by Jess Lynde
Case: A series of deaths in which the victim dies in the throes of passion, with symptoms of massive coronary arrest and huge amounts of pheromones in the body.
Destination: Germantown, Maryland and Steveston, Massachusetts
Mulder and Scully’s investigation into a serial killer who seems to be using sex to lure and kill his victims leads them to a reclusive community of Amish-like folk called The Kindred. They soon discover that The Kindred are much more than the simple people they appear to be, possessing the ability to seduce anyone through a simple touch and, even stranger, to change genders.
by Billie Doux
Dexter: "If I want to be around for my son. I have to do this right. I'm killing for two, now."
Dexter never expected to be a devoted husband and a father of three. His quiet, ordered life of crime-fighting and serial murder has turned into sleep-deprived chaos.
by Josie Kafka
Walter: “We’re all mutants. What’s remarkable is how many of us appear to be normal.”
Bucolic Lansdale, Pennsylvania has experienced a rash of disappearances lately. Peter discovers the case in a routine trawl of the FBI database, and hopes it might shed light on Olivia’s late arrival on the scene of her car accident last week. Walter, meanwhile, hopes that frogs are the answer. Because aren’t they, always?
by Jess Lynde
Warehouse 13 initially made it onto my summer viewing schedule for three reasons: (1) it was mildly reminiscent of The X-Files; (2) it had a nice roster of some of my Sci Fi favorites lined up as guest stars; and, (3) there wasn’t much competition on my summer TV plate. But with a kicky pilot, engaging leads, and quirky supporting characters, the show quickly became an enjoyable summer staple.
For me, the best part of the show is the characters. I find the comedic/dramatic tales that stem from each character’s personality quirks and emotional baggage highly entertaining. The artifacts themselves are often interesting, but the episodes are most compelling when they connect to the overall Warehouse weirdness or are used to focus on our main characters’ issues (e.g., ‘Claudia,’ ‘Burnout,’ ‘Implosion,’ and ‘Regrets.’)
(Beware Season 1 Spoilers Ahoy!)
I particularly enjoy Pete and Myka’s partnership. The writers initially set them up in the skeptic/believer mold from The X-Files, but they’ve settled nicely into their own yin-yang dynamic, which pairs Pete’s instincts and intuitive leaps with Myka’s keen eye for detail and deductive reasoning skills. Plus, I almost always get a chuckle from the clash between his laid back ways and her tightly wound, by-the-book demeanor. (The running joke about her reading the whole Warehouse manual amuses me.)
Even more entertaining is watching the two agents interact with Artie. What’s not to love about Artie? He’s incredibly smart and resourceful, frustratingly secretive, and often quite cranky. Yet, for all that he obviously cares about his agents and their well-being. I like how even as his past is slowly unfolding, he remains an enigma in many ways.
I’m also a big fan of the other supporting characters. Mrs. Frederick is even more mysterious than Artie, and CCH Pounder is a delight. She does imperious disapproval like nobody’s business! Balancing Mrs. Frederick’s aloof and domineering presence, we had Leena with her calm, insightful, and supportive manner. Until the finale, I was convinced these two were somehow two sides the same person. (Strange, I know. But strange and improbable is this show’s stock and trade.)
And then there’s Claudia. I know the introduction of Claudia was a bit controversial with viewers. Some find her an annoying distraction and don’t think Artie needs a young foil. Others think her quirks are amusing and enjoy her dynamic with Artie. Personally, I like Claudia. I like the fresh perspective she brings to the crazy Warehouse technology, and I get a kick out of her affectionately needling Artie and his grumpy curmudgeon reactions to her. I also enjoy her “little sister” vibe with Pete. Sure, she can be incredibly annoying and troublesome at times (the incident with Volta’s coat springs to mind), but overall, I think she’s been a fun addition.
Of course, then the writers blew everything to hell in the season finale. Literally. I was kind of stunned and at a loss when ‘MacPherson’ ended. Pete and Myka are seemingly trapped in the Warehouse, Claudia ran away after being framed as a traitor, and Artie is presumed dead? I’m having trouble swallowing that last one. The show wouldn’t be the same without Artie! Maybe he somehow got his hands on the Phoenix and managed to survive. (I hope, I hope, I hope.)
Even worse was the revelation that Leena is working with MacPherson. It seemed pretty clear throughout the episode that MacPherson was always one or two steps ahead of the Warehouse crew, and that his endgame was getting back into the Warehouse for nefarious purposes, but I didn’t see this twist with Leena coming. I was down with Claudia being an unwitting, Manchurian Candidate-style mole; I thought that was an intriguing turn of events. But Leena as MacPherson’s willing accomplice came out of nowhere and was a hefty blow. I really can’t wrap my mind around it. I feel as betrayed as the team will when they find out. Why, why, why Leena?! I’ll certainly be tuning in next year to see how it all plays out.
Favorite Episode of the Season: This one’s a toss-up between ‘Burnout’ and ‘Regrets.’ For ‘Burnout,’ the ultimate defeat of the artifact (the electric spider weapon that attached to people’s spines) was a little cheesy, but I loved the Warehouse team interactions and getting some insight into agents past. I particularly loved the ending when former agent Rebecca warned Myka to get out before it was too late. Intriguing. ‘Regrets’ had a really interesting artifact (the creepy prison driving penitent people to commit suicide), and the episode as a whole provided a great opportunity for Pete and Myka to deal with their demons. I wasn’t too keen on the music they chose to underscore Myka’s climactic confrontation with her dead lover (too poppy), but overall this was one of the season’s standouts.
