Louis CK returns to Parks and Recreation (for one night)

Though he’s now the critical darling of TV comedy with his own Louie, Louis CK’s first mainstream exposure for many was via fellow critical darling Parks and Recreation. After his character departed Pawnee for a job in San Diego he left the show, but he’ll return for an episode early next year.

At PaleyFest2011 last March, Poehler expressed hope that Louis would someday return. “I would love to see Louis and Adam together,” she told me. “I think it would be very interesting to have [Dave and Ben] in the same room together.”

70: Mashed Potatoes, Brains, Gravy

Happy Zombie Thanksgiving!

The Walking Dead: “Chupacabra”, “Secrets”

Robert: A few weeks ago, we saw what lengths a man would go to to save himself when Shane took out Otis in order to escape a horde of walkers. It seems that Shane has yet to really come to grips with that ordeal, and it’s indicative of the complete dysfunction that seems to be eating away at the rest of the group. After a harrowing incident in the woods, Daryl is taunted by visions of Merle and mistakenly shot by an overly anxious Andrea when he returns. Lori discovers that she’s pregnant but can’t bring herself to tell anyone, much less decide what to do about it. Hershel and Rick come to an understanding after some lines are crossed between the two groups. And speaking of which, Glenn’s budding relationship with Maggie takes a left turn when he finds out what’s been hiding in Hershel’s barn.

This opens the door to Hershel’s firm belief that the zombie apocalypse is merely some sort of plague that can be overcome, but Rick and his people would be wise to move on and seek a second opinion. Not to mention that they probably won’t be welcome much longer with every day that passes. Shane teaches Andrea how to light up the undead with her shooting skills and during another excursion to find Sophia—is it really possible that she could still be alive after all this time?—she finally gets in her zone and their tenuous relationship gets serious. When Rick finds Lori’s baby-killer pills, she’s forced to own up to her secret, and he insists that the only way they can keep moving forward is to get everything out in the open, leading her to reveal the bitter truth about her affair with Shane during his absence. There’s one more episode before The Walking Dead takes a break, and where we go from here is anybody’s guess, I’d say.

Top Chef: “The Heat Is On”

Dennis: It was the second and (presumably) final week of the mass cheftestant elimination exodus, and it waseven harder to watch this week. I already voiced my concerns last week about introducing all these people just to get rid of them swiftly in the course of two episodes, and it gets even more difficult to watch in this episode. With the latter half of the episode devoted to the “bubble” contestants, all but two of which were going to get the boot, I was forced to spend this episode getting invested in a lot of people that we’ll likely never see again (except maybe on the reunion or a later All-Stars season, if they qualify for that?), while the people who we’re “supposed” to care about spent most of the episode off-screen at the house. I’m still not sure what Top Chef‘s objective was with these episodes, but if it was to annoy the heck out of me, then it worked.

Life’s Too Short: “Episode 1”

Robert: This new series has been buzzing around the Ricky Gervais camp for months now since the first series of An Idiot Abroad aired, and so it stands to reason that stylistically its closest cousin is probably The Office but with a pinch of Extras for good measure. Reality and fiction are once again blurred when actor Warwick Davis introduces us to his daily life, including a visit to his estranged wife, pals Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, his shady accountant and even a hilariously unfunny Liam Neeson—all of which rattle him in various ways. Imagine Davis in the David Brent role, but instead of a middle manager seeking recognition and approval in the corporate workplace, he’s merely trying to keep his head above water in a big person’s end of the pool. Of course, having Gervais and Merchant involved makes everything—whether related to size or not— downright brutal, but when you consider how much cringe-inducing humor can spring up with casting a dwarf as the lead, the real crux of the show surprisingly revolves around how one stays relevant in the entertainment industry.

Community: “Studies in Modern Movement”

Dennis: Between a priest last week calling her “the worst” and Annie telling Britta she’s bad at making jokes, I like that running joke now that Britta is annoying and actually makes her considerably more enjoyable. She’s like the Jerry (Parks & Recreation crossover reference) of Community. And a whole episode without Chang! Sure, we still had to deal with The Dean (sorry, since it’s the weekend, Craig), but after last week’s homophobic lesson in homophobia, he was fine fine comparatively, and any excuse to incorporate Seal’s Batman Forever slow jam “Kiss from a Rose” into an episode is a-OK with me. Community Forever!

