Sunday, January 31, 2010

Answering Joseph Mallozzi's Stargate Universe questions

I haven't been keeping up on SGU news, but I was listening to the newest SciFi Surplus podcast and learned that Joseph Mallozzi, a producer on the show, posted a list of questions for the fans to answer, so here's my thoughts.

1. Which character would you like to see explored more?

This is a hard question since the characters are so unlikable. Rush: his attitude toward approaching problems is disturbing, but that's what makes him such an interesting character. He's already been explored more than the other characters, so I wouldn't pick him. Young: wife problems--nowhere good to go with that. Power struggle with IOA, Rush could be interesting but I think that's been explored enough. Greer: he's totally crazy, but we have no clue why. He's a viable option for more exploration. TJ: we don't know much about her, so she'd be a good choice. Scott: God no. He's the most generic character on a ship filled with generic characters. Eli: I like him, but I think there has been an adequate job done on his character, so he isn't at the top of my list. Chloe: NO. Verdict: I'd go with Greer.

2. What aspect of the show would you like to see exploited more?

The Destiny. At least in Stargate Atlantis they would explore the city even if a lot of it was flooded. No one seems to care about what treasures lie on board the ship. Just because SGU and SGA are totally different shows doesn't mean there can't be overlap between the two.

3. What aspect of the show would prefer to see minimized?

The stupid communication stones. They were a ridiculous plot device from the beginning and make everything that happens unnecessarily artificial. And let's not forget the weird, kinky stuff that goes on. I understand they provide the only connection to Earth so we can actually see what's going on at the Pentagon, but there could have been a better way to do that.

4. What was your favorite “story moment” from the first half of SGU’s first season?

Umm...none? Ok, I looked back at my reviews and there was the episode "Time" where everyone gets killed in another timeline. Too bad that can't be recreated.

5. What element (I’m leaving this one wide open) would you like to see added to the series as a whole?

Space battles. Bring in the aliens, bring in the lasers, and have a huge space battle once in a while. The advancement of computer graphics has made the possibility of realistic large-scale battles easily attainable. Look at BSG, SG-1, SGA, and Farscape, and tell me those space battles weren't cool.

Preview of Week 01/31/10 - 02/06/10

This is a new weekly post where I point out 2 or 3 shows that should interest most people.

Lost - Tuesday, February 2

If you aren't watching this, you'll be missing out on something big. Lost wasn't the first show with the serialized, sci-fi craziness concept, but it certainly is the best, and managed to stay somewhat coherent. (I'm looking at you Twin Peaks.) At the end of last season, our island friends were in 1974 and Juliet had just detonated a nuclear warhead. In the present, Jacob had been stabbed and thrown into a fire by Ben. Locke is actually dead and the man in black was masquerading as Locke. What happens next is anyone's guess.

The Office - Thursday, February 4

I don't consider "The Banker" a new episode because there was hardly a story, so this will be the first new episode since December 10 which was almost two months ago. Dunder Mifflin is out and Sabre is in which means a new management that isn't used to the eccentric workers at the office. This ain't gonna go well.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Review - Legend of the Seeker Season 2 Episode 10 Perdition

I don't like making statements like this, but "Perdition" is one of my favorite episodes of the series so far. Despite the shortfalls, the intent of the show--action plus a bit of pathos--held true, delivering an exciting hour of television that kept me entranced. There wasn't one show this week that came close to capturing my attention, including Damages, Fringe, Supernatural, Burn Notice, Caprica, and even the finale of Dollhouse.

Richard is stuck in the Valley of Perdition which makes people live out their worst nightmare until they die. He imagines a world where the Keeper has trashed almost everything. Seven years has passed and Kahlan is married and has a daughter. True to its purpose, the Valley of Perdition keeps Richard seeing things and basically everyone except Richard dies. Darken Rahl shows up and Richard wanders to scorched earth where Kahlan's spirit tells him to die. That's the first real clue that everything is fake.

Kahlan shrugs off all notion of prophecy and does anything to find Richard. She confronts the Prelate and fight with the Sisters, escaping only with help of Sister Verna. The Sisters of Light have good intentions, but Kahlan doesn't care if they are right. Even if she believed the prophecy, I don't think she would care. She is a bit self-serving in this regard. There wasn't much talk about morals when there could have been and that could have made the episode better though LoS approaches these subjects with such a heavy hand it might have backfired. Kahlan made such a quick decision she didn't even consider the consequences of her action, and granted no one else protested, so the fault goes to everyone. I'm hoping the prophecy will come back to haunt them in the future, because from a purely rational standpoint, it probably wasn't the best idea to go against writing that magically pops up on these rocks.

Richard gets out of the Valley on his own and takes on the Sisters of the Dark and with the help of Zedd, obliterates Sister Nicci (literally). I don't know why the producers are still doing those cheesy slo mos, but it was utterly ridiculous when Richard charged into battle.

As expected Leo dies before, but not before having sex with Cara. When that happens, he has to die. It was funny seeing Cara's apprehension at Leo's increasing affection towards her and her possible reciprocation. In the end, she expresses that she really cares for her, but he was already burned to the point where his body is useless. His body ends up on a funeral pyre which normally would mean he's gone for good. In Legend of the Seeker, he could come back in some magical incarnation.

Two scenes were very reminiscent of Star Wars. First, Richard shoots out energy setting fire to the bainlings and looked almost exactly like Darth Sidious in Return of the Jedi. Then he blocks Sister Nicci's lightening with his sword like Mace Windu in Revenge of the Sith.

Score: 9.5/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Friday 01/29/10

CBS won the night with Ghost Whisperer (1.9), Medium (1.8), and Numb3rs (1.8). Production has already begun on the probable series finale so unless the ratings improve drastically, Numb3rs is a goner.

ABC was second with Supernanny (1.3), Shark Tank (1.5), and 20/20 (1.7).

NBC was third with a repeat of Dateline (1.4) and The Jay Leno Show (1.4).

Fox was last with Dollhouse (0.8) and Kitchen Nightmares (1.4). Dollhouse bowed out with pretty much the same numbers is been getting.

Smallville came back with 1.1.

Review - Caprica Season 1 Episode 3 Rebirth

Compared to BSG, Caprica is much slower paced and isn't afraid to take its time with the story. Both are excellent at what they set out to do, so I have no problems there. The engrossing world of Caprica makes up for the lack of space battles and the characters aren't shabby either.

"Rebirth" built off the events of the pilot, further extending the aftermath of the train bombing, but not really introducing anything too gripping. The highly versatile Cylon which is Zoe can't be replicated in other models and Daniel struggles to meet the government's orders. Little Willie goes off with Sam Adama who shows him how to throw trashcans threw shop windows and not get in serious trouble. Lacy goes to Sister Clarice's house where they have this group marriage thing going on. Lacy doesn't act completely surprised as we would, but acknowledges it as part of Caprican society. Considering the distasteful acts done in the holoband, we should be ready for anything. There is something going on between Nestor, one of the husbands, and Lacy, but Clarice is probably doing some manipulation.

For an episode setting up the various plotlines, I mostly liked what was going on. Other than the Cylon business there didn't seem to be any focus, so I'm still waiting to see what happens. The stories are developing slowly but that could mean a bigger payoff in the future.

The periodic shifts between Zoe and the Cylon are a fascinating if awkward way to show Zoe as a human trapped inside a robot's body. Everyone else other than Lacy treat her as a thing, poking and prodding her as they please. Seeing Zoe react is much different than seeing a robot, and we see how her could potentially become dangerous. The audience empathizes with her and how could you not after seeing her distress. The drive of the show is the Cylon and its sentience. Zoe provides the vehicle for that as we see her trapped inside, not sure what to do.

At Zoe's memorial, Amanda gets up to talk despite strenuous objections from her husband who wasn't even planning on going in the first place. After talking to Ben's mother and receiving some of Zoe's personal effects, including a infinity symbol, she drops in the bombshell that her daughter was a terrorist. Unfortunately, as we saw in the pilot, Ben was the real terrorist and acted alone. Zoe really thought they were going to Geminon.In her grief/anger/insanity/fear, Amanda's thoughts all came boiling out in a very public setting. Predictably, the crowd goes wild and the Graystone's are whisked away quickly. The consequences of Amanda's actions will surely be significant and long reaching with huge implications to the Graystones, including the Cylon project.

Score: 9.0/10

Friday, January 29, 2010

Review - Dollhouse Season 2 Episode 13 Epitaph Two: Return

There it is. The last episode of Dollhouse ever. The ride is finally over and we can go back to whatever we were doing before we came upon the conundrum of Dollhouse.

After the disappointment two weeks ago, I was expecting more, and I got it. The episode starts off rather spotty with an underdeveloped story involving Harding (the character played by Keith Caradine) kidnapping people in a separate camp, but the episode picks up halfway through the episode with plenty of action before the satisfying conclusion which put a nice wrap on the series. Given the early cancellation and evident long term planning, the episode was certainly adequate for the constraints and managed to bring the emotion that has made season two so good.

The episode ends on a hopeful note; the world is saved. Priya and Anthony are together with their son, Alpha is normal (when we last see him), Topher redeems himself, dying in the process and alleviating any pain he may feel, and Echo has Ballard in her mind with unlimited time to spend with them. It was rushed and packed everything into the final moments with what felt like seasons and seasons of material, but the conclusion however hurried gave a proper ending to a show that started off so poorly.

At the same time, there are losses that can't be ignored. The world is still trashed and that fact is not ignored. While the immediate threat is gone, it will be almost impossible to rebuild the world with everything destroyed and people displaced, but Adelle is on it, so maybe she will succeed.

Whether you liked the ending or not, you have to marvel at the distance the show has gone. From the standalones in the beginning to the character depth in the second season, the radical changes the show is a testament to the ballsy moves of Joss Whedon and his writers. The ridiculous premise, Fox meddling, and bad timeslot doomed the show from the start, but the show turned into something truly amazing for those that stuck around.

Ballard's death was unnecessary, but fit in with Joss killing off Anya, Wash, Wesley, Gunn (ignoring the comics) in their respective finales. It allowed Echo to put Ballard into her head making her for the first time not alone. Even if Ballard's physical body survived, Echo still might not have let Ballard in.

Score: 9.3/10

Random thoughts:

I usually rag on Eliza Dushku, but in the few scenes in the episode where she was given a greater range to work with, she really earned her keep. Now only if she had been more consistent.

Imagine if Dollhouse had gone on for a few more seasons. The progression to the apocalypse sounds as harrowing as the darkened streets filled crazy people, and we'd finally learn what all the random jargon means.