Honorable Mentions: ‘Claudia’ and ‘Resonance.’ The former brought Artie into the foreground and gave us our first real glimpse of his regrets and his questionable past as an agent. The latter had a cool artifact (a song that entranced and immobilized people), and I was quite touched by the revelation that the “bad guys” were just trying to somehow restore a sad, damaged man they cared about.
Least Favorite Episode: ‘Elements.’ No contest here. I was excited that Joe Flanigan was going to be on and I really wanted to like this one, but the completely anti-climactic ending just killed it for me.
Side Note: As noted, the guest star roster was part of the reason I started watching Warehouse 13 in the first place, but the guest roles have been pretty meh. Either the actor didn’t have much to do (Tricia Helfer, Mark Sheppard, Michael Hogan), or the story itself was terrible (Joe Flanigan). Joe Morton’s appearance as a Florida prison inmate/cult leader is the only one that I’ve truly enjoyed. Roger Rees’s turn as MacPherson wasn’t too shabby either. (And Tricia Helfer does work the hell out of a slow-motion, windblown entrance.) I don’t really want to take time away from our main cast of characters, but I hope that if they get some recognizable guest stars for next year, they give them better material.
Overall, a fun and entertaining first season. Looking forward to Season 2.
Promo image credit: Lindy52 at www.fanpop.com
by Serena + Pumpkin
"I've known it since you were three. All you wanted for your birthday was a pair of sensible heels."
After watching "Preggers", I'm rethinking my evaluation of last week's "Acafellas".
Like Puck, Glee came on a little too strong last week, but this week's episode showed that underneath the swagger is sensitivity. While I still don't love the way it was executed, I now see that "Acafellas" was setting up the foundation for "Preggers", just as finding your identity needs to come before you can get outside your box, and become truly spectacular.
"Preggers" was hilarious as usual, yet managed to be very touching and real. The episode centered around Kurt, who is terrified his father is going to find out he's gay. After he's caught prancing to Beyonce in a sparkly unitard ("Guys wear them to work out nowadays... they wick sweat from your body"), Brit lies and says that Kurt is on the football team, and that they were just helping him with his "conditioning".
Surprisingly though, very little of the episode was about whether or not Kurt would make the cut and be able to hold up his lie. The team, who is 0 for 6 this season, needs a new kicker, and with Finn's help, Kurt is able to "audition". And after Sue's gloating in the teachers' lunchroom - she has gotten a segment on the local news - Ken is willing to try anything to break the losing streak. After all, he says, "we already gave up our pride when we lost to that school for the deaf."
But then Glee turns the Miraculous-Football-Team-Comeback-Thanks-to-the- Unlikely-Kid cliche on its head: Kurt handily score an impressive field goal during tryouts, and the team is able to win the big game by learning how to dance. (I wonder if Beyonce knew what a comedic goldmine her video/dance would become - I don't think I've ever laughed as hard as when I saw a line of football jocks "sneak back to the finger.") Even better was the reveal that Kurt's dad always knew he was gay. I guess he was waiting for Kurt to feel sure enough of himself to tell him, and/or to finally be able to trust that his father would love him no matter what. I was sniffling.
That's what I love about Glee - it teases that it is going to do one thing with the story, then handily dismisses it and takes you down a totally unexpected road. For example, any other show would have dragged out the Rachel pining after Finn storyline, but they kissed in the 2nd episode, making what is usually the climax a jumping point for a larger story. At first, I was thrown off by this pacing - e.g., how did Glee Club come together by the end of the pilot?!? - but now I appreciate it, as it keeps me guessing where the writers will go next.
It is also in this episode that the characters - both lead and secondary - really start coming to life. Terri shows that she's not just a manipulative bitch, but a desperate woman caught in a lie, holding on to a husband that she pushed away with her selfishness. She's freaking out about the fake baby, and is ready to confess to Will when her sister stops her. ("Dishonesty is food to a marriage," Kendra advises. "It will die without it.")
We start to see past the arrogant confidence of key players as their vulnerabilities are revealed. Puck clearly envies his best friend. Finn has a natural talent that he's not afraid of hiding; even though Puck can also sing, he is too concerned about his "stud" image to perform. Finn has a beautiful (if not faithful) girlfriend; Puck has randy cougars, and sex on Star Wars sheets. So Puck seduces Quinn by getting her drunk on wine coolers. Ironically, the president of the Celibacy Club is now pregnant after losing her virginity to her boyfriend's player best friend.
And Sue's success is actually only hanging by a thread. Some of her Cheerios are defecting to the Glee Club, and if she doesn't win Nationals, the TV segment she's been lording over the other teachers will be canned. In desperation, she blackmails Figgins with a Mumbai Air hose commercial, and teams up with Sandy to bring about Glee's demise. The plan? Steal away Glee Club's star singer - Rachel Berry - by promising the lead in a production of Cabaret ("Four words: Liza. Minelli. Celine. Dion.") Rachel is ripe for the picking - Mr. Schuester has given the West Side Story solo to Tina, a role that Rachel has "had a personal connection with since the age of one."
A couple of weeks ago, I would have been massively annoyed by Rachel's brattiness. But in the last few episodes, the producers have done a good job of showing what is driving her diva-like behavior: Yes, she thinks she's good, but it is also the only thing she knows she has going for her. As she said to Will, kids are still throwing her lipstick down the toilet. She needs to be a star to show everyone that she's not a loser; she needs her high school years to mean something.
Finally, I am soooooo happy that the show is finally giving characters like Kurt and Tina the spotlight. I mentioned in my last review that I like how Glee is becoming an ensemble show, and this episode only reinforces that. Will's determination to give everyone an equal chance to shine seems to reflect the producers' thinking as well. Not only are "minor" characters now instrumental to the plot, they are being invested in with their own backstories, solos, and personalities. And since the writers seem to relish on turning stereotypes on their heads, I am overjoyed to say that I have no idea how the characters will turn out, but I can't wait to see.
