Spike’s Idiot Box: Down but Not Out

I’ve been a huge fan of AMC’s ‘The Killing’, which was canceled twice, breaking my heart both times. So I was euphoric when I learned this week that Netflix has picked the series up for yet another final season. I’m quite excited for the show’s return, the date of which is currently unknown. In the meantime, let’s take a look at what happened on TV last week.

Zack discovered that Grace’s computer had been hacked for an online peepshow of sorts on ‘The Good Wife‘. Clyde Hayden (Nathan Lane) agreed to lend his services as a finance and business advisor to Florrick Agos and Associates free of charge until they become profitable, which will no doubt be a feather in their hat. Alicia’s brother Owen told Will that the reason Alicia left Lockhart Gardner was because she was still in love with him. A lawsuit that Alicia used to be involved in entangled her with her old firm, and tensions were understandably high.

In Rick’s absence, Hershel took charge and proved to be a formidable warrior on ‘The Walking Dead‘. Death was everywhere as the zombie virus took a high mortal toll on the group, and Hershel fought like hell in his efforts to get the dying to hang on, then killing the ones who couldn’t. Daryl and Rick returned to the prison. Daryl has yet to find out that Rick banished Carol. The show ended with a bit of a shock: The Governor was outside the prison – which is being overwhelmed by zombies – watching and apparently biding his time. I have a feeling that he’s behind the virus.

Eastbound and Down‘ aired a Christmas-themed episode. Kenny was riding high professionally after taking over the sports show, but his behavior toward his friends, family and colleagues was just horrible. The ugly divorce he’s having put him in a fragile, rage-fueled emotional state. Stevie and his wife both looked like freaks of nature after their plastic surgeries. Stevie shot his prosthetic chin off in a botched suicide attempt after Taters & Tits was closed for failing financially. Kenny had a complete meltdown on his holiday-themed show. After bottoming out, he was rejuvenated by the Christmas spirit. There’s just one episode left of this excellent comedy, and it will be interesting to see if Kenny has earned a shot at redemption after all the carnage he’s left in his wake.

Bryan Cranston had a pointless cameo on ‘How I Met Your Mother‘ in yet another fairly mediocre episode of its final season. I recently found out CBS has greenlit a spinoff called ‘How I Met Your Father’. Hopefully, it has more in common with early ‘HIMYM’ than later ‘HIMYM’.

Speaking of pointless cameos, Andrew Dice Clay (!) guest starred on ‘The Blacklist‘ as a plastic surgeon for terrorists. He was quite good, actually, but under-utilized. Liz’s dad, Sam, was being treated for cancer in the hospital. We learned that he adopted her when she was 4-years-old. Fearing that Sam might reveal secrets to Liz, Red killed him in his bed, then manipulated Liz by providing sympathy during a vulnerable moment. My theory that Red is Liz’s real father just might prove to be accurate!

Things are reaching a boiling point on ‘Boardwalk Empire‘. Chalky’s war with Narcisse resulted in an escalation of violence that put Chalky on the run. He fled Atlantic City and killed his police escorts – who turned out to be his would-be assassins. Narcisse has partnered with the Italian mafia for heroin trafficking, which made him an associate of Nucky’s, much to his chagrin. Van Alden saved Al Capone’s life in an attempted hit. Eli continued to dig his own grave with his unwilling involvement with the FBI.

On ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘, Jake met one of his idols, a hard-boiled journalist and author (Stacy Keach) who famously wrote about New York cops in the down and dirty ’70s. He tried to impress him by pretending to be like the old-school cops, but predictably failed. When the author made a sexual slur against Holt, Jake decked him.

Schmidt moved into the apartment next door on ‘New Girl‘, so any hopes of seeing less of him have been dashed. Jess fought a local Chinese restaurant that was littering the neighborhood with menu flyers. Coach (Damon Wayons, Jr.) has re-energized the show with his return. (He was in the pilot before going on to the now-cancelled ‘Happy Endings’.) The characters all gelled well together, and I thought this was the best episode in some time.

