by Billie Doux
Emil: "Dude, hasn't anyone ever told you not to inhale?"
I've always enjoyed the "cast members changed drastically by something that makes them do wildly unexpected things" plot; it can be a lot of fun and was done a lot in the first few seasons. This one seemed a bit off, though. Maybe it was because the effects of the Kryptonite "fairy dust" weren't defined well enough for me. Maybe I was expecting something more in the Valentine's Day line. Ah, well.
by Billie Doux
Jack: "I came back here because I was broken. And I was stupid enough to think this place could fix me."
Just once, I'd like to start one of these reviews with "I know exactly what this meant." I don't know what this episode meant. And did they really just give us a magical lighthouse?
by Billie Doux
Gene: "I think you've forgotten who you're talking to."
Sam: "An overweight, over the hill, nicotine-stained, borderline alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding."
Gene: "You make that sound like a bad thing."
This series is a gem. When I first rented it, I was expecting a procedural cop show with a science fiction twist. And it is. But it's so much more than that.
John Simm gives a brilliant, multi-layered performance as Sam Tyler, an unhappy detective chief inspector in 2006, who is hit by a car and wakes up in 1973. He's still Sam Tyler and still working at the same police station -- but things are much, much different.
What has happened to Sam? Is he insane, in a coma, or is he truly stuck in the past? Life on Mars is especially intriguing because of the way Sam's old life in the future seems to be connected to his current life in the past. Did God toss him back to 1973 in a sort of homage to Quantum Leap so that Sam could fix what was wrong in 2006, really really early?
Sam Tyler is a professional, by-the-book, science-and-procedure sort of cop. His new boss Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) is a sloppy seat-of-your-pants go-with-your-gut cop who flirts with corruption to get the job done. Like Simm, Philip Glenister gives a brilliant, multi-layered performance, with one addition: he is exceptionally funny. I think I fell in love with Gene Hunt in the pilot episode when he told three kids in the street that if they didn't watch his car and make certain nothing happened to it while he was gone, he would go to their house and stamp on all of their toys. Sam's continuing conflict with Gene as the two of them try to work together is the heart of the series.
Utterly confused about what has happened to him, Sam confides in a police constable named Annie (Liz White), who, unsurprisingly in the 1970s, is treated as a brainless twit because she's a woman. Sam's relationship with Annie is satisfying because he naturally treats her like an equal, and she begins to respond like one.
So we have mystery, drama, comedy, and intriguing fantasy elements, as well as some subtle romance. We have really cool music from the 1970s (the title of the series is a line from a David Bowie song). And we have a truly poignant story. As I watched the series, I began to care deeply about Sam and what was happening to him. I couldn't wait for the series finale, and dreaded it at the same time.
I'm sure all you British fans who read reviews on my site have already seen Life on Mars and are going, well, duh, of course it's brilliant, Billie, where have you been? So I guess I'm speaking mostly to my American readers who never caught this series on BBC America. If you like intelligent, well-written, well-acted fantasy with heart, I highly recommend this show. It's not a huge commitment, either, since the entire run consists of only sixteen episodes.
Actually, that's the only thing wrong with Life on Mars. It was over way too soon for me.
There's a spinoff series called Ashes to Ashes which is not yet available on Netflix. I've nearly decided I don't want to try it; I sort of want to leave my love for Life on Mars as it is, unsullied by any other stories in the same 'verse. There's also an American version of Life on Mars that lasted only one season, too. I have no desire to try it at all. Should I try either, or both? I'd be interested in hearing your opinions, so please -- comments welcome. (As always. I love your comments. Even when you tell me I'm being pissy.)
by Billie Doux
Lois: "What was that whooshing sound?"
Sorry about the late review. But hey, here it is, and right under the wire.
Speaking of underwires... Clark's dislike of costumes is a big theme this season, isn't it? I loved the costumes at the comic book con, especially Lois dressed as a storm trooper doing a line from Star Wars, and later on... was that a Wonder Woman costume Lois was wearing? It was darker and classier than the familiar red, white and blue.
by Billie Doux
Boy: "You know the rules. You can't kill him."
Man in Black: "Don't tell me what I can't do. Don't tell me what I can't do!"
