Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reviews 8/22/12 - 8/27/12

Did I already say that Alphas is freakin' awesome? Last night's episode was on the messy side, but there was lots of interesting content. We saw one side of the alpha world with the fight club and now we see the other side, with alphas trying to live on their own, far away from everyone else. Hurricane Rosen rolls in and messes things up like he usually does. Rosen's approach to this war with Stanton Parrish has been really poor as this episode highlights. He wants a direct resolution--finding out about the device, no matter the costs--while Stanton Parrish is playing a longer game. While Parrish isn't making any friends either, he provides an alternative to the single-minded Rosen and the government. Rosen doesn't offer much right now, and while he may be the good guy from a story perspective, few alphas seem him as one. Skyler fit right into the war, wanting the best for her daughter and also knowing that Rosen isn't the answer. Is Parrish? We could see her on the other side the next time we see her. Kat Watch: Not in the episode. Rosen said he had her take apart the machine but she didn't find anything. Boo! In hindsight, it was probably for the best she wasn't in an already cluttered episode.

Breakthrough on Grimm! Hank finally learns about Nick's Grimmhood! This is amazing stuff for a show which painfully and ploddingly tried to keep everyone in the dark every episode. Now there's only the Juliette problem, which is turning into more fail from the writers.

If people didn't already know Walt will be screwed. In this week's episode, the third to last of the first half, we see the height of Heisenberg--the cold-blooded drug boss who can look anyone in the eye and make demands--and the low of Walt--the angry, vindictive man who berates Jesse and later shoots Mike then pathetically apologizes. Walt, in the end, is not Gus, nor will he ever be, not even close. Gus ran a tight ship, controlled and unremorseful, every move serving a distinct purpose. Walt can't be like that. He's a dead man.

The season finale of True Blood was relatively better than the season finale in previous season, and the rest of the season was as well, so I'd call Alan Ball's final season a success. Now, his tenure has been rocky to say the least, but he pulled it out in the end, leaving the show on firm footing for the final season. What made the season finale particularly good was its separation of the important and unimportant (well, except for the Alcide stuff which was out of place as usual). There isn't any time dawdling around with Russell. He's dead within the first few minutes, making his existence this season more of a funny story on the side for the audience to smile at. Same with Maurella popping out babies. It's funny but isn't important to the main plot of the episode. Then there's the actually important parts of the episode, the raid on the Authority HQ, Lots of blood and exploding vampires which is always fun. And then the end, Bill dying and reforming as Lilith (or Billith as people are saying) which was surprising. Bill was already the bad guy for most of the season and for him to continue on, as an even more dangerous creature, is a significant departure from the path the show seemed to be on. So the stuff I didn't like: Tara and Pam was completely forced, perhaps in an attempt to regain the LGBT viewership. Alcide became packmaster finally, after an uneventful detour for a few episodes. Cue the V problems storyline. In hindsight, the fire monster storyline seems even worse than it did before. Now it's 100% irrelevant.

The first season of Strike Back, the Sky1 production, focused a lot on how the CIA is a bunch of dicks. This third season is going back to this idea, with the CIA almost killing the team at the beginning of the episode. The rest of the episode was fairly interesting with the Tauregs. One of the things I like about the show is how the characters explore different regions and cultures around the world while chasing the bad guy.

For those who thought Suits would break the USA and transcend its initial case per week premise, think again. After a summer of twists and turns, plotting and backstabbing, Suits returned to where it was before the season began. No Hardman in the picture, Jessica back in charge, Harvey and Donna doing fine, Mike and Rachel not together, and no one liking Louis, although he's more hated now. There's stuff to clean up, but the characters are allowed to practice law in peace now. The bulk of the episode was perfectly fine, with lots of great scenes like Mike and Harvey stoned. But the introduction of Tess and what happened later reeked of plot device. Awful writing. The writers wanted to keep Mike and Rachel apart, so they introduce this never before seen childhood friend and have her and Mike sleep together, and Rachel sees. Terrible, lazy, even offensive. No other way to put it.

