The Simpsons – “Treehouse of Horror XXVI” (C+)
After last year’s exemplary installment of scary stories, this is a lackluster episode that doesn’t feature any truly memorable segments. It’s a representation of the series as a whole at this point: Rarely awful, but very few flashes of brilliance that defined the show in its golden era. Even the return of Sideshow Bob can’t liven up the proceedings, and that’s really saying something.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Halloween III” (A)
The best of the competitions yet, with every character nailing every line. I figured out the twist immediately, but there’s simply nothing like this show firing on all cylinders like this.
Fargo – “The Myth of Sisyphus” (A)
The first truly great episode of the season. No longer paying homage or setting up, this is purely fantastic television with the best ensemble on TV right now. Bokeem Woodbine, Patrick Wilson and Jean Smart especially are blowing the roof off the place with their quiet rage. This is how you do it.
The Mindy Project – “Mindy and Nanny” (B+)
Last week featured very little Mindy, and this episode features absolutely no Danny. But it’s still a hoot, thanks to Rhea Perlman’s continued greatness as mother-in-law Annette (best nickname: Annette Not-Fun-icello). Garret Dillahunt is gelling with the cast nicely, even if I have a hard time caring about Jeremy’s love life.
The Muppets – “Walk the Swine” (B-)
The nicest episode yet but also my least favorite. The Piggy-Reese Witherspoon rivalry didn’t quite do it for me, nor did the Rizzo-Scooter fender-bender. But Fozzie’s continued relationship woes with Becky did. And the recurring gag of Fozzie not being able to hold it together after hearing “True Colors” was masterful.
black-ish – “Jacked O’Lantern” (B+)
I don’t often watch this show, but maybe I should. It balances the silly and serious very well, taking on casual racism of “scary kids trick-or-treating after dark” while still featuring Michael Strahan as jailbird cousin Junebug dressed as 50 Cent.
The Simpsons – “Halloween of Horror” (B+)
The show’s first ever Halloween-set episode isn’t quite as good as some have been claiming, but it’s an emotionally resonant half-hour. Unsurprisingly, this Lisa-centered installment is melancholy but funny in just the right spots. That “Time Warp” parody could use some work, but at the very least they tried, which is more than you can often say for this show lately.
The Simpsons (Season 9) – “Lisa the Simpson” (B+)
Not as stellar as “Summer of 4 Ft. 2,” but then again, few episodes are as lovely. Lisa, fearing an inevitable genetic “dumbing down,” attempts to live out her last few days as an intellectual. Though it’s still heartening to see the Simpson women do so well, it feels like a cheat years later since we’ve never seen any of them since. But hey, this is where we get “What a time to be alive,” so it’s still valuable.