- How adorable was Kurt with the pageant waves? First after he rocks the tryouts, then when he was jumping up and down waving at his dad, and finally blowing kisses after he makes the field goal.
- Sandy in his short, short kimono. I was waiting for him to flash Sue any moment, a la Sharon Stone.
- Wow, Rachel singing "Taking Chances." I've never been much of a Celine Dion fan, but I'm totally downloading this song. Lea Michele has a way of making so-so songs spectacular.
- The Figgins hose commercial was painful and not very funny. Sorry.
- Sue and her "that's how I 'C' it." So cheesy.
- Quinn telling Finn to "Think of the mail! Think of the mail!" when they were in the hot tub.
- The acapella version of "Moonlight Sonata" during the scene with Quinn and Puck was amazing. It really set the mood.
Terri: "If I tell you something, do you promise not to tell anyone?"
Kendra: "Oh my God. Is the baby black?"
** FYI, this conversation was a wink to Nip/Tuck. On that show, Jessalyn Gilsig's character, Gina, had convinced Christian Troy that she was pregnant with his baby, but when the baby was born, he was black.
Kendra: "Your wife is going to be pushing a watermelon out of her boy-howdy in 5 months. She doesn't need nice!"
Kurt: "My body is like a rum chocolate souffle - if I don't warm it up right, it doesn't rise."
Sandy: "I’m living in a cocoon of horror. Yesterday, I ate 9 cans of aerosol of whipped cream."
Terri: "Take these three times a day or your baby will be ugly."
Kurt: "Nighttime skincare is a big part of my post game ritual."
Kurt: "I need to ask you something."
Finn: "Thanks, but I already have a date for the prom."
Tanaka: "You make this and you die a legend."
Kurt: "Can I pee first?"
Finn: "I got this from the school library. Did you know you can borrow books from there?"
Sue's Corner: (she deserves her own, dontcha think?)
This week she called Emma "Alma". Last week, it was "Irma".
"Boy, the only thing missing from this place is a couple dozen bodies lying and rotting under the shallow grave of the floorboard."
"If I was out to get you, I'd have you pickling in a mason jar by now."
"I'll often yell at homeless people 'Hey, how's that homelessness working out for you? Give not being homeless a try."
No huge numbers this week, but the Single Ladies dance and Rachel's solo more than made up for it.
"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" by Beyoncé
"Taking Chances" by Céline Dion, performed by Rachel Berry
"Tonight" from West Side Story, performed by Tina Cohen-Chang
"Preggers" didn't dazzle me like the pilot; it also didn't make me wince or worry the way that both "Showmance" and "Acafella" did. In some ways, I'm happy that it was a solid, low key episode, and not an explosive showcase like episode one. These are the kinds of episodes that build characters, further plotlines, and makes a show a long term player.
Three out of four sparkling unitards.
Side Note: Did you know that much of Glee as we know it today grew organically from the auditions? For example:
- At least 3 of the songs the kids sang for their Glee Club audition - "Mr. Cellophane" by Kurt, "On My Own" by Rachel, and "Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore" by Finn - were the songs the actors sang for their audition for the show.
- Ryan Murphy created the character of Kurt after he met Chris Colfer.
- Finn plays drums because Cory Montieth drummed on Tupperware and glasses in his audition tape.
- Lea Michele actually got into an accident on her way to the audition. Even worse, the piano player messed up her solo. She got a little upset, which the casting directors thought she was doing on purpose to be funny, and incorporated that into Rachel's character.
by Josie Kafka
“You’re worried your future is going to come true. I’m worried mine won’t.”
Everyone in the world blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. Only they don’t all black out: they experience themselves six months in the future. When they wake up, chaos: drivers lost control of their cars, surgeons lost patients, helicopters lost their bearings and crashed into buildings.
There are two big questions that permeated this series premiere: what’s going on? And what does it mean? A few characters saw something so wonderful that it seems impossible; others saw what seems like the end of their lives. And some people saw nothing at all, which might mean there’s nothing to see.
FlashForward remains relatively faithful to the basic premise of the book (well, the FlashingForward part), but really seems to be taking things in a new and exciting direction. The characters, at this point, are defined by one or two quirks: Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes from Shakespeare in Love) is a recovering alcoholic who loves his wife; Bryce Varley (Zachery Knighton) was a suicidal doctor who now has hope for the future; Stan Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance from Law and Order: CI) is deadpan and doesn’t take prisoners. The emotional core of this story is really how these characters are grappling with the incredible.
The genre/SF core of the story is precisely that incredible event. “What happened?” is still up in the air, and the mystery is made deeper by the last-act reveal that at least one person was awake during the FlashForward—a pretty good sign that the answers to the questions will not be the same as they were in the book. And also a pretty good sign that this won’t be a show of stand-alones and one-offs. Hooray for mythology!
But even as the impossible happens, life goes on. Mark and Demetri (the awesome John Cho, who did a lot with a little, performance-wise) shook off their confusion, saved people, and captured the criminal. Olivia (the luscious Sonya Walger—Penny from Lost) went back to saving lives. This felt very emotionally honest to me, especially since FBI agents and doctors are exactly the people whom one would expect to shine in an emergency like this.
Obviously, quite a few shows are shot in LA (although not as many as local politicians would like). But this episode really felt like LA, from Mark and Olivia’s Simi Valley home to the Venice Beach Pier and various recognizable street shots, including traffic gone horribly wrong on the 101/110 interchange downtown. Even though all these places are in the greater LA area, they’re very far apart, which made the settings feel both universal and very personal. For this Angelino, at least.