At this point, it's best to think of Burn Notice's overall plot (and some stuff in between) as a big farce. Burn Notice is a lot like NTSF:SD:SUV; stuff blows up, people get shot, and the plot makes no fucking sense. Just like in all the previous summer/season finales, this season's summer finale ended with a big shocker--another big bad! We're already 20 layers deep and it's just getting started, as the ratings are still good. 50 more big bads (when all actors/actresses in Hollywood have been used up), 20 more evil international organizations with no clear intent, and we'll probably end up at the final boss, Michael's father. Other than that, the episode had a cool setup, putting the team out on their own, so the action was pretty good. But the ending... expected yet disappointing every time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reviews 8/15/12 - 8/21/12

Alphas did it again, this time with a cool haunted hospital episode. And it's not a generic slasher haunted hospital. The characters confront what they manifest themselves, and it's not the same for everyone. Gary sees Anna, Bill fights himself (this was dumb, to be honest), and Rachel sees Nina. The rest of the episode was spent on Rosen getting Nina to start "pulling" people in order to extract a memory from a senator. Part of this is using Kat as a guinea pig, and Kat remembers glimpses from her 16th birthday after being pulled. As promptly as that happens, Rosen and Nina are off, leaving behind poor Kat, highlighting how bad of a therapist Rosen is and how fixated he is on finding Stanton Parish. One thing that bothers me, though, is why Rosen doesn't want Kat to help the team. He might not have time to help her, but she seems like she could be helpful when the team needs a person to do something very specific.

Grimm wraps up the two parter with more of the same stuff as the first episode. There is the fighting, the meaningless, mysterious dialogue, and once again lingering questions. We learn this week that Renard is a bastard, literally. So does this new fact go with anything we've seen in the past and can it help us answer anything? Not really. We now know that he's not in the inside circle of royalty, but that still doesn't mean much without more details. The plot moved forward, as Juliette is woken by a kiss from a purified Renard. But, surprise, she doesn't remember anything. *Collective groan* On the plus side, there was plenty of Monroe and Rosalee, an awesome duo and the best part of the show.

I don't think I'll be watching any more of Major Crimes. Between always complaining Rusty and always sucking up Sykes, the new parts of the show are too much to take. Provenza and Raydor fighting is fine, but the rest is too much. I'll wait until Provenza and Flynn get their own spin-off.

This week's episode of Breaking Bad was the best episode of the season, brilliantly following up on the train heist from the week before and the deadly shooting by Todd. It's about as complete of an episode you'll get, with lots of plot but also some really solid character work. First, Walt, Mike, and Jesse have to deal with the body and it's somewhat sickening, the crew slowly tearing down the bike then dissolving it (and they used plastic!) before moving on to the kid--thankfully that part wasn't shown. They decide to let Todd stay after Walt lays out the options. They, like Skyler, don't have much going for them, as paying him off or killing him would make their situation even worse. So they get back to business, and Jesse sees that side of Walt, the one which whistles gleefully in the aftermath of child's murder, further burdening his mind. Then there's Mike, constantly being pursued by the DEA. He's freaking Mike, but there's a limit to abilities, and there is no way he'll stay perfect. This all comes together when Mike and Jesse confront Walt; they're out, ready to sell they're share of the methylamine. Walt is pissed but he's Walt and, in his mind, he can do everything. However, Mike tries to sell the methylamine and hits a brick wall--they want Walt's share as well to take the blue meth off the street. Now logically Mike should be able to find another buyer, but ultimatums are good for storytelling. Mike and Jesse are forced into a corner. They want to cash out, but Walt is standing in their way. Jesse tries to convince Walt at his home, and Walt has to bust out the Gray Matter history. It's not about money or drugs for him--it's about empire building. Jesse always thought Walt wanted money for cancer and he's seen a different side of Walt over time, but this is the first time Walt has explicitly laid out what he wants. The hilariously awkward dinner with Jesse, Walt, and Skyler follows, before heading towards the end of the episode, which is action-y like the previous episode. Mike ties Walt down and goes to talk to the DEA before selling all the methylamine, but Walt manages to escape. He supposedly has a plan that allows Mike and Jesse to get all the money they want but also lets Walt keep his share of the methylamine. Great episode from beginning to end. So many problems and potential solutions, and all roads all leading to what all viewers can see as an unhappy ending.

