Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 18 Fearful Symmetry

Sorry for not having any reviews the past couple of days. The constant blogging is kind of wearing on me and I think I take a week break after I'm done with the season and the couple episodes in the beginning of the third. I think I'll still be on pace to finish by the end of summer, but I want to slow down.

Sometimes I don't understand what the writers were doing when they wrote certain episodes. The cold open, especially, puzzles me. It begins with something invisible trampling and knocking over workers before appearing in front of a truck and dying. Already, we know several undeniable facts. 1) The elephant was invisible. 2) It's not a mythology episode. Automatically, Scully's theory that the light made it hard to see the elephant (LOL!) is disqualified and Mulder's alien theory will amount to nothing. As cool as the opening scene is, the rest of the episode doesn't expand on it at all.

The plot gets swallowed by an overbearing environmental message and the episode ends with almost nothing happening. There are these flashes of light and animals outside their cages. And?...

Score: 7.0/10

Review - Huge Season 1 Episode 1 Hello, I Must Be Going

I forgot to blog about this show since it kind of passed my mind after watching it., so I'll be brief.

Despite the gimmicky premise, Huge is still a teen soap, and with that territory comes dumb plots and pat, overly sentimental resolutions. Still, I didn't dislike any of the characters or actors, which might make the show worth watching.

Score: 7.7/10

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

DVD Review - How the Earth Changed History

How the Earth Changed History (released on DVD and Blu-ray June 29) answers the following questions: How did the Earth alter human progress--and finally, how do humans alter the Earth?

Narrated by Professor Iain Stewart, the series takes us through 5 parts--"Water," "Deep Earth," "Wind," "Fire," and "The Human Planet." Each parts covers basic science and, of course, history--all synthesized in a neat package which is easy to digest and understand. There's a rather aimless feeling in the first couple parts, without much to tie them together, until "Fire" and "The Human Planet" when Stewart busts out his thesis--the balance between humans and the Earth is tense and must be kept in good order.

Along with the breathtaking visuals, How the Earth Changed History grabs your attention as Stewart bounds across every nook and cranny of the Earth from a narrow coal tunnel in England to the deserts of the Sahara. His youthful enthusiasm and clear voice helps greatly. He's involved at every step and he's rather daring, doing certain things. such as walking through fire (with a suit, of course), which I would never do.

My complaints, few as they may be, warrant a couple lines. First, the assertion that history and climate is somehow "untold" is stretching it. There are plenty of history books which mention climate change, albeit not as in depth, along with the usual overextension and peasant revolts in regards to civilization collapse. In fact, Jared Diamond's excellent book, Collapse, is dedicated to the exact subject. Second, the doom and gloom of global warming is poured on in the final ten minutes. However, the solution isn't much of one. Carbon sequestration and finding new energy sources are discussed, but the urgency to implement these plans isn't conveyed.

How the Earth Changed History provides a solid foundation of science and history, notably the effects climate had on human development and shows the converse--the effects humans have on climate--in modern day. All in all, it's a very solid production and educational as well.

Score: 8.7/10

Own it on DVD June 29!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Review - Lie to Me Season 2 Episode 14 React to Contact

One positive thing from Dollhouse's cancellation was several story arcs jammed into the second half of the season, giving us a string of mindblowing episodes with intense material for all the actors, who performed brilliant (even Eliza Dushku at times). Enver Gjokaj was one of them, proving himself to be a first-rate actor. In "React to Contact," he again plays a soldier whose past is held back by his mind. Of course, only Lightman can find out what happened.

The whole soldier PTSD thing and little kids with guns have been done on various shows already, so the concept wasn't that original. However, how the reveal was doled out in the final act of the episode was nothing short of incredible. They do a recreation of the events and we see each facet haunting the sergeant until we find out what the captain did.

Score: 9.3/10

Review - Leverage Season 3 Episode 3 The Inside Job / Episode 4 The Scheherazade Job

As we're reminded in both "The Inside Job" and "The Scheherazade Job," we don't really know much about these characters, their pasts, and what they've done, other than Nate. Parker, in particular, has a past shrouded in mystery. There is the classic image of Parker as a girl, clutching the stuffed animal as her house explodes, showing her... troubled past, but her entrance into thieving is unknown.

"The Inside Job" shed light on her situation and showed us fresh, unique spin on the normal jobs. The episode starts with Parker trapped inside skyscraper, evading a Steranko security system, the biggest, baddest thing out there--ever! The gravity of exactly how great the system was never came through since it sounded like every other tight security system: heat sensors, motion detectors, different modes, lockdowns, etc. But that wasn't the point anyway.

Parker is inside the building, because her adoptive father Archie (Richard Chamberlain) asked her to help after being pressured into taking the job. Unfortunately, she jumped the gun and went in alone, leaving her stranded in the building. In terms of complexity, the job was below average, but the team dynamic--and Parker's hilarious interactions with the company employees--was enough to make it a winning episode. Parker eventually escapes, in the process, uncovering a scheme to destroy the world's wheat supply, forcing the world to buy wheat from the company.

Archie is a fascinating character and I'd love to see him return. Even though Parker is not his real daughter, he treats her as one, albeit in his own thief-like ways. He's overly protective of her, trying to countermand Nate at several times. Parker reciprocates in her own dysfunctional way, saving Archie's real family by doing the job herself. But like a daughter, she too must grow up. Nate's Robin Hood ideas have apparently rubbed off on her, and she sticks through to the end despite Archie's protests.

One of the funniest things we learned about Parker was how she lives. Essentially, she lives in a large storage facility which is completely empty except for a bed, a very organized table, a information board, and some clothes. The rest is just space!

The second episode of the night, "The Scheherazade Job," was a mix of everything with a slant towards Hardison. To be honest, the African story wasn't interesting or important, but to recap, it was about an African guy who hoards diamonds and wants more power.

Apparently, Hardison can play the violin and the job succeeding is contingent on him selling the ability to play. However, he hasn't played since he was 14 and has to play Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. For plot convenience (and Aldis Hodge being able to mime playing), the concert starts on the fourth movement and is choreographed in sync with the crew pulling off the job, ending with the big gong crash before Hardison goes into the solo. He pulls it off without mistakes, leaving his team mesmerizes as Scheherazade did the king.

The biggest development was Hardison declaring that he'll make his own crew own day and wants to learn from Nate. The problem is, Nate doesn't think he should have his own crew and is very condescending the entire episode. Are they headed for a conflict?

The Italian woman has Nate recover an envelope for her. Supposedly, it is a link to Moreau, but Nate finds out that the envelope is really about her. The plot is fairly bland right now and Elisabetta Canalis is boring, so I'm eagerly waiting for something to happen on that end.

Next week, we're back to normal scheduling with one episode a week and with extra episodes this season, there's plenty of weeks before the season ends.

Score: 9.4/10
Score: 8.7/10

Review - True Blood Season 2 Episode 3 It Hurts Me Too

Can we get this thing started already? After two episodes containing new developments and slick pacing, "It Hurts Me Too" slowed to a near crawl. We're still in the first act of the season, but the lack of anything substantial happening is disconcerting.

Bill is alone in Mississippi without the usual Bon Temps characters to interact with, and the new dynamic has pushed him in a very different direction. He is reminded of his dark past with humans through a series of dreams. He returns to his wife after the Civil War--and after he's been turned. His wife welcomes him with open arms until she realizes he's dead, freaking out. There only solution, Lorena tells Bill. He glamours her and has her forget about him, a strike to his heart, but a necessary action. To compound his grief, he also has to bury his son who had died from smallpox. In an episode where not much was happening, Bill Moyer provided a good jolt with his angsty acting.

Confronted and tormented by Lorena back in present day, Bill ends the episode with a shocking sex scene. twisting her head around in the process, shocking me, and certainly others out there. So what did everyone else think about the final scene? Too much? Just right? Too little?

And by the end of the episode, Bill has accepted Russel's offer, at least for now. I don't buy Bill's huge change, especially since Sookie doesn't treat him like his wife did, so the final scene seemed out of character, though separation from Sookie probably exacerbated his worsening mindset.

Meanwhile, Sookie takes off for Mississippi after the weird funeral for Eggs. Her new companion is hunky werewolf, Alcide, played by Joe Manganiello. They visit a werewolf bar and get in a tussle, but not before Sookie finds one of the werewolves who kidnapped Bill and Alcide learns that his ex is getting married to the pack leader.

There were several amusing scenes in the episode, mostly coming from Jason and Jessica who still aren't doing much, but have enough innocent charm to smile at. Jason, after helping the police last week, decides to join the police due to his amazing paramilitary skills he learned at the crazy church last season. However, there's the written test, and being a total idiot, he passes on all of them while practicing the answers. Clearly he'd fail the written test, but with Sheriff Dearborn exiting, maybe there'll be looser requirements.

The new vampire is named Franklin and it looks like he's prying around for information. After questioning Jessica, using the head of her body, he moves on to Tara and glamours her.

Arlene's visit to the OB/GYN takes a turn for the worse when the doctor informs her the baby is 9 weeks ago, placing the conception before season 2 (yes, the timeline is really, really narrow), making the baby of Rene, the serial killer who was killed at the end of the first season. Sorry, Terry. Where will the story go from here? Arlene worrying the entire season?

Dragging down the episode was everything Sam-related. After leaving his family and his disgruntled family, Sam is quickly reunited with them at his bar where his father is doing the usual angry drunk stuff. Yawn... But his brother is up to no good, rummaging around in Sam's office. Could he be working for someone else? Probably not since he's only acted like a pissy teenager, unless that's his big facade.

Right now, the biggest problem with True Blood is the lack of focus. The characters are apart and doing their own thing, which, for the most part, isn't working. I don't care about Sam or Tara while Lafayette, who I do like, barely gets anything to do. Preferably, one story will be the clear focus in an episode and be developed to the fullest, so we don't get bits and pieces of what might amount to something good.

Score: 8.4/10

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 17 End Game

"End Game" serves up high strung drama doled out equally across an hour and an equal amount of WTF!! mystery, which serves its purpose to string us along for years. The episode isn't perfect, leaving us a mere taste of what is out there without laying down a proper foundation to build upon other than the usual aliens stuff.