Having said that, in places the cinematography was a bit too much like that movie Crash (or some Soderbergh films, as well as a number of other things) for me. There were the blue scenes, the yellow scenes, the warm scenes, and the washed-out scenes. LA is definitely a place with incredible light, and incredible variety in light, but the overuse of blue-scenes has always irked me, as that’s actually rather rare in LA, and quite localized to the 20 minutes after dusk within 10 miles of the ocean in temperate weather. But there were other neat allusions, too: the opening shot was very Lost-ish with the whole in medias res thing, and very Godfather-ish with the oranges.
• The big puddle of water that Mark walked through might have been a sinkhole. They’ve been popping up (or down, I guess) all over the place in LA this month.
• That was a very CGI kangaroo.
• There was a great Lost Easter Egg when Mark and Demetri were staking that guy out.
• The injured kid’s dad’s name is Lloyd Simcoe. Interesting…
• Courtney B. Vance’s flashforward was hilarious. As was his version of it.
• The cast is incredibly British (and one guy is from Ireland). The American accents were of varying degrees of accuracy. Joseph Fiennes needs a bit of work.
• April 29, 2010. 04-29-2010. 137 seconds. Go to work, number crunchers. I’ve got nothin’. Except that it’s a Thursday.
I really want this to be a wonderful show, and I didn’t see anything in this premiere to indicate that it wouldn’t be truly awesome. The previews for the rest of the season look tantalizing, and Dominic Monaghan, who was sadly missed in this episode, will appear soon. I’m definitely going to keep watching it, and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep enjoying it.
Could be a four-kangaroo rating, could be a three to allow for future coolness. For now, 3.4 kangaroos.
My review of the book on which this series is based is here.
[Please don't post book spoilers here on the blog. If you want to talk book vs. show, join us over at the message board.]
by Billie Doux
Castiel: "His name is Raphael."
Dean: "You were wasted by a teenage mutant ninja angel?"
There I was, thinking Dean had gotten the more interesting "separate vacation," until we reached the end. And boom. I was right about Sam being Lucifer's chosen vessel. Makes sense, of course. It must have been obvious, because I don't usually guess these things.
by Serena + Pumpkin
"I want you to smell your armpits. That's the smell of failure, and it's stinking up my office."
Ryan Murphy is not a subtle man.
Anyone who has ever watched Nip/Tuck, the show that made him a Hollywood power player, knows this. No doubt the show has fantastic actors, character development, and cheeky commentary on the value our society places on beauty. But it also uses shock and taboo to drive forward the plot: a 16 year old having an affair with his friend's mother, who happens to be a post-op transsexual that had an incestuous relationship with "her" son. A killer being pursued by a detective who happens to be his sister that he's had sex with. You see a pattern here?
Now, Glee has never claimed to be a sensitive teen drama a la My So Called Life. But "Acafellas", the 3rd installment, was about as subtle as Christian Troy's bare behind. The theme of the night was confidence. I know, because it was repeated four times. Oh - and in case you didn't get the memo - Ryan helped us along with helpful synonyms like "balls", "guts", "cajones". I'm not sure if I felt so stupid at the end of the episode because my head had been bashed in with an anvil, or if it was because we, the viewers, were treated like we were borderline retarded.
Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed "Acafellas" a lot. There were some excellent isolated moments, and overall, I am pleased by the continued character development. I just think that they tried a little too hard to be "deep" this week. It's always great when you have parallel story lines to tie together a theme - such as they did last week with "Showmance". Or when you can get seemingly unrelated characters or plots to come together into a greater whole - like Heroes did in its first season.
But this was rather ham-fisted. Four male characters and one female all having a crisis of confidence in one episode? That was all resolved by the end of the hour? Come on, this is high school, parenthood, life. Confidence and identity issues don't go away - they could have developed these themes over time as characters grow and become more complex.
Ok, rant over. Now onto the good stuff...
First off, how great was it to have Sandy "not allowed within 50 feet of children" back? And stalking Josh Groban, an "angel sent down to deliver platinum records unto us"? The only thing that made me more excited was more Figgins screen time. He is definitely my favorite secondary character. Who else would mollify angry parents ("they found out we were serving prison food") with an acapella version of "I Wanna Sex You Up"?
Speaking of which, I'm not sure I ever needed to know the lyrics of "Poison" or "I Wanna Sex You Up", which seemed so much dirtier when sung by Ken Tanaka. One of the things I love most about the show is that the songs they showcase are really just ... wrong. And the audiences who are watching (in the show) don't even blink. I wonder if that's deliberate or an oversight, especially after they made such a big deal about the "Push It" performance last week. You'd think it would occur to at least one parent that "Rehab" is not exactly an appropriate high school show choir song.
On the character development front, Quinn and Terri both continue to grow on me. Terri has now noticed Emma's overenthusiastic support of her husband. She also seems to be appreciating how great Will is more and more. I can forgive Quinn for watching Bring It On one too many times, as she seems to have defected from Camp Cheerios. Hooray.
But the star of the night was Mercedes. Besides the fact that she blew the roof off with her rendition of "Bust Your Windows", I'm glad that all the characters are getting their share of screen time. Glee could have easily focused on Emma/Will/Terri and Rachel/Finn, but it is truly developing into an ensemble cast show.
Last, but far from least, Kurt's coming out to Mercedes was a touching moment.
Victor Garber! In a bow tie! I know that he's played many more roles than Spy Daddy, but it still throws me off a bit when he smiles. He looked adorable, but I can't wait for him to sing.
The lead singer from Vocal Adrenaline was named Best Female at Absolutely Tampastic.
