Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review - White Collar Season 2 Episode 8 Company Man

Just curious, did everyone's mind jump to Heroes at the episode title, "Company Man?"

As Peter talked about justice, I couldn't help but compare "Company Man" to last night's The Closer episode, where Brenda drops off a murderer with immunity in front of his house with gangsters gathering to pummel him to death (The episode ends before the actual beating, but we get the idea.), and be reminded that White Collar is kept in a controlled, confined box until Fowler enters the picture.

Inherent in every procedural is the tendency to move on to the next episode with a wild flourish before a quick wrap up, but The Closer manages to ingrain a lingering thought long after the episode ends in an episode that is not a season finale. White Collar, however, delivers a straightforward plot and verdict. Peter almost dies, but makes sure Kent stays alive, affirms that being an FBI agent was the right decision, and the music box is opened. Not once did I think Peter--or Kent--would actually die, and Peter coming clean about the music box was as foregone conclusion, as Fowler is the main enemy.

I know I probably look like a fool talking about The Closer so much, but the way last night's episode ended in comparison to "Company Man" had me thinking. What if Kent couldn't be prosecuted by the law?

Still, it was one of the better episodes of the season. The interaction between Diana and Mozzie was pure gold, and I'm hoping to see more of that in the summer finale next week.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Warehouse 13 Season 2 Episode 9 Vendetta

Again, my back is hurting, so I don't want to spend too much time in front of the computer typing.

"Vendetta" was the strongest episode this season, adding lots of backstory for Artie, simultaneously bringing back H.G. to sow dissension in the ranks. We learn that Artie's selling of secrets to the Soviets was actually trading artifacts--in his mind simple trinkets--for the release of his family from gulags. The villain turns out to be the son of Artie's Soviet handler, hell-bent on revenge.

H.G. has a certain mystique to her that really spices up the show. Can we trust her? Myka certainly does, and after H.G. tells her that she requested to be bronzed after failing to find a method of getting her daughter back from the dead, Myka trusts her even more. And in the end, the Regents allow her to become an agent--mostly on Myka's word. What if H.G. was lying about the bronzing request?

The addition of H.G. Wells is also the solution the overly friendly attitude in the Warehouse. Clearly Artie will never trust her after she killed MacPherson, and Myka trusts her wholeheartedly, making Pete the odd guy out. I like H.G., and like Myka, she feels genuine to me, but I'm guessing she won't last. My guess is that she's be straight right up until there's a time machine or something which could bring her daughter back.

The usage of Claudia has improved in the past few weeks, with her going out in the field, but she was sidelined in this crucial episode for a lackluster subplot with Todd. He's acting mysteriously, so Claudia digs deeper, suspecting him of wanting to infiltrate the Warehouse. Their confrontation with guns drawn is all a big mistake as Todd is in witness protection. They kiss... and then Todd leaves town.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - The Big C Season 1 Episode 3 There's No C in Team

Please, Cathy, tell someone who cares about you! "There's No C in Team" was a rehash of the most annoying parts--Cathy radically changing her behavior while no one can figure her out--and new characters for cheap jokes--the cancer support group and Sean's girlfriend.

I want to like The Big C and the scenes where Cathy is by herself are fantastic, but the clutter surrounding her simply doesn't match up to make me want to watch intently in the future.

Score: 7.7/10

Review - The Closer Season 6 Episode 8 War Zone

My back is killing me right now, so I don't want to spend any more time on the computer than needed.

First off, big congratulations to Kyra Sedgwick for winning the Emmy for actress in a drama series. She can act, and definitely put on a performance in "War Zone." She battles a stubborn Army Major while figuring out how to deal with a murderer who has a immunity agreement.

The chilling ending isn't anything new, but we're reminded that Brenda isn't afraid of skirting the law. In fact, her behavior is a small step below Dexter, allowing the gangster to be killed without actually getting her hands dirty. I guess justice is served in the end, but is it right, especially for someone in running to become Chief of Police?

The addition of Fritz as FBI liaison to the LAPD already is providing some humorous moments, the Major sounding off on Brenda needing to get laid directly to Fritz. Of course, Fritz makes sure the Major doesn't know about the relationship.

Score: 9.0/10

Monday, August 30, 2010

Review - Lie to Me Season 2 Episode 21 Darkness and Light

The second season of Lie to Me ends--and thereby ending Shawn Ryan's run as showrunner. It's been an interesting change of pace, with the show going in a very different direction than the first season, and while it hasn't always been good--certain episodes really bugged me--and there are lots of people who dislike what the show has become, but for the most part, I enjoyed the fresh take on a police procedural.

Sometimes, episodes may get muddled in the twists and lack of plot coherence, but if there was one thing to count on this season with Lie to Me, it's the human factor. Sure "Darkness and Light" is an anti-porn episode, but there another side-the human side where people tell lies to protect others. The lingering moments in the episode between Emily and Cal, the coach and his daughters, and other combinations had a big emotional impact in context.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Rubicon Season 1 Episode 6 Look to the Ant

I haven't had time to say much about Rubicon, and I barely have time tonight for more than a few lines. Hopefully I can write more next week when True Blood isn't on.

"Look to the Ant" didn't have any game-breaking leads in the main plot, but Will is sent into paranoid overdrive when Kale extends his hand, offering to support Will's investigation in the background and revealing that Will's apartment is filled with bugs.

Katherine Rhumor is still off in her own world, and I waiting for her to finally cross paths with Will. For now, she's looking for clues one step at a time, and comes upon Atlas McDowell at the same time Will does. Interesting, she meets a woman whose husband was on the board of the company and committed suicide. Katherine's husband filled the position and also committed suicide.

The stuff with Maggie and Miles were both quite good, and made for a solid episode.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - True Blood Season 3 Episode 11 Fresh Blood

In two weeks (no episode on Labor Day), the third season of True Blood will end, and without a doubt there's going to be an epic showdown between the vampires. The main plot has been building to that, so I'm expecting a better finish than the whimper that ended the second season.

The rest of the plots, however, remain as detached as ever, and I wonder if Alan Ball is creating a base for the fourth season. Season two had a distinct and recognizable plots--Maryann in Bon Temps and the Fellowship of the Sun. Eventually the Fellowship of the Sun plot was wrapped up, and everyone joined up to take down Maryann. Season three was vastly different. There's still a compelling vampire main plot, but Bon Temps is a loose collection of individual stories, never really coming together towards a unified ending.

In terms of things happening to people, "Fresh Blood" doesn't fall short, but I can't help not liking particular characters or plots which have dragged down this season.

Sam breaks down in a drunken rage, throwing everyone out of his bar, and evicting Tommy. Tara, however, stays to have a drink, having spent most of the past week crying about one thing or another, and they end in one of the most raw, uninhibited sex scenes of the series. But they're both characters I can do without and sex together adds to nothing to the overall plot, putting little relevance of their scenes.

Similarly, Jessica sucks Hoyt's blood-their version of a hot sex scene--but it was slightly more satisfying, because I actually like Jessica, who isn't mopey all the time, and would like to see her have more material in the next season.

For me, Arlene is the most insufferable character. She's always put in situations which make her uncomfortable, and we never see another side to her, so I have little opinion of her proceedings. The Wiccan Holly offers to do an abortion, which turns out to me a bland, drawn out ceremony in a ring of salt, ending with Arlene drinking something. The catch, however, is that the spirit behind all of it may choose to keep the baby. The procedure succeeds, given that Holly was telling the truth about the choice, and Arlene has blood all over herself the next morning, but the doctor tells her that the baby is still alive.

Jason's battles with the high school football quarterback seemed misplaced every time it came up, because it was unrelated to everything else in the episode, but there was finally a connection--albeit a tenuous one--to bring relevance to the quarterback. As a former user, Jason realizes he's doing V and toppling Jason's records by cheating. The quarterback explains that V is undetectable and that professionals are using it as well. Before we can learn more, he leaves. What annoys me the most is that we never get to see the outside world other than Bon Temps and selective locations with heavy supernatural influence. Are professional sports rampant with V users? How has it affected society? These are the questions I'd like to see answered, but three seasons in and it's unlikely that will ever happen.

Like every episode, "Fresh Blood" ends on cliffhanger which is nothing short of brilliant. The final tension-filled scene had my on edge, as Eric and Bill played Russell, goading him into drinking Sookie's blood and walking outside. Russell takes the bait on the condition that Eric do it first, and the episode ends with Eric and Russell handcuffed and smoldering in bright daylight. We see that Eric has no wish to live anymore once his human goal of defeating his family's murderers is complete. In this moment, Eric is the most human he's been more centuries, and is willing to die to regain his humanity.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Leverage Season 3 Episode 12 The King George Job

Sadly, Leverage won't have new episodes for months after next week's episode, but there was movement on the Damian Moreau front which has been held to the sideline for the majority of the season. All the excitement over a new enemy this season, and possibly a compelling arc through the course of the season dissipated as Moreau and the Italian woman disappeared after the first four episodes of the season.

"The King George Job" was involved subjects closer to the team's heart than we're used to seeing. Children are involved, and Sophie dons her former moniker as a duchess. They steal an auction, framing Moreau's employee, Keller, and move one step closer toward their end-goal.

Score: 8.9/10

Post-Emmy thoughts

All in all, last night's 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards were better than usual. There were more new faces than usual, a couple big surprises (Top Chef, Archie Panjabi, etc), and at least the repeats were well-deserving. I'll go down the list of categories that people actually care about and put in a few words.

Outstanding drama series
"Breaking Bad" (AMC)
"Dexter" (Showtime)
"The Good Wife" (CBS)
"Lost" (ABC)
"Mad Men" (AMC)
"True Blood" (HBO)

Mad Men for a third time... It's great and all, but Breaking Bad had a mindblowing season and should get recognition. As far as Lost not winning, I wasn't too surprised. My rankings would have been: Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Lost/True Blood, Dexter.

Outstanding comedy series
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO)
"Modern Family" (ABC)
"Glee" (Fox)
"Nurse Jackie" (Showtime)
"The Office" (NBC)
"30 Rock" (NBC)

Modern Family prevailed in its first battle against Glee.

Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series
Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"
Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"
Steve Carell, "The Office"
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Matthew Morrison, "Glee"

Against all the big names, Jim Parsons comes out on top with a victory. Bazinga!

Outstanding lead actor in a drama series
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"

Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"
Kyle Chandler, "Friday Night Lights"
Hugh Laurie, "House"
Matthew Fox, "Lost"
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"

Again, it's annoying to see people win for the third time in a row when there's plenty of other deserving people. On the upside, Breaking Bad won't be eligible next year, so there has to be a different winner.

Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series
 Lea Michele, "Glee"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures of Old Christine"
Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"
Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"
Tina Fey, "30 Rock"
Toni Collette, "United States of Tara"

Lame. Like I said on Twitter, congrats to Carmela. Edie Falco herself admitted she wasn't funny.

Outstanding lead actress in a drama series
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"

Glenn Close, "Damages"
Connie Britton, "Friday Night Lights"
Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"
Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: SVU"
January Jones, "Mad Men"

Did not see this one coming at all. As you can see from my reaction on Twitter last night, I has utterly shocked. My reaction was tempered by Kyra Sedgwick saying the trademark, "Thank you, thank you so much." But yeah, I guess she would get it eventually after all those nominations and the episode with her real-life daughter last season was intensely emotional. Julianna Margulies will have to wait another year.

Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series
Chris Colfer, "Glee"
Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother"
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family"
Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family"
Ty Burrell, "Modern Family"
Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men"

I'd expected Modern Family to split the vote, leaving the award to Neil Patrick Harris, but the voters apparently love Cam as much as we do.

Outstanding supporting actor in a drama series
Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"

Martin Short, "Damages"
Terry O'Quinn, "Lost"
Michael Emerson, "Lost"
John Slattery, "Mad Men"
Andre Braugher, "Men of a Certain Age"

I thought Lost had this one in the bag, but I guess Emerson and O'Quinn canceled each other out.

Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series
Jane Lynch, "Glee"

Julie Bowen, "Modern Family"
Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family"
Kristen Wiig, "Saturday Night Live"
Jane Krakowski, "30 Rock"
Holland Taylor, "Two and a Half Men"

Expected and deserved.

Outstanding supporting actress in a drama series
Sharon Gless, "Burn Notice"
Rose Byrne, "Damages"
Archie Panjabi, "The Good Wife"
Christine Baranski, "The Good Wife"
Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"
Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"

Big shocker, perhaps the biggest of the night along with Amazing Race losing. There wasn't a clear lock for this, but I was almost positive Mad Men would take this. Somehow, Archie Panjabi won against all odds.

For my Emmy predictions, I thought I did okay, getting 4 out of 10 right, and I would have done better if I filled out a complete ballot with the gimmes included. Additionally, two of my "should wins" won, so I underestimated the Academy at certain points and overestimated them at others.

It was disconcerting to see all these people cheering and clapping for Jack Kevorkian. They do know what he did, right?

Aaron Paul was almost exactly like Jesse Pinkman when he went up to get his award. Hopefully he didn't have any of that meth.

Interesting to see Glee get a huge promo in the beginning when it'll be up against NBC's saving grace, The Biggest Lost, in the fall.

There were a couple funny things in the Emmy, but award shows are still pretty dumb. I still wish the awards could have been condensed into 30 minutes.

Also, here's a promo for the September 10 Stand Up To Cancer fundraiser on the 4 major broadcast networks.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Review - Mad Men Season 4 Episode 6 Waldorf Stories

Just imagine if Jon Hamm had won the award for outstanding actor in a drama series on the same night his character, Don Draper, won an award for the Glo-Coat advertisement! Alas fate went the wrong way tonight, and the closest we got was Jon Hamm going up along with everyone else for the outstanding drama series award. Still, it was pretty damn timely (or planned) to see an episode featuring an awards show on Emmy night.

Coming off of its third Emmy triumph, Mad Men gave us "Waldorf Stories," an episode which seemed unusually pointed. There's a big difference between Mad Men and the rest of the nominees, in that Mad Men doesn't derive drama from ratcheting up drama in life or death situations, instead placing characters in different situations and using rich dialogue to move things ahead without overdoing the tension. While "Waldorf Stories" didn't have any heart-pounding moments, it lacked much of the subtly we're used to.

We're presented with a set of flashbacks, revealing Don's entrance into Sterling Cooper. He's a bright-eyed fur coat salesman who creates the company's advertising, in stark contrast to the Don we know today. This Don from the past is awfully chipper and hounds Roger for a job, until finally, Don squeezes in, somehow convincing Roger he was hired earlier.The episode ends with Don following Roger onto the elevator with a sly smile. What can we say--it's Don Draper!

In the present timeline, we see a similar situation unfolding. Jane's cousin Danny (Jonathan from Buffy) comes in with his portfolio, an utterly pathetic stack of ads--"[Product], the cure for the common [product type]" and random ads from magazines. There's no way he's getting anywhere, and he clearly lacks the trappings to become the next Don Draper.

But a unique opportunity arises. Don accepts his CLIO for the Glo-Coat ad--seeing a drunken Duck Phillips led out during the ceremony, an obvious example of what Don could become--and returns to the office  to present an ad for Life cereal. Totally drunk, Don struggles to keep things together and his initial slogan, "Eat Life by the Bowlful," is rejected. Grasping for a quick end, Don spitfires terrible one-liners until he comes upon Danny's line, "Life, the cure for the common breakfast," which the Life executives take to.

Later, Peggy jumps on Don's appropriation of Danny's phrase, and Don has no move other than give Danny a job. As has been the pattern this season, Don is taken down a notch, this time to Danny's level. Physically, he towers over Danny, but in reality, the ideas coming out of his head are no better. The young, fresh-faced Don Draper who looked to Roger is now the new Roger, a drunk who relies on others to get things done.

The rest of the episode features Don's continuing descent, which may have hit a low point. He ends up leaving the CLIO afterparty with a brunette woman--on Friday night--before waking up with a blonde woman--on Sunday morning. An entire day lost, and Don has no answer for his problems. Halfway through the season, and Don is still falling.

This season, we've seen Peggy make large growth in the reformed company and come into her own. Broad recognition for her work, however, is still not there. Don casually brushes off her input on the Glo-Coat ad and Stan, the new art director, spits her words back in her face. As she sees her effort and contributions discounted and ignored, Peggy no longer has stable ground to stand on. She's sort of floating in the wilderness, trying to find who she is and how she fits in. From her "display" in the episode and direct talk with Don, we see her supreme confidence in herself and her abilities; however, if no one else notices, why does that matter? In many ways, she's still living in Don's shadow, Don having discovered her and putting her where she is now.

But she sees Don flounder under a sea of alcohol and realizes that she can be more--even better than Don. And while the distinct parallel in the flashbacks is that Don is the new Roger and Danny is the new Don, Peggy is more apt as the new Don. For one, she has legitimate skills unlike the pathetic Danny, and Don used some guile to get the job rather than have the job fall on his lap through coincidence.

Ken Cosgrove, to the initial dismay of Pete, may be sticking around for a while. Lane convinces Pete that it's the right move to make, a pragmatic one which would score big dividends. Pete accepts and invites Ken to talk--but makes sure to tell Ken that he's the top dog now. With his recent confrontations with Lane and Sterling, Pete is flexing his ambition--much as flashback Don did--to move up the ladder, quoting the ending song.

Last week, I talked about whether Betty would turn around at one point, and increasingly, it looks like she either won't or drop very, very far before climbing back up. Likewise, her purpose for existing on the show decreases as her behavior becomes more slanted towards simply being an angry bitch. In "Waldorf Stories," all she does is yell at Don over the phone. Maybe she has a point about Don being late, but it was hard to see from Betty's point of few when she berates Don in a harsh, witchy tone. What's the point of her calling Don? Surely the writers could have come up with something else for Don to figure out the day without making us dislike Betty even more.

I had more problems with "Waldorf Stories" than any episode this season--from Don's wildly aberrant behavior to the possibility of seeing Danny in the future--but the flashbacks brought a fresh perspective to Don and Roger's relationship, and it could have been the foundation to a great episode had the rest of the episode been up to par.

Score: 9.1/10

  • Imagine if Mad Men were on HBO. Peggy...
  • Joan and Roger must have had a really long affair lasting more than a few years if Don joined just as they met.
  • Joan holding Don and Roger's hands at the award ceremony. How sweet.

Preview of Week 8/29/10 - 9/04/10

True Blood - HBO, Sunday, August 29, 9:00pm ET

The second to last episode of the season is here and hopefully it's a lot more interesting than last week's episode. The description of the episode, however, doesn't indicate anything exciting will happen, but we'll see.

Mad Men - AMC, Sunday, August 29, 10:00pm ET

The episode description is a bare, "Peggy clashes with her new creative partner; Don pitches under unusual circumstances." Hopefully, that means Betty doesn't show up.

Covert Affairs - USA, Tuesday, September 1, 10:00pm ET

It looks like Ben returns and Annie finally meets up with him again. Will we learn what Ben's up to? How will Annie react?

So I watched all of Persons Unknown...

To my better judgment, I went ahead a watched all the episodes a few weeks ago and kept up on Saturday nights. I know the only people who will read this or care are fans of the show who may leave comments about how stupid I am, but I'll be honest--the majority of the series is terrible.

The beginning few episodes, especially, are almost unbearable. It's like the writers went full-throttle, stomping the gas pedal--on a 1985 Yugo. People yell, scream, act irrationally, and are wholly unlikable the entire time. There is not one cathartic moment to be found. And then Erika comes in, running around and attacking people like a wild animal for a whole episode. I wish she would have done what Kandyse McClure's character did on BSG, shoot herself. But she was there to stay, providing more of that annoying tough girl act.
And there's the plot. Yes, the big mystery behind why everyone is in this town. Basically, the writers floated big words among vague dialogue about the grand plot--essentially nothing worth noting. They're all part of The Program, an organization that likes to screw with people and prove there's no free will while manipulating their circumstances. Why? We're not given one clue. What the Mansfield Institute does or how it got so powerful to be able to put hidden cameras everywhere is never explained. To make matters worse, these facts we do know are learned in the last 4-5 episodes, so most of the episodes have no real purpose other than to create cheap dramatic moments.

