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 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!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oh hai, Psych!

Big update today. Totally forgot to do last week's Psych, but now I have last night's to go along with it, as well as Burn Notice (finally) and Top Chef. Let's begin.

Burn Notice had a good episode this week, delving into the big plot for a good portion of the episode. They captured Kendra, but now have to break her, and that bitch crazy! Like, slam her own head into a table crazy. Rather than break out the blowtorches and pliers, they start by threatening her with rendition (sending her to another country to be tortured and likely killed), then realize that they can play Jesse as the hired help/low man on the chain and let her attempt to deal with him. They manage to get her accounts out of her, and while unable to use them to track the mystery man, they are able to trick her into thinking that they're empty (meaning, her employers screwed her), and she spills her intel as a way to get revenge on them. And the boys celebrate with a frosty generic beer. The client of the week is Buddy, a clothing counterfeiter (and Fiona's new best friend) who is a loose end for an art thief trying to swap and swipe Alexander the Great's sword. Mr. Slippery likes explosions (so whatever happens, Fiona has a new best friend), and doesn't mind a few bodies in the getaway. Mr. Slippery turns out to be Ms. Slippery, but all is well at the end, and Buddy may just be the new Barry as far as recurring characters go.

Psych came back strong and mixed some things up this season (much like Eureka did). First off, Juliet is still traumatized from being kidnapped and almost killed by Mr. Yin at the end of last season, so she's on desk duty at City Hall. Meanwhile, Shawn's dad took the job at the PD, acting as the overseer for the consultants...including them Psych boys. The first episode (Romeo and Juliet and Juliet) sees the Triads getting involved, but it all boils down to Romeo and Juliet (or West Side Story, if you prefer), as well as some sweet kung fu (or Wu Shu, if you prefer) action. Shawn has to run around on his own to solve a kidnapping, since Henry won't hire them officially for the case. More importantly, he manages to get Juliet out of hiding and back on the streets by the end. In episode two (Feet Don't Kill Me Now), we get a little bit of a wife swap, as Lassiter and Gus team up to track down leads on a deal girl with a purse full of unmarked fertility pills from a drug trial. Not to be outdone, Shawn grabs Juliet and they work the case from the "psychic" angle. The two teams keep bumping into each other, although the pairings work well at first. Sparks fly though, and the original teams get back together in time for the big reveal. Interesting twist on the format, and Dule Hill gets to show off his sweet tap moves at the end. Lassiter tapping to clear his mind and concentrate on the facts was a funny bit though, although doubtful it will carry over to future episodes. I'm also losing track of the number of specific references Shawn makes per episode, but today's ranged from the Double Down to Phineas and Ferb. Glad to have you back, Psych.

Finally, Top Chef mixed it up a little this week too, first in the Quickfire. It was an exotic ingredients challenge, where the chefs drew knives for the "drafting order"of the ingredients, then Padma pops in after ten minutes of cooking and makes them all switch ingredients with the chef to the left, leaving them to alter their gameplan on the fly. Then, in the elimination challenge, they cook cold dishes in two teams of six. Each group will taste the other group's food, then nominate one top and one bottom dish. Angelo was going total gamesmanship, and managed to get lucky with Kenny's not so good lamb dish (rather than Amanda's cartilege laden chicken). Tanisha's peppery scallops went up on the other side, and rather than losing his rival, Angelo loses his pal as Tanisha is sent packing. Nice to see them playing the game, but the challenges are getting weaker. Hopefully next week picks up.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Well played, Syfy

Oh, how I hate the name change, but your shows are still good. Well, the ones I watch, anyway. And I've heard good things about something called a Megashark.

Anywho, Eureka continues to do some amazing stuff with this season. The Time Traveling 5 (well, 6, but we'll get to him) continue to discover all the ways that Eureka has changed since they came back from 1947. In an hour, we establish that they've all got something to gain by keeping things the way they are, but something to lose too. For Carter, he gains Tess (who agrees to move in with him) but loses Allison (who he had that decade-spamming smooch with at the end of the premiere). Henry loses his wife, but gains...well, I don't know that he gains anything by setting things right at this point. Unless he was really attached to that statue of Archimedes being granite. Allison gains her GD director gig back (and Carter), but loses Kevin, who is the biggest winner of this storyline since he actually gets both screentime and lines. Jo loses Zane but is now the head of GD security, which is a pretty sweet gig. Fargo lost his kinda-girlfriend, but is now the head of GD. And as head of GD, he whitelisted one of those crazy projects that always winds up trying to blow up the town.

Oh yeah, and Dr. Grant is in the future (well, present), too. And Sheriff Andy!!! Oh my, how I missed him. Both of them wind up helping Carter shut down the lightning experiment and once again save the day. The crazy red lightning fries the wormhole device, leaving our intrepid heroes currently stranded in what Carter bitterly calls "The New World". Fairly dark stuff from Eureka, and I like the tone. Playing up the character side of it, how they've left things behind, really helps the show stay grounded. Next week: Wil Wheaton!

Warehouse 13 was intriguing this week too, but more for the lack of traveling. Pete is still trying to get his stuff, but government cutbacks have left the town in a shambles, and the post office (with everyone's favorite surly postal worker) shut down. And the Farnsworths are on the fritz. And it turns out that everyone in town hates them because they think they work for the IRS and that the Warehouse is full of tax records. Cute. The Artifact OTW is another Farnsworth invention, which is projecting realistic versions of movies into town whenever our recently laid off postal worker pops a batch of popcorn. Not the best episode for that.

On the other hand, Mark Sheppard comes by to awesome things up a little, investigating Leena's crazy woozy spells that she's experiencing after having the Pearl of Wisdom in her ear for so long. Seems like there's some echoes of MacPherson still stuck in there, so don't count him out for a return later this season. Not the best episode, especially after the action of last week, but we got a lot of Claudia, so I'm not complaining.

Top Chef is imminent, and I will find last week's Burn Notice eventually. Damn you, Hulu!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Top Leverage 13!

First off, we are counting down to the 100th post on here! It is a milestone, both in the roundness of the number (BASK IN THE ROUNDNESS!!!), but that I've managed to keep up with this for nearly a year. I'm considering this a win. Now, maybe leave a comment once in a while, so I know I'm doing something right? :) I'd like this to become more of a place for discussion in the coming year, whether it be on here, or even in the Facebook links that I leave on my page every time I update.

Also, this season of Doctor Who is almost done in America, so I'll be doing the Doctor Who omnibus post once that airs. I'm pretty sure most of you have seen it online by now (as have I), but as a rabid spoiler-hater, I'm going to be kind and wait one more week. One more damn week...

So, Warehouse 13 is getting back to business, but still dealing with the aftershocks of the season finale/season premiere. Artie is haunted (literally) by the ghost of MacPhereson, Claudia and Leena are as tense as two cats in a wet sack, and Myka...has her books? Yep, the "stuff delivery" is here, and Myka's room now feels like home, but Pete has naught to enjoy. Lucky for him, he gets to immerse himself into a superhero situation in Detroit, as it seems that the Iron Shadow (like Batman if he borrowed The Phantom's outfit) is busting up criminals and tossing them through walls. And who do we run into? Let the SQUEEEEEEing begin, because it's Jewel Staite and Sean Maher from Firefly (aka Kaylee and Simon, aka those two that didn't hook up until the end of Serenity). Kudos to the show for not making the comic store a hotbed of nerdery, and for making Pete the nerdiest of the comic nerds instead. The Iron Shadow can do all kinds of neat flashy light things, but it's going out of control. Claudia takes time out from being catty to Leena in order to bring some gadgets to Pete and Myka: some material that will absorb energy (and make you impotent, apparently), and some kickass steampunk gauntlets that will fire the energy back out. So, it's like a Bishop suit. Nice.

Myka gets all Catwoman'd out (so, it's a good thing that Pete didn't wear the suit after all, huh?), complete with some swank hooker boots (that probably belonged to Louisa May Alcott or Ella Fitzgerald or something), and takes on the Iron Browncoat. They thought it was Jack Kirby's belt (nice touch), but it turns out to be the underwear that all good superheroes wear on the outside of their tights (Charles Atlas' trunks, even nicer touch). Our happy couple gets to stay together, and Leena and Claudia look to have patched things up a little. Artie has a few decent scenes with the ghost of MacPherson, and scores a pocket watch from MacPherson's archived room (which may or may not factor into later episodes). And Pete, while he doesn't have his stuff yet, does get surprised with a big tv and an XBOX 360 (probably Monet's XBOX 360) to pass the time.

