The other Half of "Two And A Half Men" responds to Charlie Sheen fiasco via Ellen DeGeneres clip
‘For Blood or Money’ puts the focus on Rachel for a fast-paced episode
“Are you blackmailing me?” – Emmitt Arnett
“No, this is just good old-fashioned leverage.” – Raylan Givens
As compelling as all the serialized arcs are to the assured style of “Justified”, the series also excels at cases-of-the-week that don’t rely on shallow thrills. Instead, those “one and done” stories deepen our understanding of the regular supporting characters and provide opportunities for increasingly droll and quirky guest stars. “For Blood or Money”, ably directed by noir veteran John Dahl, gave the audience extensive background on Rachel, pulls Boyd deeper into a return to crime, and still made time for an drug-dealer/aspiring magician.
The main driver of the action in the episode was Rachel’s pursuit of her brother-in-law Clinton and it was terrific at doling out information from each character about her family, as well as keeping us guessing about how far Clinton would go in order to see his son. Even the smallest details were enjoyable, from the aforementioned Criss Angel-wannabe Flex discussing his new career (“Learning all the basics on YouTube”) to Raylan’s amused expression as he picks up a baby picture of Rachel off her mother’s shelf. Of course, it all led to the wry, bourbon-soaked conversation amongst the marshals about their various dysfunctional family backgrounds. When Tim expresses envy towards Raylan that “at least you got to shoot your father”, he responds, “You didn’t miss much. I thought it was gonna be way more fun than it was.” What makes a good federal marshal? According to the “Justified” universe, it takes focus, patience, steely courage, love of bourbon, and an overwhelming desire to shoot one or more of your family members.
Meanwhile, in the delightfully bucolic hamlet of Harlan, Boyd is (perhaps) contemplating a return to bank robbery. Walton Goggins keeps bringing layers to his performance that can seem sinister or sincere, sometimes in the same sentence. Although his relationship with Ava has turned out to be purely platonic, a tentative connection seems to be growing. Their easygoing conversation on the porch about wig styling and rock stars was truly charming. Of course, she did shoot his brother dead, so there’s that obstacle to romance.
There were only a few brief moments with the Bennetts, but they were moments to savor, with Raylan’s supreme confidence playing sharply off of Mags’ gimlet-eyed villainy. It was also revealed that the Hatfield/McCoy bad blood between their families was the cause of Dickie’s limp. That sounds like a juicy story, and it is clear that Dickie and Coovey (aka Redneck Dimwits on Parade) can only be contained by their mother and older brother for so long. Stay tuned.
- As I mentioned last week, Raylan had previously dealt with the Dixie Mafia through the real estate mess involving Winona’s hopefully soon to be ex-husband Gary. Just the thought of seeing Jere Burns as Wynn Duffy again has me giddy.
- “Yeah. Well. That.” Doyle Bennett – king of the understatement.
- Boyd Crowder listens to Drive-By Truckers. One more point in the good guy ledger.
- “Are you wearing pants?” “I like to maintain my creases. Stay sharp.”
- Even the waitress had a funny moment or two (“Mr. Crankypants wants a chocolate bar.”)
- “How the hell am I supposed to do magic with this hand now?”
CBS Boss Les Moonves and "Two And Half Men" Creator Chuck Lorre finally speak out about Charlie Sheen's antics
‘Head Games’ brings in a new trainer with a new attitude
Remember, “Lights Out” was written and wrapped up well before “The Fighter” opened in theaters. But it still covers some of the same storylines, which have really been around since the movies learned to talk (and probably before). However, it consistently brings a fluidity and grace to the more obligatory plots, and when necessary, throws in a wild card like Ed Romeo (played by the formidable and fascinating Eamonn Walker).
An outsider dropping mad wisdom on Lights about his family is refreshing, since he has been slowly choking underneath their suffocating love for so long he can’t even tell he’s not breathing anymore. Romeo’s (preternatural) insight into Lights’ relationship with his father and his siblings (“Damn, Lights. How many titties you got?”) and his blunt instructions to “cut them off” causes the Leary clan to circle the wagons with a vengeance. Pops does a swift about-face on his decision that he can’t be both a trainer and a father, Johnny worries that there isn’t enough time for Lights to change his fighting style completely, and Margaret….well, Margaret seems peeved that he didn’t eat his steak. But Lights absorbs at least some of Romeo’s wisdom, and decides to stick with Reynolds’ old trainer.
But the most interesting thing about Romeo is that it is not at all clear that this is a good decision. The gravel-voiced giant is clearly troubled, if not actually disturbed, and the shocking suicide scars on his arms, inflicted when Reynolds fired him after his first big win, strongly hint at some deeper issues. Still, for the time being, our former heavyweight champ is on his way to some form of enlightenment, hard-sought and hard-fought though it may be.
- Oh yeah, Ava went to the prom and she doesn’t want to be a doctor. I’m not sure of the point of this plot, other than their eldest getting into some kind of trouble eventually or perhaps just showing that Theresa is as much of a control freak with her kids as with her husband.
