"I certainly didn't INTEND to hit that.": Three new Bones, two Brotherhoods and a HIMYM in a pear tree
Hi, everyone! My posting will be a little sparse over the next few days -- until we start the 100 Best Shows project -- but here's a quick catch-up on everything I missed over the Thanksgiving week and its immediate aftermath. I'll get up something on two weeks of Pushing Daisies as soon as I can, and I'll do 30 Rock and Friday Night Lights on Sunday (why Sunday, you ask? Because it's my birthday, and I'm going to go overdose on pizza and movies in the BIG CITY).
First, Bones, which is finally settling back into that groove it was in in season two, where the mysteries were solid, the interpersonal stuff between the team members was pretty terrific and the Bones/Booth chemistry was there, but not beating us over the head. Now, granted, the two kissed in the holiday episode (there was a bet and some mistletoe involved), but it was a truly nice moment, and the kiss felt somehow earned, as though the show realized this was a moment they'd been building to for a while and decided to do all they could to rattle both of the characters, who seemed pretty unnerved by just how much they enjoyed what they had just done.
I've liked the mysteries in the last three episodes too, particularly the one with the dead Santa, which was a great blend of creepy ooginess and holiday cheer (and everyone knows how much I like holiday cheer). I was really worried that the show was going to make good ol' Kris Kringle over into some sort of creepy child molestor, but they mostly kept him a good guy, which was a nice lack-of-twist, I thought. The time capsule goop mystery was also a good one, even if the resolution was a little pat (what with the mystery kid and all).
Still, the mysteries are secondary to why I come to the show, which mostly has won my affections by portraying its workplace as the sort of dramatic setting where anyone would like to work (even if there's lots of EWWWWW to go around). Even in the episode with the time capsule goop, the characters were able to make some of the grossness of the whole concept somehow palatable. The ending of the holiday episode was a little maudlin, but I'm willing to forgive that around this time of the year for obvious reasons.
Meanwhile, Brotherhood continues to reward my faith in it with two incredibly solid episodes that were slow-moving (it IS the show's trademark, after all), but felt like they were headed somewhere. The show's season finale is next week, and I'm interested to see how all of this wraps up. How much I had been following and getting into Brotherhood really snuck up on me in the election episode, so I thought the series would head back toward business as usual after that, but it continued exploring the themes raised in those episodes and exploiting the slowly growing cracks and fissures in the Caffee family, especially in the Thanksgiving episode, where the whole crew seemed to just shatter into tiny pieces.
The episode before the Thanksgiving episode was pretty good too, what with Eileen finding herself a bit adrift at the social services office and Tommy fighting it out with Judd for control of the committee (the scene where Judd collapsed was heartbreaking, as was Colin's angry confrontation with Tommy afterward), and any time that there's a major storyline that pairs Michael and Colin together, I'm happy. Still, good as it was, it was just a table setter for the Thanksgiving episode, which might have been the best episode the series has produced yet.
The departure of Rose on Thanksgiving morning, stranding her children to fend for themselves, touched off a slow disintegration of the family (it didn't help that Colin and Michael both had to be other places -- Colin cleaning up some nasty business and Michael dealing with Kath). To a very real degree, the Caffees stick together BECAUSE Rose is at the center of the family. Without her, there's no glue holding everything together, though it always seems as though Eileen might step up at any moment and become that glue. Still, in this episode, she was mostly happy to let her husband deal with their daughter (who came to Thanksgiving high) and watch everything with a bemused smile. There are moments where Tommy and Eileen share a glance in this series that are just devastating. It's that glance you share with a lover who's let you down, when you're not quite sure if you can forgive them, but you just ache to give it a try. I don't think the show will do anything so simple as to have them completely reconcile, but it seems to be on its way to at least letting them forgive each other and forget past offenses.
Still, it was the storyline surrounding the Thanksgiving dinner that set this episode apart. Brotherhood really captures that "this is my family, so I'm going to put up with them through gritted teeth" feeling, so it's a surprise they haven't done a holiday episode before this one, really. Maybe they'll cap off the season with a Christmas episode, but it looks more like it will be your run-of-the-mill Fatal Attraction rip-off. Sigh.
Finally, How I Met Your Mother had another week where a lot of the show was funny and some of it wasn't. Though the plot was derivative (even of past Barney adventures), shaking Barney's confidence always gives Neil Patrick Harris new shades of his character to play, and having him get The Yips was pretty terrific, especially when he was unable to perform in any way at the Victoria's Secret party. I also liked seeing his sexual initiation at the hands of that older woman and his attempts to re-bed her to prove to her how good he was in bed. The storyline with his brother felt a bit forced (yes, we get it; gay men sometimes overdo it before they come out of the closet) and it was all a little too meta, but Wayne Brady is an appealing presence.
The gym subplot wasn't quite as good and felt airlifted in from another, lesser sitcom, but I thought it was a very good way to dispatch of the lingering sexual attraction between Ted and Robin and also served to highlight just how tremendous of a comedic performer Colby Smulders has become over the course of the series. I know I rave about the girl frequently, but she's really become something to see, and she just throws herself into any Robin scene, no matter how small, with a great, goofy abandon. If HIMYM ever becomes as huge as it deserves to be, Smulders is going to be a big, big star, and if it doesn't, she'll become one after the run of the show. I don't usually make predictions like this, but she's really good, and she picks things up really fast.
So what did you think? Are there other shows we've gotten lax on you want to comment on? Do so here, then.
Pushing Daisies posts in the morning/afternoon.