We continue our look at Wonderfalls this week, as we think about the difficulty inherent in doing a television show whose defining characteristic is "quirk." What happens when you can't thread the needle with your tone, and you end up too serious or too silly? Or, um, seesawing violently between both extremes in the same episode? Elsewhere, we talk the endless NBA playoff schedule, and some CBS show called Elementary. It's pretty good, why don't they air this more often?
So, Elementary got bumped from the schedule thanks to golf (thanks again for moving the show to Sunday, CBS), leaving us with only Star Trek: The Next Generation to discuss this week. We talk about "Too Short a Season," "When the Bough Breaks," and "Home Soil," and break off into random-ass tangents at every opportunity.
Have I mentioned that the early episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation are pretty badly flawed? Because that seems important. We watch "Datalore," "Angel One," and "11001001," and, like, guys, what the hell? These scripts are so sloppy we're amazing the actors could even read their lines. Elsewhere, J. gets hyped(-ish) for Wrestlemania week and we talk about the the latest Elementary, in which the show finally decides to do something with Shinwell, which is...I guess an improvement?
So, this was recorded a week ago, and it should have been recorded a week before that. We had problems. But! Good stuff! We add Wonderfalls to our podcast, talking about two of the early episodes, and we talk about a couple of...eh, less than stellar episodes of Elementary. Hey, this season has been rough.
Well, probably not. But Star Trek: The Next Generation did, for one of these episodes we're talking about this week. We talk about "Hide and Q," "Haven," and "The Big Goodbye," and, honestly, it's not hard to guess which episode won an award. We talk about the holodeck, Lwaxana Troi, and how the writers, again, insist on being gross to Tasha Yar (and Denise Crosby). Also, Elementary is back, and finally gets its groove back.
Well, we've reached the end of The River, and it's...well, it's probably not the end the producers wanted. The show gets canceled before they can reach the end of their journey, or reveal everything in the characters' backstory, or explain really much of anything. We break it all down, and heap praise upon the things that deserve praise. And a lot of it actually does! Elsewhere, it's Crazy Game Show Corner, as J. talks about The Wall. No, not the Pink Floyd album. Yes, we make that joke, don't worry.
Man, the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation is a rough road, idn't it? We watch "Lonely Among Us," "Justice," and "The Battle," and do our best to tease out the highlights from the gunk. It's not easy. We also talk about this week's Elementary, which was absolutely flabbergasted at internet content creators. Like anybody would be dumb enough to create something for the internet!
J. gets to brag about the Patriots for a few minutes (suck it, haters), but it's down to the business at hand: the first four episodes of The River, ABC's child of Lost and Paranormal Activity that only lasted eight hours. Is the show a secret success? Does its found footage gimmick work? Are any of the characters more than hateable cardboard cutouts? The answers to all these questions are within! (The answers are all the same!)
[There were audio issues with the upload, so this is the fixed version. What, you thought I was gonna just leave a broken podcast on this website? Sheeeeeeeeeeeit.] The early episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation are a goddamn mess, you guys. We watched "Code of Honor," "The Last Outpost," and "Where No One Has Gone Before," and yikes. They're offensive and gross, when they aren't apocalyptically boring. Elsewhere, Elementary wins J. over by bringing in Isiah Whitlock, Jr., a.k.a. Clay Davis from The Wire, which gives J. a chance to use Clay's catchphrase. You know the one. (The Elementary episode also isn't bad, though it certainly has its own problems.)
The early episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation are a goddamn mess, you guys. We watched "Code of Honor," "The Last Outpost," and "Where No One Has Gone Before," and yikes. They're offensive and gross, when they aren't apocalyptically boring. Elsewhere, Elementary wins J. over by bringing in Isiah Whitlock, Jr., a.k.a. Clay Davis from The Wire, which gives J. a chance to use Clay's catchphrase. You know the one. (The Elementary episode also isn't bad, though it certainly has its own problems.)
Well, if you didn't think I was going to go for the Rush joke in the title, you're crazy. Because this week, we're saying goodbye to Kings, wrapping up its one and only season with "Chapter One," "Javelin," and "The New King." And man, this doesn't all work, but it would've been nice to see them try to fix it in season two. We talk about the good, the bad, the great (Ian McShane, of course), and all that might have been.
At long last! We start our episode-by-episode look at Star Trek: The Next Generation with "Encounter at Farpoint" and "The Naked Now," and...uh, yeah, there are some pretty big problems. Speaking of which, Sherlock ended its fourth (and final?) season with a bed-shitting of its own, as "The Final Problem" does pretty much every irritating thing the show's ever done (and invents a few new irritating habits).
Or is it the Sprying Detective? The Sighing Detective? J. can't remember the name of the second episode of the new season of Sherlock, but we talk about it anyway. It's pretty good! Mostly! Then, we rave about Kings some more, which would even better than it already is if the ostenisbly central character weren't an empty space. Kings is a donut, is what I'm saying. Also, there's an episode of Elementary to talk about it, but it was kind of an empty space, too.