Henri and the two thumbs up cake. He had to bite the thumb off because he couldn't use his fork.
Sandy: "I told Figgins that you are going to have a school full of nancies unless you get some hot wood in those teenagers' hands."
Doctor: "There's no baby."
Terri: "Did it fall out?"
Mercedes: "Just because he wears nice clothes don't mean he's on the down-low."
Rachel: "He wore a corset to second period."
Sue: "You know, the way you use your mental illness to help these kids is really inspiring."
Puck: "Dude, my bowels have better movements than you."
Josh Groban: "Josh Groban loves a blowsy alcoholic."
BTW, Ken Tanaka also plays Chang on True Blood. He looked familiar, but the knee high socks threw me off.
"This Is How We Do It" by Montell Jordan, sung by Acafellas
"Poison" by Bel Biv De Voe, sung by Acafellas
"Mercy" by Duffy, performed by Vocal Adrenaline
"I Wanna Sex You Up" by Color Me Badd, performed by Acafellas
"Bust Your Windows" by Jazmine Sullivan, performed by Mercedes
No singing by Rachel this week... I definitely missed it.
All in all, it was a solid episode. The emotional bits felt awkward, especially when juxtaposed next to the musical numbers and the snarky comedy, both of which Glee does seamlessly. But it's still better than the majority of shows out there. I'm optimistic that things will smooth out as the show finds its footing.
Two out of four missing thumbs.
by Jess Lynde
Case: Two kidnapped college students, apparently abducted by a serial kidnapper/murderer who tortures his victims for a week, then kills them.
Destination: Raleigh, North Carolina
When two kids are kidnapped around the holidays in what appears to be a serial incident, Mulder is asked to speak with Luther Lee Boggs, a serial killer he put on death row who claims to have information about the case. Boggs says his information comes from psychic transmission, but Mulder is skeptical, believing that Boggs is orchestrating the kidnapping from the inside to scheme his way into another stay of execution. Scully, on the other hand --- reeling from the recent, sudden death of her father --- finds herself in the atypical role of believer.
by Billie Doux
[Okay. I'm not going to do a formal review, but sure, I'll post some thoughts, as a couple of people have suggested.]
A carnival? Really? At least there's Robert Knepper, who looks cooler and sexier than he has in anything else he's done lately. Maybe it's the eye shadow. The constant prophetic art thing is now cloudy tatts. That's a new and interesting interpretation.
Okay, they're doing Peter right now. Him playing Peter Parker with the police scanner and that knife fight in the vault were the highlights of the episode. His darker, sexier, broodier attitude works for him.
My second favorite thing was bodiless Sylar haunting Matt.
I like Claire's new best friend, so I'm sure she must be evil. I don't like that the Bennets are still broken up. How many times has HRG nearly been killed? And why is not-Tracey so interested in him?
Hiro dying? I'm surprised by how much I don't care. I used to love Hiro. I wasn't paying complete attention; did his trip to the past do more than put Kimiko and Ando together?
Please do post your thoughts.
by Josie Kafka
“These events appear to be scientific in nature, and suggest a larger strategy—a coordinated effort. It’s been referred to as The Pattern.”
As Olivia struggles with John Scott’s betrayal, she’s faced with a case from the past: a serial killer who removes the pituitary gland from his victims while they’re paralyzed but conscious. Can our plucky heroine handle re-visiting the past, now that she sees it through the prism of betrayal and lies?
by Serena + Pumpkin
"If you quit the club, I'll let you touch my breasts."
I can't remember the last time I've been so excited about a show. From the moment Will Schuester pulled into McKinley High's parking lot with his "GLEE" license plate, I was grinning from ear to ear.
I admit, I was kind of nervous going into "Showmance". The nearly flawless pilot made Glee one of the most anticipated shows of the fall season. Was it just a fluke? Would it live up to the hype and frenzy intensified by the 2 month break? And, really, could anything top a high school musical rendition of "Rehab"?
Happily, I can say that "Showmance" was well worth the wait. There were so many laugh out loud moments that I don't even know where to start: The Celibacy Club ("If the balloon pops, the noise will make the angels cry"). Sue Sylvester's attempt to disband Glee because they used the Cheerios photocopier. Finn thinking about running over the mailman every time he tries not to ejaculate. The pamphlets in the guidance counselor's office ("So You Like To Throw Up").
I love Glee's wry take on high school stereotypes - I mean, do cheerleaders really wear their uniforms every day?!? - and I love its self deprecating tone, but what makes the show stand out from every other High-School-Sucks satire is its ability to balance comedy with true emotion and humanity.
For example, "Showmance" focused on *unrequited love - more specifically, Rachel's for Finn. In the pilot, she mentioned offhandedly that she expected them to become a couple, because "[you're] the hot male lead, and [I'm] the stunning young ingénue everyone roots for." When she said that, I snorted, and just wrote it off as another example of Rachel living in the fantasy, cliche musical in her head. In this episode, they expanded on her newfound boy crush, and in doing so, showed a vulnerability and humanity to Rachel that I didn't get in the pilot. Honestly, if it wasn't for her magnificent voice, *I* would be tempted to throw a slushee in her face. She was annoying, self absorbed, annoying, delusional, and did I mention annoying? Yet the hysterical lengths that she went through to get Finn to notice her - (a) trying to be bulimic, (b) joining the Celibacy Club, (c) staging an over-sexualized performance of "Push It" so he wouldn't have to face his fears - brought me closer to her as a character, especially when (d) she got her heart broken in the end.