The last two episodes, "And Then There Was One" and "Shadows in the Cave," are the best two episodes of the series, but are still pretty bad. They reinforce the stupid dialogue and general vagueness of everything, but also had several awesome moments--both at the end of the episodes. At the end of episode 12, they break out after faking everyone's death, and at the end of the series finale, it seems like they are placed back into towns, except Janet's group is on a ship--as Liam calls it, "Level 2." So Persons Unknown is an RPG? I had to laugh at the ending which makes the show twice as ridiculous as it already was, but was sadistically fun at the same time.

NBC canceled the show a while ago due to the horrendously bad ratings, so there'll be no conclusion to The Program which is actually disappointing. But I'm sure no one will care a month from now when we're trying to figure out what The Event is.

Score: 7.5/10

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Review - The Pillars of the Earth Part 7 New Beginnings / 8 The Work of Angels

The Pillars of the Earth was good viewing for the summer that I didn't really feel like commenting on. There's not much else on Friday or Saturday, so it was something enjoyable to watch. But I rarely had a response to what transpired on the screen other than the though that the production value was great.

The time skips play a large role in that. They have a way of disconnecting the viewer by jumping from important moment to important moment, without pause for the more mundane aspects of life in 12th Century England. The exact plot points which move things forward are intently the focus, and the characters, Kingsbridge, and Shiring are along for the ride. When everything jumps ahead in time, whether it be a year or 10 years, it seems to be all the same, from the appearances of Aliena or Jack to everyone's behavior (Jack and Aliena's "spat" resolved itself in about 2 minutes.).

The plot itself is basically people constantly double-crossing each other with Waleran as the primary instigator. Poor townsfolk--and the cathedral--suffer as a result. And variations on that is repeated in every episode.

"New Beginnings" and "The Work of Angels" wraps things up as expected. After more evil by Waleran and the usual suspects, the evildoers are killed, exposed for who they are, and the good guys are happy. At least the final shot was cool--the camera pans out to show the cathedral still erect in modern times.

Score: 8.3/10

Review - The X-Files Season 3 Episode 8 Oubliette

For some reason, the producers brought back the actress who plays Lucy, Tracey Ellis, in a later episode in which she is also featured heavily and not very good again. If there's one thing that detracts from "Oubliette," it's her. In the episode, she has two modes--abrasive or curling up and crying--detracting from David Duchovny's riveting performance. It's hard to connect with her when she rarely acts human enough for us to really care.

And hat's why Duchovny is there to pull the weight. Given what happened to his sister, Mulder finds himself empathizing with Lucy while she is under a cloud of suspicion from the other agents. Through him, we are can see a little of Lucy who doesn't always have an attitude or is crying.

Plot-wise, "Oubliette" is different than a normal episode. It's a per-cursor to Millennium, a dark show about serial killers and other weirdos which Chris Carter launched the next year. Jewel Staite (kind of cool how she looks the same years later) plays Amy Jacobs, a girl who is kidnapped by photographer creep and spends the episode trying to get out. Meanwhile, Mulder drives the investigation forward, using Lucy's connection to Amy, eventually finding the kidnapper.

Up next, one of my favorite set of mytharc episodes!

Score: 8.8/10

Friday, August 27, 2010

2010 Primetime Emmy Award Picks - Who Will/Should Win

As I've said before, the Emmy Awards are dumb. The voters are immersed in the television industry, which means they probably have ulterior motives for voting. And those who do judge impartially probably haven't watched much of the nominated shows other than the episodes submitted. All in all, it's a pretty pathetic process for an increasingly diverse television landscape. I have predictions and some thoughts anyway.

Outstanding Comedy Series
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO)
"Glee" (Fox)
"Modern Family" (ABC)
"Nurse Jackie" (Showtime)
"The Office" (NBC)
"30 Rock" (NBC)

Who should win: "Modern Family" (ABC)
Who will win: "Modern Family" (ABC)

The two juggernaut freshmen comedies Modern Family and Glee have come to clash, leaving behind the other shows in splinters. From the rest of the nominations, both received a lot of attention, so it should be close. Against my nature--and previous judgments of the Academy--I expect Modern Family to pull it out. Definite dark horse contender: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Outstanding Drama Series
"Breaking Bad" (AMC)
"Dexter" (Showtime)
"The Good Wife" (CBS)
"Lost" (ABC)
"Mad Men" (AMC)
"True Blood" (HBO)

Who should win: "Breaking Bad" (AMC)
Who will win: "Mad Men" (AMC)

Very, very stacked category, but there are two clear front-runners--Mad Men and Breaking Bad, both AMC dramas. Mad Men won the past two years, but this is time for Breaking Bad which had its strongest season this year. However, we have to put in mind how close-minded the voters are, which means Mad Men should take it again.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"
Kyle Chandler, "Friday Night Lights"
Hugh Laurie, "House"
Matthew Fox, "Lost"
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"

Who should win: Hugh Laurie, "House"
Who will win: Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"

I'd love for Hugh Laurie to win--he's the only reason to watch House anymore--and he deserves the award after years of great acting on the show. But, with Bryan Cranston nabbing the award two years in a row and the big bully Dustin Hoffman entering the TV world next year, I expect Jon Hamm to get it this year.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"
Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
Matthew Morrison, "Glee"
Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"
Steve Carell, "The Office"
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"

Who should win: Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"
Who will win: Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"

Tony Shalhoub hasn't won in years, but he's gotten some Emmy love in a nomination every year, so I predict he'll win one for the swan-song season. For all of Adrian Monk's quirks, I don't think anyone on television can quite match up to Sheldon Cooper who singlehandedly drives TBBT. As always Alec Baldwin is a strong contender and could win again.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
Lea Michele, "Glee"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures Of Old Christine"
Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"
Amy Poehler, "Parks And Recreation"
Tina Fey, "30 Rock"
Toni Collette, "United States Of Tara"

Who should win: Toni Collette, "United States Of Tara"
Who will win: Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"

I predict that Carmela Soprano will win--and Jackie Peyton will be along for the ride. In all honesty, Toni Collette is leaps and bounds in front of the competition. Tina Fey may slip in for the win.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"
Glenn Close, "Damages"
Connie Britton, "Friday Night Lights"
Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"
Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"
January Jones, "Mad Men"

Who should win: Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"
Who will win: Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"

This is the one category that should have no questions. From the beginning, Julianna Margulies was nothing short of mindblowingly incredible. The first couple of weeks, I was shocked how she made such a big impression on me as I was fixated on her the entire episode, fully expecting her to slowly become another television character by the end of the first season. Lo and behold, there I was at the end of the first season, still entranced by her as ever.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Chris Colfer, "Glee"
Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother"
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family"
Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family"
Ty Burrell, "Modern Family"
Jon Cryer, "Two And A Half Men"

Who should win: Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family"
Who will win: Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother"

The Modern Family overload is precarious, as the three may cancel each other out, putting NPH out in front of Eric Stonestreet who deserves to win. I wouldn't be surprised if Jon Cryer took second with the divided Modern Family vote.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"
Martin Short, "Damages"
Terry O'Quinn, "Lost"
Michael Emerson, "Lost"
John Slattery, "Mad Men"
Andre Braugher, "Men Of A Certain Age"

Who should win: Terry O'Quinn, "Lost"
Who will win: Terry O'Quinn, "Lost"

It would be a shame if Lost didn't win anything for its final season and Terry O'Quinn definitely has the body of work to win.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
Jane Lynch, "Glee"
Julie Bowen, "Modern Family"
Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family"
Kristen Wiig, "Saturday Night Live"
Jane Krakowski, "30 Rock"
Holland Taylor, "Two And A Half Men"

Who should win: Jane Lynch, "Glee"
Who will win: Jane Lynch, "Glee"

Since Glee got so many nominations and Jane Lynch has been getting lots of attention, this one is hers. She's just an entirely different creature--funny, stern, and exudes intangibles no one else has.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Sharon Gless, "Burn Notice"
Rose Byrne, "Damages"
Archie Panjabi, "The Good Wife"
Christine Baranski, "The Good Wife"
Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"
Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"

Who should win: Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"
Who will win: Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"

With exception of Rose Byrne (who is good, but not on the same level), this category is stacked from top to bottom. Although The Good Wife has two nominees in the category, this is a Mad Men fight. Christina Hendricks has gotten much more attention in the press than Elisabeth Moss which is why she'll win. Elisabeth Moss, who had lots of good material in the first two season, unfortunately, didn't have much going on in the third season (though she's far better than Hendricks--don't hurt me!). If the votes between The Good Wife and Mad Men do get split, however, we could get a shocker in the form of Sharon Gless who has the most qualities of an Emmy winner out of the Burn Notice cast, or Rose Byrne who is featured heavily on Damages for a supporting actress.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review - Royal Pains Season 2 Episode 12 Open Up Your Yenta Mouth and Say Ah

I've posted a few reviews of Royal Pains this season, not because I don't have anything to say, but because I'd sound irritated after each episode. Royal Pains is the one show this summer which made me clench my teeth. Sometimes I'd stop in the middle of the episode and continue it again the next day. Since this is the last episode for a while, I'll say a few quick things.

"Open Up Your Yenta Mouth and Say Ah" (Seriously, does any non-Jew care about the title or phrase?) felt a lot like the Burn Notice summer finale. There was lots of rubbish before the ending, in which case Royal Pains stepped up to the majors, delivering, in my opinion, a better shocker than Burn Notice, with Eddie R. Lawson outed as a fed-monkey (my made up word).

What makes this midseason finale worse than Burn Notice's, however, is the same problem that has plagued the second season--the soap opera-ish character stuff which come in spades, filling the entire episode and forcing out the medical stuff. Divya discovers true love, despite being engaged to another guy, Evan and his girlfriend being great together, Hank and Jill not in a relationship yet meeting each other every, Eddie trying to win his sons' favor, and variations on those seem to go on forever. It exposes another flaw, the acting. The more and more these scenes extend, we can see the awkwardness and lack of chemistry between all characters, except, perhaps, with Divya.

