As I explained last month, I've cut back on shows that I cover weekly to create more time to write about (and, frankly, watch) more of the many interesting shows on TV right now. Sometimes, I'll do a standalone post about a show I haven't written about in a while, like my review of last night's “Fresh Off the Boat.” Other times, I'll go back to the kind of round-up posts that were the bread-and-butter in the early days of my old blog (which celebrated its 10th anniversary last week), and that I've used here from time to time.
So brief thoughts for, in order, last night's episodes of “The Muppets,” “The Grinder,” and “The Flash” coming up just as soon as the me on another Earth is an electrician…
Episode four of “The Muppets” had some funny gags, particularly whenever the Swedish Chef was involved (slowly disappearing under the table to hide from Piggy, performing “Rapper's Delight”), or Bunsen refusing to explain why he and Beaker were wearing each other's clothes, but the show still has the same problem it did from the start: the tonal balance is all out of whack, particularly in the aftermath of Kermit and Piggy's break-up. A jealous and bitter Kermit sabotaging the crew's new and fun relationship with Piggy just made me sad, even if some of it was wrapped up in his desire to get everybody to work on time. The two recent Muppet movies made Kermit into perhaps being too much of a pushover, given how well he managed all the egos and lunatics on the original “Muppet Show,” but this is way too far in the other direction.
If I'd had time last week, I would have written up episode two of “The Grinder,” which very smartly attacked the inevitable problems with second episodes head-on, while also introducing an amusing new tic for Rob Lowe's Dean with his “But what if it wasn't?” routine anytime someone said something he disagreed with. Dean's reluctance to ever admit he was wrong wasn't quite as strong a unifying gag for last night's episode, but the dynamic between the two brothers, and the way that Dean Sr. clearly favors his eldest boy, keeps coming more into focus, and it's just fun to watch Fred Savage play this exasperated all the time.
(Also, there was an overlong stretch where every sitcom couple would get annoyed when life got in the way of them watching “Homeland.” Is “Ray Donovan” about to become the Showtime fixation of choice, or will this episode be an isolated incident?)
Finally, I worry that “The Flash,” like “Arrow” before it, is introducing too many characters and concepts and story arcs all at the same time, which makes the show easy to promote to comics fans, but prevents any one idea from getting its proper due. Most of the focus in “Flash Of Two Worlds” was on Teddy Sears' Jay Garrick, who didn't come across as quite old or seasoned enough to get away with the whole “kid” dynamic with Barry. (Also, while I understand Barry's reluctance to trust a new mentor figure after what happened with Wells, it made him come across as more petulant than I think was intended.) Shantel VanSanten got a good introduction as Patty Spivot, though, and I'm curious to see how long the show, and Joe, tries keeping her out of the Team Flash loop. Barry using his powers to hurl lightning at Sand-Demon (the latest Firestorm comics villain appropriated for Flash villainy here) was a neat trick, and it was good to have Tom Cavanagh back again as a “real” version of Harrison Wells. I would hope the show can streamline eventually, but between launching “Legends of Tomorrow” and other characters that have already been announced, I don't expect that anytime soon.
What did everybody else think? How are you feeling about any or all of these shows so far this season?