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: “How Mac Got Fat”

Zoë: At least, the Sunny episode no one wanted: Fat Mac’s origins. Honestly, for an idea I was supportive of (Fat Mac is realism, guys), it’s been terribly executed. Even though the flashback was for an episode that was scrapped from last year (and so probably not very good) it was great to see Mac with some of his old scheming enthusiasm. I was hoping Fat Mac would be that, just fat. Instead he’s been a vehicle for incredibly lazy and unfunny fat jokes. He literally sits and eats donuts in basically every episode and it’s just boring. The episodes where they have managed to avoid making “fat people love eating!” jokes have been the strongest. I’m all for Fat Mac as an idea, but he’s been such a disappointment and wasn’t redeemed at all by this thrown together episode.

Up All Night: “First Night Away”

Dennis: Wow, it’s great to see Jason Lee on this show, for a number of reasons. Certainly he seems better utilized here than he did in his weird guest stint last season on Raising Hope (which is all the more strange since Hope was from his My Name is Earl creator, and is arguably the more consistent show). And, it’s definitely nice to see the cast of characters on this show expand a little bit (beyond my favorite scapegoat Nick Cannon, of course). But most of all, Lee seems like a viable love interest for Ava, and seems like someone who can mellow her character out a little bit (and babysitting Amy helped out with that this week, too). I understand Ava has a strange lifestyle that involves getting wined and dined by characters like Julian (and it was great seeing former Starter Wife sidekick, upcoming Three Stooges stooge, and Becki Newton husband Chris Diamantopoulos), but I’m starting to think this show does better with the down-to-earth heartwarming stuff. I think Up All Night is better off trying to be a cooler, more modern Modern Family than aiming for a baby-fied 30 Rock.

Homeland: “Achilles Heel”

Robert: This is turning into a really smart, well-paced show that doesn’t go overboard with action, but this week, we finally got to see things get ratcheted up a notch. Saul tries to hang on to the last shred of his marriage while juggling the sudden interest in Brody as an upcoming Congressional replacement (the incumbent facing an Anthony Weiner-esque scandal was a nice touch). And now that they know the truth about Brody and his non-involvement with any terrorist goings-on, the CIA sets out to snare the still-alive Walker using his wife and son as bait. It’s seems slow-going at first, but when they finally track him down, the FBI follows him into a building and proceeds to shoot on sight, only to discover that they’re in a mosque. Once word of that spreads, Estes and the CIA know that they’ll have to change tactics, and more importantly, Walker now has his marching orders that lead him to an empty storage locker with a sniper rifle inside. Given that Aileen gave up the house by the airport, it’s not clear if Walker’s still going for the same target, but he’s clearly given up trying to return to the life he once knew. And as a final surprise, Brody pays a visit to Abu Nazir’s people to tell them that he’s done. It’s interesting that every character in this episode turns a corner in their lives because of their own emotional weaknesses—Saul with his wife, Carrie with her own recklessness, Brody with his family, and Walker with his yearning to go home—and none of them seem to be able to continue on as they were before. Pretty deep for a show about spies and terrorism, I’d say.

Beavis and Butt-Head: “Holy Cornholio”/”Drones”

Dennis: This week’s Beavis and Butt-Head was a fun parade of favorite characters. The pals’ wannabe friend Stuart made his first appearance this season, as did Beavis’ alter-ego Cornholio, and there was even a mention to their friend Daria (who famously left town for her own titular — heh heh, titular — spin-off). I have to say, I find that I often like the dudes’ commentary on music videos (this week from T-Baby, Cage the Elephant, and MGMT again, among others) way more than the supposedly more relevant (and certainly more synergistic) clips of Teen Mom and Jersey Shore. There are already shows like The Soup to make fun of reality TV, but few do music video-watching like these guys.

Parks and Recreation: “Smallest Park”

 Zoë: I said before that I wouldn’t be surprised if Parks was the sort of show to keep Leslie and Ben broken up for good and I meant it. Of course, I’m pretty happy that I was wrong and I’m excited to see how this all goes down. But more, I think this solidifies how good the show has been at break ups and heartbreak. I saw a comment saying they wished the “Leslie is a dick about Ben’s feelings” episodes hadn’t all come in a role, and I can get behind that, but I love what each accomplished. First, you had Leslie realizing they had no romance anymore. Second, you had her realizing that they couldn’t even be friends right then. Lastly, you had her losing work friendliness–the only thing she had left. Sure, she acted like a dick and was a but over the top, but I think we wouldn’t have gotten that last scene in the park is Leslie hadn’t had all those rugs pulled out week after week. Sometimes it takes a while to realize what you’re actually losing and sometimes that’s needed to realize what matters. And kudos to the show for being able to tell such emotionally rich material while still having some very funny plots with Andy and Tom to lighten everything up. And hey, Ann had a purpose! More of that, please.

