Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You have The Walking Dead to thank for this

Yes, the Walking Dead mid-season finale (Seasonette?) has driven to blog again. To be honest, there's a pantload of good TV happening right now, I'm just lazy and have been putting most of my TV thoughts on Facebook. However, since "spoiling plots" is the new "punching babies", I figured I'd toss some thoughts in here. In fact, I'm rambling this long just to keep any spoilers from showing up in the little preview that pops up when I link this to my Facebook. This should be long enough...

Okay, so WTF SOPHIA!!!

Ahh, out of my system. Okay, so Season 2.1 of The Walking Dead is in the books, and oh how the opinions are flowing. First off, this season was so slow, the title should be changed to the Strolling Dead (zing!). Look, I like character development as much as the next guy, but that can be done through actions, not just through casual conversation in the middle of the apocolypse. it started with the 90 minute premiere, which could have been a nice tight hour long story, but instead got padded out with nowhere to go because it still had to have Carl getting shot as the cliifhanger. In fact, every episode has been starting to feel like a lot of padding, and then a big reveal at the end to make us forget about how often we checked our Twitter feeds during an extended monologue (well, with this cast, monodrawl). Someone tell Shane that he's not Gambit, please?

TWD has been doing some good things this season, I'm not here to crap all over what is a really good show...at times. Season one was an amazing piece of storytelling, and Season two has had plenty of moments. More importantly, it's success will let other comic stories have a chance to break into TV and get recognition for the merits of the stories being told by their creators. However, just because it's the trailblazer, doesn't mean it gets a free pass. If the audience goes away, then the genre is in trouble. I want this show to succeed very badly. I criticize because I love.

The real problem I've had with this season has been the pacing. The last seven episodes could have been done as a tight, riveting four episodes (five max) and really kept people on the edge of their seats. Now, I don't know if this is a casualty of the split season, although I can see it being a factor. I can see where filming half a season all in one location could be cost-effective. Just like the premiere looked to be "Let's start with the CDC blowing up, end with Carl getting shot, and then we have 80 more minutes to kill", this season looked like "Okay, we're going to have Sophia get lost, have her turn up as a zombie at the end, and now we've got 6.8 episodes worth of stuff to have happen". Now, I've read the comics, but it was a marathon weekend of reading while stuck in bed sick, so I'm not going to be able to quote chapter and verse. However, Sophia doesn't die/become a zombie in the comics. Which is awesome that they've decided to split the story off from the comics. They are two different mediums with different demands on a creative staff, so being able to follow the comics as a framework, but deviate when necessary, will work out great. Except for nerds. You know who you are...and Ogre is coming for you. That was a great "gotcha" moment in a show that lives and dies by them. It also set up a great character moment (but I'll get to that later). However, that mile marker was set waaaaaaay too far ahead in the episode list. There just wasn't enough meat in this story. It wasn't all bad though, and I'll go ahead and split those up now.

The good: Shane's slow burn into Dark Shane. I'm trying to think of a good parallel for Shane by this point in the story. Season one, he was this sad sack, pining for Lori (WHY DUDE? SERIOUSLY?) and trying to make things up to a gloriously unaware Rick. Season two, we get the slow descent into...well, not madness. Not evil. This is a new world (like Dale said...ugh, later for you Dale), and one of the themes in TWD is how do we maintain what makes us civilized in a world past civilization. Rule of law is pretty much over, except the bubble of it that exists in a radius from Rick's sheriff hat. Survival is a primal instinct, and although modern Man is able to hold that back in favor of manners and genteel behavior, that survival instinct is still bubbling away in the lizard portion of our brains, and Shane's is closer to the surface than anyone else (except Daryl...more on him soon). Shane is the one with the clearest picture of what Zombie Earth is all about, and that's staying alive. As long as Walkers are still around, normal rules don't apply. We see that when Shane and Otis make a medical supply run to help save Carl. In a buddy cop movie, Shane and Otis cover each other, lay their lives on the line for each other, and both manage to make it back to the farm. In Shane's world, Otis is a means to an end, the end of Shane's (and Carl's) survival. Granted, there's also a little Biblical vengeance, as Shane balances the books for Otis' shooting of Carl. But I believe that even had Otis not shot Carl, Shane would still have sacrificed Otis in a heartbeat in order to save his own life. It's no accident that Rick and Shane are cops; the police maintain order in society, and now society has become chaos. Rick is holding onto his old life, and Shane is embracing the chaos (which would be a badass name for a band).

