Archives for posts with tag: Dallas

Don’t worry.  The Skins’ trip through the NFC Gauntlet is almost complete.  Two games against the sad-sack NY Giants bookend a cakewalk that features three other teams with losing records and the fourth is a Dallas squad minus Ezekiel Elliott.  The 38-30 loss to Minnesota was merely a speedbump on their way to a 10-6 finish.  Yes, they have to play the South-leading Saints next, but after that it’s nothing but smooth sailing for the Burgundy and Gold.  Unless–the Skins are really a pretender that’s on their way to a sub-500 finish for the sixth time in nine years.

Captain Kirk- the Face of the Franchise completed 26 of 45 passes for 327 yards and a touchdown while adding a pair of TD runs.  He did throw an interception that allowed the Vikings to take a double-digit lead late in the first half.  But with receivers slipping and minimal support from his backs, Cousins was still an onside kick away from being in position to tie up NFC North leaders.  Star Trek Episode Equivalent- “A Piece of the Action”, where Kirk and Spock beam down to a planet that’s mimicked the 1920’s Prohibition Ganster era.  Plenty to like (especially the card game “fizzbin”) but at the end you realize you were looking for a better sixty minutes to spend your time.

Running on Fumes- the ground game was held to under 100 yards for the fifth straight week.  The firm of Perine, Thompson & Kelley resembled Lionel Hutz “I Can’t Believe it’s a Law Firm!” as the trio tallied 71 yards on 22 tries.  Now Kelley goes on injured reserve and the Skins ink Byron Russell from Philadelphia’s practice squad;  the former Oregon Duck was the first player in program history to notch a 1,000-yard rushing season AND a 1,000-yard receiving season in his collegiate career.

Third Down and Out- the Skins converted 5-of-14 money downs, with Cousins completing 7 of 10 passes (and four conversions) while running for a first down and getting sacked (an early incompletion to Vernon Davis was wiped out thanks to a roughing the passer penalty).  Chris Thompson (in addition to making one catch on three targets that moved the marker) carried twice on 3rd & 1…getting stuffed once while getting the yardage once.  Jamison Crowder was the top target- getting four throws, catching three and converting two.  Yardage breakdown:  4-of-5 on short-yardage (including 2-of-3 on the ground), 2-for-2 on medium yardage and 0-for-7 on 3rd & 7+.

Zach Brown Band- sometimes even when the album has ten tracks (or tackles), the product doesn’t work.  The Skins allowed touchdowns on five of the first six times they took to the field…or 35 points on the first 32 plays from scrimmage en route to a season-high 38 points allowed.  The pass rush failed to get a sack.  While DJ Swearinger tallied two interceptions in the second half, Case Keenum completed over 70% of his passes and averaged over ten yards per attempt.

Third Down and Up- the Vikings converted 8-of-12 attempts while only facing three third downs in the first half.  Keenum completed 7-of-10 passes with each completion resulting in a conversion…while also scrambling for a yard on 3rd & 8 late in the game.  Keenum found Adam Thielen for three first downs while connecting with Stefon Diggs twice.  Yardage breakdown:  3-for-3 on short-yardage, 5-for-5 on medium yardage and 0-for-4 on 3rd & 7+ yards neeeded.

Special Situations- Tress way booted his only punt of the day for 52 yards (you mean the Skins punted just once and still lost?).  Nick Rose connected on all three extra point attempts and on field goals of 21, 28 and 55 yards.  And then he attempted that onside kick…that didn’t go ten yards.  Meanwhile, on the other sideline Cobra Kai Forbath did his best “Johnny Lawrence at the 10-year reunion” impression–booting a 53-yarder while making all five extra point attempts.  Didn’t gloat about how he turned okay after attending Duke while Daniel LaRusso surely got popped for sneaking a bonsai tree into the US and did hard time.  I’m sure Johnny even got a wink from Ali at the reunion (she’s now happily married to Bobby, the sensitive Cobra Kai guy).

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia increased its lead without playing a game.  The Eagles had their bye week and at 8-1 own the best mark in the division, conference and league.  Dallas (5-4) stays in second place after their loss to Atlanta, while dropping to 10th place in the NFC.  Third place remains in the 4-5 Redskins grasp;  a better conference record gives them 11th place in the NFC over Arizona.  The Giants are in last place of the NFC East and are the 15th place team in the conference.  The only thing keeping NY out of dead last? San Francisco hasn’t had their bye week yet…and this weekend they will.