Arrested Development paroled by Netflix

In a fairly brilliant move that will likely earn them tons of cred with the angry hordes of the internet (hordes of which I am a member) that turned on them for daring to charge actual money for every movie ever made, Netflix has revived Arrested Development for an unspecified number of new episodes with unspecified cast members.

“Of all the projects we’ve been involved with over the years, we probably get more questions about Mitch Hurtwitz’s brilliant ‘Arrested Development’ than any other– everyone, ourselves included, seems to feel like the Bluths left the party a bit too soon,” state Imagine Television’s Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. “Bringing a series back from cancellation almost never happens, but then, ‘Arrested’ always was about as unconventional as they get, so it seems totally appropriate that this show that broke the mold is smashing it to pieces once again.”

69: Avoiding the Obvious Joke

Parks and Recreation: “End of the World”

Zoë: If it’s hard for shows to get characters together, it’s even harder for them to have characters break up–especially when both actors will be remaining on the show. Instead they tend to cycle coupled through a get together break up and reconciliation pattern. Heck, even shows like HIMYM, which told us in the first episode who would break up, end up doing this.

So it’s to it’s credit that Parks and Rec has done multiple break ups very well and thus far avoided any sort of pointless getting back together. And while some of these break ups were done for cast reasons, for the most part people have broken up and stayed on the same show, fumbling through the post break up awkwardness like we all do. Unfortunately for people like me, this means that this is one of the few shows on TV where the couple you really want to see together remains broken up and fumbling through it. This weeks episode featured a lot of fumbling: whether the kind that means celebrating hour business loss with the best party ever, or failing to predict the end of the world (again), or seeing your ex flirt with someone else. And while the plots were all funny, the shows kindness and heart shown through. At the end of the day, this may be the kind of show that keeps Leslie and Ben broken up, but it seems that like some exes, they might at least find a way to be friends.

Dennis: I think I’ve come to the decision that after Breakfast Club-inspired episodes (which Dawson’s CreekERGreek, and a bunch of others have done in the past), my second favorite “type” of episode is the “End of the World” one, which Mad MenGreek (again… it’s way hip like that), and Parks and Recreation have now busted out. It’s great. Everyone always acts all zany when the world’s going to end on TV shows, even though they usually know it’s not really going to end. Here, Tom and Jean-Ralphio throw a crazy party, and April and Andy start doing things on his bucket end, which ends in a Mount Rushmore-free trip to the Grand Canyon, and we’re treated to more poignant Ben and Leslie scenes (and more cute mentor/mentee scenes between Leslie and Ron). It may not have been (beware, the REM-inspired pun!) the end of the world in Pawnee, but after this really good episode, I still feel fine.

Community: “Advanced Gay”

Dennis: It seems the portrayal of gay characters in this episode got creator Dan Harmon in some hot water, and I can certainly understand the argument. From this episode, it appears every gay male at Greendale is flamboyantly gay (though the show seems aware that’s not actually the case in the world, since a character played by the decidedly non-flamboyant Paul F. Tompkins hit on an ambiguous Abed last season). I suppose the characterization (and generalization) here was supposed to all be a means for Pierce to confront his own (and his father’s) phobias on the matter, and in that regard it was successful (even if we’ve written in the past that Pierce’s character can change on the drop of a dime). I much more enjoyed the return of John Goodman, as the show’s shady Vice Dean. It’s just nice to see theRoseanne star doing comedy again, after swinging towards drama (West WingStudio 60Treme) as of late. So in the future, more Goodman please, less gay stereotypes (unless they involve RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s Shangela. As Chang can apparently attest, she’s always a good time).