I say *unrequited because, well, maybe it's not unrequited. Whether Finn kissed her because he's a 16 year old boy, or because he really does have feelings for her remains to be seen. What is nice about the development of this little love triangle is that the writers also showed Quinn's perspective. No high school / junior high show would be complete without the unrequited love. What's not so common is allowing the audience to see the other side. Quinn is a beautiful, popular cheerleader, as well as an expert negotiator ("Under the shirt?" "Over the bra."), and she's insecure about Rachel and her boyfriend. It's not easy to make a character both a cliche and a human being, yet the writers managed it with not only Quinn, but also Ken Tanaka, the overweight gym teacher that could have easily been a one-liner punching bag.
Which leads me to Terri. One of the complaints I had about the pilot was that she was such a one-dimensional caricature of the shrewish wife, demanding that Will give up teaching/Glee Club to support her Pottery Barn addiction, or work extra hours to buy a new house ("We can't buy a used house - it's not clean"). It was disappointing and cheap, using a shrill, unsympathetic character to show how Will and Emma are destined to be together. But this week, Terri showed that she really does love Will, as evidenced by her giving up her craft room so that Will didn't have to work extra hours. Yes, some will argue that she did it out of guilt, because she's not really pregnant, and that it's manipulative of her not to tell him. But I thought Jessalyn Gilsig did an excellent job of conveying her inner conflict, how scared she was of telling the truth, and how much she realized she didn't want him to leave her. It's easy to judge a TV character's actions, but I know that if I were in that situation, I'd be terrified of telling him the truth, especially after I'd used the baby to reach my own, selfish ends.
Of course, no review of Glee would be complete without talking about the mind-blowing musical numbers. Who didn't get goosebumps when Rachel sang "Take a Bow" at the end of the episode ... you could practically hear her heart breaking as she watched Finn and Quinn kiss. I thought Quinn's rendition of "Say a Little Prayer" with her cheerleader posse was appropriately cheesy. But it was Matt Morrison rapping "Gold Digger" with Terri in the new house that stole the show. ("We want pre-nup, we want pre-nup!")
Admittedly, I am a musical theatre geek - my friends and I used to burst into random song and dance walking across campus - so I'm going to have a little soft spot for any show about performing arts. But as "Showmance" proves, Glee is more than a good musical show. It's edgy and snarky, but it has heart; it's able make us laugh out loud at the absurdities of high school, while drawing characters that we can relate to, love, hate, sympathize with, and share their hopes, dreams and fears. It is not only able to seamlessly integrate performances into the plot - the Achilles heel of almost all musical shows and movies - but flaunts them in the face of critics with deliciously bold and inappropriate songs.
And again - Matt Morrison. "Gold Digger." Need I say more?
Finn and Quinn? Really?
Sue: "Iron tablet? Keeps your strength up while you're menstruating."
Will: "I don't menstruate."
Sue: "Neither do I."
Rachel (when caught trying to throw up): "I tried, I guess I don't have the gag reflex."
Emma: "One day when you're older, that will turn into an advantage."
"It's all about the teasing, and not about the pleasing." - Celibacy Club Girl's Power Motto
Pamphlets in Emma's Office:
- "Divorce - Why Your Parents Stopped Loving You"
- "I Can't Stop Touching Myself"
- "Wow, There's a Hair Down There!"
"Le Freak" (not even sure this counts), performed by Glee Club
"Gold Digger" by Kanye West, performed by Will Schuester + Glee Club
"Say a Little Prayer" by Dionne Warwick, performed by Quinn + cheerleaders
"Push It" by Salt-n-Pepa, performed by Glee Club
"Take a Bow" by Rhianna, performed by Rachel
All in all, an excellent start to the season. If they keep this up, Glee will easily become one of my favorite shows of all time.
3 out of 4 crying angels.
by Billie Doux
We have something of a narrow focus here at Billiedoux.com. Science fiction, fantasy, and cult shows only. What's a cult show? Is there an actual definition, or is it whatever we decide it is? I think we can safely say that a cult show is (1) brilliant and original, (2) not really mainstream, and (3) inspires a passionate following. The other shows I've reviewed that aren't sci-fi or fantasy tend to fit into this niche: Dexter, Six Feet Under, Veronica Mars.
So we're adding Glee. And we're adding a new writer to cover it for us. Her name is Serena Yang, and she'll be posting her reviews of episodes two and three shortly. Let's give her a warm welcome. And let's also cross our fingers that the brilliant, original, not really mainstream, passionately followed Glee gets a nice long run instead of a painful cancellation.
by Jess Lynde
Case: A series of murders in which members of the British parliament are burned alive in front of their families and no evidence is left at the crime scene.
Destination: Boston and Cape Cod, Massachusetts
With ‘Fire,’ we get the X-Files version of Firestarter. Mulder is asked by an old girlfriend from his Oxford days to help catch an arsonist/murderer who is targeting prominent British politicians. With no discernable ignition source, Mulder theorizes the suspect is someone with pyrokinetic abilities.
by Josie Kafka
“There really isn’t a point where things just can’t get weirder, is there?”
This episode was quite discombobulating for me, the same way that Olivia’s car accident threw her completely off. As Peter summarized when talking to Broyles in The Irish Heather, Fringe Division’s job is to jump in when something weird happened, and then play the clean-up crew. We know, though, that the Fringe Division is operating with only half the facts, at best, and that’s never been clearer than in this episode: we know where Olivia’s been, and probably how she wound up in that car. But Peter, Walter, Astrid, and newbie Agent Jessup were only able to figure out a few of the answers, and didn’t even know to ask some of the big questions.
by Josie Kafka
“When you say ‘Fringe science,’ you mean pseudo-science.”
In anticipation of tonight’s Season Two premiere, I thought it time to finally review the First Fringe Episode Ever. Enjoy, and check back for the Season Two review later tonight!
by Billie Doux
Jack: "I forgive you."
