My TV Rankings, Week 7
My rankings for the eleven new episodes of TV I watched from Sunday, August 25th to Saturday, September 1st:
1. Breaking Bad “Say My Name” A
R.I.P. Mike Ehrmentraut, one of the greatest supporting characters on television over the last few years, played brilliantly by Jonathan Banks. This was a fantastic hour of television for him, but also for Bryan Cranston, with this being one of the strongest installments of the saga of Walter White. It began with Walt in full arrogance mode, demanding Declan ‘say his name’, and ended with Walt realizing that he’s made a terrible, terrible mistake and showing legitimate remorse for the first time in a long time. That’s progress, right? This episode was thrilling from beginning to end, and the show did a fantastic job of making clear that the net was closing in on Mike, and that Hank will soon be on Walt’s trail if he’s not careful. Banks and Cranston are two of the best actors on television and this episode showed how brilliant both of them can be with great material like the final showdown. While some people had problems with the way they got Walt and Mike together, I think it was perfectly plausible and feels right considering how out-of-shape Mike was at the time. All-in-all (I also have to mention Jesse getting out of the game as a great moment), this felt like the best episode Breaking Bad has done all season, with the most harrowingly beautiful ending the show has ever done.
2. Awkward. “Pick Me, Choose Me, Love Me” A
Best episode of Awkward ever? It certainly felt like that to me, with the show on really great form here, emotionally and comedically. I talked last week about how Jenna revealing her blog was a game-changing moment for the show, and it carried over brilliantly to this week’s episode, with the show feeling super-charged in some way as a result. There was so much great stuff here: Jenna working things out with her dad, Jenna (and Tamara’s vocabulary) becoming popular, Jake and Matty reconciling (and making Jenna choose between them), Valerie being as awesome as ever (that memoir!) and almost everything being super-meta. But all that was eclipsed by the fantastic plot between Jenna and her mom. I normally don’t let my emotions get the better of me, but boy, those scenes between Nikki DeLoach and Ashley Rickards were just…wow. The bond between these two is fantastic, and when Jenna comforts Lacey with the lullaby it’s probably one of the most touching scenes I’ve seen this summer. What a perfect episode of Awkward, and one I have no doubts about putting next to this week’s Breaking Bad as an example of summer TV at its best.
3. Wilfred “Questions” B+
I didn’t think that this week’s Wilfred was anything special until the final five minutes, when it zeroed in brilliantly on why Ryan is in his current state of mind. I’ve talked previously about how I want the show to look further into Ryan’s past to look at what’s wrong with him now, and the way the show got there this time was very well done. A lot of the stuff in this show is centered around getting high, but Ryan’s trip here was more intriguing than any other scene of mind-altering stuff we’ve seen before here. The whole set-up was beautifully shot and the whole ‘spirit guide’ thing was very amusing, with Elijah Wood, Jason Gann and Gil Birmingham doing some great work throughout. Posing the show’s fundamental question - “What/Who is Wilfred”? was very intriguing and although we didn’t get a complete answer here, it was great to see the show go down that route. The episode went along at good pace for much of the episode, but was nothing exceptional until we got to the root of the problem - Ryan’s childhood trauma and his break-up with Amanda. The way those final scenes played out was heartbreakingly brilliant, and really elevated this episode as a whole.
Read below for my take on this week’s The Newsroom, Copper, Louie and White Collar, plus (having seen the online previews) my thoughts on The Mindy Project, Ben and Kate and The New Normal.