Leverage was twangtastic, with special guest villain John Schneider (aka Pa Kent...yeah, and one of the Dukes of Hazzard). The girl from Coyote Ugly got her songs stolen by the evil country singer (wasn't that a wrestling gimmick for a while too?), and the Leverage team is going to get them back. Turns out, Elliot is good at singing (and you can download his country stylings on iTunes RIGHT THIS MINUTE), and the rest of the team still manages to almost drop the ball. Parker gets to do her Bjork by way of Lady Gaga routine, and Hardison goes from country to rap in the course of an episode. This definitely was the episode with the highest level of hijinks to date, but it was a nice light fluffy hour with something for everybody. Nate surprises us all by taking out two thugs (with no explanation given), and Sophie can't understand Memphis and their fascination with ribs (for breakfast? really?). Not much else needs to be said, no meta-plot, just a well run hour of tv with Elliot refusing to quit when the job goes tits-up.

Top Chef was some good times, forcing the chefs to serve one family-style dinner while cooking outside with crap equipment. Some good dishes manage to make it out, and Kenny goes from the outhouse to the penthouse with a winning eggplant curry. I was worried about losing Amanda this week (since she's hot...and can cook too, fine), but Tim gets the boot for his crap dish instead. Line of the episode: Padma's "You've got crabs" when introducing the ingredient for the Quickfire.

Top Shot was good times too, as they did a Wild West shootout. Surpringly, the guy with the cowboy hat managed to both suck at shooting, and not get nominated to go to the elimination challenge. Kelly and Andre get that honor, and manage to nearly ruin a really good challenge (shooting poker cards to make a hand) by sucking at poker. They both make royal flushes in the first round, so they go to sudden death where Kelly blocks Andre's low straight flush attempt, and Andre has a massive brainfart and fails to make any kind of hand.

Eureka is coming up, as soon as Hulu releases it, and I am really looking forward to it. Psych is also back, and I will be getting to that ASAP as well. I love you, summer TV.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

While I wait for Warehouse 13 to go up on Hulu...

Yeah, totally got sucked into Jade Empire (yes, I am 6 years behind on video games) and forgot it was Tuesday. W13 isn't up yet, but I do have some catching up to do, so let's dive right in.

Eureka came back Friday, and it was a total game-changer. It's Founder's Day in town, Tess has moved to Australia and dumped Carter, Allison has her baby, Zane asked Lupo to marry him, and Allison's autistic son Kevin is messing around with some mystery device leftover from the Einstein days...and now Jack is in 1947.

Yep, no beating around the bush here. Jack is picked up by a strange guy in a nice car and brought back to Camp Eureka, the military base that eventually became the town of Eureka. Allison, Lupo, Henry, and Naked Fargo are also back in time, and all must get the future! They've got an overzealous Major trying to capture them as enemy spies, but Dr. Grant (James Callis of BSG) eventually realizes that they're all from the future, and helps them get the machine working (mostly by attaching old school transistors to their tiny Eureka phones), and get them back home. Carter left his phone in his other jacket though, so he makes out with Allison for like five minutes, and her phone takes them both back home.

However, like all good time travel stories, not all is as it was when they left. Lupo discovers that Zane is still a criminal and not in love with her, Carter finds Tess back at home waiting for him, Kevin is no longer autistic, Henry is married to the hot lady who showed up for 30 seconds at the beginning of the episode, and Fargo is...well, the preview for next week has him as the director of GD. Or, and kindly Dr. Grant (who had Jack's jacket) is in 2010 now too. Space-time continuum is cracking, and the stakes are raised.

This season's arc (if it is for all season) is looking pretty promising, as the time-travelers all seem to have gained something through the changes, but will have to give all that up to get things back to normal. Also, Callis is good people, and will hopefully draw some new viewers to the show.

Leverage was its usual good self, this time addressing the Parker/Hardison budding relationship, as well as peering into the murky underbelly of the pharmacutical industry. The client literally runs into Hardison...and unfortunately for her pursuers, Eliot (and his coffee), and they take on her case of drug trial malfeasance and untimely deaths. Parker-the-Grifter continues to be adorable, sending her in as a pharma-girl in training and having her bust into the CEO's office for incriminating files. With security on her tail, Nate decides to have her finish the job, getting her out of there but cutting it too close for Sophie's sake. Sophie reminds Nate that he's not the moral compass anymore, and his usual shenanigans aren't going to fly anymore. And that's about it for that this week.

The rest of the episode is the usual con. Parker almost gets nabbed by security (but not really), Hardison gets closer to the client (but not really), Eliot is forced to flirt with an FDA rep (but not really...and he gets dumped). Sweet bit at the end as Parker confides in Sophie about her feelings for Hardison, and Hardison finds a way to tell her that he's ready for her when she is. Good little bit of character development.

Top Shot had some Kentucky Longrifle fun, but this is more notable for the day where we went into full-on reality show scheming. A few guys decide that if they have to go to elimination, that they should get manuever to get the two best shooters to go against each other, making one go home and making it easier for the rest of them to make it to the finals. Good plan, but they told the wrong person, who then ran and ratted out the plan. Oh reality tv, never disappointing. The red team smokes the challenge, and the rat and one of the main plotters (I seriously don't care about their names, sorry) shoot it out. Cool challenge, as they have to shoot a rope until it frays enough to drop a guillotine. More stuff like that, please. The rat goes home, and next week is an old west shootout, complete with shooting gallery full of crap that shatters and asplodes. Good times, Top Shot, good times.

Warehouse 13 ASAP, and Top Chef tonight.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Warehouse 13 is back!

So one of my favorite "hidden" shows finally came back this week. Warehouse 13 is a nice blend of genres; a dash of government intrigue, some historical tidbits, a big chunk of "Friday the 13th the Series" style object-fu, all layered with a fluffy steampunk meringue.

Last time at the Warehouse, the eeeeevil MacPherson has been bronzed, debronzed by Claudia, who was evil, then wasn't evil because it was really Leena using Harriet Tubman's thimble to look like Claudia. MacPherson then debronzed...someone. Oh, and Artie got blowed up real good when he got stuck in the Umbilicus.

Luckily, Artie got better. Well, his component atoms got better anyway, swirling around in a SyFy-budgeted amount of special effects. Is Artie a Highlander? Nope, but he does have the Phoenix in his pocket...which means someone nearby is going to die. Myka? Pete? Nope, they're safe. Unfortunately, Mrs. Frederic's driver is the next closest, meaning that she's going to be in some trouble. Claudia is on the run, so Artie goes to track her down. Pete and Myka head to H.G. Wells' house...because H.G Wells is who got debronzed.

MacPherson goes to score some anti-matter while Pete gets to make out with the hot Jaime Murray (the hot hot grifter on BBC's "Hustle")...who turns out to be the real H.G. Wells. And a scientific genius. She traps Pete and Myka on the ceiling, then grabs a steampunk corset which, which powered, allows her to move faster than the human eye can see. What could power something like that? Maybe the briefcase full of anti-matter than MacPherson stole (with that pesky thimble again).

Also, Leena isn't evil, she's just misunderstood. And has a pearl in her ear. That Mrs. Frederic had to choke out of her. Hot.

Using the vest, Wells is able to run through the crazy wacky Escher vault in order to retrieve...some stuff. Myka uses the thimble to pass as Wells long enough for Pete to get the drop on MacPherson. MacPherson immediately goes to turn on Wells, but Wells gets there first and snips the cord of MacPherson's necklace, the one that keeps his blood from turning to acid while he's inside the Warehouse. Wells zips off to parts unknown, while Artie and Mrs. Frederic go through the funhouse...err, Vault, to see what Wells nabbed: her locket, comb, and compact. What do they do? Tune in next week?

Speaking of next week, Jewel Staite and Sean Maher will be guest stars, so Firefly fans, get your brown coats ready.

Top Chef was disappointing this week, as Angelo had to leave along with his dour partner whose name I refuse to mention. The elimination challenge was fun though, a breakfast/lunch/dinner tournament with two teams being safe after each course, and three teams competing to stave off double elimination in the final meal. The blood feud between Kenny and Angelo continues, and that should drive the rest of the season if there's any justice...which is probably why Kenny is still here after last night.

Psych comes back soon, Burn Notice tonight. Stick around.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Quick reviews while I'm still awake

Fortunately, the summer schedule is about as laconic as I am, so I'm going to bust out some quick thoughts. Leverage gets short-sheeted, sadly, but I'll make it up to you later. Mmm...Leverage...

So yes, another two-episode Sunday night, before they take the 4th of July off and then come back with regular weekly episodes for the rest of the run (including the return of Wil Wheaton). First episode was an interesting look at the concept of family, as Parker's "dad" (the guy who taught her to be a thief), meets her new family and gets a lesson on what actual family is. Parker on the run had a lot of excitement, Hardison and Sophie's "Steed and Peel" cover identities made me giggle, and the wheat subplot...was a thing. The super security system was a good villain though, and the final gotcha moment was well done. Hardison as a violin prodigy was interesting, moreso because I read John Rogers' blog (, of course), and his answers to Leverage questions. Specifically of note was the upcoming relationship between Nate and Hardison as mentor and protege. Look for this to recur. We also touch base with the meta-plot as The Italian comes back to point the team in Damien's direction. This episode has one great moment above all others though, the single tear running down Parker's cheek during Hardison's violin solo. I was definitely waiting for the reveal on that, and it didn't disappoint. It'll be a long week and a half until the next new episode.