Tosh and Owen went out like heroes. I've never been fond of Owen, but I did rather like Tosh, and their spectacular deaths in tandem were quite moving. Tosh didn't tell Owen that she was dying, too; she was just there for him in his final moments, an incredible final act of unselfish love. Owen acquitted himself well, too. In his last moments, he was calm and brave, and he wouldn't let Tosh take the blame. I also loved Tosh's recorded farewell from the grave. What a classy way to go out, Tosh. Her backstory in "Fragments" explained a lot about her. She was sort of living on borrowed time, anyway.
by Billie Doux
Maryann: "Come on. It'll be our little secret. What are you?"
Sookie: "I'm a waitress. What the fuck are you?"
Wildly weird. Or maybe weirdly wild. The season roared to a finish halfway through the episode... and then it sort of fizzled out as they spent way too much time prepping us for season three, creating something of an anticlimax. I feel cheated.
by Billie Doux
Tosh: "What do you do?"
Jack: "Protect people. At least that's what I'm aiming for. It's kind of a work in progress."
An episode like this one fills you with foreboding, even while you're having a grand old time. It felt like they were saying goodbye, like this was the end.
by Josie Kafka
Title category of ‘Lost Lit’ aside, I’m torn between whether to review this book in light of Lost or in light of the upcoming premiere of FlashForward on ABC next week. So it’s looking like a straightforward review. Or maybe that’s a StraightForward review. (How could I resist?)
The plot of this novel is pretty basic: CERN (the European Center for Nuclear Research) has stopped researching things nuclear and developed a Large Hadron Collider. There’s been some public concern that flipping the switch on the Collider will result in the end of the world, but the scientists in Sawyer novels are fairly isolated from public opinion. The goal of the Collider is to create/detect/discover the Higgs boson, “the particle whose interactions endowed other particles with mass.” To do this, they crash particles into one another in an attempt to create a super-duper amount of energy. At least, that’s my understanding of it.
When heroes Lloyd Simcoe (Canadian), Michiko Komura (Japanese), and Theo Procopides (Greek) flip the switch, the world doesn’t end. But everyone in it does black out (BlackOut?) for two minutes and some odd seconds. It emerges that everyone’s consciousness shifted 20 years into the future, inhabiting the bodies that they will have then. Lloyd, for instance, is in bed with a white woman, despite being engaged to Michiko. Michiko is in Japan. And Theo—well, Theo doesn’t see anything at all.
The real question isn’t what happened (consciousness shift), but what it means. Is the future already completely determined? What does that mean for our present actions? How can Lloyd marry Michiko if he knows that he’ll be unfaithful or that they’ll get a divorce? Is it possible, in the cosmic sense, for Theo to prevent his own death—because what else could explain not seeing anything? (People who were asleep during the consciousness shift saw their dreams.)
Something that I find interesting, but that isn’t really addressed in the book, is the question of... well, I don’t really know how to put it. Bodily continuity? In other words, how does one’s consciousness know where to jump, and can it really recognize itself 20 years in the future? Why doesn’t it just jump into the ether, or the nearest living thing? It might be a silly question, like wondering if unicorns are boys or girls, but it still makes me wonder.
The plot does resolve itself, FlashingForward to 20 years in the future and resolving the questions of whether what will happen, happens. Foreknowledge can influence future events to some extent, but a paradoxical loop is almost a necessity (skip the end of this paragraph to avoid a minor spoiler): no one who FlashedForward saw themselves at work, and a universal holiday is declared for the time into which they FlashedForward in the future to prevent accidents and mayhem. That means that for their visions of 20 years future to come true, they had to have had the original FlashForward to know to take the day off…
Throughout the novel—and this was true of the only other Sawyer novel I’ve read, Calculating God, too—big moments seem underplayed. No one is too upset at CERN, no one goes crazy with the implications of knowing the future. A major life even in two characters’ lives is glossed over in a sentence as we FastForward to 20 years in the future. Maybe I’ve been reading too many potboilers lately, but, in places, this feels like a book on lithium.
That being said, it’s an interesting meditation on foreknowledge and its ramifications for personal action (notice that I’m avoiding the often-false dichotomy between ‘free will’ and ‘predestination’). The ending is downright trippy, and Lloyd’s choice isn’t the one that I would have made, as it seems quite boring. But it’s a good book—a quick read, and an interesting one.
Lost Lit Notes:
• Props to Doc Jensen for noticing the weird coincidence of a man named Sawyer writing a novel called Flashforward. That’s why I first picked it up.
• The consciousness-jumping is obviously reminiscent of Desmond’s flashes.
• ABC has changed the name, hence all the CapitalizationJokes in this review.
• They’ve changed a key element, too: the jump isn’t 20 years into the future in the show. It’s six months. The producers have said that it won’t take the entire first season to get to the six-months-later point, either.
• Judging from the promos, Lloyd has morphed into a beautiful woman played by Sonya Walger (Penelope from Lost). Hooray!
• Dominic Monaghan! Double Hooray!
• We’re reviewing the premiere, of course.
by Jess Lynde
Case: The deaths of Joel Simmons and Doug Reardon, both of whom suffered 75 percent blood loss from two puncture holes in their necks, and who died at the exact same moment --- 3,000 miles apart
Destination: Greenwich, Connecticut and Marin County, California
‘Eve’ is a dark and twisty episode that introduces us to the wonderful world of government-sponsored cloning and genetic manipulation. Mulder is drawn to the strange death of Joel Simmons because it bears a striking resemblance to cattle mutilations supposedly performed by extra-terrestrials. However, a second, identical murder and the discovery that the two deceased men also had identical daughters soon lead Mulder and Scully to a fertility clinic in San Francisco and to Dr. Sally Kendrick, a former specialist in invitro fertilization and biogenetics who was fired for experimenting with eugenics --- and who also turns out to be the product of a Cold-War era cloning program known as the Litchfield Project.
by Billie Doux
I think I'm officially too old for this show.
