Spike’s Idiot Box: A “Harrow”-ing Finale

A lot of television shows took a brief hiatus during Thanksgiving week, allowing Americans to spend a bit more quality time with their loved ones to feast, to fight their way through the crass, vulgar mayhem known as Black Friday, and to clear the backlog of their overburdened DVRs. I have a lot to be thankful this year, not the least of which is a DVR at less than 5% capacity. Eat your hearts out!

Boardwalk Empire‘ aired its season finale last Sunday. Chalky sought revenge against Narcisse and threatened Nucky’s life in the process. Chalky met Narcisse at a party. While a tense conversation ensued, Richard Harrow, acting as a sniper, attempted to shoot Narcisse but tragically shot Nucky’s daughter instead, killing her. This was a truly devastating scene. Knox’s plan to set up Nucky using Eli was foiled. Nucky knew about it and almost killed Eli. Later, Knox met Eli at his home and they fought. Pushed to the brink, Eli killed Knox in a satisfyingly gruesome scene. He was ultimately banished to Chicago. Finally, heartbroken over having killed an innocent girl, Harrow put a bullet through his own head under the boardwalk in a poignant, gut-wrenching capper. At least his last moment was a quiet, beautiful dream of a simpler time and place: home. This was a solid, good season for the series, but the finale was the first truly brilliant, A+ episode this year. It might even be the show’s best episode ever. A hell of a lot was packed into 60 minutes, that’s for sure. It’s seriously epic, monumental television.

HBO debuted ‘Getting On‘, a new warts-and-all black comedy set in the troubling world of extended care facilities for the elderly and the dying. Administrative infighting and absurd bureaucracy set the tone, and it’s pretty great. The new nurse found a turd in a lobby chair, and a tug-of-war ensued about whether or not it would be disposed of (and how) or added to a study one of the doctors is performing on human excrement. Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne) and the cast take on their roles with vehemence, and the lack of makeup is both brave and necessary in conveying an almost documentary-like filmic tone. This one has a lot of potential.

On the other hand, HBO also premiered another new comedy, ‘Ja’mie: Private School Girl‘. The show is a focused revival of a character from the Australian series ‘Summer Heights High’. In the debut episode, Ja’mie (creator Chris Lilley in drag) began her final three months at Hillford Girls Grammar. She’s running for class president and is the leader of an obnoxious clique of popular girls. Ja’mie is horrible; she’s clueless, cruel, selfish, manipulative and vain, and doesn’t even realize that she’s any of these things. Honestly, I’m not sure if the comedy translates all that well. I kind of enjoyed it, but I truly want Ja’mie to get her comeuppance, and will be a bit angry if she doesn’t. I’m a reluctant fan of Lilley’s. At this point, I’m hoping for the best, but this is going to require some patience.

Carrie and Brody were awkwardly reunited in ‘Homeland‘ at last. Saul and Carrie convinced Brody to help out with his plan for regime change in Iran. After a difficult regimen of physical and mental training while withdrawing from heroin addiction, Brody seemed up for the task. After reuniting briefly with his daughter Dana, she begged him to never see her again, and broke his heart. Upon his departure, Carrie told him, “See you on the other side.” No doubt. This was a rather weak episode overall. It didn’t have a lot of action and the dialogue was a bit clichéd. But it laid the foundation for the final narrative arc of this season, which should be satisfying.

After so many seasons, it’s difficult for me to stop watching ‘How I Met Your Mother‘ with just a few episodes to go until the end, but my instincts are pushing me in that direction. There have been so many failed episodes this season, and last Monday’s was no exception. The gimmick of the episode involved turning all the dialogue into rhyming couplets, children’s storybook style. It was very clear that the story was totally secondary to the conceit. Inane, irrelevant mini-stories about each character blah blah blah…Terrible.

Susan Sarandon guest-starred as Molly’s favorite author on ‘Mike & Molly‘. Starstruck, Molly stalked her a bit, seeking her advice on her own writing career. After a family dinner turned into (yet another) food fight, Molly sought refuge at the author’s home. After a drunken evening of drowning their sorrows, Molly fled after the author made an unexpected pass at her.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘ had a Thanksgiving-themed episode. Jake was reluctant to attend Amy’s holiday party, since he’s never been a fan of Thanksgiving. Holt compelled him to go, but they were forced to leave when they found out that $10K had gone missing from the precinct’s evidence locker. The party regrouped later, though, and the gang all bonded over various forms of take-out. Like most of the season, this was a pretty solid episode. This show is maturing nicely.

