Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just who is the Gossip Girl?

The CW's Gossip Girl reached its milestone 100th episode last night with "G.G." To mark this occasion, a number of big events happen. Blair (Leighton Meester) decides to go through with her wedding to Louis (Hugo Becker), despite her reservations. Her mother, Eleanor (Margaret Colin) stages an intervention of sorts by bringing Chuck (Ed Westwick), who has no intention of disrupting the ceremony on his own, to the church. Then Gossip Girl (voiced by Kristen Bell) makes things worse, exposing Blair's deep feelings for Chuck during the vows. But the wedding still happens, only to leave Blair learning she is now with a cold, heartless man who will only be nice to her in public. So she flees with the help of Dan (Penn Badgley).

The Louie plot arc has been long simmering, and doubtless few expect Blair to actually go through with marrying the prince in "G.G." Yet, she does, and in a delicious and sad twist, is deeply hurt by the decision. B just wants to do the right thing, and fall in love with a man who will make her happy. She knows that things with Chuck have always been tumultuous, so she chooses Louis, in spite of her feelings, assuming that she can grow to love him. After all, Louis is an honorable man who will take care of her, right? B's motivations aren't fame and fortune, though she will get those as princess, but rather, making a wise decision.

Imagine her surprise, and the fans', then, when her ill-advised union turns out to be terrible before the reception is over! Louis isn't who he pretends to be, and is instead manipulative and evil like some of the best Gossip Girl characters. "G.G." works because of the unexpectedness of this turn, though in retrospect, it makes sense. Why else does Louis put up with everything Blair puts him through? He is going to use her for a public image, and she is stuck. It's an impossible situation, and one wonders how Blair will break free of it.

Chuck is left hurt. He does his very best to be compassionate to Blair and not spoil her big day, staying home from the wedding. Eleanor is only thinking of her daughter's best interests when she goes to Chuck, knowing who Blair is really in love with. And Serena (Blake Lively) also has good intentions when she takes it a step further and tells Chuck about Blair's pact with god, the reason Blair is resisting being with Chuck. But all of that doesn't matter because, in the end, Blair chooses someone else. Poor Chuck. His heart break is undeserved, as he has grown into a man worthy of Blair.

Of course, all of that doesn't mean Chuck and Blair have an easy union ahead. Because there's another factor. It's Dan who writes the lovely vows for Louis that make Blair think her prince understands and loves her. It's also Dan who Blair calls to help her escape from the dreadful situation. So suddenly Lonely Boy is on her radar in a serious way. Maybe she just sees him as a friend; maybe he will get some rebound action. Blair and Chuck still seem like the two who will end up together, but given Gossip Girl's penchant for twists, who knows?

There is another casualty in all of this, and that is Serena's heart. Exposed by Dan as keeping their fake relationship going longer than necessary, Serena grows a pair and confesses her love her him. Viewers are left wondering what Dan's reaction will be, since Serena quickly leaves him before he can respond. But the implications of the end of "G.G." are clear: Dan cares more for Blair right now than he does for Serena. This may not be the best choice for Dan, because like Chuck and Blair, Serena seems to be Dan's destiny. But by leaving with Blair, there will be a lot of hurt feelings Dan will have to repair before he can get back together with his first love.

Dan's feelings for Blair are no surprise to Serena, as indicated with the opening of "G.G." Pulling out all the stops in Gossip Girl's 100th, Serena dances to "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" with a swooning chorus featuring the boys in the cast. But at the end of the dream sequence, she is distracted by diamonds enough that Blair can come in and sweep Dan away from her. The production value and look of this dream sequence are outstanding. The implications of what Serena sees, though, are obvious. She has allowed herself to be distracted, and thus, lost Dan. It's sad that sometimes one doesn't realize what one has until it's too late. For now at least, it might be too late for Serena to get Dan back.

The most heart warming scene in "G.G." comes right before Blair is to walk down the aisle. Perhaps overshadowed by some of the flashier things in the episode, it's an important moment, and one that should be taken note of. Blair has her father (John Shea) go get Cyrus (Wallace Shawn) and both walk her down the aisle together. Daddy doesn't seem jealous, and Cyrus is truly surprised and honored. He has stepped aside to let Blair's real dad get all the privilege on this special day. But Cyrus has been there for Blair, loved and supported her. He deserves some credit, too. It's a fantastic decision, and it's really nice Gossip Girl squeezes it in among the other, more important stories.

Also cool is Cyrus calling Blair a "princess bride." This is neat because Shawn was in the movie The Princess Bride. Perhaps a little obscure for the teen set that Gossip Girl targets, but a wonderful reference to include.

Of course, Gossip Girl's 100th would not be complete without a visit from super villain Georgina Sparks (Michelle Trachtenberg), who wants to ruin Blair's big day as revenge for the things Blair has done to her. The initial attempt ends in failure, as Rufus (Matthew Settle) and Lily (Kelly Rutherford) catch Georgina posing as the minister and getting ready to try to seduce Louis. But Georgina does not give up easily, and records Blair's confession of feelings for Chuck, the source of the Gossip Girl blast that almost ruins the wedding ceremony.

It's nice to see that Georgina hasn't lost her edge, and a baby doesn't slow her down; her new guy is simply a tool that she uses like everything else. Thus, she causes just as much trouble as ever. But it's also good that she doesn't ruin things as completely as she'd like to. It's a testament to how mature the main characters have grown that she can't destroy their lives by herself, or turn them against each other as easily as she once could.

The big shocker at the of "G.G." is that Georgina is Gossip Girl. But is she really? Georgina's name does start with G, but she wasn't present for the early events of the series. Gossip Girl has been shut down for a few months, so it's quite possible that Georgina is just stepping into the gap, picking up where the real gossiper left off. If so, it is likely that Gossip Girl will not take kindly to this incursion, and will soon act to stop Georgina, probably with the help of the cast. If Georgina has been Gossip Girl all along, a less likely possibility, steps need to be taken to tie her back in with what happens before her character shows up on the show. Perhaps a final season full of flashbacks, culminating in an ultimate showdown?

The verdict on "G.G." is clear: it is a great 100th episode, with lots to surprise, ponder, and talk about. XOXO.