I like this season of True Blood, much more than the previous two seasons. In the latest episodes, there have been surprising clarity to the show that hasn't been seen since the second season. There haven't been the stupid side-stories or quivering fools we've grown accustomed to. Mainly, every character with a significant part is a badass and the other characters don't have their own storyline. A great example of this is Sam and Luna. They have, personally, a huge task at hand, to save Emma, but no one wants to see them for half an episode. So instead of having them chase random creatures as they may have in previous seasons, they have Steve Newlin having Emma, which brings Sam and Luna to the Authority HQ where they get caught at about the same as Pam. Now Sam gets to ask Pam to help Luna, and Pam gets to say a funny line about not knowing who Luna is. We don't spend much time on Sam and yet he's getting stuff done. Meanwhile, the Lilith blood has driven Bill and the others crazy while Eric and Nora, both off Lilith, run off, but not before Eric kills the general which supposedly will draw the wrath of the military, which has yet unseen anti-vampire weapons. Then there's Russell who has a whole bunch of faeries ready to be eaten after he defeats the head faerie who actually sucks at fighting.

After two seasons of Falling Skies, I'm ready to say that Falling Skies will never be a good show. It'll have its moments, maybe twice a season, but it's not cut out of be a good show, not in the way Alphas is or even The Walking Dead to an extent. The writers are so interested in moving the plot in whatever direction they want that the characters and dialogue become afterthoughts. But it's those elements which separate the average shows from the rest, and it's clear we won't be getting anything worthwhile. The season finale is what you'd expect from Falling Skies--lots of plot development. General lets 2nd Mass go fight, Tom declines, gets tossed in jail, rebel Skitters come with mission, Tom and others go on mission, they get caught, rebels save them, Red Eye is killed, Tom kills overlord, they go back to Charleston, get ready to go back to fight, and finally another alien shows up. It's basically an hour of info-dump and cliches. Woman throwing up = pregnant; non-white soldier = dead; big twist = generic third-party alien; overlord alien = supersuperduperduperduperidest genius with massive, glaring  flaws; 2nd Mass = fighters4lyfe; Hal waking from coma = a couple episodes with him plotting before the inevitable reset. You get the picture...

I haven't said much about Weeds this season, because, well, nothing noteworthy has happened. In its last season, Weeds is staggering to the finish line more than ever before, with some of the most pointless episodes of television I've ever seen. Stuff is happening--sex, a pregnancy which turns out to be fake, more sex, pot growing, pharmaceutical sales, more sex--but none of it means anything. You keep expecting a "so what?" to pop up, but it never comes. I get that these characters are terrible messed up, resulting in them doing messed up things, but there is nothing new, not even an attempt to return to the earlier seasons in some form.

Strike Back is the Cinemax equivalent of Starz's Spartacus. There is over the top violence and sex, and yet there is something oddly compelling about it. Call it trash if you want--you're still watching. Strike Back is a step towards serious programming for Cinemax, known mainly for softcore porn. There is an actual plot and the sex is not the main point of the show. In fact, the season premiere was shockingly restrained with only two sex scenes. The show's core retains most from the first season, a wholly British production. Toss in an American, a bit of 24, and you get the new Strike Back which aired last year. The third season is again a Sky1/Cinemax production and all the gungho kickassery one could want. The season premiere introduces the lovely Rhona Mitra as the new head of Section 20 after much deception, and she's already fighting with Scott. The writers got Stonebridge back into action rather quickly and, it seems, disposed of his wife so he'll be with Section 20 permanently. The plot in the first two episode has Section 20 in Somalia ttracking stolen nuclear triggers which go missing at the end of the episode, and there's this shadowy charity at the end of the episode to signal conspiracy.