I love Fran Kranz, but I thought he could have done a better job handling the crazy side of Topher and the side that wanted to save the world. I wasn't sure what to make of him and his emotional scene was flat.

It was cool seeing Maurissa Tancharoen get a larger part.

What's up with Victor and his "Mad Max" techheads?

Summer Glau showed up briefly on the screen which gave Topher and Bennett another moment. It's sad that their rela

Everyone aged 10 years VERY well.

No Boyd, Whiskey, Ivy, or Dominic. I would have liked to see them get worked in better.

Mag, Zone, and girl Caroline are essential the episode since they were the one that escaped the LA Dollhouse, but they did nothing in the episode and seemed useless other than to be an extra gun.

Review - Spartacus: Blood and Sand Season 1 Episode 2 Sacramentum Gladiatorum

Grudgingly, I watched the second episode and it was crap. Without most of the episode being action scenes, the show slows to a drag with terrible dialogue and an even worse story.

Now I understand why Tim Goodman was hating on it so much.

Score: 5.0/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 01/28/10

Fox was first with Bones (3.6) and Fringe (3.0). Bones has been surging lately, dragging Fringe along with it, so Fox must be happy. The downside is that the winter finale's are next week and they won't come back until April. Oops.

CBS was second with Live For the Moment (1.0), repeats of CSI (2.0), and The Mentalist (2.3).

NBC was third with repeats of Community (1.6), Parks and Recreation (1.6), The Office (2.1), 30 Rock (1.7), and a new The Jay Leno Show (1.2).

ABC was last with The Deep End (1.8), repeats Grey's Anatomy (1.5), and Private Practice (1.2). The Deep End is surely dead.

Review - Burn Notice Season 3 Episode 11 Friendly Fire

Just when you thought Burn Notice couldn't be more over the top, Michael dresses up in a black and red suit, tricking a local gang leader named Omar into thinking he is the Devil. He blows things up with a snap of the finger, talks with a rasp, and isn't afraid to get in people's faces.

I don't have a problem with it since the show has never been on the realistic side though there have been much more convincing disguises. Michael's target Rincon is hiding with Felipe Vega, a heartless gangster (as opposed to the nice gangster Omar), he gets Omar to help via intimidation and later cooperation. There was a lot of shooting in the episode and I thought Michael's act was funny even thought it was stupid.

Sam's (ex-)buddy Mack comes into town with a job to catch the child predator Rincon, and things don't go over well with Sam who reluctantly agrees to do the job anyways. We learn that Mack married Sam's ex-wife years after they divorced and Sam is still upset about it. Madeline talks to Sam and he comes to peace with Mack.

Michael meets Gilroy (Chris Vance) and they talk and talk. Michael doesn't know what Gilroy wants and Gilroy wants to seen who Michael is. I'm not expecting much, so I'm guessing Gilroy is the same as all those other people that wanted a piece of Michael.

Michael and Fi hook up in the end. They had to do that eventually so that wasn't a big deal either.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Supernatural Season 5 Episode 12 Swap Meat

Is this what Supernatural has become? This season, Supernatural seems more like a self-parody progressively making more fun of itself. There's nothing wrong with being silly and having fun, but there's an apocalypse going on, and too many random episodes dampens the significance.

"Swap Meat" took every teenager cliché imaginable and just ran with it. Gary is a nerd, he has Star Wars shirts, is a virgin, has a gluten allergy, thinks his life sucks... The other teenagers were complete idiots, and tried to make a deal with a demon. I could go on and on, but think of something a teenager would say and it probably happened. When he goes into Sam's body, life sees awesome and for a while it is. At first there is no clear reason why he swaps bodies with Sam, but we learn it is because Hell has a bounty on Dean and Gary is going in as a Trojan horse. There's something about a poltergeist and a Meg-ish demon, but that didn't matter much. The result was Gary helping Dean and accepting his life for what it is.

Sam deals with Gary's parents and it isn't too bad--except Sam isn't a regular person or a teenager. It gave a chance for Jared Padalecki and that was fun. Sam confirms in the end that he likes his life way better than Gary's, but that isn't the whole truth. We know Sam is struggling with himself and from "Sam, Interrupted," is really, really mad all the time.

Score: 8.7/10

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review - Fringe Season 2 Episode 13 The Bishop Revival

Fringe seems to be in a creative rut it can't climb out of. Every script has straightforward solutions to only mildly weird situations. There are hardly any twists and those instances framed as twists can't be predicted from the very start of the episodes easily.

This week it was Nazis. Yes, the writers had to turn to the Nazis for a villain. At least they added a angle to the Final Solution. This Nazi has perfected a method to kill anyone through genetic markers. There is a bland investigation where Walter does his normal science and the FBI agents do the legwork. All in all, it was the same stuff we've seen without any deviation whatsoever. I don't know what the writers were going for, but did anyone not see that the Nazi would turn out to be very old?

There were some more interesting developments on the family side that didn't follow the normal bonding. The character development this season has kept the show afloat and made the standalone episodes much better than they should have been. We learn Peter's grandfather was a Nazi that was actually a spy for the allies which is why the Nazi targeted Walter later. After Walter learns Peter had sold his grandfather's books when Walter was in the asylum, Walter becomes very upset and is testy the entire episode. He tells Olivia family is important and he would do anything for his family. Does that include kidnapping your son in another dimension?

When all else fails, Michael Giacchino's music is the one part of the show you can turn to for excellence.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Bones Season 5 Episode 13 The Dentist in the Ditch

Well that was a weird episode to say the least. The victim is a gay doctor that played on an all-gay amateur football team. Booth's brother Jared show with with a new girlfriend who used to be an escort. Then Brennan is telling Booth to believe in love and stick with his former beliefs.

Booth gets on my nerves sometimes and I thought he was completely out of control this episode. It wasn't out of character so my problem is more with Booth than the writers. His big brother attitude may have merits, but for once can't let his brother do whatever he wants? He runs a background on Jared's new girlfriend, Padme, and finds out she was arrested but not convicted for prostitution. First, it's probably highly illegal since the FBI wouldn't let any unscrupulous idiot access anyone's files at anytime for no reason. Second, as Bones points out, it goes against Booth's assertion that love is something that can't be changed. Booth tries to rationalize his actions which worries Brennan that she may have influenced him in the wrong way. The toast at the end added another pointless layer about them loving each other, but it resolved the issue with Jared and reset the changes seen in the episode.

Vincent Nigel-Murray is my favorite intern and he again proved himself to be the funniest. For no apparent reason, he wants praise from Brennan finally tells him good job. It was funny seeing him look for appreciation along with his usual litany of fun facts. He and Hodgins play off each other nicely, and though he'll never reach the level of Zach (which is impossible), he's certainly the closest.

Angela finally showed up halfway into the episode and did pitifully few things. At one point, I thought she wouldn't even show up at all.

Score: 8.7/10

ABC cancels Ugly Betty, orders more Castle

I don't think I came as too much of a surprise, but yesterday ABC canceled the ratings-challenged Ugly Betty and ordered 2 more episodes of Castle, bringing the season order to 24.

Ugly Betty's ratings dropped considerably after being moved to Friday and wasn't helped by the move to Wednesday. Castle's ratings have been climbing the past few weeks and must be looking good to ABC right now.

Review - Leverage Season 2 Episode 12 The Zanzibar Marketplace Job

Mark Sheppard made another appearance as Sterling and unfortunately didn't get much screen time. He's delightful when he's doing something, so I would like to have seen him do more. I loved the kicker at the end when he's offered a job at Interpol after taking credit for the recovery of the Fabergé egg. If he's back next time with an army full real law enforcement, he could be big trouble.

Nate's ex-wife Maggie (Kate Marichett) is in a Russian jail, so the team comes and saves her after Sterling shows up. There are some great twists like who the real villain is and the episode was paced very well. At the end of the episode, Kate has warmed considerably to Nate, but figures out he is still drinking. They made huge progress in the episode, so maybe Nate will fix himself up next time they meet.

Sophie made a very brief appearance, telling the team about the Zanzibar Marketplace. Nate comes in and Hardison quickly closes the laptop. I wonder how he'll react when he finds out they've been talking to Sophie the whole time. I don't know what the deal is, but Gina Bellman looked very stiff and talked sluggishly.

Score: 9.1/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 01/27/10

Final State of the Union numbers aren't out yet, so I won't bother posting them.

Fox won the night with American Idol (9.5).

ABC was second with repeats of Modern Family (2.0), The Middle (1.7), State of the Union Analysis (1.7), and a repeat of Cougar Town (1.1).

NBC was third with repeats of Mercy (0.9), The Office (1.1), and State of the Union Analysis (2.2).

CBS was last with repeats of the New Adventures of Old Christine (1.4), Gary Unmarried (1.3), State of the Union Analysis (1.5), and Two and a Half Men (1.3).

Review - Psych Season 4 Episode 10 You Can't Handle This Episode

Psych is such a difficult show to approach I'll keep my reviews short. On one hand, the writing is terrible. The jokes and gags are the same every week and the show hasn't evolved much since the first season. Everything has gotten wackier and more silly, distorting the crime fighting aspect of the show and trivializing murder. Then there's the pathetic attempts at character development. On the other hand, the cast has enough charisma to make the show funny and likable. I find myself enjoying the show despite the trainwreck of plotting.

John Cena as Abigail's brother was cool and added a new angle to the show that didn't quite make sense. He's a government agent with an agenda, but he seems like a regular suger-agent to everyone. See the problem? His boss wants him to stop the Santa Barbara Police Department's investigation so Cena can stop the soldier dealing with the Chinese himself. The crime wasn't at the forefront of the episode, so it didn't matter much.

It looks like Abigail and Shawn are over. The writers used an easy plot device, sending Abigail to Uganda. That will probably dash their relationship, so Shawn and Juliet can come in. I never cared for Abigail and I don't really care about Juliet and Shawn (who does?) so I don't care either way. The interpersonal relationships between the characters is done so poorly, the relationships, especially the romantic ones, don't mean a thing.

Now that The Unit is over, Robert Patrick has been on NCIS, Psych, and will be in a future episode of Chuck. He's still in high demand and his acting as the tough military guy is pitch perfect.

Score: 8.7/10

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Last season of Damages?

I normally don't post on cable ratings because cable shows are renewed much easier and aren't as competitive week to week, but I'll make an exception for Damages because it is a show that never got off the ground ratings-wise.

