Friday, October 30, 2009

Comedy Thursday!

Halloween Eve Eve, and the costumes were in full effect.

Community: Scores extra points for being a Dia De Los Muertos episode (not Mexican Halloween, which is a dirty sex position), and not just regular Halloween. Abed's Batman voice was great, and it's nice to see Jeff go after another woman. The weird Jeff-Annie relationship continues, and Britta's squirrel costume wins for originality tonight. The episode itself was just meh, not really advancing much, just a series of varying humorous scenes. Some hit, some missed. Pierce on X got old way before the end of the episode.

The Office: The Halloween festivities were pretty much limited to the open, and Craig's refusal to play along was classic. Michael managing to turn "Dick in a Box" into one of the more morbid things ever on TV was also really really funny. The meat of the episode starts with Michael falling into a koi pond, and ends unexpectedly with footage of Jim letting Michael fall in. Michael, oddly, is okay with it, and the bond between them grows a little closer. Pam and Andy have a weird kind of bonding as well, being mistaken for a couple on sales calls, and revealing that Andy is a sad sad lonely man. Pam setting Andy up with Erin the cute receptionist is a nice touch, and hopefully a way for them to parody the Jim/Pam courtship. Good episode.

30 Rock: Better than it has been this season, not quite sure it's up to standard yet. They at least gave us some classic Jack/Liz action, which is where the show is generally strongest. Also, Kenneth is used sparingly here, allowing Jenna to get some screen time, which has also been lacking. Jack McBrayer showing up in Stone Mountain as various townsfolk who look exactly like him was worth a few giggles. Seriously though, Jeff Dunham? Sigh. Jenna's gay friend was the funniest part of her storyline though, let's get him back soon. Meanwhile, the "finding a new cast member" arc is taking forever. Enough already. Decent episode, could be better on a second watching.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Eating, Drinking, and Killing...and it's not even the weekend

Monday was a night of surprises, as Heroes was good and Castle...well, I'll save that for later. Also, someone was surprised on Top Chef, and not in the good way. Intrigued? Well, then let your eyes wander another 3 millimeters down the screen...

Heroes: I'm not gonna lie, this was a good episode. Not good as in "I'm ready to declare Heroes to be awesome", but good as in "it told a story this time and didn't make me feel like I wasted in hour". After throwing a lot of new ingredients into the old Heroes gumbo, the storylines are finally starting to simmer and become something cohesive. Starting off, Samuel has gone from "really annoying" to "Ahh, he's supposed to be Magneto". He throws the hard sell on Tracy tonight, who is called into play by HRG to help Omega...err, Jeremy get out of legal trouble. HRG's still going by the Company playbook, which would be to get Jeremy out of town, then set him up in a new identity in D.C. while Tracy mentors him in using his powers. Samuel, on the other hand, wants Jeremy to come to the Carni-notsoevil where he can be around family. HRG's plan gets Jeremy out of jail, but is foiled by a combination of an angry mob, Jeremy speaking in class today, and a length of chain. HRG is sad, Tracy gets out her compass, and Samuel wanders into town to collapse the whole police station. Awesome visual, and after the events in town, you're pretty much rooting for Samuel at this point. He's going to need a Charles Xavier eventually though, otherwise it's just one badass with powers going against the Ambiguous Motivation Gang.

Meanwhile, Parkman gets jiggy with Mrs. Parkman, only it turns into a freaky three-way with Sylar, who also misses a golden "How do you like them apples?" setup. Parkman discovers that booze makes the problems go away...and makes Sylar go away too. Ahh alcohol: The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. Parkman does shots while Sylar writhes in agony, then Parkman blacks out. When he comes to, his wife and sponsor are there for him, but then it turns out that...PARKMAN IS SYLAR NOW!!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! EEEEEEE-VIL!!!!

But yeah, Sylar tricks Parkman (and really, how hard has that ever been?) into letting Sylar take control, and now Sylar is driving the bus. The big, empty, shlubby bus.

And Claire did something boring.

On to Castle! Best first minute of an episode ever, as Nathan Fillion gets back into the Captain Tightpants outfit for the first time in too long. I like that this show isn't afraid to turn directly to the camera and give us a big ol' wink like that. Also nice were the nods to Ryan and Esposito's former gigs (Ryan was a doctor/Seamus Dever was on General Hospital, and Esposito was a soldier/Jon Huertas was in Generation Kill) at the big costume party at the end. In between was a fairly good vampire story, some more good scenes between Castle and his daughter, pretty much everything that keeps this show running smoothly.

Top Chef: Poor Mike. Unfortunately for him, the Foreshadowing Elves had it out for him. To be honest, I'd feel confident any time Robin was in the competition, as she's been in the bottom so often, Lisa from season 4 might have to come back to take her down. Fun episode, as they get all excited about cooking meat, then find out that Natalie Portman (who is OMGCute as always) is the guest judge, and is a vegetarian. I blame all that milk in The Professional. Anyway, the game plan shifts, and Jennifer, Mike, and Robin land in the bottom three. I'm a little surprised that Kevin won again, considering all the praise they had for Eli, but I guess vegetables that feel like meat win out over lighter fare. Jennifer is totally freaking out, and she may be headed for a burnout and an explicable "Robin the final five" scenario. Robin has been "second worst" so many times, and it's always surprising that cumulative scores aren't part of the judging criteria for who goes home. Then again, maybe his leeks were just that bad. Also, there were dick jokes, so see the episode for that alone.

Monday, October 26, 2009

And everything else

I was going to be lazy and skip it, but Community started strong, so I just had to talk about it.

Abed went incredibly meta and shattered the fourth wall, which has always been the way to my heart...just ask Garry Shandling. This week, the show finds a great balance with its characters, mostly by not having Abed in the episode. Nothing against the guy, but he overshadows some of the subtleties that this show tries to accomplish. Everybody else had great moments, and they hit a lot of high marks on the characters. The Jeff/Britta love thing was mostly non-existent, which helped a lot, and they got back to some of the things that make the show strong: Joel McHale talking a lot, and bouncing back and forth around multiple storylines. The more episodes that are like this, the better I like the future of the show. And then Abed can come back for the tag during the credits. Everybody wins.