Boss is a serious show. Most people figure this out pretty quickly. Tom Kane, played by Kelsey Grammer, grits his teeth and growls out his lines, as the camera lingers on his eyes, burning full with intensity. The ambient music grows, and the viewers is told, "We're not playing games." We're supposed to be impressed, thinking to ourselves, "Wow, this is SERIOUS!!" but it's mostly funny the way the producers try to hammer in the seriousness of certain situations. Okay, so Boss takes itself far too seriously and becomes comedic once or twice an episode when it's really trying to make a point, but it's the summer and there isn't much serialized television. I can see that the people on the show are trying hard, and the story isn't half bad, so I suppose there's nothing wrong with watching it each week. Watching Kane trying to create a legacy for himself is pretty interesting once you throw in the rest of the political and personal intrigue.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reviews 8/9/12 - 8/14/12

I've basically caught up on everything I've missed. I'm debating whether to watch the rest of Political Animals. The date for the reviews include Tuesday, but I honestly don't have anything to say about Tuesday shows so I left them off.

Major Crimes continues right on from The Closer without much hesitation. The characters are basically all there except for Pope, Gabriel, and obviously Brenda, the look of the show is the same, and there's the Rusty kid from the finale. There's so much familiarity that anyone who watched The Closer not only for Brenda will find much to like. And yet, I can't help but think something is missing. The Closer began with Brenda finding herself in an antagonistic division with everyone trying to undermine her. Major Crimes is very similar in this regard, with everyone hating on Raydor (she's actually been a thorn in their sides for a while unlike Brenda who had just arrived), so we once again get that Prime Suspect vibe from the show. But after everyone came to respect Brenda, there was still plenty to watch. Brenda handled suspects like no other, using a mixture of anger and subterfuge to break them down, and it made for good television. Raydor's thing so far is that she cuts deals with suspects. Is that all she brings to the table? I hope not.

I don't like how The Closer ended. I don't want to be thinking, "What's Brenda Leigh Johnson doing today?"  while we're following Raydor and her new crew, because we all know Brenda's going to be doing something interesting at her new job at the DA's office. I mean, is Brenda really going to give up crime solving and dead people? Something tells me she won't, unless she takes a big step back from this whole world for a while. Aside from that, the series finale went as one would expect. We get to see all Brenda's familiar traits one last time, she finally nabs Stroh (alas Croelick is still out there, following the reports that Jason O'Mara would not return), gets to shoot him a couple times, and the team says their goodbyes. It's not an overly sentimental affair, but it marked the end of an era. With all her quirks and mannerism, Brenda was one of the most distinct characters of the past decade

Of the shows currently airing, there are few whose new episodes I really want to watch immediately. Breaking Bad is one, Alphas is another. I don't care too much for the rest. The writers do such a superb job with the characters that I want to know what happens to them next. Some shows (Warehouse 13, Grimm, to name a few) would have bungled the flashback device, but Alphas dives right in. Nina's backstory is both sad and chilling. She intervenes in domestic issues as a child, keeping her father in the house, which ultimately results in him killing himself. It's the perfect backdrop for her actions in the present when she's basically unhinged, making Rachel kiss her (yes, gratuitous by the writers, but they make sure to let us know how much Rachel hated it), making Tommy leave his family, pushing Rosen again, and finally jumping off the rooftop. She's may be back at the end of the hospital, eyes cover and arms strapped down, but there's so much wrong with her. Although Nina's story was very dark, Kat balanced it out. She has tons of spunk and is incredibly likable. I hope she gets to stick around longer or maybe even become a permanent member of the team. But I suspect she, like Nina, has a dark past, one that has been forgotten, setting Kat up as Nina's foil. All the members of the team have their own specifics debilitations, while Nina has no clear one. It is in fact her memory that holds her back and her inability to let go of her past.

