Hello, fine TV Guide readers! It's me, your friendly neighborhood superlative disher, with yet another round of prizes for the TV shows and specials that stood out the most this week! It's not Thanksgiving yet, but here's some early fodder for your gratitude list.
Best character intro: You'd have to be living under a rock not to have already heard about how badass the latest character to join HBO's Watchmen is, but it's still worth talking about some more. Sunday night's episode centered on Laurie Blake (Jean Smart), formerly known as Laurie Juspeczyk, as she took a trip to Tulsa. Laurie had exactly zero f---s to give about almost anyone — except her man on Mars, of course. The episode was backboned by a series of bitter jokes she was transmitting through her space phone to her long-lost love, and, after she questioned whether her messages would even be received, her very last punchline came crashing right back down to her from above. Ha! Laurie's showdown with Sister Night (Regina King) also produced what is inarguably the GIF of the week.
Weirdest finish: Admit it. You did not see that final shot of The Affair coming. For those of us who stuck with the series through its cast shakeups and tonal shifts, not to mention one disconcerting time jump, the series finale was satisfying in parts, confusing in others, and downright weird all the way through. The finale finally brought Noah (Dominic West) and Helen (Maura Tierney) back together after they decided to stop punishing each other and themselves, which seemed inevitable from the start of the season. But it also tied together the story of future Joanie (Anna Paquin) with the current story by having old man Noah running the now-desolate Lobster Roll restaurant. This gave him a chance to tell Joanie she got her mother all wrong — and to learn about the true cause of her death and yet still convince Joanie not to waste her life avenging her mother (#JusticeForAlison). But more importantly, it inspired him to trek down to the climate change-ravaged beach to do an old flash mob dance he'd choreographed for his daughter's wedding decades before. Annnnd, the end. What?!
Most pointless change: HBO's adaptation of His Dark Materials is off to a solid start, but there was one aspect of the premiere that drove us bonkers: For some reason, the alethiometer is square instead of round in this iteration of the story. As much as this show gets right about Philip Pullman's book series, that slight change is killing us. What's the point?
The cursed puppet: The Little Mermaid Live! was ... well, it just was. Exclamation point not necessary, really, except when it came to how godawful that Flounder puppet really was. How did that thing ever get approved?
Worst misuse of a Best Chris: Did you know that Chris Evans has a new movie coming out called Knives Out? Well, he does, and PSA: No one can stop talking about his epic sweater game in the movie. But when Evans went on Billy on the Street this week to promote the movie, he basically spent the entire segment being wallpaper for Billy Eichner, who talked up his show being available on Netflix. Both of these guys have their charms separately, but this is a complete and tragic waste of Captain America's company. Thank goodness Paul Rudd came along near the end to save this thing, but beyond that, watch it only if you need a good cringe sesh, folks.
Worst dedication: Castle Rock Season 2's main timeline is already a rad prequel story to Misery, but the latest episode dove even further into Annie Wilkes' (Lizzy Caplan) sordid history to reveal that her so-called laughing place wasn't as sunny as she hyped it up to be. As expected, there was a reason Annie never wanted her daughter to go to real doctors or for them to live in one place for too long: Joy (Elsie Fisher) is not actually her daughter but her half-sister. Annie stole her from Joy's mother, Rita (Sarah Gadon), after impaling her father and stabbing Rita in a fit of rage. We'd already glimpsed young Annie holding the baby by the water, but watching what led up to it — and what almost followed — was downright horrifying in the best way. Let's just say it's no wonder Annie Wilkes takes her books so seriously.
Sweetest celebration: Calvin (Cedric the Entertainer) and Tina (Tichina Arnold) celebrated 30 years of happy marriage on CBS' The Neighborhood this week. A lover of all things love, Dave (Max Greenfield) suggested that the Butlers celebrate the milestone by renewing their vows. Tina thought the idea was brilliant, but Calvin, ever the pragmatist, nearly ruined the ceremony by suggesting too many cost-cutting measures. But in the end, Calvin came to his senses and swept Tina off her feet with a sweet little ceremony and get-together in the backyard. Everybody even did the hustle by episode's end — and Arnold looked gorgeous. — Mekeisha Madden Toby
Best Bortles moment: The Good Place's final stretch really has been giving Jason (Manny Jacinto) the respect he's due. The latest example came this week, as Jason's interest in football paid off when his Hail Mary analogies gave the group the confidence they needed to move forward. Hut hut!
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