The 2010-2011 Refrigerator Rants End-of-Season Awards

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With the 2010-2011 television season more or less over and summer TV about to begin or recently having begun, it’s time to take a look back at the best that the past year brought us.

Before we dive in, I have to make one thing clear: I don’t watch most television shows, and I barely watch any cable television. I do watch a lot of television on the whole, but not nearly enough to make a fair assessment of what was truly the “best.” For that reason, the awards will be skewed towards the shows that I watch. So don’t go crying about my failure to include The Good Wife, Mad Men, or Friday Night Lights. I don’t watch those shows. With that mind, let’s get started! More

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Episode Review: Running Wilde, S1E08, It’s a Trade Off

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This is a quick and dirty review. I liked “It’s a Trade Off.” There were lots of good jokes: the PI, the Cuba booth, and Steve and Fa’ad “rebooting” quickly. The episode had a very Arrested-Development-esque feel, which is a good thing and what I’ve been expecting from this show since I started watching it. I liked that Lunt was toned down this week after being overused last week, and I’m pleased to see that the writers know how to use their funniest character, Fa’ad, to his fullest potential.

What I didn’t like about “It’s a Trade Off” was how predictable it was. Of course Emmy and Steve would initially pretend to be fine in their new roles before finally admitting defeat. Any other outcome would have been ridiculous. However, I will give the episode points for execution despite predictability.

Overall, this was one of Running Wilde‘s stronger episodes. It’s a shame that Fox mistreated it so badly by airing episodes out of order. But at least we’re back in the correct airing order now.

This is probably my last Running Wilde review for the year, even though it’s airing new episodes in December. I won’t have time for more reviews (or any other entries for that matter) until the new year, so this is probably 2010’s final week of entries. I may or may not do some sort of year-in-review post; I haven’t yet decided.

Episode Review: Running Wilde, S1E07, Mental Flaws

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This isn’t a full-fledged review. It’s a collection of quick thoughts, more than anything. Feel free to sue me for false advertising if it makes you feel any better.

“Mental Flaws” was kind of fun. Fa’ad was hilarious, as usual, and Migo was surprisingly funny too. Steve’s continued shallowness was somewhat irritating, but I like that it was balanced out by Emmy’s shallowness as well.

While the plot of “Mental Flaws” was a little too predictable, the scene at the doctor’s clinic was absolutely hysterical. Bringing in Maulik Pancholy from 30 Rock was a brilliant idea. I appreciate that this show has the balls to skewer pop culture references by doing one in the bluntest, least subtle way possible.

Overall, this was a decent episode, although I certainly could have used a little more Puddle. This was yet another episode that aired out of order, so I’m wondering what the hell Fox has been doing with its scheduling, but at least we have a few more episodes before this show goes off the air for good.

Episode Review: Running Wilde, S1E06, Best Man

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This is going to be quick and dirty. I previously thought that Running Wilde had found its way, but “Best Man” was a bore. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t clever, and it wasn’t entertaining. David Cross’s character is annoying to the extreme.

But at the very least, we can always count on Fa’ad for a good laugh. His lute-strummed songs were amusing. Peter Serafinowicz has stepped into the role with the sort of hammy zeal that works well on sitcoms.

Other than Fa’ad, this episode didn’t really work for me, but since this show is on its last legs, I might as well watch until it gets the axe.

Episode Review: Running Wilde, S1E05, The Party

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I’m going to keep this short. I enjoyed tonight’s episode. There were lots of good gags, particularly the ham and the falcons. I also appreciated the callback to small horses from the pilot. Fa’ad continues to be one of the funniest parts of this show. I also liked that Emmy got knocked off her moral pedestal when she realized that she actually wasn’t much fun (which is kind of ironic, considering that Keri Russell has such great comic timing, but irony played a huge part in this episode, so maybe that’s the point).

I’m curious about where this episode is supposed to fit into the show’s chronology. Logically, it seems to be the second or third episode, so I wonder why Fox aired it as the fifth. Airing episodes out order messed up Arrested Development and Firefly in the past, so this is standard practice for Fox. I just hope that it doesn’t further impact this already ratings-challenged show.

Episode Review: Running Wilde, S1E04, The Junior Affair

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I’m pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think that Running Wilde had much going for it, but this episode had a lot of big, uncomfortable laughs. The fake boyfriend/girlfriend plot was predictable and probably ripped from some other sitcom, but it was still a lot of fun to watch the zaniness pile up and come crashing down.

Will Arnett continues to prove that he’s an excellent physical comedian. His car wash scene had me simultaneously cringing and shaking with mirth. Keri Russell is no slouch either. Her role is morphing into somewhat of a Michael-Bluth-esque figure – the supposedly “good guy” who is secretly sanctimonious and selfish – and the way she’s playing Emmy is reminiscent of Jason Bateman. (That’s a good thing.) I’ve read comments that she was miscast, and I’d have to disagree. Perhaps it’s because I have no expectations of her, since I’ve never watched Felicity.

The one thing that didn’t work in this episode was Puddle’s narration. The show has become increasingly ironic, wacky, and satirical, and Puddle’s candid voiceover doesn’t suit the show’s tone anymore. I hope that in the coming weeks, Puddle is infused with a wry wit. Stefania Owen has proven herself more than capable, and I think that she could benefit from having a bit of an edge.

It seems as if Running Wilde has found itself now. The ratings are low, and the show likely won’t be sticking around for another season, but I hope that the show maintains this level of quality in what are likely its few remaining weeks.

Episode Review: Running Wilde, S1E03, Oil & Water

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I haven’t been wild about Running Wilde – that pun was absolutely necessary – but it’s been entertaining enough that I haven’t felt the need to stop watching it. “Oil & Water” was the best episode of the series so far, mainly because it toned down Steve’s douchiness and let Emmy be a bit psycho instead of just being a self-righteous bitch. There was something interesting building here with Emmy using a job at Wilde Oil to spy on the company while subconsciously getting sucked into seriously working there, and Steve finding out that he likes the job but also committing to helping with Emmy’s half-hearted sabotage. This was a storyline that could have been milked for several episodes.

But it was over by the end of the half hour. I honestly don’t know how to feel about that. On the one hand, I found the idea of Emmy and Steve working for Wilde Oil very entertaining. On the other hand, I feel apprehensive about a show that ditches its best idea after half an episode. The inability to recognize good ideas and exploit their potential points to chronic stupidity in the writers’ room. That can’t be good.

Running Wilde is alright for now. I can give it another couple of weeks to find its feet. After that, though, my patience for a show that can’t commit to anything might be limited.

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