The mythology episodes are usually plot-heavy and "End Game" is no exception. The pacing is pushed far more than usual, the locations spanning great distances with Mulder traveling all the way to the Arctic. Mulder's sister is traded for Scully, but she turns out to be nothing more than a pile of green goo. Meanwhile, the bounty hunter is on the move, burning down the clinic with the rest of the Samantha clones just as Mulder arrives.

X plays a pivotal role in the episode, though we're still not sure what his role is. He gives Mulder the location of the submarine, but refuses to give it to Scully until he gets the snot beat out of him by Skinner. We know he gives Mulder information, because he wants everyone to know the truth one day, but a big problem is that we have no clue about the group he's with or how it operates. What allows him to tell Mulder information without being caught? Why would he tell Skinner the truth?

By the end of the episode, Scully's faith in science is renewed because it proved viable in combating the new alien virus and Mulder's faith to keep looking is renewed, having been a brush away from the real deal. We see the resilience in these two, fighting on through all adversity, even redoubling their efforts. All attempts to stymie them have only served to push them further, because now they know, cliched as it is, the truth is out there. And in this way, the answers aren't that important (emphasis on that), because the focus is on the characters, no the aliens.

Of course the episode ends without us learning much, but it was cool to see everything unfold either way. I won't deduct points for the pitiful explanations (basically non-explanations and only more mystery) later on.

Score: 9.4/10

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 16 Colony

Far more than the Duane Barry arc, "Colony" and the next episode "End Game," have great continuation from episode to episode, mysteries left unturned rather than explained already. And I'm hesitant to review each episode individually rather than piecemeal, but I'm kind of short on time, so I'll review this one for now.

The singular reason why Mulder joined the X-files and started his scorching quest into the paranormal and UFOs is his sister. In the opening monologue, Mulder explains his thoughts before a cut to Mulder in a hospital, near freezing, and Scully arriving. Right off the bat, we know he closed in on his life's ambition vis a vis something about his sister, and though he's is near death, there is nothing more he would like to achieve. This startling revelation sets the episode with a foreboding tone which is racketed up by the events that do transpire in the episode.

There are some pretty incredible things introduced in the episode and all are left unresolved, which makes for tons of anticipation for the second part. The shapeshifting green-goo alien played by Brian Thompson is going around killing various doctors who are identical. Scully finds several of the doctors and is found by the bounty hunter, posing as Mulder, at the end of the episode. Mulder's sister--or so she claims to be--is back and she claims to have been returned many years ago and only recently recovered her memories.

"Colony" strikes the right balance between plot, information, and mystery and is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, mythology episodes of the first two season.

Score: 9.3/10

Preview of Week 06/27/10 - 07/0310

Leverage - TNT, Sunday, June 27, 9:00pm ET

Two more episodes this week! And we can except two fun jobs as always.

Entourage - HBO, Sunday, June 27, 10:30pm ET

Not particularly deep or intellectually stimulating, but at least it's better than Hung.

Lie to Me - Fox, Monday, June 28, 8:00pm ET

Enver Gjokaj of Dollhouse fame guest stars as a soldier whose memory may or may not be accurate. As the previews showed, Lightman holds a gun in this episode!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 15 Fresh Bones

Continuing from "Die Hand Die Verletzt," "Fresh Bones" is another scary episode with vivid imagery. That's pretty much all that's good about the episode. It gets weighed down by various plot threads which never come together. There's the main Haitian voodoo thing, the military guy killing people, and X randomly showing up to tell Mulder that the government wants to get rid of everything. The soldier who is supposedly killed in the beginning of the episode and his wife are pretty much forgotten by the end of the episode.

It's annoying when there are good ideas in the episode and then everything meanders off in too many directions, but Howard Gordon went that direction.

One thing that caught my attention was the Haitian boy who is revealed to have died 6 days ago, making him a zombie. It's the same guy that plays the one-note character Greer on Stargate Universe.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 14 Die Hand Die Verletzt

I was trying to remember what happens "Die Hand Die Verletzt," and it took me a while before I remembered the plot and outcome. Watching the episode again, there's a couple good reason why it's not memorable. The guests are more set pieces for Mulder and Scully to interact with. There is good acting, but the characters are more to create the occult vibe than to be real people.

The plot is average, as we know who the culprit is while Mulder and Scully investigate. Still, the tone is scary enough to carry the episode. The episode ends frighteningly as Paddock disappears. The final camera shot shows someone looking inside at Mulder and Scully, but of course they have no clue what's going on.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Party Down Season 2 Episode 10 Constance Carmell Wedding

Party Down ended is second--and possibly final--season with "Constance Carmell Wedding," another hilarious episode to add to its ever-growing list of excellent episodes. Jane Lynch returns for Constance's wedding and several characters get somewhat of a conclusion, not quite a winning experience for everyone, but certainly more than we're used to.

Henry has, since the beginning, been the central focus of the show and the example of the failed actor. He is smarter than those like Kyle, has actually found success before, and yet, here he is, working as a caterer. By now, he has all but given up on his dreams, choosing instead to languish in this job along with a couple other wacky people. Like Henry, Casey is a caterer, but she is still pursuing her dreams. And that's where the Apatow movie comes in. It's her big break, or so she would like to think. But her scene is cut out and she is back to square one.

She's left crying, unable to cope with her broken chance for success. When Henry tries to comfort her and tell her it's all right and she'll succeed one day, she can't take her seriously. Henry has given up, called it quits, declared that there is no chance he will ever break through. So why would he think Casey would succeed if he can't? At the end of the episode, we see Henry take a day off work and audition for a part. And because Adam Scott is leaving in the hypothetical third season, possibly with only 3 episodes, Henry is right on the path to stardom.

Ron came into this season, crawling back after Soup'r'Crackers collapsed, in a lower place than the rest of them. He's battled through, and in the season finale, finds love with Danielle, the boss's daughter.

By now, we know Roman is a bad writer who will never write anything half good. But what about if he was high as a kite and didn't care about his weird writing pathologies? He writes something spectacular and luckily it's written on toilet paper for him to read later. Could he have written something actually good? Something tells me he didn't. For one, Kyle is a terrible judge, because, well, he's an idiot. Also, Roman seemed to be off in his own world, creating an insane story which probably didn't make sense.

My favorite part of the episode was when Kyle's band, Karma Rocket came out and played "My Struggle." It's exactly what it is, basically a song version of Mein Kampf. Of course the many Jews in the room are horrified, but Kyle keeps on singing and continues to be oblivious. Oh, Kyle...

Starz still hasn't officially renewed or canceled the show, so there's a good chance that was a series finale. According to executive producer John Enborn, the chances for renewal are at 3 out of 10. And that's not really a surprise considering that the ratings are slightly above 100k viewers. 100,000. It's not a Starz problem, either. The insipid Spartacus: Blood and Sand reached above 1 million viewers, so people know Starz is out there. For whatever reason, people just aren't watching Party Down. Maybe it's a scheduling issue, but it's too late to find out.

If the show is not renewed, and it's likely it will not, I'm we got to see 20 episodes. There were plenty of laughs, great acting and writing, and the sadistically funny existence of the Party Down folks.

Score: 9.2/10

Friday, June 25, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 13 Irresistible

Donnie Pfaster is a sick, sick motherfucker. But he's not paranormal in the usual sense. In fact, Mulder doesn't even suggest aliens or his usual jive. He gets right down to business, accurately divining that the criminal is a fetishist.

The episode has little plot other than Pfaster being a freak with women's hair, Scully's internal fears bubbling to the top and her kidnapping late in the episode. In the end, Scully manages to stay alive and Pfaster is caught, the expected outcome, but nerve-wracking nonetheless.

"Irresistible" is a Scully episode, and it is very effective. Her fear overwhelms her as she imagines Pfaster as a demon, his imposing figure transfiguring momentarily to reflect just how she feels. Her normally cool exterior is blistered throughout the episode until her kidnapping when all her fears, all her dread explode. In my review of "Firewalker," Scully's first episode back since her disappearance, I complained that we didn't see much residual effect, at least outwardly, of Scully's experience with Duane Barry. And in many ways, this was Scully's chance to express all her feelings not only about Pfaster, but also Barry.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 12 Aubrey

"Aubrey" starts off great, fast paced as Mulder and Scully visit Aubrey where the remains of a missing FBI agent from the 40's are found. A murder occurs and initially, the suspicion falls upon a convicted rapist who is now wheelchair bound.

So far so good--until Mulder's wild "genetic memory" theory, which is correct, of course. Scully exclaims "That's outrageous," and let's be real--it is. The X-Files is best when it toes the border of the unknown, the mysterious, the paranormal, and the real world, comprised of everyday people and law enforcement, not necessarily science.

Scientific explanations, as in "Aubrey," are patently unscientific, because it is, after all, still a very fantasy-oriented fiction and attempts by the writers to make the explanation rooted in some kind of science come off as stupidity. Bringing up an genetics and Mendel may sound smart ostensibly, but I'm sure most viewers look past the words and see pure hogwash.

Even Fringe, which peddles pseudoscience in each episode, doesn't attempt for real explanations and science, opting for a general understanding that science can reach fantastical levels and is dangerous in the wrong hands. And that's where the episode goes dreadfully wrong, reducing mystery and intrigue to simple "science."

Still, the buildup before the pathetic explanation and several scenes afterwards are pretty awesome and has lots of tension and mystery. It's not enough to make it a particularly good episode, but it's passable.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Flashpoint Season 3 Episode 4 Custody

There's honestly not much to say about the episode. The episode starts off great with a hostage situation after a custody hearing, but becomes annoying circular. Too few characters are introduced, and Helen, the woman who Jules talks to for a while in the beginning, kidnapped her children to bring back to Ireland.