Gossip Girl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Cleveland Show is, surprise, all about Cleveland

     Last night's episode of FOX's The Cleveland Show is called "There Goes El Neighborhood." Junior's (Kevin Michael Richardson) aunt by marriage, Choni (Rosie Perez, Lipstick Jungle, Pineapple Express), builds a McMansion across the street from Cleveland (Mike Henry). This steals Cleveland's thunder, and ruins his Superbowl party. Confronting Choni, she accuses Cleveland of being racist. Cleveland does his best to prove that that isn't the case, and restore his role as the popular man on his street.

     Props to The Cleveland Show for sticking with continuity. When Junior marries Cecilia (Elia Saldana), and especially after the whole thing is revealed to be a green card arrangement, one does not expect the new Latina characters to stick. Yet, like in other Seth MacFarlance projects, sometimes the characters in The Cleveland Show are allowed to grow and have arcs that extend beyond one episode. Thus, it appears that Cecilia and Choni are poised to stick around, at least for a little while. This alone sets it apart from some of the other sitcoms and animated shows on the air, and boosts the overall quality of the series.

     "There Goes El Neighborhood" continues the trend from the previous episode of poking fun at Latino stereotypes. Cleveland is shown to think that they all look alike and eat lots of tacos. Considering that The Cleveland Show is created by white men, and the titular African American character is also voiced by a Caucasian, viewers may not expect the series to go after race quite so aggressively. In fact, black culture is not a primary element to the show, perhaps owing to the fact that most of Cleveland's friends are white. But adding this new ethnic flavor actually works rather well. And while Cleveland can be as insensitive as Peter on Family Guy, at least he cares what others think, and works to change his behavior. That's at the heart of this episode, though the story thankfully avoids being preachy or too sappy.

     Even better is when Cleveland and Choni come to the conclusion that they aren't racist, but rather, they just don't care for each other. Sometimes, in modern society, conflict can be attributed to larger issues, when it's a simple clash of personalities. It's nice to see the story in "There Goes El Neighborhood" dealt with in such a way, which keeps things light and semi-realistic.

     There is one small complaint about this episode. In an early joke, Cleveland builds a sky box in his living room for the Superbowl party. In the scene showing the party, the sky box is gone. It's not disappointing that the construction, as solid and permanent as it looks, doesn't last beyond this episode, as that is to be expected. But since Cleveland says that he builds it for this specific party, couldn't it have been kept at least through that event? Perhaps that's asking too much of a silly cartoon, but it shouldn't be.

     In the B plot of "There Goes El Neighborhood," Junior sets Cecilia up on a Valentine's Day date, then waffles on whether he wants her to go through with it or not, alternately strong arming and threatening the poor guy who's interested in her. It's cool that the potential date is not a jerk, even though he looks like a jock. And yes, he is more appropriate, going by physical appearance at least, for Cecilia than Junior, but that's not really the point of the story. The question is, does Junior really love Cecilia, and will he make a real romantic play for her? Junior has been shown to be too shy to be overly sexual, and Cecilia, as an older girl, wants more physical aspects of a relationship than Junior is ready to give. His jealousy is understandable, but the two just aren't compatible right now, and hopefully Junior can understand that, whether he eventually decides to seriously pursue his wife or not.

     The Cleveland Show airs Sunday nights on FOX. Since the Animation Domination schedule has more shows than time slots right now, keep an eye on listings for the broadcast time, as it has been known to move around.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chuck mostly wins "Versus the Goodbye"

     NBC's Chuck comes to an end forever with "Chuck Versus the Goodbye." The second hour of a two hour finale, "Chuck Versus the Goodbye," finds Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) reluctantly allowing Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Morgan (Joshua Gomez) to help her hunt down Quinn (Angus Macfadyen, Californication, Braveheart), now that she knows he is a bad guy. Chuck still hopes to spark Sarah's memories of their time together, but those hopes are dashed when Chuck must use the last Intersect upload to save many innocent lives, rather than to restore some of those memories. In the end, Quinn is killed, and Sarah does listen to Chuck tell their story, though whether or not she feels anything romantically for Chuck remains a mystery.

     Talking of using the Intersect to restore Sarah's memories, well, photos and such that pertain to memories, is a little creepy. It's a plan that will reprogram someone's brain. Of course, Chuck has always explored such themes with a light hand, given that the Intersect computer, which is implanted into one's brain, is an important element throughout all five seasons of the series. And the fact of the matter is, when it comes right down to it, the Intersect ends up being used as a weapon that harms Morgan and nearly destroys Sarah. So Chuck does anything but promote such invasive technology. No matter how cool it appears to be.

     Chuck ends up being a love story, first and foremost. There is a villain that must be defeated in the finale, sure, and there is spy work that must be done. But heart has always been a central element, and never does that take more prominence than in the series finale. Much of the final hour is devoted to Chuck's feelings for Sarah, and his efforts to re-spark that romance within her. He wooed her once, over the course of several years. Even without her memories, she does return to him, even if she has excuses for doing so. So maybe Chuck can eventually get her to fall for him again.

     The ending of "Chuck Versus the Goodbye" is left open to interpretation, which is actually quite nice. There are some plot holes and things that don't flow well in the finale, which will be covered shortly, and trying to resolve Sarah's missing memories likely would lend itself to more negatives. To tie up that story so neatly at the end of two hours, when the damage appears so permanent, would be unrealistic and hokey. But to allow Chuck and Sarah to kiss, both hoping against hope that this magical expression of their love will restore what they lost, then fading to black without revealing whether it works or not, is perfect. Because, the fact is, whether Sarah ever remembers or not, she is already seeing the love in Chuck's eyes, and it will not take her long to make some new memories with him. They both appear ready for the challenge of starting over, so it is truly a happy ending.

     "Chuck Versus the Goodbye," as well as the hour preceding it, are full of nostalgia for Sarah and Chuck. Seeing Sarah back in her hot dog serving outfit, or the pair dancing heatedly, or diffusing a bomb with Casey (Adam Baldwin), is a wonderful treat, paying homage to the early days of Chuck, sometimes very obviously. With everything dark going on, this lightens the mood. It also helps viewers overlook the numerous flaws, as they are so moved by what is playing out on screen, that they forget about logic. A smart move here.

     Sarah and Chuck aren't the only ones who get the happy ending, either. Casey, after a brief slip back to the detached military officer he once was, chooses heart instead, and goes after Gertrude (Carrie-Anne Moss). Morgan and Alex (Mekenna Melvin) decide to move in together. Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Awesome (Ryan McPartlin) take promising jobs in Chicago, which will allow them to afford a big house, something they cannot do in L.A., even with their doctor salaries. Even Mary (Linda Hamilton) stops in for a visit, and General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy) gets to play a small role in the final mission (the final final final mission, long after the characters' stated final mission). So all the major characters are served.

     Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence) is thrilled to see Subway purchase the Buy More, or rather, excited by the prospect of the delicious food that will go with it. Subway has done much to keep Chuck on the air for all of these years, so despite some blatant product placement, which actually goes well with the hip charm of Chuck, and the confusion as to why a restaurant chain would want to purchase an electronic store, it can be overlooked. Subway deserves a reward for its staunch support of the show, and saluting it in the end is well justified.

     Jeffster makes a final appearance in "Chuck Versus the Goodbye" as the duo (Scott Krinsky and Vik Sahay) performs "Take On Me," with orchestral backup, to stop a bomb from going off and killing Beckman and the audience. Their musical numbers have been an integral part of Chuck, and present for many important moments. Thus, it's fitting to see them one last time. Even better, the two are offered a recording deal in Germany, and complete their maturation that's been building in this fifth season. finally leaving the Buy More and heading on to bigger things.

     Now, for the drawbacks. The two hour finale is full of plot holes. Why does Quinn need to remind Sarah of Ellie's name after Sarah studies files on Chuck and his loved ones? How does Morgan gets Jeffster dressed and ready to perform so quickly? How does Casey know that Sarah has taken up residence in her old apartment? The list goes on and on. Chuck has never been the best written series on television, but the final two hours are some of the worst, logic wise. This is disappointing, after five great years. The fact that the wonderful depth of heart distracts fans enough to enjoy the episodes does not take away from the wish that a little more time had been taken to make the story make more sense. Ah, well. Nothing can be done about it now.

     In the end, Chuck deserves thanks and praise for the five years it touched, tickled, and entertained us. It will be sorely missed.

     Oh, and did anyone else catch that Chuck ends with Chuck possessing a newly updated version of the Intersect in his head? Awesome!

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Article first published as TV Review: Chuck - "Chuck Versus the Goodbye" on Blogcritics.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

30 Rock rocks out the guest stars

     This week on NBC's 30 Rock, in "The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell," Jack (Alec Baldwin) decides to get rid of the Page Program and replace them with an automated system (voiced by Rachel Dratch), much to Kenneth's (Jack McBrayer) chagrin. But then Jack makes a mistake, and his businessversary present to Hank Hooper (Ken Howard) gets sent to TGS instead. Jack loses the respect of not only Hank, but the TGS staff as well, with Lutz (John Lutz) even thinking that they are on the same level! To save face, Jack rehires the pages and blames Kenneth for the snafu, scrapping the automated machine.

     Writing a review of nearly any 30 Rock episode ends up being a game of name dropping as many celebrities as possible, and a struggle to mention all of the best one-liners, of which there are almost always a plethora to choose from. "The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell" has its share of the latter, and more of the former than any installment in recent memory. That alone makes it an episode well worth watching, as well as guarantees that not every star appearing in the half hour will be mentioned in the following article. Nor will most of those names be linked, but feel free to google them.

     It's been too long an absence for Dratch, who appears regularly as a variety of characters in the early days of 30 Rock. Any excuse to bring her back is more than welcome, so it's a little disappointing that the machine is thrown away so fast. Where might she pop up next, and when?

     It's great to see Jack exposed as a normal man. Everything about his character screams elitist, and even though viewers soon start to root for Jack to fix his image problem this week, it's funny to see him taken down a peg by the likes of Lutz and Frank (Judah Friedlander). 30 Rock needs Jack to be the top dog in order to keep the fictional version of NBC running, but that doesn't mean that he can't suffer temporary setbacks. This story will work especially well for those who wish some ill will on Baldwin, who isn't universally liked outside of 30 Rock.

     In "The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell," Jack gets to deliver a great one-liner about the fame of Maulik Pancholy, who formerly plays Jack's assistant, Jonathan, and now co-stars in Whitney. Jonathan is definitely missed, and is a far better use of Pancholy's talents that his current role. However, Pancholy does get more screen time on Whitney, slightly, so it's probably better for him, career wise. And at least he's a main character on his new series instead of a recurring supporting player, as he is on 30 Rock.

     In a second plot, Liz (Tina Fey) and Jenna (the underrated, fantastic Jane Krakowski) have a falling out as friends when Jenna sets up Liz to have paint thrown on her by PETA, just so Jenna can save face. Both seek solace by gravitating towards others like themselves. It isn't long before Jenna finds her new besties, including an unknown Kardashian, exhausting. And Liz, after a misstep with a very obvious knock off of the Sex and the City friends, who are even listed in the credits with names like Charglotte and Kerrie (Teri Conn, As the World Turns, One Life to Live), ends up really annoyed by a near twin named Amy (Julie Dretzin, Six Feet Under). They return to each other, glad to have someone that complements them, rather than a pal exactly like them.

     30 Rock uses its trademark brand of broad, winky humor extensively in the Liz and Jenna plot this week. Not only is it packed with guest stars, but the jokes are really funny. It may be a typical story, done by many other series, but it is handled with a 30 Rock twist that makes it seem both fresh and hilarious. As such, more of this kind of stuff will keep the show running for a good long time.

     Following on that theme, the MLK Day trailer at the beginning of "The Ballad of Kenneth Purcell," featuring Jenna starring in a Valentine's Day-esque film with Emma Stone, Nick Cannon, and Andy Samberg (themselves), is a wonderful tongue-in-cheek joke. Not many shows have the gravitas to pull these kind of names for a one-shot laugh, but that 30 Rock can do so over and over again really lends to its credibility. Just looking for who will show up next is a great draw to watch each episode. Also, Jenna's growing fame on the show within a show is a neat way to take her character, and putting her in the company of these others actors makes it seem even more believable.

     Finally, Tracy (Tracy Morgan) decides that he'd like to kill himself after Dot Com (Kevin Brown) and Grizz (Grizz Chapman) send out his birthday invitations with the phrase "no gifts." Tracy isn't really looking for death, but rather, wants to illustrate a point to his entourage, mostly because he doesn't have anything else to do. As to what exactly that point is, well, anyone's guess is good, as Tracy's brain doesn't exactly work correctly. But it's amusing, and it gives Morgan some amusing scenes in the jam-packed episode.