The third season premiered with a meager 1.428 million viewers, higher than the season two finale but lower than the season two premiere. As history tells, the viewers will drop off until the end of the season when there might even be less than a million viewers.

Damages is one of the most expensive shows on FX and it's ratings had been bad throughout the three seasons to say the least (with the exception of the beginning of the first season). Damages does get lots of critical success and has picked up a number of awards. With the ratings dropping, Damages may not be able to stay on air despite the quality of the show. Keep your fingers crossed!

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 01/26/10

Fox won the night with American Idol (9.0) and Human Target (3.1). Human Target was out of its normal timeslot (though it's only aired in it's time slot 1 out of 3 times), so I'm not sure we can read to much into the ratings. That said, 3.1 is very low for the big lead in.

CBS was second with NCIS (4.0), NCIS: Los Angeles (3.7), and a repeat of The Good Wife (2.0). NCIS: LA did much better after getting killed last week.

NBC was third with The Biggest Loser (3.8) and The Jay Leno Show (1.9). So close to a 2.0.

ABC was last with Scrubs (1.2), Better Off Ted (1.0), and a repeat of Lost (1.4). Pretty much what was expected.

Review - Better Off Ted Season 2 Episode 11 Mess of a Salesman

Read my review on SpoilerTV.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - White Collar Season 1 Episode 9 Bad Judgment

As the plot thickens, it seems as if the writers don't have a clear plan where everything is going. Peter is able to meet with Kate, but doesn't tell Neal how. His response is a cyptic reference to him being an FBI agent. That's great, but if Kate is Fowler's captive, how would she meet with Peter? How does Peter get messages to her and how does she respond? Neal is convinced she is being held by Fowler, but what evidence suggests that? I know he's unnaturally fixated on her, but no one wants to tell him the straight facts.

Because the plot of the show can't get too complicated, the writers want to keep the arc contained and at the same time inject a sense of mystery into the show. The problem is that the clues lying around don't fit together and though the clues make us wonder what is really going on, how complex can it be?

With Fowler back into play, Peter and Neal squared off against him in a battle of wits that ended rather one-sided. The story was improved by the connection between the judge and Fowler. Both problems could be tackled at the same time and at the same time, we got to see the judge and Fowler scheme against Peter.

I didn't really like Elizabeth in the beginning, but I'm liking her a lot. Her supporting role on the show gets Peter an outlet to act like a normal person and help him with his problems. She also is invested in Neal's wellbeing because she is a good person. There is an inkling in the back of my mind that she may not be what she seems, but for now, she's awesome. She trusts Neal and Mozzie enough to turn to them to help Peter.

Score: 8.8/10

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Review - NCIS Season 7 Episode 13 Jet Lag

In a span of 8 days, Chuck, Human Target, and now NCIS all had episodes on planes. In all three shows, a flight attendant was the bad guy. Whether intentional or not, it appears as though there is a conspiracy afoot. Maybe the writers are starting a war with airline companies.

Tony and Ziva are in Paris to bring an informant, Nora, back to the United States to testify against a military contractor, Ray Beringer, who is defrauding the Navy. At the same time, McGee and Gibbs investigate a murder that is linked to the informant. Yeah it's a huge coincidence, but it works. It turns out the dead Marine moonlighted as a hit man until he was killed by another hit man. After a few twists, the flight attendant played Victoria Pratt turns out to be the assassin and is taken down by the duo of Tony and Ziva. I was expecting her to be the hit (wo)man because she hadn't done anything the entire episode and actresses on the level of Victoria Pratt aren't hired simply to be flight attendants.

The biggest shocker of the episode was in the last few minutes. Tony tells McGee he and Ziva had flipped a coin to see who would sleep on the couch and he lost. Ziva asks him why he lied and Tony asks Ziva why she lied to Nora. The implication is that they slept together. It's an interesting way to bring up the question and I have to give props to Shane Brennan for at least doing something with Tony and Ziva that isn't predictable. Looking back, there were so many glances between them that something had to have happened. Tony was telling lies or half truths to Nora which is why Ziva kept looking at him and why he looked back at her.

Gibbs and McGee were relegated to supporting roles, but solved who was behind the hit. Nora's fiancée was stealing from Beringer and that would come out in the testimony. The investigation brought in Holly Snow (Dina Meyer) as a D.C. madam who is not hesitant to push Gibbs's buttons.

Score: 9.2/10

Is "forte" ever pronounced correctly on television?

This is something that bothers me immensely, because I've NEVER heard it pronounced correctly in the media. In tonight's episode of NCIS, Abby refers to something as not her forte. She pronounces it "for-tay" which in musical terms means loud. What she meant to say was forte, pronounced simply "fort." It's pronounced the same way as a fort, a base for soldiers. It's not a big deal, but I don't understand why no one corrects the actors or why the actors don't know themselves.

Review - Scrubs Season 9 Episode 11 Our Dear Leaders

There's two episodes left so I doubt anything will change, but the big problem with Scrubs is the lack of good, solid laughs. The stories are fine and have improved dramatically since the beginning of the season while the jokes show the malaise of a comedy that has had eight years of funny material.

The new characters aren't dynamic enough to pull off their lines and we've seen the old characters already. Lucy saying something random or Cole acting cool is bland and The one thing that gets me every time is Lucy's love of horses. Without miss, I laugh not because I care about horses, but because it's wacky, random, and her one trait that isn't annoying. It's something fun to pull out at the right time that makes her odd in a good way.

Now that J.D. is gone, the stories have picked up and the characters are developing quite fine. This week, Drew learns to be a leader after Dr. Cox takes him out of the general populace during "Hell Week." Drew feels the need to come back and help his team, and thus Cox teaches him an important lesson. Drew actually wants to take the reigns of leadership.

Lucy tries to be the new #1 of the team, but Trang qucikly tries to take over, leading Lucy to beat the snot out of him. Clearly she is not up for the job either. With Drew back, she settles into the role of #2. And that's their group. Drew is #1, Lucy is #2, Trang and Australian girl are in the middle, and Cole is along for the ride. It ain't great, but it's not bad either.

Turk is annoyed by Russell Vaughn who went to Africa, wrote a book, and gets the hospital lots of money. He is an obnoxious jerk and really has no redeeming quality other than be an ass to Turk. Maybe he went to Africa and helped impoverished people, but he didn't have to act so rude to Turk. But Turk doesn't have to act rude back to him. Dr. Kelso teaches him an important message to just be #2 for a while and suck it up. The story could have been better if Turk had learned to humble himself rather than be influenced by money, but it's Turk and we can't complain.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Human Target Season 1 Episode 3 Embassy Row

There's quite a few people out there ragging on Human Target for poor writing and ludicrous stories. Not legitimate critics who understand the point of the show, but random people on the internet. In fact, I think I saw more negative reaction than positive. I don't know what people except the show to be, but it's obvious what the writer's intentions are. Human Target is an action show without a shred of reality or seriousness. The writers acknowledge what's going on is silly; just listen to the music and pauses. They aren't trying to make a serious show like 24. Does Chance need to break the fourth wall and tell the audience what the show is?

"Embassy Row" reflects the sentiment of the show again, and if you don't like the show now, it would be best to stop watching. There are high stakes in another episode and Chance predictably saves the world. Last week it was a skeleton key to electronics and this week it's a deadly bioweapon. As more proof the show isn't suppose to be serious, the danger of these things aren't even emphasized. It's all about Chance and getting the job down.

Chance goes to the Russian embassy to find a weapons dealer named Raven. He meets an undercover FBI agent named Emma Barnes (Emmanuelle Vaugier). They stop Raven and get out of the embassy. Emma wants to know who Chance is, but he doesn't tell her anything. However, he does leave behind a fingerprint which may or may not have been left there intentionally. She pulls up the name "John Doe" which has a huge list of other aliases. I have a feeling she'll be back.

The main problem with the show right now is the disconnection of Winston and Guerro from whatever Chance is doing. They provide adequate back up, but what they do rarely has any sense of urgency. They get the job done, but at the end of the day, Chance is the one in danger and making the big decisions.

Sean Maher in two episodes in two weeks! He didn't have a large or significant part, but we saw him last Thursday on The Mentalist so that was cool.

Score: 9.1/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 01/25/10

Fox won the night with House (5.2) and 24 (3.4). 24 was down a bit, but that shouldn't matter much.

ABC was second with The Bachelor (3.9) and Castle (3.0). Castle reached a series high which is awesome since it was in danger at the beginning of the season.

CBS was third with repeats of How I Met Your Mother (2.1), Accidentally on Purpose (1.9), Two and a Half Men (3.8), The Big Bang Theory (4.0), and CSI: Miami (2.6). I have no clue how the later two comedies repeat so high but they do. This also marks the first time CSI: Miami lost to Castle though it was repeat.

NBC was last with Chuck (2.5), Heroes (1.9), and The Jay Leno Show (1.2). Chuck is stable so it's looking good for now. On the other hand there's Heroes, which improved slightly but is still doing terrible. I'm still predicting that it won't come back. The ratings suck, the show is expensive, and it has no hope of gaining new viewers.

Review - Damages Season 3 Episode 1 Your Secrets Are Safe

I wish I hadn't read spoilers, but I did. Two weeks ago, I read that Tom Shayes would be killed off, so when the police started poking around the dumpster, I immediately assumed Tom would be inside, dead. Well I was right, so I wasn't that surprised. If I hadn't read the spoilers, I assume my reaction would have been greater. Tom has been a fixture on the show for two seasons, and Tate Donovan is fantastic.

It was a great plot twist that rivals that of season 1. We know Tom will die, we know Ellen's handbag bought by Patty is at the scene of the crime, and we know Tom's car was used to hit Patty's car. The clues are in place, the case is in place, and

Tom is a sad character with no hope for redemption now that he'll die. He's always strived for more, pushing to be added to the company name. He's a loyal worker for Patty and does the dirty work she asks for. At long last, he's gotten his name on the company logo. The cost is his life. His success always comes at a price and finally he'll get his due.

Ellen, after being at the DA's office for a while, is being dragged back into Patty's world. Ellen has always been drawn to Patty and vice versa. Their mutual attraction (in a non-romantic sense) is pulling them together once more.

The case Patty is working this season is a pulled from the headlines Bernie Madoffesque ponzi scheme. The villain is Louis Tobin (Len Cariou), but the focus of the season doesn't seem to be on him. His wife Marilyn Tobin (Lily Tomlin) and son Joseph Tobin (Campbell Scott) are now "poor" and don't know where Louis stashed his money.