I was honestly ready to let go of Royal Pains before tonight, but given the ending which really took me by surprise, I'm inclined to continue watching in January just to see what happens.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Burn Notice Season 4 Episode 12 Guilty as Charged

Overall, the mythology of Burn Notice has lost focus, and is far from the main draw of the show; however, with the way last week's episode ended, I expect much more from "Guilty as Charged." We've seen all-out, gangbusters finale and summer finales, so we know the writers could have brought something incredible to the table.

Instead, it's a normal episode--a subpar one, I may add--until the last 5 minutes. There's a rich client whose daughter is kidnapped and he reaches out to Michael who gets her back in about two steps with the usual tricks and no excitement.

The biggest problem is that a lot of time was spent on Jesse's side. By the way he acted last week, I expected him to be more than angry, incontrollable from the deception he suffered--and a large conflict between him and Michael. But no, he's only slightly mad, nothing that got my heart racing, and is almost a nonfactor. His role is redeemed, to a degree, by shooting Michael in an attempt to save him.

When Burn Notice returns in November, there'll be plenty to story to tell and hopefully the writers can deliver. Michael's shot, left bleeding on the ground and someone has the Bible, possibly Simon.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Psych Season 5 Episode 7 Ferry Tale

If my recollection is correct, I haven't reviewed Psych in a while, so I should probably put in a few words about the latest episode and the season in general.

In its fifth season, Psych is still Psych. Amusing, maybe a few laughs, nothing hard-hitting, no character development, predictable cases--expendable summer television. The show has a geyser of untapped potential that will probably never be touched. If the writers haven't changed it up by now, it's unlikely they ever will. And that's fine for me and most viewers. I'll just be disappointed when the writers miss an opportunity to take the reins and do something brave.

"Ferry Tale" took a small step off the beaten path, offering up a hostage crisis in the first half before diving into the usual investigation. The twist with Craig getting greedy caught me by surprise, as he was good guy the entire episode.

Also, it looks we have a new Young Shawn actor. (What's with those freckles?) I'm guessing the old actor grew up, so he had to be replaced. It's a shame though; I really liked him.

Score: 8.5/10

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 3 Episode 7 The Walk

"The Walk" is an all-around solid episode without any notable flaws. The pacing is quick after the initial, with people getting dispatched left and right as Mulder and Scully play catchup, and there are a several fantastic shots, notably the boy getting covered in the sandbox, the woman drowned in the pool, and every shot with the guy who jumped into the boiling water.

But Mulder's final monologue, in addition to Rappo's actions, sums up many monsters on the show and puts an onus on the military's treatment of soldiers, pushing "The Walk" up a little higher. There's a clear distinction that Rappo was a man, but was injured in the line of duty, losing both sets of arms and legs. Somehow, discontentment born out of this, essentially transforming him into a monster. But at the same time he's not a monster who is based on biological needs, but one who is still part-human--and that side of him is devious and cunning. His form is revenge is smart and calculated. He strikes at victims' family, tormenting them into oblivion--similarly transforming them into mere husks, less than human creatures only wishing to die.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Dark Blue Season 2 Episode 5 Brother's Keeper

I've liked every episode this season, but was "Brother's Keeper" a listless hour of television. Dark Blue used to have an edge--as slight as it was--that set it apart from other cop shows, but the addition of Alex Rice is proving more troublesome to the entire makeup of the show than I previously anticipated.

She's a by-the-book FBI agent intent on keeping the team in order and following the law. However, she's also in a relationship with Carter, a very plain one at that, which sucks out any interdepartmental issues that should arise. We see Carter completely disregard her orders and go off on his own (not nearly as wild as some stunts in the first season), but receives little backlash from Alex. Instead, the episode ends on cutesy pizzicato and guitar plucks while Alex and Carter walk off in tandem.

But I wonder if the change in tone is an attempt to garner better ratings. Looking at the most popular cable shows, none are nearly as serious as Dark Blue. Could the writers be deliberately trying to make the show lighter in tone to get more viewers?

Score: 7.5/10

Review - White Collar Season 2 Episode 7 Prisoner's Dilemma

I'm grasping for something different to say about White Collar each week, but my opinion on the concept of the show not being that interesting still stands and each episode backs that up. "Prisoner's Dilemma" was just like the myriad of other episodes created. The plot is fine but on the bland side, Peter, Neal, and Mozzie are great while Elizabeth is likable but useless.

The Kate mystery moved exactly one step--she was calling Fowler. And it means absolutely nothing to me or most people watching.

Score: 8.3/10

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review - Warehouse 13 Season 2 Episode 8 Merge with Caution

Aside from the hilarity stemming from Pete and Myka's body switch, "Merge with Caution" had a lot of what I dislike about "Warehouse 13." Bookending the artifact mishaps was a pile of sappiness with Pete and his girlfriend and Myka and her high school crush, resulting in an overly long exposition in the beginning taking up a third of the episode and eye roll inducing fluff at the end.

And my biggest problem with the show--the way the show wraps up stitches in the character relationships--lay a huge mark on the show. Although lots happened between them in the episode, there's nothing we can take from them. Pete and Myka are still close and chummy, as they've been this season, and Claudia remains as trustworthy as ever.

The lighter side of the episode was a blast to watch as it usually is. The body switching griffin/lion/eagle generated lots of laughs without getting too awkward, and it was nice seeing the pairing of Artie and Claudia in the field. I imagine Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly had lots of fun impersonating one another's characters.

Score: 8.1/10

Review - Covert Affairs Season 1 Episode 7 Communication Breakdown

Covert Affairs tries to toe the line between having pristine, infallible characters, as all USA shows do, and having morally ambiguous characters, as other respected dramas. So it's hard for an episode to dig deep into a moral quandary when the writers need to maintain a sunny sheen to the show.

With "Communication Breakdown," an Auggie-centric episode, the writers tried to put some mystery into Auggie's character by having him run off with a Russian hacker ex-girlfriend while Annie and Jai give chase. Annie acts like the instigator for every inquiry into CIA practices, almost to the point where you wonder if she's been living under a rock her whole life. For all her foreign language skills, it's hard to buy that Annie has little or no knowledge of 20th century American foreign policy.

Still, Christopher Gorham was great at giving Auggie additional character depth, despite us knowing he wouldn't do anything wrong, which made the episode work to a certain extent. It was a less plot-intensive episode, so we really got the focus needed on Augie (though I didn't mind for Natasha).

Annie's home life, the weak link in the show, is the one sore spot in the show that sticks out every week. The issues between her and her sister are nonexistent, so something has to be manufactured artificially and then resolved artificially.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The Big C Season 1 Episode 2 Summer Time

The Big C is wonderful at bringing a wide range of emotions, and Laura Linney is just incredible. However, it's hard for me to swallow the initial premise of the show. Cathy doesn't want to tell anyone about her cancer because their behavior towards will completely change. She wants to live her life to the fullest with the people acting as they usually would. But does she really expect them to hop on her drastic personality change? I don't see how she thought she didn't have to tell her family of her cancer, radically alter her lifestyle, and still expect them to be the same.

But we have to accept that she doesn't think that far ahead, and the show becomes a learning process for Cathy in dealing no only with her cancer, but also those around her.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The Closer Season 6 Episode 7 Jump the Gun

"Jump the Gun" had a cool robbery case involving more people than it seems at first, and Fritz will be more involved now that he's the liaison to the FBI, which will bring more tension between him and Brenda.

And the final surprise is that Pope is nowhere on the short list while Brenda is. I don't know the mindset of people in the police chain of command, but Brenda has never strived to get a promotion, even inhibiting her ability to move up by being so abrasive in the pursuit of criminals. But Pope openly admits that he's always wanted to be Chief. Can we assume that he'd rather play politics than do his job properly? Well, he's out of the running, so I hope we won't be seeing him anymore. As for Brenda, I'm not sure how the show would work if she were Chief. Certainly she wouldn't do the hands on interrogations, and that's pretty much the core of the show, which rules out her becoming Chief in the end.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Lie to Me Season 2 Episode 20 Exposed

Where's the police? As the episode kept going on and the gangster progressed in violence, I was waiting for the police to come. But Cal loves being reckless and what could have been a simple operation if he hadn't decided to play games turns into an episode filled with empty threats and the same Cal Gillian game they've always been playing.

Score: 8.3/10

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review - Rubicon Season 1 Episode 5 Connect the Dots

An episode like " Connect the Dots," which pulls the curtains back just a bit, makes me want the DVD in my hands right now even more. The pacing is as anemic as ever, but I'd love to see what happens. This week, we learned about assassinations and that every character is what they seem, playing some kind of game.

And at API, Tanya proves herself to be a good analyst and doesn't crack under pressure. Her drug problem, however, persists. "Connect the Dots" did a pretty good job at balancing all angles of the show, even with Katherine Rhumor still wandering in the wilderness.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - True Blood Season 3 Episode 10 I Smell a Rat

I smell a horrendously boring episode. I've had something positive to say about every episode of True Blood this season without thinking too hard, but with "I Smell a Rat," I can't single out anything I liked aside from Pam's "Blah blah vampire emergency blah."

After last week's eyeopening ending, I expected a lot to happen and action all over. Russell declared a literal war between vampires and humans on television. This has to send the world at large into overdrive, right? But True Blood has never bridged Bon Temps to the outside world where normal suburban families seemingly live without vampires running around all over the place and we see little fallout. A raid on Russell's mansion, Steve Newlin back on television, a hate crime, but certainly nothing dramatic to match the potential after Russell's actions.

The revelation that Sookie is a fairy and that vampires hunted out fairies in the past was my favorite part of the episode (still didn't really like it), but do we doubt Bill? He's done nothing to indicate he'd consciously hurt Sookie, nor has he been anything more than protective of Sookie. But Sookie doubts Bill and goes to Eric for the truth. He won't tell Sookie anything more, and at the end of the episode, chains her in the basement, presumably to help fight back against Russell.