Zoë: I am a terrible word pronouncer. I say pasta with a short a, ketchup wrong, and have been mocked for how I said Yahoo! once. If a word can be said multiple ways, I nearly always say it the wrong way. Unfortunately this means that the more Britta becomes “the worst”, the more I am forced to identify with her. Fortunately, this episode was a rare moment for her to be right (despite her mispronunciations). And while Jeff literally killing Pierce’s dad seemed a little extreme, it’s a Jeff/Pierce are the same connection that I could get behind. I was less able to get behind the catty gay characters who, while serving their purpose as some sort of gay greek chorus, definitely felt like a bit much, but fortunately they were a minor presence and their massively gay party created the perfect backdrop for Abed/Troy pretending to be each other. In any case, I am going to work on saying the word oedipal, just in case.

Enlightened: “The Weekend”

Dennis: I didn’t realize that all of the episodes of this show thus far were supposed to have taken place in the same week. For someone who just came out of a mental facility, Amy sure has had a productive week! I’m glad it’s finally the weekend (hence the episode title) because it gave Enlightened a chance to stray from the workplace antics its been immersed in in recent weeks (or “days” in the eyes of the show), and it gave us a chance to see more of Luke Wilson’s Levi. Previously, it seemed like Levi was going to be this unlikable character, but this episode was able to pull back and reveal him to be a lot more sympathetic. Sure, he’s still a druggie screw-up, but he knows it. It’s just nice to see Luke Wilson get good work here, so he doesn’t have to resort to AT&T ads anymore.

Downton Abbey: “Episode 8″

Zoë: The second season of Downton Abbey ended this week in England and it’s been driving me crazy that I have such a limited number of friends to talk to about it. In fact, I’ve become something of a Downton Abbey pusher the last month in order to increase the number of people who can be shocked by what’s going on each week. Part of that pushing has had me rewatching bits and pieces of the first season, which has allowed me to appreciate just how much better the second series is. Nothing was wrong with the first, obviously, but the war has been an incredible backdrop for character growth, development, and drama. I sell friends on the show by talking about how it’s a fancy soap opera–and it is–but it’s also truly quality television and I think that shines through even more this past season. It’s been hard not to spoil everything for friends and family waiting until January, but the fact is no one would believe the spoilers anyway: that’s how crazy the season is. People said watching now would ruin January, but for me it just makes me more excited to talk about all the things that have been happening in Fake Yorkshire.

Top Chef: “Everything’s Bigger in Texas”

Dennis: Get it!? The episode is called “Everything’s Bigger in Texas” because it’s set in Texas, and they have the most contestants (29) ever! Ah, wit! But, what was the point of introducing almost thirty cheftestants, if they’re just going to pick them off quickly over this and next week’s episode. We already said goodbye to a cocky guy with weird eyebrows (or lack of eyebrows) who butchered poorly, a vegan chef (can’t a vegan/vegetarian chef ever make it to the second episode?),  some guy with a lot of tattoos (or, at least more tattoos then all the other inked up folk on this season) and some other girl for some other reason. See, I can’t even bother to remember these people’s names right now (and in one case, anything vital about her) because they’re being cut so furiously. If the mission is to get the cast down to a normal number by episode three, why not just start with episode three? My Lone Star State-based Sodapop brethren might get mad, but with the weird nature of this episode, they should maybe retitle this episode ‘Nothing Makes Sense in Texas.” I figure eventually, things will right themselves, but this season of Top Chef, has definitely started off the season on the wrong foot.

Glee: “Pot O’ Gold”

Dennis: Well, per the new deal that I made with myself about this show I’m allowed to check this week in since one of The Glee Projectwinners showed up. I enjoyed seeing Damian McGinty mix it up with the cast, but otherwise this episode was pretty predictable. I’ve had a feeling since Shelby showed back up this season with Quinn and Puck’s baby in toe, that a Shelby/Puck pairing might be in the cards (Puck’s portrayer is twenty-nine in real life, so he looks more compatible with an adult then a high schooler at this point any way), and what, with all this sudden talk of Puck’s love of cougars (ugh, that word’s still around) it was easy to guess it was going to happen in this episode fairly early on. Also, did anyone have any doubt that Brittany’s fake leprechaun would find his way into the glee club by episode’s end? I just wish Finn, who was accosted for calling Brittany an idiot, had mentioned to Brittany that Santana treats Brittany like she’s an idiot behind her back too, since he overherad Santana’s conversation earlier in the episode. But, I learned a long time ago that expecting characters on Glee to act rationally is a losing battle.

