Archive | October, 2013

Friday Night Lights “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” Review (3×11)

31 Oct

627-19Just a few quick thoughts coming up…

-The best part of this episode is easily the Matt-Shelby-Lorraine storyline. It’s not something we haven’t seen before, but it works because a) it’s realistically not something that will go away, and b) all three actors are brilliant. It’s devastating watching Matt lose control of the one thing that’s remained constant for most of his life: his ability to take care of his grandma. I also have to compliment Kim Dickens here for making Shelby likeable; she’s excellent here portraying a woman who not only has to be there for her family, but also has to be willing to take the verbal abuse from Matt. She deserves it, and she knows it.

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Person of Interest “Mors Praematura” Review (3×06)

30 Oct

e1e802324a264830c82997e3eb09abebJust a few quick thoughts coming up about this excellent episode…

-The major theme of this season is how much the Machine influences people, good or bad, and I like how ambiguous everything’s become; for it to be everything, it has to include Finch and Reese. This is a show that lets it’s plot unfold organically; it has a structure, but it isn’t afraid to completely shift the dynamics. As much as I like the Finch-Reese focus earlier, I also like the expanding of the world.

-I love the continuity regarding Shaw; although Root and last week’s POI aren’t the same person, they’re both people Shaw can relate to and even connect with. Both relationships started off with some distrust because that’s just who she is, but they grew into something more; yes, Root’s an antagonist (although the show’s really blurring the lines here, which I love), but there’s a mutual respect between the two.

-Also, Root and Shaw have the same name: Sam.

-Usually, these all-powerful groups are introduced into shows, and they end up being annoying. Yet, Vigilance doesn’t seem “all powerful”: they’re a group, they have a goal, and they’re carrying it out. Person of Interest has lots to say about privacy and information, and it’s providing some nice social commentary without coming off as condescending.

-I don’t have any idea what the Machine’s endgame is; Bear could be behind everything, for all I know. It’s using everyone, though, that’s for sure, (save for Root, but then again, just because the Machine is communicating with her doesn’t mean she isn’t just a pawn), and it’s really interesting seeing the transition away from previous seasons. As our view of the Machine changes, each character’s place in this all changes as well.

-So good to see Kirk Acevedo’s still around. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing a Fringe-POI crossover in which the POI women and the Olivias go around kicking ass, Finch and Walter argue about things, and Bear and Gene strike up a heartwarming friendship.

-I wish Fusco was playing more of a part in things.

-We also have a short storyline with Laskey and Carter this week.

-“I suppose it’s too much to hope that she tased herself?” “Knowing Shaw, it’s possible.”

-Shaw fighting the guy while Root ate the apple=awesome.

GRADE: A-

Credit to CBS and Person of Interest for all pictures. I own nothing.

Sons of Anarchy “Los Fantasmas” Review (6×08)

30 Oct

627-20Consequence sometimes takes a while to latch on, but it always does. I’d argue that Sons takes a bit too long dishing out realistic consequence, though, as it almost always means violence. However, I like that this episode takes a step back and asks, “Hey, remember all that shit we did? Yeah, about that.”

For example, much as it’s great that Nero finally decides to just take the blame, it’s also great that Patterson decides to let Nero off the hook. After Toric died, she started to embody some of his character traits, becoming overwhelmed by a desire for justice rather than using her brains. Now, she’s both using her smarts and listening to her conscience, and the mourning parent committing suicide is a cathartic moment for her.

On the other hand, I wish the guy didn’t commit suicide. It essentially  absolves the Sons of their sins. Sure, Patterson’s now really bent on taking them down and they feel some guilt at the scene, but come on, these guys deserved worse than this a long time ago. They’re just as much at fault for the shooting, and there should be consequences…you know, not just the “obligatory season finale event that makes all these biker dudes sad for a bit”.

As for the rest of the episode, it’s mainly taken up by the Tara-Gemma storyline. I’m glad Unser acts as a medium here, calling both women out on their actions, as well as their subsequent weak family justifications (shades of Walter White there). For Tara, while it’s understandable she feels guilty about leaving her life behind, she also needs to leave; otherwise, this whole storyline would result in absolutely nothing. Still, I think she’ll leave. Her husband is her weakness, and she’s trying to escape from his influence; him finding out about the plan shouldn’t deter her one bit.