Russell finally appears at the end of the episode and is full on crazy. He picks up a guy, substituting him for Talbot before staking him. Looks like we have an old, powerful, insane vampire on the loose.

And then there's the useless Bon Temps minutiae.

Lafayette and Jesus's V trip. It was so long that I tuned out and ignored most of what they were saying, not that it was pertinent. Apparently, their ancestors were into weird stuff. Who cares?

Tara should be put in a box. She's more annoying than Arlene and that's saying something. She spent another episode quivering and crying.

Arlene spills the beans to Terry and then goes to the Wiccan waitress to get rid of the baby.

Crystal reveals herself as a werepanther to Jason. However, there is no follow-up which was disappointing.

There is a boring flashback of Sam using his shapeshifting ability to steal gems, getting conned, and then killing the two con artists to get his stuff back.

The second season ran out of steam in the final few episodes and while it appears that Alan Ball is rectifying that mistake by leaving more plot at the end of this season, he hasn't balanced the rest of the episodes to make them comparably exciting. It seems like the show would be much better if it were squeezed into 10 episodes per season instead of 12, allowing for quick paced episodes each week instead of an occasional boring one here and there.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Leverage Season 3 Episode 11 The Rashomon Job

Perhaps Akira Kurosawa's most famous film in the West, Rashomon tells the story of a rape and murder through the lens of four different individuals the first three with varying accounts with their own spin. The episode title, "The Rashomon Job," gives away the premise, but the resulting episode exceeded every expectation.
We're shown accounts from the grifter, hacker, hitter, thief, and finally the mastermind--Nate--each being there for the Dagger of Aqu’abi. Except for Nate, who was still the straight insurance investigator at that time, we see them cop to the crime, and true to Rashomon, they embellish their stories to enhance their appearance and reputation. In the end, none of them manage to steal the dagger, but Nate uncovers that the dagger is a fake.

The Moreau thing completely fell to the wayside since the first four episodes, but he was mentioned this week in passing, so we know the writers haven't given up on it completely. From the description of next week's episode, it looks like the team will finally start working on him.

Score: 9.5/10

Review - Mad Men Season 4 Episode 5 The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

Mad Men draws a wide variety of opinions, but the one thing almost everyone agrees on is Betty. People don't like her--and for good reason. She's cold, distant, and unpleasant. Betty reached a boiling point in "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.," where we see the discontentment in her life come out on her poor children.

When Betty sees Sally's new haircut, she's angry, as Don correctly predicts, and goes further, not only yelling, but also giving Sally a huge slap across the face. By now, every viewer must hate Betty and it's hard not to cringe at her behavior.

More and more, Betty has become inhuman, a one-dimensional woman who refuses to grow up and take responsibility for herself. And I'm beginning to question how important she is to the show. The previous two episodes were just fine without her. Betty is one of the weaker characters of the show, with little emotional response (other than frustration), no growth, and no real upside to the general enjoyment of the show. I don't know about everyone else, but I wouldn't blink an eye if she left the show in the near future (with an arc to wrap up her character). Where's the turning the point for her? She can't stay in this perpetual state of existence, can she?

I hope we got a glimpse when Betty meets with the child psychiatrist after Sally's overly awkward public masturbation. Perhaps it wasn't very subtle, but it confirmed that Betty is a woman-child fixated on herself and she'll have regular meetings. Hopefully a child psychiatrist can solve Betty this time around.

While on the subject of Betty, I'd like to say a few things about Henry, a weird, interesting character. He's only attached to the rest of the show through Betty, and has virtually no impact other than on Betty, Sally, and Bobby. He only exchanges pleasantries with Don, never a meaningful conversation that leads anywhere. But he's a smooth talker and it could be said that he controls, or at least guides, Betty in a certain direction. He influences her actions, not as a husband, but as an elder, one who has prior knowledge from raising his own daughter. Through his experiences, he teaches Betty how to be a mother, and possibly, that could be Betty's way to grow up.

At Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, it was fun all around with pockets of drama. In many ways, it was like the Mad Men of old, when Don ruled in advertising and brushed off challengers with ease. Honda holds a competition for its business, introducing cross-cultural interaction--amidst talk of civil rights on the homefront, notably the violence at Selma. As a World War II vet, Roger is adamantly opposed to doing business with the Japanese--despite the company needing money and the war being over for 20 years--so the rest shuttle him off when the Japanese come around.

Needless to say, SCDP's first encounter with them is hilarious. Neither side knows quite what to expect, but it's fine--up until Roger returns. He spits out a few mean one-liners and angry gestures before leaving, all but destroying the mood. We get where he's coming from, but it's not until Roger's heartfelt conversation (rant?) with Don and near fight with Pete when we see just how emotionally caught up Roger is, a reasonable response considering his circumstances, but not a logical one in the business sense.

The familiar, confident Don we know popped up in the episode and quickly got things done with limited resources. Knowing Roger had destroyed their chances of winning and that Ted Shaw is hot on his heels, Don tears apart his new rival, not with an advertisement, but a brilliant display of gamesmanship. He tricks Ted into thinking he's making a television commercial, though it is all a ploy for Ted to spend extra money. In the end, Don forfeits the competition, not even attempting to win, while Ted shows his expensive commercial. And Honda doesn't even choose a winner, leaving Don as the ultimate victor.

It was odd seeing Don in such high places throughout the episode. He is the savior to Betty's villainess, the winning strategist to Ted's gut-reaction tomfoolery. He even chats up two women without getting fully rejected. From this episode alone, it would seem like Don is doing fine, even with the divorce.

But every episode this season has been Don plumbing the depths of humanity, going further and further towards a climax that has yet to materialize. "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" marks a dramatic--and likely brief--pause in this path. It's unlikely, in only the fifth episode this season, that Don would fully turnaround, but we'll see what happens next week (another reason why it's not the best idea to review shows like Mad Men week to week).

Score: 9.4/10
  • Maybe I was in an extra good mood tonight, but I laughed at least 5 times out loud.
  • "How does she not fall over?" LMAO
  • Don's new secretary battling Pete for the package.
  • I don't know why, but Peggy riding around on the motorcycle made me smile. 
  • In light of the two-blocks-away Ground Zero mosque, Roger's attitude towards the Japanese felt almost too relevant. Just food for thought.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Preview of Week 8/22/10 - 8/28/10

Rubicon - AMC, Sunday, August 22, 9:00pm ET

The mystery has been nothing more than a mundane tromp through useless symbols and names, but the intelligence analyzing side of the show continues to impress me and is reason alone to keep watching. Hopefully the writers figure out a balance soon.

True Blood - HBO, Sunday, August 22, 9:00pm ET

This up and down season of True Blood comes to an end soon, so we'll see if Bon Temps redeems itself and manages to live up to the excitement of the vampire plot.

Burn Notice - USA, Thursday, August 26, 9:00pm ET

Michael versus Jesse versus T-1000. Should be interesting.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review - Burn Notice Season 4 Episode 11 Blind Spot

Until now, the spy subplot of Burn Notice this season has more or less been the exact same as previous season, with the addition of Jesse being the major difference. Michael and his friends get closer towards an indistinct target as though an ending is near. Along the way, they pretend to be oblivious to Jesse's demise, creating a large moral quandary.

Everything came to a head in "Blind Spot," the last episode before next week's midseason finale. Jesse puts the pieces together and realizes that Michael has been deceiving him the entire time. The episode ends, setting up the epic clash between Jesse and Michael next week, with Jesse pointing a gun at Fi's head before leaving. Obviously he wasn't going to shoot her, but the line's been draw and he'll be acting soon. Oh, and evil bad guy Robert Patrick is coming to town!

Even though there was a lot going on with the main arc, there is still a client to be helped, and the plot was dominated by Sam Axe--the most knowledgeable person about taking down a womanizer.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - The X-Files Season 3 Episode 6 2Shy

"2Shy" is very similar in concept to "Squeeze." A monster baring more than resemblance to humans hunts unsuspecting prey to fulfill a biological need. The only difference--and the reason why the episode is a whole step down--is that Virgil Incanto must go after fat people and their adipose tissue.

It becomes a dumb "the internet has predators" episode, as we see Virgil lure in insecure women on chat rooms to feast on, although there has to be much better ways to get what he wants. We see him consume three separate people without the internet, so why does he have go online where he has more difficulty.

Mulder and Scully largely stay on the sidelines until the very end and we don't see much of their personalities. It also doesn't help that none of the other characters are even mildly likable. The only redeeming part of the episode is that Timothy Carhart has a mesmerizing performance as Virgil Incanto.

Score: 8.2/10

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review - White Collar Season 2 Episode 6 In the Red

I know it's late, but writing a review totally slipped my mind until now.

For the most part, "In the Red" was a yawn worthy episode. One of the big problems which plagued the episode--and the show for that matter--is that the game-breaking pieces of information come from some kind of electronic records and the characters receive them over a plain phone call. The investigation only moves forward when someone says "______ was calling/visiting/accessing/etc _______," and it's not exciting, which is the nature of white collar crime. Elizabeth is probably the most useless character on television right now. Another CGIed scene on the phone and more wasted time. Does she have to be in every episode?

Score: 8.1/10

Review - Dark Blue Season 2 Episode 4 High Rollers

Based on the ratings of the first three episodes, it's unlikely Dark Blue will be renewed, given that Rizzoli & Isles has performed splendidly after The Closer and that Dark Blue is one of the lowest rated (possibly the very lowest) TNT original series on air. And it's hard to fault anyone. Dark Blue squandered the Leverage lead-in last year (the shows aren't similar) and the ratings dropped severely. TNT renewed it after many months and shoved in on Wednesday alongside syndicated shows, showing its justified lack of confidence in Dark Blue. It's not surprising, then, that the ratings this season began at the lowest point of the first season and are only going down.

I liked the creative direction this season, including the addition of Alex Rice, who adds another facet to the show. "High Rollers," however, takes a misstep. Carter and Alex get way too cuddly--in only the fourth episode of the season--and there is no friction between them, making them a cookie-cutter couple which doesn't add to the show.