Revenge: “Charade”

Dennis: While Community might’ve been a little less gay-friendly this week, Revenge picked up the slack, actually allowing its homoerotic con man character Tyler to go full gay, and with Nolan (who’s apparently “a 3 on the Kinsey scale”), no less! Who knew? I like how we’re starting to see more of where the non-Amanda characters’ loyalties lie. Besides Tyler and Nolan, we’ve now discovered Ashley’s a little less altruistic, a little more money-hungry (and all the more interesting because of it). And, Declan was more than happy to grow a pair and berate Amanda/fauxEmily at the Graysons’ dinner table about her playing with her brother’s heartstrings. It was also great to meet the violent stripper also known as the real Emily Thorne (slash Fake Amanda Clarke, wow I love how confusing this show is). Was it me or did Amanda/faux Emily and Emily/faux Amanda  seem to have some sapphic tension there? I guess it could’ve just been residual cues from the Tyler/Nolan tryst, but overall, you go on with your sexuality-fluctuating selves, Revenge!

American Horror Story: “Halloween: Part 2″

Dennis: When is someone in the Harmon family finally going to get a clue? I just wish one of the three of them would notice that almost all (seriously, almost all: Moira, Hayden, Tate, Chad, Patrick, Nora, Rubber Man, those useless twins, the school shooting kids, maybe Larry) the people around them are ghosts. Also, why is Constance asking Violet not to tell Tate that Addy died? Won’t Addy just show up as a ghost like everyone else? And why do I keep trying to make sense of Ryan Murphy shows?

Bond 23 Has A Title, Is No Chicken Little

The next installment in the rebooted James Bond franchise now has a name: Skyfall. As previous reports and speculation suggested, it also brings some heavy hitters to the table making it possibly the most talented Bond film yet. Stars Daniel Craig and Judi Dench are back as 007 and M, respectively, but joining them are Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Javier Bardem and director Sam Mendes. The plot of Skyfall is still under wraps but Mendes confirmed that Bardem will in fact be playing the villain and that shooting will begin in just a few days.

After doing a Bond marathon earlier this year (and seeing some of the films for the first time ever), I found a new appreciation for the series, but in particular, came away excited by the reboot with 2006’s Casino Royale. I’d hope that Skyfall continues in that vein without reverting too far back into the classic Bond tropes. With Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) on board, I’m curious to see what his dramatic sensibilities will add to Bond’s adventures. Either way, I think it’s safe to say that MGM has extremely high hopes for this one.


Terrence Malick will shoot two new films next year

Continuing a late career renaissance, Terrence Malick will shoot two new movies next year according to a FilmNation press release, with overlapping casts including Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Ryan Gosling. There are no plot details included, but they’re currently titled Lawless and Knight of Cups.

This is in addition to the untitled film he’s already finished with Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams, and the IMAX Tree of Life “companion piece” Voyage of Time, which is allegedly finished as well. In other words, Terrence Malick currently has more films either ready to shoot or already in the can than he made in the entirety of the 20th century.

68: Not My Fairytale

Cameron is not amused by this shit.

Once Upon a Time: “The Thing You Love Most”

Dennis: I liked last week’s pilot more than I thought I would (which is to say, I liked it at all), and this second episode was certainly watchable, but is it wrong that I kind of want the writers to tone down the actual, you know, fairy tale stuff? As it turns out, I like the idea of everyone being oblivious to the fact that they’re fairy tale characters a lot more than I thought I would, but sometimes I feel like the actually fairy tale flashbacks, to when the characters were who they were, are often a little too campy and overdone. Much as I enjoyed seeing True Blood‘s Kristin Bauer as Maleficent and Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito as the Magic Mirror, I like watching the mayor turning into the evil queen in present day more. Do I really need all the exposition about just how evil she used to be? I’d rather have more real world passive-aggressive face-offs between Emma and Regina (the best of which, was mostly just aggression, as Emma took a saw to Regina’s beloved apple tree). If lead-out Desperate Housewives is going off the air at the end of this season, I think somewhere here amongst all the muddled mythology is its heir apparent. Granted, Revenge and the midseason dramedy formerly known as Good Christian Bitches will probably want to duke it out for that title too, but despite its writing pedigree, I still say (and I mean this as a compliment) Once still has a better shot of being the next Housewives than being the next Lost.