Summer means summer shows, and so I delve more into reality/game show type stuff:

Top Shot remains interesting from a technical standpoint, and bless the poor editors who have to wring some drama out of the otherwise bland contestants. They seem like good people, but this would probably be better served as a faster-paced skills competition, rather than regularly paced reality fare. I'd rather see more marksmanship competitions than have to overhear minor squabbles in the house to pad out the hour.

Top Chef is rolling right along, and they have a good mix of drama and skills on display. Angelo is the new perfect villain for the season, and how did he not get cast by now? This guy is arrogant with a capital A, and his simmering feud with Kenny is going to get good. Amanda and Kelly both have potential for drama down the line too, and the challenges have been decent to this point. The pie challenge, that got ugly there. Good thing Top Chef: Just Desserts is around the corner, eh?

Downfall isn't bad either, as it's an interestingly done quiz show, Chris Jericho is a great host, and the visual appeal of stuff falling off a building is always a good time. I just wish the damn show would go faster. Then again, that's my problem with most game shows. Except Jeopardy. All hail Jeopardy.

The Good Guys is just barely hanging on for dear life. The show has promise, and no episode (of the three I've seen) has been a total waste of my time, but bits of the formula are starting to wear on me. The flashbacks aren't altogether terrible, although most of them are bits we could have figured out on our own. Also, the "chamber spinning/gunshot" sound effect that accompanies them is getting on my nerves. Bradley Whitford is trying so hard, and if the show makes it to season 2, it will be all him. However, there aren't any compelling supporting characters, and neither of the two leads is making up for it. I don't hate it, but I don't love it, and with Psych, Warehouse 13, and Eureka knocking on the door, the sands are running out of that hourglass.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The return of Leverage

It's been a long...however long it was...but Leverage is back. On a new night too, Sunday nights at 8 PM, which works out just swimmingly for me. Even better, last night (and next week) was a double dose of cons. After last season, we had Nate bleeding from a gunshot wound and under arrest, the rest of the team (including Sophie) safely off, and Sterling triumphant...mostly.

Last night, we start right off with breaking Nate out of prison. A well-oiled plan that goes according to schedule, and then...turns out to be a fantasy that Sophie is spinning to Nate while he's in jail. He doesn't want them to break him out, he wants to serve his time. Well, I guess that rules out Nate, let's see what the rest of the group will get up to. Oh wait, Nate found a client in the clink. Guess it's time to break open that kielbasa, dig out the earbud, and get back to what they do best: providing leverage.

Turns out the warden is crooked and is paying off judges in exchange for them giving out jail time to middle-class petty crimes in order for him to make his jail's capacity quotas. Shifty deal, and since the guards are beating (and killing) prisoners for money on the inside, it's none too safe for Nate and Billy (the client, or at least, I think that's his name). Fun fact, looks like Billy was played by Aldis Hodge's brother. Nepotism? Who cares, he was good.

Nate stabs Billy to get him in the protected confines of the infirmary, and Eliot comes in as a new prison doctor to provide extra protection. Good scene where Nate fakes a toothache to get a chance to talk to Eliot in provate, which Eliot uses as a chance to get Nate under the lights and let him know how he feels about being conned by him (in the season two finale). All is well though (although Sophie told the rest of the team her real name while Nate's been in the clink), and Hardison comes in to work the warden and get into his files. Sophie ropes him in, using a fake Senate campaign to set him up to take a fall. From the inside, Nate has to walk the prison, helping them build a map from the inside of cameras, heat sensors, and motion detectors. Love the trichotomy of Hardison's computer map, Parker's glassboard map with stickers, and the one Nate makes out of a chess board and various game pieces. The escape was a wonder of low tech, with steam fooling the motion sensor and a frozen trash bag getting Nate past the heat sensors. Parker's model helicopter (which had been set up at a couple points in the episode) fooled the guards, and a ruse with Hardison's new van helps Nate escape and set up the warden as an accomplice. Even better, we get Hardison and Parker pretending to make out in the van as a distraction (or as Parker asks "We were pretending"?). Parker had some great moments in the episode, especially the photoshoot for the fake incriminating photos (of the incumbent Senator, used to help sink the hook).

However, the con had a wild card in it, a mystersious (and hot) Italian agent who is after Nate and his team in order to set them on this season's Big Bad, a guy who bankrolls many different major criminal organizations, and a man not to be taken on headfirst. As Nate reasons out though, they can keep taking their usual jobs, and just try to steer towards ones that will help them get a hook into the Big Bad. Oh and Nate's drinking again.

Which leads us into Episode 2, as the team proceeds to take a job with...absolutely no obvious tie-in to the Big Bad. Eh, can't have everything on a platter, I suppose. Instead, we get a mysterious program called Manticore, which is stifling internet traffic to and from Iran, and helping Iranians catch some protestors or somesuch. Honestly, it's probably an interesting issue, it just gets shuffled to the side for the main thrust of the episode, which is that the computer software guru (and jerk...and nerd) who runs the program. They break into his office, but the program is running off of his 1985 computer, which Hardison just can't hack. Instead, they need to get his password, which they deduce is based off of something from high school, since his office (and the computer) shows that he is obsessed with his high school experiences. So (although they don't say it), let's go steal a reunion.

Sophie (showing off an array of voices), manages to get the reunion moved up a few months so that they can use it to pump Duberman for information. Sophie creates a fictional student, while Nate just borrows the identity of the class clown (and Duberman's nemesis). Hardison gets to stay in the van and run rapid-fire background checks on the other attendees while Parker works the room as catering and provides backup. Eliot gets to go back to Dubertech to be able to punch in the password once they discover it. And eventually, beat up some Iranians who came for Manticore.

Throwing a wrench into the works is a hot assassin played by MTV's Kari Wuhrer. Still kinda hot, not gonna lie. She puts the moves on Nate to get him out of the way, then we get a kung-fu vs fire extinguisher fight with her and Sophie (also hot). They dispatch her (she was sent by the Iranians too...they ruin everything), but slip on a detail and reveal themselves to Duberman as fakes. He changes his password...which Eliot is able to punch right in thanks to Sophie's linguistic programming. It was set up earlier, with Sophie able to train Eliot to unconsiously pour and prepare her tea with the right verbal and tactile cues. In this case, they were able to hack Duberman into changing his password by using repeated variations of Badger85 (school mascot, and graduating year). Eliot's consternation at missing the reunion was hilarious at the end. Couple of sweet moments too, as Nate and Sophie manage to be crowned King and Queen of the reunion and get a dance together. Even sweeter; Hardison and a dangling Sophie (from her thieving harness) sharing their own dance up in the rafters.

Next week, Parker gets caught during a break-in, and Hardison must pass as a concert violinist. Yes, two more new Leverage episodes in six short days. Be there!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Finally, Doctor Who!

I've been jonesing bad for The Doctor, but my crazy mixed-up schedule has kept me from him for too long. Well, I'm catching up now, and none too soon. If i'd known how much I was going to enjoy Amy's Choice, I'd have been hating myself even more the last couple weeks.

I was going to watch these back to back, but I just finished Amy's Choice and it feels like the ending of the arc, so I'm going to review, then go to the next episode:

So we open on an idyllic country cottage, where a pregnant Amy is bak...umm, pregnant? Yes, Amy is pregnant, and Rory is an extra in a 1980's Dexy's Midnight Runners video. The TARDIS shows up, and The Doctor comes out to reminisce about all the fun they had five years ago. Some creepy old people are about, and then they all fall asleep.

And wake up in the TARDIS. ? They all had the same dream, then the same birds are chirping, and they wake up back in the quaint village? Buh? Okay, so something odd is definitely going on, but nothing for Amy to choose from yet (just kidding, we all know she's going to choose Rory or The Doctor by the end of the hour, let's watch). The Doctor starts by interrogating some very old people, only they can summon the birdsong? They wake back up in the TARDIS, and there's another guy. The Dreamlord. You can't touch him, only see and hear him as he taunts our heroes and sets up the rules for the episode.

As an aside, I love this kind of stuff in my sci-fi. Star Trek did it well with The Squire of Gothis and all the Q episodes. Godlike entity, sets up a situation, clearly defined rules...and go. In this case, one world is a dream, one is reality, and they must choose one. They will face deadly peril in both worlds, but by allowing the peril in the dream to overtake them, they will survive and win the game, and valuable prizes shall be theirs for the taking. The Dreamlord gets all meta on the Doctor, calling him out for being all dashing and floppy haired and an "intergalactic wag". Loved that term. Anyway, it seems like the TARDIS world is the obvious real world, so the sci-fi twist would be to make the pregnant world the real world. Or both. Or neither.

