Hello, everyone I hope all is well. We have a ton of stuff on the agenda today. Aside from our usual trips to Chicago, Myrtle Beach, Harlan, and Santa Anita, I also have coverage from the “Sons of Anarchy” panel at Paley Fest so I’ll make the recap of the world brief.
After Super Tuesday the GOP finally realized that there is no eleventh hour hero coming to save them so they’ll take their Romney medicine and pretend that he was their pick the whole time. Oh, wait never mind, Mitt Britta’d Super Tuesday and failed to win by a large enough margin. Oops.
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Lindsey Lohan did a pretty good job (although the leash was on) hosting SNL and as nice as it was to hear Jack White again I didn’t realize he looked like what I imagine Max Braverman will look like when he’s in his ’30s (loved the “Parenthood” finale, by the way). Also I didn’t realize Jon Hamm was in love with Snooki, I didn’t think that Bill Hader was trying to go be this generation’s Jimmy Fallon (seriously he broke three weeks in a row), and I want to see more from “The Real Housewives of Disney”.
Speaking of Fallon, his Bruce Springsteen week was awesome (especially the Neil Young/Springsteen cover of “I’m Sexy and I Know It”).
I loved Bill Simmons’ podcast with Obama particularly because it validated my belief that Omar was the best character on “The Wire.” Also, Simmons’ coverage of the Sloan Sports Conference was informative as always (ditto “Numbers Never Lie”).
The Lakers may have benefited from Kobe wearing the mask. I haven’t seen them play this consistently all year (that is, until they lay down against the Pistons and Wizards) though I don’t know why they turned down Beasley’s expiring contract for a first rounder. Considering it just happened as I’m typing this, I must comment on Peyton Manning being cut. I knew it was coming but its still sad considering how he made the Colts a powerhouse for over a decade and he deserved to retire as a Colt. I see him becoming a Dolphin and battling Brady twice a year so he’ll bounce back (though if he wants another ring or two he goes to the Niners, but that’s not happening).
And finally, The Oscars came and went and, while I’m not shocked that “The Artist” won the awards it did (minus Best Actor), I was shocked that Meryl Streep won because that award belonged to Viola Davis.
So that was the world this week. Let’s begin our excursion in Myrtle Beach and the further adventures of Kenny Powers.
“Eastbound and Down: Chapter 16”
Last week we saw Kenny having to deal with being a father or at least it started to before Will Ferrell’s Ashley Schaffer returned to humiliate Stevie and fire civil war cannons at Kenny (it was one of the weirdest episodes of TV I’ve ever seen, really). This week saw things go back to reality (at least “Eastbound” reality), with Kenny moving Stevie and his wife into his computer research lab (a guest bedroom with a laptop) and ask that they help raise his kid so he won’t have to. He gets them to turn his dojo into the baby’s room but not before Stevie’s wife makes him lay down some ground rules. For instance, he won’t be loaned large sums of money, he has to respect Stevie (more on that later), and Kenny also has to contend with a Russian phenomenon who can pitch 102 mph in practice. This week was about Kenny’s frail mask starting to crumble and he has to scramble to keep it intact. He’s asked by Matthew McConaughey’s Roy to mentor Ivan (good luck with that) and I laughed when he said that Kenny would be a good influence because he’s a consummate professional. Kenny sees Ivan as a threat (as well he should) and tries to undermine him and Ivan destroys Kenny’s psyche when he calls him a has-been. Ivan is as cocky as Kenny is except Kenny doesn’t have the arm to back it up.