The difficulty with Damages is the duality of the developing stories. In all three seasons, the jump months ahead shows the permanent main characters doing something. In season one it was a bloody Ellen. In season two it was Ellen with a gun on Patty. In season three it's Patty hit by a car and Tom dead in a dumpster. The balance between the build up to those instances and the case Patty is working on often doesn't mesh well. Season one worked because Ted Danson is such a powerful force, the case was more straightforward, and there were less storyline. With Ellen's crazy story also occurring, it made for one of the best seasons of television ever. Season two had the really bad story with William Hurt and had so many threads going on, there was no focus or order.

I'm hoping the next few episodes will be as good, because I really like what's going on right now.

Score: 9.4/10

Review - House Season 6 Episode 12 Remorse

I wanted to like last night's episodes and there were several positives, but the negatives overwhelmed everything that was good about the episode. The result: a decent, but highly annoying episode.

The medical story started off interesting with a hot psychopath coming in. Her husband is a clueless fool who is there just to provide her with money, only he doesn't know it. She is completely emotionless and House is interested with her which sparks several conversations.

We finally got a clue what House with doing in rehab. He wrote a letter to someone he wronged in the past who is now bothering House incessantly. In this case, House switched tests with him. House meets with him and his situation isn't pretty. House sees that his life isn't great, and the guy almost directly says it's House's fault, so House offers to help financially. We learn the truth in the end, he was a doctor but wasted money gambling. House gives him the money anyways. There wouldn't be a House episode without a bit of Cuddy, so we see House still hating Lucas and cuts up some photos including the last photo taken by Cuddy's father. House is sorry, but he can't do anything about it. By the end of the episode, he sees them together. Yay...

13 has replaced Cameron as the judgmental person at Princeton Plainsburo, so she's fuming while the patient is lying her ass off. 13 basically tells the patient's husband the truth which gets her into hot water. The bigger issue is that 13 disagrees with Foreman the entire episode. Foreman finally apologizes and 13 seems to be back on board by the end of the episode.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Castle Season 2 Episode 14 The Third Man

I can't believe how great Castle has gotten this season. Everything has come together to make the show a blast to watch and the ratings are great, so we should the show continue.

There was a really complex mystery this week that I won't go into detail. There are twists and turns all over the place and might have been the most complicated crime to date on Castle. There were squatters, pet shop owners, diamonds, and a litany of suspects. Eventually the investigation looped back to the beginning and the murderer is caught. The ending was rushed, but the crime wasn't that important and it rarely is.

While all the investigation was going on, there was a lot of Castle and Beckett stuff going on. Castle is 8th on the New York Ledger's 10 most eligible bachelor's list and printed is a rumor he may be off the market due to Beckett. Beckett is furious when she sees it, but decides to get a date of her own.  Castle and Beckett end up at the same restaurant with their dates. There dates aren't going well mostly because their minds are fixated on the crime. Yes, they think alike and come to the same conclusion at the same time. It's really cliché but fun to watch at the same time.

The episode ends with Beckett and Castle arm in arm going to eat dinner. Like any reasonable person, I think the Moonlighting curse is baloney, so I'm hoping they get together soon not because I'm a crazed shipper, but because it simply makes for better stories. Can someone honestly tell me that the 7 seasons of JAG shenanigans were good?

Score: 9.3/10

Monday, January 25, 2010

Review - 24 Season 8 Episode 5 Day 8: 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

I gotta admit, Ziya is a trooper. After getting his thumb sliced off, all he needed was a promise of money to stop yelling. Essentially, his pain tolerance goes to Bauer-level if there's the slightest chance of a payoff. Once money is offered, he goes along with whatever Renee does. It's not the fact that she just cut his thumb off that makes him go with her. He goes with her because she can make him rich. It's unrealistic, it's disturbing, and it's awfully fun to watch.

Renee meets with Vladimir who isn't an average Russian mobster. Chloe finds out that Vladimir was obsessed with her and beat her to the point of broken bones. There isn't anything about rape in the report, but I think we can assume it happened. Jack still wants to pull her out, and for good reason--normal people don't cut off fingers--but she is the only (in the 24 universe) chance to find the nuclear material.

Everyone is distrustful of her, so Vladimir asks her a series of questions which she answers correctly with the help of Jack. Even so, he doesn't believe her, so he throws her and Ziya into a trunk and drives off. Jack follows, but doesn't know the real car is leaving out the back. He follows a decoy and must turn back, so we get a glimpse of Jack's amazing driving skills as he does a uturn in an uncrowded NYC street. Vladimir executes Ziya quickly, but waits to see what Renee will do. In the best non-action scene of the season, she gives a heartbreaking speech about how she's sick of living without anyone or anything to go to. The deal is the only thing she has and if it can't go through, she wants to be killed. She literally begs to be shot.

Renee is undercover and lying about who she is, but the difference is not big. When the FBI approached her, she had nothing and the mere thought that someone needs her is what she needs to stay alive. Vladimir buys her story and she is in. At the same time, Jack is listening on the com and gets a little teary. Great acting by Annie Wersching and Kiefer Sutherland in the last scene. There are many people that hate 24 for the way it simplifies complex issues, has ludicrous plotlines, and is predictable, but scenes like these are truly worth watching the show for.

And there are still three very distinct stories going on. President Taylor's agreement with President Hassan has gotten much more difficult now that Hassan's forces are moving against his opponents. I have no clue how he managed to get his police out so quickly, but he is cracking down on people left and right, violating human rights agreements. Meanwhile, Hassan's wife has had enough of him and there is no turning back. The story has no room to grow, so I will be disappointed with his wife or reporter when they show up again unless they are tied to the conspiracy.

Dana goes back to her home where Kevin and his deadbeat friend are waiting for her. She still excepts a peaceful ending to this and offers him $1000. By the way he was bothering her, Kevin was never going to give up. He asks for a whopping six-figure payout which she could probably get with the access her job allows. Like I said last week, I'm still waiting for her storyline to intersect with the others. He's asking for money now, but I'm really hoping he wants something else.

I'm not sure where Josef (David Anders) and Sergei's story is going. Josef is sympathetic and tries to save his brother by pulling a gun on a doctor. Ok, so he might not be the nicest guy ever, but it's the thought that counts.

The episode was setup for bigger things to come and did a nice job with the pacing. There wasn't much happening on the action side, but there was a lot of tension in every scene and was every bit good as more action filled episodes.

Score: 9.1/10

Review - Chuck Season 3 Episode 5 Chuck Versus First Class

I'm happy Chuck is back, but the memories of all the times I agonized over the plot holes came rushing back last night. For the second week in a row, there were huge plot holes that clouded the entire episode. Accepting the sci-fi concept of the show is the easy part. Ignoring the stupidity and illogical actions is an entirely different story.

Chuck is ordered by Shaw on his first solo mission to Paris. It's simple enough, but the twist completely ruins any sense of reason involved with the episode. Chuck is on the plane to recover a CIA crypto key from a Ring agent named Hugo Panzer (Stone Cold Steve Austin). The key is in the cargo. Not with Hugo, but in the luggage where it is free to be taken. Apparently the characters wrestlers play aren't too sharp either.

If the information inside the lock box was so important and it appears it is, why would the CIA have Chuck steal the key when the plane is in the air? The CIA easily could have taken the key when the plane was still on the ground or when it was still going through airport security. They could either ask the TSA or have an agent pretend to be with the TSA. They even could have had Chuck go as a TSA worker. If Shaw was just testing Chuck, he at least could have had Chuck do something only he could do. Instead, he forces Chuck to do an unnecessary task that only utilizes Intersect 2.0's fighting abilities. Someone could interpret Shaw as testing Chuck, but that would mean Shaw is on the unstable side. It would mean he is willing to send Chuck on an important mission to retrieve important files in circumstances made intentionally more difficult because he wants Chuck to learn.

Plot holes aresomething you have to live with to be a Chuck fan and I acknowledge that, so I push everything illogical to the back of my mind. There are always the plot holes lingering there tempting you with implausibility. If the rest of the show wasn't so great, I would be hard pressed to continue watching. The plot holes also show the unwillingness of the writers to correct big problems with the show. The fans always clamor for Chuck and Sarah to get together and instead, they kept them further apart this season. I'm sure the writers see the numerous plot holes in their writing, but they choose to keep them there for convenience and assume the viewers will be fine. Chuck could have gone to Paris and complete a wild mission there, but the writers had to throw in the extra twist of a mission at thirty-thousand feet.

Since that's the case, the episode was lots of fun regardless of why Chuck was put into the situation in the first place. The entire situation was artificially made more difficult, but that meant Chuck had to be in a confined space with Steve Austin. Chuck's Intersect powers kicked into high gear without any hiccups and Chuck was able to fight effectively, using a more trickery than brute force. The Intersect gives Chuck the skills, but Chuck is still the one that has to implement them and he's a clever guy compared to Hugo Panzer.

Shaw reveals that his wife, Eveline, was undercover and inside the Ring and died. She was the one who stored the information in the lock box and also put her wedding ring in inside. It serves as a warning to him and Sarah that falling in love can be disastrous. I'm sure you read about this big love pentagon in season 3, and all the pieces are in place. Sarah is angry at Shaw the entire episode both for putting Chuck in danger and questioning her actions. By the end of the episode, she gets a better picture of who he is and the ring shows that he isn't completely cold-hearted. Sarah isn't cold-hearted either, so I wouldn't be surprised if something goes on in the next few episodes. Casey will never change, but Sarah can, so we'll see exactly where her feelings lead her.

We learn he is highly protective of his team and thinks letting Chuck off the leash will protect him in the long run. Now Chuck has an agent, like Cole in season 2, backing him and pushing him to become better. In the progression of Chuck's character, extra motivation isn't bad and unraveling new characters only makes the show better. Eventually Chuck will be a great spy all by himself, but the encouragement of Shaw helps that process.

While on the plane, Chuck meets Hannah (Kristin Kreuk) who seems like a normal, nice girl that likes Chuck. At the end of the episode, she shows up at the Buy More to get a job. I was never a fan of Kristin Kreuk in the first couple seasons of Smallville before I stopped watching and I don't think she's a good actress, so I'm much more tepid about her than Brandon Routh. Her character hasn't done anything notable yet other than gravitate to Chuck, so there's not much to say about her character or performance.