Daryl: Congratulations TWD, you found yourself a Sawyer. Man, remember when Daryl was a racist, and his brother was also a racist, and Rick left his brother to die? Remember that? Cause apparently Daryl doesn't. Don't get me wrong, current Daryl is just an absolute joy to have on my tv screen. But Season 1 Daryl is an intriguing character who has so many conflicts and can't be trusted. Season 1 Daryl is holding on to old prejudices for no good reason other than cause he was raised that way (and because Merle haaaaaaaaaates the blacks). Season 2 Daryl saved T-Dogg without even thinking about how racist he used to be in Season 1. Season 2 Daryl gives T-Dogg his brother's (you know, the racist) stash of antibiotics without even a token mention of "Boy, my brother, you know, the racist, sure would be upset at me giving his drugs to a black guy, because of how racist he was". I'm not saying that I miss how many racists used to be on tv, but there are some good stories you can tell about how old prejudices (like old morals, etc) just kind of disappear in the new Zombie world. Daryl is still a great character, and I'm digging the hell out of just about any scene he's in (maybe the exception of some of the bits where he hallucinates Merle), I just wish they'd stuck to their guns a little in keeping his character consistent and letting him naturally evolve as a person, rather than just hope that a year long hiatus would make us all forget a few of his less marketable character traits.

Glenn and Maggie: Loves me some Glenn. Loves me some Maggie. Their scenes together have been great, and didn't feel forced at all. The two trips to the pharmacy (first to schtupp, second to almost have Maggie killed by a Walker) were fun scenes on their own that also advanced a lot of story. Maggie giving Glenn some backbone (Walker-bait is such a great nickname), and Glenn inadvertently showing Maggie that Walkers are dangerous. Glenn finding the barn. The look that Maggie gives Glenn during the final scene at the barn. Great moments, and I look forward to many more seasons of Glenn and Maggie.

The bad: Dale. Sigh. I love Dale and I want to continue loving Dale. And honestly, Dale's been great most of the season. But the last two episodes...man, what happened? There's something called "the dumb ball", where a tv character will have to do or say something incredibly dumb and/or out of character simply to advance that week's plot. It's not great writing, and I'm sure it may be unavoidable in some cases. But man, Dale goes from a fairly even keeled guy, to making two incredibly bonehead moves. I'll forgive his first confrontation with Shane. He did witness Shane pointing a gun at Rick's head all the way back in Season 1. And then there was Otis, although I'm hard pressed to find anything Shane said or did to make anyone actually suspicious of him and his version of how events transpired that night. Now, Dale could be jealous of the attention Andrea has been giving to Shane, but that's not really been established (and if it has, I missed it), that's a dead end. Finally, there seems to be no rational reason for why Dale would take the guns and hide them in the swamp. That was just ridiculous without a rationale from the character. It just looked like an excuse to get Shane and Dale far enough away from everyone else and show that...what, that Dale won't kill Shane? That Shane is crazy? That Dale now knows Shane is crazy? Will Dale tell Rick? Sighhhhh. Dale, you used to be cool. Sadly, if we ever do get an explanation, it'll probably be in the longest, most expositionallyist way possible.

Lori: Man, I am just getting tired of Lori. Just in general, really. Here's Lori this season: "I am sad that Carl is spending four episodes deciding whether to die or not. Now I am sad because I have baby up in me". And there you go. Give her something to do, and to do without the histronics. The show grinds to a halt when Lori gives an impassioned speech or a tearful speech, or a bitchy speech. Do better.