The Office: After a misfire last week, Jim and Pam come back to usher in a new era of comedy. And Michael is banging Pam's mom. Pam's outrage was one of the highlights of this episode, and a huge departure from quiet and reserved Pam from Season 1. Dwight steps up his efforts to overthrow Jim, planting a decoy inside of a decoy, and going from "buffoon Dwight" to "crafty Dwight" by the end of the episode, making for a much more interesting dynamic between the two of them in upcoming episodes. Also, did Ryan steal Kevin's fedora?

30 Rock: This episode flailed a little, as it could really use an assist from the supporting cast to help shore up some of the story. Will Arnett was great as always, but even he couldn't salvage it on his own. Don't get me wrong, "Dealbreakers" is good stuff, and the Liz Lemon porn was a funny resolution, as was Jenna's Icelandic werewolf movie. It's just not congealing into a cohesive half hour of comedy yet. Hopefully it's just the yips, and they settle down for sweeps. It's still a funny show, it's just starting to show the pressure from all the press it gets.

Top Chef: I wasn't into Restaurant Wars this season, and I can't really put my finger on it. Not decorating their own restaurants was probably part of it, and it was odd to see any team with Kevin involved fumble the ball like that. The combined power of the Voltaggio's was enough to drag Robin over the finish line though, so it's PYKAG for Laurine, who got overwhelmed in the front of the house. Jennifer seems to be faltering a little as we get closer to the finish line though, and Eli might just vault over her next week.

Catching up with FlashForward

Being sick sucks, but the backlog of TV marches on. After a great premiere, the next two episodes of FlashForward dipped into the boring end of the scale, so it was easier to stick with NBC comedies and Sunday cartoons. However, I <3 my readers, so I'm going back to do back to back FlashForwards.

First of all, "Black Swan" takes the show back to the money scene; the day of the Blackout. Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet" is such a great song, and it's used to great effect here, showing another take on the Blackout. The shot of the bus casually going into the pond was nicely done, as was the quiet horror of people drowning before they could even tell what was going on. The delightfully quirky Mr. Ned Ned (Pushing Daisies shoutout?) escapes, then checks into the hospital with mystery illness, as well as promises of blackness in his future.

Agent Sulu, on the other hand, decided to be an FBI agent in this episode, and interrogates Bin Blondin (remember her?) long enough to get a lead on a burger shack in Indio (not India, as I thought it would be), where they chase Da Ali G Show through a haunted house of a trailer park (complete with live chase music on the trumpet!), and tackle the suspect into the only body of water within 20 miles. If only all terror suspects carried a metal box helpfully labeled "Yellowcake" on it! Alas, it's just filled with weed. Demitri reveals the date of his death though, and him and Agent The Other Guy share a moment, and finally get back to the "can they change their future" theme from episode 1.

Ahhh...British Guy didn't see Dr. Dharma's face in his flashforward. They finally addressed that, it's about time. Ned Ned isn't worried about surgery because of his flashforward...I have this weird feeling that he dies on the table and gives his eyes to a black guy, but that opens a whole new creepy door. Nicole the Slutty Babysitter turns to the worst priest ever, but she gets a need t-shirt at least. That's one of my problems with the show so far (halfway into episode 4); all the characters they introduced in the beginning, then shuffling most of them aside until now. Anyway, back to the show.

Hmm, Ned's crashing on the table...flirted with the chance to kill off someone and change the future, but Brice's Addison's diagnosis wins out in the end. Good scene though.

Also a good scene between Bin Blondin and Agent Binford (I'll try to remember that name), and some allegory weirdness about a Black Swan (we have title!). Time to stir up the global conspiracy pot again. At least it hasn't hit LOST levels of mysteriousness yet. Yet.

Speak of the devil: CHARLIE!!! I mean, SIMON!!! And he did it! But did what? Man, this show knows how to end an episode. Okay, "Gimme Some Truth" coming right up!

Actually, a couple of quick thoughts before the next episode: I wonder what the flashforwards of world leaders would be. Or gamblers. That's all.

And we start right off with a cold open/cliffhanger, car explosion, and then a "39 Hours Earlier" tag. In class, we call that "narrative complexity". Interesting idea though, taking a polygraph test about a memory of a vision of the future. I would think that something like that would make the machine explode. Wow, "Chinese fire drill" and masturbating in the same episode. ABC is becoming FOX before our eyes. Hey, the FBI guy is playing basketball with the President. Nice reveal, and now I'm really curious about his flashforward.

Well, that's convenient, they answered my question right after the commercial. I love instant gratification (of episodes I waited 3 days to watch). An incident, but no details, and a general "no comment" from all world leaders. Doc Brown would approve.

Not to get a political on you, but the scene in the restaurant with the gay FBI agent (I really need to write down these damn names, for reals), and her Kumite buddy was really well played. Good job ABC!

Butterfield! Nice! The idea of the Blackout as a weapon is an interesting theory, although it's presented as crackpot here...but with CHARLIE lurking in the background, who knows? INTRIGUE!!! Widdick? That's his name? Anyway, Courtney B. Vance has been offered Director of Homeland Security, then Senator Clemente drops a big heap of veiled references to a the past in his lap as they spar back and forth. Hmm, she saw herself as President, the President saw himself in bed...but was he the President? Former Presidents are still referred to as "Mr. President" after they leave office. Interesting, even if political drama does give me a headache. Well, there is a VP spot open, and the President did mention Clemente having a full plate. I guess we know his pick now.