GRADE: B

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Man, Juice has got some issues. Next week, he jumps off a building, then changes his mind halfway through.

-I can’t help but feel bad for Wendy.

-Just break out of prison already, Clay.

Credit to FX and Sons of Anarchy for all pictures. I own nothing.

How I Met Your Mother “No Questions Asked” Review (9×07)

28 Oct

627-18Just a few quick thoughts…

-Wow, this season sure is spinning its wheels, isn’t it? They could’ve pulled off this “model the whole season around 3 days” if they only had 10-13 episodes to work with. It’s not a bad decision on the surface, but when you factor in the network TV requirements, then it’s exhausting.

-I would be more fine with the lack of the mother if the rest of the show didn’t just consist of the same plot points and character moments over and over again. Introducing the mother is an opportunity to model everything around her as her own character, because everything prior was modeled around the idea of her. We should be seeing exactly how the characters are growing and reaching the end of their respective stories, as the mother not only kicked everything off, but is bringing everything to an end.

-Barney and Robin’s storyline is very tiresome to get through. The fact that they’re spending half their time before the wedding arguing suggests that they really shouldn’t get married at all, and the show still trying to emphasize their independent natures after eight seasons with the characters reeks of indecision and inorganic tension.

-We also have Marshall and Lily here; my problem with this storyline is that the Marshall and the Lily we know would make a compromise. Marshall wouldn’t be the kind of guy that would rush into a decision without consulting Lily, and Lily isn’t the kind of person that would blow up at her husband for doing so. However, I am very glad Marshall finally told her about the job.

-That’s not to say there aren’t any amusing moments in this episode; the flashbacks are nicely done, and Ted in a mailbox is funny. However, the episode once again gets bogged down by the network requirements, coming across as typical sitcom fodder designed to fill up some space.

GRADE: C

Credit to CBS and How I Met Your Mother for all pictures. I own nothing.

Cinemax renews “Strike Back” for a final season of sexy explosions

28 Oct

627Cinemax announced today that its critically acclaimed show Strike Back has been renewed for a 10-episode final fourth/fifth season of explosions and sex. It will air in fall 2014, and once again, not enough people will watch it, instead electing to go out and spend time with people on their Friday nights; oh, the nerve.

Anyway, the final season will presumably once again not allow Stonebridge to have a sex scene, instead pushing him to the background to masturbate to Scott and whatever new woman he’s picked up. In addition, the “awesome action scenes with explosions and shooting” will be returning in a recurring role, consisting of the dispatching of a bunch of terrorists and Scott and Stonebridge prancing through a field of bodies in tutus while sipping strawberry lemonade. Scott will then choke on his straw, and Stonebridge will punt him off a bridge; this will segue into some more fantastic action scenes.

As disappointing as this news is, you can’t help but be grateful to Cinemax for allowing the show to go out on its own terms. If this were on Showtime, we would have 8 seasons of crap culminating in a final scene in which Scott and Stonebridge are working as lumberjacks for Kamali’s dead body.

Still, after the show ends, we at least still have Banshee and Cinemax’s other softcore porn series, entitled “Sexy Sex In A House” and “Let’s Go To Hawaii, Then Have Hot Sex”.

I will be covering the final season next fall. I’m looking forward to it; it should be fun.

Credit to Cinemax and Strike Back for all pictures. I own nothing.

Homeland “The Yoga Play” Review (3×05)

28 Oct

627-1Now I’m starting to see why many people think the twist was unnecessary; this episode does a great job of milking the tension out of the uncertainty of situations, not just for the audience, but for the characters themselves. Too much of the first few episodes floundered due to the writers’ insistence on keeping us in the dark, and “The Yoga Play” is a prime example of why they shouldn’t have done it.

First off, we have Carrie, and her scenes have more of an impact this week because she has no idea what’s going on; she’s wondering if she blew her cover, she’s looking over her shoulder, and at episode’s end, she’s whisked away by the Iranians. It’s not something we haven’t seen before, but it’s nice having the show ramp up the tension as we head into the second half of the season. This is organic tension; it’s not tension for tension’s sake.

