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."
So, we watched Stranger Things, and, as promised, we have a spoilerriffic conversation about it. Surprise, surprise, one of us didn't like it as much as everybody else. After that, we talk about Enterprise, which actually put together a pretty solid two-part story arc. Unfortunately, they used three episodes to tell it. Oops. We talk about "Borderland," "Cold Station 12," and "The Augments," and marvel at how much Brent Spiner classes up the joint just by showing up. Then, Mad Men gives everybody their own personal panic attacks, as Pete Campbell laments his plight, Pryce takes a shot to the head, Roger gets blindsided, and Don lets fear of exposure drive him to his "Hands and Knees."
Well, after all their years of searching, the crew of the Battlestar Galactica finally reaches their destination, and whoops, it sucks. We talk about "Revelations," "Sometimes a Great Notion," and "A Disquiet Follows My Soul," and talk about just how awful it is for them. And then, on Mad Men, the ladies get the spotlight, as Joan gets robbed, Peggy lectured to, and Faye thinks she fails an important test in "The Beautiful Girls."
Well, the fourth (and final, thank the Prophets) season of Enterprise is here, and they start by completely screwing up the resolution to that wacky cliffhanger. But was there anywhere interesting to go, really? We talk about "Storm Front" parts one and two and just kind of shake our heads sadly, before complaining about the third episode, "Home," which does almost everything wrong but gets one subplot exactly, exactly right, and that just makes the rest of it all the more frustrating. Then, on to Mad Men, as Don Draper begins taking stock of life in the only way he knows how: pretentious voice over narration, as he contemplates his role in the universe in "The Summer Man."
You know what, no show is perfect. And Battlestar Galactica is an especially imperfect show, with its better ideals often crowded out by a tendency to wander down weird, dark rabbit holes. This week, the fourth season slows to a crawl for a bit in "Guess What's Coming to Dinner," "Sine Qua Non," and "The Hub." There's good business here, but there's also a lot of stalling, a lot of pointless Romo Lampkin, and a *lot* of the awful Quorum, which J. cannot stand. Elsewhere, Robby can't explain Cylon bathrobes, and J. gets hyped about the new season of BoJack Horseman and tries to describe the WWE's new brand split to someone who doesn't watch wrestling. It kind of works! But then we get to talk about Mad Men, and (spoiler) J.'s favorite episode. Peggy loses her boyfriend, Duck loses his shit (almost literally), and Don thinks he's lost the last important thing in "The Suitcase."
Well. Enterprise finally wraps up its third season, with "The Council," "Countdown," and "Zero Hour." Will Archer and company save Earth from certain doom at the hands of the Xindi? Of course they do, what's the matter with you. But things get...complicated from there, as you can tell from the way J. can't stop giggling while they talk about it. Elsewhere, we talk Mad Men, as Roger has a few flashbacks, Don has way too many drinks, and Peggy strips down in "Waldorf Stories."
Enterprise gets dark as we head toward the end of season three, and in "Damage," "The Forgotten," and "E^2," it actually kinda works! I mean, with conditions -- this is Enterprise, after all -- but two of these three episodes are pretty solid, and one of them is probably in the top five episodes of the entire series. (One of them is...not. But it's heart is in the right place.) Afterwards, we turn to Mad Men, as Pete gets good news, Peggy makes new friends, and Don has to duck to avoid being mauled by "The Rejected."
Season four of Battlestar Galactica begins, with the Cylon business kind of breaking down and the writers struggling to make any sense out of anything. It doesn't entirely work. We watch "He That Believeth in Me," "Six of One," and "The Ties That Bind" and try to sort everything out of the soup. Afterwards, we continue our trip through the fourth year of Mad Men, as the gang rings in the New Year by spreading out and getting kind bummed out. Lane fires his secretary, Joan looks to the future, and Don tries to handle a great big helping of "The Good News."
It's not often that we point to Voyager as a positive example of anything, but when Enterprise straight-up copies an episode of its older brother, we have to give credit where credit is due. We talk about "Doctor's Orders," "Hatchery," and "Azati Prime," all of which give us plenty to grumble about. Then, we continue our look at Mad Men's fourth season, as Don gets grabby, Glen stays creepy, Lee Garner gets whiny, and Roger Sterling is probably glad that "Christmas Comes But Once a Year."