Binford's testimony is awesome, in that it sounds so silly under questioning. Yes, that's the point, but it's still awesome. Then, we get mysterious structures in Somalia that look mostly like Tesla towers from Command and Conquer: Red Alert. Agent "Girl"'s galpal Mosaic-stalks her and finds out about the baby, and things get...tense. Meanwhile, Widdick has a nerdy nerdy kid in Washington. Oops, never mind, the President does, and Widdick was the payoff man. And he's playing hardball...

And Night Ranger karaoke brings the show right back to Awesometown! Binford finally admits that he was drinking in his flashforward. Hmm, and now his wife knows, due to a mysterious text. INTRIGUE!!!

And we finally get back to the open, with the Asian hit squad trying to take out our Mosaic pals, including Agent Almost Preggo back at home. Nice bit of action at the end, and a really nice scene with Agent (Okay, I'm looking up her damn name now) Janis Hawk using her flashforward as motivation to stay alive after being shot. Although seriously, the alarm clock driving around in her blood is about the creepiest thing EVER. Wow. Seriously.

Anyway, two good episodes lay out some more backstory, touch on some of the forgotten characters, and give us a couple dashes of conspiracy for good measure. I'm back on the bandwagon, we'll see for how long.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

House and The Ghost of Kumar Go To Watch Castle

Castle: First off, good news in that Castle has been picked up for a full season, and has been doing well in the ratings (although being on after Dancing With the Stars doesn't hurt either). Secondly, I really dug this episode. Not the beginning, as it had two of my least favorite things about television; a character facing a decision that would radically change the premise of the show (that they almost never actually take), and Debi Mazar. The decision in question is a potential offer for Castle to write the next three James Bond novels. Honestly, I stopped paying attention to those after Craig Shaw Gardner stopped writing them, but I can believe that a major author taking over the franchise would be a plum assignment. So the question becomes: Will Castle stick with the Nikki Heat franchise (thus staying in close contact with Beckett), or will he write his childhood hero and cash a MASSIVE check? In true Castle fashion, they avoid the maudlin "he stays because of his feelings for Beckett" route and go with the "Nikki Heat sold well, so his publisher will pay him even more money to write more of those" instead. There were a few good moments between Castle and Beckett though, although I'm worried that the tension is inching closer to "will they" instead of "won't they". After tonight though, I have faith that Team Castle probably has a new spin on things if they do pair the two of them up.

The plot of the episode wasn't bad, with some of the twists coming a mile away, but a very sweet ending nonetheless. However, one sequence just encapsulated everything I dig about this show. They are chasing a suspect through a kitchen, and Castle and Esposito do the "you go right, no you go left" dance as they try to get past each other going opposite directions. Then, Castle can't help but grab a taste of a dessert as he races through the kitchen. Two great bits of character development that take place in an action sequence, and my description doesn't do it justice. Just go watch it on Hulu. Now!

House: House is continuing to be great this season, and the great healing of House is actually still going on, not being dropped to go back to Classic House. Don't get me wrong, he's still the sarcastic grump we all know and love, but its balanced by genuine character moments. Tonight, it was a tease to a return of Crazy House, as he hears voices at night. However, it's just Wilson talking to Amber at night because of how much he misses her. At the very end of the episode, House starts a conversation with his father, which is a pretty powerful moment, given their history. It's a good sign that this show is evolving.

Unfortunately, it's also the return of the House/Cuddy mating dance. Even if they actually pull the trigger on it, I don't know whether it actually helps the show out or not. Foreteen's relationship storylines were fairly dull, and the inevitable disintegration of the Chase/Cameron pairing is slogging along as well. The only saving grace was Chase's scene in the confessional, and the scene at the end with him coming home drunk is not a good sign for the future. At least the POTW had a happy ending, and we got some sweet parkour in the beginning. It's just not the same without them all yelling "PARKOUR" and kicking stuff over though.

FlashForward is next on the list, and Top Chef this week is Restaurant Wars! Hot diggity!

Slowly Catching Up

How I Met Your Mother: My favorite episode of the season to date, splitting the gang into possibly its strongest two groups: Barney/Robin and Ted/Marshall/Lily. Barney teaching Robin to be American was great television, as was her Canadian bender, and her realization that she's becoming a woman of two countries. Finally a good Barney/Robin storyline that doesn't just refer to their relationship. Lily's tiny bladder and sappy audiobook breaking up Ted's ultimate roadtrip was hilarious, as was ditching Lily at the B&B (and Marshall running around in a robe for the rest of the episode) and all the Tantrum references. The extended gag about how terrible the pizza place in Chicago was kept me rolling, and it dovetailed nicely into the ending bit when Marshall and Ted pay the price for eating there. Fun little episode that keps its momentum going, explored another facet of the Ted/Marshall friendship, and had lots of great quotable bits. Everything I look for in an episode of HIMYM.

Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XX, wow. It's hard to believe that there have been twenty of these, but it's still one of the episodes I look forward to the most every year. "Dial M For Murder" was a decent little "Strangers on a Train" storyline with many other Hitchcock elements tossed in. Not quite an homage, but the intent was there. "Don't Have A Cow, Human" was an amazing zombie story though, with a lot of great characters moments and Apu coming up big. The ending Sweeney Todd riff wasn't a classic, but doing it as a stage play (complete with elevator stage for Moe's Basement) was inspired and kept me interested. It's episodes like this that make me wish Simpsons would just retire the notion of a narrative and just play around with their format like this all the time.

Heroes: I have to admit it, this episode wasn't bad at all. I hesitate to call it good, as that's just asking for disappointment next week. Ray Park works well as a foil for Sylar, and the reinvention of Gabriel/Sylar/Nathan is being handled pretty well, mainly a testament to the ability of Zachary Quinto. This week was a gift to continuity nerds (like myself), bringing up Claire's magical healing blood, and taking us back to Charlie! Peter and HRG make a pretty good team (other than Peter taking a shotgun blast to the chest), and I would get behind them as a pairing, doing the "good guys" version of The Company.