On ‘Sons of Anarchy‘, Gemma gave Tara an ultimatum: Leave or die. Jax told the gang what Tara had done to Gemma. Jax has set the Irish up for a fall with his collaboration with the D.A., and this week he threw the Chinese gang into the mix as well. Clay signed over everything he owns to Gemma from prison. It was a solid episode, but I for one am getting a little tired of the formula that begins and ends most episodes with a dialogue-free musical montage featuring brooding music and all the characters looking deeply concerned. This week, one of them even featured Jax in a chapel… apparently praying. Yeah, right.

Javadi revealed that Brodie was NOT responsible for the terrorist bombing on ‘Homeland‘. Saul has become Javadi’s handler after threatening to inform Iranian officials of his embezzling. Saul wouldn’t cooperate with the incoming director, and locked him in a room in order to orchestrate Javadi’s departure to Iran. Quinn took the rap for Javadi’s murders. He and Carrie roadblocked local detectives by telling them it was done for national security purposes, effectively tying their hands to prosecute. Quinn has become disillusioned with his job and the CIA.

Brad Garrett (‘Everybody Loves Raymond’) joined the cast of ‘The Crazy Ones‘ as one of Simon and Sydney’s partners. He forced Simon to get rid of his first client because of a conflict of interest with a much larger client. The gang pulled together to help the fired client liquidate his inventory and retire. Ed Asner guest starred as Mr. Finger, a famous old commercial star who tried to make a pass at Sydney. This show grows on me a bit more each week. It’s by no means must-see, but I’m less skeptical now about its chance for success.

Parks and Recreation‘ returned with two new episodes. Leslie pulled off a successful filibuster. Unfortunately, she was also recalled in a special election. It will be interesting to see where she goes from here. This could be a great opportunity for re-energizing her character. Tom sold Rent-A-Swag and plans to use the proceeds as seed money for a new venture.

On ‘The Millers‘, the family all got together to discuss sex with Nathan. As it turns out, Tom never had “the talk” with him when he was young, and they fear that he has intimacy issues as a result. They perform a sort of sex intervention, which of course results in humiliation and far too much information about everyone. This show also continues to grow on me. Some of the humor is cheap and obvious, but it’s ultimately sweet and family-reaffirming.

Raising Hope‘ had its season premiere with two new episodes. Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) played Virginia’s long lost dad, who abandoned her when she was just a young child. He revealed that he was gay, and all was forgiven until the family learned that he’s also an arrogant, unbearable narcissist. Burt and Virginia created a bartering system of sorts for the town which ostensibly would let everyone exchange goods and services. Unfortunately, it resulted in a glut of new currency made essentially worthless from over-producing it. I like this show for the most part, but it’s wildly uneven. The first episode about Virginia’s father was both funny and smart, but the second one was kind of dumb and boring. Still, it fills the hole left by the departure of ‘My Name Is Earl’ just fine, even if it’s getting a bit questionable in its middle age.

Saturday Night Live‘ wasn’t terrible, as it has been quite frequently of late. Lady Gaga was the host and musical guest. She did a good job with the material she was given, which isn’t saying much, but at least it’s something. Her first musical number was terrible and ended with her and R. Kelly dry-humping unconvincingly and pathetically on the floor. Ugh. But her second number was very good indeed, showcasing how multi-talented and formidable she can be when she puts her mind to it. I found the funniest bits to be the savaging of Toronto mayor Rob Ford in the opening and the bit about the worst musical cover songs of all time, featuring Britney Spears doing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and Lil Wayne in a duet with Susan Boyle on Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

Until next time, join in the conversation below!


  1. The appeal of Danny McBride eludes me. I can’t stand to watch the guy. His presence ruins anything he appears in for me.

    Although not mentioned here, I’m wondering what’s going on with the return of Rafi on The League. Did I miss when it was explained how he’s not dead anymore?

  2. Michael Spike Steinbacher

    You know, it’s funny. I’m not a real fan of McBride’s, except for when he’s being Kenny Powers. It’s a role that I think is just perfect for him. I did kind of enjoy him in that end of the world movie he did with Seth Rogen and all those guys…but he was riffing on the same character.

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong…but as I recall, I think Rafi’s death was in a 1 year flash forward. So that would explain his appearance(s) in the here and now.

  3. Michael Spike Steinbacher

    Yeah…color me skeptical as well. But they’ll have a built-in audience and I’m sure lots of people will tune in. If it’s half as bad as the current season of HIMYM, though, it will likely flame out fast. HIMYM at least had a few really good seasons to start with.

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