Speaking of tension, we also have Saul vs. Lockhart; sadly, Lockhart has no beard to compete with. While Carrie and Saul’s plan gave the show more of a direction, Lockhart’s lending it a sense of urgency. The plan has to be carried out quickly, because it doesn’t look like he’ll be giving much support. However, I admit that I do find the whole plot a bit strange; for example, why would Saul be invited to the retreat by his friend only to have his job swept out from under him? In addition, while I enjoy Saul berating Lockhart, the scene comes across as a bit cliched.

Of course, no one can touch Dana Brody. Her storyline with Leo is insufferable yet again, but thankfully it comes to a close. Dana’s dream of a utopia is no more, and now we can get to the more interesting dynamics between her and Jess (as long as it doesn’t descend into more soap opera antics).

Still, the last 10 minutes or so contain some good old-fashioned tension: score pounding in the background, Carrie being strip searched, and Saul’s final trenchant line: “She’s always been alone.” And so it is, Saul. So it is.

GRADE: B

OTHER  THOUGHTS:

-I like Jess reaching out to Carrie; it’s understandable that her opinion of Carrie has changed, and it’s a nice scene for Baccarin.

-Baccarin and Saylor seem to be trying to emulate Danes’ cry face.

-Saul, you should’ve just shot the guy when he gave you the news. Then, go the Cheney route.

-I was disappointed The Yoga Play didn’t involve Virgil and Max doing yoga.

-Quinn’s pretty cool.

-Sorry for the briefness. I wanted to get it up quickly.

Credit to Showtime and Homeland for all pictures. I own nothing.

The Walking Dead “Isolation” Review (4×03)

28 Oct

627-17What choices do we have to make to survive? Do we sacrifice our morals? Do we sacrifice others? These questions have the most weight in none other than a post-apocalyptic world like this one, and it’s ubiquitous throughout the course of this episode.

Take, for example, Carol. At episode’s end, it’s revealed that she’s the one who burned two of the sick; it seems very rash and callous of her, but because she’s become the de facto co-leader of the prison, she has to keep her emotions bottled up when she’s around others. However, when she’s alone, as we see in this episode, she breaks down, the guilt washing over her like a tidal wave.

That same guilt is felt by Hershel, but he has an opposite view: he believes that to survive, we help as much as we can, even if it means sacrificing our own lives. Carol’s all about moving forward, but Hershel’s the kind of guy that will expose himself to the contagion if it means he can help others feel better. It’s a nice thing to see someone stand up for his beliefs in this show, and while his decision may seem reckless, it’s all about perspective.

We also have Tyreese going mad over his girlfriend’s death, and his fight with Rick in the cold open is devastating to watch. Coleman does great work conveying the rage, sadness, and determination throughout, and I’m enjoying seeing the evolution of his character. I’m glad he doesn’t die when he’s surrounded by all those Walkers; it would be stupid if he did (although how does he even survive?), but I feel like that would be an easy way out for the writers, negating any sort of character buildup they’ve done with him.

Anyway, it’s a solid episode with solid character development, and the final twist stirs things up a bit; it paves the way for some intriguing character dynamics, and I’m looking forward to it.

GRADE: B

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Carol, why did you knock over the water? Come on.

-Daryl really Lori’d it in the car.

-Carl’s huge silencer made me laugh.

-Three black people go off with Daryl, and not one of them dies? We’re making progress here, show.

-The show’s way of dealing with the new characters is to quarantine them all.

Credit to AMC and The Walking Dead for all pictures. I own nothing.