Semi-big reveal, but with caveats. According to the Man in Black, the numbers represent people who are candidates for the job of Island Protector: 4 Locke, 8 Reyes, 15 Ford, 16 Jarrah, 23 Shephard, 42 Kwon. Which Kwon? Maybe it's both of them, since 42 is the big number and the answer to everything.
by Billie Doux
According to the Futon Critic, The CW has announced early pickup for five shows -- one of which is Supernatural. Woo hoo! And I quote:
"The network also renewed fan favorite SUPERNATURAL, which will enter its sixth season next year. SUPERNATURAL has one of the most loyal audiences of any show on television and does heroic work in a perennially tough time period. It has improved over last season among women and adults 18-34 (29% and 8%, respectively) this season, a remarkable accomplishment for a fifth-year show."
I know that there are fans that want Supernatural to go out with a bang at the end of this season, and I completely understand the sentiment. But it is what it is. My favorite show just got a sixth season. To paraphrase Xander: "Me love Supernatural. Supernatural on TV? Me watch."
(Okay. The other four shows were The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, 90210, and America's Next Top Model. I'm sort of watching The Vampire Diaries, but not the others.)
by Billie Doux
Sam: "It's when a dog doesn't eat. That's when you know something is really wrong."
Dean: "Remarkably patronizing concern. Duly noted."
What an intense gross out hit bottom episode. Such a feel good ending, too.
by Billie Doux
Hurley: "You're not a zombie, right?"
Sayid: "No, I am not a zombie."
Sounds corny, but Kate helps people -- that's what Kate does. (Well, she runs, too.) She tried to help Sawyer in the Island timeline, and Claire in the LAX timeline (just like Cassidy, who was also pregnant). And she told Claire that she was innocent. Is she? She used to admit straight out that she killed Wayne. Dwayne. Whatever. Why lie now? She didn't steal Claire's money, either.
by Josie Kafka
“It’s a date.”
The time has come for our great switcheroo. Chuck is genuinely interested in Hannah, and Sarah is more or less interested in Shaw. She certainly does have a tall, dark, and handsome type. Shaw and Hannah both came on pretty strong: Hannah took a job she’s immensely overqualified for to work with Chuck (kinda sweet, kinda creepy) and Shaw has memorized Sarah’s coffee order (kinda creepy, kinda sweet).
Chuck is so fast-paced this season. I expected them to draw out the Chuck-Hannah thing for a really long time, but they jumped right to the sex on the BuyMore couch (I hope they laid down a blanket: didn’t Jeff used to sleep there?). Is this the first time Chuck has had sex since he dated Jill in college? Or since he dated Jill in Season Two? Chuck did a double-take when he saw Sarah and Shaw canoodling post-contaminant, but then he ran straight to Hannah. Hannah definitely likes him, but she also stood up for herself when he abandoned her during the first mission. Good, she’s got backbone.
Sarah and Shaw, meanwhile…hmmm. Shaw definitely has a dark past: we know that because he sometimes looks into the middle distance with a pained and vacant look on his face. Sarah claims she likes his attention, but I’m not buying it. Is she playing him? Hoping to make Chuck jealous? Hoping to set Chuck free? Genuinely interested? I think it’s a combination of those things, which is sweet. Being a spy must be lonely, and a little cold comfort seems appropriate.
Morgan and Ellie abandoned their quest once they “realized” what was going on: Chuck wasn’t depressed, he’d switcheroo-ed one girl for another. Ellie looked so proud, and Morgan looked so sad. Poor guy: Chuck didn’t even know that Morgan had a crush, because he’s been so busy with spying. Those two need to have a heart-to-heart sometime soon. Morgan even said, “I’m you’re best friend, dude. At least I used to be.”
The other great switcheroo was the mask of Alexander, which contains a biological agent. The Ring wanted to recapture it, having snuck it into the country via a customs-loophole. Oh, who am I kidding? That Mission Impossible homage was hilarious, especially since it involved Shaw totally screwing up and needing Chuck to come to his rescue. Now that’s a switcheroo.
Chuck really saved the day all around, didn’t he? (Well, as long as you’re not a fan of Hellenistic art.) He saved the museum from being blown up, much to Casey’s chagrin, and saved Hannah, and Shaw, and Sarah. According to Shaw, the training wheels are coming off. Chuck is on his way to becoming a real spy without a support team. What does that mean for our show?
• Chuck: “I assume you are referring to the ancient art of Nerd-Herding.”
• Shaw: “Just because we haven’t slept together doesn’t mean you have to act like this is a middle school dance.”
• Hannah: “Any idea what she is doing here? Other than making you jealous with that ridiculously good-looking date of hers.”