But, as always, the episode brought ample emotion to the lame plot and Greg was able to relate, having been divorced and lost contact with his own son. The rest of the team was doing their usual jobs, and Leah got a bit of reality as she's reminded that Ed is in charge and in full command.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Rookie Blue Season 1 Episode 1 Fresh Paint

Don't blink--I liked it. Perhaps "like" is too strong of a word, but, if anything, I'll be watching more episodes. Unlike ABC's other dreadful summer offerings, Scoundrels and The Gates, Rookie Blue doesn't have a wild, fandangled concept. It sticks to a simple formula: New cops dealing with life and reality.

What sets the show apart is Missy Peregrym, who plays Andy McNally, the main character. She would probably have an expanded role on Reaper after the events of the second season finale, but if she is not going to be on Reaper, at least she is on television. Andy is charming, vulnerable, and tough, coming off as the most realistic character. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast is lightyears behind Peregrym and aren't memorable.

And yes, the characters are simplistic, the plot is simplistic, and the themes are simplistic. Already, Andy has two older love interests (2 McDreamys!!) and thankfully no action--yet. In the end, Peregrym's winning performance will bring me back to the show and given the good ratings we'll probably be seeing more of the show.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - Burn Notice Season 4 Episode 4 Breach of Faith

I've reached the point where the spy game arcing across the seasons no longer interests me, and I won't be saying anything about it until there are actual developments. Right now, the show would be better served if the spy stuff wrapped up at the end of the season and focused on the awesome. The tiny movement in this front amounted to finding Cobra dead and his assassin running off, nothing worth noting really.

"Breach of Faith" was considerably stronger than the previous episodes, because it did have a compelling and exciting story. Michael and Sam find themselves as hostage takers along with a guy who lost of a charity's money to a money-grubbing loser. Police swarm the building and they find themselves in a nearly impossible situation.

They do, however, recover the money in the end and escape without consequence, far too conveniently. The plot holes, especially the fact that the police knows exactly who Michael Weston is and let him go, left a bad taste in my mouth. I knew this wouldn't happen, but I wanted to see Detective Paxson return. I know, I know, she was pointless last season, but a return in this opportune moment would actually justify her existence.

Score: 9.3/10

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 11 Excelsis Dei

Ghost rape, old people on shrooms? What the hell. So what really happened at the Excelsis Dei nursing home? I don't know and neither do the writers. There's no explanation for anything--not even an attempt--and the episode ends.

Most shows take rape very seriously, because it is a serious subject, but "Excelsis Dei" kind of skims past the issue, moving in the ghost story without addressing the woman who was rape. In this way, the episode felt more wrong than even "3." And the nice orderly gets deported while the others stay. Where's the justice in that?

Score: 7.4/10

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 10 Red Museum

Originally, "Red Museum" was supposed to be a crossover with Picket Fences, a pretty awesome CBS show. However, CBS nixed the crossover after the scripts were written, leaving "Red Museum," an episode which is unfocused and unsatisfying. The lesson: communicate better.

The episode begins with teenagers disappearing and reappearing with words scrawled upon their backs. As the cold open indicates, there's someone looking through a small hole inside one of the resident's house, but that thread dissolves into nothing. The Church of the Red Museum, too, starts off as a prominent force, but nothing comes of it. In the end, it becomes a mythology episode, tying "The Erlenmeyer Flask" to the episode with the Crew Cut Man coming in and cleaning up, likely because the crossover would not happen. Scully's final voiceover tries to tie everything together, but amounts to nothing more than a simple "We know nothing."

Compared to other lackluster monster-of-the-week episodes, "Red Museum" has great ideas behind it from cattle injections to the reintroduction of Purity Control. Unfortunately, the episode isn't very coherent.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 9 Firewalker

There is a great episode of Star Trek titled "The Devil in the Dark" that is eerily similar in premise to "Firewalker." Both have the main characters go to caves of some sort and investigate a death or deaths. Silicon based lifeform turn out to be the culprit, but the way The X-Files takes it is distinctly different. "The Devil in the Dark" becomes a sharing is caring episode whereas the "Firewalker" turns into a horrifying ordeal for Mulder and Scully, not unlike "Ice."

Unfortunately, "Firewalker" falls sort of both "Ice" and "Firewalker" and originality and memorability. No single moment stands out and the science is done in broad strokes. Because Scully's first case back, there is slight tilt in her direction. She is the one who is almost infected in the end and struggles mightily to save herself.

Another downside to the episode is a lack of debriefing and more reaction from Scully, further pushed away by the 1 month decontamination period. I kind of want to see more of what goes on with Scully since her abduction, but the writers apparently didn't want to do down that route.

Score: 8.6/10

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 8 One Breath

Right off the back, Scully returns in a coma at a hospital. No one knows how she got there or who brought her there. Mulder arrives and bursts into anger, sending chills down my spine. To be frank, "One Breath" doesn't have much plot other than Scully's internal struggle to find to willingness to stay alive, a forgone conclusion intensified by the mystical scenes of her rocking in the boat. That's not to say that the episode is bad, but the earlier mythologies drag on without revealing a whole lot, a symptom which creates various plot holes later on.

What sets "One Breath" apart from other episodes is the raw emotion coming from Mulder. In whole, I think Gillian Anderson's acting abilities are very underrated when compared to David Duchovny's, but in this particular episode, Duchovny blows it out of the water.

Something cool about the episode is that everyone gets a part of the action. The Lone Gunmen help Mulder early in the episode, introducing him to the Thinker, who will show up later. Scully's mother, Margaret, pops in for a while and we meet Scully's sister, Mellisa, a kooky new-age person who could use more subtle dialogue. Skinner secretly gives Mulder the location of CSM, giving Mulder the perfect chance to kill him. But CSM offers Mulder a convincing argument against it: Without him, Mulder won't learn all his secrets. Later, X gives Mulder the perfect opportunity to strike back, telling him to wait in his apartment for those to ransack his house. His rage, however, is tamed and he spends the night with Scully instead.

In the end, Scully wakes up abruptly and without warning. Scully smiles, Mulder smiles, and everything is all right. It's trite for the time being, but where the show is going, fine in my book.

Score: 9.3/10

Review - Memphis Beat Season 1 Episode 1 It's Alright Mama

Memphis Beat has a bit of everything--charm, emotion, a decent police case--but unfortunately, nothing is done particularly well, leaving a bland show which struggles to find exactly what it is. The tone goes from somewhat funny with Earl playing around with a little girl to somewhat emotional as Dwight catches the criminal and interrogates him.

As far as cop shows go, Memphis Beat is very average and there's not much that sets it apart from the rest other than Jason Lee, who I kept expecting to turn into Earl and do something wacky. It was obvious the writers tried to inject the "Memphis" part of the title into various nooks and crannies with Elvis impersonators, accents, but the overall tone of the show didn't reflect any of that. The physical objects the writers can do, but tone--definitely not.

Score: 8.0/10

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 7 3

Ah... the infamous "3." It's like one of those cheap late night thriller/horror movies, except it doesn't contain any nudity. If this were any venue other than broadcast television, there'd be breasts and a lot more blood everywhere.

Everything is dark and has a erotic/killer undertone to it with Mulder attracted to the vampire, Kristen, who is running from a trio of vampires with cheesy names like "The Son," "The Father", and "The Unholy Ghost" and trying to fight her base impulses as a vampire. In the end, they all die. The details in between aren't important or relevant, but there are random Bible verses and proclamations about eternal life--all glossed over for the weird vibes going on between Mulder and Kristen.

The entire episode made me squirm and now I even feel uncomfortable writing and rewatching parts of the episode. Yet again, The X-Files misses the mark on a traditional creature.

Score: 6.5/10

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 6 Ascension

Gillian Anderson's unexpected pregnancy was probably not the best way to get a storyline started, but as the outcome is marvelous, her absence is largely ignored and more of an interesting factoid than something that could have derailed the entire show.

"Ascension" is a must-watch episode because it is important to the mythology, but the episode lacks bite, especially after Scully disappears. There is an uneasy tension with Mulder interrogating Duane Barry and his dealings with X, but also little plot. The main thing is, the audience is wondering whether Scully will be recovered by the end of the episode, and having watched the episode before, I already knew how it would end.

On the plus side, Skinner reopens the X-files, having had enough of CSM, Krycek, and the shadowy cabal pulling the strings. Scully's mother, Margaret makes an appearance in the episode and interacts with Mulder, a nice touch to the episode. Also, we learn how Scully is an out-of-practice Catholic, who wore the cross only because her mother gave it to ger. In the grand scheme of things, small developments like this are crucial to where the drama can go.

We learn a little more about the organization and CSM. When Krycek pries for information into Scully's whereabouts, CSM tells him he doesn't need to know, indicating that lower-level workers like Krycek have no clue about the big picture, but are doing the job anyway. Later, after Krycek inquires about killing Mulder to fix the issue, he responds, "Kill Mulder and you risk turning one man's religion in a crusade."

Score: 8.7/10

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 5 Duane Barry

Marking Chris Carter's first attempt at directing, "Duane Barry" is a scary episode with a throat-clenching atmosphere as Mulder tries to talk down Duane Barry, a man who claims to have been abducted by aliens. It also marks the first episode of an arc that I believe really sets the entire series in the right direction with the great twist at the end.

Mulder toes a fine line, trying to pry whatever information about aliens and talking Barry down at the same time. Steve Railsback does a fantastic job as Barry, showing the manic, delusional side. You never quite know how he'll react. At the same time, you can't help bad for this troubled man who, if not abducted by aliens, at least had some trauma in his life. CCH Pounder also delivers a great, calming performance as Agent Kazdin.

A piece of metal, which Barry insists the aliens put in his teeth, are actually there, seemingly corroborating some of his claims. Always the disbeliever, Scully runs the piece of metal at a supermarket scanner, making it how haywire. Evidence of aliens? Before she can finish relaying this information to Barry, he kidnaps her. To be continued...

Score: 9.1/10

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 4 Sleepless

Sorry for not posting a review the past two days. I'll try to catch up as best as possible.

Before watching the episode, I didn't remember much about the episode other than that it introduced Krycek and X. The concept behind the episode is interesting: A military experiment forced a squad to not sleep, which led them to massacre a village. One particularly disgruntled member, Augustus Cole, played by Tony Todd, takes to retribution, first targeting Dr. Grissom and then Dr. Girardi. He has a rather unusual ability to project thoughts and ideas into others, killing them through their mind. However, nothing sticks out and the major issues of government experiments and the ability aren't explored deeply.