At the Buy More, Morgan still has a lot on his plate as the move to manager has changed his standing with the Buy More workers. He's no longer their friend, but simply another manager that will put his iron will on the underlings. They see him with a combination of fear, awe, and loathing. Lester manages pull several pranks on Morgan, showing that he hasn't learned much from last episode. What Morgan really needs to do is to fire Lester permanently. Instead, he sees that Casey commands respect at the Buy More, and rightfully so. Casey is tough and doesn't take crap from anyone. If someone does something to him, he's not afraid to retaliate. Morgan joins up with Casey who is all about following rules, to bring order to BuyMoria. They kidnap Lester and do a crazy treatment to him, making him completely subservient to Morgan. Control of the store is now in Morgan and Casey's hands.

Casey is by far the most awesome character on Chuck. Adam Baldwin deliverd "that means he's a moron," while eating perfectly. Then he goes and hypnotizes Lester after grabbing him from his own bed. If that isn't cool enough, he even shows some concern for Chuck.

The advances in the episode set a solid foundation for the rest of the arc. Shaw's mysterious background is coming into focus, Hannah is going to be working at the Buy More, Morgan is now the big man at the Buy More, and Chuck is growing as a spy. That looks like a formula for instant success, so I'm excited for what's coming up.

Random question: Why is the Buy More/show still promoting Fable 2?

Score: 9.1/10

Review - Big Love Season 4 Episode 3 Strange Bedfellows

Did Margene do that? After three seasons of uneven build up, Margene and Ben finally kissed, and I can only imagine how terrible the result will be. Bill and the other wives were furious when they learned what Nicki did, so once Bill learns his own son kissed his wife, hell will come raining down on the Hendrickson household. If you thought there would ever be peace, think again.

While Nicki improved her standing with Bill in Washington D.C., Barb was off handling casino affairs. There was a weird heavy-handed message about Native Americans in the episode. It seemed awfully juvenile for a show that is often quite smart. Barb has a very condescending seminar which only makes the casino workers like her less. Tommy is none to pleased either and their relationship is still bad until she hits a woman with her car. She and Sarah connect with the woman and learn what it's like to be an Indian.

Bill's quest for the Senate seat is still stupid so there's not much to say about it. He's a blundering fool who succeeds by help of others or through sheer luck (God?). Nicki isn't much smarter, bringing Cara Lynn to D.C. without informing J.J. who invades Margene's house. She also pulls out her gun at the fundraiser and gets taken away by the police.

Score: 8.8/10

What's up with the "new" Teenie?

Alby is 50 times creepier than J.J.

Don't worry about Caprica ratings - yet

Caprica drew only 1.6 million viewers last Friday which is a low showing. That's worse than Stargate Universe, Warehouse 13, Eureka, and it's almost worse than dirt cheap Sanctuary. What you have to remember is that Caprica has been on DVD and online for months and months. Syfy estimated the number of people that already watched the pilot to be 1.5 million even before the premiere. Couple that with the 1.6 that watched on television and that's a great number. Take off a couple hundred thousand or even a million, and it's still strong. This Friday's ratings will be the real test when those who didn't bother to tune in to something they already saw come back to see the next episode.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Updated Scoring Guidelines

I looked back at the scoring guidelines I wrote a while back and I'll admit it. They are bullshit. Scores can't be assigned to episodes simply because of all the factors involved, and I barely have any real reasons for the scores I provide. I score episodes for the novelty of putting a score on something. Everyone loves organized numbers, so I write them. Why IGN, IFmagazine, TWOP, and AVclub assign grades and scores is anyone's guess.

The base for my scores are 8.5/10. It's a nice flat number that isn't in the 7 range which IMO is kind of low. From there it's arbitrary. I don't weigh the scores based on definite factors such as acting or directing, and tabulate the score. Most of the time, I make up a random score based on my general impression of the episode and how I rate other episodes. In recent months, I have tried to keep the scoring stable with fewer fluctuations. If you read my earlier reviews, my scores had a larger range. These days, my scores will go from 8.5 to 9.5. Anything outside of that is unusual. Why? No reason really.

A big part of my scoring is the intent of the show. I don't expect NCIS to be layered and complex like Mad Men. I do expect NCIS to be funny with a good investigation. If a show has a solid concept like a chasing serial killers, etc (Criminal Minds) and sets out to be dark and scary, that's what I'll expect. Therefore, a 9.2 for Mad Men is not the same as 9.2 for Criminal Minds. That's right, 9.2 does not equal 9.2.

If the paragraphs above don't make sense to you, don't feel alone. They don't make sense to me either. Take the scores with a grain of salt, watch the episode, read reviews, and decide for yourself.

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Friday 01/22/10

I'm sure no one cares how many people tuned into something all networks aired, but here are the ratings.

ABC won the night with Hope for Haiti Now Benefit (1.2) and 20/20 (1.6).

NBC was second with Hope for Haiti Now Benefit (1.4) and Dateline (1.4).

CBS was third with Hope for Haiti Now Benefit (1.0 and a repeat of Medium (1.0).

Fox was last wih Hope for Haiti Now Benefit (0.6).

Review - Legend of the Seeker Season 2 Episode 9 Dark

After watching the non-stop gratuitous violence and sex of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, it was nice seeing a show that balances action with everything else required in a decent show. Spartacus is so far from the mainstream it really can't be judged in the context of a normal show, so I'll leave it at that.

Richard is off learning magic and he gets into hot water quickly. Instead of learning magic first, he is immediately warned by Sister Nicci (Jolene Blalock) that the time in the castle passes differently than in the real world. One day in the castle is 10 days out there which means by the time Richard gets back, everyone might be dead. Richard has to leave, so he finds out about a prophecy and Sisters of Dark. There is a prophecy that states that the son of Brennidon will find the sacred stone and deliver it to the enemy of light. The Sisters of Light interpreted this as Richard giving the stone to the Keeper, so they are keeping him at the castle as a virtual prisonr. Sister Nicci turns out to be a Sister of the Dark, but Richard already figured it out. He lets her take his power, but he has a contingency plan in place so she doesn't go on a rampage.

There is another prophecy that pops onto the wall stating that as long as the Mother Confessor's heart is beating, the Keeper will fail. Prophecies in general are stupid because the only place they lead is the people involved trying to prove they have free will. There's lots of mumbo jumbo about how people can make their own decisions despite what is written. Barring a crazy twist, Richard will probably defeat the Keeper and not do what the prophecy because he is the Seeker after all and he's the big hero of the show.

The new Seeker, Leo, is a rather transparent character that has no purpose other than to help the other characters grow. In this case, he actually makes Cara laugh and she shows signs of liking him. Her hard veneer is finally coming off and the new Seeker, an average blacksmith, is the reason. Richard is coming back and he's the main character, so Leo will probably be killed or leave the show in another way. Cara will be heartbroken, but her experiences with him forces her to acknowledge she has feelings and they aren't bad. LoS does this a lot and it works fine on a show that isn't suppose to be complex, so I don't have as much problems with it as others would.

While Legend of the Seeker is weaker than many shows in terms of acting and writing, the pacing never ceases to amaze me. The stories are never dense, but the jumping between different sceneries and scenarios makes the show more engaging than most shows.

Score: 9.3/10

Review - Spartacus: Blood and Sand Season 1 Episode 1 The Red Serpent

For all the scathing reviews of Spartacus, it actually isn't half bad considering the intent and audience it blatantly panders to. If you liked HBO's defunct Rome, I'm guessing you won't like Spartacus, but if you liked 300, it will be perfect.

There's hardly any story, the fighting is ultra-violent, and there's lots of sex. The sex part isn't too bad and is about the same as Rome. Obviously the show is on premium cable and not for kids, so it could have been much worse. The fighting is ridiculous and unrealistic like in 300. There are slowmos when someone is killed, blood flies out in heavy amounts and distances, and limbs are literally chopped off. The number of people that indulge in that kind of stuff will watch the show and that's all Starz is looking for.

My biggest problem was heavily stylized scenes which was about half the first episode. From the sex scenes to the fight scenes, there was a canned feel. The background had to be the setting sun, the music was either really heavy or an ethereal theme, and the characters have absolutely nothing original about them. Rome did a great job not sensationalizing everything, leaving fight scenes relatively normal, sex scenes not over-dramatized, and had decent dialogue and story. Spartacus does none of that and tells the audience what they should pay attention to--sex scenes and fight scenes. Everything else is auxiliary.

Once Dollhouse ends next week, I'll have nothing to watch on Fridays until Stargate Universe comes back except for Caprica. Since that's the case, I may watch to see if there is a real story and if the whole show in general is toned down.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Bones Season 5 Episode 12 The Proof in the Pudding

While The Mentalist tried something new and came up empty, Bones tried something new and completely hit it out of the park. A bunch of General Services Administration agents show up at the Jeffersonian with a body and promptly lock down the museum.

The secrecy and rules on handling the body lead them to think it's JFK's body, and the conspiracy theories start flying (mostly from Hodgins). After a few tests, including shooting at cantaloupes with a replica gun, the team comes to no definitive conclusion before the GSA decide to leave. Before they can, Booth springs his plan to find the real truth and owns the GSA guys while Brennan takes a bone to do some tests. The bone has signs of a disease JFK never had. But JFK did have scarlet fever which can cause the same problem.

Booth is so sensitive about the situation because as Cam explains, he's killed 50 people for the government he trusts, and if they lie about JFK, they could be lying about other things. And again, Booth shows that he's a total idiot. He's never heard of Watergate, Gulf of Tonkin, Iran-Contra, and all the hidden government documents?

Cam finds a positive pregnancy test which turns out to be Angela's. Hodgins still has feeling for her, and offers to move in with her and even marry her. The test turns out to be a false positive, but the issue between Hodgins and Angela still lingers.

If you want to read a really comprehensive book on the JFK assassination, read Gerald Posner's Case Closed. It's clear he has an agenda like all authors on the subject, but he has substantial evidence and sound arguments.

Score: 9.5/10

Review - The Mentalist Season 2 Episode 12 Bleeding Heart

Wow, what a predictable episode. I guessed who the murderer was 5 minutes into the episode and I knew how everyone would act on camera. The first half of the episode was a total bore while the second cranked up the action, and at least I was somewhat interested because Jane was kidnapped.

The documentary format can make a good episode if done effectively, but their reactions were so basic, it's hard to get excited over anything. Lisbon, the dutiful agent, goes along grudgingly. Jane, whose experiences as a TV psychic did not end well, doesn't like to be on camera (The audience didn't need him to explain that to Lisbon). Cho doesn't like to be on camera. Van Pelt hints at her relationship with Rigsby. Rigsby is a little worked up after almost being burned.