The benefits of a fairly large cast is that Jaime and Ty pick up the slack. Jaime tries using her sexuality in an attempt to dig deeper into the criminal, dragging out a cautionary tale from Alex in the process. In addition to Alex and Carter moving too fast, Ty and his wife's relationship disintegration was also rushed with only last week's episode bridging this week's revelation that Ty and Mellisa are separated. Still, the payoff is that we see Ty's gambling problem emerge, though Carter shoves it under the rug.

Within everything going on with the various characters, the plot was tossed to the side as there were about three guest stars who actually had lines and a simple entrapment to wire was stretched out to fill the hour.

Score: 7.9/10

Review - Covert Affairs Season 1 Episode 6 Houses of the Holy

If Covert Affairs can come up with episodes like "Houses of the Holy," a bottom to middle level episode in comparison to the others, it should be fine in the long run. It was filled with cliches of a cheating Senator, traitorous wife, and Chief of Staff caught in the crossfire, but the essentials of what makes the show good were still there.

Annie's family life is the weakest part of the show and I'm not sure if it's even necessary. This week, Annie finds her brother-in-law not at work where his is supposed to be, and suspects cheating, as the Senator cheating got her mind churning. In the end, he tells Annie that he lost his Job and later tells Danielle. I'm still not caring much, but we'll see if it gets better.

Score: 8.5/10

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review - Warehouse 13 Season 2 Episode 7 For the Team

With the inclusion of Claudia, Warehouse 13 could have more diversity in the field, but never really took advantage of that until now. This week, the Myka and Claudia went to find the artifact while Pete and Artie stayed indoors.

The plot was average, the artifact being a ladle which made an energy drink toxic and Pete and Artie finding the courage to ask out women. The inclusion of H.G. Wells, however, was done very well. She returns, but not with the destructive anger we last saw her with, but a resigned outlook towards the world, having no one left after over a hundred years. She helps Myka greatly (slightly pushing Claudia out of the way in the process), and we see another side to her. According to H.G., her bronzing was due to her sex, because it was a different time. And in telling Myka, she gains her trust, even revealing that she'd like to become an agent again. Is H.G. genuine or pulling a long-con?

"For the Team" was a solid mix of everything, staying even-keeled throughout the hour. Warehouse 13 rarely has meaningful pathos, but Jaime Murray was great in bringing out emotion in her character and Joanne Kelly reacted in equal measure--simultaneously expressing fear of H.G.'s possible deceit.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - The Closer Season 6 Episode 6 Off the Hook

I've never liked Pope, but with the Chief position opening up this season, he's been more of a prick than usual. In "Off the Hook," he goes out of control, refusing to listen to anyone and berating those not a fault just because he's mad. Brenda calmly tries to investigate as she usually does, but Pope hijacks the entire proceeding and makes many unreasonable demands. Of course, these actions are to cover his back and make him look better to the public, thus increasing his chances to get the position.

The case is fairly basic with the murder of the parole board commissioner due to a woman angry at her husband killed by a parolee. It was hard to enjoy the episode when Pope was always being irrationally mean. Even in the end, he remains pissy towards Brenda.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Lie to Me Season 2 Episode 19 Pied Piper

Last week, I talked about Shawn Ryan's deemphasis on plot and emphasis on characters and dramatic moments this season and how it hurts the show in certain instances, as in last week's episode where the plot was thin and the twists had no payoff. In return, Lie to Me can switch gears easier, as we've seen a wide variety of scenarios this season.

Tonight's Shield-laden episode, "Pied Piper," was one of those, starting with a death row inmate--who was prosecuted by Zoe with help from Cal--executed. Right before the execution, however, Cal notices that the inmate, Jason, is telling the truth about the murdered boy--he didn't take him--but the execution goes through as planned. We see Cal and Zoe struggling to come to terms with their deed, possibly condemning an innocent man to death. There are some creepy phone calls, a trip to the psych ward, and a threat to Emily before Cal finds the truth. Jason's brother, nicknamed the Pied Piper, was his accomplish and did the kidnapping while Jason did the killing.

Score: 8.8/10

Monday, August 16, 2010

Review - The Big C Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

It's hard to judge a show like The Big C from the pilot episode. The writers have a limited time to establish a strong main character and what drives him/her. Other elements may be introduced but fall by the wayside in the large shuffle to build a narrative from the ground up in half an hour. The Big C encounters this problem and does not overcome the challenge.

Laura Linney is a force of nature in the pilot. She shows a broad spectrum of emotions and it's hard not to fall in love with her in the first 10 minutes. We see her character, Cathy, splurge on a swimming pool, give her adolescent husband Paul (Oliver Platt) and irritable son Adam (Gabriel Basso), a piece of her mind, let loose on Andrea (Gabourey Sidibe AKA Precious), telling her she can be fat and jolly or a skinny bitch (great line), before finally breaking down in the unfilled hole in her backyard along with her dog. Knowing her life is short, she spends more money than she's used to and that may be fine for the present, but the harsh reality is with her in the end.

The rest of the episode, however, doesn't come close to matching her depth The main plot point in the pilot is that though Cathy is coming to terms with her diagnosis, no one knows other than her doctor. She veils her innermost feelings--as she always has--so her behavioral changes are odd to those who know her. The other characters are nothing more than virtual sounding boards for Cathy. They talk, they interact with her differently, but in the end, it's hard to find the humanity behind them. What does Cathy see in them? What do they see in Cathy?

I watch a couple more episodes to see if more plots develop, but the pilot didn't leave me on the edge of my seat waiting for next week's episode.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Weeds Season 6 Episode 1 Thwack

In my estimation, Weeds has decreased in quality about 10% each season, more in the later two. The show has become a mere shell of what it once was, an incomplete, soulless arena where detestable characters have their fun amidst the ruin of society. Even Nancy, once a very likable character, has become but another hideous aberration, clawing at those around her until there is nothing left. Left behind are Silas and Shane who bear the brunt of their mother's recklessness and Andy, whose chauvinism precludes any good intentions he may have. As the plot continues to spiral out of control, Weeds hangs on a thin thread which feels like it'll snap at any moment.

Continuing from last season's finale, "Thwack" ties up several threads and the Botwins move on, once again heading to a location where their past will inevitably come back to haunt them. Just like Agrestic was burned out of the storyline completely, with Conrad and Heylia and cut out, I wish the whole Mexican cartel stuff would end, but it doesn't look that way.

"Thwack" is essentially a reset episode like most season premieres. Having killed Pilar, Shane is deep trouble and Nancy decides to take the family and run, leaving behind a nice life and husband for the sake of her children. Andy, after bolting like a girl from the crazy abortion guy, goes with Nancy too, proving to Audra that his commitment isn't where it should be. On the other side of the border, Guillermo deletes the incriminating tape, but there's sure to be huge fallout.

I won't be reviewing Weeds each week since I probably be whining about one thing or another, but if there's an episode I really like, I'll make a post or make a comment on Twitter.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - True Blood Season 3 Episode 9 Everything is Broken

Nine episodes into the third season and there is one imperative: Bon Temps will have the worst plots. It stayed true in "Everything is Broken," another mixed bag to throw with the other mixed bags this season. By now I think it's safe to say this season has been marred by inconsistency. It can go from the interesting vampire world to the insipid, dumb Bon Temps residents instantly, nearly ruining the episode.

Ignoring Bon Temps, "Everything is Broken" was a brilliant push to bring the vampire world into open. It begins with Nan Flanagan and her squad detaining Eric and Pam. However, we soon learn that the Authority is a useless band of newbies who are too stupid to realize that a threat like Russell has been operating unchecked for over a thousand years. When Eric tells his side, they brush him off. Nan's main line of argument is that Russell donated a half million dollars to the American Vampire League, a silly notion considering that Russell rejects humans and has little need for money.

They're too dumb to listen to Eric then, but the next night she allows Eric to move ahead and take out Russell without official Authority support.The final scene is a pure genius. Traveling in car, we see Nan chowing down on a human--rejecting her own credo--while watching a news report on the Vampire Rights Amendment. Russell bursts on screen in a flurry and shoves his hand through the reporter's chest, ripping his spine out in a garish display. He delivers a chilling speech explaining his hatred for humans and vampires' superiority.

We've seen vampires kill and kidnap before, though it's never a big deal when it should be. But Russell comes on television and announces to the world that vampires will eat their children and then the rest of the humans. If this isn't the breaking point, what is?

The middle section is a whole lot of Bon Temps bullshit. More Jessica and Hoyt angst, more Lafayette and Jesus fluff, Arlene fretting while her new co-worker seems to be feeding off her feelings, Crystal being secretive, and Tara crying. Even Franklin comes back only to be dispatched in a matter of seconds, a disappointing closure to his return.

And Sam's story returned to the god-awful crap is was. It's hard to feel anything for Tommy, despite his dogfighting experience. Punk teens on television can be good if they are very funny, but Tommy is a mean-spirited punk. Dogfighting made him that way, but can't the writers tamp his bad side with something positive? At least Sam finally reaches his breaking point and batters Crystal's father to the ground.

Bill visits dreamland and like Sookie's scene earlier, there's not much the audience learn. Is it literal or an allegory? Bill and Sookie's relationship is stuck in an eternal lovey-dovey phase which is a exceedingly boring, especially because they aren't involved in the vampire politics of the episode.

With three episodes left in the season, things will heat soon and maybe Bon Temps will be better (though it's doubtful). Russell made his big announcement to the world, initiating his public battle against humanity, so it's hard to imagine that the status quo won't change, including a huge reduction in Bon Temps. 

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Leverage Season 3 Episode 10 The Underground Job

"The Underground Job" was the first "blah" episode this season. The plot was average--baffle the evil mine CEO and corrupt AG--and the pieces fell in place. Parker, Nate, and Sophie stirred things up between the two while Elliot connected with an 18-year old kid in the mine and Hardison worked tech support. There were good character moments, but nothing stood out.

I question the prudence in putting the client in charge of the mine. As Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” How long before he becomes another Blackwell?