Conference Call- the NFC took a 24-16 lead with 24 games remaining in the inter-conference clash.  All four AFC Divisions have losing records against their NFC quartets.  When did it become 1995 again?  The NFC South owns the best record at 22-15 while the AFC North is a Browns-induced 14-22.  The NFC East?  Fourth best at 18-18.

So this is the team we have.  A 3-4 squad that has more than a few injuries on an offensive line currently being held together by duct tape and paper clips (plus the occasional stapler).  A running game that scares nobody…and a receiving corps where the supporting players are forced to carry the show.  The Redskins are at a crossroads after Sunday’s 33-19 loss to Dallas…because their next three games are against division leading Seattle, New Orleans and Minnesota.  Teams that are a combined 16-6.  Teams that could put the Burgundy and Gold four games under .500 as they enter Thanksgiving week.  They say March enters a lion and exits like a lamb…I’m feeling that November enters for the Redskins like a deer that just stepped on a nail that’s about to cross the GW Parkway.  Brace yourselves…

 

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One completed 26 of 39 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown.  Unfortunately he lost a fumble and tossed an interception–and the Cowboys were able to generate 10 points off of those turnovers.  The pick-six reminded fans real quick about the Giants loss last year.  He was also sacked four times behind a makeshift offensive line and had minimal time to look deep.  The real loss for Kirk though was learning the SS Niners traded for a new captain in Jimmy Garoppolo.  This takes another ship away from Kirk–as Jared Goff is playing well for the Rams.  In the offseason one would have guessed that the Rams and Niners–with former Redskins Offensive Coordinators in charge–would be prime landing spots for Kirk.  Now I’m thinking Jacksonville might be the best place for his next five-year mission.  Episode Equivalent- “Elaan of Troyius”.  As bad as it sounds…with tears being used as a drug.

Running on Empty- the ground game gained a season-low 49 yards on 15 carries…with ten of those coming on the final play from scrimmage.  On a day where the rain and wind was less than ideal, the Skins ran the ball just 15 times.  For comparison, Ezekiel Elliott had 18 carries in the second half alone.

Catch Me if You Can- nine receptions for 123 yards gives Jamison Crowder a major game-ball…while Chris Thompson adds eight grabs for 76 yards.  That’s 65% of the day’s completions and 76% of the receiving yardage made by two guys who in an ideal world are complimentary players.  Jordan Reed, Josh Doctson & Terrelle Pryor combined for two catches for six yards.

Third and Maybe Not- the Skins moved the chains on 4 of 13 attempts.  Cousins completed 7 of 11 passes while getting sacked twice–losing a fumble on the first possession of the second half.  Ryan Grant was the top option with two conversions on three catches and four targets overall.  Distance breakdown:  1-for-1 on short yardage, 2-for-4 on medium (4 to 6 yards needed) and 1-for-8 on long yardage.  So…over 60% of their third downs were long yardage?  The Skins had more third & 20’s than third and shorts.  Not good…

Zach Brown Band- Bayside’s best led the team again with 12 tackles…as the free agent pickup currently leads the NFL with 75 stops.  As in over ten per game.  Unfortunately he’s playing behind a banged up line and in front of a shattered secondary.

Third Down D- the Skins held the Cowboys to 5 of 14 on the money down, forcing four field goals in the second half.  Truth be told there were a few plays wiped out by holding calls that would have resulted in big gains or touchdowns, but the D held its own on a short field.  Dallas twice converted on third and short by using running plays (I know, seriously?) and was 2-for-4 on the ground while 3-for-10 through the air.  Yardage breakdown:  3-for-4 on short yardage, 2-for-6 on medium yardage and 0-for-4 needing 7+ yards.

Special Situations-  well, well.  We’re not going to call the kicking game “special” this week because there were issues.  A blocked field goal that turned a potential nine-point lead into a one-point deficit. A missed extra point.  A penalty on a punt that resulted in 30 yards of field position gained by Dallas.  And Jamison Crowder muffed a punt.  Plenty to chew on this week.