Kenny’s at a crossroads and just when it looks like he’ll have to own his current position in life, in swoops in Stevie to right Kenny’s ship. Stevie is the definition of devoted friend because he saves Kenny from reality (okay a real friend wouldn’t have enabled Kenny but hey, it’s Stevie), despite Kenny casually introducing Shane to Stevie as his best friend. Shane tries to undercut Stevie by saying that he knows Kenny best and that he was there for the past year when Stevie wasn’t. But Stevie, ever the devoted friend, holds his ground (despite looking like a spurned lover at times), gives Kenny a riveting speech starting with my favorite line of the night “I didn’t just come to Myrtle Beach to party and possibly cheat on my wife” and tells him that he is his inspiration. Stevie believes that Kenny is his God and no matter how lousy Kenny treats Stevie, he is, as Lisa Simpson would say, “there to hurl whiskey bottles at when he’s feeling low” and that’s the real emotional spine of the show. Kenny lifts himself off of the ground and goes out to make a save in the next night’s game. He gets two strikes in and just when it looks like Kenny is a hero again but he gives up a run and Ivan makes the save.
After swallowing that embarrassment, Kenny goes to party with Shane and they do several rainbow rails together and when Kenny pops in “Walk Like An Egyptian” the show drops another bomb on us with Shane overdosing. The promo for the next week shows that he did indeed die and I’m dying to know what happens now and how Stevie will become Kenny’s party buddy again. This was an amazing episode and McBride’s ability to mythologize anything (like calling the roof of the stadium “yonder peaks of an ancient building” and he really sells the emotional duress that Kenny indeed suffers. It also showcases Stevie and his marriage (I loved the montage of him and his wife fixing the dojo) and was a last hurrah for Jason Sudekis’s Shane. I also liked the daftness of Kenny’s college girlfriend and how he protects his son from kidnappers at the beach by digging a hole and putting the baby in and covering him with a towel while he boogie boards. Moving on, we go to Santa Anita and to the gamblers, trainers, and horses that inhabit the world of “Luck”.
“Luck: Episode Six”
Considering “Luck” has four episodes left in its first season and given that it’s already been renewed, I know that it’s actually building towards something. “Episode Five” introduced us to Joey’s divorced wife and how Joey’s world is collapsing. Escalante gave him a payoff so that Leon wouldn’t ride Ace’s horse causing Ronnie and Leon to drop Joey’s services. This week, Joey goes through a depression and when his ex-wife won’t take his calls he decides he’s going to kill himself. Just when he’s about to go through with it, there is an earthquake and the bullet grazes his cheek. He goes to the emergency room and his stutter goes away. It’s a powerful scene and Richard Kind knocks it out of the park when he reads his shirt label several times and almost cries at not stuttering. He even goes to the bar the next night with a renewed swagger and tries to recite Peter Piper to Ronnie (who casually corrects him by saying “It’s pickled peppers a*****). Things look like they are turning around him but the next day when he confronts Ronnie again the stutter returns and his renewed vigor goes away much to the delight of Ronnie.
The other development here is Israel being recruited by Mike to work for him by spying on Ace. Mike as we learned the previous week is suspicious of Ace (as well he should be) and wants someone on the inside. I enjoy the fact that Mike and everyone else is on to what Ace is doing when it would’ve been easier to make Ace be way ahead of everyone else. Speaking of Ace, he met with the owner of Santa Anita (played by Jurgen Prochnow of “Das Boot,” though to me, he’s Johan VonWolfheussen in “Beerfest”) and even he knows Ace plans on putting in slot machines into the track though I’m not sure of how this is a revenge plot yet. In keeping with Ace, we see his date with Claire and their conversation featuring the exchange “Of What?” “Of everything that can be” is very moving and further pushes the theme of the show in one of the best scenes the show has done to this point. It was really a big week for Ace (more on him later).
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about our degenerate gamblers who had a nice week themselves. Escalante hates them (then again, he hates everybody) because they always pester him with what he feels are stupid questions. Their horse also wins big, but its called into question when Leon “nudges” another jockey (by the way, it settled the debate my buddy Justin and I had over what the hell Leon’s accent is, and the answer is Cajun) and Marcus loses his mind. They win, of course, and it seems like the luck swung their way for once with no real negative downside (yet). The other events involve Walter getting slapped with a suit involving $150,000 he apparently owes in back fees for the horse he owns. He also feuds with Rosie because in order to win another race, she uses the whip and with how much he cherishes horses he doesn’t take too kindly to that. They reconcile later but not before we meet the young kid suing Walter (he actually comes in and kills the sincere moment that Rosie and Walter share). Back to Ace, the episode ends as it always does, with Ace and Gus summarizing the theme of the night but Gus is unusually tired and when Ace tries to open up to Gus, Gus falls asleep. He pretends to be listening but Ace catches him and that famous Bernstein temper reappears and any insight into Ace’s psyche goes away. It was a great week in Santa Anita and there are just three episodes left, so I’m sure a lot more will be going down. Moving on, let’s go to Chicago and the further exploits of the family Gallagher.