Hiro finally gets to be Hiro tonight, counseling Deaf Dazzler and putting on a magic show for the kids at the hospital. The idea of Hiro's bucket list is a good one, especially with Charlie on it. Having him learn from Charlie as far as dealing with his tumor is some great writing. Credit where credit is due and all. Hopefully the good storytelling continues with him, and we don't go back to toner-smudged Hiro...ever.

Back to the Carn-Evil, where the carnies are starting to resemble a cult more than a family, which I suppose is the point and all. Glowering Ray Park promises to be a nice feud if they let it simmer. The House of Mirrors scene could have been good, but once the Jamaitian leaves, it just turns into a cheesy montage (and not even well done either), and then Sylar runs out like a bitch. It could have been done so much better, and that's a recurring theme with Heroes. Sylar briefly shifting into Nathan was a cool touch, and I think Nathan's influence on Sylar's morality needs to be explored more sooner than later, although I'm sure they're saving it for when Sylar falls completely under the Carnival's spell. Poor Ernie Hudson...I had hoped they'd keep around longer, although it does advance the Ray Park rivalry some more. Will it pan out? Who knows, it's Heroes...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Short and Sweet Tonight

Community: The Community formula is starting to emerge, and it is already getting a little worn in places. Jeff does something to gain point with Britta, Abed pairs up with someone else for comedy to ensue, and most of the rest of the cast gets "something" to do. The supporting cast still comes up big though (mainly Jon Oliver), and I still have hope. How much hope will I have in a month? Time will tell.

The Office: For the first episode without the calming rational influences of Jim and Pam, there wasn't much in the way of wacky hijinks. The Mafia/insurance storyline wasn't that interesting, although having Dwight and Andy on the same page as the devil in each of Michael's ears was an interesting pairing that would do well in the long term. Kevin gets up to very minor (we're talking "Dennis the Menace" levels) hijinks when he finds his way into Jim's office. Fortunately, we get some Jam action via some very terse phone calls, and it helps the episode even out. Not a great lead-in for...

NEW 30 ROCK!!! Liz's Cheesy Blasters song has already blown the rest of the Thursday lineup out of the water. Addressing the economy is a "bold" move. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so go out and hit up the Git'Er Done 2000. I love hill country talk, I love you Kenneth. Hmm, a storyline where Kenneth has to surpress his ideals...haven't seen that before. Tracy's attempts to connect with normal people are awesome. Kenneth's page strike, not so much...and i like Kenneth. Usually. Oooh, Jenna's gone country. Pro-op trans-centaur? Steve Buscemi!!! Oh no, Liz and Pete are intercoursing each other! I could see Buscemi working with Donahue. Every night should be Tennis Night in America. Damn that Pope Innocent the Fourth. Keneth's Jack voice is genius.

So, I was really hoping for resolution on the new cast member, but we only got resolution on the Jack/Kenneth plot. Honestly, they work well together, and Kenneth had a little more Jack in him by day's end, but I still prefer their interactions with other characters. Good first episode back though, and if they stick with the economy as a driving force for the first arc or two, it'll be some good times. Ugh, except that ham-handed toss to Leno. Just terrible.

Tough breaks, but not a surprise, as Ash leaves Top Chef this week. FlashForward coming after the weekend, then your normal Monday favorites.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Castle is also a House

Time to get the stink of Heroes off of me, with a double dose of goodness.

Castle just continues to be a show I enjoy. The plots are entertaining, but not breaking much new ground (although the reveal of this week's case was inspired). However, it's the interaction between the characters, some sharp writing, and a general sense of fun that keeps this show in my good book. Nathan Fillion owns this character, and he truly is the straw that stirs the drink. There are elements of Captain Hammer in his Rick Castle, only his super powers are money and fame, which team up to get him pretty much anything he wants. In the end though, it's the scenes between him and his daughter that prove to be some of the best moments in the show. They don't even feel like good acting, they just feel right. Tonight's episode features layers upon layers of cons, leading to a light discussion of great con movies, and Castle's unrestrained glee at watching another master storyteller at work, albeit in a different medium. I can't recommend this show enough, it's just the most fun I have all week watching TV.

House is still making for some compelling television as well, as the old team is back in the saddle again, although with vastly different dynamics from the "good old days". Chase and Foreman are still dealing with their actions in last week's episode, in which Chase fakes a lab result in order to make sure a genocidal tyrant dies on the table. I was expecting it to get dragged out a little longer, maybe with a character dogging their heels, similar to the David Morse storyline from a couple seasons ago. It looks like it's mostly wrapped up, although I'm sure that won't be the case when its all said and done. Thirteen gets moved out of the way for now, as the next few episodes seem to be all about redefining roles within the team of House, Foreman, Cameron, and Chase. There was a nice bit about how House likes power and puzzles, but the last time he had both, it sent him into Vicodin addiction and insanity. We've established that he needs the puzzles, so can he deal without the power or not?

The Patient of the Week is more of a MacGuffin than usual, as it's his rich dad who signs away his fortune in an effort to reverse his karma and save his child. The real karma issues haven't been resolved yet, as Chase (and to a lesser extent, Foreman) is packing a pretty heavy load of bad karma. Since Foreteen seems to be broken up for good (for now), will Cameron and Chase be able to stay together, especially with what's weighing on Chase's conscience now?

Top Chef, FlashForward, Thursday night comedy (including the return of 30 Rock!) and Dollhouse are coming up this week. I'm going out of town for the weekend, so I'll catch up when I can. Might I suggest leaving some comments? Yes, I'm a comment whore now, what's up?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How I Met Some Animated Heroes

Let's just get this out of the way. Heroes, I hate you. Why do I hate you? Because you apparently think I'm an idiot. Dirt McGirt of the Out Of Focus Carnival(e) promises a new family member by the end of the day, just in time for magic old lady waffles. Who will it be? Believe it or not, it's just Sylar...WITH AMNESIA!!! Wow, I guess it takes a guy with earth powers to shake all the dust off of that chestnut. And yes, that was a reference to the children's choir singing the "Greatest American Hero" theme. It's a song I love, and done on a better show, it would have been a cute aside to the fans. Here, it flops like a brick with wings.