Flying Flags- five penalties for 32 yards…with two contributing to Dallas scoring drives.  Just one on offense (false start-Moses), two on defense (offsides on Galette and unnecessary roughness on Brown) and two on special teams (low block on Way, illegal touch on Holsey).  The Way penalty was actually okay…as his low block prevented a Dallas TD on the blocked kick return.  At least the Skins forced them to run two plays inside the five.  Most costly penalty?  Brown’s flag put the Cowboys within field goal range…and gave them their final points of the day.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia leads the NFC East at 7-1 while also owning the #1 seed in the conference.  Dallas at 4-3 is in second place of the division;  the Cowboys are 9th in the NFC as they lose out on tiebreakers with Atlanta (conference record) and Green Bay (head to head).  The Skins 3-4 mark has them in third of the NFC East and 11th in the conference;  NFC records have them one spot behind Detroit and one slot ahead of Arizona.  The New York Giants after their bye week are 1-6 and in last place of the division;  they’re 15th in the NFC with winless San Francisco not chasing them as much as running in the other direction.

Conference Call- the NFC is 15-13 against the AFC after eight weeks.  The best division is the AFC East at 18-10 while the AFC North is a league-worst 13-18 (the Browns will do that to you).  The NFC East is 15-14 and trending in the right direction…I think.  How many more bye weeks to the Giants get?

 

So…the Redskins after having a week off almost lost to an 0-5 team.  Despite taking a 17-point first half lead.  And they almost lost the lead in the end after missing an extra point as a rookie quarterback got his team to midfield before short-circuiting. But in a world where just about everybody is 3-2, 3-3 or 2.3 the Redskins are living in the upper crust of the NFL’s middle class thanks to their 26-24 win over San Francisco.  A 3-2 start can just as easily turn into an 11-5 as it can become a 5-11.  But at least they’re not 0-6.

 

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One posted another remarkable episode, throwing for 330 yards and two touchdowns while running for the team’s other score.  His interception keeps this week from being a top-tier show, but at least he didn’t lead the team in rushing again (bad things happen when Kirk ison the ground).  Episode Equivalent:  “I, Mudd”- where Kirk has to deal with familiar face (Kyle Shanahan substituting for Roger Carmel’s Harry Mudd) and chaos ensues, but the crew comes out on top again.

Thompson Twins- Hey, lets give a round of applause for the team’s leading rusher (remember they’re 0-2 when the Captain leads them in rushing)– Chris Thompson.  Let’s also give a round of applause for the team’s leading receiver– Chris Thompson.  The diminutive scatback played big, amassing 138 total yards of offense.  On a team where there is no true #1 ball-carrier and the receiving corps has yet to find itself, Thompson is just what this team needs now.  But how long can he sustain this kind of production and take the pounding?

Third and Subjective- the Skins converted 7 of 14 tries…with 11 pass plays to 3 runs.  Cousins completed 7 of 11 attempts for 6 conversions…with Ryan Grant emerging as the top target (2 catches and conversions in 3 passes).  Yardage breakdown:  3 for 5 on third and short (including 1-2 on the ground), 1 for 4 on third and manageable (0-1 on the ground) and 3 for 5 on third and long.

Zac Brown Band’s new LP “Getting off the Field”– the linebacker led the defense with 8 tackles…and the D held San Francisco short on 11 of 17 third down attempts.  The key was containing on 1st and 2nd down…as the Niners faced 11 third and longs (7+ yards needed).  The Skins did give up a pair of third and short runs…but were able to dial up a last-minute interception by Kendall Fuller.

Special Situations- Dustin Hopkins made both of his field goal attempts (including a 48-yarder) but missed an extra point.  He then went on short term Injured Reserve with what ESPN.COM is reporting as a “right hip rotator muscle strain”.  They’re signing former Texas kicker Nick Rose to fill the void.  Tress Way averaged 45 yards per punt–again.  The return game yielded just one runback for the Skins–a 6-yarder by Jamison Crowder while the punt coverage team allowed a 39-yard return that set up a missed Niners field goal.

Flying Flags- five infractions for 43 yards.  Three were on the offense (false start, unnecessary roughness and delay of game) while two were on the defense (unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct).  Bashaud Breeland’s defensive hold was declined…so although the cornerback still leads the team with 4 penalties on the season he doesn’t add to his total.  Two still sting:  the first one is a false start on Morgan Moses…that turned a 2nd & 7 into a 2nd  & 12.  Kirk Cousins’ interception came two plays later on 3rd & 12.  DJ Swearinger’s unsportsmanlike conduct turned a 4th & 2 from the 5 into a 1st & goal for the Niners…and would lead to their final TD of the day.  But guess what?  Five games into the season the Skins are the second least penalized team in the NFL.  