The two new characters, X and Krycek, get a somewhat stunted introduction. Krycek doesn't do much, but is revealed as reporting to CSM in the end. X meets very briefly with Mulder to pass on information and tells him up front that he is not like Deep Throat and will not put his life on the line.

Scully helps Mulder in the case and shows a little jealousy over Mulder's new partner. Krycek sees the unique bond between her and Mulder, viewing it as a problem and tells this to CSM, who replies "Every problem has a solution."

Score: 8.8/10

Monday, June 21, 2010

Review - Lie to Me Season 2 Episode 13 The Whole Truth

Earlier this year, there was an episode of The Mentalist in which Jane out of control in the courtroom, acting like a fool. I want to pull a quote from my review which I find very relevant.
Yes, he got the smugglers. Yes, he got the hitman. Yes, he got the ADA. Yes, Hightower let him and Lisbon off. And that's the sad part about this ordeal. No matter what Jane does, no matter how disrespecting he is, no matter how many laws he breaks, Jane, the glorious hero, will be safe and loved. 
The antics in both episodes were similar in nature, but my reaction was different. I actually didn't mind Lightman too much. The major difference here--and one that sets apart The Mentalist and Lie to Me--is the tone. Tim Roth plays Lightman with an edge, grating and sadistically satisfying. Simon Baker, for all his charm, plays Jane as a clown. In the end, people know Lightman is a douche--a talented douche, but a douche nonetheless. On the other hand, people view Jane as a troubled guy who puts up an exceedingly silly mask, and his sins are forgiven.

Lightman clashing with his wife, Zoe, is always fun and it was no exception in "The Whole Truth." Still, their battles could have been toned down in the courtroom. The case was rattling along at regular pace with the usual suspects and takes a great turn near the end. There is no murderer or even an evildoer really other than the blackmailing friend. The "killer" was really the victim's friend who had participated in assisted suicide.

For another week, there was a flat story between Loker and Torres. Torres hints at a relationship with an older man, and after prying, Loker learns she experimented with an older woman. They've pretty much been reduced to total background characters, providing cheap laughs each episode without much, if any, contribution to whatever Lightman is doing. It'll be interesting to see what happens to them once Shawn Ryan steps down as showrunner for the next season.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Treme Season 1 Episode 10 I'll Fly Away (plus thoughts on the concept, ratings)

Yes, I'm late again and have no time for a long review. HBO should move its dramas to Friday or Wednesday... to fit my schedule. But I do have a lot of thoughts on the show in general down below.

About 15 minutes before the end of the episode, there was a long flashback lasting over 5 minutes, taking us back to the days before Katrina. After a season of watching these characters develop, it was very nice to see where they'd come from originally. In some ways, the situation was different and in others, they were the same. Annie and Sonny were happy and even anticipating the storm, but now they're worlds apart in both mentality and location. Davis is still kind of the same, scorning his neighbors for leaving. Creighton is alive (obviously) and isn't as depressed as he became, throwing out a couple glib lines about the levees no less.

My big problem with the show has been a lack of plot and Alan Sepinwall's interview with David Simon sheds light on this issue. His response summed up: There is plot, but not fake television tropes--Treme is a realistic portrayal of life.

That's fair and very admirable that he is trying to go down that path. However, I don't think TV audiences right now--or ever--will fully embrace the kind of television narrative that unfolds slowly week by week without a dramatic jolt at least in each episode.

Looking at the ratings--just a smidgen over 1 million viewers--Treme isn't doing particularly well. As opposed to True Blood, which had over 5 million viewers tune into the season premiere last week, I would argue that Treme has both superior acting and writing. The thing is, True Blood has a more palatable premise, filled with vampires, hot people, and twists every couple minutes. The fundamental mindset of the average television viewers lies in the realm of True Blood, not Treme. And that's why Treme is on HBO, a premium cable network which thrives on subscriptions. Luckily, Treme has had enough critical success that it'll get a couple seasons, though Deadwood serves as a cautionary tale.

Treme, like The Wire, will never become a mega-hit like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Sex in the City, or True Blood. It holds a place in the small niche of television viewers who appreciate the realism and intricacy of characters in New Orleans navigating their way through life. People aren't holding guns to others' heads nor is there a constant threat of death. Hot chicks aren't always stripping in the background or even wearing skimpy clothing. That's life and that's Treme.

Score: 9.4/10

Review - Leverage Season 3 Episode 1 The Jailhouse Job / Episode 2 The Reunion Job

Leverage got off to a great return last night with two new episodes, "The Jailhouse Job" and "The Reunion Job." As a special treat, we'll also get two brand new episodes next week to satiate our urge for more fun capers. Last season ended with Nate shot and arrested as he allowed allowed everyone else to get away safely. The third season starts some time later; Nate has no gunshot wound and he's in jail.

The team, of course, wants Nate to free and plans a great job at the courthouse--except Nate doesn't want to come, wanting to pay for his crimes. Nate isn't a career criminal like the rest of them, so he'd probably be the most willing to follow the law. As Sophie hilariously tells him "What kind of world would it be if everyone who committed a silly little crime went to prison, huh? Complete madness!"

Still, the main draw for Nate committing crime has always been helping people and once he finds Billy Epping, a man who saw a little too much and is now targeted, Nate is back into the game. Everyone contributes to a fun con where they get the warden, Adam Worth, arrested as an accomplice of Nate. Billy is safe, so everyone is happy.

Along with the solid con, an interesting subplot for the season came up. A mysterious woman not affiliate with law enforcement played by Elisabetta Canalis was helping Nate get out of jail. The purpose, she tells Nate at the end of the episode, is so Nate and his team can go after Moreau, a financier of every badass criminal out there. And if they don't bring him down, they're dead.

The second episode of the night was "The Reunion Job" and right off the bat I was confused about the premise. The team is trying to take down Manticore, the program Iran uses to track dissidents inside its own borders. So why would Iran house both the software and hardware for Manticore in the United States with a private corporation? That makes absolutely no sense.

But the Iran stuff wasn't the main point, so I'll give a pass on that glaring plot hole. More importantly, Sophie and Nate posed as former classmates of Larry Duberman, the guy in charge of Manticore, and fooled him for the entire episode. The con orchestrated to gain access to Duberman's computer, a relic of the 80's and uncrackable by Hardison.

Moreau didn't come up in the second episode, so we didn't get a taste of how the team would approach him, but there were plenty of thrills and funny moments to keep me immensely satisfied. There are 14 episodes left in the season and plenty more great cons left ahead!

Score: 9.0/10
Score: 8.9/10

Review - The Gates Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Was it that bad? Yeah, it was. Bad writing, bad acting, and bad ideas in general. There's a mismatch of mythical creatures and regular humans in a community ominously called "The Gates," which has a "code." Cheesy neighborhood drama and atrociously silly high school drama ensues.

Score: 3.0/10

Review - True Blood Season 3 Episode 2 Beautifully Broken

Alan Ball has a tough job to do. True Blood works best when it's flying at a breakneck pace, advancing plot at every turn with wild twists and spooky creatures, and the writers try to do that as much as possible. At the same time, it's clear Ball wants True Blood to be more than simply a campy vampire show. Grappling with two, Raelle Tucker wrote "Beautifully Broken," an episode containing ample action and more slow, contemplative scene than we're used to.

Several scenes--Sam with his family, Jessica after leaving Hoyt outside--carried more emotional weight than the show usually does and came close to breaking into the next level. However, it's hard to take those scenes seriously when there are Nazi werewolves and lines like "Let's go to the lady's room and stare at ourselves in the mirror." Don't get me wrong--the campiness of the two is part of what makes True Blood so enjoyable--but it doesn't quite fit. The premise of the show

Even though some parts of the episode didn't work, "Beautifully Broken" was a great episode. World building in fantasy/sci-fi is very important and the episode did just that. The King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington, turns out to be in charge of Operation Werewolf, a vampire-blood drinking squad dating at least as far back as World War II. Essentially, Bill has been captured and the King is using him to get to Sophie-Anne. They eat an assortment of blood foods (which  looked cool) and it's mostly civil until Lorena comes. Quickly, Bill sets her on fire and that could be the end of her--but I think her arrival serves another purpose.

There was troubling evidence against Bill and his motives for coming to Bon Temps. His interest in Sookie may not have been for only prurient reasons after all. Russel implies that Bill has always worked for Sophie-Anne, even meeting Sookie. The mysterious booted man goes through Bill's papers and finds a sheet with Sookie's name circled along with her grandfather, Earl. I'm guessing Sophie-Anne wanted someone as valuable as a mindreader at her disposal and Bill was her instrument.

Godric made an appearance in the episode when Eric flashed back to his time in the SS, hunting werewolves. Then, he first learned of werewolves taking orders from a vampire. Unfortunately, Godric does little outside of offering Eric sage advice.

The episode ends with Eric showing up at Sookie's front step and entering her house to confront a wolf. Eric makes it abundantly clear he is doing this for Sookie because of how he feels for her, something Godric warned against.

I'm still not sure about the stuff revolving around the main plot, but we'll see how they develop. Lafayette brings Tara to his mother, whose bigoted statements are tamped by the fact that she does have some kind of mental problem. Jessica's body is starting to seem like a gag, and I'm not sure if it's supposed to be. First, she wants the guy to be alive, but he's dead, so she leaves him there. Then she gets a chainsaw to cut his body up and now he's missing. Sam's family issues is right out of the starting blocks, Sam getting to know his family and his brother. Andy and Jason don't get much to do other than drink and avoid suspicion, but Jason does chase after a woman in the woods after Andy goes to a drug bust.

Season 3 has gotten of to a solid stuff. The main plot, consisting of the vampires conspiring against each other and Sookie looking for Bill, is as good as it gets. Let's hope the other plots catch up soon.