Sophia: Specifically, the MacGuffin that weighed down this season and kept it from really feeling like Season 1 did. There's no urgency. There's no emotional attachment for the audience. This isn't someone we like, this is just an artificial reason to stop down the travel so we can spend all Seasonette in one location. We got terrible scenes with Carol, we got several variations on a very tired "she's probably dead, we should move on/no she's alive, we have to find her" argument over and over again, and we got anchored to Herschel's farm for a BAD REASON. Would it have been so hard for them to build a season on "This farm sure looks like a great place to stay and be safe"? Shane can still want to move on by himself, Daryl can still find a reason to go all Bear Grylls in the woods, and Rick can still have long fruitless conversations with Herschel about sticking around and surviving. Seven episodes of "Hey, you find Sophia yet?" just exhausted the audience's store of caring for a minor character who many couldn't even pick out of a lineup. It was a tortured setup that existed only for one (admittedly kickass) scene at the end, which then became somewhat anticlimactic because it had been so long since we'd seen her. Hell, not like I could remember what she was wearing or anything, and all people look alike once they're undead. If it wasn't for the terrible haircut (must be genetic), I wouldn't have known it was her...well, except for how obvious it was that they'd have to address Sophia before the end of the finale. It was a shaggy dog joke, not gripping suspense.

I will say, though, that the final scene was kickass, mostly in the sense of "finally, shit's going to happen". Shane finally goes all Wolverine, Herschel all sad, Rick unable to do anything because he's holding a Walker, Andrea stepping right next to Shane to start shooting, Carl's reaction, all of it really worked out as a finale. And Rick stepping up to do the dirty work with Sophia was a great moment; the reinforcement that no matter how primal Shane has become, Rick is still the Man In Charge. Although, nitpicking, I would have had Carl make the kill shot. But there's still time for Carl...oh yes.

So now we've got our winter break, and some questions to answer when next we meet in February. What will Herschel's reaction be? Will Dale spill the beans about Shane? Does T-Dogg get paid the same as the rest of the cast? And where the hell is Michonne already?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer sucks

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the summer series, and between those and Season two of Dexter, I've been enjoying my summer watching. I haven't even thought about what the new fall season will bring yet. On the other hand, the air conditioning sucks at work, and the last thing I want to do is slave over a hot keyboard while in a muggy office. So, still trying to update, but my brain is...soggy?

Leverage is a good place to start this week, as it was a little of a letdown after last week's amazing amazing episode, but it still holds its own overall. Also, we get back into the Damien Moreau plot, as Team Leverage goes after one of his subordinates, a gentleman who smuggles antiquities as a money laundering/fundraising scheme; the money then going to fund drugs and wars and such. In the process of trying to nail him at the airport, a little girl gets caught as an art mule, and the team has to shift gears and try to nail him in England. Hey, that's where Sophie's from!

So the gang sets up at an art auction and Nate goes in to try to make contact with the mark while Sophie uses her grifter powers to try and find the guy's heart's desire. Nate takes half a beating before Sophie connects the dots and realizes that the guy has a royalty fetish. Sophie comes in as a Duchess and sets the hook on the new con, tempting him with a lost barony in exchange for his smuggling prowess.

I can't decide what my favorite part of the episode is: It's a three way race between Hardison fabricating a convincing fake diary out of authentic ingredients, Sophie's acting throughout the episode, or Parker actually using the "Does this rag smell like chloroform?" gag. Next week is the "summer finale", as the gang will be back around Christmas to wrap up this storyline (probably).

Eureka has embraced the changes stemming from the time travel stuff, so it's almost jarring to see that the mysterious group from last week has rebuilt the bridge device. Looks like Dr. Grant is supposed to go back and use his future knowledge to make the world a better place...but that doesn't sound sinister enough, so I'm sure something else is in the works. The hallucinations that the time travel pals were seeing made for an interesting episode, especially since we got the return of Tess AND Trevor Blake. Man, I missed him more than I thought, and he made the most of it in the time he had back. Poor poor Carter. Fargo being tormented by a ten-year girl was good times all the way through. And now, we see what the mystery group wants...and when do we get Felicia Day?

Warehouse 13 dialed up the darkness this week, as Artie's NSA past catches up with him. Torquemada's chain is a bitch of an artifact too, seriously. The board from the Titanic wasn't much gentler either, though. In the end, though, we get H.G. Wells reinstated as a Warehouse agent, which Artie is none too pleased about. I'm not quite sure where this is going, but I'm sure Wells has an ulterior motive. There's stil the other objects she stole from the Escher vault, plus she seems just a little too helpful.