Anyway, after some mucking about, we finally get to the real choice, Amy's choice between the dreamy Doctor, or good old dependable Rory (ponytail optional). Oh, right, and the mortal dangers. Behind Door #1 we have the TARDIS out of power and drifting towards a "cold star". Behind Curtain #2, an army of old people with aliens living inside them who can shoot poo gas out of the eyes in their mouths and turn people to dust. Back in the icy TARDIS, the Dreamlord (who looooooves taunting), sends The Doctor and Rory away so he and Amy can have a chat. After all, it is her choice. He offers her the chance to stay with him and be his Companion...of Dreams? I guess. She trusts the Doctor and knows that he tells her everything. The Dreamlord scoffs and asks "What's his name?".

Back in the village of old people, The Doctor is locked in a meat freezer for protection, and Rory has dragged a sleeping (and huge, I forgot about the several jokes about Amy's size in this episode) Amy upstairs. The Doctor swips a VW bus, saves a few villagers, then heads over to Rory and Amy's place. Rory takes the dramatic step of cutting off his ponytail and has a nice moment with Amy before the Doctor crashes in through the window. Rory takes a shot to the side and slowwwwwly turns to dust. Amy realizes that she does love Rory, and whether this world is a dream or not, she doesn't want to be in a world without him. Amy and the Doctor head back down to the VW, crash it into the house, and

wake up back in the TARDIS. All is well, Amy loves Rory and the TARDIS works again. So the Doctor blows it up.

You see, the Dreamlord can't affect the physical world, so how could he stop down the TARDIS? It's all explained as such: Crystalline psychic pollen got in the time widgets, sent them all into a dreamstate, and the Doctor's dark side manifested itself as the Dreamlord. Of course. Well, that was kind of a ball-kick of an ending. At least we got the important issue settled, even if it did feel a little more Holodeck than Q by the end.

Oh my, The Hungry Earth is another two-parter. Well, i've got some time, let's dig into it.

A Doctor-less intro gives us a drilling team in Wales, 2020. They're drilling to 21,000 kilometers, further than anyone has ever drilled before. Some kid's dad takes over the night shift, and gets swallowed up into the ground.

The Doctor has promised Rio, but delivered a gray countryside. Amy is not happy. Also, they see themselves waving at themselves. Wonder if that will come back. Rory heads back to the TARDIS to return Amy's engagement ring to a safe place, while Amy follows The Doctor to a big drilling thingy, which Rio most decidedly does not have. Inside the drill control room, more holes open in the ground, and begin to swallow up an old guy. Amy stops to help him, gets sucked into a hole herself, and despite the best efforts of the Doctor (in full-on "I'm going to get you out of this" mode), she is swallowed up by the patch of ground. Rory, meanwhile, has been mistaken for an officer and led to a graveyard where bodies have been disappearing out of the ground. Spooky. Rory and the Doctor finally meet up, and Rory is not happy about the loss of Amy. The Doctor does a little "You've all got to do exactly what I say" speechifying, and they set about creating a defense against whatever is coming up from the bowels of the Earth (oh, and has dropped a forcefield around them too). They crowd into the church (which has the worst stuck door ever...and can't even be soniced. "That is rubbish", says Rory), but the dyslexic Sherlock Holmes kid is still outside. He is taken, but the Doctor uses cool sunglasses to track down and capture one of the lizard people (cold-blooded, so he uses a fire extinguisher and the refrigerated back of a meals on wheels truck). he interrogates the captive, who turns out to be a descendant of the first species on Earth, lizard people! They considered the drill an attack, and the warrior caste feels the urge to wipe out the apes and take the planet back. The Doctor is all about brokering a peace, and gives another stirring speech, this one to convince them not to hurt the prisoner/hostage until he can go into the Earth and negotiate.

Basically, this episode was setting a lot of stuff on the table, and then paying it off next episode. We've got the old guy and his weird green veins (from being tongue-stabbed by a lizard), the mom who has a nice collection of improvised weapons, the weird kid, the scientist who hitched a ride with the Doctor, Amy and the kid's dad (who was dissected while still alive...oww), and finally...was that really Amy and Rory waving to them?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Moar Burn Notice

So Burn Notice is in full swing, and Michael is in search of Jesse, the spy who Michael inadvertently burned last week. Michael has convinced Vaughn to let him bring Jesse in as an asset, rather than have him shipped off to parts unknown. Michael's first act is to help Jesse out of a setup, a mysterious group of well-dressed thugs try to nab him, but thanks to a bicycle chain and some nearby power lines (and hopefully a stunt that isn't tested out in real life by some drunken "Mythbuster"), Jesse is able to escape. He tracks Michael down, and we have our client.

Michael goes with "Burn Notice Plan A", pretend to be a fellow bad guy and ingratiate himself with the enemy. In this case, it's "Turner", one of my new favorite aliases. Pretty standard-grade stuff, although Jesse has a flair for improvisation and a reluctance for teamwork. At this point, i'm hoping they can keep him around as a recurring character. I especially liked the little character-building heart to heart he had with Fi. Giving her a more gung-ho guy to play off of could make for some interesting times.

Hmm, they took care of the bad guy pretty quickly this week...ohhh, no they didn't. Khan's out, and he found Jesse. And he has him all hooked up to electrodes. Fortunately, they only show the ones attached from the waist up. Michael, as "Turner", still has an in though. Neat bit of spycraft as Michael is able to pass a message on to Jesse in plain sight, and manage to get the bad guy and his number two man to Reservoir Dogs each other.

Oh, and how nice, Jesse is moving in with Michael's mom. How conveeeeeeenient. Of course they're keeping him around, he's the information source for the meta-plot. Well, good for him, and it'll be nice to see what happens when he finally learns the truth about Mr. Weston. Jesse is a holder of grudges. Good start to the season, can't wait to see where this goes, especially the inevitable confrontation between Jesse and Michael.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Has it seriously been two weeks?

Between the end of the "regular season", a change in my work schedule, and post-finals lazyness, it has been a while for this blog. However, the summer season has started, and I've got a little catching up to do. First off, Burn Notice.

When last we left Mr. Weston, he'd saved Frasier's dad from Simon the Mad Bomber (who had better come back), and then was bundled off to some secret prison somewhere, where he finds himself in a tastefully appointed study. Michael has been recruited by Vaughn, a new mystery man, who needs his help to track down a new Big Bad with deep pockets and his fingers in a lot of pies. Welcome to Season Four.

After a stop to a "gun enthusiast" in the middle of the jungle, Michael agrees to take the case, and winds up back in Miami. He stops in to see mom, and apologizes...for everything. A rarity, a scene between Michael and his mother that I actually would have liked to see more of. The reunion with Fiona is next, and wouldn't you know it, she's loading up guns because she has a client. Winston has been green-lit for death by a biker gang, and negotiations aren't going well.

The biker gang stuff was standard client stuff, although the wrap-up involved a great chase scene and a couple of funny bits involving Winston and Big Ed (leader of the biker gang). As for the new meta-plot, Michael slips into a secure facility to grab some files but accidentally winds up getting the spy whose identity he "borrowed" arrested and blacklisted. As Sam points out, Michael just burned a spy. Next week...Michael helps that spy? Wow, nice turnaround.

Good start to the season, all the cogs are turning, and this season's plot seems a little juicier than last season's.

I also wanted to touch on The Good Guys, the new series from Burn Notice creator Matt Nix. The pilot was a little choppy, but I loves me some Bradley Whitford, and there were some promising elements in the episode. Bradley Whitford plays a former 70's supercop who's on the outs with the department, but still sticks around because of his fame from one big case back in his heyday. Colin Hanks is his by the book partner who is stuck with him because his behavior has annoyed everyone else in the department. The bit seems to be that they get assigned to embarrasingly minor cases, but then stumble into bigger ones. Nix has a good formula going with Burn Notice, and Good Guys looks to take the same approach: find a routine that works, and beat it into the ground. Burn Notice has the season long arcs to keep it going though, and once I catch up on episode two, we'll see if Good Guys will have the same kind of staying power.

Also, one thing I decided to check out was Top Shot on the History Channel. It's a marksmanship competition hosted by Survivor's Colby Donaldson, and it promises a variety of challenges with a variety of historical and modern weapons. I'm all for skill-based competitions, so as long as they keep putting them up on Hulu, I'll be checking it out.

The first team challenge is interesting, as they have to use four older models of rifles, but they actually get to practice with the weapons and get training from an expert. As opposed to the usual "here's some stuff, go nuts" way that challenges to on reality competitions, this is refreshing to see. There's still the social aspect of the game, but not as much as other shows, and there's still a lot of professional courtesy. Considering how many of them are military or law enforcement, and how disciplined the skillset is, I'm not too surprised.