     "The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell" aired at 9 p.m. ET, the second of two new episodes this week. Normally, 30 Rock airs in the earlier time slot of 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Be sure to watch it.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

The Big Bang Theory of Leonard and Penny

     CBS's The Big Bang Theory continues its story last night with "The Beta Test Initiation." Leonard (Johnny Galecki) suggests doing 'Bug' lists when Penny (Kaley Cuoco) is annoyed with him to help their dating life go more smoothly. But she is very displeased when she reads the list he does about her. Raj's (Kunal Nayyar) dating life finally picks up when he falls for his iPhone's voice program, Siri. Amy (Mayim Bialik) continues her strange relationship with Sheldon (Jim Parsons) by helping him do a video series on flags.

     After the amazing 100th episode last week, The Big Bang Theory has a lot to live up to. "The Beta Test Initiation" just doesn't quite cut it. Rather than reveling in Leonard and Penny's reconnection, or putting it on the back burner, screentime-wise, as is often done during their earlier dating run, the series chooses to tackle the pair in a very typical, predictable way. NBC's Up All Night did their own version of a 'bug' list just a couple short weeks ago. It's really an idea that has been done to death on sitcoms, and it never, ever ends well for the couple, making the ending of the plot way too obvious. "The Beta Test Initiation" is no exception to that rule. The Leonard and Penny bits of the episode were tired and useless. Hopefully, they will pick up a bit better next week.

     However, the saving gave of this week's The Big Bang Theory involves Sheldon and the flags. It's a minor subplot, to be sure, but it really steals the show every single time it comes on screen. Perhaps it's seeing Amy in costume, or hearing Sheldon's frustration as take after take is ruined, something the perfectionist genius didn't predict would happen when filming in his living room, the hang out spot for their group. He also clearly doesn't know anything about editing. But the concept is wonderful, the story believable for the character, who geeks out over all kinds of things, and it gives Sheldon and Amy more time to spend together, which is always welcome.

     One must wonder what happens when Leonard and Penny's relationship progresses this time. After a rocky split, it seems unlikely that The Big Bang Theory will break them up again. With any luck, this is it for the two, who will eventually get married and live happily ever after. Should that happen in the next season or two, it seems like a likely result will be Amy wanting to move things with Sheldon to another level. Though, for Sheldon, another level might involve a little making out. But how might the series change if this happens? Could Leonard move in with Penny? Might Amy try to force her way into Sheldon's apartment? Might he agree to it if she stops pursuing a physical connection? What kind of dynamics would that result in, and would it energize or kill the series? So many questions to ponder that are greater than this week's episode itself.

     The other story in "The Beta Test Initiation" involves Raj's love life finally happening, though in the form of dating a computerized voice. As the other characters around Raj grow and mature, he alone seems stuck in who he is. His inability to talk to girls without alcohol in his system is funny, but it's time for him to get over it. It's time Raj gets a real girlfriend who pulls him out of his shell. With the success of adding Amy and Berndatte (Melissa Rauch) to the cast, the timing of a fourth female addition seems ripe. Not that Raj's girl needs to be a main character. In fact, it might be more fun to take Raj done a slutty path once his fear is overcome. The point is, though, there's been enough of sad Raj feeling lonely and sorry for himself. He should step up and claim his rightful place in the cast, the series, and the romantic world.

     The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Touched by Touch

     FOX presented a very special preview episode of Touch last night, two months before it officially joins the network lineup. In the "Pilot," widower Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland, 24) is working a low paying job, struggling to make ends meet, while caring for his autistic son, Jake (David Mazouz, Amish Grace), who, by the way, doesn't talk, nor allow even his father to touch him. When Jake repeatedly runs away from his school to climb a cell tower, social worker Clea Hopkins (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Undercovers, Doctor Who) shows up to remove Jake, at least temporarily, from the home. But soon both Martin and Clea are drawn in by the mystery of Jake's numbers, which leads to some remarkable connections. Martin follows those, and when his actions result in kids' lives being saved, he becomes a true believer.

     "A believer of what?" you might ask. Well, that's complicated. Basically, the theory set forth in Touch, and explained to Martin by the series's mysterious fourth main character, Arthur DeWitt (Danny Glover, Lethal Weapon, Brothers & Sisters), is that everything in the world is connected. Not only that, Jake is part of the next stage of human evolution. Jake can see all of these connections, and it allows him to understand what is going to happen. It's not predicting the future, but rather, having a clearer understanding of how the world works. Unfortunately, being mute is a side effect that prevents Jake from acting on this knowledge, so Martin must pick up on the clues and do the hard work for his son.

     While, in terms of realism, Touch stretches things just a bit, the emotional impact of this show cannot be overstated. Sutherland is fantastic as Martin, and other than at the beginning of the episode when Martin is informed that Jake has left the school, and dad gets upset, there are few echoes of Jack Bauer. For instance, Jack Bauer would never be afraid of heights! Viewers will really feel the affection Martin that has for his son, as well as his frustration at not being able to connect with him. Add to that, Martin's wife died on September 11th, and the whole nation will remember and feel his pain. Martin is in a nearly impossible situation, and the way in which he deals with his life is nothing short of heroic. Being given this purpose, as difficult as it may pan out to be, is kind of like a reward for all of the suffering Martin has been through, tangible proof that his efforts have paid off.

     In "Pilot," things get personal for Martin when Jake's numbers keep leading dad to run into a grumpy man (Titus Welliver, The Good Wife, Lost, Sons of Anarchy). At first, this strange guy seems to be an antagonist. But soon enough Martin learns he is a firefighter, and one who not only tried to save Martin's wife's life on that fateful day, but also pulls children from a bus. He is a hero, too, and Martin's actions lead to the latter outcome. It personalizes the mission in a way that future episodes likely won't often be able to, making for a hell of a "Pilot."

     It's wonderful that Clea gets on board with Martin so easily. Many shows would stretch out this friction to make drama, keeping Martin fighting with her. But in finding an ally for him and his son, Martin's job gets a little easier. And Martin has suffered enough, he doesn't need any further problems. Look for Clea to get more personally involved soon, cementing her role in Touch.