Oh, and Claudia got some resolution in her storyline. Turns out, Todd isn't a bad guy, just in the witness protection program, and so not allowed to fall in love. Oh, teen love! Todd and Claudia get to do some major league snogging before he has to get relocated, but don't be surprised to see that storyline pop up again before the end of the season. Until then, we have Artie and H.G. to have fun with.

Hmm, that's actually it. Psych is coming up, and an Amanda-less Top Chef. Masterchef hasn't been terrible, but it's so intolerably slow, I can't imagine watching it live, without the opportunity to skip past the boring or redundant bits. Dexter remains excellent though, especially with Jaime Murray (aka, H.G. Wells, aka that hot girl from Hustle). I'll have to start looking at the fall schedule soon too.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Oh, Burn Notice...

Man, this season has been up and down for Burn Notice. I've really been enoying the season-long arc, and Jesse has been a good addition to the team. However, tonight's season(ish) finale exposed one of the glaring flaws that this show has acquired: The Client of the Week isn't always interesting. Sometimes you just have to abandon the formula and give us a solid hour of what we want. You've got Jesse on the loose with a gun and a grudge, Robert Patrick being awesome, and Vaughn being creepy, and yet they still bog down the hour with the kidnapping nonsense. Was it an okay plot? Sure. Save it for another time though. All it did was give Michael access to a submersible, and that wasn't even that imperative to the ending. Don't get me wrong, submarines are still kick ass, but still. Now the cliffhanger, that was some awesome stuff. Mystery boots picking up the briefcase, Michael bleeding out on the pavement, shot by Jesse (ostensibly to help him, but yeah), Vaughn's guys shooting it out with Robert Patrick's henchmen...made for a great wrap-up. Anyway, I can't see the formula going away anytime soon, but Burn Notice will be back in November, and someone has a whole mess of names of the people who burned Michael. What are they going to do with six episodes? We'll have to wait and see. Emphasis on "wait".

New Leverage coming up this weekend, and Eureka tonight. Felicia Day is guesting on Eureka coming up soon, maybe this weekend, maybe in September. Either way, looking forward to it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

And I'm back

Maybe I'm OCD and I just liked the idea of having an even 100 posts...or I got busy and lazy when going back to nights. Either way, I'm back, and hopefully will be back to normal output now.

As it is, I've finally gotten around to watching Dexter, hooray for me! I'm halfway through season 1, and it is amazing so far. I know I'm behind the curve, but I'm going to shoot for a season summary, as far as my opinions go.

Meanwhile, this has been a great week for TV. Leverage on Sunday was an epic episode with lofty aspiration that it completely achieved. The Rashomon Job was a clever story about how the team all crossed paths while trying to steal the same item...well, all except Nate, who was trying to keep it right where it was. Everybody's recollection of the events built so well on each others, using similar looking actors to fill in for each of the Leverage crew for each telling of the story. The completely different takes on Sophie's accent had me rolling with laughter, and John Billingsley was a great guest star as the museum security director who wasn't as ruthless as the rest of the team remembered. It's been a great season for the show, and the metaplot episodes are coming up in the next few weeks.

Top Chef was a little bit of a downer tonight, as Amanda's turn finally came up. Alex leaving last week was pretty much ordained, but I really thought that Amanda might have been able to dodge the bullet tonight. This is one of the more frustrating things about Top Chef judging: sometimes it seems like the worst dish of the night goes home, and sometimes it seems like more of a "worst chef overall" goes home. Kenny left for "worst dish", but Amanda left as "worst chef". Granted, her tartare wasn't perfect, but at least two of the other three bottom dishes sounded worse. On the other hand, the other chefs are more experienced and have better finishes, so she was the safe choice to go. Oh Amanda, I'll miss you and your massive levels of cuteness.

Psych was just okay this week, but Chi McBride is awesomesauce, so it gets a good grade. Last week's episode was better, with Shawn and Gus competing with an older version of themselves to solve the murder of the former chief of police. This is still a show that manages to make product placement funny, too.

