it seems a bit illogical that Owen would take those kind of drastic measures to get his punishment, the episode was working, because it worked two completely unrelated storylines during the same event. And despite them being unrelated, they worked because they were thrilling and dramatic.

Needless to say that I liked Emily’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) connection with the case, and how she was understanding Owen (and Cary in the first half of the episode). Even more, I loved how Matt (Ron Livingston) went into the negotiation part at the end, when he transformed into a bully. Like in the last episode, when Emily was talking down Anya with the rape story, Matt took the worst part of the HT’s life to break him emotionally down, to give up. That kinda shows the writers don’t really know how to end the hostage situations, before the episode is over (instead relying on the same method over and over), but as long as the emotional part of it is still working, I don’t mind. And the scene with Matt and Owen really was great.

Now I’m kinda hoping that STANDOFF will hold on to this quality. Best episode so far? Hell yes. Thank the drama for it! 8/10

Welcome to the live feed of killing students!

Owen is getting all cracked up

Written by Christian Wischofsky

August 6, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Episode Review: SHAMELESS (“Nana Gallagher Had an Affair”)

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Season 1, Episode 10
Date of airing: Mar 13, 2011 (Showtime)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.124 million viewers, 0.7/1 in Households, 0.5/1 with A18-49

What a shame, Monica (Chloe Webb) is gone again. And what the fuck, Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is not Frank’s son. And how sad I was that Ethel (Madison Davenport) seemed to be forgotten already, besides the fact that Kevin (Steve Howey) and Veronica (Shanola Hampton) didn’t have much screentime in this episode. It was a wonderful one, and wouldn’t it be for the score at the end, I would have even shed a tear.

Okay, honestly the conflict between Monica and Fiona (Emmy Rossum) was just a repeat of the last episode, but I liked that the writers included a nice twist near the end. I wouldn’t have expected for Frank (William H. Macy) not being Ian’s father (on the other hand, the story would have been a joke, when nothing came out of it). I had the feeling though the writers didn’t really know which aspect of the story to take, when it came to the family dinner, where the adults were fighting against each other. First almost the complete episode was about taking Liam, then it was about Ian not being Frank’s son, then I couldn’t see if Frank kinda wanted to have Monica back (what was the kiss for then? Just to shut her up?), or if it was just a moment not important for the episode at all (maybe just to have a 2-second-long WTF).

Karen’s (Laura Wiggins) story with Eddie (Joel Murray) was a bit awkward though. Was the whole theater just about a new car, or why was Karen so interested in getting back with her father, just to spoil all the girls at the ball with her sexual activities? Somehow it felt really awkward the whole episode, but it was good that it finally brought Sheila out of the house, when she beat Eddie into her car and out of her life. And now I’m hoping that this little revelation for Sheila Joan Cusack) is bringing her character somewhere into a different direction. As well as Karen, who couldn’t have been more awkward in this episode (and the writers love to give her nude scenes – why? Not that I’m complaining, but…).

The Mickey (Noel Fisher)/Ian relationship seems to go somewhere else too. I loved their moment, when Ian visited him, and I noticed that there might be a crazy little thing called love in the game. And though I don’t have anything against gay storylines in premium TV shows, I hope this is not the only storyline keeping Ian busy in SHAMELESS.

It was a good episode. Despite my expectations rising, as I close to the season finale. 7.5/10

A little bit of love-talk makes the heart grow fonder

Giving up a son is hard to do

Episode Review: SHAMELESS (“Frank Gallagher: Loving Husband, Devoted Father”)

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Season 1, Episode 7
Date of airing: Feb 13, 2011 (Showtime)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.140 million viewers, 0.7/1 in Households, 0.5/1 with A18-49

Now I’m thinking: Was the storyline with Rod (Robert Knepper) and his way too nice and nameless buddy just written into the series to have this little episode here? Letting Frank (William H. Macy) fake his own death? Not really a great storyline, especially since it didn’t even take more than half of the episode. Letting the family have a nice time together after the wake? Interesting to see, but it was a scene too short. This time, I kinda liked the B stories more than the main arc.