With horrible, worsening ratings each year, NBC tried something different this year with Grimm. The network decided to start airing it in mid-August, right after the Olympics and a month before all the other shows will premiere, and on a Monday, not on its regular night of Friday. This would seem like a risky move, as network ratings are decidedly lower during the summer... but it's not like anyone watches NBC anyways. The season premiere got off to an okay start, a 2.0 demo, better than the first season average and only a hair lower than the series premiere. Now if the goal of these moves were to attract new viewers, NBC failed pretty badly. The first season of Grimm was good when it focused on the procedural aspects of the show, the different Wesen and how Nick eventually dealt with them. It was at its very worst when it touched on the mythology. It did so in the most infuriating way, exemplified by Captain Rernard always using "mystery speak." Every character skirted around the core of the mythology--a few words here, an implication there--but never a fully fleshed out picture, and yet the mythology was always a big part of the show, used as motivation for actions  many episodes. Characters would do something because of ____, but we don't even know what the hell _____ is.

The second season premiere focused almost entirely on this mythology aspect of the show. The plot device coins rear their heads once more, with this silly melting quest, and there is more of that useless mystery speak regarding Juliette, Nick, Renard. On the plus side, Nick's mother explains how the Grimms worked for the seven royal families, and how there's this thing out there that would allow the royal families to control the world, and Grimm knights hid the location by making a map and splitting it between them. The episode ends with a "To be continued," as Nick's about to get smacked in the face, but beyond that, there is little implication about what's really important. There are too many mysteries, too many magical objects out there that it's hard to tell what actually matters.

Breaking Bad became an action show this week with a full-on train heist with plenty of excitement to go around, starting from Walt bugging Hank's office and finding out that Lydia didn't actually plant the tracker. The heist is fun in usual Breaking Bad fashion, crafty rather than brutal. There are some hiccups late in the heist, but everything goes fine until the end. The kid rolls up on his bike and Todd shoots him dead. Normally if this were just Jesse and Walt, they would weasel out of it. It might take an episode or two, but eventually the kid would be alive and no problem. But there's Todd. He doesn't know how they operate, and he makes damn sure no one will find out about the heist. While Breaking Bad has action episodes from time to time, Walt and Jesse never shot anyone, nor were they ever comfortable shooting someone. And they are clearly not comfortable this time. Now what do they do?

Grudgingly, I went ahead and watched the season premiere of Hell on Wheels. Like the first season, the premiere was all over the place. All the characters are in different places and positions than they were in the first season, but still with no sense of direction. There is nothing cohesive in the little town that explains why exactly these characters are important to each other or the world around them, and why the writers have chosen to show them versus other people. Especially troublesome is Bohannon being the exact same as he was in the first season. While Anson Mount plays him with this greatly grim studiousness, Bohannon become tiresome after a while. He's told his stories, he's fought Yankee soldiers, he's wallowed in himself--and now, in the second season, he's doing it all over again.

I don't understand why True Blood can't be like this week's episode every week. No Arlene, no Terry, all the characters being active. Sam and Luna are actually doing stuff, trying to find Emma by changing in mice which was pretty funny. Sookie and Jason learn that Sookie belongs to Warlow contractually. Hoyt leaving for Alaska gave us some good moments from Jessica, stabilizing her for a while, and Jason, who's usually too silly to be taken seriously. There was movement at the Authority where things are getting crazier each week. Yes, the vampires are all really stupid, especially the way they handled Russell from the beginning (although it's dumb that vampire strength seems to be determined solely by age), but the story is moving forward. And Tara becoming a vampire has been a great move. She's no longer the quivering victim who mucks up the show!

Okay, time to make the Falling Skies-Walking Dead comparison. The second season of The Walking Dead was too slow; the second season of Falling Skies is too fast. The Walking Dead spent its past season on the farm with no serious threat to the groups existence, and the show really stagnated there. But at least there were hints of cracks as the season trudged along and the zombies always kept things interesting. On the other hand, Falling Skies is eager to get to the next plot point, always racing towards the new problem. There's no time to let anything develop. This is what I've complained about the past few weeks, and this week's episode was a great example of that. After so long to get to Charleston, there are a few minutes for viewers to get acclimated with the new setting before the first hint of trouble: the general doesn't want intelligence on the skitters. Then the contrivances come with Pope trying to escape and getting caught, Maggie getting caught trying to stop them, and Hal getting caught trying to escape with Maggie. It turns out that Terry O'Quinn's history professor character, leader of the Charleston group, is one of those dictator types.