Dissecting the Division-  Philadelphia’s Thursday night win keeps the Eagles flying atop the NFC East and after six weeks the #1 seed in the NFC (YES, it’s early–but six weeks should be enough of a sample size to sort things out).  The Redskins are in second place and are one of four teams tied for the #6 seed;  the strength of victory tiebreaker eliminates the Burgundy & Gold.  Dallas is in third place and 12th overall in the conference (thanks to the strength of victory tiebreaker over Tampa Bay), but has to wonder if their defense will continue allow 35 points at home.  In last–for the moment–are those plucky New York Giants who are no longer winless after going into Denver and beating the Broncos.  Welcome to the NFL.

Conference Calls- the NFC owns a 13-11 lead after six weeks…with the AFC East (13-9) sporting the best combined record.  The AFC North is 9-14 thanks to the sinking stone that is the Cleveland Browns.  The NFC East?  A middling 11-11.  We’ve only just begun…

So the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train?  Somehow the Burgundy and Gold have re-entered the NFC’s middle class orbit with a 20-17 overtime win at Dallas on Monday Night Football.  Colt McCoy is a hero.  And the Cowboys come up short in the national spotlight.  Will this turn out to be simply an isolated incident or part of a larger trend?

McCoy is the Doctor who cures all ills– well, maybe not all ills, but completing 25 of 30 passes (for a team record 83.3%) for 299 yards can go a long way towards masking issues.  Colt used his wheels as well–scoring on a quarterback draw in the third quarter and securing a first down on a bootleg.  All while looking like he’s an extra from Summer Catch (you tell me he doesn’t look 15 years old).  There was an interception in the first half–but for the most part #16 made the necessary plays and also didn’t make any costly ones.  Does this mean playoffs?  “Damnit Jim, I’m a doctor–not a miracle worker”.

Alfred the Upgraded– Mr. Morris ran 18 times for 73 yards in the win…including a 5 yard TD that gave the Skins a 10-7 lead in the third quarter.  The 73 yards are the most he’s gained since week three against Philadelphia–so that’s a start.  The Redskins ran the ball 31 times while passing 30 times (not including 3 sacks)…giving the team the offensive balance it so clearly needs with Colt McCoy at the controls. 

DeSean Dominates…and Disrupts– Jackson tallied 6 catches for 136 yards while continuing to provide the downfield threat that will in theory open things up for the running game.  Still, #11 can’t stay away from jawing with opposing defensive backs–this time drawing an unnecessary roughness penalty that bogged down a 2nd quarter drive.  We get it that he likes to “get into it”–but if he could just focus on blocking for the run game instead of trying to show up the opposition, we might have something.

Third and Getting Better– the team converted 6 of 14 third downs—6 of 10 after halftime.  McCoy completed 8 of 10 passes  (4 conversions) while getting sacked twice, while scoring on a QB draw and moving the chains on the previously mentioned bootleg.  The top target?  Jordan Reed (5 catches, 2 conversions). Yardage breakdown:  3 for 5 on third and short (1 to 3 yards needed), 1 for 2 on third and 4 to 6 yards and 2 for 7 on third and long (7+ yards).

D grades well–  they contained the Cowboys for a big part of the game–only allowing 7 points to Tony Romo (the other 10 came when backup Brandon Weeden was in the game).  Five sacks placed plenty of pressure on Romo and Weeden.  Fumble recoveries by Trent Murphy and Brandon Merriweather set the early tone.  Keenan Robinson led the team in tackles again (10 stops) while also notching a sack.  Bashaud Breeland stepped up with 6 tackles and 4 passes defensed…providing more than a few key plays.  Could the secondary be growing up in front of our eyes?

Flying Flags— the laundry list involves six penalties for 45 yards.  Five offensive (two delays of game on McCoy, a false start on Tom Compton, a hold on Niles Paul plus an unnecessary roughness against DeSean Jackson and an unsportsmanlike conduct against Logan Paulsen) and just one on defense (Brandon Merriweather’s illegal contact).  While Jackson’s unnecessary roughness helped stall a late first half drive, Paulsen’s unsportsmanlike conduct effectively put the team out of field goal range.

