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TV That Matters 9/20/12

Matt Ern Columnist Downton Abbey- Episode One  Grade: A

While Downton Abbey won’t be returning to American TV for a few months, the new season has started up in England.  And chances are if you’re smart enough to like Downton Abbey you can also work the internet and find the episode, which I highly recommend you do right away if you haven’t already because it’s fantastic.

I’m more emotionally invested in Lady Marry and Matthew than I’d care to admit, and seeing them finally happily married is reason enough to consider this a perfect episode.  Even among all the lost fortunes and unpleasant dinner scenes that populated the rest of the episode you can’t help but smile.

The driving action this season seems like it will stem from the Crawleys losing a considerable amount of their fortune in a bad investment and the threat of having to close Downton looming over them. Bates continues to break viewers’ hearts while Ana works to prove his innocence and free him.

Aside from the wedding, the best thing about this episode was the return of Branson and Cybil, the only couple capable of rivaling my love for Marry and Matthew.  Branson finds himself chafing under the stiff British aristocracy that doesn’t quite understand his devotion to social change and Irish independence.  Luckily, Branson and Matthew have formed a new friendship that may be my favorite thing on TV right now.


Revolution-“Pilot” Grade: B-

Revolution has an interesting concept but I’m not sure they nailed the execution.  The show takes place fifteen years after a massive “blackout” in which all forms of technology and electricity cease to work.  Governments have fallen and militias have sprung up.  People now find themselves living in an almost medieval society.

The pilot revolves around Charlie, a woman whose brother Danny is abducted and whose father is killed by the militia.  As he’s dying, her father tells her to track down his brother Miles who might be able to rescue Danny.

The show feels a lot like Lost, which isn’t so surprising since J.J. Abrams is the executive producer.  And much like Lost, the exact explanation for why/how the blackout occurred will probably be teased out over a maddening number of episodes, and then it will probably piss off a portion of the show’s fanbase.

For now though, the show is ambiguous about what exactly the blackout was, which I’ll admit might be enough of a mystery to draw me back for another episode.  But if the show itself doesn’t get better in that next episode I don’t see the point in watching any further.  The mystery isn’t that good that it could a sustain an otherwise mediocre show (at least Lost had great characters you could invest in while the plot ambled all over the place).


The New Normal- “Baby Clothes”  Grade: B

“Baby Clothes” offers up a lesson in intolerance, not everyone is ready for the “new normal.”  After Bryan and David are verbally assaulted in a store for being a gay couple, David attempts to stand up against intolerance at the gym when the man behind him on line calls a handicapped person “retarded.”  The handicapped man then turns to David to call him out for fighting someone else’s battle and proves that he himself is homophobic.

They’re also getting preparing to hear their child’s heartbeat for the first time and David is panicking that it’s too soon to start enjoying the idea of having a baby until they’ve gotten the first wave of test results back and now the child is healthy.

The discussion about testing to see if the baby could have red hair wasn’t particularly original but it did get a small laugh out of me when their doctor suggested that he heard Judas was a red head and that whenever he sees Reba McEntire he wants to shout “You killed my Lord and Savior!” at her.

I think that exchange sums up my feelings about The New Normal: it’s kind of funny and even kind of touching at times, but it’s not necessarily a good show.

Music Review: Grizzly Bear comes into their own.

Review Round-Up 9/20/12