Peter bumps into Emma while saving her from a bus and accidentally steals the World's Worst Power from her, losing his awesome Ray Park speed. I will give credit where credit is due, the music trailing off when he realizes he can't run fast anymore was actually well done. Apparently, powerless Peter gets to blow off work whenever he feels the need to mack on some deaf chick. Angela, on the other hand, couldn't be more obvious about blowing off Peter unless she painted eyes on her eyelids so she could be fully asleep during her scenes with him. Oh, and Hiro shows up at Peter's place and collapses under the weight of Peter's plodding storyline.

Claire and Single White Gretchen continue to lurch through their storyline, ending with the world's most boring girl kiss. Seriously, I think Katy Perry hung herself after that one. Think or hope, one of those two. Anyway, this week's "no really, we're at college, honest!" hijinks involve Claire and SWG rushing Claire's mom's old sorority, which is just a front for Unnamed Invisible Girl to recruit Claire for the Out Of Focus Carnival(e). But of course, they don't just reveal her at the end and let us connect the dots, oh no. They don't even lead us through it by the hand, they stick us on one of those toddler leashes, then slowly walk us through the last month of the Claire storyline. hell, while you're fixing your show, why not have Invisible Girl go back and off Micah's cousin and push Maya off a bridge too. It was all the Invisible Girl! She canceled Pushing Daisies too! Oh, and how the hell does Invisible Girl manage to get herself high enough up in the sorority in order to convince them to let Claire and SWG into the sorority anyway? How much advance notice did they have? HOW HIGH DOES THE CONSPIRACY GO!!! Thanks to Starman for reminding me of that, by the way, I'd forgotten it in all the other hating on this episode I had going on.

Finally, we get to the delicious frosting on this three-layer turd cake of an episode: anything involving Sylar. Amnesiac Sylar gets picked up by ERNIE GODDAMN HUDSON. Whooo!!! Zeddemore bitches!!! True story: I walked behind Ernie Hudson at Gencon LA a few years ago during a fire drill. I didn't ask him to tell me about the Twinkie, and I regret it to this day.

So anyway, Sylar spends most of the episode emoting and not knowing who he is, but then his criminal past (and fingerprints) catch up with him, and Gabriel Gray is going down for murrrrrrderrrrrr. Ernie Hudson prepares to channel his inner Vic Mackey, but then Sylar's powers flicker on and he gets tossed through a glass window. Sylar makes a break for it with a character who I'm not even going to discuss, then gets shot up when his Electrica Mars flares up, heals, then gets taken in by...Dirt McGirt everybody! Yay, Sylar gets waffles! Mmmmm...

How I Met Your Mother finally satisfies my need for more Marshall, as he and Lily go overboard wooing Barney and Robin as a new couple to hang out with. I could listen to Marshall talk about Gouda alllll day, but Rarney don't agree, so they dump Marshall and Lily. However, in true HIMYM fashion, Marshall and Lily find a new couple that love them, and Babin have to look on longingly, to the hilarious sounds of "All By Ourselves". Every break-up cliche, doubled for your pleasure. Ted's storyline is pretty basic, even though it makes up the title ("The Sexless Innkeeper") of the episode. Ted doesn't get laid, then Ted does get laid...although we do get poetry and fun wigs, so it all works out. Good episode, although Ted getting laid does lead to another "what am I doing" moment from Barney. Will it pay off? Who knows. Until then, check out for some photo montages.

Rounding us out today are some animation quick hits:

Simpsons: Hey, have you heard about this MMA thing that's been going around? The Simpsons finally has, and decided to make it a Marge episode. Pass.

The Cleveland Show: This was a nice mix between the family sitcom template that this appears to be on the surface, and the darker stuff you tend to expect from McFarlane and the gang. It starts with Cleveland trying to find a friend for Cleveland Jr., with a great extended gag about Cleveland sounding like a pedophile while trying to convince a boy to "play with Cleveland Jr"...fitting, since Mike Henry also is the voice of Herbert on FG. How do you get from there to a bloody shootout at the end of the episode? Just watch it, if not for that, then for Cleveland's hat closet.

Family Guy: I'm beginning to think Seth McFarlane likes the 80's. There has to be a new term invented here, because "parody" and "homage" don't come close to this episode. Chevy Chase and Dan Ackroyd essentially recreate "Spies Like Us" with Stewie and Brian, and Peter forms an improve troupe to keep him out of the way. Forgettable story, but some good jokes, and more playing with the format (Stewie's incoherent cutaway setup and the "Russian cutaway gag"). Oh, and the shoutout to The Cleveland Show was funny too. Didn't want to forget that.

American Dad: Also not the best episode, and usually the Stan/Steve episodes are better than this. Steve is left home along, starts messing around with Stan's Predator Drone, and hilarity ensues. Just didn't really come together as an episode, although Roger's Stan impression and some king-fu fighting near the end salvaged it.

Castle and House (hopefully) tomorrow. Also, good news in that Dollhouse has been picking up some good DVR numbers and so FOX has announced that they'll show all of Season 2. FlashForward has also been picked up for a full season. People do win!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Basking in Whedon-y Goodness

I'm not going to lie, I wasn't looking forward to watching this week's Dollhouse. The season premiere was a little dry, and I actually fell asleep during the second episode. However, Eliza Dushku herself (okay, via Twitter) implored me to keep watching, so I fired up the internets and watched.

Holy shitballs, that was awesome.

First of all, I enjoy when a show takes a really out-there concept, and shows the dry details behind it. Science schmience and technobabble are nice, but how do you make the donuts? Ballard takes Echo (as "Kiki") to the top secret Dollhouse Libby Lu to get all tarted up for an English professor's (the great and underused Arye Gross) fairly tame "dumb as a post co-ed fucks him for an A" fantasy. Just the visual of Ballard and the other handler hanging out with magazines, waiting for their Actives to get their glamour on is perfect.