     There are other things going on in the "Pilot," though, that don't seem to have a lot of connection to the main plot, other than the central role of cell phones. A woman trying to make it as a singer sends videos of herself out on cell phones, aided by a friend. The video gets onto a father's, which he loses, and it also has pictures of his young, deceased daughter. The father desperately tries to get his phone back, and it ends up on a suicide bomber in the Middle East. Luckily, the bomber just needs an oven for his family, the father is a restaurant supplier, and they end up both connected to an operator, who happens to be the singer, during a crucial moment. How this connects to Jake and Martin is circumspect, but it's an inspiring, uplifting tale.

     In all, Touch really hooks viewers in with one of, if not the, the best pilots of the season, even with the few leaps people will have to make to enjoy it. The biggest worry here is that it is from Tim Kring, who also created the ill-fated Heroes. Fans of Heroes will remember how awesome the beginning of that show was, before devolving into something not worth watching, and getting canceled at the end of season four without resolution to a cliffhanger. Thus, watching Touch is recommend with some reservation, given that if Kring goes down the same path, an emotional investment might hurt quite a bit.

     Touch will return in March to FOX.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Glee The Concert, on Blu-ray and DVD, great for those missing Glee this week

     It is no secret to fans of FOX's Glee that the cast of the beloved series does a concert tour every spring, at the completion of filming the TV show. Last year's concert was packaged into a film, released in theaters in 3-D. Most people don't own 3-D televisions, but the special is available on Blu-ray and DVD, and the set comes with a digital copy, so it can at least be partially experienced on a variety of platforms. With Glee taking a break tonight, now seems like the perfect opportunity to take a look at this must-have for all true gleeks.

     Glee The Concert is about eighty minutes in length, showcasing many musical numbers on stage, mixed in with backstage interviews and inspiring stories of Glee fans. Recorded during a live show in East Rutherford, New Jersey, it is clear from the beginning that Glee The Concert does not present an entire concert. Hints of witty banter to bridge songs are seen, but not much. Which is a shame. The small parts that are shown fit more into the spirit of what the live show must be than the packaged profiles and interviews. While it's fun to get a little backstage look at some of the stars, many of whom stay in character, it's also disappointing to be robbed of the full experience. Transitions make sense, but it feels like there's something missing. Not to mention, given the film's short running time, there are probably songs cut out.

     The three teenagers that tell their stories in between the songs of Glee The Concert are moving stories full of optimism and accepting people for who they are. Which is exactly the theme of Glee. There is a gay guy (of course), a girl with Asperger's, and a popular cheerleader who happens to be a dwarf, and is eventually crowned Prom Princess. For those not inspired by the regular Glee show, or American Idol profiles, these come across as cheesy and unnecessary. For those gleeks caught up totally in the mania surrounding the show, and think that a simple television program impacts their lives in deep ways, it's a treat to eat up. As such, opinion will be divided on the value of including these features, and both sides have valid arguments. It's a 'love it or hate it' situation.

     Many of the songs performed in Glee The Concert are favorites from the show. The movie, predictably, opens with a welcome performance of "Don't Stop Believin'." Also included are "Empire State of Mind," "Born This Way," and "Loser Like Me," all of which are big group numbers that succeed wonderfully. If one stays past the first couple minutes of ending credits, one is rewarded with "Somebody to Love."

     Most of the major characters are featured in solo or duet performances. Brittany's (Heather Morris) "I'm a Slave 4 U" is a great fit that really pumps up the crowd and showcases her dancing and body. Those missing Zizes (Ashley Fink) this season, this reviewer definitely among them, will love Puck (Mark Salling) wooing her with "Fat Bottomed Girls." Rachel (Lea Michele) busts out her "Don't Rain On My Parade" and "Firework," both stunning performances. Finn (Cory Monteith) shines in "Jesse's Girl." Artie (Kevin McHale) gets to ditch his chair and groove out to "Safety Dance." Kurt (Chris Colfer) fans will swoon to his soulful "I Want to Hold Your Hand," still a highlight of the second season. Substitute teacher Holly Holiday (Gwyneth Paltrow, the sole adult appearing) even pops up to belt out "Forget You."

     Those who prefer more than one singer will not be disappointed. Kurt and Rachel duet "Happy Days Are Here Again / Get Happy," while Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Santana (Naya Rivera) slay "River Deep - Mountain High," as only they can. And, to the delight of girls everywhere, Blaine (Darren Criss) leads the Warblers in a trio of songs comprising a short set in the middle of the film. In fact, a highlight of Glee The Concert is a young boy dressed as Blaine performing in front of his TV, which is revisited in the ending credits. In short, Glee The Concert makes some great musical choices, and they are extremely well performed, as fans would expect them to be. Energy is high, and no lip synching is evident.

     That being said, there are a couple of issues. For one thing, Artie performs too much. Sure, he gets "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" more as a way to highlight Mike Chang's (Harry Shum Jr.) dance moves, but it's still McHale singing. It's not disappointing that Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) is not featured, but Quinn (Dianna Agron) deserved her own song, rather than being reduced to a duet of "Lucky" with Sam (Chord Overstreet), as great at that number is. However, those are small complaints in the overall picture.

     Glee The Concert comes with a handful of special features. Two songs not appearing in the film, "Dog Days Are Over" and "Friday," are included, as well as extended versions of "Ain't No Way" and "Happy Days Are Here Again / Get Happy." Which is beneficial, because both numbers seem short in the picture. "On Stage With the Cast" provides a couple of cameos by Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) that probably should not have been cut, as well as a wonderful proposal between Kurt and Blaine that hints a major season three development to the audience. "Backstage With the Cast" is what you would expect, a few minutes of speaking with the performers behind the scenes. Shazam also provides content to a mobile device, if one is tech savvy and wants even more content.
     Glee The Concert will not replace the show, but it's a nice companion, and revisits some favorite musical numbers. Buy your copy on Blu-ray or DVD today.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Should you look for the Lost Girl?

     SyFy's newest drama series, Lost Girl, is actually a show at the end of its second season in Canada, where the series is made, which a third ordered. By Americans are only up to episode two, "Where There's a Will, There's a Fae," as of last night. In this installment, Bo (Anna Silk, Being Erica) is asked by a will-o'-the-wisp (Richard McMillan, The Fountain) to recover his lost treasure for a thief. But finding the robber, Michael (Elias Toufexis, Assassin's Creed II), Bo learns that there is more to this situation than a simple robbery. Unfortunately for her, uniting a father and son through the big misunderstanding is a challenge. 