Cobra Kai– Mr. Forbath connected on both of his attempts (from 40 and 44 yards)…providing the winning margin for the second straight week.  The Johnny Lawrence of kickers is now 13 of 14–and remember, he didn’t miss after week eight last year.  Sweep the leg, indeed.

Dissecting the Division– Dallas despite the defeat owns a half game lead over Philadelphia for first place in the NFC East;  the Cowboys drop to 3rd place in the conference while the Eagles remain in the 5th spot.  The NY Giants after their bye week are 10th in the NFC…and the Redskins after the win improve to 13th–with games against Minnesota (12th) and Tampa Bay (16th) coming up next (so you’re saying there’s hope?).  The NFC East owns the second best record in the league at 17-13…trailing just the AFC North (18-11-1, all four teams have winning records).  Two divisions have flown south for the winter…the AFC South is 12-20 while the NFC South is 9-20-1.

If September is “Show Me Month” in college football, October is “Moving Month”. eligible before Halloween.  Others realize that division and/or conference title hopes are all for naught.  Teams with heartbreaking losses that kept them under the radar emerge as contenders…and some schools with high hopes find themselves scrambling to scrape together six wins to become bowl eligible.  In the 21st Century, it often hinges on the school’s quarterback situation.  Can Maryland’s CJ Brown stay healthy?  Can Virginia Tech’s Michael Brewer limit the mistakes that have marred his early play?  Can Virginia’s Matt Johns convince coach Mike London to forget all about Greyson Lambert?  Actually, with a name like “Greyson Lambert” there’s no way one can forget Greyson Lambert…or the shirt brand he seems to be named after.

 

Alma Mater Update– Friday Night Failings.  It’s going to take a 24 hour period to sort out any rash thoughts about the Orange’s disappointing defeat to Louisville.  A few weeks ago I compared Friday Night Football to a Dallas episode after Pam’s dream– this past week it felt like a Coy/Vance episode of Dukes of Hazard.

 

Maryland hosts #20 Ohio State– College Park needs to brace itself for Buckeye insanity…I was at an Ohio State lacrosse game that involved students getting on the roofs of cars (their own) and one needed medical attention after a bottle was broken over his head (I believe it was his own bottle and head).  Ohio State needs to brace itself for a Terrapin team that’s made the big play a big part of their diet– 10 of their 12 touchdowns the last three weeks have come on plays of 25 yards or more.  Speed by the playmakers is one factor–another is downfield/second level blocking that springs those playmakers.  CJ Brown’s a question mark after injuring his wrist at Indiana…and backup Caleb Rowe has actually filled in well off the bench this year (66% completions, 9.9 yards per attempt, a 4-1 TD-INT ratio).   The Buckeyes know all about the challenge of replacing a veteran QB:  J.T. Barrett may have looked like a freshman against Virginia Tech, he didn’t look like one against Cincinnati (330 yards and 4 TD’s passing, 79 yards rushing).  It’s also tough to deny “Hang On Sloopy”…Terps tumble, 24-17.

Films of Fantasy I– how have they not made the rom-com “Columbus Day”?  Owen Wilson stars as OSU alum Chris who returns for homecoming and meets his three serious college girlfriends:  Kate Mara as goth-girl Nina (“just Nina.  Last names are so restrictive”), Leslie Mann as sorority nightmare Jocelyn Bradford Pinta, and Jessica Paré as “the one who got away” Maria Santa.  With Jason Sudekis and Elizabeth Moss as  “Ferdie and Izzy”, his friends from freshman year who got married and Jack Black as his old roommate who not only never graduated but still lives in the same dorm room.  Killer quote at the end:  “You know, I grew up rooting for Ohio State– and the first thing I learned was that Archie Griffin is the only two-time winner of the Heisman.  Now–I know you’re the only two time winner…of my heart.”  Break out the slow-motion clap…with multiple uses of “Hang On Sloopy”.