Man, what a week in the lives of the family Gallagher. With only four episodes left things are building quite nicely into a finale that should be much more satisfying then it was last year. The big showdown this week was between Fiona and Lip and the writers did a great job of laying the tracks down all season for it. Lip’s been in a funk all year because his heart is in all sorts of pieces over Karen. Lip wants to raise the baby and prove to himself that he’s not Frank. Karen, on the other hand, wants to just sell the kid and be done with it. When Lip accompanies her to various adoption meetings, Lip is the only one who cares where the baby eventually ends up. After fighting with Ian the last few weeks, it was sort of only natural that Lip would clash with Fiona soon because they are the only two in the house that can challenge him. Fiona gets upset that Lip has been ditching school and essentially acting out despite having support from his guidance counselor who recognizes the genius that he is. Lip doesn’t want to be the guy who goes to college and gets a better life. Instead he opts for being content as a working class stiff fighting to stay alive and sticking it to the man. He agrees to go to school and graduate as long as Fiona goes back and get her GED.
Lip thinks Fiona will quit because she may be street smart but her book smarts aren’t as developed. She does work hard at it, but Lip doesn’t. He smokes in the bathroom with Karen and continues to ditch class. Once Lip realizes that Fiona won’t quit, he throws a chair threw a window and gets expelled. This leads to the end of the episode where Fiona lays down the law saying that she works eight jobs to keep the house running and his only job is to go to school and go to college. Lip is tired of being seen as the Golden Goose and Fiona gives him a “go to school or get out” ultimatum and he chooses to leave. Carl tries to chase down Lip but the poor kid just watches Lip callously walk down the street. I thought this whole conflict was strong and evoked “Good Will Hunting” (a favorite of mine) and Jeremy Allen White does an amazing job (as he’s done all year) at showing Lip’s rage and possible guilt about being the only Gallagher capable of leaving. The sad part about Lip is that as much as he hates Frank his decision to run is exactly what he’d do, so the cycle continues.
Speaking of Frank, not much of a week for him, but it was a great episode for Sheila and Frank’s mom. Initially Frank’s mom despises Sheila but after she takes her crap with a smile and asks for more respect is earned. Sheila and Jody do a great job helping her out even though she tries to kill herself. Eventually, Sheila is in charge of doing the job and in a scene of some dark physical comedy Sheila struggles to hold the pillow over her face as Frank enters and gleefully cheers (and even cries a little) that his mom is finally dead. The amazing part of “Shameless” has always been that even when these people do horrible things to each other that there are still traces of love and affection there even with Frank and his mom.
The episode (and the series actually) couldn’t quite hit the home run though because there were a few things that didn’t work. Steve still feels awkward, though it was great to listen to Steve’s wife complain about the Gallagher family in Portuguese. The other story that didn’t work was Mickey plotting to kill Frank because he caught him and Ian in the Kash and Grab cooler. I get Mickey’s fear of being found out but it was a little extreme and the writers perhaps felt that because they allowed for a touching moment where Mickey chooses not to kill Frank and instead gets himself thrown in jail because deep down he truly does care about Ian.
All in all, things are getting very interesting as the finale approaches in a few weeks. Moving on to Harlan where Raylan’s entire career since the pilot is called into question.