Chuck: “Ridiculously good-looking? Hm, hrmph, rrrrr, in a strong, Superman kinda…”
• Shaw: “Did Walker and Bartowski turn off their mikes for some reason?”
Casey: “No, I did. Those two gab like little school girls when they’re out in the field. It’s murder on the ears.”
I think Casey had other motives. Is he a Sharah or a Charah? (Do those names work even a little bit?)
• Chuck: “You didn’t make an ass out of yourself. I’m the ass.”
• Morgan: “I had an epiphany last night.”
Ellie: “What’s that?”
Morgan: “A sudden intuitive realization…”
What movie or TV show had a character who did that? Who answered questions with the wrong answers? Help me, please! [Edited to add: Andrew, Buffy Season Seven]
• Shaw: “Well, then, I’m glad we had this talk.” Now that’s romance.
• The museum scenes (well, at least the establishing shots) were taken at the Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades. Just not in the ‘villa’ part. The Getty Villa is actually closed some weekdays, so the daytime break-in is plausible. As are the shots of Santa Monica and the PCH that we got: they most likely formed Chuck’s route from Burbank. How Shaw got from Burbank to the Palisades in under an hour is another question entirely.
• The Ring spy was played by Henri Lubatti. Henri Lubatti, Imdb tells me, is an entirely different person from Robert Benedict. Robert Benedict has been on Alias, Buffy, and Supernatural. Henri Lubatti has been on Angel and The OC. Different people, Josie. Different people.
• The simultaneous harnessing above the vault was charming.
• The vase-smashing scene was hilarious. “One of these things is not like the others” is a great Sesame Street line, and the whole scene was very Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Chuck flashed wisely.
• No Awesome, Jeff, or Lester this week.
• That music at the end might have actually been Muse, and not just a Muse ripoff.
• Even though Sarah was okay with it after the fact, Shaw using the mission as an excuse to feel her up was uncomfortable. And also hot. He’s a sexy man.
The end-of-episode voiceover told me that Chuck will return Monday after the Olympics. Hey, NBC, that’s incredibly vague for those of us who don’t have the Winter Olympics schedule memorized. I think we get more Chuck around the first of March.
Three out of four double-shot americanos with no sugar, no cream, and one swizzle stick.
All of my Chuck reviews are archived here.
(Season Three, Episode Seven)
by Billie Doux
Sam: "They all say we'll say yes."
Dean: "I know. It's getting annoying."
"In the Beginning" was a tough act to follow, but they absolutely pulled it off. I loved nearly everything about this episode. (Except for Anna's betrayal and her horrible death. Why do the cool female characters always die on this show?)
by Josie Kafka
“This is what William Bell warned me about.”
When two worlds collide, pairs of objects are smooshed together. And because every action has an equal and opposite reaction, if an object comes from over-there to over-here, another object has to go from over-here to over-there. Because of the laws of narrative balance, that object will be similar to the first object: a building for a building.
by Billie Doux
Ben: "You're the monster."
Locke: "Let's not resort to name calling."
Two timelines, no waiting. This episode was so wild and crazy that I was almost thankful for the commercials so that my brain could at least try to keep up. I said, almost.
by Josie Kafka
“I’m a spy.”
Chuck’s gone Dark Knight. He’s not the flubby schmuck who drops stuff when a beautiful woman walks into the BuyMore and hasn’t had a date in a year. He’s a stone-cold liar who burns his assets and tranqs with impunity. Awesome—and even Sarah—are stunned, and not in a good way, by Chuck’s move towards the dark side of the force.
I absolutely loved this episode. Chuck sees what must be done, and he does it, even though he seems to regret it. He’s taking the spy games more seriously, and doesn’t even blink when he has to lie to Ellie. As a big sister myself, I wish he would tell Ellie what’s going on, but I see how he wants to keep her and Awesome safe from the perils of WitProSec. On the other hand, lying to Ellie is deception numero uno.
The second deception is Morgan, who, it turns out, has suspected something for a while now. When Morgan finally got confirmation that something was going on with his friend, he immediately lost sight of the pretty Anna-replacement to focus on his friend. Morgan and Ellie, with their Guys Friday Lester and Jeff, have a mission of their own: to figure out what’s going on. Given Jeffster’s rather remarkable data-retrieval and analysis skills, Chuck is in for a bumpy ride. (No Yikes! section this week, but it’s definitely creepy, what Jeffster is doing.)