Score: 8.2/10

Review - Rubicon Season 1 Episode 4 The Outsider

With the current inertia of the central mystery in Rubicon, I'm questioning whether the show needs the crosswords, clovers, and cloak-and-dagger spy game. It moves at an exceedingly slow pace, doling out a few vague clues every episode. Frankly, it's not interesting.

Then there's the think tank side of the show, a fascinating world revolving around Will, Miles, Grant, and Tanya. It's still slow, but enough happens to leave me wanting more. As they engage the world from inside an isolated office, we see the intelligence community in a light rarely portrayed on television. There are no guns, shooting, or aerial bombardments to satiate the action fans. It's a pretty boring existence. The workers come in, take stacks of files and read them for hours on end--but the content is of massive importance with far-reaching ramification across the world.

Is Rubicon a mystery-thriller or about a workers at a think tank? The writers still haven't figured out how to balance the two, but I'm fine waiting until they get it all figured out. "The Outsider," the strongest episode so far, lies on the side of workers at a think tank, so much so that I won't bother to mention the new clues or Katherine (who seems to be living in a parallel universe).

Miles, Grant, and Tanya--without Will, the one who guides them--are tasked on whether to assassinate a certain terrorist in Indonesia. Their decision will affect people they have no idea about and civilian casualties are likely. Though they may not be pulling the final trigger, the thought weighs heavily on them and we see them stressed on what to do. In the end, they decide to move ahead and the guys at the top agree, leading to the bombing.

At Capitol Hill, Spangler takes Will to make a point. Will is the outsider, the cold-hearted, detached guy who can make objective decisions. He dehumanizes Will, makes him a faceless observer impartial to death and steadfast in getting the job done right. The point comes across and he succeeds in obtaining the funding he wants.

The ratings for Rubicon have plunged since the series premiere (and not expected due to the pace), so we might not see a second season. It's a decent show so far, but if the writers want to improve the quality and ratings, they need to get the mystery moving.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Mad Men Season 4 Episode 4 The Rejected

Don has been the center of every episode this season, but in "The Rejected," he takes a backseat, though he is the most rejected character, being the odd man out in nearly every situation. Instead, the two Ps, Pete and Peggy, are the focus--and rightfully so, after the third season barely touched on them.

Somehow, Pete is able to spin rejection into positives. When he is about to tell his father-in-law, Tom, that Clearasil must be dumped for Pond's, he is treated to the best of news--Trudy is pregnant. Then when he breaks the Clearasil news to Tom, under the happiness of Trudy's pregnancy, he manages to take millions more dollars. He'll lose Clearasil and in turn, gain all of Vicks. Pete is savvy (cutthroat from Tom's point of view) and he's going to be a father, signs that he's really grown up.

On the other hand, Peggy meets Joyce who has a stack of rejected photos and enters an entirely different world--1965--where there's an art show with drugs and a wacky film. Interestingly, Peggy's mind is still on advertising, asking the photographer whether he'd like to do advertising. Eventually, the cops come, but Peggy is exhilarated.

While Peggy seems to be veering off in another direction, we're reminded that she'd like to settle down eventually, and Pete is slipping away. Acting very mean, she scolds a sobbing Allison for the suggestion that she may have done something with Don, a testament to the way she thinks Allison is commenting on her and Pete. She slips on Faye's ring as Don looks on with a smile and later tries talking to Pete, but musters a few brief words on congratulations before running off.

The final scene, which felt contrived to bring the two groups in close proximity, features Peggy and her new friends, young people wearing and assortment of colors, and Pete and his group, a drab looking collection of old guys in black suits. They stare at each other in a passing moment, knowing there is something between them despite their current positions. But does Pete belong with the upper-management and does Peggy belong with this youthful progressive crowd? Will they be rejected?

And then there's Don, in stark contrast to Peggy and Pete in the sun-filled rooms of SCDP, trudging back to his dark, dreary apartment where an old man repeatedly asks his wife about pears.

Season Four of Mad Men is about Don and his spiral downward. So far, we've seen prostitutes, drinking, and professional rejection--one area where Don usually can succeed. Faye's research shows the opposite of Peggy's idea of a ritual, and while Don argues that the research may not play out in similar fashion in the real world, he can't win. Don reluctance to budge one bit and totally discount Faye's research works against him in the end, whereas Pete decides to take the rejection and makes a sly move to get even more. If this keeps up, Pete will eventually outmaneuver him.

But we also see the spark of a man who wishes to come out, but can't muster the courage to come through. When Allison starts breaking down, Don is visibly agitated, first squirming in his seat and then pulling out a cigarette, so he's conscious of the fact that he's the primary reason for her woes. Don begins a letter to Allison containing the line "Right now my life is very," before crumpling it up as he retreats back, afraid to confront himself and what he's become. We know his life sucks, but what does Don think about himself? For now it's bad news on more bad news without an exit, no place to run this time around.

Four episodes into the season and Don has not rebounded yet, nor has he done anything too drastic. I'm very interested in how far Matthew Weiner is willing is push Don. "The Rejected" didn't do much other than reinforce what we already knew, but the developments for Pete and Peggy are promising.

Score: 9.1/10

  • It sucks, but apparently Joan isn't one of those young, perky girls from 18-25 meant for Faye's testing.
  • "Another Campbell--that's just what the world needs." I wonder what would draw Pete's attention.
  • "The jockey smokes the cigarettes." Best line of the episode. How about this for an advertisement?
  • No Betty for two weeks!
  • Peggy peaking over to see Don had me laughing.
  • Someone should give Allison a hug. Rejected by Don and then a bitchy Peggy. Where's Joan?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Preview of Week 8/15/10 - 8/21/10

Mad Men - AMC, Sunday, August 15, 10:00pm ET

After last week's episode stayed stagnant on the advertising front, it looks like Lee Garner Jr. is back with more trouble.

Weeds - Showtime, Monday, August 16, 10:00pm ET

A little preview of my season premiere review.

In my estimation, Weeds has decreased in quality about 10% each season, more in the later two. The show has become a mere shell of what it once was, an incomplete, soulless arena where detestable characters have their fun amidst the ruin of society. Even Nancy, once a very likable character, has become but another hideous aberration, clawing at those around her until there is nothing left. Left behind are Silas and Shane who bear the brunt of their mother's recklessness and Andy, whose chauvinism precludes any good intentions he may have. As the plot continues to spiral out of control, Weeds hangs on a thin thread which feels like it'll snap at any moment. Continuing from last season's finale, this season's premiere ties up several threads and the Botwins move on, once again heading to a location where their past will inevitably come back to haunt them.

The Big C - Showtime, Monday, August 16, 10:30pm ET

Laura Linney's character, Cathy, has Cancer and her behavior changes radically as one would expect. The catch--which isn't fully explained--is that she hasn't told anyone yet, not her childish husband, annoying son, homeless brother, or fat, mean student. Looking at Showtime's newest addition, I'm still baffled why people think Showtime has overtaken HBO.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review - Burn Notice Season 4 Episode 10 Hard Time

Michael's breaking out of prison--not Scofield, Weston--meaning no elaborate tattoos, no toe cutting, and no helpful buddies. Calm and collected, he enters prison to protect Sam's friend and doesn't face too much opposition in protecting himself and Sam's friend. The usual tricks serve him well as he makes buffoons out of hardened gangsters and gets out alive.

Simon proves unbreakable for Vaughn's people, but readily gives up information to Michael, the location of some goodies. Fi spends the episode disarming the booby trap and eventually uncovers Simon's things, mostly intelligence stuff, but also a high school yearbook. A recording from Berlin 2007 reveals that Michael was in Vaughn's cross hairs from the beginning as a replacement for Simon, a lie as expected of Vaughn and those like him.

From Simon's recordings we also have a new name--John Barrett, the CEO of a company. Apparently, he'll bring down Vaughn if he gets the Bible. What does this all mean? As far as I'm concerned, another empty hoop to jump through. But that's what Burn Notice is all about--knowing the ending and enjoying the process.

There wasn't, surprisingly, any development on the Jesse front this week, even though the midseason finale is in two weeks. I guess we'll find out next week if Vaughn or Jesse is the main adversary at that time.

Score: 9.0/10

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review - Dark Blue Season 2 Episode 3 Shelter of the Beast

Three episodes in and already the writers of Dark Blue have done more with the characters than they did for most of first season. Continuing from "Liar's Poker," "Shelter of the Beast" further fleshed out the conflicts we'll see this season as Carter used Finn and Maria to get at Garza.

We've come to expect high-level criminals taken down within an episode, so Garza being the main target in last week's episode and not even seen was pretty exciting. He showed his face this week and still wasn't caught! After Dean screws everything up, opting to save Maria instead of following through on orders, Carter, fully infuriated, goes berserk and prepares to charge in to get Garza on anything. However, Alex stops him with the full force of her position. No bust this week! So we see Alex ready to step when Carter becomes a little crazy (and honestly, his behavior is one of the grimiest on television this side of Vic Mackey), but at the same time, they're continuing their relationship/tryst.

I simply don't see how Dean can continue to stay on the team after directly going against orders, completely ruining the chance to take down a huge criminal. If he can't keep his emotions under control, how can anyone trust him the next time? I sure as hell wouldn't be fine with him backing me any time soon. But Carter seems to think this is a one-time thing, which it probably is if Dean is to stay on the show.

Score: 8.6/10

Review - Covert Affairs Season 1 Episode 5 In the Light

For the sake of a narrative, Annie is not only a newbie in the CIA, but also terribly naive. She really had no idea the CIA does dirty things all the time. But it goes in part with her bright-eyed, fresh-faced approach to everything, so we have to accept that she'll learn the truth as the series progresses.

Annie learned the hard way this week when she is sent to bring Christopher Mcauley (Eriq La Salle) back to help find an arms dealer named Hassan heading for the US, discovering that Hassan was once funded by the CIA before turning on them. And the final kicker for Annie is that the CIA is getting Hassan themselves, not the FBI to put in prison.

Ben Mercer reentered the picture to kill Hassan and catches a brief glimpse of Annie, who doesn't see him, before dashing off. What's his game? It seems like his just a thorn in the side of the CIA. Jai finally served a purpose, playing his biggest role in the show thus far. He's not a bad guy, but knows the dark side of the CIA intimately and has the task to seduce Annie.