The resemblance to Twilight was just overwhelming; it was practically the same story, except on the east coast instead of the west coast. I've been told that Vampire Diaries was written before Twilight (in which case, shame on you Stephenie Meyer), but does it matter who ripped off whom? We've still seen this story of incredibly pretty zitless pseudo teens doing vampire drama before, haven't we?
by Billie Doux
Gwen: "Have you any idea how much a wedding costs?"
Jack: "Listen, Gwen, you are not carrying the baby Jesus in there."
It's not easy to pull off a good wedding episode, especially on a sci-fi show. But this was a terrific wedding episode. It was surprising, funny, outrageous, somewhat poignant in spots. It even had a chainsaw, and how many wedding episodes have that? (Because you have to have a chainsaw, as Joss Whedon would say.) And the ending was perfect. It felt like the whole thing had to end in tragedy, but instead it was champagne, dancing, and a huge dose of retcon all around.
by Jess Lynde
Case: A potential saboteur inside NASA, who’s methods appear to be unexplainable.
Destination: Houston, Texas
Until I watched it for this review, I had only seen ‘Space’ once. Namely, because it is a terrible episode. ‘Space’ suffers from that deadly one-two punch of boring and laughable. Mulder and Scully are asked to help investigate a potential saboteur at the NASA shuttle program. The kicker is that no one seems to know how the damage done to the shuttle could have been accomplished. Ultimately, it is revealed to be the work of a preposterous “space ghost” possessing a former astronaut who’s now in charge of the shuttle launch program.
by Billie Doux
Ianto: "Are you okay?"
Owen: "What do you think?"
Owen's condition isn't all bad. He is still young and strong, after all, and he won't age. He can't eat or drink or sleep or have sex, but he has a challenging, fascinating job, after all, and Tosh still loves him. He'll never have to shave again, either. I tried to picture how I'd take it if I were in this situation, and I thought I'd almost be okay. Family, friends, cats (although getting scratched would be bad), reading, writing, painting, swimming without fear of drowning, and of course, there's the internet.
by Billie Doux
Jack: "Suddenly, in an underground mortuary on a wet night in Cardiff, I hear the song of a nightingale."
Tosh asked Owen out, and he said yes. No wonder he died. Didn't see that coming. (Of course, on a show where they Kept Killing Suzie, who knows if it's permanent?)
by Jess Lynde
Case: The electrocution murder of Benjamin Drake, CEO of Eurisko, a Fortune 500 company.
Destination: Crystal City, Virginia
This week’s theme is “when good technology goes bad,” or as I like to call it “an ode to 2001: A Space Odyssey.” Mulder and Scully are brought in to help out Mulder’s former partner, Jerry, on a case involving the electrocution of Eurisko’s CEO, which appears to be an elaborate booby trap. Seems Jerry had a bad break on a case in Atlanta, and his old buddy Mulder’s profiling skills could really help him get his career back on track. At first, the agents suspect Brad Wilczek (the founder of Eurisko) hacked the Central Operating System he created, then used it to murder Drake. But they later discover through an intuitive leap of Mulder’s (and a little assist from Deep Throat) that the operating system --- an adaptive, thinking machine --- is actually the culprit.
by Billie Doux
Jack: "I let go of his hand. It was the worst day of my life. It's the last thing I want to remember."
Adam was a little reminiscent of Dawn in Buffy -- like he was always there, when he hadn't been. He seemed to be an emotional vampire, sucking these weird emotions out of everyone. No one was themselves.
by Billie Doux
Rhys: "If you can't handle that, big boy, then you can stuff it!"
Jack: "This is quite homoerotic."
I really wish that whoever approved this script had gone home, downed a few, and had second thoughts. "Distasteful" just isn't a strong enough word. (Maybe "gangrenous." Yeah, that's a good word.) I could see where they were going with it, what they had in mind. Very weird alien problem. Horrible abuse of and extreme compassion for a sentient alien the size of an airplane hangar. Jack's compassion in particular was lovely. But the whole thing just wasn't done well enough to make it work.
by Billie Doux
Gwen: "He's a frozen soldier from 1918."
Jack: "Nobody's perfect."
As good as this one was, and it was very good, I kept thinking that the basic structure was the same as the previous episode. An ordinary person stuck in a fantastic situation they could do nothing about, but ultimately rising to the occasion and acquitting themselves heroically. Not to mention dying.
by Jess Lynde
Case: Two dead men with residual electrostatic charges and throats apparently crushed from the inside.
Destination: Philadelphia, PA
Six episodes into a series about investigating the paranormal and we finally get our first ghost story --- which also doubles as a potential case of telekinesis. Two paranormal tales for the price of one! This time out, Mulder and Scully are asked to provide insight on two dead men with very unusual post-mortem characteristics. After being dismissed by the investigating agents, they decide to look into the matter on their own and Mulder soon comes to believe that a woman attacked by the deceased men may have killed them psychically. After further investigation, Scully becomes convinced that the woman actually helped her boss fake his death to avoid being charged with shady business dealings, while Mulder believes her boss is protecting her from beyond the grave.
by Billie Doux
Gwen: "Taking charge again, are you?"
Jack: "I was hoping for a little power struggle, resolved by some naked wrestling."
I loved every moment of this episode. And not just because I'm a big fan of the talented James Marsters.