Warehouse 13 has also been improving by leaps and bounds, putting up three really good episodes in a row. Pete had a bit of a freakout, but that led to Claudia getting to hit the field as an apprentice agent with Myka to explore a wrestling team that bursts into flame. However, last week's episode was the pinnacle of the series so far. Pete and Myka switch bodies thanks to a griffin statue, and while the usual hijinks occur (involving Pete's cute girlfriend, and guest star Cody Rhodes), the incredible part was how the two actors managed to take on their counterparts speech patterns and mannerisms so well. Also, Artie and Claudia hit the road to track down another artifact, and Claudia has to deal with a lovestruck Artie (great acting by Saul Rubinek on that one too), and Artie eventually gets even with Claudia for the "Knock Knock" handcuff incident from way back in last season. It was telegraphed by the "previously on" at the beginning of the episode, but still a cute moment. This show has really come into its own, and if you're not watching, you're missing out.

More to come soon, including a few episodes of Burn Notice to catch up on, and some other stuff. Good to be back.

Friday, August 6, 2010

One Hundred!!! Round Numbers Are Cool!!!

The milestone is here, one hundred posts since starting this blog almost one year ago. A project that started out as a way to track Heroes as it slowly sank into the quagmire of high expectations and an inability to maintain a coherent storyline has evolved into...well, I don't quite know, actually. But I've watched a lot of shows, enjoyed many of them, and that's good enough for me. As promised, this will finally be my Doctor Who post, which I've been putting off for a while.

Doctor Who: So Matt Smith has one season under his belt, and this is actually the first full season of Doctor Who that I've watched. I've seen some of the David Tennant episodes, but those were spotty at best, mostly the product of the occasional BBC America mini-marathon of episodes. I enjoy the concept of Doctor Who though: Well-written science fiction stories, aliens, time travel, a charismatic lead, an attractive Companion, and through it all an example of the potential of humanity.

Matt Smith's doctor is...he's like a cross between a Muppet and a samurai. From the first episode, he begins it dipping fish fingers in custard and ends it giving a heated speech to an alien race, warning them what will happen if they tangle with him. That's what I loved about an episode like "The Lodger"; it was some brilliant comedy, but in the end, it was his belief in humanity that helped save the day. Even in an episode like "Cold Blood", where the Lizardperson was killed, he still trusts in us to do the right thing.

In the case of the finale, a chain of events from Van Gogh, to Churchill, all the forward to Liz 10 and River Song leads us to...an exploding TARDIS. And Stonehenge. And...the Pandorica. What is it? Who is inside? Why is Rory a Roman centurion? Oh yes, and all of the Doctor's enemies have shown up, all at once. As the Pandorica continues to open, Amy has to fight off a Cyberman, Rory wonders why she doesn't remember him, River recruits a Roman legion, and The Doctor employs some stalling tactics to buy them some time. Seriously though, that whole scene was amazing, with The Doctor holding off the combined forces of countless alien aggressors with nothing but the memories of how often he's defeated them.

So Amy and Rory. Amy doesn't remember Rory, and Rory doesn't remember how he became a Roman soldier. Then the Romans start growing lasers out of their hands, because they are actually robots programmed to believe they're human. Rory fights it, but shoots Amy in the gut. Not the best reunion ever. River is in the TARDIS, unable to stabilize it, and is stuck in a time loop (for her own safety, of course). Downstairs, The Doctor is confronted with his enemies, and the Pandorica opens with no one inside. Yet. Because it's a prison meant for The Doctor. The Rogues Gallery believes that The Doctor will be the one responsible for destroying the universe, and that they are saving all of time and space by sealing him away. The Doctor pleads with them, telling them that he's the only one who can stop it all, but it's too late. What a downer.