     Lost Girl is not super fantastic or original in the first two episodes. It's sort of a cross between The Nine Lives Of Chloe King and a crime procedural. Obviously, LG predates TNLOCK in production, but since the latter aired first in the states, it doesn't seem like it's so. Both deal with a central female who discovers she has secret parentage, and a whole culture not known to her. Both use a three-letter, two-vowel name of the hidden species (Mai and Fae). The major difference is that Lost Girl is more grown up, and has the case-of-the-week element to it, the second point not exactly being a mark in its favor.

     There is nothing stand out bad about Lost Girl, but nothing awesome about it either. Perhaps it improves, since a third season has been ordered, even though it is just getting started in the U.S. But the mystery service that Kenzie (Ksenia Solo, Life Unexpected, Black Swan) forces Bo into is not necessary. The best parts of the first episodes are Bo learning about the Fae: who they are, how they align themselves, and how she fits into the world. Not only that, but apparently there is some big mystery, where Bo is extremely important in their supernatural world, and she is abandoned as a baby to protect her. It's been done before, but it's also engaging, and the lead actresses are interesting enough to carry that series. Unfortunately, instead of committing to this serial concept, the writers drag out the questions, spending significant amounts of time on a guest star's issues.
     "Where There's a Will, There's a Fae" appears to be setting up the premise. It's not a bad story, though it gets a little hokey. For instance, why does the will-o'-the-wisp send Bo to hunt down his crook, and also sends an assassin? One would think one or the other would serve the purpose, and this second hire seems present only to force Bo into action sequences. However, the misunderstanding between father and son is kinda fun. Then, though, the characters disappear before resolving anything. So overall, the story is uneven and off. And Bo gets a small piece of her puzzle, then goes on with her life.

     What could save Lost Girl, if the procedural elements are down played, is character interaction. Why does Bo take such good care of Kenzie when Bo is seen to be casual about ending other's lives? Setting aside that viewers are expected to buy into this quick turn around, what about Kenzie appeals to Bo such much that it changes her? There has to be something there, more so than just finding another lost soul. Plus, Bo has two love interests, a male cop / vampire named Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried, The Tudors), and a female Fae-expert doctor named Lauren (Zoie Palmer, The Guard), so lots more confusion and gray areas to be dealt with there.

     Will Lost Girl improve? The only way to know is to watch it, airing 10 p.m. ET on SyFy.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Futurama Volume 6 now on Blu-ray and DVD

     Now out on Blu-ray and DVD from FOX is Futurama Volume 6. The sixth volume contains the second half of season six, the batch of episodes that aired this past summer. Concerning the blu-ray edition, there are two discs with thirteen episodes, as well as some special features. The episodes are in production order, which is not the order in which they aired. For instance, the two episodes that originally kicked off the summer run are numbers 7 and 4 in this set. For Futurama fans, this latest release is needed to complete the collection.

     When Comedy Central ordered new episodes of the canceled animated series Futurama, many rejoiced. The sixth season, the first original one on cable, was twenty-six episodes long, split over two years. Volume 6 contains the second batch of thirteen. But it is far from the capstone on the series that resists death. Next year, Comedy Central will present another batch of thirteen installments, followed by the second half of "season seven" sometime in 2013. So there's plenty of life left in this series.

     The quality of Futurama to be found in Volume 6 lives up to the standard set by the show. Bender (John DiMaggio), certainly a fan favorite character, gets lot to do. In "The Silence of the Clamps," he is forced to enter a witness relocation program as he flees from the Robot Mafia. "Benderama" provides Bender will the ability to replicate himself in ever smaller copies, which eventually threatens to destroy Earth. After Bender's death in "Ghost in the Machine," his spirit haunts the Planet Express crew. "Overclockwise" sees Bender evolve into a god with very high processing power, looking down on the mere mortals he used to reluctantly call "friends."

     But, of course, there are other characters besides Bender, and Futurama Volume 6 should satisfy them as well. "Mobius Dick" is a wonderful parody of Moby Dick, with Leela (Katey Sagal) on the hunt for an elusive white space whale who can travel into a fourth dimension, while "Yo Leela Leela" casts the one-eyed beauty as the star of a children's series. "The Tip of the Zoidberg" delves into the Professor (Billy West) and Zoidberg's (also West) past, giving some background info that fans never knew before. "All the President's Heads" sends the Planet Express crew back to the American Revolution. "Cold Warriors" has Fry (also West) reintroducing the extinct common cold to mankind. And "Reincarnation" is particularly memorable, as the characters are shown in three different animation styles.

     This set has a handful of extras. Most importantly, all thirteen episodes have audio commentary available to them. Roughly fifteen minutes of deleted scenes are included, split between the two discs, some of which are fully animated, and some not quite finished.

     Three featurettes give more depth to the series. "Professor Farnsworth's Science of a Scene" takes a look at how the giant Bender inside-head set was created for "Overclockwise." But rather than get too technical or dry, much time is spent speaking with those involved in the show, who give an overview of their process, as well as share some musings on the show at large. Similarly, "Reincarnation Explained!" features Peter Avanzino, the director of the episode "Reincarnation," discussing the various animation styles featured, but also the impact of Futurama on him, and his take on animation in general. Funniest is "Futurama F.A.Q. (Frequently Axed Questions)," where those involved in the show answer fan questions, usually humorously. It's not clear if these are actual questions sent in by fans, but the short is very entertaining, though a little sparse on real responses.

     Overall, Futurama Volume 6 is a good buy, with some great content to hold fans over until season seven premieres this summer. Buy your copy today.

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The Finder looks for a couple of "Bullets"

     FOX launched the Bones spin-off, The Finder, last week. This week, episode two, "Bullets," finds Bones character Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley) arriving in Florida to determine if Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults, October Road, 7th Heaven) is crazy or not. Sweets's opinion will determine whether Walter will be permitted to continue to work with Deputy U.S. Marshal Isabel Zambada (Mercedes Masohn, Chuck, Quarantine 2: Terminal), or any other government official, for that matter. Sweets accompanies Walter as he searches for two bullets, in a swamp that has been paved over, in order to save a man from execution. What Sweets discovers doesn't exactly put his mind at ease. But the good doc does get to see the benefits of Walter's work, which is enough to convince Sweets to clear him for six months.