Meanwhile, the practical applications of Dollhouse technology are on display, as Topher imprints the brain scan of a comatose serial killer onto Victor so that Ballard can use his profiler mojo on him. The actual serial killer (doing his best Crispin Glover) has been kidnapping and drugging women so he can pose them and call them the names of his female relatives. Victor escapes and goes off to find another victim, pursued by Ballard. Topher tries to steal a page from Alpha's playbook and perform a remote wipe on Victor. However, like it always does, the equipment goes kablooey and Data becomes Moriarty...I mean, Victor and Echo swap imprints. This leads to one of my favorite visuals EVER, Kiki bumping and grinding in a club while trapped inside Victor's body.

By the way, I know Kiki is supposed to be a moron (oh, and for that matter, has a student ever shown up in the middle of a semester in a college course and not attracted questions?), but did the idea of "Oh man, this song is so great, it's giving me a boner...hey, wait a minute?" ever enter his/her mind? Eh, still worth the visual.

So this drops McCreepy's brain inside of Echo's already crowded noggin, and she goes back to the Secret Lair of Evil. The abducted women have mostly escapes, but McCreepy clobbers one with a croquet mallet (and I can only assume takes the red scrunchie for herself), and is ready to keep whomping away, but Echo manages to take control long enough to offer herself as a sacrifice. Ballard and the jackbooted cavalry manage to storm the place before that has to happen (although Echo still gets the bad end of some mallet-fu), and all is well. Oh yeah, except the obligatory "Echo is back at the Dollhouse and remembers something from her engagement". Sigh, it can't all be gold. This is the episode I needed to hold my interest, so Dollhouse has earned a stay of execution. Well, from me. As for FOX, who knows?

FlashForward was good/bad this week. They looked like they were trying to pull a LOST by using Kaballah nonsense to explain why the blackout was 137 seconds long, then it turns out to just be a lot of dead crows and a Nazi. Yes, they've already Godwin'd the show. We finally meet Dimitri's hot fiancee, after a nice scene on a mostly deserted plane, and she claims to have seen him in her flashforward. He lies to her about his flashforward, then has a nice little scene with a stoner/future customs agent about the ability to change ones future. Pretty handy, now that he knows the date he's supposed to be murdered and all.

One of the big themes tonight was "How do you put full faith in a prediction of the future?". Mr. Beardy goes as far as to dig up his dead daughter, only to find that her remains are a DNA match to the sample the Army had on file...and you know there's NO WAY that could be faked. Oh no. The greatness of Gina Torres comes aboard and has a nice flashforward about adopting a child, and Dr. Dharma lies about her supposed affair in her flashforward. The episode ends with a Somalian child (with a verrrrrry recognizable scar, of course), a lot of goats, a lot of dead crows, and a smaller blackout (I'm assuming the 1991 blackout). Interesting stuff, but I hope FlashForward isn't going the LOST route of throwing a million questions out there and just assuming we'll stick around for the answers.

The show still has some nice touches though: The airport that still hasn't been able to clear out all the wreckage from the blackout day, the ruined buildings in the skylines, the memorial service at the end and the realization of how many other memorials are going on for people killed on blackout day...really keeps the show grounded, despite the central concept. They've built a decent ensemble while still tying everything to Agent Scruffy, since he's the only one who remembers his evidence wall.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thursdays Are Huge!

Going to try doing some "live" Thursday blogging. Before that though, I have to get to Top Chef.

Poor Ashley, she had a couple of great weeks, then this. To be honest, I thought Ash was the easy pick here. The show's not called "Top Sous Chef", and clinging to a better chef may work in the opening rounds but at this point. Hell, I'd have booted Ash just for his awkward ass-kissing of Michael at judge's table. At least Michael acknowledged it afterwards, and it may have helped give him a little edge when it came down to who to eliminate. I still think Robin is overstaying her welcome, and Eli isn't looking too strong either, so I think those two and Ash are the next three to go, barring anymore catastrophic meltdowns.

By the way, I really get tired of gimmicky challenges tripping up some of the better chefs in eliminations. Cook a steak in a toaster, cook with a microwave and an olive fork, cook a 12 course meal out of a Twinkie and a dead baby...just let them cook! Tyler Florence made a good point about not always having the best tools to work with, but it's just frustrating when a good chef gets a bad beat and gets knocked out. But hey, we're just marking time until we see how much Kevin has lapped the other cheftestants by the finale. Maybe they'll chloroform Robin and replace her with Hung in a wig to try to keep the show competitive.

Community was a lot better this week, as Shirley finally emerges as a character. Chevy Chase's wacky ear gadget manages to be important to the plot, and Abed is still weird. John Oliver is back, which makes me happy. The Britta/Joel McHale (I seriously need to take notes on character names) no-mance takes a hit this week, as she starts dating one of the hippies from PCU, but they break up at the end so it's okay. I guess? Having their will they/won't they thing driving the plot is hampering what could otherwise be a better show. I like the jokes, I like the subplots, but I'm just not interested either way in if they become a couple or not.

The Office: The big hour long Jam wedding! October is an interesting time for it, what with sweeps typically being in November. The puke chain before the open was great stuff, as Pam faces off with Dwight. I want Dwight Schrute to narrate my next bout of lovemaking. Ahh, when the Beeslys and the Halprets get together, it's always a wild time. Kids love Dwight. Oh man, I forgot all about Jim's a-hole brothers! And the comedy stylings of one Michael Scott. This is gold. Wow, Jim's rehearsal dinner speech was really well done. Oops, up until the part where Jim spills the beans. Oh hey, and there's Michael! Well played, Office.


Which reminds me, I need to buy the Three Keyboard Cat variation of that shirt. Andy Bernard attempts to out-robot Meredith, and gets served. Poor Andy's balls. And that's the end of Part 1. Yes, an Office cliffhanger involves Andy Bernard's torn scrotum.