Deciding who goes into the elimination challenge is interesting, some of these people know each other and have reputations as great shooters. Still nice to see that it hasn't gone too negative...yet. It is reality TV after all. Colby has learned a lot at the feet of the Probst. The finals were good, and it was some good respectful competition. Almost too respectful for reality TV, but props for History Channel for elevating the game.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost: Initial Thoughts

So I'm going to watch the finale again in a day or two, try to really get into the details. However, like everybody else, I've got my knee-jerk reaction to the finale.

First of all, I liked it. It was a nice send-off to the series, and I dug everybody being happy in the Alterna-verse, especially the reunions of the characters that were killed off and hadn't returned in a while. Just nice visuals and a good way to go out. The drama of the Light in the Cave was a little iffy...I see how there had to be one final problem to fix, and it was a good way for Jack to go out, but it was a little out of the blue, and fixed a little too easily. The final Jack/Locke confrontation had the potential to be really epic, and it was over too soon. Keeping the two of them apart until that scene would have been a better deal too, really build it up. I like the idea of Hurley and Ben taking care of the Island, I'd watch that series. I liked how they were able to set up those iconic Island moments and parallel them to the Alterna-verse methods of "waking up" the Island memories. I wonder if the bomb created the Alterna-verse, or if it just trapped them there. I wonder if the Alterna-verse was Purgatory, or an actual afterlife. I'd like to have seen Jacob taken to task more for the crap he pulled. I'd have liked more resolution on the Dharma Initiative. On the whole though, it was a satisfying end.

It's like a Stephen King novel: He creates deep characters, brings in an interesting supernatural situation, then sets them loose. The resolution of the supernatural stuff always seems a little disappointing (see: Under the Dome), but the journey is worth the slightly disappointing destination. Getting hung up on some of the minutia prevents you from taking in the big picture. Lost was a hell of a ride, and I'll miss it. Hopefully, it provides the template for another show like it, but one that plots out the whole story in advance. Well done Lost. Well done.

Friday, May 21, 2010

What a long strange week it has been

Sorry for the delay in updating, I've been moved to days at work for the summer, so my viewing and blogging schedules have both been thrown out of whack. Also, it's season finale time, and a lot of shows are happening. I'm going to throw out some quick thoughts on the week that was, with a few shows getting an expanded treatment coming up.

How I Met Your Mother: We finally get the payoff to "The Wedding Bride" teaser from earlier in the season, as Tony tells his version of the Ted/Stella/Tony love triangle. Chris Kattan is funny as "Jed Mosly", although the rest of the movie scenes play as really heavy handed parody of the rom-com genre. Doesn't advance a whole lot of the meta-story, but next week's "Dopplegangers" should kick off the Marshall/Lily stuff going into next season.

Castle: Season finale, and a doozy. The first few minutes was remarkably done, making the reveal of the actual circumstances of the case a true surprise. Bringing back the writer's poker game was very welcome, and the separation anxiety of Alexis going off to her pre-college program was a good parallel to Castle and Beckett's situation. All the elements paid off down the stretch; Beckett breaks up with Denning just as Castle seemingly reunites with his ex-wife/publisher. A summer in the Hamptons awaits, and the possibility of Castle not coming back to the police (although we all know how that will end up). See you in the fall, indeed.

Lost: I'm hesistant to dig too much into this episode with the series finale coming up on Sunday, so I won't. The one scene that still sticks with me is Ben shooting Widmore, stating "He doesn't get to save his daughter". Amazing work, and coupled with Ben seemingly about to find the family he'd always wanted in the Alterna-verse, it ups the stakes for the fate of those versions of the characters going into Sunday. Alterna-Desmond is pulling strings and setting players in motion (much like Jacob) for something big. Not-Locke wants to use Desmond to destroy the Island, and Jack has taken over for Jacob. Still, smart money is on Jack not being the Protector by the time it all wraps up Sunday night. Sawyer seems like the obvious choice, Hurley seems like the obvious choice in retrospect on Monday morning. The campfire storytime by Jacob was well done, even if it was a big shot of exposition for the sake of the people who want questions answered. It does speak to the overarching theme of "choice" however, and that theme should be prevalent for the finale. There will be a massive Lost post by Monday or Tuesday though, and I'll go over everything as a whole (as will most humans alive).

Community: Wow. Well done Dan Harmon. Managing to be both a season finale, a deconstruction of season finales, and then some intangible third thing at once; this episode did in 22 minutes what many sitcoms never accomplished in their entire runs. Most of the other characters are pushed aside for the denouement of the Slater/Jeff/Britta triangle. Slater wants another shot at Jeff, Britta is finally realizing her feelings for Jeff, Jon Oliver is finally back!, Troy spends most of the episode eating a giant cookie, which then becomes a metaphor for his relationship with Abed...just so much to process. Then the Tranny Dance. Britta's war of words with Slater was so well done, as was her speech when she thought she'd won the title of Tranny Queen. Jeff's reaction (run) was also better handled than a lot of similar situations would have been. That all leads up to...Annie. Annie was going to run off to Delaware with Vaughn, putting her conveniently out of the way for a while. She talks to Jeff, Jeff confides in her about how Slater and Britta represent the two sides of who he is...the Jeff he could be, and the Jeff he is...then Jeff and Annie kiss. Hard. The love triangle has become a love Flux Capacitor. That's how you do it.

The Office: The "Sabre printers catch on fire" storyline that has been creeping in these past few weeks comes to a head, as someone ratted out the company, and Jo (Kathy Bates in her best guest appearance of the season) is out for blood. Andy, Pam, Daryl, Kelly (who Tweeted, and Woofed it) are all to blame, but in the end, Michael jumps on the grenade in order to save everybody's job. For all the ups and downs (some real, some only percieved) that this show has had the last few seasons, the scene with Jo and Michael in her jet is one of the best written, best acted moments in the entire run, and shows that this show still has a lot left in the tank. Steve Carell is supposedly leaving the show at the end of next year, and this hopefully signals a possible turnaround for the luck of Michael Scott, especially with the likelyhood of Holly coming back to the office. Also, Dwight is trying to buy the office building that houses Dunder-Mifflin. Surprised that didn't come more into play tonight. Looking forward to next season as well.

30 Rock: Speaking of having something left in the tank, last night's episode made up for a lot of sub-par episodes from this season. Continuing last week, Jack manages to make up with Nancy, allowing Liz to stop stalling the wedding (although it made for many good comedy bits). On the way to Wedding #2, Liz runs into Matt Damon's pilot "Carol", who is not only a big TGS fan, but is also the male Liz Lemon. She almost scares him off with a big crazy speech at Cerie's wedding, but he makes it back in time for Grizz's ceremony. As much as I liked Matt Damon in this role, I can't imagine he's going to be a regular cast member for the fall, so we'll see how this ends. Also, Jack managed to knock up Avery (prompting Nancy to dump him), and Kenneth overreacts to a possible promotion and move to Los Angeles, and manages to get himself fired. All cliffhangers that will not be resolved until September or later. Still, a strong end to a shaky season, and hopefully this kind of momentum is carried over to next year. Next season. Whatever.

Doctor Who: So the saga of Dr. River Song meets up with the Weeping Angels. Two great stories that didn't go all that well together for me. Don't get me wrong, I still liked the episode, although the second part way more than the first. There were a lot of great bits, but they didn't solidify into a cohesive unit for me, which hurt it somewhat. I liked the usage of Angel Bob as a way of getting under the Doctor's skin, and his speech at the end of Part 1 was kinda cool, but with a hint of cheesy under it. Some people may like a strong character coming in and being able to fluster the Doctor, but it seemed more like Song was able to do it because it was written that way, not because her character is just that capable of doing it. Amy remains both adorable, and a magnet for trouble. The second half is another piece of my "This is all related to the Tennant finale" theory, with the Doctor agonizing over tossing himself into the Time Crack in order to save...well, everything. The ending was a little telegraphed, waiting for the Doctor to catch up to us in figuring out that he could toss the Angels into the Crack and solve both problems. The bit with Amy blind and alone in the middle of the "forest" was such a great scene though, and the usage of gravity in the episode was consistent and elegant in its simplicity. At times, it felt like it could have been a really good single episode, instead of an unevenly paced two-parter. By the end though, it all felt like a prelude for the last five minutes.

Yep, they kissed. The Doctor takes Amy back to her house, she spills her guts...and throws herself at The Doctor. I'm glad they didn't keep stretching it out, and I'm really looking forward to "Vampires in Venice" this week (since I don't skip ahead...cheaters!). Oh, and then the idea of "Time can be rewritten" isn't to be forgotten in all the shipper glee either. Amy doesn't remember Daleks. Remember this fact. Remember it well.

