Regularly scheduled TV ground nearly to a halt as the Super Bowl sucked most of the air out of the room, but a few popular shows aired new episodes, all of which to positive reception. While the vaunted Downton Abbey won by a nose, it’s the oft-maligned and shopworn SNL that stole all hearts this weekend with Larry David’s consistently funny return, to go along with the cameo of his presidential candidate doppelganger Bernie Sanders, and it probably would have snatched the crown, if critics grades matched their write-ups
Weekend of February 7th’s Best Reviewed: Downton Abbey (8.5/10)
As we barrel ahead towards Downton oblivion, it’s unsurprising that the quality would peak in the antepenultimate episode. AV Club loves the recent “more vigorous, more self-aware” Abbey. Jen Chaney of Vulture wins my heart by comparing the visiting hoi polloi of the surrounding villages as “all the Whos in Whoville” while declaring “Hell hath no fury like a Dame Maggie Smith scorned.” TV Fanatic‘s Caralynn Lippo welcomed the drama’s “hilarious as expected” comedic touch as the clueless aristocrats attempted to explain the history of their abode and lifestyle to the locals, not all of whom slack-jawed yokels.
The Rest of the Night:
Saturday Night Live – 8.5
Based on the disconnect between the imperfect grades and glowing prose, I sense that a lifetime of lukewarm SNL has hardened reviewers from giving the show a perfect grade. The AV Club‘s excellent Dennis Perkins stretched to find a worst sketch on a “uniformly solid show,” but then poured praise on said sketch. Gillian Healey of Vulture called Larry David’s turn “A banner episode not soon to be forgotten,” which seems to warrant more than 4 out of 5 stars, but maybe that’s just me. If you want the true measure of this episode against the canvas of years of mediocrity, check the comments section of AV as they are usually pretty brutal on the long-running program, but tonight you had to dig deep to find even one #CancelJost.
Shameless – 8.5
The Gallagher family’s bidding adieu to their abode made for moving television as Myles McNutt of AV Club called it “easily the most emotional Shameless has made [him] in a long time.” At TV Fanatic, Paul Dailly raves in a 5/5 review that “plenty more stories to tell before this one shows any signs of age.”
Billions – 8.0
Even the uneven Billions earned high praise, Vulture labeling its fourth offering a “high-paced, crackerjack episode.”