New Girl‘ has been pretty hit-or-miss this season. Unfortunately, the Thanksgiving episode can be counted as a complete miss. The roommates, Cece and Schmidt all decided to go camping for the holiday. Schmidt and Coach fought over alpha outdoorsman status. While roughing it, Jess ate a dead fish and got food poisoning. The gang ended up celebrating Thanksgiving in the hospital. This show often focuses too long on the gross, inane and obnoxious, and the effect isn’t funny. It’s annoying.

Dracula‘ returned to the air on Friday night. Davenport’s goons tortured the abducted Renfield for information on Grayson. Displaying a superhuman ability to endure suffering, he gave them nothing. Grayson/Dracula saved the day after much bloodletting, massacring all involved. Van Helsing continued developing his daylight serum, but again ultimately failed after testing it on a vampire specimen. At the engagement party of Mina and Harker, Grayson and Mina danced a waltz. Their feelings for one another were blatant on the dance floor as they made an erotic spectacle of themselves. An understandably disturbed Harker finally cut in, putting an end to it. Grayson then fled, overcome with emotion.

I want to take a moment to thank the readers of this column. I’m going to take a Winter Sabbatical for the next month over the holidays and won’t be writing while I’m away. The column may return in a different incarnation next year if I can come up with some ways to juice it up a bit. I’m not a veteran at television blogging or recapping, and it’s harder than it might look. Originally, I thought I’d be putting in a lot more opinion than simple plot point reviews, but it didn’t turn out that way. Until next time, happy holidays to everyone at High-Def Digest!


  1. NJScorpio

    (I have not read the above article)

    I just blind bought Season 1 & Season 2 of Boardwalk Empire.

    Is the unavoidable photo for this article a spoiler I will wish wasn’t spoiled? Like the death of a particular character for the season finale?

    • Argh. The photo was my doing. I debated whether it was too spoilery or not, but the finale aired more than a week ago and it was the best available image by a mile. I’ve just switched to another photo that’s slightly less spoilery, but doesn’t look nearly as nice.

      I have mixed feelings about people’s anguish over plot spoilers. I haven’t watched much of Boardwalk Empire, but what I’ve seen made it clear that the show isn’t afraid to kill off major characters. Something like that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

      • NJScorpio

        The issue is now, having just ordered Season 1, I’ll be watching 4 seasons worth of episodes knowing that the character pictured above will not die until the end of season 4…so any story lines where that character’s fate is in question will be rather unexciting.

        “Oh no! What will happen? Well, he won’t die for another 25 episodes, so he’ll be ok.”

        • I sort of sympathize, but the show is four seasons in now. At a certain point, it’s a part of the conversation, and if you missed it, then you missed it. The possibility of encountering spoilers is the price you pay for jumping on board late.

          Besides which, if the storyline is compelling, it should withstand spoilers. If your enjoyment of the show is so fragile that knowing one character’s fate ruins the whole thing for you, perhaps it’s not working for you after all.

          • NJScorpio

            Oh, I agree in that sense. But I had no intent to come into a post discussing the show, I just saw the picture while scrollng through the front page of the blog. It kinda hit me in the face 😛

            Sure, some Joe Nobody may spoil a show for you that you haven’t kept up with, but I’d expect more from a site dedicated to movies and tv shows than having a spoiler on the front page picture. It’s not even like I could avert my eyes from scanning the text!

            I love the site, so I’m not complaining, this was a fluke…but it still stinks.

          • NJScorpio

            Again, I want to repeat, I totally get that getting into a show late runs this risk. And It’s not like I’m canceling my Amazon order now lol. I remember spoiling something pretty major about LOST by looking up a small detail on a wikipedia page. Still loved the show, so I know what you are saying about enjoying it regardless of a spoiled plot point or two. Thanks for changing the picture.

  2. I’m always late with shows, so I’m always bombarded with spoilers. I have never seen Twin Peaks, but I sure hope that Laura Palmer survives! I have yet to see a single episode of Dallas, but I’m already weary of any shower scenes.

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