Lost on Sunday night, and then a day to let it sink in. I've also got to catch up on Chuck, and give some thoughts on this show, and whether it really needs to stick around any longer.

Also, Heroes is officially canceled. Heroes is one of the reasons I started doing this in the first place (you know, to kick it on the way down), so it's like a death in the family...but a good one, like an old uncle that no one likes. Goodbye forever, Heroes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Best Thursday Night In A While

All three shows were amazing, and all set up next week's episodes, which makes next Thursday potentially huge. Let's get right to it.

The Office has been working a few storylines, and they start to come to a head tonight. The flaming Sabre printers, the baby contract between Dwight and Angela, Jim and Pam having a baby, and Michael Scott having an affair with a married woman. Well, the baby contract is mediated, leading to a settlement where Dwight has to have sex (to completion) with Angela five times. Jim and Pam are exhausted from being up all night with the baby, so Daryl tells them about the secret warehouse nap spot...which happens to be within earshot of Dwight and Angela's love nest. Unfortunate. Andy, as a former cuckold, drags Michael to see the husband of the lady (yes, I don't take notes) he's nailing, in order to hopefully bring Michael around. Michael refuses to capitulate though, but the collective shaming that the rest of the office hits him with finally gets him to do the right thing. Favorite scene had to be where Ryan, inspired by Michael's "take what you want" philosophy, walks right up to Erin and basically offers her a threeway with him and Kelly, then just as quickly walks back and gives up on the "take what you want" philosophy. In the coda, Michael is ambush interviewed by the local news about the aforementioned flaming printers, of which he is of course oblivious.

On 30 Rock, Liz is stuck going to three weddings in one day (that's twelve hours of Spanx), and decides to revisit old boyfriends in order to find the one who she can take to Floyd's wedding. After returns of Jon Hamm (now with pirate hook hands), and Dennis (trying to "balloon boy" his way to fortune), she has to settle with...Wesley Snipes. Still such a great character. Meanwhile, Tracy is going to star in Garfield 3 (Feline's a pun, because cat's paws have grooves), but DotCom and Kenneth try to get Tracy to take a more dramatic role in order to get him the "O" in his "EGOT" necklace. That leads to a great litany of terrible things that Tracy saw as a youth, all of which he has repressed: A prostitute stabbed a clown, a baby gave a tattoo to another baby, a crackhead breastfeeding a rat, and my personal favorite, our basketball hoop was a ribcage. So Liz, stuck with Wesley, almost manages to find a charming groomsman...but he's a furry. Did you have to use the correct terminology of "yiffing"? Now I feel unclean. Also, Jack finally has sex with Nancy (and I'll take Julianne Moore in lingerie every week, thank you), but has to come clean with her about Avery. He does so at Floyd's Catholic wedding, taking advantage of the fact that Nancy can't storm out on him before the end of Mass, then texts Liz to stall her reading until he can calm her down. be continued? Well, all right then.

Community: I had to save this for last, because this is such a great show. It is hitting every joke out of the park, and look no further than the scene where Jeff puts Annie on the "witness stand". Just such a great performance by Joel McHale, and equally good by Alison Brie, who doesn't even have to speak for most of the scene. Let me backtrack: It's finals week (it's finals week here too! I just took one yesterday! It's like they're writing this show about meeeeee!!!), and Annie assumes that everyone will be moving on to Spanish 103 and keeping the group together. Jeff has other plans, and the group looks to be falling apart. Well, not really, but it looks that way to Annie. Senor Chang (still the best character name on TV today) confides in Jeff that he never actually got certified as a Spanish teacher, and needs Jeff's help in getting one of those fake (i.e. "better than real") diplomas that got Jeff in all that trouble. Unbeknownst to them, Annie's recorder is running, and she rats out Senor Chang to the dean in an effort to make the whole gang repeat Spanish and thus stick together. The scene with the actual Spanish teacher was great, showing just how little teaching Senor Chang has done in the last two semesters.

So that brings us back to the scene in the library, with Jeff tearing Annie a new one. She leaves, and the rest of the group buckles down to hit the books and try to pass the test. However, at test time, Shirley gets a text from Annie, saying that she's coming clean to Senor Chang. Concerned (as we all knew he would be), Jeff runs to the rescue, followed by the rest of the group...then eventually by Starburns, who leads a Spartacus-like run out of the classroom ("We all love Hannah!"), postponing the test. Annie turns out to be okay, and the gang comes back to take (and pass) the test...thanks to Pierce boning the replacement teacher in exchange for an easier exam. Oh, and Troy gets a Good Will Hunting storyline where he's a plumbing savant. Always nice to see Jerry Minor. Last episode of the season is next week, and I'll be sad to see it go.

Speaking of which, the fall schedule is ending soon, and summer is almost upon us. I know Eureka, Psych, and Burn Notice are coming back, as is Warehouse 13, so my nerd pants are tingling. I'm also thinking of doing Dexter from Season 1. Doctor Who, part 2, is Saturday...I can't believe I've managed to wait a whole week for it. See you Monday!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Nothing on Lost was as awesome as Robots vs Wrestlers...

Don't get me wrong, Lost continues to be amazing heading into the final three hours or so of the show. However...Robots vs Wrestlers!

Let me explain, see How I Met Your Mother started us out with this awesome mixing of awesome things (and the gang's new tradition), and turned into a decent Ted episode. Including the Fourth Doppleganger!

This episode sets the table for a lot of things though: Robin not being with the group as much, which triggers Barney's fear that the group will fall apart, Ted's inherent douchey side, and then Marshall and Lily talking about when to start trying to have a baby. Also, Robots vs Wrestlers.

Poor Ted. Every time he tries to bring up some of his high-falutin interests, someone makes a fart noise to interrupt him. He gets an invitation to a fancy penthouse party in the mail (of Marissa, the previous tenant of his apartment), and drags the gang along...on the same night as Robots vs Wrestlers. How do you do that?

Great guest casting in the party, however, as Ted gets to hobnob with Peter Bogdosian, Ariana huffington, and Will Shortz. I remember Will from my years as a subscriber to GAMES magazine, so it's good to see him on my screen. The rest of the gang bails, as Ted decides to forgo Robots vs Wrestlers in order to stay and keep being the life of the snooty party. And there's where Marshall, Lily, and Barney run into...Mexican Wrestler Ted.

Yes, the fourth doppleganger has been found, and when Ted gets the picture on his phone, it makes him realize that he is approaching the "too much douchey" mark, and runs to be with his friends. In the end, Barney's fears fail to come to pass, Robin comes back just in time to interrupt Ted's poem with a fart noise, and Marshall and Lily realize that they can compromise on starting a least until they find the last doppleganger.

Castle was decent, involving Demming helping out on an odd murder case, and Castle being all jealous and adorable. The metrosexuality between Castle, Ryan, and Esposito was funny, as was a few notes of a "Sex in the City"-fied version of the Castle theme in the background. Well played, music guy! Not much happens until the end, as Castle spies Beckett and Demming smooching, which should kick off our run to the season finale.

Now for Lost. Tonight was finally our Jacob and Man in Black flashback. And they litereally go back to the very beginning, as Jacob and MiB's mom (Claudia) washes up from a shipwreck and is helped by Allison Janney (unnamed). Claudia births her boys (wrapped in light and dark blankets, natch), and then Allison Jannet totally murders her with a rock. LOST.

So now the boys are teenagers, and MiB finds a box on the beach. Somehow he knows it's a game (with white and black rocks for game pieces), and he teaches Jacob to play (similar to how Locke taught Walt how to play backgammon). Jacob can't lie to Mom, and tells her about the game. Mom comes out to talk to MiB about it, and tells him that there's nothing across the sea, and that he'll never have to worry about becoming dead. The boys do a little boar hunting, but run into the survivors of Claudia's boat wreck. Asking Mom about this, she gives them a lecture on how much people suck, and how she made it so they can never hurt each other. She then blindfolds them and leads them to a waterfall and a glowing cave. The light from the cave is the source of...well, everything, apparently. The light inside the cave is an analog for the light inside of us, just more of it, and if the light goes away, then so do all of us.

Later, Jacob and MiB play the game some more...Jacob complains about the rules, and MiB tells him that one day he'll get to make his own rules and make him follow them. Hmmm. MiB sees his mother's ghost, and follows her to the village where the others (or...The Others?) live. miB tries to drag Jacob with him to go join their people, but Jacob is having none of it, and beats the tar out of MiB. MiB still goes to the village.

Flash to the present, where adult Jacob is still a mama's boy, but he still travels to visit his brother and play the game. MiB has found some of the spots on the Island where the electromagnetic energy is high, and they've dug wells to get closer to them. And hold Desmond, in a pinch.

