5-sentence review of ‘The Walking Dead: Strangers’


The Walking Dead” | Season 5, Episode 2: “Strangers” | Date: Oct. 19, 2014

  1. The word that comes to mind after “The Walking Dead” introduced a band of cannibalistic hunters who eat Bob’s (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.) let is “gratuitous.”
  2. It was gratuitous even in the context of a show that is largely about inventive ways to smash zombie skulls.
  3. The obscene violence of the series doesn’t ruffle me too much, but it is a problem as it goes forward.
  4. It comes at the expense of character development and story (which I realize no one cares about because they’re mostly in it for the juicy squish of zombie mayhem) and it forces the series creative team to get grosser and more vile with each episode.
  5. I wonder when it gets to be too much for the audience, but with episode ratings that shatter cable TV records and eclipse most broadcast shows on the same night, maybe blood-spatter cruelty and soggy monsters is what people really want.

5-sentence review of ‘Madam Secretary: Blame Canada’


Madam Secretary” | Season 1, Episode 4: “Blame Canada” | Date: Oct. 19, 2014

  1. This week, Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) avoids war with Iran by meeting with an Iranian official in the basement of the Canadian embassy.
  2. McCord is magic that way, neatly solving every political crisis without too many consequences.
  3. Also, there are tensions with Canada over an oil pipeline and McCord threatens to revoke the visas of every Canadian-born NHL player if the Canadians don’t knock it off.
  4. I like any episode that implies the Canadians are getting tough with the United States, regardless of the issue.
  5. “Madam Secretary” is the perfect Sunday show — an unspectacular drama with good performances, just enough mystery to keep you paying attention without getting you very excited before bedtime.

5-sentence review of ‘Black-ish: Crime and Punishment’


Black-ish” | Season 1, Episode 5: “Crime and Punishment” | Date: Oct. 22, 2014

  1. I applaud the creative team of “Black-ish” and ABC for airing “Crime and Punishment,” a humorous episode about the highly charged topic of corporal punishment of children.
  2. Obviously, the episode was written and recorded well before Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse for allegedly whipping his son to the point of causing cuts and bruises, but that added extra poignancy to an episode took an amusing look at the tension felt by modern parents to discipline children in a meaningful way and whether that involves spanking.
  3. Jack (Miles Brown) plays a hiding game which worries his parents, especially when he does it in public places such as the mall and mom Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) promises dad Dre (Anthony Anderson) will spank the boy upon his return from work.
  4. Dre agonizes about the decision, consulting his father, Pops (Laurence Fishburne), who predictably favors whuppings, but Dre ultimate eschews violence and has an honest conversation with his 6-year-old son, telling him he’s disappointed the boy won’t stop — a disciplinary move that has the desired effect.
  5. The result felt earnest enough rather than a typical phony sitcom 30-minute solution, and the episode provided a largely amusing but thoroughly thoughtful discussion on a very charged issue.

5-sentence review of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: A Hen in the Wolf House’

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” | Season 2, Episode 4: “A Hen in the Wolf House”
| Date: Oct. 21, 2014

  1. My favorite moment in the episode was when May (Ming-Na Wen) slammed Skye (Chloe Bennet) against a wall and told her to chill out because Coulson (Clark Gregg) had a plan.
  2. My second favorite moment in the episode was when Coulson got in Skye’s face and told her to shut up and take orders.
  3. My third favorite moment in the episode was when newcomer Bobbie Morse (Adrianne Palicki) beat the crap out of a bunch of Hydra agents with metal staves, proving that Palicki totally could have played Wonder Woman if somebody had picked up that pilot a few years ago.
  4. My least favorite moment was when Skye and Coulson hugged and Skye had a good cry because her father is A) alive and B) a homicidal maniac.
  5. Checking the scorecard, that’s three things I liked against one thing I didn’t, which is a respectable result for “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” a show I only watch because of its vague connection to much-better movies based on Marvel Comics characters.

5-sentence review of ‘The Flash: Things You Can’t Outrun’


The Flash” | Season 1, Episode 3: “Things You Can’t Outrun” | Date: Oct. 21, 2014

  1. Gosh, I love watching “The Flash.”
  2. It feels like curling up in bed with a fresh stack of comic books and a bottle of pop after a trip in town to Montross Pharmacy with my dad on a Saturday afternoon.
  3. The show is rich with do-gooder earnestness and light on the dark, gritty gloom that permeates so much of pop culture and especially the superhero genre.
  4. “Things You Can’t Outrun” was a touch sappy with a few too many dead mom and dead fiance warm fuzzies and I’d like to see the Flash expand his powers — how about vibrating through walls or, in the case of the mist monster this week, a little swirling arm action.
  5. But every comic book has a few subplots to keep us interested in the next issue and “The Flash” series definitely leaves me hungry for more.

5-sentence review of ‘Mulaney: Halloween’


Mulaney” | Season 1, Episode 3: “Halloween” | Date: Oct. 19, 2014

  1. Fox halted production of “Mulaney,” reducing its order from 16 to 13.
  2. When I read that, I thought, “Can you imagine watching 13 episodes of this show?”
  3. I tried to watched three.
  4. I should emphasize “try.”
  5. I made it through John Mulaney’s standup about how Halloween is unsentimental and I thought, “Why the hell am I watching 13 seconds of this show?”

1-sentence review of ‘Family Guy: Baking Bad’


Family Guy” | Season 13, Episode 3: “Baking Bad” | Date: Oct. 19, 2014

  1. The title was “Baking Bad,” but there were no references to “Breaking Bad” and that was a shame.
  2. There was a joke about North Dakota, which was a joke I’ve actually heard.
  3. I mean what are the odds that someone is going to make a joke about North Dakota that you’ve already heard?
  4. Maybe there’s just the one joke about North Dakota.
  5. The joke, by the way, was: “North Dakota. We’re not even the best Dakota.”

5-sentence review of ‘The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXV’


The Simpsons” | Season 26, Episode 4:Treehouse of Horror XXV
| Date: Oct. 19, 2014

  1. The appearance of the Simpsons characters as the originally appeared in animated shorts on “The Tracey Ullman Show” is proof that even “The Simpsons” is nostalgic for the pre-dull “The Simpsons.”
  2. The original Simpsons’ appearance is  a case of originality being a dead horse beaten into a mush even a starving dog wouldn’t eat.
  3. Hell, “Family Guy,” which is harangued for being a knock-off of “The Simpsons,” already did this same thing three years ago.
  4. In a 2011 episode titled “Back to the Pilot,” Brian and Stewie actually visited their former selves by time travelling back to the pilot.
  5. This also wasn’t funny, but funny is a lot to ask from network TV.

1-sentence review of ‘Sleepy Hollow: The Weeping Lady’


Sleepy Hollow” | Season 2, Episode 4: “The Weeping Lady” | Date: Oct. 20, 2014

  1. The Headless Horseman (Neil Jackson), who too frequently has a head these days, almost decapitated Crane (Tom Mison), but he missed and, frankly, if a head doesn’t roll here pretty soon, I’m outta here because I’m only in it for the decapitations.