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TV That Matters 3/1/12: Justified, 30 Rock, Smash

By Matt Ern, Columnist


Justified- "The Man Behind the Curtain" 



As satisfying as this episode was, it did more to set up some major conflicts for the rest of the season.  Quarles' belief that Raylan is on Boyd's pay roll leads to suspicions that Raylan may in fact be dirty (Art knowing about the stolen evidence money could potentially lead to him believing the allegations). 


When Quarles couldn't buy Raylan he sets out to bribe the Sheriff and convince him to crack down on Boyd's operation.  For the time being, Boyd's bar is shut down.  Raylan, upset that his name is being tied to criminal activity again, strikes out at Quarles and forces him to vacate the house he was setting up his makeshift Oxy clinic in.  


Boyd isn't going to take any of this lying down.  He begins his counter measure by approaching the old mine foreman (who owes Boyd his life) about running for office and also tries to pressure Limehouse into taking a more active role.   


With Quarles temporarily shut down in Harlan it looks like a federal investigation of Raylan will take center stage for the time being.  But the inevitable showdown between Boyd, Limehouse, and Quarles for control of Harlan is looming ever closer.  Justified is really good about building season long story arcs to explosive conclusions in the last few episodes, and we're quickly approaching that point.  



Smash- "The Cost of Art" 



While "Smash" started out promisingly enough, I think by this point enough episodes have aired to say that it's not anything special.  It's not a bad show by any stretch and it's enjoyable to watch, but there is definitely something lacking.  I'm still interested in this seldom explored world of Broadway musicals, and the musical numbers in each episode are entertaining enough, but "Smash" lacks the mark of being an especially good show. 


That said, "The Cost of Art" was a solid enough episode.  The musical number at the end performed by the writing team and Ivy was a lot of fun, as was the dance to Adele's "Rumor Has It" performed by Karen and the other members of the ensemble.  I could have done without Nick Jonas singing Michael Buble, but I'm sure there's a demographic for that sort of thing out there somewhere.  


The storyline about Karen being coached by the other members of the ensemble was alright, but I wish it started more organically.  When Karen called out Jessica for not standing up for her it felt a little contrived since I don't remember the show ever establishing that they were friends before.  Why wouldn't Jessica side with Ivy since she's the star of the show?  But as the episode went on Karen's friendship with the other dancers developed nicely.    


In the other half of the episode, Nick Jonas guest started as a business-savvy and musical prodigy who had been discovered by Tom and Derek years ago.  He was in town for his birthday party and Eileen hoped to convince him to back the musical since his latest play had just gone into syndication.  It was nice way to move the plot along, but the episode really hammered home that Ivy and Derek are kind of terrible people and I only wish the worst things to happen to them. 



30 Rock- "Leap Day" 

Grade: C+ 


"Leap Day" started out promisingly enough and I really wanted to like it.  Liz finds out that she's missed out on Leap Day traditions all her life as she acts as a proxy for the viewer getting filled in on the bizarre traditions such as Leap Day Williams, an old man with gills who comes from the Mariana Trench and gives candy to crying children (or something like that).  People who don't wear blue and yellow on Leap Day get poked in the eye and their hair pulled.  


This premise and the idea of Leap Day Williams are really solid and get a few laughs.  But by the end of the episode I was sick of them.  I think that has more to do with the fact that they were inserted into storylines that didn't really work and weren't very funny on their own.  Tracy has to buy an exorbitant amount of Japanese food, Jack has some Christmas Carol-esque realization that if he doesn't spend more time with his daughter she'll grow up to become a liberal, and Liz and Jenna compete for the affections of a billionaire.     


The idea that Liz would be in a sexual competition with Jenna to take the virginity of a billionaire they went to school with seems completely foreign to her character.  Even more of a stretch is the fact that Liz is willing to cheat on Criss to do so, spurred on by the notion that Leap Day is a day for doing the things you ordinarily wouldn't without worrying about the consequences.  The side of Liz that comes out isn't particularly likeable, and that coupled with the other unfunny plots drag down what could have been a great episode.  

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