Saturday Night Live “Edward Norton/Janelle Monáe” Live Blog/Review (39×04)

26 Oct

saturday-night-live-edward-norton-01HEALTH CARE WEBSITE: Kate McKinnon is always a joy to watch, and she delivers an above-average cold open that, while it runs long, has some great touches in the spoof on the healthcare.gov fiasco: the spinning ball of doom, a smashing of a computer, and funny zingers. GRADE: B

MONOLOGUE: This is a pretty bland monologue, and not even Alec Baldwin can salvage it. Most of the jokes don’t land, and for some reason, Miley Cyrus returns after only a few weeks after her episode. The three people up there don’t really mesh all that well, and it’s awkward and unfunny. Good Woody Allen, though, Norton. GRADE: C+

PUMPKIN SPICE: The sketch mainly relies on the sight gags of pumpkin spice smoke rising from a bunch of womens’ vaginas, and it works; Kate McKinnon shoveling a pumpkin near her vagina is always funny. GRADE: B

STRANGER SAFETY CLASS: The best part of this sketch is Bobby Moynihan screaming “YOU SHOULD TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS!” Nasim Pedrad is also charming as the naive kid, and while the sketch starts out shaky, it improves a bit later when everyone starts yelling at Norton. GRADE: B

STEVE HARVEY: Okay, so this sketch is amusing enough at first, with Thompson’s Harvey not able to figure out the play on words in front of him, but there’s only so much you can do with that. Some of his misconstrued observations are funny, but ultimately, not enough to hold up a sketch. GRADE: C+

Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders: Now this is fantastic. The audience wasn’t laughing much due to the fact that most people haven’t seen a Wes Anderson movie, but this is a great parody that nails all the aspects of his techniques. GRADE: A-

POSSUM: Well, this isn’t funny. It consists of two guys fascinated with possums in a vent, and it doesn’t amount to anything at all. Usually, the weird reaction shots get laughs out of the audience, but when even that doesn’t do anything, you know the sketch sucks. GRADE: C-

RAIN MAN: So, the guy can count stuff. That’s the “joke”, and it’s elongated over a 3-4 minute sketch. It looks like we’re going downhill now. GRADE: C-

WEEKEND UPDATE: The show’s running long today, so a good 5 minutes are shaved off of Weekend Update. The actual jokes are average this week, and Anthony Crispino is getting old. I admit, though, he makes me laugh sometimes.. Anyway, again not much for Cecily this week; I’ll chalk that up to lack of time. GRADE: C+

12 DAYS NOT A SLAVE: I saw 12 Years A Slave today, and it was a masterpiece. My review will be up later. As for this sketch? Eh. Moynihan walking menacingly behind Pharoah is funny, but none of the other jokes land; I would’ve liked to see a more straight up parody of the movie, but that’s not to be, I guess. Also: it’s weird seeing Taran Killam here after seeing him in the movie. Oh, and go away, Miley Cyrus. GRADE: C-

VIRGIN WAITERS: Yeah, we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. How in the hell is this funny? It’s just a bunch of people acting like idiots, and yes, I know that’s the point, but it really is just a bunch of actors making fools of themselves. The best part of the sketch, aside from when it ends, is “Where do you picture the other person?” GRADE: D

JANELLE MONÁE: I really like Monáe, and I think her second song, “Electric Lady”, shows off her talents a bit better than the first one does. She can rap, dance, and her beats are extremely catchy. Overall, two very enjoyable performances. GRADE: B+

HALLOWEEN CANDY: This started off as a sketch I thought I would hate, but it was surprisingly funny near the end; maybe it’s just because a lot of what came before this sketch was utter crap. Norton’s funny here in an awkward, weird way, and you know what? I like it; my favorite is him opening the Cars 2 DVD case and going, “No DVD. Look who’s in control now?” GRADE: B

OVERALL: C

BEST SKETCH: Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders

WORST SKETCH: Virgin Waiters

FINAL THOUGHTS: That got bad quickly. Everything started off fine enough, reaching its height with the Wes Anderson parody; however, it plummeted in quality afterwards. I do like the ending sketch, which uses Norton the best out of any sketch tonight. All in all, though, a mediocre show.

Credit to NBC and Saturday Night Live for all pictures. I own nothing.

Friday Night Lights “The Giving Tree” Review (3×10)

26 Oct

FNL01“Money comes and goes. These kids of ours? That’s a one time deal.”