Mom comes to visit MiB down in the well, and he shows her where they've broken through to the light. There's also the wheel (the one that transports Ben from the Island to the desert), which will channel the light. Mom knocks MiB out, like a bitch. Then she takes Jacob back to the original light cave, and names him the protector of it. The light is the heart of the Island, and the source of potentially everything. She claims that going down into the cave/into the light won't kill you, it'll be worse than death. Hmm, wonder how she knows? She pours him wine (from the bottle we saw in the Richard Alpert episode) while chanting, and makes him drink to become the protector.

MiB wakes up, sees the village burned to the ground, and his light-holes filled in. Man, she was busy. He's pretty pissed, and goes to mess up Mom and Jacob's place. She comes home to see the wreckage, and finds the box with the game in it, with (say it with me) one white and one black stone; then gets a dagger through the back, prison-style. She thanks MiB for killing her, then dies. Jacob comes home with the firewood, and beats the tar out of MiB again. This time though, he drags MiB back to the source and tosses his ass down the hole. What comes out?

The smoke monster.

Yep, that just happened. Jacob drags MiB's body back to the cave and arranges him next to Mom, then puts a bag in his hand with (say it with me) one white and one black stone in it. Then we get flashbacks from season 1 of Jack, Kate, and Locke finding the skeletons and the stones, just in case you forgot what went down.

And there you go. We know the story of Jacob and MiB, and the stones, and the origin story of the smoke monster. Next week...I dunno, the preview was vague. More present day Island fun though!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Seven Short Reviews

One of the benefits of being almost done with classes for the semester, is that now I have time to jot down some thoughts on some of the comedies that I've been neglecting. I still watch, but they haven't been as pressing as the Losts and Doctor Whos of the schedule. I'm just going to mow through these:

The Office: Honestly, the Thursday comedy block has turned into "Community, 30 minutes of dead air, and then an hour or perfunctory viewing". Don't get me wrong, I still watch The Office and 30 Rock regularly, but it just doesn't seem like appointment television anymore. However, this was a good night for it. The shakeups around Dunder Mifflin (now folded into Sabre) led to some plot-driven episodes, and this isn't really a show that responds well to having to keep track of too much. The better episodes have the fluffiest of plots based around the most oddly mundane of activities. This week, we had the continuation of the Michael/hot Dave and Buster's manager saga. Pam does some digging and thinks that D&D manager is cheating on Michael. Michael sends Dwight out to investigate, which Dwight takes to mean "seduce her, bring her to orgasm, then report back to Michael". Getting back to basics is what this show needs, and this was basics. Dwight gets a little rope to go a little crazy, Pam meddles, Michael awkwardly interacts with humans, and then we get a great reveal at the end: Michael is the mistress. Additionally, the move of Daryl to the office area allows him to finally get back at Andy for an incident from two seasons ago (or one, they run together), although pranks tend to backfire at D-M/Sabre. That office will poison you, Daryl!

30 Rock: NBC shows do a great job with holidays, allowing them to let the festivities and traditions of the day do the heavy lifting on the main plot, then hitch the jokes to it and watch them roll. That might be the worst metaphor ever. Anyway, Mother's Day means we get to see Liz's mom, Jack's mom, and Jan Hooks back as Jenna's mom (aka, the one Jack paid off to be nice to Jenna). Mother's Day is her last payday, and with the money, she can finally get her other boob fixed. Just as horrifying as it sounds. Tracy doesn't know where his mother is, so they pull one out of central casting; specifically one from a late night Pajama/overalls infomercial. Fairly sedate as far as actual plot developments go, other than Jack's mom attempting to sabotage his relationship with Avery. Fun episode though, lot of good jokes born out of the friction that the guest stars bring in.

Saturday Night Live: I wasn't quite sure what to think going into this week's Betty White hosted episode. Yes, the internet got together and accomplished something, but when I heard they were bringing back a half dozen female SNL alumni, I was worried that they were going to keep Betty to a few sketches and let the other ladies do the heavy lifting. Instead, it turned into a "Best female recurring characters" night, with Betty White in every scene. The episode is up on Hulu, and some of the skits were nearly classics. An updated version of the "Census taker" skit had me rolling, and brought back fond memories of the Christopher Walken/Tim Meadows version from 2000 (written by Tina Fey, who was the census taker in this version...and likely the writer too). "Gingey" was a great period piece, featuring a really funny character by Amy Poehler and Betty White as a one-woman Greek chorus, getting all the good lines. A few sketches cut from dress rehearsal are up online too, and worth checking out as well. I'd like to see Betty White come back when she's 90 to take another run at it, assuming she has time between the gigs that she is almost certain to be getting offered after this performance.

Simpsons: Last week's Kedollarsignha intro had me ready to set the studio on fire, and the episode that followed it was just a mishmash of boring. However, then they do something like tonight's episode, and it wins me back. Using Moe as an omniscient narrator; Homer, Apu, and Reverend Lovejoy are told that one of their wives will be leaving them for Moe by the time they get back from their daytrip to Weasel Island (note: yes, there are weasels). Featuring an Itchy and Scratchy homage to "Going My Way" (don't feel bad, I had to Google the reference too), and one strong "A" story without the need for a tacked on "B" story, this may be the best written Simpsons episode in years. Amazing what happens when you stop trying to make awkward takes on dated pop culture references and stick to well-written stories that feature your vast cast of supporting characters.

The Cleveland Show: Well, it's a Black History Month episode in May, so take that as you will. This was a good showcase for Rollo though, who is becoming a really well-written character. Now if only Seth could write for any of the three teenage daughter characters he has on his Sunday night slate. Lot of great visual gags, and two solid stories that kept intertwining through the course of the show. This show is finding its voice, and I expect season two to really shine.

Family Guy: This was the most hit-or-miss episode of the night, squeezing as many jokes as possible out of Quagmire's gay-not-gay-now-a-woman father. After that well was dry, they have shim hook up with Brian, leading to a set of amazing reveals. Honestly, this was take it or leave it for most people, and I'll understand if you didn't dig it. I got some laughs out of it though, and the last scene with Quagmire and his dad/mom was actually a well done character moment. Quagmire is the last of the one-note characters left, and the writers are doing a fine job of giving him some dimension.

American Dad: From the episode title, I should have been expecting the "Incident on Owl Creek Bridge" ending, but it was still a nice surprise. Stan's fear of embarassment turns into a cross country fleeing, followed by an overly elaborate plan to get Obama to poop in a swimming pool. American Dad continues to just be a solidly done show, with ample gags.

Coming up next, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, and Castle.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Community Makes Me Happy

Seriously. It took me a few days to watch last week's episode: "Modern Warfare", and it was just a perfect half hour of television. I would put that half hour of television up against any other half hour, not just of a tv show, but a half hour of life.

Not only was this hilarious as an episode, but we also finally get some progression of the "Sam and Diane" mechanic of the Jeff/Britta relationship that appeared to be driving the show way back in the first episode. The episode starts out simply enough; Jeff and Britta are bickering again, the dean announces a paintball contest, and Abed points out that Jeff and Britta should just have sex and get the tension out of the way. Jeff goes back to his car to take a nap, and then...


...everything has changed. The campus has become paint-spattered wasteland, where roving gangs of nerds via for...The Prize. What follows is a pitch-perfect encapsulation of every action/survival movie cliche/trope under the sun. Throw in a few shots at "Glee" ("try writing an original song!"), and I was rolling. In the midst of it, Jeff and Britta have sex.

Yes, that's what I said. They finally pull the trigger and take it to the proverbial "next level". What does this mean for the show? Probably a lot with the season finale coming up, and should provide a lot of momentum going into Season 2. By the way, Joel McHale is pretty ripped. Anyway, this episode is up on Hulu, and if you've never seen Community, this is one you have to see. You don't need to know anything about the characters, or the previous storylines, and you don't even have to watch another episode afterwards (although you totally will). Just take half an hour out of your day and watch, and I guarantee your satisfaction.

Doctor Who was a damn two-parter, and I don't want to review an incomplete storyline (plus I want to rewatch part one for reasons I'll enumerate in the review), so I'm going to "acquire" part two early and do it all at once. Or wait until Saturday and do it all at once. Haven't decided yet. I'll keep spoilers out though, for the three other people who wait for Saturdays like I do.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Doctor Who Double Shot

If only I had a TARDIS of my own, I'd be able to go back and do these recaps on time. As it is, i have to rely on notes and my memory. In a way, I'm glad I'm doing these together though, as the two episodes show an interesting (some would say disturbing) new facet of the character of The Doctor.

The Beast Below is the first episode, from a couple weeks ago, and lucky for me I took notes. This is Amy (you know what, I'm calling her Amelia, I like it way better)...*ahem* Amelia's first official adventure as a Companion...and she's still in her pajamas. We don't start with her though, we start with the Good Ship UK, as Britain has launched a miniature version of itself into space, looking like a cross between Jabba's Sand Barge and the skyline from Blade Runner. Inside, a small child has gotten a bad grade. Call The Doctor! Even in the future, gingers are creepy and bad at school. But you know what's even creepier than a ginger kid? The world's most nightmare-inducing Zoltar machine, that's what! The dumb kid gets in the elevator against his friend's very good advice, and he drops down an ominous red shaft...and awesome credits.

