June 17, 2014 7:01pm PT by Tim Goodman
The Power Rankings! The King Stays the King! A Bad Week For New Shows! Eight Is Great!
There are two important things to make clear right away. First, yeah yeah yeah, blah blah blah — yes, having two series that rank really high and air on Mondays and Tuesdays is confusing when The Power Rankings! from the last week come out on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. Hell, I get it. Even that sentence confuses me. But hey, I'm trying to plan a vacation. Or as I like to call it, a "work stoppage" — since I'm not actually going anywhere. Do you know how hard it is to stop watching TV when new shows come out every week? Impossible, is what I've discovered. Anyway, as for the aforementioned confusion, all you need to know is this week does NOT reflect the season finales of Louie or Fargo. That's next week. Second important announcement is, well, I didn't want to water down the pickings and so I had to cut the Elite 11 to the Great 8. Reinforcements are coming but are not yet here.
PHOTOS Summer TV Preview
So eight it is. Behold: The Power Rankings! for the week ending June 15. On my command, unleash hell! FYI: The Power Rankings! are where television series are ranked on a weekly basis according to their most recent episodes and the ever-changing-moods of yours truly. If you want to learn how The Power Rankings! started and the methodology behind them, check out the link to the Bastard Machine post on those issues of great import. Also: The Bastard Machine has its own Facebook Page. You can find TV links there. And Tim Goodman snarks a lot on Twitter.
This is a dark, dark, series. That is, when it's not hilarious. But so much of "A Fox, A Rabbit And A Cabbage" was starkly bleak and yet breathtakingly stressful to watch. Molly gets a tiny win and it's always good to see Molly rewarded and, let's not kid ourselves, still alive. But this was taking Lester to another level of his transformation (kind of like a mini-me version of Walter White in Breaking Bad). He wants to confront Malvo in the elevator even though nobody in their right mind should do that ("Lester, is this what you want?" — and then blood everywhere … ). But sending new wife Linda into the office to get killed? That's beyond cold-blooded. This series is amazing almost all of the time.
You want pig baby? Helena is not somebody you want on the wrong side of your backside. She knows revenge. In "Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done," Orphan Black continues its impressive creative leap — you can't dismiss this show as sci-fi or whatnot to lessen it. This is a drama and a damned good one. And I don't care how redundant it seems now, after so many weeks last season and this season, but Tatiana Maslany is truly the front-runner for the Emmy. It never gets old being reminded of how good she is. As a bonus this week? Donnie. See, I like a series that embraces change. They grew his character and it paid off. Here's to the coming finale.
Orange Is the New Black
This is no reflection on Orange, which unsurprisingly had another great week (as a reminder, this is the second episode we're talking about and will continue to go week to week). Instead, Fargo was brilliant, Orphan Black was deserving of the No. 2 slot and that's how it all worked out. I mean, hell, Game of Thrones had a finale and it's not No. 3 is it? No whining.
Just a reminder that this is not a ranking of the finale (that's next week), but of the dual episodes of "In the Woods" 1 & 2. These episodes felt very sad to me. Or hit me that way. Not just because we, as the audience, have watched Lily grow up and now she's more grown up than we thought, but so many other things — parenting, weird kids, troubled kids, being loved, being accepted. These two episodes are precisely why Louie is more than a comedy. And hell, Jeremy Renner was in it and he was great. I could watch a whole movie of him as a low-level drug dealer. And yep, I appreciate this season of Louie more than maybe any other so far.
Game of Thrones
I'm a broken record on this show because it's a complicated emotion. I love Game of Thrones and therefore want it to be all it can be. I honestly think the show is falling short of its potential because it makes only 10 episodes a season instead of 13 and the truncated storytelling is having an adverse effect on it. And on my enjoyment of it. Yes, it's possible to embrace a finale and complain about it, to love it and wish it were greater. Some GoT fans don't think that way, but that's OK too — they're just fans; can't fault them too harshly. And yet, even the ones who believe GoT can do no wrong should at least see the benefits of three additional episodes per season, even if they don't admit to the repercussions of 10.
This series grew a lot last week, because we have a more robust view of the backstory. And yeah, it's weird. Either that was the most screwed up "don't have sex too early" story in history or the devil just works in mysterious ways. Keep it strange, Penny Dreadful.
In the Flesh
I've made a mental note that when time allows I should write a column about how this second season of In the Flesh — or for all intents and purposes the whole of the series, which only had three the first season — will be something we look back on as one of the most under-the-radar gems of 2014. I know so few people who are actually watching it — hello, Allison! — and it's such a surprise week to week. The concept of zombies trying to live amongst us and even be whole again while vying for acceptance has so many strands to explore. Oh, and are zombie stories supposed to be sad?
Halt And Catch Fire
The truth is, I ranked this show too high last week. I do have a bias for dramas over comedies when I try to conceptualize the idea of quality and how to reward it, but it shouldn't have been that high. Strangely enough, an argument can be made that it shouldn't even be clinging to the bottom of the list this week based on its third episode, which continued the second episode's slow repetition of ideas. OK, OK, we get it — people are stuck. Making a brand new computer from scratch is hard, even if you did reverse engineer an IBM PC. Making it smaller and lighter is insanely hard, but can that be dramatized some other way than people scratching out ideas on a white board or a mirror and throwing markers and pulling at their hair? This series had so much potential and it's not meeting it. But what landed Halt And Catch Fire here in this precarious but rewarding slot is the very intriguing scene — for what it means about our main character Joe (Lee Pace) — where he's revealed to either be ferociously bisexual or fearlessly manipulative. That might be something that can kick-start a show that is flagging badly already.
Out: Game of Thrones and In the Flesh had their season finales.
In peril: Halt and Catch Fire needs to do just that, even if we stay at the Great 8 level.
In the mix: You'd certainly have to think that Rectify and Tyrant are popping up at the perfect time.