And now, dance break. You can't see it, but I'm toooootally dancing.

The Office, Part 2: Wedding Harder.

Oh sweet Jeebus, Dwight got laid. And his post-coital breakfast is fascinating in its scope. As is Kevin's lack of footcare. And his wig. And his tissue box shoes. And oh my goodness, I want to give Kevin a comedy hug right now. I want Michael to paint my portrait from memory, dammit. Oh no Jam, don't elope! Jim's tie can be stapled back on! I loves me some Erin the receptionist. Oh man, it wouldn't be an Office event without a YouTube reenactment. Phyllis' hat is in a dead heat with Andy's walker, as I continue to loves me some Erin. Oh hey, stereo water sprinkler dances! Also, Jim's Plan C (buying the boat tickets once he saw the YouTube video... was genius. The coda, with Kevin's feet and Michael nailing Pam's mom...hmmm...hmmm...yeah.

Okay, that's it for tonight. FlashForward tomorrow, I hope.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Heroes and Castle and House: Oh My!

Everybody knows that Wednesday is the new Monday, right? Here we go...

Heroes: Despite the sinking feeling I have throughout every episode (or maybe that's just the vacuum cause by their ratings), I still dug a couple things about "Acceptance". Masi Oka, who deserves better, capped off a giant turd of a storyline with a couple of really nice moments at the end of the episode. Now maybe if they'd spent a little more time letting him act instead of putting him through the Groundhog Day of copy machine sabotage, they'd be able to string together a consistent episode once in a while. Oh, and his sister is wicked hot.

No Parkman to go with no Mohinder! Oh Heroes, you're spoiling me.

Triple Fake Nathan manifests another of Sylar's stolen powers, accessing Nathan's memories through his, who cares what it's called, it's probably ripped off from a Grant Morrison X-Men comic. Anyway, Nathan pulled a Teddy Kennedy-lite back in his youth, and Mom Petrelli covered it up. Sylathan's conscience drives him to confess his crime, which would be an interesting character development in a better show, but for Heroes is probably just another stop on the Plot Tram. The dead girl's mom hires an assassin to off Nathan, who gets buried in a shallow grave for about 20 minutes, then Sylar's eyebrows dig him out. The whole "Sylar emerging from the ground" was pretty cool, mostly because it means Zachary Quinto is back. No, I don't count any scene with Parkman.

Claire and HRG were on screen, and I'm sure said words and performed actions, but Claire is screen death for me at this point, so the less said about her, the better.

Castle wasn't as sharp as usual, but the overblown Fashion Week storyline drove most of the visuals, to the detriment of the story. The performances were fun to watch, as always, and there were a couple of nice scenes between Castle and his mother, a dynamic that usually gets lost in the shuffle. This is the first episode that I'd give a B to, if I graded these things. I expect it to jump back to A material next week, just because I do.

House, on the other hand, knocked it out of the freaking park! James Earl Jones, the return of the original team, House's shenanigans with the downstairs neighbor, Chase's actions at the end...just wow. I hope they don't drag the fallout from this out for the whole season, but this is the meat of a good 4-5 episode arc if they play it right. A lot of different views were explored without any one thing being crammed down our throats, which is the biggest surprise of the episode. House's efforts to change as a person are really well done, and Hugh Laurie needs a boatload of Emmy's. Well, he doesn't need them, but he should get them, dammit. Just when you think the character had hit the wall creatively, they turn on a dime and create a whole new set of things to explore. House has worked its way into my regular rotation starting next week. I may need to touch myself now.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quick and Dirty

Heroes and Castle weren't online tonight, but I did catch How I Met Your Mother!

"Robin 101" was an okay episode. Nothing crazy great, just chugging along with the "Let's turn Barney into a boyfriend" storyline. I expected it to be a more organic change, but it does make sense for them to just have Ted teach a class on Robin to Barney. Creepy, but with elements of love. It just didn't gel as an episode to me though, probably because Lily and Marshall (and even Robin) were fairly uninvolved in this episode. Marshall was especially absent, with a beloved barrel his only real contribution. Is Jason Segal shooting another movie or something? Or are they saving him and Lily for a bigger storyline later in the season? Anyway, there's no such thing as a bad episode of HIMYM, so this gets my lowest possible rating of 14 stars.

FlashForward was a step or two back after the 8 (or more accurately, 12) steps forward in episode 1. Little girl Charlie is CREEPY. Her proclamation on D. Gibbons at the end of the episode was only missing the "LOST Horns" to put the perfect ending on the hour. Dimitri gets some more confirmation on his "he'll be dead before six months" theory, as a fellow "no-flashback'er" gets shot, and he gets a phone call with the exact date of his death. Yeah, creeeeeeepy.

Also, we meet FF's version of the Others; the mysterious people who may have caused the Blackout, or at least know a pretty good amount about it. I've got to say, if I ever need to remove incriminating files from my PC, I'm probably going to go with something less extreme than "submerge them in flammable liquid, then drop lighters in it". Just saying. The Wall O' Clues gets a couple more additions to it, and it remains to be seen whether a simple act like burning his friendship bracelet will alter the future any for Agent I-Can't-Remember-His-Name-At-The-Moment.

Last week's House ("Epic Fail") was nice, giving us a House without Princeton-Plainsboro, and the remains of Team House (Foreteen and Mort the Jew) trying to keep the diagnostics department going without Medical Jesus in the big chair. The POTW using the internet to diagnose his own case was an interesting twist, playing off Foreman's lack of confidence, although I did see the ending (House solving the case online) coming a while away. I'm not calling it obvious, more of a reward for the informed and loyal viewer. Thirteen had the line of the night with her assessment of House's cooking ("It's the best thing I've ever had in my mouth. And yes, I'm also counting that thing you're thinking of right now"). Good episode, even if status quo looks to be on its way to being restored. On the other hand, I haven't seen last night's episode yet, so I could be pleasantly surprised. Plus Mort the Jew might still be gone.