It was not really one of my favorite episodes. Again, the writers waste a lot of time for nothing; again, they just let storylines lying on the ground, instead of picking them up and telling a good series with it. The whole deal with Frank owing six grand to shady people was interesting, but the writers didn’t use this story in the last episode, and they surely didn’t use it in this episode. And the producers cast Robert Knepper for this? Furthermore, I was missing a whole lot of the funeral preparations. There was potential humor in it, but mostly I couldn’t laugh about the show. I was even wondering why nobody took action against Rod, when he was slapping the “dead” Frank to wake him up, and I was asking myself how a criminal like him was buying Frank’s death. It just looked like an easy way out of a story the writers probably wouldn’t even take to begin with. The only good thing about the plot was the after-wake party, where Frank’s kids were partying with him for a change.

I very much liked Ian’s (Cameron Monaghan) and Kash’s (Pej Vahdat) plot though. Finally Linda (Marguerite Moreau) learns the truth about the two fucking, and she first took it not good, just tor realize this might be the only chance for her to get another baby. It could be a promising storyline for the future, as long as Kash and Linda stay in the show, but I don’t think that this story will survive the season break. Because otherwise Ian wouldn’t get any character development, when he’s only in love with Kash. Which is why I was thankfully taking the little twist of Mickey (Noel Fisher) being gay and fucking with Ian. In addition to the fact that Ian is growing some balls now. The scene with Mickey’s father in his room was totally funny – the only real funny thing in the episode. Now I’m interested to learn where the writers are going with this.

Sheila’s (Joan Cusack) story was nice too. So, she learned to take care of a kid again, and now she has baby wishes as well? The former think is good character development; the latter… not so really. But it depends how long the producers want to keep Joan Cusack in the series, though I can’t really believe that she might be interested in a baby with Frank. And finally she went out of the house, but the how was to laugh at: Why would she go out of the house with bed sheets around her hip, keeping her not far from the house (did she think the wind was blowing her away?), but not without the bed sheets? I don’t see the psychic reason in this.

Now I would wish for SHAMELESS to be either more funny or more dramatic. Somehow it’s missing both at the moment. 6.5/10

Carl takes his time with the newfound meat

Just because the two are cute together

Season & Link Reviews: TERRIERS (I)

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Ex-cop and recovering alcoholic Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue) partners with his best friend, former criminal Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond-James) in an unlicensed private investigation business. The series is set in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California, although it is portrayed as a distinct town, Dolworth having been a member of the fictional “Ocean Beach Police Department”.

Episode 01: Pilot
I did a pilot review this fall. Click here to read it. 8.5/10

Episode 02: Dog and Pony
It was a good episode, and I am still surprised that I am interested in the series. The PI case of the week was alright, considering the usual twists, which only lengthen the story and give Hank and Britt moments to dream of big money, but that the big guy was actually helping the two was a nice surprise, especially when he gave Katie (Laura Allen) wisdom about having a baby, even though he was tied at the bed and bleeding. Only the conclusion was a bit lame and irritating. Gustafson (Rockmond Dunbar) basically said that heads will roll, when Britt and Hank stay on the case, and yet they have themselves wired for the police to close it. Though Gustafson’s words to the BFFs were nice, when it comes to their work, I was expecting a bit more seriousness from him to them. Only his words to Britt about Hank sometimes letting him drop was stereotypical. Of course this story had to come, and of course it brings the writers an opportunity to play the trust-stotyline later in the season.
The character moments were good again. Hank had a nice scene with Gretchen (Kimberly Quinn) at the end of the episode, while I love Katie’s thoughts about having a kid. It gives the two women in the lives of the two friends more screentime and character depths, even though they don’t have anything to do with the story. 7.5/10

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