"In the Light" was another very solid episode and I'm looking forward to see what happens.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - Warehouse 13 Season 2 Episode 6 Around the Bend

It's hard not to be disappointed in "Around the Bend," even when the majority of the episode was great. More than halfway through the episode, and all evidence points to a grand conspiracy involving Valda--and possibly someone inside the Warehouse--trying to accrue power by taking artifacts for themselves. Instructed by Mrs. Frederick to keep things hush hush, Pete must go out of his way to deceive his friends and get to the bottom of the conspiracy. This is awesome stuff, especially in the middle of the season.

But wait! It's all a hallucination, the result of a typewriter he touched at the beginning of the episode. There's no conspiracy, no evil Regents, just a crazy Pete. All the built up excitement was for naught. Now I'm not remotely interested. Cut to the end and everything is fine; Pete caused no irreparable damage and Mrs. Frederick knows he wasn't at fault, except that he should keep his hands to himself.

Why couldn't the writers continue in the direction the episode began with and raised the stakes? Once we learned everything was from the artifact, the tension drained out instantly. If the episode is any indication, the writers clearly aren't ambitious enough to push for more.

Score: 8.0/10

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review - White Collar Season 2 Episode 5 Unfinished Business

White Collar never gets my blood pumping like I do with other shows in the same genre, but "Unfinished Business" went a smidgen beyond the usual fun, entering another level of quality.

The episode took an interesting turn when Neal, posing as someone who the FBI thinks is a bond currier, is actually given a gun and a target: insurance investigator Sara Ellis (Hilarie Burton), who had testified against Neal in an unsuccessful trial, and helped the FBI earlier in the day. There are some tense moments in between and crisp dialogue between Neal and Sara before the typical criminal catching ending. The subplot of Neal investigating Kate's death was well on its way with the black box recording going to Sara's office and eventually her house, but the ending threw me off. Neal had plenty of opportunities to take the envelope and clearly could have, right up until the end. Why didn't he? If the writers are going for the angle that Sara affected Neal so much through the course of the episode that he'd give up the search, I'm not buying it. But it's probably something else... maybe.

From what I've read, the internet is up in arms about Hilarie Burton. There are a vocal bunch of haters, mostly for her OTH work (which was on par as far as WB shows went) and her media behavior after being knocked up by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and a supporters here and there, though not as fervent in expressing their opinions. Sara Ellis, undoubtedly, gets good writing--from creator Jeff Eastin--and Hilarie Burton isn't bad, nor is she particularly good. I was fine with her, but the bigger point is that guests--even recurring characters--will never change the makeup of the show. I doubt Sara will be poking her head in every week, so overexposure shouldn't be a problem, and her appearances should act a jolt to the series.

Once again, Elizabeth was stuck into the episode awkwardly. Either have her do something meaningful or don't feature her at all. Plunking Tiffani Thiessen in front of a blue/green screen, having a useless exchange with Peter over the phone has zero--or negative--impact on the episode. Hopefully, it's something contractual and not a lack of tact on the part of the producers.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - The X-Files Season 3 Episode 5 The List

"The List" is one of those episodes which has good ideas and little substance. From the beginning, we know Neech's will is carried out in the death of others, whether it be through reincarnation or command of another. The bodies pile in several gruesome shots featuring maggots and flies.

What else is there? Well, the investigation goes no where and the subplots aren't developed. Without a resolution in sight, suddenly the case is over as the murders are plunked upon a prison guard who was shot by Neech's wife. Mulder and Scully lose all will to push further, despite being overly stubborn in the past, and drive off. And the final scene: Neech's ghostly form appears and takes another victim. Basically, Mulder and Scully dropped the ball completely and missed Neech's very real reincarnation.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The Closer Season 6 Episode 5 Heart Attack

"Heart Attack" was my favorite kind of The Closer episode. Expectedly, there isn't that much of a mystery. Brenda hones in on organ harvesting almost immediately and comes across a moral quandary. The doctor harvesting organs is doing so from a group of gang rapists--people who clearly harm society. In the end, she lets him finish a last heart transplant before enforcing the law.

I haven't cared much about Sanchez and the boy thus far, but they were fine sitting on the sidelines. However, they were the main subplot in the episode and was a big distraction. Sanchez acts like he's entitled to be the boy's parent, causing a distraction in the office both with the boy being there and his childish outbursts. And when he asked the boy's mother if she was married, I could only roll my eyes.

Score: 8.9/10

Monday, August 9, 2010

Review - The X-Files Season 3 Episode 4 Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose

"Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" is one of the all-time classics--and for good reason. Written by Darin Morgan, it's not laugh out loud funny with gags every few seconds, but there's a clever humor inside the dialogue, somehow coming through the very frank discussion about death, a morbid subject which takes an odd tone when described by Peter Boyle.

Imagine being able to know how anyone will die. Images of random people's death pops into your mind. What do you do?

In the case of Clyde Bruckman, it makes his life nearly unbearable. He has this amazing ability, but it has no real upside. He's forced to see death day in and day out, knowing exactly what will be the end. After that, everything else seems insignificant. What more is there?

His indifferent attitude is foisted upon Mulder and Scully who discover him while on a pretty normal case. The investigation is mostly an afterthought, although is plotted well and would be excellent by itself. Clyde Bruckman, though, is the heart of the episode and probably gets the most lines of any guest in the entirety of the series. Sprinkled throughout the episode are delightful one-liners, which make you smile at first and then consider the deeper meaning. The episode never fully descends in darkness, despite Clyde ending himself with a plastic bag, just as his ability gradually choked the life out of him. We are given a moment of levity in the end as Scully chucks her phone at the Stupendous Yafi on the television.

In accordance with the different tone, the usual supernatural element of The X-Files is explained with a line about Clyde fixating on a coin flip which doomed the Big Bopper, an outlandish thought that Mulder doesn't bite at. With Clyde, we never know exactly what the truth is, especially when he tells Mulder he die from autoerotic asphyxiation and Scully she won't die. While Clyde's search for a meaningful life is over, his death and ability proves to Mulder there is more, and even though Clyde made fun of fixation, the search is still on.

Score: 9.6/10

Review - Rubicon Season 1 Episode 3 Keep the Ends Out

Rubicon is a series that works best on DVD, where viewers can plunk down on the couch and watch for hour and hours--maybe until something happens! They get the same great atmosphere and directing, but after a while, the plot will start coalescing, or at least it should.

For us watching week to week, we're left in the dark for long periods of time, possibly enough to scare of viewers afraid of commitment. Once again, literally nothing happen plot-wise. There was something about names found in the code of Yankees World Series victories, and more ominous words from men in suits about Will's continuing investigation. Every scene with Katherine Rhumor is zipping past my brain and I still have no clue why she matters. But she's there for some reason.

Will's workplace remains the glue holding the show together. Maggie seems like the odd woman out, not working on intelligence stuff with the rest of them, and is a pretty pointless character as well, especially with the random stuff with her husband. Miles was the other character expanded on this week and we learned that he's divorced and that work cut in to his personal life too much. Using Joan's analogy, church and state didn't stay separate.

I love all the visual aspects of the show and the slow pacing is growing on me, but the major plot points are either generic (Maggie's) or directionless (Katherine and Will's).

Score: 8.6/10

Review - True Blood Season 3 Episode 8 Night on the Sun

After several explosive, exciting episodes, True Blood settled back down, using calmer downtime to prepare for the final act of the season. As such, "Night on the Sun" was low on plot and high on melodrama, ranging from annoying to fairly good. These episodes are necessary in the grand scheme of things and there are still four episodes left in the season, so we shouldn't worry too much.

The first half of the episode is mostly Sookie and Bill coming to terms that they can't be with each other. Sookie's friends are already up in arms about Bill even being near her, and Sookie is also apprehensive of Bill, knowing he was seconds away from killing her. Bill, back in his normal state, realizes what he's done, reinforcing what Lorena taught him--vampires can't be with humans. There was decent emotional depth in the scenes and within a slower paced episode, the #2 highlight, after the fight at the end of the episode.

With the elder Mickens finally out of the picture, Sam's plot was better than usual. It's wasn't as bad, though we're probably in for more of the same in later episodes. Tommy's been bred to fight and has instincts to confront anyone about anything, resulting in two near-scuffles, first with Hoyt and second with Crytal's father. Since the show is contained in such a short timespan, it's hard to see how Tommy will change when fighting is ingrained in his life.

Jason in large doses can be funny if he's doing tasks that don't involve hurting people or hurting himself, but when he tries to be heroic and possibly endanger people, he becomes very unlikable. Crystal shows up at his door for help and he closes the deal as expected. Afterwards, he decides to be stupid and have some words with her father. And he goes alone! Do we want see a moron who thinks he's a cop run around brandishing a gun? At this time, I'd be perfectly fine if he were shot.

Jesus probably has a darker side which everyone in Bon Temps has and Lafayette will get something to do eventually. For now, he's just Lafayette's bland boyfriend.

A couple of old, dead lovers entered the dreams of Arlene and Tara, more hints at the trouble to come. But neither are characters I care about, so my opinion is muted.

The last 10 minutes of the episode gave us an inviting glimpse at the rest of the season. It's an all-out brawl at the Stackhouse residence with Bill, Jessica, and Sookie versus Debbie, fodder werewolves, and Russell. The fight is in the good guys' favor until Jessica runs outside and is nabbed by Russell. Everything looks lost until Eric kills Talbot who he had seduced, alerting Russell who promptly flies away.

Bill enters, finds Sookie, and has rougher sex with her than we usually see. So much for the breakup, but there is something different between them. And Jessica who seemed to be in imminent danger when she was running and falling down earlier while chased by a werewolf? Oh... she's chowing down on him. So many werewolves have been dispatched that it's hard to take them seriously as a threat. Even Sookie can beat one. At least Russell can carry the entire enemy load.

Now that Eric made his move, things will once again heat up. The line has been drawn and the characters have taken sides. It's only time before they act.

Score: 8.7/10
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