Longmire, bizarrely, has dangled Walt's big mystery in front of us this whole season. There were this weird, stylized flashbacks which meant nothing and bits of dialogue which also meant nothing. When the reveal finally came, that his wife was murdered and Walt was involved in the murderer's murder, I didn't really care. No reaction. Does this change my view of Walt? Not really. He's always been one of those old timers who doesn't give a crap, no matter how rude or hypocritical. A bigger problem is that the reveal doesn't open up any new plot avenues other than Katie becoming more pissed. The good thing about Longmire is that the crimes, as unrealistic as they are, are Montana crimes, not LA crimes ported over. So we get to see different kinds of people, different cultures, and a different way of handling crimes.

NBC previewed Animal Practice while the Olympics closing ceremony was still going on, so it didn't start with much sympathy. Still, the premiere got massive ratings and NBC's goal of getting people to watch, even for a few minutes, was fulfilled. From there, though, the number of people sticking around depends on how many people like stupid humor. There's nothing smart or redeeming about Animal Practice. One of its main attractions is a monkey, which may be passable entertainment for some. We'll see where the show goes, but I don't have high hopes.

Common Law, off by itself on Friday nights, hasn't been a breakout hit for USA as have other shows (maybe USA could learn something from this and Fairly Legal) on the network. It has this gimmicky premise of two cops in relationship group therapy which enhances an otherwise boring show. The procedural side of the show is very plain, and with plenty of procedurals already out there, it brings nothing new to the table. The season finale takes us through the origins of the partners' original conflict, which should have been brought up earlier, and they resolve the case. If the show doesn't get renewed, this is a nice stopping point. They've resolved the immediate issue which put them into therapy in the first place and there aren't really any strings left hanging, except for Wes's ex-wife, if anyone cares.

As much crap as NBC gets, no one can say that it doesn't try with its comedies. Go On stars Matthew Perry as a sports radio host whose wife died which puts him in therapy. Not funny, you say? The writers jam as much comedy into the first half as they can before confronting the fact that his wife just died. It's some stupid bit about making a bracket for who has had the worst thing happen to them, and I was ready to hate the show. The second half is much better, and touches on serious issues while maintaining a humorous tone. I want to see Go On be more of the second half, which was funny at times without being over the top.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reviews 7/31/12 - 8/8/12

I'm a couple days behind writing this, so I've included a few extra days of shows. It also helps that USA didn't have new shows for 2 days. I'm slowly making my way through the shows I've missed.

I'm going to be watching Dallas next season--not because any aspect of the show is any good, but because the twists are so wacky that you want to stick around to see what wackiness will follow. Dallas is a summer which shouldn't be taken too seriously, even if the writers try to drum up season-long storylines like Ann vs. her ex-husbands and the Venezuelans. The main draw of the show is how the regular characters interact with each other and what ridiculous thing they're hiding.

Alphas is getting quite interesting in its second season. We get to see the larger alpha community in the form of an underground fight club (I really like that there aren't people killing each other like in every other TV fight club), and Bill drawn to these people like him. Then there's Gary moving into the office which was done really well. Alphas has always done an excellent job with the characters and Gary's mother being in all those scenes was more than you'll see in most shows.

In its third to last episode, The Closer landed with a shocker that Brenda's mother had died, after all the cancer stuff with her father. Perhaps that would be the wakeup call for Brenda, after alienating everyone with her behavior. Somehow, Fritz stuck around long enough to see this happen. We can now see how the series will end according to various people on the show, with Brenda not a MC, still with Fritz, but also not in serious trouble. She'll prioritize her life, put family first, and leave crime solving behind. The penultimate episode finally reveals who the mole is, and it's Gabriel's girlfriend, first introduced only a few episodes ago. It's convenient to set it up like this, making her the mole so that there isn't any big fallout between the existing characters, and it is a cop out. But the series is just about finished anyways, so complaining doesn't really matter. The reveal does put into perspective Brenda's unwillingness to listen to others, as Gabriel expressed discontent over what was going on, yet was ignored.