And let's wrap it up with some cartoons.

Simpsons: Meh. I've been a Simpsons defender, and I still don't know that I could handle a world without them. On the other hand, they keep mining weak stories out of dated references, and they can do better. Or should.

The Cleveland Show: Another departure for Seth McFarlane, as this is more of a "Full House with bite" at this point in its run. There's still a few cutaways, but the uncomfortable/edgy humor is mostly replaced with straightforward (ish) storylines. I like it, I just have to ease into it, especially having been indoctrinated by Family Guy.

Family Guy: Last week's Multiverse episode was greatness, tonight's episode was a little disappointing as a follow-up. I honestly prefer Family Guy when it's more of a loosely-bound half hour of a sketch comedy show that's loosely based on a family dynamic, rather than a full narrative. This episode had a little too much narrative, and it's material that they covered better in the originally unaired "When You Wish Upon A Weinstein" (although I did appreciate the callback to that episode). Not even the Superfriends opening could make up for it.

American Dad: Somewhere in between Family Guy and The Cleveland Show lies American Dad. I went through a period of not caring much about this show, but I am happy to have been proven wrong. AD still manages to combine dark humor, weird storylines, and pop culture references, but with a much more cohesive plot. Simpsons has the cred, and Family Guy has the cult following, but American Dad is the anchor of the Sunday night animation lineup. This is the show that should have been nominated for the Emmy.

Heroes, Castle, and will I ever watch Bored to Death? Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I Finally Watched FlashForward!!!

And only 16 hours before Episode 2!

Okay, I've got to say, I'm impressed and intrigued. The first few minutes dragged a little, but once the blackout hit and the real meat of the story was put out there, I was sucked into the story. Opening with the aftermath, then flashing back, then going back to the aftermath ten minutes or so later was a little oddly paced, but I guess they felt they had to grab people right at the beginning. As boring as the first few minutes were, i guess they had a point. Anyway, we've got (sigh, I have to go to IMDB to look up characters names, hold on) FBI Agent Mark Benford and his Doctor/Surgeon wife Olivia. They wake up, go to work, they have a mildly creepy daughter and a hot trampy babysitter. Agent Benford works with John Cho, Olivia doesn't work with Dr. Brice, because Brice is busy offing himself on a pier (a couple hundred yards away from a kid with some balloons...way to leave plenty of nightmare fuel behind you, ass). Shakespeare and Sulu are staking out some generic terrorists, and following them through L.A. traffic when...THE BLACKOUT!!!

So, basic premise at this point for those of you who didn't watch the episode/read an article/read the book/eat the breakfast cereal already: Everybody on the planet blacks out at the same time, for a duration of 2 minutes and 17 seconds (which doesn't add up to 108 in any way, LOST nerds! Be happy with the Oceanic billboard), then they all wake up, having had a vision (or a Flashforward...and they're going to great lengths to establish that term for the last half of the episode) of what they're doing six months in the future (April 29th, around 10 PM, for those of you keeping score).

Agent Mark has a vision of himself working on a case file (or visiting John Nash's house), drinking (he's a recovering alcoholic), and then being stalked by guys in Police Academy 3 masks and toting laser sight rifles. John Cho has no vision, which he thinks means that he's dead in six months. The flashforwards are kind of like the flashbacks on LOST, little character moments that will be parceled out over the next several episodes. Considering how many people must statistically die with any given six month span, I'm thinking that people like Demitri (yes, I'll stop calling him Sulu...for now) will be a pretty juicy storyline on their own. After all, imagine what could happen if...say 50,000 (just to throw a number out) people knew for a fact that they had less than six months to live.

Okay, not to jump around too much, but the idea of "can we change the future" gets tossed around a lot in this episode, and I'm really wondering how the show will deal with it. Can they put a character in any kind of mortal danger, if we know that they're alive in six months? Will they have to off someone in order to establish that these futures are still flexible? Or will they be flexible? Lots of questions, and the fact that I'm actually bothering to ask them is a sign that I'll be into this show for a while.

Back to the plot: The FBI sets up a task force to look into the flashforwards, named "Mosaic" after the case file name that Mark sees in his vision. Very chicken and egg moment there. Mark takes a pedeconference with Courtney B Vance (of Vance Refrigeration) and Seth McFarlane. They go over some more exposition, and...


Yeah, looks like he'll be popping up from time to time as another FBI agent. Well I'll be damned. That's more random than the time I got that job serving pancakes on the Amistad.

In one of the more obvious (in a good way) moments, one of the other agents suggests putting up a website where people can log in and share their visions, and try to cross-reference things. Hell, I'm sure people would have been Twittering within the first few minutes of that happening (@babyarm I saw a vision of myself holding a bloody knife and a clown mask, oh and I spilled my latte). We get some TV news exposition of a doctor saying some mumbo jumbo (it IS Brandon Braga, after all) which just establishes the "these are memories of the future, not hallucinations" beam that the show hinges upon, and we learn that Olivia's flashforward is her ostensibly cheating with a mysterious man. A man, who we learn at the end, is the father of a boy she saved on the operating table. A man, who is STEVE FROM COUPLING!!! WHOOOOO!!!! Between him and Gina Bellman on Leverage, this is awesomesauce!

Anyway, lot of questions, and a lot of things the show will want to establish sooner than later (unlike LOST, which took it's sweet fricking time).

-Are the flashforwards unavoidable?

-What caused them?

-What are the future dead people going to do?

-What does the Oceanic billboard mean as far as crossovers with LOST?

-Is Red Panda going to be their Dharma Initiative?

-What does "No More Good Days" mean?

-How long does the show take to get to April 29th, 2010, and what happens to the show on April 30th?

And that's just the first episode. I'll definitely be sticking with this show for a while, starting with a new episode tomorrow. New Community too, so it'll be a big Thursday!