 

Virginia Tech at North Carolina– this is one of those early October “we might be in trouble” games. Both teams bring 0-1 ACC records into the contest…and both have given their fan base cause for concern.  Coach Frank Beamer has a QB who throws interceptions, a running game that either grinds gears or loses player to injury and a kicking game that has extra points blocked.  That’s a picnic compared to what’s happening in Chapel Hill–the Tar Heels gave up 70 points to East Carolina and 50 to Clemson.  UNC allowing 44 points a game makes me want to think about Terry Holland complaining about Jimmy Black running the Four Corners offense…not anything remotely resembling football.  The Heels boast one of the top kick returners in the game–Ryan Switzer ran back 5 punts for touchdowns for last year.  Time to find out if BEAMER BALL! can live up to its name.  Hokies hold on, 36-31.

 

Virginia plays Pitt– in prime time?  How is this a showcase game?  Believe it or not, the winner gets at least a share of the Coastal Division lead (also known as the division without Clemson and Florida State).  Both schools are 3-2…but while the Cavaliers glass is half-full (a pair of one possession games to ranked teams) the Panthers have the half-empty feel of a loss to Akron.  The Zips only other win so far has come against Howard.  Pitt’s led by runningback James Conner, whose 791 yards through 5 games is 8 yards shy of his freshman total.  Coach Mike London’s leaving Greyson Lambert’s status up on the air–which means the Magic Eight Ball has been sent out for polishing or repairs.  It was actually refreshing being able to watch a UVa game and not wonder which QB would be playing each possession.  Cavaliers with QB closure come through, 28-17.

 

Navy at Air Force– the Midshipmen are in a tailspin with two straight home losses…and head west to face the high-flying Falcons (3-1 but with wins over Nicholls State and Georgia State).  Keenan Reynolds (90 yards rushing per game) needs a little more help offensively from the weapons at his disposal.  Air Force runs the option as well– and Kale Pearson is coming off a career high 127 yards against Boise State.  Navy has won 9 of the last 12 meetings between these two schools…going 4-2 in Colorado Springs.  Sadly, the defense has sprung leaks lately…allowing 29 points a game.  Can they end what’s been a rocky start in the Rocky Mountains?  Mids come up short, 35-27.
Georgetown falls to Harvard,  Howard loses at North Carolina Central, James Madison falls at Albany, Richmond rips Liberty, Towson tops Stony Brook, Morgan State edges Florida A&M.

 

Last Week:  7-3.

Overall: 38-12.

Just one year ago I lamented one rather underwhelming TV seasonThe Office was put out of its misery– and it was misery, make no mistake about it.  How I Met Your Mother found a way to stretch its eighth season into a ninth by having 24 episodes deal with one weekend (hey, 24 got there first– and did it a whole lot better).  Dallas even tried to soldier on minus the one Four Star General we all tuned in to watch.  Would things get even worse before they got better?

Despite the fact that Two Broke Girls remains a program people watch, 2014 is looking up.  First to clear the air about addition by subtraction:  I watched 41 minutes of Dallas this spring.  I’m over it.  I can’t buy John Ross as somebody who can master his “ABC’s”… let alone scheme on any level.  The “sensitive Christopher storyline” has Bobby’s son growing a beard and dating a single mom.  Kind of like what happened to Steve Sanders on 90120 with the Hillary Swank character, except instead of adding facial hair Ian Ziering simply started to lose hair.  Drunk Sue Ellen was shocking in 1978…not so now.  Even the burning Southfork was 30 years after the fact.  Where’s Ray Krebs when you need him?

 

Mad Men– this is “technically” the final season.  Even though they’re producing 8 this year followed by 8 more next year.  What’s going to stop shows from eventually producing 13 “one episode” seasons down the road?  Don Draper’s in a free-fall this May…with his wife in Hollywood, his work life on heavily measured life support (reporting to rookie of the year Lou) and his children being played by two of the worst actors ever (Kiernan Shipka excepted)  Instead of Bob Benson (from accounts!) cursing in Spanish, we’re cursing any and all Bobby Draper storylines.  I’m glad he traded a sandwich for gumdrops.  I’m thankful they’ve kept Gene on the sidelines for the most part.  And I’m surprised they haven’t turned Glen into the lead singer from the Turtles (they’re dead ringers).  It’s interesting how the firm is divided against itself– California/New York, Roger Sterling/Jim Cutler, Peggy/her underlings, Dawn/Stacy.  With the glacial pace this show proceeds, will there be any resolution of any of these conflicts anytime soon?  Tune in next year…but later this season.

