TV Week: 26-31 May 2013

This will be my final post about the spring TV season. I’ll be announcing the lineup for my Summer TV Hangout later this week. I’ll be going through seasons of several shows I’ve always wanted to watch all the way through or just revisit. Join me then, won’t you.

Arrested Development – “Flight of the Phoenix,” “Borderline Personalities” (average: B+) / entire season available on Netflix
As expected, it can’t live up to the original seasons. The pacing is off, the episodes are bloated. But the cast is just as game and the writing nearly as sharp. It will make more sense when I see more of the season, but for now, it’s not quite there.

Behind the Candelabra (B+)
Though it still falls into the biopic trap, Steven Soderbergh’s final film (airing on HBO in the states) is simply, to use an obvious adjective, fabulous. Matt Damon, at least 10-15 years older than his character was at the time, is superb, giving his best performance since The Talented Mr. Ripley. Michael Douglas is also terrific, rebounding from cancer with his name already etched on that Emmy and/or Golden Globe. The costumes and production design are top-notch, but one of my parts of the film is that it fills out its cast of enablers and hangers-on with comic actors like Tom Papa, Paul Reiser and Dan Aykroyd, adding an extra layer of hilarity when the proceedings get a little grim (drug addiction, betrayal). But of course no one can top Rob Lowe, playing a plastic surgeon who can barely move his face.  

See you later: Hannibal (I will post my thoughts on the first season after the finale airs in June. UPDATE: And it’s been renewed for season two. Hooray!)

Legit – “Bag Lady,” “Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Hat Hair,” “Misunderstood,” “Fatherhood” (average: B) / season finale
Though the season basically limped to the finish line, it never felt off-message. This was a show about a guy trying to do right and failing at almost every turn. Jim Jefferies was just fine playing himself, but DJ Qualls absolutely stole the show as the quadriplegic Billy. My favorite of these final five was probably “Cuckoo’s Nest,” because I love sitcom episodes about competition. I always let this show pile up on my DVR, which is probably how I’ll end up watching it next season.

Firefly (Season 1) – “Objects in Space” (A) / series finale
While this was the best send-off possible for a show that totally deserves its rabid fanbase, it’s not hard to wonder how incredible a second season would have been. We could have learned more about River’s abilities, found out more of Book’s hazy backstory, gotten the Inara-Mal hook-up we’d all hoped for, heard more Jayne wisecracks, basked in the love of Zoe and Wash, and gotten more time to see Kaylee and Simon’s relationship blossom. But based on what we have, this is Joss Whedon’s finest moment.  

Sports Night (Season 1) – “What Kind of Day has it Been?” (A-) / season finale
Sorkin tries to cram way too much plot in one episode, but it’s a great finale that doesn’t go for the rafters. It simply ends on a hopeful note. Though much of this season plays as horribly dated and some of Sorkin’s common tropes wore thin (mainly characters repeating one another: “You doing OK?” “I’m fine.” “You’re fine.” “Yup.” “So you’re fine.” “Fine.”), this was another show that was cut down too soon. I’m excited to go through season two this summer.

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