Score: 9.1/10

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Review - Scoundrels Season 1 Episode 1 And Jill Came Tumbling After

Scoundrels isn't deep enough to warrant any serious summer watching--and it's not funny or clever enough to warrant summer pleasure watching either. At times, the cast, headed by Virginia Madsen, is great, but the lines range from boring to overly ridiculous.

The premise seemed interesting, but fell apart. I kept wanting to know how the family came into their situation. An average suburban family doesn't fall into the life of crime without something big happening. They aren't bad people who hurt people either, but they seem to be fine with stealing. Why? What drove them to this unique lifestyle? This questioned rattled around my head as I watched a largely plotless episode and no hints popped up.

In the end, Cheryl decides to go straight and the disbelieving Sergeant Mack tells her a leopard can't change its spots. The following episodes will probably contain the various family members trying to live normally and goofing all the time. I'll give the show one more chance to see what those episodes are like. Clearly the pilot was a setup episode and not what the show will normally be.

Score: 6.8/10

Preview of Week 06/20/10 - 06/26/10

Leverage - ABC, Sunday, June 20, 9:00pm ET

Leverage is back with two episodes this Sunday and two episodes next Sunday, so we'll get double the fun. The first episode will be about getting Nate out of prison and the second will be a regular caper.

Scoundrels - ABC, Sunday, June 20, 9:00pm ET

David James Elliott? He's really fallen off the map. Anyway, Scoundrel is one of the only shows of the summer that sounds remotely interesting. It's about a criminal family who decided to follow the law after the patriarch of the family goes to prison.

Treme - HBO, Sunday June 20, 10:00pm ET

The season finale is here and I'm wondering if anyone big will happen. Creighton's apparent suicide last week will have consequences, but I'm don't think we'll be seeing anything too explosive.

The Gates - ABC, Sunday, June 20, 10:00pm ET

Quiet neighborhood which isn't what it seems. And there are vampires. Sounds familiar, but we'll see if it's any good.

Rookie Blue - ABC, Thursday, June 24, 9:00pm ET

Fresh cops take to the streets. Looks like another generic show for the summer.

Futurama - Comedy Central, Thursday, June 24, 10:00pm ET

The first new episodes airing since 2003!

Party Down - Starz, Friday, June 25, 10:00pm ET

Jane Lynch returns for Constance's wedding. Hopefully Party Down will be coming back for a third season as well.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 2 The Host

Flukeman!!!!! The look of flukeman itself is enough to make the episode a winner. Part worm, part human/mutant/whatever, flukeman is a sight to behold. It's a worm in that it's white and has weird teeth, but it has a distinct head and body. Could your local sewer contain one of these? Probably not, unless you live in a parallel universe where radiation from Chernobyl can create perfect worm-human hybrids.

And it's a good thing flukeman makes you squirm. The plot of "The Host" has no meat on the bones, and when dealing solely with a creature and not humans, there really is nowhere the plot can go.

Now that the X-files is gone, the paranormal continues to fall right into Mulder's lap and Scully is along for the ride as well. Mulder gets a mysterious call from someone who claims to be inside the FBI and helping him. He says cheesy lines "Reinstatement of the X-files most be undeniable," but hey, any help is good.

Looking at the plot, "The Host" would probably rank very low. However, the flukeman, which everyone remembers, makes the episode one of the most memorable episodes of the series and that's good enough for me.

Score: 9.0/10

How to be a good commenter

I get these people making dumb comments occasionally and I wanted to address it. First, I won't delete any comments unless it's porn or some shit like that. I'll let people have their say and look like idiots. So if you want to be a respectable commenter, here's how.

1) Use (semi) proper English. If you go off on an incoherent rant with 40 commas. no periods, and every other word misspelled, it indicates you probably don't have a good grasp of English. Therefore, you probably don't understand some of the review which is written in English. And if you can't understand the review, it's probably best not to make assumptions and say something incorrect. I know I make spelling and grammar mistakes and I don't proofread, but (most of) my posts are readable.

2) Don't use personal attacks. Seriously, why do people have to act so personal about a television show? I don't litter the blog with ads, I don't attack people personally, though I may critique their acting or writing (and that, by the way, is not personal). Don't call me stupid, etc when all it shows is a mean-spirited person who gets upset about fiction.

3) Don't act like your beliefs are fact; television is open to interpretation. No one knows why Walt doesn't want to turn himself in to the DEA on Breaking Bad. There's no right answers, so don't say _______ is wrong, because nobody's wrong.

4) Use evidence. Want to critique my review? Actually copy and paste a line and then voice your objections. (And remember, be respectful).

5) Post about the episode/show. A lot of these rules are about me, because the stupid comments are directed towards me, but feel free to write whatever you want about the show whether it is positive or negative. If you follow the other rules, I won't have a problem with it.

There you have it--5 simple rules to follow. Whether people choose to follow them is another matter. I'm guessing few will since many dumb comments come from people who only have one comment on Disqus, meaning they stumbled on the review somewhere online and decided to hate on me.

Review - The X-Files Season 2 Episode 1 Little Green Men

One thing that stands out among the multitude of things to like about The X-Files are the monologues in the cold opens. Eloquently written and delivered with similar fortitude, they capture a glimpse the X-Files--what it represents and why it is important.

Mulder outlines NASA'a Voyager program and messages containing Earth culture. Then he describes the High Resolution Microwave Survey, a program to scan radio frequencies in space. Nothing came up and it was closed within a year... until now.

And with that, we go into "Little Green Men," the season two premiere, occurring after the X-files has been closed. Mulder has all but given up hope, even questioning everything he believes. No longer is he certain of alien existence, despite everything he's seen. Without concrete proof, as he tells Scully, it's meaningless. The one tenet he has staked his life, his future on is no longer certain. Mulder has been broken and those shadowy forces have prevailed.

So we have Mulder at the end of the line, ready to give up--and out of the blue comes a glimmer of hope. Senator Matheson points Mulder in the right direction and quickly he is at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico where the station has received transmissions from space.

At the same time, Scully sets off to find Mulder and tracks him back to Arecibo where she finds him sprawled on the ground after the aliens. The use, specifically, of "blue berets" to describe the paramilitary forces hunting them is another expansion of the conspiracy. Blue berets would indicate some kind of UN involvement and a global cabal not contained to the US.

The episode ends in the same place at the beginning, with Mulder listening in to useless wiretaps. But he had a taste of the possibilities, a fleeting moment when he believed the evidence was right there. And that taste is all he needs. Once more he is willing to put that extra step forward, biding his time until the next opportunity.

Skinner, who has been the bad guy up until now, becomes much more complex in the episode, pushing back against CSM, but also putting Mulder in his place. This puts him in a much more difficult position than before. Clearly he's not a pliant boy to be ordered around, but he has a job and controlling Mulder is part of it.

I'll try to review two more episodes tonight, so I can jump into the incredible three episode arc, interrupted only by Gillian Anderson's pregnancy.

Score: 9.1/10

Review - Burn Notice Season 4 Episode 3 Made Man / Royal Pains Season 2 Episode 3 Keeping the Faith

I'm going to lump these two together and be very brief.

Burn Notice

Pretty dry cut episode without any decent thrills or twists. But Sam relating his story of not leaving people behind was very nice, so that partially redeemed the episode. The ending was also pretty poor and rushed. There is a shootout in the end, but any one of them could have killed Tony and the follow-up line of 10 arrests at the docks wasn't explained.

Score: 8.4/10

Royal Pains

I think this may be the end for me, or at least the last review I'll do. Nothing interests me with the show anymore, even the new concierge doctor at the end of the episode. She'll probably battle it out with Hank before a love triangle forms and she battles with Jill instead.

Score: 7.2/10

Review - Party Down Season 2 Episode 9 Cole Landry's Draft Day Party

Before writing this review, I wanted to watch the season finale which was on the Starz website some time last week. Unfortunately, it's not there anymore, so I have no idea what will happen. The writers surely provided a way out for the departing actors or even the ending of the series.

"Cole Landry's Draft Day Party" started moving in that direction with Casey going to Apatow's premiere without Henry--possibly her big break into stardom, leaving behind everyone else. Kyle departs before the party is over for a band gig, so that could be his break. Party Down ending on success might be a little off-tone since the show is based on self-deprecation and people getting screwed; however, the writers can put a spin on their success, if there is any and in the end, there will always be the losers catering.

Aside from the annoying fact that players who expect to be drafted in the top 5 go to the actual draft, "Cole Landry's Draft Day Party" was an awesome episode. Roman, again, was schooled by reality. A football player knows more about science fiction than him, and sadly knows English rules as well. So how is Roman better? Well, at least he didn't have to hold Ron's ejaculate. Kyle completely punks Ron to the point where he thinks he was "ball cancer," a fact that is emphasized over and over on national television. Cole doesn't get drafted and is confused until we learn that he's gay. Eventually he is drafted and already has endorsements lined up.

Score: 9.4/10

Friday, June 18, 2010

Review - Flashpoint Season 3 Episode 3 Just a Man

I'm exhausted right now and I still haven't gotten to Burn Notice and Royal Pains yet, so I'll be very brief.

"Just a Man" is an episode about one man--and that's pretty much it. The prison break out and gang killing stuff was unimportant, allowing for the particular opportunities to arise. Ed's involvement was the biggest engagement the team had with the situation and it was good for the most part.

However, the episode belonged, in whole, to Roger Cross and his amazing portrayal of Anton Burrows, convicted murder who isn't a bad guy. Cross, who most people recognize from 24, was never really allowed to show much range on 24 other than in the sixth season, his role constricted to tough action man. Here, he showed anger, fear, repentance, sadness, and everything in between as he protected the people who would not like him out on parole.

Score: 8.8/10

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 1 Episode 24 The Erlenmeyer Flask

Finally! We're at the last episode of the season and boy am I relieved to done with the season. It isn't smooth sailing just yet, but there is a major bump in quality towards the third season, in my opinion, of course.

The X-Files is most notable, perhaps, for the alien mythology, buoyed by the ever-present "I want to believe" poster. The mythology episodes in the first season, other than the first and second episodes which set up the series, are average at best. They don't reveal much and clearly Chris Carter is already stumbling in the dark, not expecting the series to survive for so long.