     Admittedly, The Finder seems like a slight twist on a tired concept. There are so many crime series already clogging the network television airwaves, that another one is rarely welcome. Yet, The Finder bubbles with unique characters and amusing situations, so much so that it manages to be highly entertaining. Considering it is a spin-off of Bones, arguably one of, if not the, best procedurals currently running, this shouldn't be all that surprising. And yet, it is, especially with this smaller cast, and a setting that is featured in many competing shows like Burn Notice, Dexter and CSI: Miami. Somehow, The Finder manages to be more than watchable, and slightly addictive after a mere two episodes.

     A large portion of that can be attributed to the cast. Stults is perfect as the brain-damaged man obsessed with finding things, and with a knack for uncovering the truth of any situation. Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile, Armageddon) shines as Leo Knox, Walter's soft-spoken, extremely loyal lawyer, who devotes his life to protecting Walter in a variety of ways, from preparing food, to running interference on those who would disturb Walter's work. Mashon has had less to do in the first couple of episodes than the guys, but is likable enough to spark some interest and the hope she becomes more developed soon.

     Rounding out the cast is Maddie Hasson (God Bless America) as Willa, a troubled teen who is on probation, and looked after by Leo. She might be, perhaps, the most interesting of the group, given that her history remains her murky, and her motivations unclear. Willa gets some really interesting plot in the "Pilot," but less so in "Bullets." This week, she merely hangs out with a cute guy, then, learning he is a douche, walks away, leaving him to take the rap for a car they steal. She is a bad girl, who can be good when she wants to be, which certainly isn't always. Of course, Leo will rub off on her, and she will turn over a new leaf soon. But what will be the result of that, and what will she bring to the team when she starts helping them on their missions, as she eventually must? These question make her pretty darn intriguing.

     The case of the week in "Bullets" is pretty neat. A cop is killed twenty-years ago, and Walter is asked to clear the convicted murderer's name. The swamp where everything happened is now paved over, so finding the bullets proves difficult. Plus, colorful characters, such as a couple of Miami Vice knockoffs, a slimy IA officer, and an exciting, humorous shoot out keep things interesting. And yet, even with all of these distractions, Walter somehow manages to find what he is looking for. Sure, sometimes the plot stretches reality here, but the writing is clever enough to seem plausible, if unlikely. It's also really cool to see how Walter's brain works, including figuring things out while hypnotized, resisting control from Sweets, and building models.

     A story point that is a bit odd is that Sweets is sent to Florida, since surely there are qualified mental health professionals nearby, and one does not need to be sent from Washington D.C. Though not mentioned, perhaps Sweets's friends, who met Walter last spring, pull some strings to send their guy, thus providing Walter with someone they think will give him the fairest chance. And Walter is a great character to pair up with Sweets because of the various neurosis both have. So it works out very well, and hopefully Sweets will return in six months to re-evaluate Walter.

     In summary, The Finder manages to be a pretty great show, despite a number of factors working against it. Only time will tell if it can maintain some of the elements that make it great, which, by necessity, will have to evolve. But it's off to a good start.

     Watch The Finder Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Do you love Glee? "Yes/No"

      FOX's Glee returns from Christmas break with "Yes/No." After seeing Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) has eloped, Emma (Jayma Mays) grows anxious for a proposal from Will (Matthew Morrison), who asks the New Directions to help him craft one. But a conversation with Emma's parents (Don Most and Valerie Mahaffey) leaves him doubting whether or not Emma is ready for marriage and a family. Love is in the air for the kids, too, as Becky (Lauren Potter) sets her sights on Artie (Kevin McHale), Mercedes (Amber Riley) tries to pick a guy, and Finn (Cory Monteith) thinks about his future with Rachel (Lea Michele).

     Many did not expect Will to actually pop the question to Emma in "Yes/No." First of all, talking to her parents is a colossal mistake, which he should realize, considering their disastrous first meeting. The fact that he would listen to such mean, spiteful people, and take their words to heart, is completely unacceptable. After two and a half seasons of dancing around each other, fans would have been justifiably upset if Will or the writers had used this as an excuse to delay the union any longer. Thankfully, that doesn't happen. And Will's ability to quickly see the truth of the matter, and deliver his wonderfully elaborate proposal, should prove that they are meant to be together, and will last as a couple.

     The feelings between Will and Emma are always there, even when Will is trapped in a horrible marriage. Once freed from those bonds, Glee takes a detour. Which, since this is television, after all, that's not only acceptable, it's expected. What is unexpected, and more than acceptable, is allowing the pair to culminate that romance into something permanent so quickly! After all, Glee is only midway through season three, and many shows keep these things going on for years past that. So it's a joy that Glee goes another way.

     As for the attraction between Will and Emma, and Will's doubts, those are legitimate. Emma does have a debilitating condition that cannot be ignored. Perhaps she will be OK with mess once she has her own kids, but there's no guarantee of that; she might even grow worse. As such, they are definitely not ready to start a family, and it's great that Glee allows them to have a real conversation about it. But Will appears prepared to wait, and committed to helping Emma, who by her own right, is working on her problem. Progress will be slow, and any serious talk of kids before late season five is premature. However, "Yes/No" begins things on the right path.

     This little story leads to a wonderful musical number. Emma sings "Wedding Bell Blues," with Coach Beiste and Sue (Jane Lynch) backing her up. Emma only gets about one song per season, and this is her best yet. It's relevant, fun, and a good vocal showcase. Also, seeing Beiste and Sue in bridesmaid dresses, and making it appear that Emma has adult female friends, is wonderful. Perhaps Sue really wouldn't back Emma up in this way, but Sue does offer moral support, so that's cool.

     Other songs are done by the kids as they attempt to help Will stage his proposal. The "Moves Like Jagger/Jumping Jack Flash" mash up is OK, if a bit of fluff. It is more memorable for its choreography than melody. "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face" is much sweeter, though admittedly sappy. However, it also gives some insight into other characters, including Santana's (Naya Rivera) deep love of Brittany (Heather Morris). And, of course, the one Will uses for the actual question, "We Found Love," is spectacular both aurally and visually, with a big synchronized swimming sequence. Excellent!

     It must be noted that while Coach Beiste may move a little fast in her relationship, already getting married to a character just introduced a handful of episodes ago, it is instant attraction between the two of them. Not to mention, Beiste has been waiting a long time for her man, and this one seems worthy. Viewers will surely only hope for the best between the pair, and have reason to be optimistic about the union.