Wow: 200 episodes. That is a big number. And to celebrate, a big episode! We set aside regular business this week, because the New Year has brought us new Sherlock! And it's..erm, uh, well, I mean, it's new! Though it's a lot of the same old. And speaking of the old, we take advantage of the big round number to talk about something we don't get much opportunity to talk about: the original Star Trek series. We discuss Gene Roddenberry's original pilot, "The Cage" (which didn't get picked up), the pilot he hired Sam Peeples to write, "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (which did), and the best original series episode ever made, "The City on the Edge of Forever." Yes, we talk about the original Harlan Ellison script. We go DEEP.
Next week, back to regular business with Kings.
Well, as we end 2016, we end our look at Star Trek: Enterprise. Our discussion concerns the final three episodes, "Demons," "Terra Prime," and "These Are the Voyages...," and Enterprise wraps itself up the only way it knows how: completely shitting the bed and fumbling at even the slightest emotional connection with its audience. Elsewhere, J. counts down his five favorite TV shows of 2016, and we announce our plans for next week's episode, the first of 2017 and our 200th episode.
We're halfway into Kings, and J. thinks he's figured out what the show's biggest problem is. We watch "First Night," "Insurrection," and "Judgment Day," and try to figure out how this show's government functions. Like, at all. Also, Ian McShane is like a nuclear weapon unleashed on the rest of the cast. Elsewhere, we talk about the winter finale of Elementary, which should give all you Shinwell fans something to be happy about.
We go all-in and tackle four Enterprise episodes this week (which is to say, two weeks ago, when this was recorded). "Divergence" wraps up the Klingon virus business with a shrug, "Bound" phones in its lazy Orion slave girl plot, and the Mirror Universe two-parter "In a Mirror, Darkly" is about one and a half parts too long. Mainly, we just feel bad for Scott Bakula. But we're so close to the finale now! SO CLOSE.
Kings! We are kicking off our series of looks at shows that only lasted for a season with NBC's unfathomable Kings, and we stress that this was a real show that really aired on NBC in 2009. The ambition! The wonderfully bizarre dialogue! The worldbuilding! The exposition! Ian Mc-fucking-Shane! J.'s in love already, but we'll see how long that lasts. Elsewhere, Elementary puts together a solid hour that speaks to its grand theme.
Here's a chunk that didn't make it into the final episode: a news headling about Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson spurs a brief conversation about pro wrestling labor relations and one of J.'s favorite stories about what a huge jackass Vince McMahon is.
That's the only explanation we can come up with for his apparently portraying two different nondescript background engineers on Enterprise. Maybe the big reveal's coming in the finale? In any event, we get back into our bland-ass blue jumpsuits to take on a chunk of the fourth season, and our timing is all goofy: we watch the second and third parts of a trilogy ("United" and "The Aenar") and the first half of a two-parter ("Affliction"). We talk about how Romulans remain Star Trek's lovable losers, James Avery's career as a voice actor, and the virtues of writing two whole episodes to answer a question no one asked. Elsewhere, we discuss Elementary's latest, as the writers overshoot a little bit on the whole use-one-crime-to-mask-another business. Come for the mystery, stay for J. explaining how the internet works!
Hey, we're back! Our accidental hiatus is over, and now we can finally talk about the Battlestar Galactica finale, "Daybreak." It's overwritten! It's shoddily plotted! It leans too heavily on mystical bullshit! It's exactly the finale Battlestar Galactica needed. We also talk about the new season of Elementary and a quick overview of Black Mirror (since the hiatus ate up all the time we'd be talking about the individual episodes).
Next week, we jump back into Enterprise. Oh goody.
Battlestar Galactica revs up for its finale the only way it knows how: stretching out, letting go of narrative structure, making everybody sad, and handing the camera over to Edward James Olmos. We watched "Deadlock," "Someone to Watch Over Me," and "Islanded in a Stream of Stars," and get baffled at just what is happening with the character of Ellen Tigh. Then, Mad Men wraps up its fourth season, as Peggy and Ken save the company, Betty makes another rash decision, and Don one-ups her by spinning his life in a completely new direction after a trip to "Tomorrowland."
Holy cats: Enterprise is good this week! Like, really, actually good! The gang hops down to Vulcan for the three-part extravaganza "The Forge," "Awakening," and "Kir'Shara," and, man, maybe this whole show should have taken place on Vulcan. Is it possible to pull this show out of the fire before the end? Speaking of pulling out of the fire, Mad Men continues towards the end of its fourth season, as Don gets tired of being everybody's plaything and responds by doing what he does best, "Blowing Smoke."
Battlestar Galactica has become quite a different beast in its fourth season, but it can still kick it up a notch and go when it needs to, as it proves in the two-parter "The Oath" and "Blood on the Scales." Then, everything slows back to a crawl in "No Exit," as the writers realize they have to get a ton of backstory into the show and only a very little time left to do it. Then we talk about Mad Men, as the agency goes into a panic, Roger plays dumb, Peggy gets freaky, and Don tries to break down a "Chinese Wall."