What the first season mythology episodes do set up, however, is the character Deep Throat. Played by Jerry Hardin, he can be earnest and deceiving at the same time. The audience doesn't quite know what he's up to--and, in hindsight, neither did Chris Carter. The idea that Deep Throat could operate within a group which has its nose everywhere while communicating with Mulder never made sense to me and is one of those huge plot holes viewers must live with.

"The Erlenmeyer Flask" pushes the boundaries of the mythology, simultaneously showing substantive proof of aliens and uping the ante with government action. It's a vastly fulfilling episodes, because we have a greater sense of who we're dealing with, and the mystery is still maintained.

Following up on a lead given by Deep Throat, Mulder and Scully discover much more than they did in previous episodes--a flask label "Purity Control" which contains extraterrestrial bacteria, green gas blood in aliens which makes humans burn, bodies in tanks, and most importantly, an alien fetus. Scully manages to recover the fetus which Deep Throat trades for Mulder. In the process, Deep Throat is shot. Before he dies, he utters the line "trust no one," not the first time it's been heard in the show, but certainly most memorable. Later, when Mulder tells Scully that the X-files is being closed down, he uses the line "the truth is out there."

One thing I found annoying with the episode was how Dr. Carpenter maps out basic biology to Scully, who surely knows the stuff since she is a medical doctor. It's for the audience to understand, but it would have been better if it was explained to someone other than Scully.

I'll be gone the next two days, so I won't start on season 2 until the weekend.

Score: 9.0/10

Syfy Twitter account

I follow @Syfy on Twitter and the guy running it, Craig Engler, posted an interesting link to a discussion of Reddit. It reads:
It's pretty obvious from his posts that he's either completely prohibited from admitting that Syfy might not actually serve the fanbase it purports to, or he actually believes that the network does a good job of it. Every response he's given so far has had the tone of "No, Syfy isn't wrong. Your perception of our programming is wrong." Syfy will not hear your words, and when they acknowledge that you've spoken, they'll try to change your mind rather than changing their programming.

His appearance here is not a gesture of goodwill, or an olive branch to the geek community: It's just another shameless attempt for a corporate mindset to leverage the social media paradigm.

Having followed the account for some time now, I'd have to agree. While he does write in more personal manner than those running other corporate accounts, he's clearly towing the company line. It's a clever way to engage followers, but deceptive at the same time.

Each statement is crafted in a manner to put a humanizing factor behind the normal corporate drone, i.e. links with a simple headline. He speaks in the first-person and seems to be plugged into the internet and television world. And it's good to see Syfy attempting to do more than simple self-promoting tweets; they aren't just links from an automatic RSS feed.

That said, when fans ask him questions, the responses are always in veiled corporate speak. Most of the time the answers entail at least one of the following. 1) You're wrong because... 2) The decision was very difficult (never admission of mistake) 3) Self-promotional links (usually good information, although Scifi Wire is pretty pathetic sometimes) 4) Explanation of the decision making process (my favorite tweets).

Basically, I know what to expect from Craig, and I could probably emulate his style very well. I'll keep following him, because there is good information. I don't except the unvarnished truth, nor should anyone else. The execs will do what they have always done. People who except real fan involvement with Twitter and being naive. It is what it is. Anyway, those are my two cents.

If anyone from Syfy reads this, I have one question. You guys keep claiming that Warehouse 13 was the network's highest rated show ever and it aired on a Tuesday, justifying moving other shows to Tuesday. Fair enough. However, how do explain the differences between summer programming and fall programming when broadcast networks air their normal shows. Both Burn Notice and The Closer had huge numbers during the summer and smaller numbers for the second part of their seasons.

Review - The X-Files Season 1 Episode 23 Roland

"Roland" is shockingly similar to "Born Again." In both episode, a seemingly innocent person--a little girl in "Born Again" and a mentally challenged man in "Roland"--is around when murders occur. The weird thing is, Mulder jumps to the conclusion that a detective was reincarnated into the girl in the first episode and doesn't in the second.

Putting both these episode right after each other certainly didn't help, but they aren't good episodes either. The mystery is straightforward, the motives are clear--albeit blown out of proportion with the murders in "Roland"--and there aren't moments that are memorable.

The high point of the episode is the performance of Zeljko Ivanek, who is now the go-to creepy go for television, as Roland. He plays the mentally challenged parts well, the parts where he's killing people, and the quieter parts where you know Roland is struggling with himself.

Score: 8.5/10

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 1 Episode 22 Born Again

"Born Again" is an instantly forgettable episode, which isn't to say it's bad, just that there isn't anything that sticks out. A girl is somehow channeling a dead police officer, Charlie Morris, and is around when other officers related to him die under mysterious circumstances. Mulder, as always, predicts correctly that there's something supernatural while Scully protests. As it turns out, the dead cop was killed by his colleagues. The girl is stopped in the end and justice is brought to the world.

Honestly, there isn't one scene that really sticks out. The girl isn't acted very well and the scene where she is screaming is laughable. The plot is standard, the directing is standard, and the acting is standard.

Score: 8.4/10

Monday, June 14, 2010

Review - The Good Guys Season 1 Episode 3 Broken Door Theory

Of the first 3 episodes, "Broken Door Theory" was the most irritating, and I think that's the last one for me. The gags, from the sneezing to Dan looking for some serial killer from the vending machine case, fell on the side of annoying rather than amusement.

I like the wacky direction the cases take This week, the vending machine case, as innocent as it is, balloons into an escort service case only after Dan continues pushing the issue, leading to the shootout shown at the very beginning of the episode.

However, it does not offset how bothered I am every time Dan says something ridiculous which is probably every other minute. Bradley Whitford is a fine actor and is able to balance comedic and introspective moments when the lines are right, but Dan is a character who is too unrealistic.

Score: 7.0/10

Review - The X-Files Season 1 Episode 21 Tooms

Wow, it's the last 4 episodes of the season! Sorry to say this, but I'm practically jubilant to be done with the first season.

"Tooms" is the follow-up to the third episode, "Squeeze," the episode that had the stretchy, old, liver eating monster Eugene Victor Tooms. Going into the episode, we know Tooms is still a monster and wants out--badly. The morons in the judicial system decide to let Tooms out even though he was convicted of attacking Scully. And he's a general creep. Do they see his eyes?? Mulder doesn't make it any easier, pushing his paranormal theory which only serves to undermine legitimate arguments against letting Tooms out. By now, Mulder should know not to push these issues.

Tooms proves himself to be craftier than he looks, framing Mulder for assault after Mulder starts harassing him. After finding the body of Tooms's doctor, Mulder and Scully go to the location of Tooms original lair at 66 Exeter Street which is now a shopping mall. Following a scary and messy attack on Mulder, Tooms is crushed under an escalator, ending his reign of terror.

Frank Briggs returns to help Mulder and Scully bring down Tooms, the kind of continuity that is pretty cool to see. He helped Mulder and Scully the first time around and has a personal investment in the case.

This episode also marks the first time we see Walter Skinner, who becomes a key figure later on. He pushes Scully to do more conventional investigating, meaning no jumps to crazy theories even when all the evidence supports it. Pressure is being put on the X-files and Mulder, correctly, fears it will be ended. The Cigarrette Smoking Man also speaks for the first time, uttering a simple "Course I do."

Score: 8.9/10

CBS being douches (Criminal Minds)

According to Deadline, A.J. Cook did not have her option picked up and Paget Brewster will have reduced episodes. I believe the story should be referring to Season 6, as well. For me, cast continuity is important and I already didn't like Lola Glaudini and Mandy Patinkin leaving, although it was Glaudini's choice to leave.

Criminal Minds is a show that doesn't have large ongoing arcs or even a deep backstory on each character. It works as an ensemble, each character contributing to catch a criminal. The formula works, so I don't want to see it messed with.

But I can see why CBS would make a drastic move like this. If money is really the problem, every character is expendable, even Hotch. I guess we'll see how the show fares once it comes back in the fall.

Review - Lie to Me Season 2 Episode 12 Sweet Sixteen

"Sweet Sixteen" felt like the NCIS season finale--confusing to the point of distraction. I kept trying to figure out what the deal with the taped interviews and the blackmail was, and it didn't make sense to me even though it was a pretty big part in the first half. Once Jimmy was on Cal's side, wouldn't that be the end of it? And pretty much, it was--and just an opportunity for Cal to get beaten.

There are hints dropped at every turn, small parts of the whole, and almost no explanation for them until the end. As it turns out, the hints come together in a convoluted scheme to wipe all evidence about Jimmy Doyle's family's murder. The ending comes up way too abruptly when the pieces finally fit and it's all very convenient how Lightman can just cut through everything right to the conclusion.

The best part of the episode was the flashbacks between Cal and Foster when they first met in 2003. We see Cal's inner struggle to deal with the consequences of his decision and Foster trying to help him while holding him back. In the end, we learn that Foster intentionally led Cal away from his theory, so his family wouldn't be hurt.

Loker and Torres get kicked off to the side as Cal and Foster take over, which is fine, except that Loker is almost killed in the beginning of the episode and doesn't have any resolution.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The X-Files Season 1 Episode 20 Darkness Falls

Popular media tackling environmental problems can come off a little clumsy, a la Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which is generally good but has some distracting moments. Personally, environmental messages don't particularly resonate with me and proponents come off a bit shrill. "Darkness Falls" tries to be more evenhanded, presenting a character who is against eco-terrorism and environmentalists while the ultimate outcome of the episode is a firm message not to cut old growth trees.

Mulder and Scully investigate the disappearance of loggers in a remote forest in Washington. Eco-terrorists are the first suspects, but of course it's a supernatural explanation. The insects are scary and unlike the werewolves in "Shapes," they actually look cool. Stuck up on the mountain, Mulder and Scully are in imminent danger the whole time. There's no way to get down, dwindling light, and insects all around there. Boarding up the walls has no effect. Like in "Ice," being isolated and in danger riles up emotions and there are more than a few heated discussions.

