Cultural Catchup – Comedies – October 16th

[Oy vey. So much TV, so little time. This will be part one of a two-part series at this point, so we’ll start the comedies and move onto the dramas tomorrow (I’ll be covering Gossip Girl and Pushing Daisies this evening, barring unforeseen circumstances).]

How I Met Your Mother – “Little Boys”

There were some funny moments, sure, but the show’s focus is falling apart. The end of last season was a fantastic series of episodes because it was focused on Marshall and Lily’s wedding with Ted and Robin’s relationship taking a backseat. What happened at the end of last season was that Marshall and Lily became that “married couple” who no longer had any real comic potential…and Ted and Robin became the focus.

Ted has had some decent episodes (“Lucky Penny” was an example), but there is something about Ted that just doesn’t make for good comedy. The show has tried various perspectives: We went into Ted’s office for a span, and the result was mediocre comedy. Right now, Ted and Robin are both single and dating, and it just…isn’t entertaining. There’s some great jokes, and the structure of this week’s episode was interesting, but it just isn’t memorable.

I’m almost expecting them to throw Robin into the workplace any day now.

Samantha Who? – “Pilot”

The final new comedy of the fall season, Samantha Who? debuted to some solid numbers last night…and I’ll admit that I enjoyed it quite a lot. There are some fantastic elements to Samantha Who? that keep things interesting: a fantastic cast is first and foremost, with pretty well every performer nailing their respective character.

The comedy itself isn’t all that interesting, but the structure of the pilot had a lot of potential. There was some nice reveals of her “fake” best friend and her boy issues, and the mysterious hit and run driver is certainly of concern. As a pilot, it was well constructed to introduce us to these characters, as an Amnesiac makes a great tabula rosa upon which to write.

The concern, obviously, is that they’ve played out their amnesia jokes and that the rest of the series won’t be able to live up to this pilot structure. I enjoy the characters, from Jean Smart’s fantastic mother to Barry Watson’s awkward and short-haired boyfriend, but she can only learn so many things about herself each week before this gets extremely old. Will she get amnesia again? Will another character get amnesia? Where can this go, exactly?

Chuck – “Chuck vs. The Wookiee”

I will concur with the general sentiment on this episode: it just wasn’t as good as last week. It was still engaging, but it had some issues with balancing comedy and drama. In other words, it wasn’t quite funny enough, and the drama didn’t quite play as well as it could.

I really like the potential behind Sarah and Chuck’s relationship, so spending time investigating Sarah’s character more is worthwhile. The problem right now is that the character is really just bipolar: she fights at least twice an episode, but then spends her private time sulking about Bryce and her life of secrets. My concern is that this isn’t really different from what we saw in the pilot: she fights, but then she mopes around her hotel room in her underwear.

I feel it’s a good development for the series to investigate this further, but Sarah needs to change and adapt more in order for me to view it as an engaging storyline. If this happens over the coming weeks, I think that the show will have struck the right balance.

Weeds – “Roy Till Called”

Somewhere, I remember remarking that Peter’s death would probably eventually get Nancy out of her financial troubles on Weeds. Well, my prediction (Wherever it was) sort of came true when Roy Till from the DEA called. Inherting money can be tough, but Nancy has a particularly rough time with it.

I’ll refer to Daniel Fienberg over at Zap2it on this particular storyline. While it makes sense that Valerie (Peter’s ex-wife) would want the cheque, it seemed like a bit of a simplified view of the issues at hand:

I get that Valerie was annoyed by the surprise of having been usurped for the settlement and that she’s living beyond her means with a son, but so far as Valerie knows, Nancy’s living beyond her means with a pair of sons and no visible means of support. Also, surely Valerie has to know about Peter’s pension and she didn’t mention that. The outrage just seems contrived.

The show didn’t want Daniel to ask these questions, because it really doesn’t seem to have answers for them. Hell, at this point, I don’t see how anyone can look at Nancy with her hybrid and her fancy house and not raise an eyebrow. It was a situation of a character acting in a way that served other characters, as opposed to a normal human fashion.

I must admit to liking the Silas/Conrad dynamic, it’s the only side-story really going anywhere. And, I’ll concur with Daniel on the final scene as well: why was Nancy jumping Sullivan’s bones again? The first time made sense, this one was just purely illogical.

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