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.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lost! Live!

Turned in my final script today, so I'll have the time to catch up with a lot of television. Doctor Who has been burning a hole in my brain, trying to get out. Tonight though, another very special live-review of Lost.

We have four episodes left (with the final episode being a two hour behemoth), and things are heating up, but not quite at that boiling point. There wasn't an episode last week, so anticipation is high. Let's get right into it:

Alterna-Locke is waking up, perhaps with an intact spine? Jack asks about Locke's original spinal injury. Oooh, Locke's a Candidate? Nope, just a candidate. For boring old experimental spinal surgery. But Locke says no? Hey, is that Katey Segal? It doesn't look like her. I guess Sons of Anarchy takes up ones time.

Jack's on a boat! He's on a boat! He's on...Hydra Island? The rest of the Losties get herded to the polar bear cages. Sawyer gets the drop on one of Team Widmore, and gains one rifle. Widmore points a gun at Kate, and reveals that he's only interested in the Candidates; that Kate is expendable. Widmore says something, and I miss it :( I need a TiVo.

Hey, it's Bernard! Doing dentistry! Jack's digging up some dirt on Locke. Alterna-Locke. And the 815-ness continues. And Anthony Cooper was the mystery other man in Locke's mystery accident.

Sayid's telling Jack about the aftermath of the missile attack. The rest of Camp Smokey bailed or got themselves dead, so it's down to Sayid, Jack, and Not-Locke now. Not-Locke's ready for a rescue mission...which of course ends on the plane. And off the island. Not-Locke threatens to kill Jack and the other Losties...or at least lets Jack know in no uncertain terms that he can if Jack doesn't help him.

Back in the cages, Sawyer is pissed. And lets Kate know about her crossed out cave name. Aww, and Sun and Jin are having a moment. It's about damn time. Oops, there go the lights. Dharma didn't pay the bills? Oh Hurley, you are such the optimist. Aaaaaand here comes the Smoke Monster. Kate reaaaaaaaches for the cage key, but Jack shows up to grab it and unlock the door. And Lapidas was soooooo close to kicking it open, all cool and stuff.

Jack says he's not meant to leave the Island. Definitely drinking the Kool-Aid. And Sayid pops in, after his good job of disabling the generators. Should have known.

Oh hey, here's Alterna-Jack looking for Anthony Cooper. This is seriously freaking me out if this really is Katey Segal. I just don't think it is though. Gah! Oooh, Cooper is a vegetable.

Not-Locke approaches the plane, and can't be stopped by mere bullets! He snaps a couple necks, and steals a watch? A watch? Laughing at the Gilligan's Island-style stairway to the plane. Locke goes all Steven Seagal and finds a buh. No, not a buh, a bomb. Well, I'm assuming it's a bomb anyway. The Losties also make it to the plane, and Lapidas is happy to finally have something to do. Sawyer "son of a bitch"'s his way past the dead plane guards. Yep, it was a bomb. I win. Now Smokey wants to take the sub instead of the plane. Hurley brings up the excellent point that SMOKEY SHOULDN'T LEAVE THE ISLAND. Smokey gathers the troops to go after the sub, leading to...yes, more walking. Sawyer drops back with Jack and asks him to help make sure that Smokey doesn't get off the Island. Ahh Sawyer, always plotting.

Back from commercial, and Jack is back with Alterna-Locke. Did he just say "Push the button?" Oh hey, and there's Claire. Aaaaaand an Apollo bar. Claire inherited a mystery box. And this Jack has found another 815'er. The mystery box is a music box, although I don't recognize the tune. Jack invites Claire over to stay with him. Familiar bond? Or Gathering?

Back on the Island, and they're already to the sub. This season is not fucking around with a lot of walking anymore. Sawyer's Eleven (or Dirty Dozen) heads out to the dock and infiltrates the sub. Sawyer makes it to the captain, and the rest of the gang heads to the dock. Jack knocks Not-Locke into the water. Shooting occurs. Kate takes one in the shoulder from some hidden tree sniper. Locke shoots a lot more of Widmore's people, although being damp is probably making him cranky? Sawyer locks the sub up with Claire and Locke outside, then tells Lapidas to shove off. Claire is sad to be left out of the party, but Locke tells her that she doesn't want to be on that sub. Oooh, sneaky. Locke left the bomb in Jack's backpack. With less than four minutes to go before it blows. Tension!

Jin tells Lapidas to surface, while Sayid takes a look at the bomb. Looks like they can't surface in time. Jack goes into "Candidates are immortal" mode. Jack's new theory: Locke can't leave until the Candidates are dead, and he can't kill the Candidates on his own. Jack asks Sawyer to trust him one more time. Then they do the old "pull the wires and make the timer countdown faster" trick. Sayid grabs the bomb and takes one for the team, big time. I don't think Widmore is getting his deposit back on that sub now. The sub is filling with water fast, and the ladies are in big trouble. Hurley is tasked with saving Kate, and the rest of the menfolk stay to help Sun out from under a plot device. A heavy one, too. Sawyer gets knocked out, and now it's looking real bad for Sun. Guess we'll find out which one was the Candidate, huh? Jack makes it out with Sawyer, and now I'm going to be sad, as at least one Kwan looks to be dying here. Oh snap, looks like both. They profess their love and have one last makeout as the sub slowly sinks to the bottom of the ocean. Sad Lost music plays, as we see their hands drift apart under the water. And black.

Break for sadness.

And back to the hospital, Jin passes by Locke as he's being wheeled out. Jack comes up to say goodbye...and meddle, I'll wager. Ahh, Locke's accident was in a plane crash this time, a plane that Locke was flying. So the wheelchair is penance in this reality. Jack throws out a "what happened, happened", and advises Locke to let go of the guilt. Jack claims that he can help Locke, and wishes he believed him. Locke just rolls off.

Jack drags Sawyer out of the water, and Kate and Hurley are okay too. Hurley breaks down at the news that Jin and Sun are gone. Jack weeps at the ocean. Locke knows that not everyone died on the sub, and now he's off to finish what he started. And end.

Next week: Backgammon! L'il Jacob! Adult Jacob! Man in black! And?

See you in a week. Doctor Who, I swear, is next on my list.