 

The Americans– at least Sterling Cooper & Partners is one office.  Each front here is fractured (FBI, Russian Embassy, the Jennings, Stan’s family, the handlers) and somehow makes progress despite itself.  I credit the wigs.  Philip and Elizabeth are having issues managing their kids (nothing like sneaking into a neighbor’s house to play Intellivision–only to fall asleep), marriages (Martha’s this close to going over the edge in one direction or another) and methods (from Philip changing the bait for Yousaf to Elizabeth having to let her Nicaraguan protégé die).  Thank goodness Stan is being worked over by Nina and Oleg…while the gay Navy SEAL is going rogue.  It’s a credit to the writers and actors that a show with protagonists trying to bring down the U.S. hasn’t turned people off yet.

 

Turn– while the cover for these spies isn’t a travel agency in 1776 (it’s cabbage farming)…intrigue and information gathering while the other side is looking the other way isn’t that different.  Instead of the hero looking to steal stealth weaponry secrets for the USSR, the good guy in AMC’s new show is trying to get one over on the Redcoats.  There’s the unsure of himself lead who winds up being pulled into the greater cause.  There’s the forbidden love of his life he’s now working with to beat the British…along with intergenerational conflict.  There’s even a comically evil British Captain who smacks of the Ski Patrol/Cobra Kai/Alpha Beta type…only with an accent that makes you want to punch him.  The question is much like The Americans– how beholden to specific facts of history will this show be?

 

24– Jack’s back…if only in limited form.  Will the seconds count off twice as quickly?  Is there a metric hour that I didn’t know about?  After a less than awesome Season 8 that wrapped up four years ago…he’s in London this time (mixed reviews for foreign 24’s:  while Songala was cool in the movie 24: Redemption and the Season 5/6 car commercial in China was decent, Season 3’s Mexican storyline was fraught with overacting).  And Benjamin Bratt’s chasing him while his ex (Audrey’s no longer catatonic!) is married to Tate Donovan who works for her father the President (I buy James Heller as our chief executive a lot more than Wayne Palmer).  Chloe’s back with a bit of a gothic look (hopefully her personality remains the same–meaning socially incompetent) while there’s a new crisis (isn’t there always?).  There will be shooting, shouting and ridiculous plot holes.  I’m hoping this is more like Seasons 1, 2, 4 &5 than 3, 6 & 8.  WE’RE WASTING TIME!

Giving up is not the easiest thing to do…even when it is the necessary thing to do.   It means we admit we’ve either made a mistake or it’s time to try something new. And nobody wants to admit they’ve erred or go away from what they’re used to attempting.  Much like Dr. Evil in “Austin Powers” after unveiling two outside the box schemes proved faulty…”Oh, what the hell– let’s just steal a nuclear weapon like we always do!”  We’re like that with TV shows. And that’s one reason I try to limit my viewing–because just as I was on the hook for the final unwatchable two three four seasons of 90120, I don’t do well departing a series I’m invested in (for the record, “9-0” became unwatchable after Dylan left the show following his new bride’s murder).

That said– I began the season with four shows in my rotation with a fifth joining the club this winter…

Dallas– Yes, I was stuck on the Ewing schemes in the 80’s well after the “Dream Season”.  There was no way I could avoid getting sucked in to this Lone Star State sized sinkhole.  And let the record show, if they ever reboot “Happy Days”, “Cheers” and “Tales of the Gold Monkey” at the same time like they’re doing next summer with “24”, I’m going to be worthless.  How could you resist the 21st century update to JR, Bobby, Sue Ellen & Cliff?  By having the kids be annoying as hell.  JR’s kid is the “schemer”, yet seems like he can’t solve short division problems.  Bobby’s son’s answer to everything is shouting…and Cliff’s daughter went from smart scammer to dumb damsel in one season.  At least Bobby married the woman who played Sue Ellen Michke on “Seinfeld” (although there’s no mention of the Mars family fortune).  Sadly, Larry Hagman’s death brought a narrative dampener midseason.  While the show gave JR a proper sendoff and tied up loose ends nicely, I don’t know if a third season is necessary.