The Doctor lays down the rules: Observe only, never get involved. Pardon me as I roll my eyes in a most upwards fashion. This rule gets broken more than the Prime Directive. Amelia describes the Doctor as "Detached and cold". This will be important. You might want to write it down. The Doctor does some of his wacky hijinks, grabbing a glass of water, setting it on the ground, and looking at it. He is observed by some weird hooded guys with robes and skate keys around their necks. And the creepy Smilers are still everywhere. Three faces? That's too creepy.

Meanwhile, a weird masked lady is in a room full of glasses of water. More on this later.

Amelia does what all good Companions do; gets in places she's not supposed to be. In this case, she picks a padlock (in the 29th Century? Buh?) with a hairpin, and finds...a big scorpion tail? The Hoodies find her and blast her with their +2 Ring of Sleeping. Somewhere else on the ship, The Doctor is poking around with his sonic screwdriver, and bumps into the Lady in Red. Why is the water important? Because it doesn't vibrate on the deck. Meaning the ship isn't moving. Also, all the power couplings and junction boxes are fakes. The ship is moving, but with no engines.

Back with Amelia, she's in a room with a tv screen a "protest" button, and a "forget" button. She watches a video with the horrible truth of Starship UK, and then...well, apparently she presses the forget button, because she wakes up and gets to see a message from herself. A tearful message, telling her to stop The Doctor from investigating any further. Like really tearful. Like, good acting job. The Doctor shows up, hits protest, and a trapdoor opens in the floor. The Doctor and Amelia drop down into the trash compactors from Star Wars, and they both really got slimed. Not a trash compactor's a tongue. A giant tongue. Then The Doctor induces vomiting in order to get out of there. Gross, yo.

And holy crap, the Smilers can get out of the booth! That is some nightmare fuel right there. Red Riding Mask is "Liz Ten", aka Elizabeth the Tenth (~!). The three of them make it to the top of the Tower of London, to find out the horrible secret which Amelia chose to forget: The British Empire is riding on the back of an enslaved Star Whale (oooh, awkward name), whose pain centers are directly being shocked in order to act as a gas pedal. How very "Encounter at Farpoint" of them. The Doctor uses some screwdriver action to let the people in the room hear the screaming of the Star Whale, and Liz watches her own video, with her own set of choices: Forget, or Abdicate. Turns out, Liz is around 300 years old, and everytime she makes her way up to the Tower, she chooses to forget, have herself wiped, and get rejuvenated so she thinks she's a new Queen. It's amazing what kind of drama you can create with a couple of tap lights and some stick-on letters, by the way. All the CGI in the world, and $20 at Hobby Lobby can create an episode's worth of dramatic tension.

Now here's part one of the "This Doctor is fucking nuts" theory. The Doctor starts going all ranty, mad at being put in this situation of having to choose between the Star Whale and the Starship UK. Similar to his raving at the end of "The End of Time", btw. He prepares to lobotomize the Star Whale, allowing them to continue to use it as an engine without the beast feeling any more pain. He also rails at Amelia for choosing to forget, which seems a little harsh. New Companions just take some breaking in, I guess. In the end, however, it's Amelia who flashes through a realization montage, and uses Liz's hand to push the "Abdicate" button. As it turns out, the Whale volunteered to save the people of Britain because it couldn't stand to see the children die. Even with all the pain it's been caused, the love it has for children was enough to keep it on its mission of mercy. Back on the TARDIS, The Doctor gets a phone call from Churchill, and we see...a Dalek? Buh?

Oh, and there's a crack on the ship, similar to the one from Amelia's house.

And that brings us to:

Victory of the Daleks.

Amelia has managed to find some clothing, thankfully, and they've arrived in the midst of the London Blitz, in which the Germans were making bombing runs on London before we got involved in WW2. History lesson over, and I probably got at least one thing wrong. Anyway, some convenient German planes arrive just in time for Churchill to show off his new toy, which lasers the planes right out of the sky. What is it? What could it be? Well, last week's preview and the title of the episode kinda give it away. Yep, it's a Dalek. All painted up in olive drab and with a little Union Jack decal on it. How adorable. Predictably, The Doctor flips his shit and starts screaming to everybody, including the Dalek himself.

According to Churchill (and by the way, I still have no consistent opinion on the actor who played Churchill...just keep wavering), the Dalek is an "Ironsides" invented by a friendly scientist who also has some ideas about gravity bubbles and other fun superscience gizmos. We get a few minutes of The Doctor and Churchill arguing over whether the Daleks are too dangerous to trust, vs whether using them as a means to an end (defeating the dirty Germans) is worth saving lives. Finally, The Doctor goes on Loud Shouty Rant #8 of the episode, getting right in the Dalek's face, and screaming "I am The Doctor, and you are the Daleks, my greatest enemy" (i'm paraphrasing because I lost my notes for this episode). The Dalek does the equivalent of high-fiving itself, crowing "Testimony accepted", and going all "Hells yes, we're the Daleks". The science nerd goes on about how he created the Ironsides, but the Dalek zaps his hand right off (I am your father), showing that he's actually a robot created by the Daleks as their own cover story. The Daleks take off for their Dalek ship that's hiding out in space. The Doctor hops in the TARDIS and follows. Action Doctor!

The Daleks get ready to zap the Doctor, but he pulls out the self destruct for the TARDIS, your classic Mexican Standoff. The Daleks needed the Doctor's testimony because they have a sample of original Dalek genetic material, but the Doctor's word is the only thing that will make the OG Daleks recognize the knockoffs as "real" Daleks. The Doctor can't stop them, and they have another gun in this standoff; overriding the lights in London and giving the Germans a clear shot at all the really good targets. Meanwhile, the EZ Bake Oven goes off, and six shiny new Daleks (in all the new Power Ranger colors) roll out and exterminate the old and busted versions of themselves.

Also, I would pay any amount of money for a voice modulator app that made me sound like a Dalek. I would use it for EVERYTHING.

Okay, so we have new Daleks, a new Doctor, and oh yes, a new Companion in danger of being shelled. To save her, The Doctor gets the kids back on Earth to refit some fighter planes with some of that fancy new technology, and they make strafing run in space to try and take out the "Take over the lights" beam coming from the Dalek ship. The Doctor manages to shut down the shields, and the lights go back off in London Town. The Daleks figure out that the self-destruct device is actually a cookie (a jammy dodger), which I TOTALLY CALLED. Only because I love those kinds of cookies though. The Doctor is ready for the good guys to blow up the Dalek ship, taking out the last of the Daleks, but they have one last secret: a doomsday corridor (seriously, I love the confluence of British words and scifi terms) that powers the robot scientist. If The Doctor lets the Daleks die, then Earth gets blowed up. The Doctor, wait for it, isn't happy about making an impossible choice between getting rid of his greatest enemy, and wiping out humanity.

The Doctor makes the right choice (as we are still here), and heads back to deal with Mr. Bomb. The Doctor tries to make him remember the humanity that the Daleks programmed into him as a way to counter the detonation, but he's only partially successful. It's Amelia (remember this) who is able to complete the process by having him remember love, not pain as The Doctor tried to do, and the pain of that love is what causes him to seize the humanity within and reverse the process of exploding.

The Daleks escape, London will survive, and the scientist has a chance to go back home and look up the girl he fancied all those years ago (but not really, but yeah really). Churchill picks The Doctor's pocket for the TARDIS key, but Amelia's Kiss-o-Gram training allows her to see it. Foiled again, Churchill! Oh, and there's another crack. That'll come home to roost.

Okay, so two episodes down, with very similar themes. This Doctor needs help both times from Amelia in order to provide a dose of humanity and solve a problem. This Doctor likes to throw tantrums. This Doctor is frustrated by difficult choices. Where have we seen this before? Well, it happened right after four knocks, back in the finale of the David Tennant run. My theory; Tennant's rage at having to leave so soon because of his need to save human lives has held on and lodged deeply into his next regeneration. His last line "I don't want to go" is echoing inside his own brain, and manifesting itself in anger and frustration. This Doctor is in need of some saving, and Amelia is looking to be the one to do the job. Will this be a torrid Doctor/Companion love affair? Possible, although part of me hopes not. Still, it is a new way to explore The Doctor Who mythology, so why the hell not?

Next week (by which I mean, this week), the return of the creepy angel statues from "Blink", possibly the greatest episode of Doctor Who ever. Good return, or once too often to the well? We'll find out together. Well, some people have already found out, but I'm just going to wait for Saturday, so no spoilers, plz.