House: “Charity Case”

Zoë: House has been back on the air for weeks and I’ve hardly had the energy to complain about it. Frankly, judging by the show, hardly anyone on the cast has energy these days. If Psych is my new test case for why shows can stick around after 5 seasons, House is why they should definitively stay off the air. I always felt the show was a little overhyped as fresh and original–it is, to some extent, but only in the context of network TV–but it’s definitely lost whatever creativity it once had, instead grinding the characters (and seemingly the actors) down over the subsequent 8 seasons. Hugh Laurie is now more famous than he’d ever have been as “Stephen Fry’s comedy partner”, but the toll appears to have been a heavy one. If actors really enjoying themselves is enough to elevate a mediocre show to slightly less mediocre, than House is the opposite of that. Everyone looks miserable these days and as “fun” as it is to have the 18th plotline about House being suspicious of altruism, maybe it’s time to explore euthanasia.

Enlightened: “Someone Else’s Life”

Dennis:  I’m still most interested in the relationship between Amy and her former assistant-turned-company success story Krista. As Amy is aware, Krista doesn’t necessarily want to cut Amy out of her life, but she has certain allegiances to Damon that definitely complicate things. I like that Krista finally reached out to Amy, but Amy held her plans to lunch with Tyler instead. I thought it funny that for the second consecutive week, the episode ended with the the two most sympathetic characters being those portrayed by the show’s creators, Laura Dern and Mike White. I guess they really are the most enlightened?

Psych: “This Episode Sucks”

Zoë: As strong as my praise has been for Psych this season, it’s only fair to give it a slap on the wrists too. It’s not that the inherent vampireness of the plot bothered me (I watch True Blood, after all) or even all the Lassiter making out. Rather, it’s that while Shawn and Gus are, by definition, somewhat immature men the show goes much better when they’re not going out of their way to point that out to the viewer. In fact, I thing one of the best parts of the show has been the way they’ve matured Shawn (and lightened up Gus) over the years without making it a big deal. However, as much as the show acts as if Shawn and Juliet aren’t dating (a strategy I’m fine with), the fact is they are and what was once fun immaturity with your friend that annoyed a coworker, no one wants to annoy their girlfriend that much. As manchild-ish as Shawn can be, he’s always had a good bead on people and it’s a shame to see that sacrificed for the sake of some shape-shifted jokes.

Grimm: “Pilot”

Dennis: Oh, I wanted to like this show. I root for Dave Giuntoli, who’s certainly the most successful (read: only) former cast member of MTV’s Road Rules to ever make it as an actor (sister show The Real World seems to be better at churning out actors, congressmen, WWE wrestlers, etc), and he has done some solid work on Eli StonePrivileged, and Hot in Cleveland in the past, but the wooden writing is doing him no favors here. On paper I liked the premise of this show (man hunts fairy tale creatures in the real world), better than I did its rival fairy tale show, ABC’s Once Upon a Time (woman and an entire town in Maine are secretly fairy tale characters but don’t know it yet), but Grimm’s kind of a mess on screen. Maybe it’s Kate Burton, better playing uptight characters on Grey’s Anatomy and The Good Wife, but weirdly miscast here as a cancer-afflicted bald badass aunt. Or, the fact that most of the other characters aren’t even mildly interesting (I certainly don’t care about Nick’s cop coworkers, the bland baddies out to get him, or his girlfriend that he is apparently endagering simply by dating her). Silas Weir Mitchell seems like the biggest character asset, as Nick’s newfound wolf pal, but here’s hoping with the decent ratings this show garnered in its first outing, NBC springs for some name actors and writers to make this something actually worth watching.

Community: “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps”

Zoë: Some necessary episode order switching put this episode directly next to the other episode of the season that uses multiple narrative devices, and since that’s one of the best episodes the show has ever done, this one understandably seems a little worse by comparison. Which isn’t to say it’s bad–the horror story telling were all very funny (Abed’s being my favorite, I think). It’s the framing of the episode, with Britta’s ridiculous idea that someone in the group is a crazy killer, where the episode fails. Not only is that an idea so dumb it should be easily dismissed, but that Jeff–who hates dealing with that sort of stuff–wouldn’t mention he had done the test wrong right away is a bit unbelievable. I’m glad we got to see the versions of horror stories that everyone came up with, I just wish we could have done without the why.