Deception number three is Chuck’s burning of Minoush, who’s basically an even-geekier Chuck version 1.0. The key difference is that Minoush didn’t have anyone’s best interest in mind: he was out to make a not-so-honest buck via a cool pair of Intersect-glasses. At least Chuck was concerned about keeping Minoush from the Ring, but he more-or-less quickly sacrificed him to the purgatory of a secure containment facility. I hope Minoush comes back at some point, maybe to assist Chuck in an off-the-books op. And I hope he brings a new pair of glasses.
And the final deception is Chuck’s betrayal of who he is, or at least who he used to be—which is also a betrayal of Sarah. Sarah liked him because he was innocent, back in the day, but he has very little compunction about stomping his own attachments into the dirt for “the greater good.” Sarah kept telling Casey that Chuck wasn’t ready, but really she wasn’t ready for him to be a spy: she doesn’t want Bryce Larkin, she wants Chuck Bartowski. Chuck the nice guy, not Chuck the spy.
This week we went to Dubai, which fascinates me even when it’s not the host of Weap-Con. That convention is one I just might spend big bucks on, just to see the amoral glee of tyrants and small (and large) arms dealers at watching demonstrations of violence. Casey loves this stuff, and Chuck is starting to love it too: they both bought trinkets, and Chuck took Casey’s advice about the scotch. Casey even gave Chuck a pat on the back. That is dark.
Bytes (so many, it’s more like megabytes):
• Chuck: “Lester, Jeff: two of our finest members of the BuyMoron staff.”
• Lester: “May the best stalker win.”
• Casey: “One ‘mish’ does not an agent make.”
• Chuck: “Is that a Burbankian accent I detect? Your eyes are hypnotic. Chestnut, hazel? Call me!”
• Awesome: “I pulled a hammy, I’ll have you know.” Do people actually have nicknames for their muscles?
• Chuck: “Yogurt, most important meal of the day.”
• Jeff: “It’s my constitutional right to fornicate.”
• Lester: “Next hire, I want you to find me a wife. A woman of color, preferably Padma Lashki.”
• Lester: “Consider her stalked.”
• Casey: “You hadn’t had a date in over a year, and they don’t waste the blondes on just anyone.”
• Casey: “Great, two geeks in a pod.”
• Casey: “Nice job, Walker. Another geek bites the dust.”
• Minoush: “Ladies, gentlemen, warlords, sheiks, and Huns. I see some Huns back there, don’t I?”
• Minoush: “At this time yesterday I was a pathetic weakling.”
• Chuck: “Intercourse?”
• Salesman: “As you can see, many of our products are ideally suited for resolving these types of hostage situations.”
• Casey: “Just like Bartowski. Bring a knife to a gun fight.” That’s an homage to The Untouchables, one of the best lines in cinematic history.
• Awesome: “You have to obey me! I think that was in our vows!”
• Morgan: “Are you suggesting Chuck is caught in a big scary web of conspiracy and deception?...Because I couldn’t agree more.”
• No Superman this week. He was off-grid.
• But we did get some Y: The Last Man. Bryan K. Vaughn, you get more shout-outs than Alan Moore!
• I want that Frak Off t-shirt so very much.
• More pseudo-‘Knights of Cydonia’ score this week. Still weird.
• The tranq-gun sequence with Minoush was hilarious.
• Chuck’s cheesy thumbs-up, and Sarah’s look of ironic happiness, at Casey’s own joy about being able to write off Weap-Con as a business expense.
• As many of you detected in my review last week, I have never seen Smallville. But I’m liking this Hannah character, and I especially like that she’s not the only speed-bump on Chuck and Sarah’s current road.
• The French Legionnaires.
• Josh Schwartz, one of the creators of Chuck, invented Ultimate Frisbee when he was in college. So I saw that nacho-platter thing coming at least 30 seconds before it happened.
• Lester and Jeff thinking that Morgan had finally admitted his secret lust for Chuck.
Four out of four Vicky Vales. Vicky-vicky vale.
(Season Three, Episode Six)
by Josie Kafka
“All of Hitler’s dreams in one little toxin.”
I love a good Nazi thriller as much as the next person. Valkyrie was a great movie. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was even better. I even liked the Angel episode “Why We Fight,” and didn’t hate that FlashForward episode with the old Nazi guy. But this episode didn’t work for me at all. Here’s why.