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Tv That Matters: The Walking Dead, Parks & Rec, Homeland

By: Matt ErnColumnist

The Walking Dead - “Sick” Grade: B

Listen, I know “The Walking Dead” is supposed to be some cultural phenomenon and ratings giant but I can’t get past how bland I find everything about it. Sure it’s improved by leaps and bounds since the days on the farm and that’s something to celebrate, but it’s still a relatively mediocre show. I find almost all the characters to be so bland and replaceable I don’t really care whether they live or die. I have no emotional investment in Hershel right now. This is especially true for new characters that get introduced, because often enough they end up with Rick putting a machete in their head or something equally horrid. I found Shane to be one of the truly interesting characters on the show and now I’m just stuck watching a bunch of unlikeable idiots run around a prison. I’m glad that Rick is finally in this no-nonsense survivalist mode, it’s just a shame it took him so long to realize that’s what it’s going to take to survive now.Watching him casually split a man’s head open after uttering “Shit happens,” was solid TV, but the show could have been a lot better if Rick came around to this way of thinking a little sooner. I still maintain that time on the farm could have been about half as long as it was. There’s a lot of potential to be mined from the prison setting, it’s already proved itself to be a creepy place for zombies to pop up in (really the show is at its best when dealing with zombie scenes, they’ve been consistently good all three seasons). I’m just waiting for the warden to pop up.

Parks & Rec - “Sex Ed” Grade: A-

After a bit of a rocky start this season, “Parks” seems to be hitting its stride and finally clicking again for the first time in a while. All the storylines here work well, and are either laugh out loud funny or good character moments, often times both. Leslie’s conflict over whether or not to follow a law banning forms of sex-ed other than abstinence is a really interesting one for her character. As a city council member, she knows she can’t break the law, but as a logical and caring person she knows that she should be teaching more practical forms of sex education. Especially considering the subjects are the town’s elderly and not high school students. This season has been good about using Leslie’s newfound city council position to put her in tricky situations that develop her character well. Tom’s story had the potential to be super annoying, his over-reliance on technology and cool buzzwords have been a liability for the show in the past, but the story turned out to be surprisingly funny and offered a chance to have Tom and Ron bond. The transcript of Tom’s tweets leading up to his car accident (including “drive faster, blue civic. Daaaaaaaamn. #soccermoms”) as well as his list of fun facts about Ray J made the whole episode worth it. Aziz Ansari also delivers the line “I really wish you could click those” perfectly. Also very funny was the robotic congressman Ben and April have been working for and the pineapple on the table with the bananas and cucumbers at the sex-ed demo. We were also treated to some Perd Hapley, who not only doesn’t understand the phrase “you break it you buy it” but is no longer welcome at Pier 1 Imports. All in all the episode was a strong showing that proved “Parks” hasn’t quite lost its touch yet.

Homeland - “New Car Smell” Grade: B+

This episode is essentially the episode the show has been building to all along. What made the first season engaging and unpredictable was the fact that we never got to this point- after all the surveillance Carrie did during the first half of the season, the CIA never found any evidence that Brody was a terrorist, he was never arrested. But for everyone watching the show, we all knew that he was and it was delightful to see him maneuver around. Now here we are just four episodes into the show’s second season, and Brody has finally been caught. I didn’t expect it to happen so soon, and it leaves me wondering exactly where this season is headed--which is the best and most exciting thing about “Homeland.” The episode handles very well the inevitable “you were right” conversations Carrie has with everyone, particularly Estes. The way Saul presents the Brody’s confession video to Estes is really the only way to do it, not gloating for his friend Carrie but being professional and laying out a course of attack. Moving into the middle of the episode I grew a little concerned that the surveillance plotline would get stretched too thin, after all we saw it for a good chunk of the first season. But in true “Homeland” fashion, by the end of the episode everything is up for grabs again. This won’t be the stretch of episodes where the CIA tails Brody. No, this is going to be the stretch of episodes where they interrogate him (or maybe not, who knows?)

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