There was Sean Maher as Jasper, the eco-terrorist, and Sharon Lawrence as the mayor. Since the focus of the episode was on the documentary, the plot and other characters weren't fleshed out.

In the end, Van Pelt makes the big announcement that she and Rigsby are lovers. Jane and Cho don't act surprised, but Lisbon is speechless. I'm guessing she won't do anything about it, but we'll see.

Is it me or did Owain Yeoman's American accent slip a couple times?

Score 8.6/10

Review - Fringe Season 2 Episode 12 What Lies Below

If the writers are going to have frequent standalone episodes, they could at least make them interesting. I'll accept that too many mytharc episodes could make the show too complicated and serialized, but I want to see solid episodes with good storylines.

The case was exceedingly simple and wasn't even mysterious--basically the whole point of standalone episodes. The sequence of events went as such: man dies and spits up blood, team comes, another man dies, spitting out blood as he tries to leave the building, the building is quarantined, everyone is tested, Peter is positive but fakes his test, Walter finds the cure, the ventilation needs to be turned on so gas can be pumped in, Olivia goes to turn it on, infected Peter takes her out, she wakes up and turns it on. Everyone is saved. Along the way there is some meager science done by Walter to determine that it is a bacteria and that it died out 75,000 years ago because of sulfur from volcanoes.

That is left largely unresolved along with the guy who was selling the ice core samples. The concept of a bacteria that makes people do crazy things isn't a bad idea. The X-Files episode "Ice" did a brilliant job with the infection and kept the audience interested, because it wasn't clear who was infected. The fact is, we know who is infected, we know the building is quarantined, and we know it's a bacteria Walter can destroy. What else is there to make us think?

Astrid continues to be awesome as Walter's sidekick and I wish she could get a bigger role. There are some great scenes between them as Astrid encourages Walter in a very positive, non-annoying way. Walter lets slip that he won't let Peter die twice and Astrid picks up on that. Walter doesn't reveal anything, so we don't learn anything new.

Score: 8.4/10

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quick thoughts on Caprica

Since Caprica has been on DVD and for so long, I'm guessing those who wanted to watch it have already watched it, and those who haven't watched it won't. Therefore, I won't be writing a long review of the pilot, so here are my general thoughts of the pilot.

The episode drags on too long, and once again a two-hour long episode doesn't quite fill out the two hours as hoped. The tone of the show is markedly different than that of BSG, having an eery serene feel .The action and story doesn't come fast, but I'm guessing there'll be plenty of action once the Cylons start killing everyone. Similar to Dollhouse, Caprica deals with technology and humans, and how everything can go wrong. The sci-fi theme du jour is that technology is bad. Ironic isn't it.

Score: 9.1/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Thursday 01/21/10

ABC narrowly won the night with The Deep End (1.8), Grey's Anatomy (4.7), and Private Practice (3.6). I thought The Deep End would do pretty good since it's similar to Grey's, but it did even worse than the lowest rating episode of FlashFoward in the timeslot. I guess ABC has another dud.

Fox(!) was second with Bones (3.5) and Fringe (2.6). Just so you know that wasn't one of my frequent typos, Bones (3.5). Yes, a freaking 3.5!!

CBS was third with repeats of The Big Bang Theory (2.1, 2.4), CSI (3.1), and The Mentalist (3.1). Definitely not a good night for CBS.

NBC was predictably last with Community (2.1), Parks and Recreation (2.0), The Office (3.7), 30 Rock (2.7), and The Jay Leno Show (1.4).

Review - Supernatural Season 5 Episode 11 Sam, Interrupted

So the Supernatural apocalypse is basically the same as any normal time, except something is going. Great. I thought the apocalypse would have huge battles and in general, crazy shit happening all the time. The number of episodes directly involving the apocalypse and Lucifer has been small, and the standalones are hardly relatable.

Last night's episode worked on the characters, sending Sam and Dean to a mental facility in search of monster. There are the usual humorous moments (Pudding!) and the misdirects until the wraith is found. The larger story is Sam and his anger problems. Through the doctors and the wraith, he realizes that the source of his anger is himself. Dean tells him to sack up and bottle it up.

The mental hospital was a really great setting because it's where people's heads are examined and diagnosed with problems and the patients are occasionally drugged (more funny scenes). The shoestring budget was really evident in this episode. Everything was indoors with the exception of the final scenes, and there was barely any visual or special effects.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Burn Notice Season 3 Episode 10 A Dark Road

If you've been missing out on car chases lately, watch last night's episode. Michael's driving, Sam's driving, Fiona's driving, and the insurance scammer was driving. They were also crashing into things which made it even better. It was a typical case that ended with the good guys winning, but the events around it elevated the episode to the next level.

Lacey was all going fine until Michael asks Madeline to blackmail Tyne Daly's character into getting some files. Madeline is dragged into Michael's world and doesn't like it one bit. The obvious progressions is that Michael will one day reject the spy world, and Sharon Gless does a fantastic job acting the scene to show what she thinks of everything.

Michael is still in his search for whoever in the spy world wants to deal with him, and finally gets a name in the end: Mason Gilroy. He's been involved in Michael's life in the past, but Michael has no clue what he's up to. I'm not expecting a grand plan that culminates in a complex backstory, but it should be enjoyable to watch.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - Community Season 1 Episode 14 Interpretive Dance

 Again, tons of shows to review, and I also want to have a few quick posts on Caprica and Spartacus: Blood and Sand, so I don't have time for longer reviews.

Community embraces everything weird and doesn't look back. While the setting of a community college may be realistic enough, there has been an increasing presence of outrageous and ludicrous events based on something real. It's goofy, funny, and it works.

The story was incredibly strong in this episode and proved that episodes don't need to be filled with countless gags to be good (take a hint TBBT!). Jeff is becoming a better person, and he's dating Professor Slater (Lauren Stamile). Dean Pelton has a problem with that and through the course of signing paperwork, they become closer, and Jeff actually considers Slater his girlfriend.

Britta and Troy discover that the other is taking dance classes, and Britta wants to tell the rest of the group, but Troy backs out before Britta invites everyone to a recital. During the crazy dance, Britta panics, but Troy comes in to save the day.

On the relationship side of things, Britta gets upset on stage when she sees Jeff and Professor Slater holding hands, and Annie gets upset at the though Troy and Britta could be together. It's not original and plays up the sexual tension angle seen on most shows, but the great cast and solid stories makes Community not the typical sitcom.

Score: 9.3/10

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review - The Office Season 6 Episode 14 The Banker

Really? The Office has been gone for over a month and comes back with a clip show. The clips come in when a "fact checker" starts talking with Toby, and the various questions lead to these crazy moments in the show. It was  fun seeing all the wild things that have happened on the show and there are many. The Jam moments are still amazing even if they are in brief clips, but something original would be nice.

Score: N/A

Review - The Deep End Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Young lawyers, clichéd dialogue, predictable stories, office hookups all set to annoying pop songs. What is it? A legal show imitation of Grey's Anatomy that is neither engaging nor funny. The title of the show, "the deep end," refers to the lawyers being dumped into a world they can't handle yet. Apparently it also refers to throwing the viewer in the deep end, giving them an assortment of forgettable characters in the very first episode.

Score: 7.0/10

Review - Leverage Season 2 Episode 11 The Bottle Job

Nate lives over a bar? Wasn't he an alcoholic? And didn't Hardison buy the whole building? As long as you could accept that Nate lives right above his childhood (he went with his father) bar, the episode was a breeze to get through.

Under a two-hour time constraint, the team worked fast and furiously, conning Doyle, a crooked loan shark (oxymoron?) as fast as they could. Tara cozies up to him while Nate steals his money--until Nate takes a drink, and we know where that goes. This leads to a poker game with a couple guys in the back. The reveal in the end shows that the guys are actually cops, and are ready to bust Doyle.

Along the way, Hardison pretends to be a weather reporter, Parker talks to a safe, and Elliot beats up some guys. Tara is a replacement for Sophie and she's doing well. Since she won't be on the show permanently, there probably won't be anything substantial happening, but we learned an interesting tidbit that she learned cryptology.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Criminal Minds Season 5 Episode 13 Risky Business

The writing in Criminal Minds has always been inconsistent, and that was very apparent last night. There were great moments and great lines of dialogue, but the story sucked. It was preachy, illogical, and stupid. I wanted to like the episode and it actually wasn't half bad, but I was dissappointed with many parts.

The twist for the sake of being a twist turns into one of the weirdest things ever on Criminal Minds. The father chokes his son, makes other kids commit suicide, and killed his wife because he has Munchausen syndrome by proxy and an assortment of other disorders.

A bit of J.J.'s backstory came out for the first time, and it was very odd. Her sister committed suicide when she was 11, which is why she was so invested in the case. It doesn't explain why her reaction was so pronounced in this episode when there had to be a case involving suicide previously. The problem with pieces of information in the show is that there are never any arcs or major changes which can be seen week to week. The purpose of a backstory is to continue developing the characters, and if the characters don't develop, there's no point.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Modern Family Season 1 Episode 13 Fifteen Percent

The general format of the show has settled around three separate plots with some intermingling between that almost makes three stories into two. We're going to get the entire family together occasionally which is fine as long as the writers somehow keep everything together.

They largely succeeded last night with the theme that people can change 15%. Mitchell describes the difficulty of coming out and Phil's continuing reluctance to accept him, so he hints that Phil's friend Shorty (Chazz Paminteri) is gay. This leads to some light innuendo until Phil confronts Shorty who reveals he is just in debt. Phil talks to Mitchell who just wants Phil to accept gays, and by trying to help Shorty, he did.

Phil tries to teach a reluctant Claire to use electronics. If he can teach their dumbest child, he should be able to teach her. Instead of choosing Luke as you'd except, they go to Haley who actually learns the home theater system to spite her mother. In the final heartwarming scene, Claire gets Haley to teach her, and she succeeds in learning.

Manny finds a girl online who turns out to be a lot older. She embarrassed, but Gloria offers to give her a makeover, and now she can find the man of her dreams. In walks Cameron who has many similar interests, and she has no clue he's gay.

Score: 9.1/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Wednesday 01/20/10

Fox was first with American Idol (9.9) and Human Target (3.4). That lead in from Idol is huge and could push any show to extreme heights. Imagine if Chuck was after Idol.

CBS was second with the New Adventures of Old Christine (1.9), Gary Unmarried (1.8), Criminal Minds (4.2), and CSI: NY (3.5). The comedies are taking hits from ABC's block even if they are repeats.