But luckily, there's a happier Part 2, and even better, it involves Li'l Amy! A series of mysterious notes leads her to a museum where the Pandorica is on display, having been guarded over the years by a mysterious man in a centurion's uniform. Oh Rory, you sly devil, you. Amy touches the Pandorica, which opens to reveal...Amy? Buh? Must be time for a flashback. Or does the word "flashback" hold any meaning whatsoever in Doctor Who-ville? Time travel nosebleeds occur in my chair, as The Doctor uses a wrist thingy to time travel to Rory and tell him to put Amy in the Pandorica, which will force her to stay alive. Honestly, the time travel "timey wimey bits" gave me a huge headache, although they did lead to some good times. River Song being ruthless with an ancient Dalek, Rory as Amy's protector throughout history (good work, by the way), The Doctor popping back and forth as he pleased, and then the reveal that this was all taken from Amy's imagination. Apparently living next to a crack in reality will do things to a gal.

My favorite part of the episode was The Doctor going backwards in time, and his very quiet, very gentle scene with Young Amy as he tells her his story, and all the while, planting clues. Amy's wedding looked lovely, and she manages to remember The Doctor back into existence just in time for the dancing. Amy and Rory are wed, everything's back to normal, and we'll see you back here in time for the Christmas Special. Which is too far away. Dammit.

So that's the season. I still like Matt Smith's Doctor, although the character still fluctuates a little too wildly between floppity slapstick and deadly seriousness, plus they never really explained a lot of the aggression from the early episodes. Maybe that was just "new actor/new part" syndrome, or maybe it was meant to give Amy the opportunities to be the rational Girl Friday. I'm even looking forward to some more River Song, as well as next year's storyline. Overall, I really enjoyed this season, and some very good storytelling occured.

And that's it for post #100! Post #101 is coming soon, with a few new shows to catch up on. I never did finish FlashForward, or even start Bored To Death, but I'm not too concerned about those (and neither were viewers...ZING!!). My future output depends on my future work schedule, which I should know soon, so my posts will either get a lot more frequent, or a lot less frequent. Which will it be? Oooh, our first cliffhanger!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

I got 99 posts, and a bitch ain't one...

Almost at post #100, and the excitement is palpable! Also, Eureka heats up, Leverage hits the fast lane, and on Top Shot, you can cut the tension with a knife.

Top Shot switched things up a little...not in eliminations (although apparently, that's next week), but in the weapon. It was throwing knives today, and while JJ had a lot of problems in practice, he nailed it in the team challenge and Blue beat Red by a five second margin. Kelly got to sit out an elimination (plus he is the Silent Assassin when it comes to winning those), so it was Denny getting out-slingshot by Peter. In sadder news, Tara's dad was having complications from cancer, so she left the competition in order to be with him.

Two episodes left to go, and next week we'll be losing a goodly number of the remaining marksmen. I'd like to see Kelly advance to the finals, but we'll just have to see. Of the people remaining, he's got to have the most challenge experience, which gives him an edge.

Eureka went a little different direction, as Carter left town to go visit Zoey at Harvard, and still managed to get into a little Eureka-style trouble with an invisible cat. Pretty light for a B story, but it did get us a little...not so much closure, but at least we got some Zoey this year. Nice haircut, by the way.

With Carter out of town, it's up to Lupo to keep track of a rocket race, a joyriding Zane, and a buildup of self-propegating oxygen that is threatening to set the town on fire. Jamie Kennedy was oddly cast, but not necessarily bad. Lupo tries (and succeeds) to get through to the "good Zane" that is inside of alternate-Zane. In a surprising turn, Allison cheats to help Kevin win, which is what winds up helping cause the impending firestorm. Kevin has the answer though, and he, Allison, and Grant save the town. Interesting how two episodes have gone by with no mention of "can we fix the time business?", which makes me wonder if they're just saving that for later, or if they just really wanted a shakeup.

And finally, Leverage brought the goodness this week with their version of Gone in 60 Seconds (but, you know, good). Bill Engvall was a surprisingly effective bad guy, so between him and John Schneider, this has been a good season for guest villains. Unfortunately, this is another week where Parker is the one to make the con go all tits-up on the crew. Granted, it was explained in the story, and the flashback to pre-teen getaway driver Parker was great, but it just seems odd for that to happen twice in a row like that. Sophie's use of neural-linguistic programming as a car salesman was a great callback to earlier in the season, as was how the team got together to steal the auto race. Another thing that bothered me, though, was all the "we can outrun bullets" stuff that Eliot, Parker, and Hardison wound up having to do. Just a little unrealistic for this show...just didn't feel natural. Another week without The Italian or anything close to the meta plot, which makes me wonder if we're getting a big run of those episodes coming up soon.

