Ryan Thomason

The TV Weekend Review: Portlandia, Merlin, Downton Abbey and NFL

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Besides the NFL playoffs there was some great new TV to watch last weekend. Hopefully you’ve set these shows on DVR or you have *cough* other ways of watching shows you missed. You shouldn’t be missing these shows though, because dammit, they are worth watching without sitting on your DVR for three weeks.


Station: SyFy

The Darkest Hour Part 2 closed the whole undead killing everyone arc, but in a sad way. We all knew that Arthur and Merlin, the two who had repeatedly kept saying were going to sacrifice themselves to heal the veil that was torn between the spirit and normal world. So, when it finally came down to it we all knew it was going to be solved thusly: A)Merlin does some crazy magical thing to save to day or B) One of the knights of the round table ends up sacrificing themselves. So when it was just Merlin, Arthur and *drumroll* Lancelot meeting the Cailleach guess which one of the not central characters ended up sacrificing them-self in the end? I don’t mean to downplay it like that, it was actually a great moment, and the funeral in his honor at the end was touching. The main funnel that I got out of this episode is that we’re going to have a lot of Merlin combating Agravaine behind the scenes as Agravaine is the new “Morgana” of Season 3. Meaning, he’s trying to destroy the kingdom from the inside to take over, everyone except for Merlin and Gaius will know what the hell is really going on while Arthur and everyone else is oblivious until it’s too late. I really hope they don’t stretch out that for too long, while I like the Agravaine character, it’s been done before with Morgana in the past seasons.


Station: IFC

Seriously, this is one of the best comedies on the pay channels. Hell, it’s created, written by and starring Fred Armisen (SNL) and Carrie Brownstein I’ll wait while you google them…Are you back now? Ok, lets continue. It’s like a crazy hybrid of sketches featuring people/places/quirks and the general crazy that is Portland, Oregon. The main story this week was Kath and Dave discovering Battlestar Galactica, spending WEEKS watching the series, losing their jobs/everything, and in the closing skit write a final episode with Ron Moore (an old black guy they found in the phonebook) and well….you have to watch it. I squeed, lets just say. If you like SNL, but want SNL that doesn’t suck, and pokes fun at Portland, this is a show for you.

Downton Abbey

Station: PBS

Before the second season aired, my wife got lucky and recorded the whole first season that was replaying on PBS. Generally I skip the “Masterpeice Theater” shows she record on PBS, thankfully, when she started watching, I decided to sit on the coach and read a book. Before I knew it, I had forgotten about the book entirely. Downton Abbey has this draw that is hard to explain, yes, it’s about a British Noble family and their estate (Downton Abbey) it has servants and the lord and lady of the house all getting equal airtime. It’s fascinating and so wonderfully written and acted that you can’t help but to fall into the plot and find yourself in lockstep with your feelings and emotions toward the characters. Thomas is a douchebag, Bates and Anna are the couple in love but misfortune keeps getting in their way. Robert, Earl of Grantham is such a refreshing take on English Nobility that you don’t really see on TV, he’s kind, and treats his servants with respect, he’ll go out of his way for them, even paying for cook Mrs. Patmore to have eye surgery in London all on his own expense. His wife is an American who he married for her money, see, the Nobility don’t work, so if they don’t already have vast funds, they have to marry someone who does. How all of that interplays through the series is very intriguing. It’s had my wife and I pausing the show to do research quickly on our phone browsers so that we don’t forget to research things after the show. We’ve been having a great time watching this, and as it continues to rack up awards, it appears we are in good company with the growing group of fans.


Station: NBC, Fox

Grilled Cheese, that was my favorite Headline I saw after the Packers/Giants game. Eli Manning and the Giants defense steamrolled over the Packers. Aaron Rodgers is eating his words when he said that “rust” isn’t a factor when you get a couple of weeks off because of a bye.

Really, did ANYBODY think that Tebow was going to get past the Patriots? Especially with pretty boy Tom Brady looking like he wanted to eat Tebow’s soul. You have to admit, when Brady is fired up, it’s best to just get out of his way, which the Broncos defense apparently were more that willing to do after giving up 35 points. Sorry Jesus, Satan wins this round.

Houston almost had a chance to beat the Ravens, then there was Ed Reed stealing it away with an interception to seal a Ravens win. I frigging hate the Ravens, I’ll admit it. It might stem from that fact that my favorite team is their division rival and they beat us twice in the regular season. Here’s to hoping at Pats crush them.

The game of the weekend was the 49ers and the Saints though. I believe it was four lead changes in the final four minutes. When the Saints mounted on of those “Oh god they’re going to make it” comebacks, the 49ers were able to do just the same. Somehow Alex Smith didn’t crap the bed and helped lead the 49ers to a great comeback on the shoulders of a defense that came out firing, stopping the Saints on their opening drive at the 2 yard line with a fumble recovery. That was the point where you knew that this was going to be a great game. Which it was.

With Drew Bree’s and Aaron Rodgers out of the running, that leads Patriots Tom Brady as the only Elite Quarterback left in the playoffs. Eli Manning you mention? He’s not there, despite having a Superbowl MVP and Ring. Too inconsistent.

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