American Horror Story: “Halloween: Part 1″

Dennis: It may be Halloween, but with its Down syndrome and squabbling gay subplots, it’s Ryan Murphy business as usual on American Horror Story. I feel bad for Jessica Lange and Jamie Brewer trapped in their horrible storyline, as Addy’s not-offensive-at-all (sarcasm strongly implied) wish to be a “pretty girl” seemingly contributes to her demise. Meanwhile, we’re finally introduced to the gay couple mentioned in the show’s pilot, as played by Zachary Quinto and Teddy Sears. I couldn’t help but wonder why Ryan Murphy didn’t make this gay couple the main characters on his show. Chad and Patrick were more interesting in the first five minutes of this episode than the Harmons have been in four episodes. It’s been proven with the Kurt/Blaine episodes of Glee and any story with Liz or a GLBT character onNip/Tuck,  Murphy at least knows how to write gay characters compellingly. Since Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott are reportedly only contractually obligated to one season of this, is it too much to ask for a prequel season with Patrick and Chad in the house, circa 2010? Isn’t America ready for a Big Gay American Horror Story? It’d at least be more interesting than most of what’s going on in this season.

Parks and Recreation: “Meet ‘n’ Greet”

Zoë: I’ve mentioned this in oh, every review of the show I’ve done this season, but I was a big Ben and Leslie fan and frankly nervous to see what they were going to do with Ben once they broke up. For understandable reasons, it’s probably hit him a lot worse and so the show has decided to have him be tortured by every character he comes into contact with. I found his anger repression to be a bit out of character–he’s been incredible direct in the past when the situation calls for it–but if that’s what it takes to get Andy dragging him around the party in a headlock, I’ll take it. It’s interesting to contrast Ben (who mostly revolved around Leslie) and the way other characters are embracing him to make him a part of larger storylines and Anne (who mostly revolves around Leslie) and the awkwardness with which she can’t be incorporated into the larger picture. She obviously can’t be friends with Andy or Chris or help Tom with accounting, but it’d be nice for her character to have more to do than “help with episode C plot”. At the very least she could start hanging out with Ben and form a Sadsack Without Leslie Club.

Revenge: “Intrigue”

Dennis: Well, despite what I thought last week, it appears Lydia’s five floor fall onto a taxi cab didn’t kill her so much as put her in a coma (well, sure), and it seems to have set in motion a good direction for the show to go. Emily and Nolan’s impromptu attempt to get security guy Frank (who pushed Lydia last week) out of the picture only alerted him further to their malicious plans. And, I also like that Daniel’sTalented Mr. Ripley-esque pal Tyler continues to be an unforseen complication in Emily/Amanda’s plan. The writers are doing a good job moving almost everything along. Now if only they could explain to me why I should be caring about Declan and Charlotte’s glacially slow courtship, that would be great.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: “Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games”

Zoë: Just last week I was telling a friend that Dee and Charlie might be my favorite Sunny pairing up, but this week reminds me of what a strong contendor Dee and Dennis are. Dennis is obviously the most sociopathic of the Gang, but when you put Dee with him you remember that these are two characters raised in the same house, with the same horrible values. I mean, sure, Dennis is a rapist–but Dee also berates and shames men into having sex with her. It’s not that Dee isn’t a sociopath for any reason other than Dee must always bee a failure. Except, of course, in the titular game a drinking/board game the gang devised that seems to have been created entirely to have Dee and Dennis win all the time (and the teams can never changed) and they still cheat at it. Of course, they’re also willing to be emotionally berated for 2 hours and have darts thrown into their hand without flinching, so victory is somewhat deserved to. Regardless, this episode is not only a great reminder of the power of the Reynolds Twins, but also how much Sunny can do when the leads just get together and yell at each other.

Beavis and Butt-head: “Werewolves of Highland/Crying”

Dennis: Ah, everyone’s favorite 90s animated duo (my apologies to Ren & Stimpy, way existential as they may be) are back, and not a moment too soon! As anyone with the ability to speak or type can attest, MTV doesn’t play videos much anymore, but its line-up of trashy reality shows like Jersey Shore and Teen Mom need just as much lampooning by Mike Judge’s version of Siskel and Ebert. Naturally, Shore gets shout outs in this episode, as does Twilight and The Bachelor, and to a lesser extent Harry Potter and 16 and Pregnant but my favorite part of the episode ? When Beavis and Butt-head actually do watch a music video, the creepy creature-infested one for MGMT’s “Kids,” prompting Beavis to ask “Is this Florida?”. Not quite, but after deprived of these guys (and any Mike Judge-animated shows, since King of the Hill went off the air a few years back) for so long, this sure is heaven.