Catching up on Burn Notice and Top Chef, but I'm thinking of making the 100th post my long-postponed Doctor Who post. We will all be surprised together!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Models, Militias, Trick Shots, and Wesley Crusher

Big week of shows, and less time to do them in, so we're going quick and dirty for this one. Grab hold and follow along. Also, the Doctor Who post is coming, I promise. I even changed my Facebook picture to Matt Smith with his fishcustard to remind me.

Leverage: Bromance, baby! That's all you need to know about this week's episode, just a big old bromance trip to the woods with Eliot and Hardison. It starts out as a simple scam: impersonate an IRS officer, steal a credit card, run up the number, and profit. Then it turns into money laundering. Then it turns into freedom fighting. Eliot and Hardison go from "Let's do an easy con, then sneak away and go fishing (Eliot's idea, not Hardison's)" to "Let's get captured by a backwoods militia and have to escape through the woods". Nate steals them a train, Hardison hacks a forest (That joke was said by my friend Jon...dammit), Eliot is ready to go, but Hardison convinces him to go back because the militia has a fuel oil bomb prepared and ready to go off...somewhere. Good for Hardison. The rest of the con was standard, although Parker's lapse in letting the bad guys overhear her end of the con on her headset seemed a little sloppy for her. Worked out in the end though, and was a great episode.

Eureka: Updated the opening with a brief "here's why everything is different" montage/voiceover, which is a little annoying, but beneficial to the new viewer. Especially since Wil Wheaton is the special guest scientist, and his legions of fans follow him wherever he goes. GD Director Fargo is having to live up to the reputation that "this timeline Fargo" has created. Something something killer bees, something something science, and now everybody has a huge rage boner going on, and no one knows what's going on. Angry Lupo was some good times, as was Ragey Wil Wheaton. The last half of the episode was shot and lit like a zombie video game, which was an intersting choice for the show, but a little annoying to try and watch, especially online. Nice little MacGuffin with Henry and Grant working on the wormhole device, and Grant's speech about never having had an impact on the world (since he popped forward 50 years in time) was well written, and serves as a counter to his enthusiasm about being able to science it up in the future. I'm liking this storyline.

Warehouse 13: Myka is pretty. And not a bad looking octogenarian too. Lot of sillyness with the team investigating models who all of a sudden grow old and die, and Myka posing (see what I did there) as a model in order to get them backstage to investigate. Man Ray is a pretty obscure reference to hang an episode on, but good for them for not dumbing it down for the audience. Lot of red herrings, but some poignant moments in the back half, mainly Pete's pep talk to Myka and the scenes with Claudia and Artie while Myka was in the hospital. These are some pretty solid character moments, and it bodes well for the series if the writers are going to give us these kind of scenes, even amidst the scifi gadgetry.

Master Chef: Another brick in the Gordon Ramsey media empire, and I'm of two minds about it. This is pretyt much "Chef Idol", which isn't a bad idea, except I CAN'T TASTE THE FOOD!!! I can hear music, I can watch "talent", but I can't taste food. Frustrating. The idea is nice, take amateurs and find the best, but the previews of the team challenges and whatnot make it sound a little too Top Chefy. Top Chef works because it's professionals being pushed to the limit. Taking amateurs and putting them through gimmicky challenges is...well, gimmicky. It might work better as more of a competitive culinary academy if anything. Some of the people were interesting, and the judges are good, so I'll stick with it and see how it progresses. Honestly, I'd probably prefer to watch something like a 64 person single elimination cook-off, tournament style. Someone give me a development deal!

Top Shot: Trick shooting was cool, and Kelly made a hell of a run in the elimination challenge. Next week, it looks like anything goes. odd pacing if they're really kicking off that many people at a time, but maybe they ran out of challenges? Either way, I hope there's a second season of this show. It's a good concept, and next week is throwing knives!

Top Chef, Burn Notice, and Psych are coming up!