Breaking Bad began with Walt's 50th birthday, While we've been watching Breaking Bad for years, and it feels like lots of time has passed, we're instantly reminded that Walt hasn't been in the drug business for a long time. He's not a grizzled veteran of the drug trade like Gus, and he sure as hell doesn't know much about running the business. But Walt thinks he's more than that. He's the big boss, the cook, the guy who makes the operation what it is; there would be no blue meth without him. Sure, there would be no meth without him, but Walt doesn't understand business and all the complications involved with it. He doesn't understand people, and really doesn't get Skyler. Skyler finally snaps, but Walt misreads the situation from beginning to end. He starts off not understanding why she would be upset, even though she had actually dropped hints prior to that, and when she does tell him, he can only come up with meager excuses about the nature of the business--which he really has no clue about. Finally, he can only be mean and threaten good. Yeah, good idea, Walt.

In an episode where there is no action and lots of talking, Falling Skies did okay for what the episode was. Given the level of acting on the show and the clunkiness of the writing, we could have had a lot worse. Yes, I'm not going to touch the episode again and at times I wanted to bang my head against the wall, but I managed to make it through the episode--progress! Aside from the usual lousy acting, what bothered me most was the fixation on Charleston. In previous episodes, there was so much else that was going on that Charleston became more of an afterthought, a place to go towards as they were dealing with other problems. In this episode, though, the writers turn on the Charleston hose. Every other scene has someone expressing how great Charleston will be and all the great things they have. And then at the end, strawberries!!!

True Blood's kind of off in bizarro land so I'm waiting a bit before making a big deal out of anything. Luckily, nothing is too terrible. At the same time, none of the stories are particularly interesting, especially with how silly all the stories are.

Harvey practicing law is a constant feature of Suits, so of course he would have to be saved at some point. Last week's episode solves the problem with the whole "skeletons in the closet" plot device which manages to save Harvey but leaves plenty of problems behind.

Damages's hacker story moved the plot forward, introducing the idea that there is a third-party out there who may have stolen the information. But the way in which is done reflects how far behind the media is when it comes to technology. The hacking scenes were awkward in the portrayal of the Samurai 7 hacker and the whole hacker magic thing was going on. This week's story spends more time on the character aspect of the season, giving us lots of McClaren to explain some of his behavior and dipping into the Kate-Patty connection. As much as we can now see why McClaren acts the way he does, he's still obviously a pretty scummy guy who seems to do things for no particular reasons and could still be involved in Naomi's death. Ellen is having disturbing dreams now, similar to the first season flashforwards.

Covert Affairs continues on its much improved third season by putting the characters in different positions than we've ever seen them. Auggie is out on his own--no Parker, no Annie, and an alien job. Annie is also out on her own now, and she falls into the arms of another man (you'd think the CIA would be more careful with her an romantic relationships, given her history). Looks like there will be lots of angst in the future.

White Collar: Well, there's Peter going back to his job. If my expectations for the show had been higher, I probably would have been miffed, but everyone saw this coming. The show needs to return to the same format with Peter and Neal having a case every week.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Reviews 7/24/12 - 7/30/12

In its second season, Alphas remains largely the same show it was last season with a group of superhumans capturing other superhumans. This is to be expected from Syfy, post-BSG/Caprica. The changes, however, do add an extra dynamic to the show that it didn't have in the first season. The team is far more fractious, with Gary often getting mad, Bill getting into it with Rosen, and Nina going off the rails. Of course, it doesn't help when government agents are hanging all over the team. This weeks episode featured an alpha who can move faster than anyone due to prior experiments which also cause him to age faster. He's knows Stanton Parish, so his capture is important, but someone shoots him right as he's caught. Immediately, we want to know who the shooter is, as it would be a tie to Stanton Parish, but there is no evidence. My best guess would be Hicks, who's been shown to make some incredible shots.