Mad Men– Oh, if only JR met Don Draper.  Bourbon and branch meets the Old Fashioned.–they would have had one heck of a time in Big D or the Big Apple.  While season six is still in progress we’ve seen Don careen through his professional and personal life like a bull in a china shop.  Not only did Draper  napalm the Heinz and Jaguar accounts, he started cheating on his Soap Opera actress wife with a married woman–sneaking over when her cardiac surgeon is saving lives.  All the rest is window dressing alongside Don’s descent:  a merger between SCDP and CGC (couldn’t we have just one vowel?), Pete’s retreating hairline, Peggy’s boss-crush (umm, Peg—Preppy McPrepp isn’t leaving his wife for anyone short of Daisy the Stewardess) and Rookie of the Year Bob Benson (“from accounts!  Wharton!  I’ve got two cups of coffee if you want one!”).  Add Harry Hamlin (“Roger Sterling with bad breath’) and Ted McGinley (SHARK ALERT!) to the mix and you’ve got just enough to make me sit through Sally & Bobby Draper’s scenes.  Kids just don’t fare well on this show– even Roger’s adult daughter was irritating in her limited run.

The Office– Bob Benson would be such a good Regional Manager at Dunder-Mifflin.  At its best this was one incredibly nuanced show of equal parts sweet, sour and sublime.  From Jim and Pam to Jim vs. Dwight to “I’M PRISON MIKE!”.  Ringmaster Steve Carell was the crazy glue that kept what seemed like 20 plot points working like coordinated oars in the water.   Nobody said the wrong thing at the right time better or more often.  After Michael Scott’s departure the rudderless ship foundered over the last two years but finally finds port this week.  It’s time to say goodbye… I have the same regard for “New Jim” and “Dwight Jr” as I did for “Coy & Vance Duke” and am just glad there’s not a “Poor Richard’s Pub After Dark” where today’s hottest artists happen to make tour stops.  But I still dream of a “Threat Level Midnight 2–Electric Boogaloo”.

How I Met Your Mother– And of course I’d have to go see “The Wedding Bride III” the next day.  The consistently uneven season ends–and we actually get a payoff for the third straight finale:  two years ago we learned Barney was going to be the groom at “the wedding” (How crazy!  He’s the ultimate bachelor!)…last year we learned Robin would be the bride (How crazy!  She hates marriage and he’s engaged to a stripper!).  This year we actually see “the mother”–Cristin Milioti shows up to buy one ticket to Farhampton with umbrella and bass in tow (How crazy!  We were used to being stringed along!).  Highlights include Billy Zabka at the bachelor party and Ted’s “45 days” speech.  Lowlights include Marshall’s disappearance,  Robin’s descent from confident career woman to Barney-obsessed and “Who Wants to Be a Godparent”.  Now the show’s final season will be devoted to wrapping things up.  But how will they?  I’ve heard everything from them having Ted meet the mother in the first 1 to 3 episodes…get to know her and then marry her in the finale (which they have to do to line things up for a 15 year old daughter in the 2030 flash-forwards) to all 24 episodes covering “Barney and Robin’s Wedding Weekend” with flashbacks of how each in the gang got to meet the mother– which will become exhausting.   Unless Billy Zabka’s there.  And yes, I refuse to call him William. 

The Americans–  what do I call the husband?  Phillip JenningsClark Herbert Westerfield?  Or whatever Russian name he actually goes by?  In honor of Kevin Costner in “No Way Out”, I’m going with Yuri.  Maybe they can use the same shed at Arlington National Cemetary in season two– and even board the Metro at the Georgetown stop.  Word is the show “Alias” was pitched as “Felicity’s a spy” to ABC– so it’s only fitting Keri Russell a decade and a half after playing Felicity becomes a spy.  And even if she cuts her hair (DONT!) she’ll have a wide assortment of wigs.  Perhaps it’s the spy story motif, the protagonists as KGB sleeper cel agents or the early 80’s outfits and music that makes this work (“Games Without Frontiers” the perfect coda to the season finale).  Maybe it’s because everybody is lying about something to another character at some time or another–and they kind of know it (there hasn’t been this much serial dishonesty in a cast since “Casablanca”).  Perhaps it’s the sense of fear because we know and see how good the KGB couple is at undermining our national security–and we see and know how woefully unlucky and occasionally incompetent our people are.  In a world where one of my shows makes it’s necessary departure, another probably should have taken its final bow and a third is behaving like the college student taking 3 courses a semester to reason the 6 year plan, it’s nice to see it’s “morning” for “The Americans”.  Good to see I’m moving forward with one show set in 1968 and another in 1981.  Phillip/Clark/Yuri,  meet Don Draper/Dick Whitman.