“Justified: Watching the Detectives”
Raylan Givens has never played by the book, in fact ever since he shot Tommy Bucks in the pilot, he’s been a paperwork nightmare. That being said, he’s not Vic Mackey either. This week Quarles initiates his plan to get Raylan under investigation for the murder of Gary Hawkins and Boyd to get arrested for attempted arson on the sheriff. The latter actually works (though I see Boyd getting out somehow). He made sure that the FBI heard that Raylan is in the pocket of Boyd and that would get him out of the way so Quarles can continue his oxy mill. The entire episode saw Raylan in crisis mode as he scrambled to get around the FBI (featuring the return of Vasquez and Stephen Tobolowski) and also evading Lexington PD in the Hawkins murder. Art has always viewed Raylan as a headache but a headache that got the job done. He’s ready to let the feds do their job until they accuse Art of enabling Raylan’s suspect behavior. Art is never tolerant of those that try to mess with him so he goes out of his way to help Raylan sort things out with Lexington and just bust the FBI’s chops. Tim also bails out Raylan because for once Raylan is real with him instead of being dismissive and cute. It was nice to see Raylan actually get along with the office.
The Lexington PD are somewhat suspicious of Raylan but they really have no clue what’s going on and the line of the night belongs to the detective who quotes Winn Duffy (who somehow is the worst liar in Kentucky yet the detectives don’t see it) to saying that the next bullet Raylan threw at him would be coming a little faster. It’s funny how impressed they all are with Raylan and don’t really suspect him especially after Winona gets the planted murder weapon out of Raylan’s trunk. She actually gets the second best line of the night when Raylan asks her if she touched the gun. She is, of course, likely to get even further from him after she hears that Gary was killed (even though she knows it wasn’t him) because she realizes how dangerous it is to be in the orbit of Raylan. Ultimately, he beats both investigations after the cops find nothing and Art gets the feds away by asking “Just out of curiosity just what made you look into Raylan and Boyd Crowder in the first place”. This shakes the feds a bit (which was curious but I’m sure it will come up later) and they leave as quickly as they came.
The other big developments are Limehouse aligning with Quarles because he always backs the winning side (he’s really underestimating Boyd) and Quarles getting let go by the Detroit mafia and he pulls out his little gun from his sleeve killing the boss’s ne’er do well son (who asks if his gun ever jams which indicates that it will near the end of the season I’m sure).
Finally, we end with some brief coverage of the “Sons of Anarchy” panel at Paley Fest.
Before the panel started at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, we were treated to a clip of Charlie Hunnam on “Undeclared” then series creator Kurt Sutter came out to introduce the season four episode “Hands” to the crowd. He said he had a joke but considering the episode is about domestic violence he’d keep his mouth shut.
After the episode ended the panel came out. Kurt Sutter, Katey Segal (who plays Gemma and is married to Sutter), Theo Rossi (Juice), Tommy Flanagan (Chibs), Dayton Callie (Unser), David LaBrave (Happy), and Michael Marisi Orenstein (Chucky) were on hand to speak. I was bummed that the rest of the cast wasn’t there but what are you going to do. Anyway, Sutter talked about how everything he learned on “The Shield” he implemented into Sons and how he won’t have Michael Chiklis or Walton Goggins on the show because their characters are too iconic and would overshadow anything they did on his show, though he’d like to.
Katey was asked about having been Peg Bundy and how it was both a blessing and a bit of a curse because that’s how everyone saw her. She talked about her husband trusting her to handle the tough story lines given to her on the show. Theo Rossi was thrilled to get such a compelling arc this past season and how he felt Juice really got to be a big part of the show. The cast made fun of their inability to decipher Tommy Flanagan’s accent and Ron Pearlman’s less then stellar biking skills. As far as season five goes, Sutter revealed that he wants to see the ripple effect of having Jax at the head of the table and how that changes the dynamic of the club. Also, he wants to do a show about the first nine and that’d it would be a more political show then Sons. It was a fun evening and sadly I didn’t walk away with autographs or pictures with the cast because the fans were too rabid and there were a plethora of jerks just getting autographs to sell on eBay, but I had a good time none the less.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned as next week we continue our TV adventures and I also review my first movie of the year with “21 Jump Street.”