In my eyes, Warehouse 13 is on its last legs, struggling to find a worthwhile plot, while trying to maintain the grab an artifact per week theme. The major plots of the fourth season hinge on then potential for two artifacts to unleash evil after using them to save Steve and the Warehouse. We don't know what this evil is, so all we're left with is Artie and Claudia worrying about what might happen in the future.

Breaking Bad can pretty much do anything and I'd be entertained. Badger and Skinny Pete buying cases, Walt and Jesse cooking, Mike doing his thing, Saul whining. The show has such an engrossing visual style and the writing is so sharp that these seemingly normal situations turn out to be almost on the same level as when the something super crazy happens. This week's episode continues the creation of Walt's new drug business and it turns out to be different than he had imagined. They have a new places to cook--tented houses being cleaned of bugs--Mike to handle the business side, and no Gus. But it isn't what Walt wanted. Money has to go to this person and that person, people in jail who might squeal, and in the end, only a portion goes to Walt--less than what they got with Gus, though they are cooking less. Meanwhile, Skyler cracks and goes ballistic on Marie, which would be highly gratifying if not for the underlying possibility that Marie looks further into Walt's activities.

As True Blood heads into the home stretch, the show has thrown away any idea of a coherent narrative. Everyone is off doing their own thing. The vampires are being wacky, Sookie and Jason are looking for their parents killer, Alcide and his new girlfriend are doing... something, Lafyette is now helping Arlene and Holly with Terry, Luna shifts into Sam and it becomes an awkward/funny/touching situation, Tara bonds with Pam, and Hoyt saves Jessica but still doesn't like her. But like I said last week, this season isn't too bad because nothing is actively annoying me. I guess that's a start.

While I like that Suits usually deals with larger real-world implications than other USA shows, the whole trumped up poker storyline was too silly and stupid to enjoy. Louis and Rachel was fun, especially the recordings filled with Littisms.

Burn Notice: Well, Nate is dead, Anson is dead, and Fi is out. Was it Rebecca, and is there yet another big bad waiting out there? If there is another big bad, I'll be really pissed (yes, I know I said I'd stop watching the show last time something like this happened).

As someone who doesn't like whatever craziness surrounds Boris, last week's episode of Royal Pains was, well, painful. And what was up with Hank "only love interest for doctors can be other doctors" Lawson almost hooking up with someone? It looked like the writers wanted to do something with Star Trek, but Evan and Brady seemed more like pseudo-fans than anything else. There have been tons of weddings on Star Trek, far more than on other sci-fi shows, and the rote Enterprise bashing was lame. (I know people get all nostalgic about Star Trek, but Enterprise is at least as good as Voyager, and it at least had some lofty goals, even if they were missed spectacularly.)

This season of Damages is quickly diverging from the previous seasons. As Patty correctly states, there are no facts in the case, and it's not just the characters who are in the dark--viewers know just as little. The flashbacks, always a good source of information in a twisty manner, are all questionable, possible fictional constructs of McClaren or Rachel. We're left with nothing but a pure battle between Patty and Ellen, without any pesky facts or evidence to get in their way. This is pretty cool stuff, and it makes for compelling television when both characters are trying to outsmart each other in the courtroom when the normal procedures don't apply. After losing to Patty last week, Ellen struck a blow, calling in question everything Rachel has said, disabling most of Patty's arguments.

After a rather boring second season, Covert Affairs's third season is off to a much better start. For starters, Annie is working for a new person with new rules, and Auggie is also in a new place. Last week's episode raised stakes quite high when Auggie and Parker are captured by pirates, and it makes for an interesting, Auggie having just proposed and also having not told her about the whole CIA part of his life, all while Joan and Lena are grappling with each other and Annie tries to figure out what to do.
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