The Boob Tube Review: Nov. 23, 2011

Every week, we discuss the television we've been watching. There are usually plenty of spoilers, so beware:

Community: "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux"
Season 3, Episode 8, Stupid NBC 

This was the week of Luis Guzmán. He's best known for playing supporting roles in just about every movie Steven Soderbergh and Paul Thomas Anderson have ever made (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Out of Sight, Traffic, Punch-Drunk Love), which has earned him something of a tongue-in-cheek presence on Community: the show claims he's a former student of their fictional Greendale College, complete with a statue of him on campus. It seemed pretty much inevitable that he'd eventually make an appearance on the sitcom. It finally happened this week — and it couldn't have come at a better time.

The biggest news in TV land these days is NBC's stupidfuckingstupidstupidstupid idea to shelve what may very well be their best show (hell, maybe even the best sitcom on television) halfway through the season. The decision has drawn comparisons to the cancellation of Arrested Development — a similarly awesome and deeply self-referential cult hit. In one of that show's final episodes, the characters throw themselves a "Save Our Bluths" party, all the while winking knowingly at the audience about it being an excuse to get guest stars on the show in a desperate attempt to save the sitcom — except, as it turns out, the only "celebrities" they do get are Andy Richter and Super Dave Osborne, both of whom were already on the show.

Soooo that's all a long way of saying that it seems somehow appropriate that Community, an even more meta-loving show than Arrested Development, would have Luis Guzmán, another "celebrity", make a guest appearance immediately after news of their own possible cancellation. Even though we assume the writers didn't know it was going to happen, the show is such a comedic Ouroboros that they've ended up accidentally referencing their own cancellation and a pre-cancellation episode of another similar show that was cancelled in a similar fashion — all through the already tongue-in-cheek and somewhat self-referential use of a character actor in an episode that was supposed to be a reference to a movie about the making of another movie in a way that self-referentially referenced an earlier documentary episode of Community.  

Which seems about par for the course for this show. I'm gonna miss it. - Adam Bunch 

How To Make It in America: "What's In a Name?"
Season 2, Episode 8, HBO

And that was just Luis Guzmán's first major appearance of the week. He's also part of the cast of How To Make It In America, whose season finale was on Sunday. He has been one of the best parts of the show since it debuted, playing the role of an ex-con trying to reform his ways by becoming the CEO of a small Rastafarian-themed energy drink company. But in the finale, he took it up another notch in the climax to the season-long story arc that has pit him against the head of the East Flatbush Carribean League (played by ER's Eric LaSalle). LaSalle's character has been shaking Guzmán down, claiming the Rasta Monsta drink is offensive to Jamaicans. In this one episode, Guzmán gets to explore his character's full inner-struggle as he goes from threatening violence and torture to offering LaSalle's character heart-felt relationship advice: "love will change your life if you let it". One hell of a week for one hell of an actor. - AB

And there we have it. Another great season from HBO's most underrated show. Maybe it's because I'm as poor and ambitious as the characters, but I really find this show is always a joy to watch. They succeed, they fail but they never stop trying. Although scorned with the label of Entourage in NYC, How to Make it in America really came into its own this season and showed Mark Wahlberg really is a better producer than actor. He sure knows how to pick his projects... and theme songs. Maybe next season they'll start a magazine and see how poor they can REALLY get. - Cody McGraw 

The Walking Dead: "Secrets"
Season 2, Episode 6, AMC

Another week, another notch in the ole’ patriarchy belt. Everyone got all up in Lori’s grill about her pregnancy, whether getting all mean girls about her weight (Glenn) or I dunno, being extremely anti-choice. Even the guy who wears a Hawaiian shirt and drives an RV and should be played by Randy Quaid weighed in on how during the zombie apocalypse she would bring down the survival chances of the Apple Dumpling Gang even more by keeping the baby. Gah.

In other news, Rick isn’t a total dickweed. Thank Hershel’s barn zombies for small mercies! In a very anti-climatic ending, he accepted that Lori had sought comfort in the arms of douchetastic doucherino Shane when she thought Rick was dead. I do wish she had also included the lil’ tid bit about the attempted rape but that would require the writers admitting that what happened at the CDC was actually attempted rape.

In other other news, to further their chances of finding sweet little whats-her-name, everyone took the day off of searching and learned how to shoot guns because if ever time wasn’t of the essence it’s when you’re looking for a lost child in zombie-infested woods. Carl, miraculously healed by way of Hershel’s old-tymey bible stories and horse-salves (maybe throw some of that Darryl’s way, over in the tent?), noticed the vacuum left by Andrea when she stopped whining about learning to shoot and started up whining about learning to shoot. Where it took an entire season for the men to let the grown woman hold a gun, the child was allowed almost immediately. Sure! He was wearing a sheriff’s hat. And he is already up to a first grader’s understanding of the food chain as evidenced by his Gump-like “everything is food for something else”. Not sure why Lori was so horrified by his mad-learning skillz. I mean, it’s not like she’s Hershel and it’s not like he’s a daughter.

Someone (Sophia? Hanging-Zombie?) called 1-800-TIPS and Shane got a lead on a subdivision where Sophia might be chilling, watching day-time TV and eating pizza-pops. So he and Shooter McGraw went to check it out. Alas, just a bunch of zombies! Somewhere Otis is pissed that out of habit, Shane didn’t just shoot Andrea and leave her for dead. Then, because nothing is sexier than blowing off the rotten heads of decaying human beings, Shane and Andrea boned in his new HYUNDAI. (Yay corporate sponsorship!) Zombie blood mist: the untapped aphrodisiac? What a fun and sexy time for them!

The zombie barn thing didn’t really pan out the way I’d hoped; not that it was bad but I’m just starved for action on this show in much the same way that the barn zombies are starved for human flesh. I guess something will go down next week when the cat gets let out of the bag (when Carol 2.0 feeds it to the zombies) and Rick et al stumble upon the barn zombies. Maybe we'll find out what keeps those zombies busy all day. Writing bible verses? Paint-by-numbers? My money is on a munitions factory – how else to explain the frivolous waste of bullets this week? The survivors are stupid? - Alex Snider

American Horror Story: "Open House"
Season 1, Episode 7, FX

I was about ready to give up on this campy horrorfest but the writers of American Horror Story have managed to pull me back in. After a very, very, very lackluster episode the week before, AHS bounced back by showcasing the wonderful supporting cast of Denis O'Hare, Frances Conroy and future Emmy winner for the series Jessica Lange. Honestly if these three people were the main characters then this would be must see TV. They can kill off the rest of the cast for all I care. Gruesome and uncomfortable, "Open House" shows the series is heading into an even darker direction full of buried history and pure survival instincts. The spirits who haunt the house will do anything to protect it and now I can honestly say I am hooked and eager to see where the show heads. - CM 

Dexter: "Sin of Omission"
Season 6, Episode 8, Showtime

Molly Parker : (  : (  : (  : (  May she hook up with Mos in the Dexter afterlife (maybe they can egg Julia Stiles' car. Better yet 'salami' it on cold day – that shit will really mess up a paint job). - AS


The Boob Tube Review appears every week. You can find all of them here.


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