In the end, they make it out alive, but come close to dying. As they drive down the mountain at night, the tires get punctured and the insects start swarming. Eco-terrorist, Doug Spinney, runs out and is swarmed and insects even come into the car and begin attacking Mulder and Scully before help comes.

The environmental angle doesn't quite work out and the pathos could have been pushed more, but Mulder and Scully are seriously injured in the episode and the stakes are possibly the highest they've been.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Treme Season 1 Episode 9 Wish Someone Would Care

Creighton has a great line at the beginning of the episode, essentially defining Treme. In the course of addressing his students on The Awakening, he says, "Pay attention to the language itself, the ideas. Don't think in terms of a beginning and an end, because unlike some plot driven entertainments, there is no closure in real life--not really." If David Simon is speaking to the audience through Creighton, he's telling us that Treme is real life, not television where there is a set story.

Of course the big event was Creighton's supposed suicide. Though it wasn't clear whether he died or not, John Goodman, who plays Creighton, is listed as a guest star, which would indicate that he won't be back, at least in the long run. Creighton does seem to get his mojo back, going around town and blissfully sending his family off. However, it's a front for what he thinks is his last day alive.

As usual, the other characters were out and about. After a storm dampens Janette's ability to cook out in the open, she tells Davis she wishes to move to New York. Despite Davis's words to dissuade her, it's hard not to see the financial benefits for her.

I'm really tired, so that's all the reviewing I can do for now.

Score: 9.2/10

Watch Sneak Peak of Rubicon

Review - Rubicon Preview

I'll wait until the proper premiere on August 1 to give Rubicon a full review, but here are my quick thoughts on the sneak peak which aired last night after the season finale of Breaking Bad.

I like the look at feel of the show, but the episode dragged on without much happening. It felt like a slower version of Damages. The conspiracy stuff was all shrouded in mysterious cliches and didn't have me intrigued or excited. James Badge Dale who was fantastic on The Pacific does an excellent job. It's too earlier to tell whether the show will be successful. It'll be largely dependent on whether the blatant symbolism with the clover and chess can become more subtle.

Review - True Blood Season 3 Episode 1 Bad Blood

In the season premiere of True Blood, titled "Bad Blood," Alan Ball threw all the cards on the table. Pretty much everyone was in the episode and doing something different. It looks like there will be lots going on this season, almost too much in my opinion. The season premiere sets up plot after plot with many brief scenes with all the characters. It's too early to tell how the season will pan out, but for a first episode, it was a decent start to the season.

With a scattershot episode like this, there wasn't much depth and it felt all over the place at times, which wasn't bad. The test will be whether the plots and subplots will come together in the end.

At the forefront is Bill's kidnapping, which ended season 2. Sookie, who seems to have forgotten she can read minds, finds little successful with the local police who don't even view Bill as a person, criteria for a "missing person." She goes to Eric who has no idea either. Later, she learns from Pam that Eric can call her away, so she finds Jessica, who felt tingles the previous day. They find Bill's overturned car and a dead guy who bears a symbol for "Operation Werewolf" on his neck. Bill, meanwhile, gets his blood sucked until he flips the car. He ends up sleeping in the ground before sucking the blood of an old lady and leaving only to find himself surrounded by wolves.

Jessica is continuing to struggle with her condition and is unable to revive the guy she brings home and leaves his body to decompose. She does, however, receive Hoyt's flowers and reacts with compassion before seeing the dead body, pulling her back into a world she wants no part of.

Sam is off trying to find his parents, and has a small gay dream about Bill due to him drinking Bill's blood earlier. Sam tracks his family to a house and approaches it.

Jason, who killed Eggs in the season 2 finale, has huge problems reconciling what he did. Andy admitted to the shooting in self-defense and wants Jason to act normally, delivering the best line of the night, "Conscience off, dick on." Jason gets right on it, but is unable to perform, seeing bullet holes on the girls' foreheads.

I don't like Tara, so her plot about Eggs only served to annoy me. She and Eggs were practically high on Maryann stuff all the time last season, so why is she crying so much about Eggs. Seriously, get over it. And Tara continues to treat Sookie badly even after trashing her house. She tries to choke Sookie after she admits to allowing Eggs to remember what happened. After Tara'a insufferable mother, Lettie Mae, lets Tara take a shower alone, she starts downing pills before Lafayette starts banging on the door.

In the vampire world, Eric is in hot water. The Queen and Magister pay him a visit to discuss the vampire blood that has been growing in abundance in surrounding counties. Eric himself had originally planned on kidnapping Bill, because he knew about the blood, but the werewolves nabbed him first. The Queen needs quick cash, so she has Eric get rid of the blood at a discount price.

Wow, I think that's all the plots presented in the first episode. Since there are about 50 times going on, I'll list a couple plots that are more notable to me Bill and the werewolves looks like it'll be a strong plot while Tara's looks kind of weak. Also, what's the deal with Jessica's dead body?

Overall, I was pleased with the season premiere and am excited with all the new things introduced. My hope is that each episode will cover less material and be more focused.

Score: 9.0/10

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Review - Breaking Bad Season 3 Episode 13 Full Measure

The fantastic third season of Breaking Bad ended with another heartpumping season finale filled with the usual breathtaking artistry. By now we shouldn't be surprised at what Vince Gilligan and his writers can cook up, and with my high expectations going into the episode, I was not disappointed one bit.

After Walt killed the two drug dealers last week, the repercussions came hard and fast. Walt is called out to a meeting with Gus, unsure of his or Jesse's fate. Rightfully, Gus is mad and needs to keep a tight leash on Walt, so he lets Walt go and continue cooking, but has Victor shadow him everywhere. At the same time, whether it be for Walt's health problems or fear of Walt getting out of control again, Gus asks Gale how long it would take to learn all of Walt's secrets.

Not to be outdone, Walt is also scheming. When he met with Gus, he dons the trademarked black hat of Heisenberg, criminal mastermind extraordinary. As he's proven time and time again, Walt has a certain acumen for criminality, and immediately catches on to Gus's plans from Gale's constant inquiries into his techniques.

Saul turns out to be surprisingly loyal--or at least greedy--enough to cross Mike and back Walt and Jesse. He takes Walt to the laser tag place where Jesse is waiting. Walt talks with Jesse and the only course of action they have is to kill Gale. Gus needs cookers daily and if Gale is dead, Walt is the only person who can do the job. (For sake of convenience, I'm guessing it would be insanely hard for Gus to find competent chemists who would be willing to dive into drugs.) Having already killed, Walt agrees to do it, sparing Jesse of the one thing he has not done yet. All he needs is Jesse to get Gale's address.

Before Walt can execute Gale, Victor brings Walt to the factory to have him killed. Walt pleads for his life and offers to bring them Jesse. He gives Jesse a call and manages to blurt out enough information for Jesse to get the idea: Jesse must kill Gale himself or Walt will die. And Jesse follows through, forcing himself to shoot Gale, taking the same step Walt did last week. Now they're in the same boat, with blood on their hands, and more drug cooking in the future.

I'm rather ambivalent about Gale. We didn't really get to know him, so emotionally, I didn't care much about his death. Whether he deserved to die is another matter. We see his nice apartment and cool gadgets, all things obtained from his illicit job. But Gale isn't malicious, at least on the outside. He views his work as a high paying job without examining the consequences of his actions, so we don't know exactly how he feels about his drugs going to the streets.

The episodes begins on an ominous portent of Skyler showing Walter the house she wants. After looking through the house, Walter is slightly dissatisfied, saying "Why be cautious? We go nowhere to go but up." Well, Walt, did go up in net worth, but he's fallen so far as a human being. As I watched everything transpire in the episode, I couldn't help but remember the cold open, a sad reminder of the hope once carried by Walt and his current state, a struggle for survival where one wrong move can spell death.

The extent of Walt's self-preservation is rather odd. He will kill a semi-innocent so he doesn't get killed in turn, but he refuses, under any circumstance, to turn himself in to the DEA. His pride goes so far that he views being arrested and turned into a government puppet as worse than death. Walt values his life, but more importantly, he values how he handles his own life, not the government telling him what to do.

Looking ahead to the next season--Breaking Bad was officially renewed today for a fourth season--the cartel will probably be making more moves against Gus. Mike stages an awesome one-man assault to save Gus's Chinese guy (who doesn't speak Chinese very well) from the cartel. He shows a brutal, cold efficiency matched only be the now deceased Cousins. And he uses his granddaughter's balloons to take down the electricity, mixing his personal life with his bloody business life, something Walt desperately tries to stray from.

We have one painstaking year to wait for Breaking Bad to come back, but I'm still excited and I'm sure everyone else is too.

Score: 9.7/10

Review - The X-Files Season 1 Episode 19 Shapes

Werewolves are cool creatures for an episode; they fall right into the realm of The X-Files. Unfortunately, it's not done in a remotely creative way. We know there are werewolves and Mulder knows it's werewolves while Scully, incorrectly, says otherwise, a typical trope that isn't particularly illuminating after one or two instances.

Tim Parker, a rancher, shoots a Native American, Joe, dead. He claims to have been protecting his son, Lyle from a vicious animal. To make matters worse, there is a boundary dispute. The episode moseys with Native American stories surrounding the death of Tim. Gwen is suspected, and since she's the obvious candidate from the beginning who acts innocuous, it's obviously not her. The second werewolf is Lyle who was mauled in the beginning by Joe. As Mulder should know from the various werewolves stories created, people can people werewolves from being attacked by one.

If things couldn't be worse, the special effects and werewolf audio are very cheesy and not scary at all. Overall, "Shapes" is another lackluster season 1 episode, a good premise but little else.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - The X-Files Season 1 Episode 18 Miracle Man

"Miracle Man" comes close to reaching the next level of of monster of the week episodes which has episodes like "Ice" and Beyond the Sea." I has all the elements--Mulder's sister, Scully's faith, a nifty case about a miracle worker harming people--but it comes up short, not pushing the envelope enough to get the viewer invested emotionally.

