June 10, 2014 11:56am PT by Tim Goodman
The Power Rankings! Orphan Is the New Black! What? Plus, A Bloody New King! And Three Shows Bow Out!
In the very near future we might have to cut the Elite 11 down to the Great 8, as we are wont to do when the quality of the pool dips even a little bit. You don’t just get a free pass to The Power Rankings! You need to earn it. But until that time, we’ve just gone through another stellar week of great television. This time, a few shows will drop off because they had their finales. And we will all miss them. Why? Because they made our day-to-day lives better. And that’s something. Also, as an aggregate, they are keeping our new mantra — “We’re living in amazing times” - very much alive. Here’s to those who came and went and were brilliant in the process. OK, then, let’s march on and salute those shows which sliced their way onto this list by doing something remarkable for the week ending Sunday, June 8. On my command, unleash hell! (Wait, as a reminder, these episdoes are for the week ending June 8. OK, got it?) 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 is on Facebook. And Twitter.
Loved the jump up a year. Loved Malvo talking to Mr. Wrench and scaring the bejesus out of him. And wow, is Martin Freeman making a strong case for an Emmy or what? This show is ridiculously well done.
Orange Is the New Black
As we do here with all series that are dumped in our lap for binging, we will take each episode on a week by week basis. So, this is for Ep. 1, which gave the unde-rappreciated Taylor Schilling room to show off. And yes, you’ll need to be patient if you’re watching ahead but let’s just assume that, based on what I’ve seen so far, this show will be back and will remain a force on this list.
A couple of things to note. Few shows are moving at the pace that Orphan Black is, story-wise. In sharp contrast to the more plodding elements of Game Of Thrones, this series has punched the accelerator in season two and hasn’t slowed down. It remains as fresh and vital as ever. That said, Holy Tilda Swinton, I think we’ve come to the one “character” that doesn’t suit Tatiana Maslany as well as the others — it felt like acting — but the trans idea was bold and smart. Also, it’s possible there might be a “clonesplotion” coming. Intriguing.
For this week’s rankings, the episodes in question are “Elevator Part 6” and “Pamela Part 1,” the first being a truly lovely bit of television, with jarring shifts and the latter being an episode that tackled complex issues about communication while invoking the “rape” word, which set a lot of people off. I continue to believe that Louie is a series that’s best absorbed in the whole and makes fools of those who try to break it down each week, individually. Also, for me, it’s a matter of trusting Louis C.K. to tell a complete, grown-up story (and not a simple, pat one at that) and give some time to look at both the motivations and the results, which is almost impossible to do in some knee-jerk fashion. So, I reiterate: Let Louis be Louie.
Game of Thrones
That’s quite a drop after being No. 1 the previous week. And it’s not because the episode was one long battle. I liked the battle. I like all the battles. But it took forever to get here which is a pacing problem brought on — directly — by seasons of 10 episodes instead of 13, which is one of the significant issues facing this show. But also — when you can’t even fill the hour that HBO gives you (not even close), that’s a problem for me as a viewer. Boo.
Halt and Catch Fire
I could make a really snarky and lengthy bit here about wishing I had this second episode earlier, but I won’t. Liked it, want more. We’ll see.
I hope this runs 10 seasons. I love Veep. Vote Veep, Emmy people.
Awww, come here, you. Give me a gigantic hug. The second season ends here and I will miss this one because it made me so happy. Actually, the part about missing it isn’t entirely true. I’m going to watch it again in its entirety. So should you.
Look at creepy Penny holding up well! And yes, an argument could be made that it deserved to be higher. I would listen to that. Because I grappled with it. But let’s just put that to the side for a moment and say, hey, you people who aren’t watching should be.
In the Flesh
OK, so this little British gem, which the Guardian newspaper cleverly calls a “zom-dram-com,” had a mere three episodes in its first season and doubled that for this season. Here’s a vote not for nine total in season three, but for a nice, even 10 episodes. The material is here. The show will catch on. It’s a real blast and a great find.
Inside Amy Schumer
Yep, a lot of sideways arrows this week as so many shows held their positions. But Amy goes out with a bang and puts “Slut Shaming” in the books as a fine episode to represent what her humor is all about. I loved the anxiety over the late-notice sex overture, which results in her panicking while reading magazines designed for women, with a bevy of hilarious headline, including: “Hair Down There? Kill Yourself.” And the dating game “Who’s More Over Their Ex,” which had so many visual jokes competing with the verbal ones that it had to be replayed several times over. Outstanding.
Out: Moone Boy, Veep and Inside Amy Schumer all had their season finales this week.
In peril: Something good will come along. It always does. The wheels of this bus go round and around.
In the mix: If it looks good, it’s in the mix. But if there’s weakness, we’ll drop down to the Great 8 without fear or regret. Stay tuned.