Every parent deals with his or her kids differently. Yet, it doesn’t work out all the time; sometimes you screw up so badly that it mars that relationship forever. Take Buddy Garrity, for example. Sure, no parent is obligated to pay their kid’s college fund, but when your kid is promised one and has worked with the assumption of a future, to throw it all away is an incredibly dickish move. It’s sad seeing how far Buddy has fallen; he’s lost so much, and all he has left is Panther football. It’s also disappointing, seeing as the shit that’s befallen him recently helped augment his appreciation for Lyla; he’s a guy that wants to get his way, and here’s an example of him trying to solve everything in one fell swoop. It’s reckless and selfish, and I feel for Lyla. Kelly and Leland are both fantastic at illustrating the dynamics of that relationship.

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Parenthood “Let’s Be Mad Together” Review (5×05)

25 Oct

Parenthood- Season 5“Not everyone has a family like yours.”

When Ryan walks up to Sarah’s door at episode’s end, what follows is a powerful scene filled to the brim with raw emotion, vulnerability, and honesty. It’s a fantastic closing segment that finishes the best episode of the season. Let’s break it down.

CAMILLE WANTS TO SELL THE HOUSE

This is easily the best storyline this season, and while it was strangely put off last week, I’m extremely happy to see it back. It’s a fantastic outlet for Bonnie Bedelia to showcase her acting skills, and like I’ve said before, it’s a realistic, relatable storyline that is heartbreakingly sweet. There’s a couple fantastic scenes involving Julia here, the first one being one between her and Camille in the kitchen. It’s heartbreaking to watch Camille try to hold back her tears, a woman caught between two loves: her husband and her life. It’s also sweet to see Julia allowing herself a small smile, and Christensen does brilliant work conveying sadness when she realizes what selling the house would mean; she also conveys happiness for Camille when she realizes there’s so much more out there.

Julia then heads over to talk to Zeek, and we once again witness a wonderful dynamic playing out on screen; she breaks down in Zeek’s arms, determined to say what she’s feeling and trying not to upset her parents. It’s a fantastic storyline, and I like how they’re slowly integrating the rest of the Bravermans into it; the kids brought them together, and now they can set them free.

SARAH AND RYAN

I’m glad that Ryan tells her the truth; as much as Mae Whitman and Lauren Graham act the hell out of their respective characters, we can only see marriage tensions so long. The final scene is a refreshingly honest one, and while it shouldn’t completely validate Ryan in Sarah’s eyes, it should be a major step in having Sarah support the marriage. I also enjoyed the scene in which she tries to connect with him by bringing him coffee; it’s a very Sarah thing to do, and it reflects how she’s really trying to give her support.

As for other Sarah adventures, I can only roll my eyes at the tired TV trope of “I suck at plumbing.” I could not be interested less in her budding romance with Shirtless Weird Guy.

JOEL’S NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITES

Speaking of budding romances…I’m glad that we have Sonya Walger on the show, as I adored Penny, but I’m apprehensive about this storyline. It would be much more interesting just to see Joel and Meredith as friendly, but not romantic, business partners and friends. She could be to Joel what Ed is to Julia, although I suspect this is not going to be the case moving forward.

However, this storyline does give us a fantastic scene between Sam Jaeger and Dax Shepard, complete with a drunk Joel eating terrible cake with Crosby in their car. It’s just two guys hanging out.

MAX AND THE YEARBOOK

My, isn’t is refreshing not having a terrible election plot? Yes, Kristina going to bat for Max isn’t anything new, but it still allows for some sweet scenes, especially that one at the end; I’m glad she says that she’s mad. “Let’s be mad together.” The camera then pulls back for a wonderful shot of the two side by side on the bed.

I also like Hank defending Max’s photo; like I’ve said, it’s a fantastic relationship. Plus, he’s right; if you’re going to cry, don’t do it in the middle of the damn hallway.

ADAM AND CROSBY

This feels all too familiar, as tensions arise between Adam and Crosby over their business direction. It’s a bit repetitive, but it does culminate in a great scene in which Crosby tells the band to cut the crap and just sing. It’s a bit sugercoated, but it works.

HADDIE

I miss Haddie.

GRADE: A-

Credit to NBC and Parenthood for all pictures. I own nothing.

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