There are some interesting situations brought up. Samuel is placed in an amazingly difficult position, both as a savior and then as a destroyer. He is, after all, just a teen in a role no one should handle. Leonard Vance hates his existence as a maimed man and gets back at Samuel by killing others. Sheriff Daniels refuses to believe in any extraordinary powers even though his wife is wheelchair bound, and yet, when Samuel dies, he questions whether more could have been done for his wife.

The first season is really wearing on me and I'm ready to move on the the next few seasons which are much better. I'll try to do one more this season.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - The X-Files Season 1 Episode 17 E.B.E.

"E.B.E." is one of the 5 mytharc episodes of the first season and like the rest of them, we learn almost nothing new. There are certain conditions to rely on in each episode. The government is involved, there are bright lights, people lie to Mulder and Scully, and they have no idea what they are dealing with, though, presumably it is aliens.

After investigating a UFO sighting in Tennessee, Mulder and Scully track a truck across the country which may be carrying an "extraterrestrial biological entity," e.b.e. for short. They end up at a power plant in Washington where Deep Throat is waiting. He tells Mulder that after Roswell, several countries, including the United States, agreed to kill any alien life form. Deep Throat killed an alien during the Vietnam War which is why he goes to Mulder for atonement. At face value it's interesting and has potential for more--and I'm not sure how to review an episode like this--but knowing what happens later on kind of puts a damper on any excitement I would have over the developments.

While the alien stuff in the episode isn't important, what the government does it more significant. Mulder and Scully find the government tapping their phones and listening closely to their conversations. Even Deep Throat admits to deceiving them, admitting that a lie is best placed between two truths, which doesn't really make sense.

The Lone Gunmen make their first appearance in the series and through in a couple fun, kooky lines. The good thing is, they'll be back many other times.

"E.B.E." is another example of Chris Carter stumbling through the darkness. He has ideas about aliens and government, and has dialogue to play up that angle, but he can't apply it in a cohesive manner.

Score: 8.6/10

Preview of Week 06/13/10 - 06/19/10

True Blood - HBO, Sunday, June 13, 9:00pm ET

The hottest show on television, literally and figuratively, is back and ready to do whatever the hell it does. It's not particularly deep, but it's highly entertainment and always a pleasure to watch. The one thing that sticks out is the atmosphere of the show. If you don't watch for the writing or acting which is fine, then watch the cinematography, There is no show like it.

Breaking Bad -  AMC, Sunday, June 13, 10:00pm ET

The last episode ended with an incredible scene of Walter knocking down a couple of drug dealers with his car and then shooting one in cold blood. Ihave no clue what will go down in the season finale, but it's sure to be amazing.

Treme - HBO, Sunday, June 13, 10:00pm ET

By the penultimate episode of a season, stuff usually starts happen to indicate some kind of conclusion. We'll see if Treme steps up the game in the plot department.

Lie to Me - Fox, Monday, June 14, 8:00pm ET

It's a real treat to have a quality show like Lie to Me airing during the summer when everything on the broadcast networks are so meager. Foster and Lightman will go into their past and we'll see how they connected originally.

Party Down - Starz, Friday, June 18, 10:00pm ET

The penultimate episode of the season and possibly series is here. It looks like this episode will delve into the NFL and college football.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 1 Episode 16 Young at Heart

"Young at Heart" is another episode I don't remember well. The salamander hand was memorable, but I had no clue what else would go on in the episode. After watching the episode, there's a good reason why. It's boring as hell.

The idea of a doctor using genetic experiments to de-age people and the government wanting his work is interesting, but most of the episode is spent on procedural elements that go by exceedingly slow. The X-Files rarely works when Mulder and Scully track down leads like on a conventional procedural and when they do, the pacing isn't nearly fast enough to keep me interested.

The episode is also a scattershot of information. Mulder's former supervisor, Reggie Purdue, shows up at the beginning of the episode and is quickly killed. The monster in question, John Barnett, is from Mulder's past, but that thread is soon forgotten. The episode is scarier than "Lazurus" and has more uncertainty which is a plus, but overall is a weaker episode.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - The X-Files Season 1 Episode 15 Lazarus

A big problem with some of the monster of the week episodes is that the audience knows exactly what's going on at the beginning of the episode. Mulder and Scully debate the supernatural and do the usual procedural stuff. More often than not, Mulder is correct, but the audience already knows that, leaving few surprises or anything to hang on to other than the acting.

"Lazarus" is one of the those episodes. From the beginning, we know Agent Jack Willis has been replaced by the brutal murderer, Warren Dupre. The episode drags on and on as Scully is kidnapped by Dupre/Willis, and Dupre's wife, Lula Phillips betrays Wills. Eventually, Willis's personality comes through and Scully is saved, but Willis is killed.

Another weird thing that crops in this episode and much later in the series is Scully's attraction those in a higher position of power than her. I'm not sure if anyone else finds it odd, but the fact never sat right with me.

Now that I've gotten through most of the first season, my opinion of the first season has changed. I had thought the first season good for the most part, but most of these episodes are sub-par.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - The X-Files Season 1 Episode 14 Gender Bender

We've established that the government can't be trusted, science can't be trusted, and personal beliefs can't be trusted. But the Amish, those technology-shunning, hardworking, nice people, can be trusted, right? Well, no. The line trust no one applies to everyone, Amish included.

Mulder and Scully investigate several deaths occurring after copulation, leading them to the "Kindred," an Amish-like community. As the title, "Gender Bender," suggests, these people changes genders and that's probably the most interesting part of the episode.

The episode implies that the Kindred may be extraterrestrial. They refer to people as humans and say "your world." At the end of the episode, all they, along with their underground cavern, are gone and a crop circle is left in the ground. It's never made clear exactly what their motivations are. In this case, their abilities alone aren't enough to carry the episode without a better idea of what they want.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - The Good Guys Season 1 Episode 2 Bait & Switch

Given the low ratings, The Good Guys will probably be cancelled along with every other broadcast networks' scripted shows. That said, I was planning on watching the second episode even though I thought the pilot was average, and it slipped my mind until yesterday.

So I watched the second episode and it was fine for the most part. I still don't like Dan and his unrealistic attitude, but the plotting was great and the story was pretty interesting. I'm hoping Jenny Wade can show up more often and be more than Jack's love interest, but since she's not in the police, I doubt that will happen.

Score: 7.9/10

Review - Party Down Season 2 Episode 8 Joel Munt's Big Deal Party

Out of all the characters, Roman might be the most pathetic. He clings to hard sci-fi like no other and unlike the rest of them, he's never gotten anything made. At least Henry, Casey, and Kyle get a job here or there. In "Joel Munt's Big Deal Party," he finds out that his former writing partner who he fired, Joel Munt, will be making a movie from this hard sci-fi book written by A.F. Gordon Theodore. Joel is allowed to make the movie only because he promises to keep everything as written without deviations. Roman catches Joel on a small part about some invisible creatures, thus breaking the deal. Then, Roman provides Joel an idea which salvages the idea and Roman is left in the dust.

I haven't taken to Lydia yet 8 episodes into the season, and again, Lydia didn't really make a positive impression on me. She's always off it her own world, not really interacting with the other characters. This week, she snorts some cocaine which makes her extra-wild and crazy. Like normal people would, the Party Down folks stared at her oddly and ignored her.

Henry and Casey were also off doing their own thing. Henry locks his keys in the van, so he can't do his thing with Casey. Instead of calling AAA as Casey suggests, Henry wants to use open it on his own, so he's the "man." Casey continuously chides him as he and Kyle fail to get it open.

Halfway through the episode, I wasn't really looking too closely at the people until I realized the producer was none other than Andre Royo, the guy who played Bubbles on The Wire. He looked amazingly clean and... normal. The author, A.F. Gordon Theodore, was played by Dave Allen who was the hippie teacher on Freaks and Geeks.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Stargate Universe Season 1 Episode 20 Incursion (Part 2)

The first season of Stargate Universe went out with a snoozer and honestly, I expected nothing more. Stargate Universe, from the beginning, had no backbone, no real successful formula to fall back on. The characters are empty, the threats are empty, and mostly importantly, the plots are empty. There were a couple bumps in quality, notably around the middle of the season, but ultimately, the new developments failed to make greater payoffs.

So here we are at the end of the first season. The Lucian Aliiance are onboard with captives, TJ included, making demands while Young and Wray scramble around like inexperienced fools and Eli and Chloe are off being boring in another part of the ship. "Incursion (Part 2)" is a whole lot of boring, uninspired talking and nothing else, tripe compared to most other shows and average for SGU standards.

The new thing this week, setting everything in motion, is that the ship is now nearby a binary pulsar after dropping out of FTL. Its bursts are hitting the ship every 46 minutes and was the reason for the LA guy getting incinerated last week. Conveniently, the ship can only survive two more hits, so action must be taken. First, Scott and Greer have to go through part of the ship controlled by the LA.

If that wasn't bad enough, Kiva drives a hard bargain while Young and Wray are totally clueless, agreeing to her every demand even though they hold most power. Kiva demands control over the entire ship to allow Scott and Greer through, leaving Young in a tough situation. It's difficult, but not entirely unmanageable. However, he doesn't try to bargain at all, unilaterally turning over every part of the ship from their guns to control of the computers. Basically, he gives this woman, who has no qualms about killing people, who demonstrated, less than an hour ago, a callous disregard for human life, everything she wants. God, Young and Wray are idiots.

Like in last week's episode, Eli and Chloe spend their time going around their ship until they sit down and Chloe talks about how great a friend Eli is and how she doesn't have very many friends. Sorry, Chloe, I just don't care about your issues. To make matters worse, the dialogue is dreadful. Chloe: "Whenever I say stuff like that to you, you react like I just rewarded you some runner-up prize. And it's not." Eli: "I know, it's just that...(I want to screw your brains out.)" I don't know whether to laugh or cringe.

The episode ends with Telford and others trying to wrest control of the ship. In the process, TJ gets shots. Bye bye, baby? As the gamma radiation approaches the ship, there is a silly slow-mo sequence in which Greer and Scott run for the other side of the ship since Kiva decided to leave them out there (Young's fault) and Eli runs down a hallway for the sake of running. I doubt anyone will actually die, but we'll see.

Until next season...

Score: 7.0/10
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