- Ava will be going to London for a month, thus setting up the next Leary Daughter Disappearance. Maybe she can go work with all the apparently abandoned boy fighters on Romeo’s farm.
- It is really great how much Pops has developed as character since the beginning of the show; his conflicting emotions and motivations are surprising, but always believable.
- Reg E. Cathay livens up every scene he is in (“And they call ME a diva.”)
- Reynolds didn’t even call when Romeo’s wife died, the woman who apparently raised him as a child? That is some stone-cold stuff right there (or maybe a hint of the darker aspects of Romeo’s personality).
- For me, the jury’s still out on whether Morales threw the fight last week. Feel free to disagree.
Like Stephen Colbert before him, the 'Late Night' host scores love from Ben & Jerry's
'Cabrini-Green': A clunky stand-alone story doesn’t get in the way of skillful plot developments
“Today is a great day. Today is the first day of a better Chicago” – Ronin Gibbons
It is easy to get impatient with these types of good-but-not-great network police dramas. You can see the deeper and more complicated character studies and narratives peeking through the tiresome or hackneyed stories, and you want to follow the better stuff all the way down the line. With this much talent both behind and in front of the cameras, the expectations are high all around, and the parts that don’t work are thrown into sharp relief next to the ones that work.
For the most part, the central development in the serialized plot was potent as hell, due in no small part to the magnetic power of Delroy Lindo’s performance as Gibbons. His bittersweet memories of growing up in the notorious Cabrini-Green projects, and his triumph at being instrumental in their destruction, clearly drive his more sincere motivations to help his local community. And it is clear his interest in young Blakey goes beyond the practical considerations of finding out who it was that placed the hit on him. But his greed and thirst for power have superseded any of the more righteous inspirations that put him into political office. When he hears that the black gang leader Little Monster wants the same protection as the Irish gangsters, his burst of derisive laughter puts a chilling button on the scene (and Little Monster’s life).
Still, even here there were moments that were artificially rushed; Blakey’s mother went from screaming at Gibbons to a tearful embrace in literally two minutes. And the shaky Weather Underground/Bill Ayers Cliff Notes plot suffered from this in particular. We are always expected to accept that Wysocki and Evers are smarter and more intuitive than your average cop, but the brainpower on display in this episode was even more incredible than usual. Wysocki identified the bombs’ signature in-between breakfast and lunch, Evers figures out the third targeted building by looking around the corner of a subway station, and the entire Chicago PD is able to set up a heavily guarded phone conversation with a convicted murderer and her explosives-wielding son in a matter of minutes. Even given the necessity of a fast-moving network hour, just one of these shortcuts would have been hard to swallow. At least, the location shooting continues to be dazzling (Billy Goat Tavern!) and the action sequences (particularly the razzle-dazzle opening bomb set-piece) exceptional.
- “Not to worry – the kid will live to get shot another day.” Any bets on when Kelly decides to come over to Colvin’s side? He has to at least figure out soon that he is out of the loop completely.
- The smaller roles are fun; like Popadiak and his bomb robot (and his eyebrows).
- Nice use of actual documentary footage (I assume) of the projects, voting booths, etc.
- There hasn’t been any voice over background from Caleb yet, has there?
- “Well, that just warms the cockles of my still-beating heart.”
After granting ABC an "exclusive," Sheen dashes talk TV etiquette by doing an interview with NBC, too
The survivors of ‘Double Deuce’ take a backseat to a brilliant new character
Accepted sitcom wisdom says that when you introduce a baby to the mix, the show goes downhill from there. This axiom was (debatably) applied to “Mad About You” and “Friends”, among many others. Leave it to “Archer” to take that idea and casually, disgustingly, and hilariously eradicate it with inspired use of Wee Baby Seamus.
The key is apparently to carry the baby around by the scruff of his neck like a puppy and let him eat/drink/play with whatever he wants. A short list of these items include: Bloody Mary, shaving cream, straight razor, martini olive, martini, napkin soaked in booze, and ice soaked in booze. Finally, Wee Baby Seamus manages to save the day, by being used as a distraction and a human shield. It’s an unorthodox, but clever solution.
We get more of Woodhouse’s (homoerotically charged and blood drenched) back-story, and learn he is not quite the servile wretch he pretends to be. And the peons at ISIS start their own tontine, or as Sterling puts it “Idiots doing idiot things because they’re idiots.” Just business as usual.
- “Did someone finally out the queen? Right? This baby knows what I’m talking about.”
- “You are going to eat SO many spiderwebs.”
- “I can do baby, or I can do geezer murder mystery, but I can’t do both.”
- “The secret is negative reinforcement.” “Yeah, I’m, uh, just getting that.”
- What was Carol/Cheryl drinking? Glue?
- “Reggie survived the crash somehow.” (“I’ve survived the crash somehow.”)
- “That’s a lot of scalps!”
- “Please! I just killed a man and I think my water just broke, so I could really really use a drink!”
- Reginald is a little too gay. As opposed to Malory.
- “You want me to take a baby to a murder?”
- “I have no more love to give today.” “Yeah, what is it, like, 2:30”?
- “It’s like Steve McQueen and John Woo had a baby, and that baby was you. Baby.”