     Will is not the only man to ask the big question in "Yes/No." Finn asks Rachel to marry him in a moment that seems pretty perfect. The girlfriend is shocked, and this episode does not reveal her answer. There are a number of things Rachel must consider. For one, she still has dreams of a Broadway career, and worries throughout Glee whether she can accomplish that while being with Finn. For another, they are still in school, and not even to college yet! Surely, that's too young! Her soulful "Without You" reveals that she has strong affection for him, but marriage is a huge step.

     It doesn't help that Finn is going through something that really doesn't have anything to do with Rachel. Finn tells Will that he is considering enlisting in the army, to follow in the footsteps of his war hero dad. But Will clues Emma, Burt (Mike O'Malley), and of course, Finn's mom Carole (Romy Rosemont), into the decision, and the adults confront Finn for a frank discussion. Carole admits that Finn's dad wasn't a hero, and struggled with addiction after a bad experience in the service, eventually dying from the condition. It's a shocker, but one a mother understandably keeps from her son while he's growing up. Finn is devastated.

     So is Finn's marriage proposal just his way of trying to give his future some meaning? Robbed of following daddy's path, might he just be clinging to something else? Or, perhaps not. Finn has to really look inside himself, searching for the thing that makes him special, and he feels that Rachel is that thing. Which is certainly endearing. Perhaps they are too young, but Finn's desire to be with Rachel comes from a genuine place, and is sincere. As to whether Rachel is ready to commit to him in that way, well, that remains to be seen. But since this is television, and there is at least one more season left for the pair, she'll probably say no.

     Glee doesn't seem to disparage military service in "Yes/No," but it does discourage it for the character of Finn. It's certainly not a decision to be taken lightly, and one that isn't right for most people. Hopefully no one will be offended by this scene of talking the young man out of enlisting. No offense seems intended, nor warranted.Instead, it calls attention to the harsh truth, less often spoken of, about our troops. Which is something worth exploring.

     Mercedes also struggles with her romantic notions in "Yes/No." Pursued by Sam (Chord Overstreet), Mercedes insists that what she has with him is just a summer fling, and she is over him, happy now with Shane (Lamarcus Tinker). But in "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face," her thoughts go to Sam, not Shane. Does this mean that Sam is the one that she wants (hehe)? Probably, since Sam is a more central character, and unfortunately, despite Tinker's other respectable credits (Cougar Town and Friday Night Lights) before coming to Glee, he has been used practically not at all. Mercedes may choose Sam, but the real crime here is Tinker being wasted on Glee.

     If you didn't understand the "hehe" in the preceding paragraph, think of the lyrics in Grease. This is made a more obvious link by the rendition of "Summer Nights" Sam and Mercedes perform in "Yes/No." One wishes Glee took more liberties with the words to apply the number to the couple's actual doings. What is present, instead, is a version extremely true to the movie it comes from, with camera shots echoing the original. It's cool, and a well done homage, but it doesn't really give fans any insight into what actually happens between the two off screen, and that is something many long to see.

     A quick question, though. Since Sam has a letter jacket previously in Glee, why does he need to join the swim team to get another one? He is shown wearing it in season two, presumably because of his football stint. Even if he no longer owns the jacket, he could just buy another, right, without having to re-qualify for it? Sure, it gives a good excuse to bring in NeNe Leakes as Coach Roz Washington, an amusing, if unnecessary, bit part. But the logic behind this plot doesn't make sense. And surely Sam knows Mercedes well enough by now to realize that she doesn't care about something so trivial. Also, the Sam from season two would never be this superficial. It feels out of character. Though it does feel like Grease, which may be the point.

     During "Summer Nights," Kurt (Chris Colfer) is seen with the girls, while Blaine (Darren Criss) is singing with the boys. Yes, this seems logical. But Kurt complains to Blaine in a prior episode that Blaine considers him the girl in their relationship. Mightn't this be part of the reason? And really, what's so wrong with it?

     The final couple in "Yes/No" to get some meaty plot is Becky and Artie. Becky searches for the perfect man, aided by an awesome, overconfident inner narration spoken by none other than Oscar winner Helen Mirren! This is explained by Becky stating that she can sound like whatever she wants to in her head, a true statement, and done wonderfully by the great actress. There can be no complaint about Mirren's role, and one is happily surprised that she enthusiastically took the part.

     Back to the central issue, though, Becky wants a guy. She chooses Artie because he is handicapable, like her, and cute. Artie goes along with it at first, because he finds he likes spending time with Becky, and he doesn't want to be rude. But he does eventually tell her that he just isn't interested in anything more. With typical swagger, Becky walks away from him, leaving Artie feeling bad, and Glee viewers with a broken heart. Not that anyone expects or wants Artie to be with Becky. But the poor girl deserves to be happy!

     The thing that is cool about the character of Becky is how she is treated as such an average student by Glee. Name one other television series that lets someone with Downs act like anyone else, sharing the same hopes and dreams, and almost never makes the character's story about her condition? Becky not only soars as an individual, she's an inspiration and role model for millions of people who share her ailment. She doesn't let it define her life. Yes, it's ridiculous to heap accolades for this fact in 2012, as it should be done everywhere, and it's almost criminal that Glee is the only series to truly tackle the issue in a realistic way.This is one of the reasons that Glee deserves respect, even if one does not care for cheesy musical numbers. Not to mention, actress Potter is fantastic in the part.

     What's more, the character of Sue is probably at her best written in "Yes/No." Besides her involvement in the Emma situation, she also offers support to Becky. Sue confronts Artie, but in a caring way, not a bully way. She advises Becky. Sue is also there to comfort Becky in the end. Glee has opened Sue up before, especially around her deceased sister and Becky, as she has a soft spot for them. However, this is probably the most sincere and well developed Sue episode yet, and despite playing only a small role in "Yes/No," it's a wonderful bit of story. More Sue like this, please!

     Also, more Glee episodes like this, please! "Yes/No" mostly stays away from the familiar tropes, and the things that don't work. It allows for serious conversation, and stories that feel real and relatable. The characters have a level of authenticity that they don't always exhibit. The songs are pretty good, and accent the story, rather than distract from it. In all, "Yes/No" will stand as a shining example of what Glee can, and should, be.

     It does not appear that Glee will be releasing its third season in two seperate DVD sets this year, unlike the first two seasons. That's OK. It's really been unnecessary.

     Watch Glee Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

     If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter!

     Click here for all of the Glee reviews I've ever written.

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Article first published as TV Review: Glee - "Yes/No" on Blogcritics.