NBC was third with repeats of Modern Family (1.6), The Middle (1.7), and new episodes of Modern Family (4.2), Cougar Town (3.4), and Ugly Betty (1.6).

NBC was last with Mercy (1.4), a repeat of Law & Order: SVU (1.4), and The Jay Leno Show (1.2).

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Tuesday 01/19/10

Fox won the night with American Idol (10.1) and Human Target (3.3).

NBC was second with Biggest Loser (4.1) and The Jay Leno Show (1.8).

CBS was third with repeats of NCIS (2.6), NCIS: LA (2.5), and The Good Wife (2.0).

ABC was last with repeats of Scrubs (0.7), Better Off Ted (0.6), and new episodes of  Scrubs (1.3), Better Off Ted (1.2), and a repeat of The Forgotten (0.9).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review - Human Target Season 1 Episode 2 Rewind

After watching the pilot of Human Target, I was ambivalent about the show and wasn't sure if I was going to keep watching if all the episodes went on the same way. The second episode was quite a bit better than the pilot, and I'm a huge fan of the show now (assuming the rest of the episodes follow the second).

A hacker finds a skeleton key to everything electronic, so Chance is sent to protect this mysterious person after a break in at a computer company. The dynamic of the team is changed up as Winston goes along with Chance for backup. He's is a bit one sided right now, and is reluctant to be involved, so he is relegated to rolling his eyes, and helping just because his and everyone else's lives are in danger.

The plan is simple. Chance will find the assassin and Winston will find the hacker. But of course it doesn't go as intended and the plane is on fire. Chance, who happens to be know planes, flips the plane over to put out the plane. Then the plane won't flip over. Let the fun ensue. There are actually two assassin, one being the guy easily taken out earlier by Chance, and Laura (Courtney Ford) who seemed like a brave flight attendant. Chance recognizes her reluctance to stay with the job and wants her to switch professions, but drops her out of the plane before she can change her mind. We learn that Winston had gotten Chance out of a previous job and into the body guard business. I don't really care about small hints right now, but I want to know the story behind Chance.

Casper, the female hacker who Winston finds, makes it back safely, using her device to right the plane. The stories aren't hard to follow, and they probably don't need following. The action and fun dialogue is all that is need to carry the show right now.

The constant flashbacks/flashfowards in intervals help greatly with the pace of the episode, and kept me really engaged the entire episode. The jumps from the shaky camera on a plane about to crash to the steady camera as the plane was flying smoothly was jarring and highly effective.

Score: 9.1/10

Review - White Collar Season 1 Episode 8 Hard Sell

I'm wondering what Jeff Eastin originally had in mind when he positioned Peter as the bad guy at the end of the midseason finale. The explanation provided seemed woefully inadequate, and was much less interesting than the twist itself. Basically we thought Peter was a bad guy for a few months, and in one episode we know he's completely on Neal's side and considers him a friend. So what was the point of the twist? So we'd fret over the future of our crime fighting duo for a while? In the end, the twist had a very simple conclusion. Kate is bad or Fowler is controlling her, and she wants a music box with something inside it. The light USA dramadies rarely have any intricacies in their plots and this is a perfect example. Instead of revealing the truth, Peter could have told Neal nothing so at least Neal and the audience would be guessing for a few more episodes.

Again the the case of the week was ho-hum until the climax when Peter and Neal get trapped in a vault with the air being sucked out. It was the only exciting scene of the episode, so it was nice seeing them scramble around looking for the switch. The boiler room scam plot went about as you'd expect with Neal pretending to be someone, playing different sides, while the FBI backed him up.

Score: 8.7/10

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Review - Better Off Ted Season 2 Episode 10 Lust in Translation

Read my review on SpoilerTV.

Score: 9.4/10

Review - Scrubs Season 9 Episode 10 Our True Lies

The revamped Scrubs seems to have found its footing ten episodes into the season. The characters are slowly developing, the stories are fairly interesting, and I couldn't care less. Scrubs is all but canceled by now, and with three episodes left, there will be no resolution. It isn't spectacular and it isn't awful either. Scrubs is now an average comedy that once was outrageously funny.

Dr. Cox finds a cheat sheet outside the exam room, so he locks up Cole, Lucy, Drew, Trang, Denise, and Australian girl into the room until they find the culprit. There are some revelations that made the situation really awkward. Drew reveals that he was talking to a divorce lawyer in the bathroom. Earlier, he told Denise he loved her, and of course she doesn't take it well. Denise is afraid of getting hurt, and that's exactly why.

Lucy is the actual cheater, but the group decides not to turn her in. Surprisingly, Cole is willing to take the blame for her. He knows he'll get off due to his connections, but to give up pride for Lucy? That's a huge change. Lucy, being obsessive and a bit crazy, is cracking under the stress and turns to cheating while trying to keep her feelings bottled up.

Dr. Cox and Turk are the new "best friends" at the hospital, and it appears the writers ditched the Denise and Turk idea. They deal with a lesbian patient, who mirroring the other stories, doesn't want her partner to know who she was.

The story was strong this episode while the laughs were lacking. Cole's Nickelback mnemonic device was the funniest part and still, it only made me crack a tiny smile.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - The Big Bang Theory Season 3 Episode 13 The Bozeman Reaction

Read my review on SpoilerTV.

Score: 8.6/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Monday 01/18/10

CBS won the night with How I Met Your Mother (4.0), Accidentally on Purpose (3.5), Two and a Half Men (5.3), The Big Bang Theory (5.2), and CSI: Miami (3.6). HIMYM and AoP hit series high, but they'll come down against House next week

ABC was second with The Bachelor: On The Wings of Love (3.9) and Castle (2.8). Castle hit a season high, and is doing great now.

Fox was third with 24 (3.4) which is still doing pretty good.

NBC was a sad last with Chuck (2.5), Heroes (1.8), and The Jay Leno Show (1.3). If the ratings stay so low for Heroes, I don't see it coming back. The show isn't getting any new fans, and the current fans are leaving in drove.

Review - How I Met Your Mother Season 5 Episode 13 Jenkins

I like the non-linear storytelling of HIMYM, and I thought the twists were done very well, but um there was nothing that stuck out. The scenes with Jenkins the guy were funny, and the scenes with Jenkins played by Amanda Peet made the situation even funnier.

The reacher and settler theory by Robin was random, but um it did have some reasoning behind it. The show positions it so clearly the females in the show are the settlers, but um their relationship is much more than reacher and settler. Marshall and Lily have the coolest relationship. Lily can't even believe Marshall would kiss another woman despite his insistence, but um when Jenkins tells her the truth, Lily slugs her instantly.

The drinking game using Robin was very clever though I never noticed her saying "but um" before. Today, I was listening to people and I had to contain my laughter when I heard people saying "but um." It's one of those verbal fillers that come up a lot if you listen closely.

Barney was hardly in the episode and was background comic relief making jokes about having sex with, around, and on top of Jenkins. I'm guessing it's only temporary since Neil Patrick Harris was directing the episode, and didn't have much time to be in scenes himself.

Score: 9.1/10

Review - Castle Season 2 Episode 13 Sucker Punch

Wow, I did not see that coming. The episode was rolling along with a typical story laced with humor and a bit of action, and then there's the bombshell that the victim was killed in the same way Beckett's mother was. I haven't been following Castle spoilers lately, so that totally caught me by surprise. Laney was acting weird all episode, but an episode focused on Beckett's main problem in the middle of the season came out of nowhere.

The victim's brother, is caught having placed the hit, and he wants to cut a deal to bring in the hit man named Rathborn. The only catch is that Rathborn wants money upfront and Beckett can't get it. Luckily, Castle is exceedingly rich, so he gives her the money, only Rathborn doesn't show up to the hit. Beckett figures out the hit man was actually the brother, and he pulls a gun, taking Castle hostage. He ends up dead before revealing any new information, so now all Beckett has is a body, and no new leads.

Castle wants to stop following her, because he blames himself for the mistake. For the first time, Beckett reveals how she really feels--she enjoys having Castle around. I know it's no surprise to the viewers, but actually telling Castle this is a big step.

I loved Johnny Vong and his Engrish. Even though his accent was fake, you had to appreciate how great it was, and that he was using it so people would join his scam.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - 24 Season 8 Episode 3 & 4 Day 8: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

This season seemed especially slow out of the starting gate, but finally the action and story are picking up. I'm waiting to see how the season progresses to make any judgments, but as of now, I'm not particularly impressed. Season 7 switched up the show much more than season 8 which is a reshuffling of 24 concepts.

Jack spends a good part of the first episode getting his ass kicked by an NYPD officer after they find him in the house with the people Davros killed. Yeah it's stupid for countless reasons, but Jack's obligatory beating had to come at some time. And Jack facing off with the thugs playing basketball? Don't get me started.

The plot to kill President Hassan is rather elaborate, and was way more complicated than it should have been considering how close Farhad was to his brother. Decryption of Meredith Reed's stolen files reveals a schematic with the U.N. building and a couple bombs. This prompts an evacuation order from Hastings, and Hassan's car is almost destroyed if not for the Jack-like heroics of Cole.

Cole tracks Davros to a building, but isn't too good at this stuff so he needs Jack to save him. Davros is snuffed out quickly and his tattoos indicate a relation to the Russian mob. Back at CTU, his body is emanating radiation, and we learn Farhad was approached by men wanting to sell weapons grade uranium. Uh oh. Another nuclear attack plot?

Renee (Annie Wersching) shows up in the second episode of the night, and she's very different than how we last saw her. In season 7, she was the straight shooter agent reining in Jack Bauer, but in season 8 their roles are reversed. Renee is psychologically damaged after the events of season 7, and her interrogation of Brian Wilson, hinted at end of the seventh season, ended quite badly.

Jack, having gone through this before, immediately picks up on this, and tries to stop Hastings from putting her undercover with the Russians. Renee  has tons of experience with them, has her cover intact, and wants to help, so there's nothing more he can do other than pretend to be a buyer and stay close.That goes horribly wrong as Renee decides to take a saw to the man's hand. She's crazy right now, but Jack's going to slowly reel her back to plane of sane people through the course of the season.

Dana Walsh's story appears to be unrelated to everything going on so far, and if it stays that way it'll be disappointing. The standalone arcs in 24--Teri Bauer's amnesia in season 1, Kim cougar adventure in season 2--are very weak and distract from the main story. The strength in having so much stuff going on is if the writers weave it into the main story. We've seen the writers do this time and time again, so I'm hoping Dana/Jenny's ex-boyfriend Kevin is trying to talk to her, because he's involved with the nuclear material or the assassination.

