The Simpsons – “What Animated Women Want” (C+)
Some funny dirty sex gags—Rev. Lovejoy in bondage gear and Moe writing erotic Andy Griffith Show fan-fiction—but did this episode even have a point?
The Americans – “Covert War” (A-)
Things heat up as the CIA retaliates for killings on U.S. soil, and marriages continue to fall apart. Susan Miner finally gets something to do and she’s used fantastically.
Community – “Intro to Knots” (B)
Easily the weakest Christmas episode the show has ever done, but I do think this version of the show is finally starting to hit its stride.
Parks and Recreation – “Article Two,” “Jerry’s Retirement” (average: B+)
As Grantland explained, it’s hard to write about this show because it so regularly hits it out of the park. Though he’s far too busy, I’d love for Patton Oswalt to join the cast. But judging from this video, he clearly loved being a guest star.
Happy Endings – “The Ballad of Lon Sarofsky,” “Un-sabotagable”Pre-empted for coverage of the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Hemlock Grove – “Jellyfish in the Sky” (F) / entire season available on Netflix
I don’t even know where to begin with all the ways this show is a failure. Some of its many problems (aside from the usual bad writing and bad acting): it’s too far up its own ass with its mythology, it takes itself far too seriously, it has far too many characters. This should be campy, trashy fun. Instead it’s just trash.
Catch you later: The Following, Hannibal
The Following – “The Curse” (B+)
Just when I’m ready to write this show off for good, it turns in its best episode to date. Were it not for that ludicrous catfight, featuring its typical ham-fisted dialogue, this would be even higher.
The Americans – “Only You” (A)
Derek Luke deserves the Emmy for his guest role as Gregory, the black KGB agent and Elizabeth’s secret lover. His final appearance is heartbreaking and somewhat inspiring. Bravo.
Community – “Intro to Felt Surrogacy” (B+)
Much like the video game episode, I may need to see this one a couple of times to appreciate it as more than just a gimmick. But I’m glad the show has found its groove.
Parks and Recreation – “Animal Control” (B+)
Though Jason Mantzoukas’ appearance is a little one-note, this featured Ron trying to fend off a cold simply by bundling up and drinking whiskey. Any time Nick Offerman gets to display his physical comedy skills is worthy of our praise.
Hannibal – “Amuse-Bouche” (A-)
Even better than its ultra-stylish premiere. While the procedural machinations made it feel like a beautiful episode of CSI, Will’s internal tribulations, and the way Hugh Dancy plays him, set Hannibal apart from every other crime show on TV.
Happy Endings – “The Incident,” “Bros Before Bros,” “She Got Game Night,” “The Storm Before the Calm” (average: B)
The two big moments in the former two episodes—the dance and the food fight—felt sadly anti-climactic. The latter two episodes, featuring Penny’s break-up with Pete, give me pause because I’m afraid this is just an excuse to give the writers a Penny-confesses-her-feelings-to-Dave episode, which I am dead set against.
The Simpsons (Season 5) – “Burns’ Heir,” “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song” (average: A-)
The 99th and 100th episodes of the greatest show of all time didn’t go for gimmicks, just solidly written episodes about Bart befriending two older men, one evil and one simply dull. Plus, two of Homer’s best lines ever: “Well, kids, you tried and failed. The lesson here is never try.” and “What are you gonna do? Send the dogs or the bees or the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you?”