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.