Score: 8.8/10

Random thoughts:

Annie Wersching is a really good actress. IMO, she did a better job last season than Cherry Jones.

Kim didn't show up which is great.

Hastings is chill, but gets everything wrong.

I predict Hastings will be kicked up for some hardass from Division.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Review - Chuck Season 3 Episode 4 Chuck Versus Operation Awesome

I can accept the Ring mixing up Devon with Chuck based solely on the events of the previous episode, but the classic Chuck plot hole of a contained situation bothered me the most. Nobody tells anyone anything, so even if an agent of Fulcrum or the Ring makes the discovery of the century, the information doesn't get out until the heroes either kill or capture them. Agent Shaw (Brandon Routh) explains away, saying that the Ring is decentralized. Nice cop out.

This time, a Ring agent named Sydney (Angie Harmon) is certain Captain Awesome is a CIA spy, so she forces him to do a mission for him, letting him walk off without keeping track of him. This lets him go to Chuck, Sarah, and Casey for help which leads to her demise. Chuck is suppose to be a funny action show, but I would like to see some intelligence on the part of the villains. Since this is the third season, the writers seem to have made up their mind on the matter; the villains will always be stupid.

Intersect 2.0 hasn't made as much as difference on the show as the changing role of Chuck. He still can't harness the true powers of it, so it is used for comedic purposes (speaking in Cantonese, kicking Lester). With his spy training and newfound convictions, Chuck takes command, guiding Captain Awesome as Sarah once guided him, even taking out a few guys on his own. While he certainly isn't on the level of Casey or Sarah, there is a definitive direction the writers are taking him.

He's slowly being more assertive, taking charge of situations and making some rash decisions. The mix of wanting to protect his family and friends, and using his abilities as a spy has made Chuck take chances, and he only succeeds half the time. He manages to break into the CIA building for Devon quite easily, tranquing (yes, that's a word) several guards, but fails miserably once Sydney and her henchmen go to the Buy More.

Adding Shaw to the show is going to change the dynamic of the team, which could use a mix up. From what I know, he's the prototypical spy with good looks, and not a single attachment in the world. I was shocked when he pulled his gun on Sarah and Casey. He doesn't like guns and that automatically puts him at odds with Casey, but other than that, he seems very average. At the end of the episode, we see that as he spies on Chuck, his family, and friends eating dinner, he takes out a wedding ring and puts it on.

The first three episodes of the season were fairly heavy on the Sarah/Chuck mess, so I was relieved there wasn't more of that (read previous reviews for explanation). Shaw states that family and friends make spies vulnerable, and looks to Sarah for affirmation, who disagrees saying that sometimes it helps to have something to lose. In 10 seconds, the scene explained the feelings between Sarah and Chuck that are still there--something usually done in a long-winded discussion.

The Buy More antics were nonexistent in the last episode, but we got a full dose of our favorite band of nerds this week. Big Mike promotes Morgan to assistant manager, making him the new Ass Man. In an instant, he goes from being friends with the employees to their enemy. Lester, after receiving a kick from Chuck, feels alive again, and creates the Buy More Fight Club. This puts him at odds with Morgan who still wants to be friends.

Jeff destroying people in the cage was a total hoot. Here's this guy that doesn't fully have everything straight in his head, and he's just beating on his coworkers until they're black and blue. Meanwhile, Lester is the cool guy with the glasses standing there in charge of the situation.

Morgan learns from Big Mike not to take shit from the employees and takes decisive action for once, firing Lester. But then he shows his nice side, rehiring Lester as a probationary employee. It'll be fun to see how Morgan deals with his new position as Ass Man and his new underlings.

I love the camera angle that looks like it's from the perspective of the person who's being spoken to. It adds an immediate goofiness to the scene. Ellie and Awesome's facial expressions become more pronounced, adding to the humor of the situation. It also doesn't hurt that Chuck is doing crazy hand motions in the background.

This season is shaping up nicely, and I know there are people out there that don't like the loss of innocent Chuck, but I like the continued character development where Chuck isn't helpful anymore and can do things on his own. I'm sure Shaw will bump heads with Team Bartowski in more ways than one, so I'm looking forward to what's coming.

Score: 9.2/10

Numbers of Interest - Television Ratings for Sunday 01/17/10

CBS won the night with the highly disappointing NY Jets v. San Diego (11.3), 60 Minutes (5.1), Cold Case (2.5), and a repeat of NCIS (2.1).

NBC was second with the 2010 Golden Globe Red Carpet (2.4) and the 67th Golden Globe Awards (4.7).

Fox was third with a repeat of 24 (1.2), Human Target (2.9), and two hours of 24 (3.8). 24 was down from last year's premiere, and Human Target did fairly strong though it'll have AI as a lead in on Wednesdays, so it should get even higher.

ABC was last with America’s Funniest Home Videos (1.7), a repeat of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (1.8), Desperate Housewives (3.7), and Brothers & Sisters (2.7).

Review - Big Love Season 4 Episode 2 The Greater Good

I wanted to love the episode, but there were some things that irked me so much. 98% of the episode was pure brilliance, and the other 2% annoyed the hell out of me. The episode went back to the basics developing the family relationship.

Bill's new quest for the state senate seat is so stupid, I can't believe it actually was written into a script and got into the screen. It's dumber than anything that happens in 24, and has no logical basis. Bill's reasoning is if he wins, he'll reveal that he's a polygamist, so people can gain acceptance for the practice. Even if you accept that a reasonable polygamist (Bill) would run for state senate, how compelling can the story be?

His talk with Sarah in the end of the episode about having conviction to be married convinced him to commit all the way. All the wives are against the decision, but Bill has become somewhat delusional about what he supposed to do. Barb just wants a quiet marriage without intrusion, Margene wants to expand her business, but Bill coming up as a polygamist will put an end to that, and now Nicki wants Bill to become the prophet. Obviously their family will be divided, but just because Bill is being an idiotic.

Heather warming to Sarah after a quick conversation seemed too superficial. After Sarah screwed with Heather completely, a simple apology shouldn't have brought Heather around, even if Heather is a terrific person.

Score: 9.4/10

Review - 24 Season 8 Episode 1 + 2 Day 8: 4:00 p.m - 6:00 p.m.

I'm a huge fan of 24, and some of you may be wondering why. The show is repetitive, unrealistic, predictable, and formulaic. Yes, it's all of those. But it also delivers the best adrenaline filled thrill ride TV can offer and hits the right notes on the emotional level more often than not.

I'm not, however, a fan of the beginning of 24 seasons, and season 8 was no exception. The set up is rarely as exciting as the development, and I was begging the action to pick up. The writers tried to make the plot more personal like in season 1. Instead of an attack with the possibility of thousands dead, there is a single assassination plot to kill President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor).

The first episode was spent with Jack getting Victor Aruz, a shady character with information on the assassination, to CTU. They are ambushed along the way, and make it to the rooftop where a team lead by Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) arrives, but the helicopter is destroyed by a missile. All Jack learns from Aruz is that someone close to the president is part of the assassination plot.

In the second episode, a reporter, Meredith Reed, is found with U.N. files, and is sent to CTU for interrogation. President Hassan's brother, Farhad, pushes Omar on who she is and we learn she has been having an affair with him for two months. At CTU, Director Brian Hasting (Mykelti Williamso) asks her a series of questions, and since she's hiding the affair, he thinks she's lying about the assassination. Obviously she is not involved, and will be released soon, never to be seen again.

Setting up the next episode, Arlo (John Boyd) thinks there's a mole in CTU after Chloe hacks the drone satellite images. It looks like some people in the U.N. security detail are in on the plot, and the president's brother is in on it.

Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is back at CTU and is having problems adapting to the new systems. Katee Sackhoff's character Dana Walsh is really helpful, but this is Chloe we're talking about. She doesn't want to be condescended to, and she doesn't want to be told she's bad at her job. This means Mary Lynn Rajskub can show us her great scowl.

Dana Walsh has a generic story that may or may not be interesting. She's getting calls from someone in her past that knows her real name is Jenny. With her marriage to Cole coming up soon, she's clearly worrying about it, which means she is hiding something bad.

In the beginning, Jack is ready to leave for Los Angeles with Kim (Elisha Cuthbert). He's smiling, happy, and is a grandfather. As the events transpire and Chloe pushes on her theory, he is slowly dragged back into the world he thought he'd left. The one time he's ready to walk away from saving the world, Chloe and his daughter both push him back in. Ironic isn't it. And at the end of the second episode, we see the rule breaking, blackmailing Jack who will stop at nothing to beat the bad guys.

24 usually has some political undertones, and the Islamic Republic of Kamistan seemed to be based on Iran. There was talk of mullahs, and dismantling of the nuclear program. Ethan Kanin (Bob Gunton) is now Secretary of State and pushes for American inspectors and comes to a compromise with Omar. He's seen taking some pills, and I have a feeling the Chief of Staff Rob Weiss (Chris Diamantopoulos) will take advantage of that.

Score: 8.7/10

Random thoughts:

When Reed asked for an attorney, I wanted someone to yell out "This is CTU bitch!"

Biometric package? The FBI is supposed to be pussified like that, not CTU.

Elisha Cuthbert has barely improved as an actress since season 1.

Shooting in the leg as coercion has gotten old.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Review - Legend of the Seeker Season 2 Episode 8 Light

"Light" was an episode that bridged the beginning arc of the season of finding the rift, and the next arc of Richard splitting with the group to learn wizard powers. I like how there wasn't a direct jump into the next arc immediately, and let us breathe before starting anything major.

Though there was lots of exposition, the episode was uneven, and quickly rushed ahead in the beginning with Richard's departure, and slowing down significantly since there was so little story to tell.

Denna kidnaps Zedd, and you'd think that would make for an interesting story, but all she wants to do is use Zedd to do magic for her. Denna doesn't have any plans other than that, and they goes travel the entire episode talking. It appears that she has a slight change of heart at the end, but is shot from afar by Cara an falls off a cliff into a river.

Richard goes with the Sisters of Light to the Old World, because his headaches from his growing wizard power are getting too severe. Once there, he kills someone invisible creatures who were wizards who changed themselves in order to fight better. He gives the locals hope, and continues on his journey.

Kahlan randomly had a brand new dark leather outfit and darker makeup around her eyes. Why? I saw an interview and Bridget Regan said she was tripping over the white dress. It's a magical land, so anything goes.

Score: 8.6/10
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