"I'm 37. Please don't make me go to Brooklyn.": Two Pushing Daisies, 30 Rock and Friday Night Lights
Since I seem patently incapable of writing much while I work on this list (beginning Wednesday), I'll just do some more quick hits on these three shows. Thanks for understanding!
Pushing Daisies, for my money, continues to improve after that minor step back that was the episode with the dog breeder. David is probably still disappointed that the mystery plotlines aren't popping as much as he'd like, but I liked that the show was willing to just completely ditch the mystery in this week's episode (the sign of a good show with a formula is that it's willing to ditch that formula from time to time; that's the difference between, say, House and CSI when compared to, say, Criminal Minds). I also thought the Thanksgiving Eve episode was really terrific, with that sparkling dialogue the show is known for and that wonderful closing with Ellen Greene singing Morning Has Broken.
Good TV dialogue gets overpraised (a well-structured show can get by with relatively weak dialogue), but Daisies reminds me of just how much fun it can be to hear well-scripted patois. The best of Gilmore Girls had it, as did the best of Moonlighting. While I appreciate a well-constructed plot, I do love me some good dialogue, and it's nice every Wednesday to just kick back and listen to what Fuller and his gang of writers have come up with. I was glad to see that this week's episode got a substantial boost from the holiday episodes preceding it and reversed the series' ratings slump, as I'm crossing my fingers for a season two (I don't really think this strike will resolve in time to get more of season one).
30 Rock, meanwhile, disappointed with the first so-so episode since the premiere. There was some wonderfully funny stuff in the episode's A-story, where Liz dated a 20-year-old (especially the reveal of his mother), but I thought the B-story, with Jack, Tracy and Kenneth coaching a little league baseball team, was a little too explicitly political (with its Iraq War references) to really work as well as it might have. I did like seeing Frank become obsessed with Liz's new boy-toy, but it wasn't enough to save the whole show for me.
Finally, Friday Night Lights served up another muddled episode that underscored just how much the show would benefit from returning to football as its grounding element. I like some of the more poetic stuff the show is doing this season, but the Matt/Carlotta pairing is, as David pointed out to me, the show's first outright terrible storyline (even the murder storyline benefited from having Jesse Plemons' sheer conviction in the storyline). I really enjoyed the scene between Landry and Lyla, and I thought that Tami and Eric's attempt to carve out some time together was also pretty good, but the Smash goes to college subplot was just too cartoonish even for me. The ebb-and-flow of the football season drove a lot of season one, which let the show get away with the more non-standard (and terrific) storytelling it indulged in. Without that firm basis, season two just feels like it's flying all over the place, looking for somewhere to land.
Brotherhood finale and HIMYM (if it's new -- I can never keep track) tomorrow. And please enjoy whatever else our posters are watching.